Quite possibly no one in a White House full of sycophants and cultists paused three minutes to consider that the first casualty in their trade posturing would be their own most dedicated voting base. In the midst of an economic boom almost a decade-long, farm bankruptcies in the Midwest have spiked.
Everything Trump touches dies. Wisconsin’s Trump-loving dairy industry is in free-fall. Soybean prices have collapsed, threatening the livelihoods of farmers already pushed to the margins of the agriculture industry. As Trump economic policies began to take hold in 2018, Trump’s farmers found themselves among the only industries (except perhaps Trump’s other favorite, coal) to see their prospects failing, with a 12% decline in net income.
Having promised that ‘trade wars are good, and easy to win’ the administration seems powerless to force compromise from foreign governments led by competent professionals. How does Trump plan to maintain his support among the Republican farmers he’s destroying? Socialism, of course.
Officials have promised generous subsidies to those Trump described in a remarkably Soviet Tweet as, our ‘great Patriot Farmers.’ The administration is now promising to use new taxes on imports paid by American consumers as handouts for farmers unable to compete in a fair marketplace. These subsidies come on top of the billions in other subsidies already deployed, without which none of these farmers would be farming in the first place. Of course, Trump will fail to deliver on this promise. Last year he paid out less than two-thirds of the subsidies he promised farmers. That’s a better rate than his employees and contractors enjoy, so perhaps they should be happy.
You might foolishly imagine that these Real Americans in the Heartland would reject a plan to live off of Socialism and “government dependence.” Never forget the First Rule of American Politics – It’s not socialism if the benefits are flowing to white people.
Republican free market crusaders would lay down their bodies to protect the hundreds of billions in federal subsidies that fund white people’s health insurance, or the billions that subsidize white people’s mortgages, suburban construction, or retirement savings. White people, especially the elderly white people who are America’s most reliable voters, live in a social welfare state that would make a Soviet smile.
The “family farm” is a 19th century concept that was never as successful in real life as it was in our collective imagination. It owes its survival to socialism. Exposed to anything approaching a free market, farming would disappear outside a few of our most fertile regions like Iowa and central California. We simply don’t need most of what our farmers produce. Thanks to innovation and automation we grow more food on less land every year. Very few farms make money. Almost 75% of American farms bring in in less than $50,000 in revenue. There are very few of them left, about 2.1m currently, a number that declines every year.
The average age of a farmer in the US is almost 60. Most US farmland is either inherited, or “purchased” from relatives. Outside a few hyper-fertile areas, family farms are hobby operations worked part-time, more an identity than a career. For the most part, profitable farms are large, post-industrial, and corporate-owned, using little labor. So called “family farmers” who are actually making money generally aren’t getting their shoes dirty, or even living in the countryside. Successful family farmers are, for the most part, Devin Nunes.
We need family farms like we need artisanal candle makers. So why do we spend billions every year keeping these useless enterprises afloat?
The answer to that question is the answer to almost every puzzling question about this country – race. Family farmers are overwhelmingly white, aging and male. They are spread out across many thinly populated states, with many Senators and Electoral College votes, while our productive industries and the bulk of our population are concentrated in few big cities. As a consequence of their race and their political heft, we have to subsidize farmers at all costs. Millions of political ads feature stock images of our amber waves of grain, most of which are destined to rot in a storehouse. Farming is patriotism because farming is white. Anyone who complains about the money we waste on our Great Patriot Farmers is an enemy of the people.
Why is Donald Trump, who probably couldn’t identify a farm in photograph, so concerned about farmers? He’s not. There’s some political power to be gained by pandering to them, but even that doesn’t get his blood flowing. We got a glimpse at his authentic interests in a Tweet.
China will be pumping money into their system and probably reducing interest rates, as always, in order to make up for the business they are, and will be, losing. If the Federal Reserve ever did a “match,” it would be game over, we win! In any event, China wants a deal!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 14, 2019
A man who makes a living on money laundering financed by impossible debts is desperate to see further interest rate reductions. Whether farmers profit or starve from this idiotic tariff gambit, it will all be worth it if Trump can shave a few critical points off his debt service ratio. Hail Dear Leader.
Despite their political power, these farmers continue to fail in the marketplace, a predictable outcome of a socialist system. At this late stage of their decline, they’re willing to latch onto any huckster who feeds their egos, telling them that the inevitable won’t happen. Joining the Proud March of Workers Toward the Socialist Paradise, arms linked with coughing coal miners and aging steel workers, our farm heroes will resist their reckoning as long as we let them while battling to protect the Protector of White America.