Events in January 2016 just before the caucuses had brought me around to considering the hypocrisy of my own people regarding the federal Renewable Fuel Standard as well as the venerable federal subsidy of the corn crop and all the other government assistance that farmers receive. They can deduct nearly everything they purchase on their income tax returns for example.
Why are these examples of federal over-reach and interference with the sacred free market so easily accepted here by the lean, sunburnt, fiercely independent and even more fiercely conservative chaps who labor so mightily every year, courtesy of Monsanto®, to bring in that corn crop for the benefit of the likes of Cargill®? I have concluded that the answer involves more than the simple, perennial political question of whose ox is being pleasantly goosed and whose ox is being gored.
Take, for example, the federal Renewable Fuel Standard that results in 40% of the corn crop being burned up in our gas tanks. It is an economic joke, but not an inside one. Everyone clearly understands that the pro rata amount of petroleum based fuel and petroleum based fertilizer that goes into the production of that 40% of the corn crop far exceeds the amount of petroleum-based motor vehicle fuel that it saves. The federal Renewable Fuel Standard is therefore, clearly and for all to see, a backhanded subsidy in addition to the up-front federal price support for corn and all the rest of it
The fiercely independent, conservative sorts easily accept those federal subsidies by way of a psychological legerdemain. Because they do work so hard to bring in that corn crop, they feel that they have “earned” those subsidies with their labors. This is why any subsidies for the grindingly poor are so detested. The poor, who quite obviously labor not at all, have not earned any subsidies. It is this psychology that led our Bruce Rastetter, who has made millions on ethanol and is our biggest Republican donor, to put the Republican candidates through the catechism on ethanol at his Iowa Ag Summit that January. And what do you know? All of the Republican candidates were in favor of this federal government over-reach, save one.
It is here that I must give credit where credit is due for conservative philosophical consistency. (You have no idea how it chafes my ass to give this credit.) The “save one” was Senator Ted Cruz! Moreover, he had repeatedly waded into the Pizza Ranches in this state and braced the lean, sunburnt, fiercely independent, conservative sorts face to face on the subject of the Renewable Fuel Standard with the proposition that the federal government should not be in the business of “choosing economic winners and losers.” How he did that and ultimately won the Republican side of the Iowa Caucuses on February 1 still mystifies me. I have to credit his obviously sincere embrace of his Savior and the power of prayer that he talked about incessantly when he was not actually praying, an intangible of which I obviously have no understanding.
(The Pizza Ranch® franchise, an immensely popular all-you-can-eat joint, has a fascinating twist in its business model. You can secure a form in your local Pizza Ranch®, fill it out, send it in, and the management of Pizza Ranch will then pray for you.)
Back to the subject at hand. Am I myself complicit in support of all of this federal government over-reach in the sacred free market? You betcha I am! I am complicit right up to the gold chain around my neck from which is suspended the Cuban two-peso piece featuring the image of Che Guevara that rests upon my scrawny, emphysema-ridden chest. I am complicit in more than that.
The other 60% of that corn crop either goes into the production of slowly lethal processed foods or goes down the gullets of closely confined chickens and hogs. It is to this new monoculture, it is to those corn crops, that I owe my current life of gentlemanly ease devoted to profound and quiet, albeit occasionally inebriated, meditation upon the galaxies in my twilight years. My complicity in it all is not hypocrisy, however. I am, after all, a left-winger in exile in a chemically poisoned Egypt and openly in favor of over-reach by the federal government as long as it benefits the many.
If I am killing you with the food you are eating and the globules of fat slowly agglomerating within you that press relentlessly upon your heart, I can only assure you of this. As soon as I can figure out how to fill those fields with freely ranging chickens clucking happily about amid organically grown broccoli plants and still maintain my current lifestyle, I shall do so immediately. Or perhaps I shall return it all to prairie with dainty wild flower blossoms sprinkled about unto the horizon with a small herd of bison gamboling in the foreground, in which case I shall have to devise fences sufficient to keep the bastards in. If only the wrathful God of our Iowa fathers, the Same who punished our Iowa mothers so unmercifully, grants me a few more decades.