Time to stop the government farm support

Across much of the Midwest grain belt, the soybean bushes are lush and the corn stands tall and green. Farmers eager to cash in on high prices planted a whopping 175 million acres of those staple crops this spring. Nature mostly cooperated. A huge harvest looms.

That should be good news for the nation's food producers. But inside the Beltway, success in the field is giving Congress pause.

Big Agriculture is fighting to maintain the government handouts that have pumped up its profits for generations. After years of soaring farm incomes, and with a fabulous crop waiting to be harvested, it will be tougher than ever to portray agriculture as a hardship case in need of government protection.

Count on farm state lawmakers to try. When they complain that this year's bin-buster is forcing down commodity prices, don't listen. Even with the lower prices that come with a big crop, farmers still will be making money at levels far beyond the norm of modern times.

There is no reason for agriculture producers to receive big checks from the government. But if the past is any guide, Congress will do everything possible to line their pockets yet again.

It's time to draw the line. It's time to pass a farm bill that eliminates the costly and unnecessary $5 billion a year in direct payments to farmers and landowners.

Farm income has soared from $75.6 billion in 2009 to $99.4 billion in 2010, $134.7 billion in 2011 and $135.6 billion in 2012.

We wish them even more success. Many farms have paid down debt. Much of the equipment in use today is new. Shiny pickup trucks line driveways in rural hamlets across the heartland.

But subsidies and government protection? Come on. That has to stop.

—Chicago Tribune, Aug. 22

 

A pointless, inexplicable killing in Duncan, Okla.

Crime is all around us, hopefully held at bay but always a presence. Still, some acts are so wanton as to overwhelm any words we might grasp as we struggle to understand: senseless, tragedy.

The apparently random killing of a 22-year-old college baseball player from Australia on Friday in Duncan, Okla., is one such crime.

One of the accused teens told authorities that Christopher Lane simply jogged past the wrong house at the wrong time on the wrong day. They were "bored" and wanted to kill someone, anyone, "for the fun of it," one suspect told Duncan Police Chief Dan Ford. Authorities said the suspects were arrested that evening, apparently while stalking another victim.

Even without the relentless news coverage other crimes generate, Lane's slaying has exposed dismal fault lines in an American culture, where three teens without apparent conscience would kill without reason. Or, more precisely, without a motive a reasonable person might understand.

Some in Lane's Australia blamed American gun culture. Others saw thug culture. In the U.S., some were quick to cite race.

Lane is white; two of three suspects in his death, 15-year-old James Edwards and Chancey Allen Luna, 16, are black. Authorities say Luna fired the fatal shots with a .22-caliber pistol from the back seat of a car driven by Michael Dewayne Jones, 17, who is white.

Yet even with racially charged social media postings attributed to Edwards, no one has claimed Lane's race had anything to do with his being targeted. More plausible, in fact, is the possibility that the three suspects were tied to a Crips sect or were gang wannabes.

And even that explanation, tenuous as it is, might offer more brain cells than these suspects deserve.

As far as anyone knows, the assailants had no idea who he was, other than the next person to die. "This is not something that is supposed to happen here," Stephens County District Attorney Jason Hicks said. "This is not Duncan, Oklahoma."

—The Dallas Morning News, Aug. 23