Archived Story

Subsidies all around, please

Published 7:05am Thursday, July 26, 2012 Updated 12:06pm Thursday, July 26, 2012

I hadn’t been in the hardware business long before I realized I was making my living with a handicap, like boxing with one hand, or high jumping with one leg.

So I went to my banker, and waited impatiently for him to unlock the door early one morning. Ideas are what I have.

Money is what he has. He and I meeting isn’t anything new.

I said to him, “Sir, (always suck up to a banker) I have this idea. Several studies as to the ill effects of hardware (one at the end of each month I’m in business, when I try to pay all the bills) show beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is hazardous to my health.” (It’s giving me an ulcer. And headaches. And facial tics.)

“Plus,” I went on, “it’s hazardous to everyone’s health who shops in a hardware store.” I went on, I was on a roll. “Studies show that 300,000 Americans a year die from the ill effects of nuts and bolts.” (Cars and machinery have nuts and bolts, right?)

“So?” he said.

“So,” I went on, “since hardware is so harmful, which must be what’s keeping people from buying enough stuff from me that I can drive Cadillacs, I think it needs some government support.”

I looked at him. He looked at me. “I need a subsidy.”

He looked at his watch. Sir said: “How much?”

I said: “Enough to line enough congressmen’s pockets to get them to pass a good, old-fashioned subsidy.” Judging from what other industries are spending to get their subsidies, I told him about a hundred million bucks, give or take a couple of congressmen.

He pointed at the door. I took it.

The new agriculture bill is coming out soon. It’s got lots of subsidy money in it for crops.

But there’s nothing in there for hardware stores.

Since I no longer own a hardware store, I’m not in one so much. But I’m in one enough that I could be one of those people whose health — and pocket book — is negatively affected, so I’m still in there pitching for money.

The Wall Street Journal, which I don’t subscribe to because rumor has it that it is printed with ink made from subsidized soybeans grown by large farms who are owned by corporations made up of people who all drive Cadillacs, said this about the new farm bill, more or less: “What we need in Washington is some adult supervision; how else to explain this 174-billion-dollar bucket of slop.”

Whew. If they would only say that about hardware.

Really, I understand a small corn or soybean farmer getting some of this, but it’s the tobacco stuff that doesn’t make any sense at all. I feel really confused that the new bill headed for the President’s signature has even less money in it for the Food and Drug Administration.

These of course are the people who know that tobacco is harmful to one’s health. They’re in kind of a hurry.

They’d like to get tobacco labeled a harmful drug before the smokers all die and we have no one left to send to Congress to crank out buckets of slop.

Not that all of the congressmen smoke. Not all. Just 21 percent, so we’d lose two out of 10 Congressmen. Couldn’t get enough of them in there any day for them to vote.

Maybe that would be good. The way they’re not voting now to solve our other problems, it might not matter much one way or the other.

We’re giving tobacco farmers a billion dollars.

About that hardware subsidy.

  • Walt Henry

    An excellent commentary on the absurdities of some of the things we do.
    It might be time for me to set aside my focus on facts, math and history and offer my unsupported opinion. It is my opinion the “dream” we refer to as the American Dream is the desire to build a better life for oneself and one’s family than we inherited from our parents. It is my opinion America, our resources and our liberties have made it possible to dream that dream. It is my opinion, those of us, and there are many, who actively pursued the dream have found it possible to achieve some success.
    These are challenging times. We, in our town halls, our county court offices, our state houses and in the nation’s capital, we in our homes, churches and coffee shops, on sidewalks and our back yards should begin to have a conversation about preserving and promoting the American Dream. Maybe we should even have the conversation as to whether the American Dream should be a goal for our nation to preserve.
    It is my opinion we should center our conversation on what role we want government to play in the foundation of the possibility of pursuing an American Dream; what we want “government” to do for us that we might not be able to do alone and then decide how and who best might pay for those services.
    Too often the conversation is blocked by someone claiming “the government is too darn big”, or “the Constitution says”, or “our founding fathers created”. Too often we get side tracked into reminisces of times past which never really existed. Too often we hear from those who would regress or retreat instead of moving forward. Too often we hear from people who have looked across the fence at the fruits of their neighbor’s pursuits and say, “I didn’t get that so they shouldn’t have that either!”
    It is my opinion the only way for us to preserve the American dream and move forward is with a foundation built on truth. It is my opinion the bedrock that supports the foundation must be facts, math and an accurate understanding of history.

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