As we approach our annual feast of Thanksgiving, please join me in expressing our nation's deepest, heartfelt feelings for an extra-special group of America's farmers: Thbbllllttttt.
That raspberry goes out to the 50 billionaires who've been farming the US farm subsidy program for years, harvesting a cornucopia of taxpayer cash for themselves or their corporate empires. The diligent watchdogs of the Environmental Working Group matched their own farm subsidy database with the "Forbes 400" list of richest Americans to unmask these Gucci-wearing Old MacDonalds. E-I-E-I-O, what a ripoff!
Among the richest of these faux-farmers are three Walmart heirs, whose personal wealth totals $100 billion. Then there's investment huckster Charles Schwab, sitting on a $5 billion wad of wealth, yet pumping half-a-million dollars worth of rice subsidies into his California duck hunting resort. Also, corporate take-over artist Henry Kravis, who has amassed some $5 billion in wealth, took more than a million dollars from us to subsidize safflower, sunflower, and other crops raised on two of his ranches.
Especially jarring is the presence of such multibillionaire right-wingers as oil and entertainment tycoon Philip Anschutz and nuclear waste mogul Harold Simmons. They've expressed disdain for government spending on poor people and other "takers," yet they've gladly taken more than $500,000 each in farm payments.
Actually, the Working Group's tally understates the total haul by these mega-rich tillers of our public treasury. Many also harvest crop insurance subsidies, but Congress has dutifully outlawed disclosure of these names to the public, even though it's our money they receive.
In fact, these billionaires' most profitable ag products are the congress critters they keep in their corrals.
Listen to this commentary:
Photo: Flickr user Andre Natta, creative commons licensed.