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The world that works

Posted by Richard on July 23, 2007

In just the last seven years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture paid over a billion dollars in farm subsidies to dead farmers, according to The Washington Post. That's apparently on top of the $15 billion in "wasteful or redundant spending" on farmers reported by WaPo last year.

Farm subsidies are a terrible idea, period. As Don Surber noted, they're bad for the environment, the Third World, and the economy:

Farm subsidies are a disaster. They artificially keep in farming people who do not need to be farming, which increases supply, which drives prices down, which increases the demand for subsidies.

But set that aside for the moment. For the short term, at least, we're stuck with this abomination of a program. Can't we at least run it with some minimal degree of competence?

Apparently not. Despite the fact that there's nearly a one-to-one relationship between farmers and USDA employees, the USDA said it was just too busy to look into the 40% of cases that weren't reviewed at all. The GAO offered a suggestion:

Making database checks against a list of people reported as dead to the Social Security Administration "to verify that an individual receiving farm payments has not died is a simple, cost-effective method," the GAO said. The Agriculture Department said it has asked all field offices to review the eligibility of estates and plans to begin conducting database checks

Yeah, I'm sure they'll get right on that and work through the backlog. According to the WaPo, it includes farmers who died in the 70s and 80s.  

The USDA is the poster child for the dysfunctional bureaucracies that Newt Gingrich calls "the world that fails." Today in Washington, Gingrich is presenting a briefing about how to change that:

I am inviting you to join me for a briefing on how we can make our government bureaucracies work more like UPS and FedEx and less like, well, bureaucracies.

Please join me on Monday, July 23, from Noon to 6:00pm (EDT) for a briefing on "From the World That Fails to the World That Works: The Coming Transformation of Government." The briefing will be at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington. It will also be webcast at

If you can't join us on Monday, the briefing will be available for viewing anytime at

This is likely to be both informative and entertaining, as evidenced by the following 3-minute Gingrich video on the subject.

FedEx vs. Government Bureaucracy — Newt Gingrich 

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