Government Intervention in U.S. Agriculture: Part 8

One of the more significant consequences of government-mandated food underproduction wouldn’t be market prices or income, but the sudden necessity for rationing by WWII. As historian John M. Dobson observes, the war had “rendered many of the restrictions on agricultural production irrelevant… shortages and rationing became the order of the day rather than production limitations.” There’s no question about it. The government had to resort to rationing precisely because of its intentionally-caused food shortages in the previous decade. You really have to applaud these experts for doing such an outstanding job.

From the policies of Hoover in the 1920s and onward, in fact, agricultural legislation had a tendency to go back-and-forth between emphases on either increasing production or limiting production. The very fact that the AAA continued this trend had prompted the Rural New Yorker’s editor to write in April of 1933 about how “ill-advised” it was, suggesting “men from madhouses” could not concoct a more ridiculous idea than that of the new farm bill.

The fact that so many of the provisions of the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 are still in force today, of course, should cause us to remember just how wasteful and counterproductive government intervention in agriculture has always been. The government convinced us decades ago that the agricultural sector, like the rest of the economy, is too “complicated” to be left alone; central planning by self-appointed “experts” is absolutely necessary for any prosperity.

The subsidies for economic central planning come from taxes, of course. All subsidies mean is that money is being taken away from consumers and handed over to the government, who is now given an absolute discretionary power over keeping or disposing of private property as it sees fit. In a controlled economy, it is government demand – and not consumer demand – that ultimately decides what is produced.

It isn’t just private property that’s taken, either. By that point, government has already disposed of a great deal of our personal liberties as well.

Photo: Alicja Michalik

Photo: Alicja Michalik