That's the myth. Subsidies don't maintain a viable agriculture. Lettuce isn't subsidized. In fact, most crops are not. Not peas or potatoes or tomatoes. Not plums, peaches, broccoli, green beans. There's no shortage of any of these. Yet Fred and Larry say farming can't survive without subsidies.
"If I can't grow my 6,000 acres of cotton because the subsidy's gone …Where am I gonna go with that acreage? Do I just idle it?" Larry Starrh asked.
I don't know. Where do I go if "20/20's" ratings go down? That's life.
Subsidies are a like a heroin fix. They feel good, but they lead to more subsidies. The first subsidy makes cotton more expensive. That causes a problem for manufacturers, so we give them another subsidy. That subsidy hurts poor farmers worldwide, so we send them more money in foreign aid. But that's not enough for our cotton farmers. We give them another subsidy for the water they use and another subsidy to advertise their cotton overseas.
If they can't make a profit, I don't think they deserve a gift from taxpayers just so they can keep farming.
"Well I totally disagree with you John, and the legislature is with us at this point, so we're winning, and you're losing," Fred Starrh said.
He's right. And you're paying for it.
We've been hearing a lot lately about how American workers are suffering because companies are "outsourcing" their jobs to other countries. During the presidential campaign, both President Bush and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., told voters they were concerned about keeping jobs here at home. And CNN anchor Lou Dobbs has made complaints about outsourcing a running theme of his nightly news program.
Dobbs' new book, "Exporting America," says the government should limit free trade and immediately outlaw outsourcing of government contracts.
"Just because of cheap labor, we're destroying our middle class. That is just stupid," Dobbs said, adding, "Being stupid is un-American."
Wait a second. It's restricting outsourcing that would be un-American and stupid.
You may not like it that someone in India takes your customer service call, but outsourcing helps the middle class by bringing lower prices and faster service. Take E-Loan, for example. It gives customers a choice of whether to get their loan paperwork processed in America in 12 days or in India in 10 days. An incredible 87 percent of customers in the United States choose the faster loan processing offered by sending their paperwork to India.
And look at clothing -- lots of it is made abroad these days -- and Lou Dobbs sees that as a terrible thing. "This country cannot even clothe itself. Ninety-six percent of our apparel is imported," he said.
But that's OK. We have more choices for less money. The Labor Department's price index for clothing has been going down and down over the past decade.
But still, what about all those American workers who lose their jobs to people overseas? We asked the AFL-CIO labor federation for some of their best examples of outsourcing and the first people they referred us to were Shirley and Ronnie Barnard. They both lost their jobs when a Levi's plant in Powell, Tenn., closed down two years ago and moved production to Mexico.