Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
This sentence has a nice euphemism for "made into hamburger":
"Since the buyouts began five years ago, the National Milk Producers Federation has shifted 275,269 dairy cows, including 75,000 in the last 12 months, into the beef industry."
Mrs. Michelle Obama
Mrs. Laura Bush
Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton
Mrs. George Bush
Mrs. Ronald Reagan
Mrs. Jimmy Carter
Now what is this? Why do our most recent first ladies use their first name, while the older ones use their husband's? Have we dissolved all rules of manners pertaining to women's names? And why didn't Laura and Michelle keep their maiden names? And what is a "maiden" anyway? Old geezers want to know.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Vilsack also said that he and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., both understand that achieving good performance at USDA requires modern technology. "It is frustrating to farmers and ranchers who want to be able to access information that we are still in a more paper orientation than a technology orientation. It is also frustrating that it seems to people it takes forever to implement the farm bill and the recovery and investment act, because we have to rewrite old, old software so that it is available to calculate the new programs."Vilsack wants to measure results. The problem I have is definitions. Federal programs float in a penumbra of rhetoric, emanating from the over-promising of politicians. If a bureaucrat is realistic about what could be achieved, it automatically undermines her bosses.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
From the Post this morning, on Obama's meeting with bankers:
""Excess is out of fashion," Obama said, according to participants in the gathering.
The president held himself up as an example, saying that he had not yet renovated the Oval Office and was still using George W. Bush's furniture, even noting the stains on the carpet. He urged the banks to show comparable "constraint and responsibility," adding that the nation had undergone a cultural shift.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Since 1800 or so, the poles of a debate have been symbolized by Malthus, arguing current food production and patterns are doomed, the dystophia, and Condorcet, celebrating the power of reason to come up with solutions, the cornucopia of engineered and designed food systems. Different viewpoints get caught up in the systems--racism, eugenics, the cold war, futurism, science fiction, egalitarianism,
Belasco believes different events and trends tend to trigger and reinvigorate the debate over the future of food: famines and spikes in the price of food, particularly in the 19th century, demography, etc.
When debate over food flares, it's characterized by urgency (war, gloom, and doom), lots of statistics, assumptions, all leading to missed predictions.
All in all, it's a sobering reminder of how fallible we can be when we talk about something as important to us as food.
From 1890 until 1920, the greatest increase in food consumption occurred with sugar, and the greatest decrease was in cornmeal. Rising prosperity led to a pronounced shift from cornmeal to wheat flour, especially in the South, and an equally important substitution of sugar for wheat flour. Sugar prices had been dropping sharply since the 1850s with the development of improved refining technology.And again:
These trends helped increase per capita wheat product consumption in the United States for the last quarter of the 20th century.I've said before and I'll say again, when it comes to agriculture and food, things are more complicated than any party to current debates admits.
In very traditional, and unflinching, intégriste, or fundamentalist Catholic circles, there is still a lot of nostalgia for the Ancien Régime. The 1789 Revolution is viewed very much as a cataclysm and a rupture with God and the natural order. However, the vast majority of Catholics are quite happy living within the republican scheme of things.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
What I have learned as far back as the Apple/PC beginnings is waiting for a clear winner probably isn't the best choice. If nothing else, taking the plunge generates significant practical knowledge of an emergent technology that could be a significant advantage. This happened for early personal computer users regardless of which platform they eventually ended up with.As long as you've got some margin for error (money-wise, etc.), this works for me. Learning is always good (except when it intrudes on an old guy's routine).
So why would FSA bureaucrats do differently? Basically because it's easier, more accurate, less expensive and less revealing of private data. Other than that, the Republicans' suggestion would create jobs, increasing the employment of CPA's, so no doubt FSA should scrap its plan and go with the Republican one.
We did offer a choice to producers. Congress allowed for a verification of income statement, prepared by a certified public accountant or another third party acceptable to you, to be submitted every three years that confirms the producer’s adjusted gross income which makes he or she eligible to receive payment.By forcing every producer to give USDA the power to verify with the IRS information submitted by the farmer or rancher takes away this choice, unnecessarily invades privacy and contravenes the intent of Congress. We, of course, do not want ineligible producers receiving payments, but Congress provided an explicit mechanism to address the problem without involving the IRS
Shall I explain? (Note, I don't really know what FSA is planning, but I know the sort of proposal I would take to USDA management and IRS, if I were still there.)
Very simply put:
- FSA would create a file of the tax ID's of the producers subject to the AGI limit.
- FSA would give the file to IRS.
- IRS would, from their data, create a file of tax ID's whose tax return shows an AGI amounts over $500,000 (or whatever is the appropriate figure). Note the actual amount wouldn't be on the file, just the fact the AGI level was exceeded.
- IRS would match the data on the two files, and create a return file showing the tax ID's of the matches.
- FSA would take the return file and sit down with the producers to resolve the discrepancy between their statement that their AGI was below the limit and IRS indication it was above.
I'm not sure what appeals to a county office bureaucrat--is it easier to explain to a producer why he or she needs to sign the IRS form or why they need to get a CPA? My guess is the latter.
Far be it from me to suggest that any farmer would ever have a CPA lie, but as a taxpayer I'd sooner trust IRS's report.
It would be an interesting question to see if Pell Grants are checked with IRS. See this for required documents
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
These problems occurred because NRCS lacked federal financial accounting expertise. Until 2004, NRCS had relied on FSA employees to help account for its transactions, and had not cultivated a staff of accounting professionals. Part of this problem also has to do with how NRCS understands its mission within USDA. Many NRCS officials perceive their primary role as providing technical and scientific assistance to producers. Training employees to correctly account for its activities was not the agency’s first priority.I'm wondering about the background of shifting payments from FSA to NRCS--presumably the NRCS interest groups had bigger clout on Capitol Hill than the FSA interest groups.
We found possible noncompliance issues on approximately 40 percent of the[WRP] easement sites we inspected.
This area is of more than passing interest to me, given my guess that NRCS will be given responsibility for Vilsack's carbon offsets (remember, you heard it here first).
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Farms overwhelmingly report losses for tax purposes (because of cash accounting, depreciation, and other practices), even though USDA farm income numbers are positive. For example, in 2004, two-thirds of all Schedule F tax returns showed a loss, resulting in a sector-wide net farm loss of $13 billion for all Schedule F returns. By comparison, USDA farm income data showed an $80 billion profit. Even for “large” farms with sales over $250,000, about one-third report a loss for tax
"Vilsack said that he is aware of the need for a strong new rule on what it means to be “actively engaged in agriculture” for the purpose of commodity payments."
It's easy to over-sell this stuff.
A question, though: If modern technology can meter the fertilizer applied to the soil according to the GPS coordinates of the soil, can't the technology do soil testing better than the way it was done 100 years ago?
Monday, March 23, 2009
Due to the efforts of Heartland and others, the public is beginning to catch on to the cosmic scam that Al Gore, James Hansen and others--mostly not scientists--have been perpetrating. Meanwhile, the Obama administration, seemingly determined to inflict the maximum possible damage on the economy in the shortest time, is trying to ram a cap-and-trade carbon tax through Congress before opposition can be mobilized.And there's this earth (or at least this America) as described by Joseph Romm at Gristmill (one in which a survey says):
Americans say they are prepared to incur significant costs [to fight global warming], as the figure above shows. In fact, they "support policies that would personally cost them more," specifically (emphasis in original):I'm not sure, I fear a schizophrenic society.
"ACUS was created in 1968 as an independent agency with a small staff assisted by outside experts in administrative law, government processes, judicial review and enforcement, and agency regulatory processes."Did things like worry about the Federal Register and the Administrative Procedure Act. (Only bureaucrats care about such things.)
Here is the shocking conclusion: in the recent years of the GSS (1991 to 2004), for people whose highest level of educational attainment is a bachelor’s degree, there is a negative correlation between intelligence and income. In the 1998 to 2004 data, each point higher on the Wordsum test causes a $1,200 decrease in income.Didn't have the patience to dig deeply, but part of the answer is in the "bachelor's degree" bit--if you're smart enough to get a graduate degree, then your intelligence is rewarded.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Saturday, March 21, 2009
"[maybe] the ratings reflect the perspective of a somewhat-insular white liberal elite that has a tendency to give higher ratings to those who are most like them in background, experience and perspective."Back in the 1950's, the ABA and the AMA were two pillars of the establishment, which was moderate to conservative. (Malcolm Gladwell's new book has a chapter on how the establishment looked down on some Jewish lawyers.) I don't know what's happened in 50 years to change the ABA (not that I necessarily agree with Adler).
- I'm a bit surprised at the kale/collards--we grow them as fall only. I guess they're buying seedlings.
- I'm not sure what the First Lady is teaching the school kids--making them work for 15 minutes and then a cookie break. I don't think the mother of either of the Obamas would be that lax--standards are slipping. (Even I can work 30 minutes straight before taking a break, and I'm old.
- 15 students, plus maybe 10 adults from the staff--that's 25 people for 1,100 square feet meaning each one does 40 square feet.
- were they hauling off the turf--is that to be used for patching elsewhere on the lawn (maybe after the Easter egg roll) or maybe on the Mall? If they composted it, and where's the plan for the compost pile for the White House--surely that's going to cause lots of criticism from the organic people, maybe that would reduce the carbon released from the sod breaking. Or maybe not: if you plow native prairie you turn under the sod, but I haven't seen that mentioned as a redeeming factor in converting land to crops.
Bottom line--anything a politician does in Washington is subject to second guessing. Because people feel so strongly on this issue, they'll get a lot of carping.
Friday, March 20, 2009
I was trying to research procurement procedures, just being bored on a Friday afternoon and with nothing better to do, particularly as a reader had expressed frustration with the Government's process. So I did a search on "programming" on the GSA site and got this result, with the Hammer Award as the top result. Makes me real confident in the currency of the site.
I suspect the truth is in between--commercial, yes "industrial", farming with its chemical fertilizers produces winners and losers, Dr. Shiva sees only the losers, this article shows the winners.
India's rural destiny still depends on good monsoon rains and robust agricultural production, but four years of bumper crops and heavy government investment in rural infrastructure have given birth to what some analysts call an emerging economy within India.
In the dusty market along a bumpy road in Yadav's village, 40 miles south of New Delhi, sales of microwave ovens, washing machines and 32-inch, flat-screen plasma televisions have risen in the past year. Branded-clothing stores called Rich Look and Charlie Outlaw have sprung up, looking to attract upwardly mobile farm youths.
As they're apparently digging up the lawn to create it, I think they might need to buy carbon offsets for it. If I understand correctly, and I may not, any conversion from permanent or perennial vegetation to annual cropping means a net release of carbon. But, all cynicism aside, it's a nice symbolic gesture.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
The number one challenge facing pro-carbon trading farm groups at the moment is proving that agriculture's contribution to carbon reduction can be real, "additional" and permanent, others Ag Carbon Market Group members say.Here are two GAO products which are relevant
Note: the public doesn't want bureaucratic red tape, but it wants payments made to eligible people and it wants IRS data kept private. How does a bureaucracy square the circle: a form.
"[the ICG spokesman said]says that while improvements are still pending on U.S. locks and dams, Panama is improving their canal to grow traffic through that waterway.
"And the reason they are doing this, and they are spending billions of dollars, is because they want to bring Capesize vessels, which are the largest ocean going vessels out there, through the Panama Canal," said Lambert.
On its blog, there's a suggestion to convert cellphones into the SecurID device. As it says: "For those of you who don’t work for security-conscious corporations, a SecurID is a little LED display that goes in your wallet or on your keychain, that flashes a different six digit number every minute or so. You need to enter that number, along with a user name and password, to get into some computer systems."
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
To a packed audience, Dr. Shiva remembered the roots of industrial agriculture, which was born out of a need to find different uses for the chemicals of war [emphasis added]. Now seeds are patented and controlled by only a few multi-national corporations, while producers are driven further into debt and suffer from hunger. As agriculture becomes more consolidated and fewer people control our food supply, Dr. Shiva asserted that the very health of our democracy is at risk.The bolded phrase is ridiculous nonsense, though a meme popular among the left food community. (Dr. Pollan repeated a version of it in "Omnivore...". )
The reference presumably is to the Haber-Bosch process, which was developed before WWI in order to avoid the need to import nitrates from Chile. The nitrates were particularly important in European agriculture. Now gunpowder originally was made of sulphur, charcoal, and saltpeter (or "nitre" or potassium nitrate). And Germany's access to Chilean nitrate during WWI was cut off by the British blockade, so the Haber-Bosch process was used to make nitrate for explosives. "The Alchemy of Air" is a fast-moving narrative of the developments in this area.
As Wagoner [GM CEO]described the company's gloomy economic forecast, the moderator, Dave Cook, [of the now on-line only Christian Science Monitor] was sympathetic: "We're from the newspaper business. We understand."
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
The study, focusing on the experience of Kaiser Permanente in Hawaii when it implemented electronic health records, secure e-mail and a Web portal, found that patient visits declined 26 percent from 2004 to 2007.Makes sense to me. Matter of fact, Kaiser has the same setup in the DC area and I've used email to avoid office calls. I think it works well for those who are averse to doctors (me) anyway but who also have a bit of hypochondria (me again) and who are into researching on the Internet (me). An ache triggers the research, but email allows me to scratch the itch without wasting the good doctor's face time.
This effect may be just as important as the other pluses: "The long-awaited transition from paper to electronic records is considered essential if doctors and hospitals are to improve coordination of care, manage patients with chronic disease, lessen the wide variation in how medicine is practiced and monitor quality." from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
[Had a comment on the original post I wanted to get rid of --hence the revision. But I'm taking advantage of it to add a comment on the Wash Post op-ed questioning health IT. While the arguments have weight, IMO one could make the same arguments against many of the advances over the last 100 years. There's always trade-offs and a learning curve. But basically I believe in progress.]
Poultry processor Pilgrim’s Pride has rejected the latest offer from the State of Louisiana and Foster Farms for the plant in Farmerville, Louisiana. As part of Chapter 11 restructuring, Pilgrim’s Pride announced in February it is going to idle the plant which employs 1,300 people. The State of Louisiana offered to go 50-50 with California-based Foster Farms to buy the plant for $40 million. Pilgrim’s Pride rejected that offer saying it was not enough.
"Recently an agricultural policy analyst for the Congressional Research Service also looked at the ACRE program in an effort to explain to Members of Congress what they had done in creating it."
Thus, the US is moving some work (and the experts) back into government. That way, the people are government employees protected under the US-Iraq agreement.
As I've said before, there's always trade-offs, in this case the flexibility of private contractors has both bad and good aspects.
Monday, March 16, 2009
I think (and since I started this 3 days ago, most have agreed) OMB or the Department screwed up the original proposal in the budget--it sort of makes sense that if the Census shows farms with gross income < $500,000 decreasing to tie your proposal to that metric. Except it doesn't, if you know anything about farming or had some history in the farm programs, so I agree with Peterson's guess that it wasn't really staffed with USDA. That aside, if you like the point of the policy, the metric can always be fixed. Use an AGI of $x. Or, adopt my pet idea, a graduated reduction based on AGI, following the EU.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Apparently most of the drop is in packaging, which is the single most common category of garbage--we're buying less so tossing less styrofoam and cardboard.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Thursday, March 12, 2009
The LOC [Library of Congress] database, THOMAS, provides a lot of good information and gives access to full text bills and Congressional Research Summaries. However, it is outdated and lacks a decent user interface and persistent URL’s. Browsing and searching are difficult…don’t even think about asking for an RSS feed. GovTrack.us, OpenCongress.org, and MAPLight.org provide similar Congressional information but with a far more usable format. The downside to them is that they are forced to rely on THOMAS as their source of information. That is, until now.
From Farm Policy:
“‘The report indicated world demand is going to be anemic this year,’ leading to more supplies than analysts expected, said Don Roose, president of U.S. Commodities Inc. in West Des Moines, Iowa. ‘It’s a very fragile world economy.’”What it says to me is that last year the world (outside our borders) was wealthy, had money to spend, and spent it on food, driving up prices. That's what "consumption growth" means to me. The "low value of the U.S. dollar" simply says the world got richer vis a vis us.
"In part, the Farm Foundation report stated that, “In 2008, Farm Foundation commissioned three Purdue University economists to write the report, What’s Driving Food Prices? Released in July 2008, the report had two purposes: to review recent studies on the world food crisis, and to identify the primary drivers of food prices. The economists, Phil Abbott, Chris Hurt and Wally Tyner, identified three major drivers of food prices: world agricultural commodity consumption growth exceeding production growth, leading to very low commodity inventories; the low value of the U.S. dollar; and the new linkage of energy and agricultural markets. Each was a primary contributor to tightening world grain and oilseeds stocks."
This year the world is poorer and we are richer (those of us who are employed or living off Uncle via a pension).
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
I guess the smile's actually on me--I've harbored a sneaky suspicion that many government websites, such as grants.gov, are overhyped and under-used. So the good news would be if Obama can crash a whole string of sites.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
The Farm Service Agency (FSA) will use immediately $145 million of the $173 million provided in the Recovery Act for its Direct Operating Farm Loan Program, which will give 2,042 farmers – almost 50% are beginning farmers and 10% are socially disadvantaged producers - direct loans from the agency. These loans will be used to purchase items such as farm equipment, feed, seed, fuel and other operating expenses and will stimulate rural economies by providing American farmers funds to operate. Currently, farmers are struggling with the high costs of running family farms, seriously affecting beginning and socially disadvantaged producers.But there's nothing on the money for FSA computers. It's not clear from the release whether the 2,042 farmers already have approved applications with the agency, but that would be my assumption. (Otherwise, how do you know the number and the demographics?)
Makes me wonder though. If I recall my days of reading the Congressional Record (back in college, when I got seriously lost in doing a term paper amidst the debates on naval building at the turn of the century), parliamentary procedure calls for three "readings" of a bill, once when it's introduced, once when referred to committee, and then upon consideration. (See this link for more precise information.) Problem is, the "readings" are pro forma and are waived. I suspect that practice evolved because people could rely on reading the printed page. And, where time became critical, people just acted on trust. I think now the pattern is--the clerk reads the title of the bill (or amendment) and it's considered read, and GPO inserts the text when the Record is printed.
My point: rules on paper can only go so far in making people use their heads. Cynically, thinking is hard work and people are often lazy. (Until their ox is the one gored [to use a good old agricultural metaphor]).
Monday, March 09, 2009
What that says to me is two things: "industrial" agriculture with its efficiencies has made the migration possible, and people prefer the opportunities in cities to the back breaking of "artisan" agriculture.
Sunday, March 08, 2009
For example: "food miles". Whether or not it's more environmentally friendly to grow sheep in New Zealand and ship the resulting lamb to the UK is a question. But IMO the way to answer it is to ensure the cost of transportation includes all the externalities. In other words, a carbon tax. (I've more faith in a carbon tax than in trading carbon offsets under a "cap and trade" policy. My experience in implementing payment limitation rules suggests a tax would be better and more easily enforced.)
The article introduces various parents, describes the inconsistent ways in which the legal system treats them, and notes the obsession we humans have with believing the world is understandable and operates by rules.
Saturday, March 07, 2009
The site of the garden is on the right of way of a set of pipelines which run through Reston. A few years back the pipeline company ran their "pig" through the pipe and found some weak spots. So they had to dig down to the pipeline and fix them. Naturally one of the weak spots was below our plot, so we lost most of the good dirt we'd built over the years and had our beds deconstructed. After the repairs were finished, we rebuilt the beds, but somehow after doing the first 4 beds we ended up short of wood for the last 2. So, being too cheap to buy untreated 2"x10" lumber which would rot, I bought some man-made "wood" trim material and used it for a couple years. But it's not satisfactory, so this year I'm planning to replace it.
That was my goal today. So some digging of old sides, measuring new boards, (hand) sawing of new material, etc. ensued. Long ago, back on the farm, doing outdoor work the first days of spring I likely would have raised blisters on the sides of my thumbs. But today, not so. I'm home with hands which tingle a bit, but no blisters. Was it the wisdom gained by age that saved my thumbs? No, fraid not. Because I've lost whatever endurance I once may have had, my get-up-and-go left before my blisters developed.
Friday, March 06, 2009
From the NRCS link you get another bureaucratic page, then a link to this page, which shows promise of tying dollars to projects. Unfortunately, none of the 3 links on that page work, which seems odd because my impression is the stimulus package gave NRCS money to do more work under existing programs, so I would have thought they'd be able to link to existing pages. I would have notified NRCS of the problem, but got discouraged by the number of links I was facing.
FNS, on the other hand, does well, at least for SNAP (i.e. food stamps)--providing a page of explanation of the increased benefits. Unfortunately the other links under their recovery page haven't been updated for the stimulus package.
FS does so-so--they look good, but the video is out-of-date (done before ARRA was signed) and is possibly addressed both to FS employees and to the public and the text page is bureaucratically vague. Additionally, the chief forester promises the work will be done in 2-3 years, mostly. I wonder if that's what they promised OMB?
Where's FSA? Not a clue.
- we may have fewer (proportionately) people institutionalized for mental problems
- we definitely have more people imprisoned (there's an interesting argument that since the 1950's we've moved people out of mental hospitals and into jails, keeping the proportion in some sort of involuntary confinement roughly the same)
- we have many more people in educational institutions
- we have more women working outside the home
- we have more people working inside the home (i.e., by computer, call-centers)
- we have more temporary workers.
- we have more older people able to work (i.e., better health and longer lived)
- we have fewer old people working (Social Security)
- we have more people in the military
- we have more people in the government
Another problem is implementing good ideas, like "recovery.gov". See this Federal Computer Week article on the problems in feeding data from the agencies into the site.
A third problem is confirmations--two nominees for the Council of Economic Advisors are being held up in Congress.
North Korean is reverting back to organic fertilizer, i.e., night soil, since they've lost their access to chemical fertilizers which they were very dependent on, but is struggling to feed its population. (That surprised me--I would have assumed their agriculture was not that modernized, but I guess collective farms must have adopted chemical fertilizers.) So, my prejudices are reinforced, private "industrial" ag is the way to go to feed people, at least in today's world.
Thursday, March 05, 2009
and here. He'd been rumored for a while, so I guess the new, tighter vetting didn't turn up any dirt. Should be interesting as he runs into the entrenched Federal IT bureaucracy. See this for an example of transparency in DC.
They say stress leads to gray. By that measure my life must not have been stressful, as I'm not much grayer than Obama. Course, he has more hair left than I do.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
"I suppose a case could be made that snow shoveling is not a sign of virtue. That a man is not morally worthy simply because he cleans the entire sidewalk, edge to edge, as opposed to scooping a single shovel-width lane."By this standard I admit to a lack of virtue. Given my advancing age, when I totter outside to clear the 5.4" of snow from my sidewalk, and the cluster's sidewalks out to the mail boxes, I count it a clear victory if I've beaten any of my neighbors. I used to have a neighbor, whom we called "Juan the Manic", who was stiff competition. He lived up to von Drehle's standards, clearing all 48" of the sidewalk, leaving not a snowflake behind. Me, I was satisfied just to clear the width of my shovel. "Clear", that is, meaning getting close enough to concrete that the sun and rising temperatures could take over the job of removing the rest of the snow. (That's known as "good enough for government work".) What I lacked in perfection I made up for in length of path cleared. I don't know where Juan is now, but he sold close to the peak of the housing boom. I hope he didn't over-extend. I miss him, miss the competition.
"Do you support his budget proposal to eliminate direct payments to any farm with more than $500,000 in gross revenue?
GRASSLEY: The answer is no. But for those of you that have followed me for the last several years, you know I am for great and restrictive limits on how much one operation can get. That's best expressed through the $250,000 hard cap that I've put in place. And, of course, he does have that in his program.
So from that standpoint, he and I are on the same page. We're not off the page. I'm not off the page with him on the $500,000, but it can't be on gross income. It's got to be on net income for farmers or let's say adjusted grow income for farmers because sales do not make a determination of whether or not you're making a profit or not.
So it's got to be related to capability of paying. So that would be one change I would make. Now, here's another consideration that goes beyond just a cap. And that is direct payment or include all payments. I would be one to include all payments. That's why my way of $250,000 is a better way of doing it because it -- a direct payment dollar, an LTP dollar, a countercyclical dollar, they all look the same. So you should have all of them included. And then you want to remember that some of this eventually has to be taken into consideration with our WTO and our negotiations. We want market opening. We get market opening. We're willing to change our subsidies that are trade distorting.
Direct payments and conservation and maybe some others are not trade distorting. LDPs and countercyclicals are a trade distorting. Maybe countercyclicals a little less trade distorting than LDPs. "
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
Monday, March 02, 2009
“We discovered how diverse Muslim Americans are,” said Dalia Mogahed, executive director and senior analyst of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, which financed the poll. “Ethnically, politically and economically, they are in every way a cross-section of the nation. They are the only religious community without a majority race.”
I was struck by the fact the plurality of Muslim Americans are Africans. Otherwise, the results are about what one might expect--Muslim Americans are more satisfied than their counterparts in most other countries, but less so than other religious groups.
My vague memory is Pres. Reagan got his way in 1981 basically by putting everything into one package, so it was an up-or-down vote. Vote for the package and you took credit for his tax cuts. Vote against, and you were protecting special interests, opposing tax cuts, and going against a balanced budget. (Not that Reagan's package really was balanced, but they had Stockman's magic asterisk and the Laffer curve so their supporters could make the claim.)
The method was something called budget reconciliation. Also see this.
And that could change the terms of the debate--now the farm state Dems can wrap themselves in support of a popular President, saying they've done their best to preserve the farm bill, etc. etc. And Obama can get some Republicans in support as well.
It should be an interesting spring for those with an irrationally robust interest in politics.
Sunday, March 01, 2009
" The biggest factor was Nebraska’s full disclosure of ag land sales data. Shultz told participants at the Holdrege Water Conference in early February that in North Dakota, only county assessors have access to sale details.My bureaucratic mind says there ought to be convergence of GIS layers and owners--why is everyone reinventing the wheel. But one obstacle is always the concept of private data. Until we get some community standards for what is acceptable use, the convergence can't happen.
Nebraska assessors must send detailed reports, including land prices and equipment sales, to a database for all sales that aren’t family to family. That data is used by UNO researchers to create Geographic Information Systems computer models that can sort and compare many variables.
One project involves mapping Republican Basin ag land sales and analyzing the value of water. Shultz said a goal is to identify the premium payments required to get landowners to retire parcels from irrigation."