Framing the Dialogue

When Pigs Fly

It’s an oft repeated story, government’s abuse of power discriminated against a group.  In this case the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) denied loans to black farmers based on race.  A group of black farmers (I wonder why they are “black” farmers and not “African-American” farmers) sued and after a while the USDA admitted to the discrimination.   The USDA settled the Pigford vs Glickman case and agreed to pay affected black farmers $50,000 per claim.  Here is my first hiccup.  The USDA, while a bloated bureacracy, is made up of people some of whom discriminated against black farmers.  None of the article that I read mentioned anything about people being fired, going to jail, or being fined because of the offenses.  Yet another case of government screwing up and costing us money.

The first installment of Pigford money called Pigford I(you should be afraid when they have to enumerate as II always follows I) blew through $ 1 BILLION in settlements.  According to Representative Steve King (R-IA) there have been over 94,000 claims made.  The loophole is that you didn’t actually have to be a farmer to apply for the money.  At a minimum all that you had to do was claim that you had been turned down for a loan to qualify.  There are reports that USDA had ont kept detailed records on loan denials so it seems that we are relying on the honesty of Americans not to fraudulently apply for $50,000 of free money.  That seems to be holding true as John Boyd, who is the President of the National Black Farmers Association, gave sworn testimony that there are 18,000 black farmers

If it is safe to assume that not all black farmers sought USDA loans and not all black farmers who sought loans were discriminated against (only six were named in the original class action suit) the number of claims should be much less than 18,000.  The case can be made that some black “farmers” could not become “farmers” because they could not get loans so that would bump the number of potential claims back up.  Since politicians and pundits like to make up numbers to support their claims I’ll do he same and conservatively estimate that based on widespread discrimination (which did not seem to be the case) occurred and 30,oo0 blacks were affected.  Either my math is screwed up or I missed something big to go from 30,000 affected black “farmers” to over 94,000 claims.  I suspect that there may be a HUGE amount of fraud going on here.  That’s okay since it’s only $1 billion dollars.

Welcome to Pigford II (I warned you) where President Obama signed a bill providing an additional $1.15 billion to pay to black “farmers.”  Some call it a backdoor way to pay reparations, but only time will tell if the Justice Department will investigate the fraud.  My prediction is that Attorney General Snidely Holder will investigate, but no prosecutions will actually occur. 

I have another big question that no one seems to have asked.  If the USDA discriminated against black farmers by denying them loans why don’t we just give them loans?  Why just give them money?  We can make the loans contingent on being used for actual farming.  We can make them low interest, no interest, or differed interest if we want to provide some relief to those harmed.  I have another idea to help them.  Why not suspend or alleviate government obstacles to the black farmers that will help them be more successful.  Hell let’s do it for all farmers.  Hell let’s do it for all businesses.    Don’t you wish that politicians were as creative in ways to save us money as they are in giving our tax dollars away?

While there is not a Pigford III (yet) I predict that there will be soon.  A Huffington Post writer is writing a series alleging “that the media’s failure to report Pigford hurts black farmers.”  As much as it pains me to link to the HufPo I grudgingly did for your benefit.  There are many conservatives, including Brietbart, who are lauding the HufPo as getting it right.  I am more skeptical.  As I read through the linked article something towards the end raised my tax-hackles,

“There’s no way that the person who didn’t get an application — the “attempted to farm”-er — deserves the same amount of compensation as the actual, real farmer.”

I don’t disagree with that sentiment, but I would take away from the “attempted to farmer.”  Pigford III (my prediction) will be about paying more of our money to real black farmers and still giving $50,ooo to those who attempted to farm.  I have no doubt that most Republicans, fearing being labeled “racist” by supporters and media, will more than willingly go along with increasing funding.  What the heck; to a politician it’s only money.

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