Bill Moyers has three interesting pieces on the April 11, 2008 edition, the first on the increasing number of Americans going to food banks, the second on the use of farm subsidies for rich people who, in some cases, do not even farm. The third piece, an interview with David Beckman, puts the first two into context.
From The Journal:
An economist and minister, he [Beckman]spent 15 years at the World Bank overseeing projects to end poverty. For the last 15 years he's been president of Bread for the World, a Washington based coalition that advocates changing farm policies for the purpose of eliminating hunger. Welcome, David, back to The Journal.
BILL MOYERS: We've just seen in this broadcast two different reports. One on hungry people lining up for food stamps, going to the food pantries. Then we saw this report done with the Washington Post on abusive farm subsidies. How do you explain that contradiction?
DAVID BECKMANN:The main thing is that the people who are getting- who have their hands in the cookie jar are well organized. And according to the Wall Street Journal, they spent eighty million dollars last year lobbying Congress to defend those subsidies to affluent people.
DAVID BECKMANN: Commodity growers, the corn growers, the cotton growers.
BILL MOYERS: Rice growers. We saw rice growers in that film.
DAVID BECKMANN: Absolutely. So they're well organized. A group of church and environmental groups went to see Senator Reid, the majority leader of the Senate, about this issue. He came in and the first thing he said is, "Look, I've been here 35 years." He said, "I think the two best organized interests in the United States are the insurance companies and the commodity groups." He said they have very powerful friends on both sides of the aisle. It's going to be very difficult for us to do anything about this.
BILL MOYERS: But you're saying our system is so fouled up, it can't do the right thing?
DAVID BECKMANN: Is that a surprise?