A bill known for bringing together rural and urban lawmakers has led to a rift after the U.S. House sent its version of the farm bill to the Senate. The GOP-supported House bill separates SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as …
America is a generous country. Taxpayers can take pride in the fact that, under the terms of the 2014 Farm Bill, they will send more than $2 billion worth of food to needy countries this year. Thanks to these aid programs, more than 50 million people in 51 countries will be fed by U.S. foreign aid. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that these programs are rife with cronyism that make them more expensive and less effective than they should be.
Just how much cronyism is there? Enough that another 8 to 10 million people could be fed at no added cost just by removing two unnecessary regulations.
What do these regulations do? The first requires that nearly all U.S. food aid be sourced from American farmers. The logic is that American food aid can combine generosity with national self-interest, stabilizing U.S. agricultural markets while providing aid.
But that self-interest has a cost, and a significant one. Namely, there is often more than enough food nearby that could be purchased and transported at a far lower cost and with far less waste than by shipping American food across the ocean. Even Africa, the continent most commonly associated with hunger crises, produces more than enough food to feed itself — as does the world as a whole, for that matter. In light of this fact, requiring that food aid be sourced in the United States no longer makes sense.
It’s a bizarre case where the costs of cronyism so outweigh the benefits that even one of the primary beneficiaries, the American Farm Bureau Federation, supports reform. The problem is that this regulation is a relic of a different era, one in which food aid was a meaningful portion of American agricultural exports and in which local food production in hunger-stricken areas was rarely sufficient to meet local demand. That is no longer the case — food aid today accounts for less than 1 percent of agricultural exports and less than 0.1 percent of food production in the country. The times have changed, but our rules have not.
The other regulation mandates that at least half of all U.S. food aid be carried on U.S.-flag vessels, known as the Cargo Preference for Food Aid (CPFA). The Government Accountability Office (GAO) studied the effects of the CPFA, and found that the costs were significant. Overall, the GAO estimated that the CFPA increased costs of shipping by 23 percent between 2011 and 2014, making up over $107 million of the total $456 million cost.
This time, the original intent behind the rule was based on national security concerns rather than economic ones. Lawmakers intended to use the food aid program to subsidize a merchant marine that could be called upon in times of war. Yet again, the organization that the regulation is intended to benefit, the Department of Defense, supports reform. The vast majority of U.S. vessels carrying food aid do not meet minimum standards for reform, and the DoD has stated that elimination of the regulation would not impact America’s maritime readiness in the case of war.
It is an unfortunate fact that as much as 60 percent of the food aid budget is spent on items that have nothing to do with food — such as transportation costs for the American food that we’re sending halfway around the world on more expensive American ships. And it’s why simple reform, such as the bipartisan Food for Peace Reform Act of 2018, would free up nearly $300 million simply by reducing the requirement for U.S.-sourced food to 25 percent.
It’s rare that cronyism is so egregious and outdated that its beneficiaries support reform. When they do, lawmakers should take the hint, and support reform as well.
NEW YORK –In the wake of several recent school shootings — including 10 killed in Santa Fe, Texas, and 17 killed in Parkland, Florida– hundreds of young people hit the streets Saturday to demand change, CBS New York reports. They’re calling on lawmakers …
Professional sports leagues came out swinging against New Jersey’s sports betting law on Monday, largely because it doesn’t compensate them for keeping watch for corruption. Lawmakers made some key decisions Monday as they race to legalize sports betting after winning a case in the U.S. Supreme Court.
State lawmakers grilled leaders of New Jersey’s largest teachers union Thursday over hidden-camera videos appearing to show local union officials discussing protecting teachers accused of abusing students. They also implored state education officials to …
New Jersey lawmakers grilled teachers union officials Thursday, weeks after the release of undercover videos that appeared to show local union representatives bragging about their ability to preserve the jobs of teachers who abuse students or drugs.
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Russian “dirty money” is washing through London’s financial hub, and that is undermining the U.K. government’s ability to respond to Moscow, British lawmakers have warned. The U.K. parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee on Monday blasted …
While the airwaves and social media have had plenty of teachers saying that they sure don’t want to be armed, they don’t speak for all teachers. Not by a long shot. They’re trying to do just that, mind you, but they don’t.
You see, there are plenty of teachers who would gladly carry a firearm so they could defend not just their own lives, but the lives of their students.
North Carolina is considering a bill that will allow them to do just that.
Republican lawmakers have a new plan to address school safety in North Carolina.
The School Security Act of 2018 would allow teachers to apply to become undercover School Resource Officers.
Participants would be required to undergo basic police training and would be sworn officers with guns in the classroom.
The position would also come with a 5 percent pay increase.
“The two problems that the bill tries to address is, one, we really don’t have enough money to put enough School Resource Officers into schools if we just pay them for a separate position,” said Senator Warren Daniel (R-46). “And two, even if you had the funding, we wouldn’t have enough applicants to fill those positions. It would provide a cost effective way to get School Resource Officers into the school.”
Senator Warren Daniel is one of the bill’s sponsors, along with Senator Ralph Hise and Senator Dan Bishop.
“Hopefully their skills and services would never be needed as a resource officer and they would be able to focus on their teaching 99.99 percent of the time. But there’s just that small fraction of a possibility that something tragic could happen and that they would be ready,” Senator Daniel explained.
Of course, not all teachers are onboard. In particular, one is quoted prattling on like anyone is considering making this mandatory, which is typical for anti-gun zealots.
You see, in almost every aspect of life, those who oppose guns also tend to believe that anything not forbidden should be mandatory. With that mindset, they see a bill like this and automatically jump into the idea that this is somehow going to require teachers to be armed, which it isn’t. They don’t want the facts. More importantly, though, they don’t want the voters of North Carolina to have the facts.
Instead, they want to pretend that the apocalypse is upon us because a handful of teachers who want to will be armed.
I’m not crazy about requiring specialized training since a concealed carry permit should be all that is needed, but that’s a compromise I’m willing to make so that there will be more responsible adults armed in our schools.
With this law in place, don’t expect to see another Parkland or Santa Fe happen in North Carolina.
And to those teachers who think the idea of carrying a gun is a disaster, all I can say is, “Then don’t.” No one will make you carry a firearm. Frankly, if you’re stupid enough to think a bill that will allow someone to carry will require someone to carry, then I don’t want you to have a gun anyway.
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While the Legislature wasted most of the 2018 legislative session debating gun control bills which do nothing except punish law-abiding gun owners, and passing other unnecessary bills, they left their most important task, passing a state budget …