McFeely: Are the farmer bailouts socialism or welfare?

With Trump handing out money because of tariffs, perhaps all U.S. consumers can expect a check because of higher prices

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Forum New Service columnist Mike McFeely

This is all so very confusing, in a Vietnam-era "it became necessary to destroy the town to save it" sort of way.

President Donald Trump, revered by rural America because he vows to build a wall 1,500 miles away to keep out the Invading Brown Hordes, has to destroy farmers to save them. But while he's destroying them he's going to save them temporarily by giving them another $16 billion in aid, on top of the $11 billion he doled out last year, because the policies he's implemented long-term to save them after destroying them will destroy them in the short-term before they can be saved in the long-term after being destroyed.

Anyway, Patriot Farmers, the check is in the mail. Vote Trump 2020.

The indelicate question that needs to be asked, though, is whether the rest of America should consider these bailout payments socialism or welfare?

Both, of course, are seen as evil as that uppity broad AOC around these parts and you'd probably prefer the handouts be referred to as "hush money," which has gained acceptance among Republicans, but we know you appreciate people who tell it like it is. "Trade wars are good, and easy to win," for example. Just like it is.


Truth is, these farmer bailouts sure look like socialism or welfare to a lot of America.

Maybe not strict socialism like the North Dakota state mill or state bank, but certainly in a general "combine and share" kind of way. The greater good, we're all in this together way, united we stand — like the kind touted by North Dakota Republican Gov. Doug Burgum when he takes taxpayer-funded incentives to revitalize downtown Fargo.

So it's probably more welfare, just a straight-up cash handout to a downtrodden group that is then demonized, ridiculed and told to take drug tests by Republicans. You know the drill: Poor people get government assistance, they are shamed for it, accused of scamming the system and then told to pull themselves up by the bootstraps.

This is kind of like that. Welfare. By the way, would you be offended if we asked you to pee in a bottle before cashing your check? Asking for a friend.

This might be a sticky wicket, then, since Republicans and rural Americans are such rugged individualists who just want the government to stay the hell out of their lives and let the free markets work. And you know what they say on Fox News: We need to stop feeding the animals because doing so just makes them dependent.

If there's good news, it's that farmers are not in this alone. A report says Trump's latest round of tariffs on China are costing each U.S. household an average of $831 annually. So he's doing to all of us what he did to Stormy Daniels.

The difference is, Trump paid off farmers and Stormy to keep quiet. The rest of us haven't seen a dime. So we'll just wait by the mailbox for our $831 check to be dropped off. Welfare for thee is certainly as important as welfare for me, right?

Mike McFeely is a columnist for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. He began working for The Forum in the 1980s while he was a student studying journalism at Minnesota State University Moorhead. He's been with The Forum full time since 1990, minus a six-year hiatus when he hosted a local radio talk-show.
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