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Taxpayers Set to Further Subsidize Tobacco Farmers

Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute writes about tobacco legislation being considered in a House-Senate conference that will "hand billions to tobacco producers and extend Food and Drug Administration rules to cigarettes." He provides a short history of how tobacco allotments were started during the Great Depression, and essentially used "government to transfer wealth from one's neighbor. Farmers came up with a complex system of loans, support payments, marketing order, conservation controls, and even cash not to produce." Bandow takes on both Democratic and Republican legislators in this column, and asks the most important question: "why do growers deserve relief at taxpayer expense?" His answer is that "Farm subsidies never made sense. People deserve help because they are poor, not because they grow tobacco, wheat, or sugar." He concludes by quoting Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning (R) complaint that, "My growers are in dire straits and they need help," while Bandow responds, "So? Lots of Americans are in distrress. Why are tobacco farmers -- actually allotment holders -- entitled to seize their neighbors' hard-earned wealth."

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