Thursday, December 21, 2006

Should Tax Payers Subsidise Family Farms?

Apparently some US politicians think tax payers should do so. Here is what Washington Post reported on today:

"In today's fast-paced, interconnected world, there are few industries where sons and daughters can work side-by-side with moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas," Rep. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) said last year. "But we still find that today in agriculture. . . . It is a celebration of what too many in our country have forgotten, an endangered way of life that we must work each and every day to preserve."

Read the whole story here.

Jerry's argument is flawed. If one really values the satisfaction derived from working with dad, mom, bro, and sis, then the one who benefits from this work arrangement should pay, but not unrelated third parties who gain nothing from such work arrangement.

His argument is also confusing in that it seems to imply that people have now lost their freedom to work with one's family members. This is not true. Modern folks can always choose to work side by side with their family members if they want to. But that work arrangement carries with it a hefty price tag in terms of lower productivity that few people will choose to do so today. So it is wrong on Jerry's part to call this work arrangement "endangered" as if we were being forced to abandon such institutional arrangement. No we don't.

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