Slaves to Farming

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

Dave Schuler laments:

As best as I can tell I’m one of the very few in the American political blogosphere who comments on trade negotiations — you can check back through my archives for my many posts posts on the subject. It doesn’t seem to be a subject that captures the imagination, possibly because there’s not a great deal of partisan hay to be made from the subject. I’d still like to know the answer to a question I posed nearly a year ago to Candidate Obama: how would he revive the Doha trade talks?

I sort of feel his pain.  But I’m not sure that lack of partisan venom is the reason for this.  More likely it’s because everyone has just given up.  To me, writing about the Doha round is sort of like griping about how big states should have better representation in the Senate or musing about how we ought to eliminate the Defense Department.  I mean, if that’s what floats your boat, fine.  The blogosphere is deep.  But we all know this stuff is never going to happen, so it’s sort of a waste of time, isn’t it?

Trade talks aren’t quite that bad.  But they’re close.  The Doha round in particular lives or dies based on the willingness of rich nations to substantially reduce tariffs and subsidies on agricultural products, and seriously, what are the odds of that?  We can’t even have a serious discussion about reducing subsidies on corn ethanol, possibly the stupidest use of taxpayer dollars in the past century, let alone reducing farm support payments to ConAgra and Archer Daniels Midland.  Meanwhile, the European attitude toward farming makes ours look positively levelheaded and beneficient.  Paris would probably go up in flames if EU farm payments were ever rationalized.

So: what are the odds of making progress on agricultural issues?  Especially these days, you’d need scientific notation to express it properly.  Might as well wish for a pony instead.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest