Monday, January 17, 2005

are you for real?

I was having breakfast this morning, and was reading my beloved Guardian when I came across this story.

Basically, our revered Queen and delightful Charlie are the biggest recipients of farm subsidies in the UK due to the ridiculous amount of land they "own" (I'm sure they worked real hard for it).

This pisses me off on so many levels:
(i.) That they, in addition to all the other special treatment they get, receive agricultural subsidies to run farms that would not return a profit if it was in competition with the rest of the world (otherwise, why would they need to be subsidised?).
(ii.) I am not sure what they actually farm, but this protectionism is likely to be giving them an unfair advantage over farmers elsewhere in the world, making it harder for them to sell their product at a profit.
(iii.) This makes stuff more expensive in Britain (according to Ricardo's theory of comparative advantage).
(iii.) If you are going to subsidise an industry, surely it is to protect a workforce for some reason or another (not that I generally agree with this, although there are exceptions, but if you are going to do it, please give the money to those working the field, rather than our struggling royals)

THe good bit about this story is that the Guardian got access to this information through the British Freedom of Information Act. As former the UK Agriculture Minister said:
This is a great victory for the Guardian. When I was a minister I had a struggle to be allowed to see the individual figures, let alone be able to publish them. They will reveal that some 80% of the subsidy goes to 20% of the farmers.

FoI is a good thing. So is the Guardian.

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