Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Stossel Thinks There Shouldn't Be Any Government Farm Loans -- Then You Wouldn't Have Racist Discrimination

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

John Stossel went on Bill O'Reilly's show last night to discuss his little weekend shoutfest with the would-be victim of Breitbart's long-running "Pigford" smear, attorney Al Pires.

Stossel concluded of course that their intended pinata had been smashed to pieces at his own hand because he had resorted to personal attacks -- this, from a guy who ran a chryon Pires as a "freeloader" throughout his, and who attacked him personally throughout the segment as a "scam" attorney.

On O'Reilly, it was once again a session smearing Pires as a rich, money-grubbing leech lawyer out to rip people off, even though the closest Breitbart and Co. can get to "proving" this characterization is with an endless string of dubious insinuations. Stossel just made it clear that Pires should creep people out -- but he won't suggest there was anything illegal about what Pires did, nor in fact can he even point to any unethical behavior. This kind of sliming of their targets is itself deeply slimy.

And then, almost comically, Stossel admitted that in fact Pires' case in court was sound, and his legal victory was a matter of simple justice. But then he reverted to his libertarian prism and tried arguing that these farmers shouldn't have been in the position of asking the federal government for a loan in the first place -- because, in Stossel Land, there shouldn't be such programs at all!
O'REILLY: Now, in a situation like this, where you have a class-action suit against the federal government, the federal government usually folds. But in this case, you say there was some evidence they denied loans, legitimate government loans, to people based on the color of their skin?

STOSSEL: Yes -- and this is another reason: why is the government giving out farm loans in the first place? OK? They shouldn't, but they are.

O'REILLY: Well, it's affirmative action, isn't it? I mean, to try to help people in certain areas. That's under that banner.

STOSSEL: It's also farm -- Agriculture Department pork. You should go to a private bank and get a loan. Then if a bank is racist, they lose money to a bank that isn't racist, because they get the good business from the minorities. But -- the government was giving out the money, and some of the loan officers were racist.
Apparently Stossel doesn't believe in the Federal Farm Credit system -- which tells you that he's never been a farmer, either. Nor is he even being logical, since the farm-credit system doesn't cost taxpayers a thing. As the FCA's site explains:
All Government financial assistance was repaid, with interest, by 2005. FCA itself does not receive any Government appropriations; rather, FCA operations are funded through assessments paid by FCS institutions.
Y'see, before passage of the Federal Farm Loan Act, farmers were entirely at the mercy of banks when it came to getting loans for their crops or other needs. Since 1908, government loans have been part of American farmers' bedrock, their means for surviving when private banks turned against them. Stossel wants to return us to the good ol' days of Pottersville, evidently.

Similarly, his astonishing assertion that the magic of the banking marketplace would solve any racism issues among private bankers should any discriminate against race is laughable in the context of the historical reality of the old South, where every banker was either an active racist or was cowed into denying loans to black people because they would suffer business losses if they did so. (That was what the White Citizens Councils were about.) Evidently, Stossel is similarly eager to return us to those good ol' days, too.

Even more ironic is that one of the real legacies of that tradition of threatening to destroy successful black people in the South was the decades of discrimination against black farmers, particularly in the South, which kept thousands of people from farming. And Stossel thinks it's a travesty that those people should get remuneration now. Guess we can see which side the "libertarians" fall on, can't we?

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