Lame Duck Soup: Sometimes You Have to Watch How the Sausage is Made

Seton Motley | Less Government |
Seton Motley | Less Government |
Duck Kong

For people not steeped in American cinematic history – Duck Soup:

“The country of Freedonia is in the middle of a financial crisis and on the brink of revolution….(T)he government appoints Rufus T Firefly as its president. However, Mr Firefly shuns the pomp and pretentiousness of government; along with the prudence and rationality of it too.”

I’ve again and again thought of this flick – ever since Donald Trump was elected President.  It’s as if we’ve chosen Rufus T. Firefly.

A man who sees government and all its attending nonsense – for the giant, incompetent, rolling ridiculousness it is.

Every time someone complains about something Trump does that they deem “isn’t presidential” – I think of President Firefly.  (And of the fact that Trump is President – and thus everything he does is presidential.)

Because Trump has incepted an all-encompassing debate: Do we care more about style – or substance.

An awful lot of people are awfully, fully, myopically fixated on the President’s style.  “I don’t like his tone.”  “He shouldn’t have Tweeted that.”  Etc, etc, etc.

Blah, blah, blah.

I don’t care a whit about style – under any circumstances.  I ESPECIALLY don’t care – if I am getting large doses of the substance I want.

And as a less government person – no president since at least Calvin Coolidge a century ago has delivered as much less-government-substance as has President Trump.

For me – good substance is as stylish as it gets.  Rave on, President Firefly.

Speaking of substance – we are entering a lame duck Congressional session.  In which many people who aren’t returning next session – get one last chance to screw us (here’s looking at you, thankfully-soon-to-be-ex-Senator Jeff Flake).

Otto von Bismarck noted: “Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.”  But if you want to minimize the damage lawmakers are doing to us – watch we must.

The looming Lame Duck Soup – contains a lot of prospective sausage.  Watch me must.

One thing Congress is trying to get done – is a re-up of the Farm Bill.  As a less government guy – I’m not a huge fan of the Farm Bill.  To say the very least.

That being said – I’m a realist who believes in incrementalism.  The Farm Bill ain’t going to die in Lame Duck.  So the most for which we can hope – is to minimize the damage contained therein.

The House and Senate have passed different versions of the Farm Bill.  They are now attempting what they call reconciliation – mashing together the two bills into one on which both chambers can vote.

The House version contained some very reasonable work requirements in exchange for reception of food stamps.  Those very reasonable work requirements – have already been thrown over the side.  Because of course.

Thankfully still alive in the Senate version are some protections for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) – against government funding competitors to their private sector businesses.

98+% of Americans have access to high-speed Internet – thanks entirely to the private sector.

But governments at every level absolutely insist they insert themselves anyway.  And have done so over and over and over again – for almost two decades.  Because of course.

Government insists on repeatedly trying to get into the ISP business.  Which is obnoxious and stupid in many, many ways.

Private sector ISPs risk considerable money in their efforts to provide us service.  Many fail – some succeed.  Those who succeed – are then taxed out their wazoos.  Government then takes their money – and uses it to form government ISPs to compete with them.

That’s inordinately lame.

Private sector ISPs have a limited amount of money with which to do business.  Government taxes money from the private sector in about nine million different directions.  Any of the nine million different taxes – including the very many taxes on ISPs – can be raised whenever.  And the additional coin used to further fund the government competitors to private ISPs.

That’s inordinately lame.

Oh: And, of course, government stinks out loud at doing…everything.  They certainly stink screaming at the technically complicated work of being an ISP.  Governments have been trying to be ISPs for almost two decades.  It has been almost two decades of complete and utter failure.

Shocker, I know.

But government remains completely impervious to facts.  In both chambers’ Farm Bills – is billions of additional dollars to fund even more government ISP nightmare messes.

The alleged point of all of this ongoing, rolling government ISP idiocy – is to connect the unconnected.

But again, time and time and time again – government has instead set up competitors to private sector ISPs.

The Senate is at least trying to minimize that damage.

Senate Farm Bill Provides a Glimmer of Hope for Rural Broadband:

“The Senate farm bill places new restrictions on the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) RUS Broadband Loan Program, which would help focus the program on the unserved who need broadband the most, while simplifying the application process for companies seeking loans and grants. The House bill does not have these provisions; the final bill should include them….

“The Senate farm bill seeks to correct persistent programmatic weaknesses by ensuring that RUS grants and loans will not be used to overbuild in areas of the country where broadband already exists at or above a minimum standard of 25/3 Mbps. The legislation also restricts loans to areas with two or fewer existing broadband providers, where 90 percent of households are defined as unserved….”

Get that?  In the Senate version, if you have two private sector ISPs – government can STILL set up a government competitor.  That’s obnoxious.  But the House version is three.  Which is 50% more obnoxious.

Again, incrementalism.

More better Senate version:

“The Senate broadband provisions place the ‘highest priority’ on loan applications that propose to provide broadband service to unserved rural communities that do not have any residential broadband service, and require USDA to verify that an area is unserved using data from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Federal Communications Commission.

“Applicants must post the area they plan to serve with USDA so that other broadband providers that may be in the area can either confirm or deny that the proposed area is unserved.

“The broadband reforms in the Senate farm bill will promote rural broadband in truly unserved areas of the country; refine the definition of an unserved community; provide the opportunity for incumbent providers to attest whether a specific loan application area is already served by a broadband provider; and offer additional measures to protect against broadband overbuild using federal taxpayer dollars.”

So rather than government just blindly, serially shotgunning coin will-nilly wherever – the Senate version makes decent efforts to ensure an area isn’t served at all or enough before turning on the money spigots.

Which is why these portions of the Senate version – should make it through to the reconciliation version.


This first appeared in Red State.

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