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The Biggest Welfare Queen? Big Agriculture.

Updated on December 16, 2013

Republicans and the Corporate Welfare State

Conservatives love to talk about welfare queens. When they talk about welfare queens, one usually envisions a single, black mother with a horde of kids, who hasn't worked a day in her life and is raising her kids to do the same, which is, frankly, insulting to everyone with dark skin and offensive to anyone at all. Especially given the fact that most of the people on welfare are white. Conservatives love to make it sound as if the people on welfare actually want to be there if it means that they don't have to pay rent or work. Any social worker would probably tell you that they have yet to see anyone on welfare who enjoys it.

But conservatives are wrong. Welfare isn't easy. Welfare is hard, and it is humiliating. Welfare is where people turn when they have absolutely no other possible chance in life. People on welfare end up there because all of their options have run out, and they desperately need someone to turn too, in order to survive. Without welfare, a great deal more people would be homeless, and jobless, since the welfare system encourages people to look for or train for work. Many conservatives have tossed the term "welfare" around loosely for years, and have tried their hardest to stigmatize those who live off of welfare.

But impoverished Americans are not the only group existing on "welfare." The term can be attributed to big businesses, too, and Republicans seem to enjoy it to no end. Big Agriculture is a wonderful example. The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) gave up to $277.3 billion to the biggest plantation scale farming operations in the country, about 74% of all subsidies in the agricultural sector. However, 62% of all other farmers get no such help from the USDA. Technically, although small farmers are not always, or even often, on welfare, the rise of Industrial Agriculture is currently out competing smaller scale family farms. As a result, the number of small farms in the United States has plummeted in the past few decades, particularly in the Midwest.

The biggest irony in all of this is the fact that elements of the Tea Party and many leading Republican thinkers have been running against Big Agriculture. At the ground level, it seems that conservatives and liberals are not all that divided when it comes to corporate welfare. Liberals would like to see subsidies to most of the big business models cut, so that the money can be spent on improving infrastructure and education. Conservatives want to see all subsidies, regardless or where they are meant to end up, cut, except, of course, for the military.

Here is a list of nine Republican Senators who have voted against cutting back on subsidies to Big Agriculture;

  • Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), senior Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee.
  • Pat Roberts (Kan.).
  • Thad Cochran (Miss.).
  • John Thune (S.D.).
  • James Risch (Idaho).
  • Lindsey Graham (S.C.).
  • Mike Crapo (Idaho).
  • Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas).
  • David Vitter (La).

Most of these men have, at one time or another, called for an end to the welfare system as we know it. But none of them have supported legislation that effectively ends government subsidies to big businesses and corporations. None of the officials above have worked to end corporate welfare.

There is a huge disparity between the well-off, and everyone else in America, and the so called "income gap" is getting bigger. Republicans seem to have a knack for proving just how out of touch they are with the rest of us. Not content to simply protect the powerful interests that help them get into office however many times they want, they then count on what they must see as common-folk stupidity, by calling for a downsizing in the role of government, even though their records are usually online for everyone to see...

It is not as if Democrats are any better at fighting poverty, or standing up to the powerful special interests that plague Washington D.C. It is safe to assume that many, if not most, politicians, whatever their party, are very good at telling people what they want to hear, even when it is not in the people's best interest. But Democrats, at least, are boring hypocrites. When Democrats spend time arguing for government expansion or adding more federal regulations, they usually bore the audience to tears. Republicans run on people's emotions, and try their hardest to excite their voters. That just makes it all the more painful when they turn out to be hypocrites, too.

Big Agriculture, and all of the other big businesses that get huge government subsidies, and who lobby in Washington all day long in order to keep the money flowing, are doing just fine. It is those millions on actual welfare that we should be worried about.

Should government subsidies be cut?

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    • Nathan Orf profile image

      Nathan Orf 4 years ago

      Hi billybuc.

      Thanks for the comment. It is a sad state of affairs, all right. Federal money goes to exactly the people and institutions that already have way more money than they need. It is what I've come to expect of companies and their lobbyists in Washington.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Eliminate subsidies on agriculture? That would certainly level the playing field a bit now wouldn't it? I come from farming blood in Iowa, and it sickens me every time I think about what has happened to farming in this country, and I'm more than willing to allow the government to shoulder a large portion of the blame. Quite frankly I'm so sick of politics I could puke. :) Great article and right on!

    • jwhitfield3 profile image

      jwhitfield3 5 years ago

      You made a lot of great points, Nathan. I'm glad I read your post. We could probably have a great, and funny if it weren't so terrifyingly accurate, discussion on crowning the biggest welfare queen. Maybe do March Madness style: Big Pharma, Goldman Sachs, GM and GE would be some serious competitors for the Final Four! haha

    • Nathan Orf profile image

      Nathan Orf 5 years ago


      I don't disagree with your analysis. Seems like you take this issue seriously. Thank you for commenting!

    • jwhitfield3 profile image

      jwhitfield3 5 years ago

      I know I'm 7 months late, but I'll kick the hornets nest.

      Since everyone here just pats each other on the back for pointing out the flaws of the Republicans, acting like Democrats are super good, I'll expose their hypocrisy.

      Look at Obama's top campaign contributors: corporations. He's in the pocket of people with gobs of money just like the Republicans you denounce.

      We need political campaign finance overhaul. Schools/universities should not be spending student's tuition money funding campaigns. Corporations and unions should not be spending other people's money to fund campaigns. Individual contributions only would be a great start.

      Saying Romney is a sleazy politician is like calling the sky blue. The words politician and sleazy are synonyms for a reason.

      Thank you to the person who mentioned bailouts, which are just another horribly unjustified government subsidy of "fat-cat" friends of the people in office. Government isn't supposed to pick winners and losers in the marketplace.

      The solution is to end all corporate welfare (no subsidies, no bailouts, no tax loopholes for anyone). We should end lobbying too by going to a flat rate income tax with a deduction, of say $20,000 for an individual, double for a couple (regardless of gender and/or relationship status of partners - no more marriage benefits), and add some more for each dependent. This means the first $20,000 an individual earns wouldn't be taxed at all, so the poor aren't hurt by a flat-rate tax.

    • profile image

      Ginger Ruffles 5 years ago

      You are welcome Nathan. I had posted it on FB as well so it was an easy find.

    • Nathan Orf profile image

      Nathan Orf 5 years ago

      Ginger Ruffles

      Thanks for the link! I checked it out and now I wish I had read it before writing the hub. Sent it on facebook too.

    • Nathan Orf profile image

      Nathan Orf 5 years ago


      Thanks for commenting! Republicans are pretty much owned by the Corporate world. Democrats, too, to a certain extent, but Republicans complain louder when their fat cat donors get a regulation or two.

    • Nathan Orf profile image

      Nathan Orf 5 years ago

      Michele Travis,

      Thanks for coming by. Yes, Mitt Romney is another good example of a sleazy politician who does whatever he can to get elected.

    • profile image

      Ginger Ruffles 5 years ago

      Good hub Nathan! You might like this link:

    • steveso profile image

      Steve 5 years ago from Brockport, NY

      Wonderful Hub Nathan. You are absolutely right. The Republicans always attack the little guy, while their own fat cats in the huge agricultural conglomerates, banks and Wall Street keep sucking down public assistance in the form of bailouts and subsidies.

    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 5 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      I agree with you both on this. Mitt Romney is hitting the poor people and the middle class hard. But, the corporations are funding him. He has to say " Yes" to them.

    • Nathan Orf profile image

      Nathan Orf 5 years ago

      Thank you for commenting, HScheider. Not to mention, all of those subsidies add a lot to the nations debt. As a country, we should be spending more on infrastructure and education, not corporations.

    • profile image

      Howard Schneider 5 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      You are right on target, Nathan, We should eliminate all subsidies to agriculture, oil. and many other industries. Those so-called budget hawks should start there before hitting the poor and middle class.