Paul Jacob

December 22, 2012

“Were we directed from Washington when to sow and when to reap,” Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1821, “we should soon want bread.”

And milk, no doubt.

“Add another, more prosaic item to the list of things Congress has left until the last minute to resolve this year: the price of milk,” The Washington Post reported last Thursday.

Yes, it’s true; our glad-handing representatives are set to thrust us off yet another cliff — this time “The Dairy Cliff.”

A major piece of the colossal federal legislation dictating rules and regulations for our current nationalized farming system expires New Years Day. On balance, this has to be a good thing. Problem is, a decades-old and outdated previous regulatory matrix suddenly, and destructively, will spring zombie-like back to life.

That’s how Washington works, as we’ve come to discover. Government proves the axiom “it can always get worse.”

For the federal dairy purchase program, in particular, which is used to keep our milk prices artificially high (thanks, by the way), it means the federal boys will start paying milk producers the 1949 price supports. Experts in the dairy industry predict this will push milk prices to $6 or even $8 a gallon.

Can Congress avoid this new and, again, self-created cliff?

“There is no sign that anything is going to happen,” according to Post business reporter Jia Lynn Yang. “It’s not on the schedule . . . and obviously they have so much on their hands.”

Well, of course, certainly, there is that much-discussed/poorly-understood fiscal cliff, which isn’t so much cliff-like as pustular — appearing, as it did, like a pimple before prom, and scheduled to burst, also, on New Year’s Day. We know how busy they are lancing that boil. Indeed.

But then again, we drink milk, like to anyway, and like to pour it on our cereal, into our coffee, and add it by direction into all sorts of nifty recipes — especially in this special holiday season.

So, Honorables, whenever you can find the time . . . we most humbly petition: “Please.”

Frankly, who could imagine a system whereby the farmer and/or a company purchasing milk from farmers and pasteurizing and packaging it could possibly deliver cold, delicious milk to grocery and convenience stores at a price that Americans could afford to buy it without the help of our Congress. For one, without congressional price support legislation, whether circa 1949 or 2013, we consumers would all be stuck paying less at the store.

Thankfully, or not, Congress can come back in early 2013 and rectify the harm they have caused, and apply political triage to the countless other issues that will be popping up from the new 1949 agricultural regime like unwelcome firecrackers. The question Americans must be asking is: will they do so?

Congress may be too busy de-programming any number of newly discovered doomsday devices hidden within their own legislation, or that of previous congresses.

Do we send legislators to Washington to torment us or represent us?

Which are they doing most effectively?

So many questions, so little time left in 2012.         [ references ]


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.