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EDITORIAL ROUNDUP

on September 15, 2013 1:10 AM

Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad:

Los Angeles, Sept. 9, Los Angeles Times on cashing in on Uncle Sam’s sweet tooth:

Federal efforts to protect growers of sugar beets and sugar cane epitomize everything that’s wrong with U.S. farm programs. At times they’ve artificially raised the price of sugar, costing consumers billions of dollars; at other times they’ve stuck taxpayers with the bill for the surplus sugar production they’ve promoted. The fact that the sugar program is likely to survive the latest rewrite of the farm bill unscathed is a testament to how limited the bill’s “reforms” are. ...

Like the rest of the agriculture industry, beet and cane growers enjoy considerable protection from the federal government that’s not contingent on their incomes. But while other farmers are typically offered subsidized crop insurance (taxpayers cover roughly 60 percent of the cost) and guarantees against steep reductions in revenue, beet and cane farmers are also protected by import and production quotas that limit supply, deter competition and inflate prices. ...

The rationale behind the sugar program is the same one used to justify every federal farm subsidy: To ensure a reliable food supply, farmers should be protected against the unpredictable and potentially ruinous swings in harvests and crop prices, not to mention unfair foreign competition. The most straightforward way to do so would be a means-tested system that helps farmers who run into financial trouble. There’s limited sensitivity to need in U.S. farm programs, however.

The unusually high farm profits in recent years have given Congress a golden opportunity to try to wean agribusiness from federal subsidies and market-distorting protections. But lawmakers seem incapable of making meaningful changes even to a program as flawed and costly to consumers as the one that protects sugar beets and sugar cane farmers regardless of their potential to thrive without Uncle Sam’s help.

Tokyo, Sept. 10, The Japan Times on now Japan must deliver in regard to Olympics:

The International Olympic Committee has chosen Tokyo as the host of the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics. It is hoped that Tokyo’s hosting of the once-in-four-year global games will help dispel the “locked in” feeling prevalent in Japanese society — which has been primarily attributed to difficult economic conditions — and help to enhance the level of sports in Japan. But government leaders must realize that their promise to end the leaks of radioactive water from Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has now become an international pledge.

The government must mobilize all available resources to quickly solve the leak problem so that not only people in and around Fukushima Prefecture but also participants in the Olympic and Paralympic Games will not have to worry about radiation problems. ...

It appears that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s speech in Buenos Aires, the venue of the IOC’s convention — in which he stated that the situation at Fukushima No. 1 is under control and that the “effect” of contaminated water is fully contained within the 0.3 square meter harbor adjacent to the nuclear power plant — helped to convince the IOC to award the games to Tokyo.

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