First things first. Congressional negotiators have finally put together a Farm Bill, and, as expected, it's not good enough: it cuts food stamps by $8 billion over 10 years, and though it ends farm subsidies, it moves a big chunk of that subsidy money into crop insurance, which essentially makes the crop insurance program another subsidy program. (The Times reports that the Farm Bill will cap subsidies, though it doesn't say what those caps will be like -- if they're not like Sen. Toomey's caps from 2012, they're probably not good enough.) Thus we make our will known, again: PennPIRG still helps you tell your Reps and Senators to end the gravy train of taxpayer money to big agricultural corporations, while Daily Kos helps you tell Congress not to cut food stamps while playing a shell game with subsidies. Noting that this Farm Bill supposedly saves $23 billion in spending over 10 years, one might wonder why $8 billion in food stamp cuts is even necessary. Of course we know why: so Republicans can claim a "win." But they're not supposed to win. The people are supposed to win.
I didn't mark the occasion, but the fourth anniversary of Citizens United v. FEC passed last week, and though President Obama once seemed kindly disposed toward having the Securities and Exchange Commission mandate disclosure of corporate campaign spending, the SEC has not only failed to issue regulations on the matter despite getting more than half a million comments demanding them to do just that, but has "disappeared" the matter from its 2014 agenda. After hearing what, exactly, from big corporate bosses? That disclosure isn't necessary to protect shareholders, or that shareholders don't care that corporations piss away their money trying to elect knuckle-draggers to Congress? I do not believe that shareholders care only about money, because that is cynicism, and I do not abide cynicism. Perhaps they've been telling the SEC that disclosure amounts to "bullying" -- this, coming from financial tough guys who've spent the last few decades doing the helicopter dance in front of us! -- to which I reply: go see a therapist already. So the Union of Concerned Scientists helps you tell the SEC to mandate disclosure of campaign spending by publicly-traded corporations.
Meanwhile, the USDA rather surprisingly extended its deadline for public comments on the "Arctic Apple." You remember the Arctic Apple? The apple genetically engineered, no, not to increase yields at orchards or even to resist corporate pesticides, but to not turn brown after it's been sliced? I'm tempted to say "who the hell thinks that's clever?" But I know that people who cherish "cleverness" in precisely that shallow manner don't actually have a whole lot of say in how corporations make decisions, even if corporations would like us (or them!) to think so. No, someone probably created this monster so that kids would eat more apples -- as if parents have absolutely zero say about that, as if an apple browning represents some elephantine injury to culinary aesthetics, as if our government doesn't make healthy food choice significantly harder by handing out all that taxpayer money to corn-syrup producers. Seriously, technology doesn't solve every problem. The USDA's new comment period ends tomorrow, so the Organic Consumers Association helps you tell the USDA to reject the potentially unsafe and certainly unnecessary Arctic Apple.