Why farmers aren’t ‘in high cotton’

Cotton’s woes continue. A recent report in the San Antonio Express-News says that Texas cotton farmers will be lucky to turn a profit this year and many will be looking to switch to a more diversified offering of crops next year.

Falling prices and softening worldwide demand has hit Texas cotton farmers hard, the story says, adding that state cotton production for 2009 is expected to drop by 10 percent.

Texas is the nation’s top cotton-producing state, with more than half of the nation’s 9.4 million cotton acres.

Cotton production has fallen nationwide as farmers switch to grains or other products that have seen prices spike because of increased need within the biofuels industry and booming demand worldwide, the Express-News reports.

Cotton prices have fallen from more than 80 cents a pound in March to less than 55 cents in November, the National Cotton Council of America reports.


Better get those printing press rolling, boys


Jeffrey Tucker of the Ludwig von Mises Institute offers some very interesting context regarding the ongoing federal credit crisis bailout.

If correct, it means the US could fund the Korean War 10 times over for what our current government is doling out in corporate welfare. Not that another 10 Korean wars would be a good thing, but it does demonstrate the massive depth and breadth of this bailout.

Note to the hired hands who run the Treasury Department’s printing presses: better send out for pizza because you’ve got some long days years ahead.

‘If it’s too good to be true…’

The $50 billion fraud allegedly perpetrated by Wall Street businessman Bernard Madoff is just the latest installment of the good ol’ Ponzi Scheme.

Named for Charles Ponzi, an Italian immigrant who fleeced thousands of Americans nearly a century ago, a Ponzi or pyramid scheme lures investors by paying abnormally high returns on money paid in by subsequent investors, rather than from the profit from any real business.

When the scheme ultimately collapses, which it always does, the most recent investors lose everything.

While the Madoff case may be one of the highest-profile Ponzi schemes ever, it’s by no means an isolated incident. In South Carolina alone, numerous examples have been uncovered in recent years.

Among the best known: Carolina Investors, a Pickens-based investment company, that cost 8,000 investors a total of $278 million when it collapsed in 2003; and former Charleston Southern economist Al Parish, who was found guilty earlier this year of defrauding investors of $66 million.

Keep your eyes peeled because it’s all but guaranteed that yet another Ponzi scheme will make the news before long. Folks just can’t seem to resist the lure of easy money.

For real stimulus, give Americans a tax holiday

US Representative Louis Gohmert of Texas is proposing taking the $350 billion remaining in the $700 billion bailout fund Congress created in October and giving Americans a tax holiday for the first two months of 2009.

“We need to give this money to the people who earned it. I am sick of Washington millionaires trying to decide which of their cronies should get the next wad of taxpayer money,” Rep. Gohmert said in a press release.

Jed Babbin of Humanevents.com says Gohmert’s tax holiday plan is elegant in its simplicity:

“… every American taxpayer would pay no federal income or FICA taxes for the first two months of 2009. For the typical American family — earning about $50,000 a year — that would mean they would keep about $2000 that would otherwise be paid to the government.”

The Boston Globe’s Jeff Jacoby, for one, believes giving Americans a tax holiday makes a lot more sense than doling out more money to big banks and investment firms.

“Giving Americans two months off from paying federal income and payroll taxes would prove a far more potent ‘stimulus’ than any plan dreamed up by Treasury aides and Capitol Hill bureaucrats. Anything a few hundred Washington operatives can do with that bailout money, 150 million American workers and entrepreneurs can do better, faster, and smarter.”

Ultimately, Mr. Jacoby says, the question of how to spend bailout funds is a simple one:

“Plow the money into new corporate welfare for mortgage lenders and insurance giants? Or leave it in the hands of the men and women who earned it, to be used as they deem best?”