Friday, September 16, 2011

Agricultural Policy

I have developed an interest in the effect of US Agricultural policy on third world farmers, but have not found a convenient way to explore my interests.  At the fair this year I spotted a US Senator's booth and stopped by to ask who in his office might help me.  The fellow pointed me to the booth of the other US Senator from Minnesota and noted that she is on the Agriculture Committee in the Senate.  I spoke with someone there who referred me to someone else who in turn said that I would likely have to talk to one of the Senator's Washington staffers.  

What I am looking for is not that complicated, if anyone were interested in looking into it.  I am just suspecting that no one has asked the questions.  

While living in South Florida I became aware of what, locally, was known as "Big Sugar."  A couple of Sugar companies around Belle Glade, Florida, were said to make large donations to candidates of both parties in the interest in obtaining legislation favorable to their businesses.  Later I learned that policies that are considered favorable to large agricultural interests, are also very unfavorable to small farmers in the third world - places like Haiti.

The interactions are at the same time political, economic, and sociological; yet they are not that complicated to understand.  My initial questions, when we talk later this month will be:

1.   What are the major goals of the Ag subsidy system?
2.   What is the total of all federal assistance given to farmers?
3.   What are the different kinds of Ag subsidies and how do they break out %wise? 
4.   Is there a breakout of the income level of recipients?
5.   If I were a farmer looking for advice on how to get subsidies, who would you send me to?
6.    How do agricultural tariffs work to help American farmers?
7.   Where can I get an understandable list of ag tariffs?  Are they different depending on where the imports would be coming from?  For example would a tariff be different on sugar from Haiti as compared to sugar from Mexico?
8.   Do you have a sense of what the combined effects are of ag subsidies and ag tariffs on third world farmers?  If not, who might you refer me to?
9.   What do you know about the political activity of the highest  20%, income wise, of farmers?  Who might have done a study and written a coherent report on this subject?
10.       Does Senator Klobuchar have an up to date written policy on agricultural funding issues?  If so may I have a copy? 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

3 Ways to Recover from a Blunder

Today's blog is from the Harvard Business Review's "Tip of the Day."
Eventually, every leader will need to apologize for a mistake. Here are three steps to take when it's your turn:
  • Admit the mistake. Fessing up expedites the recovery process. While it's tempting to shirk responsibility or slink away, it only makes matters worse.
  • Try to laugh at yourself. If it's appropriate, go ahead. Joking around gives others permission to do the same. After all, nobody wants leaders who take themselves
    too seriously.
  • Reframe the discussion. People will want to talk about the mistake forever. Give the blunder its due, but refocus the conversation on what matters most: moving forward.
Harvard Business Review BlogToday's Management Tip was adapted from "How to Recover from a Blunder" by Dorie Clark.

Friday, September 9, 2011


When I was little, "they" said I should brush my teeth.  Regularly.  So I did.  Much later "they" said I needed to floss as well.  I declined.  I even got a dispensation from a real dentist because my teeth were so crooked and I was afraid I would pull out one of the many, many fillings.  But then "they" said I should brush my tongue too.  So i did.  But now, so many years later, "they" are telling me to brush the top of my mouth.  Where does this all end?