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The Big Handout Just reading the word subsidies may cause many people's eyes to glaze over We don't think itaffects us directly so we tune out But it turns out that this complicated sounding issue has an enormous impact on all of us The Big Handout is about bad fiscal environmental agricultural water energy health and foreign policies And it's a story about just one thing—subsidiesA subsidy is a grant by the government to a private business that is deemed advantageous to thepublic Cotton wheat corn soy and oil are the most subsidized commodities in the United States Inthis eye opening book New York Times best selling author Thomas Kostigen explores government policies that cost taxpayers 200 billion per year over 1500 per household In some cases we pay for subsidized goods than we'd pay in a free market—and in the most shocking abuses of the subsidy system we pay for goods that aren't even produced The Big Handout exposes how artificial pricing hurts us and people worldwide from our waistlinesand pocketbooks to our health By revealing just how toxic America's subsidy system has become for everyone The Big Handout is a wake up call that empowers readers to effect change

  • Hardcover
  • 304 pages
  • The Big Handout
  • Thomas M. Kostigen
  • English
  • 10 January 2016
  • 9781609611132

About the Author: Thomas M. Kostigen

I am a New York Times best selling author and a longtime journalist My debut novel Golden Dawn will be published in October



8 thoughts on “The Big Handout

  1. says:

    This book makes an interesting counterpoint to Clean Energy Nation by Congressman Jerry McNerney which I reviewed in August McNerney is a Democrat has a high regard for the sustainable energy policies pursued by President Jimmy Carter in the 1970s while regretting the micromanagement and lack of higher level political skills that helped to doom those policies thinks well of Clinton and Obama and is not so fond of Ronald Reagan and George W Bush Kostigen is libertarian leaning considers the Cato Institute the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation good and respectable sources and admires Ronald Reagan as one of our great presidents These two men are not coming from the same place in their political worldviewsYet the underlying central message of the two books is the same Our economic energy and agricultural policies are unsustainable doing damage to our planet endangering our national security and making us poorer McNerney attacked the problem from the perspective of energy policy; Kostigen comes at it primarily through agricultural and other corporate subsidiesYes other corporate subsidies because while 80% of our farms are smaller family owned operations nearly all of the agricultural subsidies direct and indirect go to the 20% that are owned by large corporate agribusiness entities For some subsidies small farms aren't even eligible We think of farm subsidies as helping the ordinary farmer on a family owned farm vulnerable to the hazards of weather natural disaster and uncertain demand but the reality is that those subsidies are primarily going to farmers who are corporate executivesKostigan lays out in careful detail how this distorts our agriculture our food bills our diets and our international relations Subsidies encourage high capacity factory farms or in the preferred terminology Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations or CAFOs These CAFOs crowd animals together in ways that promote the spread of disease among the animals reuiring routine use of antibiotics which aren't completely eliminated from the animals' systems and affect us promoting the growth of drug resistant bacteria They create toxic runoff which damages our waterways and causes dead zones along our coasts They help to drive smaller farms that operate sustainably not due to ideology but simply because it's what makes practical sense for smaller farms out of businessCorn is heavily subsidized so making high fructose corn syrup and using it as a substitute for sugar is cheap Sugar meanwhile is artificially high in price due to tariffs designed to keep out foreign sugar Result? Artificially cheap HFCS is used to make low uality food including junk food tastier and attractive to us while healthier foods including fruits vegetables whole grains and sustainably raised meats are expensive than they would otherwise be There's than one factor in the obesity epidemic in America but the rise of obesity as a major problem tracks very well with the rise of the use of High Fructose Corn Syrup in our foodWe pay to lower the cost of agricultural production and we get some benefit here but the greater part of the effect is to make our agricultural products cheaper on the world market enough cheaper that in developing countries we're driving local farmers out of business The result is that they have no income and even our cheap food is hard for them to buy and they are angry resentful and susceptible to the recruiting efforts of Al aeda and other terrorist groupsKostigen while focusing mainly on agricultural subsidies also talks about subsidies to the oil industry the most profitable industry in the history of the planet McNerney focuses heavily on global warming and its effects Kostigen says no matter what you think of global warming it's bad for our health to inhale the pollutants that burning fossil fuels puts into the air and we're paying to encourage this to continue rather that switching to sustainable less polluting energy sourcesI haven't and won't discuss the numbers in detail; you're better off reading Kostigen's discussion of them However he lays out those numbers very clearly and while we get some savings at the cash register due to the subsidies those savings are a small fraction of what we're spending In exchange we get air pollution water pollution soil erosion and increased hostility to our country around the worldThere's a lot to take in here and I haven't scratched the surface This book is really a must read for anyone concerned about our economyHighly recommendedI received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley

  2. says:

    We pay bout 1500 per household for food subsidies; however these subsidies do not reduce our market prices significantly instead they fuel world terrorism as poor farmers cannot globally compete due to unfair trading Moreover these subsidies lead to unhealthy eating as unhealthy foods are subsidized and the subsidies lead to environmental degradation as they contribute to bad environmental behavior so is the premise of the book The figures are really shocking just billions of subsidies spent each year on meat dairy corn sugar fish but so little on fruits and vegetables Corn is then made into high fructose corn syrup which has fructose than cane sugar worse for the body than sugar 184 Subsidized fruits and vegetables make up 25% of farm subsidies112 Moreover being able to afford to eat healthy is another issue A UCLA study found that a typical grocery bill consumes three times as much of a low income family's income than a middle income family's income115 We dump our goods on third world markets that cannot defend themselves that is they cannot compete for profit for economic survival so they are left humiliated and with no other options and turning to terrorism can become salvation 194 The WHO found subsidies in America lead to unhealthy people ie increased weight 184 185 This refers to American subsidies for high fructose corn syrup sugar meat and dairy creating cheaper prices for those foods while vegetables and fruits remain expensiveAlso of interest is how these subsidies create an unfair playing field in our American market Entrepreneurs cannot supply milk at less than the government prices58 There is an interesting story of Hettinga a Dutch born dairyman living in US who was run out of business by other dairy farmers because he was bottling his own milk which Congress made illegal as a result 60 See Thomas Friedman NY Times article re terrorism and food subsidiesNicholas Stern chief economist at the Wold Bank critiues America as hypocritical for espousing free trade and then erecting obstacles in precisely those markets in which developing countries have a comparative advantage198 Our American sugar prices are above world prices due to subsidies and loans 68 Our tariffs are very high on foreign sugar so we use almost exclusively American sugar 66 67 We have also highly subsidized rice despite the fact that it does not make sense to farm it here having to flood areas that are not naturally inundated with watercosts twice as much to grow rice in the US as in Vietnam94

  3. says:

    Kostigen paints a detailed alarming picture of how the whole subsidy system started during the Depression in good or better faith has now become a mighty albatross around taxpayer necks and a source of anti American ill will worldwide Most troubles stem from cheap Corn and Soy whose subsidized abundance ripples through the beef dairy poultry and pork industries not to mention the totally messed up energy industry Lord how I hate ethanol There are brief stops along the way in the land of Cotton Steel Oil and Gas eually fascinating and depressingI'll be reviewing the book extensively on my UrbanFarmJunkie blog this week wwwurbanfarmjunkieblogspotcom tag The Big Handout but I'd have to say it was overall a demoralizing read Motivating politicians of either stripe to change the system and motivating all those recipients of subsidies to give them up for the common good sounds this side of impossible so I'll have to settle for my usual MO encouraging people to buy cook and eat real food grown by small family farmers without the help of government handouts and help from Monsanto products

  4. says:

    Thomas Kostigen exposes government subsidies and how they effect our “free market” He says that this form of government policy “perverts our way of living making us fatter poorer and unhealthy” This call to action book provides key facts that prove how our free market economy actually costs us then we think Artificially lowering the prices on good such as cotton soy corn and oil hurts us and most people around the world Kostigen investigates that subsidies “cost taxpayers 200 billion per year then 1500 per household” Not only does this hurt our wallets but “our foreign policy our health and our expanding waistlines” Kostigen’s bitter and sarcastic tone adds so much to his work because it allows the reader to see how wrong these fiscal policies are in terms of our own American democracy Kostigen calls all readers to action which inspires me to write about something I can believe in and change

  5. says:

    Good read Well thought out and written with thorough research behind it Make no mistake This book isn't a love story It won't make you happy It might even tick you off Hopefully then you'll want to begin the ending of this world of unsustainable subsidies It's insane how willing our representatives are to throw good money after bad Thanks to the author for taking the time to write this book

  6. says:

    I just won a copy from Goodreads Looking forward to reading it I will write a review after I've read it Thank you

  7. says:

    Had a lot of information Took me a while to get into it

  8. says:

    Eye opening description of how your individual income tax is allocated to support Big Ag and Big Business

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