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Mailbag

Issue: "The Morning After," Jan. 15, 2000

Farmers respond

The Freedom to Farm Act and subsidies have not kept food prices up as you claim ("Farm reform fumble," Dec. 11); it is the retailers and food processors. The bill was pursued by big agribusiness companies that wanted no restrictions on production so that the grain supply would increase to lower their input costs. The government would still protect the farmers with deficiency payments (not price supports) to keep the production coming even with low commodity prices. The result has been the 60 percent decrease in commodity prices and higher prices in the grocery stores, while food processors make huge profits. We are not balancing the farm economy on the backs of the poor, or at all, but we are supporting the profits of agribusiness on the backs of the taxpayers. - Marc Haring, Lexington, Ohio

Embargo games

There are dozens of current U.S. grain embargoes against foreign countries. Washington could change that, and open up these markets. Maybe the question you should ask is, "Is it fair for the Clinton administration to play political games on the backs of the family farms?" - Tony Lee, Oxford, Ind.

Overseas competition

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We as farmers would love to do away with government programs, but when are farmers in France going to have to farm without government aid? We compete not with the farmer in the next section, but with the farmer overseas for market share. - Beth Moser, Moscow, Kan.

Freedom fumbled

I agree that Freedom to Farm was a fumble, only because it came packaged with NAFTA which has been a one-way street for American agriculture. As producers of pinto beans, we have seen "fees" (I consider them extortion) for selling bags of beans in Mexico triple, while the barriers are down coming our way. As a farm family (yes, our sole income is the farm) we have seen our monthly grocery bill to feed the same size family rise from $474 to $600 while commodity prices have plunged to all-time lows. Farmers here wear caps from a farm lender that reads, "I feed the world" and it might as well be added, "but I can't feed my family." Our national security is at great risk if America thinks it unimportant to be self-sufficient in the production of food. - Paula Johnson, Eaton, Colo.

True vs. tepid

J.B. Cheaney's "Tales of the heart" (Dec. 11) makes the important point that a conservatism that uses religion merely to support civil society is antithetical to biblical Christianity. As a recent alumnus, I can say that such religion is not the only type practiced at Hillsdale College. True Christianity is a vibrant force. The largest student organization is the school's InterVarsity Christian Fellowship chapter, and Christian faculty model lives of Christian scholarship. Such faith always shows how tepid civil religion truly is. - Jonathan Den Hartog, South Bend, Ind.

Out of control

I believe that, under disgraced president George Roche III's leadership, Hillsdale refused federal aid not so much to promote academic freedom but, as it turned out, to maintain total institutional control. The TV evangelist scandals of a decade ago should have reminded us that when you have one or a few persons with that kind of unchecked power, pretty soon they won't want to answer to anyone, even God. - Derrick A. Nowlin, Pittsburgh, Penn.

Hypocrisy high

The truths in "Hypocrisy watch" (Dec. 11) leave me both disgusted and frustrated. Not only are "mainstream journalists" in total denial about the characters of their icons and heroes but also their bias. It frustrates me that there is a large segment of the population that still believes (or wants to believe) everything that is reported on the evening news. - Laura K. Thomas, Nashville, Tenn.

Not so bad

It's unfortunate that WORLD painted such a bleak picture of Poland ("Uncivil society," Dec. 11). I was an exchange student in Poland a few years ago and, while I can attest to Poland's lack of spiritual interest and moral failings, I never saw reason to believe that youth or adults were more "immoral" than in the United States. I can also attest to a brighter side of Poland. Even if it is mostly without the gospel, most people I met were gracious and kind. - Brent England, State College, Pa.

God and democracy

It takes a long time to establish a democratic society. Our own history reminds us that our leaders floundered through the Articles of Confederation, the Whiskey Rebellion, Shay's Rebellion, etc., before a sound government was established. It is in the will of a sovereign Lord when governments rise and fall, and He will help democracy be established in Poland and elsewhere. - J. Douglas Hallman, Stonington, Pa.

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