Crazies in Congress Cause Soaring Grocery Bills

Crazies are alive and well in American politics. The primary victory scored in Texas by Tea Party candidate Ted Cruz is just one illustration of this sorry state of affairs.

To say that Cruz is extreme is like calling the Pope a Catholic. The man is off the charts when it comes to craziness.

But he is no worse than the current crop of crazies in Congress. And their craziness is costing the rest of us plenty.

They’re like a bunch of frothing-at-the-mouth suicide bombers, bent on pursuing their extreme ideologyregardless of the harm they will do to their country or themselves.

We saw them demonstrate their insane extremism in the disastrous debt limit showdown that resulted in a credit rating reduction for American government bonds – with the attendant increase in the cost of running the country. They did it again on the president’s jobs bill. And again on a proposed middle class tax cut extension. And again… And again…

This crazy Congress can’t pass the most innocuous piece of legislation. Even a universally acclaimed law designed to protect battered women is languishing in limbo while an endless stream of right-wing rhetoric – packaged as legislation – echoes through the House only to fade away in the Senate.

Perhaps the most damaging example of defiant destructiveness is yet to be felt by the American people. By digging in their heels and refusing to pass urgently needed legislation, the Congressional crazies have created a crisis that will inflict sky-high food prices on us all.

Writing in Salon.com today, Andrew Leonard sums up the craziness this way:

Just how screwed up is the United States? A catastrophic drought has impelled the federal government to designate more than half the nation’s counties as disaster areas. Yet even in the face of this historic disaster, Congress has proven itself incapable of passing legislation, large or small, to help the farmers affected by the drought.

And, also in Salon.com today, David Sirota declares:

To understand how utterly broken our society is, how hostile to sacrifice we are and how willfully ignorant we have become, you need only look at the historic drought hammering the heartland — and how our elected officials are responding to that cataclysm.

As you likely know from this arid summer, America is suffering through the worst drought since 1950. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, half of all counties in the nation are officially disaster areas — a situation that has devastated the country’s supply of agriculture commodities. Consequently, food prices are expected to skyrocket, and eventually, water-dependent power plants may be forced to shut down.

So how do our government officials plan to deal with this crisis? According to Sirota:

This is a full-on emergency, and USDA, a key agency involved in the national security issues surrounding our food and water supply, last week responded with a minor non-binding recommendation. In its inter-office newsletter to agency employees, it suggested that those who want to conserve water could simply refrain from eating meat on Mondays.

Don’t laugh. In the craziness that now prevails in America, it’s apparently the best agricultural officials can do. It might not do much to help the farmers or save their crops, but it could cut back on water consumption. Sirota quotes a Cornell University study that shows “producing a pound of animal protein requires, on average, about 100 times more water than producing a pound of vegetable protein.”

He adds that according to the U.S. Geological Survey, “that means a typical hamburger requires a whopping 4,000 to 18,000 gallons of water to make.”

But even that small gesture just isn’t going to fly.  Sirota reports that “lawmakers who have pocketed massive campaign contributions from the meat-centric agribusiness industry” reacted to the suggeston “as if the agency had declared war on the American Way of Life.”

According to Sirota’s Salon article:

 Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, called the recommendation “heresy” and pledged to “have the double rib-eye Mondays instead.” Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, told his drought-stricken constituents that “I will eat more meat on Monday to compensate” for the USDA suggestion. And Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, proudly posted a photo to his Facebook page showing a Caligulian smorgasbord of animal flesh that his Senate colleagues were preparing to scarf down as a protest against USDA.

When American politicians go berserk at the suggestion that the nation cut back a little on meat consumption to conserve water, you know America is in trouble.

Meanwhile, Congress is in recess and the drought drags on.

Get ready for the soaring food prices that are sure to follow.

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com

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