$6,500 Goes a Long Way

by Rachel Blum Spencer on August 19, 2011 · 4 comments <span>Print this article</span> Print this article

in Short

McDowell County in North Carolina suffered an unemployment rate of 14.8% in 2009 (over 4% higher than the national rate). At a loss with what to do with the increasing number of jobless citizens, and already operating within a strained budget, the County created a Community Garden Project.

The project operated for two growing seasons on only $6,500 (mainly from private grants) while providing work opportunities and fresh produce for the jobless.

Cuts to social services, especially in a time of high unemployment, are a cause for anxiety to many Americans. Are initiatives like the Community Garden Project a step in the right direction?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar David August 19, 2011 at 9:48 pm

Heck, in California the paper for the paperwork would cost $6500. I’m sure there’s a state bureau of something-or-other in charge of managing the process by which the forms are authorized to be required of persons interested in applying for a survey to test the viability of such a project.

avatar Marchmaine August 20, 2011 at 10:14 am

It’s all well and good until a poor child dies from eating raw vegetables straight from a garden. HAVE YOU SEEN WHAT VEGETABLES GROW IN? DIRT! There’s all manner of dirty things in dirt, its why we call it dirt.

I, for one, am shocked at such reckless disregard for human safety.

The poor should eat proper poor food; for the children.

avatar Publius August 20, 2011 at 10:26 pm

Not really.

With every subsidy (and I assume that’s essentially what a broader “Community Garden Project” would be, since I doubt private grants are going to be the entirety of the money if it’s expanded) you see the benefits, but you don’t see the costs. The costs include inefficient allocation of capital, disposable income reduced from people from whom the subsidy is taken, and increasing the amount of a good (vegetable gardens) beyond what’s demanded.

A real stimulus now would be slashing the corporate tax rate (which doesn’t hurt corporations, who just avoid paying it by moving offseas, but hurts most of us, since government now substitutes income lost from the shrinking corporate tax base with a higher, and more regressive, payroll tax), eliminating minimum wage (which prices low-skill workers out of the labor market), and unilaterally phasing out all tariffs and subsidies (there are almost no cases where a tariff or subsidy is, on the net, a gain for the economy).

avatar Albert August 26, 2011 at 10:16 am

Community Gardens are of course a great idea, and I am glad to see them flourish. Cautions about the effects of public subsidies should be noted, but there’s no reason to assume they will be absolutely required, since private grants exist. And they would be very helpful, as noted, for the unemployed.

Why would cutting corporate tax rates motivate tax evading (through legal loopholes) corporations to pay more taxes? How naive. They are interested in minimizing their tax payments so to increase profit. If one lowers tax rates, it is much more likely they will use their savings to lobby for more corporate subsidies, replace workers with technology, or expand their operations overseas rather than here, as they have been doing for decades.

If you actually want to raise tax revenue, it is a much better idea to get rid of tax loopholes and simplify the tax code.

I agree we should phase out subsidies, starting with corporate subsidies, indirect and direct.

Tariffs should be raised so as to equalize the playing field, since foreign monetary and environmental arbitrage is a de facto tariff on us, and also since Ricardian free trade theory does not apply in a world where factories and workers are mobile; it only applies when produced goods are mobile.

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