Best gift is for Congress to stop giving


Before the cheerless rush to abandon Washington, D.C. hits, here are a few suggestions for our hired hands in Congress on what they should not give farmers, ranchers and the rest of us in rural America this holiday season.
First, no more free trade deals, please. Sure, farm leaders say they want more, but it’s doubtful they or the nation can afford more.
In the most recent 20 years of free trade deal making, the U.S. trade deficit has ballooned from $100 billion per year to nearly $1 trillion. Along with this export of wealth came the export of jobs.
NAFTA. In the first eight years of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), 1994 to 2002, the U.S. Dept. of Labor documented that 507,000 American jobs migrated to Mexico. The number is even greater today – guessed at 850,000 – but accurate figures are unavailable because political appointees at the U.S. Dept. of Labor, as noted the San Francisco Chronicle Nov. 20, did what every good politician who hates bad news would do: they stopped counting.
What didn’t stop, however, was illegal immigration. Of the estimated 12 million Mexicans in the U.S. illegally today, 6 million, (again estimated), have arrived since NAFTA’s passage.
Don’t give us any more self-serving swan songs from retiring politicians. The most recent ones from former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and current Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott broke the hypocrisy meter.
Hastert, who vacated his Illinois seat Nov. 27, lamented that his biggest regret during his bitterly partisan reign as Speaker was the bitter partisanship that reigned when he was Speaker. And this from the man who broke House rules and members’ arms at will.
Seasons. Lott, who announced Nov. 26 he’ll be resigning his Senate seat in late December, quoted the Book of

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Alan Guebert was raised on an 800-acre, 100-cow southern Illinois dairy farm. After graduation from the University of Illinois in 1980, he served as a writer and editor at Professional Farmers of America, Successful Farming magazine and Farm Journal magazine. His syndicated agricultural column, The Farm and Food File, began in June, 1993, and now appears weekly in more than 70 publications throughout the U.S. and Canada. He and spouse Catherine, a social worker, have two adult children.