Is ‘sucker’ written on our foreheads?


Wow, the end is here and I still have questions.

Questions like, of the more than $300 billion of taxpayer money doled out to stupid bankers and Wall Street nitwits in one form (bailout) or another (stock purchases), where’d the money go after it got into their shaky hands?

The Associated Press asked the biggest beggars the same question recently and the answer it received from nearly every one was a cold, silent stare.

Why the silence? Simple. Under terms negotiated between the begging bankers (they were in a position to negotiate?) and Secretary The-Sky-Is-Falling Paulson, no bank is required to account where the loot — yours and mine: Are we chumps or what? — went.

Wait, there’s more

Want to feel like an even bigger chump? Look at one the biggest bank bums, Citigroup, and its former Washington, now Wall Street, rainmaker Robert Rubin, Treasury secretary during the Clinton Administration.

In the last two years Citi has seen its market capitalization plunge from $244 billion to under $20 billion, fired more than 75,000 employees and, of course, soaked you and me for billions in bailout money.

Despite that disastrous performance, wanna’ bet Rubin raked it in? Don’t. Since his arrival at Citi, Mr. Inside has pocketed salary and bonuses totaling $115 million.

What, you didn’t do as well when the price of your stock — cows, pigs and leftover grain — took a Citi-sized header this summer?

Another question about Wall Street slicksters: If and when I bilk you and your fellow farmers out of $50 billion or so, would you please ask the arraignment judge to put me under house arrest in the $10 million Park Avenue penthouse that you dopes paid for? Thank you. Suckers.

More scams

Speaking of paid-for dope, recall this summer when every farm manager with a cell phone holster urged farmers to reserve 2009 anhydrous ammonia at $1,200 per ton because if you didn’t you “wouldn’t get it”?

Anybody not get anhydrous this fall?

Huh, funny how that works, eh? Wasn’t the same “won’t-get” scam being run in seed this fall? (Hint: Not anymore. Those early December, $300-per-bag seed corn prices suddenly dropped to under $200 by month’s end. Or, as President Bush almost explained once, “Fool me once…)

And about the soybean board

And what about the 13-pound, er, page, anvil the American Soybean Association dropped on the head of its one-time child, the United Soybean Board, a coupla’ weeks before Christmas?

I mean, the ASA wants USDA to audit the soybean checkoff and its USB masters for alleged “wasteful and excessive spending” and “improper conduct”? Surely there hasn’t been any shenanigans at USB even though it has collected and spent $558 million of your money — nearly $53 million last year; one-half of 1 percent of the “net market price” of beans in the teens sure adds up — since 1992, right?

And so what if ASA’s allegations against USB include, according to DTN’s Chris Clayton, no-bid contracts, “inappropriate relationships,” “brandished” knives, public intoxication and “political games” between USDA, USB and ASA? (Are there enough initials in my columns?)

Facts are hidden

Wanna’ read about this? So would I, but nobody — not ASA, USB or USDA — has made any of condemning correspondence public.

Yes, it’s your money and, yes, a public institution, USDA, has oversight of all federally-mandated checkoffs…. and what was your point?

Merry Christmas, DFA

Did you see where the giant milk cooperative Dairy Farmers of America ended a Commodity Futures Trading Commission investigation into the coop’s suspicious, 2004 futures trading at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in exchange for $12 million from DFA members and some of its former executives?

Why? No one knows; do you?

Maybe the new year — and the new administration — will bring some new answers.

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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.



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