[View:http://community.cengage.com/GECResource/themes/gew/utility/ :550:0] Jackie Speier makes the case in the video above for leveling the playing field with respect to government food payments. Her speech was in anticipation of a House of Representative vote to cut the food stamp program, which provides less than $5 per day to the hungry poor--many of whom are from families where adults are working at minimum wage. Meanwhile, notes Representative Speier, the government's 2013 "per diem" allowances for meal spending while on business travel (without requiring detailed receipts) ranges from $46 to $75 in California, depending on the city. These are considered the reasonable and necessary expenses. At the higher end, Speier notes more extravagant meals reimbursed in full for House of Representatives Members traveling internationally. This funding for business-people's food, while many times higher than that allotted to the poor, pales in comparison to the government subsidizing of corporate farmers. According the the Environmental Working Group , " The farm subsidy database tracks $256 billion in farm income support through commodity, crop insurance, and disaster programs and $39 billion in conservation support paid to farmers and landowners from 1995 through 2012 ." [The total cost of the food stamp program, according to government records , was under $75 billion last year.] An article in The Week notes: " About 75 percent of total subsidies go to the biggest 10 percent of farming companies, including Riceland Foods Inc., Pilgrims Pride Corp., and Archer Daniels Midland. Among the 'farmers' who get federal subsidies are Bruce Springsteen (who leases land to an organic farmer), Jon Bon Jovi (who owns bee colonies), former President Jimmy Carter, and billionaire media mogul Ted Turner. " I was also surprised to find out that 10 Members of Congress who voted to reduce the food stamp program were recipients of agricultural subsidies themselves. One has received over $5 million over the years. From a business and sustainability standpoint, what makes sense? Should what is "necessary and reasonable" for the middle class business traveler be the standard? Is there any analogy that could help us understand the place of farm subsidies in our economic system? In theory, rational revenue and expense streams are what we strive for in accounting for business. We may be off track in accounting for our food systems. Sources: " Food spending by government, " speech from the House of Representatives floor by Jackie Speier, 14th District CA Congressperson, via CSPAN and YouTube , September 2013. " The U.S. has few farmers. So why does Congress love farm subsidies? " by Brad Plumer, The Washington Post , July 12, 2013. " 10 Members of Congress who Receive Farm Subsidies Voted to Cut Food Stamps ," by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov.com, from an article by Derek Pugh , September 24, 2013. Follow up: What is a " per diem "? What purpose does it serve for businesses? How does it relate to how income and deductions are reported on a tax return? How do you feel about the food stamp program? If you oppose it, who should be allowed to go hungry? Is there any group that should be given food aid? How do you feel about the farm subsidy program?
Filed under: Personal finance, Sales, Business Environment, Accounting, Economics, Sustainability, Taxation, 1% vs. 99%, Cultural literacy in business, Budgeting, Public Policy