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Out of touch with farmers' reality:Time to get real about farm bill

It's old news by now, but when President Bush admitted a week or so back that he was unaware that gasoline prices could easily hit $4 a gallon this summer I could imagine the groans of working people across the country who are well aware of what high fuel costs do to their household budgets.

I can also imagine the disappointment many felt when they realized that their president was out of touch with the reality they face every day. I think too often we make the mistake of assuming that our elected officials are more like us than is actually the case.

For one thing, most of us can't reach the level of ego essential to achieving high office. I could never be a politician, and I have a pretty healthy ego. I can't imagine standing in front of crowds of people and stating, with a straight face, that I would be the best option they have for administering the greatest democracy in the world. I could never get through such a spectacle without laughing hysterically.

Politics demands a huge ego. A political career certainly demands a huge bank account or at least the ability to convince a lot of people to empty theirs to help pay for the ads, the staff, and all the mud they have to collect to sling at whoever has an equal amount of hubris to dare run against them. No thank you. I'll bare my soul in print, risk errors of punctuation, grammar and (perish the thought) fact, but I can't imagine running for office. I suppose I'm too common.

I suppose, too, that a bit of common sense would serve this country better than the outright arrogance that sometimes substitutes for substance. Just look at any of the campaigns for president waged over the past year, by both parties.

And consider the legislative process, particularly the farm bill, a debate that has waxed and waned since mid-summer of 2007 and appears no nearer culmination now than it did in August.

Think egos might be involved in this stalemate? I keep hoping that enough congressmen and enough administration officials will put aside their own egos, their own power plays and their own petty party policies, and consider what's best for America's farmers and ranchers.

Some, I must admit, have done that, and perhaps that's one reason the process has lingered so long. No bill could be a better option than a bad one.

And, it seems to me, those who propose significant cuts in farm programs are as out of touch with the realities of U.S. agriculture as President Bush is with the cost of a gallon of gasoline.

Sure, commodity prices are up. But so are production risks, and the one absolute farmers understand about high prices is that, sooner or later, they will turn.

And farm programs should not be as shortsighted as they nearly always are. The ink was hardly dry on the 2002 law before they started whittling away at it. Someone then, as now, was out of touch with American agriculture. What an ego.

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