Klein mentioned federal farm subsidies, but Bishop notes, "crop subsidies are a drip in the bucket of federal spending." Klein said disproportionate rural representation in Congress leads to a rural bias in spending, but Bishop says no such bias is reflected in spending on community development. "Spending on community resources in rural areas (for housing, community assistance, Native American programs, environmental protection, regional development and transportation) is far lower on a per capita basis in rural counties," he writes.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack also took issue with Klein's story, but did say that ethanol subsidies to corn farmers should be phased out. Bishop argues the conversation between the two men was fruitless. Instead of discussing easily available facts, conversations like that one mean "nothing changes and nothing gets better, but everybody feels supremely righteous," he writes. An unnamed writer for The Economist says Vilsack offered "a pandering defence of agricultural subsidies so thoroughly bereft of substance I began to fear that Mr. Vilsack would be sucked into the vacuum of his mouth and disappear." (Read more)