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THE BIG HANDOUT by Thomas M.  Kostigen

THE BIG HANDOUT

How Government Subsidies and Corporate Welfare Corrupt the World We Live In and Wreak Havoc on Our Food Bills

By Thomas M. Kostigen

Pub Date: Oct. 25th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-60961-113-2
Publisher: Rodale

A lively polemic in favor of the elimination of government subsidies, especially on food and energy products.

Whether success would be the panacea that MarketWatch environmental ethics columnist Kostigen (The Green Blue Book: The Simple Water-Savings Guide to Everything in Your Life, 2010, etc.) envisions for us is another matter, but while we await the answer, he provides much high-density fare concerning how our food is produced and what it is doing to us, and how the subsidy system is uniting food and energy production. The author calculates that we all spend about $10,000 per year for subsidies out of an average tax bill of $17,000, and that everything would be cheaper without them. His main concerns are the “Big Five” staple crops—corn, wheat, soy, rice and cotton—and oil production. Kostigen discusses how production methods have changed since the 1970s with the corporate takeover of family-based farm enterprise, and how the financial system has been perverted to support vertically integrated factory farming and food distribution. The subsidy system in the United States has made local production of food staples difficult elsewhere—e.g., it has destroyed Haiti's rice production and severely damaged Mexico's corn production. Kostigen does not take into account that in countries where subsidies were abolished or reduced (e.g., “shock therapy” in the former Soviet Eastern Bloc), rapidly rising prices combined with shortages for disastrous results. Also, the increasing concentration of wealth in the U.S. reduces the usefulness of measures like the “average tax bill” in estimating actual benefits of policies.

While such matters continue to be discussed, Kostigen provides a forceful statement of the need to reorganize food and other primary goods production in the U.S., for reasons of both economy and health.