Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Kelly Loeffler Received Over $3M In Farm Subsidies… And Sits On The Agriculture Committee

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Blessed are those who have, for they shall be given more.

That’s not a genuine Bible verse, by the way. And if you’re any kind of decently well-read individual, with more than a perfunctory, or minimal knowledge of the Judeo-Christian collection of holy writings collectively known as the Bible, you would know that already.

And by that same token, of being any kind of decently well-read individual, you would also know that there is an eerie parallel to a saying that Jesus of Nazareth made about a related matter – the Parable of the Talents – as recorded in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. A parable, of course, is a moralizing tale, a story meant to illustrate some matter, and to point out a wrong doing, or type of injustice in an unobtrusive, easy-to-understand manner.

We’re going to get to Georgia’s appointed Republican Senator whose net worth of $500M is BY FAR the wealthiest member of Congress in just a moment, but first you need some background for understanding.

Woodcut from Historiae Celebriores Veteris Testamenti Iconibus Representatae — dated to 1712 — depicts the Parable of the Talents as told by Jesus of Nazareth, in Matthew 25:14–30. Two men bring the money that was entrusted to them back to their master, while a third man searches for his money outside.

The story states that, in preparation for a journey of some duration, an owner/master entrusted and distributed his money to his 3 servants. The unspoken hope, or expectation those days, is that, upon his return, they would have increased the portion with which they were entrusted and charged.

To one, he gave he gave 5 talents (a monetary measurement), to another he gave 2, and to the third, he gave 1 talent. Upon his return, the first two who received 5, and 2, respectively, reported that they’d doubled the money. The third did not, and rather, reported that he buried the money in the ground, and had not gained anything. Upon hearing that news, the owner became enraged, called that servant lazy and wicked, fired him, then ordered that single talent to be taken from him and given to the one with 10.

That’s an important point, which you’ll see later, why.

Jesus of Nazareth, who was telling the story, made a moral assessment, and drew a conclusion based upon the actions of that one who did not return a profit, and reportedly said, “For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”

While the story is simply told, the meaning behind it is uncertain, though there have been many sermons preached about the tale. And yet, the audience hearing that parable then, in the era in which is was told, would have interpreted it quite differently from today’s audience, according to Dr. Richard L. Rohrbaugh, STD, Professor Emeritus of New Testament and Religious Studies at Lewis and Clark College, whose primary scholarly pursuit was establishing proper historical and cultural contexts for Biblical texts.

Dr. Rohrbaugh said that, in the era in which the story was first told, the audience would have understood that the “profit” was made through the exploitative abuse of others, and that the third servant was the one which would have been considered honorable by the standard of the day. Thus, that interpretation of the parable, would mean that the first two servants were shameful, instead of the third. When asked about the matter, Dr. Rohrbaugh said in part that,

“[G]iven the “limited good” outlook of ancient Mediterranean cultures, seeking “more” was considered morally wrong. Because the pie was “limited” and already all distributed, anyone getting “more” meant someone else got less. Thus, honorable people did not try to get more, and those who did were automatically considered thieves: To have gained, to have accumulated more than one started with, is to have taken the share of someone else.”

As he explained in the Biblical Archaeology Society, “In the ancient world, greedy people who did not want to get accused of profiting at someone else’s expense – which was considered shameful – would delegate their business to slaves, who were held to a different standard.” Dr. Rohrbaugh explained that the reasoning was that, “Shameful, even greedy, behavior could be condoned in slaves because slaves had no honor nor any expectation of it.”

Again, in the parable, the master leaves his money with his 3 slaves in the unspoken hope that they will exploit the system and thereby increase his riches. The first two slaves do exactly that, but the third one “honorably refrains from taking anything that belongs to the share of another.”

The third slave also neither invested the money at some type of “bank,” which would have earned interest, and the master castigated the slave for not doing that – but as Dr. Rohrbaugh clearly stated, “[S]eeking interest from another Israelite was forbidden by the Torah (Deuteronomy 23:19–20), and, elsewhere in Luke, Jesus says that we should lend ‘expecting nothing in return’ (Luke 6:35).”

According to Dr. Rohrbaugh, reading the Parable of the Talents as told in Matthew 25:14–30 with an understanding of the ancient era, strongly suggests that the third slave was the only one who behaved honorably in the parable.

So now that you have some background for understanding of the matter, let’s talk ethics, and let’s talk about Kelly Loeffler, Georgia’s appointed Republican Senator whose personal wealth of $500M makes her, by far, THE wealthiest Member of Congress. Recall also that she is married to Jeffrey Sprecher, the man who owns InterContinental Exchange, which is the company that owns the New York Stock Exchange. Together, their net worth is conservatively estimated at well over $1B.

We’ll use a analogous parable to explain the situation.

You have to take your car for repairs.

So you go to your local, neighborhood repair shop to have the necessary work done. While the car was entrusted to the mechanic’s care for repairs, you later discover that he’d installed some parts from another car exactly like yours, didn’t mention it, and charged you full price for used parts. They weren’t even remanufactured. They were merely swapped out, and there was no written, nor spoken, warranty, or guarantee, that the parts would last. And he provided no guarantee or warranty on his work.

You’d be justifiably angry, wouldn’t you?

And then, what if you learned that those used parts he installed came from wrecked cars in his junk yard?

You’d REALLY be hot under the collar, wouldn’t you?

Here was a guy you trusted to be open and honest, and instead, he’s self-dealing, and being deceptive about it all.

It would be one thing if he had told you up front that he was doing to do all that, which would give you an opportunity to decide if you really wanted to have him do the work you needed, or go somewhere else.

But he didn’t.

And though you didn’t specifically state so, you expected that any parts replaced would be replaced with new ones. Instead, you got used parts at a new price, with no warranty, nor guarantee, and no idea if they would break down tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year.

You feel used, abused, and cheated – because you were.

That’s the scenario Kelly Loeffler presents to Georgia.

She owns the joint, and now, she wants you to vote her into office for 6 long years of self-dealing on the taxpayer dollar.

After Johnny Isakson announced in late August 2019 that he intended to retire from the Senate in order to treat Parkinson’s disease, like an opportunistic vulture, Loeffler was the first in line and lobbied Georgia Governor Brian Kemp for the temporary appointment to fill the unexpired term created by Isakson’s resignation December 31, 2019.

Jeffrey Sprecher kisses wife Kelly Loeffler after Vice President Mike Pence presided in a ceremonial, private re-enactment (photo op) of Loeffler’s senatorial investiture and oath of office on the Senate floor on January 6, 2020.

Loeffler is BY FAR the WEALTHIEST Member of Congress with a previous conservative estimated net worth of $500M. Her husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, is Founder, Owner, President, and CEO of InterContinental Exchange (ICE), the company that owns the New York Stock Exchange. Kelly also owns an interest in the firm. Bloomberg Wealth reported just today (Wednesday, December 30, 2020), that “His company’s 22% rally this year has helped make Sprecher, 65, a billionaire, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, and cemented Loeffler’s place as the wealthiest member of Congress.”

He was previously conservatively reported to have an estimated net worth of at least $800M.

NO ONE is begrudging his success (at least I’m not), and he is to be congratulated for his accomplishment in business.

The PROBLEM is, that by owning the NYSE, that is a HUGE conflict of interest in almost EVERYTHING.

And, on top of that, Loeffler owns an interest in a family farm that has received MILLIONS in taxpayer paid subsidies -and- since her appointment, has had seats on committees with DIRECT conflicts of interest in her holdings.

It’s a modern day case of the proverbial fox watching the hen house.

The Environmental Working Group, a nonpartisan, not-for-profit citizen watchdog organization “dedicated to protecting human health and the environment,” regularly publishes the names of wealthy and well-connected people who’ve received farm subsidies. They include Members of Congress who vote on such payments. Georgia’s appointed Republican multi-millionairess-now-billionairess, Senator Kelly Loeffler, for instance, the wealthiest member of Congress had a net worth of $500M, is currently campaigning to keep her seat in the Senate, and owns a share in a family farming business that, according to EWG, received several millions of dollars in federal farm subsidies over the past two years.

“The second-largest congressional recipient was the family of Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Her father, mother, brother and sister-in-law received more than $3.4 million in subsidies for corn, soybeans, wheat and oats, and her brother and sister-in-law received a total of $750,000 in MFP payments.

“According to her publicly disclosed financial records, Sen. Loeffler has financial interests in her family’s farm operation, and she has received thousands of dollars in income in land rental from the farm. The records do not say what share of the farm she holds.”

The EWG’s enumerations of the millions in subsidies lavished upon her, and her family, are listed on their Farm Subsidy database.

Another detailed, in-depth story of her conflicts of interest entitled “Ultra-Rich Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s Family Has Taken In $3 Million in Farm Subsidies: The scandal is what’s legal, as they say.” was written by David Dayen, Executive Editor of The American Prospect, and published September 25, 2020.

Loeffler has a seat on four Senate committees:

The Agriculture Committee oversees the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and that agency regulates the derivatives market, including many aspects of InterContinental Exchange’s growing business.

To add insult to injury, as part of the response to the coronavirus pandemic, Congress doled out around $35 billion taxpayer dollars to farmers across America without regard to their need, or profitability – and that came atop the $10 billion in traditional subsidies they received earlier. Not only did Loeffler support that effort, she directly benefited from it.

As NPR and other news outlets reported in a December 30, 2020 article, “Farmers didn’t have to prove that they needed help in order to qualify for subsidies. They simply got paid based on their previous production of grain or pigs or cattle. The more crops they grew, the more government money they got, up to a cap of $250,000 per person. Up to three partners in any enterprise could collect that maximum amount.”

While final figures aren’t yet available, based on previous years, it’s quite likely that most of the money went to fewer than 100,000 farmers.

Joseph Glauber, former Chief Economist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, now a Senior Research Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute said, “I think there is a fundamental question: Why are we providing all this additional aid?”

In comparison to the past 20 years of farm production, total farm income in the U.S. would have been about average without the additional subsidies which was couched as “emergency aid.” With that massive influx of money, this year has become the 5th most profitable year for agriculture since 1975.

Ron Rosmann, an organic farmer in western Iowa, says his neighbors rarely talk about the government payments, but sometimes made jokes about them. He shared a story about having overheard one group of older farmers as they played cards: “I heard one guy say, ‘Yep, got another check from the government today. Didn’t need it, but boy! I don’t know what to do with it!'”

Whether one agrees with her policy decisions, or not, there is simply NO ESCAPING the fact that Kelly Loeffler is a walking, talking conflict of interest, and for that reason, should NOT be elected, since she cannot reasonably be of any impartial value to any committee, or subcommittee, without directly, or indirectly, benefiting from any decision she might make. 

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