Grain of hope

American farmers are happiest when they are selling grain to the Soviet Union. This is because they have an endless amount of trouble making money selling grain to the United States.

Selling grain to the Soviet Union has become the patriotic thing to do, and there aren't very many ways to be patriotic these days and still get paid for it.

Nevertheless, everyone has a slightly uneasy feeling about doing something nice for the Russians. It seems like one is letting President Reagan down. Selling computer chips to the Russians doesn't seem to make some Republicans feel guilty, but it doesn't have that wholesome, generous, patriotic aspect of feeding others.

A farmer selling grain to the Russians gets a feeling of satisfaction. Something like Timex showing the Swiss how to build a watch.

Practically all of the Soviet Union is farmland, but they can't grow anything on it. Either it is too far north, or the rivers all run the wrong way, or the system is basically counterproductive. Yet the Kremlin works day and night (mostly nights) to make the Soviet farmer happy. He gets booklets, programs, and an eight-hour workday. On the other hand, the only contact the government in the United States has with its farmers is when they try to auction off their farms to pay back the loans. This latter system seems to work better. It makes the farmers tough and they produce wheat.

Even then, Washington looks upon America's grain production as a nuisance. Usually there is no place to put it. It may even come as a surprise to the administration that the Russians would want it.

The American farmer has one other thing going for him. He feels relaxed about the arms race. Secretly he is convinced that the last thing the Russians would want to do is bomb the fields that give them wheat. Since the main diet in Russia is bread, and not caviar, this may make profound sense.

Anyway, the United States farmer is happiest when he is selling grain to the Soviet Union. He can be a Republican and not feel guilty.

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