Whenever I listen to politicians give stump speeches I find it instructive to pay attention to their villains. Politicians love villains. I don’t mean mere partisan wrangling… casting the opposition as ignorant, racist, jerks who want to kill grandma is just so much vacuous ranting. It’s when a politician goes so far as to villify presumably non-partisan, private industry that my antennae start to ring. As in, “the fat cats on Wall street,” “rapacious corporate farming,” or “dastardly pharmaceutical companies” or more currently, “greedy insurance companies.”

Why? Because it usually means that that politician is about to give millions and millions of dollars to that industry. Voters don’t like it when politicians stand there and say, “You know Steve over at American Medical Financial and Agriculture? Well he’s a swell guy and a great friend so I’m going to give him millions of dollars of your money.” So instead, politicians say,

“You know Steve over at American Medical Financial and Agriculture? Well he’s a good guy but his bosses are Satan’s own servants. That company is greedy and rapacious and only has its own interests at heart! They’re trying to make a buck–if you can beleive it–by selling you something that you really like at a price that makes it just impossible for you to survive. I know, I know, it’s terrible. So you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to pass a bunch of laws regulating those evil people over at AMFA and I’m going to make sure that they never bother you again!”

At which point, the politician can then give his buddy Steve millions and millions of dollars and the voters will be largely content.

Corporate farming destroys land, poisons children, and won’t ever buy a ticket to a John Mellon Cougarcamp concert. Which is why we subsidize ethanol and corn production by billions and billions and billions of dollars every year. Small farmers who grow corn might turn some of that corn into sour mash, but they’re not making ethanol.

The pharmaceutical corporations are arguably the most evil companies ever to exist! They and their life saving drugs and vaccines! Have they no shame? President Bush showed them! He passed a prescription drug benefit that will subsidize big pharma by tens of billions of dollars. Ha! That’ll show ’em!

Right now, it’s health insurance companies. Making money by denying treatment to sick children! So to punish the insurance companies, Congress wants to require everyone to buy health insurance. Which, of course, would mean… yes.. billions of dollars in new revenue for insurance companies. All the other “reforms” that target actuarial pricing will only serve to increase insurance premiums and drive up health care costs… all of which mean greater revenue for the insurance companies.

During the financial collapse last year “Wall Street” was everyone’s favorite villain. They were so bad that the Fed didn’t even bother with regulatory bonuses; they just handed the villains billions and billions of dollars in cash.

I’m hoping that the administration targets cranky bloggers next.