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July 15, 2005

Raising Hell instead of Corn

I found this nifty story/interview this afternoon about Big Agriculture. This fellow, George Pyle, who Bob Dole dubbed "that liberal editor from Salina," who writes for the Salina Journal in Kansas, wrote this groovy book call Raising Less Corn, More Hell.

Now I got straight C's in economics in college, and as far as produce goes, I've only ever grown a few dozen tomatoes, five green peppers and one cucumber, so I am by far no expert on this stuff, but I still found it interesting.

Pyle's main premise is that people are starving in Africa, not because there isn't enough food, but because they don't have money to purchase food. We here in the U.S. are flooding the market with food, thus making our food cheaper in Africa than it is for them to grow it themselves, therefore putting all their farmers out of business and messin' with their economies.

We sell or give rice, cotton and corn on the world market for less than
it really costs to produce it -- and certainly for less than farmers in
Africa or Asia can afford to produce it -- so they go out of business or
become simple subsistence farmers.

They move to the cities. There aren't enough jobs for them, so you get
huge slums and disease, AIDS, prostitution, child slavery, ripe planting
grounds for distrust and terrorism, because they're not able to make the agricultural base of their economies work.


Pyle suggests that governments should phase out subsidies, and farmers need to get paid for both taking care of the land as well as for growing food. Farming should be decentralized to help ward off attacks from both terrorists, bugs and bacteria. And for those of us that aren't in the government and aren't farmers, it's important to buy locally and purchase organic food, and of course support elected officials that have these same goals.

And as a side note this made me giggle. Pyle is asked what he thinks about the book What's the Matter with Kansas and he replies:

A friend of mine [Dan Glickman] was a congressman from Wichita and
the only Democrat in the state delegation for quite a while. His crowning achievement was to get a law passed that made it less risky for the
aircraft industry, which is big in Wichita, to start making single-engine
planes again. They'd been worried about liability -- way down the road,
after the plane had been sold and sold and sold again.

Then somebody came along and ran against him who worked for one of
those aircraft companies. His main campaign was that a sitting
congressman was too far left on guns and abortion. And he beat him. I
remember a friend of mine, an editorial writer in Wichita, said, 'Well,
that just proves those people who work at Boeing are more worried about
losing their guns than losing their jobs.'"


I grew up in Wichita, and my folks are still there. The economy isn't doing real well as it's so very tied to the aircraft industry, which isn't doing so well. Home prices are going down instead of up, but by golly they've got their guns, and those darned gays aren't threatening their marriages.

3 Comments:

  • At July 15, 2005, Anonymous S. Ferrari said…

    You left out they're also somewhat safe from the menace of evolution too, or trying to be at least.

     
  • At July 15, 2005, Blogger sideshow bob said…

    Hold the phone, maestro...the economy's not improving?!? Why do I keep listening to Bush? He's just so hypnotic; you watch him stutter through his speech and you're just so gosh darned proud of him that he didn't swallow his tongue or something, and the next thing you know you think karl rove is a super guy.

     
  • At July 17, 2005, Blogger kelley b. said…

    Somehow handouts to agribusiness aren't welfare.

    Somehow government support of corporations isn't socialism, it's being pro-capitalism.

    Wonderful what they do to our language, isn't it?

     

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