The Founding Fables of Industrialised Agriculture

Once again, the debate over GMO’s is not a debate over how government should regulate the harmful effects of profit driven business. It is a debate over how government has enabled crony capitalism to crush competition:

So the best way by far to supply carotene (and thus vitamin A) is by horticulture – which traditionally was at the core of all agriculture. Vitamin A deficiency is now a huge and horrible issue primarily because horticulture has been squeezed out by monocultural big-scale agriculture — the kind that produces nothing but rice or wheat or maize as far as the eye can see; and by insouciant urbanization that leaves no room for gardens. Well-planned cities could always be self-sufficient in fruit and veg. Golden Rice is not the answer to the world’s vitamin A problem. As a scion of monocultural agriculture, it is part of the cause. Syngenta’s promotion of it is yet one more exercise in top-down control and commercial PR.

…The real point behind GMOs is to achieve corporate/ big government control of all agriculture, the biggest by far of all human endeavours… The technology itself is esoteric so that only the specialist and well-endowed can embark on it – the bigger the better. All of the technology can be, and is, readily protected by patents. Crops that are not protected by patents are being made illegal. Only parts of the EU have so far been pro-GM but even so the list of crops that it allows farmers to grow – or any of us! – becomes more and more restricted. Those who dare to sell the seed of traditional varieties that have not been officially approved can go to prison. Your heritage allotment could soon land you in deep trouble.

…Yet we have been assured, time and again, that there is no alternative; that without high tech, industrialized agriculture, we will all starve. This is the greatest untruth of all; though it has been repeated so often by so many people in such high places that it has become embedded in thezeitgeist. Whether the officially sanctioned untruths spring from misconception or from downright lies I will leave others to judge. But in either case, their repetition by people who have influence in public affairs, is deeply reprehensible…. Professor Hans Herren, President of the Millennium Institute in Washington, points out that the world already produces enough staple food to support 14 billion – twice the present number. A billion starve because the wrong food is produced in the wrong places by the wrong means by the wrong people – and once the food is produced, as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) has pointed out, half of it is wasted.

The Founding Fables of Industrialised Agriculture

Just one more example of the state creating a problem so they can pronounce themselves the only savior to the problem.

The resulting surpluses are then fed to livestock. Livestock that could, incidentally, be fed in more than adequate numbers if we made better use of the world’s grasslands, which account for about two-thirds of all agricultural land… “Demand” (in this scenario) is judged not by what people actually say they want (who ever said they wanted wheat-based biofuel, or cereal-fed beef rather than grass-fed beef?) but by what can be sold by aggressive PR and successfully lobbied through complaisant government.

The American Economy is Not a Free-Market Economy

The result of this governmental takeover of the economy has predictably been dire. “Many of the new mega rich of the 1990s and 2000s got their wealth through their government connections. Or by understanding how government worked. This was especially apparent on Wall Street. … This was all the more regrettable because, in a crony capitalist system, the huge gains of the few really do come at the expense of the many. There was an irony here. Perhaps Marx had been right all along. It was just that he was describing a crony capitalist, not a free price system, and his most devoted followers set up a system in the Soviet Union that was cronyist to the core.” (p. 17)

…Cronyism extends far beyond the financial sector. Lewis has for many years been active in the natural health movement, and he is thus keenly aware of the manifold ways in which crony capitalism risks our lives, health, and safety in pursuit of profit. Shunning a genuine free market, the predators strike at products that, if widely distributed, would threaten their ill-gotten gains. “In general, the FDA maintains a resolutely hostile stance toward supplements. It will not allow any treatment claims to be made for them, no matter how much science there is to support it, unless they are brought through the FDA approval process and become drugs. … Who can afford to spend up to a billion dollars to win FDA approval of a non-patented substance? The answer is obvious: no one. So the real FDA intent is simply to eliminate any competition for patented drugs, since these drugs pay the Agency’s bills.” (p. 171)

The American Economy is Not a Free Market Economy

Bungee Jumping and Investing

A while ago I wrote a post called What Caused the Financial Meltdown? A Guide to Understanding the Collapse in 3 Hours, in which I wrote:

@1:19:45 black woman “I’m being held accountable for my bad choices. But who in that industry is being held accountable?… I’m stupid, but you’re guilty. You’re literally guilty.” Wow. And she’s not guilty for lying? It is this absolute lack of personal responsibility that creates this mess in the first place. People naively think we have reached a certain place in the progress of society where we should no longer have to actually worry about making catastrophic, bad decisions. There will always be a safety net, so I don’t have to worry. This is what “moral hazard” refers to. It is this idea that you are not really at risk for decisions that you make in life. There will always be a safety net to catch you or a safety regulation to keep you from making bad decisions. For example, see Schiff’s comments about FDIC @38:13.

A news report I read this morning reminded me of what I said above.

On Dec. 31, Australian tourist Erin Langworthy became one of thousands of people to try bungee-jumping off the bridge that connects Zimbabwe and Zambia, within sight of the tourist mecca Victoria Falls. It’s 364 meters of sheer gravitational pleasure, followed by a gut-wrenching jerk just feet above the rapids below. The only problem, for Ms. Langworthy, is that her bungee cord broke and she fell into the Zambezi, which, in its quieter areas, is infested with crocodiles.

The reporter went on to make a few comments about being safe in Africa:

One: Tourists who come from litigious societies such as the United States may have an assumption that an activity is safe, because it is allowed to exist. Such an attitude may be reasonable in the US or Australia, but it doesn’t necessarily work in a country such as Zambia, where civil court cases can take decades to resolve.

Living in a nanny-state takes it’s toll on a person’s common sense and personal responsibility. But how could we ever survive without a nanny-state to protect us?

Langworthy’s plunge reminded me of the anecdote of a friend in Johannesburg, who took his clients on a year-end corporate junket to Victoria Falls. The last event was to be a bungee jump off the Victoria Falls bridge. All but one of the clients took the plunge. The one who didn’t jump had asked the bungee operator what would happen if the bungee cord breaks. The tour operator grinned: “We’ll replace it.”

Pope Talks Economics

Saw this article in the news last night: Pope Talks Economics

Pope Benedict XVI warned Thursday at the start of a visit to crisis-hit Spain that Europe won’t be able to emerge from its economic woes unless it realizes that economic policy cannot be guided by a profit-driven mentality alone.

He said the continent must take ethics into account and look out for the common good.

Of course, who better to define the common good for the entire continent than the Pope himself, right? Sounds like a good time to revisit John Robbins’ lectures:

And his book:
Ecclesiastical Megalomania: The Economic and Political Thought of the Roman Catholic Church (Paperback) $19.95
Ecclesiastical Megalomania: The Economic and Political Thought of the Roman Catholic Church (Paperback)
Click to enlarge

John W. Robbins
Trade paperback, 326 pages, indexed, [1999 ] 2006

The noted English political philosopher A. P. D’Entrèves argued that “it is hardly possible for the modern man to accept the system which St. Thomas founded…without renouncing the notion of civil and religious liberty which we have some right to consider the most precious conquest of the West.” Ecclesiastical Megalomania explains the conflict between Roman Catholicism and freedom in detail, relying on official Vatican pronouncements to demonstrate that Roman Catholicism is hostile to constitutional government, political and economic freedom, and the private property order. The “Mother Church” is the mother of feudalism, the corporative state, liberation theology, the welfare state, and fascism.

Contents: Part 1: Envy Exalted.

Private Property; The Universal Destination of Goods; Rerum Novarum: On the Condition of the Working Classes; Subsequent Encyclicals; Feudalism and Corporativism; Liberation Theology; The Redistributive State and Interventionism; Has the Pope Beatified Ayn Rand?

Part 2: Autocracy Adored.

Lord Acton on Roman Catholic Political Thought; Roman Catholic Political Theory; The Political Thought of Thomas Aquinas; Persecution, Inquisition, and Slavery; The Nineteenth Century; The Magisterium; Solidarity, Subsidiarity, and the Common Good; Fascism and Nazism; Totalitarianism; Strategy for Subverting a Republic; World Government; 2000: Jubilee, Punctuated by Apologies.

Appendices: The Donation of Constantine; The Vatican Decree of 1870; Bibliography; Index; Scripture Index