Almost But Maybe

Almost certainly, this man will not be the next President of the United States of America.

This is despite him consistently winning straw polls, focus group surveys and post-debate polls. Despite him being more consistent in his policies, over forty years, than any of his GOP primary rivals.

I’m always wary about wading deep into the swamps of another country’s political affairs; the last time I did so, I got one of the natives to comment instead. But since this time, it concerns Libertarianism directly, I thought I’d have a go at it myself.

Ron Paul faces two major obstacles in his quest for the presidency: his image, and his followers. I’ve gotten in all sorts of trouble on other Libertarian blogs when I’ve pointed out the bleedingly obvious fact that he comes across as cantankerous and oddball; that, plus a nasal, whiny voice that is an immediate turn-off to anyone with less than a serious interest in politics, plus poorly-cut suits whose too-wide collars make his neck look scrawny…

I could go on. One day, America will get a politician with Ron Paul’s ideas, JFK’s looks and fashion sense, and Reagan’s delivery. One day.

The other problem is his fan club. Last month I watched the Fox News Republican primary debate above (first aired in May) between candidates Paul, Cain, Pawlenty, Santorum and Johnson. The auditorium had clearly been stacked with Paul’s followers who, as you will hear, whooped, yelled and whistled every time their man opened his mouth, much to the consternation of the debate’s moderators. Our GE had a thread running on Paul at the time and, while I believe Paul blitzed them all on policy, I made the (relatively mild) criticisms above regarding his image. The Paulistas are currently roaming the blogosphere on the lookout for this sort of thing, and descended on JD’s blog faster than Moonbat’s flying monkeys. Go to page 3 (sorted by newest) and you’ll see what I mean.

Leaving aside the superficial, LibertyGibbert exists to explore the subject of Libertarianism; and one of the areas I see as worthy of attention is the means whereby Libertarians can reach out to, and sustain constructive dialogue with, mainstream conservatives. This has become more apparent to me as LibertyGibbert’s community is evenly split between those who identify as Libertarians and conservatives (pace Izen), and we will in future be exploring several issues on which the two tend to differ.

Personally, I doubt that a uniquely Libertarian, grass-roots political movement will ever, on its own, gain momentum sufficient to make viable a third political force capable of gaining office, either in the United States, Great Britain or here in the Antipodes. In the U.S., the success of the Tea Party movement in determining GOP Congressional candidates (as opposed to pursuing an ideologically pure but politically impotent Libertarian Party) is testament to the viability of the policy of engagement with the conservatives.

Ron Paul is the current torch-bearer of a mighty tradition, in the country that gave meaning to the word Liberty

And yet, Ron Paul’s fans seem impervious to any ideas other than their own. My own reading of much of what they say on the ’net gives me the impression of a rather childish, bordering on solipsist, group whose policy views are formed in a vacuum of any opposing ideas. They appear not to want a dialogue. If they would pause to recognize that a) Libertarianism actually rests on an intellectual and historical foundation even more solid than conservatism, and b) today’s conservatives share so much common ground with Libertarians that a “broad church” approach is more likely to achieve the greatest number of positive outcomes for both, then not only would they feel less threatened by the thought of engaging on policy, philosophical and practical levels with conservatives, but Ron Paul would today have a far better shot at the GOP nomination than he currently does.

Then there is the issue of his power base. Frankly, he doesn’t have one. As Representative of Texas’ 14th Congressional District, he has the backing of neither big business (which stand under a Paul administration to lose subsidies, tax exemptions and other government largesse), nor of the labour union movement, nor academia (except for a tiny sub-section), nor—most crucially—the press. I’m not big on conspiracy theories, yet their lack of attention to some rather stunning successes in early primary debates—to which they openly and brazenly admit—can only encourage those who believe the whole thing has already been sewn up by cabal of oligarchs, the military-industrial complex, the CIA, Bilderberg, the British Crown, the Freemasons, Opus Dei, martians…

On substantive issues of policy, Ron Paul for me stands miles ahead of any other candidate. I don’t propose an exhaustive recital of his position on every issue; rather, I thought I’d look at some of the most common policy and personal criticisms levelled at him, and explain why I believe those criticisms are unfounded, factually incorrect or based on false premises.

Ron Paul’s proposed return to the Gold Standard is unrealistic and potentially dangerous.

Dangerous? As opposed to a Federal Reserve printing un-backed, paper dollars so fast that no-one is completely sure just how much U.S. currency is in circulation? As a matter of fact, Paul is not proposing a return to the gold standard in the foreseeable future. What he is advocating, as he wrote so eloquently here over thirty years ago, is an end to the monopoly currently enjoyed by the baseless paper ticket that is the modern U.S. dollar, as “legal tender” for the settlement of all debts; to force the greenback to compete with sound money: that is, hard currencies (those backed by gold or silver), issued by private institutions who, in order to ensure complete convertability, will need to end the fraudulent practice of fractional-reserve banking; and to end the contract law ban on the inclusion of gold clauses. The only “risk” associated with such policies would presuppose that the greenback’s fundamentals are so weak that it cannot withstand that kind of competition; which kind of demolishes the naysayers’ arguments anyway, don’t you think?

He’s anti-abortion.

That’s his personal position, yes. And what’s more, it’s a position arrived at, not as part of a grab-bag of some religious creed or idealogical school, but from personal experience, as a career obstetrician and gynaecologist who has delivered over four thousand babies. Still, he doesn’t seek to impose his private views on the American people.

What are you talking about—he wants to overturn Roe vs. Wade!

Well, yes. But here you’re seeing Ron Paul’s true colours. Unlike pretty much everyone else running for president this time around, he believes, first and foremost, in upholding the Constitution of the United States: no ifs, no buts. Now, if you can point out to me where the U.S. Constitution has anything to say about abortion—let alone arrogating to the Federal government the power to dictate to the states over abortion law—then I’ll gladly change my mind and agree with your criticism of him.

The fact is, the lack of reference to abortion in the Constitution renders it ipso facto a matter for state legislation. I don’t want to pre-empt my own (currently half-written) thread on the subject, but the issue in America is so finely and deeply divided, even among Libertarians, that it is a natural outcome for different states to have different laws on the subject. Which means, from a practical point of view, abortion would be available to all who need only cross a state border to procure one. Ron Paul knows this will be the outcome of overturning Roe; he is therefore, in fact, placing his regard for the Constitution ahead of his private views on abortion.

He’s too old.

I assume by that statement, you mean that he was born on August 20, 1935, which will make him 77 years, 153 days old on the day he takes the Oath of Office (more meaningfully than any of his predecessors for a century), and 81 or 85 when he leaves the White House. Right here, right now: a 20-mile bike race, or a five-mile run, between Ron Paul and the cigarette-huffing, fifty-year-old White House incumbent; we’ll see who’s too physically frail to hold the office of POTUS. My money’s on the man who won the Pennsylvania 220-yard-dash junior state championship, a decade before Obama was even born (not in Pennsylvania), and keeps himself in excellent physical condition to this day.

For that matter, I wouldn’t mind seeing the entire GOP field in that race. Apart from Gary Johnson (a triathlete who climbed Mount Everest in 2003, and the other Libertarian candidate) I reckon Ron Paul would leave the rest of them choking in his dust (and finish Newt Gingrich off for good).

Mentally, there’s none sharper than Ron Paul. He’ll be the first medical man to occupy the Oval Office and, as an intellectual who has spent a lifetime going against the mainstream of political thought, almost certainly has a better grasp of the philosophical underpinnings of his politics than any recent POTUS, or any of his GOP rivals. He comes from a long-lived family, and shows no sign of slowing down; if anything, the wisdom of age and long experience he would bring to bear as the United States’ first octagenerian president would be of immense benefit to his country.

His policies are just so radical and impractical; he’s so unrealistic.

Radical? I would have thought he is going back to the original ideals of personal Liberty enshrined in the United States’ Declaration of Independence and Constitution. It’s the policies of today’s administration that are the radical ones. Mainstream Republican thought, having been swallowed by the D.C. machine as fully as the Democrats, are really not much better in this regard. That Ron Paul is calling the whole lot of them out simply means he’s different; it’s the mainstream of politics who are the radicals.

Impractical? I guess you’ve got me there; the mainstream of politics today is nothing if not practical. Totally, unswervingly, horribly, practical. How’s practical working out for you? By that definition of the word, Ron Paul’s proposals may appear impractical—but that’s only if you’re prepared to accept as unchangeable, “facts of life” assumptions about the nature of the world, and how it should be. Paul’s proposals are all logical, feasible and fundable—for the simple reason that he rejects many assumptions which most of his contemporaries take for granted. More on this in a minute.

Unrealistic? Well, once again, that depends on whose reality you’re talking about. Presumably, you’re referring to the reality that exists, and is almost universally accepted, within the D.C. Beltway; if so, you had better understand that Paul is an iconoclast who, though he has worked in D.C. for many years, rejects many of its fundamental axioms utterly.

But we’re talking very broad-brush here. Apart from those issues I’ve already mentioned, which of his policies specifically do you find so impractical or unrealistic?

Abolishing income tax—and even the entire IRS; I mean, that’s insane!

Really? Income tax makes up about ⅓ of the Federal government’s budgeted income. Paul is talking about reducing the size of government by at least one-third. So, define “insanity”.

But abolishing income tax would favour the rich over the poor!

Now who’s being unrealistic? Go ask the IRS how much the rich actually pay in income tax, compared to the poor. You’ll find that all your multi-million word Federal tax code does, is to support an army of tax lawyers (quite literally an army—they number more than the armed forces of many nations), all of whom will quite rightly view Ron Paul as a direct threat to their livelihoods. It’s been costed elsewhere, and shown—if anything, by concentrating Federal income among excise and property taxes—to shift the total tax burden towards the rich.

But here again, Paul is getting back to basics of your Constitution. Here he writes in 2001:

Could America exist without an income tax? The idea seems radical, yet in truth America did just fine without a federal income tax for the first 126 years of its history. Prior to 1913, the government operated with revenues raised through tariffs, excise taxes, and property taxes, without ever touching a worker’s paycheck. In the late 1800s, when Congress first attempted to impose an income tax, the notion of taxing a citizen’s hard work was considered radical! Public outcry ensued; more importantly, the Supreme Court ruled the income tax unconstitutional. Only with passage of the 16th Amendment did Congress gain the ability to tax the productive endeavors of its citizens.

Yet don’t we need an income tax to fund the important functions of the federal government? You may be surprised to know that the income tax accounts for only approximately one-third of federal revenue. Only 10 years ago, the federal budget was roughly one-third less than it is today. Surely we could find ways to cut spending back to 1990 levels, especially when the Treasury has single year tax surpluses for the past several years. So perhaps the idea of an America without an income tax is not so radical after all.

Ron Paul’s proposed tax reforms are in line with his broader aim to reduce the government to its historical size and duties. No more and no less.

All right; what about his foreign policy: he’s an isolationist.

The last time I looked, “isolationist” referred to someone who opposes all engagement with foreigners: in culture, trade, the arts, sports… How does that relate to Ron Paul? No; once again, Ron Paul is being true to the Constitution and traditions of the United States. It is far more correct to call him an anti-interventionist. I’ll explain briefly.

For much of its history, the United States, having won its independence from Britain in a bloody and costly war in the 18th century, and re-asserting it in another war in the 19th century, put great stock in remaining neutral in international conflicts. From the cessation of hostilities of the War of 1812, following the signing of Treaty of Ghent on 24 December 1814, to Congress’s formal Declaration of War against Germany on 6 April 1917, a period of over a century, the United States never once inserted itself into a military conflict between two third parties. All the military actions undertaken by the U.S. in this period of 103 years, related either to border wars, to U.S. territorial claims or overseas military installations, a war of decolonization, and of course the American Civil War.

Paul’s foreign policy is based on his belief that as president, he must put the interests of America before those of any other nation. This means, first and foremost, border security, and the end of a half-century of active interventionism (in South-East Asia, Central America, Europe and the Middle East). In an interview he gave to the Washington Post in 2007, he said,

“There’s nobody in this world that could possibly attack us today”, he said in the interview. “I mean, we could defend this country with a few good submarines. If anybody dared touch us we could wipe any country off of the face of the earth within hours. And here we are, so intimidated and so insecure and we’re acting like such bullies that we have to attack third-world nations that have no military and have no weapon”.

To find fault with this, you have to bow to the accepted wisdom, in Washington and elsewhere, that the United States has both the right and the responsibility to act as the world’s policeman. This is a concept that has evolved slowly since the end of the Second World War, and is now so deeply entrenched on both sides of politics that is has risen, un-noticed, to the status of a moral absolute. Ron Paul, almost alone in Congress, sees this concept for what it is and, shining a cold, hard light upon it, rejects it in favour of the ideals of the Founding Fathers.

As to aggressors such as terrorist organisations like al-Qaeda who are not nation-states, but hide within them, Ron Paul has proposed the revival of a very ancient idea: the issuance of Letters of Marque and Reprisal, effectively outsourcing to licensed privateers, or bounty hunters, the task of capturing those responsible for terrorist acts against the United States. Given the trillion or so dollars that America has spent sending its own soldiers to the Middle East to fight other people’s wars, Uncle Sam could afford to make those bounties very, very large indeed; so large, in fact, that it would likely tempt one or two of those with intimate knowledge of the terrorists’ whereabouts to chance betrayal in exchange for a lifetime of uber-luxury. And before I hear howls of what about international law?, I’d ask you to remember that this technique suited the crowned heads of Europe just fine for many centuries, so their modern-day antecedent, the United Nations, can hardly squeal today about incorporating the practice into its code. For the really far-leftists still raising decibels, I’d simply point out that I didn’t hear you howling this loudly on 9/11, at the original acts of murder that began all this, so don’t expect to be taken so seriously today.

I’m not sure of his views on General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing’s (oft-quoted but historically dubious) rather peremptory method of quashing Muslim terrorism during the Moro Rebellion in 1911; but outsourcing carries with it the added benefit that it is the licensed privateers, and not the United States military, who would now be bound by any “rules of engagement” in fighting those who recognize no such thing. I wonder just how many journalists the privateers will allow to tag along with them? 😆

And that’s another thing: he’s anti-Israel.

By that you mean, he proposes to end the three billion dollars in aid the United States affords the Israeli government. What people who claim he’s anti-Israel fail to include in that statement is, the U.S. quietly gives three times that amount annually to Israel’s enemies. Paul is proposing to end those subsidies, too.

Doug Wead is a former advisor to two presidents; he’s a born-again Christian and a strong supporter of Israel. He is supporting Ron Paul in 2012, and you can view his take on this issue here. Ron Paul recognizes that each new day, Israel faces a literally existential threat at the hands of neighbours who have vowed to wipe the Jewish state off the map. He therefore feels that the United States has no business passing judgement on the means by which Israel defends itself, but that does not extend so far as materially aiding Israel in that defense. Paul’s position on Israel is, in fact, a extension of the Monroe Doctrine, formulated by two of the Founding Fathers, James Monroe and John Quincy Adams. Hardly radical.

He’s a racist.

You’ll have to take that up with his black, Jewish, Hispanic, East Asian and Indian supporters.

This particular chestnut has been put about for nearly twenty years, since anonymous, second-hand reports surfaced of comments of his which appeared in a minor newsletter, comments which (though factual, could easily be construed as borderline racist) Paul later confirmed were ghost-written for him, not shown to him before publication, and which he subsequently denounced. The only “racist” charge against Paul that bears even a scintilla of substance, relates to his consistent criticism, over many years, of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. When in 2004, a motion was raised in the House hailing the fortieth anniversary of this Act, Ron Paul one of the very few Congressmen courageous enough to speak out against it (many others, while privately agreeing with Paul and his reasons, dared not). From his supporters’ website again:

Ron Paul: Mr. Speaker, I rise to explain my objection to H.Res. 676. I certainly join my colleagues in urging Americans to celebrate the progress this country has made in race relations. However, contrary to the claims of the supporters of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the sponsors of H.Res. 676, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not improve race relations or enhance freedom. Instead, the forced integration dictated by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 increased racial tensions while diminishing individual liberty.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 gave the federal government unprecedented power over the hiring, employee relations, and customer service practices of every business in the country. The result was a massive violation of the rights of private property and contract, which are the bedrocks of free society. The federal government has no legitimate authority to infringe on the rights of private property owners to use their property as they please and to form (or not form) contracts with terms mutually agreeable to all parties. The rights of all private property owners, even those whose actions decent people find abhorrent, must be respected if we are to maintain a free society.

The “racist” charge is actually now so patently transparent that it has become something of a throwaway line, and none even among his more serious opponents use it much any more, for fear of the ridicule it would rightly bring down upon themselves. As Paul himself points out here, racism is itself one of the inevitable fruits of collectivism. Says Paul, “the true antidote to racism is liberty”.

Which one professes the ideals of America?

I could go over more policy ground, but Paul’s supporters’ website, as well as his own, have the issues mentioned above, and many more, covered pretty well.

So much attention has been devoted to denouncing Paul, all carefully orchestrated so as not to afford his campaign any unwanted oxygen, that it begs the question, what are his opponents so afraid of? A cantankerous old man, his loopy fan club and a power base that has never risen above grass roots?

I’d venture as an answer, it’s the informed opinion of the American public. I’m guessing you haven’t read about this poll of over 2,400 voters, taken on September 27. It shows Paul and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney being the clearest chances to prevent Obama from achieving a second term; and Romney, a centrist who is taking a small-target approach and pitching primarily at independent and blue-collar Democrat voters (leaving Republican voters nowhere else to go) is in the picture for all the wrong reasons.

Is it possible for a candidate to win the Republican nomination, and even the presidency, with nothing but grass-roots backing? And would the Tea Party movement, peopled in a large part by disaffected, bible-belt conservatives, support a candidate with his positions on drug law and gay marriage? For that matter, could progressive voters swallow their pride (as this more thoughtful writer has done) and vote for a Republican candidate who is, on almost any measure, far more liberal than Obama?

I’m looking forward to your views, particularly my American readers. My own guess is an absolute, unqualified… maybe.

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179 Responses to Almost But Maybe

  1. Tucci says:

    A critically important correction here, Ozboy. The URL you provide for what you apparently think is “Paul’s own website” is actually quite prominently described on the masthead as a “Fan Site,” and includes at the foot of every page the following caveat:

    This website is maintained by independent grassroots supporters. It is not paid for, approved or endorsed by Congressman Ron Paul.

    Dr. Paul’s official campaign site is linked from that fan site, at http://www.ronpaul2012.com/.

    Sorry for the niggle, but it’s a necessity.

    Duly noted and corrected – thanks.

    I try to do all my own sub-editing, but I think that early on in writing this I grew frustrated with Paul’s own website which was loading very slowly here, after which I switched to his fan site – Oz

  2. Amanda says:

    This is off-topic, but I am nothing if not the Toff of Off-Topic, so here it goes (and Oz, you may certainly wade into ‘another country’s politics’ any time you like):

    Blog article in Contentions by Omni Ceren, ‘Forum With Israeli Scientists “Offends Muslims”‘ (26 October 2011):

    ‘It’s come to this:

    University of Sydney scholars set to exchange ideas with visiting Israeli experts on neuroscience, tissue regeneration and other cutting-edge research areas are being warned the event will offend potential Muslim undergraduates.

    Associate Professor Jake Lynch, director of the university’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, has urged his colleagues to withdraw from the research gathering, and the university administration to cancel it. Dr. Lynch has been a strong supporter of the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign designed to isolate Israel. He says he has been asked to intervene by the Campaign for Justice and Peace in Palestine….

    He says most Muslim students live in the west and feel “a sense of resentment and alienation resulting from the predominance of pro-Israeli voices in Australia’s political and media discourses.”

    The poor dears. They feel “resentment and alienation” from “political and media discourses,” and because of that doctors aren’t allowed to make progress on curing brain diseases. Really, there’s nothing like having the director of a “Peace and Conflict Studies” program explain why the mere presence of Israelis at a scientific conference aimed at human betterment is an affront to Muslims. And to think, some people have suggested that anti-Israel viciousness in the Ivory Tower has allowed hatred to cloud clear thinking.

    Australia has managed to nurture a fairly active – albeit still very fringe – anti-Israel boycott movement. The insanity has touched the country’s mainstream parties, but it remains a broad embarrassment to normal Australians and to mainstream Australian politicians. Australian media has been complicit in fomenting anti-Israel bias – taking articles about how Israel wants genuine, not indirect peace talks and headlining them, “Israel to reject new peace talks” – but even they couldn’t stomach [former Australian Prime Minister] Rudd’s hysterical overreaction to the use of Australian passports in the al-Mabhouh hit, which included abandoning Israel to the UN’s Goldstone lynch mob.

    All of which is to say, don’t expect Lynch’s call to become anything but the passing disgrace that it is. His instinctive rhetorical appeal to multicultural victimhood – nonetheless – is deeply revelatory personally and institutionally. Pathetic appeals to Muslim resentment, marshaled as pretexts for halting scientific research and medical progress. Perfect.’

  3. Kitler says:

    Ozboy well a slight misreading of American history which has been an expansionist one since Jefferson and most definitely against it’s neighbours and indigenous peoples. There was the little issue of sending gunboats to open up Japan by force and the countless Banana wars in Central America and the war against the Barbary Pirates.
    However as much as I like Ron Paul his policy of militarily disengaging in the world would mean pulling troops out of Korea and Japan, Diego Garcia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Europe. The resulting power vacuum would inevitably be seized by the BRICS soon a global war would follow.
    It would mean an end to protecting Australia and New Zealand as well.

    I remember you saying the same thing about China last year; well, if the United States was even a half-serious expansionist power in the 19th century, today there would be 250 states in the Union, not 50, and these would include Australia, New Zealand, Japan, (possibly) China, Russia and Ireland to boot.

    Re the ANZUS alliance, I suspect a Paul administration would leave it in place; not because we’re all such good buddies and helped each other out in the past, etcetera; but because the U.S. is the largest foreign investor and landholder in both Australia and New Zealand, by a long way. Paul would view the alliance as merely one more defence of property rights – Oz 😉

  4. Kitler says:

    Amanda to the offended Australian muslims well why don;t they just go forth and multiply back to the sh**holes of their ancestors.
    The passport issue was quite serious as Israel crossed a line by using allied nations passports to carry out an assassination (an appropriately a muslim word) of a prominent Muslim terrorist what upset people even more was they really botched the operation and people found out.

  5. Amanda says:

    That’s a very rich article, Oz, and I’ve had a quick look. But I’ll have to give it a proper read in the morning: it’s past midnight, I am sucking up the slinky music big time (to say nothing of el vino), and now is not the moment to comment. But I love what you do, and I like the visuals as well — thanks for adding them.

  6. Amanda says:

    K: I don’t doubt that is true.

  7. Kitler says:

    Well Ron Paul I doubt will win any hunk awards so before he has even begun he has lost a lot of women voters who have been found to vote on looks rather than policy.

  8. Kitler says:

    Mind you I would vote for Sarah Palin because she has the whole hottie Librarian thing going on. Oh and she has good policies as well but mainly she’s hot.

  9. Dr. Dave says:

    Kitler,

    This is the last time I’m gonna tell you – STOP SNIFFING GLUE!!

  10. Dr. Dave says:

    Once again…here is the REAL story as told by AMERICAN Johnny Horton:

    Now can we get back to Dr. Ron Paul?

  11. Dr. Dave says:

    Ozboy,

    A truly EXCELLENT article! I can’t say as there’s much I could possibly disagree with. Dr. Ron Paul gets aces on everything to do with economics. Even the most hardcore Republicans agree with that. I think the problem is one of feasibility. Ending the Fed is a great idea…but could it be done in our political environment? I’m a Libertarian and I agree with Dr. Paul on the issue of abortion (many Libertarians do not). I used to not care one way or the other but in recent years, as I’ve grown older (and possibly wiser), I’ve come to respect the sanctity of human life. To this day I’m a little awe struck by countries that condone the killing of innocent babies yet decry the application of capital punishment for convicted murderers. Go figure.

    Personally I think we should continue to keep Israel strong, but I’m all for ending foreign aid to her enemies. I’m all for yankin’ our forces back from all over the world. That’s not “isolationist”, that’s pragmatic. Screw Germany, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Japan, etc. Let them protect themselves or pay us for doing it for them. I also agree with Ron Paul about the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That was one the biggest power grabs by federal government in our nation’s history and represented a significant loss of liberty. In a recent debate Dr. Paul came off sounding like a crazy uncle when he suggested that it might not be any of our business if Iran gets a nuclear weapon. This is when the brakes locked up. WAY too naive.

    I’ll comment more after a few others have put in their 2 cents (mostly Tucci).

  12. Kitler says:

    Dr Dave funny you mention glue sniffing a guy at school not the sharpest saw in the shed did just that apparently said he went to Heaven and Hell (while tripping on glue sniffing) and was rejected by both, a fine unsuccessful criminal career awaited him.
    As for Ron Paul what can I say I like him and his policies but he is unelectable unfortunately because he is being starved of the oxygen of publicity via the media and half the population is going to vote for the cute one among the candidates. May the tallest man with the best dyed hair win. If truth be told some of the best Presidents of the past would not get a look in today, Lincoln was no beauty and he would have been smeared with his possible odd relationship with another man by today’s standards. Then people wonder why I’m such a follower of Diogenes of Sinope.
    Even if Ron Paul got elected the powers that really run the country would have him killed within 6 months because he would threaten their wealth, money and power.
    So to me Ron Paul is not going to happen more’s the pity.

  13. Kitler says:

    Dr Dave well my position is economic conservative in the classic sense, but a Libertarian when it comes to personal affairs however I disagree with polygamy and gay marriage because I think it will hurt the greater good for society. I think abortion is wrong except for medical necessity, rape and incest and I shall go out on a limb even for babies that will be born with severe disabilities and retardation. I’m anti death penalty only because the justice system is run by some very flawed people and they will put career over true justice and innocent people will die because of that. However saying that there are people out there that have committed really horrible crimes and there is no doubt they did the deed and they should be executed.
    As for Israel well good luck to them but why should we support them other than selling them weapons to defend themselves they are a nation founded ironically by terrorists who were not afraid to kill women as well as men. My own analysis gives them the same lifespan as a nation as Outremer and they are being out-bred by their own Muslim population anyhow so they are doomed.

  14. Amanda says:

    OK, back to Ron Paul. I happen to think that conservatism (while not encompassing my whole understanding of politics) is more coherent than libertarianism for a few reasons. Please throw eggs. As a conservative I wish to conserve the Lockean liberal tradition, rooted both in English and American political philosophy. I am also a patriot of that tradition, and I think (correct me if you think I’m wrong, as I’m sure you do) that patriotism is problematic for libertarians because they seem to be anti-public-realm. And patriotism, though it might inform the private soul, is essentially about goods shared, about public goods and shared identity: things held in common.

    I don’t think that a libertarian — whether Ron Paul or somebody else — could ever win the White House. America is just not that interested in the libertarian perspective (and that’s part of its weakness, in my view: it’s a perspective rather than a coherent philosophy with true pragmatic potential — it’s negative rather than positive*).

    Consider, for instance, this commentary by David Paul Kuhn, Chief Political Correspondent for RealClearPolitics, on the topic of how Obama is aligning himself with the Occupy movement:

    ‘So far, Obama has struck the right strategic balance. The president has affirmed Occupy Wall Street’s motive but not endorsed the movement. “The protesters are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works,” he said earlier this month at a White House press conference. “They’re not that different from some of the protests that we saw coming from the Tea Party. Both on the left and the right, I think people feel separated from their government. They feel that their institutions aren’t looking out for them,” he added in an interview with ABC News.

    That too was more affirmation than embrace. And it’s smart. Liberal activists must tread more carefully than their conservative counterparts in modern America. For decades, there have been roughly twice as many self-identified conservatives as liberals’.

    The emphasis is mine, and it shows why I think libertarianism has no future in America. If people really are wanting greater redistribution of wealth, higher taxes for the rich, and above all, institutions that are ‘looking out for them’ — if Obama is right, and Kuhn believes he is — then what America will get is more socialism. And they won’t be looking to Ron Paul to give it to them.

    *original sense of those terms; I don’t mean ‘bad’ v. ‘good’

  15. Amanda says:

    By the way, I was very interested in that comment about more conservatives: it’s counter to what I’ve read elsewhere over quite some time. My understanding was that the GOP commands about 30% of the electorate, give or take, in any given election, and the Dems have a similar base. The rest of the population consists of ‘independents’ or ‘swing voters’, who are up for grabs.


    You might say: Ron Paul has policies like anyone else, so how is he a man with a perspective and not a political philosophy? My answer is that a politician can of course forge a ‘platform’ of his own, a suite of policies that he finds congenial, but that doesn’t mean that his party or ideological commitment itself is necessarily sound — or up to the task of selecting such policies. In other words, Ron Paul might think what he thinks because he’s Ron Paul, rather than because he’s a libertarian as such. Whereas conservatism, whether it calls itself Republicanism or something else, is a cohesive, cogent (to me) programmatic political orientation which is ready for governing in a positive way. It is more willing to take moral stands in successive phases of political questions, on the basis of likely consequences, rather than ignoring those consequences in favour of principled positioning in the first phase of the question. I know this sounds abstruse but I’ll leave it at that for now.

  16. Dr. Dave says:

    I’ve been casting about trying to find some explanation why Ron Paul isn’t more popular with the American voting public. A good friend of mine emailed me back and said that of our current crop of GOP candidates, none inspire The Battle Hymn of the Republic while they’re speaking. I had no idea what he was talking about. Ron Paul epitomizes the ideals of our Founding Fathers. So he sent me this video:

  17. Dr. Dave says:

    Now…the video did have some pretty good singers (the Mormon Tabernacle Choir) but it also contained a lot of imagery that appeals to contemporary core American beliefs. Reagan practically exuded this from every pore. Our current field of candidates do not. I personally believe that every war we’ve been involved with since WWII has been a mistake (and Democrats got us into the deadliest and most senseless ones). But even I am moved by the sight of a field Hueys taking flight. We did fight a bloody Civil War to end slavery. To this day I’m proud to say I am an American by birth and a Yankee by the grace of God.

    But I can’t help but think my friend might be right. The GOP needs a candidate who champions American exceptionalism. Our willingness to spend blood and treasure abroad may not necessarily be appreciated, but it certainly is significant here at home. The world would be a very different place today had we not involved ourselves in WWI and WWII. Perhaps it’s best that this is not forgotten on the campaign trail.

  18. Luton Ian says:

    How much was “Slavery” a post hoc for the civil war.

    Lincoln’s own communications during the war indicated that his motivations were for a centralized nation of subservient states, and that he didn’t care one way or the other, whether slavery ended or continued.

    His platform for the presidency was a strongly pro Morrill Tariff one and therefore odious to the southern states which traded internationally, and favoured by the Yankee states whose manufacturing was favoured and protected by it.

    If the constitutional convention didn’t end the Jeffersonian and Lockean vision of independent states cooperating (with its qualified majority voting for a binding federation, rather than requiring the agreement of all members of the articles of confederation), then Lincoln’s civil war certainly ended it.

  19. Luton Ian says:

    The world might indeed have been a very different place if we (Brits and Commonwealth) had not got involved in WW1.

    We didn’t get involved in 1870

    If we’d stayed out of WW1, there is a good chance it would have been over in months instead of years, we would not have had the October revolution in Russia, or the treaty of Versailles starving the Germans into national socialism.

    In short, we’d not have had either the second world war, communism, or the various cold and hot wars after it.

    WWii would likely have been a French Hitler. There’s something much less frightening about the sound of that.

    Add in that we would not have had the Progs in place from WWI central planning to prolong the recession of 1929 into a depression lasting until the 1940s

  20. Luton Ian says:

    Going back to Lincoln and the Civil War.

    Was the re-supply of Fort Sumter really necessary, except as a provocation?

  21. Kitler says:

    Luton Ian to be honest the world would have been a different place if the French, Spanish and Dutch had chosen to be neutral in the second English civil war or more commonly known as the Revolutionary war. Without whose help in what actually turned into the first real World War which Americans forget or rather choose to ignore the revolution would have ended within 2 years probably around a negotiating table and the colonies would have remained within the empire. It is likely that the USA would have ended at the Mississippi.

  22. Kitler says:

    One thing that did come to my attention was that we also fielded the B team generals as the A team ones refused to fight whom they considered their kin overseas. If they had chosen otherwise Washington would have been smashed by a far abler commander than himself.

  23. Dr. Dave says:

    Ian,

    I have to run some errands so we’ll have to duke it out over the Civil War later (I will readily admit you’re not entirely wrong). Before I forget…if you still have the link to the article on the mises site about how Woodrow Wilson got the US into WWI, please send it to me. I was too stupid not to realize how significant that article was the first time I read it and I want to send it to some friends of mine.

    Thanks,
    Dave

  24. Luton Ian says:

    Oz,

    Many thanks for the piece.

    I’ve not paid much attention to Ron Paul so far.

    You (by this piece) and Paul (by his political career) raise an interesting question, of how (or if) liberty can be advanced by harnessing the leviathan, or, to use another metaphor, taking the ring of Sauron.

    We’ve all had bumpy and twisty personal journeys to our current positions. The main stream has not been helpful in that respect.

    My own journey has come through a blend of private property anarchism, a sort of Thatcherian conservatism (the words and music for which were translated from the original and impenetrable Hayekian language by Keith Joseph), allong with a big dose of Jefferson from the gun rights guys.

    I guess I’m currently a sort of Libertarian Fabian or Gramscian, believing that change will only come one conversion/awakening and one personal journey at a time.

    Thatcherism, for all its Hayekian roots, still grew the state, rather than kicking the ratchet out, so did Reagan, and I didn’t expect anything good from the Bush Dynasty, but I was still disappointed with what we got.

    Leviathan cannot be harnessed, ridden – or any other metaphor – for good purposes, it is a violent and corrupt creature.

    Ideally, for me, it should be killed, and again ideally it should be a slow and wasting death, whether by hollowing out from the inside, denial of sustenance, or by infection, with gum disease, or gangrene (a gassy one at that!).

    The ring metaphor is even stronger.

    The orcs were descended from elves, corrupted by Sauron and the ring.

    Ahhh – I was waiting for one of you to say this. I guess it comes down to, how impatient are you to see the new Renaissance? Are you prepared to lay groundwork for it, such that it may (or may not) occur after your own lifetime?

    The system is not evil per se. It has been captured by evil forces, and there I think your Tolkien analogy breaks down: “for nothing is evil in the beginning; even Sauron was not so”. I have chosen engagement; you, exile. So be it – Oz 💡

  25. Luton Ian says:

    Dr Dave,
    Ralph Raico’s book, “Great wars, Great Leaders?” has the info,
    http://mises.org/books/great_wars_great_leaders_raico.pdf

    There are also excerpts on the early mises daily pages from either a book or essays about the House of Morgan’s influence. I found a hint of it here, but I have seen fuller accounts elsewhere:

    http://mises.org/misesreview_detail.aspx?control=141

    I’m off to bed, but feel free to blast away

  26. Luton Ian says:

    Oz,

    Is leviathan the only way to act?
    or can individuals do it at a one to one level?

  27. Luton Ian says:

    I suppose another way of phrasing it is:
    “Is government a necessary evil? or, is there nothing necessary about it?

    It’s necessary, unless you’re advocating anarchy (are you?) But it’s also necessary to constrain it in a heavily-barred cage, to prevent it from getting any bigger. That cage, generally known as a “Constitution”, has been circumvented in the last century by totalitarians who, having captured the judiciary and legislature, are able to simply ignore it.

    Picture “the blob” of motion picture fame, trapped within a lion’s cage – it can’t escape, but it can grow outwards, between the bars, vaster and vaster, until the original cage is no longer even visible, somewhere deep within the blob.

    That’s my answer. Izen, are you somewhere about? I suspect you may have rather a different one – Oz

  28. Kitler says:

    Ozboy well none of it matters a major disturbance in the force is coming our way in the next two years and the coprolites will hit the whirling bladey thing, It’s going to be war and the current stock market rally is the last hurrah and it won’t be a case of whom we elect but of choosing sides in the conflict.
    Stock up on food and ammo.

    LibertyGibbert’s going there soonish – Oz

  29. Kitler says:

    Well here’s something to cheer people up for the coming apocralypse….

  30. Kitler says:

    My new post is here where I accuse Dr Dave of all kinds of horrible abominations…
    http://knottedprop.wordpress.com/2011/10/28/is-dave-the-knave-finally-listening/

  31. izen says:

    @- Ozboy
    “Picture “the blob” of motion picture fame, trapped within a lion’s cage – it can’t escape, but it can grow outwards, between the bars, vaster and vaster, until the original cage is no longer even visible, somewhere deep within the blob.”

    Well governments grow in response to the growth of capitalism. As a re-distributive system capitalism requires a ‘equal and opposite’ redistributive system to maintain the a healthy wealthy and stable consumer/worker base modern capitalism needs.

    I suspect that libertarianism can be an ideological political philosophy, basically Utopian. When Communism was tried for real the contradictions between theory and reality eventuall caused it to collapse.

    Can anyone think of a real world example of a working Libertarian society?

    Can you name one that’s failed?

    If my business doubled in size tomorrow, I wouldn’t need a computer twice as big to administer it. So the idea of GDP growth necessitating bigger government is not realistic. It’s when government increases its scope that it grows, not when the society it exists to administer becomes wealthier – Oz

  32. izen says:

    @- Ozboy
    “Can you name one that’s failed?”

    I suspect it is a matter of definitions, but I am not sure I can even name one that exists, at present or historically.
    I am taking as the prerequisites of a Libertarian system that it would have minimal government, maximal individual autonomy and no or very low income tax. I think you would have to go to pre-capitlist agrarian societies to even get close…

    “It’s when government increases its scope that it grows, not when the society it exists to administer becomes wealthier – Oz”

    Capitalism creates wealth that didn’t exist before. Its the most efficient way we have of doing so. I think this is because it utilizes evolutionary competition as its optimizing mechanism.
    But it is also re-distributive – from the many to the few.
    Governments grow by collective redistribution to offset the market redistribution to stabilize the system.

    The argument always seems to be between those that think the degree of government redistribution is insufficient to offset the tendency of capitalism to concentrate wealth – versus – those that think the degree of redistribution is inhibiting the creation of more wealth.
    Most modern states seem to be a dynamic compromise between these two ideologies.
    Whatever names they may happen to be cloaked with at different times and places.

    “I am not sure I can even name one that exists” – well, precisely; my question was rhetorical.

    Going back to your characterization of both communism and Libertarianism as “utopian” models of society, here we need to make an important distinction. Unlike Libertarianism, communism makes assumptions about the unlimited generosity of the human spirit; that they will sacrifice their endeavours to the greater good of the whole: the commune, or the state. To re-distribute wealth based on “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs” is an historically certain formula for chaos and decay. Google “Twentieth Century Motor Company” if the term is not familiar to you.

    Libertarianism makes no such assumptions about human nature. It presumes, as does free-market capitalism generally, that each individual will work towards his own benefit. To characterize Libertarianism as “utopian” rather than “ideal”, lumping it thereby together with communism, is therefore unfair. It’s a system that has never been tried in its entirety; I, and the other Libertarians here, aim to see that one day it is – Oz

  33. Luton Ian says:

    Izen,
    In classical liberal and libertarian society, the consumer is sovereign, the combatting of violence and theft is the only role for a government.

    Some people, for example the philosopher Hans Hermann Hoppe, see advantages in even those functions being provided by competing private providers, complete with competing private court / dispute resolution services.

    As violence is forbidden, any person or company of people is free to enter any line of production or business – name me one monopoly (other than king / government) which has emerged and survived without calling upon state violence to keep faster moving and smarter competitors off what it claims as its own turf?

    No one holds a gun to anyone else’s head, forcing them to use a particular provider

    (think of compulsory motor insurance coupled with FSA licensing of insurers in the UK for an example of just such a forcibly limited market, the car market too – all the Indian Brazilian, chinese and other makers who are kept out by the latest Euro emissions regs which are effectively written by the Euro and US makers)

    Consumers choose whatever combinations of price, quality and features they want in whatever products they choose to spend their own money on.

    The entire premise of state intervention in markets is based upon a false paradox.

    Adam Smith, who claimed to have invented economics, but who took it backwards from the state his own contempories (whom he knew and was in correspondence with!) like Turgot and Richard Cantillon, had reached; proposed the following value paradox in Wealth of Nations:

    “Why is it that bread or water, which are so vital to human existence are so cheap on the market, while a diamond which is (to Smith’s Calvinistic Scots mind) a mere worthless frippery, is so expensive?”

    According to Rothbard, Smith had already solved the seeming paradox in his lecture notes from 20 years prior to Wealth of Nations.

    Rothbard’s answer to the seeming paradox (which he discusses in his history of economic thought – available as .PDF on the Mises web site) is first to show its falseness;

    We are not faced with the Angel Gabriel offering mankind a choice of either bread or diamonds for the remainder of history.

    Diamonds are of course scarce, and bread (or water) relatively abundant, or at least not in drastic shortage.

    For the extreme example of someone dropped in Death Valley and having to walk out – then yes, in it’s scarcity, water could become extremely valuable to that person, but in normal life, water is abundant and next to free.

    To the Calvinist, Smith. Diamonds were worthless. No one has recorded Mrs Smith’s opinion on this subject, which I suspect may have differed from Mr’s.

    From his innability to account for the value of none reproduceable items, such as diamonds, or say De Vinci paintings, Smith dismissed the consumer as stupid and ficle, and sought a measurable (he was trying to be a Baconian scientist, an empiricist, and that meant finding things to measure) quantity to which he could ascribe monetry value.

    What did he choose – “objective” labour and worker suffering in production.

    Rothbard was of the opinion – but unable to prove it, that only a Calvinist, who’s faith taught that labour was man’s destiny and a blessing in itself, and that consumption was sin-full, could have come up with this.

    The simple refutation of Labour theory of value is to consider someone who is stupid enough to polish a turd.

    Does their labour impart value to the turd?

    Immediately springing from this, is the very Calvinist, British classical school’s corollary:

    Production for use versus production for profit

    This informs Ricardo, and via him and John Stuart Mill’s resurrection of Ricardian economic fallacies, Marx and present day collectivists and interventionists.

    It was and remains notably absent from the Catholic European schools of thought, through the medieval scholastics, through the French contemporaries of Smith, Turgot and Cantillon (actually a Gallicized Irishman), and the mid 19th century to present day Austrian School.

    Carl Menger, founder of the Austrian School, began his economic analysis, not as Smith had, with a whole market, but with the simplest of all, a single individual, and built up from there – hence the examples of Robinson Crusoe on his island. Menger also arrived back at the medieval scholastics’ realization, that value is subjective, each of us will value different goods differently.

    Adam Smith’s realization that there is some “hidden hand” guiding “The Market”, reduces down in Austrian analysis, to individuals freely coordinating their actions through communication based on price. The false dichotomy of the British Classical and neo-classical/keynesian/Walrassian mainstream between “micro” and “Macro” with its questions of velocity and distribution is shown for what it is, false.

    “Distribution” is simply a function of how well someone serves customers.

    Without customers willing to pay for it, there is no market for a product. If customers are not willing to pay what it cost to produce, then there won’t be any more of it produced.

    Producers only stay rich if they continue to please customers enough for the customers to buy their produce. If someone else can produce products that customers like better, or like the price of better, then that is where customers will go.

    Every penny a consumer spends is a vote.

    The only way that government can influence the market is with the threat of force;

    unless you do such and such, government will do nasty things to you, like take money or lock you away – all for the very best possible of reasons…

  34. Luton Ian says:

    Government growing in response to GDP growing?

    Go Google the formula for GDP, and check out the circular argument you just used.

  35. Luton Ian says:

    Oz,

    are constitutions to protect freedom, or to entrench the position of the current elite?

    Is the true cage for leviathan infact, Vanderbeogh’s restatement of catch 22:

    Leviathan says it can do whatever it wants,

    The population yanks its chain and reminds it, it can only do what they are willing to let it get away with.

    Our beasts think that the Arab Spring doesn’t apply to them.

    It will be unpleasantly interesting to see how much will be needed before the Arab liberty trees are fully refreshed. I hope ours aren’t thirsty as well, I’d much prefer to remain a gradualist.

  36. Pingback: Any Ron Paul supporters in here? | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page 17

  37. Luton Ian says:

    Oz asked
    It’s necessary, unless you’re advocating anarchy (are you?)

    Have you read “The not so wild wild west”?
    http://mises.org/journals/jls/3_1/3_1_2.pdf

    I’m wavering between minarchism and Taoism.

    I saw a friend who lives in one of the most northerly of the Pennine Dales, a few days back. The cops are searching some remote fields there, apparently expecting to find the graves of numerous disappeared people. If true, it sounds like someone may have been trying a little bit of private sector Stalinism.

    With fewer resources than Stalin, such a character will obviously end up with a smaller heap of bodies than Stalin did. – but how to ensure that private sector “police” don’t go the way of the worst of the state monopoly jam doughnut munchers?

    Clearly present day private sector coercive forces are by definition, criminals. they are breaching a `state monopoly, and as with illegal drug markets, with only criminals participating, bad things happen.

    I’m still not sure that a government is necessary, or a better or worse thing. Certainly in the case of Somalia, no government, is better than the governments which they, and many of their neighbours have.

  38. izen says:

    @- Ozboy
    Okay, I withdraw the juxtaposition of Libertarian and communism as sharing Utopian traits. The presumption ‘that each individual will work towards his own benefit’ is clearly not Utopian. It seems to assume a homogeneity to individual motivation that may be a little unrealistic.
    There are also complications in defining WHAT actions benefit the individual. Games theory such as the ‘prisoners dilemma’ work indicates that for large groups with many interactions maximum benefit may favor apparently suboptimal choices at the individual level.

    There are big arguments in biology about the reality and definition of Altruism. Most examples can be re-framed as individual or genetic self-interest.

    I usually avoid deep politics because it lacks a material empiricism to root its assertions. In science based subjects there is a measurable objective reality, a -BEST- measure of temperature as foundational data on which to base hypothesis about how things work.
    To often political ideology seems to be a conceptual structure unconstrained, or supported by a material foundation. As a result I find my own ideas about politics are somewhat unstructured, ambiguous, probably contradictory and subject to arbitrary change.
    -grin-
    I do appreciate that this makes any contribution of mine to the subject worth less under most economic theories….!

    Despite this, a final comment, Luton Ian echoes your claim about the individual choice driven by gain as the underlying base of the Libertarian/capitalist superstructure. But as with so many systems involving many subunits, the emergent structure often has many levels. The individual consumer is one end of a production, manufacture and supply chain with MANY intermediate stages of seller and buyer. It is often a mistake to expect that the behavior of the system will reflect the underlying behavior of its components. The way an ants nest exploits its environment is not deducible from the limited number of simple behaviors that an individual ant can perform.
    To quote the mantra of emergent complexity theorists – ‘More is different’.

    With political stuff I tend to be less interested in the detail of what people believe, or hold to be true. More interested in the WAY in which those views are held. It seems a better indicator of behavior.

  39. Izen, The diamonds that Napoleon carried around with him for emergencies, were dropped in a small bag, as he fled from Waterloo. And were traded amongst Wellingtons soldiers for pitifully small sums of money that wouldn’t have bought them a loaf of bread, If bread had been available.
    ….Although they were of course ‘stolen’ property. ‘Stolen’ by the troops that found them, and did not return them to Napoleon. And stolen by Napoleon, using armed force, on his return from Elba….I don’t know how many times they had been stolen before that, or whether there was any reasonably honest trading involved at any point.

    Bread and water is a lot less complicated. If people don’t receive it, whether they have paid for it honestly or not, it will be payed for, very likely in blood, by the forces involved with the business of government or its security.

    When things are running reasonably smoothly, bread and water can be obtained for a number on a peace of paper, or small metal counters. And diamonds are given ‘freely’ to ladies from men, who have sacrificed a great deal of effort to obtain them. Or better still, a great deal of other peoples effort to obtain them, and must therefore be ‘powerful’ people, and good to be involved with. The diamonds can then be paraded in front of other ladies to make the point.

    …Politics is what caused Napoleons exile. The Battle he lost.

  40. izen says:

    @- Fenbeagle
    “Bread and water is a lot less complicated. If people don’t receive it, whether they have paid for it honestly or not, it will be payed for, very likely in blood, by the forces involved with the business of government or its security.”

    I would take any deterministic analysis of society with a pinch of salt, but there is current speculation about the source of various outbreaks of political unrest, like the ‘Arab Spring’.

    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1910031

    You can download the full pdf paper from that link and see the pretty graphs…
    Yes, I am aware that the ridiculous promotion of ‘biofuels’ has a (marginal) influence on this.

    -“When things are running reasonably smoothly, bread and water can be obtained for a number on a peace of paper, or small metal counters.”-

    I am more comfortable dealing with things at this basic level of calories and water than the high-end economic theory.
    The Roman empire worked because it had a very efficient set of methods ensuring good water supply, waste removal and road/port links to provide H2O and calories.
    In a parallel with the biblical warning they also provided circuses…. -grin-

    It is still possible to eat on the Roman pattern. This was a locally sourced diet, with a few ‘long distance’ luxuries that would keep for the elite.
    Use local farmer markets and independent bakers/butchers buying from regional producers. Prepare and cook your meals from the raw ingredients.
    But the overwhelming majority of the population of the major modern nations get their ‘Bread’ from multinational food producers. with low cost and a vast selection of produce sourced globally the corporate food suppliers get the consumer vote.
    They even eliminate the cooking stage for you, producing meals per-prepared for consumption. This is only possible because of organizations within the political-business dynamic like Dalgety or Tesco which can operate this sort of world-spanning mass-produced meal system.

    It is unclear that a return to the majority obtaining their calories from local sources is possible in many nations/regions. And the switch to a ‘self-sufficiency’ principle in many societies would not be viable, opposed by the general population who are ‘voting’ at Asda every week and the political/financial power wielded by the likes of W-Mart.
    Thats before considering the influence of the Golden Arches and the companies attempting to replace water with carbonated dilute acid saturated with glucose….

    Entrenched systems of food supply MAY be unstable with future resource shortages/climate change/population growth – delete/include to taste. I am not very good at grasping how much the political/ideological platforms that people like Ron Paul advocate, help to understand or respond to these sort of problems.

  41. Izen. Yes, food supply is a much more complicated process today, As you say. But my neighbour, bless him, has not caught on to modern living, and still lives mostly on the produce from his very large garden, and what he can buy from local sources that he can get to on his bicycle. Including home baking that he receives from us over the fence, in exchange for free range eggs, and vegetables.
    …So i’m blinded by this, into thinking that it’s all very much simpler than i’m sure it actually is. Self sufficiency is not a very good system….Although living next to somebody with chickens etc. Works very well.

  42. Ps….What ‘ism’ does that come under?…’Opportunism?’

  43. Luton Ian says:

    Izen commented:
    “There are also complications in defining WHAT actions benefit the individual. Games theory such as the ‘prisoners dilemma’ work indicates that for large groups with many interactions maximum benefit may favor apparently suboptimal choices at the individual level.”

    Utilitarianism; very, very nasty!
    Who defines what the greatest happiness to the greatest number shall be?

    and even worse, in what units do you measure it?

    Bentham, and his personal secretary, James Mill (also personal secretary to Ricardo!) and James’ very bright but totally screwed up son, John Stewart Mill, layed many of the foundations for Progressivism and Fascism with their utilitarianism and other, bad ideas.

    To get a flavour of the sort of person Bentham was, Just take a google of Bentham’s “Pan-opticon”.

    He wanted Parliament to fund it, stock it with all sorts of people whom he didn’t approve of, and he would work those imprisoned individuals damned hard, as slaves, and take the profits from it. When parliament didn’t do as he wanted, he sought all sorts of nasty little ways to get revenge, individually and collectively – a really nasty individual.

    Before someone accuses me of the fallacy of poisoning the well, that coming up with the pan opticon does not necessarily invalidate all of Bentham’s ideas, I’ll return to the mathsturbatory fantasy of using Baconian empiricism with the social sciences.

    Izen continued:
    “I usually avoid deep politics because it lacks a material empiricism to root its assertions. In science based subjects there is a measurable objective reality, a -BEST- measure of temperature as foundational data on which to base hypothesis about how things work.
    To often political ideology seems to be a conceptual structure unconstrained, or supported by a material foundation. As a result I find my own ideas about politics are somewhat unstructured, ambiguous, probably contradictory and subject to arbitrary change.
    -grin-
    I do appreciate that this makes any contribution of mine to the subject worth less under most economic theories….!”

    Materials have a reasonably predictable and quantifiable behaviour. Samples from a batch of say hot drawn mild steel bar will have a measurable and quantifiable range of physical properties such as elastic limit, ultimate tensile strength, Izod value, all of which can be isolated by specific tests, and the results defined with a mean and standard deviation.

    humans are individuals with likes, dislikes and personal values and aims, and humans make choices.

    There is no realistic way to isolate one part of human behaviour from the whole in which it occurs, without changing it and thus making the results meaningless.

    I’ll give an example;

    The British Cooperative societies are a major force in British retailing, and are the largest corporate farmers in Britain. Several years ago, they undertook a major customer survey, asking whether their customers would like the co-ops to stock more organic produce.

    Of course the customers did, and the Co-ops converted a chunk of their farm production to meet organic standards.

    Did the customers buy it?

    Not in sufficient amounts to cover costs.

    What the study had failed to do was to look at actual buyer behaviour.

    Of course the customers, when the question is asked in isolation, would like to buy organic produce.

    Place the customer instead in the totality of life, with limited income, bills to pay, a car that needs replacing, a house that needs repairs and decorating, and, if they can save enough, perhaps a foreign trip to take…

    Battery hen eggs, bacon from pigs born to a crated sow, and a frozen chicken, raised in a half mile long shed in Thailand, will do very nicely for today, thankyou…

    Choices are individual, and value and utility are subjective, the cannot be quantified. No one has defined a unit called the “Util”. Even choices cannot be assessed in isolation, without completely distorting the results.

    Bentham’s cost benefit analysis, so beloved of our policy wonks, is a complete waste of effort, as the costs and the benefits mostly defy quantification, not to mention the choice of which benefits should outrank which costs.

    It doesn’t leave much for governments (or economists) to do.

  44. izen says:

    @- fenbeagle

    Neighbourism

    I suspect credit cards in Australia have not used PIN authentication much until recently.

  45. Luton Ian says:

    oh dear, the /i didn’t go in after

    …most economic theories….!”

  46. izen says:

    @- Luton Ian
    We would seem to be mostly in agreement about the negative influence of Bentham and utilitarian concepts. I would also see his hand in justifying some of the ‘precautionary’ state interventions.
    Ironically he is specifically mentioned by Mussolini in ‘The Doctrine of Fascism’ as one of the ‘liberals’ who argued against the authority of the state –

    “The importance of the State is rapidly growing. The so-called crisis can
    only be settled by State action and within the orbit of the State. Where are the
    shades of the Jules Simons who, in the early days of liberalism proclaimed that
    the “State should endeavor to render itself useless and prepare to hand in its
    resignation “? Or of the MacCullochs who, in the second half of last century, urged
    that the State should desist from governing too much? And what of the English
    Bentham who considered that all industry asked of government was to be left
    alone….
    The Fascist State lays claim to rule in the economic field no less
    than in others; it makes its action felt throughout the length and breadth of the
    country by means of its corporative, social, and educational institutions, and all the
    political, economic, and spiritual forces of the nation, organized in their respective
    associations, circulate within the State.”

    Now THAT is nasty stuff….

    -“humans are individuals with likes, dislikes and personal values and aims, and humans make choices.
    There is no realistic way to isolate one part of human behavior from the whole in which it occurs, without changing it and thus making the results meaningless.”

    Agreed, I think. Choice happens in a context, what choices we have – the neighbours eggs versus a double cheeseburger and the relative costs of those choices are embedded in a near infinite complexity of economic evolution and social organisation.
    For the majority price is the constraining parameter on choice.

  47. david says:

    Its nice to know that idiots still give a crap about appearances. It should only matter on how well the job is performed and whom speaks the real truth that mainstream media brainwashed fools cant seem to understand.

    Well it took a couple of days, but we finally got a Paulista to drop by – Oz 🙄

  48. Luton Ian says:

    Oz,
    Champagne is on me!

    Here’s to Izen’s personal journey!

    Congratulations

  49. izen says:

    @- Luton Ian

    Happy to have you along for the ride!
    -grin-

    May I have a glass of the lager of toffs…?

  50. Luton Ian says:

    First glass to you my friend, and many more too

  51. izen says:

    In a probably futile effort to drag this thread vaguely back to its original topic…

    There is an element of ‘consumer choice’ in the popularity of political candidates.
    For Ron Paul there appear to be problems with the packaging as pointed out by Amanda. Then there is the marketing, and finally the problem with his demographic appeal. As Ozboy mentioned they do exhibit a certain ‘crank’ tendency.
    Its that combination of absolute belief in the in-errancy of their grasp of the issues despite its minority status combined with the certainty they require no further knowledge of the subject.
    -G-

  52. Dr. Dave says:

    Damn! I find myself agreeing with both Ian and izen in the space of just a few comments! This might never happen again.

    Ian, the organic foods example was brilliant. “Organic” produce is neither tastier or more healthful than regular farm grown produce. It just takes up more arable land per unit of production, produces smaller yields and costs more. But doesn’t “organic” sound so delicious? I actually prefer my produce sans insects. I do buy “organic”, “free range” eggs at considerably greater cost because they do indeed have larger, deep orange (rather than pale yellow) yolks. But then, my household doesn’t consume enough eggs for it to make much of an economic impact. If I were allowed to raise my own chickens I would.

    Another turd in the proverbial punchbowl is “green” or “renewable” energy. It sounds so delightful…until you receive your bill and realize it costs many times more to produce (and the government is forcing you to buy it).

    The flip side is crony capitalism and corporatism. Virtually all carbonated soft drinks in the USA are sweetened with corn syrup rather than sugar. ADM and several other BigAg heavy hitters lobbied Congress many years ago to keep cheap foreign sugar imports out of the country to assure a never ending and unchallenged market for their byproduct. Without subsidies and mandated use (and tariffs) the entirely useless ethanol industry would cease to exist. The same is true for wind and solar. Economies can’t be effectively managed by a central government.

    A free people trading in a free market will ALWAYS make wiser decisions then centralized bureaucrats or politicians.

  53. Luton Ian says:

    Here Dave,
    Have a glass of bubbly

  54. Dr. Dave says:

    Thanks, Ian! Don’t mind if I do

  55. Luton Ian says:

    For the Jukebox

    let’s see if that embeds

  56. izen says:

    @- Dr Dave
    “ADM and several other BigAg heavy hitters lobbied Congress many years ago to keep cheap foreign sugar imports out of the country to assure a never ending and unchallenged market for their byproduct. Without subsidies and mandated use (and tariffs) the entirely useless ethanol industry would cease to exist. The same is true for wind and solar. Economies can’t be effectively managed by a central government.”

    Is the sugar example not central government used as a tool by ‘BigAg’ to manage the economy? I think it is clear in that example who has the primary motivation for the policy.

    “A free people trading in a free market will ALWAYS make wiser decisions then centralized bureaucrats or politicians.”

    But the motivation for those decisions by centralized bureaucrats or politicians is often external lobbying. There are a (in)famous set of question that were composed to be addressed to those that occupy positions of authority – grin –

    What power have you got?
    Where did you get it from?
    In whose interests do you use it?
    To whom are you accountable?
    How do we get rid of you?

  57. Luton Ian says:

    What emblem should Ron run with.

    He’s no ass.

    Technically, I guess that he counts as an elephant…

    But, would he not be better represented by a “Don’t tread on me” rattle snake?

  58. braunson says:

    Heh, couldn’t find the Aretha version, but this is OK.

  59. farmerbraun says:

    Funny how the organic thing rears its pointed little head from time to time, yet Ozboy continues to promise a free-for-all on this very topic sometime soon. I guess that he is still collecting the nuggets.
    My 30 year experience of “organics” is that it is cheaper, cleaner, less adulterated(so purer), more profitable(lower production cost) and ultimately more sustainable as a result of the preceding characteristics. Not to mention the taste(in deference to Crown Armourer’s delicate sensibilities) of barbecued home-killed organic lamb chops with an organic yoghurt tsatsiki dressing and buttered new organic potatoes……hehehe.
    Forget the “feeding the world” horseshit: it’s a red herring.
    So, the word is too vague to be useful as a discussion topic ( unless we create a definition).
    So rather than a non-organic/ organic dichotomy, I observe a traceability/ non-traceability distinction is what separates one from the other as far as Joe Consumer goes (which is not very far at all: sustainability? WTF? )
    That’s what we are all looking for , in my view; we want to know that we are not eating some dreadful contaminated shit from “godnose” where.
    When “organic” was first characterised as an alternative agriculture, it had a focus on carbon sequestration; hence the name. Increasing soil carbon was the name of the game. Science has , 40 years later, quantified the benefits of such practise and they are not inconsiderable.
    But “organic” quickly became synonomous with sustainable agriculture; indeed the first drafts of organic principles , a la IFOAM, focused almost solely on sustainability; in fact, the avoidance of various poisons(biocides) was but one principle out of a dozen or so.
    The interest should be around sustainable / unsustainable, but to quote St Francis of Azappa:-
    “basically, who gives a fuck anyway?”. The sun will go out.

    I have been promising FB, and not producing one as yet. I’m sorry. May I plead extreme work pressure?

    Actually, my plan is to have an on-going section in Planet Ozboy; I’ll e-mail you when it’s about to happen – Oz

  60. braunson says:

    @ Izen re the raccoon. That’s an interesting early version of Black Magic Woman with the songwriter Peter Green on lead guitar. Thanks for that bit of history.

  61. Dr. Dave says:

    izen,

    You’re partially correct. Crony capitalism is NOT a free market. Why do the politicians allow themselves to be manipulated? Because ultimately such manipulation buys votes and campaign contributions. In a truly free market economy a manufacturer of sweetened carbonated beverages would be able to buy whatever sweetener they wished to use at the lowest cost. BigAg steps in and “convinces” (i.e. bribes) several politicians to warp the market to their benefit by imposing tariffs. As a result the beverage manufacturer has little choice but to buy corn syrup rather than artificially inflated sugar. The politician get the financial support of BigAg and probably a bunch of domestic farmers. But it’s the consumer who gets screwed.

    The ethanol industry is my favorite example. No chemist, physicist or engineer in their right might would ever recommend using ethanol as a motor fuel. You expend nearly as much energy creating a liter of it as the energy contained therein will produce upon combustion. It costs more to produce than gasoline even at $100 per barrel for crude oil. It converts food and feedstock into unnecessary motor fuel and drives up food prices. It results in reduced mileage and has absolutely no discernible effect on any type of pollution (except in the negative sense). It’s an industry only a politician could love. Corn farmers love it because they’re getting record high prices per bushel of corn. Ethanol producers love it because they’re reaping taxpayer subsidies for producing the stuff and they have a politically guaranteed market demand for their product. The gasoline blenders love it because they’re paid a subsidy to adulterate otherwise perfectly good gasoline with ethanol and they just pass the expense along to the consumer. The ethanol industry receives not one, not two, but three huge crony benefits from their politician benefactors. There are taxpayer subsidies paid for the production and blending of ethanol, there are tariffs imposed to prevent the importation of cheaper foreign ethanol and ethanol use is mandated by the federal government. It’s a giant vote-buying boondoggle that costs the taxpayer and the consumer in the form of higher taxes, reduced fuel efficiency and higher food and fuel prices. It benefits a relative few. It’s pure crony capitalism. In a free market economy ethanol wouldn’t exist except in potable form in bottles.

    The same can be said for wind and solar farms. Were it not for the ability of the federal government to extort tax dollars from the public, NO ONE in the private sector would built these monuments of idiocy and inefficiency. Take a look at three stories that have been in the news lately. I’m sure you heard of Solyndra. They took over a half billion dollars in government guaranteed loans and then went bankrupt. Gee…guess what? The other investors were big Obama donors and supporters. How about the half billion squandered on Fisker motors? They’re building a $98K hybrid in Finland that gets a whopping 20 mpg. Again…big Obama donors and supporters. I can never remember the name of the third group that received a total of $2.1 billion in government guaranteed loans. Their goal is to build a solar panel factory in Mexico and then ship the panels to build a solar farm in Riverside, CA. Again…populated with Obama bundlers.

    Now the Democrats certainly don’t have a lock on crony capitalism. In fact, I suspect the Republicans probably invented it, but recently the Democrats have elevated it to an art form.

    The thing is, that whenever any government meddles in an economy it is to the detriment of the economy and the people.

  62. Luton Ian says:

    Up here with things like scab mites, “organic” allows the use of organo-phosphate sheep dips, and as everything else likes eating sheep, all the wormers too.

    I tried to find Zappa’s “Dong work for youda”, but it isn’t up yet, neither is “a token of my extreme”

    Zappa, is Italian for spade.

  63. farmerbraun says:

    @ozboy:”Actually, my plan is to have an on-going section in Planet Ozboy;’

    Farmer braun says; let’s drag it , kicking and screaming, out into Blogosphere St., and give it a damn good thrashing 🙂

  64. Luton Ian says:

    That’s better,
    Zappa’s Joe’s Garage kept me alive on a seven hour drive the morning that Blair made his triumphal entry into downing street.

    I think I was about 15 when I was introduced to Zappa’s music. I’m now into my fourth decade of discovering new depths to the music and Zappa’s libertarian insights.

  65. Luton Ian says:

    deeply, deeply subversive, sinister and

    very refreshing it was to listen to on May 2 1997

  66. Luton Ian says:

    I’ll try again,

    the central scruitinizer

  67. Dr. Dave says:

    Penn & Teller on Organic Food:

  68. Luton Ian says:

    I think Kitler has a hat made from felted fur from ethically raised, humanely slaughtered organic panda bears.

  69. Dr. Dave says:

    Mmmmm…Panda Bear. The other grey meat.

  70. Luton Ian says:

    Thanks for fixing that link Oz

  71. braunson says:

    @ Dr Dave; The video you linked to makes quite well the point FB was making . “Organic’ used to mean sustainable, and minimal biocide usage was a small part of that. Today it means anything except sustainable: although that is a continuum, not an absolute criterion.
    At the point where bigbiz got involved, all of that viability ethic went out the window, and the joke which we now call USDA organic certification was borne.
    I use an organic certification to provide traceability, but I essentially farm exactly the same way that my great- grandfathers did, but with a lot more paperwork ; that’s the only real difference. I do have quite a bit more science behind me too.
    In the historical sense of course, what I do is more accurately conventional agriculture; conventional for about half a dozen millenia prior to say 1945.

    You’ve got mail (FB too) – Oz

  72. Luton Ian says:

    I’m told that before today’s organo phosphate sheep dips, and before the organo chlorine (dieldrin) dips of the 1950s and 60s, sheep dip consisted of arsenic and whale oil.

    The old guys seem to have had an agenda designed to upset today’s greens.

    Everything contained asbestos, lead, whale oils, metal working recipes all seem to have contained lead, hexavalent chromium, cyanides, metals were case hardened in mixes containing barium carbonate or in baths of molten cyanides, then quenched in sperm oil, or for extra hardness, mercury.

    I’m waiting to find old recipes containing either panda or polar bear.

    Once I find one or other, then, I’ll have proof and the hunt is on for the author’s time machine.

  73. Dr. Dave says:

    I would say that where I grew up in SW Michigan most farming was mostly organic. Most farmers used sheep, cattle or pig manure as fertilizer. But the big orchards always used pesticides. Insects and worms can utterly destroy an apple crop and these growers had way too much on the line to gamble. You wouldn’t want to eat the fruit of a “wild” apple or pear tree. Sweet corn crops were regularly treated with insecticides as these crops seemed to be incredibly susceptible to insect infestation. I don’t recall a lot of pesticide or herbicide being used on most other fruit and vegetable crops. But what the hell does “organic” really mean? I’m quite sure I’d never eat an “inorganic” vegetable.

  74. braunson says:

    Dr Dave, you are alluding to a critical feature: diversity. Organic farmers never do monoculture because it concentrates disease, pathogens, predators etc. In other words it creates too many problems which reduce yield and profitability; monoculture is madness.

  75. Tucci says:

    At 6:40 AM on 30 October, Dr. Dave had written:

    Another turd in the proverbial punchbowl is “green” or “renewable” energy. It sounds so delightful…until you receive your bill and realize it costs many times more to produce (and the government is forcing you to buy it).

    The flip side is crony capitalism and corporatism. Virtually all carbonated soft drinks in the USA are sweetened with corn syrup rather than sugar. ADM and several other BigAg heavy hitters lobbied Congress many years ago to keep cheap foreign sugar imports out of the country to assure a never ending and unchallenged market for their byproduct. Without subsidies and mandated use (and tariffs) the entirely useless ethanol industry would cease to exist. The same is true for wind and solar. Economies can’t be effectively managed by a central government.

    A free people trading in a free market will ALWAYS make wiser decisions then centralized bureaucrats or politicians.

    Which is, of course, the observation key to the Austrian School of economics, and why its proponents, living and dead, are so heartily hated by the governmentally inclined, who are forever “whistling past the graveyard” while striving to dismiss men like von Mises and Rothbard and Hazlitt and Murphy and Di Lorenzo as “kooks” whose scholarly eloquence has made indisputable argument against the aggressively violent coercion perpetrated by the officers of government in their corrupt and inept normative efforts to “improve” the economy under whatever excuse they think will gull the greatest number of their intended victims.

    At 8:20 AM on 30 October, Dr. Dave had continued:

    Crony capitalism is NOT a free market. Why do the politicians allow themselves to be manipulated? Because ultimately such manipulation buys votes and campaign contributions. In a truly free market economy a manufacturer of sweetened carbonated beverages would be able to buy whatever sweetener they wished to use at the lowest cost. BigAg steps in and “convinces” (i.e. bribes) several politicians to warp the market to their benefit by imposing tariffs. As a result the beverage manufacturer has little choice but to buy corn syrup rather than artificially inflated [more precisely, “price supported“] sugar. The politician get the financial support of BigAg and probably a bunch of domestic farmers. [As well as those whose services and products – chemical fertilizers, commercial seed stocks, farm machinery, etc. – are dependent on the continuation and expansion of things-as-they-are in the Big Ag sector.] But it’s the consumer who gets screwed.

    The ethanol industry is my favorite example. No chemist, physicist or engineer in their right might would ever recommend using ethanol as a motor fuel. You expend nearly as much energy creating a liter of it as the energy contained therein will produce upon combustion. It costs more to produce than gasoline even at $100 per barrel for crude oil. It converts food and feedstock into unnecessary motor fuel and drives up food prices. It results in reduced mileage and has absolutely no discernible effect on any type of pollution (except in the negative sense). It’s an industry only a politician could love. Corn farmers love it because they’re getting record high prices per bushel of corn. Ethanol producers love it because they’re reaping taxpayer subsidies for producing the stuff and they have a politically guaranteed market demand for their product. The gasoline blenders love it because they’re paid a subsidy to adulterate otherwise perfectly good gasoline with ethanol and they just pass the expense along to the consumer. The ethanol industry receives not one, not two, but three huge crony benefits from their politician benefactors. There are taxpayer subsidies paid for the production and blending of ethanol, there are tariffs imposed to prevent the importation of cheaper foreign ethanol [notably from Brazil, where tremendous amounts of motor fuel ethanol is produced from cane sugar], and ethanol use is mandated by the federal government. It’s a giant vote-buying boondoggle that costs the taxpayer and the consumer in the form of higher taxes, reduced fuel efficiency and higher food and fuel prices. It benefits a relative few. It’s pure crony capitalism. In a free market, economy ethanol wouldn’t exist except in potable form in bottles.

    It is worthwhile at this point to observe that the “Arab Spring” uprisings still ongoing in the Islamic kakistocracies of the Middle East and North Africa have been – to an enormous extent – triggered by the price increases in cereal grains throughout the world markets.

    The “Arab Spring” polities are uniformly dependent upon the importation of grains and refined cereal derivatives for the greatest part of their dietary calorie requirements. Even the unarguably most efficient and effective agricultural sector in those regions – that of Israel – can’t provide as much as 47% of the Israeli requirement. Over the past decade, the continuing real price increases for these products has been a source of growing concern in the Israeli media (which is sufficiently free of government censorship in this regard to be considered more or less accurately reflective of the genuine situation in the Israeli economy).

    American media – being pervaded by terminally stupid “Liberal” fascists who are (in my professional opinion) uniformly qualified for death certificates and immediate organ harvesting – have failed to take note of the Tahrir Square images of “bread helmets” – protestors wearing chunks of various kinds of bread stuck with clear packing tape around their heads – which have hammered home to Arab viewers just what the hell is the actual reason why the Egyptian fellahin are “mad as hell, and we’re not gonna take it any more!”

    Egyptians and other common folk in North Africa and the Middle East derive almost all of their dietary carbohydrates from bread, which is included in every meal. North Americans and northern Europeans (who consume great amounts of rice and corn [maize] and potatoes as well as cereal grains) have no real immediate perception of just how vital breadstuffs are to the Arab-speaking people all over the Sandbox.

    And the Arabs cannot raise enough grain to satisfy their needs in this regard.

    And fuhgeddboud “organic farming.” When we’re talking about international markets – the satisfaction of the real needs of millions of people, particularly those in the Third World, where a price rise that’s an uncomfortable inconvenience in America or Australia or the U.K. means the inability to purchase the foodstuffs that make the difference between protein-calorie malnutrition and survival – only the maximal cost-effectiveness of industrial agriculture can keep people from suffering and death.

    But even with industrial farming (including the planting of the genetically modified strains that the Euroweenies knot their panties over), International markets in cereal grains are to a great extent fungible. Divert resources (land, labor, and capital) to the production and processing of corn to make weak, energy-inefficient fuel ethanol in America and Canada and Europe and Australia, and you pinch down the production of wheat and other cereal species to supply those markets, raising the costs of all types of carbohydrates therein.

    Anybody reading here still want “renewable biofuels”?

  76. Dr. Dave says:

    braunson,

    If you grow apples, cherries, pears, peaches, apricots, grapes, blueberries, etc. you don’t have the luxury of rotating the crops. The farmers I knew always rotated their grain and vegetable crops. I always mix it up from year to year with my vegetable garden. In truth I really don’t bother with insecticides and herbicides in the vegetable garden. I am, however, not the least bit shy about using liberal applications of Miracle Grow. The stuff produces bumper crops of green beans, squash and cabbages. For me bugs are not that big a problem (except when growing Brussels Sprouts). The much larger menace is the vermin (e.g. gophers, rabbits and the incredibly evil ground squirrel). We have even discovered that it’s easier and more effective just to hunt down the big, green hook worms on the tomatoes, pull them off, cut them in half and feed them to the birds from our little stonehenge in the front yard. Dispatched vermin are recycled from the back yard alter out behind the compost heaps via the coyotes, bobcats, owls and ravens.

    My GF is a purist when it comes to vegetables. She will only fertilize with compost and manure and will never use insecticides. In her flower garden out front, however, she has no compunction about waging chemical warfare against beetles and aphids.

  77. braunson says:

    OK, so just for the record , “organic” farmers use mineral fertilisers on an as needed basis. In our case a bit of ground reactive phosphate rock and a little elemental sulphur is applied every 5-10 years after testing reveals a need.
    I take your point about crop rotation but the organic style orchard has only a few of each species of fruit and they are not adjacent; rather intermingled. Maybe rotate after 30-50 years.
    I am not suggesting that modern city dwelling is in any way sustainable; possibly you agree.

  78. farmerbraun says:

    Tucci wrote: And fuhgeddboud “organic farming.”

    FB recovers (from laughing) long enough to say:
    Good one Tucci! Absolutely! The first 10,000 years of agriculture was a total wipeout. Clearly unsustainable 🙂

  79. Tucci says:

    At 12:15 PM on 30 April, farmerbraun places his foot firmly in his own mouth and shoves really hard over the issue of “organic farming” to write:

    The first 10,000 years of agriculture was a total wipeout. Clearly unsustainable.

    Nope. Merely unproductive relative to current industrial farming practices.

    I hate mundanes. That being understood, permit me to quote from a recent novel’s sample chapters freely available online. Bear in mind that this is speculative fiction, but SF requires far more scrupulous adherence to demonstrable fact than does even (hell, especially) the policy positions of politicians, bureaucrats, and other normative assholes.

    Up in Minnesota we’ve got our fair share of Amish. Nobody is bothered by them. They’re not “us” but we’re not “them” so it works out. Nobody wants to try to sing kumbaya with the Amish and the Amish won’t even consider singing kumbaya with us. “Clannish” doesn’t begin to cover it.

    But they farmed organically. I mean, it was like their religion, right? They had been doing it for a long time and they were not stupid. They paid attention to what worked within the constraints of their culture. They used every trick in the book that wasn’t a violation of their faith. They were, hands down, the best truly organic farmers in the United States.

    Their harvests averaged half of my dad’s evil farm corporation. The only reason they were able to stay in business at all was that they had so few needs and everyone worked for, essentially, no pay. They ate what they harvested and anything left over went to buy the very few things they couldn’t make themselves.

    They were excellent organic farmers. They were not excellent farmers. Excellence in farming is how much use you get out of a patch of soil. My dad was an excellent farmer.

    The best organic farming in the world is hugely inefficient compared to industrial farming. All the kumbaya types that wanted everyone to go to organic farming simply could not do math. Say that everyone was suddenly forced, by some sort of edict, (like, say, The Emergency Powers Act and a fucking Presidential Order) to do organic farming. We won’t even talk about horse-drawn plows, just no genmod seeds, no herbicides, no pesticides, no “nonorganic” (a contradiction in terms, by the way) fertilizers.

    Look, the U.S. was and is beginning to be again the world’s bread basket. We produced, and are getting back to producing, 15% of world agricultural production. With about a quarter the workers per ton. But if we had to go to “all organic farming” we’d have had to break three times the amount of land that was farmed. Why three? Because in areas that weren’t rapidly urbanizing, good farmland was all in use. That means working the marginal stuff where production falls off, fast.

    Three times as much plowing. Three times as much transportation. About five times (for some complicated reasons) the hands. There was already a notable shortage of skilled farm workers; I have no clue where we’d get the extra guys.

    And you have to use some fertilizer. I can project places we could get it, they’re called sewers. Do you transport it raw? I don’t think even the tofu-eaters like the idea of honey-wagons all over the road and they would be all over the road. The transportation network for professionally produced fertilizer was very efficient. Trying to replace it with some massive network of shit carriers was going to be ugly. And then there’s the energy involved in transportation.

    Again, plenty of studies. Environmental damage from a total switch to organic farming would have been ten times that of the current conditions of mass industrial farming. Don’t care what the tofu-eaters believed; that was the reality.

    For every simple answer people don’t use there are big complicated reasons they don’t. But some people can’t comprehend big complicated reasons so they cling to the simple answers.

    Back to the tofu-eaters in Lamoille. The crops didn’t sprout. Those that did did poorly. It was a sucky year to farm, that was part of it. The big part was that the tofu-eaters had no clue what they were doing. And they weren’t willing to work nearly hard enough. If you’re going to organically farm, you’d better be ready to work ten times as hard as an industrial farmer. And I mean “swinging a hoe” hard. And “picking the corn” hard. (The latter is not harvesting.) Why? Weeds. Pests.

    Laying down a bed, industrially, works like this in the simplest possible way. (Understand, this is the farming version of C-A-T spells “Cat.” Don’t think this little paragraph can make you a farmer.) Start with winter fallow field. Spray with herbicide. Let sink in. Wait two weeks for Roundup to degrade. Spray with ammonium nitrate to “seal” the soil. Some stuff you have to combine these but that’s getting into sentences and complex words like complex. Wait a short period of time for ammonia to do its magic. Check soil temperature (if you’re good you’ve guessed the day perfectly) and start plowing and planting simultaneously with a John Deere combination planter. At specified intervals spray with insecticide and herbicide chemically targeted to miss your crops. Depending on what you’re growing, you might have to do pollination. (Usually except for the low-grains like rye, wheat and barley.) Pollination is the one thing that is hugely manpower intense. (Oh and picking rocks. I can’t believe I left out picking rocks!) Generally it happens in summer and you hire a whole bunch of the local kids to come out and hand pollinate. And they’d better be willing to work for peanuts or it’s going to break you.

    Harvest when it’s ready and get ready to either do a second crop or let the field lie fallow for winter. Repeat.

    (By the way, all farmers have some level of debt. Ever signed a mortgage and get the question “Do you want to pay monthly, quarterly, biannually or annually” and look at the banker like they’re nuts? Monthly, of course! Are you nuts? Unless you’re a farmer. In which case, it’s generally yearly. You don’t make diddly until harvest. That’s when all debts get paid, payments on tractors, payments on improvements to the house, payments on your car. And you’d better have budgeted for next year, including the pollinators, or you’re going to go bust. Farmers are planners.)

    So, let’s say you’re growing corn and you don’t do all that. You just put it in the ground (at the right time) and let it grow its own way. Okay, maybe you spread the field with “manure” (shit) before you plow. (The tofu-eaters mostly didn’t.) But you’re not going to use evil herbicides or pesticides.

    Well, weeds grow much faster than crops. In fact, it seems weeds will grow like, well, weeds. They get up everywhere. Even in fields that have been sprayed over and over again, they spring up. They are transported by wind, by birds. Fucking thistles are the bane of any farmer’s existence. They get carried on bird legs and birds will get into the fields. If you don’t spray in a year or so you’re covered in thistles.

    But wait! I can hear the organic types screaming about burning and cutting and all that. Yeah. Tell it to the Amish. Go look at an Amish field right next to an “evil” field. Let’s take wheat since it’s easy to spot. Look at the “evil” field. You’ll see, scattered through it, some brown looking stuff that isn’t wheat. If you don’t know what that is, it’s called “Indian Tobacco.” It’s related, distantly, to tobacco but has no value as a crop. Period. It’s a weed.

    Look at the “evil” field. Maybe five percent of the total, usually less, is taken over by Indian Tobacco. Look at the Amish field. Closer to thirty percent.

    And they burn. And they cut during fallow at intervals to catch weeds. Some of them, and there was a big debate about it, even used biological controls. (Pests that target specific weeds.)

    And it’s still there. Hell, it’s hard enough to get rid of with herbicides. And its root structure strangles out everything around it. Let fucking Indian Tobacco get loose in a wheat field for long enough and you might as well move to Florida and retire.

    And don’t even get me started on mustard weed! I really fucking hate mustard weed!

    But we were talking about corn. So let’s talk about burcucumber. Sounds cute, right? It’s a combination of two words, the first of which is “bur.” Don’t know if anyone reading this has ever dealt with burs. They’re the things that stick onto your legs when you’re walking through grass in summer. Burcucumber doesn’t have really nasty burs, but it’s a climber. It climbs like any viny plant. Let it get into a corn crop and it will climb right up and kill the plants.

    And all weeds, no matter how minor, take away nutrients from your crops. They are a pain in the ass.

    So, you can do industrial things to get rid of them. From a paper on weed management and burcucumber:

    “Management: Soil applications of Balance Pro or postemergence applications of atrazine, Beacon, Buctril, Classic, Cobra, glyphosate, or Liberty.”

    You know, herbicides. Get out there in your spray truck. Call in a crop duster. Corn’s a monocot. Burcucumber is a dichot. (grass vs. broad-leaf plant) Some herbicides (2-4-d: Brush-Be-Gone) only killed dichots. If you didn’t get it with the first application of Roundup you can get it with Brush-Be-Gone. In the case of soy, which had been “genetically modified” to be resistant to glypho (Roundup) you can go ahead and spray ’em anyway. I do so love modern bio-tech.

    Or, you can manage it by tilling fallow fields (not a great use of anyone’s time), burning at appropriate times and, most especially, weeding. (All but the last, by the way, causing more damage to the environment.)

    Weeding. You know, get out there with a hoe and hack away at the weeds. Better make sure you get all the roots and especially get them before they seed. Or next year is going to be worse. And worse. And worse. Gonna spend a lot of time on your knees. Backbreaking work. Stoop-work, the worst kind. It will kill you fast. Ask any Mexican farm laborer.

    But those guys were mostly doing it at harvest. You’d better be doing it all summer. Hell, spring, summer and fall; there are weeds that spring up all three seasons and you need to get them young.

    If you’ve got an area that’s large enough to support four people and some to sell, you’re going to be weeding all the time. Or you’re not going to get enough to support the foursome.

    And you still will have more weeds than those evil bastards using chemicals. Ask the Amish.

    Then there’s pests. We’re sticking with corn again. Corn borer. Ever picked up fresh corn at a roadside stand and when you’re shucking it there’s this big fucking caterpillar which has eaten, like, half the kernels? You go “Yuck!” and toss it out. But a bunch of the rest has the same shit?

    Corn borer. And your friendly roadside farmer is an organic nut. Welcome to the reality of organic farming on the sharp end. If it doesn’t have a worm somewhere, it’s industrial. If it has a worm, it’s organic. If you’re eating something organic, there has been a worm involved. Guaran-fucking-teed.

    And if the worms are eating it, people can’t.

    Prior to the advent of modern pesticides and other pest prevention methods, pests and infections (corn gets sick, too) caused a loss of 25% of all crops before they could be consumed. That’s a lot of fucking food.

    Digression again. Ever heard of a guy called Thomas Robert Malthus? As in “Malthusian Equations”? There was a book called The Population Bomb that was based on Malthusian Equations. Basically, according to Malthus, people reproduce a lot faster than food production can be increased. (Geometric vs. arithmetic.) Thus every so often you’re going to get a massive famine since the amount of mouths outstrip the production.

    Malthus did his study and wrote his treastise just as the industrial revolution was getting into gear. And for his knowledge of the day, organic farming by human and animal labor, he was absolutely right. There was a regular cycle of population growth stopped by famine throughout the world prior to the industrial revolution. See the upcoming thing about Marie Antoinette. Not to mention Les Miserables.

    What changed it was industrial farming methods. Period. Dot. Everybody on earth would occasionally be going through a widespread killer famine if we all went back to organic farming worldwide. Simple as that. I hate “all organic” nearly as much as I hate mustard weed. More, probably. Mustard weed just evolved. Organic farming nuts have brains. They just can’t use them.

    But the good organic farmers (oxymoron, I know) are going to use tricks to keep it to a minimum. They’d pick the corn. Very labor intensive, again, but get a bunch of people out there looking for the corn borer eggs on the surface. Getting the eggs off. Looking for caterpillars or grasshoppers (they’re fucking locusts, okay?) and picking them off by hand. Have a big fry at the end of the day since you might as well get some protein from your fields.

    See “Chapter Seven: Case Studies or the Grasshopper and the Ant” from the novel The Last Centurion by John Ringo (2008).

    Still laughing, farmerbraun?

    I repeat: not “unsustainable.” Merely unproductive relative to the investment of the factors of production.

    Y’know. Land, labor, and capital.

    Eight F-bombs in a single comment meant WordPress shunted it into the “Pending” queue, while I was out the back, um, pulling weeds – sorry ’bout that Tucci – Oz

  80. Dr. Dave says:

    Tucci, as usual, makes several very important points in his last comment. We in the West tend to forget about the dietary demands of the rest of the world. I have a couple of friends who raise cattle in Texas and a couple more old schoolmates who raise hogs in Iowa (one is even an OB/Gyn!). The situation is particularly acute with hogs. Easily 60% of the cost of raising a hog is feedstock. In the US we shunt 40% of our corn crop to ethanol production. What’s left is far more expensive for food and feedstock. This also inflates the cost of other grains (e.g. wheat, soybeans, etc). I might bitch and moan because a couple of premium steaks now cost $5 more than they did a year or two ago, but I don’t realize how this unnecessary cost increase affects poorer people in other countries.

    In the USA we need look only as far as Mexico. The typical Mexican diet centers around corn and flour tortillas. You might think of Mexican food as Tacos and Burritos stuffed with seasoned meat, beans and cheese. More often than not, in reality it is mostly flour or corn tortillas. Inflated US corn prices have caused actual food hardship in Mexico.

    Oh…Farmerbraun…those time-honored 10,000 years of primitive agriculture couldn’t feed the world’s population today

  81. Tucci says:

    A bit earlier Ozboy had apologized about my long draw from The Last Centurion:

    Eight F-bombs in a single comment meant WordPress shunted it into the “Pending” queue, while I was out the back, um, pulling weeds – sorry ’bout that….

    Understood. I avoid using them myself, automated censoring software being what it is, but I tend to be finicky about altering other people’s work when I’m quoting them. Ringo definitely writes for an “adult” audience, and I sometimes mark with distaste stuff a lot rougher than mere “F-bombs” in his novels.

    Robust Anglo-Saxon discourse is fine here, as long as it’s civilized – Oz 😉

  82. Kitler says:

    Dr Dave so it has recently only dawned on you about how most of the world lives? I assume you never had the standard eat up your dinner there are starving people people in Biafra/Ethiopia etc speech from a concerned mother. To be honest Americans eat way too much meat than is probably good for them considering what they inject into it to keep it healthy/preserve it. You may be pleased to know that bleach is one chemical as is a heavy saline solution. Then there is the hydrogenated vegetable oils used in cooking, artificial sweeteners that break down into formaldehyde compounds in the body, corn syrup instead of sugar which ends up being laid down as fat because of the high calorie intake. Plus the mind numbing portion sizes.
    I digress however as bloody foreigner observing this bounteous land and wibbly wobbly people.
    The recent Arab spring was a result of the rise in bread prices in those countries those people subsist mainly on flat breads. High prices thanks to the USA making ethanol. Al Gore can take personal credit for the downfall of Gaddafi.

  83. Kitler says:

    Tucci while the point about feeding billions requires industrial agriculture and then it takes a handful of idiot politicians to screw up the system by diverting crops into ethanol or granting big agro chemical companies the God given right to supply only one type of seed putting the world at risk of famine if a new bug evolves resistance to the fancy pesticides and you must buy only from them or go to court and be ruined or imprisoned.
    Farmerbraun is laughing because idiots in the cities are willing to pay a premium for his product and he runs a dairy farm in probably one of the kindest relatively climates in the world and relatively pest free because of it’s unique geologic history and relative isolation and the fact it was mammal free.

  84. Tucci says:

    At 3:00 PM on 30 October, Kitler had written:

    The recent Arab spring was a result of the rise in bread prices in those countries those people subsist mainly on flat breads. High prices thanks to the USA making ethanol. Al Gore can take personal credit for the downfall of Gaddafi.

    The various kleptocracies in the “Arab Spring” nation states had been using some of the First World’s government-to-government “foreign aid” currency transfers (what of it hadn’t been finding its way to numbered accounts in Luxembourg and Switzerland and the Cayman Islands and so forth) to subsidize purchases of foreign grain to deal out the “bread” portion of the traditional “bread and circuses” recipe for domestic quietude in a government-ruined political economy.

    The “Destroy Israel!” noise served the “circuses” purpose. Always a favorite among the Sand Nazis.

    Anyhoo, as the global market prices of grain rose in response to the “biofuels” bogosity, the various tyrannous oligopolies of the Middle East and North Africa began to fall short of the necessary required – even with authoritarian price controls – to keep the consumer costs associated with bread down to a level that the common folk could afford.

    They’re still falling short, and regime change is not gonna succeed in abating that triggering factor. Mubarak et alia have gone (or are going) bye-bye, but no gaggle of successors (military or non-military) are gonna be able to cope with the stark realities of the international grain market and the fact that the wogs just plain suck as farmers.

    They haven’t got the expertise, capital base, experience, or political philosophy required to get efficient, productive industrial farming up and going.

    This persistent failing is one of the real reasons – probably the key reason – why they hate the Israelis so much. There’s the Zionists, despised Jews who have rejected the teachings of the Prophet and the Religion of Peace, who have in a bit more than a century taken a region previously infested with Arabs and Druze who for the past millennium and more could barely manage to practice subsistence farming in the malarial wasteland they’d made of it, and the Yids not only developed it agriculturally but industrially while fielding military forces that have sustainedly bitch-slapped every woggish nation state in the area.

    The only thing that’s going to keep the “Arab Spring” polities from going through an interminable succession of civil uprisings will be the end of the “biofuels” boondoggle in these United States and the rest of the “developed” world.

    And for that, dear readers, we need Ron Paul – the only Red Faction candidate who can and will shut down these and other corporate welfare thieveries – as President of these United States, ASAP.

  85. Dr. Dave says:

    Kitler,

    I’m keenly aware of how the rest of the world eats (well…most of it anyway). Actually, MOST of the world eats OK, but about a third of the entire population of the planet suffers from some form of malnutrition. Protein malnutrition is one of my personal areas of interest. Do you realize that if the entire planet switched to a vegan diet we couldn’t grow enough of the grains and legumes necessary to provide the essential amino acids?

    I think you would be amazed at the modest portion sizes I consume. I simply can’t eat that much. On a very rare occasion I can really pig out on grilled beef tenderloin or Alaskan King Crab legs. But I have trouble finishing a 6 oz burger. I even agree that Americans tend to eat too much meat. One hundred years ago a single chicken provided a meal for four but you also consumed bread, vegetables and legumes with the meal. Now we tend to shape our meals around a large portion of meat. Not infrequently my GF and I make entire meals out of Basmati rice, asparagus and Brussels Sprouts. Neither one of us are all that fond of fried foods. Our eating habits have nothing to do with being “health conscious”. We just eat the stuff we like. Personally I’m not into sweet stuff (other than fruit). I eat very little ice cream, cake, cookies or candy because that stuff is not what I’m hungry for. I get cravings for salads. Lately I’ve even lost interest in beer in favor of ice cold unflavored seltzer water.

    Oh…BTW…sugar carbohydrates are all pretty much the same. It doesn’t matter if it’s glucose, fructose or sucrose or rather it was derived from corn syrup or cane sugar. It’s all concentrated carbohydrate calories. Man! I could really go for some Japanese rice crackers with black pepper seasoned feta cheese about now…

  86. Kitler says:

    Farmerbraun any organically farmed giant Moa on your farm, I know you guys are just lying about them being extinct and I bet they taste just like Panda with a hint of white Rhino.Going back to your carbon benefits in the soil have you heard about Terra Preata found in the Amazon the Natives found a way to turn basically worthless soil in highly fertile productive soil and one dose has lasted over 500 years and the good thing it’s organic.

  87. Kitler says:

    Dr Dave well the basmati asparagus and sprout diet will probably lose you friends all you need to add is some garlic.
    As for…..Lately I’ve even lost interest in beer in favor of ice cold unflavored seltzer water…..seek help immediately, beer and wine is the foundation of Western civilization.
    While you may think all sugars are the same if I am not mistaken the body will opt to take the fructose and convert it to fat immediately if the bodies energy needs have already been met by simpler sugars, it does that because it takes less energy to convert fructose than glucose and since they add fructose to everything people end up getting fat, they even add fructose to bread for heavens sake or baked beans.
    Anyhow I shall be test driving the new Rotisserie tomorrow for healthier cooked meat with more flavour it’s amazing it took Ron Popeil to reinvent the spit over an open fire.

  88. Kitler says:

    Tucci when you met Political Correctness I assume you immediately kicked it in the nuts. Never was a truer term coined than Sand Nazi’s you obviously know your Third Reich history very well.
    As for Ron Paul my own daughter is a supporter and will be of enough to vote in 2012 of course if he is elected he will be assassinated by the really worried about his policies vested interests.

  89. Kitler says:

    As a test of sensibilities here is a song from Monty Python….very un PC you have been warned.

  90. braunson says:

    Kitler re. the benefits of soil carbon and terra preta;

    Well I’m pretty sure that nobody will argue that increasing soil humus levels is a bad thing. But will anyone argue that the soil carbon loss often associated with industrial ag, especially in annual cropping, is a good thing?
    At least those “organic” hippies got something right; it may have been the only thing though.

  91. Luton Ian says:

    I’ve a feeding round to do in a minute or two, so a brief god morning to you all.

    Where I am, insect pests are fortunately not a problem on cereals (they are on sheep! blow flies, and mites). Stony, wet land is expensive to till though (and the lads hate stone picking), and not much of it is far enough from vertical too till.

    There’s a saying around here about 20 minute land – that’s the 20 minutes it takes it to go from porridge to concrete when the sun comes out, when it rains it’s five minute land.

    We can grow cereals cheaper than we can buy them, but not cheaply enough to be worth selling them.

    Even though we don’t need arable insecticides, it still costs atleast £1k everytime the 1000 litre sprayer goes out for fungus and weeds.

    we tried saving seed, and a mobile seed dresser would come around to screen and clean it, and dress it. A field lost to bunt (a seed borne fungus which devours the ears before they ripen) put an end to that. good quality organo-mercurial seed dressing is worth a lot.

    what we can do is graze sheep and little hairy cattle. There are a few re-homed south american critters kicking about, which really don’t do too well on the heather ground.

    The land here is very copper deficeint, and everything gets copper laden mineral suppliments on a free access basis. The only ones which don’t are sheep on a piped water supply.

    Worms and fluke are an almighty curse. even with rotation of grazing, they still build up. Lung worms aren’t a problem, the critters soon develop resistance, but tape and round worms are a problem.

    Old time cure was carbon tetrachloride! The effective dose was apparently almost lethal to the animal, and I’ve heard of people miscalculating and loosing lots of cattle.

    Modern drenches are good, and the knots of tapeworm lying on tghe yard are disgustingly impressive.

    Survival rates are far higher than I remember them being 20 years ago (lots of pneumonia and miserable little buggers wandering around wanting to die. better vaccination schedules I think pay a big roll, also the mineral supplimentation means that everything is much fitter, the worming drugs also seem to kill developing dog tapeworm cysts which used to result in lambs putting their heads back as the cyst began to crush their brains. I haven’t seen that this year.

    ok, critters to teach to eat cereals and hay!
    a vital skill for them if it snows during their lifetimes.

    just as a guide to price, in the 1940s, a fat lamb payed a farm worker’s wage for 2 weeks, a good fat lamb is now up to £80, min wage is £5.50/hour. for the past few years, a lamb was just over £20.

    Not sure how much is due to money printing and devaluation of the currency against internationally traded stuff, like sheep meat.

  92. Luton Ian says:

    ps
    Humus a big problem around here, there’s 3 metres of peat on the hill top, it’s useless blanket bog, and should be put through a power station.

  93. Luton Ian says:

    I’m not going to knock organic on a voluntary basis. even with the chemicals, a lot of our stuff could be certified, we just don’t think the benefit is worth the hassle.

    The market is well able to regulate the proportion of organic, and the population of illiterate middle eastern urban dwellers too.

    I’m no beleiver in either Malthus, or the “resources are running out” brigade, but I do suspect that the time of:

    Peak Muslims

    is upon us

  94. Kitler says:

    Braunson Terra Preata is charcoal of very different kind mixed with clay pot shards they still have not figured out how it works to retain soil nutrients. Large parts of the Amazon before the Spanish was home to extremely large numbers of people before disease got them, they dug canals to connect waterways for transport. Metal working was not an option as the Amazon lacks good available rock formations and deposits accessible to a pre Iron age civilization.
    So what people think of as pristine virgin jungle is actually regrowth, apparently in the Congo there is evidence of again large numbers of people farming in the jungle on the same scale.

  95. Kitler says:

    Luton Ian should note that what is marginal land now was home to farmers of cereal crops when the climate was a lot warmer evidence of such farming can still be seen when traveling on the road to Appleby on the Pennines.

  96. Kitler says:

    A note to Tucci for areas like the Amazon modern farming methods are a disaster as the land is soon used up and not even good for cattle the soil forms a pan which is hard to break and nutrients are soon used up. The ancient farming methods produced soils which are still good after 500 years and there is no sign of abating that productivity. In this case Organic farming rules.
    I am aware of the history of farming methods in Roman times they tended not to rotate crops and land soon lost productivity even with large numbers of slaves to use on getting rid of weeds and pests, a major improvement came with the Medieval three field system which left one field in three fallow to recover from the previous two years of use for cereals and legumes. Then came the four field system in the 18th century which was a major leap in productivity as clover was used to fix atmospheric nitrogen in the fallow field and along with the horse collar was a major efficiency improvement. I think yields doubled as land was also improved by drainage pipes and people began to understand how to turn heavy clay soils in more friable material with the use of manure and straw.
    Although if we went back to those methods we could not feed the world anymore it was good for about two billion people, in India they used to use small dams to store water in the soil during the Monsoons so it would be available to the plants during the growing season alas modern methods are forcing them to use aquifers for water and these will soon be depleted and the old methods have been forgotten. India will face a food crisis in the next 30 years thanks to modern methods.

  97. Amanda says:

    Kitler: We ought to have more stevia — both in baked products/pre-made meals and as a raw resource for cooks. Tastes great and is miraculous, like the no-cal pizza they haven’t invented yet!

  98. Tucci says:

    At 4:38 AM on 30 October, Kitler had written:

    Tucci when you met Political Correctness I assume you immediately kicked it in the nuts. Never was a truer term coined than Sand Nazi’s you obviously know your Third Reich history very well.

    PC being completely castrato, there’s no nuts to kick.

    And, yeah, I know the history of National Socialism, both in Germany and elsewhere. That particular cluster of woggery qualifies for the “Sand Nazi” appellation with shuddersome perfection, considering among other facts an appreciation of how Haj Mohammed Effendi Amin el-Husseini (Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, 1921-1937) was a prominently public Nazi collaborator – even recruiting Muslim troops in the Balkans to serve in the Waffen SS

    (“Our fundamental condition for cooperating with Germany was a free hand to eradicate every last Jew from Palestine and the Arab world. I asked Hitler for an explicit undertaking to allow us to solve the Jewish problem in a manner befitting our national and racial aspirations and according to the scientific methods innovated by Germany in the handling of its Jews. The answer I got was: The Jews are yours.”)

    – and the ways in which Arabic translations of Mein Kampf maintain “best-seller status among ’em to this day.

    You want “political incorrectness,” bubbeleh? All you gotta do is acknowledge reality.

  99. Luton Ian says:

    Cereals were grown on high ground a lot more recently than the Iron Age and High Medieval times.

    The high prices during the operation of the mercantilist corn laws made it worth the effort.

    The War Ag committees during and after WWii, decided which land each farmer had to grow cereals on each year, and the state supplied the 224 pound hessian sacks for the corn to go to the railway station in.

    The man with the thresher was the only person who was deemed to require rubber tyres for his machines, so understandably he got through a considerable number of them…

    A neighbour who died back about 1990, used to work as shepherd on an outlying farm. during the war he ended up in court for black market trading in butter and eggs. Fortunately the magistrates that day were all customers of his.

    Another neighbour was evicted because he refused to plough out a parcel of land. Rumours still abound of farmers being shot as traitors for refusing to obey orders given by committees, who, sans fancy titles, were their neighbours, often with grudges to settle, and egos in need of stroking, now that they had power.

  100. braunson says:

    Kitler , I think that we do know how terra preta works and why it lasts for so long; it is self-regenerating. Which is precisely the attribute that was striven for in organic farming , as it was originally conceived; sustainability, right? That was the single fundamental underlying principle of organic farming; maintenance of soil carbon as the basis of continuing productivity.
    How things have changed, but some , like FB, have stuck to the basics, with very satisfying results I must say. Yum! 🙂

  101. Dr. Dave says:

    Enjoy. This episode is a classic.

  102. Kitler says:

    Luton Ian I doubt they shot anyone as they refused to even shoot the conscientious communist objectors who refused to serve in any capacity including ambulance or field medics but people did get sent away to gaol, mind you they did bury lots of nasty happenings during the war like a riot by troops in my home village where they went down to the local POW camp and proceeded to beat the sh*te out of the Italian prisoners. They were incensed after learning about how the Italians had treated our POW’s a lot worse than the Germans ever had.

  103. Kitler says:

    Amanda who is this Stevia and why are we grinding their bones to make bread.

  104. Dr. Dave says:

    I came upon this nice little interview of James Delingpole by Dennis Miller. It fits in nicely with previous portions of this comment thread:

  105. farmerbraun says:

    Thanks Tucci, that was exactly what I was looking for; a perfect illustration of the gulf of misunderstanding between those who actually practice “organic” agriculture, and those who think that they know what those practicants are actually doing. Plus a few laughs; good value.
    Ozboy, I think the article is starting to take shape.
    But I think that there is more to draw out yet: Dr Dave dips a toe in the water with this comment:
    “Oh…Farmerbraun…those time-honored 10,000 years of primitive agriculture couldn’t feed the world’s population today”
    Of course they couldn’t; they fed that part of the population, at that time, that had access to those products. Famine was not unknown; but we will never see famine again , as long as the world population stays below…..say….. anyone? Climate remaining roughly the same as present of course.

  106. farmerbraun says:

    Tucci, one part of your comment that I can’t get my head around is this:
    “I repeat: not “unsustainable.” Merely unproductive relative to the investment of the factors of production.
    Y’know. Land, labor, and capital.”

    Can you tease that apart for me?
    The way I think about this is that an insufficient return on the capital , in land, and labour is a sure indication of unsustainability.
    Sustainable agriculture is all about not running down your capital, whether it’s monetary, environmental(land), or social (community/labour).

  107. Tucci says:

    At 8:45 AM and 9:08 AM on 31 October (proving that he’s unable to shovel it all into one sack), farmerbraun demonstrates that he really can squeeze his head up his own tochus while he’s got his foot in his mouth, claiming to have addressed the post above in which I’d incorporated an extensive quotation drawn from John Rino’s The Last Centurion (2008) while deliberately and contemptibly evading all the points made by Mr. Ringo in the section quoted.

    farmerbraun, I doubt that you’re mentally incapacitated. This means that you’re being willfully obtuse. The response you’ve evoked (and deserve) is dismissal as a person bereft of honest intention, and of no standing whatsoever in any public discourse.

    Dry up and blow away. Except to get you out from underfoot, you’re not even worth chucking on the compost pile.

  108. Ozboy says:

    Not entirely OT, this thread on the Powerline blog today on the inevitable outcome of Grand Left Plans to enforce Utopia from above. The thread briefly reviews Matthew Connelly’s 2009 book Fatal Misconception: The Struggle to Control World Population. Well worth a clickthrough. Reader Stephen Den Beste remarks,

    Isn’t it interesting that no matter what the current global crisis is, according to leftists, the solution is always the same: a benevolent world dictatorship of the enlightened elite, and mass transfer of wealth from rich nations to poor nations.

    That’s what they want to do about global warming. It’s what they wanted to do about overpopulation. It’s what they wanted to do about endangered species.

    A timely reminder, as the UN’s world population estimate ticked over seven billion overnight.

  109. farmerbraun says:

    Well maybe but you seem to be missing the point that I made originally here:
    “But “organic” quickly became synonomous with sustainable agriculture; indeed the first drafts of organic principles , a la IFOAM, focused almost solely on sustainability; in fact, the avoidance of various poisons(biocides) was but one principle out of a dozen or so.”

    So you posted some very funny speculative fiction as a straw man representation of “organic” farming and then proceeded to blast away at it. Annihilation of the fiction was what you wanted to do, right? All the while pretending that it was “organic” agriculture that you were attacking.
    i think it’s funny because I get to read that sort of straw man argument on a weekly basis in all the farming newspapers that land in the mailbox. So please excuse me if I don’t take it personally, if indeed you think that I should.

    So to reiterate what I said at the outset:
    “My 30 year experience of “organics” is that it is cheaper, cleaner, less adulterated(so purer), more profitable(lower production cost) and ultimately more sustainable as a result of the preceding characteristics. ”
    Notice the absence of “higher priced”

    That is what I know about the form of sustainable agriculture known as “organic” farming.
    I don’t know if you are prepared to say what you think are the characteristics of sustainable agriculture. Are you?

  110. Tucci says:

    farmerbraun, I’m not so frequent a reader here as to know what might be your personal base of experience and knowledge of farming, “organic” or “sustainable” or whatever in hell you want to call it. I’m a medical doctor myself, and while there was some farming on both sides of my extended family – chiefly viticulture – none of it was done for primary revenue. The grandfathers and my uncles sold some of the harvest every year to nearby wineries, but the first immigrant generation got established in construction and mercantile activities, the second worked there and expanded into the mechanic arts, engineering, and administrative work, while my generation – the third – walked the same pathways and got into the professions as well.

    But all of us worked in the family’s vineyards at one time or another, in one way or another, and made wine. My father and uncles provided the skilled craftsmanship, and I wasn’t one of the grandsons who took an interest in cultivation or enology, so I can’t speak with any expertise about the ways in which we plowed, weeded, fertilized, dealt with insects and fungal infestations, undertook grafting, harvested and crushed the grapes, managed the fermentation process, or bottled the wine. I simply did the donkey work as commanded, “just following orders,” massively disinterested in the fine points, until I went away to medical school and couldn’t get home when the work needed to be done.

    I was very much like one of those “Amish” of whom John Ringo had written “everyone worked for, essentially, no pay.”

    When I finished my training years and service obligation and came home to practice, I took up responsibility for medical care among the members of that same extended family, and as I reflect upon the past forty years I realize that the grandparents and uncles and aunts and cousins in whose competence I vested confidence during my adolescence as an uncritical farm laborer (just wanting to get the damned work completed properly) accepted my expertise as a medical doctor in return.

    “Just get it done, doc.” We’re family. If you can’t trust family, who the hell can you trust?

    In addition to this family background, I’d done some of my medical training in those parts of the country where industrial agriculture is the only reason why people live there, and then I’d spent several of my postgraduate years running clinics primarily established for the care of migrant farm workers and their families (meaning I had to get out to their quarters on the big farms a bunch, especially the ones on which were grown the more labor-intensive crops – garden truck, blueberries and strawberries, orchards and suchlike). Then for some thirty years more, I’ve practiced primary care in the same part of the country where I’d run those Health-Underserved Rural Area (HURA) clinics, still taking care of farmers, their laborers, and their families.

    In the process, I’ve gotten familiarity with industrial agriculture of various kinds sufficient to permit me to receive as valid John Ringo’s appreciation of the ways in which our mechanized civilization satisfies the demands of a growing and increasingly metropolitan domestic population for food, fiber, and chemical feedstocks in these United States, and to help meet the needs of people in foreign countries whose own expanding populations have come to depend upon the reliable provision of foodstuffs and other consumables which they can only acquire if the costs are kept down by the efficiencies of production made possible by the methods you condemn – without offering any reasoned justification – as “unsustainable.”

    And not one goddam thing you’ve posted thus far, farmerbraun, has addressed Mr. Ringo’s quoted remarks, your brain-dead snarky dismissal of his observations as “straw man representation” being patent evasion and therefore utterly odious.

    You’re a friggin’ coward, farmerbraun, and you can take that “personally.”

  111. farmerbraun says:

    Well I could take it personally but I won’t because I think we just have some wires crossed. The “speculative fiction” (your description) was not an example of sustainable agriculture that I would recognise. I understand that you don’t fancy it either.
    On that basis it’s irrelevant; call it a straw man; a red herring. It doesn’t matter.
    I take it that you have never seen a crop of “non organic” grain, that has received multiple doses of all the required fungicides, viricides, insecticides etc. in the same condition as your fictitious example. I have; it happens.
    Anyway that is all beside the point;it is acknowledged that sustainability is a continuum; it’s not either/ or , unless we are talking about repeated total failures. That is definitely unsustainable.
    I won’t ask you to point out where I said that I condemned any particular method because I haven’t said that.
    I do hold that the particular brand of sustainable farming that I am practising is , on all the available evidence, more sustainable than any other form being practised around here. A great deal of science by the local university, on this property, over 30 years, comes to the same conclusion, both environmentally and economically(possibly socially)
    It is the N.Z. Ministry of Agriculture which has put “organic” agriculture near the top of the sustainability continuum; they did that in their publications 20 years ago, and have not withdrawn that opinion.
    I apologise if I am not being sufficiently rigorous, but it should be becoming clear that we have totally different ideas about what organic agriculture is, and I have tried to get that across from the outset, when I said that “organic” and ‘sustainable’ were synonomous when I started out.
    Sustainable is what I do, and “organic” is the traceability system that I use to provide quality assurance to my customers.

    I am in no doubt that there are to be found in the US examples of unsustainable farming operations that have been certified USDA NOP compliant. (I do not know if the Amish are NOP certified; I suspect not) If you agree that this is so , then I rest my case.
    Just recently in N.Z., we had the biggest business in the country rip the guts out of its organic programme (USDA NOP certified), [and we may see total withdrawal yet] on the grounds that it was unsustainable. They were losing too much money. From my point of view, that was not the only thing contributing to their lessening sustainability; in fact I say the economic problem resulted from the inherent unsustainability of their management practises, which had the unfortunate side effect of locking them out of the added-value market that I know as “clean, green, and fresh”.
    That gets technical so I won’t bore you.
    But are we on the same page yet?
    I am assuming that you do understand that I use mineral fertilisers, minor elements, trace elements; make no compost; use antibiotics, anti- inflammatories, analgesics etc under the prescribed conditions re. witholding/ quarantine , removal from the food chain etc; make use of artificial insemination; all manner of computer technology and the list could go on. I just mention that in case you were inclined to invoke the Luddite/Amish thing to characterise what so called “organic” farmers do.

  112. Kitler says:

    Tucci those remote farming areas out west are unsustainable using current methods of farming because they are wholly reliant on the Ogallala aquifer which is not being replenished and at current rates of water usage it will exhausted within 30 years in some areas sooner. The industrial agriculture currently practiced means that little organic material remains in the soil to retain moisture. So large parts of the prairies will very soon cease to be able to be used to grow cereals. There are possible technical solutions to fix this but we are talking tens of billions of dollars to move water to where it will be needed.

  113. farmerbraun says:

    Kitler I was going to have a little go at the practise of subsidising agriculture, a practice which you may be aware does not occur in N.Z., for obvious reasons; we couldn’t out-subsidise anyone with our limited means.
    Can anything be said about the sustainability of an agriculture which requires subsidy for its continuing existence?

  114. Kitler says:

    farmerbraun actually there is one reason and that is food security but ultimately like the corn laws counter productive.
    I think it needs to be pointed out that different parts of the world use different farming practices on the prairies massed mechanized farming is probably the only solution, back home it’s mixed arable in a fairly dry cool temperate climate and 200-300 acres is more than enough but it’s subsidized.

  115. Kitler says:

    farmerbraun the Amish in Tennessee bought land that had been worn out by conventional local modern agriculture, erosion was destroying the top soil etc. They through their simple backwards methods have restored the fertility of the land and they also are a tourist draw and they don’t mind as they can sell their arts and crafts and the local produce at the local farmers market is quite tasty.
    However I will concede Tucci’s point we could not feed the world through organic sustainable methods with seven billion people unfortunately because of that little old thing called evolution the bugs will win in the arms race and the big agro chemicals push to have one seed type fits all we will be in serious trouble.

  116. izen says:

    @- Tucci
    The increased production from industrial AgriBiz is not the result of getting more from the soil. It offsets the depletion of soil fertility by high energy use in fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides. As well as the transport and farm machinery use of fuel.
    Effectively fossil fuel is being converted to calories.

    While oil prices are low the additional calories provided by fossil fuel supplements are economically advantageous.
    Sooner or later that finite resource will run short, prices will rise and the method of exceeding the ‘Natural’ fertility of the land will become economically nonviable.
    But will still have to be pursued because it is now required to ‘feed the world’.

  117. farmerbraun says:

    Damn it Izen, you nailed it in two short paragraphs!. I had barely even got to the real guts of the issues.

  118. Kitler says:

    izen we already have issues with modern agriculture here in the USA, depletion of aquifers, soil erosion and we still have pest issues areas of Texas are under 1930’s climate conditions with drought and the aquifers are too depleted already to cope. They are beginning to adapt but it will take time. However on top of that your side insisted on ethanol and that is soaking up the surplus and is causing problems in the Arab world and causing social upheaval; we are entering a cooling period that will reduce crop yields as well. Left wing policies will be the death of billions.

  119. izen says:

    @- Kitler says: October 31, 2011 at 6:50 pm
    “izen we already have issues with modern agriculture here in the USA, depletion of aquifers, soil erosion and we still have pest issues areas of Texas are under 1930′s climate conditions with drought and the aquifers are too depleted already to cope. ”

    The problems with modern agriculture you mention are clearly not the work of enviro-nazis, it is difficult to avoid the culpability of ‘industrial’ agriculture.
    Even the corn diverted to ethanol production was not a policy choice by the green movement.

    The vast majority of US corn production does NOT go to feed people. High fructose corn syrup is extracted and used as a subsidized alternative to imported sugar. The remaining corn material continues on into the animal feedstock industry. As does the waste products of the ethanol manufacture.

    The approximately 25% that now goes to ethanol/biofuel production is not being subtracted from a large and significant contribution to HUMAN nutrition, unless you count sugar-loaded drinks/cakes…

    This was a policy that was imposed not be raging leftard greens but by GW Bush. It was a ‘greenwash’ policy. It looks like a ‘Green’ action but is really pandering to the SAME crony-capitalist brigade who have required the sugar subsidy.
    Stopping biofuel production from corn would have very little impact on human nutrition. Basically its a choice of whether Americans want cheap (subsidized) fizzy drinks or cheap subsidized ersatz petrol. Because Americans are prepared to pay more for ethanol than the rest of the world is prepared to pay for the food content of the grain given the subsidy availible.

  120. Luton Ian says:

    Food and drink industry by products are now a more limited source of animal feed in Britain. Feeding of pigs on catering waste (- swill, boiled to kill (most of) the bugs) was banned after a pig farmer near Newcastle was scapegoated for starting the 2001 foot & Mouth epidemic.

    I think the source was much more likely the vaccine plant that caused the last outbreak.

    Brewers grains, syrup from whiskey stills, sugar beet residues etc all find ready markets.

    The pig farmer was interesting, he took old sows – pretty much a waste product, and catering waste, and from them made a saleable product. Not exactly prime pork or bacon, but good enough for sausages, pies and school dinners, and better than them going to landfill.

    In Africa, pigs and chickens, sometimes goats too, live on the huge piles of trash which abound in cities where the bureaucrats are much to important to think about working. It gives their meat an interesting flavour.

    In Egypt, the Moslem majority used swine flu as a chance to bitch slap their dhimmis. They compulsory slaughtered the pigs, thus removing the incentive for the traditional trash collections. An outbreak of rat borne illness, which I wouldn’t wish on anyone, is now much more likely.

    Hubris and Nemesis I guess.

  121. Luton Ian says:

    I’ll come back to subsidies, direct, indirect, and all destructive.

    I also want to get onto the other destructive forms of intervention, especially food “aid”, and some sort of discussion of fammines, are they always a state sector product?

  122. Tucci says:

    At 1:52 AM on 31 October, Kitler had written about the high plains states:

    …those remote farming areas out west are unsustainable using current methods of farming because they are wholly reliant on the Ogallala aquifer [which essentially defines the state of Nebraska and then extends southwards through western Kansas, the Oklahoma panhandle, and peters out in northern Texas] which is not being replenished and at current rates of water usage it will [be] exhausted within 30 years in some areas sooner.

    And I’m reminded how they were saying precisely the same goddam thing – “30 years” and all – when I was doing clinical training out along the Arkansas River and the Santa Fe Trail in the counties between Dodge City and Wichita some forty years ago. A bunch more recently, hydrologists have been studying the recharge rates of the aquifer in regions along its range from Kansas down into Texas and have discovered that it does, indeed, get replenished to significant extents by way of the natural permeation of surface ground water.

    The recharge rate is not nearly as low as first reported by the U.S. Geological Survey, which said the rate was limited to the direct permeability of the clay layers above the water-bearing material. “Actual recharge rates are much greater,” [hydrologist Carl] Nuzman wrote. Instead, the water molecules push on the ones below them in a domino effect until the ones on the bottom of the clay layers are forced out and downward. “Thus, the effective rate of recharge is much greater than the permeability of clay,” he wrote.

    The aquifer under Grant and Stanton counties is connected and recharged some by the water-bearing Dakota formation, as well as by direct percolation and by other underground flows. The Grant-Stanton area is the only portion recharged in part by the Dakota, Nuzman said.

    Some parts of the Ogallala are connected to streams above ground, too. While some of these streams no longer run year-round, they continue to contribute to recharge during wet periods.

    Another phenomenon is that once the aquifer is drawn down some, its capacity to take on more water than when it was full increases. Therefore, the “sustainable yield of an aquifer is something greater than the predevelopment flow rate that can easily be defined by computer models,” Nuzman wrote.

    Nuzman helped write the enabling legislation for the original groundwater management districts. The creation of sub-unit management is another step in the regulatory evolution. It replaced a two-pool concept that was not scientifically based, Nuzman said.

    Some people lack an understanding of an aquifer. Imagine a 1,000- gallon tank into which flows water at 10 gallons a minute. The overflow would be the equivalent of springs and surface streams. Say you want to use 100 gallons a minute for a garden. You pump nine minutes, then quit, wrongly thinking the water source is 100 gallons a minute. You come back later (the tank is nearly full again but not overflowing) and repeat the nine minute watering. The pump puts out 100 gallons a minute. But if you watered for 12 minutes, you would soon discover that the input is only 10 gallons, which would be the so-called safe yield.

    All freshwater aquifers have a recharge source, Nuzman said. Water that sits too long becomes brackish or even turns to brine or becomes laden with other dissolved solids. Some of the oldest water carbon- dated in the Ogallala is 1,000 years old from the caprock country of west Texas, where percolation really is the only recharge source. To get really bad, water must sit dissolving its containers for thousands of years.

    For all the professional alarmists predicting a catastrophic “real soon now!” dewatering of the Ogallalla aquifer throughout my life (and, jeez, where else have we seen that same kind of “point with alarm!” phenomenon recently?) there have long been small-scale experiments which have demonstrated

    …that the Ogallala Formation can be recharged through basins if the slowly permeable surface soil is removed.

    Trouble is, of course, that if a hydrologist or other researcher isn’t “alarmist” enough, he can’t seem to get funding for his work, doesn’t seem to get published as readily, and receives not a whole helluva lot of attention from politicians, the bureaucrats, or the chittering root weevils of the MSM.

    Given what I’ve learned about rent-seeking professional catastrophists since I got interested in the preposterous bogosity of the great Anthropogenic Global Warming fraud back in 1981, and bearing in mind the same sort of “We’re All Gonna Die!” yelping that kept being rammed up folks’ noses all over southwestern Kansas when I was out there dealing with patients who’d survived unpleasant traumatic encounters with farm machinery back in the ’70s, you folks are gonna have to pardon me while I take this “sustainable agriculture” whoop-te-do with the proverbial sixty-five milligrams of sodium chloride.

  123. benfrommo says:

    As for water, this is something we will never be short on if you look at the big picture. People tend to get excited about “water sustainability” as if it means anything, but all you have to do is set up a nice nuke plant next to a desalinization plant and pipe the water to where it is needed. This is expensive, but heck it is possible and if we do start running out of natural aquifers, there is always a solution.

    Maybe we shouldn’t grow artificial tropical rainforests in the desert, but in the end if we are practical and are willing to pay the cost, water is not an issue anywhere. Being sustainable in other areas might be worthwhile, but as far as water goes, if people are willing to pay the extra cost to live in say a desert, then they can pay the extra cost for water. Same goes for the Ogallalla aquifer, which is just to the west of me.

    If people realize that at some point water is going to get expensive, then by all means let them use the water. Have sensible regulations so certain individuals do not over-use it at the expense of others, but other then that, what is the big deal?

  124. Kitler says:

    Tucci thank you for that updated information however they are pumping out faster than it is being replenished, smarter irrigation such as drip lines need to become more common place to avoid pore collapse in the aquifer. There is a finite amount of water they can pump yearly without destroying it as a resource.

  125. Kitler says:

    Luton Ian well it will be nice when the “sand Nazi’s” rediscover bubonic plague as an effective population controller.

  126. Luton Ian says:

    Leptospira and a whole load more bugs which cause haemorrhagic illnesses are fellow travellers with rodents. Far more common than plague, and by the time it’s clear what you have caught, it’s too late to treat them.

    Marmotta, are supposed to be major vectors of bubonic plague in some parts of the world, I’m not sure about your various chucks, ground hogs and prairie poodles.

    Insha allah…

  127. Luton Ian says:

    Tucci,
    Echoes of the club of Rome declaring that the world only had 25 years worth of X, Y & Zn left. That has to be at least 35 years ago.

    Crisis and the Leviathan

  128. farmerbraun says:

    Luton Ian:”Leptospira and a whole load more bugs which cause haemorrhagic illnesses are fellow travellers with rodents. Far more common than plague, and by the time it’s clear what you have caught, it’s too late to treat them.”

    FB doesn’t care if it is Brucella or Leptospira but he sure as hell knows very quickly that he has contracted one or the other of the zoonoses, or something very similar. Spirochaetes drilling into your meninges is nasty.
    The removal of pigs from the system seemed to break the cycle; total elimination of rodents was difficult.

  129. Luton Ian says:

    Returning to sugar.

    The sugar beet industry in Ireland was pioneered by Quakers, to provide an alternative to cane sugar, grown by slave labour in the West Indies. Not that those Quakers seem to have been shy about taking stolen land and becoming planters in Ireland.

    Ironically, I was sat in a meeting a few years back, discussing the finer points of foundations on black cotton soils for a new sugar refinery in slave owning Northern Sudan, with the bangs of falling steelwork in the background, as one of Ireland’s last two sugar refineries was being cut up a hundred metres away from us.

    All with the best possible intentions, so the third world could earn money by exporting sugar to us.

    I wonder how many small farmers along the Nile were dispossessed by the generals to clear the way for their new cane fields. Insha allah.

    In Angola, the coastal land north of the capital, Luanda looks salty. I asked the locals whether there were salt beds coming near to the surface. They said that the land used to be cane fields, and in colonial times, Angola was Africa’s largest exporter of cane sugar (and coffee to put that sugar in, robusta from Kabinda, north of the mouth of the Congo, and arabica from the very extensive highlands).

    With the blessing of the Angolan leadership, their Cuban allies had salted the cane fields. I don’t know who trashed the mills. Now one of the big men has a monopoly on sugar imports from Cuba.

    Angola’s coffee growing areas were standing idle when I was there, for fear of upsetting their fellow Portuguese speakers in South America. Angola was actually colonised from Brazil, rather than directly from Portugal.

  130. Luton Ian says:

    We operate a bed and breakfast establishment for rodents. every morning, I check to see how many of my guests have signed the visitors books which I leave in strategic places.

    I have a friend who had Brucellosis for about 7 years. not nice. One of the great names in Gaelic games, and former coach of Ireland’s International rules football team*, Sean Boylan, is a herbalist. He has a very good reputation for treating brucellosis.

    *International rules allows Irish Gaelic footballers and Ozzy rules footballers to play together – Gaelic is none contact, so the guys are small and agile, Ozzy rules guys are big and muscly, so when a brawl starts, the results are predictable

  131. izen says:

    @- Tucci says: November 1, 2011 at 4:39 am
    “Trouble is, of course, that if a hydrologist or other researcher isn’t “alarmist” enough, he can’t seem to get funding for his work, doesn’t seem to get published as readily, and receives not a whole helluva lot of attention from politicians, the bureaucrats, or the chittering root weevils of the MSM.”

    A quick scan of the literature on the Ogallala aquifer indicates the ‘mainstream’ (alarmist?!) science puts the depletion of the aquifer at just under 10% since major extraction started in the 1950s. That has meant some well going dry or havng to be deepened to reach it.
    But it hardly seems ‘alarmist’….

    I think you may be misunderstanding the terms replenishment and depletion in reference to an aquifer. When the claim is made that the Ogallala is not being replenished it does NOT imply that no water is being added to the aquifer. Its a mass-balance term, replenishment of the aquifer only happens when water in equal and exceeds water out. Its like a bank account, you cannot claim it is being ‘replenished’ because some money is going in if expenditure still exceeds income. The account is being drained even if there is a small income if outgoings are greater.

    There are several past instances where scientists were accused of being ‘alarmist’ about an issue which did NOT help them get better funding. Industry threatened by the scientific findings on Lead, Asbestos, CFCs, DDT tobacco etc ran campaigns AGAINST those scientists and in some cases reduced their ability to research the subject.
    In the case of the dangers from Lead, SOx/NOx, CFCs and other materials the reason we are NOT experiencing the worst ‘alarmist’ projections of – usually politicians and the media rather than the scientists – is that eventually effective regulation is agreed. Although not always adhere to as the recent posts on Chinese contaminated products shows….
    The regulation happened only after much foot-dragging and now well known tactics of calling for certainty, sound science and nurturing a level of controversy that does not accurately reflect the balance of views in mainstream science.

    I gather that agricultural methods are already being adapted to minimize further depletion of the Ogallala aquifer. The emergence of a regulatory framework to manage this problem seems to be well under way. I get the impression that the ‘alarmist’ statements about the imminent depletion are media and political theater used to strengthen the case against those that wish to avoid ANY response, proportionate or not to the potential problem.
    A lot of alarmism -and its obverse ‘skepticism’ appears to be the standard method of political conflict resolution. Each side over or understates the problem and (hopefully) arrive at a proportionate compromise to the issue. In politics there is no value or credit in staying true to the scientific facts. If you do the other ‘side’ will mis-represent them and exaggerate to get more – or less – action on an issue. So BOTH sides abandon much connection with scientific accuracy for the much more POLITICALLY effect tactic of purveying fear or doubt. Although neither response may be appropriate to the threat.

    So in the CFCs case one side claimed that the ozone layer globally could vanish with most living things wiped out by skin cancer/UV damage. And the other deny there was ANY way CFCs could enhance the destruction rate of ozone at all. It was clear from the first lab experiments that the dynamics of the chemistry did not allow for the first possibility. And clear from the existence of the observable chemistry that the second position was untenable.
    Eventully a compromise was cobbled together…

    I suspect the Ogallala aquifer issue will follow a similar path. The conflict between the business desire to perpetuate the sort of high-production agriculture currently in use with the need to at least slow the rate of depletion of the aquifier will be solved by a dynamic succession of regulatory agreements.
    I doubt replenishment is on the cards in the foreseeable future, the need for calories (rather than ethanol) is not gong to diminish, the high planes ‘breadbasket’ will be a significant factor in that global provision for several centuries with careful management.
    Unless the climate really DOES hit a ‘tipping point’ and the Ogallala aquifer depleting at 2%/decade is the LEAST of the regions problems….

    Or am I just being alarmist – in response to your evasion of the problem by quoting a ‘authority’ (retired) without mentioning the observed depletion rate. Perhaps an example of emphasizing the ‘doubt…?!
    -grin-

  132. Dr. Dave says:

    Tucci,

    Loved the info re: the Ogallala aquifer. I moved to Amarillo back in 1984 and stayed for a little over 10 years. Most of the municipal water supply for Amarillo (and Lubbock) comes from Lake Meridith which is a flooded canyon reservoir fed by the Canadian River. City water in Amarillo was pretty nasty. I used to joke you could stand a spoon up in a glass of my tap water. The last 4 years I lived there we had a big house in the country with a well sunk right into the Ogallala – best tasting tap water I’ve ever had!

    The Ogallala also feeds several water tables downgrade south of the Caprock. In West Texas most of the land is ranch land (i.e. grazing). They grow some alfalfa, dry land wheat and sorghum but not a lot of corn (which is a very water intensive crop). Further south they grow cotton and this crop poses the greatest threat to available agricultural water supplies. But even when I moved there 27 years ago they were puckered up about the fate of the Ogallala. They were worried when I moved away and they’re still worried today. To me, it’s kinda like worrying about losing all the water in the Great Lakes over the Niagara Falls never to be replenished again.

  133. Luton Ian says:

    Having come back after a 20 year break from farming, I’ve got to say that I’m anti subsidy.

    I’ve talked over a strategy for what to do if subsidies are removed, and first step is to make the hired labour redundant and to cancel all contracts for things like hedge trimming, and cancel any outstanding orders for fertilizer.

    We have a plan for the few internal fences and walls to be maintained, and the outer boundary fences.

    The sheep flock already lambs without attention, trouble makers become someone else’s problem as soon as they are identified, and the cattle are all selected for easy calving, and being able to utilize rough pasture without needing concentrates.

    We’ve been forced into various “stewardship schemes” the advice is to join or else face endless harassment and bullshit prosecutions. The last bullshit prosecution resulted in a fine which would have paid a worker’s wages for over a year. We have it on good authority that the whiteboard in the local council’s “trading standards dept”, has prosecutions as it’s top priority.

    The stewardship always pays late (as does the single farm payment), and they always find excuses, normally problems with their own internal paperwork, to further delay or reduce payment.

    The single farm payment is based on “cross compliance” with all laws and rules, the bureaucrats get bonuses if they can chop money off for mud in gateways or dry stone walls with gaps down. The area based payments (Europe got away from production linked payments, as the various food mountains were too embarrassing) are subject to docking if land can be shown to be not in agriculture, so a neighbour in Ireland who was very keen on leaving nesting habitat for song birds has been cutting trees down and clearing gorse and scrub woodland, and draining wet areas to safeguard the payments.

    The previous arable area payments were based on which land was under cultivation in the qualifying year, and for about ten years or more after that, that land had to remain in cultivation if you wanted the payments. for the sake of ease of €urocratic admin, there was no prospect of rotation. Normal practice would have been to get a couple of years of cereals and a year of kale or turnips, then seed the field back to grass for about 5 years. The €urocrats weren’t going to have any of that.

  134. Luton Ian says:

    Previous subsidies were equally ludicrous.

    There were minimum prices for things like fat lambs and fat cattle, but they had to be “clean”.

    this basically meant virgins.

    Male lambs over about 6 months were only eligible if they were castrated, and females had to be under a year old. Friends from continental Europe laugh at such puritanical British nonsense.

    The meat and livestock commission ( a parasite which is funded by a compulsory levy on fat stock sales) had a “grader” at auction marts, who decided which stock qualified, farming cartoonist and humorous poet, Henry Brewis aptly described him as the “Ayatollah of the mart” https://www.oldpond.com/acatalog/funnywaytmekalivin.htm

    Piss the grader off, and you’d be taking more than half your fat lambs home again, indellibly marked as rejects.

    He, not the buyers decided what was to be sold. Interestingly, buyers who came to the farm to select lambs, wanted lambs with far less finish than the grader at the mart required, and would consider some that the MLC grader had rejected as too thin the day before as too fat.

    He also decided what proportion of the weight of the lamb it would be sold under. The second it started to rain, he’d knock 3Kg (about 7 pounds) off.

    Lambs which were sold off the farm had to be inspected on the hook at the abbattoir by an MLC grader, who could reject them there.

    The MLC still exists, as does the state monopoly wool marketing board. The milk marketing board’s monopoly was broken a few years back and I haven’t a clue about the potato marketing board.

  135. farmerbraun says:

    So Luton Ian, the inference might be that a form of agriculture will be possible without subsidy in your largely pastoral situation, but that there will be a loss of social capital/community/resilience as the workers are shifted off into the cities. I suppose that in some cases an income could result from renting out the worker’s cottage depending on location, although the tenants may be unemployed or commuters.
    You seem to suggest that a slightly lower level of production could be maintained but profit could hold up? R& M might be reduced, especially when it doesn’t result in reduced subsidy.
    Fertiliser is normally over-applied, so 5-10 years between applications of phosphate and sulphate usually suffices where capital dressings are not required. I assume that Nitrogen is out of the question. That leaves Ca, Mg and K additions to maintain cation base saturation, which seems to be unavoidable if you want any sort of animal health.
    It’s nice to not have to be constantly kissing the arse of bureaucrats in order to get your “subsidy”- it gives an illusion of freedom 🙂

  136. Luton Ian says:

    We used the NZ experience as our guide.

    Many of the traditional farm steadings in Britain are already converted to commuter dwellings, and the land has been incorporated into bigger holdings. 300 acre farms which Kitler mentioned are really far too small now, they’ll be combined into bigger farms when their present occupiers retire in a few years. My cousins have farms of that type, and they all have day jobs away from the farm and their wives either do bed and breakfast or have day jobs.

    There’s a guy down the road, always had big new tractors etc, he still gets a little contracting work but he is in serious shit financially – too many capital goods for the operation he’s got.

    There is certainly room on the smaller farms for a lot more entrepreneurial activity than the current planning regs let them get away with, like sheds used for storing caravans, yards securely fenced and full of shipping containers for storage, fields divided up as horse paddocks, daytime jobs such as mechanic happening in farm buildings and the farming more as a hobby.

    There is also room for a lot more effective marketing than at present, again using NZ as an example, your lamb used to be bargain basement stuff, now it is a premium product in high end restaurants. Manuka honey is ubiquitous in health food shops.

    Some of the bigger farms here will continue as “dog and stick” operations, minimal labour and minimal input.

    I can’t see anyone keeping high maintenance things like limousin or belgian blue cattle breeds, infact, I can’t even see the point of those things now, the point of suckler cattle (to my mind anyway) is to eat un-improved grasses on ground which is too steep, too stony or with too little soil or too poor soil to be worth cultivating, and to do it with minimal attention from me. If I want something to eat cereals, I’d use pigs, faster growing, faster breeding and better carcases.

    I guess it reflects poor business skills, when some farmers confuse high selling price with margin.

    Now that Asulam is banned, I’m going to try pigs for bracken control, I’m told they’re good at controlling thistles too.

  137. farmerbraun says:

    Luton Ian;
    Now that Asulam is banned, I’m going to try pigs for bracken control, I’m told they’re good at controlling thistles too.

    FB; diversity is always good. Pigs on pasture development are great. Electric fencing is useful although the pig is pragmatic. We had one who would start squealing well before he crashed through the electric wires, and then enjoyed his temporary freedom until the arrival of the milk,
    whereupon he would return the same way. Smartarse!
    We have 500 goats currently doing a great job around the river margins where every weed known to man emerges after each flood. Goat heaven.
    Having developed a herd of polled friesians, FB is now turning his attention to getting the horns off the Drysdale sheep (I think you call them Welsh Mountain- they ‘re hairy anyway)

  138. Luton Ian says:

    Why worry about horns?

    I can understand it with cattle, which like to stick them in each other, and everything else as well.

    The little hill sheep around here have horns, but their main attribute foraging ability. The local strain of Scottish Blackface which used to be kept on the hills around here, was much bigger, but was lazy and needed shepherding twice a day to chase it out of bed and onto fresh grazing.

    I caught an escaped ram yesterday (it’s still a few weeks too early for him to be out), he was with the wildest bunch of jumping sods we’ve got. If the gate to one patch of enclosed land is left open, they’re in at the gallop and are still galloping half a mile further on.

    They’re great things for causing strife with neighbours.

    Bolt croppers are good for trimming little bits off ewes horns if they’re growing towards its face and eyes.

  139. meltemian says:

    Morning All.
    Well it’s taken me all morning and some of yesterday as well but I’ve finally caught up.
    I thought this was about Ron Paul when I started out but I seem to have learned an awful lot about farming, animal husbandry and unpleasant diseases along the way. Still it’s a change from Dr Dave and Tucci comparing notes on how to best remove cysts!!
    Sorry I’ve been ‘off-air’ for a while. My sister in England died suddenly and unexpectedly and I’ve been over there for a while. When I got back I discovered that the extra broadband speed I’d signed-up for had buggered up the router, and fixing things takes ages over here!
    Back now and up to speed (I think).
    Thoughts about Greece, the EU and the Greek Referendum to follow when I’ve sussed it all out.

  140. Luton Ian says:

    Hi Mel,
    Sorry to hear about your sister.

    I”ve not listened to the BBC news for about 5 hours. They were saying that the stock markets were all down about 4% on the back of news of the Greek bailout referendum.

    Do you think that the Greeks will be given a second vote if they give the wrong answer in the first one?

  141. meltemian says:

    Hi Ian, thank you for that, bit of a shock to say the least.
    I don’t think Papandreou will manage to organise the referendum before Greece goes broke, speed isn’t our strong-point, so it’s probably arbitrary anyway. The Finance Minister is in a clinic with stomach problems (nervous breakdown?) as we speak.
    Default & Drachma here we come.

  142. Amanda says:

    Meltemian — Very sorry to hear about your poor sister.

  143. benfrommo says:

    Farming in the US is often down-trodden due to some facts of the system. I am looking at it from the top down in this case.

    The US maintains price controls on most food products. This in turn keeps prices steady, keeps food prices low, but in the end you are forced to subsidize to make up for this so that farmers can stay in business! This hurts the small farmer most of all because small farmers can not afford to mass produce (due to land prices, machinery, fuel, etc) and as such are stuck in a field where they can not even make a living! So most of the individuals farmers are now gone and cooperative farms are more of the norm today around the farming belts.

    But to explain further some other crops in the US: Biofuels was welcomed because the corn grown for biofuels was not subjected to price controls. This allowed farms to actually make a profit, but at the expense of course of subisides. Kind of interesting side note really.

    Cash crops such as tobacco, cotton, etc are huge money makers for small and large farmers both. This is because sometimes a farmer can not make a living on foodstuffs, but on the cash crops they can sell for what the market allows. But the second issue of course is that animal feed is not controlled nearly as much. Corn that is used for this is not controlled in price and so lots of farmers grow this as well.

    What this means is that because of policies that promote growing cash crops over actual food, the only real food production is done by large corporations since it requires mass production to make it profitable, and as such most other farmers tend to stick to animal feed and cash crops. You can see this for yourself in the US if you drive through the Midwest on the interstate. Miles upon miles of farmland that is used for either cash crops, fallow land, grazing, or even corn for animal feed.

    I mention all of this to also point out the US in another light. We use less land for farming then we did 100 years ago. A lot less. The federal Government actually pays people to let the land go fallow which is what replenishes the land. This is in contrast to the idea that industrial farming is taking all the nutrients out of the soil…because in essence the policies put into place here pay enough that the 1/5 of your land under fallow is profitable for large business as well as small farmers. Perhaps another large sinkhole of money, but regardless when looking at it in long-term, we with our current yields could easilly feed twice as many people as we do in the US today. The only question is how long we could continue that. Right now, our soils are excellent and we can survive fairly easilly a bad year in Texas (drought conditions currently) with no real terrible effects.

    Most lands can also play double duty south of my state, Missouri where two crops can be grown in the same year if you plant and harvest correctly. In fact, this is very common with winter wheat, etc even father north which gives land chances to replenish (through rotation) and allows some yearly bonuses.

    Farming in general is a hard life regardless from what I understand it. I do come from a farming family and still have some in that business. It is not hard to see the issues when you grew up hearing about them year after year and how it got tougher and how some of my family actually started making quite a bit of land letting the land go fallow and using it to start timber operations…which counts for fallow years.

    What is the conclusion from all of this? Well for the region of Texas that is experiencing droughts today, the growing of cotton can be explained here. Farmers had no choice but to grow cotton as it was a means to making money (a living if you will.) If it wasn’t for draconian policies on prices for farmers, they perhaps could have grown crops more suited for the climate there and not had to rely on the aquifer as much over the years and into the future.

    In essece, most agricultural issues in the US reside around inadequete crop rotation and placement today for the most part. This is because it does not pay to rotate or pick what is best for your land…. for one and for two a bad year can spell disaster. As can be seen, farmers are rather practical, and normally coops and individual farmers tend to farm more responsibly as the land they have is theirs. Large corporations will grow whatever they can, and use rotation less then they probably should since the theory is that they can sell the land and move elsewhere if needbe.

    In other words, rotation issues are an economic issue where if the economics allowed different foodstuffs to be sold as they should be, there would not even be close to an issue with this in the US.

    This is why farmers are trying to grow corn and cotton of various types in the deserts of Texas. I call them that since they receive so little amounts of rainfall there normally.

    But as I said above, water is not the long-term issue. It can be solved fairly easilly if we really need to with heck I mean making a canal from the Mississippi or Missouri if needbe. Or as I said earlier, desalinate and send water back. The solutions to water control might be expensive, but they do exist.

  144. Dr. Dave says:

    Mel,

    My sincerest condolences on the loss of your sister.

    Quite honestly I can’t imagine anyone (other than perhaps izen) not being completely fascinated by a discussion of sepsis, abscesses, cysts and parasitic infections of sheep. Maybe it’s just me…

    Please keep us informed about the goings-on in Greece. The story has been somewhat overshadowed in the US press due to the Herman Cain smear campaign story. I found this amusing little story on NRO today:

    http://www.nationalreview.com/david-pryce-jones/281899/will-greeks-save-democracy

  145. Dr. Dave says:

    Now…back to our irregularly deprogrammed comment thread on agriculture.

    In the US most USDA crop subsidies are paid to farmers of (predominately) 5 cereal grains. Almost no subsidies are paid to fruit and vegetable farmers (or cotton or…anymore…tobacco). Unfortunately the lion’s share of these subsidies are paid to Big Ag concerns like ADM.

    Unless I’m mistaken (which is entirely possible…I’m not a farmer), as I understand it, it doesn’t matter if a farmer grows sweet corn, foodstuff corn, popcorn, feed corn or corn for ethanol – they are still eligible for the corn subsidy. So a lot of farmers who might otherwise be growing soy beans or wheat grow corn for ethanol (which is essentially feedstock corn) because the price of a bushel of corn has literally doubled in the last 5 or 6 years. As a result the price of alternative grains has increased (e.g. wheat, oats, sorghum, soybeans). This makes all virtually all food more expensive.

    Check out this description of Ag subsidies: http://www.downsizinggovernment.org/agriculture/subsidies

  146. Tucci says:

    At 8:51 PM on 1 November, meltemian had written:

    I thought this was about Ron Paul when I started out….

    Of course, when discussing Ron Paul as the Republican Party’s candidate in the 2012 presidential contest, one has to address his attitude toward one of the Red Faction’s most sacred bovines, agricultural subsidies, and it’s diseased, bloated calf, “fuel ethanol.”

    Upon which subject Dr. Paul’s policy is not only “No,” but “Hell, no!”

    Getting back to Dr. Paul, I might as well respond to meltemian with a draw upon a clumsily written recent contribution to Lew Rockwell’s blog by one of his regulars, Bill Sardi, titled “What Would Really Happen If Ron Paul Were To Be Elected President?” Let us note that Mr. Sardi is not speaking on behalf of Dr. Paul or the Ron Paul campaign, and that where I think it appropriate, I’ve line-edited Mr. Sardi’s prose. Where indicated I’ve also made my own addenda and amplifications. He begins:

    President Paul would immediately push for $1 trillion cut in federal spending (per year, not the $3 trillion that Democrats proposed over 10 years with half of that from increased taxes).

    (It’s worth noting that this kind of cut would reduce federal spending to the level prevailing in early 2007. Does anyone reading here think that the federal government of these United States – particularly as it would operate with certain whole Cabinet departments permanently “zeroed out,” couldn’t suck it up and get along on the same budget they’d been battening on four years ago?)

    President Paul would have the authority as commander-and-chief to withdraw troops from overseas, within limits of treaty commitments which must be honored ([in the military defense of] Saudi Arabia [and some several] other nations). To the extent possible, the US would cease being the world’s policeman and plunderer of foreign economies (Iraq, Libya). The US would cease being a war economy. President Paul would also push to eradicate foreign aid which essentially is bribery, often to foreign despots whom the US quietly supports because they hold a strong hand over their masses.

    President Paul would have some empty chairs in his Cabinet – the Department of Commerce, Department of Education and other Cabinet positions would be eliminated.

    (The official campaign Web site states: “The Department of Energy would be abolished, yielding an annual savings of $34 billion. The Department of Commerce would be axed, netting an additional annual savings of $10 billion. The Department of Education would die, lowering annual federal government spending by more than $70 billion. The Department of Housing and Urban Development would be jettisoned, saving American taxpayers more than $46 billion per year. And the Department of Interior would be ended, which would cut annual federal spending by an additional $12 billion. None of these five departments plausibly advances a legitimate constitutional objective of the federal government.“)

    Civil service employees would be ushered into other government jobs.

    President Paul would likely demand, using his bully pulpit, a regular audit of the Federal Reserve (recall the Fed pushed $13 trillion in short-term loans out the door during the world financial crisis without any oversight, which [has] resulted in worldwide inflation and the unrest we now see in foreign countries – Egypt, Libya, etc. – as a result of rising food prices.)

    (I consider Mr. Sardi’s appreciation of the “rising food prices” situation – attributing it predominantly to the Fed’s currency debauchment – to be insufficient.)

    You probably don’t know that the Federal Reserve bank takes a 6% cut off the top of all interest it collects as middleman between the US Treasury Dept and local banks. (President John F Kennedy realized this, recognized it would result in huge federal debts in the future, which have now materialized, and cut the Federal Reserve entirely out of the equation in 1963 by directly issuing U.S. Notes, not Federal Reserve currency, into the economy. Of course, shots fired in Dallas ceased that practice and all those US Notes were quietly withdrawn from circulation [issue ceasing altogether in 1971].) That cut for the central bankers would be eliminated in a Ron Paul Presidency.

    President Paul would likely demand and personally oversee an audit of the gold at Ft. Knox. Wouldn’t you like to be there for that (live cameras please)? If the gold isn’t there, who absconded with it and where is it now? (Might not have to look far; it could be stashed in Federal Reserve bank vaults – recall, the Federal Reserve is not federal [i.e., not an agency of the federal government], it is a bunch of private banks whose owners may have absconded with the nation’s gold supply).

    With a public groundswell of support, President Paul would oversee the abolition of the Internal Revenue Service, freeing Americans of the onerous and treacherous task of figuring out the taxes they owe (recall that the [present] Secretary of the Treasury couldn’t accurately figure out his own taxes). No more debtors’ prison for not filing out tax forms properly (yep, some Americans are in prison for this). That would free-up about 6 billion man-hours and $250-300 billion of [private citizens’] money now committed to tax preparation. Real money, not the fractionated loan money, would be returned to the economy. [And this doesn’t take into account the cost of running the IRS meatgrinder itself.]

    There would be a re-adjustment period as the nation figures out how to rebuild employment without phony government jobs programs, but anticipate an eventual US renaissance. The US would be spared the fate of Greece, which has 40% [of the national] employment in the government sector, meaning that payment for the salaries and benefits of those jobholders is imposed upon the [remainder of the Greek population, the ones who actually pay taxes rather than batten upon them].

    Without an income tax, the Federal Reserve would have no conduit to siphon money [more precisely, currency] back out of the economy to limit [i.e., conceal the obvious effects of] inflation, and it would have to cease its inflationary money printing practices. Mothers of young American children would be told that their struggles to see their kids get ahead in this country will not be futile [because] the Federal Reserve’s planned inflation policy would be put to a halt. If your kids can’t earn an income [continuously increasing] more than the rate of inflation (now 7-11%; government says it is only ~3%), they will surely be impoverished.

    For example, if an American child was born in 1990 and her/her mother as sole breadwinner was making $35,000 a year on the date of that child’s birth, that child would have to earn $60,758 today (2011) to equal his/her mother’s salary in 1990. Soccer moms should shout loudly for a Ron Paul presidency. Their children have no future if one of the other pretenders is elected. Without currency reform, all other reforms become meaningless. The elites will continue to plunder and undermine the wealth that the private citizens create.

    President Ron Paul would push for the federal government to get out of the real estate lending business. With Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac insuring home loans, lenders generated debt instruments based upon low “teaser” interest rates (subprime, ALT-A) and unverified statements of income, and then funneled these bad loans on up to these quasi-government agencies where the public took the losses (these losses are now on the accounting books of the Federal Reserve System). In a Ron Paul Presidency, bad lenders would go out of business, not be given bailouts.

    The Federal Reserve now holds over $1 trillion in [“toxic”] loans on its accounting books. It’s best to let the Federal Reserve get what it deserves, a giant loss as its banks go out of business due to insolvency. Just punishment [or, more precisely, appropriate feedback] for [incontinently inducing] low interest rates and creating a real estate bubble in the first place. Stop protecting bankers, start protecting your own wealth – vote for Ron Paul!

    Without a government backstop to insure home loans, lenders would be more diligent in checking out lender qualifications and incomes. The false demand for housing that the federal government created [under presidential administrations and Congresses controlled by both factions of our permanent institutional “bipartisan” incumbency] would cease, and [dollar-denominated residential housing prices] would crash, for a short time. But that would be good news – now homes would become affordable [and the real value of housing – as a commodity needed to sustain life, not as an investment property – could come into proper focus again].

    It is said that if the Federal Government would get out of housing, home prices would tumble by 50%. While that is not good news for the asset-side of lenders’ accounting books, it is the only way to bring back the housing market in [either the short term or the long haul]. This is the mark-to-market value accounting that must be practiced. Interest rates on home mortgages would rise, but so would the interest [paid by savings institutions] on [depositors’ accounts, thereby rewarding rather than penalizing individuals who save]. Americans would cease losing money on savings (average interest on such bank accounts today is less than 1%, while real inflation degrades those savings at rates of ~7-11%).

    While the US economy is said to be the strongest in the world (~$14 trillion), the US is hiding the fact its Gross Domestic Product is actually in decline, and that something approaching half of the GDP is comprised of financial “gains” derived from moving money around. An example is the stock market, with 70% of its trades now conducted by way of high-speed “expert system” computerized trading. Financial gains are contrived, and there is no real value created by way of these phony transactions, nor is any productive employment created. The lending classes will have to face reality. Phony numbers would not likely be a part of a Ron Paul Presidency.

    With a groundswell of public support, President Ron Paul would push for a currency that has limited “stretchability” by backing it with gold. No more rubber money. The fortunes of Americans would cease being eroded by money-printing practices at the Federal Reserve. [Consider] Ron Paul’s object lesson. He recently held up a pre-1964 silver dime (the ten-cent coins today have no silver in them) and [observed that] it is worth about $3.00 today, close to the price of a gallon of gasoline. This means a single gold-backed dollar [or the equivalent in pocket change (specie) struck from silver] could buy you [almost] a full tank of gas. Imagine that!

    But inflationary policies have robbed American [citizens’] bank accounts of wealth. The theft we call “inflation” is robbing you of your money out the back door of your local bank. That will be ended.

    Ron Paul would also push for competing currencies. If this sounds foreign to you, reconsider. We already have competing currencies. One of them (for example) is the VISA card; and don’t forget American Express checks. [Creators of currencies which have the most reliably acceptable backing in the form of reserves offer the most desired media of exchange. Those who don’t maintain that market advantage offer exchange media of lesser perceived desirability, and therefore lesser value. This has been true since coinage was first invented, thousands of years ago.]

    So what would happen worldwide with the announcement of a Ron Paul Presidency? Did you see what happened yesterday [28 October] when the European Union band-aided its currency and debt problems for the time being? Markets soared with even a hint of sound money. Likewise, a Ron Paul Presidency should cause markets to soar just on the announcement of his Presidency. The International Monetary Fund has been begging the US to cut federal spending or devalue its currency by 30%.

    The tax and print-money Keynesians would be ousted from power. Phony money would be a thing of the past. Real jobs, not government-contrived [payroll slots] that add a 15% administrative burden and [inflict] the salaries of government workers on the remaining private sector, would be created. Two [perfect] examples [of Keynesian intervention] are Solyndra and General Motors, both which received government-backed loans and then sought government contracts to sell their products – solar panels to the US Navy and Chevy Volt electric cars to the federal government’s fleet of automobiles. That is nothing but false demand, [and such false demand disappears in a Ron Paul presidency].

    Imagine Ron Paul appointing a new chief at the Food & Drug Administration who turns that institution upside down, who complies with the law (Dietary Supplement Health & Education Act) rather than repudiates or ignores it as the current FDA does, and works to allow health claims for natural medicines that work far more safely and effectively than synthetically made drugs, and at much lower cost. Imagine the National Institutes of Health is forced to generate studies to reveal the true effectiveness of vitamins C and D, as previously documented by this author in the archives at LewRockwell.com, and the life expectancy of Americans soars and their quality of life in their retirement years greatly improves. Dr. Ron Paul is committed to this kind of real change, not give lip service to it.

    (It should be noted that Mr. Sardi “…is a frequent writer on health and political topics,” including much opinion on dietary supplements with which I do not professionally or personally concur.)

    Imagine for a moment that President Ron Paul, advocate of free markets, calls for a true revamp of the nation’s electrical grid, unlike the current administration, which only gives rhetorical support to the idea. With installation of new US-manufactured power cable technology that is able to transmit twice as much power on a single power line with 9-20% greater efficiency (less line loss), averting the need for 98 new fossil-fueled or atomic power plants by stringing just 3000 miles of the nation’s power lines with this US-made technology, and bringing $60 billion greater bottom-line profits to power generating companies, your electricity bill would be measurably trimmed instead of continually rising.

    Ron Paul – your President. Your vote for [Dr. Paul] will cause all of the above and more to happen. This article is just a sampling of what could happen almost overnight. One man, one moment in time, and everything changes on day-one of a RP Presidency. It would the best $39,336 your government could invest (Ron Paul has publicly stated he would take a $39,336/year salary while in office compared to the $400,000/year salary of the incumbent, to set an example).

    Don’t be dissuaded by bogus claims that “Ron Paul is unelectable,” or by the menu of wanna-be candidates served up by the news media. The 4th Estate, the nation’s major news sources, are not unbiased parties. The news media are in dire financial straits themselves, and want those campaign-advertising dollars (particularly the $750 million or more the incumbent President is likely to raise, as he did in the 2008 elections). Ron Paul is electable – by you.

    Let’s recap – no income tax [because] the Federal government [can and does] generate revenues by other means; no IRS forms to deal with; no need to send your kids off to phony wars in foreign theatres; no more cut off the top by the Federal Reserve; assurance there really is gold in Ft. Knox; gold-backed [currency such as] this nation once had before the banksters cut their own deal at Jekyll Island, South Carolina decades ago and Nixon took America off the gold standard; rising individual purchasing power as inflation is nixed (no need to ask the boss for a raise [because your salary or wages] will buy more [in a marketplace where increasing productivity is reflected in price reductions]), financial gains on your banked money instead of erosion of your wealth via inflation; your chance to own a home will greatly improve rather than the current situation where home ownership is now only a fading American pipe dream; and true reform of healthcare rather than manipulation by those with vested interests.

    I consider Mr. Sardi’s article nothing, more or less, than evidence that the advantages of Dr. Paul’s domestic and foreign policy positions are readily apprehensible. Instead of reposing faith in the good will and expertise of self-anointed perpetually aggrandizing authoritarians, those policies focus upon the devolution of political and economic power – real “power to the people” – to foster not only genuine efficiencies but also the correlation of personal authority and personal responsibility .

    Liberty is not only the more emotionally satisfying condition of the human being but also the most practicable, stable, and moral outcome of social order to be purposely sought by men (and women) who don’t deserve to be shot down on sight like rabid animals.

    Okay, let’s see how badly I’ve screwed up the HTML this time. Where’s that damned “Post Comment” button, anyway?

  147. Ozboy says:

    Meltemian, just checked in. I join with all those here in offering you my deepest condolences on your loss.

  148. Luton Ian says:

    Those whom the gods would destroy, they first make really angry.

    Nemesis must have a sense of humour, choosing a socialist to mortally wound his political group’s €uro project.

    does anyone think that Greece doing an Argentina could be what is needed to burst the inflationary abscess on europe’s posterior?

    This just in – explains it rather well – Oz:

  149. farmerbraun says:

    Tucci, I do not know if you will indulge me one more time ( I suspect not), but I will ask this question anyway, and whether or not you choose to ignore it , everyone else should feel free to respond.
    The question: what aspect(s) of my farming operation (other than my organic certification) identify me as anything other than a conventional(non-organic, if you wish) farmer?

  150. Kitler says:

    Meltemian sorry to hear about your sister my condolences.

  151. Kitler says:

    tucci while a Ron Paul Presidency would be a good idea from my point of view disengagement as the Worlds policeman which is what Americans wanted after the collapse of British Imperial power in WW2 well the elites did, will cause power vacuums filled by people you really don’t want getting.
    However getting wars overs drugs and oil will stop and young kids won’t get maimed or killed for rich peoples interests.
    However my prediction is they will have him bumped off ala Kennedy (if it was them Kennedy had so many enemies there would have been a queue on the grassy knoll to take turns) so he needs a VP that is just as hardcore as he is and who will pursue the killers ruthlessly.
    Also he will be forced to deal with Congress and the Senate and that may be the big block in stopping his agenda, money talks.

  152. braunson says:

    That was the thought that I had also. Ron Paul , or the representation of him that was presented, appears to espouse the policies that most of the Western democracies badly need, in my view.
    But the chances of all that coming to fruition may well depend on what the guys on the grassy knoll think.

  153. Luton Ian says:

    Thanks for the water cooler clip Oz.

    Back about 2000, an in-law (an in-estrangement?) lost a lot of savings which were in a supposedly safe bank investment account, which was claimed to be low risk and well spread out.

    He got a letter from the bank telling him it had all been in Argentine bonds and was all gone.

    The old mises daily pieces from that time tell of the Argentine government restricting withdrawals from banks to preserve them.

    I know that the fans of the European single Government will attempt to do all they can to prop up their dying project at our expense, but Iceland shows us the way:

    New drachma, which can drop like a stone, let the financial services industry wither back to a size which a market can sustain, and repudiate all government debts.

    The BRICs would be fools to get involved.

  154. izen says:

    Condoleneces on your loss Mel, when unexpected it is much harder to come to terms with.

    I LOVE the Greek response to the EURO bailout deal – put it to the people!

    The howls of anguish from the media – echoing the financial interests – trying to find a way of critisicing democracy is very funny to behold. Rarely will I agree with you quite so vehemently – Oz 😆

    The episode of ‘Farming Today’ this threa has provided seems to indicate three factors that shape agriculture.
    The first is the basic biological constraints, I know areas of the UK that have been in cultivation for over 3000 years with a variety of different farming methods from cattle rearing, sheep for wool, arable crops etc. There is a range of food production that is POSSIBLE on any land, but those options may vary in how sustainable or easy they are to carry out.
    The second is the market value that the different products may comand. A difficult agricultural stratergy may be followed involving a lot of difficult husbandry or soil preperation if the animal or crop ‘product’ commands a high return. The attraction of a high value cash crop may overide the problems of animal disease, soil degredation and intensive capital/labour costs to produce the high margin product.
    The third factor also distorts the rational biological choice for a locality. This is the attempts made by governments to shape the market with subsidies and price support to encourage agricultural practices that have advantages for the society, or at least the government and its crony-capitalists, which are not favoured by the commercial market.

    I know many here will see the third of these as much less acceptable than the second.
    I suspect both factors have the ability to encourage farmers to practice forms of agriculture that are not optimal for the land they farm.

    The policy position of Ron Paul set out by Tucci is obviously ridiculous. The idea that the US government should be redistributing LESS of the GDP while the last few decades have seen the economy increase the redistribution from the majority to the top quintile is unrealistic.

    http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/02/income-inequality-in-america-chart-graph

  155. Tucci says:

    At 3:17 PM on 2 November, farmerbraun asks:

    …what aspect(s) of my farming operation (other than my organic certification) identify me as anything other than a conventional (non-organic, if you wish) farmer?

    Whatever in hell gives you to assume that the position I take on agriculture – the aggregate whole of the most economically significant aspects of the agricultural sector of the national (U.S.) and global economies – has anything to do with your personal activities in particular?

    To some considerable extent, I’m talking about the price of bread this morning in Luxor and Tel Aviv and Kansas City and Tikrit, and you’re talking about the prices of mutton and lamb in – where is it that you live? New Zealand?

    I’m not a farmer, though I’ve done a few steps of that tap dance. I grew up in (and still live in) an area where a lot of farming is done, but it continues to get more and more metropolitan as the years go by. I did a bunch of my medical training in the Midwest, driving through miles and miles of fields planted in sorghum and soybeans and wheat and corn (maize) and Demeter only knows what the hell other combine-harvested crops, and rubbing elbows with farmers living in areas so remote that their ten- and eleven-year-old-kids drive all the to school in their farms’ fourth-best pickup trucks without so much as crossing a county road (all of it on private land, and therefore to hell with drivers’ licenses and the rest of that government crap), but the only work I did on any of those farms was connected with medical “house calls” on farm laborers and their families.

    In Kansas and Iowa and Nebraska and Oklahoma, unless you’re talking Big Ten and/or Big Twelve football, just about every conversation held over a cup of coffee at a diner will work its way around to farming pretty damned quick, but bear in mind that my personal experience out in that particular patch of flyover country is better’n thirty years old, and I only follow it today at considerable remove.

    In these United States, the meat market is dominated by pork, chicken, and beef. I can’t recall the last time I so much as saw mutton in an American supermarket (my wife had an M.I. about eight years ago, so I do all the grocery shopping), and lamb is almost as rare. Because U.S. commercial production of beef, pork, and chicken depends upon feed grain from start to finish, the prices in that market determine the prices at the meat counter and in the restaurant. American consumers are therefore sensitive to grain prices even if they’re not informed enough to understand the factors affecting those prices. Ghod knows that the MSM here on the east coast (where we’ve got most of our national population) don’t do a friggin’ thing to help ’em make the connection.

    That would serve to bring home the bogosity of the whole “biofuels” scam, and ABC/CBS/NBC and CNN and The New York Times and The Washington Post and The Boston Globe don’t want that “Liberal” fascist applecart overturned, do they?

    With this in mind, “organic” is a luxury subsegment of the aggregate agricultural sector in these United States and the world. Its outputs are more costly, pound per pound, nutrient gram per gram, than are those of “industrial agriculture.” It’s the price advantages of industrial agriculture which justify the enormous capital investments required to create and sustain such production methods, which get food and fiber to the last, least, and lowest-income consumers at lower checkout counter costs while earning the “agribusiness” types and their investors good enough profits (even without political subsidization) to justify those capital expenditures.

    So you’ve got some kind of “organic certification,” do you? Well, whoop-te-do. If that’s what your customers are willing to pay for, then that’s a profitable advantage for you. It enables you to charge premium prices for your outputs, and as long as that’s what the market will bear, you go right ahead. In the words of the late Leonard Reed, Anything That’s Peaceful (1964).

    But the world beyond your narrow perspective and personal concerns grinds along in more straightened circumstances, and in the realm of politics – where the business of the governmentally inclined invariably, necessarily, and enthusiastically involves denying choices to everyone at whom guns can be pointed – mandates ramming “organic” and similar less productive and therefore uneconomic idiocies (like “biofuels”) down the throats of the unwilling have both microeconomic and macroeconomic consequences the address of which you, farmerbraun, seem to be evading.

    And that’s contemptible.

  156. Tucci says:

    After having gone to the trouble of posting (with some line editing, comments, and HTML errors) writer Bill Sardi’s essay “What Would Really Happen If Ron Paul Were To Be Elected President?” in order to provide an appreciation of the blogospheric perceptions of Dr. Paul’s policy positions and presidential intentions, we get from izen at 8:51 PM on 2 November:

    The policy position of Ron Paul set out by Tucci is obviously ridiculous. The idea that the US government should be redistributing LESS of the GDP while the last few decades have seen the economy increase the redistribution from the majority to the top quintile is unrealistic.

    …and a link to yet another bolus of “Liberal” fascist class warfare jerking-off from Mother Jones magazine.

    As if.

    Down in the deep south, whenever somebody like izen gets mentioned in polite conversation, it’s always followed by “bless his heart.”

    There’s the dumber-‘n-a-sackful-of-gravel stupidity of dorks – like izen – who live in a wonderful, unicorn-populated misty fantasyland of presumption that the career political prostitutes and bureaucrats of civil government will equitably “spread the wealth around” (wealth that magically appears under the mushrooms in the shady forest, or floats down from the fluffy clouds above) to the benefit of the needy and the impoverished and the Smurfs and the elves and the trusting voters – again, like izen – instead of the present state of affairs, in which all that lovely money is now suffering evil, bad, nasty “redistribution from the majority to the top quintile” in spite of the efforts of the noble, self-sacrificing, altruistic, angelic, Kevlar-jacketed, helmeted, tear-gas-spurting, machine-gun-toting, taxing, kidnapping, murdering, raping government thugs whom whackjob leftie schmucks – like izen – want to have in absolute control of every aspect of life.

    And of course Dr. Paul’s policy positions are “obviously ridiculous.” We don’t need to consider how they’re supposed to be “obviously ridiculous,” mind.

    According to izen, that’s so “obvious” that only somebody who doesn’t believe in fairies and unicorns and elves and munificent wonderful professional popularity contest winners could possibly think anything else.

    obviously

  157. Tucci says:

    Did it again, damnit.

    Whom the ghods would destroy they first teach HTML.

    Your closing tag for the link was /i instead of /a. Now fixed.

    On such turns of fate are the fortunes of kingdoms made – Oz

  158. izen says:

    @- Tucci
    “There’s the dumber-’n-a-sackful-of-gravel stupidity of dorks – like izen – who live in a wonderful, unicorn-populated misty fantasyland of presumption that the career political prostitutes and bureaucrats of civil government will equitably “spread the wealth around” –

    Almost as dumb as the idiots that think that the ‘free market’ will spread the wealth effectively rather than just create and concerntrate it. And enhance choice rather than constrain it to retail advantage.

    Of course I don’t think politicians and government are going to act equitably, in fact I probably have a LOWER opinion of the political class than Tucci in that I expect them to be venal, corrupt and partisan. I expect them to act in the interests of their finacial backers first, and only in the interests of the general population if their grip on power is threatened. Greece being a classic example of this with the desperate measure of democracy being the last resort of a government at the precipice of collapse and a society yet again on the verge of a military coup…

    I am sorry if your ideological dogmatism reduces your natural intelligence to cretin level making it UN-obvious why Ron Paul’s manifesto is patently absurd. I have been taken to task for calling such Libitarian ideology ‘Utopian’ by Ozboy so I will just point out that it is Idealistic with no basis in reality. Its precepts have about as much empirical support as the fairies and elves that Tucci seems so enamoured with.

    Can you name ANY modern civilisation that even comes close to to following the sort of ridiculous nonsense advocated by RP ?!

  159. Tucci says:

    At 6:35 PM on 2 November, in consideration of the current bout of government incontinence and economic “We’re All Gonna Die!” currency connivances in the Eurozone, Luton Ian reminisces:

    Back about 2000, an in-law (an in-estrangement?) lost a lot of savings which were in a supposedly safe bank investment account, which was claimed to be low risk and well spread out.

    He got a letter from the bank telling him it had all been in Argentine bonds and was all gone.

    The old mises daily pieces from that time tell of the Argentine government restricting withdrawals from banks to preserve them.

    Yeah. I remember Joe Salerno’s “Confiscatory Deflation” (February 2002) and Mueller’s “No Tears for Argentina” (January 2002) and other stuff uttered in media res. Mueller’s article began:

    An employee at a foreign currency exchange office changes the quote for the Argentine peso. Argentina’s default came as no surprise. The amazing thing is not that the collapse of the Argentinean economy finally occurred, but the length of time it took to happen. Why have private and public lenders extended loans for so long a time? Why have they continued doing so even when all warning lights were flashing red? How did Argentina manage its run into default, and why was it that the International Monetary Fund continued to provide bailout packages even when it became obvious that Argentina’s currency regime had become unsustainable?

    Only weeks before the default, the Argentinean government declared that the economy was fundamentally sound. Given that the statement came from government, one may not worry too much about it if this declaration was based on ignorance or an outright lie. But what about the International Monetary Fund with its statement, also only a few weeks before the default, that Argentina, while being confronted with a short-term fiscal problem, does not have a fundamental economic and currency problem? What do we make of an international public organization that makes us ask whether it is totally ignorant or whether it is practicing the art of deception?

    As is so often the case in economic affairs, the most superficial answers tend to become the most commonly held. According to the popular versions, Argentina is not in default because it squandered the money it got and ruined the industrial base of its economy, but because the International Monetary Fund and the U.S. government failed to provide new loans in a timely manner. The IMF itself will justify its way of action by pointing to the failure of the Argentinean government to overcome its short-term fiscal problem, while the Argentinean government is blaming both the IMF and the U.S. government for not extending new loans and is accusing the Brazilians for having unduly devaluated their currency. But blame should be put on the International Monetary Fund or the U.S. government, not for letting Argentina go into default, but for supporting this country’s irresponsible economic policies for such a long time.

    Argentina’s default is not a mere accident brought about by adverse circumstances such as the devaluation of the Brazilian currency in 1999. The unpleasant truth is that Argentina has been living beyond its means for decades, and during the 1990s, the government of President Menem elevated this feat to new heights. The trap set up for international lenders was the introduction of a so-called currency board in 1991. Establishing a new monetary regime by making the Argentinean peso convertible to the U.S. dollar at a fixed rate of one to one and linking the monetary base to international reserves provided the basis for the illusion that in Argentina, international lenders could earn higher rates of return without any currency risk. While scarcely a serious investor would have trusted the Argentinean government per se, the bait was thrown in by the IMF when this institution gave its backing to the Argentinean currency board regime.

    Now, if there’s not much in that 2002 observation that doesn’t sound eerily like the current situation in Greece and the Eurozone generally (Twilight Zone music, anyone?), I’m a Keynesian.

    Why the hell would anybody – the German banks, the IMF, the Federal Reserve System, izen‘s magical floating fairy “spread the wealth around” fantasyland financiers, the Aztec feathered war god Huitzilopochtli, the anal-probing gray flying saucer people, anybody – extend any kind of bailouts to the government in Athens, the banks in the Hellenic Republic, or the people of that country in light of the lessons taught by what happened in Argentina ten years ago and Iceland rather more recently?

    Understanding Argentina’s Paper-Money Mire” (March 2004) means that – surprise, surprise, surprise! – everything Ron Paul’s been saying for the past thirty years and more is absolutely and ineluctably correct, and there is nobody in the present squawking contest for POTUS except for him to accord the Oval Office if the global economy isn’t going to go completely down the drain.

  160. izen says:

    @- Tucci
    “Why the hell would anybody – the German banks, the IMF, the Federal Reserve System, izen‘s magical floating fairy “spread the wealth around” fantasyland financiers, the Aztec feathered war god Huitzilopochtli, the anal-probing gray flying saucer people, anybody – extend any kind of bailouts to the government in Athens, the banks in the Hellenic Republic, or the people of that country in light of the lessons taught by what happened in Argentina ten years ago and Iceland rather more recently? ”

    I can only supose this question is rhetorical and you are intelligent enough to know the answer… –
    Because right up to the day before the collapse in Iceland, Ireland, Argentina and soon Greece the big financial players are making big money from them.

  161. Dr. Dave says:

    izen,

    I really should point out that you’re fighting WAY out of your weight class when you attempt to debate Tucci with your idiotic Marxist, collectivist ideology. Tucci is a hard core Constitutionalist and Libertarian. In truth, the US Constitution is a Libertarian document. I’m afraid he’s got you beaten in terms of his grasp of history, politics and economics…not to mention intellect.

    The tragedy is that you seem to have no grasp of the tenets of Libertarianism or an understanding of free market economics, yet you stroll onto comment threads as though you’re the “smartest guy in the room”. The free market most fairly distributes resources. No better system has ever been designed by humankind. Socialism and the various and sundry forms of collectivism are all centrally managed economies. Historically they have all been abject failures.

    You frequently offer up as examples of “necessary collectivism” municipal water and sewer systems. Interestingly, the first municipal water and sewer systems in NYC were developed by the private sector as a business. I don’t know, but I’m willing to guess that the Ozboy estate has its own well and septic system. Yep – Oz I buy water from a local municipal utility (which is a private company) and have my own septic system. It would be different if I lived in a condo in downtown Albuquerque.

    Wealth is not a zero-sum game. As the rich get richer in a free market economy, so too the poor get richer. Hell, the upper end of the poorest quintile in the US live better than most of the “middle class” in Europe. Ron Paul recognizes several realities that are vital to the survival of Western culture. It is immoral for any significant proportion of the population to believe that they should be taken care of by the labor of others. It is immoral for government to grow larger and more intrusive largely for the benefit of the bureaucracy rather than the people paying the bills. Government should only be as large as necessary to protect the Republic and the people. Government has no business in energy, environment, healthcare, banking, investment, etc. except to impose those few regulations necessary to assure fair competition.

    I would LOVE to see Ron Paul win the GOP nomination because I have no doubt he would go on to beat the living dogshit out of Obama in the general election (even though he often comes off as a grumpy old man). My concerns about Ron Paul are more pragmatic and focus mostly on foreign affairs. It would be folly to ignore the threat posed by Iran. Then again…with the right administration it might not affect the US much if the Middle East burned in a nuclear fire. We have the capacity to fulfill our own energy needs (yes, even transportation fuel). But it sure would be a bitch for Europe.

    izen, if it’s any consolation, I think Tucci was yankin’ my chain. I suspect he actually IS a whiz-bang diagnostician and he’s sand bagging. My guess is that he’s a hell of a lot smarter than he lets on.

  162. izen says:

    @- Dr. Dave says: November 3, 2011 at 8:21 am
    “I really should point out that you’re fighting WAY out of your weight class when you attempt to debate Tucci with your idiotic Marxist, collectivist ideology. Tucci is a hard core Constitutionalist and Libertarian. In truth, the US Constitution is a Libertarian document. I’m afraid he’s got you beaten in terms of his grasp of history, politics and economics…not to mention intellect. ”

    Thank you for the warning, although I was aware that his knowledge and grasp of all that stuff FAR exceeds mine… And I always welcome an encounter with intelligence that reminds me I am not as smart as I think I am….. so I am not expecting to land any ‘blows’. (of course I may not be as dumb as I seem -grin- )
    As I have already explained I don’t take all this political stuff too seriously anymore – it lacks an empirical base. On the rare occasions I do dabble in political philosophy Jefferson is one of the key sources I read. There used to be wonderful site contrasting Jefferson with Any Rand…. the prose style is nice too! Hume and Locke of course, although their prose style is a little long-winded. Proudhon is almost unreadable, Kropotkin little better but Voltaire is always good for a laugh…
    The Gutenberg project and a Kindle means you can carry a library of the classics with you all the time… does mean I don’t bother with anything modern though!

    “The free market most fairly distributes resources. No better system has ever been designed by humankind. ”

    The second statement I would completely agree with.
    The first is clearly a matter of taste not fact.

    “You frequently offer up as examples of “necessary collectivism” municipal water and sewer systems. Interestingly, the first municipal water and sewer systems in NYC were developed by the private sector as a business. I”

    There is no contradiction.
    Of course the provision of something like fresh water supply will initially be private enterprise, but because of its communal implications that inevitably becomes regulated by SOME sort of civic governance about the point a city exceeds a few thousand inhabitants.
    As the population size and density increases so the constraints on water supply as a private business increase. Often it is health – epidemic outbreaks – that force collective action to control the water quality. It may still be provided by private enterprise, but it is an enterprise that is NOT operating in a ‘free’ market. It is a highly regulated business environment, with constraints on business choices that select for quite a specialized class of company that works in close symbiosis with its ‘host’ society.
    Like most symbionts it may have methods of influencing the host…

    “Ron Paul recognizes several realities that are vital to the survival of Western culture. It is immoral for any significant proportion of the population to believe that they should be taken care of by the labor of others. It is immoral for government to grow larger and more intrusive largely for the benefit of the bureaucracy rather than the people paying the bills.”

    Given the phenomenon of regulatory capture perhaps –
    ‘It is immoral for government to grow larger and more intrusive largely for the benefit of business rather than the people paying the bills.’-
    could be included. I think you posted a link on th the issue of agricultural subsidy. Then there’s the military-industrial complex….

    But I would retire from the ring if ‘morality’ and ‘Western culture’ are the ammunition. The Western culture of 1911 still exists as our historical inheritance, but Western culture now is not the same as then, the differences are vast. There is no reason to think that a century will see any less cultural evolution, quite possibly with a lot more miscegenation… or hybrid vigour…how you select the moral from the immoral future? Well thats definitely left the realm of empiricism!
    -grin-

  163. izen says:

    @-Dr Dave
    ““The free market most fairly distributes resources. No better system has ever been designed by humankind. ”

    Sorry I have just changed my mind…
    I said before that –
    The second statement I would completely agree with.
    The first is clearly a matter of taste not fact.

    Well I still think the first statement is mired in definitions of
    -free market- -fair- and -resources- but I would suggest that –
    ‘The free market most -efficiently creates- resources.’ is a viable claim.

    However I no longer agree that –
    “No better system has ever been designed by humankind.”

    Pure hubris.
    Trade, enterprise and the systems that emerge from ‘free markets’ have evolved contingently over millennium, and are still doing so. ID is not involved….

  164. Dr. Dave says:

    Farmerbraun,

    I really appreciate the description you provided regarding your “sustainable” or “organic” farming practices. In terms of crops, I suspect it differs very little from the farming techniques utilized on the small farms in the area where I grew up. These farmers fertilized with steer, pig and sheep manure for their nitrogen. They did, however, compost and would till this in after the harvest. The fruit farmers would almost universally apply insecticides lest they lose too much of their crop to the bugs. From the description you provided I would imagine that your crops would meet with the approval of the “women with hairy legs and unshaven armpits” hippie demographic in the US.

    Your description of raising livestock differs little from most livestock production in the US. I’m sure commercial livestock industries in the US utilize more hormones and drugs than you do, but by your own description your meat wouldn’t pass muster with organic purists in the US.

    I’m curious to know how many acres of crops you grow and what crops you grow. There are a number of crops in the US where insecticides are rarely employed. There are other crops (like corn) that keep the crop dusters in business. I have 30 years of experience as only a backyard gardener. I’ve grown all sorts of things where I never saw the need to employ insecticides (e.g. green beans, cabbage, beets, radishes, squash), but I have NEVER had a successful corn crop. The bugs get there first and ruin the crop. I’ve given up on corn. Reasonably big farms in the US usually have about a section (640 acres, 2.6 km^2) or more planted. A section is a square mile and it can usually provide enough income for a family..

    I’m curious to know about your livestock. What do you raise? I think I remember you commenting that you had 500 head of goats. Damn! That’s a lot of goats! What do you do with them? There are a bunch of old hippies living at about 11,000 ft above sea level in SW New Mexico that keep herds of goats for milk and cheese. Though it’s ridiculously expensive, they make the BEST goat cheese I’ve ever had. We don’t eat much (almost no) goat in the US. I’ve had it before but I’ve NEVER seen it in the grocery store. I’ve never seen mutton in a grocery store although lamb is relatively common. Leg of lamb is almost universally labeled as “New Zealand Leg of Lamb”. Curiously, I can drive less than 10 miles down the road from where I live and get a burger of bison meat but I would have to drive 150 miles out into the Navajo reservation and call in favors to be fed a meal of mutton (which I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t like).

    Do you raise cattle? Sheep? Hogs? If so, how many? Mostly I’m just curious and I don’t mean to be nosey. I ask this because I’ve been pondering “sustainable agriculture”. Some years ago I read a great book about “modern agriculture”. It was a paperback and I’ve been searching all over the house for it. This was mostly a description of the history of “modern” agriculture in the USA (i.e. since about 1940). It was fascinating. It discussed the introduction of modern (and ever improving) diesel powered farm equipment. It went into detail about modern (and ever improving) irrigation techniques. It discussed at great length the benefits of “artificial” high nitrogen fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. It even discussed GM seed stock.

    The readily measurable increase in yield per acre is stunning. It’s been years since I’ve read this book but it outlined a few basic tenets of modern agriculture. The use of high nitrogen, high nutrient fertilizer to keep the soil fertile. The use of herbicides to prevent competition of weeds for water and nutrients. The use of insecticides to keep from losing 30-50% of the crop to parasites. The use of modern irrigation techniques to maximize water utilization and minimize runoff. The use of GM seed stock that is resistant to disease and drought and produce higher yields. And mostly the advent of modern farm machinery.

    The thing is, there is nothing about these modern practices that is inherently “unsustainable”. The nutrients are being returned to the soil before each planting. Truly “organic” farming (circa 1930) required a LOT more arable land and water to produce much smaller yields. Further, it was far more labor intensive. I suspect the entire country of New Zealand could subsist on Farmerbraun’s farming techniques…but not the rest of the world. I thought about the state of Illinois. The entire state is less than half the size of New Zealand yet it has 3 times the population and most of the state is agricultural land. I’m quite sure the total agricultural output of the state of Illinois dwarfs that of the entire country of New Zealand.

    I’m almost certain that New Zealand can continue to feed itself using Farmerbraun’ techniques (computers, antibiotics and all), but I’m equally certain the rest of the world cannot.

  165. farmerbraun says:

    Dr Dave, I’ll just address the bits that struck me immediately on reading your post:
    1.” your meat wouldn’t pass muster with organic purists in the US.”
    No, all the meat from my farm meets the USDA NOP (National Organic Programme) to the letter, [unlike some of the products from NOP CAFOs in the US (but that is getting sorted presently)] so that when you say organic purist I think you must mean someone who does not accept the USDA NOP protocols.
    Alternatively, you were not aware that it is compulsory for organic farmers to fertilise adequately, and to treat with appropriate Animal Remedies when necessary but that animal will be quarantined and will not enter the food chain. That is why I asked the question about the difference between my operation and conventional. I got the impression that Tucci thinks that “organic ” farmers do not use mineral fertilisers, animal remedies etc . Usage is strictly controlled though. The fact is they do , but under strict controls, and with accurate identification of treated animals. Natural sources (of minerals) are preferred to synthetic.
    There is a rule in organics that you cannot be organic by default i.e. the mere fact that you didn’t use any prohibited sustance doesn’t mean that you meet the standards required.

    2. All my nitrogen comes out of the air, via legumes [principally white clover] but all animals are on pasture all the time so the N input to the soil, mostly from urine is considerable. I don’t apply any animal manures myself ; the animals do it all for me. The soil biota does the rest.

    3. I’ve grown most of the vegetable crops including corn (truck farming) commercially without any real difficulty. Today it would be even easier with technological advances (roll out biodegradable weed cloth).
    4. As far as I know , organic farmers produce the same yields as conventional, but that is not the issue , as Izen noted. The Net yield is the comparison; kJ sold/kJ consumed in production. I don’t think that on that basis Illinois will compete with N.Z. because of climate and because Illinois has a huge % of arable which is energy intensive and the net yield may not be so flash. I can’t find good data. The USDA has previously published data to show that dairying FB style in N.Z. is more efficient than US style.
    5. The “feeding the world” argument I’ll leave for now, except to say that farming is pure business and returns on capital dictate whether or not land will continue to produce food or be sold for housing (in the developed world) or something else like a golf course. I’m looking after No. 1 and that means looking after my farm’s sustainability and to hell with the rest. But I note that the American Farm Bureau Federation [AFBF] is advising US farmers to keep it real; the AFBF advises farmers to forget the wrongheaded and outdated “feeding the world” mantra and focus on “working conscientiously to produce high quality food”. Who defines high quality; of course it is the consumer.
    6. N.Z. produces 5-6 times as much food as it needs with few inputs, so yes, no problem here just yet. I’m trusting Julia Gillard will intercept the boat people, although the ocean does most of the job.

    Re. my operation here’s a link I’ve posted before. Yell out if it doesn’t fill in the gaps.
    http://www.biofarm.com

  166. Kitler says:

    tucci as for Argentina you’ve triggered a memory from around that time is that the USA increased it’s interest rates and that made borrowing for the Argentine Government prohibitively expensive because it was pegged to the dollar.
    As for aliens….

  167. Kitler says:

    Dr Dave Luton Ian can tell you how to prepare mutton coz the bar steward did once at college and it smelt absolutely fantastic but wouldn’t share the mean git.

  168. Kitler says:

    This is always a good watch….a Doctor actually invented air conditioning in 1845. This is part 4 but watch the rest and check out the fashion sense of the presenter.

  169. farmerbraun says:

    Kitler, preheat the oven as hot as it will go say 250 deg. C. Garlic and rosemary the leg of lamb/hogget (yearling). Put the meat in and after 30 min. turn down to 125 deg. C. for 4hours.

  170. Luton Ian says:

    Hi,
    I’ve got a few minutes on the net, then I’m disappearing off grid for a few days.

    I’ve skimmed to here so apologies if anyone else has thought of these too.

    I’ve a couple of subversive memes for the €uro farse
    Sorry about the prosthetic F

    First, when you see someone with a new computer, tell them it must be from really old stock, as it still has a € sign on it.

    Second,

    when someone has some comical misfortune befall them, when you’ve stopped laughing and dried your eyes, tell them they’ve just been Euroed.

    Here’s the cultural reference

    hope it embeds It does now – Oz 😉

  171. Luton Ian says:

    The main thing with mutton, is to get the fat crispy.

    You can do lamb pink, and it is very tasty, but be ready for it to be very greasy, which most people find unpleasant. Once it is crisped up, it’s really tasty.

    I’m a fan of mutton, balls off when he was a lamb, and five years of eating heather and developing texture and flavour.

    Back in the days of subsidies for keeping hill ewes, there were plenty of people who kept a few wethers (castrated males, which look superficially like females, once you get your eye in, they’re easy enough to see, but few bureaucrats were sharp eye’d enough) around, you don’t see many now.

  172. Luton Ian says:

    Back to the yoyo,

    The French and German leaders are angry and frightened, they’re doing their best to scare the hell out of the Greek electorate.

    The BBC is working overtime to invent splits and differences of opinion in thew ruling party.

    The big zero is frightened too.

    The Federal Government for the United States wants a centralised European superstate – anything else casts doubt on the its own legitimacy.

    The reason banks bought Greek bonds was because they payed higher interest rates than German ones, the €uropean central bank accepted then as equally valid for collateral against new credit, and there was an implicit and explicit promice of a bailout if anything went wrong.

    Bagus, in his “The Tragedy of the Euro” identifies the government bond market in thge €uro zone as a tragedy of the commons.

    There is an incentive to overprint bonds as the government doing so gains, while all member states bear the cost.

    Now they’re being asked to bear the cost, the tragedy becomes even clearer.

  173. Amanda says:

    Kitler: I watch Connections on many evenings, over dinner. We’re in a rental house that’s too small for all our things (as it was, we ended up getting rid of our second bed, and some of our books are in a fridge), we have no dining table, and have our dinners on our laps. I find that James Burke’s stuff never gets stale, even if he is not exactly the Beau Brummell of television. Actually, the fact that we have no dining table is irrelevant since we had something answering to that description in Houston, and we watched programs over dinner there, too. It’s a pointless context but that’s why they pay me the big bucks to write. I could just have said ‘good chap, James Burke. Dresses like a bachelor.’ Where’s my editor?

  174. Ozboy says:

    Sorry I haven’t put up a new post for a while, but the discussion here’s just been too damn interesting.

    Some Greek salad to chew over this time:

    https://libertygibbert.wordpress.com/2011/11/04/a-whisper-in-the-ear/

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