Quips & Quotes — January 15th, 2009

Posted by Rural Missourian on Jan 15th, 2009

I think it’s very important for us to try to put out the fire. I think it’s good advice in general, that if there’s a fire burning, you try to put it out first, and then you think about the fire code. — FED Chairman Bernanke’s reply to a question asked of him after his speech at the London School of Economics on Tuesday, January 13, 2009, which questoned the Keynesian inflationary policy of our nation’s central bank.

Since when do you put out a raging fire with gasoline?  Yes, there may be deflation occurring, but that happens when reckless gamblers of credit start a raging fire that undermines the economy by their various “investment” schemes of borrowing and loaning fiat currency at usury.  Naturally, as the fire burns the tinder box house of paper wealth, the floors cave in (deflation).  Then along comes the fire department that started the fire and it pumps into it the only flame retardant it knows, the explosive incendiary of inflation that comes from the powerful pumps of their enormous printing press.  This only makes the fire much worse, as we will see and history has proven, time and again.   

You say: “There are persons who have no money,” and you turn to the law. But the law is not a breast that fills itself with milk. Nor are the lacteal veins of the law supplied with milk from a source outside the society. Nothing can enter the public treasury for the benefit of one citizen or one class unless other citizens and other classes have been forced to send it in. If every person draws from the treasury the amount that he has put in it, it is true that the law then plunders nobody. But this procedure does nothing for the persons who have no money. It does not promote equality of income. The law can be an instrument of equalization only as it takes from some persons and gives to other persons. When the law does this, it is an instrument of plunder. With this in mind, examine the protective tariffs, subsidies, guaranteed profits, guaranteed jobs, relief and welfare schemes, public education, progressive taxation, free credit, and public works. You will find that they are always based on legal plunder, organized injustice. — Fredric Bastiat in The Law (1850)

The whole idea that the Federal Government can wave its magic bailout wand over the “needy” corporations and banks to save them, of course for the salvation of everyone’s “economic interests,” is all out plunder for there is no other way to fund these massive bailouts but by putting Americans into further debt, who will have to pay through ever increasing taxes and inflation, to no avail.

Organic farming may be healthier and better for the soil, but it is not any more sustainable in the long run than chemical farming because all that happens in most systems is replacing chemical inputs with organic inputs. These inputs still come from somewhere else and still cost money. With the imploding economy, it might not be to far into the future when we just can’t afford to truck in kelp or green sand from half way across the country. At some point it seems we might exploit these resources the same we have oil. I can also see the farmer/gardener being a slave to organic input companies just like other farmers are slaves to chemical companies. — Scott Terry from his blog Homesteader Life.

I agree with Scott that we need to be self-sustainable in our agrarian endeavors, as in the realm of gardening where one produces their own fertilizers and various soil improvements from the land they work so that they are not trapped as addicted consumers of gardening input products, which can cost a fortune and become hard to find, especially in a major economic downturn.  This concept needs to be applied to all the various elements of a diversified farm, especially as it applies to preparing the fields, sowing, cultivating,  harvesting, etc.  Draft animals fit well here since they can be bred on the farm, used to raise their own fuel (feed), and their dung put back into the soil to improve it.  Yes, there are health costs involved in using draft animal labor, but the price for fuel and parts for modern machinery is far higher. 

The word sustainability is used so wrecklessly and politically today that its meaning is perforated. Sad, because we need the word or its essence to hold water for us as we work to define and understand right livelihood and the human future on this planet. We must understand that true sustainability, that capacity for systems to regenerate and sustain themselves, is at war with the gods of commerce and the corporate ethic. And in true Machiavellian-style the enemy is hard at work to usurp the word “sustainability” as its own, redefined, retooled, and priced to sell. — Lynn Miller in the Small Farmer’s Journal (Fall 2008)

The most important earthly wealth one can possess, especially if one values true political and economic freedom, is good land and the means of production with the goal of producing as unto the Lord in league with like-minded Christians, as stewards of the Lord’s earth according to His word, and sustained through the godly generational continuity that comes by being faithful to the everlasting New Covenant. 

While the USDA [following WWII when it pushed tractors as the ultimate replacement for horses & mules – TCM] unflinchingly advocated increased efficiency and greater productivity in agriculture, it also expounded the virtues of self-sufficiency and the family farm. Over time, however, efficiency and productivity won, and in the end, the “USDA did not simply propagate improved methods—it became the Church of Information and Technology (with its own missionaries) for millions of modernizing farmers. Its experts eventually embraced any machine or chemical that promised increased production regardless of how technological change would affect farm families or the environment.” The USDA did not immediately embrace technology without question, nor did department officials always wee tensions between the efficiency and self-sufficiency. Officials constantly stated and apparently believed that American farmers could have the best of both worlds. Despite the fact that a conflict had long existed between the family-farm principle and the political exigencies of modern statehood, the USDA insisted that the Jeffersonian and Madisonian ideals could be harmonized on the American farm. It was perhaps a naïve view, especially in the southern context, but one generally held by agricultural officials who, according to one scholar, had not pushed mechanization hard enough. — George B. Ellenberg in his book Mule South to Tractor South – Mules, Machines, and the Transformation of the Cotton South

It begs the question. What is true efficiency and productivity? One that turns self-sufficient family farmers into consumer slaves of agribusiness products and technology . . . or one that maintains the freedom of the family farmer through sustainable, scaled down farming that is sustainably productive, regenerative, and biblically environmentally friendly?

9 Responses

  1. Craig Says:

    Call me stupid but explain what “organic input companies” means, or are. We consider ourselves “organic” because we do not use store bought fertilizer. I was just out turning my compost today here in Montana. In it you will find horse, mule and pig dung, chicken droppings, straw and misc. other things all found here on the property. We also use wood ashes. I am far from a garden expert, but the quote from Scott Terry has me a little confused.


  2. Rural Missourian Says:

    Craig, thanks for the comment and great question. Though perhaps Scott will answer your question himself, allow me to answer in my limited understanding. Ever since the word “organic” was captured and exploited by the corporate commercial interests that run our economy, getting organic certification and keeping it requires using land and products that are certified organic. Not just any fertilizer, insecticide, soil builder, or other related products will do, as natural and organic as they may be. The certification process has opened the door for “organic input companies” to flood the market with their products that have organic certification. So once again the farmer, only this time the certified organic farmer, in order to keep his certification must often resort to becoming a consumer of the “organic products” these companies sell . . . same old same old. I am sure Scott can correct me on this, but just using home grown organic materials may jeopardize the organic farmer’s certification, which is why I reckon there are many organic farmers who have since quit, seeing that it costs far too much to maintain corporate “organic” standards. It also makes the organic farmer the consumer-servant of commercial agribusiness, not the free producer he once was.

  3. Claudio Gomes Says:

    When I finally can have my farm “running” I don’t really care about the “organic certification” that seems to me is more of a way to keep farmers that start to be free back to the coorporate cage. If I am going to sell my products, my clients will have to trust my word that it is organic.

  4. Craig Says:

    Thanks for the explanation. That clears it up. I learn something new everyday. I just raise mostly food for my family and sell a little at flea market. I have never come across “organic certification” for that reason. Sounds like another good example of the system gone wrong. Which is why I try not to have anything more to do with it than is forced on me. Here in the Bitterroot valley most people know and trust one another, so the need to be “certified” when you are small scale farming is a non issue. I would guess Montana laws a a bit less restrictive than some states also.

    Thanks I enjoy reading your blog,


  5. Scott Terry Says:

    The point I was making goes for certified and “non-certified” organic growers. Its really about sustainability. Most growers of food do not have a “closed system” approach to growing and are always dependent on trucking in fertility from other sources.In this system your “organic garden” won’t produce more than a few seasons if your cut off from the inputs. No cash, no ” natural” inputs like bone meal or green sand or kelp. The book I was reviewing in that post teaches one way to have a small scale closed system production model. Its something for people to think about if they are planning on feeding themselves through the coming economic depression with their own garden.

  6. Bob Mothershed Says:

    Excellent post and well needed. I have been thinking about Scott’s post that you quoted from since I first read it and this is what I came away with;
    While striving to learn the art of real gardening, I mean growing as much variety and quantity as possible, I may have some need for the extra ‘help’ of some organic additives to get my small piece of dirt into shape. However, when thinking long-term I plan to watch for those natural crops that tend to grow the best in my region with minimal input and save extra seed from those. Perhaps I will learn the art so well that I will still have variety too, but just in case, I am trying to think, ( and learn to eat) like folks used to…whatever is on hand. This might mean that in really hard economic times, peaches and gooseberries aren’t on the menu in Florida, but sweet potatoes and cowpeas do just fine here without much help at all. So we can cut down on some of the more exotic items that may not be geographically available without those extra little ‘inputs’.

  7. Miranda V Says:

    well written post…thank you

  8. Rural Missourian Says:

    Bob, thanks for dropping in. To be able to be productive on one’s own land in a self sustaining manner that improves the land over time would require that one learn all the various elements that involve the land . . . the different soils, the symbiosis between its woodlands, pastures and cropland, the seasonal weather affects (growing season, precipitation, etc.), the plants and animals best suited to the indigenous (feed) plants that grow there, the land’s limitations and scale, and so many more. I don’t think this happens with landowners that have too much land and not enough time to closely steward it. It takes one who is generationally committed to learn the land and rightfully care for it through the long process of close observation and dedicated husbandry. My hat is off to those who have labored in these areas like Joel Salatin, Scott Terry, and Gene Logsdon, to name a few.

  9. Rural Missourian Says:

    Miranda, I am sorry that it took this long to post your comment, as the spam filter for my blog swallowed it up. It was while I was doing some housecleaning that I discovered it. The filter does a great job, but sometimes it filters good comments, such as yours. Thank you for commenting.

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