We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Dear Third World Farmer…

Thank you for trying to offer us high quality, low cost agricultural products. However I am sorry but we would prefer it if you remain dependent on tax funded handouts from First World governments and their anointed NGOs. And speaking of NGOs, if you People of Colour start getting involved in horrid global trade, what will happen to the people who work for NGOs? We need NGOs so that our children can go work for them in that pesky gap year, helping you poor ignorant dark people with your Third Worldie Problems, and thereby allowing our kiddies to develop self-esteem and feel good about themselves.

Also we prefer to see you living in photogenic eco-friendly low carbon footprint mud huts, so please stop trying to pull yourself out of poverty via icky capitalist global trade in the one area you should have a comparative advantage. I say ‘should’ because actually we prefer to buy our food from tax subsidised local farmers, for the good of the planet, you understand.

Peace and love,

Janet Guardianista

58 comments to Dear Third World Farmer…

  • Paul Marks

    Yes that is the real position of such people.

  • I don’t think the “buy local” movement is about agricultural subsidies and import bans.
    If my guess is correct, then they are sort of harmless lunatics. Let them eat what they want…

  • WalterBoswell

    Indeed. And if you find the issue of dying as a result of chronic amoebic dysentery a frustrating ordeal just remember that we, your loving guardians, here in the caring west will always think of you as a purer, truer form of what humanity should aspire to. Diarrhoea soaked, and trapped in a route you maybe, but you remain the beloved ants of our little ant farm. High child mortality rates are a small price to pay when you consider the volume of gushing we send to you each year.

  • RAB

    I had dinner at Yala Safari Park in Sri Lanka, with the head of VSO for Sri lanka, a few years ago.
    Lord what a smug Gardianista Tosser!
    I’m with the writer. If I want strawberries in January, I’m gonna damn well have them!

  • I don’t think the “buy local” movement is about agricultural subsidies and import bans.
    If my guess is correct, then they are sort of harmless lunatics. Let them eat what they want…

    Please avoid the notion that just because someone is not calling for something to be illegal (yet), it is not reasonable for someone who disagrees to point out the wider consequences of their choices.

  • CountingCats

    Lord what a smug Gardianista Tosser!

    Details?

  • Lee Kelly

    The book The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker has a wonderful section on “the myth of the noble savage”, as he calls it. It is a book every environmentalist should, and will not, read.

  • renminbi

    Half the harm in the world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm,but the harm doesn’t interest them. Or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.

    - T.S.Eliot

    The tell , with these people, is the indifference to facts.

  • Steve

    I remember a few years back when where I worked decided that Operation Raleigh would be “our” charity. For those of you who don’t know Operation Raleigh sends all those gap year type, Tarquins and Jocastas, of to various poor bits of the globe to help all the poor people.
    After watching the promo video, I pointed out that, a:
    Most of the worlds population can manage to saw wood, drill holes etc unaided, and b that I was bloody sure that the local farmers knew far more about local agriculture, than a fresh faced middle class youth from middle England. I was amazed at the sheer opprobrium I took from my colleagues. And when I refused to point blank to sponsor some-ones child I got a fairly rough ride all round

  • Frederick Davies

    I don’t think the “buy local” movement is about agricultural subsidies and import bans.
    If my guess is correct, then they are sort of harmless lunatics. Let them eat what they want…

    I think you are underestimating the power of lunacy, especially when not opposed. Never believe “that is just too stupid to catch on,” because History tells us that that even more stupid things have “caught on” and nations have suffered for it (Tulipmania in Holland, The Darien Scheme in Scotland, The South Sea Bubble in England,…). Or on a smaller scale: have you noticed that now in Sainsbury’s you can only buy “Fairtrade” bananas? That is the power of unopposed lunacy.

    Lunacy must be opposed at every turn lest they forget who are the lunatics.

    PS: Now I buy in Tesco’s, who are not so keen on playing politics with my fruit (though the shop is smaller and farther away).

  • RAB

    Details?
    Well he had driven down for a bit of scuba.
    But instead of staying at mrs Patels boarding house as his public concience would dictate, he’s checked into the five star. The food really was excellent!
    He’s a fully paid up member of the “What these people need” post colonialist, Colonialist Society. And pro Tamil.
    He had also just visited Arthur C Clarke, who he appeared to adore, without clocking that he is a lousy writer and has, shall we say, the same sexual proclivities, as a much revered Prophet.
    Nope Tosser about sums him up.
    If you want more we can have a smoke and chat behind the bike sheds, as it were! There are links…:-)

  • Or on a smaller scale: have you noticed that now in Sainsbury’s you can only buy “Fairtrade” bananas? That is the power of unopposed lunacy. [...] PS: Now I buy in Tesco’s, who are not so keen on playing politics with my fruit (though the shop is smaller and farther away).

    Ditto Waitrose. I also now buy all my fruit from Tesco.

  • Nick M

    Fairtrade goods are over-priced crap. My, er… landlords love them. Thankfully they’ve gotten rid of the last bottle of Gazan olive oil – 6 quid for half a litre!

    Hey, RAB, Clarke isn’t (a) a kiddy-fiddler (that was just trumped-up) and (b) is a much better writer than the likes of Asimov.

  • RAB

    Stylistically or imaginatively?
    As for the fiddling…
    I know friends of his… Say na more!
    It’s a weird place. It should be paradise but …
    Well all types of things are on offer.
    You get scammed on the beaches for all sorts of stuff.
    Crappy trinkets and bogus orphan charities.
    You also get offered sex on a regular basis.
    Any way you want it.

  • Millie Woods

    I wonder how these local produce uber alles types would react to the following situation. Somehow I don’t think it’s what they have in mind for our brave new world.
    In the Leamington, Ontario (tomato capital of the world according to the locals) area farmers found natural gas on their land and guess what they did with it? They used it to fuel the greenhouses they built in vast numbers where produce including the wonderful tomatoes is grown year round. This means that instead of getting travel weary tasteless super expensive tomatoes in winter we southern Ontarians have local produce at close to peak of the summer harvest prices.

  • I work for an NGO, a really big one, probably the one the writer of this piece had in mind when he wrote it.

    I’m constantly infuriated at the ‘never had a real problem’ types who seem to be in charge of NGOs, but then they generally tend to be better educated and less riddles with issues. I was dragged up and I’m a mess.

    I think when it comes down to it, you can dislike someone and agree with them.

    It’s also easier to ridicule someone’s convictions than to follow your own, because if you make someone who is principled feel deflated you’ve won. If you’re principled and you get someone to agree with you then you’ve still got the rest of the world to convince.

    If you don’t want to buy Fair Trade goods then at least be honest about why you don’t. You’re not superior to Guardian readers in the personality stakes, you just don’t give a shit. Which is fair enough. I can’t make you care. I’d rather make Fair Trade products as sexy as iPods so you’ll all want one.

    And yes, the expectation of Fair Trade products is horrifically low, which means it’ll never take off properly until they sort that out.

    “This coffee is horrible”
    “Yeah, it’s Fair Trade”
    “Oh, good.”

    Those of us who work for NGOs mainly do it because we need a job to do in order to eat and pay rent, and have a weekend we can only half-remember, but instead of working hard for some c•nt who puts all your blood, sweat and tears in his wallet, you work hard and your hard work indirectly benefits other people. Surely that’s fair enough?

  • Sorry to double-post (boo!).

    I also think that food miles is a silly issue to get worked up about, because if you send me food I can eat. I don’t want to eat the food produced in London all the time, because I like food and as an NGO worker I’m working to make sure everyone has the opportunity to eat at itsu every so often.

    It is all you businessmen with your trips to other countries to have a meeting you could have had over the phone that need banning.

    From now on I promise I will never, ever eat another rich businessman for as long as I live. Thus I have helped to lower my carbon footprint.

  • If you don’t want to buy Fair Trade goods then at least be honest about why you don’t. You’re not superior to Guardian readers in the personality stakes, you just don’t give a shit.

    Except that is not why I try to avoid ‘Fair Trade’ goods. I do indeed give a shit. That is why I try not buy them.

    I happen to think that unalloyed, pure, laissez faire capitalism is the best way to lift people out of poverty. I do not give a monkey’s uncle if agree with me or not, Matt, but that is why I despise a great many NGOs and things like ‘Fair Trade': I believe it actually harms the people it allegedly helps.

    If I didn’t give a shit, I doubt I would bother to write about it.

  • Perry,
    Please don’t bother-it won’t get through.

    You mean well in the wrong sort of way. This is not about empowerment. If the NGOs let them `do capitalism’ they’ll get just like us: bloated, greedy westerners. What we need is dependents-it gives us such a nice warm feeling.

  • Ted Schuerzinger

    Hear, hear, Perry.

    I also have a severe problem with the idea of “Fair Trade” (or worse, the Newspeak-sounding “Fairtrade” [sic]) in that I find it inherently unfair and redolent of neocolonialism: they won’t arbitrarily pay higher prices for just any third-world coffee; they’ll only pay the higher price if the third-worlders adhere to some arbitrary conditions imposed by the first-worlders. Just imagine a bunch of third-worlders banding together and trying to sell genetically modified crops to the so-called “Fair Trade” folks.

    Yes, I know that people can contract to do (almost) whatever they want. But so-called “Fair Trade” has never given me that impression — and that people contracting in ways they don’t like (ie. laissez-faire capitalism) is considered not to be “fair trade”.

    And yet, the “Fair Trade” folks insist that they’re the ones who are more selfless, tolerant, virtuous, and the like.

  • Alice


    … instead of working hard for some c•nt who puts all your blood, sweat and tears in his wallet, you work hard and your hard work indirectly benefits other people.

    Well, if said c*nt put all your “b-s-t” in his wallet, then you would not get paid at all. Which sounds like you would be getting approximately the full value of what you contributed, Matt.

    Read Adam Smith — he blew your shallow thinking out of the water hundreds of years before you were born, Matt. The only way (outside of government) that an individual can earn an income is to produce something that other people value. You could call that ‘directly benefitting other people’.

    How can someone so young be so far behind the times, Matt?

  • Fair trade is a scam. An oxymoron too. Free trade is fair by definition – both parties benefit, or there is no trade. Fair-trade, as opposed to free trade, is unfair trade. War is peace… etc..

    As to fighting the lunatics for the benefit of third worlders – well, life is short… there is no end of lunatics… can’t fight them all..

  • CountingCats

    have you noticed that now in Sainsbury’s you can only buy “Fairtrade” bananas?

    And have you expressed your opinion? Have you explained, ever so politely, that fair trade perpetuates poverty and helps remove incentive for people to better their situation?

    Have you explained that the beneficiaries of fair trade tend to be the landowners? Not the farm workers?

    This decision by Sainsburys was as a result of political pressure, people writing in. Write in as well. Add your mite to the discussion. And yes, explain that is why you now shop at Tescos.

    Don’t tell me. Hell, I agree with you already. Tell them.

  • Eric

    I always thought that fair-trade stuff was a clever propaganda stunt from the unions and first-world producers. After all, to be competitive I can either make less money (heaven forbid!), or force/cajole people into raising my competition’s costs.

  • Nick M

    I never buy “Fairtrade”,

    I never buy “organic”,

    Whilst difficult, I go out of my way to buy GMO.

    Is that enough?

    I have yet to… Well, I’m not prepared to say more, I just shouldn’t on an open forum. Sorry. But I have read up on how fairtrade works and it’s just like Perry stated. It is aid, it is not development. If the likes of Oxfam ever saw sub-saharan Africans even aspiring towards the level of prosperity we routinely enjoy they would have a kiniption fit.

    Gordon Brown is currently in China and grave faces on the BBC were wittering on not just about human-rights abuses in the Middle Kingdom but about how incompatible it was to desire more trade with a nation that is putting thousands of new motor vehicles on the roas everyday… Well, how does that fit with concerns over Kyoto?

    I don’t give a fuck, really. Well, actually I do. My wife and I have just got our first car of our own and it’s great! I assume Mr Wu or Ms Chang feel exactly the same way. Oh, hell, there’s plenty to criticise the ChiComs over (which I shall not go into because it’s documented to the hilt if you care to look) but people owning their own means of transportation is absolutely not one of them.

    Yet the BBC regard the fact that Mr and Mrs Chinese are increasingly able to afford a car as a bad thing? Wow, I thought removing vital organs from Falun Gong types for transplantation and leaving them to subsequently die was a bad thing. Apparently CO2 is worse than stripping a Falun Gong practitioner of their kidney’s isn’t as bad as burning fossil fuels.

    Our powers that be don’t want the “developing world” to develop and they don’t want us to either. They probably think it a terrible thing that two people (and our cat) have a (shock horror!) 1 litre Vauxhall Corsa.

    Some are well-meaning fools and some are plain evil. All want to arrest development and all would prefer us to go back to the dark ages.

    My wife and I have an absolute right to our car and so do the Chinese and Indians and whoever too. If this talk makes Mr Porritt outraged then so much the better.

    My parents lived near Zimbabwe (back when it was Rhodesia) in the early 70s and it was a wonderful place for agriculture…

    They now import food from Zambia.

    Thank you Comrade Bob, you fucked it all up.

  • moonbat nibbler

    The term “NGO” is Frankfurt Schooling at its finest. When charities started receiving mass-handouts from tax theft they became more commonly known as non-governmental organisations!

    The likes of Oxfam receive more than a third of their funding from the state. If the government had that ‘ownership’ of a listed company they’d be required to make a takeover bid.

    The political echo-chamber of these government funded organisations has been well illustrated by EUreferendum recently. Here’s the latest article on the incestuous relationship (warning it dissects Polly Toynbee’s drivel):
    eureferendum

    The acronym NGO should be used, it should be used for these Neo-Governmental Organisations.

  • renminbi

    Eureferendum.blogspot.com is the best thing covering the doings of ypur gov’t(the EU) and also your provincial gov’t in Westminster. They do the job the MSM fails to do. MSM has the resources just not the will. Wankers.

  • Perry,
    Thanks for the link on this post.
    1) In my area “Fair Trade” propaganda is most visible at Starbucks. They have “FT” coffee on the menu, and have a “FT” pamphlet along with all the others on their Wall O’ Guilt (like “How Starbucks gives back to the community”, “How Starbucks is the best place to work”, “Why Starbucks is embarrased to be making a profit”, etc.)
    Ideally, if the price of coffee beans drops, it’s merely a sign that too many people are growing coffee.
    But the “Fair Trade” group is no different than any other cartel or union that tries to raise prices through mechanisms other than supply and demand. The Fair Trade group ensures that the price stays high, the landowners (referenced by CountingCats, above) gain an even greater profit for more land purchases, and the poor beanpickers who aren’t in the Fair Trade cartel are at an even greater competitive disadvantage.
    2) But purchasers of FT coffee are then allowed to feel better about themselves.
    3) So if you give a shit, like Matt suggests we should, you will avoid Fair Trade Coffee.
    4) What, exactly, is a “Tosser”? I think I’ll get a more memorable answer here than from Google….
    5) And can someone define an NGO?

  • 4) What, exactly, is a “Tosser”?

    The literal meaning is “some one who masturbates” but a better translation into American English would be “a jerk” (a term which almost certainly has the same root… as it were).

  • RAB

    5) And can someone define an NGO?

    An organisation that could not exist without Government patronage.
    Because nobody, on a commercial basis, would pay for them.

  • CountingCats

    I quote from wikipedia –

    Fair trade’s strategic intent is to deliberately work with marginalised producers and workers in order to help them move from a position of vulnerability to security and economic self-sufficiency.

    Name a single wealthy person who is self sufficient?

    Name a single self sufficient person who does not, in the context of either their or our society, live in highly reduced circumstances or poverty.

    Self sufficiency is one of those weasel terms, like fairness, justice, equality, which allow the Nasties to fantasise their actions make them nice, and which allow them to blindly create societies which are anything but fair, or just, or equal.

  • James

    I think when it comes down to it, you can dislike someone and agree with them.

    And vice versa. I bear no personal animosity towards my history lecturer despite him being a committed Communist, in my opinion he’s just misguided and will hopefully ‘see the light’.

    It’s also easier to ridicule someone’s convictions than to follow your own, because if you make someone who is principled feel deflated you’ve won. If you’re principled and you get someone to agree with you then you’ve still got the rest of the world to convince.

    What makes you think that the Samizdata people aren’t principled? The writers and most of the contributors seem to share a set of principles, just because they are different to your own doesn’t mean they aren’t principles. Nobody here has typed that they want millions of Africans to be macheted to death live on E4 just because it would be better than Big Brother, which is an undeniable fact.

    If you don’t want to buy Fair Trade goods then at least be honest about why you don’t. You’re not superior to Guardian readers in the personality stakes, you just don’t give a shit. Which is fair enough. I can’t make you care. I’d rather make Fair Trade products as sexy as iPods so you’ll all want one.

    I don’t want an iPod… Make it uncool, I want to people to say “Look at that evil Right Wing Death Beast who is murdering small African children as we speak by providing them with job opportunities and training. Isn’t it shocking that like most ten year olds throughout history those poor children don’t get to doss around in a classroom until they are aged sixteen and then go on the dole?” Actually scratch that, I’d rather people didn’t think that children engaging in economic activity was is the worst thing since sliced Hitler.

    Not that I object to the building of schools and buying of books and such in Africa, a good idea, but I’d rather teach African men, if they don’t already know how, which would explain why we have philosophy undergraduates do it for them, to build schools for their children themselves.

    And yes, the expectation of Fair Trade products is horrifically low, which means it’ll never take off properly until they sort that out.

    “This coffee is horrible”
    “Yeah, it’s Fair Trade”
    “Oh, good.”

    This Fair Trade coffee I am drinking is pretty good, however, I’m not a coffee connoisseur and this rather costly looking brand is the only one I’ve ever drank in quantity, it could be awful.

    Those of us who work for NGOs mainly do it because we need a job to do in order to eat and pay rent, and have a weekend we can only half-remember, but instead of working hard for some c•nt who puts all your blood, sweat and tears in his wallet, you work hard and your hard work indirectly benefits other people. Surely that’s fair enough?

    So you’re just like anyone else? Working for a profit both directly and indirectly benefits people. It’s capital, land, and labour seeking to create wealth that provides you with transportation, shelter, warmth, and food.

    I have it on good authority that in Afghanistan the main contribution of NGOs and well meaning DfID types is to the carpet related economy in Kabul…

  • Stephanie

    I, too, avoid buying any “fair trade” products. Is there a business opportunity here? Perhaps someone should start marketing “evil capitalist pig” coffee.

    Here is a link to an article about the problems with fair trade: http://www.reason.com/news/show/33257.html.

  • Ian B

    The acronym NGO should be used, it should be used for these Neo-Governmental Organisations.

    I’m in favour of rebranding them EGGOs- Extra-Governmental Governance Organisations, as it better describes what they do, and I like the sound of it.

  • Ian B

    Those of us who work for NGOs mainly do it because we need a job to do in order to eat and pay rent, and have a weekend we can only half-remember, but instead of working hard for some c•nt who puts all your blood, sweat and tears in his wallet, you work hard and your hard work indirectly benefits other people. Surely that’s fair enough?

    The problem here is, if you work for an EGGO, instead of your blood sweat and tears going into some c*nt’s wallet, your blood sweat and tears are going into increasing the political power of self-appointed oligarchs who are actively working to end freedom and democracy, while making a nice bit of money at the same time. That’s not a good thing.

    Additionally, you’re looking at things wrongly from an economic perspective. If you work for a productive company, yes the shareholders or owners will perhaps be getting rich. But your work is creating products which make peoples’ lives better, and you’re expanding the economy which benefits us all as we all become better off. If you’re working for an EGGO, you’re leeching off the productive economy, producing nothing of value to your fellow humans, and slowing the economy, which helps trap people in poverty. You’re indirectly harming other people. You’re achieving the exact opposite of what you think you’re achieving.

    That’s not to say that there is anything wrong with charity. Charity is a good thing for helping people in the short term- giving a roof to the homeless and so on. But the EGGOs aren’t charities any more (many never were), they’re political organisations pushing an anti-development agenda with great success. We’re all willing to give to charity to help the needy; it’s a noble act, and if it technically slows the economy a bit that’s a price worth paying in the view of all but the stoniest-hearted. But the type of organisation you work for is quite a different kettle of ball games.

  • Nick M

    I would much rather work for “some c*nt” who was making money than one who wasn’t. Why? Exactly the same reason I’d rather have shares in a successful bank than er… Northern Rock.

    The only truly “sustainable” businesses are the ones that make a profit off their own bat without subsidy, without governmental interference.

  • Thomas

    Posted by Perry de Havilland at January 18, 2008 08:17 PM

    “I happen to think that unalloyed, pure, laissez faire capitalism is the best way to lift people out of poverty. I do not give a monkey’s uncle if agree with me or not, Matt, but that is why I despise a great many NGOs and things like ‘Fair Trade': I believe it actually harms the people it allegedly helps.”

    Yeah, food gets too cheap to make a living growing when there are too many farmers and/or too much land farming an item… and one more and/or… and/or you don’t do it as well as others (for whatever reason)…

    Fair trade is a sort of transnational anti-capitalism movement… it keeps too many people employed doing something the [world] economy does not need…

  • Mark in Texas

    There seems to be a greater sense of desperation from our moral superiors these days because the current high oil prices are making it possible that farmers in third world countries might actually be able to earn a living producing ethanol or bio-diesel at economically competitive prices.

    Oh, the horror! The horror! If farmers in Africa and South America make enough money selling bio-fuel to Europe and North America, they will actually become boring middle class shlubs like us. Where will we be able to go for adventure vacations then?

  • Half the harm in the world is due to people who want fecal importance.

    i.e. they crap on you to make themselves feel important.

  • Regarding Asimov vs. Clarke. Here’s a quote of Asimov’s that would take Clarke 10,000 words to say…and still not get it

    The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.

    While it might be fun to linger over Clarke’s prose there is something to be said for pithy.

    QM

  • Nick M

    Clarke vs Asimov on AI and stuff.

    HAL is a great creation and the method by which he works makes sense and doesn’t thirty odd years later sound ludicrous.

    Asimov’s Robot stuff is farcical. In particular the bizarre idea that getting them to talk is a technically harder task than getting them to understand. The three laws stuff is bunk. The idea that from very early on these machines are capable of acting upon high-end moral laws is nonsense.

    Sorry, Asimov just doesn’t fry my onions because I can’t take his central concept seriously and that’s a deal-breaker for hard sci-fi.

    I’m a Greg Bear fan anyway so I’m not bigging up for ACC. I also like Dick shorts – he lacked the organisation to write novels.

  • Will

    If the money ever falls out of the whole math and technology thing, I’m going to start a carbon offsetting company. Because organic food produces more carbon than conventional methods (it’s far less efficient, right?) my carbon offsetting company will take out ad(vert)s telling people not to eat organic food. We shall be the low-cost leader in carbon offsetting credits.

  • NikFromNYC

    It’s it 6:49AM here on 110th St. of NYC, where s single checkout gal from Harlem, one re-stocker, and one night manager keep the doors open 24 hours a day. It’s the middle of winter. Yet outside is half a block of geometrically arranged citrus fruit, berry cartons, melons, and almost-ripe avocados. Inside is the size of two bank lobbies, 1/4 of that being yet more fresh fruit, misted by hand, some pre-chopped for weirdly lazy yuppies or maybe retirees who can’t see well enough to peal and chop potatoes. The only junk food is freshly baked over-thick cookies, and a few brands of sugar-based cereal next to a whole isle of oats and grains that no longer taste like “health food” so I sometimes buy those.

    The “sugar snap” peas are so good as snack food, I’m starting to loose weight, and have actually ordered a pea shucker so I can cook with these things instead of used canned (mushy) ones. I walk exactly 0.5 blocks to get there with similar options 1, 3, and 5 blocks away, and in a good mood at times I buy a $12 bottle of “monks ale”, but mostly I just go for their mile long isle of chicken/pasta/red peppers/olive oil/goat cheese/broccoli rabi “man salades” for $5. Finding “junk food” here is rather hard, as you keep bumping into their selection of 600 cheeses.

    They have 12 check-out lines with bar scanners, all manned (well Spanish Harlem and Harlem womaned, actually) during peak hours. They flirt like the young girls they are and because they are not unionized (despite the six month long pickets outside of any new market that opens by people who do *not* look poor enough to work at a supermarket, and who are never successful at cutting into profits, which only slow lines can do which are the ones at the unionized ones!). What “unionized” seems to mean is Musak and store special advertising instead of the local dance music radio station which put both worker and shopper in a much better mood..

    Is the above utterly boring minor NYC gloat classify as *political* or activist? And *should* I feel “political” when I buy food?

    GET REAL PEOPLE. IT’S FOOD IN A SUPERMARKET. And it’s fresher and ripe all year long, except that the watermelons become miniature instead of backbreaking. Each year, it gets better. Now they have feisty live lobsters too, for instance.

    But politics? Find and murderous barbarians who want to topple more buildings in my City. That job of the military is also not my concern since it’s been jobbed out instead of remained a draft issue with War bond posters all over the place, and rationing.

    I own a farm. Never been there. Used to be owned by by grandfather, in South Dakota. I rent it to an old school, single-family farmer, at a very reasonable rate. The main effect this has on my life is I get to see all the whacky government programs in place, along with local politics (regulations to the MAX) that that farm belt community deals with, since I get their newsletters. Usually there’s only one guy on the “organization” ballet I don’t know. I do know that what you grow, and how much, or if you grow at all is HIGHLY regulated, and that wind farm credits are the latest tax-paid cash cow for people who live on hills. So I use rent payments from a South Dakota farm to buy fresh pressed Pomegranate Juice grown on trees in San Joaquin Valley, California, from October to July, the juice being kept on ice for the rest of the year.

    The latest “local food” plan is entrepreneurial. Manhattan *used* to be farmland (with Wall Street and Columbia University alone being signs of Urban encroachment). There’s a great photo out there of plowed crops next to the main domed building of Columbia. And unlike other cities I’ve seen, Manhattan *still* uses steam bent wooden barrel water reservoirs on top of all but the latest sky rise housing units. So the new plan whose founder I met, is to grow “organic” food on the many square miles of space on top of manhattan buildings and sell it in “Farmer’s Markets” which we already have space next to parks marked off for, some only in the morning, but mostly afternoons  for the bigger ones. The fact that trees in Central Park grow twice as fast as the same species in New Jersey will be a carbon dioxide (plant fertilizer) advantage to their production.

    Oh, but the sky is falling and I should immediately give money and especially attention to busybody types who want me to eat food grown in the “sewer state” (the “Silicon Valley” of the chemical industry) of Jersey, and boycot taxi cabs for the rest of my life so your boss can make a six figure income?

  • The one organization that’s been fighting state-supported lunacy, and the demonic thinking behind it, for the last couple of thousand years is the Catholic Church.
    Those who turn away from it are afflicted with the destructive idoicy embraced by those who willingly bear false witness.
    catholicfundamentalism.com shows a new way to intellectually return to those roots. On the other hand, there’s the other hand.

  • Don

    Of course the Japanese learned their lesson, of being dependent upon importing major levels of food, from the US Navy when by 1945 the entire nation was at the point of starvation. Who needs local farmers? Just another strategic element of one’s economy you can surrender to the caprice of foreigners.

  • This phrase from Matt McSherry “… easier to ridicule someone’s convictions than to follow your own, because if you make someone who is principled feel deflated you’ve won.” suggests to me a belief that convictions are equivalent to feelings. I do not think any one person can make another ‘feel’ any particular feeling. And I assert that ‘caring’ is not a feeling. I may feel deflated at my unability to live up to the relifious convictions I profess, but they are not thereby ‘deflated’, nor negated. I am not principled, I attempt to adhere to principles. They are not my property, possessions or feelings. Matt Mc also said, ” If you’re principled and you get someone to agree with you then you’ve still got the rest of the world to convince.” Who’s still got the rest of the world to convince? Shouldn’t that read, “I believe in my principles so strongly that I wish to convince the rest”? This is common usage, “You’ve” this or that, but it seems peculiar to say “you” or “you’ve” when speaking about oneself, or one’s own beliefs. Furthermore, the “…rest of the world” shows the utopian and coercive side of the Do-Gooder movement. Note the “trips to other countries to have a meeting you could have had over the phone that need banning.” If you cannot convince the rest of the world, then you just gotta make them…? If you’re priincipled…?

  • I have principals, but cometimes I cannot spill well. Sorry.

  • moptop

    How exactly are you going to make “fair trade” coffee better when you guarantee a price for the beans regardless of quality?
    –Just Wondering

    Oh yeay, you are going to convince us that if we are not willing to drink crap coffee, we don’t care about the coffee farmers. I would not be surprised if, when a “fair trade” farmer has good beans, he swaps them for some crap ones he can sell to the fair traders, and gets the true value of the good ones on the open market, either that, or growers with good beans don’t need “fair trade”. One should find a way to distinguish between a helping hand and a boot on the neck.

  • Letalis Maximus, Esq.

    Free trade, fair trade, no trade. I could not care less. What I do care about is where the food is from. The fact that it is “Distributed by Ajax Corporation in Carmel, California,” and sold at Sam’s tells me nothing.

    Why just yesterday, I passed up a huge can of beef chili at Sam’s because, and I looked all over the can and the box it came in, and could not find out where it was it was made. Homey don’t care if it was only $8, Homey buy food that may have come from China.

  • Letalis Maximus, Esq.

    Damn! “Homey DON’t buy food that may have come from China.”

  • Just another strategic element of one’s economy you can surrender to the caprice of foreigners.

    Sure, so we should reorganise trade on the basis that, what, Chinese U-boats might start sinking ships in the Atlantic? Please explain where this terrible threat to global agricultural trade is going to come from. It may shock you to learn this but World War II ended in 1945 and the Cold War is also over.

    We won them both. So relax, okay? The big bad foreigners do not have evil designs on your supplies of either Wisconsin cheddar or French wine. The biggest threat to one’s economy invariably comes from the caprice of one’s own government.

  • “The big bad foreigners do not have evil designs on your supplies of either Wisconsin cheddar or French wine. The biggest threat to one’s economy invariably comes from the caprice of one’s own government.”

    Darn straight – they’ll get my Greene County Baby Swiss when they pry it out of my cold dead fingers…

    I shudder when I consider how many fingers Uncle Sam has in the US agriculture pie. And that is before I have anyone banging my ear about “fair trade” or any of that jive…

  • Of course the Japanese learned their lesson, of being dependent upon importing major levels of food, from the US Navy when by 1945 the entire nation was at the point of starvation. Who needs local farmers? Just another strategic element of one’s economy you can surrender to the caprice of foreigners.

    I rather thought the lesson was either; 1. Don’t get the United States sore furious angry with you, 2. If you want to fight a major industrialized nation on the high seas, you’d best bring enough ass to the fight.

  • Jeffrey

    “First World”

    Where is that? I know an “East” a “West” and a “Third World”.

    Don’t let the West-bashing Left define your terms!

  • Perry,
    It took me a while to find it, but here’s my take on the current U.S. Farm Bill.(Link)
    We don’t grow tabacco, cotton, sugar cane, wheat or soybeans.
    We grow subsidies.
    And we’re incredibly wholesome about it.
    Sorry for the two comments on one post.

  • Ivan

    moonbat nibbler:

    The acronym NGO should be used, it should be used for these Neo-Governmental Organisations.

    I like to call them “para-governmental organizations”.

  • Tonweya

    There are two people and two apples. Person #1 starts well-fed, wealthy, educated, with a car, house, health care, a balanced family, a stable society with a social safety net and two apples. Person #2 begins malnourished, lacking any formal education, having only the most meager of possessions, and surrounded but a violent, deteriorating society and no apples.

    How shall Person #2 “better themselves”?

    -They could steal an apple from Person #1. This will land them in jail (the only social safety net in most countries). Becoming a criminal is not the best option I think we can all agree.

    -They could grow their own apples. At least they could if they weren’t already too weak, uneducated, and completely unprepared for the venture. Did I mention the Person #1 already owns all the apple orchards?

    -They could just starve to death. The worst but most likely option.

    -They could do any combination of the above options whilst hoping the Person #1 decides to give them a few slivers of the 2nd apple (that Person #1 doesn’t need in the first place).

    My point is this. It would be wonderful and the best thing in the world if all people in 3rd world nations could “pick themselves up by their bootstraps” and make their lives better with a little hard work and ingenuity. Unfortunately they can’t and they won’t. They won’t, for the same reason you won’t grow apples from orange seeds. If you are only given orange seeds, you will never grow apples. Likewise, if you are presented with no opportunities to “better yourself” then you will never “better yourself.”

    They can work as hard as they want but the fact remains that their ONLY options in life do not allow them to advance their own standard of living. The reasons why they lack any good options are many and I won’t discuss them here.

    Just remember no one wants to be poor and everyone will try to get rich if they can. Which is exactly why the poor, without help, will never be rich. Its not because they are lazy and stupid. Its because, for reasons beyond their control, they never had any opportunities to better themselves.

  • They can work as hard as they want but the fact remains that their ONLY options in life do not allow them to advance their own standard of living.

    But without addressing *why* that is, your comment does not really tell us anything. The very way they are ‘helped’ has a massive contribution to their long term lack of options.

    The reasons why they lack any good options are many and I won’t discuss them here.

    Yes but my article *is* about that, indeed this whole damn blog is about the reasons. The fact people are poor and have limited opportunities is uninteresting, it is self evident. ‘Why’ that is the case… that is what matters.