Irwin Schiff

I hear people say we live in a free country. Our Statehouse representative says our soldiers fight to preserve our freedom. Fight who? Right, Saddam Hussein was threatening our freedom. Iran is threatening our freedom.

OK, ordinary people, Irwin Schiff will demonstrate who threatens your freedom. He died yesterday in federal prison for refusing to pay income taxes. While there has been much talk about slavery and how that 150 year old situation puts a ceiling on human progress, any taxpayer is a slave for that portion of their labor that enriches the fantasies of the evil politicians.

If you don’t comply you pay. You are a slave.

Preserve Life

“In a cornfield each tiny seed sprouts into a fragile seedling, subject to the calamities of weather and insects and disease. It struggles on its own to survive without any knowledge of the neighboring plants. But without its neighbors it wouldn’t survive. It would grow tall, blow over and die. Its own selfish drive to survive benefits its neighbors, as does theirs, and this results in a beautiful field of corn.”

I wrote this many years ago and posted it on the mudroom wall because our lovely niece, Heather liked it so much.

I often think of it, not only as a story of corn, but as a small part of the environment it describes and also as a metaphor for the world in general, or a family, or a community. Each scenario depends on self interest for survival of the whole.

In the case of the cornfield, the paragraph only scratches the surface. Under that surface are roots, bacteria, viruses, worms, insects, arthropods, nematodes, protozoans and fungi; all coexisting in mutually beneficial relationships. They eat each other, they utilize waste, they make pathways in the soil. Predators or partners, all this life is interconnected like the corn plants in the opening paragraph.

We rotate our crops in an attempt to interrupt the lives of predators of our corn and soybeans. But generally life in the soil is beneficial to our crops. Annual crops limit those benefits and I doubt I’m the only one who looks forward to the day we can harvest crops as useful as corn and soybeans from perennial plants, something machinery manufacturers likely dread. (Imagine the scientist dead on the laboratory floor, all his papers missing. Like Michael Hastings, he was on to something big.) Enough of that crazy talk.

Perennial crops wouldn’t just save annual planting. They would perpetuate the perennial life in the soil that serves the crops.

We had a 12 year old pasture that we sprayed and strip-tilled (with no fertilizer) last fall. We tilled a narrow band so the planter could put the soybeans in good contact with the soil. Because we killed the pasture plants last fall, we applied mycorrhizal fungi with the planter this spring. Mycorrhizae grow in the soil and up into plant roots in a symbiotic relationship. They make existing phosphorous and water available to the plants’ roots.

In a year like this, our yield (70 bushels per acre) wasn’t unusual. But the amount of time we spent tilling the soil was.

A lot of farmers were wrapping up soybean harvest last week. Already I see tillage done on erosive soybean stubble. I wonder why these farmers find it necessary. Is fuel so cheap they feel sorry for the Saudis? Are their planters so poorly designed they must murder soil life just to get the seed in the ground? What could they be doing if they weren’t driving back and forth in a farm field? Are clear running streams disgusting in some way? I suppose some of these farmers even travel to Canada on fishing trips to get away from the muddy water caused by their tillage.

As you drive through the country this fall and you see bare soil, realize a farmer has murdered his partners. He has thrown out God’s gifts that enable him to sustain society with nourishment. The tools we needed to tame the prairie have been made obsolete by technology. The productivity of the prairie soils was produced only with the activity of the life in the soil. Since we began reaping the benefits of the centuries of the work of these creatures, we have not allowed them to continue with that work.

In economics there is a term: creative destruction. It is time we reduce the destruction and increase creativity by living in God’s image. Leave the soil alone this fall, not to stave off the evil EPA, but to show some appreciation for what we have been given.

Thanks for reading and heeding. I can’t see writing these things and sending them out to Pluto or some other place where confiscated funds are deemed worthy of harebrained schemes.

St Louis Cardinals

Well, they lost to the Cubs.
Such is life. For the people who don’t like baseball here is a quote from the comments section of WSJ online about an article describing the relationship between Cards fans and the team.
There was a seat in the right field bleachers at the old Sportsman’s Park that had been broken by a Babe Ruth home run and never repaired. My grandfather had gone to Cardinal games before WW1, and my mother remembered the Grand Avenue streetcar being stopped in its tracks by the crowds that filled the street after the last out of the 1926 World Series. She was 15 on her way home from school and had no idea what it meant that Babe Ruth was thrown out trying to steal second or that Alexander had struck out the Yankee’s famous Murderer’s Row to save the game and the series, but she remembered forever the joyous clanging of the trolley bell and people cheering from open windows all along the Avenue. There is a feel for local history that is captured in the faces of the old ball players, in their uniforms and in the stills in black and white of long gone summer days. A sports team is more than one thing, but for the Cardinals one of them is surely a measure of the local flow of time.

This is nothing like the Persians but…
We had to move the cattle to new grass down and across the road. We call Donna to park her car south of the little bridge over the ditch. We get the cattle bunched up at the gate so there are no stragglers. Then away we go out the driveway and down the road.
If calves get left behind it is terrible getting them back with the herd.

(Unless we just forget about it and let them find their own way someday. Once we had a big flood and couldn’t find one calf to move with the rest. That was a Wednesday. The next Sunday there she was sucking on her mom like it was her first meal in four days. Imagine that.)

Well. We were all bunched up and ready to go. The cows started out the driveway. Two bulls started fighting and a dozen calves went the opposite way. Wally broke up the fight and brought the calves back.

He loves us so.

David and…

I almost know how he feels.
My Republican friends mostly disagree with me on foreign policy. They think “we” can conduct an adequate policing of an area thousands of times larger and more violent and less morally grounded than what we are failing at today.
Yet they avoid discussing it like the plague.

Is Ted Cruz ignorant?

Or is he pandering to the ignorant?
Here is a video of a speech where he supposedly demolishes the Washington establishment. But early on he declares our rights to be “constitutional,” when they are naturally occurring, God given, and supposed to be protected by the Constitution. He claims our representatives are bankrupting our nation, yet he is one who votes for empire, the one thing that has bankrupted every great nation that has come before ours. And that is related to his claim that our representatives are retreating from our leadership of the world. Leadership? Ha! our leadership is nothing but us being used as suckers by the rest of the world.

I couldn’t get a link to the video without all the begging:

Incrementalism is not always a bad thing.

I often comment that something like “creeping socialism” will be the downfall of our country. A politician has concerned constituents, he acts to “solve” their problem by passing a law. We become more dependent, thinking less for ourselves and so vulnerable to doing stupid things simply because we can or it is not “prohibited.” Ethics and common sense are tossed out in favor of legality and convenience.

The federal prison system might be going in a positive direction, however. 6,000 non-violent drug offenders will be released from our care by the end of the month. The idiotic war on drugs is finally being recognized as too expensive. Now if the cops assigned to babysitting drug abusers were to be reassigned to productive employment instead… Oh man, just think… broke cartels, accessible addiction treatment, intact families (ask if you want this explained).