Organic Means It Contains Carbon

I haven’t expressed my appreciation to you folks who bother to read The Alternative for awhile. So here it is .

Actually, I have no idea what that thing is. I just hope you enjoy it. Please write back with any comments, questions, or rebukements. If you are ready to have The Alternative off of your email, let me know.

Anxiously awaiting any feedback,  Fritz 

 

I just read another article calling organic farming “sustainable.” This claim cannot go unchallenged. Granted, we do not know the long term effects of the chemicals we use. But we do know the effects of tillage.

Except for pasturing livestock or crimping rye as a weed suppressor in soybeans, there is little way to deal with weed competition and make organic farming economically viable without tillage. Tillage is murder. The life in the soil that we can’t see from a tractor seat is the basis for the productivity with which we are blessed. Those creatures are our partners in the production of food.

That life includes fungi, bacteria, insects, worms, and numerous other organisms that burrow in and bind soil to create pathways for water infiltration and also make nutrients available for use by the plants. Mycorrhizal fungi, for example, can grow into plant roots and convert enough soil phosphorous to a usable form that none needs to be purchased as fertilizer.

I remember many years ago, as I stood with my neighbor Dean, we were having a wet spring much like this year. The man who had just delivered fertilizer said, “Pretty wet out there. You better work it up to dry it out.” Obviously, if it is too wet to plant, it is too wet to work.

The increased water infiltration mentioned above also allows for better drainage. That is why long term no-till fields next to conventionally tilled ones show less ponding after a rain. Plant roots need air as well as water. Tilling the soil smears shut the air and water pathways.

The use of tillage by farmers who also use chemicals is more puzzling than the tillage alone of organic farmers. Considering that organic farmers can be profitable without chemicals, why spray and also till the soils, thus causing erosion along with the destruction of the soil structure? Why use both, especially considering that no-till equipment is so readily available?

This is not to disparage all farmers who use tillage. No-till takes a long term commitment. I know a farmer who tried no-till for a year. Compared to his conventional tillage system it yielded less because conventional tillage is mainly there to remedy the damage caused by tilling the year before.

We live in a culture of short term thinking. Some studies indicate that no-till takes three to five years to overcome years of damage from tillage to achieve its full potential. When you see how drought years and wet years alike, are moderated by a more natural soil profile, you will be convinced.

The battle lies in overcoming the threat of politics and other artificial market distortions that make long range planning difficult in justifying short term sacrifices. We can see how tariffs have destabilized the markets and ethanol mandates make alternative crops less attractive. If tilling this year to undo last year’s damage brings a profit, why risk a new system? Because a more positive outlook on life, makes us happy.

Perhaps the reasoning behind the widespread use of tillage is that the soil, like fossil fuels, might outlast a civilization that will succumb to war, environmental catastrophe, or disease before the soil or oil are depleted anyway. And that’s very sad.

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Sue Crazy

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President Trump has urged Attorney General Jeff Sessions to sue makers of opioids so no one will OD on them anymore.

I was born in 1950. We had won WWII with a resolve that astonishes us yet today. The horrors of war were fading and prosperity was on the rise because hopes and dreams were put on hold to support the war effort. Our might won the war, and peace allowed resources to be used productively instead.

I was brought up by my parents and the television. I loved the war movies and newsreels about the war. In Santa Monica my friends and I played war, chasing each other through the fenced-in yards of the neighborhood. We kept our limbs and our sanity. The good guys always won and the devastation of war was in black and white and far away.

This war that Mr. Trump wants to perpetuate today is different, although WWII probably wasn’t as simple as lawsuits and big spending either. Let’s get really complicated and ask, “Why so many overdoses?”

To answer that, another question comes to mind. How many people OD on drugs acquired legally? Granted, it isn’t very smart to let dope be such a focus that it clouds our logic. But the accidental overdose deaths are caused by the fact that the strength of the drugs is unknown.

It is becoming increasingly evident that irresponsible behavior is a direct result of safety nets legislated to prevent such behavior. It goes against the idea instilled in our formative years that a big stick simply cures all ills.

Republicans should take a look in the mirror when they claim to advocate free markets. A principled position would eliminate 90% of treasured Republican policy. A free market would allow drug users to make that fatal decision with the knowledge that he and those around him will experience the impact of that decision.

The roots of the opioid crisis don’t lie in government’s failure to act; they lie in government’s success.

I can just see the pharmaceutical companies shriveling in fear of Sessions’ heavy hand. People in unbearable pain will pay the price of a war meant to save a few nit-wits who have been trained by the totalitarian state to live for the moment with the expectation that the visible hand of government will sue the drug companies for sticking that needle in their arm or pill in their mouth.

This same situation exists with spoiled engines from ethanol, and air pollution from government-managed land on fire in California. Come to think of it, I wonder if the President is pondering whether to invade California to better manage their public land or simply suing them for our lung damage.

Always stand on principle, even if you stand alone.” John Quincy Adams

Live Local

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Driving through Hampton on Highway 3, I stop at the four-way stop, look at the other drivers, wave, and think, “Hey, have a good day.” With the signal it replaced we waited for the light like zombies and didn’t care who was in the other cars. It’s a community thing, like the fair last week.

In a country as large and diverse as ours there are cultural differences from one place to the next. Even when we were just 13 colonies it was a given that people lived differently from one colony to the next so the central government was designed to only preserve that boundary where each of us was impacted by the direct actions of another. It was not designed to engineer society because that vision might be different from state to state.

With the increasing concern about Supreme Court nominees and the possible reversal of Roe v. Wade, dialog should intensify on the limits of federal power. Unfortunately it usually devolves into a discussion of how old a baby should be when it is killed, or whether it is an organ and the mother wants a babyectomy (on public radio called “terminating a pregnancy”). The question of federal authority is completely ignored.

Local governance is what our forefathers had in mind as they convened in Philadelphia back in 1787. on the issues of legal abortion, gay marriage, or legal drugs people should be free to move to a state that suits their viewpoint. In the long run, the competition between states would naturally improve things for everyone. As past Supreme Court Justice, Louis Brandeis said, a “…state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”

For instance, if a state had legal drugs and no welfare safety net, they might find that the druggies would have to quit so they could be well liked and valuable to friends and neighbors. In a state with legal abortion it may become evident that the disrespect for the lives of babies bleeds into society in general and violent crime proliferates.

A sense of community is what makes our lives good. Peer pressure is a good thing. It is how communities direct behavior of individuals into a flowing stream of productivity. That flow leads to efficiency that leaves time and energy for comfort and fun.

Families are good government, cities less so. Go to the national government level and you find different cultures in conflict with each other under one set of laws. There is no common ground except obedience to the state. When cultures conflict, people become irritated with each other but the blame should lie with a government that lumps us all together. When separate communities are governed separately, we can simply live with the differences.

Some Californians have the right idea in dividing up their state. Why should the red-necks of rural Northern California be ruled by the hipsters on the coast? There could be tours where the red-necks point and laugh at the piercings or the hipsters view the married couples on their way to church. There’s no need for them to control each other.

So when I come to a four-way stop, I don’t jump out and tell the other guy to put out his cigarette. He doesn’t make me switch to a country station. We are fine in our own place.