Letter to Farm News

Dear Editor,

I’m in agreement with the goals of George Naylor in his letter (Wants to restore family farms, democracy, Feb. 25 Farm News). But a couple things need to be cleared up.

Just because these “free market corporate backers” of CO2 pipelines label themselves as free market doesn’t mean they are. When there are no tax credits, and green mandates, and each landowner consents to having the pipeline buried on their land, that would be “free market.” Not before.

To take it a bit further, when ethanol is a choice without government mandates or subsidies that would be “free market.” Until then, crony-capitalism (as opposed to real capitalism) forces us to use these products to benefit the investors who use the state for profit. A free market would see consumers choose with no influence from the state.

Mr. Naylor has fallen into line with a majority who have a dangerously flawed understanding of the word “democracy.” Democracy is majority rule. For instance, if a majority of the voters were convinced that factory farming was more efficient, thus providing less expensive food, smaller farmers could be banned as was done in China and the Soviet Union. Democracy is not freedom, it is tyranny by the majority.

Look around and see how easily people are convinced of things that later turn out to be false. That’s why we have a constitution restricting government from acting as an agent of theft.

Fritz Groszkruger

Eating Animals

The Lone Ranger

We sold the calves Tuesday at the Waverly Sale Barn. When we got home and opened the gate to the feeding area the cows didn’t file in like usual. They just stood there and looked at me. They knew their babies were gone.

It’s an odd sort of thing, raising livestock. They come and go pretty fast. Some of them have names, the ones who stand out as different: Wobbly, The Lone Ranger, Nudge, … We love them, then we eat them. It’s a weird way to honor their lives. What a disgrace it would be to bury them in the ground.

We’ve had a rash of humans passing on lately too. One said he was gonna vote for Jesse Jackson. I immediately loved the guy even though the vote was wrong. He spoke. It’s funny how we value these people on such an intimate level when, with a little thought, we realize their uniqueness was common all over the world. No matter how hard we try, when they are gone we find them to be better people than our appreciation would indicate as we went through life together.

As we drove to Waverly on the icy road, we were grateful for the state. The highway was not slippery. It could have been pretty scary but the main danger was oncoming traffic with distracted drivers. I presume that it might be presumptuous of me but I appreciate the highways more than most people. To think that this vast expanse of garden soil that turns bottomless when wet can be traversed at 78 miles per hour, we can hear the radio, and there’s no chance of getting stuck. It’s truly a miraculous feat of cooperation.

I’m a simple man. I get a big thrill out of flashing my lights as a signal that a passing truck has room to return to the right lane. That’s punctuated by the truck’s tail lights doing the same as a howdy and thanks for the help, like a handshake. To me the interstate is a community. I wave when I pass. When no one glances back I feel like I’m back in the city. I’d rather someone else eat our animals. Is that mean?

When our son moved to California and we went to visit, we found he had transformed his street. People who didn’t speak English looked up from their flowerbed and smiled broadly. Maybe like they were back home in their neighborhood in Laos.

Our block in Santa Monica was like that when I was a kid. We played football on Charlie Langmuir’s lawn and got tackled onto the little hedge. It always seemed to come back. Mike White threw a bullet pass to me. I was a dork and trying to beat that image, I caught it. It knocked the wind out of me for, forever. But I’m fine now.

I bet if I was in Santa Monica today I’d look around in wonder, like Jed Clampett. Just arrived in an old truck piled high with a rocking chair on top, I’d ask, “Where’s a good latte?” And some stranger would say, “Come over to our house. Charlie Musselwhite and Eric Clapner are coming over to jam and Charlie’s wife, Henri makes a great latte.”

I’d sure like it if these people would eat our animals.

Human Chain

Linking Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania 1989. It contained 2 million people showing solidarity against the Soviet Empire. We may be in the same position someday.

Wait! That sounded like there is a Soviet Empire. Like the PTB want us to believe today. Nope. The empire we must oppose is the US empire.

College Is An Important Decision

Students and graduates owe $1.73 trillion on student loans. That debt has been excluded from bankruptcy protection. So even if you declare bankruptcy you will owe that money until it is paid. However, little by little student debt is being “canceled.”

Parents and schools have not adequately prepared kids for the future. Wouldn’t the primary purpose of school be to make young adults wary of dubious claims? If there was fraud there should be jail time and restitution. Return on investment should be the first consideration before packing your limo for the ride to college.

The Department of Education just today canceled $415 million in student debt. Elizabeth Warren and Chuck Schumer have been begging the President to use “executive power” to cancel $50,000 of debt for every student on top of the $28 billion already “relieved.” I’ve heard nothing about reimbursing those students who paid their bills.

But here we are. College majors have led to careers in relevant fields only 27% of the time. That’s after $1.73 trillion was borrowed, supposedly with a goal in mind. Just think of the lives floundering about doing the wrong thing, not to mention the money not earned, the marriages postponed, opportunities ignored, and the families delayed. All this while digging a hole of debt, an average of $38,700 per student.

How many of these indebted students went to college because the first question in a social setting for high school seniors is, “Where are you going to college?” Or the fact that the certainty of school schedules and few decisions is not so scary as renting a place, finding a job, and budgeting. Student loans enable us to postpone adulthood.

They distort economic reality. An example of that distortion and its ill effects can be seen in affirmative action programs. A Duke University study found that black students taking advantage of admissions of students with lower test scores applied in a disproportionate amount of difficult subjects. At the end of the study period the exact same number of black and white students finished the program, showing that 41% of the privileged students had wasted their time because of the distorted incentives. They could have been making progress in subjects they were qualified for during the time it took to find out they were in over their heads.

A successful entrepreneur I know says today is an ideal time to get a good job and work your way up. Employers are starved for good help and will do anything, including financing your education, to hold on to you. There’s also the fact that boomers like me are retiring. That creates opportunities to fill those empty spots. They will open up sooner than we can imagine and an employee who doesn’t have to be trained in the ways of a business is more valuable than a green-horn with a piece of paper.

I know countless people who envy my time working different jobs in different places. They say they wish they had not gone straight to college and settled down at a time when their youth and health would have allowed them to explore and find their lifelong interests. If that niche led them to college their education would be more valued and better utilized. They could even have saved up some money for that education.

Along the same lines as the “for profit” colleges that over-promised is the study by Fidelity Investments that showed 1 in 4 parents and 38% of students believe college costs $5,000 or less today. For more on that concept check out the Big Dig in Boston or the F-35 fighter. Surprise!