More Human Dinosaurs

It was pretty scary borrowing money and moving onto the farm in 1981 when bankruptcies were common among farmers and neither one of us were raised on a farm. It wasn’t as much of a problem waiting for a farm auction to acquire tools and machinery as it was hard to choose which of the many sales to attend.

The Farmers Home Administration committee doubted my plan to ridge-till (conserving fuel and soil) and also questioned this beautiful woman volunteering to stand by me to look like a famous photo from the Dust Bowl. It wasn’t their money so they approved the loan.

Crop failures in the Soviet Union through the 1970s meant booming exports for U.S. grain producers. Prices were high. Farmers bought land at prices they thought were impossible just a few years before. They borrowed, a lot. Then the holier-than-thou D.C. meddlers decided to sacrifice farmers to punish the Soviets for invading Afghanistan by refusing to let us sell them grain. That’s the story of the “Farm Crisis” in a nutshell. Dawn and I didn’t let that crisis go to waste.

Just for fun let’s put this in perspective. It’s wrong to invade Afghanistan if you are Russia. We are afraid China might cut off our supply of pharmaceuticals like we cut off the Soviet’s supply of grain. But what would happen to Chinese industry if their government decided to simply print their income instead of them selling to us? How long can income be printed? Pretty wild stuff. (Let’s leave that can of worms for now.) Anyway, being the luckiest guy in the world, I carefully timed our entry into the farming business right when the stuff we needed was cheap.

Before moving to the farm I was working for a pig farmer who was quitting and we bought some feeder pigs to raise them in some extra space he had. The barrows (males) we raised to sell and the gilts (females) we bred to a Landrace boar. Landrace is a maternal breed, white and very long. The moms often wean 13 pigs. We were building an efficient sow herd.

There were five acres of wet pasture on the north side of the farm where we put a bunch of huts that hold one sow and litter apiece. Our retired neighbor, Sis, said we should park old cars out there to house the gilts but we already had the huts. It was too wet and the pigs got sick. They required shots three days in a row. We needed help. We hired a high school kid who bragged about getting benched at a football game because he was too rough.

Once we gave shots to 29 litters we decided to get more help. Alan brought a friend the next day and that guy showed Mr. Tough Guy how to do it. Catching baby pigs in a hut with a protective 350# sow is pretty dicey, to say the least. I think the football player was glad he was fired.

We used electric fence to try to keep those sows in. On one side of that pasture was where we had planted a windbreak of ash trees, arborvitae (like a cedar), and dogwood bushes. The sows ran straight ahead through the fence every time they were shocked. I got pretty good at herding sows and splicing wire.

We weren’t big spenders, so Dawn could care for the kids while I farmed. My commute was out the back door. We had a wood heater and wood cook stove. Snow drifted in under the kitchen door. Hans pushed it with his toy skid loader. Someday we would get a full-sized one and the chiropractor would say the bouncing hurt my back. Hahaha. The shovel it replaced didn’t hurt my back? He had no idea. The Valium and Ibuprofen did the trick anyway in a couple of days.

Raising kids on a primitive hog farm makes them think the rest of the world is pretty fine.

Joni Ernst, a great leader.

I just wish she would emigrate to the Congo or some other place where human life is just a machete swing away. She is among 16 “bi-partisan” senators who are urging the Whitehouse to give Ukraine armed drones that take 27 days of training to be proficient at operating. Well, that gives her donors 27 days of profits, at least.

If this was a true democracy I would lead a campaign to appoint her to go with the drones, fund them herself and stay in Ukraine, since the freedom fighters there (who shut down media, ban newspapers, and ban opposition political parties) are her true constituents. She’s leading the wrong people here.

Herer’s more about how great Republicans are:

My Mid-term Voting Record

I was glad to see a rejection of the “election deniers” November 8, not because I thought they were wrong (who knows) but because it might dissuade Donald Trump from running for president again. I can’t think of a better way to elect Joe Biden or whoever his party picks. People who think money grows on trees, and deny that it causes prices to rise are very destructive to those who can least afford it.

I couldn’t vote for Grassley because of his support for intervention in energy markets. Any intervention in our freedom to deal with each other causes higher prices which is particularly concerning for low income families. Throwing money at foreign conflicts is prolonging the suffering of Ukrainians, draining the readiness of our defensive capability, and taking funds out of Americans’ pockets.

I was at Fareway and saw a t-shirt calling our governor “Kimmie.” I can’t remember the exact words but it wasn’t a term of endearment. The wearer was a teacher. Kim Reynolds has evoked the hatred of the teaching establishment because of her attempts at making public education appear more accountable to parents. Rural schools would have seen reductions in funding from the state if her proposals would have passed but they didn’t. The lack of private alternatives in rural areas made the privatization through vouchers look like it couldn’t follow a close enough course to our traditions.

I married into a family of teachers. My only aunt was a teacher. I hear the stories about teachers having to play the role of parent when the parents just don’t care. The role of parent has been gradually taken by schools. And that has accelerated this transfer of responsibility. Now, parents are seeing their kids being taught things that they disagree with. Flight by responsible families from public schools has increased, leaving the schools with a higher percentage of basically parentless kids.

I could have voted for Reynolds because of her attempt to make schools more accountable to parents, especially the part where live-feed video would have let parents know what was going on in class as a band aid on the fact that parents are forced to pay twice if they want control of their kids’ schooling. But then other issues made that a problem.

Kim Reynolds accepted $188,000 in campaign donations from Bruce Rastetter. She, along with the Senate Majority Leader and House Majority Leader (who also accepted Rastetter donations) successfully defeated legislation to prevent using eminent domain for the moronic carbon capture pipelines. What is most troubling to me about this is that carbon capture pipelines are needed to qualify ethanol plants (not viable in a free market) for carbon credits (also not viable in a free market). Then, opposition to the pipelines can falsely be used as an example of being anti-free market. Opposition to eminent domain is anti crony-capitalism. Crony-capitalism such as the trampling of rights by the ethanol and carbon capture industries is a perfect example of oligarchy.

In the supervisor race I voted for Landon Plagge. Sorry Landon but the canned statement on the “Newsmakers” radio interview show didn’t help. What bought my vote is that if windpower were viable without government handouts, well okay. But it isn’t. It seems our last line of defense, since our pockets are legally fair game, is local government at any cost. The claim that the footing for one of these monstrosities can be dug up and the land returned to its previous productivity is bunk. I hate it that it’s come to this.

Government favors for foreign countries, ethanol, carbon capture, even schooling, and myriad other industries guide the economy to inefficiencies that end up costing us in a reduction of living standards that is not evident on the surface.

A Look At Human Dinosaurs

Spring of 1981 saw a huge expansion in the Groszkruger farming enterprise. It started as a patch of spinach in Newport Beach. It was pretty miserable. Near zero organic matter doesn’t foster high yields without daily water and fertilizer.

My precious Dawn and I moved to Grandpa’s farm with our baby, Hans. Grandpa and his brother had purchased the farm in 1920 and rented it out on a 50/50 share basis all those years.

The tenant had emphysema so badly he couldn’t carry a bag of seed from the pickup to the planter. In contrast to his sweet wife, he was the biggest grouch I’ve ever known. As in my days teaching organic gardening in Oakland, I learned as I went from scientific literature and acquaintances. Looking back, that was a blessing, as I’ve found tradition is the enemy of innovation and a terrible guide for profit.

In order to avoid some inheritance tax for my mom, I was declared “farm manager” despite my ignorance. That should be a poignant lesson in how qualified government is in business affairs. I evicted the tenant and he and his grown sons hated me for it, even though his terrible health got in the way of his work. He moved to town and when we crossed paths he turned away as I passed by.

I was pretty apprehensive when I attended his retirement auction. I hardly knew anyone. But when I went into the garage to get my bidding number there was Morrie, the neighbor down the road. His smile shone out from under his “beak” and set my mind at ease.

Later, in the rush of soybean harvest Morrie took the time to show me how to use a cutting torch to burn a bad bearing off of a combine shaft without catching my face on fire. That’s the kind of neighbor he was. He went with me to West Union for a sale to buy that combine. Another wise friend, Allyn, had advised me that the combine was an important purchase to avoid waiting for a custom operator when fall weather threatened the crops.

West Union was 80 miles away. On March 1st of ’82, another neighbor, Kenny, rode with us in our ’63 Chevy pickup to get the combine. We had a trailer made out of a fertilizer buggy for the 13′ bean head. The three row cornhead was barely wider than the combine so I drove home with it on the machine. Much of the highway had walls of snow on both sides and a line of cars followed like a funeral procession until I found a place to pull over.

Iowa’s grid of backroads is deceiving. I thought I could go a mile north and parallel the highway. Creeks and rivers interrupted the simplicity of that plan and I didn’t bring a map. I turned into a farmyard and asked directions. The lady said, “You look like a guy, but oh well.” I still managed to stay off the highway and get home.

A few years later I discovered a more powerful diesel version of that combine at a sale only 20 miles away with a new battery. On the way home I found out why it had a new battery. I needed the lights as I got close to home and they were out as I pulled into the yard. Other than lots of rat dung and chewed wires, the belts, chains, and bearings were good.

It didn’t seem like so long ago we traded for a great hydrostatic six-row 6600 John Deere for $15,000. The hydro allowed Dawn to vary the speed infinitely to match the variations in crop conditions. When it blew black smoke, she could slow down a little. Keeping it full was efficient. Four years ago we sold it, ready for the field, for $1,500.

Our kids were telling stories with us about those early days on the farm and Karl suggested I write this. There’s more, much more, that might pop up from time to time to give us a break from the serious present day. Although I dismiss tradition here, history still needs to play an important role.

I’m writing this on Veteran’s Day. It troubles me that the name was changed from Armistice Day, a day celebrating peace, to one honoring the victims of government failure to preserve it. History needs to play a bigger role in our choices.

Honduras, like America was before it was ruined

This sounds like these immigrants at our southern border might find this mess up here and turn around, at least the ones who aren’t looking for a welfare state. A letter to the Wall Street Journal Nov. 2

I am the developer of one of the Economic Development and Employment Zones, or ZEDEs, in Honduras that Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes about (“Who’s Driving Chaos at the Border?” Americas, Oct. 31). This new type of free-trade zone gives people the option to live where day-to-day governance and most public services are provided by private, for-profit companies.

Residents and companies pay taxes only to the developer, who provides most public goods and services, like security, roads, education and healthcare, and gives 12% of the tax-take to the government to cover the cost of the armed forces, criminal justice and other national-level public goods.

My fellow developers and I expect the competition for clients to massively improve the quality of the services provided and keep costs down. For example, in Ciudad Morazán, my project, the only tax is a flat 5% on income, for firms and individuals.

It might seem impossible with such a low tax-take to do most of what Western governments do. They spend between 40% and 60% of GDP. But as recently as 120 years ago, the U.S. federal tax-take was only 3.5% of GDP. We have been operating for more than a year now, and we are enjoying a small fiscal surplus that will be refunded at the end of the year to residents. We make money only on rents, not taxes.

The ZEDEs are a unique opportunity for development in Honduras as well as a promising experiment. The U.S., and especially those in the country who value freedom and personal responsibility, should keep a keen eye on us. If we succeed, we might become an example to try at home.

Massimo Mazzone

Ciudad Morazán