Farmers: The Forgotten Americans

Photo credit: iluvcocacola (Creative Commons)

I had lived on two farms by the age of 12.  My dad made $100 a week.  We paid no rent, the utility bills were small, and we grew much of our food.  We went into town mainly to buy what we needed in the grocery store, send letters at the post office, and check out books at the library.  If we needed clothes and “luxuries,” we drove to Warsaw, or Wabash, or Fort Wayne.  We often went to Fort Wayne for glasses and usually stopped off to eat at an Azar’s Big Boy Restaurant.  It was fast food; but since we could go inside, it was like a regular restaurant to me.

Even back then, I knew I wasn’t going to live the rest of my life on the farm.  I was interested in science fiction and the future.  I imagined and then drew what I called a stack farm back around 1966.  It was over 40 stories tall and let sunlight in to shine on the crops.  Hydroponics could be used, and nutrients plus water would be pumped past the roots in the walls to help the plants grow.  A 100 story-tall stack farm might be located on an acre of land and produce like a 19,800 acre farm.

By and large, farmers are the forgotten Americans.  When you consider the rate of inflation and the farm prices plus the expenses of farming, many farmers made out better a century ago than they do today.  FDR tried to “help” farmers by having them kill livestock, dump milk, smash eggs, and plow under crops to jack up the prices.  My grandparents hated Roosevelt for that because people were starving in America, and perfectly good food was being destroyed.  But it is still done today.  Trucks loaded with oranges will be dumped in an orchard, and the fruit will be allowed to rot instead of turning the oranges into juice and fertilizer for the orchard.  Irradiation of fruits, vegetables, and meats could extend their shelf-life.

There is a farm bill being stalled in Congress and the Senate.  Food stamps are the big sticking point.  Republicans want them to be dealt with separately to indicate how bad poverty is, and I’m sure Democrats want to unionize farms and not give corporate welfare payments to corporate farms and those who aren’t farmers, yet benefit from subsidies.  I have a friend who has been farming most of his life, and he told me that the government should let farmers grow what they want and cut back on the subsidies.  He is a third-generation farmer and will probably farm until he can’t climb aboard a tractor.  He keeps in shape by hammering iron on the old anvil and selling things at crafts markets.  He was probably at Gettysburg this year shoeing horses as a blacksmith.   He mainly raises hogs and hopefully made enough to put his two daughters through college.  (But I haven’t talked with him for years, and I don’t know the situation.)

If the farm bill isn’t passed, inflation could rise a bit because commodity prices may soar if there are no price caps.  A gallon of milk may go for over $5; and with a hard winter that has been predicted, livestock will die (and the price of your fast-food hamburger may rise by over 20%.)  With the government having farmers grow corn for ethanol production, foods that have corn and corn syrup in them have already been priced higher.  And where there used to be wheat fields, corn fields have replaced them (which drives up the price of food made from wheat.) Yet most people forget that 10% or more of the liquid that goes into their gas tank was once grown by farmers.  And if you consider that more energy is used to grow and process corn than what comes from corn, using it as fuel doesn’t make much sense.

If the government wants to help farmers, it could let them grow what they want to grow, raise what they want to raise, and process what they can process.  There are at least two plants in the nation that turn animal carcasses into fuel oil that can be used in Diesel engines and other engines that use my plasma igniters.  Farmers should process dead animals to produce fuel.  Genetically altered plants and animals could help farmers produce more food.  And instead of throwing away blemished fruit, they should process it into juice.  And once the honey bee blight is ended, farmers could have fields of clover that could be “processed” into honey.  Genetic modification over the millenniums transformed corn from a grass into what we eat today, so don’t put down genetic modification in all cases.

Protein diversification would allow farmers to raise fish in ponds and grow bacteria and yeast to transform plant material into food.  Corporate farms will still produce more food than family farms.  But if the Agriculture Department cared about family farms, it would help them with research programs and government contracting so that American farmers could be paid to help farmers around the world.  Until food replicators are perfected to turn sticks and stones into something similar to food, we’ll need our farmers to be able to make a living as farmers instead of farming being the death of them.


Photo credit: iluvcocacola (Creative Commons)

$100 Big Macs?

Photo credit: rob_rob2001 (Creative Commons)

Unions want to organize fast food restaurant employees so that they will earn at least $15 an hour.

I remember earning $1 an hour in 1970 working in a college dish room, and I thought I was doing quite well.  My allowance at home was $4 a week doing chores.  I have a notebook that showed I earned $4 per yard I mowed and $1 per walk I shoveled in the winter.  Back then, a can of soda cost only 15 cents; and occasionally, there were gas wars when gas plunged to 16 cents a gallon.  One station couldn’t make enough money pumping gas, so it became a dairy store.  It has been a gas station again for over 30 years.

I only paid around $450 a semester to go to college and received the BEOG, now known as a Pell Grant.  It was enough to pay for my tuition and that of my sister, with enough left over for us to place in our bank accounts.  Yard work paid me enough to live comfortably with my parents.  The minimum wage was more than enough to meet my standard of living.  The minimum wage was never intended to be what you earned for the rest of your life.  It is a starting wage that will increase as your skills increase and as you get a better job.

Many people say we should pay school teachers more than professional athletes.  But would sponsors pay $1000 a minute so that people could see long division being done on TV?  If a TV star makes more per episode than what a family earns in a few years, it is because the network makes enough from the sponsors to pay that salary.

Energy prices have soared and forced rents to soar because as oil and gas prices climb, so do rents.  I remember when rent for the apartment I live in was a little over $250 a month.  Now it is around three times that much.  We could have lower energy prices if we could use all that we have below our feet.  But Obama said he wanted energy prices to rise before he was elected, and he is getting his way.

Let’s say the living wage for a father in a family is $20 an  hour so that the wife can stay home with the children.  A union carpenter might make $40 an hour, and a car mechanic might be able to charge $100 an hour to repair a car since wages are determined by the minimum wage.  With the monster called inflation ready to open its mouth and devour our money after the policy of printing money based on virtually nothing ends, I foresee a day when increased wages accompany increased prices into the stratosphere.  If we hadn’t had people with common sense back when Carter was President, and the inflation rate exceeded 10%, we might have had an uncontrollable inflation rate today.

If inflation forces fast food restaurants to hire workers at $30 an hour to work four hour shifts every other day so that they can avoid the Obamacare taxes, we might have $100 Big Macs.  Want to add fries to your order?  Pay an extra $20.  And don’t splash your soda because each slosh could be worth $1.  After finishing a $520 meal with your family, you drive home in your $300,000 hybrid, stop to fill your tank with $400 worth of fuel, and arrive at your $3 million cottage.   You worry about taxes like the Obamacare tax that is $20,000 a month.  You and your wife make a combined total of $20,000 a week and wonder how you will make ends meet.  Should you take out another $3 million mortgage?  With interest rates exceeding 20%, paying the monthly payment is tough on the family.  You’ve imagined robbing a bank and spending years in prison where you’d live for free.  But that wouldn’t be fair for the family; and besides, there is so much overcrowding due to others who can’t afford to live on the outside.

Germany once suffered from hyperinflation when the world punished it for waging war and losing in 1918.  I have German postage stamps that had to be stamped with a higher value because their original value was too little.  I have a stamp that was valued at 20 million marks; and back then, it would have been worth less than a penny.   I’ve seen a picture of a man with a wheelbarrow of German marks he needed to pay for a loaf of bread.  Many used the money for fuel until Hitler came to power.  After he got done with the country, Germany was rubble.

If inflation becomes as bad as some people predict, some kids might ask their parents if it would be alright to get a job at a fast food restaurant where they are starting workers at $50 an hour for twelve hours a week of work.   At least they could eat for free.  But their parents tell them to wait a couple weeks because they might be paid $60 an hour and be able to bring home food from the restaurant to save on high food bills.  When milk costs more per gallon than what an entire cow used to cost, every dollar you can save makes a difference.  If only the minimum wage wasn’t tied to the  rate of inflation, like what voters just decided in New Jersey.   The inflation monster would have remained asleep if the inflation rate hadn’t been its alarm clock.

Photo credit: rob_rob2001 (Creative Commons)

Producer Price Inflation Higher On Spiking Food And Energy

gas pump Producer Price Inflation Higher On Spiking Food And Energy

In a country in which nobody eats or drives any more, the Fed construct known as September core PPI came in 0.0%, on expectations of a 0.2% increase. Of course, for those lucky few who still eat, or drive, or in rare cases eat and drive, saw Producer Prices rise by 1.1% on expectations of a 0.8% increase, which despite dropping from August’s 1.7%, this was still the second highest monthly increase in the past year. Also, for those few who actually care about such trivia as food and energy prices, this was the 4th month in a row of higher than expected headline PPI. Luckily, in America, eating has now been hedonically adjusted to the functional equivalent of playing Apple’s bestselling $0.99 iFood app.

 Read More at . By Tyler Durden.

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Bernanke, the Wizard Behind Obama’s Sham Economy

Dr. Mark W. Hendrickson

On July 11, The Center for Vision & Values posted my article decrying the insulting name-calling directed toward Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke. The very next day, Bernanke made me question my forbearance by telling Congress that a third round of “quantitative easing,” or “QE3,” could be a near-term option.

Now it’s my turn to call Bernanke a name, but I’ll use a clinical label, not a crude one. He is an inflationist, although he may prefer the label “anti-deflationist.” He so fears a deflationary spiral that he will create however many dollars he believes necessary to avert deflation.

Bernanke’s repeated attempts to patch over the nation’s economic weakness, rottenness, and dead wood with newly created dollars remind me of the “Potemkin village” ruse. The Soviet communists duped foreign visitors into thinking that communism was a viable and prosperous system by steering them to sham factories, stores, villages, etc., which appeared to be productive, bustling, and attractive. In reality, Potemkin villages were like movie sets, built to disguise the widespread poverty and backwardness that characterized life in the “workers’ paradise.”

Official statistics insist that the Great Recession ended two years ago. Yet unemployment is creeping up, record numbers of workers are remaining unemployed for record lengths of time, income is down for small proprietors, and millions of people feel as though the recession never ended.

It is proverbial that statistics lie. One such statistic is the gross domestic product….

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Hilarious Music Video: “Raise the Debt Ceiling” Rap

Even non-fans of rap (like me) will enjoy this musical look at the hottest debate in Washington. It’s good to have a laugh on the road to serfdom. And since this video was produced by the people at Reason TV, there is little chance it will incur legal harassment from speech-chilling PC fascists, the way the “Johnny Cashless” video we posted did. Enjoy!