new year, new beginning, new blog
2006 was a real bummer for me in many ways. Out of last year's shit arises a flower that'll bloom as 2007 progresses, and beyond. The new blog should help.
freeman's NO POLITICS
“I don’t know. I don’t care. They just asked me to stamp it, so I stamped it.” ~~ some Chinese official guy
Lavigne also quotes Matsumi Sakuyoshi, a Japanese inspector who has checked Chinese soybean fields for organic certifiers. Sakuyoshi found an empty plastic bag of herbicide. When confronted, a farmworker told her the wind must have blown it from a neighbor’s field.
Sakuyoshi also questioned a certificate that said a piece of land hadn’t been farmed for the previous three years, making it eligible for organic status. Hardly any Chinese farmland is left idle. The official who stamped the certificate told her, “I don’t know. I don’t care. They just asked me to stamp it, so I stamped it.”
The USDA is blocking an American slaughterhouse that wishes to voluntarily test its beef for mad cow disease so it can sell meat to Japan.
Creekstone Farms, a slaughterhouse in Kansas, has spent $500,000 to create a mad cow testing facility to comply with Japan’s tougher regulations. Forbidden from testing and shut off from its Japanese market, the company loses $200,000 in sales every day, and it has already been forced to layoff fifty workers.
Unfortunately for the people at Creekstone Farms, the USDA will not permit such testing, because the agency does not consider the testing “scientifically warranted,” and it worries that competing slaughterhouses may appear unsafe by comparison.
Americans who believe that the USDA protects consumers from tainted beef might find themselves scratching their heads. Why would the USDA interfere with a business taking extra precautions to prove the safety of its product to its customers?
Historically, government regulation of beef has often had less to do with common sense or genuine health concerns than with the state-corporate favoritism inherent in a highly regulated economy.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture — invoking an obscure 1913 law intended to thwart con artists from peddling bogus hog cholera serum to pig farmers — is blocking companies from selling the testing kits to Creekstone.
USDA is doing the bidding of large cattle barons afraid that Creekstone's marketing will force them to do the same tests to stay competitive. It's true that the incidence of mad cow disease is quite low. But there's little logic in stopping a company from exceeding regulations to meet the demands of its customers, or protecting its rivals from legitimate competition.
Not only is USDA blocking Creekstone, the department said last month that it's reducing its mad cow testing program by 90%. The industry and its sympathetic regulators seem to believe that the problem isn't mad cow disease. It's tests that find mad cow.
The department tests only 1% of the roughly 100,000 cattle slaughtered daily. The new plan will test only 110 cows a day.
By cutting back on testing, USDA will save about $35 million a year. That's a pittance compared with the devastation the cattle industry could face if just one human case of mad cow disease is linked to domestic beef
The flower farmers are supported by members of a group known as Frente de Pueblos en Defensa de la Tierra (People’s Front in Defense of the Land or FPDT). The FPDT opposes the government confiscation of communal lands known as ejidos that have provided farms and residential space to the ejidatarios for decades. The ejidos were eliminated by the Mexican government when it signed the NAFTA agreement.
As a result, the Mexican government routinely gives land to transnational corporations to build factories, retail stores, and the like. (It has been rumored the marketplace area where the FPDT-supported flower farmers tried to set up their stalls is slated to become a Wal-Mart.) The indigenous ejidatarios are often forced off the land where they have lived their entire lives, and their livelihoods are destroyed. Their choices are usually either becoming wage slaves for the transnational corporations or seeking lives elsewhere, including sneaking across the border into the United States to seek work.
According to Ernst Feder, the concentration of good land in the hands of a very small minority creates gross inefficiency, waste, mismanagement, and low productivity on Latin America's latifundia. '[F]orcefully shut off from the market mechanism,' the peasants respond by displaying self-hatred and unambitious behavior which is then taken to prove their inherent stupidity. Built in disincentives dicourage the peasants, who gain nothing from harder work. Far from reflecting economies of scale arrived at in free markets, the politically based latifundia are so over-expanded that often as much as one third of the work force is required to boss the other demoralized two thirds. Hence, the great estates resemble nothing so much as islands of socialist 'calculational chaos' unable to operate at optimum economic rationality. In contrast, Feder argues that poor people are actually capable of great economic rationality and capital accumulation. To the extent that a small sector of family farms exists in Latin America, it is here that one finds land-intensive and productive farming as opposed to the better capitalized estate sector. Given the economic irrationalities of the quasifeudal sector and the destitution of peasants who could be productive, Feder supports land reform both on the grounds of simple justice and economic progress. Like Feder, the sociologist Stanislav Andreski takes a critical view of the chief structural realities of Latin American society. He believes that most of the problems in those countries stem from a inherited pattern of political parasitism. Interestingly, Andreski derives his conception of parasitism from the Traite de Legislation (1826), the major work of the neglected French sociologist Charles Comte, whose importance as a classical liberal theorist is only now coming to be appreciated. Parasitism, by severing work from reward, is a necessarily strong barrier to social progress.
Although conditions vary from country to country, high tariffs, state loans, the licensing-and-bribery syndrome, government contracts, and even tax-farming (in Peru) contribute to the popular view that all governments are 'merely bands of thieves.' In Mexico, where state intervention is most extensive, pay-offs are naturally highest.If there is one good thing that has come out of all this, it is the growing view amongst the people living down there that all governments are "merely bands of thieves". Indeed, the primary difference between governments and mafias is that the latter doesn't resort to flag-waving and the abduction of children for the purpose of molding their minds into a form that believes in the legitimacy and neccessity of said mafia while dutifully bowing down to authority. There are very few differences beyond that.
Given the role of political power in the process of enclosure, it does not seem unfair to view enclosure as collectivization of agriculture for the benefit of a narrow class. Whether or not it was the only way to increase agricultural efficiency or whether it did increase it to the degree often supposed are probably open questions. Folke Dovring writes that the enclosures 'depended primarily on the de facto power of the landlord class.' This naturally raises the question of whether or not England did not - at least in the agrarian sphere - follow a path closer to the 'Prussian road' to capitalism than is usually believed.Indeed, market forces had nothing to do with the primitive accumulation of land and wealth that is often defended by so-called market proponents. Then again, many of these people are only being consistent in the defense of a few "exceptional individuals" and their institutions rather than liberty itself, let alone the workers who so badly need liberty as opposed to the various brands of collectivism that serve to keep them down. If that means a defense of massive land theft, so be it.
Unfortunately for both sides, Stalin gradually eased himself into control of the Party and state and purged them all. Once firmly in control, he adopted most of the Left's economic program, sending cadres of armed Party members into the countryside to divide the peasants and push them into collective farms as called for by ideology and interest. With all kinds of violence and dislocation necessary, the prosperous peasants, the kulaks, were eliminated as a class, many of them physically. With their much-feared leaders eliminated by the Stalinst Terror, the peasants had little choice but to acquiesce in this bureaucratic enclosure movement. Only after Stalin's death could any debate on the direction of Soviet economic policy, however mild, reemerge. The Soviet state itself had become the new landlord. It seems clear enough that the "right" program was viable. Certainly, it did not entail the level of violence, death, and economic destruction required to carry through the Trotsky-Stalin model. But just as in the case of the English enclosures, political power decided the event, not necessarily in the interests of the peasants - short or long run. Perhaps the two cases, though they differ considerably, will shed light on some persistent fallacies concerning peasants, agriculture and development (it might be too much to ask for justice, too).
Microsoft may begin training the police in ways to break the encryption built into its forthcoming Vista operating system.
The news was revealed in a parliamentary committee session in which Professor Ross Anderson of Cambridge University warned MPs that if such a move was being considered then the police should start learning sooner rather than later.
The need to decrypt hard drives was a prominent reason given for extending the length of time that the police could hold terrorism suspects.
"It is our goal to give PC users the control and confidence they need so they can continue to get the most out of their PCs," said a Microsoft spokeswoman.
"At the same time, we are working with law enforcement to help them understand its security features and will continue to partner with governments, law enforcement and industry to help make the internet a safer place to learn and communicate."
I read George Reisman's essay in Journal of Libertarian Studies and was surprized and kinda disgusted by his (Randist) definition of "individualism"
"Here Carson, the “individualist” anarchist shows himself to be
quite the collectivist, attributing to the average person qualities of
independent thought and judgment that are found only in exceptional
I side with Carson's definition of individualism, and can only see Reisman's view as socialism or collectivism. Individualism means that, as a rule, each individual is capable of directing his own life. If most individuals are incapable of directing their own lives and must be subsumed into an unthinking mass (for their own good), then we have collectivism...whether it is run by a benevolent dictatorship of market selected (meaning "self-selected") "meritocrats" or by an elected aristocracy.
PLOWBOY: Is there any similarity between this pressure being exerted by America's big businesses and, say, the collectivism of Soviet Russia?
HESS: Certainly. They're much the same. In the Soviet Union, the economy is developed under the ownership of a bureaucracy which shot its way to power, while in the United States exactly the same pattern exists except that our collectivists just buy their way to power. In either instance, the final result is the same: You owe your loyalty to the collective unit the corporation or the state, as the case may be. You're subordinated to its plans and processes.
There's no essential difference in the kind of world that either the large corporations of the U.S. or the collectives of the U.S.S.R. would impose on us. Back in the thirties, in fact, Jim Burnham wrote a book, The Managerial Revolution, in which he said that a DuPont bureaucrat could join a planning commission in the Soviet Union and never even know he'd changed jobs!