Monday, November 14, 2016

Understanding the Heartland Pt 2

So first I read Hill Billy Elegy because the author was on MSNBC. Yeah, I'm a bleeding heart libral who gets her news from the Elite. I check their facts. I read their sources. I can't listen to Fox 2 minutes.

Then I watched a commentator that I didn't like so much, the bastard voted 3rd party and I'm not real patient with people who throw their vote away in this election, but he talked about What's the Matter with Kansas? How the Conservatives Won the Heartland. It was published in 2004, but really is fleshing out a lot of those missing pieces.

Let's step over to the back burner a moment. I'll tie it in, I promise.

We moved to Arkansas when I was ten. My daddy decided he was going from Conservative Methodism to the Church of Christ (many believe they approximate a cult). He started attending college at Harding University. He got a preaching job for $100 a week he drove to Possum Grape Arkansas and preached Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night. Several families in the congregation were chicken farmers, and I've spent my fair share of time in a chicken house helping to collect eggs on a Sunday afternoon. Long, narrow buildings full of noise and odors. Those are all gone now, replaced by the same buildings owned by Tyson foods.

Let's talk about my book.

In Kansas it was farms, or companies like Boeing. There were no labor unions to protect people when Boeing decided to become a virtual corporation. They "outsourced", asking cities to bid against each other. They moved production overseas, picked fights with unions.Then 9/11 happened and the demand for planes plummeted.

"The culprit is the conservatives' beloved free-market capitalism, a system that, at its most unrestrained, has little use for small town merchants or the agricultural system that supported the small towns in the first place. Deregulated capitalism is what has allowed Wal-Mart to crush local businesses across Kansas and, even more important, what has driven agriculture, the state's raison d'etre, to a state of near collapse."

I knew some of this, but not all because I believed that capitalism was sacred. Here's what else he says: "But in reality the interests of [farmers and agribusiness] are more like those of the chicken and Colonel Sanders of backlash lore. And Colonel Sanders has been on an unbroken winning streak now for twenty-some years, with farm legislation, trade policy, and a regulatory climate all crafted to strengthen the conglomerates while weakening the farmer."

He goes on to say; "Farming is a field uniquely unsuited to the freewheeling whirl of the open market. There are millions of farmers, and they are naturally disorganized; they can't coordinate their plans one with another. Not only are they easily victimized by powerful middlemen...but when they find themselves in a tough situation -- when, say, the price they are getting for wheat is low -- farmers do not have the option of cutting back production, as every other industry does. Instead, each of those millions of farmers work harder, competes better, becomes more efficient, cranks out more of the commodity in question....and thus makes the glut even worse and pushes the prices still lower."

That's why the New Deal research on my previous blog. It brought price supports and acreage set-asides and loan guarantees. But agribusiness likes low farm prices because it means high profits for them. The Regan-Clinton area deregulatory climate led to to the ironically named Freedom to Farm Act which threw all the acreage into open cultivation and basically finished off the New Deal. Farmers didn't even seem to understand what this would mean. They over produced, prices plummeted, and everyone failed except the largest and most efficient farms. Finally it got so bad government stepped in again. But the largest farms got the most help.

But we don't need any of the government interference.

That's where I am now.