Tag: Agriculture

Woodland Elementary Giving Food Leftovers to Poor Kids

Rafael Augusto B.L. De Oliveira | @ancient_scrolls

Childhood is a phase in which we are all full of energy. We can’t focus for too long in monotonous tasks. To a lot of children, school is dull and boring. After all, making a child sit still for endless hours doing the same repetitive tasks until the bell finally rings is a torment to them. Many in this age group spend most of their weekdays counting the days left for the weekend to finally arrive. Weekends are synonymous to freedom and fun times! However, in Woodland Elementary School in Elkhart, Indiana, this is not always the case as a lot of low-income families struggle to feed their children and make ends meet.

Continue reading “Woodland Elementary Giving Food Leftovers to Poor Kids”

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Vegans Would Fare Much Better as Libertarians

By Bryce Jackson | Vermont

I love animals and I hate subsidies (as well as other taxpayer-funded entitlements). So in this, my debut for the glorious 71 Republic, I am tackling both, as well as the group (or at least the most vocal part of that group) that played on my emotions for a year while I lived among them as one of their own. That group, of course, is vegans!

The un-empathetic in this group would tell you that there is nothing from an animal that you cannot get from plants, which is sort of true… we will get to that in a second. This is, of course, is in the nutritional sense, and doesn’t account for the need for leather goods, though I am man enough to concede that there are better materials than leather at this point in time. They will show you videos of abuses at the largest of America’s mega-farms that I can only describe as horrendous and blood-curdling. They are difficult to watch. And while some are genuinely edited so as to be taken out of context, the evidence is clear that there is a clear lack of accountability and care for the well-being of these creatures.

For the record: most humans only need to consume about 50 grams of protein a day. It doesn’t have to be consumed all in one meal either. Americans (and much of Western culture) consume way more meat than is needed. I am not saying you shouldn’t eat whatever you want. These are just basic facts about human diet and metabolism. Vitamin B12, on the other hand, is best found in animal sources but can still be obtained via other methods. (Generally, this is as a supplement.)

So after detailing all of that, why would I then refer to some vegans as lacking empathy? Well, it’s simple really: they are playing on the emotions of people who very often have little choice but to eat animal products. It harkens back to a day shortly after the suicide of celebrity chef, Anthony Bourdain. I was reading his Wikipedia article (no, I didn’t use Wikipedia for research… stay with me) when I came upon a little factoid that I had not previously known.

Mr. Bourdain was an immense critic of vegetarians and vegans. This was common knowledge for his fans apparently, though I don’t watch a lot of television anymore and had missed this. He was quoted as saying that “vegetarianism is an American luxury”. As someone who is currently in the “starving artist” phase of his writing career, I can tell you with utmost certainty – that is a fact!

But why is that? Why is it so difficult for the poor and marginalized to eat healthily? Bad lifelong habits aside, I know many working class people who have tried (and failed) but couldn’t keep up with the added costs of a plant-based diet. The very cost of production in meat versus crops favors crops by a substantial margin, especially when it comes to grains that (once dried) have a remarkably long shelf life.

The answer is simple: subsidies!

Specifically, the agriculture subsidies that make good food more expensive (because the farmers actually have to produce a sell-able crop) as opposed to garbage food from large agribusiness (who often gets a bigger subsidy if they produce diddly squat). Of course, the justification for this is the protection of the workers at these large farms. More employees means more jobs lost if the business goes under. And while I am certainly sympathetic towards anyone who struggles to maintain market viability, we should probably look at the numbers of those affected before we even begin to consider protectionism (because that’s what this is) as the solution.

Leading up to the industrial revolution, most households (outside of major cities) had some tie to local agriculture. But according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2008 only 2% of the United States population was directly employed by agriculture. That percentage is less than the percentage of voters who voted for Gary Johnson in 2016! Does that seem like something we should subsidize if we aren’t even guaranteed a product in return? I certainly don’t think so! And if I was a vegan, I would oppose this more, given that much of our agriculture subsidies go towards crops that feed the very slaughter animals that they themselves will never eat.

So why aren’t more vegans libertarian? Is it the preconditioning of our protest-oriented society; taught that you need to “fight for your rights” like a heroic revolutionary? Perhaps (I suppose), but I think it is something else… and it is just as bad as the authoritarian laws vegans ask for to protect the animals that live in these often unprofitable establishments.

Ag-Gag Laws!

As soon as vegans began infiltrating these larger facilities to capture their cruelty and indifference, conservative lawmakers jumped into the fray, initiating something that should scare every liberty lover on this planet – laws that punish whistle-blowers with jail time (among other slightly less harsh penalties) for giving proof of the misdeeds by these agriculturists. Now I would never argue that a business owner doesn’t have a right to bring a lawsuit against someone who lied on an application specifically to hurt his/her business. But to say this industry (and only this industry, apparently) should be protected against bad press with the threat of taking someone’s freedom is so monumentally wrong that I am left stymied as to why more libertarians and constitutional conservatives haven’t spoken out against it.

But it is what has convinced me that big government involvement in how we produce food in this country is why we now have a large minority of our populace (both vegan/vegetarian and those of a more commonplace diet) demanding equal amounts of government intervention in trying to prevent animal cruelty. And while I can admit that is a laudable cause, it is ultimately pointless. Most states have some sort of regulation in place where the state-sponsored authority in question has to notify the farm ahead of time of the impending inspection, making anything other than whistle-blowing an act of total futility.

So they infiltrate, risk prison in many cases, and the business suffers and possibly even goes belly-up. Who wins in that scenario? The state of course! We seasoned libertarians have long since known that more regulations produce more victims. And in this case, even the animals that are being treated like the tightly coiled mass my dogs leave in my yard every morning are included in the victimization!

In order to gain the evidence, the infiltrators have to stand by helplessly and watch as baby pigs deemed “useless”, are swung by their hindquarters and smashed head first on the nearest hard surface. Dead animals that didn’t ask for this life, good-hearted/ill-advised souls trying to save sentient creatures from undue pain, and workers who often have little choice but to work at these places (lack of competition due to the subsidies) – now all suffering terrible fates while the state brings in more tax dollars to bail out the farm owner and keep the infiltrator in a cell.

President Calvin Coolidge opposed agriculture subsidies because he knew that farmers were never going to be rich (at least not without government protection). If I started driving right now I could be at the farm where Silent Cal grew up in less than an hour. I sometimes wonder what he would think. About the recent farm bill that just passed – loaded with pork spending and bailouts. About a country that used to be self-sufficient but now has to buy crops from other countries. And about the misfortunes of vegans, forced to pay in towards food they will never eat, while not having the same favor returned to them.

Maybe the reason more vegans aren’t libertarian is that we haven’t been vocal enough in opposing everything I just described. It’s certainly not a hot-button topic. Appearing to oppose poor farmers is certainly not the way to gain votes. This is not common discussion in any libertarian social media group… but perhaps it should be!

These subsidies not only force people that don’t consume the end product to fund it, they also, more importantly, squash the small family farms that the writers of the original agriculture subsidies of the 1920’s were trying to help. So forget animal cruelty. Forget freedom of speech (the aforementioned “Ag-gag” laws). This is crony capitalism at its worst and given the leftist nature of many vegans, I guess I can see why they are distrustful of those that call for smaller government (who then often support big government for the rust belt vote). Though the latter distinction wouldn’t apply to we libertarians, the former certainly does.

In a day when the party that bears the name of our shared ideology is being infiltrated by pseudo-communists, consistency on small government and free-market capitalist principles matters now more than ever… for everyone from the small family farmer just trying to put his little girl through school, to that very little girl who has decided she wants to help animals rather than eat them.

As libertarians, we owe them both a more consistent message.


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The Land Of Upright Men: Thomas Sankara & The Marxist Revolution of Burkina Faso

By Spencer Kellogg | AFRICA

I am often asked, ‘Where is Imperialism?’ Just look into your plates: you see imported corn, rice or millet. This is imperialism. Our country produces enough to feed us all. We can even produce more than we need. Unfortunately, for lack of organization, we still need to beg for food aid. This type of assistance is counterproductive and has kept us thinking that we can only be beggers who need aid.

Africa has long been a testing ground for some of the world’s most appalling and dangerous ideas. Raped of their land and wealth, Africa as a continent still lags severely behind all other land masses though their nations are blessed with a bounty of natural resources. Even after the uprising and reclamation of many African nations from their colonialist masters, today these countries still suffer at the hands of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other global political & economical conglomerates that seek to push through often failed large-scale agricultural and industrial projects to the detriment of Africa leaving these poor people mired in unresolved debt and slaves to a new order – that of a globalist economy. In 1983 in the former French Upper Volta, one man was determined to stand against the tyrants who used his land and abused his people for wealth to be exported to the other side of oceans and seas. This man was Thomas Sankara.

Landlocked to the North by the Malian desert and cut off to the Atlantic Ocean by The Ivory Coast and Ghana to the South, The Former French Upper Volta has long been one of the poorest nations in the entire world. Although the country achieved independence in 1960, the following two decades were known best for their lackluster development and incompetent leadership often bankrolled by their former colonizers in France. Dressed in military garb and sporting the classic red beret, Sankara immediately went about slashing the salaries of public servants, eliminating all colonial taxes levied on the country and breaking up powerful unions that hoarded wealth while reinvesting the nations small abundance back into the communities that lived in abject poverty. Socially, Sankara rejected the patriarchal undertones of colonialism and allowed women to enlist and serve in the military alongside men while also creating a holiday where men would go to the market to buy goods while the women stayed home. This challenge to societal norms set a precedent not only for Africa but also for countries far and wide which still reverberates today.

When you are bearing arms that can spit fire and death and when you can receive orders standing to attention in front of a flag without knowing who will benefit from this order or this arm you become a potential criminal who’s just waiting to spread terror around you. How many soldiers are going around such and such country and bringing grief and desolation without understanding that they are fighting men and women for the same ideals as their own. A soldier without any political or ideological training is a potential criminal.

Sankara questioned the use of force and allegiance to a war machine that often pitted mutualistic philosophies against one another. As we are witnessing throughout the Middle East today, African nations were wrought by civil and border wars often gaslit by European powers seeking to gain footholds in their shadow wars against other global and regional enemies. Here, Sankara reads like Rothbard with his condemnation of war for tribe’s sake and suggestion that his people deserved a greater understanding of the impact that their blood and death played outside the battlefield.

While many African leaders promised reform and advancement for their people, Sankara wasted little time enacting policies to make a concrete change in his burgeoning country. He set up a nationwide vaccination program to tackle the deadly trio of Polio, Measles & Meningitis and within one month had vaccinated over two and half million citizens earning him the respect of the World Health Organization. To increase physical activity, he instituted once a week sporting rituals and himself participated in the new decree by playing soccer and suggesting the practice was important to promote “a healthy mind and a healthy body”. By the early 1980’s, Africa was just beginning to recover from a generational drought and Sankara took the lead by planting millions of trees and instituting policies against the desertification of Burkina Faso. While building new housing for the impoverished cities Sankara also poured money into building railroads and highways that would connect the disparate villages and cities of his nation.

For all of his Marxist tendencies, Sankara showed a reliable libertarian streak in his aims to decentralize and localize the production of goods and services in his land. His arguments against the global economic structure that stood against the needs and prosperity of his own people were rooted in the idea that what is locally produced by his people was best for his people’s economic and ideological strength. While the majority of Africa was used as a production hub for cheap labor, he rallied a new way in Africa by demanding food and goods come from Burkina Faso for Burkina Faso. In his aims to transform Burkina Faso into a truly independent state, he championed the “Faso Dan Fani” (History of Faso Dan Fani) a local cloth woven of cotton that all public servants were required to wear. While skeptics could point to this institutionalized clothing requirement as authoritarian in nature, it could also be seen as a liberating force that stood to question the reliance of outside industrialization that was the driving force of Africa’s weakened economic and philosophical power.

We think that France’s politic in Africa is very French. That is to say that it resembles other French politics. In the past, the French were present in such and such African country in order to either support one particular leader, one kinglet, or to take away another chief and fly him out. France still proceeds that way today.

At the Vittel conference of 1983 in France, the French President François Mitterrand met with Sankara and other African heads of state. In the preceding weeks many, including the French-owned state of Côte d’Ivoire, had expressed doubt and worry over the revolutionary ideas of Sankara and Burkina Faso. Most of the nations that met at the Vittel Conference were dependent on the French treasury and there was a sense that Sankara and his ideas needed to be suppressed before uprisings and counter-revolutions sprang up throughout the continent. There, Mitterrand reminded the nations of their precious alignment with the west and struck out against the sovereignty of rising independent states who sought new allegiances with the Soviet Union and Cuba. At the Organization of Africa Unity Summit later that year, Sankara pointed accusingly at the African heads of state who grew richer while their people grew poorer. He spotlighted the mounting debt and rising interest rates hoisted upon Africa by their former colonizers and called on leaders to stand with him against the global economic tyranny of African nations.

I would like this conference to clearly declare that we cannot pay the debt. Not in a rebellious spirit. But just to avoid being assassinated individually. If Burkina Faso is the only one to refuse, I won’t be at the next conference. When we are saying that we should not pay the debt, we’re not refusing our responsibilities or not keeping our words. It’s just that we don’t have the same moral standards as others. Between the rich and the poor, moral standards cannot be the same. The Bible or the Koran cannot serve those who exploit people and the exploited ones, in the same way. We should have two editions of the Bible and two editions of the Koran. Brothers, with everybody’s support, we will make peace at home. We’ll be able to use Africa’s full potential as well to develop our country because our land is rich. We have enough manpower and we have a very large market, from the North to the South, the East to West. We have enough brainpower to create or at least to go and learn science and technology where it can be learnt.

Mister President, let’s present a united front against the debt here in Addis Abbeba. Let’s make sure that this conference will decide to limit the arms race between poor and weak countries. The clubs and knives that we buy are useless. Let’s make sure that the African market belongs to Africans. Let’s produce in Africa, manufacture in Africa and consume in Africa. Burkina Faso came here to show you our locally produced cotton woven in Burkina Faso and tailored in Burkina Faso to clothe our people. I, along with my delegation, am dressed by our tailors, our farmers. Not a single thread comes from Europe or America. I am not presenting a fashion show here but I simply would like to say that we must accept to live the African way, it’s the only way to live in freedom and with dignity.  Our homeland or death, we will win.

By 1986, Sankara was paranoid by threats mounting from political opponents in every direction. He tried enemies of the state and the upper-class citizens of Burkina Faso became agitated by his authoritative demeanor. For crimes against the country, Sankara forced the guilty to address their treason on radio and television for all to see. Public servants found guilty were often made to work without pay and the trials administered by The People’s Revolutionary Tribunal did not guarantee rights to a lawyer or proper defense. Even worse, the prosecution was not tasked with proving the defendant guilty. Instead, the defendant was presumed guilty of charges and expected to prove his innocence. The once shining beacon of new liberty on the African continent was being extinguished by the very man who lit the flame.

Later in the year, French President Mitterrand would visit Burkina Faso with the aims of squashing the increasingly important player in international politics. The environment was heated as many saw Mitterrand as representative of the same policies that had created and fostered apartheid in South Africa. P.W. Botha, President of South Africa, had visited France only months before Mitterrand made his way to The Land of Upright Men and Sankara, with an international audience watching, took the opportunity to speak out in protest against Mitterand’s relationship with the South African ethnostate:

Killers such as Pieter Botha have had the right to travel through beautiful France. They dirtied it. With their bloodied hands and feet. And all those who allowed them to act the way they did will bear the responsibility for it, here and elsewhere, now and forever.

Though Sankara could not be bought or sold, his second in command, Blaise Compaoré, was growing weary of the revolution and seized on a section of the nation who wished for a more liberal regime. Compaoré, in collusion with the newly elected right wing of France, began to speak out against Sankara. Once close friends, by 1987, Compaoré had disowned Sankara and used his control of the nation’s army to lead a coup against his closest friend. Within weeks, Sankara was murdered in a staged attack by Compaoré’s associates and buried in a shallow grave before nightfall. In the following weeks, Compaoré championed many of Sankara’s ideas while back peddling into a subsistent relationship with the French. In France & The Ivory Coast congratulations were extended to Compaoré and Sankara’s name was dragged through the mud. Throughout Africa however, Sankara’s name still remains synonymous with Pan Africanism and the struggle for complete independence and liberty from neo-colonialist empires.

The modern prism by which we view and define the failures of Marxism is often distorted by the ills of the Soviet Union archipelago and the postmodern academic bastardization of collectivism as seen throughout Asia in the late 20th century. In Africa and South American too, Marxism has played chief doctrine to the murder and widespread poverty of millions of citizens. However, we are aggrieved if we cannot also correctly assert that Capitalism and its determined march against the sovereignty and freedom of poor people is not also to blame for massive death and unrest. Sankara was a poor man who stood for a poor people. He refuted the tone and nature of ‘Afro-pessimism’ and believed wholeheartedly that his people deserved respect, dignity and ultimately freedom. His message today still strikes with the tone of Jefferson. He carried a torch where once no light existed.  In a world full of slanted men hungry for money and power, Sankara stood upright with pride and love of his country and people.

Governmental Regulation: The Antiquated Barrier to Fresh Growth in America – Jesse Stretch

By Jesse Stretch | USA

The trade-off is a perception of public and consumer safety. A label that says you’re safe; a license to guarantee that a person is competent; a logbook proving experience. As a consuming American, the idea is that you’re never going to lose. You’ll never get hurt, swindled, tricked, ripped-off. The food you eat will be clean and wholesome. Your air conditioning man will be licensed and “know what he’s doing” as he crawls through your attic sporting tandem full-sleeve skull tats.

As a farmer, business owner, contractor and product producer, I am licensed and unlicensed in all sorts of fields that many of my customers and friends have never heard of or considered. I know from personal experience that barriers to growth and virtual impossibilities exist in the governmentally-instituted regulatory system that make starting or growing a small, fully compliant business almost impossible for the average working American.

Production and product costs in the agriculture field are up, with much of the rise
attributed directly to the time-intensive process of regulatory compliance. For instance, due to regulation, we must now drive two hours each way to have our cattle processed for customers, because the skilled butcher just down the road has decided that FDA inspection is a pain, and he would rather just process deer and livestock for personal consumption. He has decided that it is easier to turn down business than to comply with the FDA. We local farmers all know he’s a great butcher, but without the Federal Government’s consent, we can’t hire him to process meat for our customers.

In the age of free information transfer, where one person can communicate instantly with an entire nation of peers, the question arises: Do we always need the government to tell us what is safe and what is not? Do we need the government to tell us who to trust now that we have our friends and associates at our fingertips every hour of the day to give us reference?

The first regulatory agency in America was set up in the late 1800s to regulate the railroads. This agency was set up in part because a train could get from Point A to Point B faster than any other communication, meaning that railroad companies had the advantage of far superior information dissemination over the people. With that kind of speed and power, unethical manipulation of commerce was very possible. Thus, the Federal Government stepped in to regulate. Back in the 1800s, this made sense, and it protected small businesses and individuals from a larger manipulative entity.

From there, more than four hundred federal regulatory agencies have sprung up to protect us. They regulate your ability to own a dog, plant a tree, and buy certain foods. As many consumers are aware, purchasing and selling the formerly essential household product raw milk is now illegal in much of the United States. Not only did the federal government tell us that it’s better to pasteurize milk, they told us they’d fine and/or jail us for selling or purchasing its counterpart. There is something wrong with a system that outlaws an elemental, ancient, healthy, local food product. Raw milk is not dangerous.

Most of these regulations were devised years ago because people had no way to
communicate quickly to blow whistles on quality issues. If Farmer Joe sold a bunch of disease-ridden food which was then put on a train to New York City, the situation could escalate for days, weeks, before the word would get out. Hence, Farmer Joe faced regulation to ensure sanitation on the production end— aiding in the prevention disease outbreaks at the controllable single source and not the open multi-consumer end.

These days, however, technology gives consumer groups the ability to instantly report a
quality or service issue. One voice is no longer lost in a crowd, but can often be heard on social media or elsewhere online. Farmer Joe’s bad meat would last a day on the shelf, maybe less, and people would be wary of buying from him again. Society will govern itself in this way. Many federal food safety regulations are rendered almost pointless by this ability to communicate and establish relationships based on trust, free information, and consumer history rather than on an antiquated safeguarding oligarchy.

In all of this, we see the institution of government regulation costing money to producers
and consumers, while not delivering an adequate or necessary return on value for either party.

Over-regulation poses issues for the future of fresh business growth in America, as such
intensive and time-consuming compliance requirements stifle the ability for new ideas to reach fruition. I say fresh growth because that’s just what it is; it’s not a barrier to growth for entities with a net worth north of a few million dollars—they have the funds to hire compliance personnel and pay the fees required to grow under the watchful eye of the regulatory committees. The growth problem exists most for the small business who gets lost under the bureaucracy and can’t find daylight; the little farmer, craftsman, tradesperson—the local girl who wants to sell fresh pastries on her townhouse porch (but is shut down by food safety regulations) or the guy who has a few greenhouses and wants to peddle lettuce greens in a parking lot but can’t because he would need a location with tier three commercial zoning, the highest level of commercial zoning, just to do so.

My business is relatively simple: Farming and Landscaping. In this simplicity, however, one can find the reason why over 20 licenses and/or registration accounts are technically required for such a business to exist. Each license will cost money, take hours to complete, and many will require exams and/or yearly renewals. For a working person, maintaining twenty or more licenses can be virtually impossible—especially if the business is a startup.

There is a really old guy down the road from my farm who used to sit outside his garage
where he’d fashioned a small vegetable stand. They shut him down because of regulatory issues. He was sitting out there under a carport in his lawn chair sleeping half the day, selling tomatoes and melons that he grew in his backyard. They somehow found a way to shut that down because it was deemed a health issue.

Regulation has reached a point where the system no longer creates a safe environment for the consumer but rather projects upon the masses endless doldrums of big box stores and boring commercial multiplicities. Such intensive over-regulation overwhelms the business owner into a state of bewildering semi-compliance. The maze of rules and agencies sequesters growth, mildewing a stagnant climate of anti-creativity in which eligible and worthy business owners are forced to fudge or forego licensing information or credentials, and thereby subvert the institution of regulation itself.

Fresh growth begs simplicity, and simplicity will only come from casual civillydisobedient reformation. If everybody threw their pointless dog license papers away, the dog license would go away. If everybody started selling baked goods on the corner, the agencies would never enough have time to stop them all. I’m not advocating the complete disbanding of regulatory agencies, nor anarchy, but for small business to thrive, something has got to give.

Wouldn’t it be nice to go downtown on Sunday and buy pastries from the girl’s porch
just off Cary Street, eat fresh lettuce from a conscientious farmer, and cut open melons with an 80-year-old man in his carport? I think so.

I, for one, would like to spend less time filing paperwork and fudging truths to
bureaucracy, and more time farming and growing my business under the watchful eye of my peers—not the watchful eye of the federal and state bureaucracies. We don’t need the government to tell us who to trust, we have our friends in commerce for that now. The internet will oust a bad producer in an instant—their operation shall wither and die under the power of online public opinion. In the age of social media and abundant online information, the need for institutional regulation is fading.

To our government: There was a time when we needed your blessing on what farmer or tradesperson to trust. That is true. But this was before we could all get together and communicate instantly online. These days, thanks to the little flickering screens in our palms, we can regulate ourselves, tell our friends who they can trust, and spread our own truths instantly.

We don’t need an inspector to tell us that we can or can’t eat an old man’s produce—but
thanks anyway.