Since the collapse of the timber industry in Humboldt county it seems that we've been thrown into a bipolar logic of anti-scientific, emotive, so-called "environmentalism," and an equally irrational, (not very well) greenwashed timber harvest industry. In this split we've lost probably the most valuable thing that Humboldt county ever had, aside from its now 90something% decimated Old Growth--a real, worker-based impetus toward collective ownership and management of our natural resource commons. Today, instead of IWW-style discussions of how best to communalize our land and distribute its bounties equally, many want to kick the logging industry out entirely, while others think that "green" capitalism can create incentives to allow Green Diamond to make a profit and create jobs while also doing little harm to the environment. What gets lost between the primitivism and psuedo-anarchism of our so-called "environmentalists" and the newer, greenwashed face of the same-old-capitalism is a realistic and very POSSIBLE communalization of our shared resources. If all profit from the harvesting of timber were kept in the hands of those who harvest the timber and those who are affected by it's harvest, it would be much easier to argue for keeping the processing local--or you could simply use the common profit to subsidize local mills until a market for surplus-added products reemerges in the future.
Aside from the natural capital we are exporting to China, I am curious to know how much profit is exported from Humboldt into the hands of the shareholders of Green Diamond, etc., compared to the amount left here in the form of wages.
Tommacq is correct. There is a large scientific consensus that GE crops are not detrimental to health. Denying that consensus is similar to denying global warming--you have to prove how so many scientists could have this so wrong. Fear-mongering about GE just distracts us from the real, concrete problem of the privatization of our biogenetic commons through the patenting and ownership of genomes. It also distracts us from the fact that most of the ecological problems posed by certain misuses of GE are really just problems with how industrial agriculture works in the first place, not with an intrinsic evil held in GE crops.
It's become a common trope with folks like Pollan or Salatin to argue that low-income people ought to just spend their excess income on food, rather than expensive clothing or luxuries like television and computer equipment. What they are not considering is that these things are first of all largely funded by credit. The average indebtedness in America is around %150 of income, so is it really helping to just ask that folks run their credit card bills up on expensive food rather than designer jeans? The second problem is that it's exceedingly easy for the mostly white, mostly educated, upper-middle-class "foodie" to denigrate the uneducated, non-white lower class individual for buying expensive shoes instead of expensive food while they themselves are capable of affording BOTH. In fact, entirely new clothing and tech brands market specifically to this audience, so they can have their North Face jackets and eat their grass-fed Humboldt Beef too.
The final problem is that Salatin is just utterly naive when it comes to economics. Much of this comes from his overly-nationalistic focus on JUST the US economy. It's true that his model of farming cannot feed the world and sustain the profit margin required for the compounding rate of growth necessary under capitalism. He calls himself a capitalist but he does not want to accept the consequences that come with that. There is a reason that industrial agriculture developed under capitalism--because it is profitable and expedient and you can externalize most of your costs onto the poor and the environment. To have an economy which includes ALL costs (social, environmental, etc.) in the initial exchange allows for no excessive profit and no infinite, compounding growth--it is a non-capitalist economy. This is the seminal point of Marx: capitalism functions on such "externalizations"--that is what profit or "surplus-value" IS within capitalism. Because if you are paying the proper value for all of your inputs how are you getting MORE than that value in your outputs? Marx's answer is simple: you are not paying the workers the proper value for their work or you are "stealing" that proper value from the land by doing irreparable damage to it. Remember: Marx was a devoted student of Baron von Liebig's early soil science.
So when Salatin argues that altruism won't put shoes on your feet, we should not nod our heads in agreement but simply ask why. The egotistic incentives of capitalism have not always existed and will not always exist. So why have we built a society in which altruism forces us to go unshod? And why don't we change it?
In Print This Week:
Dec 5, 2013
vol XXIV issue 49
The North Coast Journal Weekly
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