Thursday, April 28, 2005

The Trouble with Globalism

"To cause the land-using economies to overproduce is even simpler. The farmers and other workers in the world’s land-using economies, by and large, are not organized. They are therefore unable to control production in order to secure just prices. Individual producers must go individually to the market and take for their produce simply whatever they are paid. They have no power to bargain or make demands. Increasingly, they must sell, not to neighbours or to neighbouring towns and cities, but to large and remote corporations. There is no competition among the buyers (supposing there are more than one), who are organized, and are "free" to exploit the advantage of low prices. Low prices encourage overproduction as producers attempt to make up their losses "on volume", and overproduction inevitably makes for low prices. The land-using economies thus spiral downward as the money economy of the exploiters spirals upward. If economic attrition in the land-using population becomes so severe as to threaten production, then governments can subsidize production without production controls, which necessarily will encourage overproduction, which will lower prices — and so the subsidy to rural producers becomes, in effect, a subsidy to the purchasing corporations. In the land-using economies production is further cheapened by destroying, with low prices and low standards of quality, the cultural imperatives for good work and land stewardship."

"THIS MORAL AND ECONOMIC absurdity exists for the sake of the allegedly "free" market, the single principle of which is this: commodities will be produced wherever they can be produced at the lowest cost, and consumed wherever they will bring the highest price. To make too cheap and sell too high has always been the programme of industrial capitalism. The idea of the global "free market" is merely capitalism’s so-far-successful attempt to enlarge the geographic scope of its greed, and moreover to give to its greed the status of a "right" within its presumptive territory. The global "free market" is free to the corporations precisely because it dissolves the boundaries of the old national colonialisms, and replaces them with a new colonialism without restraints or boundaries. It is pretty much as if all the rabbits have now been forbidden to have holes, thereby "freeing" the hounds.The "right" of a corporation to exercise its economic power without restraint is construed, by the partisans of the "free market", as a form of freedom, a political liberty implied presumably by the right of individual citizens to own and use property."

These are a couple of my favorite quotes from an article by Wendell Berry. Read GLOBAL PROBLEMS, LOCAL SOLUTIONS to get the rest. Let me know what you think.


At 4/28/2005 3:20 PM, Blogger reformed farmer said...

I was just thinking of a couple stories on this topic. For several years we dairymen were paid less than the cost of production. We were told by the experts it was becouse of "overproduction". The same experts told us the answer was to make more milk! At the same time the processors were crying that they were hurting becouse they didn't have enough milk to be competive. This is the condition of my beloved agriculture.

I also remember once the price of milk was going up. We were finaly making a little money. Next day it drops like a rock. Why? Kraft announced they "misplaced" a warehouse full of cheese. How the blank do you misplace a warehouse. What they do is fudge the inventory numbers to raise cheese prices. When milk starts to catch up they change the numbers and then buy the milk at record low prices only to change the numbers again to sell the cheese at high prices.


At 4/28/2005 6:34 PM, Blogger trawlerman said...

aha, a quest!

To find the misplaced warehouse of cheese! Oh, heaven on earth for us cheesy mortals.

Oh, wait. It's Kraft cheese. Let's start a movement to misplace them all and replace them with something substantial.

P.S. Have you read the latest Credenda/Agenda devoted to cheese? It's wonderful, especially the N. Wilson article about how eggs are primarily a vehicle for cheese consumption. I agree with him wholeheartedly except for when eggs are hardboiled. Then they should be sliced and used as bacon bit trays.

At 4/28/2005 7:06 PM, Blogger abigail said...

Hey, Scott,

It's late, and I confess I just skimmed your post so that I could understand John's comment. (Tomorrow I'll memorize the entire essay by Berry and recite it on your answering machine...oh, wait, you don't have one yet.)

I just wanted to ask you if you've read any of Berry's poetry. I first heard it in college. One girl John and I knew could be counted on to read at least one poem by his at each open-mic coffeehouse night. (What I've heard and read, I like, and I think you might, too.)

That's all!

Sleep well and rise better.


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