Fables of the Reconstruction, part one

History easily morphs into myth over time.  Typically the process is innocent.   If an oversimplified version of the truth, or a convenient half-truth, is repeated long enough, it becomes substituted for the whole truth. 

Sometimes the process is a result of propaganda.  This most frequently happens with regard to current events.  Thus, at the time the claim was made, most folks accepted on faith the supposed “fact” that the Kaiser’s soldiers bayoneted Belgian babies for sport.  Historians are usually able to expose such myths, once the passions have cooled.

And sometimes propaganda replaces history with myth long after the fact.  Thus, the stories Parson Weems created about George Washington’s boyhood became accepted as truth, because they were taught as such to American schoolchildren.

Historical myths can be dangerous, not only because they are untrue, but because the myths may obscure or replace important truths.

In this and posts which follow I will challenge some enduring myths about American history.  Because an entire book could be written on this subject, and because I don’t want this blog to become devoted to only this topic, I’ll take it on in small bites, and I don’t intend to finish up all at once.  I’ll just return to this topic from time to time, for another bite at it.  Posts on this subject will always have the same title (with apologies to R.E.M.).  Obviously, this can be a divisive subject, and one of the reasons it so rarely discussed dispassionately is that we’ve become accustomed to ascribing bad motives and character traits to those who challenge the myths.  And of course many who challenge them do in fact have bad motives and character traits.  For those of y’all who want to hear me out, I just ask that you reserve at least some judgment till the end, and please try hard to give me the benefit of the doubt on motive and character.  And if you feel that’s not possible, or the subject just gets you too emotional, skip the posts with this title.  Hopefully there will be other stuff here that you might still enjoy.

The myths I plan to challenge include these: 1) that the American Civil War was fought to end slavery, 2) that the Northern States fought to end slavery, 3) that the Southern States fought to defend slavery, 3) that Abraham Lincoln was a great President, most notably because he preserved the Union and ended slavery, and 4) that the cause for which the Northern States fought was noble and just, and the cause for which the Southern states fought was shameful and unjust.  I will argue that the War, and particularly the victory of the Northern States, was a national tragedy that has permanently and severely damaged our national character, and that, far from being a victory for freedom and liberty, the War and its results have greatly compromised our freedom and liberties.  In so doing, I will argue that the abolition of slavery was nothing more than one of several mechanisms through which those in control of the Republican party were able to secure victory and power, ultimately for the benefit of industrial and financial interests, that have, through securing their power, changed the character of the nation for the worse.  But because the abolition of slavery was such a great (albeit incidental) good, the great injustices and deprivations have been obscured, in part by design, and in part through the natural evolution of history into myth.

Details to follow…

Grace and Peace




Iraq or the Economy?

Congressman Ron Paul of Texas, a champion of individual liberty and unyielding opponent of taxation, deficit spending and big government, recently published a brief piece titled “Iraq or the Economy.”  I liked it so much that I decided to publish it in lieu of one of my typically worthless posts.  So, here ya go:

What is the importance of the war in Iraq relative to other current issues?  This is a question I am often asked, especially as Americans continue to become increasingly aware that something is very wrong with the economy.    The impact of war on our ability to defend ourselves from future attack, and upon America’s standing in the world, is only a mere fraction of the total overall effect that war has on our nation and the policies of its government.

There is no single issue that is more important at this particular time.   The war has, of course, made us less safe as a nation and damaged our credibility with allies and hostile nations alike.  Moreover, years of growing deficits have been spurred on by the high price tag of war, and the decision to pay that price primarily by supplemental spending rather than traditional “on-budget” accounting.

It also impacts budget priorities in ways that are detrimental to our nation.  I have often pointed to the fact that we are building bridges in Iraq while they are collapsing in the United States .

Obviously, many of the young people who are in the military literally give their blood, and sometimes their lives, fighting in wars of this type.  Meanwhile, those who do not fight the war, but fund it, are forced to pay both the immediate costs, as well as seeing their long term purchasing power erode, as the twin pillars of debt and inflation are foisted upon the backs of current taxpayers and future generations.  Neither conspiracy nor coincidence explains steep increases in the price of gas as the war drags on.  No, this is simply a reality of the inflationary policies that, among other things, make this war possible.

As people are continually asked to choose whether our nation’s teetering economy or the failed foreign policy of the past several decades is most important as we look forward, it is well for those of us who understand that these two issues are closely linked, to continue to explain this fact to our fellow citizens.  To fix the problem requires a proper diagnosis.

Grace and Peace

Yearning for Zion

As wasteful government spending goes, $14 million is mere peanuts.  But in light of how long and hard individual taxpayers have to work to earn that much money, I think we can agree that it’s a whole lot of peanuts.

Of course $14 million might be well spent if used, for example, to protect innocent children from trauma and abuse.  Suppose, for example, someone discovered a plot to kidnap 416 children, at gunpoint, and to then hold them in custody against their parents’ wishes, all the while subjecting them to psychological abuse, including demeaning and impugning their parents, their faith, and their community.  Certainly spending 14 million tax dollars to prevent such an outrage might be well-justified and appropriate.

But suppose the $14 million was actually spent to seize 416 children from their parents and community, and to subject them to a barrage of physical and pyschological tests, and to smother them with lawyers, and to systematically challenge and attack their families and lifestyles?  What society would possibly do such a thing?

On April 3, 2008, the State of Texas carried out a paramilitary raid on the peaceful religious community known as Yearning for Zion Ranch.  The media dubbed the community a “compound” and immediately began publishing wildly unsubstantiated allegations of child abuse, rape and torture.  The raid itself, although long-planned, was supposedly triggered by an anonymous phone call, later revealed to be a hoax.

416 children were torn from their mothers’ arms, at gunpoint, and whisked away to the “safety” of modern, secular society, where they were subjected to DNA testing and a battery of psychological examinations, all under the supposed supervision of an army of government social workers and court-appointed, taxpayer-funded lawyers.

It was all patently illegal and immoral, of course.  As soon as a competent court was able to speak to the matter, the state’s actions were declared unlawful, and the children, undoubtedly traumatized for life, were returned to their families.

And the taxpayers of Texas were handed the bill for $14 million.

How could such a thing be tolerated in the United States of America?  Easy.  The victims were members of a religious minority, whose beliefs most of us find distasteful at best.  Their parents practice plural marriage, as humans have for thousands of years.  The girls often marry older men, while still in their teens, as girls have done for thousands of years.  The members of the community shun modern society, which disallows plural marriage although it actively promotes casual sexuality and serial monogomy.  The girls in the community become sexually active and pregnant at a young age, in marriage, whereas girls in modern society become sexually active and pregnant at a young age, outside of marriage.  The members of the community honor traditional family heirarchies, in a modern society that ridicules them.  In short, they are easy to attack because they are difficult to defend.

I don’t believe in plural marriages.  I don’t believe girls should become mothers while in their teens, and I certainly don’t believe young girls should be pressured to marry anyone, including much older men.  And I don’t accept the validity of the religious beliefs of Mormons, fundamentalist or otherwise.  But I definitely reject the notion that those who do believe these things should be subjected to the kind of abuse and terror that the residents of Yearning for Zion Ranch have endured.

Thinking about what happened to these children and their families, I can’t help but recall the words of Pastor Martin Niemoller:

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

Lets resolve, therefore, to speak out, whether we are “one of them” or not. 

Grace and Peace



How Low Can They Go?

President Bush’s approval rating continues to sink, with now a mere 29% of Americans believing that his job performance is satisfactory.  Sixty-four percent of us, according to the pollsters, find his performance to be unsatisfactory.   I have no idea what the other seven percent think.

As dismal as the 29% approval rating is, its still well higher than Harry Truman’s all-time low of 22%.  But President Bush also has the dubious distinction of having once had the highest approval rating ever recorded–93%, shortly after 9-11.  No president in history has suffered such a dramatic reversal of public opinion.

It seems fairly well established that Mr. Bush will leave office as one of the most unpopular Presidents ever.  If the economy continues down its current path, by  January he could easily drop below the Truman nadir, thus securing the spot as both the most popular, and least popular, president ever.

One might expect this widespread public dissatisfaction with Mr. Bush to inure to the benefit of the Democrat-controlled Congress.  Well, not so fast, my friends.

In fact, Mr. Bush’s 29% approval rating is significantly higher than that of the Democrat Congress.  A mere 19% of Americans approve of the performance of Congress, while a whopping 74% disapprove.

This is all mildly interesting data, and useful ammunition for talking heads and partisan cheerleaders.  But what a sad commentary on the state of leadership in our country.  An overwhelming majority of us believe that both the President and the Congress are doing their jobs poorly.  Unfortunately for us, in this case we are correct.

And thus the pollsters also tell us that a full 84% of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track.  Only 14% believe we’re on the right track.  To put that remarkable statistic into perspective, that means that there are more Americans who believe Congress is doing a good job, than there are who believe the country is on the right track.

For those interested in such things, the polling data is collected here:  http://www.realclearpolitics.com/polls/

Let us resolve to refuse to submit to the rule of the incompetent and the corrupt.  We deserve better.

Grace and Peace

Shortly after I published this, Gallup released a stunning survey, depicted below.  As you can see, public confidence in Congress is lower than all the other institutions ranked, at just 12%; the lowest rating ever reported.  And isn’t it a bit scary to live in a Republic where the citizens have no confidence in their elected legislature (12%) or president (26%), but overwhelming confidence in the military (71%)?  Think about it. 

Mr. Salatin Goes to Washington

Y’all have just got to read this.  A couple of months ago Joel Salatin (of Polyface Farm and The Omnivore’s Dilemma fame) was called to testify before a Congressional Committee investigating abuses at animal processing facilities.  Below is a transcript of his testimony.  For any who have heard him speak, its easy to visualize this.  The “testimony” is priceless, and I can’t encourage y’all enough to take a few minutes to read it.

Grace and Peace

Testimony of Joel Salatin, Polyface Farm, Swoope, Virginia
United States Congress April 17, 2008
House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
Subject: After the Beef Recall: Exploring Greater Transparency in the Meat Industry

Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I am honored to be invited to present my message before you today. As a Christian libertarian environmentalist capitalist, my testimony will not fit neatly partisan stereotypes; rather, it will cross broad cultural boundaries. One more caveat: while my comments may appear overbroad, I will not participate in overnarrow, typical myopic analysis of this topic.

First, a brief context for who I am and a short description of our business. I am a third generation heritage-based farmer, meaning that we do not think life is just inanimate protoplasmic structure to be manipulated however the human mind can conceive to manipulate it. We believe it really does matter if salamanders have four operating legs, that the soil actually lives, and that a successful food system ultimately requires proliferating earthworm populations, respected and honored plants and animals, and an increasing nutritional plane for all of us who eat food.

Our family farm, located a mere three hours from here in Virginia’s beautiful Shenandoah Valley, produces salad bar beef, pigaearator pork, pastured poultry, forage-based rabbit, and lumber. We fatten pigs on acorns, run Eggmobiles behind cows, move cows daily to mimic natural mob stocking herbivorous solar conversion lignified carbon sequestration fertilization, and aerate compost with pigs. Everything is multi-speciated, symbiotic, synergistic, relationship-oriented, and pasture based rather than mono-speciated fecal-particulate confinement factory concentration camp designed.

We market everything either at the farm or within four hours—close enough for patron visits to insure accountability through transparency—to some 2,000 families, 20 restaurants, and 10 retail venues. We employ about a dozen people as fulltime, part-time, and apprentices. Approximately 12,000 people from the around the world will visit our farm this year, taking advantage of our open door policy. Anyone can come anytime to see anything anywhere. We do have a tour protocol for free and paid visits.

We process our own poultry in a customer-inspected—far beyond government inspection—facility under the PL90-492 producer-grower exemption. Due to inappropriate government regulations, we take our beef and pork to either a custom or federal inspected nearby processing facility. And although we have not closed on the deal yet, we are far down the path of purchasing the federal inspected facility in Harrisonburg. We’ve slaughtered animals for nearly half a century.

Here are the Polyface transparency guiding principles:
1. Encourage a relationship between food, patron, farmer, and processor. Knowing something about our dinner dance partner creates accountability. The shorter the length between producer and plate, the easier accountability via transparency can occur.
2. Delivery limited to within 4 hours from the farm. No shipping. This is close enough to allow customers to visit the farm and return home in one day. We call this our foodshed, or bioregion. Perhaps you’ve heard of the 100-mile diet or localvores. These are all descriptions of a local food system that is inherently far more transparent than a food system dependent on the cargo holds of foreign merchant marines.
3. Diversified work stations. We do not believe it is healthy emotionally or culturally for anyone to kill animals every day or use only a narrow spectrum of muscles that encourages carpel tunnel syndrome or repetitive motion illness. Moving workers around within a processing facility and even to outside of it is both emotionally and physically healthy. Diversified processing facilities with rotated workers reduces physical and emotional stress.
4. Processing should be done on farm or as close to the farm as possible. Rather than sprinkling feathers up and down the interstate and concentrating guts, hides, and blood in one location, healthy and environmentally-appropriate volumes reduce toxicity, pathogenicity, and trafficking in bio-hazardous wastes.

Before proceeding to the critical issue at hand—transparency in the meat industry—let me address, pre-emptively, the industry’s criticism of Polyface because I’ve heard it hundreds of times: “that sounds cute and sweet, but it can’t really feed the world.” Our tightly integrated system produces far more per acre than single-specie industrial systems. And while ours may require more people actually on the land, that simply puts more eyes in prettier offices looking at more natural beauty rather than being cooped up in uninspiring artificial walled-in environments. And we don’t pollute anyone’s groundwater, create dead zones surrounding estuaries, stink up the neighborhood, provide pathogen-friendly vectors via overcrowded housing, encourage diseases, acidify rumens or any host of other maladies perpetrated on our culture to be cost externalized to society by secretive anti-scientific industrial food systems.

Now to the critical issue at hand: transparency in the meat industry. The very question assumes a degree of opaqueness that has occurred, progressively, over time. We cannot deal with the issue at hand without setting it in context. When Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle in 1906 exposing the atrocities in the meat packing industry, two things happened:
1. Sales from the biggest processors dropped nearly 50 percent in 6 months. Many consumers reverted to local venues.
2. Consumer advocates played into the hand of the big abusive processors like Swift and Co. to create the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

Had the FSIS never been created, the private market would have solved the problem by creating independent certifying organizations like Underwriters Laboratories, or the American Automobile Association (triple A). To assume that such a huge fall-off in market share would not have resulted in drastic industry-wide and marketplace measures is extremely unreasonable. But through the FSIS, the industry regained credibility and consumer acceptance. The industry has been hiding under FSIS skirts ever since.

Every major overhaul of the FSIS, including the latest– Hazard Analysis And Critical Control Point (HACCP) – assaults community-based, small scale abattoirs prejudicially and encourage the proliferation and oligopolization of the centralized, industrial-scaled operations.

This is all symptomatic of a non-heritage view toward food. You can’t separate the problem of slaughter opaqueness from the cultural food production paradigm in which “fatter, faster, bigger, cheaper”, without regard to ethics, beauty, or odor, is the ultimate goal. The U.S., as the ultimate expression of Greco-Roman western linear reductionist disconnected systematized fragmented its-all-about-me thinking, industrialized food systems to the point that food production and processing became abhorrent to humans.

Industrialized food and farming became aromatically and aesthetically repugnant, relegated to the offcasts of society—C and D students along with their foreign workers. When the butcher, baker, and candlestick maker stink and look obnoxious and are expelled from the village, no one can see what goes in the front door and comes out the back door any more. And those ostracized economic sectors begin taking social, nutritional, and economic short cuts.

Today our culture does not ask: “Does it matter if the pig can fully express its pigness, or the chicken its chickenness, or the tomato its tomatoness?” We view plants and animals as just so many inanimate piles of protoplasmic structure to be manipulated however the human mind can conceive to manipulate them. And a society that views its life from that perspective will view its citizens from the same manipulative perspective, and other cultures. Wow! Suddenly, dear committee members, we can understand that the seamless connection between our ethical, moral foundation surrounding food systems is the one that defines our culture’s persona.

Ultimately, you cannot have a transparent food system without a production and processing model that re-inserts the butcher, baker, and candlestick maker into their village. An imbedded food system is the only one that offers transparency, and that imbeddedness can only occur when aromatic and aesthetic delight romances humans to partake. Our dinner partner has been relegated to prostitution status—shrouded in secrecy and evil intent. The industrial pimps are even trying to patent life so it can be sold to the highest bidder.

The abhorrent abuses that birthed this committee hearing occurred in a federal inspected plant under the eyes of government agents who signed off on the proper HACCP paperwork. The fact that this illegality was discovered, exposed, and now the company no longer exists may show well enough that 21st Century information democratization is building its own transparency. And that’s a good thing. I believe I was invited to testify today because it was assumed I would be in favor of increased and/or mandatory videoing of abattoir activities. Sorry to disappoint, but I am not in favor of any increased governmental presence in abattoirs. You can’t regulate integrity. The Hallmark debacle occurred precisely because of cozy regulator-industry relationships, not in spite of them.

But beyond that, Albert Einstein said “you can’t solve a problem with the same thinking that created it.” I would suggest, therefore, that it is not a lack of government oversight that created this opaqueness, but rather the cozy government-industrial fraternity that criminalized neighborhood abattoirs and cottage-based food processing. Were the industry faced with serious entreprenurial community-based food competition, it would be forced to adopt more transparent policies because consumers would flock to neighborhood integrity.

When clean milk farmers can’t put rBHF-free labels on their milk and slaughterhouses voluntarily submitting every steer to a mad cow test get sued by the USDA, it’s pretty obvious who the USDA works for. And when our great nation now confines nearly twice as many people in jail as there are farmers, this steady centralization and the opaqueness it engenders can only progress.

The only way to encourage transparency is to strike at the very foundation of a disconnected, disembedded food system by offering freedom of food choice. Let me move, then, quickly to suggested legislative remedies that would truly offer greater transparency in the meat industry.
1. Establish empirical thresholds for contamination, adulteration, or pathogenicity without regard to infrastructure requirements. If it’s clean, it’s clean, and that’s all that matters. Random testing, at government expense, would offer regulatory oversight. But if I can gut a steer in the backyard and it’s as clean as an Excel animal, why should I have to wrap that steer in a multi-thousand dollar freestanding agricultural-zone prohibited quintuple-permitted facility in order to sell it?

Make no mistake, these regulations are not about food safety. Every state in this great country encourages its citizen-hunters to go out and gut-shoot a deer with potential Creutzfeld-Jacob disease on a 70 degree November day, drag it a mile through sticks, rocks, and squirrel dung before strapping it trophy-style on the Blazer hood to be paraded around town in the scorching afternoon sun, then strung up in a backyard tree under roosting birds for a week to be eventually cut up and fed to their children and their children’s friends. And the government thinks this is a wonderful thing to do.

In fact, we can give away home-processed beef, turkey, chicken, pork, home-made salami, sausage, raw milk, vegetable pot pie—you getting hungry yet? We can take the afore-mentioned deer and give it to the orphans through the Hunters for the Hungry Program—oh well, I guess orphans are expendable with unsafe food. But if any money changes hands for any of this, suddenly it has moved from neighborhood benevolence to hazardous substance. Folks, most of what we know as food regulations are not about safety, they are about denying market access to the local butcher, baker, and candlestick maker by making regulatory overheads burdensome enough to eliminate embryonic competition from ever seeing the light of day. You cannot have a vibrant, community-based food system at the same time you legislate an anti-small, anti-entrepreneurial, overburdensome, capricious food regulatory system.

2. Guarantee every American freedom of food choice to feed their 3 trillion intestinal micro-flora and fauna community anything they want. Our Bill of Rights guarantees freedom to own guns, assemble, and practice religion. But what good are those freedoms if we don’t have the freedom to choose healthy foods to feed our bodies so we enjoy the freedom to shoot, pray, and preach? The only reason we don’t have such a fundamental human right is because the great framers of our Constitution could not have envisioned a day when an American was denied the right to buy a glass of raw milk, homemade pot pie, or backyard sausage. In a day when Gay rights, unborn rights, handicapped rights, women’s rights, equal rights and civil rights occupy center stage, who will stand up for food rights? When the only food available is what some bureaucrat in collusion with industrial food manipulators deems is appropriate, we have truly entered a black hole of food secrecy. Our regulators think it’s just fine to feed our culture on Twinkies and Cocoa-Puffs, to hydrate on Coca-Cola and Mountain Dew, but don’t you dare drink raw milk or buy your Aunt Matilda’s chicken pot pie. This is insane. Perhaps a good analogy would work here. We’re all familiar with the current cultural marketplace icon, eBay. Does anyone think we shouldn’t have it? It has become a wonderfully innovative marketplace flattener. Now just imagine if in order to put an item on eBay, you had to be licensed to operate your computer. And suppose the fire marshal had to inspect your computer-office-mounted fire extinguisher, just in case your hot item generated too much interest. And OSHA had to certify that your office space was safe so that when you jumped up when the first shocking bid came in, you didn’t get a splinter in your hind end from a decrepit chair. And you had to have an electrical license to make sure that your plug-in was up to code. And you had to have liability insurance in case the buyer sued you over the product. And . . . Okay, enough of this—can you see the point? How successful would eBay have been? It wouldn’t exist, of course, and that is precisely the point. The reason the food system has centralized, amalgamated, and adulterated is precisely because overburdensome regulations have precluded innovative, creative, alternative start-ups from entering the marketplace. Food choice would solve that. Sinclair blew the whistle a century ago, and the marketplace responded. Too bad he was a Socialist.

3. Numerical exemptions from overburdensome regulations patterned after current precedent. Daycare of 3 children or less is exempted from daycare regulations. Eldercare of 3 patients or less is exempted from nursing home regulations. Public Law 90-492, the poultry producer-grower exemption allowing 20,000 birds without inspection is a wonderful proper exemption. Why are 20,000 chickens inherently cleaner than one beef or one hog or one lamb? It’s completely nonsensical. The abuses being suffered today and reported on the news are not in these community-imbedded businesses; they are in the large, government-regulated sector. And that is to be expected, because the inherent openness of a cottage-based business creates its own integrity. You have to look hard to ever find abuses at these small outfits. Not that they are perfect or that abuses don’t exist. But the propensity is less. Nothing is perfect this side of eternity, so don’t even try to make something perfect. All we can do is design systems that minimize the propensity toward greed, abuse, and secrecy. Empires certainly carry a predisposition to these ills.

4. Enable local prototypes. Allow any community to opt out of federal food regulations within its jurisdictional boundaries. One of the reasons food freedom is so hard to sell right now is because no prototypes exist to dispel the paranoia among consumer advocates, the industry, and the bureaucracy. Remember, some 25 years ago, pioneer homescholing parents were jailed for truancy violations, and state social workers swooped in to forcibly take these suffering, abused children out of their homes. Educational professionals, quoted on the front pages of newspapers, sounded the alarm that our nation could not afford to build enough jails or hire enough social workers to deal with these educationally-neglected, socially-deprived children.

Of course, with 20/20 hindsight, we now know that all of this expert paranoia was untrue. We could debate whether it was sincere or not, but certainly time has shown how grossly inappropriate these concerns were. Just because experts said it, didn’t make it true. Cultures have been home educating much longer than they’ve been government educating. And people have been eating food from their neighbors, their own kitchens far longer than they’ve been trucking it an average 1,500 miles or getting it in barcoded USDA-imprinted packages at the supermarket.

Indeed, the assault against community-based food has gotten so violent in recent years that the international Weston A. Price Foundation has founded the Farm-To-Consumer Legal Defense Fund to provide real-time legal counsel for farmers like me who routinely face government violence. The government violence against small producers and processors has created the violence occurring in largely out-of-public-view centralized mega-producers and processors under the complicit eye of government regulators. The National Independent Consumers and Farmers Association, founded a mere 18 months ago, already has nearly a dozen state affiliates with another ten on the way. In the communities of this great country, the systematic annihilation of heritage-based food is proceeding apace and the non-industrial food movement is networking, organizing, and surviving.

This committee, if it does anything, should propose legislative relief to these preservers of human food heritage, the wise traditions handed down for millennia before food was assaulted by disrespectful, dishonoring industrial interests. The industry says people like me would give us sickness and disease, epidemics and epizootics. My pasture-based chickens are considered a threat to the scientifically-based, environmentally-controlled Confinement Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). Who wants to live next to a CAFO?

I do not think we need more regulations against CAFOs, even as much as I detest them. The answer is more transparency through expanded market competition by freeing up community-based food systems to exist again. And if that scares you, then allow a community to at least try it. If people get sick, then it won’t spread. But if in fact people begin eating better, the distribution carbon footprint is smaller, area hospitals become vacant, then this system can be exonerated, just like home schooling, and a self-directed community can choose, for itself, whether it wants government food or neighborhood food.

The ultimate test of a free or tyrannical society is what it does with its misfit prophets. Ghandi said it this way: “First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.” We are in the fighting stage. The food freedom that my movement represents can be allowed to proliferate, organically, to make its own credentials within the culture. Or it can be snuffed out, annihilated. Which outcome will ultimately create the most transparency in the meat industry? Ask yourself that when you lie down tonight. I apologize if this is broader than your hearing request, but I could not honor myself if I didn’t place this whole issue in context.

I deeply appreciate the opportunity to share with you, and anticipate freedom-friendly, transparent-friendly remedial legislation ideas to come out of this committee. Thank you for taking an interest in these issues. Blessings on you all for the important work you are doing.

The Second Coming

No, its not what you think.  Maybe some other day.

William Butler Yeats wrote his poetic masterpiece, The Second Coming, in 1919.  Written while the world was reeling in recovery from the first World War, many have interpreted the poem as Yeats’ vision of the rise of fascism.  It is a beautifully haunting poem and certainly it calls to mind the evil and horrors of the fascist era.  But to me its eerily relevant today.  Lets consider the poem:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

In some parts of the world today it does seem that the centre is indeed having trouble holding.  And far too often, the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.  A blood-dimmed tide may indeed be loosed, to drown the ceremony of innocence.

But, to me, it is the image of the beast waking in the desert, with its blank, pitiless gaze, the body of a lion and the head of a man, its hour come at last, that is the most compelling. 

Slouching toward Bethlehem indeed.

Grace and Peace.