Oceania and Eurasia, Again

I rarely read any “news” anymore and never watch television news.  I reckon I’m thereby spared being dragged into the muck that is American political discourse these days.

Even though I’ve tried to hide everyone on facebook who posts angry divisive nonsense, some of those posts still slip through.  It is from such posts that I’ve discovered some fascinating things, such as the fact that President Obama is planning to consfiscate our guns (or more likely have the U.N. do it) and that the Tea Party plans to outlaw contraception.  As Winston Churchill once quipped, “The best argument against democracy is a 15 minute conversation with the average voter.”

Meanwhile, as millions of Americans fret, worry and stew over such bizarre imaginary problems, our nation continues to sink hopelessly into an ocean of debt from which we will likely never emerge.  To press the awkward metaphor, as the Welfare/Warfare State plows into a fiscal and monetary iceberg, the citizens are on deck arguing about the arrangement of the deck furniture.  It’s exasperating.

All of which leads me to the reason for this rant. I heard on the radio that a fight is brewing over the extension of the so-called debt ceiling.  Now that would seem to be something worth a good fight.  At least it would merit some serious discussion from any grown-ups in the room.

But what I heard instead was the usual drivel.  According to the story, “the debt ceiling fight will hurt the economy.”  There was no mention of what the debt itself might do the “economy.”

But it was the sound bites from the combatants in this “fight” that made me shake my head.

The “debt ceiling” supposedly limits the amount the federal government can borrow to continue operations.  The term brings to mind a credit card borrowing limit.  Except in this case the cardholder can increase the limit whenever it wants to, making the “limit” illusory and essentially meaningless.

The “ceiling” has been raised far more times in my lifetime than I’ve circled the sun (78 increases since 1960).  To the best of my knowledge Congress has raised it every time there was a vote on it.  They’ve never said no.  In fact, until the mid-90s no special vote was required.  If the budget exceeded the ceiling, then the ceiling was deemed automatically raised.

With the passage of the law requiring a separate vote, the political theater became especially amusing, in a tragic sort of way.

The debt ceiling was raised seven times during the Bush administration.  During most of that time Republicans controlled the Congress as well as the White House.  The debt ceiling increased by 90 percent under their regime, as did the national debt.

It has since been raised 3 times during the Obama administration, which has overseen a 57 percent increase in the national debt (so far).  Not to be outdone, the Obama team seems determined to match or exceed the fiscal irresponsibility of its predessor.

Here’s the funny part.  When the GOP was running up the debt ceiling and the national debt, folks like Paul Ryan were driving the train.  Mr. Ryan, for example, voted routinely to increase the debt ceiling and supported every massive unfunded spending program  the Bush administration proposed.   Meanwhile, then-Senator Obama loudly protested the debt ceiling increases as irresponsible and unwarranted, and voted against them.

Fast forward.  Now the blue team is in command, Mr. Obama is President and Mr. Ryan’s team is out of power.  These days Mr. Ryan is a supposed leader of the alleged “fiscal conservatives” who are objecting to any increase of the ceiling.  Mr. Obama has radically changed his tune as well, now demanding the increase and criticizing those who oppose it (as he once did).

It seems that we can count on the Democrats and Republicans to be diligent about our national debt only when they have no power to actually control it. I have no doubt, for example, that had Mr. Romney been elected, he and the rest of the elephant team would be calling for an increase in the debt ceiling (blaming the necessity on the recklessness of his predecessor, no doubt), while the Democrats would be objecting. That’s just the way this game is played.

And so it goes.  Fiscal conservatism is easy when you have no power to actually make it happen. Wins votes from folks who have short memories, I reckon.

One of the most enduringly popular posts on this blog was from February, 2009, when I commented on the sudden and amazing conversion of the GOP to fiscal conservatism (HERE).  “It seems that having a donkey in the White House has made all the elephants conservative again,” I wrote.  But no matter what the newly printed Govco billboards say, some of us remember that Oceania has not always been at war with Eurasia.

Maybe we need to start manning the lifeboats.

Love Wins

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Benedictine Prayer

Dear God, give bread to those who are hungry and a hunger and thirst for justice to those who have plenty.   Amen.

Love Wins

25

Us at Wild Goose

Twenty five years ago today, I did the smartest thing I’ve ever done in my life.

Love Wins

A different kind of spring

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These cold mornings often have me wishing for spring.

On an icy morning a couple of weeks ago I went down to the pond to check the beaver trap and to cut some wood.

Our pond is fed by two creeks.  One flows constantly and steadily.  The other is more dependent upon the weather.

The pond was covered with a sheet of ice, but at the place where one of the creeks joins the pond, and where a tree had fallen in the water, I noticed something that seemed strange at first.

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While the rest of the pond was still and frozen, this spot was gurgling and in motion.  After pondering it for a few moments I realized what I was seeing.  Beneath this spot is a spring, feeding into the pond and keeping this spot thawed.

I thought of the old joke about using spring water in car radiators, because it doesn’t freeze.

The creeks that empty into our pond are spring-fed.  An uncle once told me, with pride, that there are seven springs on that creek.  I can’t confirm that, but the old enclosure where the spring water was contained and eventually pumped to the farmhouse is still there.  I can only imagine how marvelous that invention must have seemed to the folks who had been carrying it up in buckets all those years.

Until recently, folks built their homes not be close to a road, but to a spring.

As spring approaches, I’m thinking this morning of how important the other kind of springs were to our ancestors for thousands of years, and how little thought we give to them now.

Love Wins

Sustainable Market Farming

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Last weekend we attended the Virginia Biological Farmers Association conference in Richmond.  I picked up a lot of great information and it is always inspiring to be in the presence of so many folks who share our passion for sustainable agriculture.

One of the highlights of the event for me was the chance to meet Pam Dawling and get a copy of her new book Sustainable Market Farming.  Pam manages the gardens at Twin Oaks Community, feeding 100 people with healthy sustainably grown vegetables.  She’s a regular contributor to Growing For Market magazine and I’ve always found her articles and suggestions to be practical, wise and right on point for growing in our area, in the way we do.  Last year I decided to email her and suggest she write a book, compiling all her wisdom and knowledge for the benefit of the rest of us.  When searching for her email address I learned that she already had a book in the works.  I’ve been patiently waiting for it every since.

It’s a whopper of a book, stuffed with information, tips and proven techniques.  I know that I’ll be spending a lot of time in it and that White Flint Farm will be a better place because of it.

More information on the book is HERE.  Highly recommended.

Love Wins