Farm and Food File: How did this happen? Pogo politics


TV talkers and radio ranters briefly bloviated last week on the world’s population topping 7 billion. While 7 billion is a big number it isn’t the biggest part of the population story.

No, the biggest part of that story is tomorrow: by 2025, just 14 years from now, the world’s population will be 8 billion and the number of people without adequate food, housing and education will be even greater than today’s impoverished, illiterate 1 billion.

Clearly, a caring global community needs to thoughtfully address problems connected with soaring population and, in the process, find ways to head off tomorrow’s even more calamitous problems.


Will it? All signs from today’s poisonous political front point to a “No.”

It’s not just global hunger and poverty that go unaddressed as political and corporate titans jet from crisis to crisis to moan about the financial or political problem du jour.

In fact, little to nothing is done to address almost any problem because most solutions are met with either right wing or left wing claptrap and few political leaders have the spine or spit to stand up to the whackos and weepers.

As such, the world wobbles from one bailout here to another bailout there.

Shaky future

Worse may be coming. For example, world food stocks are tighter than a vest on a statue but most aggies spend more time clucking about fat farm profits than thinking how global markets will be remade by less food and more people.

Meanwhile cartels for oil, fertilizer, seed, finance and telecommunications operate with little legal challenge and the world’s growing wealth ends up in a dwindling number of hands.

How did it come to this?

That’s easy; we let it.

We handed off our responsibilities for neighbors, communities and the nation to a class of professional politicians who told us what we wanted to hear: we could have it all — roads, bridges, wars, pensions, schools, aircraft carriers, health care, clean water — and not pay for it all.

And we got exactly what we paid for — bad roads, bad schools, bad food, bad health, bad wars and, now, a bad future.

Digging deeper

Worse, we’re doubling our bets on this failing strategy by giving even fewer people even more power to determine our national commitment to key elements of our future.

We call it the Super Committee, the six senators and six House members chosen by their political parties to, in the end, protect their pals on either end of Pennsylvania Avenue who are either too cowardly or too ineffectual to lead.

How did it come this? We let it.

Prove it to yourself. You’re a politically-engaged, well-informed voting citizen, right? So name the 12 members of this group who now are meeting behind closed doors to make choices for you and your grandchildren.

Uh … O.K., name six. Four. Two?

No resistance

Little wonder the extremists have seized the process; we — you and I — have checked out. We can’t have participatory democracy if we don’t participate.

Worse yet is the cronyism that flourishes under the Super Committee’s dark umbrella. Committee chairs and ranking members of every stripe are — without the aid of one hearing, one vote or even one voter — writing important, multi-year legislation in order to stake out funding in the Super Committee’s budget plan.


For example, the 2012 farm bill is being pieced together right now by the four top aggies in Congress with little to no input from the 63 other members of the House and Senate ag committees. Call it what you will, but you can’t call it democracy.

How did this happen? We let it. It was a mistake. And it would be an even bigger mistake to accept any legislation — a new farm bill, a 10-year budget plan — that comes from this super bad, super-undemocratic process.

© 2011 ag comm


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Alan Guebert was raised on an 800-acre, 100-cow southern Illinois dairy farm. After graduation from the University of Illinois in 1980, he served as a writer and editor at Professional Farmers of America, Successful Farming magazine and Farm Journal magazine. His syndicated agricultural column, The Farm and Food File, began in June, 1993, and now appears weekly in more than 70 publications throughout the U.S. and Canada. He and spouse Catherine, a social worker, have two adult children.



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