Thursday, October 27, 2005

More Deep Thoughts by Alan Keyes


The resilience of our spirit as a people, the characteristics that have made us strong and provided the foundations for much of this nation's success in the world, are rooted in the moral culture of the family farm. . . . [But] we can't save the family farm with economic arguments, because if Money is God in American politics, the agri-business corporations will control agricultural policy in America. To protect the family farm, we need to move beyond economic arguments to generate a sincere and permanent commitment to the human institution involved.

7 Comments:

Blogger Jeff said...

"To protect the family farm, we need to move beyond economic arguments to generate a sincere and permanent commitment to the human institution involved."

Keyes really is a rhetorical genius. It's very difficult to make a simple statement of fact sound both poetic and morally compelling, yet he does so here.

I sometimes wonder about the rhetorical flare he employed while he was throwing his daughter's possessions out the window and on to the lawn.

4:19 PM  
Blogger mkchicago said...

When you're throwning things on the lawn I believe it's more of a pitching flare than a rhetorical one.
I think Keyes analysis of US agriculture is dead on. We (Keyes and I)part company when he says that we need to "move beyond economic arguments to generate a sincere and permanent commitment to the human institution involved". I also feel bad from a cultural standpoint that the dime store, the drive-in and the Automat have gone by the wayside, but I don't see that they needed to be preserved. Those who are hell bent on preserving the small farm should focus their energies on specialty farming. The family farm is still a viable model for organic and high-end items. Foie-gras anyone? As for mass market agriculture: I'm quite happy that I can pay only $5 at Costco for a fully cooked whole chicken and get 10 pounds of carrots for less than that.

9:06 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

I too see the difficulties in fighting the logic of economies of scale in agriculture. However, getting 10 lbs. of carrots for $1.25 is not without its problems. The heavy use of pesticides, the erosive effects of heavy machinery, the destruction of third world agricultural economies, and the risks of relying on monoculture are all troubling. Are the damage and risks presented by these innovations outweighed by the benefits of super cheap food? Maybe, but given the political clout of Big Agro, there's no chance that the problem is being looked at in a balanced way inside of policy circles.

9:35 AM  
Blogger Germanicu$ said...

Agricultural subsidies to corporate farming operations, subsidized fuel and water, and lax regulations on harmful pesticides and fossil-fuel based fertilizers sound more like "corporate welfare" than they do free-market principles. Add to this the fact that most of the cheap food available in USA was made thousands of miles away and driven here in trucks, and the picture of our dependence on an unhealthy system for our food supply becomes disturbingly clear.

I doubt MKChicago would argue that corporate welfare is a good and positive force in the economic equation. If he seriously thinks the benefit of cheap rotisserie chicken outweighs the many minuses of corporate agriculture - the welfare, the environmental razing, the overdependence on a far-flung distribution system, the general low quality of the food produced by the system, etc, etc, etc - then he should consider finding a new calculator.

11:09 AM  
Blogger mkchicago said...

Rotisserie chicken uber alles!

11:20 AM  
Blogger Germanicu$ said...

I also must take issue with anyone thinking Keyes has elucidated a clear thought here. "To protect the family farm, we need to move beyond economic arguments to generate a sincere and permanent commitment to the human institution involved." So to save the family farm, we need to value it. This is a nice gesture, but even if 290 million Americansn felt it was really, really important to save the family farm, it wouldn't make make any substantive difference. 100 senators making a "sincere and permanent contribution to the instution involved" won't replace the valid economic arguments against corporate agriculture, which apparently Keyes thinks we should "move beyond."

Maybe this is why Keyes made it in the Reagan administration; like RR, he makes florid yet essentially meaningless statements.

Wishing doesn't make things happen. Keyes also espoused that we could live in a new, golden age of integrity and accountability in our national leadership, if only the White House could be rid of the scandalous ejaculator. Oops.

11:21 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Just because Gemanicus disagrees with the sentiment expressed by Keyes doesn't mean it's unclear thinking. "To protect the family farm, we need to move beyond economic arguments to generate a sincere and permanent commitment to the human institution involved." This is essentially Che's point about "the new socialist man" being a necessary precursor to any meaningful change in policy or politics. I would have expected a reader of Wendell Berry to have understood that. As long as people don't give a shit about the family farm--that is, as long as there is no broad, civic understanding of why family farms matter to American culture--you simply can't muster any arguments that beat the short-term economic ones.

10:32 AM  

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