Maybe Started to Get a Bit Alarmed About the Food Supply

I generally try to avoid the current affairs end of things but this story out of California concerns me. Have a read. Coronavirus brings new levels of misery to impoverished California trailer park. I’ll still be here when you get back.

That situation is deeply concerning for a lot of reasons. There’s the simple human tragedy of the situation, the sheer fucking injustice of it, the ridiculous and unnecessary heartbreak. There’s all sorts of reasons to be concerned about that situation. But, the issue I want to concentrate on almost seems tossed away between the lines. It’s the food situation.

On the one hand:

Before, not everyone would go for food distributions, but now there are lines everywhere. Her family has waited three and a half hours at a church for food.

And, on the other:

In some cases, farmers have been destroying their crops because distributors are not buying amid closures. As a result, farmworkers are being laid off early.

This means that there is an increased demand on food supply and a decreased supply of food. That spells famine. This is no time to play silly buggers about food.

Since this started there’s been some writing on how this crisis will force people to think outside of capitalism (I’ve done some myself) and much less on what that will look like. This situation perhaps gives me a chance to explain what I mean by that statement, Maybe we can start getting down to cases.

What I believe ‘thinking outside capitalism’ means here, is that we need to forget about profit. The government should either take over these farms or subsidize with a lot of strings –more like chains– attached. Maybe just make the vast subsidies that already exist for farms depend on a few more things. I’m not some theory purist, whatever works, works and what works is getting food. These harvests have to come in. And in getting them in, the rights of all the workers (yes, even the undocumented ones – I mean, hell, they have the experience) must be ensured. The food must be harvested as safely as possible, and the workers need to be paid well and have access to healthcare. The rights of the workers are not a negotiable part of this package. This is moral and pragmatic. Sick or dead workers aren’t working. The surplus perishable food that is harvested should then be distributed free of charge to the public, thus taking some of the strain off the grocery store supply lines, creating jobs in the postal service, and reducing the crowding at these grocery stores. And, yeah, the shit might lose money. But it will produce food. And it will create jobs.

Stimulus checks and shit like UBI is nice enough, I guess, but this is a situation that we can’t just shop our way out of and, efforts like UBI simply redistribute public wealth back upwards as people pay bills to such friendly local mom and pops like AT&T. That money only really works as a economic stimulus when it’s given to people who already have bill money and can spend this extra cash on extra shit. It helps those who service them but, really, most of that is probably going to go to Amazon and I have some hunch that the urge to reopen the economy is coming, in some part, from the bosses wanting to get their hands on these checks. Effort has to instead be directed at cancelling bills while supplying basic shit like food, drinkable water, shelter, and medical care for free — into creating jobs by paying people to do this and building the infrastructure to do this instead of, I dunno, condos or weapons. It’s not so easy but it is possible.

And, yet, I doubt any of that is going to happen. Not in America. And if the history of California is any indication, we’re going to see slave labor out of prison and detention camps. That’s the model California uses to fight fires. This model is also, in a sense, thinking outside of Capitalism. It’s the area where systems converge into slavery. This sort of blood subsidy seems the most likely course that The State is going to take to solve this problem. And, when it does take that course, it will say that there was no choice and it might call some of its victims “heroes” but there was always a fucking choice. The choice is simple – either give more to the people who already have everything or give something to those who have little. And the fair deal? The Green Deal? That deal will do more to stimulate the economy, to provide more and better food, to start the building of a better, more sustainable and durable society, than the slave deal. It works better for everyone except the ultra-rich.

Like, I was working on a farm when workfare was introduced and, believe me, people who don’t want to be on a job and aren’t getting paid well for it, are not the most productive or efficient workers you’ve ever seen. They produce a lot of waste. That means you’ll need to provide force, cops, overseerers and ramrods, to make sure the work is even getting done. That shit costs money too and it produces nothing. Better to just pay the workers –aka, the people who already know what they’re doing– and whatever policing ends up involved should be directed at the bosses — to make sure they’re running the whole thing safely.

In the meantime, this shit really worries me.

I don’t want to be some sort of alarmist. But the combination of losing supply with increasing demand? This alarms me. It is a bad formula. A very bad fucking formula. When it comes to food, it sets off a red alert in my head. It should set off one in yours.

But don’t panic. Keep in mind that you’re reading a person who has a total dread of lawns and an intense burning hatred of lawn-care. I’ve been arguing for the nationalization of the front lawn for years now. And I also loathe gardening. One of the happiest days of my life was when I got rid of both lawn and garden. So, like keep that in mind.

Still, if you have a lawn, I think this is probably the time to turn it into a food garden. I really hope I’m wrong about all of this. I really hope that most of this is just my well-known and complete disdain of lawns speaking. (LAWNS ALWAYS SHOULD HAVE BEEN GARDENS! GRASS IS USELESS AND MOWING IS POINTLESS POLLUTING CRAP! WHY DOES ANYONE EVEN HAVE A GRASS OR A MOWER?! AND WHY THE HELL DOES CALIFORNIA GROW INEDIBLE ORANGES IN PUBLIC SPACES! WTF PEOPLE!?) But, considering the amount of time it takes to grow things, it might be better to be a pessimist with an unnecessary garden than an optimist eating their pet dog.

Because things can come to that.

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