Friday, September 28, 2007

Note to Arnold Schwarzenegger: Free the Farmer; Free the Food Chain

By Bernie Quigley for The Free Market News Network, 9/28/07

Bringing it up to the Governor of California as he is of the rare and endangered species of politician with the ability to see and to act on what he sees: The Governator needs to hook up with the world-famous Berkeley restaurateur Alice Waters of Chez Panisse and bring her ideas and vision of "regional produce" and farming to a greater North American understanding. Regionalization of food and indeed all services cuts down travel and is therefore good for the environment. Regionalization also helps foster "local identity" linking food and farmer with people - lobsters should identify Maine people (and no one else), gumbo with New Orleans people (and no one else), barbecue with North Carolina people, etc., etc.

‘Twas ever thus: Nature brings people this way over the ages, linking them to earth, air, fire and water and making them part of it. Avoid the globalized nobodyman direction of Hamiltonian’s Federalized Man: Globalized Man is Homogenized Man – like the bland and watery thing we get today which used to be called milk: you can only get the good stuff locally. Link woman and man instead to her place on earth and environment as Jefferson intended. Governator may look to Slow Foods as well and the The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy to return animals to the farmyard where they once had a place. Homegrown avatars Neil Young, Willie Nelson and miscreant others of Farm Aid might advance this suggestion.

Mitt Romney begins to understand regionalization as a practical management tool and has practiced it in New England. It is also a national security issue: Diversity of local foods adapted to natural circumstances protects against failure of globalized agribusiness from an air-borne and unstable monetary system as well as natural threats to the global food system (each corn ear is a twin). The existing agribusiness system is as simple-minded as that practiced by the Soviets in the ‘50s and just as vulnerable to sudden irrelevance. A new regional attitude might possibly even protect against really crazy and random ideas like biofuel – which is catching on like a wild fire in the rain forest and as Jane Goodall says, is very likely to destroy the rain forest. Already, northern New England looks lost in a corn maze.

“Community tier" economy for products other than food also protects region and nation from global economic meltdown - it adds a new layer to economy free from the vicissitudes and vagaries of globalization: One could even sell California "regional" bonds or New England bonds (as a hedge against hedge funds and the dollar’s descend into the maelstrom, no?). Mitt Romney uses the phrase "one size fits all federalism.” Federalism in Hamilton’s universalist vision makes for a bland people if not to say a bunch of lemmings and Leviathan's hordes; all dress different, all think and be alike, and inside, nobody’s home.