Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Super Tuesday and What You Eat

I don’t publish political writings very often on my business page or here in my blog. It can get messy, one can offend others’ beliefs, or cause people to perhaps misunderstand the width and breadth of one’s values or principals based on a few endorsements or suggestions. 

However, (you knew that was coming, didn’t you?), with all of the hoopla about our food system – you have been watching, right? – and how it has the potential to affect each and every one of us who eats – which, is me and you, - I thought I’d say a few words about today’s primary. 

There is big potential for changes to our current system; the one that seems to follow suit with what the big ag, big food and big corp want, the same system that doesn't seem to listen, or even hear, my voice, your voice. 

A long time ago, I watched a docu-drama called Casino Jack. If you ever watched even one episode of the Netflix series, House of Cards, this film’s feel will be very familiar to you – and you’ll probably feel like you need a long, hot and very soapy shower after you watch either one. 

But it, like HOC, highlighted some of our country’s political system’s serious weaknesses in a drama/dark humor sort of way. But make no mistake about it; this is indeed art reflecting life. Here is the 60 Minutes segment on it. A bit less snazzy, but more factual details. Sad, sad details. Crooked lobbyist Jack Abramoff explains how he asserted his influence in Congress for years, and how such corruption continues today despite ethics reform. Lesley Stahl reports. (seriously, you’re going to want to watch this, if you missed it.) 

As far as I can tell, there are only a handful of people currently sitting in office, who do not accept a bulk of campaign contributions, via lobbyists or a PAC, a popular legal way to influence politics, from those who need favors and legislative influence. And we have a unique opportunity to vote out of office, many of those who do not fall into this handful of members. 

There are apparently about 535 Members of Congress. 100 serve in the U.S. Senate and 435 serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. And about 1/3 of the Senate is up for reelection during any election. In fact, 34 Senate seats & 435 House seats are up for election in 2016. If those seats change – a lot can happen that could help us regain control of our own system. You know, the ol’ “by the people for the people” process….

So, I’m not here to necessarily influence your vote. Although if you happen to know me personally, or have been to the farm since last fall when I put my first-ever political sign in the yard, or have seen my truck’s tailgate, you know who I am supporting. And the reason why isn’t because I agree with everything he is suggesting, or that I support all of his ideals, or that I know him personally. I don’t. Although, I have "met" him. Briefly. And while I am not always the very best judge of character – there’s always one or two who can fool us all – but in addition to what my gut told me, looking at his record, (his long, clean record), convinced me that this man was not, and hasn’t ever been, “for sale” so to speak. He appears to come from that same generation of people who believed that your word meant something special – and you didn’t speak words lightly, and you followed through on what you said. He said he was working to represent the people who elected him, and he meant, and means it, today. 

Now we all remember that After-School-Special cartoon about how a bill becomes a law. Well, I’m afraid it’s grown more and more complicated since that simple cartoon. People know how to word things, and hide words, within the bills in order to get pet ideas passed. And a lot of times, those pet ideas are things influenced by those who influence Congress.

Kind of like things that exempt various big industries from laws, such as the Energy Policy Act of 2005 which contained a provision that provided an exemption for gas drilling and extraction from requirements in the underground injection control (UIC) program of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).  Other exemptions are also present in the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. I mean, who needs clean or safe drinking water? Or air? Or irrigation water?  
Or, they work against a small businesses (and farms) by applying large fees, industrial sized safety measures, and unrealistic scenarios outside of a large, conveyor belt-type, commercialized, huge production situation; such as what has been outlined in the new Food Safety Modernization Act. Small, local farms aren't really modern

Then there’s the more blatant things such as the current controversial TPP trade deal which will likely destroy the efforts of some states to mandate labelling of foods with GMO ingredients, while a bill moving through Congress called the “Dark Act” has a similar goal. Again, heavily influenced by those other than “we the people”, and often strapped to various other “must pass” legislation. I never understood or liked this process, but unless we scream and shout, it’s not going to change. Those we put into office are always going to be forced, from time to time, to vote for something that we’d rather not pass, that came wrapped in a packet of must-have things such as aid to single moms or veterans, funding for law enforcement or the like. And then this of course is brought out to smack them upside the head during campaigns. It’s a no-win situation sometimes.

So, can you see how this heavily influenced system has become a problem for you and me? Our money is being spent trying to pay the note on the farm, pay the electric bill, send the kids to soccer or college, and support our small, local farmers. ;) While large corporate money is often used to influence things that will make their jobs easier, and more profitable. 

Now while many of you may have some money tied up in a 401K or other packages that are influenced by the shenanigans at Wall Street, and wish to protect those investments by letting corporate USA continue to keep making gross profits so you can make a paltry 4% return; may I remind you that those investments are about as secure as putting your money on the table of a black jack game in Vegas. Did you see Wolf on Wall Street or the more recent film, The Big Short? (See here how I’ve lined up movie watching for you for the next several nights?)

Together, we will not ever have as much money as is influencing many people who pass our legislation. And I’m not saying that there are not any honest people in office. But follow the money. This stuff is public knowledge at the stroke of a key on your computer these days. Go ahead, follow that link. Follow the money.  

So, I’ve said all of that to say this. PLEASE VOTE! Today, on Super Tuesday, and in every single solitary election you are eligible to vote in. (I guess I thought I’d throw that last part in, having come from a city where the joke was “vote early and vote often”. ) It is not only a precious right only recently being given to many in some countries. It's a right many have given their lives over. And many pains were taken around the world, so women could vote, too. See there, yet another film for you!


How we vote can influence how things change – or don’t. It’s not every election cycle that we have even 1 candidate to choose from that’s not financed heavily by secret money or those in very influential positions.  And it’s not surprising that there are NOT a lot of peers who want to endorse someone who is hell-bent on taking away their campaign money and lobbyist meal tickets. I'd look at those folks who do endorse them. I didn’t become a farmer for the fame, glory and riches. Public servants shouldn’t either. 

Thanks for listening. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go vote, and then get my hands back in the dirt so I can grow some awesome, nutrient dense food for you! (edit; I meant to include that we should never consider our votes as wasted. If everyone who voted, voted for who they best trusted, believed in, wanted to represent them - and not just who they "think will have a chance to win", more good people would get elected. I vote my conscience. )

Farmer Marie