Apples of Discord, RT Documentary

Russia’s 2014 embargo on European food imports cut European farmers out of their second biggest export market. At first, they hoped the measure, taken in response to Western financial sanctions following Crimea’s adherence to Russia, would be temporary. Five years down the road, the consequences for farmers throughout Europe are dreadful. RTD travels around the continent to meet Spanish, Italian, French, Polish, German and Dutch farmers and Farmers’ Union Reps. They explain how the embargo dramatically hit their turnover and bargaining power. They worry about whether they still have a future in agriculture and question the European Union’s response to the crisis.

This particular situation is the best argument, I think, for bringing back the tradition of buffer stock policies. This prudent custom had been scrapped in favor of neoliberal market reforms; but we all know that foreign interests don’t necessarily coincide with the national interest. The role of a buffer stock policy is to ensure an acceptable base level price for both consumers and producers, irrespective of the business cycle. During times of exceptional harvests, when supply exceeds demand and prices favor consumers to the detriment of producers, the Government steps in with a bid to purchase this excess. It’s not mandatory for them to sell the unsold produce they have left, so the Government’s action in this sense cannot be labeled as coercive. The opposite occurs during periods of poor harvests. The Government steps in to sell from its stockpiles to cover the gap in supply and, in so doing, normalize prices. It’s not a silver bullet policy by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s better to have a safety net for consumers and producers.

Another good policy for agriculture, set in a fully phased in Land-Value Tax [LVT] system [also known as the single tax system], land taken out of production for soil or water regeneration purposes would no longer be considered productive land and would be exempt from the LVT, thus helping disadvantaged farmers and protecting nature at the same time. Under the present system, however, it’s the norm for farmers to put all their available land under cultivation just to pay the bills. For more info on the subject of agriculture under the LVT system, see this short video.

Prudence should come before ideology; and make no mistake, many of these trans-national accords are based on ideology. The EU political class must come to grips with the fact that European geopolitics cannot ignore the fate of neighbouring countries, unlike the US geopolitical mentality, based on the island nation context. And making bad decisions on Washington’s behalf hurts not only Russia, but the EU states as well.

Land-Value Taxation & Farming

Dan Sullivan, from Saving Communities, talks on LVT and farming on his stay in Sweden in November 2014. Sullivan brings in a wide array of keen observations in terms of methodology and socio-economic consequences. Labor efficient and land inefficient firms vs land efficient ones. The different types of farmers. The different type of farms. The different interests among farm owners. Incentives and penalties. Land trusts. Appealing assessments. And much more. The video quality is only 240p, but the sound is clear.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

The folks from Saving Communities get everything right, especially from a moral standpoint, with a tiny observation in terms of banking operations, issue which can be tackled via asset side discipline reforms instead of full reserve banking, which has a regressive effect (doesn’t discriminate between lending for wealth creation and lending for wealth extraction) unlike the former. But I won’t get into that here – instead, I will quote their view on Money as a Common Medium and conclude this post with their Call To Action.

“Money is a common medium of exchange, without which modern production and exchange methods are impossible. Government, which demands money in taxes or as payment against necessary privileges, violates its charge if it forces taxpayers to resort to privately created money, and further violates its charge if it guarantees the value of privately created money or credit. Government’s demand for money requires that it issue enough money to satisfy the demand for money, and that newly issued money be distributed in a way that is fair to all citizens.

Government should issue enough money to maintain stable prices, with neither significant inflation nor deflation. However, it is even more important that government issue money directly into circulation rather than lending it to banks or granting banks the privilege of lending money they do not actually have.

Once money is rightfully issued, the exchange of that money is private matter, and the money itself is morally private property until it is redeemed by government.”

Justice Begins with You

“Each of us has an obligation, not only to advocate justice, but to be personally just toward ourselves and toward those with whom we interact. In this regard, charity without justice can be a device for sustaining injustice. That is, if you demand justice and another thing, you will get the other thing, and only the other thing.

In the aggregate, there is no such thing as ‘more than fair.’ That is, it is impossible to be more than fair to some without being less than fair to others, or to yourself. In every human interaction, other than that of punishment or restraint against those who had violated the rights of others, all parties should come out ahead. That is the minimum standard of justice.”