Saturday, September 29, 2012

Articles on grain reserves and conservatives

Here is a short piece on the importance of grain reserves for food security.  For most of its history, the US Farm Bill contained provisions that at once assured farmers a fair price for produce and maintained a store of certain key commodities for our nation.  Since the 80s and 90s, those sensible measures have been hacked away at by ideologues and immoral fatcats, leading to a situation in which we have no real public food stores, at the same time as our government must spend ever more to support beleaguered farmers and sick, obese citizens.  Who has benefited?  Why, speculators and junk food processors, of course.  Why shouldn't our citizenry and our government pay to enrich these upstanding people?

On a perhaps unrelated note (but maybe not that unrelated), here is a David Brooks article about the intellectual tensions within conservativism.  I like his image of a conservative concerned with general wellbeing, taking a cautious approach to cultural change, and advocating to spread prosperity to all in order to make for a more stable society.  I don't know if that's really what conservativism is or ever has been about, because I don't know much about conservative intellectual history.  However, it seems possible to me that Brooks's vision of a compassionate conservatism is either something guys like him espouse because they are essentially liberals but don't like the whiny hippy stereotypes associated with the Left, or on the other hand that Brooks's rosy style of conservativism is simply a pleasant facade for a political philosophy that has always been somewhat mean-spirited at heart.  I am particularly suspicious of Brooks's categorization of Catholic social teachings as essentially conservative, because pressure for social justice and solidarity (both within and outside of the Church) has usually come from the more Left-leaning sectors, often with great resistence from more conservative forces (though subsidiarity, the idea that the lower levels of human organization should have autonomy to deal with their problems before government steps in, is perhaps a more conservative idea).  At any rate, I wanted to share the article with my readers, and to give Brooks recognition for what I see as a rare gem within his often clumsy and simplistic columns.

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