Farmland and Flooding

Three professors from Southern Illinois University have written President Obama asking him to leave the Bird’s Point Levee open for wetlands creation. The article is a reaction from the Delta Farm Press.  It is a good example of the problems with agricultural and climate change politics.

Article

Size of the Federal Government

Given all the buzz I have heard over the past few years about Federal government size, spending, waste, etc. I did a bit of research on the Federal government as an employer over the past 50 years.

The U.S. population has approximately doubled in the years since 1946. Current total Federal employees is somewhat above 3 million. Federal employees per capita has gone down significantly over the period.

From an earlier post,  tax rates have also gone down significantly in the last 60 years.

Addendum from Hank Weed:

Groupon

The following is a letter from Andrew Mason, CEO of Groupon. It addresses potential investors to their IPO. Maybe I’m getting old and cranky, but some of these guys are incredibly flip about the social impact of their Internet ventures.

The Letter

Are Tax Rates in the U.S. High or Low?

…. federal taxes are at their lowest level in more than 60 years. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that federal taxes would consume just 14.8 percent of G.D.P. this year. The last year in which revenues were lower was 1950, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

The postwar annual average is about 18.5 percent of G.D.P. Revenues averaged 18.2 percent of G.D.P. during Ronald Reagan’s administration; the lowest percentage during that administration was 17.3 percent of G.D.P. in 1984.

In short, by the broadest measure of the tax rate, the current level is unusually low and has been for some time. Revenues were 14.9 percent of G.D.P. in both 2009 and 2010.

Article

Two Troubling Issues

In trying to develop our business plan for a Rhode Island Farmland Fund, I’ve been interrupted today by two friends….with news from other friends…that reinforce two of my biggest cultural anxieties. The first is an excerpt from John Phipps whom I consider a voice of reason in the industrial agriculture community. He is speaking about the current debate on the national debt ceiling:

I think many assume there is a script somewhere and the actors are just peaking the dramatic tension. I do not. I think we are being led by badly misinformed, power-motivated politicians who would just as soon push the economy back into recession on the gamble it would be blamed on their opponent.

Because we really don’t know how this failure would play out, there seems to be a curious sense of “Let’s find out!” floating around DC-wannabees. After all, if it goes very badly there will be plenty of mud to be splashed on everyone, and perhaps more of it will stick to the other guy. If you are currently out of power, there could be a “What do we have to lose?” mentality.

The other was an email from Peter Gengler with a link to an article on global warming driven by the thought of Bill McKibben:

Article

McKibben speaks about the need for radical action on carbon emissions.

Lawn Care

God said: “Frank, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there on the planet? What happened to the dandelions, violets, milkweeds and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But, all I see are these green rectangles..”

St.. FRANCIS:
It’s the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers ‘weeds’ and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.

GOD:
Grass? But, it’s so boring. It’s not colorful. It doesn’t attract butterflies, birds and bees; only grubs and sod worms. It’s sensitive to temperatures.. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?

ST. FRANCIS:
Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.

GOD:
The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.

ST. FRANCIS:
Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it-sometimes twice a week.

GOD:
They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?

ST. FRANCIS:
Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.

GOD:
They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?

ST. FRANCIS:
No, Sir, just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.

GOD:
Now, let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And, when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?

ST. FRANCIS:
Yes, Sir.

GOD:
These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.

ST. FRANCIS:
You aren’t going to believe this, Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it, so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

GOD:
What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn, they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. It’s a natural cycle of life.

ST. FRANCIS:
You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.

GOD:
No!? What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter to keep the soil moist and loose?

ST. FRANCIS:
After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves..

GOD:
And where do they get this mulch?

ST. FRANCIS:
They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.

GOD:
Enough! I don’t want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you’re in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?

ST. CATHERINE:
‘Dumb and Dumber’, Lord.. It’s a story about….

GOD:
Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis

Compliments of Doug Rigdon