Saturday, September 23, 2023
Chris Judd

Week eight: the experiment

Ever since the days of the Roman Empire, countries have been experimenting with different ways of running a country. When thousands of people crowded into the Colosseum in Rome to watch gladiators try to kill each other and a thumbs down from the crowd meant the death of the loser and at the same time churches were almost empty, religion has taken a backseat to sports. Take a look at our sports arena seats and our church pews today. Civilizations have experimented with totalitarianism, fascism, Nazism, communism, dictatorships, kingdoms, democracies, etc. One of the most comprehensive trade systems is globalism. Globalism gained acceptance from most countries in the world with claims of reducing unemployment, more even distribution of wealth, reducing food prices and mainly providing a more efficient way of producing and distribution. It is based on open markets, elimination of protective tariffs and commodity boards and free trade. Globalism was given the nod in 1945, just after WWII. It reached its peak about 1977. One large international trading company experimented with a branch in China but when China refused to accept the company bookkeeping system, they promptly pulled out. The Chinese accounting system is based on abacus which the multi-national couldn’t understand. By the mid-80s, most countries had wrote-off globalism because their countries unemployment had escalated, wealth of the lower classes had evaporated, and in some countries like India, inability to support the family, increase in bankruptcy, and even increases in suicides, prompted abandonment of the globalist idea.
Multinational traders get rich by buying cheap in countries with surpluses and farmers are struggling because prices are less that the COP (cost of producing the product), then the multinational sells into a country where a drought or other disaster has decreased yield and farmers have to charge more to just break even. By dumping cheaper food into that market, the prices are driven below the COP and farmers there cannot support their family, go broke, and again suicides increase. At the same time that governments in both of these countries are giving out subsidies or disaster relief payments to save farmers in both countries, the multinational traders are moving their windfall profits to tax-haven offshore countries to avoid paying taxes to help pay for disaster payments to the farmers. During this disastrous COVID-19 time, we see hundreds of thousands of heads of beef sold at prices that are more than $400 below COP. At the same time meat prices in stores are up by 25 per cent or more which would be $400 per steer. We wonder which tax-haven more did that go to?
The western world, which we happen to live in, is the only continent where globalism is still thriving. Multinational pharmaceutical companies have moved their research to North America because our countries have continued to fund university research to develop new drugs, etc. The big-pharma companies maintain control of publication of trial results and seem to only publish positive results. Now that lobbyists must be registered and the cost of getting them registered is prohibitive to all but the well healed, the multi-nationalists are meeting less competition in gaining government approvals.
In this COVID-19 pandemic, the largest concentrations of infections have been in meat processing plants owned by four multi-national corporations and in private (for profit) retirement homes. The majority of line workers in these meat plants are impoverished foreign workers, many of who supplement their family income with one or more family workers working at one or more private (for profit) long-term retirement homes. Many of these foreign workers are not citizens of our country and hence do not pay into or receive our social programs. Some people have even compared these foreign workers to legal, modern day slaves.
We have experienced gigantic breaks in our modern-day food system where shutdowns in these mega meat plants and reliance on food delivery by mega food conglomerates, has left many consumers lacking.
The greatest test in any system has always been: the unemployment rate, the per cent of the population below the poverty line, the number of food banks in a country, and mental health and suicide rates. How are we doing?

Chris Judd is a farmer in Clarendon on land that has been in his family for generations.


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