[The national state of economic affairs has prompted me to search back through my papers to update the following written in 1985.]
My ideas came as a result of getting married, buying property, and having an interest in organic agriculture. I was one of the original 148 subscribers to the Mother Earth News. As a result I began to assimilate back to the land culture as it was then being presented. Through ads in the Mother Earth News, I subscribed to Organic Gardening. The idea of chemical free gardening and natural bug control appealing to my budding paganism.
My spouse and I grew some beautiful big gardens. They were a lot of work. The fresh corn feasts we had were worth the efforts, supplemented by the beginning of August; First Tomato Sandwich. We liked this so much, that when a friend of ours came back from a trip to Southwestern Wisconsin, we decided that the next autumn we were going to check out the same area for potential for our dream of an organic farm. In the year that followed our friend Matthew Tobin’s first visit to Wisconsin, he visited the convention being held by the Eco-agricultural newspaper, Acres, USA. Matt brought back a copy of Acres, and much of its approach to mainstream farming was in the strict Organic Gardening vein. I took to the paper like a moth to the flame. Over the course of the next year, I became involved with raising ducks and chickens. Our gardening was expanded. Matthew moved on to our land, built a cabin in the rear of the land, and we shared garden space, tools and equipment, fishing trips and arguments.
In the autumn of 1973, my spouse and I made our trip to see Wisconsin. At one town, we stopped to look at some land, as we had been doing for the previous week, but did not hold much hope that we could find something as the town looked more prosperous and more expensive. The local United Farm Agency realtor, Al Marshall, listened to our vision and dream of a farm, and he said he had something we might be interested in. We fell in love with the run down farm of eighty acres, put in a purchase offer, and drove back to Massachusetts.
We were deep into our corn lifestyle when we came up with a name for our soon to be born child. If it was a girl, we were going to name it after the Iroquois Corn Goddess, and with a middle name Gaia. The child was a boy whose name ended up Knolls, which means a sunny place in the forest, and Blair, meaning a child of the fields; Knolls Blair Ward, a sunny place in the forest, child of the fields, and guardian of the castle. When Knolls was two weeks old, we were settled into our run down, ramshackle, farm house; no water in the kitchen; wood heat.
Setting up the farm afforded many hours of relaxation. I purchased a book from the Acres, USA, bookstore, written by the Acres publisher Charles Walters, Jr., titled “Unforgiven, The Story of How America Exchanged Parity Agriculture for Parity War.” In this book, was an economic view of life unlike anything I had been taught at school. The basic market system was described well enough in school, but something was evidently wrong, because in school, when there were too many apples, the price was supposed to go down, when there were not enough apples, the price was supposed to go up. Here I was witnessing in my farm research and education, self sought and self taught, when yields and product were scarce, the prices were still going down. The world was full of starvation pockets, something was terribly wrong. I was to find out what that was.
The book covers the work of a man, Carl H. Wilken, who was the head of an organization in the 1930’s called, Progressive Farmers of Iowa. Two contemporaries joined Wilken, Charles B. Ray and Dr. John Lee Coulter. They crusaded for a policy of monetization of raw materials as The Raw Materials National Council. The ins and outs of how the plan works, how the basis for prosperity from the ground up, in a literal sense, are laid out in this book, and writings in Acres, USA. What follows is how I understand how it all works, hoping to peak your interest for further research, and to tie this in to how I think it relates to the growing group of new American Pagans.
All things come from the Mother Earth, the Sun, the Stars, for free. We do not pay Mother Earth for corn. We do not pay the Sun for light. There is no intergalactic toll. What we do, is add costs to the production of corn, so that we can grow enough to feed our families.
Corn was isolated out from a wild existence. Wheat, apples, rose hips, squash, melons, all existed in a wild state. Today, much of what we grow has been so changed [especially now in 2008], that these plants we use for food do not grow in a natural state, so we have to add costs; fertilizer and tillage, to get the plants to produce the results we want.
There is a second concept that must be understood. All economic activity depends upon agriculture. All economic activity, none excluded. Perhaps you run a computer, shifting around numbers in a bank or stock exchange. You might argue, “Agriculture is not the main economic activity.” My position is secure. Let us say we take away agriculture. Do you think the Egg McMuffin will still be on the menu if McDonald’s has to hire Hunter-Gatherers to search out wild eggs and ham? Do you think the Hunter-Gatherers can catch enough wild meat on the hoof for the hamburgers? The steel mills don’t produce steel without meals. The keyboard next to you will be empty quick if that person misses a few days worth of meals. Agriculture is the most important part of our civilization.
If you dispute this still, prove it to yourself. Spend the next thirty days by not eating any agricultural products; totally gathering herbs, plants, and meats, from the wild. Yes, it can be done. The United States Air Force works such a survival program into its pilot training. Grubs and worms are on the list of gourmet survival fare. And if you think the rats in the tenements live off the wild, guess again. They clean up the leftover agricultural products. Where do the homeless hang out, in the cities with lots of dumpsters, soup kitchens, and handouts. Agriculture, the prime mover of our civilization is The First Cause.
Carl Wilken and his team made some historical discoveries. They found that there existed a direct ratio of monetary activity that can be calculated from what value agriculture puts into the system each year, and how healthy the system runs monetarily. With their evidence in hand during the Great Depression, Wilken, Ray, and Coulter, testified in front of Congress that as it were, agriculture could not be left totally to a free market system. In such a market system, manipulation of prices demonstrated consistent downward movement, gravitating agricultural prices to the cheapest denominator. Their evidence demonstrated the economy ran in balance as a multiplied coefficient of the price value of agricultural production. A low return for agriculture pumped a low return into the economy. They demonstrated to Congress that to place a floor of equality to other segments of the economy under agriculture, a concept called parity; the economy could be caused to work fully for everyone to live well. If the price of the commodity left the front door of the farm at cost plus a reasonable profit, the overall economy grew naturally without necessity of debt creation. Since the government could not mandate profits, the price supports were placed at 90% of parity, allowing a 10% margin for price fluctuation, however, no agricultural product listed in the main basket of commodities would be allowed to enter the market below 90% of parity.
Maybe this is confusing, or like smoke on the wind. What it means is, that if a farmer has to borrow 60% of the cost of growing for seed, land, fertilizer, and further invest 30% for cultivation, tillage, planting and harvesting, in labor or equipment, then expect a ten percent profit, that the economic benefit to all Americans demands that the United States Government support the healthy monetary system. The Government was supporting the people delivering the inputs with a system that insured full production. Higher profits were then to work to attract farmers to make usual planting decisions based on needs and perceived superior products for market.
The multiplier Wilken calculated and reasoned in the book’s material was seven. Seven times the value of agriculture was the “real” monetary input to the economy on an annual basis. Seven times 90% equals at least a 90% economy. Seven times 60% equals a 60% economy. How does a government fix a 60% economy? Debt creation makes up the difference. The debt system now drives our economy, the parity laws were repealed. A second form of hidden debt is being accumulated for our great grandchildren. It is true that the Mother Earth does not require payback, but she does have to be kept clean. When we force our farmers to work from a level of always trying to pay the bills of the 90% real costs with only 60% income, in an effort to stay in socks and shoes, they turn to “wonder products,” that seemingly offer higher yields at lower costs. The human costs of cancer, birth defects, and direct death, are never part of the cost calculations of a dirty chemically depend agriculture.
When the price of food goes up, you might ask, won’t we have more starving people? Here again, Raw Materials Economics shows the way. Consider that it is easier to create jobs in a 90% economy than a 60% economy. There is the proof. In 1942 Congress passed the Steagall Amendment. This placed a parity floor of 90-92.5% under basic American farm crops. Somehow, the economy of WW2 was strong enough coming out of a Great Depression, to supply all the hard materials and food, especially since before the war, many people were going hungry, to send the American Military Machine all around the world. Charles Walters Jr. convincingly argues through the proofs of numbers shown during those war years, that it was the proper running of the economy under the Steagall Amendment that kept the Treasury coffers full.
Now let us look at the hungry people scenario. A farmer is going broke, because he or she can only get 70% of what it costs to grow a crop. Fortunately for the farmer, land values are rising due to monetary inflation caused by increasing debt. There is money in the equity of the farm, but equity is not cash used to create a new job to help the farmer, but to make up a short fall in income. Since farmers as a group exhibit intense loyalty to the societies in which they belong, working close to the soil gives the farmer in America the appreciation for American Made. If the prices of products do not produce enough for a new car, the auto worker suffers. If new tires would be better on the tractor, made in America, then if the money is not there, the tire workers don’t get an order. All down the multiplier, jobs are anemic. Tight money insufficient for production return creates a tight money economy yearning for inputs. Agriculture is the First Cause. A healthy parity pricing for agriculture, especially run with Eco-agricultural principles, injects money into the economy, like lightening bolts of coins into the pockets of all Americans. It multiplies up through the economy. Money that expands debt free, has the ability to create new work, has the ability for surplus for savings, and [even more so now than in 1985] these are things we need today.
The proper pricing for agriculture produces the monetary worth to consume the production, leaving behind the money to circulate while the natural system gets ready to induce more cash flow through the multiplier. A phrase from the book; “Cheap food means hungry people,” can be seen in the streets of America today. The economy as it has been run, since the Steagall Amendment was allowed to lapse, has been one of debt creation on top of inflation. President Richard Nixon, acting in an environment limited by the price of gold, as it related to monetary value, eliminated the tie to gold value to the American dollar, thus creating a free float system of trust for a piece of paper. That paper isn’t the dollar bill you hold in your hand, but the Treasury Bill and Bond, and IOU, that is used to create the printing of the dollar bill.
The reported fuel for the Texas economic growth of the Seventies was the increase of raw material price above parity for oil. Do you remember the Texas jokes about letting New Englanders freeze? When the price of oil started to fall, and the debt created in an unbalanced economy (oil raw material prices alone cannot set a good multiplier because of its role in agriculture as only one of the input costs), debt created when other segments of the society sought to capitalize on oil’s good fortune, the unbalance came home to roost in the Real Estate market (another agricultural input), the Savings and Loan crisis, and the collapse emptied the coffers of Texas into the hands of Washington DC.
It was during these years, in the Seventies, when the American Agricultural Movement, drove their tractors to Washington. In economic desperation, American farmers began talking about not planting one year in protest. The heavy hand of clandestine effort from the Nixon White House, using newly created Conspiracy Laws, laid upon the farmers to ruin the lives of the leaders of the American Agricultural Movement, under the guise of National Security. If it is then in the interest of the American people to force farmers to plant their private property, in the interest of National Security, then isn’t it also in the interest of the American people that the farmer receives fair and equitable compensation for his or her forced requirement? The truth of the economic principle of parity demonstrates how America became a great nation. We seem to be operating with a willingness to experiment with our environment through continued destruction of our environment. Isn’t it then logical that with the evidence of the first experiment with the Steagall Amendment boosting our economy naturally for all Americans, that it might be useful to follow up with a second experiment? What have we got to loose?
Will it be in your best interest to have a natural system created for more employment, based on what Mother Earth has to offer, and which will have a steadying, and balancing effect on economic fluctuations? Or is it better to continue with a debt creating system our leaders think is good for us; a system that passes our wants and desires on to our children’s children complete with a growing debt package from the past? The Raw Materials Economy passes earned money to the people, whereas the debt created money removes metabolic conversion and profits the leaders and their friends the bankers. What kind of overall morality do we as a nation exhibit by not paying our way?
Consider the rising cost of health care. We encourage with low price supports and laissez faire attitudes, heavy chemical junkie farms, destroying the topsoil, cheap mining of the soil, heavy rescue chemical use to patch up poor crop production even at falling prices, especially in foreign countries where human life is made cheap; a destruction of our Mother Earth’s systems. These systems then pass on the destruction of human life quality, and as a result, eating these chemical, cheaply grown food products, our immune systems begin break down. The ever increasingly insufficient debt money gets passed to health care that feeds this money to the same companies producing toxic chemicals for agriculture, which of course, cause an increased need for rescue pharmaceutical chemistry. The current farm animal crop requires more and more antibiotics year after year as the cheap food syndrome creates an unstable economy. Health care benefits further through the accumulation of stress related diseases, so don’t expect a lot of concern from the medical community for changing the system.
What about the moral view? Do city people deserve a better life than a farmer? I bet the perception of city people is that life is better out there in the country. If it were, then why do people keep moving to the city? The truth is that as so manipulated, farm life is impoverished. Since the individual farmer cannot control the price of the individual harvest, some greater mechanism has to control it. We have seen how important the crop is to National Security. So much so that it was deemed necessary to crush a farmers’ movement for better pay. The well being of the city people is at steak (and on the grill, too). If the farmers are starving and moving to the city, is there not a time when the country will be empty of farmers and the system of family farm capitalist enterprise itself in danger?
My family went back to the land. We faced a one hundred year drought. We saw what was going on in our country. We moved back to the suburbs, back to construction and health care jobs. As the average family farmer in America inches in age closer and closer to 65, we sit and watch the system decaying from the inside. The countryside is becoming empty. Corporate farms are in Mexico, in Brazil, wherever cheap labor can be found. In California, where corporate farm has been the way, the state tax coffers are empty due to debt creation. Mexico moves north every day. Most times they want to sell pizza, not pick lettuce. Like our roads, which have been built by the cheapest, our agriculture is falling apart. If it does, and no one will grow corn for your urban or suburban family, what then will separate you from the Ghetto Folk?
Drug warlords know the value of agricultural production. The farmers of Peru grow cocoa leaves because it pays better than corn. Corn is driven into the basement by manipulation from America. Drive down the price and people go down.
In terms of a Spiritual view, the Bible’ teaches about proper agriculture. A people who have agriculture develop fixed institutions like churches. States are created to protect the consumers from the producers, so the farm situation is always manipulated. When the Spiritual Mayan priests stopped getting the respect from their farmers, the temples became overgrown with jungle. The Mayan farmers are still there, now fighting the economic priesthood of Spanish Mexicans. What made America great was agriculture. The man and woman on the Earth, providing rich food from a rich soil, stimulated the growth of the 20th century. When this part of our system slips into a modern indenture to corporate and government interest debt, will it be America anymore?
The New American Pagan must be concerned with the destruction of Holy Mother Earth. If there were an economic system that can be sustained indefinitely, provide economic justice for all, provide a base for true wealth into the future, how long would we wait to try it out? In a system we know is collapsing, can it hurt to try? If Paganism incorporates belief in the natural system, and that system provides the economic base for itself, does it mean that being Pagan, means believing that the people who provide the First Cause, should be given the first opportunity to help set us on a New American Way?
We are searching for answers. We are turning away from our institutions. We look at people like Perot, looking for answers. When they back out, we face inner thoughts of doubt, how much will I give for this system? What hopes are there? Ross Perot could not fix the system by using the system. He knew that. It is the system that is rotten. The foundation of our economic system is debt creation, paper money debt creation. We don’t even elect those money men. They are all appointed. They are High Priests in control of us all. Their pockets are very full, ours are very empty. They speak of sacrifices, ours we must make for them. They write the checks, we eat the corn, burn the calories, and accept a less full plate for tomorrow. I will go back to the land. I will farm for you, when you make sure that I too, can take my family to a fishing trip to the Cayman Islands. I will farm for you when you make sure that we too can buy shoes produced in your factory. I am a New American Pagan. I believe in the holiness of the land. The most Holy occupation today is Doctor of Medicine. It should be the Doctor of Family Farming. Doctor of Organic Farming paid with dignity. Not overpriced, not underpriced, but priced with common dignity. All races, all creeds will benefit. Some control by the High Priests of Finance will have to be given up. Then, that control sometimes ends up taken away by a dropping French blade of steel when there is no more bread to eat. Sometimes cultures fade into the muscle of common human until a new set of High Priests can take the reigns of the yoke of poverty. I believe it was Peter Townsend who sang, “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”
Economic justice and progression through work with Raw Materials Economics is a truly Pagan economic system, good for Christians and Hindu alike.