1890 and Now

Published on: 16:09PM Jun 23, 2010
 In post civil war America, the railroads, supported by congress, brought about the ruin of many farmers by charging very high rates to transport grains. The farmer could either transport his grain to the market and go broke quickly or not transport his grain and be broke now.

Many of the farmers across the South and Mid-West managed a political alliance, nearly but not quite forming a third party. The Democrats and the Republicans banded together to crush the farmers. The nascent political party was still born

Now, of course, everything is different. Cargill, ADM and their sisters no longer merely control the distribution of grain, hence, to a large degree, the price farmers receive for their grain. They now compete as growers and have succeeded in sucking up much/most/nearly all of the money congress pretended it wanted to go to family farms. Now there is competition from Brazil and Argentina. The one change in the opposite direction is that in 1890, the Ukraine was Europe’s bread basket. Joe Stalin put paid to that situation; now the Ukraine has a hard time growing enough wheat for its own needs, much less feeding Europe.

Fortunately, the political powers no longer support the railroads against the farmers. Now Capitol Hill supports the farmers – the Wall Street farmers like Goldman Sachs and AIG who have capitalized/privatized their profits but socialized/made the responsibility of the taxpayers their losses.

Wouldn’t it be nice for the farmers of America to be guaranteed a price of $7/bushel for corn in bumper crop years and a guaranteed income equivalent to a bumper crop year for the inevitable crummy years? Instead, there are two political parties that support business and banking against the rest of us: the Republicans and the Democrats. A lot has changed since 1890, hasn’t it?