Rural America under threat from capitalism, climate change and the GOP

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Rural America, which voted overwhelmingly for Trump, is under attack from all sides. As this article from the Guardian discusses America’s factory farming system has destroyed rural America, turning many into little more than modern day serfs. Trump’s “tax cutmight actually push up the running costs of many US farmers, as it eliminated various deductions that they benefited from. Quite apart from the economic blowback from his tariff policy and trade wars. And inevitably the rate of suicides is up in rural America.

US agriculture is now heading in completely the wrong direction, as such intensive farming methods are not only bad for rural communities, reducing the number of well paid jobs (in favour of low paid jobs filled by recently arrive immigrants) but they are also terrible for the environment. Carbon emissions are higher (there’s been some efforts to claim feedlot cattle is better, but that comes from poor scope definition of the underlying LCA’s) and the energy consumption levels are much higher, leading to poorer EROEI ratio’s. Not the sort of practices you want to adopt in a warming world dependant on a depleting source of fossil fuels. And climate change is having an effect on American farms, notably with regard to more frequent droughts and flooding.

The more controversial US agricultural policies include things like pumping growth hormones into cattle or chlorinating chickenWhat’s wrong with this? I mean you go through the little paddle pool at the front of a swimming pool, you chlorinating your own feet. Yes, but the reason Americans need to chlorinate their chicken is because of the terrible conditions in which those chickens are kept and processed, which all but guarantees they’ll emerge loaded with bacteria. But the trouble is that this process doesn’t always kill all the bacteria. Which probably explains why the EU has banned such practices and why food poisoning rates in the US are ten times higher than in the EU, while the dead rate from diseases like e-coli, listeria and salmonella is about five times higher in the US than the EU.

Another controversial practice on US farms is the US of GM crops. What’s wrong with that? While there might be some benefits with GM (drought resistant crops for example), but this is beside the point. The primary purpose of GM in the US has been to allow the crops to tolerate the mass spraying of pesticides such as Roundup (which is banned in the EU on grounds of public health). Furthermore farmers are forced to sign contracts with corporations, which lock them in to only receiving seed and pesticide from one particular company. Control of their farm is essentially lost. They are, like I said, reduced to the role of modern day serfs.

Another area of concern is the EPA, which has basically stopped doing its job since Trump took over. Take this piece from Vice news about coal dust ash, which is often loaded with heavy metals and carcinogens and how its working its way into US rivers and thus ultimately the drinking water of Americans. Or this piece, also from Vice, about Petcoke production and toxic fumes being openly realised over or near US towns and nobody is doing anything about it. Or there’s the US practice of mountain top removal, which again often causes major pollution problems in rural areas, impacting on local drinking water.

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Then there’s the US opoid crisis, a direct result of improper regulation of medicines in the US, the fact that doctors get kickbacks from big pharma for pushing their pills and a lack of affordable heathcare, which leaves some with no choice other than popping pills and hope for the best. And another issue with the US healthcare system is that control of heathcare services is in the hands of corporations not the people. Hence way there is a growing problem with hospital closures in rural America.

And education too is under pressure in rural and small town America, with teachers quitting in droves and school boards finding it very difficult to replace them. Which should hardly come as a surprise. You elect a bunch of politicians who hate public services, they cut taxes, starve services of funds and label those that insist on teaching “facts” as the enemy. And you elect a president whose base is literally the poorly educated, what did you think was going to happen? Schools and hospitals got gutted, rural and small town America get’s shafted. I mean whose side do you think these plutocrats are on?

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But at least all of these rural voters in the US have now learnt their lesson and they’ll vote for a democrat next election. LOL! You’ve obviously never met anyone from rural America! Not only would I expect support for Trump to be undiminished, it might actually increase.

In fact, probably one of the reason they came out in droves to vote for Trump was that they were feeling the initial effects of all of the above, which they blamed the democrats for (even though it was policies brought in by Bush at fault). And no doubt next time, they’ll probably find a way to blame the democrats for everything again. Its Turkey’s voting for Christmas sort of stuff….and then blaming the cows for it.

The brexit connection

I mentioned brexit, because there is a connection here. One of the things that you hear from brexiteers is how they feel the UK should try, post-brexit, to emulate the US and turn the UK into a bit of the old U-S of A. And some republicans too also share something of a misplaced admiration for the British empire, as discussed in the vlog post. Of course in both cases, its a view based on a misplaced understanding of history.

The Brexiteers seem to ignore the fact that the US is a large federated state, you know like the “United states of Europe”, they are in the process of leaving (because they think its too oppressive). And the republican plutocrats seem to forget who the enemy was when they fought for independence (you know the redcoats who wanted to hang the founding fathers for treason).

I mean can you imagine the outcry if Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called on left leaning states (like New York or California) to break away from the USA, then trade on WTO terms, require those who were born in red states to register and get work permits. Yet Farage can do exactly that in front of the the heritage foundation and get a standing ovation. As I’ve said before, conservatives hypocrisy syndrome is a well established phenomenon.

But going for a hard brexit and a free trade treaty with the US (and there’s zero chance of getting a free trade deal without giving in to the US on farming), means (as noted) accepting a tenfold increase in the chances of being hospitalised due to food poisoning, a five fold increase in the odds of your children dying of food poisoning, GM crops and roundup being sprayed on fields, with farmers losing control of their seed stock.

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And another condition of any US/UK free trade deal will almost certainly include giving US healthcare companies access to NHS contracts. Or in other words, opening up the NHS to further privatisation and corporations getting to decide on whether or not to close your local hospital or GP’s office. I don’t recall any of this being on the ballot paper back in June 2016.

So what the brexiteers actually mean, is they want to copy certain US policies, such as its single payer healthcare system, its less than stellar commitment to environmental protection, lower taxes, lack of welfare state, its predatory finances and turning many British into defacto serf’s. They’ll never publicly admit to this of course (because that would be letting the cat out of the bag), but let’s be clear, that’s what they actually want.

Certainly there are some aspects of the US we in Europe should be copying, most notably in the UK. But equally, there’s a lot US policy which we shouldn’t copy, as its clearly been shown to just breed inequality and crime. So it leaves one confused as to exactly which US policies the UK should emulate, given that the obvious answer would seem to be to stay in the EU, lobby for a more democratically accountable EU and establish a UK constitution. All of which is the polar opposite of what brexiteers have spent the last few decades lobbying for.

And Americans would be well advised to take a leaf out of Europe’s book. These issues in rural America stem from a grossly unfair US electoral system, which basically guarantees many US representatives their seats, upon which they can get back to ignoring their constituents and lining their pockets with corporate cash. Proportional representation could help to break the duopoly of US politics.

And the US federal government has way too much power. Combining the powers of the head of state and head of government in the president is also just open to abuse (as Trump is perhaps in the process of proving). Not to mention the need to de-politicise the appointment to posts such as the supreme court or agencies like the EPA. And one thing the EU has been good at is directed funds in the direction of deprived areas, including rural areas, thus avoiding a number of the issues discussed above.

But clearly certain plutocrats both sides of the Atlantic share a desire to impose some sort of neo-feudal system, with them on top and at the bottom a lot of poorly educated, peasants on the edge of bankruptcy who’ll be too busy keeping their head above water to do anything other than vote for whoever the 1% decide to put on the ballot paper.

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About daryan12

Engineer, expertise: Energy, Sustainablity, Computer Aided Engineering, Renewables technology
This entry was posted in climate change, economics, environment, EU, Global warming denial, history, news, peak oil, politics, sustainability, technology and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Rural America under threat from capitalism, climate change and the GOP

  1. Reblogged this on The Most Revolutionary Act and commented:
    The primary purpose of GM in the US has been to allow the crops to tolerate the mass spraying of pesticides such as Roundup (which is banned in the EU on grounds of public health). Furthermore farmers are forced to sign contracts with corporations, which lock them in to only receiving seed and pesticide from one particular company. Control of their farm is essentially lost. They are thus reduced to the role of modern day serfs.

  2. Your article is one of the most thoughtful and comprehensive that I’ve seen. Maybe the most thoughtful and comprehensive.

    If Democrats would show some sympathy for America’s poor and not just the immigrant poor, they might get someplace. Most of the Democrat leadership represents areas with high immigrant populations. However, even Bennie Thompson, who represents one of the poorest areas of the country, and perhaps the poorest (Mississippi Delta), is obsessing about the border, rather than his impoverished constituency. His constituency is almost entirely African American descendants of slaves. I think only the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation counties in South Dakota are more poor. There are rural Americans who can’t afford to have their septic drain fields (sewer) replaced, and those who patch their roofs with plastic garbage bags. The strangest thing about Brexit is the connection to the Confederacy. https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2018/08/25/absurd-brexit-mississippi-trump-russia-connection-promises-of-gold-diamond-uranium-and-data-mining

    My understanding of why people voted for Brexit is that English has become a European, as well a world, lingua franca. Thus, one sees Spaniards in German speaking countries using English. And, the Swiss (who are in Schengen though not in the EU) are even using English between themselves, i.e. the means for the French and German and Italian speaking cantons to communicate. This means that those who migrate are most likely to choose the UK or Ireland. So, I always understood it as a vote to have the right to work in the UK and not have jobs taken by European (or other) immigrants. Even in the United States, people really need the right to work near their homes, to be near their aging parents, etc. As an American with roots in Ireland, Scotland, and also England, I find it very offensive that I have no right to return to my indigenous homelands, and yet continental Europeans, including Italian Americans, can go work in the UK and Ireland. We were largely forced out by the British government, whereas the Italians went to America by choice. While I guess I shouldn’t expect more of a country (the UK) that didn’t want us in the first place, I find it shocking that so many of the Irish are still forced to seek work abroad and yet Europeans and immigrants are welcomed to work there.

    • daryan12 says:

      What keeps the Republicans in power is they know there’s certain buttons they have to push, notably the race card to get their base to fall in line. Oh the dems only represent migrants, migrants/blacks/mexicans are the cause of all crime, Bernie is a socialist whose coming for your guns, Obama’s a Kenyan, Hilary emails, Benghazi, etc. And every year without fail, in no small part due to a biased media, the very people who they’ve spent the last 4 years shafting come out in droves to vote GOP, roll over and prepare to take another 4 years of being shafted (blaming the democrats all the while).

      Brexit was basically a case of scenario fulfilment. Like the conservatives in the US, the Tories played the race & xenophobe cards any time they got themselves into trouble. They’d approve some new EU directive, all their MEP’s would vote for it, they’d not use their veto power to stop it getting passed. Then when the EU passed it, go into a massive tirade about how the EU was so terrible and the UK had no control. Inevitably the problem was that some in the bigot brigade started to take this all a little too seriously, wanting to act out their crazy fantasies. So Cameron had to have his referendum to shut them up. This wasn’t as dumb as it sounds. Like in the US, the UK has a very unfair voting system, such that the Tories can win a majority with only about a third of the votes. So the assumption was that the remaining 2/3’s would save them from themselves.

      But they failed to understand the blowback from austerity, the bigot brigade cranked things up to 11 (ironically showing posters of non-EU migrants streaming in, ignoring the fact that the EU allows control of migration (which the UK has often voluntarily not applied) and that while immigration into the UK from the EU has fallen after the vote, its gone up from countries outside the EU). That there was a group of MP’s who saw the ref as a way to further their careers (chaos is a ladder) and of course Russian interference and the manipulation of facebook data.

      This has put them in a bit of a pickle. While the GOP can go through the motions of some security theatre of putting up a wall (or putting kids in cages), knowing its not going to make any real difference (not that they want immigration curbed anyway, who’ll do all the low paid jobs then?), Brexit is a different kettle of fish. The UK will inevitably be worse off out of the EU than in, it won’t necessarily bring down immigration and it might just start a war in NI as well as prompt Scotland into leaving. Hence the impasse in parliament in which they can’t vote for brexit, but they can vote to cancel it.

      • Thanks for taking the time to answer and clarify things, and your insights. It is true that neither the UK nor Ireland are in Schengen. So, they are supposed to be able to control their borders. For that reason, I don’t see why they can’t keep a soft border between the Republic of Ireland, and Northern Ireland. While it is too late, I am certain that Nigel Farage is one of the blotted out cases in the Mueller report. If any shreds of US democracy survive, he will be punished, hopefully along with some of his Confederate buddies. The Republicans do have a track record of using the race card, such as Manafort running Reagan’s Southern Strategy. However, what most do not understand, and/or will not admit, is that American racism comes in degrees. On one extreme are die-hard white racists who think that the French are non-white. The average white American (racist) prefers brown to black people. This includes many Republican politicians. This goes back to plantation days and the plantation owners’ mixed race children. This conveniently allows them to pretend that they are not racist. While accusing others of racism, they do not care that “brown” (and some white) immigrants are displacing the black (descendants of slaves) working and educated classes – which seems to be the objective. I’ve seen this displacement with my own eyes. And, while documentation is rare, it exists. I still don’t know if displacing the white working and educated classes is an intended or unintended consequence. The entire immigration policy since the US Civil War appears to have been designed to undermine the rights of former slaves and their descendants (as well as American Indians). After the Civil War, this was achieved by dumping what Martin Luther King called “white European peasants”, which actually whitened the country, according to statistics. They were given American Indian lands in the west for free. Since the 1960s, this has been achieved by massive importation of people from India, Asia, and Latin America, and giving them the affirmative action, ostensibly designed for the descendants of slaves. The issue of wages isn’t so clearcut anymore. It’s probably more of what the EU calls “social dumping”, which is labour dumping pushing down wages across the board. I have spoken with an illegal German making over twice the minimum wage as a maid, and an academic making less than a third of minimum wages as adjunct. Prison workers make even less. This labour dumping has changed engineers from the elite workers which they once were. As for caring only for immigrants, I am simply stating what is in the press releases of the key “ranking” Democrats and in their tweets. I scour them seeing if they are doing anything about Trump. Based on their press releases and social media, the ranking Democrats have become totally obsessed with Trump’s abuse of immigrants at the border to the exclusion of worrying about US poor, etc. I finally understood the US Census debate. Voting districts are by population, and if non-citizens are counted, then the value of citizen votes in that district increase because fewer voters elect a representative. So, it’s not that the illegals are voting, as is being alleged, but the impacts can be similar, depending on the demographics. As for Bernie, the first place I ever heard about him was from the Trotskyist Social Workers Party (4th International), who claimed him as their own. They used to set up curbside tables. The SWP ran candidates on a ticket apart from the Dems and Republicans. True or false, they led people to believe that the Mayor of Burlington (Bernie) was their own SWP. Bernie was largely given a pass on this in 2016, to my amazement, though not totally. This admits some connection: https://www.thedailybeast.com/bernies-past-with-the-far-far-far-left Normal protocol is that he should have explained how his views have or have not changed from SWP-Trotskyist. The UK SWP is similar but not exactly the same as US SWP, which has a different name in the UK. One thing which you may not know, is that with digital TV, rural and small town America seems to have lost access to free TV and with all but dead newspapers, all that seems to be left is often nutty and rabid radio, unless there is a high tolerance for static to get NPR or BBC. In the USA, austerity is only for the poor. The rich and corporations are still being subsidized. Thanks again for your post and your insights. I wish that I could work on this topic more.

      • daryan12 says:

        A soft border is impossible if the UK leaves the customs union as Ireland will still be part of the EU. While Ireland isn’t in Schengen, we have no specific controls on EU migrants (since we see the value of them). If a Polish guy gets off the plane at Dublin airport, he’ll be waved through no questions asked and there’s nothing to stop him boarding a bus to Belfast (there’s an express bus that goes right from the terminal building in fact) and entering the UK without any border checks.

        And its not people but goods that’s the problem, the smugglers will have a field day. If anyone brings goods in (by air or ferry) from the continent, then they can ship them into Ireland tariff free and without any inspections and then on into the UK and visa versa. Pretty soon they’ll be shipping truck loads of contraband back and forth (cigarettes, booze, red diesel, drugs/medicines, whatever they can make money off really) making a fortune. And these NI smugglers are often associated with terrorists groups (IRA, UVF, etc.) so guess what they’ll spend the money on. And guess what happens to any customs agent foolish enough to stand by the border (one of my relatives used to do this job during the troubles and needless to say it wasn’t unusual for him to have guns waved in his face).

        The issue with the democrats is that they know where bigotry leads too, they’ve read enough history books to know its a slippery slope (just look at the mess the UK’s in!). However we need to remember how social media is being manipulated (as shown in the Cambridge Analytica case in the lead up to the EU ref). So they’ll make sure it seems like the only thing dem’s do is go on about immigration, as this fits in with the GOP dog whistle that the dems don’t care about white people. Everything else they do (and I’ve been hearing a lot about child care, climate change and social security recently from them) will be filtered out. Again, the GOP know that there’s various pressure points and all they’ve got to do is push certain people’s buttons and they can convenience someone not to vote democrat (and they have the tech to manipulate social media to do that). This is why I favour PR as it destroys such tactics. You might stop them voting for a dem (or in the reverse the GOP), but instead they’ll vote for someone else (the hard left, greens, centrists, libertarians, etc.). And also, a lot of the issues you raise would be settled by a higher minimum wage, because that wipes out any advantage a migrant might have (regardless of whether he wants to work for less, he’s not allowed too).

        Bernie does worry me a bit, as I hear a lot of the same stuff from Corbyn. So my concern is are his policies fully thought through and costed?Or did he cook them up at Woodstock in the 70’s while smoking too much weed! If its the latter then no doubt the GOP will poke holes in them during any election (then again, they said the same thing about Trump’s policies). Also while yes he did poll better than Trump & Hilary, frankly a serial killer would have probably polled better against either towards the end of that campaign. Elections are won and lost on the basis of swing voters in key swing states and in those groups he did terribly in the primary’s (which is one of the reasons he lost to Hilary). Hence I’m not convinced he can win an election.

  3. Pingback: Conservatives say the funniest things | daryanenergyblog

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