Friday, March 26, 2010

The Set Up

Posting has been light with the Spring chores on the farm. Before I get on with today's rant...

Wilber returned to the farm yesterday. Here he is in bacon and sausage form. Nothing like a little home grown, hormone, pesticide, and antibiotic free food, minimally processed in this case. Until the farm, I had not seen bacon like that since I was a little kid.

Yesterday we had some homegrown chicken stew for dinner.

Speaking of home grown food... every year I save 2, 5 gallon buckets of "seed potatoes" from the garden. I store them in moist sand and leave the buckets in the unheated garage. Potatoes are a "can't miss". If they have water, its almost impossible NOT to have a good harvest (disease permitting). Here is a photo of the potatoes already sending out runners in mid March. I would guess each bucket holds 10 lbs of of potatoes in the Fall, and they dry out some and decrease in volume (that bucket was overflowing). I would guess I harvest a total of 400 - 500 lbs of potatoes, and I do nothing more than throw down the cut seed potatoes on the garden ground and cover them with a foot of left over hay or straw. No digging is required. The potatoes grow right in the composting straw, and come out clean as a whistle.

OK, back to the rant.

Britain operates one of the largest welfare states in Europe. And that, it seems, is just fine with many of the British.

Despite the worst recession since World War II, many people here show little appetite for shrinking a system that eats up half the nation’s economic output, more than in Portugal, Greece or Spain — all of which are trying to push through painful cuts. Indeed, as Britain’s Labour government confronts a yawning budget deficit, public sector workers are mobilizing to head off any reductions in wages or jobs.

As a midwife for the National Health Service, Rachel Voller is one of millions in Britain who have benefited from a decade of rising public spending. Now, she wants to protect her piece of the pie.

“We work hard and struggle to make ends meet, but they are the ones that get the bonuses,” Ms. Voller, 34, said Monday, as she and a group of colleagues gathered at the headquarters of the Royal Bank of Scotland here to sneer at investment bankers and pre-emptively protest salary or job cuts for health workers.

Think about it. The U.K. came back from the brink due to the North Sea's Oil production. Then, flush with Oil money, the U.K. expands its social programs and giveaways - completely addicting (and expanding) the population to these. Now, the declining Oil production in the North Sea has demolished the U.K. economy and its budget, leaving the Pound on the brink. There is not a power on earth that can save the U.K. from economic and political disaster.

Further, SOME politically interested party is attempting to cast the blame on London's financial district. The U.K., like the U.S., has as its primary "export" financial services. Without them this sneering mid-wife's children might have experienced poverty and hunger right out of a Charles Dickens' novel. She may yet get her chance. Envy is a powerful motivator and useful political weapon. Just look at 1917 Russia.

It is NO COINCIDENCE that the countries with large Oil export capacity have large social programs (the U.S. HAD the largest Oil export capacity when it began to implement its suicidal programs). Russia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Britain, Norway, Canada... but once the Oil goes away, a humanitarian crisis of biblical proportions will visit each of these (with the possible exception of Canada). No Oil = No Social Programs. Can someone call the folks on the Left and clue them in? If they really wanted to help poor folks, they would organize and help fund Agricultural Co-ops, dairy, poultry, and swine production along with big time gardening on Public Housing grounds. That would actually help people. The Left does not want to "Help". They want to keep blaming the Right, the Republicans, the Religious, the Right to Life folks... They want power, and power comes from political control of people and money. Teaching them a useful skill (like providing for themselves) does not fit in with the Left's agenda.

What a crazy world.


Jeff BKLYN said...

I was driving down Manhattan Ave this morning and heard on 1010 winds about a push for a program to assist the unemployed with their mortgages... In my head, that seemed kinda f*cked. I can't throw too many stones though... I've been on UE benefits for three months and hated every day... I start a new job next week and feel blessed for it but it certainly didn't drop into my lap... I hustled from day one. I've talked to friends who felt they had time to kick back, take it easy. I don't fault them although maybe if I were a better friend, I would.
In those three unemployed months, I took on some volunteer work to keep my head clear and body busy. I helped to food to the too ill to leave their apartments in the many rougher parts of town. As I ran up and down the weed and piss smelling hallways of the NYCHA, I kept thinking about all the things addressed here, especially the ‘cold cruel world’ series. I love Brooklyn, dysfunctional as it is and I would hate to see it tear itself apart but I know in my heart it won’t last in its current incarnation. I really liked Bloomberg at first but now he just strikes me as Mr. ‘My kingdom as a Condo’ kind of mayor. He is doesn’t see what the future really holds for New York. For myself, I dream of the farm lots of Brownsville… there’s a lot of empty space out there between those towering housing projects… But for now it’s just that, a dream.

Dr. Michel said...

Thank You for following uo on Wilber

Donal Lang said...

Glad you and Wilber have come to an agreeable outcome (for you at least!)

I agree that people used to 'benefits', whether its free healthcare of bankers bonuses, like to hold on to them. But healthcare has a positive benefit for all the country, whereas gamblers (I'm including almost all investment bankers here) serve no useful function - they are moving money produced by someone's useful and productive work to someone else - it's a zero-sum game. The World would be no worse off if they all stopped trading tomorrow.

Of course, genuine banking, including genuine investment in companies who produce something, is to be applauded. Last year in Britain and America I understand it comprised around 7% of all banking turnover ;-)

Meanwhile Britain still produces about 83% of its oil and 60% of its gas requirements (but declining)and half of all transport fuel goes into cars. But we do have car-alternatives; its a small country with an OK rail and bus network good land and water and many practical skills.
What was that US oil imports figure again??? How is your rail network doing? What is it most people eat??

Yes, Britain certainly has problems, but I'd say they are far more manageable than those of the USA. At least our currency is floating free. What happens as you lose reserve currency status, and China buys all the World's oil and pulls the plug on the dollar?

Left and right in Britain (and most of Europe)is nothing like America, and there's hardly any difference between them. I am worried about peak Oil for the UK, but I think the USA is the front line.

Anonymous said...

It's a shame that the vast oil fields of Germany, France, Denmark, and Scandinavia (excluding Norway) have run out leaving their social programs high and dry.(snark) What will happen to Germany (where Democratic Socialism began with Bismarck)?
Not that the socialist impulses were driven by namby pamby humanitarianism.
The socialized medical systems of Germany and England were driven by the fact that so many of their male population were totally unfit for military service due to ill health.
They viewed the health of the population as a national security issue. Much in the way a vet would consider the health of the herd in an animal population. One untreated individual can spread a lot of disease.
We will come back to that with peak oil and if we are lucky will end up with a medical system like the Cubans. :-))))
I just wanted to give you more rant material, but the Cuban model will really be our best bet after the middle of the Long Emergency.

Anonymous said...

Do you move your potato patch every year? I had trouble with disease after saving seed potatoes over a couple of winters.


Coal Guy.

Anonymous said...

Do you move your potato patch every year? I had trouble with disease after a couple years of saving seed potatoes. When I bought them, I didn't.


Coal Guy

PioneerPreppy said...


You pretty much got me convinced to get a hog this year and turn it out into my garden spot as you did. Funny thing about hogs is that when I was a boy every small farm in the area had one or more. These days however no one seems to have a hog at all nor remember how to care for them.

Until I started reading your blog I hadn't given them much thought but 30+ years ago a drive in the country was constant hog-smell and it has been at least 20 years since I smelled a large scale hog operation.

One question though did you have any kind of shelter up for Wilbur? I didn't see one in the pic you posted a few days past (maybe I missed it) or did you guys put him up when the weather got really nasty?

As for the article it was very good and dead on.

It is because of the entitlement attitude that I worry more about the energy crisis as I fear the average working man is going to be the tax target for government as revenue continues to fall just to keep the entitlements going out.

Good post

bureaucrat said...

The North Sea (49 billion barrels), like Prudhoe Bay (13 billion barrels), which started pumping around the same time, did indeed help the UK (and the U.S.) tremendously, and put off "peak oil" for 40 years (and maybe something like that will happen again, though I'm not betting on it).

The North Sea was started in 1970ish, peaking at 6.1 mbpd in 1999 and pumping less than 4 mbpd today, and it was a game changer. Welfare basketcase Scotland actually became a cool place to visit and work (I have an acquaintenance there).

Without the oil, and the drying up of London's financial district, the UK has very little left to sell to the world. It is unfortunate. The Sterling is/will drop to near nothing. 200 years of empire washed down the drain.

The UK/British (and Mexican) dummies weren't smart like Norway, who put almost all their oil tax revenue in a $500 billion savings account for future Norwegian (4 million people) health costs (the "Norwegian Miracle").

The U.S. is on a similar trajectory. With Japan leading the way to hell first (because of debt, not oil), the U.S. will not be lonely down in the muck.

But the same question still bugs me ... there is still plenty of wealth in America (20% of the income earners here own 93% of the financial assets). You expect me to believe that the rich are going to go down into the swamp with the rest of us? I doubt it. Not everyone was bankrupted in the Great Depression.

The rich will find a way to hold on, as they always do, so an increased tax stream from the top 3% shouldn't be too hard to make happen to fund the government benefits. Plus we need some modest reductions in those benefits.

Anonymous said...

Coal guy,

I had problems last year with potatoes and disease, the rain fall total for the first half of the year was 10" above, then returned to normal here in NC,however, the damage was done and all rotted. I too used the straw method.

As for the gov. handouts and peak oil. not ONE single person receiving will have it any other way at this point, gardening,husbandry,etc. no way. In fact it seems the handouts are being ratched up. At least it seems. A guy on the news on Monday said it was like Christmas with the health care. That made national news! Right.


Greg T. Jeffers said...

Dear Anon at 8:47:

If you have something intelligent to say, please use a handle or nickname - I am not going to respond to no name, jack ass commentary.

Germany, France, and Denmark received the benefit of the U.S.'s oil largess after WWII, and had their security subsidized. Germany had a great deal of Coal to help underwrite their efforts, and the French had nuclear. Too, unlike the U.S. they have not, until now, had a permanent self perpetuating under-class. Or maybe they are the extreme example and my position on holds 93.427 % of the time.

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Coal Guy:

I do move my potato patch and also am big on burning some hay on the ground before I use it. I also mound my potatoes so that the area drains.

This year I am going to try to grow some in old tires, and some in a plastic rain barrel.

So far, though, I have had pretty good harvests. Certainly enough to keep us in potatoes for 5 or 6 months we are here.

Greg T. Jeffers said...


Wilber's shelter fell down in a storm. He had no shelter other than an overhang at the fence line.

Believe it or not, he did not smell. A couple years ago I raised 3 hogs in much smaller quarters and boy did they stink. I cannot imagine several hundred of them nearby, thanks.

I think if I have raised the 3 in the half acre garden spot over the winter it would have been big enough to dissipate their stench, but that would be the limit.

I also have 2 horses in a 55' by 180' area that I am going to grow corn for chicken feed. I will plant late April, and will give the horse until then to manure the ground. I've done this before with cattle and goats and I have found I do not need fertilizer this way.

Greg T. Jeffers said...


A hog is the ultimate in recycling - Wilber ate table scraps, pasture & weeds almost exclusively till he was nearly 300 lbs. In the winter he went to work on the roots of weeds and non-weeds in the garden and was supplemented with hay and corn.

I doubt I hade more than $125 in feed in him, and we got back 355 pounds of meat. Heck of a return, I thought.

As for care... nothing whatsoever. No vaccines or antibiotics ever on any of the hogs we raised - but they were isolated and outside, which is a much healthier environment than a confined feeding op.

I have 2 steers that are probably 600 to 700 pounds that have been raised exclusively on grass that we are raising for the freezer.

Dan said...

We could fund centauries of welfare with the 24 trillion we have blown, making sure those banksters who wrote bad loans get bonuses instead of having to eat the losses they earned.

1832 campaign slogan: “Say yes to Jackson, say no to the banks.”
Result: Landside victory.

Dan said...

When you grow potatoes they develop a disease that reduces yield over time, I forget the name. If you start with certified seed your good, the next year you are still good but starting with the third generation yields start to drop slightly and it is downhill from there. The problem is cumulative to the tubers and the soil, so rotation only goes so far. The only solution is to start over with certified seed.

To make certified disease free seed they take a small piece of potato in the lab verify it is disease free then propagate it into a plant. The plants ate then used to grow seed at high altitude where the disease can’t survive. There is a reason potato cultivation started in the Andes.

I will have to get a hog when I start gardening again, that is slicker n snot. You can smell a hog farm from about ten miles away; the smell is nitrogen escaping into the ether- a total waste. Around Liberal, KS in proud ignorance, they call it the smell of money. Anyplace that can waste money like that is too damn rich for my blood.

Anonymous said...

Read this comment yesterday, something like "we used to have a big garden, then we got food stamps, didn't have to sweat in the garden any more"
I guess today we do not have to sweat in the hot, humid July, August sun, we are "entitled".

Dextred1 said...

Although we have income disturbution that is skewed towards the upper income earners.

1.5% make over 250,000. 3.17 percent of earners average between 150-200,000. The rich really are not that rich. There are only a few bill gates and the such. I know 15 people in that bracket or close and they are in the same situation as me. They all spend to much, never saving for the rainy day.

The next 9.8% make between 100-150000 so once again that is not a lot by any standard. If they lived like my grandparents no problem.

The total earners over 100,000
a little more than 15.73 percent of total pop. The ultra rich might survive, but i have a feeling a new class of young guns will rise to the top when the shit hits the fan. There is always a way to make money. They won't be able to fund anyhthing with income that is not coming in.

Greg T. Jeffers said...


The possible unintended consequences of letting the system collapse back in late 2008 and early 2009 were just too terrible to risk.

It was an after the fact moment. Nothing to be done by scrape up what's left off the sidewalk and try to put it back together again. The fact that Government Sachs reaped huge benefits from GOV connections and lessened competition is another after the fact moment.

Life ain't fair, and using government thugs with badges and guns to MAKE it fair leaves much to be desired.

bureaucrat said...

The wealth in this country is hugely skewed upwards and everyone knows it. The rich are more than just Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. The non-rich rich is nonsense. And they aren't going anywhere. Move all their money to the Caymen Islands? The only reason the American rich stay rich is that the American rich already pay a lot of tax for the American military ($650+ billion for Defense), which guarantees their wealth. But they could pay a LOT more tax, which they will fight tooth and nail along with their fundamentalist Christian toadys (1/3rd of Republican party) to prevent.

If they don't, and if this massive gulf between rich and poor in the U.S. continues, nothing good can come from this. And all the homemade bacon in the world can't help that. :)

Dr. Michel said...

Some people earn their living from other people dependency.

Dr. Michel said...

Teaching people how to be self-dependent is the future of compassion.

Dr. Michel said...

Give Wilber to the hungries,you will feed them for a few days.
Teach them how to raise babies Wilber,you will feed them for life.

Dan said...

It’s really hard to change someone’s mind, which is why a crash like the one just had usually ends up changing the people. We haven’t changed any of the people responsible, they are back to their old tricks, and another crash is inevitable. In the meantime we have ruined the currency over the long term just to buy some time and maintain the status quo for now.

At present the fraud that brought us here has only deepened and by not dealing with the banks when they became balance sheet insolvent, we only put it off until they are cash flow insolvent. This means the final shakeout must be much much worse. Ultimately the incompetent will be removed, if not by bankruptcy then by the mob. The only real question is how much we suffer before that happens. n.b. I am speaking of a handful of people here, not the rank and file on wall street.

Dan said...

Also when I say fraud I mean:
1. Obtaining money, property, or any other valuable thing of another.
2. By means of a trick, deception, or false representation.
3. That is known by to be false, spurious, a trick or deception.
4. With intent to cheat and defraud.

In other words:
1. Raising capital by selling stock while misrepresenting ones balance sheet.
2. Knowingly passing off dud loans as AAA.
3. Cooking the books to get a bonus.

I do not merely mean stupidity or poor performance.

Nearing Coleman said...

If you teach people to sustain themselves, you take consumers out of the system. Fewer consumers in the system, even marginal ones, implies less borrowing. Do the Powers That Be really want self-sustenance for those who are on handouts now? Why would you release someone from debt slavery if you didn't have to do so?

Greg T. Jeffers said...

"Teaching people how to be self-dependent is the future of compassion."

A beautiful quote. I am going to use it early and often.

BTW, that has ALWAYS been the definition of compassion - it has just gotten muddled up in the politics of the 20th & 21st century politics that had in turn gotten muddled up by the age of Oil.

Not that mass murder and genocide, betrayal, and corruption were terribly unique to the industrial age.

Nor was compassion.

Great line!

Greg T. Jeffers said...


I know this is hard to accept, but:

The folks that were putting those mortgage pools together likely did not pick their head up from the trenches long enough to figure out the end-game. They were in the heat of battle. Between commuting home an hour each way, working 10 to 12 hours, and then TRYING to have some semblance of a family life - in between the divorces and the FUBAR kids the people doing this had no plan whatsoever other than the "sprint to bonus". Many also spent countless years competing academically to get to this unfortunate situation (not a lot of time/motion studies of one's career goes on at the major business schools) and have been indoctrinated to believe that this was THE RIGHT THING to do. Throw in a lifestyle that would make Caligula feel at home but sucks every dime you make out of your life (except for the Masters of the Universe. They seem to make out OK, and everyone of the worker bees wants a shot at THAT brass ring)... and presto!

You blow up the system without ever seeing how this could come to pass.

THEN along come some folks, the mirror image of the Tea Party folks, that do there best to place blame to their political advantage... never mind that their industry (media) benefited at least as much as finance. Ah, but there's no fool like an old fool at all... so they are able to carry this charade off with the "true believers".

Greg T. Jeffers said...


ANd the regulators?

Come on. They would have been tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail had they tried to stop the party. Our "leaders" don't lead, they follow. Every now and then they hang somebody for the spectacle of it... but they follow the crowds instructions.

And why shouldn't they? Its a democracy, correct?

Why shouldn't each individual be responsible for himself? Caveat Emptor. This is another silling social program we have addicted the populace to: The Government Agency in Charge of Making Things Fair. Funny thing about "Fair"... as an abstract, its in the eyes of the beholder. Do we want the beholder to be government thugs with guns and back room torture chambers? How else would they make things "Fair"?

Be careful what you ask for... sometimes the cure is FAR, FAR worse than the disease.

Greg T. Jeffers said...

There is no such thing as Utopia. There are no crystal balls. Life is NOT fair.

There are only a bunch of regular Joe's running to a and fro frantically trying to make a living in a very, very complicated world. And who made it so complex? Nobody! It is just the phenomenon, the zeitgeist.

This to shall pass.

Dan said...

When I said “n.b. I am speaking of a handful of people here, not the rank and file on wall street” that was to differentiate the worker bees who did their jobs, without knowing why they were doing what they were doing, from the Masters of the Universe who should have known what was going on.

A case in point would be the Lehman repo 105. The guy ordering the trade probably knew what was going on, however he may have simply been securing financing without worrying about how it would later be recorded. The accountant recording the trade may or may not have known, it would depend on whether the paperwork from executing the deal stated it was a repo and thus a loan, or a sale. The CFO and the comptroller should have known. Of the other 5-50 people who handled some part of the deal it is doubtful any of them knew what was going on, one does not keep secrets by talking about it. So you have a 50 billion fraud and there may be only 4 guys worth investigating, and of them only one is definitely guilty. Everyone else was simply doing what they did all day every day.

The fraud however definitely exists and if not brought back into check you can kiss the economy goodbye, our entire economy is built on trust. Not too long ago I showed $2.00 dollars worth of plastic, my driver’s license and credit card, to the guy at Budget. Then about ten minutes later drove off in a $20K sedan. Where is the trust in that deal? It is only possible when fraud is kept in check. Think about it, most of out economy requires similar levels of trust

Greg T. Jeffers said...


I don't know your background, but you seem to be a very knowledgeable guy...

Are their accounting frauds? Sure. Is taking an aggressive position within GAAP, and gaining the appropriate opinions from Legal and Accounting to support it ALWAYS fraud? I think not. Of course, that does not shield them from civil liability.

You could easily argue that GAAP should be simplified to prevent this... I would make the same argument about the tax code and the every other regulatory nightmare.

I approach this from a different perspective. I have no interest in employing more government thugs with badges and guns, who I think are far more abusive than the fraudsters, and the supporting cast of judges, defense lawyers, prosecutors, bailiffs, etc... that will work 20 years and then demand a 35 year pension... No thanks... People will have to learn to take care of themselves.

We do not need "trust" of the sort you speak of if it must be defended by guys dressed up like storm troopers about to invade Poland.