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July 07, 2021 06:49 AM UTC

Wednesday Open Thread

  • 12 Comments
  • by: Colorado Pols

“Nostalgia is a seductive liar.”

–George Ball

Comments

12 thoughts on “Wednesday Open Thread

  1. Things we’ll tolerate for the pork slider special at Shooters…

    Right-Wing Extremism Has Been Taking Root In Rural Kansas For Decades

    Emboldened by Trump’s election in 2016, Stein and a small band of co-conspirators hatched a plot to strike a blow against the government and the “cockroaches” they believed were overrunning their town.

    They decided to blow up an apartment complex where Somali immigrants lived and worshipped in a make-shift mosque. Those immigrants had come to Garden City to toil in the town’s meatpacking plants.

    1. An Op-Ed in today’s Denver Post explains another root cause of despair in the heartland

      … much Plains farmland is not owned by independent farmers at all. In eastern Colorado and western Kansas, research shows that a large percentage of irrigated ground is owned by absentee investors, big corporations, shell companies or their tenants. It is a pattern in many parts of rural America. These are not longterm investments. Short-term extraction is the name of that game. When one area dries up, they just move to another.

      To make it worse, much of the short-term gains from agribusiness do not stay in Plains communities. Our dwindling aquifer waters are converted to proteins and grains and then exported elsewhere. The real profits are made in distant markets and concentrated at the top of industrial chains far away. Corporate executives make the big money. Rural communities are left with the consequences. Already depleted places are left to pay the ever-growing bill.

       

      1. I have spent a lot of time in West Kansas; in Garden, Leoti, Scott City, Tribune, etc. and there are very few successful farmers out there these days.  Those that are work their asses off, because that is the only way to survive. Very bleak picture.

        1. If they could only figure out the real cockroaches are the hedge funds and VC money that consolidated the meat packing industry, busted the unions and implemented their own model (one that puts the costs of the negative externalities on the shoulders of the local community and school districts).  The book  Methland takes a deep dive into this dynamic.  

          Colorado’s George Gillette, Jr. was steeped in this consolidation – and was mentioned specifically in the Methland book. 

    2. It has, Michael. I spent some time in Garden and Scott Cities in the early ’80s, with an ex-partner, who grew up there, and the place was lousy with those losers even then.

      1. Don't know if you remember the late 1980s essay on The Buffalo Commons — the not really a plan, but a "metaphor" for what could happen in the high plains. I read it and a bit of the response when I was doing farm debt mediation in eastern South Dakota.

        The Poppers looked at the boom and bust cycles and expected things in the dry prairie were "busting" again, so the nation would be better off if it did what was necessary to have owners "voluntarily" sell or agree to cooperate in the project over a huge swath (125,000 sq.mi.??) of land.  Paying the existing population (and others) to abandon artificial aspects of agriculture, strip off the fences, and reintroduce native grasses and the buffalo.  Helping those who stayed to adjust their operations for eco-tourism, hunting, and more "natural" agriculture.

        Sounds like the "bust" of the cycle continues as they expected, complicated by vulture capitalism. Climate change will make conditions even worse.  Large scale economic transition have never been this country's strong suit … so change will happen disaster by disaster.

        1. I do remember that, JiD. At a macro level the Poppers weren’t wrong; consistent with so many things embedded in the remarks on this post we’ve managed to (literally) *iss away one of the most pristine underground aquifers on the planet and we’ll soon have nothing to show for billions in subsidies we’ve thrown at the region.

          There’s still time to make a transition that makes sense – but as was also mentioned earlier, we aren’t really good on transitions that require scale. I try to remain optimistic but the Ogallala dynamic is pushing that condition to its limit.  We could be so much more than we are. 

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