The Bitter Harvest: Scarcity and Abundance

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

"We cannot solve problems with the same thinking

we used when we created them"

~Einstein

I spent Father's Day of this year reflecting on the the challenges of Colorado's 4th Congressional District, a landscape of both abundance and scarcity.  A land where federal programs have provided an abundance for some; for others, only the prospect of increasing scarcity.  A land so rich in natural resources that it's hard to comprehend that any of its residents are challenged in the way they are today.

As we witness the growing chasm between the abundance for some and scarcity for others – it's mind-numbing for anyone paying attention.

Then in September the US House of Representatives, aided by the leadership of Cory Gardner, voted to systemically dismantle the safety nets for our country's most challenged residents; a $40 billion cut in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance  Program that will not only further decimate existing safety nets – but eliminate 55,000 Coloradans from being eligible.  Just prior to the final House vote in September, Congressman Gardner had this to say:

“I’m anxious about it,” said Gardner, a few hours before the vote. “I’m glad we’re moving forward on a path that should complete the farm bill but the road has not been easy. I don’t want to be overconfident at any point.”

Next stop?  The 2013 Government shutdown: a brave act of leadership that cost the US economy just over half of the total amount of the House proposed cuts to the food nutrition program. 

It falls in to the category, "I wish I was making this up."

When Congress returns to finish this session on December 9, it will be the last opportunity to pass a Farm Bill, an effort almost ignored by the Press yet perhaps the most apt symbol of a dysfunctional Washington.

But I would argue the political dysfunction that holds the Farm Bill hostage is only surpassed by the pragmatic dysfunction of what the legislation will deliver to the American taxpayer: the Republican House passed farm bill ends conservation compliance as a precondition for subsidies; the Senate version requires compliance as a precondition for crop insurance. They're cutting $40 billion from vital food programs while taking away the last constraint on farmers who don't practice sound soil conservation.  Sugar will remain heavily subsidized, while fruits and vegetables have no seat at the table; the US taxpayer has shelled out almost $4 billion in payments to Brazil because our cotton subsidy program is in violation of world trade agreements.  The Senate is attempting to limit the taxpayer exposure to milk subsidies, while the House version could lead to out-of-control government subsidies.

And while the proposed cuts by my self-avowed, fiscally-conservative Congressman will further exasperate hunger, fear not fellow billionaires: your subsidies are not at risk.

Perhaps Robert Reich summed it up best:

To call the Congress that enters its final weeks of the year a "do-nothing" Congress is far too generous. Not only has it done nothing to reform the nation's obsolete immigration laws, or our absurd and unfair tax system, or the government's heinously intrusive methods of spying on its own citizens. But in failing to extend unemployment benefits to 1.3 million jobless people who are about to lose them, or enact any climate legislation, or renew the ban on plastic guns, or end the draconian budget "sequester" that willy-nilly cuts spending on defense and on the poor and needy, it has done worse than nothing. As the year reaches a close, America is worse off than it was when the 113th Congress began. I don't mean to draw a false equivalence. It is the Democrats who have accomplished nothing. Republicans, by contrast, have accomplished exactly what they intended.

So as we struggle implementing 20th century federal programs into a 21st century economy, as we continue to shower the largess of the American taxpayer on a select few agricultural producers, as we struggle to maintain rural viability because of the lack of communications and infrastructure investments – and as we watch the collapse of some regional ecosystems and their finite natural resources – it would be an appropriate time for rural America to exercise some self-reflection:  Is Rome burning? Are our rural communities benefiting from the current programs? Should we change course? Is it time to transition to new crops? Do we really "feed the world"?

Tough questions.  And most in rural America rarely enjoy such questions.  But ask them, we must.  It's time for new thinking.  It's time to begin the transition of how we adapt to changing climates, how we embrace a new energy future and how we provide basic safety nets that provide dignity and support to every one of our neighbors. 

In our state alone, the childhood poverty rate has grown faster than only one other state in the entire union.  More than Colorado 200,000 children now live in poverty – twice as many as just one decade ago.  We're better than this – and given that it is generally successful state programs that morph in to federal programs, let's bring Colorado's diverse interests together to solve this problem.  We take on big visions in the Centennial state – it's how we roll. We've lead the national narrative on clean energy, ended the prohibition on cannabis and are beginning the process of tackling air quality issues around natural gas development. 

We have an embarrassment of riches in human capital, natural resources and forward thinkers, giving us an abundance of opportunity –   limited only by a scarcity of leadership.

 

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33 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. JeffcoBlueJeffcoBlue says:

    You're a great asset to this blog. I look forward to all your posts.

  2. HarleyHarley says:

    And the only bad thing about Mr. Bowman writing this blog—is that he had to write anything about the subject. A rich country like ours, and people have to scrounge for food. Our country should NOT have poverty in such abundance as we have.

  3. ClubTwitty says:

    Tipton and Lamborn just teamed up to pass legislation greasing the skids for more leasing of public lands for drilling and fracking.  Those lands are currently being leased at prices set in 1920, in the Mineral Leasing Act.  

    On the day of the auction, the successful bidder must submit a properly executed lease bid form, which constitutes a legally binding lease offer, and pay a share of the sale costs ($150 per lease); the first year's advance rental ($1.50 per acre or fraction thereof); and not less than the $2-per-acre minimum bonus bid. The balance of the bonus bid must be received within 10 working days of the auction. Those bidders who fail to submit the balance of the bonus on time will forfeit their entire deposit money.

    Meanwhile as they participate in the robbery of the American Treasury on the one hand, the congressmen are voting to cut SNAP benefits–hurting the most vulnerable, the currently down-on-their-luck, the young spouse of the thrice deployed young Nat'l Guard soldier, the elederly and infirm, and numerous others. Its nothing but shameful. Even a reptile like Lamborn must know better in his tiny little heart.   

    Thank you Mr. Bowman for writing this.  I also really look forward to your posts, and your next campaign.  

    • ClubTwitty says:

      article link

      I meant to include the above link, which goes to a Durango Herald article on the bills I refer to.  It’s also worth noting that for both Lamborn and Tipton, the 2nd top donor industry is 'oil and gas,' according to OpenSecrets.org.  And both seem to be eagerly doing the bidding of these special interests, even as they groundhog-day-vote on 'repeal' (and never the 'replace' part); and slash programs to help hungry, retired, elderly, and needy Americans.  (Along with conservation, environmental protection, and other public goods, in order to benefit narrow and wealthy interests).  It's despicable.   

    • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

      Thanks for that update, CT.  This country isn't broke, it's being robbed – and in Colorado it's the "Three Amigos Man-whores" Gardner, Tipton and Lamborn.  For the most part they've dropped any pretense in pretending they have enough firing neurons capable of 'math' that benefits society writ large. They're looting a burning building. 

      • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

        You are right, Michael. There is a growing awareness, even in the red states, that the Republican party has stopped pretending to be anything other than what it is; a political "mafia", gorging on the system that allows, nay…encourages, them to loot and pillage. Of course it isn't just Republicans, but they are the superstars at political crime.

        Sadly, the simple country folk who follow and support those assholes don't see that, not only are their taxes being misappropriated, but all those dollars they gladly throw at the K-street money machine are generated by lies and distortions.

        Excellent diary, Michael.

    • Miss Jane says:

      The scurrilous Lamborn just doesn't give a damn. 

  4. Diogenesdemar says:

    Hey, Hey, Hey — let's not be losing count of any of our man whores, here . . . shouldn't forget D'Artagnan Coffman.  OK, so he hasn't enough hair or brains or charisma to get counted in the title, he probably sharpens the others' swords, or polishes their boots, or something . . . ?!?

    • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

      So many ManWhores®, so little time.  I put Coffman in a special category unto his own: attempting to rewrite history.  Gardner and Lamborn, not so much – they no longer even to pretend they aren't completely beholden to their money masters. And although I know the least about Tipton's affairs – perhaps he belongs in the RE:Write Mike® category? 

      • kwtreemamajama55 says:

        Tipton is Mr. Cloudy: He's very specific when voting: against immigration, (more border security, no plan for citizenship, no help for Dreamers), against health care, against reproductive rights, for the government shutdown  (Congress needs to come up with another budget plan by December 13, people!)- yet, when contacting voters, he still seems to believe that he can cloud voter's minds with his talk about being "compassionate" and "thoughtful" about these issues, and refuse to be specific about any of these issues which matter to voters.

        Mr. "Cloudy" Tipton counts on saying all of the right buzzwords, beleiving that Coloradans will keep on voting for him because he is supposedly "good on water rights", while otherwise voting against Coloradan's interests. Tipton's "Water Rights Protection Act", according to environmentalists, will be a disaster for water on public lands – basically taking away any Federal power to protect endangered species, keep rivers flowing, etc, all in the name of protecting private water rights.

        Tipton's "Education and Energy" bill supposedly hits up energy producer royalties for education funding in Colorado. As far as I can tell, what the bill actually does is prohibit the Federal government from taking any royalties, and encourage new O&G leases in the name of 33% funding for education. Again, it will reduce federal oversight over O&G production, while supposedly funding schools. It's all clouds and fog from Tipton.

        "Cloudy" Tipton is a smooth operator. I've seen him in action, and he is one slick politician. Warm, charming, personable – unlike the unfortunate Mr. Coffman, Tipton is not prone to blurting out embarassing sound bites that come back to bite him back. Instead, Cloudy relies on saying all of the right things, reassuring voters, and voting consistently for his corporate funders.

        RE: WriteMike?  If this is a "Bill says it will….vs. Bill actually will", I'm all for it.

         

        • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

          You've made your case: Scotty is definitely a ManWhore®

          RE:WriteMike® is Mike Coffman and his daily attempts to rewrite history wink  (I'm not saying he hasn't earned the honor of being one of our many Colorado  ManWhore®s, too.  There's nothing in the rules that says you can't hold two titles…)

  5. Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

    This caught my eye…I can see this existing in Washington, DC and New York as easily as in Tokyo…just change the names. Issa…Cruz…Rove…Wolfowitz…Dimon…Romney…Pearle…Koch…Adelman…and on and on. It is "Open House" at the American treasury…

          "Goldman Sachs with guns".

    Japanese mobsters driving flash cars purchased with bank loans. Executives bowing in apology for loaning millions to those underworld figures. And high-level officials vowing to squash the crime syndicates, known as yakuza. Japan Inc. is engulfed in its worst mob scandal in years and it's shining a rare light on the links between big business and shadowy organised crime groups usually known for low-brow ventures like extortion and loan sharking.

    But with membership falling as police ratchet up a crackdown, experts say the yakuza are branching far outside their traditional business into everything from insider trading to funding business startups.

    "Insider trading has become huge — you can make much more money manipulating stocks" than extorting businesses, says Jake Adelstein, a crime writer whose bestselling memoir "Tokyo Vice" is set to become a Hollywood movie.

    Adelstein, a former reporter at Japan's top-selling Yomiuri daily, likens the Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan's biggest organised crime group, to "Goldman Sachs with guns".

    Tattoos and missing pinkies

     

     

     

    Many mobsters — forever associated with full-body tattoos and lopped-off pinky fingers — have now ditched that tough guy persona in favour of tailored suits and clean-cut look that could pass in any boardroom, Adelstein said.

    "They're savvy investors," he said added. "They like to gamble."

    http://news.yahoo.com/japans-yakuza-mobsters-becoming-goldman-sachs-guns-003449358.html

  6. kwtreemamajama55 says:

    Also, Tipton's  HR 1965 Federal Lands, Jobs, and Energy Security Act has been critiqued on here by Club Twitty or Duke Cox – That's the bill which will require a $5000 fee to protest any drilling on public lands.

    Tipton claims that his bill will create jobs.

    I said he was slick. What Tipton does extremely well is promote a public good – in this case, getting rid of excess deadwood and beetle-killed trees in public forests, thus mitigating future wildfires, partner with lumber mills (thus the "jobs" part). And, he also has included language to fund education from these industries.

    Meanwhile, he is also actively promoting more drilling on public lands with less public protest and less environmental oversight.

    Maybe a better meme for Tipton would be a magician – He lulls his audience with his smooth patter, as he misdirects and tricks them into thinking that they will get clean energy, jobs, and better schools, if only they will let companies drill, baby, drill.

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