Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Self-Reliance And Regulatory Capture

In my post, “Knee-Capping The Peasants,” I described various pieces of legislation that are either being proposed or that have already become law, the effect of which is to prevent ordinary people of small means from becoming self-reliant. This, of course, results in forcing those ordinary people into continued reliance on the global system known as the “official” economy, forcing those people also to pay an ever-larger portion of their income to the masters of that economy in return for basic necessities. The system is now breaking, due in part to the inability of ordinary people to pay any more than they are already paying because they are being crushed by a huge debt load. The system is also breaking down because these ordinary people are losing the means to pay – i.e., their jobs and incomes.

Yet the masters of the official economy are using the leaders of government to attempt to pile yet more obligatory dependence on that economy on the backs of common folk, by cutting off alternatives to that official economy. I previously mentioned a particular case, H.R. 875, the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, introduced to the U.S. Congress by Representative Rosa DeLauro. The purpose of this act is ostensibly to provide enhanced protection of America's food supply, but the actual effect of this bill will be to drive most small farms in America out of business by burying them under an unworkable weight of regulations. There has been much online protest over this bill, resulting in a lot of media attention.

But now it appears that bills like this are multiplying in Congress. Two such bills were recently sponsored by Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) and Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) The Dingell bill is even more burdensome than DeLauro's bill, since it would require small farms to keep electronic records of food production practices. Now here's the funny part: small farmers are feeling justifiably threatened by these bills, yet large agribusiness firms like the Kellogg Corporation are supporting these bills. In fact, the W.M. Kellogg Foundation has teamed up with a “nonprofit” group called Trust For America's Health to lobby for passage of the DeLauro bill.

This is yet another proof that our government, at least at the Federal level, has degenerated into a tool of the rich, to be used to maintain the power and position of the rich at all costs and by any means. For if ordinary people of small means were able to find genuine alternatives to the industrial food system, that would cause a huge disruption to the profits of a significant sector of the official economy, and would bring real trouble on corporations like Kellogg, Archer Daniels Midland, Monsanto, Cargill, Kraft and others. Therefore, in the minds of the leaders of these firms, such alternatives must be crushed.

In other words, we are seeing yet another example of “regulatory capture,” defined thus: “a term used to refer to situations in which a government regulatory agency created to act in the public interest instead acts in favor of the commercial or special interests that dominate in the industry or sector it is charged with regulating.” Or, to put it another way, gamekeeper helps poacher, or fox guards the henhouse.

Regulatory capture of government by the elites of our society is one of the primary threats to our ability to prepare for and adapt to life on the downside of Hubbert's Peak – a life characterized by the increasing failure of the very systems established by these elites. We must therefore vigorously oppose any further attempts to use the government to keep us enslaved to and dependent on the existing elite-run systems. But I have a (somewhat) hopeful prediction: we won't have to worry too much longer about such things as regulatory capture. I see a coming weakening of the power and reach of large-scale government. I think it will happen rather soon, as the tax base of large-scale government dries up due to our present economic crisis. Within a couple of years, things may be very different.

So grow your garden, learn to tend your homestead, and get your chickens. And don't let anyone try to tell you that such self reliance is dangerous.


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