Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Bye, American

Can anybody explain to me why we need to create jobs*? It seems to me that there's enough stuff that needs doing to keep everyone busy and that's before you factor in (now fanciful but once standard) things like "everyone gets a new car ever 2 years."

The United States has started their protectionist sabre rattling. The US began yesterday debating a nearly $900b "stimulus" package which includes a Buy American clause. This has obviously got Canada, whose largest trading partner, the news is fond of reminding us, is the United States. So,what is Canada's response to this Buy American clause which is being taken as tantamount to a declaration of war? Why, in true Canadian fashion, it's a strongly worded letter, of course.

My favourite part of the letter is "If Buy American becomes part of the stimulus legislation, the United States will lose the moral authority to pressure others not to introduce protectionist policies." That's right, US, this is for your own good.

Since when does a 500 lb gorilla need moral authority? I think the US has shown time and again that if they want other countries to do something, they tell them to do it. And should the people of that country disagree with the US, they will suddnely find themselves unable to trade or or the hosts of the US military. I'm not going to weigh in on how many of those sanctions and invasions I think were or weren't justified: that is clearly a matter of personal taste.

The important thing is that the Canadian Ambassador's letter to the US Senate leaders is hogwash. It is not the product of a well-reasoned point-of-view about the wellbeing of the citizens of the Ambassador's motherland, but rather the product of prodding by politicians at home which is in turn the product of wanting to be seen to be doing something. Because really, isn't that what government is for?

Ultimately, I think that any sort of stimulus package is a bad idea. It has little chance of achieving any sort of lasting happiness or prosperity and it is all but guaranteed to prolong this balance sheet recession in which we now find ourselves.

Want to create jobs in Canada? How about joining a local community support agriculture program and pushing for sustainble farming practices? L and I are currently considering Plan B Organics, which some friends have belonged to for almost a year. And remember, it's good for the environment, the food is better for you and sustainable agriculture is labour intensive so it creates jobs.

* I am well aware of the arguments for creating jobs, but I believe they are predicated on an outdated system which is a lot like feudalism but the landowners are now the bankers with bigger brains, armed with confusing economics instead of the lords with bigger muscles, armed with swords.


Justin said...

I really like your phrasing in the part about either unable to trade or a host of the US military : >

Rob (a.k.a. Dad) said...

We did the CSA thing last Summer for the first time and are doing it again this Summer. The CSA we get our share from is the Ignatius Farm http://www.ignatiusguelph.ca/csa/index.html and they also have garden plots to rent, which we also did.

Our plot last Summer was pretty small and we're going to triple it to 300 sq.ft. so we have a little more elbow room -- 100 sq.ft. fills up with plants pretty quickly :)

The great thing about their garden plots: they are a certified organic farm, so they don't use any chemical fertilizer to prepare the plots (they do all the heavy lifting: turning the soil and fertilizing) -- they use "green manure" (compost, I think) and to top it off they are, er, dirt cheap -- last year's rent was $8.50 per 100 sq.ft

Got lots of green & purple beans out of the plot, a good crop of tomatillos and some radishes. Tomatoes too, but it wasn't a great season for them. We put in a small melon plant and a couple of eggplant plants, but didn't get much from either -- may do better with more room this Summer.

BTW you're right on the, er, money with your comments about the stupidity of the economic stimulus plans, nationalism, protectionism and so on.

Basically, what the world needs right now is a) fewer people and b) everyone being happy with less stuff.

terriblenews said...

I'm afraid that doesn't make a very good song, that last line.

Also, neat! How much actual edible food did you get out of your plot last year? I had everything edible stolen out of my community garden plot.

Rob (a.k.a. Dad) said...

Lots and lots of the beans, both green and purple. Still have a bunch that Katherine cut up into small pieces and put in the deep freeze, great for tossing into soup or stew through the winter.

Pretty good harvest of tomatillos too, and with just one plant (and not great growing conditions this season either). Think we got lucky, according to what I found on the interwebs, you usually need to have two plants, one male & one female, to get them to produce tomatillos.

Very tangy, makes a good salsa when run through a food processor or with a stick-type hand mixer. Katherine froze a bunch of them whole, nice when cooked.

Got a few little "breakfast" radishes from seeds we planted -- they're a fairly mild, elongated radish, like the ones you find a lot in France that they serve up with butter to spread on them. Taste better than it sounds... really :)

There was a little bit of lettuce, but the radicchio didn't do too well.

And peas, got a pretty good yield from those too, planted seeds IIRC.

Regular old tomatoes, both cherry & regular (actually, one was an heirloom variety, I think) didn't do to well -- the cherry tomatoes did the best, but it wasn't a great season for tomatoes all around.

So, we did pretty well on the peas, beans and tomatillos, certainly enough to justify all the mosquito bites while tending the plot :)

Looking forward to next season, with more room to maneuver.