Ahh, democracy. Every few months, we as a nation demonstrate our collective intelligence, proving there’s a reason why great thinkers from Plato to Voltaire and through the ages said that democracy, as a form of government, is not the best choice. Critics maintain it’s a form of organized mob rule. Some say it’s just a clever cover for corporatocracy. Certainly it’s hard to deny that our country is run as an oligarchy, especially when the acknowledged presidential frontrunner from the Republican Party in 2016 is the third Bush out of Texas — and his opponent is likely a second Clinton. Yet many of us go mark ballots in a perversion of a poll dance but with clothes on.
Often the most important choices on election days are the ones that determine a “yea” or “nay” to various measures placed on ballots, usually by petition. Once a measure qualifies for a ballot, the real fun begins. For me, seeing who has a vested interest in an outcome, based on how much money is spent on various sides and by whom, is often the best way to determine how to cast a vote. Is a measure backed by the “good guys” or by the “bad guys”? In the absence of in-depth understanding of a proposition, that often makes a complex issue easy to understand.
Big Ag vs. Mom and Pop For example, in the recent election, Oregon and Colorado voters had the option of passing a law demanding food labels telling if a food contains genetically engineered ingredients (GMOs or GE). In the case of Oregon, giant corporations outside the state were the main donors to the movement to squash GMO labeling. (Hmm. What could they be afraid of, I wonder. If GMOs are such a good idea, wouldn’t they want to take credit for it and advertise that foods contain them?) With Monsanto and Dupont leading the way, big corporations from outside Oregon spent $21 million convincing Oregon voters to go against the right to know if GMOs are in the food they buy at the store. The pro-Prop 92 folks raised only $8 million, with nearly all of it from individuals and small companies within the state. Outspent nearly 3-to-1, Prop 92 failed to pass by a mere one percent of the vote. Even if I didn’t know a thing about GMOs, I would have voted against Monsanto and Dupont money. So, who were the winners and losers on the recent day at the races?
Winner: Recreational Pot Recreational pot won big. If you don’t know by now, citizens in Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia voted overwhelmingly to legalize recreational marijuana. As far as alternative medicine goes, this is a big win. Soon, folks in need of the therapeutic benefits of marijuana will have the opportunity to medicate without delving into the serpentine, broken healthcare system to get the recommendation of a doctor. Pain relief, insomnia, nausea and more will be ameliorated by a drug that is safer than aspirin. (Disclaimer: I am not a pothead. I stopped smoking marijuana before most of my peers had learned how to spell it. I do approve of its removal from the list of illegal drugs.)
Winner: Farmers in Hawaii and Humboldt Big Ag loves Hawaii, until last Tuesday. The moderate climate makes for year-long growing seasons so experiments in genetic engineered crops is hastened. But GMO crops have a tendency to pollute the fields of non-GMO crops. It doesn’t go the other way. So if an organic farmer grows non-GMO mangoes, for example, Big Ag down the road growing FrankenMangoes will likely turn the non-GMOs into an altered state. So voters in Maui County Hawaii passed a ban on GMO crop planting. Monsanto and Pepsi and Dow fought the initiative with $8 million but failed. Supporters of the ban got it passed even though they only had $65 K to spend! Humboldt County, Calif. also passed a referendum and banned GMOs in their county, the third in California to do so.
Losers: Omaha Taxpayers We get to spend millions of tax dollars to featherbed school construction when simply passing legalized marijuana would pay for it and more.
Loser: Planet Earth Defeating GMO label initiatives maintains the agricultural status quo. Label foods, yes, but the real damage by GMO technology is in perpetuating the indentured servitude of American farmers and creating an agriculture that is devastating nature.
American farmers are serfs in the corporate fiefdom. As Tom Philpott describes in Mother Jones, “Farmers are caught in a vice between a small handful of [crop] buyers (ADM, Cargill, Bunge) that are always looking to drive crop prices down, and a small handful of input suppliers (Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer, Syngenta, etc) always looking to push the price of seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides up. It's no wonder, as [research shows], that the long run profitability of such farming is zero.” An Iowa farmer on 2000 acres of GMO corn and soy will lose $325,000 this year.
Our current conventional agricultural practices are killing the economy and polluting the planet. We have to vote differently or prove Plato’s prediction that a “benevolent dictatorship” beats democracy.
Heartland Healing is a metaphysically based polemic describing alternatives to conventional methods of healing the body, mind and planet. It is provided as information and entertainment, certainly not medical advice. Important to remember and pass on to others: for a weekly dose of Heartland Healing, visit HeartlandHealing.com.