U.S. History

If You Want to See the Future, You Need to Look Ahead

To most farmers and ranchers, “sustainable” is a word that, like exercise or vacation, has a dictionary definition and a personal definition. The difference between the two, however, often is the difference between the county fair and the World’s Fair.

      These folks aren’t alone. Almost everyone and everything from commodity groups to coal companies make […]

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In the Long Run It’s, Well, a Long Run

One of the oldest theoretical constructions in economics declares that in a perfect market, short term profits and losses eventually even out so that, in the long term, all profits are zero.

      Famed 20th century English economist John Maynard Keynes gets credit for restating this jargon-rich theory into clear, concise language when, in 1923, he wrote, […]

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Knives, Forks, and Farmers Favor Immigration Reform

When Internal Revenue Service (IRS) workers returned to their jobs Jan. 28 after the recent, 35-day government shutdown, an estimated five million pieces of unopened mail awaited.

      Equally daunting, the shutdown coincided with the IRS’s hiring of its annual army of temporary workers to process the impending tax season’s mail. The delay now leaves the […]

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“You Better Believe It”

      Epistemology is what we on the farm called “a $10 word.”
      At $10, though, it’s underpriced because epistemology—the study of what we believe, what is true, and the evidence we have to justify that truth and belief—covers a lot of ground.
      In short, epistemology is the study of knowledge.
      That topic sounds drier than last summer’s […]

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Let Us Pray

Man, that ended badly.
December limped to an ugly conclusion as nearly everyone from Wall Street to Main Street took a year-end pounding not seen in three generations. Pick an investment sector (stocks, bonds, commodities); a nation state (the U.S., China, or the European Union); or a political system (a democratic republic, parliamentary, or single-party rule), […]

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Reading the Facts In-Hand… Or in Your Palm

Years ago, an enterprising neighbor operated a palm reading business from her home with just a secretary, fax machine, and telephone. Her business model was simple: After clients faxed their photocopied handprint and sent some form of payment (rumor had it was $20), our neighbor telephoned them with the results of the “reading.”
While no one […]

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Another War That Won’t End Any Wars

November 11 marked 100 years since the end of World War I, which U.S. President Woodrow Wilson called “the war to end all wars.”
Wilson saw himself as a historic peacemaker; instead he became an ironic phrasemaker. The Great War never brought an end to war, or even an end to that war. The then-raging Russian […]

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Brother, Can You Spare a Cup of Water?

Humanity depends on three critical threes: Without oxygen, most humans will die within three minutes; without water, life expectancy is three days; without food, we’ve got three weeks.
Few Americans give three seconds of thought to any of these life-ensuring elements because, here, food is safe and plentiful, air quality laws are in place and enforced, […]

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The Road to Perdition Always Leads South

If war is hell, then trade wars must be a purgatorial stop along the way. For proof, just look where Election Day 2018 finds American farmers.
Faced with ample production, stale commodity prices, and the lowest forecasted national farm income since 2002, U.S. farmers are now waiting for a winter of government “tariff mitigation” payments while […]

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A Cautionary Note from Sand County

“February” is one of the finest essays in Sand County Almanac, the 1949 book of superlative essays on nature and mankind’s role in it, by forester and conservationist Aldo Leopold. In it, Leopold, the father of wildlife ecology, tells the history of his Wisconsin “sand farm” and its natural “community” as he and a friend […]

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