U.S. History

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), […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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, […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

Sometimes You Get What You Vote For

Farmers and ranchers spent most of last month hoping the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) recent crop estimates would be proven wrong and President Donald J. Trump’s “plan” to fix “the world’s worst trade deals ever” would be proven right.
September, however, disappointed them on both counts.
On Sept. 12, USDA reported that the already big 2018 […]

Read More

Tell Me If You’ve Heard This Before

Truisms don’t need to be completely true to be a truism. For example, “If you live long enough, you’ll see everything” doesn’t mean you will see everything if you live a long life. You may see a great deal, but it’s highly unlikely you’ll see “everything.”
Simone de Beauvoir, a French novelist and existentialist, turned that […]

Read More

‘A Fool’s Errand for U.S. Policymakers’

While U.S. farmers and ranchers spent August fretting over escalating tariffs and retreating markets, two ag policy experts used the month to publish a series of five columns that artfully—and courageously—skinned most of agriculture’s sacred cows even as they planted new policy ideas for farm and ranch success.
(All five columns are posted at www.agpolicy.org/articles18.htm under […]

Read More

The People’s Department–For the Time Being

An early hallmark of the Trump Administration’s management of American farm policy is its uncanny ability to pick fights that are as costly to win as they are to lose.
For example, even if the President’s import tariff plans succeed, how many ag exports will American farmers lose before the White House declares victory and moves […]

Read More