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LQD: The NAFTA flu

by DeAnander Fri May 1st, 2009 at 08:03:03 AM EST

NarcoNews reports, with somewhat offputting typography but a basic grasp of the details:

La Jornada columnist Julio Hernández López connects the corporate dots to explain how the Virginia-based Smithfield Farms came to Mexico: In 1985, Smithfield Farms received what was, at the time, the most expensive fine in history – $12.6 million – for violating the US Clean Water Act at its pig facilities near the Pagan River in Smithfield, Virginia, a tributary that flows into the Chesapeake Bay. The company, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) dumped hog waste into the river.

It was a case in which US environmental law succeeded in forcing a polluter, Smithfield Farms, to construct a sewage treatment plant at that facility after decades of using the river as a mega-toilet. But “free trade” opened a path for Smithfield Farms to simply move its harmful practices next door into Mexico so that it could evade the tougher US regulators.

Of "farming" and viruses - afew


Reporter Jeff Teitz reported in 2006 on the conditions in Smithfield’s US facilities (remember: what you are about to read describes conditions that are more sanitary and regulated than those in Mexico):


Smithfield’s pigs live by the hundreds or thousands in warehouse-like barns, in rows of wall-to-wall pens. Sows are artificially inseminated and fed and delivered of their piglets in cages so small they cannot turn around. Forty fully grown 250-pound male hogs often occupy a pen the size of a tiny apartment. They trample each other to death. There is no sunlight, straw, fresh air or earth. The floors are slatted to allow excrement to fall into a catchment pit under the pens, but many things besides excrement can wind up in the pits: afterbirths, piglets accidentally crushed by their mothers, old batteries, broken bottles of insecticide, antibiotic syringes, stillborn pigs—anything small enough to fit through the foot-wide pipes that drain the pits. The pipes remain closed until enough sewage accumulates in the pits to create good expulsion pressure; then the pipes are opened and everything bursts out into a large holding pond.

The temperature inside hog houses is often hotter than ninety degrees. The air, saturated almost to the point of precipitation with gases from shit and chemicals, can be lethal to the pigs. Enormous exhaust fans run twenty-four hours a day. The ventilation systems function like the ventilators of terminal patients: If they break down for any length of time, pigs start dying.

Consider what happens when such forms of massive pork production move to unregulated territory where Mexican authorities allow wealthy interests to do business without adequate oversight, abusing workers and the environment both. And there it is: The violence wrought by NAFTA in clear and understandable human terms.

The so-called “swine flu” exploded because an environmental disaster simply moved (and with it, took jobs from US workers) to Mexico where environmental and worker safety laws, if they exist, are not enforced against powerful multinational corporations.

Related story:

Mike Davis on the "monstrous power" of the meat industry:

But what caused this acceleration of swine flu evolution? Virologists have long believed that the intensive agricultural system of southern China is the principal engine of influenza mutation: both seasonal "drift" and episodic genomic "shift". But the corporate industrialisation of livestock production has broken China's natural monopoly on influenza evolution. Animal husbandry in recent decades has been transformed into something that more closely resembles the petrochemical industry than the happy family farm depicted in school readers.

In 1965, for instance, there were 53m US hogs on more than 1m farms; today, 65m hogs are concentrated in 65,000 facilities. This has been a transition from old-fashioned pig pens to vast excremental hells, containing tens of thousands of animals with weakened immune systems suffocating in heat and manure while exchanging pathogens at blinding velocity with their fellow inmates.

Last year a commission convened by the Pew Research Center issued a report on "industrial farm animal production" that underscored the acute danger that "the continual cycling of viruses ... in large herds or flocks [will] increase opportunities for the generation of novel virus through mutation or recombinant events that could result in more efficient human to human transmission." The commission also warned that promiscuous antibiotic use in hog factories (cheaper than humane environments) was sponsoring the rise of resistant staph infections, while sewage spills were producing outbreaks of E coli and pfiesteria (the protozoan that has killed 1bn fish in Carolina estuaries and made ill dozens of fishermen).

Any amelioration of this new pathogen ecology would have to confront the monstrous power of livestock conglomerates such as Smithfield Farms (pork and beef) and Tyson (chickens). The commission reported systemic obstruction of their investigation by corporations, including blatant threats to withhold funding from cooperative researchers.

Discussion thread at Feral Scholar

Discussion thread at MoA

My "executive summary"... the swine flu scare is indeed overblown and is indeed being used to distract the public mind [Fear!  Fear!  Fear!] from the thieves and swindlers currently being rewarded for their grand thefts by our various goverments.  It is indeed a media hype.  And it is indeed also covering up the very real and recurrent problem of accelerated viral mutation in CAFOs which (as I and others have pointed out many times) are essentially unsupervised and undirected biowarfare labs, Petri dishes for the rapid evolution of newer, better, more creative strains of disease.  Nowhere in the corporate press will you find any serious discussion of the role of CAFO (factory meat production) in the avian flu scare, the "E Coli Spinach" scare, or the current swine flu flap.

Nor will you find any discussion of the cultural cohesiveness of expedient torture as a means to profit.  The conditions under which CAFO animals live (if we can call it that) amount to torture.  The conditions under which the wage slaves work are not far from it.  Cruelty from the boardroom down to the abbatoir, unimaginable cruelty, mind-numbing brutality, all in the service of "efficiency" in the all-important task of elite accumulation -- the true and only purpose of civilisation-as-we-know-it.

Display:
Just another strain -- or is it a symptom?  -- of the Anglo Disease...

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...
by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Thu Apr 30th, 2009 at 05:40:29 PM EST
Or the first glimmer of a brutal mathusian backlash in a world overcrowded with people?

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire
by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Thu Apr 30th, 2009 at 09:59:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The first Malthusian backlash was Rwanda.  

Too many people for the agricultural production.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Thu Apr 30th, 2009 at 10:19:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That would all the same require some explanation.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri May 1st, 2009 at 05:45:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's an interesting thought. Rwanda is one of the most densely populated countries in Africa, though I find the political/historical/ethnic explanations more convincing. At times, though, massive amounts of people fled the country due to spasms of violence. At least one country, Uganda, didn't want them and expelled them back into Rwanda. Burundi, and the DRC now have sizable Rwandan refugee populations (mostly Hutu), which contribute to the violence and complicate conflict in the region.

I have come across reports concerning the conflict in the DRC: Rwandan business elites in Kigali are putting militia over the border in order to extract coltran, a mineral from which tantalum is extracted (here and here, for instance). It is claimed that significant exports of Congolese coltran come from Kigali.

In all my reading on the topic of the genocide, I never came across a malthusian explanation. A component? Perhaps.

Carla Del Ponte rejects explanations of social and economic stress as the cause of genocide and crimes against humanity. To her, leaders who whip up the passions of bigotry and hatred are the movers. Certainly, both Rwanda and the FRY tend to bear her out on this.

However the reverse is almost certainly true: conflicts create humanitarian disasters.

But...make your case. I'll listen.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Fri May 1st, 2009 at 07:07:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See Jared Diamond's Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed [ISBN 0-14-303655-6], Chapter 10 and cites.  

The killings were higher where Tutsi and Hutu intermingled (11%) but there was still killings in a Hutu only area (5%).  

I find this most persuasive:

The percentage of the population consuming less than 1,600 calories per day (i.e., what is considered below the famine level) was 9% in 1982, 40% in 1990, and some unknown higher percentage thereafter.

People were starving to death in the midst of agriculturally productive land.  They didn't have enough land to grow enough food.  There were two options:  

  1.  Starve
  2.  Obtain more land

They chose the latter.

Similar situation occurred in the Sudan, there the trigger was lack of water and is starting to happen in Kenya.  Countries based on subsistence agriculture have a minimum acre/family farm size.  As the average farm falls below that figure tensions, primarily ethnic tho' also generational, sibling rivalry, economic class, and political tensions also increase.  Please note the last two.  By definition political tension is a threat to the Ruling Elite and, thus, provides the stimulus for a faction of that elite to continence and support intra-country violence.  The Ruling Elite, having the ability to organize and orchestrate violence does remain the immediate, proximate, trigger but the cause was per-capita food consumption.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Fri May 1st, 2009 at 09:39:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
People were starving to death in the midst of agriculturally productive land.

This can be due to at least three factors:

1.)  Too much of the available land is devoted to cash crops for export and the proceeds are retained by elites, leaving the poor with neither land on which to grow or money with which to buy food.

2.)  There is not enough land to support the existing population even if all the land is devoted to food.

3.)  The population is surviving on food crops grown in commons areas of marginal agricultural value and the most nutritious of these food crops is struck by a blight or drought.  This was the case in Ireland with the potato blight.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri May 1st, 2009 at 01:22:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
actually in Ireland I believe point (1) was a huge contributor:  the best land was reserved for cash-cropping for staples exported to England, iirc.  Ireland was operated as a colony of England, with English landlords supervising hacienda agriculture and the indigenous (so to speak) Irish dispossessed and shuffled off onto the worst, most marginal land.

the potato (a New World crop brought back by the colonisers whose journeys were in part funded by the super-profits obtained by disposession and Enclosure) was touted as the solution to the "Irish problem" -- land too poor to support wheat/beef (high prestige) farming would support potatoes (which when mixed with dairy form a remarkably nutritious diet)... anyway, the history of the Irish famine is too long and complicated for a drive-by post but colonial cash-cropping was definitely a big part of the big picture.  someone must have more recent reading in the history of the Troubles than mine, and can fill in the gaps?

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Fri May 1st, 2009 at 01:41:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
actually in Ireland I believe point (1) was a huge contributor:  the best land was reserved for cash-cropping for staples exported to England, iirc.  Ireland was operated as a colony of England, with English landlords supervising hacienda agriculture and the indigenous (so to speak) Irish dispossessed and shuffled off onto the worst, most marginal land.

That is what I thought I had said in my point 3.   :-)

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri May 1st, 2009 at 05:48:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
sorry I somehow thought it was a choice of 1, 2, or 3... reading in haste.  usually the cash-crop scenario involves the works:  peasant farmers are displaced from the good lands and forced to work very marginal soils;  monocrops encourage epidemic blights and pest population booms;  hacienda monocropping reduces soil fertility rendering even "good" lands exhausted and unproductive.  and so on.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...
by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Fri May 1st, 2009 at 06:39:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And I need to be more clear in my comments.  :-)

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat May 2nd, 2009 at 01:27:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Diamond writes it was #2 in Rwanda.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Fri May 1st, 2009 at 03:14:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So how do you explain this:

?

http://schools-wikipedia.org/2006/wp/d/Demographics_of_Rwanda.htm


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri May 1st, 2009 at 04:53:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
First, from your link:

0-14 years: 43% (male 1,558,730; female 1,548,175)

With 43% of the population under 14 years old crunch time hasn't, again, happened.

From here [html of a pdf]:

Rwanda is definitely on the edge of food insecurity.  FAO (2007) reports an average per capita calorie intake in the years from 2002-2004 of around 2,100, which is just the minimum of intake for humans, and does certainly not allow any downward variation or distributional biases without jeopardizing food security ...

At this point the food situation in Rwanda is not desperate.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Fri May 1st, 2009 at 07:43:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
(hit post instead of preview)

The critical factor, it seems, is the percentage of the population existing at a low caloric intake.  Starvation does some strange things

Standard personality tests revealed that the starving individuals experienced a large rise in the "neurotic triad" -- hypochondriasis, depression, and hysteria

Get a lot of people exhibiting hysteria and you get mass hysteria and then Moral Panic:

Moral Panics have several distinct features. The process by which these are created is best explained with Cohen's Deviancy Amplification Spiral:

    * Concern - There must be awareness that the behaviour of the group or category in question is likely to have a negative impact on society.
    * Hostility - Hostility towards the group in question increases, and they become "folk devils". A clear division forms between "them" and "us".
    * Consensus - Though concern does not have to be nationwide, there must be widespread acceptance that the group in question poses a very real threat to society. It is important at this stage that the "moral entrepreneurs" are vocal and the "folk devils" appear weak and disorganised.
    * Disproportionality - The action taken is disproportionate to the actual threat posed by the accused group.
    * Volatility - Moral panics are highly volatile and tend to disappear as quickly as they appeared due to a wane in public interest or news reports changing to another topic.

So one hand washes the other, as it where.

The reality of needing to stop starving leads to a condition favorable for Moral Panic which leads mass murder of a The Other along the classic time line:

Right Now:  the murders get to eat the food of the murdered

Short Term: the murders get the land of the murdered to crop food.  The living get a greatly increased daily food supply due to drop in demand.

Long Term:  no solution if the country doesn't use the time to build an economic system independent of subsistence agriculture.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Fri May 1st, 2009 at 08:10:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Easy.

In 1989 there was a severe drought. All agriculture suffered, including Rwanda's main cash crop, coffee, which was further pressured by falling world prices.

In 1991, the RPF invaded Rwanda from Uganda, and almost won, being stopped by the prescence of a handful French troops outside Kigali.

In 1993, the Arusha Accords were signed (and the drop bottoms out, with lag), but:

By that time, over 1.5 million civilians had left their homes to flee the selective massacres against Hutus by the RPF army.

Drought, falling prices, and civil war. The genocide, which was always highly organized and under the firm control of the army and the National Police (it was in no way a panic driven event), nonetheless benefited strongly from the masses of unemployed young Rwandans living in camps in Kigali. A malthusian contribution perhaps, but the genocide in Rwanda was as highly organized as the Holocaust, and politically driven.

Do you suppose that famine always leads to genocide?

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Fri May 1st, 2009 at 09:27:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I really need to learn how to do charts, so here goes:



"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Fri May 1st, 2009 at 09:38:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That curve is one of the scariest I have ever seen, both up and down and up again.
by Deni on Mon May 4th, 2009 at 09:34:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From what I've heard, Hutus were targeted for being moderate, like Acting Prime Minister Madame Agathe Uwilingiyimana and human rights worker Monique Mujawamariya.

The practice of killing some Hutus in order to convince others (mostly reticent local leaders) to join the genocidaires and mobilize their people was also institutionalized.

There was also believed to have been widespread false registration (believed to be Tutsi claiming to be Hutu - this is cited as the major factor in the difficulty in numbering the murdered).

The genocide itself was extremely well organized, with orders going down an institutionalized chain of command, and reports coming back up that same chain.

Fears among the Hutu (shamelessly exploited) were exacerbated by the assasination (by Tutsi) of the freely elected Hutu president of Burundi.

Members of the Rwandan akuza ("little house" - the group of business and government elites centered, not around the president Habyarimana, but his wife, it was also called the "clan de Madame") were seen in conversation, sharing beers, with army leaders directing the genocide in the early hours and days after the president's plane was shot down and the killing began. They are believed to be central players, one of whom actually imported the thousands of machetes to be used by the Interahamwe.

All this tends to argue for political rather than Mathusian causes.

There is evidence for your claim, though:

"At the end of the 1980s, coffee, which accounted for 75 percent of Rwanda's foreign exchange, dropped sharply in price on the international market. Suddenly Rwanda found itself among the many debtor nations required to accept strict fiscal measures imposed by the World Bank and the donor nations. The urban elite saw its comfort threatened, but the rural poor suffered even more. A drought beginning in 1989 reduced harvests in the south and left substantial numbers of people short of food. Habyarimana at first refused to acknowledge the gravity of the food shortage, an attitude that exemplified the readiness of the urban elite to ignore suffering out on the hills." (emphasis mine)

--Leave None to Tell The Story (pdf, 540 pages), Human Rights Watch report on the Rwandan Genocide, Alison Des Forges et al.

Famine happens all too frequently, and is not always accompanied by genocide (Somalia, for instance). All else being equal, would the Rwandan genocide have happened if the country was prosperous, well nourished and without the large unemployed population? We'll never know, but I doubt it. Lots of things went into the events in Rwanda in 1994 that were driven by those parts of society which were living very fat indeed.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Fri May 1st, 2009 at 09:02:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This bothers me - not that a Malthusian backlash through pathogen mutation in an overcrowded world is in any way an improbable scenario - because there seems to be an assumption beneath it (though you may not have meant this) that industrial agriculture is rendered inevitable by population increase (see the agro-industry "We feed the world" propaganda to that effect).

Factory farming is not a necessity in view of high population, it's just a money-making operation. The world can feed a higher population than now without it (though we in the developed nations would need to consume less meat, just as we need to consume less energy).

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri May 1st, 2009 at 08:35:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Factory farming has the "benefit" of "freeing" the rural population to move to urban areas, increasing the total labor force, competing for urban jobs, and forcing down  urban wages.  In a globalized economy this can occur extra-nationally as we've seen in the migration from rural areas of China to the Pacific Rim cities.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Fri May 1st, 2009 at 10:03:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Whereas intensive local agriculture has the "benefit" of providing greater employment, contributes less to fossil fuel use by requiring less transportation and has the potential to provide healthier food and living conditions for all.  To get from here to there profitably in the USA requires revisions to the agricultural policy as embodied in the five year plan recently passed by the US Congress and revisions to tax codes, etc.  

This, of course, will be opposed by the small group of wealthy individuals who benefit from the existing system.  Once again reform of election finance is important to enabling key reforms.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri May 1st, 2009 at 01:41:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
great diary...

shit like this makes me so glad to be a vegan.

actually it's just as sad what they do to plants for profit. and the earth itself...

meat eating is not the problem, excessive meat eating IS.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Apr 30th, 2009 at 10:27:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Great diary and excellent sourcing!

The other concern I have with this unregulated industrial meat production is the extent to which antibiotics are required to enable the survival to slaughter of the animals.  It is not an issue for this latest virus, in so far as I know, but these conditions could also be brewing the next virulent multiply drug resistant bacteria.  Should one of these bacterial strains also acquire human-to-human airborne transmissibility it could pose serious pandemic potential.

We are now in the process of empirically quantifying the "external" costs of NAFTA.  "Who could have imagined" that these external costs would not have been confined to areas outside the "first world?"  Or perhaps the truth is that an external cost of NAFTA is turning out to be the destruction of any distinction between "first world" countries and "second or third world" countries.  And not just for health issues.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri May 1st, 2009 at 12:29:18 AM EST
The flu is viral, but iirc the lethal end state of the flu is usually a bacterial pneumonitis.

So the criminal waste of antibiotic efficacy that has taken place since the drugs were discovered in the 40's sometime -- by overprescription, but mostly by overuse and abuse in factory ag -- does have a bearing on the animal virus risk.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Fri May 1st, 2009 at 02:15:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A new virulent yet non-lethal flu in combination with a novel, drug resistant bacteria, say a form of strept, that can spread through airborne transmission, together might be far worse than either alone, especially in poor areas.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri May 1st, 2009 at 01:11:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Rabbi Arthur Waskow comments:

Please note that one week into the epidemic, not a single major American newspaper has reported even the possibility that factory farming may be implicated in swine flu.  The power of the meat industry could not be more graphically underlined.  (In President Obama’s most recent news conference, he even used an esoteric medical name for the virus to avoid mentioning the connection with pigs.)

There is also another political link. When the Stimulus Bill (”Recovery Act”) came to the floor of Congress, it included appropriations of almost  a billion dollars to prepare for a possible flu pandemic. But Karl Rove organized Republicans to demand that this money be taken out of the bill, and when Senator Susan M. Collins of Maine agreed to vote down a filibuster against the bill, one of her demands was that the pandemic appropriation be stripped out. It was.

Somehow the notion that health is more than a private personal concern, that it involves the whole community and indeed the whole planet, has escaped the attention of some who call themselves “conservatives.”

There is a reason that we  speak of people “hogging ” everything for themselves, or eating “piggishly.” It is about ignoring the needs of others and seeking to gobble up the world’s abundance for the benefit of a few. That kind of greed is at the root of the impoverishment of the middle class, the bonuses of hundreds of millions of dollars for a small group of bankers, the willingness of Big Oil and Big Coal to burn the world for their own profit, and the willingness of the last U.S. government to lie, torture, and kill for the sake of controlling great pools of oil.

[...]

Almost a year ago, when the Postville debacle showed the destructiveness of present immigration policy, The Shalom Center also pointed out that the oppressive behavior of the Rubashkin owners toward both workers and animals was based on the effort to make super-profits out of factory farming.  The torture of animals and the oppression of workers followed as a matter of course.

footnote

"Followed as a matter of course" seemed like such a strong echo of my own train of thought

I don’t see the two themes (torture and CAFO) as at all separate really. One may be a distraction from the other in the media circus but both are stories about the brutality of the quest for profit and control. No amount of suffering (and CAFOs are nothing if not giant torture-houses for animals as well as workers) is too much for the elite to inflict in their quest for profit and control. The cruelty of capitalism was always there, from the Enclosures and evictions to the Conquista to the “dark satanic mills” and the brutal mistreatment of labour, and it continues wherever profit and “efficiency” in profiteering are the ultimate goals.

I have not worked out this train of thought very thoroughly yet, but it seems to me justabout axiomatic that the notion of industrial efficiency (with its emphasis on conformity, control, repeatability, regimentation, maximisation of throughput, and prioritisation of the mechanical over the biotic) -- when applied to living systems (critters) -- will always result in suffering and cruelty, illness and misery.  And it seems to me also axiomatic that the singleminded pursuit of money-profit maximisation, even without industrialism, always guarantees cruelty and suffering (to get the maximum possible work out of your slaves with the minimum cost in food and care, you have to abuse them as living creatures, let alone as human beings).  The synergy of industrial efficiency and singleminded profit maximisation -- applied to critters -- finds its canonical expression in the CAFO (it well represents the rest of our deeply, disturbingly sick corporate agricultural system): as Reb Arthur said, torture and oppression follow as a matter of course.

A nation that quietly condones the mass torture of animals for the expediencies of profit, it seems to me, is fairly well-prepared for the torture of humans for the expediencies of politics (and profit, too).

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Fri May 1st, 2009 at 02:12:36 AM EST
I really am hesitant to post this comment.  But...

I think most of us here would agree with the following:
Forcing animals to live in inhumane conditions is unethical.
The overuse/preventative use of anti-biotics in animals to compensate for the unsanitary conditions they are forced to live in is dangerous.
NAFTA and the mechanisms of globalization allow corporations to take advantage of countries where labor and safety standards are low for the benefit of countries where many many people enjoy high standards of labor and safety, promoting inequality.
The panic among the media and the public is disproportional to the actual probability of deathly illness from H1N1.

For me personally, it is a significant leap of rationality from these assessments to the conspiracy theory advanced in this diary.  I think we need some historical perspective.  Pandemics are neither new nor made-up media phenomena.  But they have been used by people to advance their own sketchy belief systems.  And to remember that correlation does not prove causation.  The idea that the media hype is some attempt to distract us from the issue of factory farming and NAFTA is something I don't buy.  I think the media hype is more about ratings, people - including journalists - not understanding, fear of the unknown, and authorities who would rather be safe than sorry.  

No doubt the conditions of factory farming create a petri dish for bacteria and viruses.  But so do hospitals and school cafeterias.  I have a feeling vegetarians are trying to use H1N1 the way a Christian Scientists would use MRSA to say "I told ya so."  I feel conflicted saying this because I don't support inhumane factory farming.  


"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky

by poemless on Fri May 1st, 2009 at 11:39:14 AM EST
You beat me to it..

So count two in all counts

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri May 1st, 2009 at 12:48:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pandemics aren't new phenomena because the science to prevent them wasn't available.

When no one understood that rats and fleas spread plague, plague seemed very mysterious. Now that we're more aware of how plague spreads, we've worked hard to minimise the risk.

But suddenly this process stops in certain situations because it becomes 'uneconomic' to manage animal farming humanely.

This is a lie. As with banking, the disasters that follow from not doing the job properly are far more destructive - and uneconomic - than being mature and considered about the issue.

The idea that it's 'uneconomic' to treat workers and animals humanely is a kind of plague itself. So far we haven't tackled it rationally. Until we do, disasters and inhumanity will continue.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri May 1st, 2009 at 01:37:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually I'm not a vegetarian :-)

but biotically speaking, monocultures are pathogenic and eventually futile.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Fri May 1st, 2009 at 01:44:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I beg pardon poemless, my original post was a bit sloppy.  I didn't mean that the flu was "invented" or fictional -- neither deliberately released, nor a story deliberately concocted to distract us from the disaster of corporate ag;  I see that my careless wording could give that impression.  Not what I meant :-)

I meant that the media coverage of the flu, like all corporate media coverage, is all about bandaids and authority (control, protect, contain, "make war on" a problem) and/or individual survivalism (special: what you can do to protect yourself from lethal foreign viruses!) and never about root causes (understanding and preventing a problem).  So the media coverage distracts us from contemplating the root causes of disease and public health problems generally;  much as the "race for the cure" hoopla, little pink ribbons, breathless PRs about "gene therapy," stern lifestyle advice and various other distraction tactics work to keep us from asking hard-nosed questions about connections between industrial toxicity and geopositionally clustered cancer rates.  

As to conspiracy, I think my old Conspiracy Theory LQD kinda says it all.  The conspiracy of wealth and power protecting itself is always with us;  the meat industry owns a lot of politicians, and the corporadoes who own the media are very good friends with their advertisers, and so it goes.

A Killer Disease Scare is always good for attracting eyeballs and ears to media, as advertisers know all too well.  At a time when awkward questions are being asked about the power and corruption of the corporate barons, some non-banking-related headlines are probably not unwelcome among our masters.  I think there's some selective headlining going on (as always); and that when you get beneath the big bold headlines, the way the story is being told is carefully avoiding the problem of risk origin, i.e. the very risky practises of corporate agriculture undertaken in the confident expectation that all costs will be borne by the taxpayer if the risk goes wrong.

The idea that risk can be palmed off on some other country (particularly one w/which one shares a land border) is part of this fiction of "externality" which afflicts paleo-economics.  Viruses know no borders, neither does a destabilised climate or pollen drift or pollution (water or air or whatever).  The idea of hermetically sealed borders and "containment" is an authoritarian fantasy:  borders are arbitrary fictions and all membranes are porous one way or another.  So I do think that NAFTA and other arrangements that have made it easier for corporations to "save money" by operating with lousy personal hygiene in one (poor) country, in order to show big profits to stockholders in another (rich) country, is foolish, ignorant, and highly vulnerable to blowback of all kinds.  The world is far from flat, and the winds blow all around it and back home again.  What Smithfield does in Mexico will come home to Americans and indeed to the whole world;  what we do to animals in CAFOs will come home to humans.  In the real world, it can hardly be otherwise.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Fri May 1st, 2009 at 07:02:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
.
CNN does not provide accurate information on timeline of H1N1 developments in La Gloria, Mexico.

La Gloria Challenged By Mexico's Chief Epidemiologist

(JohnBatchelor) - Days after the European media identified the the mega pig farm "manure lagoon" of La Gloria in Veracruz State as the most likely source of the A/H1Ni outbreak, the chief epidemiologist of Mexico M.A. Lezana has directly challenged the solution "Highly improbable," asserts Dr. Lezana.   Smithfield Foods of Virginia asserts that it's one million pigs in the  CAFO at La Gloria are virus free and that it is a Mexican company to blame.  Lezana's office says that the pigs at La Gloria are from North America and the genetic material in the virus are from North America and Europe.

    "The company also noted that its joint ventures in Mexico routinely administer influenza virus vaccination to their swine herds and conduct monthly tests for the presence of swine influenza."


Earlier reports, also in the Guardian.

"Patient Zero" Identified in Mexican Flu Outbreak?

(HuffingtonPost/AP) - Until now, the first flu death confirmed by Mexican authorities had been a woman in the southern state of Oaxaca, who died on April 13. But Health Secretary Cordova "suggested an earlier timeline for documented swine flu cases." Cordova said "tests now show that a 4-year-old boy contracted the disease at least two weeks earlier in neighboring Veracruz state, where a community has been protesting pollution from a large pig farm," the AP says. "The farm is run by Granjas Carroll de Mexico, a joint venture 50 percent owned by Virginia-based Smithfield Foods, Inc."

Company officials said there were no "clinical signs or symptoms" of swine influenza in their vast herds anywhere in Mexico, "But local residents are convinced they were sickened by air and water contamination from pig waste," according to AP. "There was a widespread outbreak of a particularly powerful respiratory disease in the area early April, and some people reported being sick as early as February. Local health workers intervened in early April, sealing off the town of La Gloria and spraying to kill off flies they said were swarming through their homes."

Cordova said people in the town had normal flu, and only one sample was preserved -- that belonging to the four-year-old boy. It was only after U.S. and Canadian epidemiologists discovered the true nature of the virus that Mexico submitted the sample for international testing, and discovered what he suffered from. Epidemiologists want to take a closer look at pigs in Mexico as a potential source of the outbreak.

Mexico slow to provide medical care

In the town of Xonacatlan, just west of Mexico City, Antonia Cortes Borbolla told The Associated Press that nobody has given her medicine in the week since her husband succumbed to raging fever and weakened lungs that a lab has confirmed as swine flu.

No health workers have inspected her home, asked how her husband might have contracted the illness or tested the neighbors' pigs, she said.

Cordova acknowledged that her case isn't unique. "We haven't given medicine to all of them because we still don't have enough personnel," he said.

"But I will not let myself be reduced to silence."

by Oui on Fri May 1st, 2009 at 01:22:41 PM EST
Rhames on the current state of hog "farming" -- the Meat Gulags

Johann Hari on the real price of "cheap" meat

It's kind of ironic that the devaluation of antibiotics (via their promiscuous use in factory ag) may be more dangerous than the acclerated development of new viruses...  a flu pandemic with effective antibiotics for the opportunistic bacterial infections isn't all that scary except for the most frail of immune systems.  Without effective antibiotics, kind of a different story (as in 1918, yes?  strep was the proximate cause of death, the flu just opened the door for strep).  But it's all part of the same sorry-ass picture of cruel greed (or greedy cruelty) and reckless disregard for the commonwealth (as in Common-weal, as in well-being).

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Fri May 1st, 2009 at 07:23:56 PM EST
Herself - the SO - was working on bacteria resistance to antibiotics back in the mid-70s.  Even back then her group was sounding the alarm.  The ag industry countered with:

  1.  It didn't exist
  2.  If it does happen we'll invent new antibiotics

Sound familiar?  

The only broad-spectrum anti-biotic that can be used massively is Carbolic Acid.  Everything else in the  old shot locker needs to be reserved for some really nasty diseases we REALLY don't want developing resistance.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Fri May 1st, 2009 at 08:28:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
IPS: MEXICO:  Swine Flu Fears Take Toll on Pork Industry

...Veratect Corporation, a two-year-old U.S. company that monitors disease outbreaks worldwide, claims it identified the first case of the new virus on Mar. 30 in the municipality of Perote, in the southeastern Mexican state of Veracruz, 800 km from the Mexican capital.

The Seattle, Washington-based company says it reported the cases to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCs) and the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) in early April.

A pig factory farm run by Granjas Carroll, a subsidiary of the U.S.-based Smithfield Foods - the world's largest pork producer and processor - operates near the Perote village of La Gloria.

Mexico's health ministry confirmed Wednesday that the first case in Mexico of swine flu - which is a new mix of pig, bird, and human viruses - occurred in Perote, although the first person to die of the disease in this country was an employee of a national tax office on Apr. 12 in the southern state of Oaxaca.

Researchers and activists point to intensive pig farming as a perfect breeding-ground for new viruses.

Silvia Ribeiro, a researcher with the Canada-based Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC Group), says the roots of the current epidemic lie in the pig farming industry dominated by transnational corporations.

The industry rejects such allegations. Alejandro Ramírez, assistant director of the Confederation of Mexican Hog Farmers, denied that pigs were the cause of the epidemic.

He also said that although pork does not transmit the virus, consumption of pork in Mexico has fallen 80 percent. Annual per capita consumption of pork in this country is approximately 13 kgs.

"This is a critical situation, and we are seeking solutions," he told IPS. "We need to decide what to do with the meat that is not being sold."

After a Jun. 30, 2007 inspection of Granjas Carroll, the federal environmental protection agency, PROFEPA, reported that the company - the largest pork producer in the country - had committed irregularities in waste disposal that posed a threat to the soil, air, water and underground water sources.

PROFEPA set a Jun. 30, 2009 deadline for the factory farm to bring its operations up to the country's environmental standards, in order to obtain the environment ministry's "clean industry certificate."

Some 6,000 pork producers with 14 million hogs produce more than one million tons a month of pork in Mexico.

Hog farmers in Mexico and the United States pressed for the name of the disease to be changed.

On Thursday, WHO spokesman Dick Thompson said the agency would stop using the term "swine flu," in order to prevent confusion over the danger posed by pigs. Instead, he said, it would "stick with the technical scientific name H1N1 influenza A."

In a preliminary analysis of the new virus, researchers found that it arose from North American swine flu strains first identified in 1998 at a hog factory farm in the U.S. state of North Carolina, where a similar new human-pig hybrid virus had killed hundreds of animals.

In a report based on a 2.5 year investigation, which was released in April 2008, the U.S.-based Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production concluded that industrialised animal agriculture posed "unacceptable" public health risks, as well as threats to the environment.

"Due to the large numbers of animals housed in close quarters in typical (industrial farm animal production) facilities, there are many opportunities for animals to be infected by several strains of pathogens, leading to increased chance for a strain to emerge that can infect and spread in humans," warns the report "Putting Meat on The Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America".

The independent commission, whose 15 members came from the fields of veterinary medicine, agriculture, public health, business, government, rural advocacy and animal welfare, was set up in 2005 to study the impacts of the drastic changes in animal agriculture in the United States over the past 40 years.

The report emphasised the danger that "the continual cycling of viruses...in large herds or flocks (will) increase opportunities for the generation of novel virus through mutation or recombinant events that could result in more efficient human-to-human transmission."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat May 2nd, 2009 at 12:05:38 PM EST
.
CDC Analysis: Outbreak of Influenza A (H1N1) Virus Infection --- Mexico from mid-March thru April 2009

(CDC) - In March and early April 2009, Mexico experienced outbreaks of respiratory illness and increased reports of patients with influenza-like illness (ILI) in several areas of the country. On April 12, the General Directorate of Epidemiology (DGE) reported an outbreak of ILI in a small community [La Gloria - Oui] in the state of Veracruz to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

Of 1,069 patients with suspected and probable cases for whom information was available, 755 were hospitalized, and the remaining 314 were examined in outpatient settings or emergency departments. Suspected or probable cases were reported from all 31 states and from the Federal District of Mexico. The four areas with the most cases were Federal District (213 cases), Guanajuato (141), Aguascalientes (93), and Durango (77). In other states, the number of suspected or probable cases ranged from two to 46. Suspected and probable cases were identified in all age groups. Mexico routinely monitors seasonal influenza in a network of outpatient facilities throughout the country. Fifty-one influenza A positive specimens from six states were collected during January 4--March 11 in this surveillance network. All of these specimens tested negative for S-OIV at CDC.


FIGURE. Number of confirmed (N = 97) and probable (N = 260)* cases of swine-origin influenza A (H1N1) virus (S-OIV) infection, by date of illness onset --- Mexico, March 15--April 26, 2009    

"But I will not let myself be reduced to silence."

by Oui on Sat May 2nd, 2009 at 12:35:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Oui on Sat May 2nd, 2009 at 12:50:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Swine of the Times (Harpers Mag)
The Sleezers’ boars live in the first barn I had passed on the way in. It’s located three miles from the other barn, which contains only sows, in order to reduce the risk of the wind blowing pathogens between the two herds. A chain-link fence, topped with razor wire, keeps away people and animals, which are also potential disease vectors. Nothing meant for human consumption comes out of the building; it produces only semen, delivered to a nearby lab via an underground pneumatic tube. The tube carries the fluid in containers that look very much like those at drive-through bank-teller windows.

In the old days, a prize boar might provide natural service to sows on all the local farms. Today, this would be economic suicide for large producers and a literal death sentence for the pigs. The modern pig is so susceptible to disease that producers must take extreme measures to transform their barns into pathogen-free bubbles. The pigs are vulnerable because they live in close quarters; and because they are genetically uniform, a bug that breaches the defenses of one pig’s immune system can hop to the next. A bacterium stowing away between a traveling boar’s toes could wipe out half a herd. Producers expose their hogs to fewer germs when they bring only the semen from outside rather than the whole boar.

Sleezer’s protective measures are not limited to fencing and pneumatic tubes; he keeps new boars in quarantine for sixty days and tests their blood three times before moving them in with the rest of the herd. The Sleezers run the farm as a family, but to avoid transporting germs, only Derrick ever enters the boar barn. The swine also receive a small amount of antibiotics in their feed, which helps them fend off sickness. It’s a controversial practice because pathogens will eventually evolve resistance to the drugs. But almost all modern farms use low-level anti biotics in feed: besides blocking diseases, antibiotics boost animal growth rates.

Other operations often maintain even more stringent measures than the Sleezers do. One company required a father and son who worked in different barns to eat their dinners apart in order to avoid exchanging germs. The most high-tech facilities start their herds with piglets fresh from the womb, delivered by cesarean section, scrubbed clean and nursed by a mechanical sow.

[...]

Keeping pigs at just the right temperature allows them to devote every ounce of energy to one purpose: growth. Well, growth and survival. The modern pig is bred too lean to survive Iowa’s winters. The blanket of fat that insulates pigs against the cold does not fetch the price of muscle—that is to say, meat. But producing a layer of back fat takes energy, and energy means feed, which in turn means money. So geneticists have bred most of the lard out of the hog in the last fifty years. Now many of these pigs cannot survive outside the womb of the humming, computerized barn.

Butch led me down the hall, and we peered into two other rooms.

“Look at the uniformity of these litters,” he said with pride, counting. “Two, four, six—ten in that one.”

The piglets looked like they had all been cast in the same mold; they most probably did have the same father. Meatpackers want identical pigs, the better to give customers identical hams. Artificial insemination makes this possible, because breeders can distribute semen from a single exemplary boar all across the country.

This cookie-cutter perfection, however, becomes a liability when a pig gets sick. (If one hog lacks immunity to a disease, it’s likely the others with the same AI father will as well.) But the demand for uniformity outweighs this risk. The more similar the swines, the more easily they fit into the mechanized system, increasing efficiency. For instance, as swine carcasses move down the conveyor belt, at Hormel’s Austin, Minnesota, packing plant, they hit a curved knife, which slices the cylindrical loin from the inside of the body cavity. If the animals aren’t just the right proportions, the knife will hit the wrong spot, wasting meat or cutting into bone.

As with much of corporate Phood -- the demands of the assembly line, packaging, and transport far outweigh any sense of proportion or respect for the animal as a living creature.

I think this perhaps says a great deal:

The meatpacking plant is the model for the efficiencies we associate with factories. After paying a visit to a disassembly line at a slaughterhouse, Henry Ford went back to his Highland Park auto plant and designed something he called an “assembly line.”

whole article is worth a read.

what strikes me is the immense, insane fragility of the entire operation.  all dependent on cheap fossil fuel and high technology, right down the line.  all vulnerable to the point where you can almost hear the cracking of the thin ice.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Sat May 2nd, 2009 at 02:11:53 PM EST
the tabloid US subnetwork of CNN(yes I mean that in a derogatory manner) reported this flu strain as a combination of four viruses.  That only happened when it first came out.
Many of the cynical here are citing bioweapon release for eugenics purposes.  It is after all the green solution.
Now it's about pigs, which I suppose is correct.
Pigs at the profit trough.  Military-industrial complex, big pharma industrial complex, same thing.
by Lasthorseman on Sat May 2nd, 2009 at 07:28:26 PM EST
One hand washes the other :-)

After all, the early promotion of chemical pesticides and artificial fertilisers was the work of chemical and mining corporations looking for a place to dump their toxic waste products (after they started to get complaints about dumping them straight into rivers and lakes).  Poisons aggressively marketed for use on "pests" then became antipersonnel gases during WWI, which were refined and developed and then marketed again as improved pesticides between the wars, then repackaged and marketed again as antipersonnel weapons in WWII (the sorry history of Zyklon-B and IG Farben is worth a revisit).

The Galenic (heroic/toxic) school of medicine that eclipsed the nurturing ethics of Hippocrates was battlefield medicine (Galen the war surgeon);  the use of poisons in quack remedies persisted and still, imho, deeply informs the modern materia medica and the med mafia's fascination with toxic chemicals as weapons of "war" against disobedient cells (viruses, parasites, cancers, bacteria).  The use of dangerous toxins requires an urgent justification (to cover up weak justifications like profit and macho daredevil posturing) -- what's a more urgent justification than War, War, War against sinister enemies (be they dusky furriners or "pests")?

In a sense the pharma/phood/military complex is all one, the result of a guild war in which the warrior and financier/merchant guilds (boosted by the miners' and alchemists' guild) conquered and has almost exterminated the farmer/peasant/artisan guilds.  The result is that all the activities in the culture are now modelled as some variant on mining, trade, or war:  farming is an extractive activity, mining soils and animal life for maximal (trade) value, and waging "war" on bugs and all other fauna.  Our animal farming operations now resemble POW camps more than anything recognisable to my parents' generation as a farm.

We have become unable to think about social problems or even personal life except in the language of commerce and war:  we talk about "investment" in relationships rather than commitment or covenant, for example, and even programmes attempting to alleviate poverty are marketed as "War on Poverty".

Anyway, long train of thought... seems to me that a healthy culture like a healthy ecosystem requires the balance of many guilds in tension and in harmony, each with its own world-model, jargon, skill set and so on;  if one guild (priestly, warriorly, tradely, whatever) manages to take over and impose just one mental model and language on all activities and thinking, that model will be inappropriate for many/most of those activities and there will be some kind of dysfunction (even beyond the obvious dysfunction of a power grab of this kind).  I think Jacobs explored this theme in Systems of Survival, but she divided all cultural work into just two overarching guilds:  guardian and commercial, each with its own moral system.  When the commercial moral system was applied to government (which should be a guardian-caste activity), she claimed, the result was social illness, corruption, abuse.

For a start, pursuing this line a bit OT, it seems to me that any person who owns a company larger than X employees, or serves on the board of such a company, or holds more than X stock in such companies, should be barred for life from holding public office.  The curse of our times is being ruled covertly by businessmen, by way of the revolving door between the boardroom and the assembly house.  People should choose their career, imho -- to get rich in business or to serve their community as policy makers, peacekeepers and mediators in government -- and the two roles cannot be mixed without disastrous corruption, enormous temptations to the misuse of position and privileged information to which few people would be immune.

Any takers?  The notion is so utterly radical -- shocking even -- and this itself reveals something about the mindset that the C19 capitalists succeeded in creating:  that the commercial caste somehow has the right to run the world.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Sun May 3rd, 2009 at 12:20:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Keep writing, please!  It all makes sense, whether it is proven theory, or observation and study, it´s a lot of food for progressive thought.

Now, you keep talking about balance and social equality like that... you´re gonna need a flotilla, Cap´n!  (;

 

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Sun May 3rd, 2009 at 06:04:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
(It) seems to me that a healthy culture like a healthy ecosystem requires the balance of many guilds in tension and in harmony, each with its own world-model, jargon, skill set and so on;  if one guild (priestly, warriorly, tradely, whatever) manages to take over and impose just one mental model and language on all activities and thinking, that model will be inappropriate for many/most of those activities and there will be some kind of dysfunction (even beyond the obvious dysfunction of a power grab of this kind).

I like your multiple guild/multiple ethos model.  In some ways the domination of government and education by business interests has been facilitated by the idea of the separation church and state, as that concept came to be applied.  The ideal was important to contain the tendency of religious leaders to impose sectarian policies on a society with many sects and was not even very effective in that regard.  

Yet, beginning in the post Civil War period in the USA, college boards of trustees came to be dominated by businessmen rather than clergy.  Society came to be seen as the devalued and therefore manipulable "soil" in which businesses could grow.  However, this was a  de facto occurrence which was not consciously acknowledged or discussed.  Officially, we were a "Christian Nation."  Sometime after WW II we grudgingly became a Judeo-Christian Nation, at least in the major population centers.  But we have not figured out what to think or do about the Buddhists, who really don't buy in to the theistic deity approach but are discrete enough not to make a big deal about it.

The curse of our times is being ruled covertly by businessmen, by way of the revolving door between the boardroom and the assembly house.  People should choose their career, imho -- to get rich in business or to serve their community as policy makers, peacekeepers and mediators in government -- and the two roles cannot be mixed without disastrous corruption, enormous temptations to the misuse of position and privileged information to which few people would be immune.

IMO, separate career paths for politics/government service, and business would be a helpful but not sufficient condition for proper reform.  But even more important is seizing back the control of the financing of election campaigns.  That is what prevented, for instance, the US Senate from passing the Durban ammendment to allow bankruptcy judges to cram down mortgage reductions on lenders.  It is what will stand in the way of any meaningful reform of the malignant and bloated financial services industry.  It may be that for real reform both public financing of elections and separate career paths are necessary.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun May 3rd, 2009 at 06:31:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
for your absolute common sense.  I don't find this on American political forums.
by Lasthorseman on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 10:04:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Consider what happens when such forms of massive pork production move to unregulated territory where Mexican authorities allow wealthy interests to do business without adequate oversight, abusing workers and the environment both. And there it is: The violence wrought by NAFTA in clear and understandable human terms. Man, what are you talking about guyz??
kishi from tattoos designs
by kishi on Fri May 29th, 2009 at 08:18:44 AM EST
benevolent human being American went to Mexico to supervise the transfer of widget making equipment to it's new home in the profit margin heaven Mexico City.

He returned, he retired and essentially said fuck off to the traditional company retirement celebrations.  I salute the memory of him here.

by Lasthorseman on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 10:11:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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