Monitoring Corporate Agribusiness From a Public Interest Perspective
A.V. Krebs  Editor\Publisher
Issue #150                                                                    March 22, 2002


It has often been claimed that depressions or downturns in the American economy are "farm fed and farm led" and looking back over that past 150 years there is considerable validity in that axiom. At the same time one could also make a case that our rural communities tend to forecast the political climate and mores of the nation much like the canaries in mine shafts were once used to detect dangerous and deadly gas explosions.

To most of our urban and suburban dwellers today, however, the poverty, despair, anger which soon evolves into hatred goes unnoticed in the heartland just as the deplorable living, working, and economic conditions of so many people living around the world are forgotten or ignored until something happens so horrific that it captures the whole nation and\or the world's attention.

Such is the case as recent history has shown for long before September 11, 2001 America's heartland resonated from the terror of April 19, 1995. While there was an immediate soul-searching by the media and politicians after Oklahoma City --- “trouble in the heartland” it was labeled --- the events leading up to that tragedy and the climate that spawned it were soon dissipated by simply focusing in one culprit and sending him to his death.

Little was said in that process about how America's family farm system of agriculture was standing on the threshold of eradication as throughout the 1980's an ever-mounting numbers of farm bankruptcies, foreclosures, and forced evictions reaped a grim "human harvest" of suicides, alcoholism, divorce, family violence, personal stress, and loss of community and continuing into the late-1990's the very economic and social fabric of our heartland was being ripped asunder. Meanwhile, the control of much of our food supply was been seized by corporate entities whose primary purpose was not to feed people, or provide jobs, build communities or husband the land, but simply to increase their cash flow and reduce their transactional costs in order to placate their excess-profit-obsessed institutional investors.

We have now seen a similar pattern emerge in our country since the horror of New York, Washington and Pennsylvania where in the name of patriotism, national security, etc. a so-called "axis of evil" has been isolated and is being pursued and sent to their death. Yet, at the same time we are seeing, just as we have seen in rural America for decades, a steady erosion of those democratic values upon which this country was built and given much lip service by our political leaders while they are stealthily and steadily are being stolen from us.

It is for that reason that a recent speech by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (Dem-Ohio) before the Americans For Democratic Action's "Our Democracy After 9-11: Can We Save It?" function in Los Angeles, California is both poignant and most remarkable.

Realizing that many readers of THE AGRIBUSINESS EXAMINER have probably already seen or heard his "A Prayer for America" it is nevertheless reprinted below because it is a commentary that every American know about and ponder, particularly in this season of religious and seasonal hope.

In his "Prayer" Rep. Kucinich explores many broad themes that have become hallmarks of our post-September 11 discourse. In seeking to engage his listeners in the urgency of not only preserving our democratic values from the threat within, but also from abroad he rightfully offers that it is the right and proper time that we establish an agency within our government to deal with the "climate of fear" which now pervades our nation

In a post-speech interview with Scott Galindez in the March 14 issue of truthout Kucinich points out that in responding to the events of September 11 our leadership's subsequent actions in maintaining what IT calls a level of security in fact "creates a mentality of caution, and an underlying sense of fear. And when that's there, it has a way of affecting consciousness, like a virus can adversely affect a healthy organism. So, when members vote, you know all of us make decisions that are affected by the conditions under which we live and work --- and our political, the socio-political reality at Capital Hill has been reconstructed. It is a reality which is socially affirmed. We have circumstances that are not conducive to healthy decision-making in a democratic society. In addition to that, members are not told why. There is no discussion of these things. It just happens."

Responding to this "climate of fear" the Congressman is planning on proposing legislation for a Department of Peace. What would this Department of Peace do?

"Well, the purpose of a Department of Peace and the motivating factors involve a desire to make nonviolence an organizing principle in our society for domestic as well as international policy, and on an international level to seek to make war archaic. On a domestic level, to deal with issues such as child abuse, spousal abuse, domestic violence in the home, community relations challenges, racial violence, anything that exemplifies a lack of ability to deal with human relations, would be dealt with by the Department of Peace. And it's a cabinet level position, which would raise the whole issue of non-violence and conflict resolution to serious level of discussion in society."

Such a national "discussion" would surely benefit both rural and urban America and in turn become a beacon of hopeful light for a world in dark turmoil. The first step in that long journey for all Americans is to give careful and thoughtful consideration to Congressman Kucinich's historic "Prayer for America."

(to be sung as an overture for America)
"My country `tis of thee. Sweet land of liberty of thee I sing. . . . From every mountain side, let freedom ring. . . Long may our land be bright. With freedom's holy light. . ."
"Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave. O'er the land of the free And crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea. . ."
I offer these brief remarks today as a prayer for our country, with love of democracy, as a celebration of our country. With love for our country. With hope for our country. With a belief that the light of freedom cannot be extinguished as long as it is inside of us. With a belief that freedom rings resoundingly in a democracy each time we speak freely. With the understanding that freedom stirs the human heart and fear stills it. With the belief that a free people cannot walk in fear and faith at the same time. With the understanding that there is a deeper truth expressed in the unity of the United States. That implicate in the union of our country is the union of all people. That all people are essentially one. That the world is interconnected not only on the material level of economics, trade, communication, and transportation, but innerconnected through human consciousness, through the human heart, through the heart of the world, through the simply expressed impulse and yearning to be and to breathe free. I offer this prayer for America.

Let us pray that our nation will remember that the unfolding of the promise of democracy in our nation paralleled the striving for civil rights. That is why we must challenge the rationale of the Patriot Act. We must ask why should America put aside guarantees of constitutional justice?

How can we justify in effect canceling the First Amendment and the right of free speech, the right to peaceably assemble? How can we justify in effect canceling the Fourth Amendment, probable cause, the prohibitions against unreasonable search and seizure? How can we justify in effect canceling the Fifth Amendment, nullifying due process, and allowing for indefinite incarceration without a trial? How can we justify in effect canceling the Sixth Amendment, the right to prompt and public trial? How can we justify in effect canceling the Eighth Amendment which protects against cruel and
unusual punishment?

We cannot justify widespread wiretaps and internet surveillance without judicial supervision, let alone with it. We cannot justify secret searches without a warrant. We cannot justify giving the Attorney General the ability to designate domestic terror groups. We cannot justify giving the FBI total access to any type of data which may exist in any system anywhere such as medical records and financial records.

We cannot justify giving the CIA the ability to target people in this country for intelligence surveillance. We cannot justify a government which takes from the people our right to privacy and then assumes for its own operations a right to total secrecy. The Attorney General recently covered up a statue of Lady Justice showing her bosom as if to underscore there is no danger of justice exposing herself at this time, before this

Let us pray that our nation's leaders will not be overcome with fear. Because today there is great fear in our great Capitol. And this must be understood before we can ask about the shortcomings of Congress in the current environment.

The great fear began when we had to evacuate the Capitol on September 11. It continued when we had to leave the Capitol again when a bomb scare occurred as members were pressing the CIA during a secret briefing. It continued when we abandoned Washington when anthrax, possibly from a government lab, arrived in the mail. It continued when the Attorney General declared a nationwide terror alert and then the Administration brought the destructive Patriot Bill to the floor of the House. It continued in the release of the Bin Laden tapes at the same time the President was announcing the withdrawal from the ABM treaty.

It remains present in the cordoning off of the Capitol. It is present in the camouflaged armed national guardsmen who greet members of Congress each day we enter the Capitol campus. It is present in the labyrinth of concrete barriers through which we must pass each time we go to vote. The trappings of a state of siege trap us in a state of fear, ill equipped to deal with the Patriot Games, the Mind Games, the War Games of an unelected President and his unelected Vice President.

Let us pray that our country will stop this war. "To promote the common defense" is one of the formational principles of America. Our Congress gave the President the ability to respond to the tragedy of September the Eleventh. We licensed a response to those who helped bring the terror of September the Eleventh. But we the people and our elected representatives must reserve the right to measure the response, to proportion the response, to challenge the response, and to correct the response.

Because we did not authorize the invasion of Iraq.
We did not authorize the invasion of Iran.
We did not authorize the invasion of North Korea.
We did not authorize the bombing of civilians in Afghanistan.
We did not authorize permanent detainees in Guantanamo Bay.
We did not authorize the withdrawal from the Geneva Convention.
We did not authorize military tribunals suspending due process and habeas corpus.
We did not authorize assassination squads.
We did not authorize the resurrection of COINTELPRO.
We did not authorize the repeal of the Bill of Rights.
We did not authorize the revocation of the Constitution.
We did not authorize national identity cards.
We did not authorize the eye of Big Brother to peer from cameras throughout our cities.
We did not authorize an eye for an eye.
Nor did we ask that the blood of innocent people, who perished on September 11, be avenged with the blood of innocent villagers in Afghanistan.
We did not authorize the administration to wage war anytime, anywhere, anyhow it pleases.
We did not authorize war without end.
We did not authorize a permanent war economy.

Yet we are upon the threshold of a permanent war economy. The President has requested a $45.6 billion increase in military spending. All defense-related programs will cost close to $400 billion. Consider that the Department of Defense has never passed an independent audit. Consider that the Inspector General has notified Congress that the Pentagon cannot properly account for $1.2 trillion in transactions. Consider that in recent
years the Dept. of Defense could not match $22 billion worth of expenditures to the items it purchased, wrote off, as lost, billions of dollars worth of in-transit inventory and stored nearly $30 billion worth of spare parts it did not need.

Yet the defense budget grows with more money for weapons systems to fight a cold war which ended, weapon systems in search of new enemies to create new wars. This has nothing to do with fighting terror. This has everything to do with fueling a military industrial machine with the treasure of our nation, risking the future of our nation, risking democracy itself with the militarization of thought which follows the militarization of the budget.

Let us pray for our children. Our children deserve a world without end. Not a war without end. Our children deserve a world free of the terror of hunger, free of the terror of poor health care, free of the terror of homelessness, free of the terror of ignorance, free of the terror of hopelessness, free of the terror of policies which are committed to a world view which is not appropriate for the survival of a free people, not appropriate for the survival of democratic values, not appropriate for the survival of our nation, and not appropriate for the survival of the world.

Let us pray that we have the courage and the will as a people and as a nation to shore ourselves up, to reclaim from the ruins of September the Eleventh our democratic traditions.

Let us declare our love for democracy.

Let us declare our intent for peace.

Let us work to make nonviolence an organizing principle in our own society.

Let us recommit ourselves to the slow and painstaking work of statecraft, which sees peace, not war as being inevitable.

Let us work for a world where someday war becomes archaic. That is the vision which the proposal to create a Department of Peace envisions. Forty-three members of congress are now cosponsoring the legislation.
Let us work for a world where nuclear disarmament is an imperative. That is why we must begin by insisting on the commitments of the ABM treaty. That is why we must be steadfast for nonproliferation.

Let us work for a world where America can lead the way in banning weapons of mass destruction not only from our land and sea and sky but from outer space itself. That is the vision of HR 3616: A universe free of fear. Where we can look up at God's creation in the stars and imagine infinite wisdom, infinite peace, infinite possibilities, not infinite war, because we are taught that the kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven.

Let us pray that we have the courage to replace the images of death which haunt us, the layers of images of September the Eleventh, faded into images of patriotism, spliced into images of military mobilization, jump cut into images of our secular celebrations of the World Series, New Year's Eve, the Superbowl, the Olympics, the strobic flashes which touch our deepest fears.

Let us replace those images with the work of human relations, reaching out to people, helping our own citizens here at home, lifting the plight of the poor everywhere. That is the America which has the ability to rally the support of the world. That is the America which stands not in pursuit of an axis of evil, but which is itself at the axis of hope and faith and peace and freedom.

America, America. God shed grace on thee. Crown thy good, America. Not with weapons of mass destruction. Not with invocations of an axis of evil. Not through breaking international treaties. Not through establishing America as king of a unipolar world. Crown thy good America.

America, America. Let us pray for our country. Let us love our country. Let us defend our country not only from the threats without but from the threats within. Crown thy good, America. Crown thy good with brotherhood, and sisterhood. And crown thy good with compassion and restraint and forbearance and a commitment to peace, to democracy, to economic justice here at home and throughout the world. Crown thy good, America. Crown thy good America. Crown thy good.

Thank you.

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Readers of THE AGRIBUSINESS EXAMINER are reminded that past issues of the
newsletter can be found at the Corporate Agribusiness Research Project’s web site on
the Internet. The CARP web site features: THE AGBIZ  TILLER, THE
AGRIBUSINESS EXAMINER and "Between the Furrows."

THE AGBIZ TILLER, the progeny of the one-time printed newsletter, now becomes an
on-line news feature of the Project. In-depth essays dealing with corporate agribusiness
activities are posted here periodically.

In "Between the Furrows," besides a modern search engine, there is a wide range of
pages designed to inform and educate readers on the inner workings of corporate
agribusiness. In addition to CARP's "Mission Statement," "Overview" and the Project
director's "Publication Background," the viewer will find a helpful "Fact Miners" page
which is an effort to assist the reader in the necessary art of researching corporations; a
page of  "Quotable Quotes" pertaining to agribusiness and corporate power; a  "Links"
page which allow the  reader to survey various useful public interest, government and
corporate web sites; a "Feedback" page for reader input, and  a page where readers can
order directly the editor's The Corporate Reapers: The Book of Agribusiness.

The CARP web site was designed and produced by ElectricArrow of Seattle,

Simply by clicking on either of the addresses below all the aforementioned features and
information are yours  to enjoy, study, absorb and sow.