Fucking Smithfield Foods 120


Sorry for an F-Bomb before you even get in the door, but I read something last night that pissed me off so bad that a fuck derivative was the only way to get the point across before moving on to the meat of this blog.  (Prepare for the gratuitous use of meat and meat byproducts as well as the occasional Tourette’s outbursts.)  So, I will now switch gears to why we are clearly one of the stupidest fucking countries on Earth and seem to be exporting stupid now.

Hyperbole?  I think not.

Never mind the outrageously biased headline of the article itself.  OK.  Maybe just a mini screed to make myself feel better.  Smithfield Foods is “transforming” eastern Europe, eh?  The same way they “transformed” Mexican pig farms into viral breeding grounds? How about their “transformation” of the American pig industry into the shit-spewing, ground-water-polluting juggernaut that is killing us today? That’s like saying a rapist “transforms” his victims.  Ridiculous.  Words have meaning and the people we pay to use them are apparently oblivious to their intent.  Or maybe they know exactly what they are doing.  The jury is still out for me as to whether or not this is all some elaborate, complicated “long con” or just a horrible set of coincidences with enormous, global consequences.

At any rate, this blog really isn’t about the corporate propaganda machine and how they have convinced us to eat shit sandwiches as if they were North Carolina pulled pork.  Hey, back to pigs.  I love it when a segue comes together.   (Sorry, miguelito, this might be painful for you.  I’ll understand if you have to look away.)

So, fucking Smithfield Foods.

I am not sure what is worse.  Our societal weakness for getting the shit kicked out of us and asking for more or the actual actions of those operating at the highest levels of that same society.  The ones doing the shit kicking.  Prepare for a lot of shit in this blog.  Our country is nearly overrun with it.  We are choking on it.  In case you didn’t read the NY Time’s piece yet, fucking Smithfield Foods is proud of their record of shit to cost ratio.

In the United States, Smithfield says it has been a boon to consumers. Pork prices dropped by about one-fifth between 1970 and 2004, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, suggesting annual savings of about $29 per consumer.

Wow!  A 20-percent cost saving over 34 years!  You mean, all we had to do to save fifty cents on a package of bacon is kill the American family farm and pollute our drinking water for generations to come?  Not to mention the damage done to our health eating the factory-farm offal they call food.  I bet we could reach fifty percent cost savings with the proper incentive.

What’s it going to take to keep our dirt-cheap BLTs?  Huh?  The tomatoes have salmonella?  WTF?  Whatever happened to farmers farming and MBAs running the store?  What made them think that they could actually perform that service to society?  OK.  I should stop before I say something rude.  Not every MBA is a ideological moron with the common sense of a gnat.  My best friend has both an MBA and a conscience as well as a fairly good grasp of reality, so I am convinced it is not the education so much as the environment.

That said, how did this environment come into being?  When did it start?  Who was responsible?

I think the destruction of the American family farm and the “transformation” of our food supply is every bit as damaging to our societal compact as torture memos. Where is the outrage over that shit?  (Not to belittle torture, but we’ve been torturing people for a long time in this country.  At least since the CIA started doing their thing as our foreign policy nut-crackers during the Cold War.  All perfectly justified at the time, of course.  Had to stop those dominoes from falling.)  We have allowed (for the umpteenth time) a small group of powerful men to control one of the most important, live-sustaining processes in this country for their own profit and our obvious detriment.  How is it that we keep letting this shit happen?  Are we fucking psychologically damaged in some fundamental way?  Is it all the corn?

I have no idea how to end this blog now.  It is all too big.  Like we really have no fucking clue what we are doing yet keep sending the same idiots back to the corner office to make the same dumb-ass mistakes while we figure it out.  I guess that is as good a place to end this as any.

Let me leave you with one last thought as we head into another election season.  Vote.  Every time the polls open.  Take at least one person (better two or three) with you who doesn’t usually go to the primaries, because they vote in the “real election” in November.  The general election is much too late to make a difference.  Drag their ass to the polls every time they open.  Then cajole that previously lackluster slacker into doing the same thing with someone else who doesn’t vote the next time they go to the polls in the spring.

Oh yeah, there is a special place in hell for this guy.

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120 thoughts on “Fucking Smithfield Foods

    • Jason Everett Miller

      OK. I kept the heat but dialed back the language. Feels good to let loose with both barrels sometimes given the more strategic approach have taken in recent months, but I can be a bit extreme when I put on that persona.

      • TheraP

        Gee, now I don’t know if I got the expurgated or the unexpurgated version!

        But nothing like the reek of those who live near these pig farms!

        • Jason Everett Miller

          Depends on when you started reading. By the time stamps, you might have gotten my first edit post publish.

      • dijamo

        Nooooo, I was joking! A good f-bomb greatly improves a piece and that article deserves some righteous indignation 🙂

          • BevD

            I don’t think you need to dial it back, I think you should rightfully be more angry and so should the rest of society.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            When I wince at my own words, then finding a way to make the same point without collateral damage becomes the goal. I think the rewrites on this one were definitely needed because the initial anger was so great.

  • TheraP

    Thank you, Jason. That’s exactly what set me off this morning. Every bit of it! Put that together with so many things. It pretty much shows you how what “rules” today is not the law, not concern for people or even the welfare of animals, or god forbid the environment. But it is “profits”!

    It’s clear you are not in the pay of these folks! 😉

  • Libertine

    Time to regrow government so it can oversee what is being grown for our consumption.

    It was the of the Reagan Revolution…smaller government is better government. Markets will regulate themselves. BULLSHIT!!! Business needs to be regulated and overseen by government…because just like in a society with no law enforcement a breakdown will inevitably ensue. Don’t get me wrong it isn’t just the R’s that deserve the blame. The gutting of the effectiveness of our government happened during the Clinton years and the D’s are right in line with the R’s to collect those nice big checks from the corporate ‘bribers’ who want the government to stay out of their way while they poison us with lead tainted toys and a food supply that seems to be teeming with so many diseases that it would put the a CDC lab to shame. Time to insist that the government make sure the American people are not poisoned or sickened by diseases at the hands of unscrupulous people trying to make a quick buck at any cost.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Seriously. It is endemic. This suicide pact between government and big business has already drawn a warm tub of water and are in the process of stropping the straight razor. We need to stop this shit before it is too late.

      • Libertine

        Well stuff like that happens when the right to free enterprise and the money that can be made trumps everything else Jason. Greed has been elevated to a virtue in America.

        And both parties are greedily feeding from the money trough while we get sick and die.

        • GregorZap

          Ture dat! Greed had become a virtue. If you did it for money, well, then that’s okay. Like, say. lrgslizing marijuana. If it eliminated the deficit, then who cares about the health effects.

          I’m just making an argument. I think it should be legal and people should decide it’s not worth losing the brain cells, but that’s another post. I’m just illustrating the contradictions.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            I am a perfect example that “weed costs you brain cells argument” is more myth than fact. Unless you think I am an idiot, then never mind.

            Marijuana is demonstrably less harmful than alcohol or cigarettes or any number of pharmaceuticals. This country has been brainwashed by a sophisticated and long-running propaganda campaign that shows its ultimate expression in weed being the same class as heroin.

            I say decriminalize everything and control stuff at various levels depending on the drug. Possession of a “controlled” substance shouldn’t equal a prison sentence.

          • Libertine

            Absolutely Jason…

            It is less harmful than many drugs that are perfectly legal and sold over the counter. And it has become a long running propaganda campaign of misinformation and lies. Right now so much money is being wasted on interdicting distribution of weed, then prosecuting and incarcerating people who smoke weed that it boggles the mind. Between the DEA agents assigned to it and the amount of money sunk into the whole effort I dare say the effort to stop people from smoking marijuana runs into the tens of billions of dollars…and is another example of money being wasted in one area instead of being used productively in another one…like making sure the food we eat is safe and the goods we purchase aren’t toxic for example.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Exactly. We need some restructuring of priorities. It’s not about spending more money to attain a working government. It’s about spending the money we already do on things that achieve real outcomes for real people. It’s like we’re stuck in an episode of the Twilight Zone.

  • ~flowerchild~

    I have no idea how to end this blog now. It is all too big.

    It is all too big. I could just hug ya for that, Jason. I must have started 20 blogs in a similar vein as this one of yours and every time I have given up, because it is just that big. The nuances are overwhelming and the use of profanity is completely understandable, at least by me.

    The agri-business that replaced the family farm is an abomination. I’m stopping here, because it is just too big.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Yeah, knowledge can certainly be a burden. I feel as if I know too much, care too deeply and that we face an insurmountable obstacle in human nature. I am still hopeful, though, as the counter narrative becomes our common refrain.

    • matyra

      But we can’t stop just here. People would rather not know where their Egg Mcfuckinmuffin ham came from. People eat hot dogs for God’s sake.

      This is just one more place the invisible hand breaks down by not putting a price on the family farm, humane treatment, human health (can you say a great place for mutation?), ecology (yay, pollution!) and a respect for local tradition.

      And this abomination company grew up in our country and now is loose in the world. Yay.

      An aside. The H1N1, though I’m saying in another place in TPM that I’m not overlyworried since the flu is already here, IS a damn good driver for renewing good farming regulation practices. At least in our own country.

      • GregorZap

        Personally, I like the McRib, but I also very much appreciate the Family Farmers. The question is countless small businesses or a few big business everywhere? I cross the country and see only the same stores everywhere. It’s discouraging. I want different. I want diversity. I want to taste things that are different between my McRib sandwiches.

        • Jason Everett Miller

          Exactly right. Concentration of power leads to exploitation of resources. We have been through this drill many times.

  • new10

    “Not every MBA is a ideological moron with the common sense of a gnat.”

    Much of the problem with MBA programs, IMO, is that they focus far too much on how to cut costs and on how to increase the efficiency of operations for the purpose of cutting costs. Not nearly enough attention is given to developing the skills needed to increase sales by creating new products. The reason for that is because costs tend to be easy to identify, quantify, and report on owing to well established accounting methods.

    For example, I once worked as a middle-manager in a large corporation whose president was searching for areas to cut costs. Up until then, the company had provided free coffee (plain ol’ Java, nothing special), as an “office supply” item. The staff was free to make coffee as needed to boost their energy levels. Predictably, the company president focused on the item cost of the coffee supply in his search. This was the definition of shortsightedness, and yet, was understandable with respect to how business school is taught. The cost of the coffee was easy to quantify. It was easy to show on a report the purchase cost savings to be had by its elimination. What was not so easy to quantify and report on was the cost of the lost productivity of the, now, non-caffeinated highly-paid professional staff. Sure, the staff could by their own coffee, but they would not be consuming as much, and therefore, not be as “chemically” productive, as they were when the coffee flowed freely. That is just a small example.

    Business schools, in general, do not spend nearly enough time teaching the value of product improvement and new product development. Basically, the activities which improve the top-line of a business. Such activities require talent, creativity, and vision. The value of such skills is not so easily taught, but can, IMHO, be developed. They are also difficult to quantify and show on a paper report to management, and so, are often sacrificed whenever they are in conflict with obvious cost (and, corner) cutting opportunities.

    • eds

      “product improvement and new product development”

      are not Business Administration. Maybe the problem is that MBAs and Entrepreneurs don’t mix well. The idea man (or woman) doesn’t want to be an administrator and vice versa; at least it’s rare to find the good combo.

      • Jason Everett Miller

        Exactly right. We turned MBAs into savants when that was never their intended role. Many of our most celebrated entrepreneurs were college drop-outs.

      • new10

        I gather that you have not been involved in many new product development programs at large corporations. New product developments and improvements are only embarked upon at large corporations with the approval of and with organizational and financial committments from that corporation’s business administrators (the managers). Design and engineering may be providing most of the creative input to the implementation of the new products, but they do so with administrative approval, and do not do so without it.

        Many great new product opportunities have been missed, or lost to competition, simply because the administration of that company lacked the necessary vision, or creative inclinations, or courage to recognize and act on a good new product idea. Administrative approval for highly innovative (risky) new products also requires administrators with the vision to direct/fund new R&D paths, and to recognize and champion the creation and introduction of innovative products.

        Having said all of the above, I expect that you may want to further split hairs regarding the definition of Business Administration. If so, you already know that I’m not interested.

        • eds

          That was weird. You’re basically agreeing with what I said, after opening your reply with an antagonistic remark.

          Bean counters and pencil pushers look to Administer a business – Business Administration is not Business Vision. This does not mean that there can be no finance entrepreneurs or “creative accounting”. This does not mean that “financial products” are all the much like ordinary products.

          I have in fact worked for a multi-billion dollar company, in a division ostensibly bought for its R&D capabilities. Not “many” products but enough to have a sense of such things.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Totally agree. We have bred innovation out of most industries and put the ultimate bean-counters into positions of authority. Tactics and strategy have been largely confused in big business.

      • eds

        That is a bit harsh, jason.

        You seem to think an Assembly Line should be doing product innovation on the line. That breeds chaos and non-uniform product. While Assembly Line workers can have good ideas both as to product design specs and process design specs and functions, economy-of-scale demands some uniformity. Since uniformity is the antithesis of diversity, and innovation is nothing if not a diversion from the status quo, it’s not that we breed out innovation, it’s that it is necessarily separated out of our economy to that extent.

        • GregorZap

          It’s food fascism. The majority of people prefer a bland diet so the rest of us have to eat what the majority prefers. Or, at least, that is the big business model and their predatory tactics prevent other producers from getting in the game to feed those of us who still have a penchant to explore new foods.

          • eds

            Dunno about predatory stuff, but urban areas have “alternative” food sources flourishing in California. So those who don’t want mass-produced food (or anything else for that matter) can find supplies for a wide spectrum of goods, whether at the store or at the restaurant.

            Specialty goods prices tend to reflect the economies of scale relative to mass-produced goods, in food as well as in manufactured products. If you can pay the current price for old-fashioned quality, do so, the larger economy depends on it!

        • Jason Everett Miller

          I actually never advocated for the factory floor taking over the strategic thinking for any industry. There will always being striations of skills in an organization. I am saying that the people we elevated to positions of authority across our big business spectrum have proved to be mostly idiots rather than savants.

          • eds

            I do understand that as being your opinion. In some cases I’d probably agree, in others not unless you mean that we all have some idiocy in us. I think you’re selling them short, possibly as a reaction to recent debacles. Scapegoating can be fun even when it’s wrong-headed.

            Where to go with your opinion?

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Name one thing we make better today than we did thirty years ago.

  • BevD

    People in this country have NO idea as to how compromised our food distribution system is. There is virtually no inspection of food producing plants, no inspection by DOT of distribution, no port inspection, regulations are flaunted and safety both for the production workers and the food itself is non existent. The FDA is so corrupt and corrupted that all food and drugs should be suspected of contamination in one form or another.

    Meatpacking is the most dangerous job in the country with more accidents and deaths than any other, primarily because the meatpacking industry does not employ skilled workers but depends solely on immigrant workers who are worked long hours for little money with a complete disregard for their safety or the product safety and purity. These corporations advertise in Latin American countries and employ workers with little or no questions asked. Because of deregulation workers in the food industry are no longer regularly tested for TB or hepatitis which is the reason why we are seeing an uprise in these illnesses in the general population.

    It’s as if Sinclair Lewis never wrote a word.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      A great movie called The Corporation was my first introduction to the psychopathic nature that is American big business. Most of us are totally detached from the consequences of our purchases. Totally brainwashed by our shared delusion of upward mobility.

        • Jason Everett Miller

          Too much salt deadens one’s ability to taste subtle flavors. I found little in that film to disagree with and many top business leaders are of the same mind.

      • amike

        For me, it was one of Teddy’s friends, Upton Sinclair in The Jungle. The more things change the more they stay the same. I’d quote it in French and seem everso much more intelligent,but (a) I’m a linguophobe, and (b) look what happened to John Kerry. 🙂

  • miguelitoh2o

    Cosign Jason. And not just for personal reasons. 😉 I was trying to find a link to an article I read within the last 6 months or so, (gave up as google ‘pig farm, nevada’ was overwhelmed by swine flu articles), about a pig farm in Nevada that produces the equivalent of raw sewage NYC produces every day! With out anything close to the disposal/treatment that would be required in a human population. Basically just put it out in a lined pond to evaporate, and then what? I suppose, that at least Nevada isn’t going to have the #1 ‘BossHogg fiction” kind of disaster listed here…

    We’ve got to cut out the ‘middle man’ in our diets. By that I mean MEAT. The environmental, health, and economic costs are too great. Right on!

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Thanks, miguelito. I figured this subject would hit home.

      We (my wife and I) have switched entirely to sustainably grown meats that are free range and grass fed. We pay that 20-percent that fucking Smithfield Foods supposedly saved us, but we more than make up for it in added health benefits and quality of life.

      Americans have been conned. Pure and simple.

      • eds

        I bet you pay more than 20% premium over the mass-produced meat prices. Around here it’s more like 100+% premium.

        I don’t know what the actual added health benefits are, well-run factory vs. well-run “free-range”.

        • Jason Everett Miller

          There are no well-run factory meat producers. They use dubious methods to produce inferior products at very nearly the same price. The jury is already in on whether corn-fed meat is worse for you than grass-fed, but feel free to eat whatever you like.

          The added cost is worth it me and my family. I pay $5.99 per pound for grass-fed, sustainably raised thick-cut bacon at the farmer’s market. The same product from Hormel or fucking Smithfield foods cost me $4.99. I am not a math whiz, but that appears to be about a 20% cost difference.

          It is a myth that eating right costs much more than eating shit.

          • eds

            Smithfield built a reputation, but you’re overgeneralizing. Around here “quality” beef is generally at least twice the baseline supermarket prices. I haven’t priced quality pork but shoulder roast can be picked up for $1.29/lb and sausage for $2/lb if you shop well. I don’t see discounts like that in the “quality” stores.

            I guess if you live on bacon, I can see why you’d think 20% is reasonable. I don’t know if the reported price reductions reflect inflation or not. Could be that while pork fell 20% beef etc. went up a lot. It’s clear that Smithfield has had a long run of very good profits. Becoming the Big Name (at least for pork) does make it an easy target.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Convenient rationalization and deflection of my point with a strawman about living on bacon.

            I have shopped at Safeway and currently shop at Whole Foods in Washington DC. The difference between our bills at each was usually around 20%, which is why we stopped shopping at Safeway. Paying slightly less for shit wasn’t even a consideration once we woke up to the fact that the mass-produced food industry was killing us with corn and bottom-line practices.

            You do a good job of generalizing yourself with “quality” as some sort watchword. Defined as what exactly? If they aren’t raising pigs or beef or whatever the way they did fifty years ago (which cost the same, polluted less and produced just as much meat) then there is no quality that can be claimed.

            Corn-fed meat is making us fat. Antibiotics in the meat are making us resistant to medications. The conditions in which the meat is raised is inhumane and could easily be compared to the debate we are currently having on torture.

            Not exactly sure what it is you are advocating for here, but the facts are not on your side.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Yet, oddly enough I was the only who provided links and at least circumstantial evidence from DC that is counter to your claims.

  • OldenGoldenDecoy

    .

    So . . .

    Does this mean I can’t raise my own organically fed hogs for personal consumption, or beef for that matter?

    Slay me if you will, but I have 5 hogs in the pipeline. If you’re all upset about the waste by-products, the consortium that we are affiliated that originally was associated with UC Davis reprocesses the by-products through thermochemical process to methane, carbon dioxide, water, and oil. They’ve been doing this process for 20 years.

    Just like investments, consumer beware!

    A lifetime of understanding what one consumes leads to, if not a longer life, a much healthier life. And that stands on whether you are a vegan, a vegetarian or a consumer of meat.

    Don’t anyone fool yourself.

    And yes. Factory farms suck!

    ~OGD~

  • OldenGoldenDecoy

    .

    One more thing: When citizens are give no alternatives . . .

    . . . in voting for horseshit versus bullshit they become complacent. I refuse to cast a vote for anyone that does not Constitutionally meet the criteria for a given office.

    I’m most foks have taken the time to view the Tony Benn video in David Seaton’s blog here.

    As most old pessimists such as I know, in addition to David Seaton and Tony Benn, democracy operates on the opportunity for all including the weak, the downtrodden, and the poor to have an equal vote and thereby have an equal voice in their democracy. When large capital intervenes and causes nothing but horseshit versus bullshit to be presented on the ballot, the weak, the downtrodden and the poor become more complacent, demoralized and left with nothing but fear and loathing in their meager existence. And not too many of them can afford the time or money to sit around and read the high drama of why it’s important to vote found here at TPM. One actually has to get off their duff, hit the streets, door by door, block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood and get out the vote. I’ve done it for 40 years. There are legs much younger than mine around here, I’m sure.

    Just saying . . .

    ~OGD~

    • Jason Everett Miller

      The choices in most primary elections aren’t so starkly divided between bad and worse. It’s only when incumbents breeze through to the general that our choice become limited to the lesser of two evils. Until most people start voting in primary elections and most incumbents start facing credible challenges, I agree that the prospect for an actual evolution of American society is grim.

  • San Fernando Curt

    I’m so offended by your language, Jason, I just upchucked my irradiated sprout tofu burger from the automat machine.

    Oh, and by the way: Great fucking post!

  • matyra

    “Whatever happened to farmers farming and MBAs running the store? ”

    What’s even more bizarre about that is that I thought when MBAs take Economics 101, they are taught the value of doing what you are good at doing. MBAs manage money. Farmers farm. That way is the way of efficiency.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Good point. Specialization became a naughty word as the Princes of Commerce became “experts” at everything.

    • Purple State

      What’s even more bizarre about that is that I thought when MBAs take Economics 101, they are taught the value of doing what you are good at doing. MBAs manage money. Farmers farm. That way is the way of efficiency.

      The mistake you make is assuming MBAs are good at managing money.

      (My personal opinion is that the MBA degree is really just a clever money-making scheme invented by the universities to extract dollars from people who are too dumb to pursue real graduate degrees, but who are both egotistic and highly motivated to become wealthy and therefore are likely to become excellent sources of cash in the future.)

      • Jason Everett Miller

        Well, I have met smart MBAs and MBAs who are complete tools. As always, it is what you do with your education that really matters. Allowing for some hint of independent thought is also critical and seemingly missing from many of America’s business leaders. There is a “Me, too!” herd mentality that is as self-defeating as it is prevalent.

        • Purple State

          Well, of course Jason, it’s not so black and white as I presented, but it’s just so hard to be clever in gray. 😉

          I do think the leaders of many large public corporations rise to their positions more because of certain characteristics of their personalities than because of any significant skill in business. Navigating the politics of the organization–and being able to make others think that you are in command and completely confident–are the primary skills that are required for the job. Many corporate leaders (at least of large public corporations) are also quite risk-averse. They get to the top by not screwing up. They like to appear like risk takers and innovators, but in actuality, they only take safe bets. Usually, this means they jump on to a trend after it’s started. Entrepreneurs are first in line. The managers of big public corporations prefer to be second or third–early adopters, maybe, but not right at the forefront. That’s the safest course. Let someone else take the big risk, then, once something seems to be working, jump on the trend early enough to take credit for having been one of its founders. A good strategy for corporate man.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Totally agree with the atmosphere we have created that let a certain type of “leader” to rise to the top. It is the rule of the jungle, survival of the “fittest” which should more properly be called survival of the ruthless. Great points.

  • neoboho

    Tonight I”ll have stressed pork loin sauteed in High Fructose Corn Syrup. Yummy.

    This is all a plot by Native Americans to regain the hemisphere. First, the potato bomb – the industrial revolution would have been impossible without it. Next, Killer Korn, which is killing us off right now, Smithfield & Wesson Oil Korn fed Hawgs.

    But seriously, I think this whole thing started long ago with the “Green Revolution.” If you’ll notice all those “high-yield” grain strains the Rockefellers foisted off on the third world had one common denominator: they required big loans from Chase Manhattan to grow them. In the old Mexican aboriginal Milpa, one calorie of work produced 20 calories of food. “Green Revolution” agribusiness expends 50 calories of work to gain one calorie of food.

    Smithfield pork is not cheap – we just pay a percent of its real price – the balance goes into the great debt.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Great comment. The fact that food production is less efficient now at twice the cost (both actual and hidden) should make all of us very angry with Captains of Industry who run those companies. At some point, the needs to be an accounting with the real facts laid bare.

  • synchronicity

    I encourage you to fully feel and express your outrage. We as a country are not pissed off enough.

    We have been sold a bill of goods about anger being bad and wrong. Anger is a healthy emotion that tells us that in some way, in some respect we are experiencing a ‘boundary’ issue and the angrier we are generally the bigger that issue or violation of our boundaries is. It is the lack of accepting that it is okay to have boundaries and express them that tends to create build up, volotile blow outs which then get chastised and the vicious cycle goes on.

    Be PISSED!!! Be VERY PISSED!! Right now you are being pissed off for more than just yourself. There are too many uninformed people out there at the effect of idiots telling them that they have done them a favor and lowered the cost for them and swallowing their garbage. Be pissed off for those people too!

    America would never have come into existence if some people had not become very pissed off!

    Having said all that.

    I seem to have a natural preference against eating pork and processed meats. I always have. Hated bologna and hot dogs as a kid and still can’t stomach it.

    But I live in Boulder, CO the land where Whole Foods and Vitamin Cottage abounds. We have a culture here that supports organic abundance.

    So much has happened that we can’t undo. I have a dream of having a small organic farm somewhere where a community could build around it. I don’t know why I have that dream. It was given to me and I know nothing about farming so it would require others with great skill to pull that off. Not sure why I have that dream but I accept that its there.

    But the point of your article is why I spend my money on the healthiest food I can manage knowing it makes it more available to others and takes my money away from companies like the aforementioned.

    I am one who can’t handle stewing in the muck of the outrages I become aware of. I have to do something. I have to know some truth that overrides the power of the revealed ‘dump on america’ or I have to do something, however small, to push back and say NO.

    Fuckin eh!

    • Jason Everett Miller

      That’s pretty much the reason we started shopping at Whole Foods vice all the rest. 20-percent more cost, 1000% better return on that investment, both for ourselves and others. It’s why we encourage people to just check it out, because we really have been sold a bill of goods that will shortly become due in full.

      Great comments on anger as well. I try not to keep that stuff bottled up. Gives me heartburn.

    • clearthinker

      It was given to me and I know nothing about farming so it would require others with great skill to pull that off.

      All due respect, if you know nothing about farming, then you have no way to evaluate the relevance of your dream into solving the problem as you claim.

      Organic farming can’t sustain the present population we have. Indeed, our very success in growing the population has been directly tied into using the most high-tech innovations to produce more yield from the Earth than previous (organic) efforts.

      • Jason Everett Miller

        I would need to see evidence that we can’t support a 2009 population with 1969 production methods. Our population has grown by 100 million people over the last 40 years, so our needs aren’t substantially different.

        We used to grow more than enough food to feed everyone in this country. We did it sustainably and at a more grassroots level. It wasn’t until we turned food production into big business that this train went off the track. That’s when bottom-line accounting introduced cost-cutting measures with an acceptable level of risk to both consumer and environment as the “cost” of doing business. A cost that was completely externalized.

        I think this discussion dovetails nicely with some of your other points about the American lifestyle as it has come to be defined in recent times. Bigger, better, faster, MORE! Until we get a handle on that problem – through means both public and private – I suspect we in for more of the same shit from the same assholes.

        • clearthinker

          You are thinking much too locally, Jason. The Green Revolution (a term coined in the late 60’s) was about the mass industrialization of agriculture. Those methods are all less than 100 years old. To any agronomist, the point that the Green Revolution is linked to the growing population of humans on earth is not debatable, it’s a fact. The only debatable part is whether the Green Revolution promoted growth or or merely supported it.

          So going back to the methods before the Green Revolution would not sustain our present population. This is a key point that most forget. As I’ve mentioned in the past, William Catton discussed this topic of carrying capacity quite completely in his book OVERSHOOT, an excerpt of which can be here.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Glad I could provoke some thoughts, MBH. I think we should have all been provoked enough by now, but apparently it takes actually dying to wake us up to our subjugation. Of course, by then it is too late.

  • Bwakfat

    Bill Maher is always ranting about this. The agricorps poison us then big Pharma poisons us even more with the “cure.”

    And Big Med Insurance is having a fucking field day.

  • waywuwei

    I have been blogging about the connection between Smithfied Foods and the Swine Flu (not that other name the WHO wants us to use). Is there a ban on talking about this? I guess I didn’t use enough “expletive deleteds”. This mess has had a devastating effect economically here in Mexico, but the Mexican government is out there loud and clear defending the pork industry. They apparently can pay people to talk and to shut up. Fuck ’em I say and stop eating pork.

  • bluemeanie

    I’m reading a book called Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money by Woody Tesch, a VC and chairmen of Investor’s Circle, a nonprofit network that supports early-stage companies and venture funds dedicated to sustainability.

    I’d recommend it as an antidote. It’s not just where you put your vote. It’s where you put your money.

    In the meantime, clip the article and send it along with a nice note to Food Network diva Paula Deen, the Smithfield Queen.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      I saw a commercial last night with her grinning like a fool and eating a ham sandwich. “Hmm, hmmm ya’ll. This is good food and good for you!” What a crock. She probably spit it out as soon as the camera was off. I’ll check out the link. Sounds like it has some relation to the non-profit I am working on starting right now. Thanks!

      • bluemeanie

        There’s only one Woody Tesch (I think), so that would make him “chairman.”

        Interested in hearing more about your NFP idea.

        • Jason Everett Miller

          Cool. I just checked out their site. They don’t appear to take pure non-profit applications, but could be a good resource for some of our other sustainable commerce ideas.

          I’ll be talking more about my new venture as soon as we lock down our 501(c)3 designation and start moving toward a soft launch of the platform. You are certainly part of our target demographic.

          Cheers!

  • dickday

    Ya know Jason, you are a nice man. I know this.

    But I become so mad at the repub party that it looks like I show you no respect.

    It is not fair. But in 1902 or 1915 for that matter, I could see many reasons to be a republican.

    But I am having trouble seeing anything from ANYBODY in the Republican Party.

    Far be it from me, the lowliest of the low, but for Chrissakes (blesses himself) could you not just form your own party–progessives, Teddy Progressives, The New Wave….Hell we could have fifty people right here help you with a new name. What Republican, right now, in office, would you align yourself with?

    I started because of you, refraining from branding an entire party and that lasted a week.
    ha.

    Ahhhhhhh. Jeeeeeeez, cannot you try something else? You think I do not know that there are evils in the Democratic Party? But we got rid of the racist South. We have a Pentagon problem with the left. We have five or ten bad apples.

    Taking money from the evil lobbyists.

    Ha. Like I would convert you somehow.

    You are such a nice man. Such good ideas.

    I always look like I am coming after you.

    I am not.

    Ahhhhh. I have no answers. I just detest rush and all his cohorts. So much.

    There has to be a better way to convey your true colors.

    Ha

    From the lowliest of the low Jason.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      I am enjoying their last days in the flash-fire of their own hubris. The republican party is going down. It is inevitable. What will rise in its place?

      That is why I am tilting at windmills on this side of the fence. The caricatures we see in the media have zero relation to the thoughtful conservatives I know in my own life, so now it is a matter of being patient enough for Obama to do his work and change the expextations of the silent majority. He has to first transform the democrats while inspiring grassroots republicans to embark on some much-needed self-reflection.

      I think what we are witnessing is an evolutionary step in American politics. Someplace we haven’t been in quite some time, if ever. The end of identity trumping common sense. That transition was never going to be a quick one and will require a lot of things to take place, not the least of which is getting people to vote in primaries in the same numbers as they generally show up for presidential general elections. Every time the polls open, if we can get fifty to 70 percent turnout then we will have finally started to make a dent in the status quo that is killing us.

      A status quo of our own making, sadly enough.

      Don’t worry about the republican party right now. They are still in the early stages of grief, so it will appear like a total trainwreck to anyone from the outside. It is the same process that democrats have been working through since at least 1980. Bill Clinton was the first flawed expression of that change. Obama is still working that one out, so it is little wonder the republican party has so much further to come.

      Keep the faith, my brother! We will get to that mountain top, but we have to get through the foothills first. At least the forty years in the desert is behind us, so we can start going vertical now.

      • clearthinker

        Respectfully disagree, Jason. Bill Clinton was the best expression of GOP ideals in the last 50 years (reduced size of government, reigned in spending, etc). Bill, in fact, is a Rockefeller Republican (the type booted from the party in the late 70s). Obama appears to be the first Democratic President since Jimmy Carter.

        Party affiliation ultimately matters little. Actions do. That is why John McCain and GWB had different ideas about immigration than the GOP: they really had to live the problem as border state politicians, it was not an abstract concept for them. See also: Specter who has flipped not once, but twice.

        That is why the US has had a “two party” system: the ideological terms of each party isn’t nearly as pure as that as in places like Great Britain or Israel. The coalitions are built into the US parties before they are elected to power.

        • Jason Everett Miller

          My point was that he was the democratic answer to reform, which your comment ably demonstrates. I agree that he was much more old school conservative than any republican over the last 40 years.

  • clearthinker

    Stupidity? Us? Most people in this country refuse to acknowledge the real issue: there are too many of us on a finite planet. There is a growing vocalization among scientists trying to point this out. Growing exponentially in a finite world is the crux of the problem. That’s what drives things like pig farms, etc.

    Our economy is a ponzi scheme based on growth. Growth? Growth on a finite planet? How can such a thing be endless?

    This is an issue that really cuts across most of the political spectrum. I need not speak about people on the right on TPM. However, so called liberals concerned for the planet, still refuse the idea of not having kids, and discouraging grandchildren.

    We are animals. There is precious little evidence that as a collective, regardless of political bent, we have elevated ourselves above our greedy, selfish instincts.

    Our population growth is *sustained* by the type of energy policy that contributes to climate change, the type of massive large-scale agri-business that requires massive oil-based inputs, and the type of animal farms that people abhor.

    If we are really serious about these important issues, we have to really sacrifice. Give up your notion of children and grandchildren. Or doom your progeny to the sort of short, brutish lives that the classical thinkers wanted us to get away from.

    It’s really quite simple.

    • synchronicity

      I don’t hear people on the left saying that they are not interested in this issue. I see that people on the right are pretty selfish when it comes to gay rights and it seems that their natural tendencies actually help with the population issues…

      • clearthinker

        1) The left definitely has the same issues as the right since underneath it all, we are all the same animal, driven to procreate. In the past, when I have brought this up, most of TPM even had serious issues. (See also my comments to Jason below.) People simply can’t get their heads wrapped around the fact that they can’t narcissisticly leave something of themselves behind after they die. Many people here have been very upset with the idea that they wouldn’t be able to be parents or grandparents.

        2) Your comments about gay rights are way off topic, a red herring, and don’t follow logically to boot: (a) one can procreate without being married (b) many gay couples have children via artificial methods. So, gay marriage has nothing to do with the issue.

        As a first step to achieving a healthier planet load, all artificial insemination clinics should be shut down. But even that modest proposal is met with protest… including people at TPM.

        Either we are serious about the problem or not. Most people here would rather debate about angels on the head of the pin 9e.g. how awful pig farms are) than deal with the cold, hard facts.

        • Jason Everett Miller

          I would be OK with outlawing artificial insemination. If someone can’t have kids naturally, they should think about adopting instead. Plenty of kids to go around. You’re right, though, something like that will never happen. It’s going to a good old fashioned epidemic to wipe out some of our excess population.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      I think it is a matter of harnessing progress in a way that is universal. That will lead naturally to lower birthrates as part of a comittment to sustainable commerce as a common sense solution to many ofour most pressing problems.

      I think it is a great intellectual exercise to envision a world with zero or negative population growth, but that isn’t really all that realistic.

      Having said that, glad to see you around again. Maybe we can figure out a way to talk about achieving much lower birthrates in developing coutnries by exporting progress in ways that we haven’t really considered before and were impossible until we started talking about renewable energy and wireless broadband started to mature.

      I think we can get there with the right mix of pragmatism, patience and pluck.

      • clearthinker

        Jason, I like you but what you propose is no less than magic thinking: “somehow we will find a way”

        Some facts:

        a) People in America have a carbon footprint 4x the average world citizen (and a lot more than the average poverty person living in a place like India). Even the homeless in the US have a 2x carbon footprint. So, to look merely at the birthrates in the US is not the full picture.

        b) Because of (a), any immigration into this country is just as bad as a birthrate — and worse because America uses so much of the planet’s resources. This leads to the uncomfortable question: should the US borders be closed to immigration, or should the US citizens be forced into negative population growth?

        c) America used 25% of the world’s energy resources but only had 5% of the population. That is proof enough that no “developing” country will ever get to the US levels.

        One can talk about recycling, more energy efficiency, etc. but it’s moot as you need to talk in terms of lowering consumption by factors of 2, etc. not by percentages (e.g. 10%). Even a simple step like banning all artificial reproductive method would be met with protests.

        No one in politics has ever answered the question of how to grow the economy on merely sustained resources. It’s somewhat similar to seeing that when people live within their means and not on credit, you see a slowdown of buying goods which prevents the economy from rebounding. You can’t eat your cake and have it too.

        Politically our economy is based on a growing population (growing number of consumers) and that’s the central conundrum. If it’s not practical to shrink things, then we are doomed as a society. Doomed? Yes, just like the Egyptians and Romans.

        Thanks for your welcoming comments but I’ve never left. There were reasons why I had to make my public postings a minimum for a while, but I’ve followed TPM. Including the unfortunate episodes when anyone who came onto this site at the time I left were viewed as me. TPM as it’s nutty best.

        PS Did you see the new federal initiatives in high-speed rail? 😉

        • Jason Everett Miller

          You’re not telling me anything I don’t know, CT, I am just not quite as pessimistic or fatalistic about the whole thing.

          I am not calling for magical thinking, only the realization that the human race has pulled its collective nuts out of the fire before and can probably do so again. If we don’t, then we’re all fucked, so why bother talking about anything?

          Solutions exist that don’t amount to “Quit fucking, you animals!” and I prefer to discuss those rather than something that will never happen. We aren’t about to descend into Soylent Green anytime soon.

          Cheers!

        • Jason Everett Miller

          PS: I think I saw that map. Like three or four areas in the country that are getting the high speed rail service? Now if we can bring back the mass transit we killed in the fifty (street cars and the like) we might start making a dent in those cars.

  • BabyBelle

    Just a tip on BLT’s:
    Have a CLT instead. Replace the bacon with a slice of Provolone cheese that has been fried in a non stick Teflon pan. Make sure it’s a good pan or it will stick.
    CLT’s are delicious! Better than BLT’s !

  • PseudoCyAnts

    Jason, thanks for this post. I would have commented yesterday, except a recurring problem with a lumbar vertebra caused me to be flat on my back in bed all day, and I still haven’t set up a bed table for my laptop, making it exceedingly difficult to use the keyboard (presently-blind and 1-handed).

    I had recently mused in a blog posted by Rowan Wolf about whether factory pig farming was the cause for this new H1N1 flu strain, but that was intuitive, based upon Sanjay Gupta’s H1N1 Patient zero piece for CNN, so I intentionally omitted naming the corporation, Smithfield Foods, but that corporation is named in Gupta’s piece. You have provided enough data, that I no longer feel it necessary to omit the name of this corporation, when discussing H1N1.

    As you know, I self-identify my political world-view as a sort of “libertarian left”. Recently, The LP National issued a press release that called for stronger control of the US/Mexico border as a method for limiting the reach of H1N1 in America. Aside from being an ineffective control for this purpose, and an almost blatantly racist indictment against Mexico, it is also an abrogation of The LPs platform, which is strongly open-border. Just another plea for the theft of human liberty based upon an imagined threat from abroad. It would not have stopped American management from freely crossing the border, and they most likely have been exposed to H1N1 too.

    Again, I appreciate this post, and thank-you for the citations. Pork: the other beige meat…

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Based on the method of typing you described, I am amazed you wrote such a cogent reply. I can have a hard time making sense with all systems running green.

      You make some great points. I am very disappointed to get the same treatment from a democratic Washington as I received from a neoconservative one. Fear as motivational bludgeon is wrong no matter how softly the stick is being swung. There seems to have been little let up in using fear as a frame, from the economy to swine flu.

      Is so much to ask for a proactive response to something rather than a reactive one? Can we just once back up a step before charging forward to confront the next War on Stuff. Like they taught us in little league. Pause or even back up a few steps before going for the ball, otherwise it will go right over your head. It is ridiculous the number of things that are going over our head.

      Be well, PCA. Look forward to seeing you around more often as your back is on the mend.

      • PseudoCyAnts

        There is a reason I specified the LP National, BTW. it’s along the same line of reasoning for using the term “contemporary conservative”, to differentiate what I perceive Real Conservatism to be.

        Check out this release from a new website/collaboration called “Center for Libertarian Press Information”: Libertarians: Don’t close the borders.

        I just found out about it. The project was conceived and is administered by Thomas Knapp, a long time LP activist, and already announced LP Presidential candidate for 2012, along with several other well-known long-term LP member, who are also troubled by the LP National’s tilt away from real libertarian theory.

        The first commenter on this release, David F. Nolan, is considered to be the founder of the Libertarian Party, because it was created at his house on December 11, 1971.

        • Jason Everett Miller

          Yeah, any overtly authoritarian response to a “crisis” would fly in the face of everything I understood the libertarian party to be.

          You make a great point about conspiracy conservatism. The underlying conservative methodology of deliberate and rational action based on as much objective evidence as possible could be a boon to implementing a progressive vision for this country rather than fighting against every common sense interpretation of reality.

          I have libertarian leanings in a lot of ways, which is why I focused on the GOP as a place to start making change. The democratic party doesn’t have that sort of methodology at its roots, so I would prefer to work with them to implement their great ideas in more workable fashion.

          It amazes me how little thought takes place on both sides of the fence when it comes to these sorts of discussions.

  • clearthinker

    One last comment here (though I doubt anyone will see it):

    The swine flu has made blogs like this popular this week. However, the efforts discussed here will quickly fade into the next crisis du jour next week. Much of what is mentioned here…and much, much more… is well known and was documented in a very good manner as early as 1999 in Rolling Stone and then in the book Fast Food Nation. I suggest anyone that looked at this blog get a copy of the book and read it.

    By the way, while “organic” labels may make you feel good, I suggest everyone look at the actual qualifying rules. “Organic” labels are now far more about advertising than actually describing the product.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      I linked to the Rolling Stone article, not sure if it was from 1999 or not. Also, this was less about swine flu and more about yet another industry killing our asses while we ask for more. Fast Food Nation is a killer book.

  • stillidealistic

    Jason, no surprise that my position continues to be that the meat industry consumes way too many resources. There are so many reasons to not eat meat. If this is the one that finally gets people to rethink meat eating, it works for me!

    • Jason Everett Miller

      I would be happy if we simply went back to an time (not that long ago) when it actually took time to grow animals and harvest them sustainably. I don’t think we’ll all be going vegetarian or vegan anytime soon, but we can moderate our intake dramatically. (CT makes a good point about consumption levels in this country. It is out of control.)

  • janet forrest (stillidealistic)

    So good to see so many old friends! Great post, Jason. I have been a vegetarian for going on 20 years now, and every day I’m happier and happier with my choice. I started out doing it because I didn’t want one more animal to die for me to stuff my face. I’ve added to that environmental reasons.