Conference on Rural America: William Ryan and John McRaith

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Listen: William Ryan and John McRaith at Conference on Rural America

Excerpts from Conference on Rural America held in July at Crookston, Minnesota. Father John McRaith, director of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference, spoke about land use and the future of rural America; and Father William Ryan, director of the Center of Concern in Washington, D.C., discussed options in international politics.

William Ryan’s speech was titled “Toward a New International and Political Order” 
John McRaith’s speech was titled “People, Justice, Land (Suggestions for Rural America)”

Read the Text Transcription of the Audio.

Father William Ryan is a Canadian Jesuit and Economist and director of Washington DC Center of Concern a group that concentrates on bugging government as he says and working with the United Nations on International policies. Ryan recently spoke to Crookston conference on rule America. His address was titled toward a new international and political order. He began with the gentle attack on the United States attitude for the rest of the world and the danger presented by the American Media. I think for United States today. The hardest challenge is to accept the whole world and to accept that other people to have good ideas.The Temptation is to think we're right. They're stupid. They're wrong. And I'm afraid as somebody was mentioned here earlier the danger of the media. in this country confirm side image maybe the things I'm going to talk to you about this morning. You can't get from your media. It's almost at times compose to propaganda. I know this particularly of the international meetings that have to do with Iran population or food or Aiden trade to take place on the parts of the world very very difficult for an American reading a newspaper or the listening to the media television to know what actually happened. 1976 marks the 200th anniversary of the establishment of the USA as of Newbold experience experiment really based on The View that that time is a said all men are created equal. It was a new creation and it was a rejection of a society of privilege of the Old World by Restless pioneers. But that Vision didn't take flash easily very soon the poor and the weak learned not to expect anything from the uncorrected market. They learned right away that the system of free enterprise is biased in favor of the strong of those who have dollars. And it was only through a dynamic strategy of strength through Association political power and civil responsibility weather through Farmers unions or trade unions or other types of unions. The gradually over time. The vast majority of people began to share in the dream of equality. in a way that few other countries in the world have thinking International the other night. I thought the image of Barbara Jordan. addressing the Democratic Convention alongside John Glenn the astronaut the hero and the fact that she was the one that got the ovation. Told me and I think would tell billions of people in the world. The American dream is still alive. I know that because I travel so much and I know that image tells a story that it's hard to equal and a story of Hope. Not today United States is the rest of the rich world is faced with a strident Demand on the part of the poor and less powerful nations of the world. especially all those gathered in United Nations To let go some of its privilege. Just as the last thing then let go of some of its privilege 200 years ago. And to become a genuine partner in a new international economic and political order. Based on equality now. It's about man and all women. in the whole world What's going to be the response of the rich world? But in particular of United States to this demand in today's world when we know even with conservative estimates that there are at least a billion men women and children. With last with less than $200. Income per year and most of them are closer to $100. And you have not experienced any real games over the last two decades. Despite the fact that since the second world war the wealth of the world is tripled. A purposive my talk this morning is to spell out some of the major developments and implications of this type of world bargaining process. That's now under way among the nations of the world. Here again the uncorrected markets. So-called free market doesn't promise any bounty to the poor in the week? I'm so like our forebears. These countries are resorting to exactly the same process as the weekend for did in our country. They're resorting to strategies of strength and political power and social responsibility to make a splash out with them the promises of equality that are enshrined in the charter of the UN. And they're hoping that the rich countries the rich of the world, which is really the North Atlantic, Japan, Australia. Will heed their call first of all in the name of human dignity that every person is worthwhile. In the name of justice, but also in the name of our own long-term interest. The matter Justice we're talking about not handouts not giveaways when I tried to think about the present. I am optimistic the same time. There's a realism Lee that drags me down. Some people like to think the image of the future is sort of a man going to the Moon Apollo. I think the real image serious and soberly today is one that's used by a guitar. World is out of control. The best image perhaps that we can use is that of a super oil tanker. Who's in control of a super oil tanker or theirs in the st. Lawrence River along the coast of California? Is just a technical? Monstrosity looking for someplace to have a disaster. It doesn't technology that's missing we can make a good ship. We want to. What's lacking is any real sense of world management and political? Will the problem is not the resource is primarily or the technology is Reba speaker suggested. The problem is us. It really does come down to social organization Goodwill Common Sense vision. Nobody's to blame particularly for getting the world into present mess. It was it wasn't planned just happened whole series of decisions added up to kind of what we would call our Cowboy economy. And suddenly one day and not very long ago. We realized the population growth. Rapid population growth and Rapid economic growth are rapidly becoming irreconcilable in a finite world. Again, I could give you many facts but the one that stands out is the one I've already mentioned the fact that you have today over a billion people in the world that really have no part with the Fantastic New Wealth was just birds in and out each year. I need a real people and not just statistics. if anything there is less hope and more misery than they had 10 years ago. The World Bank has estimated for this group of people that between 1970 and 1980. They are their income will probably increase about $3 for head. While that of the rich countries, I don't mean the super-rich the art of the rich country so-called like between over $1,000 per head will increase by as much as $900. So that's the crazy dilemma were in A quarter of the world's people and soon it could come to a half. Is having no share in the pie, even though the pie is growing very fast. Some people say they're lazy. They came along too late and that's probably the real story. There's no place to immigrate. The technology is wrong for them. They need jobs. They don't need a great machine that cost $100,000 and gives jobs to two people. I came along after the world is organized and they very little say in how is continuous and they came along at a time when resources their own Resorts is quite often have been taken away by other people like us who needed for our development. No, this is something new when we can use history and we were like but this is a new phenomenon. That's why as the former speaker said that if there's something going on here that is dramatically different. We're in the something about a basic system change or else catastrophe. Even in the Middle Ages the poor were never poor like their poor today in the sense. They could be three or four times as poor as the Richer people. But today it's in terms of 20 or 30 times as poor even inside their own countries. United States the top 20% in the bottom 20% is probably button 821 proportion. But in many of these countries on the world levels ahold it's something more like 20 and 30 is the proportion. After World War II. The way this world came together. I'm here. I'm simplifying drastically United States did take tremendous leadership. They really shape the world. But their leadership, they put together the World Bank the international monetary fund and the whole system of trade and power relations, which became a nice world. Play Trouble Is that they've shaped it to their own interest? In point of fact over the last 25-30 years is the US dollar that really has been the base of what's happened and the ability of United States like Britain before it to police the world some guarantee economic and political security and also the threat of Communism help a little bit. now suddenly we're beginning to see a new world. One other point I should make is Vietnam was in between and it shattered the myth that Lyndon Johnson and a few other Economist to back them that you can have guns and butter even in a very rich country over a big a long time without inflation that was shattered. I think shattered forever. But suddenly in 1971 the whole house of cards that made this is age you for a case that we've grown up in and come to think as normal began to fall apart first $20, and that was a major one. But the DVD valuation is the single biggest shock probably since the beginning of Second World War. Then material raw material price and stored then Russia came into our market and bought a grain the shortest became very quickly acute food prices tripled. Sometimes you have to remember that food prices tripled just a little before oil prices quadrupled. and that's the final thing the oil countries finally quadrupled the prices and the whole beautiful house of cards that add supported this tremendous Economic Development the week had gone to take his normal collapsed is Barbara Ward said the party was over. And we found ourselves waiting at the gas pumps or many little bit later in the unemployment lines. We find ourselves even today the previous speakers that again. With the world sort of not under our control for the first time really United States can't do what it wants economically or politically which is course is the situation for the vast majority of people in the world, but it's a powerful country like United States are other countries. I want to share with you a little of my own experience in terms of Impress one other point I should make remember that this tremendous development which we have benefit from the last 20 years depended primarily on two things cheap oil. The ARB supplied that if they're mad now and you know raising a lot of hell, we shouldn't be surprised between 1960 and 1900 and 1960. The oil companies paid the Arab governments a total of 10 billion dollars for their oil. They took 16 billion dollars profit and they reinvested 2 billion dollars. I'll just think about that little bit when you see the Antics which we think now or sometimes overdone off the oil, the oil producing countries. That's the history and was cheap oil that made not only for this country, but for the whole developed-world possible, the other thing was stable prices of food. It really was United States government United States Farmers that made that possible with the price of horses supports and the land blank system. I agree very much with your Congressman that until something like that. So we stored in the food world the the danger the danger of hunger and totally unjustified hunger is grave. So here we are in 1976. And what you could say cities are no longer possible cities depend on three things cheap food cheap Fuel and lots of jobs and all these are becoming almost impossible. Least in the short run that's why the rural area today is very important. And I think that's one of the reasons that this conference is so important to think through more better. What is the roar role of the real country not only in this country, but in the whole world is clearly the city cannot be the model of the future. We thought that was going the way it's going to be up until very recently. What are the politics of this I have had the privilege of being a several of the key International meetings of the United Nations in recent years 3rd World View. Not an American View. I was in Santiago in Chile in 1972 for the meeting of the United Nations conference on trade and development. Nixon had read the value of the dollar. Becky all the poor countries lost terribly on that because they had held their reserves or poor reserves in dollars. They lost something like a hundred and fifty billion dollars overnight without any million-dollar overnight without any consultation. What they wanted 141 countries bargaining they wanted some guarantee that they have a say on the price of their own money. They also wanted some say in the rules of the game because they have come to realize that although whether you take the very poor or the second for all those say under $100,000 per capita level which are poor people really. They came to realize that they don't have any say in the rules of the game. The economic roles Brothers the working of a monetary fund or the World Bank or the trade agreements. They don't have any control arm. So they asked for more say about time because it was just before an American election as this year to win. The meeting of the same need to place in Nairobi United States was hard. It didn't give any leadership and didn't change. I think that was a turning point. It was at that meeting for the poor countries that we can no longer trust the Goodwill and generosity of rich countries, and it was at that meeting you began to get the beginning of cartels on the model of the OPEC countries. They were going to do the same thing as a trade unions are done in every country after waiting on something on the Goodwill of people. They saw that they'd have to use their own political power. A few days later after that conference finish. There's another one in Stockholm on human environment and not everybody was buying the club of Rome limits to growth. People became very aware that something's wrong with the world began to worry about. Clouds people stealing each other's clouds that sound crazy 10 years ago. Now, it's quite possible to fight War by stealing each other's weather. Canada United States, please. God never happens every God of War we could destroy each other that ever firing a shot. Just simply by changing the weather. We also knew that you Japanese were moving all through Latin America trying to find a country that would take their sturdy their dirty steel mills. So they could have clean air in Japan and four countries not in America can't afford it so they could take the steel mills. We also know that the fish. Cats in the world is off. And whom the fish belong and where did I big fight Tucson now who owns the sea? And as you know, the big ones are grabbing it. Already this country Canada many others are stretching out their economics on 200 miles, but most of the poorest countries. I really have no post time they get nothing out of this. But I wanted to show you a little bit of Faith. The power struggle is going on in the world. Later in 1974 the change the population. The rich countries attitude was there has to be massive birth control in the poor countries. The issue. The problem is population. The four countries turned around and said the problem is poverty. It's not population people that don't have fewer children until they have something else besides even there their poor unhealthy children. That's all they have. They're not going to have fewer of them until they see some sign that their children are going to live and they have some future. In a way depends how you look at the world. If you look at the cot world through population eyes, you see people has problems and every extra child is a problem. Other people then you've been more more people from the poor countries take the image of the car and they say the problem is not so much a population explosion. It's a car explosion much more dangerous for the world pretend depends which way you come at these problem. I'm not saying the whole truth is on either side. But remember there are basically different ways of looking at this then came the food conference in Rome and which we have to face the fact that three or four hundred maybe five hundred million people are continually unnourished in our world, which means they can never be people and call them lazy. Whatever you like. Just remember they physically don't have the possibility because they don't eat And also that somewhere around 10 million people a year die of starvation. It isn't a case of a Gandalf United States suddenly feeding all those people but there is possibilities of helping them to produce their food at the same time realizing suddenly that United States and Canada is going to make the food policy the world because we're the only two countries that have food surpluses. And the terrible danger is will also make that an issue of control of foreign policy. I guess the question comes down to is whether being whether we don't make being hungry like a disease, it's got to be gotten rid of you. Don't argue Politics on that level. You don't even argue economically. It's simply something you can't tolerate in a human society. So as we come down to the real fight that's going on in the world today is a ticket of a struggle for a New Economic and political order. What the poor countries and those not so poor or asking for is they want a part of the pie not only a part of the pie more important and that's where we get mixed up a time. They want to be in on the decision making just as the trade unions did in this country and just as business wants to be in on they don't want somebody to decide for them but their life's about and why are they so interested but so happens right now. There are a hundred thirty billion dollars into debt to the rich. Well, that's a complete that you know. Hole in the throat of the poor countries with the rich people have they want some how to change that just as we would it's the say anybody has been in debt like that knows what it's like talk about bargaining. How can you bargain if somebody's got you by the throat? in terms of commodities We include the rich country in general say pay about 30 billion dollars for all the Commodities we buy from the poor countries. That's your tea sugar coffee Tim elbows, by the time that reaches the sale in the country with here with at United States or Europe. We pay the consumers pay over 200 billion dollars for those Now they're saying well, why is that why you're getting coffee from from the tree to the coffee pot? Why do we get such a little bit of it the farmers? We know the same problem. But this is a question. They say we want more say on how much of the final product do we get paid for? Another issue. That's very strong. Here is the question of the multinational corporations. They want some control on these Giants. And the question immediately isn't whether they're good or bad it simply their bait. And you know bigness left on control is always dangerous find a fact the 12 largest multinational corporations in the world in 1972 had a hundred forty-four million billion dollars with a sales which exceeds the total income of $35 poorest countries with one of those people again, what chance is a small little country to deal with one of these Giants and besides the way they're built. They don't primary think of jobs. They can't primary think of income distribution. They think of economic growth In the last couple years, there's been things happening and here again another source of hope. I could give you many of them but in the middle of this crazy bargaining and member bargaining is never good you can in the middle of strikes. I'm sure it's you know, it's it's it's ugly but somehow that's the only way we've yet learned is to let people stand up for the rights to let them organize for them cuz we find the Is a lot of regional center around and people don't give away their power or the strength to easily. But in the last couple years the weather was the women's issue meeting in Mexico City. Women's began to think is not that the women want to become like men, but they want a woman eyes the world. It's been man eyes than some balance on that. That is a very dramatic and I say maybe the most revolutionary ideas come along in a long time. Remember, this is not peculiar to American women. It's the whole world. It's moving on because simply they don't count the way we do we conomic said we don't even count housework in the national product. There's also a shift going on in the meeting up at habitat on human settlements. And also in the meeting that took place just recently in Geneva on world unemployment on the human needs. And I guess the struggle in the 1980s is going to be is whether we're going to organize continue to organize the world and what we call the economic growth model or whether somehow or other the first priority whatever model we are going eyes and there can be met with many is on Hue basic human needs. We all know that some part of us, but that's what the economy should do. But in point of fact we know very well and we have all the most glaring evidence that the way the world is organized right now. It isn't geared to basic economic basic human rights basic human needs. So that's going to be the education process to see whether we can be creative enough to switch that. One of the sad things for many Americans as they travel around the world today is to see that the United States is not looked on as the model anymore. There's a whole time up until even 10 years ago. When many countries even the poorest looked on United States is somehow the the goal the people travel today there two countries that are tantalizing them. I use the word the not total approval China and Cuba y because these people are feeding their poor and they're giving work they're unemployed and they're doing it with very little income. We can ask lots of questions, but the point is that so one of the things that makes us think About our country how we run it economically how we plan? It's an awful indictment on our world that with 5% of the the arms budget of the whole world. We could satisfy the basic human needs of all the people in the world with 5% See, it's that type of insanity that we got to come to grips with. In fact, the emperor has no clothes on and we got to begin to go through the conversion to say so coming back again. I want a sister think about that might help you through think about the world as a as a super tanker looking for a place to have a disaster. Because it isn't that we lack the skills. Not even the resources they can go on but we do lack is just the will to do something different. It just goes on people don't question the priorities so these monsters are allowed to be built. And have disasters and we know that's the same question being asked about the nuclear development now being asked on so many fronts. We all know it's stupid, but somehow we can't have the courage to make the next jump and say we're going to change our priorities for that. We need this type of discussion. What's at stake is a whole new way of seeing things. It's really started giving up your roots to degree not disowning them not in any way blaming the past that's to know where Guild is no way to be creative. But to realize that for whatever Grace it is, we are at this turning point in history in which we can either turn in and hate the world and say we're right and they're wrong or else we can get to say cheer must be a different way of doing things and begin to be creative. It's a conversion. It's a conversion on two fronts. It's a way a conversion that's intellectual and emotional is the conversion to can also be religious in which we really say We want to be free. Free enough of the way. We're living that we could do it something different if we had to is very hard to question some of the things we hold dear. But I guess if you look at the whole world today. The mostly the basic assumptions off which we run our society are now seriously being questioned. The dream is still right the vision is right, but that means have to change. No, does this mean that the United States and Canada that they just give away everything that these other countries want not necessarily the previous speaker said we have to put at least there should be a willingness to bargain up until now up until as late as a month ago. United States has not shown a clear willingness to bargain with the poor countries about things like the Model T prices that are changing the way we do that and then the multinational corporations. They're simply been a stonewalling a lot of language was surely surely something better can happen. I know it's election year, but maybe if some pressure from The Roots comes up, you'll say at least we got to talk to those people. But to do that we got to believe that maybe they have something to draw for us and that's a big big jump. That's where the conversion is. The alternative is something like life will that Lifeboat ethics or in which is simply say tough, you know, the sooner they died a better, you know of a few million or billion die off then they won't breed and will be able to have the world for the good people. Thinking is getting around all-too-common. Remember, if we ever ever ever give up on the worth of even one single person. We've destroyed ourselves. We've destroyed the vision. However we go from there. It's sort of like the sin that can't be recovered. And that's why I think all of you would agree with me that we have to fight that type of thinking even if we don't know the answer. So I like the wind was calling you to utopian thinking people don't like to think about Utopia. Utopia is no place but you don't want the funny things about is if you think How about no place you can get new ideas. In other words, you just ate too much Bass Down on the actual facts of a situation. You don't get any new ideas. You really do have to mix with other people listen to other people hear their contradicting you and congratulations to spend my own experience on one of the reasons. I stay at work. I'm doing is more and more. I'm finding I'm hearing from third world people if we call them or fourth world people a lot of things. I never thought of and now I find you know, when I hear X and narrow Nationals last year where the canadian-american talk. I don't find anything in common with him. I just simply say that way, you know Liza's death business-as-usual thinking is certainly going to bring disaster. I haven't given you any solutions. But I think if you can change some of your attitudes and help other people, there's a registration the greatest education and you surely isn't it only in the schools. It's primarily among adults got to take place. Is basis for Hope because at least the nations are talking to each other they're talking of basic human needs and they're beginning to bargain a little bit. But behind that there's a push in on this code from Barbara Wardell end is she said in her new book and I suggest all of you try and read it called the home of man. She says today the scientist and the sage the man of learning and the poet. The mathematician and the saint repeat to the human City the same plea and the same warning we must love each other or we must die and I dad know that's possible because someone first loved us. Thank you. Father William Ryan addressing the topic toward a new international and political order Ryan is director for the Center of Concern in Washington, DC. If we have committed ourselves. To a society in which the only time that anybody is interested in anything is when it affects them. Well, then this is ridiculous and so are all the other conferences you'll ever go to conference on rule America held recently in Crookston people Justice land was the subject of his address including specific suggestions for rule America beginning with the premise that Justice precedes peace. McCray's delineator three types of Justice. We use today as a difficult topic to talk about it more difficult to get engaged. We might divide Justice into three areas. There's a one-on-one kind of Justice which we find difficult many times to practice but much more easily control then we talked about systems. We talked about political. Or economic or educational welfare systems Marketing Systems, whatever, but if we are part of an unjust system, then we have a responsibility to change that system. When you begin to talk about changing political and economic systems people grow nervous. And they say always going to do something about the free enterprise system now or he's going to do something about the Democratic process. I'm only saying that these are human made systems and therefore our systems that should promote and and increase the Assurance of the common good and that if they don't produce that for which they were made they should be changed. Cuz I drove up here I saw these beautiful fields of grain. That's the only they're not all so beautiful throughout the state of Minnesota. Do you get into the southern part and it's not quite as beautiful, but at any rate. When the combine season starts around here, you know, the one of the first things that will happen is that the farmer will go to the back of the combine with a straw is come out and kick around to see if the brain is going over. And if a neighbor stops, then that's the big test to see if he knows what he's doing. He'll kick the straw side kind of sneaking Lee to see whether the guy on the con by knows what it's all about what suppose you walk in there and you pick the strong side in all of the week has gone through the combine a back on the ground. So you stop the guy that's running the combine. You say Hey, Joe, did you know that all of that grain is going right through that, in the back of the ground and the guy says yeah, I knew that but you know, Take a look at that combine. John. Deere would be so insulted if I started messing around with that combine they all look how pretty it is, you know, it looks so nice and it's good that it's only everything is just what a combine should be. You say well now you're crazy. The combine is made to separate the wheat from the straw and it was not doing that you get inside you change what has to be changed by this nonsense? Not talking about destroying if that's the other alternative the farmer could look at that and say well that's right. And then combine ever did working back it up to a cliff and pull the pin on it and just run it over until I have to get a new one. Well, that's the one alternative and that's what people think you're talking about me. But changing systems. Two off and I hear people talking about systems changing people that I sell my other half to adapt to a system. That's nonsense. These are human made systems, which we would hold is a value. Well, then we'll make it to that and if it means getting inside and changing the tightening and loosening, sometimes let's be about it. It's a free enterprise system is not accomplishing everything that we wanted to let's change it. So it's all well at least it's close to be humanly can. We might follow the example through a little bit on the combine if you reached inside and started to turn. And tighten something and if steel could talk it would say get the hell out of here. This is starting to hurt. And other places where you relieve relieve the pressure if it's could talk, it could say thank you very much. That feels a lot better. Let's not the one like you and beans as it you start talking about the the grain companies. the control 90% five or six and control 90% of exported grain in the Free World and you start saying let's put some controls on this and they began to the oil company's we here today the massive massive campaign right now. There's some little threat in the Congress. We might think that there is some kind of way. Monopoly in the oil business. I don't know how anybody could arrive at that but that was there seems to be some of some slight indication of that and somebody suggested that he maybe we should do something about that. and the massive bug lobbying effort that's going on now with the public. You heard an I have? They're screaming a little bit. I don't know what the answer is, but I know that it's worth talking about and simply because Standard Oil tells me there's no problem is no sign. I should buy that. And that I might question what some of the great companies of the United States and other multinationals tell me is the way it is. There's no sign of it doesn't make me an American to say I really don't believe everything you say. I'd like to hear some more. Are those our systems that need changing out we talked about future systems and here we talked about land. The. Daniel very correctly. We're already there in terms of who produces the food and fiber. The question is do we want to go further and do we like what we have we're not locked into it. It can be changed. And we don't need to just continue on this road. I don't think of the land going into the hands of less and less people this precious resource. We don't have to. But we do have to make a very intensive future systems in terms of Justice are extremely important. I think the one of the greatest issues to stand before the American people today. Is who will on? these precious natural resources Will Williams some of them it's already pretty well decided to go down into Appalachian places like this. You pretty well know who owns it. You also see the mess this left behind. Appalachia is not a big mystery in America. We keep running around churches and governments and wringing our hands and what are we going to do? We all know what we should do. Avalanche is the rich part of the United States. Then why is school system that couldn't afford? the daughter of an illiterate Mother and Dad partly because all of the wealth has been drained out of that area. With absentee ownership, that's one reason. And it will not change dramatically. We can build all the little craft shops down there we can think of but until that natural resource begins to be seen as something besides the absolute. Property of a handful of coal companies Appalachia will remain poor. My time is about up. And so let me just make a few suggestions in terms of what I think. Would benefit us before I do that. The basic thing we have to decide is whether or not land food natural resources. Are they gifts or are they commodities? It makes all the difference in the world. We can talk about we like to talk about. These natural resources particularly land and people as being very separated. But we're so horribly it depended upon that that I don't think we can afford that luxury. We have to talk then about whether we have to decide in our own mind cuz this is going to determine our behavior is land a gift or is it a commodity or you say now? Those are just words? I don't know cuz I suspected that I really believe the land was a gift from God it would it would certainly And that it belong to everybody would certainly have some determination on my behavior. I believe the food was a gift. Would I waste it? some years ago in 1974 at the time of the world food prices if you will somehow or other it's no longer a crisis because someone has said it's not a crisis and I think if you ask the half a billion people starving to death, they probably would still call it a crisis. But at any rate it reached its peak. It seems least publicly in 74 at the world food convert syndrome. The Bishops of Catholic Bishops the United States issued a statement the Pastoral statement following that and I tell the story to indicate the difference between gift and commodity and so at one point in the past row statement, they referred to food as a unique commodity. And why have ejected I was involved with the staff level of preparing this and I said, let's call it a unique gift and someone said You country boy from Minnesota. You don't understand much was going on and that everybody we've got come out of the exchanges. We've got commodity markets. We've got commodity groups. You know, what are you come along with this GIF business all the people. I'm only understand Commodities that alright fine. So since then I've apologized I apologize to you. If I was ever around this part of the country and was asked to lead prayer before meals because in any in any faith, it comes out something like this, but ours is bless us. Oh Lord, and these are they Commodities Wichita was governor. Well, I didn't know if people didn't understand that doctor unable to do know that I didn't know that I was shocked and all that. I've been saying this prayer all these years. Nobody knew what I was talking about. What do you mean? We know what we're talking about the one we talked to God. We're going to call him Commodities. Well gifts we thank him for him. But once I have it here then if that's the only one I'd hate to call that a gift cuz you might think you had a right to some of it, but I call it a commodity that we can bargain. And the prophet becomes the sole determiner as what happens to this. You talk about gift go away mine. It's a commodity now on so we'll buy and sell it. I'm not saying that we don't need prophet of God knows we do. A reasonable profit but that should not be our overriding concern. We talked about the necessities of life. So in light of that, let me just make a few quick suggestions. Number one. We need a massive educational program. telling people not on the basis of what we think might happen. But information from the standpoint of saying what you think would be the best. And here are the alternatives. If you want land in the hands of a few people with a lot of absentee ownership, then this is what is likely to happen. Now if you don't like that, this is the other alternative. And these are the values that are there that kind of education. I think it can be done by educational institutions that can be done shortly by the churches. Somehow or other we think of land and food is being a farmer's issue. Let's foolishness. We hear it all the time. I heard it. I heard it so often in Minnesota now with the drought and parts of Minnesota the poor farmer and what's going to happen to them and state of Minnesota be jumped out of a billion dollars income, but I didn't haven't heard anyone crying crocodile tears. For the starving people in the world who won't eat perhaps because there's a drought in parts of Minnesota. It's all we need a massive educational program that tells us more about how we must be involved in making decisions because UC decisions are made whether we will have a good land use policy. For example in this country decisions are made in Chicago and Los Angeles. nothing croxton Not in the whole this part of the state. In the political process, we don't have that kind of votes do it. So it's made weather what kind of land use policy will be in in the world areas of the state of Minnesota will be made by people in the metropolitan areas. A decision based on almost no information. So I call upon the churches. to become involved in this secondly, let's find out exactly who owns the land the minerals the right water rights. There's a whole research Department the United States agricultural department and I heard him and talk to him there this last weekend in Morgantown West Virginia, and he stood up in front of a group of people. He said we don't know who owns the land in this country will know that's a sad State of Affairs. I've seen I've seen booklets come out in the United States. They can tell you what kind of land we have. I remember in the days of of land retirement. My dad was an old man then. Put too much land in there was was not the best land was supposed to be an average thing why they were already here when the hundred acres are out on him in about two days saying that's not the average land you have sir. You got a little bit too much of the pizza flew in and I suspect he knew that he did that, but he So don't tell me we don't know that we cannot we don't want to know I've always been amazed. There's a great law in the state of Minnesota. Minnesota leads the nation as usual and everything leads the nation in this whole area. You have two pieces of legislation that have been Landmark legislation. It needs to be beefed up in my estimation. But certainly Marvel start one is the is the Family Farm Act that you have that limits outside corporations and so on and the other is the new legislation. That should give some Aid to young people getting started in agriculture, but it's not impossible for us to know go to find out we need to know I want to know Who's going to determine whether or not we're going to have the land in the hands of a few people or not. We keep hearing in the secretary of agriculture. Now that we have nothing to worry about will then let me find out I don't want to know the doctor but says I have nothing to worry about I want to know whether I got nothing to worry about because if the land is in the hands of a few people, I want to know that because that's going to determine then what kind of legislation did I would suggest that we have number three? a national law that would absolutely prevent certain classes of agricultural land from being developed where in the world with with four billion people today on its way to seven billion by the turn of the century by the 20-year 2014. Give or take her that you know statisticians were laid into wind. It would be a very good thing and so you have to be So I'm not I'm not I don't want to be hung for this pathetic. But it generally the the ballpark figures. We have a population for Billy going to 6 to 8 billion people when I land that can produce food in fiber and people say all they'll think of something. Well, you know, something will be develop a bird in the hand is still worth two in the bush and to be sure. That land will produce food and fiber is going to become far and Far or more and more precious as time goes on it. So I think we need a law that will prevent the development on good agricultural land of highways of Urban Development. We lose roughly a million Acres a year in our country to development of non-agricultural things. Number for we need a national Family Farm Act something like you have in the state of Minnesota by we needed graduated land tax. Because if it's true that is bad to have corporations involved in agriculture. Then as far as I'm concerned is just as bad if you have a family corporation that buys up a county. I can't see any great difference. And we have individuals who have far more land than they need Northern or even that sufficient for them to have it would have the opportunity for many others that the free enterprise system is good. And I think it has many things to do recommended then I think it would be good. If we had as many people involved in the free enterprise system owning as possibly can a graduated land taxes would simply say that after a certain amount of land that the taxes would go up to the point where it would diminish your value in keeping it. We need something like the Saskatchewan plan in order to make it possible for people to get involved in agriculture and we can talk about that later. If you want. We need a tough anti strip-mining bill in this country the stories that you hear is you go through Appalachian from the people. Are are things that would anger you so much. Do you know the powerlessness of people in the hands of those kinds of corporate structures? We need and unearned income tax. We've got to begin to do something about the speculators particularly in the area of land. Land is gone. I don't know what it is here. But I had a very interesting example of that just the other day. I was in Illinois 3 years ago, and I remember well the talking to a farmer and the land have sold in Central, Illinois. This is three years ago for $2,300 and it seemed you know unheard-of. I was back there in the early part of June. And land in that same area that day had sold for $4,090 an acre. Now I have a good friend who's in Guatemala. And I remember him saying that land in Guatemala was terribly important to the powerlessness of the people and he was trying to purchase lands. The people could have Garden so they could so they wouldn't be absolutely beholding to the large landowners. And he was saying that land sold for 4 and $5,000 an acre. This is 12 years ago, and I thought he was crazy. The we're almost there. What does that tell me as far as Society is concerned a telephone number one that the little folks won't own any land not even enough to build a house on. Much less to grow anything or to have any say in it, but even more importantly it tells me that the price of food and other necessities of life will continue to go up. Farmer who has to go out and pay $4,000 an acre for land. It's going to have to have the old more money for that what she produces. But if we could get an unearned income tax, it would eliminate at a graduated land tax. It would eliminate some of the pressures that are pushing the land up I think. Much land is being forced up because Farmers bidding against farmer and it's not the young farmer that can afford. It said one that's already established. If there was some limitation is the amount of land that someone could own that land would then I assume become available to others. But I would hope that that these things these are not necessarily answers, but I think they're factors that should be built into any discussion and that if indeed we're going to have decisions made by the people then they must come from people like yourselves and they must be based on information coming from many different areas sifting through talking about it finding that which is most just for the all of the people and not just for special self interest groups. Reverend John mccrae's with suggestions for Rural America addressing a conference on Rural America held recently in Crookston funds for the preceding program were provided in part by the Minnesota Humanities commission. I'm Stephanie Johnson.


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