Tag Archives: Water subsidy

Don’t Look Down

Pack your bags, bring your toothbrush, let’s get away from it all, if only we could. First order of business was to get the epoxy coating for the carport drop shipped from the East Coast via Michigan, don’t ask it’s a complicated supply chain thing.

High Heat and Low Humidity

Reviewing local weather forecasts and they tell of a high-pressure system off the California coast that is shunting storms north, that we are going to remain dry at least until the middle of the month, that it will hit 80 degrees later this week, and that there is concern about potential for wildfire.

A friend living in the Gold Country east of Sacramento in Amador City, the smallest incorporated town in California has been hit with homeowner insurance sticker shock. The policy jumped from $2800 per year to $6000. After some changes to his deductibles, he was able to get the premium reduced to $4800 and he feels lucky. This is playing out all across California’s urban wildland interface, and it is the runaway costs of the climate emergency socking citizens right where it counts─ in the wallet.

Too young to be a player in the Summer of Love, 1967’s perfect year for hippies, Haight-Ashbury’s gathering of the tribe, the counter culture that was going to change things traded all of those drug induced happenings for all these frightful challenges barreling down on us like an overfilled clown car. You know the bit where the tiny car parks center ring and out come this impossible to imagine number of clowns one after the other, clowns like drought, wildfire, earthquake, tsunami, hurricane, tornado, and heatwave. We are fending off sea level rise, wildfire smoke, volcanic eruptions and empty water reservoirs. Someone somewhere is keeping an eye out for undiscovered asteroids or comets potentially on a collision course, this is the human condition, modern life isn’t for the weak or the easily worried.

Bureau of Reclamation Plumbing

All the false prophets (profits) of yesteryear had assured us to follow along while we engaged in rampant outsourcing (offshoring─ a much less offensive term), financialization, monopolization, deregulation, and just-in-time logistics. Turns out our competitors took out a can of whoop-ass over there so that they could make us miserable over here. I smelled a rat as soon as the fat cats unbolted the Schwinn Bicycle Factory and sent it lock, stock and barrel to China. Our leaders have been too sheepish, stupid and stubborn. That famous sucking sound turns out to be us, we didn’t need anyone else providing us with sound effects, this was an unforced error.

Trail of the Deep Diver

I did a deep dive into a story about the foreign ownership of America’s farmland. What could go wrong? Water for agriculture is a big deal in a decades long drought, and you can’t really get to the core dysfunctionality of how we squander our water without giving your brain over to the geostrategic blunder being made by policymakers that have surrendered control of our food production system. When the Can-Tan-Con-Man slapped tariffs on China, and in retaliation they responded by canceling purchase of soybeans, and then Washington replaced the lost revenue by providing subsidies to the farmers, and that it turns out many billions of those dollars ended up going to multinationals located in other countries to compensate for the losses they took on farms they owned in America. Hard to flowchart all that losing, screwing and double dealing but friends there you have it, we are up to our elbows in one gargantuan mobbed up racket.

Our current members of the Supreme Court are not oriented by way of ideological fanaticism to care one whit about any of the many ways we are self-destructing. Let’s just say for the fucking fun of it that almost anyone can buy American farmland, biggest foreign owners are Canada, China and even Saudi Arabia’s got their hands in America’s dirt. It’s plain as lavender mascara that we’ve been sucked into a sinkhole of stupid. All this nonsense about the invisible hand of the free market is a bunch of neoliberal doublespeak. We already pay farmers to grow or not grow specific crops, there are subsidies for dairy, corn, soy, and cotton. The market is anything but free.

Goobering up our food system took a disastrous turn in the late 50’s when it was determined what we wanted to do was maximize the number of calories we cultivated. Farms and ranches were incentivized to grow commodity crops, the crops then blighted our population with heart disease and diabetes, and as these commodity producers have been in control for decades, they have no intention of surrendering their control over our food chain or their gravy train and there will be hell to pay if anyone dare try.

Inane Homily by Libertarian Types

Iowa is the poster child for what is widely understood to be the ethanoyl disaster. Decades ago, we decided to make fuel from corn. Never mind that it takes more energy to make ethanoyl than the energy you can get out of this biofuel, but subsidized corn growing was good for Iowa farmers and that was good enough, pretty much an open and shut case of shut your mouth. But you be right to wonder if we’ve been getting our money’s worth for helping Iowa, appears we’re not even close to a fair exchange. Iowans are in the grip of an ultra-sharp swerve to the right of the political spectrum, Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst voted for Biden the day the vote was certified but not before making the most tepid remarks over the fiasco we know as the January 6th insurrection. Nobody is for defunding the police, but I am tempted to want to defund ethanoyl price supports that go to Iowa because patriotism ain’t getting its money’s worth. Trust me Iowa gets more back from Washington than it sends, and then it bites the hand that feeds it, that my friends makes it right to reconsider the fact we aren’t getting much back for all we give. I’m not into retribution but I’m also not into stupid. Time has come to get all those cotton-picking complainers to fulsomely embrace the right side of history, patriotism and democracy or suffer the loss of all this largess we’ve been squandering upon the ingrates.

There is clarity, spiritual liberation, and soul healing in understanding how perplexing the conundrum that is the interplay between crop and water subsidies. Top four subsidized commodity crops that the Department of Agriculture supports are corn, soy, wheat and rice. There are more but these are the four biggest crops. Then, over at the Department of the Interior, this is where the Bureau of Reclamation is located, and it is here that a good many water subsidies are handed out in one of the most irrational welfare programs and this quasi-legal water grabbing goes on right under the taxpayers’ noses. This isn’t water for the poor or the weak, these are for the powerful and connected. Given the ongoing megadrought in the American West there is every reason to evaluate and reimagine what crops we ought to grow where and if and how much water we are going to use.

You can pound the table, scream as loud as Pavarotti, stink and skunk it up, but you and nobody are going to bring this scrambled pile of misbegotten policy to heel. Like a thousand and one other things under the sun and on this continent, we have a lost our legislative spine to react to current realities and then make new policy.

Knocking on the Door of Change

It’s going to require a massive, colossal unimaginably enormous climatic convulsion before anything is going to shake up this over-intitled elite. And don’t you know that’s where we are and what the forces of nature are doing to the entrenched members of what we call the water nobility. Every politician knows to duck and cover when the topic of what to do about the water shortages out here in the American West come up. The powers that be clam up, get tight lipped and literally lose the power to speak when questioned about this century old fiasco. The plain and simple of the thing is that change is coming, and it arrived about two decades ago disguised as the mother of all droughts and until about now there was still time to do something about the thing. Time’s up and the bill has come due.

 Don’t Look Down could be 2022’s next hit film. And this time it isn’t some celestial object colliding with the world it is the stubborn entrenched special interests threatening the collapse of almost half our nations farmland. How this movie ends is the comedy I’m trying to write.

The Promised Land

The speed of life appears to accelerate as our short teeth grow long. Digital social media surfing tends to be a frothy mix of astounding crimes against humanity supplanted by the banal failings of a professional dog walker caught skipping out on the excrement pickup duties that come with this vocation.

Climate related catastrophes are grabbing the headlines with an ever-increasing frequency.

Viaducts as pathway to citizenship

I mention wildfire and most people I know will launch into how they’ve installed air filters, purchased emergency generators, cut back their trees and brush or have had either their homeowner’s insurance premiums increased or canceled altogether.

Drought awareness is spotty. If you’ve had your irrigation allocations cut, you are all to painfully aware of the consequences of the persistent drought patterns that shadow your best laid plans.

Just a few weeks ago Abbotsford, British Columbia was hit with flooding, all hell broke out and they received a month’s worth of torrential rains over two days that wiped away five bridges and twenty sections of roadway vital to getting supplies from the coast to the interior of this rugged diamond of a province in Canada.

This last June the entire town of Lytton, British Columbia in the grip of a record-breaking heatwave caught fire and burned most of the town to the ground.

Engineers have for a century been trying to plumb California

Hurricane Ida a Category-4 storm first lashed Louisiana with wind and rain then spun north and east wreaking havoc upon New Jersey inundating Newark with over 8 inches of record-breaking rainfall. When something has never happened before perhaps it is time to give these events a second look, ask a few questions, make some assessments, consider your options. You know wake up and get about the business of fixing things before things fix you.

The colossal rare for December 200-hundred-mile-long tornado that cut a path across Kentucky this past weekend has the telltale signs of a climate change induced event. It’s become imprecise to describe such catastrophic events as a natural disaster given the scientifically proven effects our releasing gigatons of carbon dioxide is having on our planet. Appears our fingerprints are all over these weather events.

Allstate changing advertising agencies in 2020 seems to have retired the character playing Mayhem from their ad campaigns. In midst of a global pandemic and under lockdown, washing hands, wearing masks while 100’s of thousands are killed by a virulent pathogen might make this change in campaigns an appropriate inflection point to regroup, rebrand and reconsider what hazard coverage you might wish or not wish to cover. Seems obvious in light of events.

If you read my postings, you’ll see I keep picking at my concerns about whether we can continue to govern and keep the wheels on our civilization rolling in the face of such daunting problems.

Working dirt, seed, sunlight and water

In California’s San Joaquin Valley just west of Fresno lies the Westlands Water District. If you are a politician, you cross the drought intolerant Westland mega millionaire farmers at your own peril. Enter stage right the California State Water Board announcing on December 1, 2021, that it is “Zero Day” for much of California’s agricultural industry. All the dam building, aqueduct constructing, ditch digging, well drilling and cloud seeding isn’t going to get the Westlands Water District one more drop of water.

If you are heading up Interstate 5 from LA, the Westlands Water District of Fresno and Kings County runs parallel with the highway from Kettleman City north 90 miles to Mercy Hot Springs Road. This farmland is made possible entirely by irrigation and without it the land would be all tumbleweed, dry wash, and dust devils. This is 600,000 acres─ the largest irrigation district in the United States, land that is worked by 600 subsidized farms that could not exist had the Federal government followed their own science and surveys and declined to put into production this portion of the San Joaquin Valley.

San Joaquin River heading to California Aqueduct then pumped south

 In 1992 the Central Valley Project Improvement Act was passed. “This comprehensive legislation initiated water contract reforms, raised prices for water, established a fund financed by farmers to correct past environmental damage, promoted fish and wildlife restoration, and mandated a wide range of other reforms.” The Westlands Water District has fought this legislation at every turn, tooth and nail, tong and hammer.

What we’ve got here is our own version of Vietnam or Afghanistan, a water war with no end. Every time we say the jig is up the Westland Water District returns with another proposal to prop up their district by pumping yet more state and federal government funded water into their district. Time has run out and enough is enough. Whatever is in store for the Westlands Water District’s ought to be on their dime. Let them build the facilities to store the water, deliver it to their lands and drain it off of their fields, mitigate the pollution and remedy the salt and toxins that are wreaking devastation on the region’s wildlife.

Out here in the American West the megadrought continues to tighten its grip. A century ago, in our historically anomalous cooler and wetter era it appeared we might engineer our water resources into an unending bounty of agricultural abundance. Instead, we lavished water we no longer have on a group of too rich for their own britches farmers who have not a lick of tolerance for the drought that’s got the region by the throat.

Farms of yesterday are today not this

Devin Nunes represents portions of both Fresno and King County. Defending the Westland Water District has been a favorite hyperbolic sport of this ill-suited hack politician now turning to become a social media CEO. His term of art for citizens in California trying to hold over-entitled subsidized millionaire farmers to account is to label them as “radical environmental activists.” This is what I call kick-down and kiss-up rhetoric. Like Kevin McCarthy, the Minority Leader in the House of Representatives you owe your political career to the government subsidized constituents that can make or break you should you forget who you are working for and cross them by even one precious drop of water.

Growing population in competition for finite resources-water is one

I’ve never been inclined to building a life based on my receiving near free water so that I could grow Department of Agriculture crop subsidized commodities that fully guarantee whatever may come that I’ll be living higher than the other 99% of the nearby county citizens. That’s not a square deal, feels more like wheeling and dealing terms. Then, when it comes time to pay your fair share, to give some portion of your taxpayer paid largess back to help with all this nation is responsible for doing, that instead you fund political campaigns dedicated to lowering your taxes, reducing regulations, and worse still things have now spiraled so far out of control that a good many on your side of the isle have shown up in Washington on January 6th to commit sedition and topple democracy. It is a sad state of affairs when our tax dollars have been sent to such a place and instead of gratitude, instead of appreciation, these investments have bred only contempt for our government and cultivated a fool’s alliance with the growing threat to our nation’s stability.

Heart shaped soul of food

Anyone and everyone knows Republicans have not one care for a smaller government, they want a more focused and constituency targeted government, one that serves the people that put them in office, and if that means reducing services and cutting programs for those citizens that don’t live in the Westlands Water District then that’s just fine and dandy, they’ll never vote for their party anyway.

Part of what is dangerous in this moment is that a whole lot of overcompensated agricultural interests no matter how much lobbying they might do can’t come up with the water that’s gone missing in this climate emergency and being rock-ribbed-science-denying partisans that they are they haven’t the least bit of interest in doing their part to live within their water budget means. That’s not their problem, they are water nobility, they think they are the creators of the abundance the nation enjoys.

Against all odds the good things in life and democracy will persist

It’s time we walk these subsidies back, send in teachers to the region, provide government sponsored civics lessons on how it is we’ve come to the point where you can no longer promise to be part of the solution to our problems the nation confronts, but instead are ready to make the climate emergency we face that much more dangerous and the government we all depend upon that much more unstable. That’s what we have here friends, “what we have here, is a failure to communicate.” Saddle up, we’ve work to do and a nation to build.