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Fred Magdoff is one of my favorite people as well as one of my favorite authors.  Here is some information about him and a link to  his "Modest Proposal":

Fred Magdoff is professor emeritus of plant and soil science at the University of Vermont and adjunct professor of crop and soil science at Cornell University.  He writes frequently on political economy.  His most recent books are The Great Financial Crisis (written with John Bellamy Foster, Monthly Review Press, 2009) and Agriculture and Food in Crisis (edited with Brian Tokar, Monthly Review Press, 2010) and What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know About Capitalism: A Citizen's Guide to Capitalism and the Environment (with John Bellamy Foster, Monthly Review Press, 2011).
I met Fred at the 2008 Mountain Sky Conference which (see the theme below) was one of the most meaningful conferences of the very many i have attended in  my lifetime.  I was invited to start it off and set the tone and my knowledge of Rosen's ideas was the reason for that.  Fred was a highlight.  He both spoke well and was so very relevant, but also his comments were so helpful.  We became entwined in re-enforcing ideas from the start.  My stuff on complexity and Rosen was well received and we had some good exchanges.  Read on below and we will get to Fred's latest.

Here is a partial list of the participants in that conference:

Wendell Berry,Eric Borewinkle, Charlie Brummer, Jim Cheverud, Herman Daly, Juile Douglas, Irene Eckstrand, David Ehrenfeld, Ole Faereman, Duncan Foley, Alan Guebert, James Hixson,Wes Jackson, Ben Koester, Fred Kirshenmenn, Charles Laird, Rattan Lal, Kendall Lamkey,,Don Mikulecky, Matt Nelson,Tad Patzek, Tom Rea, William Rees, Ted Schettler,
Gary Schwartz,  (Organizer) Charlie Sing, Dave Sing, Eric Smith, Jari Stengård, Alan Templeton, Bill Vitek, Günter Wagner, Angus Wright, Kim Zerba
 Here is a kind of theme if you have not surmised it from the list above:
Mountain Sky (2008)

How could you not have known?
What more evidence did you need that your lives, your comfortable lives, would do so much damage to ours?
Did you think you could wage war against nations without waging war against people and against he earth?
Didn't you wonder what we would drink, once you had poisoned the aquifers?
Didn't you wonder what we would breathe, once you poisoned the air?
Did you stop to ask how we would be safe, in a world poisoned by war?
Did you think it all belonged to you---this beautiful earth?
You who loved your children, did you think we could live without birdsong and swaying trees?
And if you knew, how could you not care? What could matter more to you than your children, and their babies?
How could a parent destroy what is life-giving and astonishing in her child's world?
And if you knew, and if you cared, how could you not act?
What excuses did you make?
And now, what would you have us do?

-- Excerpt from Kathleen Dean Moore's "The Pine Island Paradox," p. 118
   (Copyright 2004).

 I hope those of you who feel inclined to make comments like
Bullshit
for example will begin to realize that what I have been presenting here night after night for weeks is not something that mindless comments can be made about without them saying more about your ignorance than anything else.  You are not making your name in the world by rudely disagreeing with or just plain questioning radical ideas and an entirely new paradigm.  You are in the vast majority and that is why you are part of the problem, not the solution. The reason I struggle here and elsewhere (like Mountain Sky) is because your ideas are dead!  They have caused the problem.  We are struggling for a way out and we do not pretend to have all the answers.  What we have discovered we know very well and we are working to share with you.  Be destructive if that is what you need, but don't expect to be seen as someone with a mind if you are.

For those of you with honest doubts and criticisms I welcome your comments.  I hope you understand why I wrote the words above.  I remind you all that I am 76 and certainly will not have to suffer what those younger than I will.  I can only try to help in my limited way.

Now back to Fred (Who were he here as write these things would be both supportive and critical.   That is why I love him!)

Her eis what Fred proposes:

he world ecosystem and its people desperately need a reduction in the consumption by the richest 10%.  I, therefore, propose the following programs for immediate implementation:

enforce either a "no-child" or a "one-child" policy on the wealthy;
immediately introduce a 100% inheritance tax on the wealthy; and
lower the income of the wealthy by having a very modest maximum compensation (analogous to a minimum wage).
Following these prescriptions, we can rapidly reduce approximately half of all resource use and pollution in the world.  The previously wealthy would then either disappear (as they die out) or live a life in which they consume at the rate of the average person in the world.

Now that we have some breathing room, let's get to work on the remaining issues to create a livable and socially just planet.

 

 That's it.  Do we need to remind you about Jonathan Swift and the original " Modest Proposal?"A Modest Proposal:
A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People From Being a Burden on Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick,[1] commonly referred to as A Modest Proposal, is a Juvenalian satirical essay written and published anonymously by Jonathan Swift in 1729. Swift suggests that impoverished Irish might ease their economic troubles by selling their children as food for rich gentlemen and ladies.[2] This satirical hyperbole mocks heartless attitudes towards the poor, as well as Irish policy in general.
In English writing, the phrase "a modest proposal" is now conventionally an allusion to this style of straight-faced satire.
And so it goes!  What more can I say?

Actually I can say more.  Tomorrow let's talk about addiction and denial.

Originally posted to Readers and Book Lovers on Thu Mar 29, 2012 at 09:01 PM PDT.

Also republished by Systems Thinking, Anti-Capitalist Chat, and Postcapitalism.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (10+ / 0-)

    An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

    by don mikulecky on Thu Mar 29, 2012 at 09:01:04 PM PDT

  •  Not Calling Bullshit But You're Waving Hands. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    foucaultspendulum

    Good ideas that we should implement are a dime a dozen. Credible solutions aren't much more than a buck a dozen.

    What takes yours or everyone else's good/plausible ideas and drives implementation?

    After half a century, it should at long last be clear that merely mentioning the good ideas is not the answer.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Mar 29, 2012 at 09:34:46 PM PDT

  •  Another alternative (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    progdog, don mikulecky, cynndara

    Woudl be to sterilize everyone except the 1% and the next generation would have income equality -- and there would be a much smaller biological footprint from mankind.

  •  Pointless and condescending (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    don mikulecky

    "...we can all shut-up and go back to our caves." - Leonard Bernstein

    by progdog on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 02:02:09 AM PDT

  •  I don't think limiting family (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    don mikulecky

    size merely for the wealthy is particularly workable,  one child or five, the wealthy will want to preserve that wealth.  Zero children seems a little harsh, even given that we are talking about the wealthy.   And for those few who do grow wealthy in their lifetime, too late, they may not  be subject to the rules until they have already had multiple children.

    Rebalancing work and compensation levels, greater inheritance taxes, taking money out of elections, things where entrenched wealth proves effective in increasing their proportion of wealth, seem to be more appropriate areas of attack.

    To get there, you have to change something fundamental about humans, they are possessive and territorial animals.   They are also capable of generosity of spirit and compassion, and more rarely, good sense.

    What does systems theory, modelling, etc. tell us about how to rebalance inputs without destruction of the organism.    If it has nothing to provide in the way of guidance, if we are on an unstoppable path to self destruction, I'd say we don't need to worry nor to take action.

    I think everyone wants the ideas to produce action to stop current trends.  

  •  Missing the Point (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    don mikulecky, cynndara

    There WILL be population control and reduction of resource use.  The only question is when and how.  It will be

    (i) mindful and voluntary; or

    (ii) imposed by the government; or

    (iii) occur as a result of war, famine, disease, lack of potable water, and environmental disasters.

    A truly rational race would take steps to achieve (i) so we don't have to suffer through (ii) or (iii).  But humans are not rational, not when it comes to long-term thinking.

    I'm not as old as the diarist, but I'm old enough to hope I will escape from the worst of the consequences.  These truly might be the last good years.  I am very concerned about my child and unborn grandchildren -- I shudder to think about the world we will leave them.  

    "[W]e shall see the reign of witches pass over . . . and the people, recovering their true spirit, restore their government to its true principles." Jefferson

    by RenMin on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 10:29:58 AM PDT

    •  more likely "all of them"............ (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RenMin

      as I have been saying over and over and over again

      An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

      by don mikulecky on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 10:36:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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