Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Perspective please

Sam called me earlier and we talked about all these economic problems that are in the news. Now. . . first of all I don't think the Washington idiots are going to so mishandle things as to put the country into a real depression. But even if they're a whole lot more stupid than they seem, lets keep a little perspective.

1. This is America. If you find yourself on a streetcorner starving the police will pick you up and take you to a place where folks in white coats will feed you unless you actively resist.

2. Even if things get so bad that they no longer pick up starving people and feed them, Grandpop A mostly fed, clothed and housed a family of eight on the produce he grew and partly sold from about two acres of worked out ground up near Johnson Highway. It's true he had a Model A Ford to use as a huckster vehicle, but we can use my tractor to haul a cart if need be. If we can't build a cart with the parts from the ten or fifteen cars the extended family owns we probably deserve to starve.

3. Among our extended family we own about eight acres of lawn on former farmland that has been patiently accumulating nitrogen in the soil for thirty years. And Dave and Marianne have an old brick bread oven that just needs a bit of assembly. You say, what about fertilizer? I say the kind of long unworked soil we have will produce good crops for several years before someone will have to open the septic tanks and dip out fertilizer to spread on it. Based on Grandpop A's productivity we can feed something like thirty-five or forty on land we own that's lying fallow. And we wouldn't even have to break that ground laboriously with a spade each spring as he did because I have a tractor that can plow all those acres using a couple gallons of diesel fuel. You say diesel fuel may be unavailable? I say Alex can distill usable fuel for that tractor from the wood of the trees we would be cutting to break even more ground for crops. You want meat? Dave probably still has that old black powder blunderbuss, and the deer in the herd around here are utterly impudent, more than willing to walk within range.

4. If the whole world economy goes into a new dark age the US will be in the position of growing enough food and producing enough energy to sustain its current population at something like 1950's living standards for hundreds of years, if not indefinitely. The highly ironic net result of such a catastrophe would be that most of us would live longer and healthier because we would get more exercise and lose some weight. People aren't going to forget how to make penicillin.

So - lighten up. What's the worst that can happen?

And set yourself up to look on the bright side by reflecting on Grandpop L's saying whenever there would be a seemingly dire source of grief - "These problems only trouble the living."

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