Tuesday, February 26, 2013

To Build up the Land part II – God Made a Farmer


2/5/2013 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…
Today we continue with our exploration of the concept of building up the land.  We are using, as our living example of someone who dedicated their life to building up a harsh land, a Swiss settler of the sandhills of western Nebraska, Old Jules.
Yesterday, before we deviated into our normal rant about the monetary premium being attached to debt instruments being the root cause of widespread resource misallocation and, by extension, what today is called “climate change,” we explored the idea that mankind was created to live in balance with the earth.
He was neither to overly molest it via excessive development nor ignore it via draconian conservation methods.  Rather, he was to build up the earth, and in turn allow himself to be built up by it.
There are preconditions for man to be able to live in balance with the land.  First and foremost, he must live in relative peace.  If one is to invest adequate time in building up the land, he or she cannot spend an inordinate amount of time preoccupied for and tending to their personal safety.  This is why war, far from being an economic boon, is ultimately fatal to man’s efforts to build up the land.
How, then, can peace be encouraged?  By allowing uninhibited trade between communist style communities, such as families or tribes.  As we explored yesterday, the link between free trade and peace is so strong that it can be said that if goods do not cross borders, soldiers will.
It all seems ideal, doesn’t it?  Living in peace, in perfect balance with nature and our fellow man.  It doesn’t sound like much to ask of everyone.  Yet in practice, building up the land is a difficult endeavor.  It is so difficult, that most people, when given the choice between working to build up the land and enjoying the fruits of the land, naturally choose the latter.  The debt based money supply has allowed an unprecedented number of humans to spend more of their time enjoying the fruits than building up the land, and every day that this situation persists brings the actions of mankind further out of balance with the need to “build up the land.”
What type of person chooses to build up the land?  In gentle climates, like the one we currently enjoy in Oregon, where a minimal effort in planting often leads to an above average yield, gentle persons can build up the land.  As the land is strong, the people don’t have to be.
This has been true of the indigenous groups who inhabited the territories and, at the risk of offending our fellow Portlanders, we dare say that it is true of the population today.  If one can stand the rain, life is relatively easy.  A gentle, forgiving land will produce a gentle and forgiving people.
The corollary to this, naturally, is that a hard and unforgiving land will initially yield a hard and unforgiving people.  Or, as Sunday’s Dodge Ram truck Super Bowl spot reminds us, on the eighth day, God made a Farmer:
Again for proof of this, we turn to Mari Sandoz’s account of her father, Old Jules.  Jules Sandoz, our settler of 100 years ago, lived in a harsh land.  He lived peacefully with the indigenous peoples there, who were being forced away by the Federal Army.  He lived less peacefully with the bankers and cattlemen, who attempted to claim the land he was trying to build up by force.
Sandoz give us a glimpse into her rough, determined, and surprisingly refined father:
“Jules Sandoz was not a nice man, but he was smart and tough and talented, and he was a survivor.”
“Old Jules was always ready to serve as a “locator,” to help a new arrival stake out a claim and “find his corners,” locate the precise boundaries of his land.  For this, he charged little or nothing, as he wanted so badly to “build up, build up” the community.”
“His (Old Jules’) house was briefly the local post office, until he feuded with the officials and they took it away.  His place was the unofficial storytelling center of the community.  His skinny daughter, Marie (later Mari {the author}), would hang back in the darkness to stay up and listen to the immigrants and Indians {Indigenous peoples} and, less frequently, the cowboys tell their tales.
Old Jules maintained a well-stocked medical kit and was the unofficial frontier doctor to one and all.  He befriended the local Indians, some of the last Lakotas to live free in lodges, tipis, near his home.  They called him “Straight Eye,” honoring his shooting skill.  He spent w