Friday, March 8, 2013

To Build up the Land part III – The Myth of Overpopulation

3/4/2013 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints...

We return to the series that started earlier this month, “To Build up the Land.”  If you need to refresh yourself, please take time to read the first two segments by clicking the links below:

To Build up the Land – part I

To Build up the Land part II – Maintaining the Peace

It has been so long even your easily distracted author had to do a bit of review!

It is common in modern day urban environments to lament the lack of open spaces.  Living in structures that are surrounded by other structures and spending time overcrowded streets or public transportation systems tends to solidify the perception that there are too many people in one’s immediate environment.  The feeling is completely normal and understandable.  What is not normal is to wish evil or impose limitations on others because of this perception, for a sober look at the data suggests that, while one’s immediate surroundings may appear to be hopelessly overpopulated, the earth continues to suffer from chronic under population, or a lack of people willing to build up the land, in the parlance of Old Jules.

The answer, then, to a personal state of dissatisfaction with a perceived state of local overpopulation is to remove oneself from the overpopulated environment to a lower density locale.

There is no doubt that the world today is more populated than at any other time in its brief history.  There is also no doubt that increasingly, mankind struggles to adequately nourish itself.  It is an error, however, to blindly assume that an increased population is the root cause of relative shortages of food and potable water.  It is equally erroneous to assume that there are limits to what the land can produce.

In Old Jules’ day, the Sandhills of Northwestern Nebraska were harsh and relatively uninhabited.  Old Jules recognized this as a problem.  Untamed land is largely unproductive land.  The land requires men and women to interact with it so that it will produce fruit and, in turn, allow the men and women to produce their own fruit, so to speak, and so on.

Old Jules, like many inhabitants of what Nabokov called the “Rotting old world,” or Europe, had come to America either in pursuit of greater opportunities or in flight from what was decrease of opportunities in Europe.  This phenomenon was most notable in England, as the Industrial Revolution brought about an exponential improvement in general living conditions and life expectancies, it also brought a population boom which overwhelmed the British Isle.  It was there that the idea of overpopulation bloomed.

As war seemed to grip Europe from time to time, it seemed that the continent was suffering from an overpopulation as well.  However, this feeling had nothing to do with actual scarcity of land.  It was, rather, a result of the various wars, socialist policies, and other acts of aggression which hindered man’s ability to build up the land to its full potential in Europe.

For this reason, during the 1800′s and continuing, in many respects, through today, the greatest immigration known to man has been taking place on both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere of the Americas.

The land was harsh and virgin yet, with a bit of luck and help from neighbors such as Old Jules, those who braved the frontier found an abundance of both resources and freedom beyond their wildest dreams.

What is surprising, or perhaps not, is that this untamed frontier produced not a chaos of fiefdoms waging war against one another, but rather gave birth to perhaps the most honest and upstanding society that exists on the face of the earth.  It is a society largely untainted by the banes of urban existence.  It is a society that understands that the planet, far from having an overpopulation problem, suffers from a lack of people willing to roll up their sleeves and build up the land.

To encourage and help people to choose to build up the land has proven difficult, especially in the aftermath of the farm crisis of the 1970s and 80s in America.  The crisis, which was largely the result of the sinkhole left in the money supply by erratic Federal Reserve policy, left thousands of family farms in ruin.

Even in Old Jules’ day, it was difficult.  It required someone who had a vision for the land and could see past the allure of temporary personal gain so that both the people and the land could carry on their productive intercourse.

Again, we pick up with Mari Sandoz in Old Jules describing Jules’ efforts to assist homesteaders to take advantage of the Kinkaid Act of 1904, an amendment to the original Homesteaders act passed in the 1860′s.  Jules had hoped that the act would reign in the cattlemen and bring in the people that the land so desperately needed to build it up:
“In the evening Jules, rifle across his arm, limped about among the newcomers and felt young again.  It was like Valentine {Nebraska} in the eighties, but different too – many more people and not so young, not nearly so young   Many of these were old – defeated men…
“…The day of the opening long queues of homeseekers waited for hours, only to find that even the sad choice of land that was free had been filed earlier in the day.  There was talk of cattleman agents who made up baskets full of filing papers beforehand and ran them through the first thing.  One woman was said to have filed on forty sections, under forty names, at five dollars a shot.  The land was covered by filings that would never turn into farms.  Yes, the Kinkaid Act as a cattleman law, as it was intended to be……
“Nevertheless Jules was busy.  His buckskin team, colts of Old Daisy, threaded in and out between the hills.  In six months, all unoccupied filings would be subject to contest.  For twenty-five dollars Jules showed the land, ascertained the numbers, took the settler to Alliance to the land office, helped him make his filings, and later, when he was ready to fence, surveyed the homestead completely.  If the homeseeker found nothing to please him, there was no charge.  Otherwise, Jules pocketed the twenty-five dollar fee……
“And every few days some land agent or attorney from, say, Chicago suggested that Jules charge fifty or a hundred dollars and give him a fourth or half of the fee for steering prospects to him.  Jules stuck his cob pipe between his bearded lips and threw the letters into the wood box.
“I am not in this business for the money.  I’m trying to build up the country.”
At the end of this discourse, Old Jules pins down the crux of the matter.  If one is in pursuit of money, overpopulation will always be a problem.  Money, as the good of highest order, is indirectly sought but all, and each additional person on the planet represents another competitor. This is an inescapable fact of the rigid debt based money supply of today.

However, if one’s aim is to build up the land, as was the case with Old Jules, they will quickly see that the truth of the matter, which the failure of the debt based money supply, as do all socialist machinations, serves to mask, is that money really does grow on well tended trees, and what is truly lacking are men and women brave enough to perform their conjugal duty to the land.

For without it, both the land and mankind will grow frigid, and the earth will become a cold and desolate place indeed.

more to come…

Stay tuned and