Monday, April 12, 2010

A Constructive Suggestion...

A conclusion I've reached in recent years is that anyone can complain about something.  Coming up with a solution to a problem, however, is far more respectable and constructive.

I've complained about farm subsidies in the Political Chat section of and the one good argument I've heard in favor of it is that it keeps agricultural land in agriculture.  If farm subsidies were abolished or drastically cut, many farms would be sold to developers and urbanized.  This destroys or at least greatly diminishes their potential agricultural productivity.

(Dave Howery, who made the argument, said topsoil is trucked away and dumped somewhere.  From personal experience, I've seen areas cleared down to the clay and then left fallow turn into fields with tall grass and young trees in less than two years, but that's not the same as consistently-productive farmland.  It could easily be years if not decades before the soil quality is restored.)

Dave was concerned about the US becoming dependent on imported food, something that could theoretically happen if a significant quantity of our farmland is turned into suburbs.  And then there's the whole issue of America's food exports on top of that.

So I pondered a solution to the problem.  Here's what I've come up with:

Abolish agricultural subsidies and when the farms fail (let's not kid ourselves--many will), have the National Park Service or whoever is in charge of this kind of thing buy the land and let it return to nature.  It will regain its productivity as the years go by and thousands of plants and animals live and die above it and, if need be, it can be cleared and farmed again.

In areas where many farmers sell out and leave the land, you could restore large chunks of territory to its natural state.  Animals long absent from the territory could be reintroduced.  Heck, I've heard someone suggest restoring elephants to North America (they lived here during the Pleistocene period, not all that long ago in terms of geologic time), while if you really wanted to go hog-wild and had the necessary science, you could bring back the mammoths.

(I do hope nobody is going to seize on my comment about mammoths and use that to write off my entire argument as bonkers.)

Now, lest I be accused of supporting some un-conservative government spending program, unless one is shelling out colossal sums, a one-time payment of buying the land of farmers who no longer find it cost-efficient to farm is financially more responsible than paying out subsidies year after year, forever and ever, amen.

Furthermore, it would pay to be prudent if you get a large tract of territory being returned to a natural state and you want to bring back large animals.  I sometimes frequent FreeRepublic, the online loony-conservative forum, and one of them cited a case of a man who got into legal trouble after shooting a bear that was heading towards his sheepfold in a threatening manner.

If one is going to reintroduce large and potentially dangerous creatures, this should be done only in areas where there aren't any people left at all.  Furthermore, the rights of people to defend themselves, their families, their livestock, and their property against predators should be strengthened accordingly, lest there be incidents.

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