Klinkenborg is also a leftist. In the ugliest sense of the word. Which means he looks at the advancements we've made and the victories we've won and sees only gloom. Despair. Travesty.
He wants it the way it was ... long long ago.
I was drawn to his article in today's Times (link) because, in it, he promised to tell me why the state of Iowa is losing population, particularly its young people. He first told me what wasn't causing the "problem."
The state's demographic dilemma wasn't caused by bad weather or high income taxes or the lack of a body of water larger than Rathbun Lake - an Army Corps of Engineers reservoir sometimes known as "Iowa's ocean."Hmm. OK. I can only hope those pronouncements come from a good deal of research. But OK. I'm still curious.
Then, as if I couldn't predict his explanation, Klinkenborg, the literary economist sociologist, disgorges this:
It was caused by the state's wholehearted, uncritical embrace of industrial agriculture, which has depopulated the countryside, destroyed the economic and social texture of small towns, and made certain that ordinary Iowans are defenseless against the pollution of factory farming.What a pitiful way to look at modernization.
These days, all the entry-level jobs in agriculture - the state's biggest industry - happen to be down at the local slaughterhouse, and most of those jobs were filled by the governor's incentive, a few years ago, to bring 100,000 immigrant workers into the state.
Hey, Verlyn: You're probably not aware of it, having been wrapped up in research on barn illumination at dusk and all (readers will have to have read some of your previous blather to fully appreciate that), but Argentina had something to do with Iowa's transformation too. As did Brazil and Honduras. France and the Dominican Republic. Australia and the Ivory Coast.
Iowans recognized, as you should have before venturing away from your musings about the joys of driving through the backcountry of the USA, venturing here into a serious subject and making yourself look stupid, that they were in competition in a world economy. Competing with farmers in the Pampas and on the green hills of Ireland. The uplands of China and the fields of Mexico.** It escaped your notice that, for the first time in the history of this country, the USA actually was a net importer of agricultural commodities in December. Despite the valliant efforts of Iowa's "industrial farmers," we as consumers bought more from foreign countries than they bought from us.
Cry for the little Iowa villages that are being abandoned, if you will, Verlyn. But changes, especially in the production of the most essential commodity of all commodities, are ongoing and will continue to be relentless. You can denounce the changes. You can try to stop them - and have the same success as did the old man trying to hold back the sea.
Life is hard sometimes, Verlyn. And yet wondrous. Especially for those young Iowans seeking to make a better life for themselves, their children, and grandchildren.
But the days of farmers working their five acres of beans - or corn or tobacco - in order to stay just above the level of starvation are, thank God, over. We have fewer farmers. We have more programmers.
We have less polio in this great country of ours too, Verlyn. I'll wait for the glistening masterpiece on that subject. A tome exposing that bastard, Jonas Salk, who went and found a vaccine to prevent what brought about those quaint scenes of old in which America's little children, crippled for life, were pushed around in their wicker wheelchairs and who sang to us on the street corner, in hopes that we would toss them a dime.
How you must long for those glorious days of old.
** World corn production in 2001/02 of about 587 million metric tons, exceeded initial forecasts by 3 million tons, and compares with 586 million in 2000/01. China, since 1987/88 the second largest producer, produced 108 million tons in 2001/02 vs. 106 million in 2000/01 and record large 133 million in 1998/99. China's corn output has increased sharply from the 1980's when annual production averaged less than 100 million tons. The U.S. and China are forecast to produce about 60% of the world's corn in 2001/02; Brazil and Mexico combined should produce about 9%. (link)