Archive for August 28th, 2011

You Can’t Go Back

While following the path of Hurricane Irene as she sweeps up the East Coast ( best wishes to my friends in those areas affected by the storm– hope everyone is safe and sound) I came across Ron Paul’s statement about FEMA’s response to the storm, saying that the federal response was unnecessary, that the states and local authoriites should be able to take care of it for themselves. 

“We should be like 1900…” he stated.

This seems to be the refrain and goal of the smaller government set of which Paul, a government official since 1978, is part.  I understand the desire to return to a state of self-sufficiency as an individual but to return to 1900 is a ridiculous goal for any political movement hoping to govern this country in 2010.  If you’ve ever browsed the newspapers of that time you’ll recognize that the time was not idyllic in any sense of the word.  Diseases we consider benign today were rampant and deadly.  The same problems we decry today were still there and their effects were sometimes greater dues to a lack of regulation. 

Take for instance fires.  Building codes (yes, evil government intervention)  were lax at best in most areas and it wasn’t unusual for entire sections of towns to burn to the ground.  The town of Forestport in the southern part of the Adirondacks was a boon time due to the lumbering there in the 1890’s and two times within five years it had catastrophic fires that destoyed its entire downtown section.

There was no government tracking the weather and warning the population in 1900 either.  Perhaps Paul might like to at least maintain this part of 2010 when he returns to 1900 when thousands ( estimates run from 8-12 thousand) were killed in the great hurricane of that year that hit Galveston, in his district.

It was not a perfect time in any way but the biggest difference between then and now is that we as a nation were still an agricultural society then.  The US population in 1900 was just under 76 million ( less than a 1/4 of today’s population) and the farm population was around a whopping 29 million which means that almost 40% of our population lived on farms. 4 out of 10 Americans lived on a farm.  Self-sufficiency was part of who we were at that time.  Farmers accounted for 38% of our labor force.  By 1990, the US farm population had dropped to 2.9 million, about 10% of what is was in 1900!  It only accounted for 2.6 of our labor force in 1990 and in 2010 farmers are less than 1% of our work force. 

We have become less and less self-sufficient as individuals and more and more interconnected to the infrastructure.  I am not decrying this– it’s just a fact.  That being the case,we can not simply adopt the same form of governance that ruled a more rural and certainly imperfect time such as 1900.  It’s a simplistic call to arms by pols such as Paul that appeals to those who foolhardily see themselves as not being connected to the great web of commerce and government of which we are all part, like it or not.  We live in 2010 not 1900 and that time is thankfully long gone.  God help us all if it ever comes back around.

Sorry for the Sunday morning vent.  Have a great day!

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: