Friday, 12 July 2002

Ranting

Listening to:

Bach, Cantata BWV 182, Himmelskönig, sei willkommen (King of Heaven, thou art welcome).

Rants as promised.

On drugs: this is a perfect subject for the generation of hysteria. On Wednesday, even the Today programme was one-sided. It had a social worker on who was walking around an estate in Brixton pointing out the down-and-outs: heroin and crack addicts. I want to know why no-one queried the belief that this had anything to do with relaxing the policy on marijuana. Nor did they have anyone on to point out that alcohol and smoking are a much bigger problem among young people than illegal drugs. Sheesh. Roll on legalisation so that the issue turns into one about health rather than crime. Here's the anncouncement of the policy change that stirred up all the fuss. (Gotta love the drugs.gov URL!)

As for the Common Agricultural Policy: boy! (Background article from the Guardian.) I think the fact that last year's foot and mouth outbreak inflicted bigger losses on the tourism industry than agriculture is a pretty good indication that the farmers aren't as important as they might like to think. A friend suggests that Britain's long-term aim should be the complete reforestation of the island. Sounds pretty good to me.

Of course, Europe is not the only place where this happens. The US plans to give its farmers $8 billion more than it was already planning to. How many farmers are there in the US anwyay? This page (from the US Dept. of Agriculture) suggests that there are fewer than 3 million people working in agriculture, and this one says there were just over 2 million farms in 1996. So on top of any existing support, they're all getting an average of $4000 extra each. Why doesn't every small business in the country get $4000?

Scarier still are the figures in this story from the Economist. Back in Europe, EU Commissioner, Mr. Fischler proposes to limit the subsidy payments to individual farmers at euro300,000 ($298,000) a year. They're complaining about being limited to a measly $300k per annum?! Think how much money would be saved if they were told that they could farm without any subsidies, or put on the dole. Sheesh.

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