National Agenda Project
Leading up to and proceeding the Million Family March leaders around the country have been engaged in a National Agenda Project. The full text of the "The National Agenda" can be viewed at:
I was invited to participate on the Drafting Committee of The National Agenda. As a member I have continued to develop my ideas in the area Economic Transformation. Below I have presented a draft of agenda items for "Rebuilding the American Economy", "Urban and Rural Economic Development" and "Agriculture." Please forward any comments or ideas to me at: mailto:email@example.com
Rebuilding the American Economy
A strong economy is a matter of National Security.
Sources of wealth are land (natural resources) and human potential. Blood sucked out of the people and fertility sucked out of land leaves weak people, families, communities and country. A drained people and depleted resources lead to devolution or revolution. Economy should complement the human spiritís need for union with God and not put one in opposition to God, the environment and each other.
As American citizens we must make some fundamental decisions on the type of economy and lifestyle that we want for the 21st century. Do we want a free enterprise system or managed economic system where the planners and managers are corporations and bankers and not the people? Should our goal of our activities be production for and service to humanity or consumerism? Is our seeking for material satisfaction based on utility and need or "image" as projected by the mass media?
Savings are at an all time low, while stock prices are at an all time high and do not reflect the real productive capacities of the corporations attached to them. The gap between the haves and the have nots have reached a point where now the top one percent of the population own more than the bottom 95 percent combined. The returns to banking, finance, insurance and real estate far outstrip the returns to mining, manufacturing, the retail and wholesale trade, services and agriculture. Is such lopsided growth and development sustainable and socially stable?
1. Put control of the money supply back in the hands of Congress by eliminating the privately owned Federal Reserve System.
2. Redirecting national budget surplus to capitalize development in communities historically economically exploited.
3. Encourage family members to save, invest in themselves and their communities.
4. Increase funding and programs for entrepreneurship development particularly in African American Communities and educational facilities.
5. Reform U.S. Tax Code to encourage investment and allow the middle class to obtain the American dream of business ownership and independence.
These are f
Utility vs image
Control of money supply back to congress, remove Federal Reserve
Savings for investment-- bank for cooperatives, credit unions
URBAN and RURAL
Family---> Agriculture Manufacturing-->cities
Centralized vs decentralized production
Migration from cities back to country, north back to south.
Smaller cities and communities vs metropolis
Midwest equity cannibalism
Return On assets.
Urban and Rural Economic Development
Urban areas have grown at astronomical rates during the 20th century due to the industrialization of America. Factory jobs were established in the urban centers which increased the tide of refugees from the economically depressed rural sector of the economy. However, there are certain trends in the economic and technological structure of Americaís productive capacity that may make the old paradigm of huge metropolises needed for centralized manufacturing, a dinosaur of the past. Decentralized just-in-time manufacturing undergirted by new high speed and reliable information technologies and transporation resources mean that a more decentralized distribution of the population may be realized without losing productive effeciency.
Under this new paradigm people could possibly live in a more rural setting and participate in more occupations than heretofore possible in the urban setting. In other words one could have a small farm or rural homestead and still be involved in manufacturing, the service industries or other economic activites. In such an environment what are the opitimal sizes of communitees that would supply the necessary opportunities and services to make the lifestyle and convenience of a more decentralized population enjoyable.
The urban sector must be revitalized in this transitional phase to a more decentralized production system
(continue with original documentlocated at: http://www.millionfamilymarch.com/default.htm )
The institution of family and the technology called agriculture can be traced back to the foundation of civilization. The relationship between man, land and the environment are the keys to survival on this planet. Agriculture holds a unique position in human affairs because it is essential for survival.
With the reduction of the number of families on the land has come the dominance of the "merchants of death" over the land and those who work the land. Farming as a percentage of the population of the U.S. changed from 48.0% in 1890 to 11.0% in 1950 to 2.9% in 1990. While during the previous eras, small family farms have been the foundation of the American way of life today "95 percent of American food is manufactured and sold by corporations."1 Agribusiness has grown to such an extent that "the food industry is in fact the largest American industrial sector, even though it doesn't produce food security, as 30 million Americans do not get enough to eat."2
Farming is not profitable. The returns to agriculture (net income/receipts) was only 0.3% in 1991 compared to 6.5% for the finance, insurance and real estate industry. In other words the farmer had to borrow money at 6.5% to get a return of 0.3% thereby losing money every time he had to borrow. The net result has been the depletion of physical and human resources dedicated to farming.
We have substituted capital for labor and chemicals for soil fertility resulting in the production of cheap food which fills the stomach but kills the body and mind, slowly, persistently and quietly.
The export of this cheap and over abundant denatured food to Africa has resulted in the deterioration of traditional small farm agriculture there rendering that continent dependent on the international "merchants of death" as well.
To remedy these problems we need a National farm and food policy that recognizes:
1. That cheap food may not be safe for human consumption or sustainable in the long run particularly if that production is done far away from consumption areas and based on fossil fuels (non-renewable resources) for production and distribution.
2. Farming and food security is a matter of national security. A country that can not feed itself will surely fall. However, America should not use her abundant food production capacity as a weapon against the health and sovereignty of other nations.
3. That the unique nature of farming does not allow it to successfully compete in a market economy without government oversight and intervention because:
a. the farmer must make long range plans over several growing seasons to ensure soil fertility and soil health whereas prices can fluctuate almost instantaneously.
b. the problem of asset fixity does not allow farmers to make major short term adjustments which puts him at mercy to a market economy that determines production input costs and output costs.
c. when a farmer puts a seed into the ground he is locked into a 6 to 9 month cycle or tread mill that he can not get off without damaging his crop and losing his total investment, whereas product buyers can change preferences and suppliers almost instantaneously especially with new information technologies.
Action Agenda Items
1. Food reserves must be brought back up to an acceptable level for long-term food security.
a. A farmer-owned reserve will be established for all storable commodities to ensure food security and livestock feed supplies.
b. Secretary of Agriculture will establish a short-term inventory management program for storable commodities to balance production with demand.
2. Programs should be implemented to insure parity pricing for agricultural commodities.
3. To re-establish competitive markets, a maximum level of market concentration will be established for farm product buyers and farm input suppliers and be enforced with federal anti-trust action.
4. In times of natural disaster, there must be an effective response either through crop insurance, risk management programs, or disaster assistance.
5. Health issues surrounding the safety of our food supply must be addressed by:
a. requiring the proper labeling of all genetically engineered or modified foods,
b. requiring all genetically engineered products to be proven safe both to the environment and humans before released into the echo-system or the market-place,
c. publishing a national organic standard,
d. requiring inspection and certification of imported agricultural products to ensure a level of safety equivalent to U.S. standards for food safety, environmental, and worker protection.
6. Assure that all countries retain the right to develop farm programs that respond to the needs of their farmers and consumer. The World Trade Organization (WTO) should not have authority override such domestic policies.
7. Implement the Fund for Rural America.
Special Problem: The Crisis of the Black Farmer3
The Black farmers' lawsuit settlement tendered on November 3, 1998 ("Black Tuesday") in response to the large black turnout at the polls, although a step in the right direction, is not a just, equitable and reasonable solution to repairing an industry that was destroyed by the USDA This settlement will not bring them out of retirement nor will it be an incentive for their children or grand children to enter this once noble occupation. Black farmers who did nothing wrong, but work hard and trust their government, were deprived of life, liberty and property while their children who were forced into the cities were being shot down and cast into prisons as "menaces 2 society".
By the 1920's Black farmers were able to acquire over 14 million acres of land after slavery, not as reparations (i.e. Forty Acres and a Mule) but through their own sweat and blood. They were not given access to government money allocated during and after the New Deal package after the Great Depression. Their white competitors down south had access to Federal Land Banks, Production Credit Associations, Banks for Cooperatives and numerous government subsidies and programs. As a result, Black farmers have lost 12 million acres of land as a result of the conspiring of private citizens and public officials to use any means necessary to steal back the land that the Black farmers bought.
The "Crisis of the Black farmer" is over. "Crisis" means "... the turning point for better or worse in an acute disease or fever." The question now becomes, "And what will his city cousins eat?" Black people were given food stamps while being deprived of their land, herded into the cities, and now being poisoned slowly with chemically treated and genetically engineered food.
Until all vestiges of racism have been eliminated, Black people should develop among themselves a sustainable agricultural system that would provide at least one meal per day, according to the teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad as described in "How to Eat to Live" for the 40 million black people in America. Also this system should provide the necessary raw materials for the production clothing and housing for the 40 million are more black people in America. This requires the attainment, proper utilization and conservation of the useful land. This requires the re-establishment of an agricultural industry within the Black community.
Putting Black farmers back on the land should be a matter of National Priority and Security so that the stealing of Black farmersí land and the resultant vulnerability of the Black population not be used as negative propaganda by Americaís enemies.
1. Put Black people back on land:
a. The 53% of 1.5 million acres in government inventory which was once owned by Black farmers be given back to them.
b.$1,000 per acre for the 12 million acres be set aside to purchase land and return it back to Black farmers and would be entering Black farmers.
2. Support passage of the legislative goals recommended by the USDA Civil Rights Action Team (CRAT) to eliminate discrimination and protect minority farmers.
3. Research on genetic tampering with the food supply should be stopped until Black people have independent research facilities to be sure that such genetic tampering will not adversely affect our population:
a. All DNA fingerprinting of arrestees should stop.
b. Terminator gene technology should be outlawed.
c. A Black operated seed bank of non-genetically altered seeds should be
4. Encourage full and equitable funding of existing USDA loan, technical assistance and other resource programs designed to assist small and poor farmers.
5. A minority agricultural development program should be established that would allow Blacks and other minorities to set up for themselves the same type of institution that has kept them historically excluded from such programs as: Production Credit Associations, Land Banks, Banks for Cooperatives, Coop development agency, Research and extension programs at the HBCUs, Processing facilities for vegetables, meats, etc.
6.Black farmers should be given preference in new markets and potential
technologies. This includes the production of the raw materialism processing and manufacturing facilities, and transportation infrastructure.
7.Black farmers should be at the forefront in any USDA or US AID training program for farmers in Africa. Black farmers are the best ones to teach about how to run a farm business with no capital, i.e. low input agriculture.
8.Black farmers should be encouraged to develop cooperatively owned agribusiness firms to produce inputs for farm production along with processing and distributing farm products.
9.Black people in the cities should be encouraged and adequately funded to establish cooperatively owned supermarkets and distribution channels in their neighborhoods.
1. McMichael, Phillip. "Global Food Policies." Monthly Review. July 17, 1998: 97.
3. Black Farmers and Agriculturists Association Position paper 2000.