Iceberg Lettuce and Smoked Salmon in fact. A little tour through the recent price hikes occurent in the UK presently, whereby this lettuce has tripled in price and this salmon has risen in price by over 50%. More or less overnight.
The reason for both hikes, in their ‘official’ versions, has been the same for both; a blight. In the case of lettuce a blight by insects; for salmon I believe a fungus or bacterial blight.
Both of these grocery items are farmed these days in specially dedicated enclosures; under artificial daylight inside huge hangars for lettuce; and in saltwater chemically-controlled ‘ponds’ for salmon.
Both grocery products are being farmed en masse so as to bring to the ordinary person’s pocket these high-end delicacies. In the doings do, the real high-ender consumers have moved on to sea-caught, sometimes labelled ‘line-caught’, fresh salmon and weirdly named ‘organic’ lettuces ‘farmed naturally’.
The high-end consumers then have moved to yet higher ground and their vacated space is now occupied by the hoi polloi.
Of course and needless to say the pond-farmed salmon and the daylamp grown lettuce is not as flavoursome and delicate in taste as the sea-caught and ‘naturally farmed’ items. But they have been for most of us better than having none of them.
I dare to believe that both blights, on daylamp lettuce and on farmed salmon, are a natural consequence of men and women ‘taking mother nature’s place’ and believing that we as a species can do it as well as she is able to. I have little doubt that these blights are a symptom, and a warning which will go wholly unheeded by their farmers, of nature prevailing regardless, and as it were are ‘one in the eye’ for our overblown scientific pretensions.
This then represents another instance of that sheen of perfection which our science and its scientists would surround themselves and their works with, thus this gloss being little else than or anything better than that ubiquitous ‘corporate image’ of spick and span 100% pristine presentation which their corporate cousins who as emulators of Pope Francis can never put a foot wrong. One might baptise it by the name of ‘PayPal Infallibility’.
These blights then are presented by scientists as being curiously interesting developments and deserving of their further study (and they would say, mastering) developments which could not have been foreseen and so no comeback on the lab boffins at all.
Whereas for the Monsantos and Solutias of this world, the same curiously interesting development of blight is portrayed in their press releases as having been ‘an Act of God’ as it were, a sudden descent of a plague of locusts and due to the fickle and unsettled nature of things in the world. No tarnish attached to their shining public-image facade.
No-one whose ideas and plans put into action on these farms was and is to take any blame or to be held accountable; no-one might have foreseen these blights. That is to say no-one who has not read or listened to the history of commercialism and taken note of man and woman’s ludicrous track record in dealing with, and ‘subduing nature’, since the Industrial Revolution first took off and took us over?
Maybe quietly in the background behind the scenes a head or two will roll; a few ‘fall guys’, those who seem to be the ‘weakest links’, will be ousted onto the unemployment line; and ‘justice’ will have been seen to be done by the remainder of their employees.
In both marketing and in the labs a setback is always a cue for a Boardroom to make a small purge of lesser talent; those who are not delivering what their prospects promised at the first. George W Bush and Tony Blair together did no less no more in making use of the horrific Twin Towers to settle their hashes with bad guy Saddam Hussain.
I am assuming with all alacrity that there are men and women employed in secret governmental and commercial recesses across the world whose jobs are to put together contingency plans for a long list of desired but outrageous political and commercial policies and actions, with an eye to suitable ones being retrieved from the files, upon suitable and significant news events having occurred, under the auspices of which some of these dreadful ill-hatched plans might be slipped into place and given wings to fly.
(Again and again I have seen advertising – recently from a power company and another from a confectionery company – two instances – which makes blatant bad faith usage of government responses to public pressure which have compelled the energy company to reduce its prices and compelled the confectionery company to be more candid about its candies. Ads such as ‘we’ve reduced our prices!’ and ‘now with more milk added!’ – by which the companies had ‘come clean’ about their having been under compulsion?? – I don’t think so!)
There’s a very real sense around today in my experience that the outlook of governments and of commercial companies is becoming evermore one of ‘tell them anything’ – the public – ‘and they’ll believe it!’. And of course such an outlook in its bearers breeds very soon a low contempt for the people, the public, the electorate, the consumers, whom they are deceiving.
Now iceberg lettuces and smoked and fresh salmon went sky-high in the shops about six weeks ago and neither has yet ‘fallen back to earth’. Smoked salmon scraps, those pieces collected off the machinery which packages the product, which would be rated ‘waste’ to a high-end consumer, are being offered at £14 per kilo. A pack of 120 grams was offered locally by me at a price almost as high as a pack of 100 grams of the salmon itself.
For the salmon which carried recommendations such as ‘oak smoked’ and ‘west highland’ a kilo might cost right now, in an ordinary supermarket, nothing fancy, up to £40. Iceberg lettuces once selling at 40 or 50p each are now to be had for not less than 90 pence, being a lot smaller to boot than the former once were.
Now neither of these price hikes have dropped down to ‘normal’ levels again. Yet what is the lifecycle of lettuce and salmon growing, fromone crop to the next, in such factory farming which these creatures are being ‘forced’ by artificial means including use of God-knows-what pharmaceuticals? Not six weeks I’d hazard. A lot less.
But as one says, as certainly do the growers, ‘you can’t have too much of a good thing.’
My main point however is that the losses incurred by these blights of a course, and without a blink of an eye, in every case, be it sugar or foie gras, of salt or watercress, are front-loaded into the supply chain and are ending up on the doorstep of the consumer every time. Those to whom the blight happened, those who took no responsibility for these ‘acts of God’ having occurred, also will not accept any losses these blights cause them to incur. Instead that remaining saleable lettuce and salmon is salvaged, marketed as hiked in price – scarcity!, scarcity!, they cry, and then roll it out so as to aim to make up their losses in this way.
We shoppers, most of us, just accept it. We’ve seen it happen before – it’s par for the course – an ‘act of God’ for us in our understandings. Yet why should we bear the cost of another’s losses, and I do not mean this in any Christian way of charitable provision for others who have had losses, but in a case when a person goes into business that person knows that like shares on The Exchange, sales can go up or down. Risk and reward are bandied around as being at the core and heart of entrepreneurial skill; so why does the entrepreneur not say – ‘it’s a fair cop – I’ll take the rap’?
I think he does not say so because he knows he can say anything and get away with it, including getting away with passing his losses down to the pockets of ordinary people, the consumers. The entrepreneur asks us, perhaps a little hurt: ‘why should I be ruined, it’s cruel for you to ruin me.’ But it’s ‘God’ ruining him isn’t it?; or rather the entrepreneur’s belief in that presumption of science and the scientists that they are able to cheat, and bypass, and shortcut, and devalue, nature, and the natural course of things, in this case of growing crops, and make a good living thereby.
Nature is a canny lass; like Lincoln’s collective people, she will not allow herself to be be fooled all of the time by surrepetitious men and women who think themselves smarter than she is because they wear white coats and have pieces of paper to prove it.
On the steps outside the Central Law Courts in 2008 in New York when Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac went down stood wheelers and dealers waving in the air title deeds to ordinary folks homes, ex homes, and ex-homes to families now houseless, and a burden on public welfare, and at an utter loss what next to do to try to recover their lives; waving such deeds around in a public negotiation of deals with property traders, like scavengers on the steps, and who have probably more than one house in which they dwell already; and who were to be seen snapping up these titbit fortuitous bargains at knockdown basement prices.
This scene typifies the way the world is now set up to do business. It is the ordinary girl and guy and their families who have been set-up, and on whom every time the pain of loss and dissolution of assetts and savings fall. Everyone froma single step higher above them is able to and to a man always does feather their nests and safeguard and hedge their substance so as to be assured that any untoward businjess or losses are able to passed down to the bottom line of the consumer. And so they avert them themselves.
The way we are set up right now a guy or girl who needs money, who has none, and needs to borrow, he or she is penalised by having to bear a premium rate of interest on repayments of any loan he or she is able to get. Whereas the guy or girl who has money, and who feels like borrowing more to make with it an investment or such, with an eye to making yet more money; this guy or girl is rewarded with preferential borrowing rates of interest, much, much lower than the poor person’s rates.
Indeed Karl Marx in his heart was more Christian than is they way we have made our system to do business with. Marx said famously: ‘From each according to his abilities; to each according to his needs’. This is not so far from ‘from whom much is given, much is expected’. Marx is a sight nearer this gospel saying of Our Lord than are the bailiffs and the loan-sharks, the debt collectors and the bankruptcy courts.
The line of the ideologues who are most usually those who profit most out of this way of doing business, is that Capitalism and its mechanisms are a clear reflection of what they term ‘human nature’; by which they mean that the way we do business with our devil take the hindmost ethos is consonant with and fitted to our natural human bent or predispositions. The argument says in bare statement that we are not capable of behaving any better, and so it has to be like this – every other way is impracticable – men and women always fal back into this default position of ‘beggar my neighbour’ when doing transactions between one another.
As the Father of Economics (Political Economy) Adam Smith is hailed as saying;’ Men will always buy in the cheapest market and sell in the dearest’ – this is our ‘black gospel of commerce’ as we do it now. It is a Satanic gospel; it perpetuates itself because it is framed in terms, as an ideology, which preclude any other practical alternative way s of exchange and transaction.
It is framed in such terms and is promulgated to everyone down the cascade of class and race and education and status,by the very persons who have most money and most property and most high-life to lose and nothing to gain by allowing a possibility of any other, perhaps better, way of doing things.
Now, given that a person, anywhere, any person, is able to meet his/her bills day on day month on month, or their equivalents, and is in reasonable health and spirits, having a great deal of money is superfluous to such a person – de facto and de jure. Under such circumstances come into play as most important for a good life things like friendships, family, peace, and happiness, and maybe most importantly, hope.
Not many of us would agree with me on this – because our complete setup is geared to exalt and to adore the wealthy, the glossy, the sparkling and the leisured life and persons (in the public eye.) Everyone’s aspiration is to live California style as it were to get to Heaven without having to die. This too is the bait, the lure, the diversion, and the frame-up set in place for us by the same commercial and consumerist machine which is being constantly oiled and overseen by the persons who benefit most materially from it being set up in this way.
Dylan used a lyric ‘You’re only a pawn in their game’.
But you do not want to own untold riches of money and property, you only see this as the definitive vision for life because you have been told that it is by nearly everything advertised marketed bought and sold, and told constantly also by those doing the selling etc. True riches are not found in having overmuch money, overmuch property.
Open your eyes and see where true riches are to be had in limitless abundance; where a better life – a step change – a sea change – that greatly prized game-changer – that spiritual winning lottery ticket – that lifetime sweepstakes pool scoop, and enough, enough of this for everyone and anyone, real and true, authenticity and actuality, joy and peace, and good, good faith all round.
There’s a song not much heard now by a guy called Joe South: ‘Games People Play’. Its lyric is astute and an item worth your consideration in these regards on which I speak:
“Oh the games people play now
Every night and every day now
Never meaning what they say now
Never saying what they mean
And they wile away the hours
In their ivory towers
Till they’re covered up with flowers
In the back of a black limousine whoa
Oh we make one another cry
Break a heart then we say goodbye
Cross our hearts and we hope to die
That the other was to blame whoa
Neither one will give in
So we gaze at our eight by ten
Thinking ’bout the things that might have been
And it’s a dirty rotten shame whoa
Talking ’bout you and me
And the games people play now
People walking up to ya
Singing glory Hallelujah
And they’re tryin’ to sock it to you
In the name of the Lord
They’re gonna teach you how to meditate
Read your horoscope, cheat your fate
And further more to hell with hate
Come on and get on board whoah
Talking ’bout you and me
And the games people play
Now wait a minute
Look around tell me what you see
What’s happening to you and me
God grant me the serenity
To just remember who I am whoah
‘Cause you’ve given up your sanity
For your pride and your vanity
Turn your back on humanity
Oh and you don’t give a da da da da da
I keep talking ’bout you and me baby
And the games people play now lala
I keep talking ’bout you and me
Oh and the games people play
Talking ’bout you and me oh
And the games people play now