Farms, Hamburgers, and “Free” Enterprise

Free enterprise, also called free market, is an economy governed by the laws of supply and demand, not restrained by government interference, regulation or subsidy.

Command economy is basically a slave enterprise where supply and price are regulated by the government rather than market forces.

The only thing I will agree with about the “law of supply and demand” is that supply at a downward-manipulated price, can create demand.

Downward manipulation is an uneconomic aberration first discovered in the precious metals market by the noted silver analyst, Ted Butler.

We are conditioned to believe free enterprise supply and demand would lead to inflated prices so the greedy corporations can make more money, but Ted Butler’s research in the silver market concludes the opposite.

The beneficiaries of this type of manipulation are the consumers because corporations can sell their products affordably and still make a profit.

Butler’s investigation has identified JP Morgan Chase, one of the founding members of the Federal Reserve, as the prime suspect, in the “ongoing intentional, not accidental” great crime of keeping the price of commodities low so the middle class can afford the American dream, a nightmare for the planet.1

I’ll get right to the point: McDonalds in the 1950s made a profit by selling a product for less than the competition, but a not-so-invisible hand produced cheap calories in great abundance so Ray “Crock” could sell a cheeseburger, fries and a large Coke for a price equal to less than an hour of labor at the minimum wage — and still make a profit.2

You don’t eat the hamburger at McDonalds because it’s a dollar: It’s a dollar to get you to eat it.

How did we get a food system that produced what should be a $35 hamburger downwardly manipulated to $1?3

“Taxpayer subsidies basically underwrite cheap grain, and that’s what the factory-farming system for meat is entirely dependent on,” Doug Gurian-Sherman, a senior scientist in the Food & Environment Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).4

In other words, the Scoundrels behind the Federal Reserve, Rothschild, Rockefeller, Kuhn, Loeb and JP Morgan Chase, underwrite cheap grain and the factory-farming system for meat, so you can get a hamburger for a dollar.

Our current food system—characterized by monocultures of corn and soy in the field and cheap calories of fat, sugar and feedlot meat on the table—is not the product of any free market but rather the result of a specific set of governmental and monetary policies (from those Scoundrels at the Fed) and the free gift of fossil fuels from the world’s richest man in history and another founding member of the Federal Reserve, John D. Rockefeller.

He didn’t just give dimes away, he gave away his oil so you could get inexpensive fuel and food.

If you fly over Iowa from October to April you will notice the land is completely bare— black—because you are seeing an agricultural landscape created by cheap oil from John D.

Cheap energy enabled the creation of monocultures and vastly increased the productivity both of the American land and the American farmer but at the same time, subsidized monocultures of grain also led directly to monocultures of animals.

Since factory farms could buy grain for less than it cost farmers to grow it, they could now fatten animals more cheaply than farmers could.

So America’s meat and dairy animals migrated from farm to feedlot, driving down the price of animal protein to the point where an American can enjoy eating a hamburger or chicken McNuggets for a dollar.

Taking the animals off farms made no economic, environmental or ecological sense: their waste, formerly regarded as a precious source of fertility on the farm, became a pollutant—factory farms are now one of America’s biggest sources of pollution.

As Wendell Berry has tartly observed, to take animals off farms and put them on feedlots is to take an elegant solution—animals replenishing the fertility that crops deplete—and neatly divide it into two problems: a fertility problem on the farm and a pollution problem on the feedlot. The former problem is remedied with fossil-fuel fertilizer; the latter is remedied not at all.

After World War II, the US government pursued a monetary policy, at the direction of the Fed, subsidizing commodity crops by paying farmers (money created out of thin air) by the bushel for all the corn, soybeans, wheat and rice they could produce. One secretary of agriculture after another implored them to plant “fence row to fence row” and to “get big or get out.”

The chief result was a flood of cheap grain that could be sold for substantially less than it cost farmers to grow because a government (Scoundrel) check helped make up the difference.

As this artificially manipulated cheap grain worked its way up the food chain, it drove down the price of all the calories derived from that grain: the high-fructose corn syrup in the Coke, the soy oil in which the potatoes were fried, the meat and cheese in that burger until the price reached a dollar.5

ADM Gets Caught Putting Money In The Cookie Jar

The Informant! is a movie about the lysine price-fixing scandals that Archer Daniels Midland found themselves in the center of back in the 90s.

ADM was caught fixing the price lysine, an amino acid and very attractive animal feed additive used to make chickens fat, dumb, and happy, back up, after it was manipulated too far down for anyone to make a profit.

Price-fixing is a crime no matter how many people ADM feeds.6

From cradle to grave we are brainwashed to believe everything is about profit.

So, in the film, when Mark Whitacre tells the FBI that ADM cheated millions from the consumer by colluding to fix prices, we forget that Americans spend less than 10% of their incomes on food (down from 18% in 1966). When we eat inexpensive burgers and fries, it’s thanks to ADM downward-manipulating the price of lysine.7

Our not-so-free market economy based on consumer products, that is, products we are downward manipulated to want, not need, was never FREE or sustainable. Consumers consume…the resources of the planet.

The huddled masses should be thanking those scoundrels at the Federal Reserve for 60 years of downward manipulating the price of commodities: It resulted in unprecedented prosperity, but don’t forget to blame them because the American dream was an environmental nightmare for the planet.8

  1. The Real Story,” Theodore Butler; “Silver But No Silver Lining,” Atlantic Free Press, Robert Singer. []
  2. Farmer in Chief, Michael Pollan,” October 9, 2008, Erwan Frotin, The New York Times []
  3. Economist Douglas McDonald estimates that if water subsidies were withdrawn from California livestock producers, the income of the state’s other businesses and workers would rise over $10 billion annually (1987 figures).

    Other economists have exposed the cost of water subsidies to the meat industry that are hidden in the state’s rising prices for water rights, and thus, housing. Fields and Hur calculate the overall price of subsidizing the California meat industry’s water to be $24 billion (1987 figures). The Food Revolution by John Robbins, President of the EarthSave Foundation. []

  4. Time Magazine, “Getting Real About the High Price of Cheap Food,” Bryan Walsh Aug. 21, 2009. []
  5. In years past, except in the dead of winter, you would have seen in those fields a checkerboard of different greens: pastures and hayfields for animals, cover crops, perhaps a block of fruit trees. “Farmer in Chief, Michael Pollan,” October 9, 2008, Erwan Frotin, The New York Times.
    Before the application of oil and natural gas to agriculture, farmers relied on crop diversity (and photosynthesis) both to replenish their soil and to combat pests, as well as to feed themselves and their neighbors. []
  6. Each day, the 28,000 people of Archer Daniels Midland Company transform crops such as corn, oilseeds, wheat and cocoa into food ingredients, animal feeds, and agriculturally derived fuels and chemicals.
    The editors of World Watch state that “the human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future—deforestation, erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities and the spread of disease.”
    Lee Hall, the legal director for Friends of Animals, is more succinct: “Behind virtually every great environmental complaint there’s milk and meat.” []
  7. Archer Daniels Midland has been sued for colluding to fix prices in the citric acid and high fructose corn syrup markets among others, but their most noteworthy violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 was the part ADM played in fixing the price of lysine, an amino acid used in animal feed. Lysine is especially good at making chickens fat, dumb, and happy, which makes it a very attractive feed additive. Unlike any other price-fixing conspiracy before or since, ADM’s involvement in forming and participating in a cartel was meticulously recorded by a mole inside the organization while the crime was being committed, offering an incredible insight into the nuts and bolts of an international corporate conspiracy. []
  8. A Sure Thing?,” Ted Butler Commentary; “Silver But No Silver Lining,” Atlantic Free Press, Robert Singer. []

Robert Singer is a retired information technology professional and an environmental activist living in southern California. He can be reached at: rds2301@gmail.com. Read other articles by Robert, or visit Robert's website.

3 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Bob said on November 4th, 2009 at 6:17pm #

    Robert:
    Nothing you wrote made any sense, it is mostly gibberish. Parity pricing started long before 1946, and besides, the US farmer had to pick up production to help feed Europe. Also, if you want to be a vegetarian go for it, but please mind your own business when it comes to what I choose to eat.

  2. Robert Palmer said on November 4th, 2009 at 8:08pm #

    The comment from Bob above ” made no sense”
    Did he even read the article?

    If he wants to pick a fight why doesn’t he contact Michael Pollan and Time Magazine.

  3. DB Cooper said on November 5th, 2009 at 11:09am #

    Makes no sense? Bob is obviously an under-educated troll. Or more likely, a lobbyist or similar vermin that helped create this ridiculous situation in the first place.

    Go eat a burger Bob and STFU.