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Lettuce Look at Some Prices

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"You think farmers get even a third of that? Wholesalers mark it up, then distributors, and then the supermarkets."

"I hope the farmers survive," I said.

 "With the drought and heavy rains, the farmers are having trouble making their mortgages, and are selling what's left of their crops at a loss." Marshbaum thought a moment, and then brightly said, "They can always get food stamps."

"Congress sliced and diced the food stamp program," I reminded Marshbaum.

"There's always welfare."

"Governors have been cutting that to show they care about expenses--and because they don't think people on welfare vote."

"At least the farmers will make some money after the banks and corporations buy them out at a fair market value."

"Banks? Corporations? Fair market? You must have been smoking some of that lettuce. Besides, what's a bank going to do with a farm?"

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"Turn it into a shopping mall. Better yet, they sell it to the some fancy-suited gold-chained MBA dudes who sneak in, undercut the family farmers, and in a year or so, they're growing 15,000 acres of lettuce in Oklahoma."

"Suits with business degrees aren't going to pick lettuce. They have the farm workers to exploit," I said. "If the banks and corporations take over, the bosses will sit back, order high quantities of everything from seed to tractors at bargain basement discounts, buy mountains of cheap pesticide to dump on the land, hire out a few dozen 18-wheelers to deliver the crop, and get an overpriced ad agency to promote new-and-improved lettuce."

"You finally have it right," said Marshbaum. Lettuce goes up. My profits increase. Corporate America will rule."

"They'll be ruling from a skyscraper in New York," I said. "There will be board meetings, corporate expense accounts, bottom lines, cash-flow, liquidity, and stock options, with MBAs and lawyers worried more about puts and calls than fertilizer and seed. They'll plan annual conferences on Bermuda beaches, eat salads with spiny lobster, and write off everything as business expenses. When they have taken over all the family farms, they'll raise prices when there isn't any drought or flood. They'll charge whatever they want, whenever they want. Just like the oil companies."

"And what's so wrong with that?" asked Marshbaum. "God bless the U-S-of-A!"

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"When do you think all this will happen?" I asked.

"It already has."

Sadly, I asked Marshbaum if we could immediately go to the supermarket. "I think I'd just like to stand there and look at our future."

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Walter Brasch is an award-winning journalist and professor of journalism emeritus. His current books are Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution , America's Unpatriotic Acts: The Federal Government's Violation of (more...)

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Never, never, let a good crisis go to waste! The... by Paul Repstock on Saturday, Mar 15, 2014 at 11:19:41 AM
Morallity has gone out the window. It has become ... by Paul Repstock on Sunday, Mar 16, 2014 at 11:38:17 AM
It is reassuring to walk into a grocery store and ... by Ceric on Saturday, Mar 15, 2014 at 10:12:27 PM
Well said! We take far to many things for grante... by Paul Repstock on Saturday, Mar 15, 2014 at 11:23:56 PM
The one thing missing from this "conversation" is ... by Doc McCoy on Sunday, Mar 16, 2014 at 1:30:55 AM
Raising the minimum wage will probably have NO ef... by Walter Brasch on Sunday, Mar 16, 2014 at 4:53:24 AM
Let's look at the big picture Walter.  As the... by Doc McCoy on Sunday, Mar 16, 2014 at 7:08:04 AM
>"..raising the minimum wage is not a panacea ... by Paul Repstock on Sunday, Mar 16, 2014 at 11:19:53 AM
As technology continues to "improve our lives" the... by Doc McCoy on Sunday, Mar 16, 2014 at 12:37:15 PM
Doc; I sense a Megalomania about you. Either that... by Paul Repstock on Sunday, Mar 16, 2014 at 12:57:27 PM
You are funny Paul.  Unfortunately, you have ... by Doc McCoy on Sunday, Mar 16, 2014 at 1:34:49 PM
:) ... by Paul Repstock on Sunday, Mar 16, 2014 at 10:16:40 PM
It would be useful to define what money is, and th... by Ceric on Sunday, Mar 16, 2014 at 11:22:20 PM
I think that increasing the minimum wages would t... by Ceric on Sunday, Mar 16, 2014 at 11:23:04 PM