Friday, June 26, 2009

A new fruit to me...

In a comment to my post on the Waxman-Markey Bill, a reader offered this:
I am extremely disappointed by the parochialism shown by the Ag sector.
I am a farmer who could benefit from offsets re. no-till.
More importantly I am truly concerned about the future of our country and what this Bill could do to it. This Bill is nothing more than an energy tax to appease the watermelons who support BO.
 My reply:
Perhaps the tone of my original post encouraged your remark, in which case we have both embarrassed ourselves.
 And the counter:
Speak for yourself. I don't feel embarrassed at all. Perhaps you don't know the origins of the word watermelon (in regards to environmentalists). It refers to that group of activist that were heart broke when the Wall in Berlin was torn down. They found new meaning in the enviro community. With efforts such as working for climate change, they are once again able to rail against Capitalism and the free market. John, I know we are on the same side on this issue. My problem is that I take it very seriously and have been working to defeat it. I guess that your blog, appeared to me as as, taking to lightly, the total ramifications of this legislation.
 In fairness, I checked the usage and found this:
Eco-socialists are critical of many past and existing forms of both Green politics and socialism. They are often described as Red Greens - adherents to Green politics with clear anti-capitalist views, often inspired by Marxism (Red Greens should be contrasted with Blue Greens). The term Watermelon is commonly applied, often as an insult, to describe professed Greens who seem to put social justiceecological ones, implying they are "green on the outside but red on the inside"; the term is usually attributed to either Petr Beckmann or, more frequently, Warren T. Brookes,[2][3][4] both conservative critics of environmentalism, and is apparently common in Australia,[5][6] New Zealand[7]United States[8] (a website in New Zealand, goals above and the The Watermelon, uses the term as a compliment, stating that it is "green on the outside and liberal on the inside", using the term 'liberal' while also citing "socialist political leanings", reflecting the use of the term 'liberal' to describe the Left-wing in many English-speaking countries[7]). Red Greens are often considered 'fundies' or 'fundamentalist greens', a term usually associated with Deep Ecology despite the fact that the German Green Partyfundi' faction included eco-socialists, and eco-socialists in other Green Parties, like Derek Wall, have been described in the press as 'fundies'. [More] '
 I would offer that this term is not widely used in ag circles, and the pejorative context of "watermelon" would more likely spring to mind for most readers now we have an African-American president.

Regardless, it still strikes me as highly hypocritical that proponents of our socialized agriculture, which I have long opposed, suddenly find it a danger to our republic if replicated in other sectors.  One wonders where ND agriculture would be without crop insurance, disaster payments (an annual affair), and DCPs. Are these aspects of free markets and pure capitalism, or artifacts of political power courtesy of the same number of senators as California? Nonetheless, I do not call them socialist, merely politically opportunistic (a fine distinction, I know).

As we stray further from the point of the entire exercise, making emission-producing inputs more expensive is the goal of the bill, not an unfortunate side-effect.  Of course it's going to make farming harder - controlling emissions is going to make most lives experience stress.

But, for farmers, it wasn't enough to get a free pass on carbon emissions. They are unhappy that the effect of the caps and pollution permits will be to raise the price of their fuel, fertilizer and electricity. No matter that other Americans will suffer similar effects. In the mind of the entitled American farmer, any increase in costs or reduction in revenue -- whether from natural causes, market forces or government regulation -- must be compensated for by the government.
So farmers demanded that they be allowed to earn some extra cash by reducing the carbon footprint on their farms and selling these "offsets" to the factories and power plants unlucky enough to be subject to the carbon-cap regime. They want to be paid extra if they change the feedstock to cut down on cow burps and farts. Or if they use the no-till method for planting seeds, which doesn't release the carbon trapped in the soil. Or if they put in devices to trap the methane released from animal poop.
And they demanded to be paid not just if they do these things in the future, but also if they did them last year or the year before. They demanded the payments even if they are already getting a check from the government to do the same things as part of some other conservation program. And perhaps most notably, they demanded that the job of supervising this offset program be shifted from the Environmental Protection Agency, whose focus would actually be ensuring that the reductions are real, to the Department of Agriculture, which sees its mission as preserving, protecting and defending American farm subsidies.
Elmer's support for the climate-change bill, however, could not be had for merely a few billion dollars a year in offsets. There was also an ethanol boondoggle to protect.
It seems those pesky scientists over at the EPA had done a preliminary analysis showing that if you considered the indirect effects of producing a lot of additional corn-based ethanol -- like the need to make up for the lost food production somewhere else -- then ethanol might not qualify as a carbon-reducing "renewable fuel" under the 2007 energy bill, potentially jeopardizing ethanol's guaranteed market of 15 billion gallons a year. To rectify this gross injustice, Elmer demanded -- and won -- a five-year moratorium on any final determination while a study is conducted on how the EPA was conducting its study.
All of these concessions were hammered out last weekend among Collin Peterson, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, and fellow Democrats Henry Waxman and Ed Markey, the chief sponsors of the climate-change bill. The House leadership and the White House acquiesced; the press conference was duly held. And what was the result?
Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation and the self-proclaimed "voice of agriculture," yesterday urged all House members to vote against the climate-change bill, claiming it would "result in a net economic cost to farmers with little or no environmental benefit."
The next time the world's most selfish lobby comes to Washington demanding drought relief, someone ought to have the good sense to tell them to go pound sand. [More]
What he said.

However, I stand corrected on my grasp of the term "watermelon".


Anonymous said...

Well stated John!!! Keep on blogging

Tim said...

John, now you've gone to meddlin. Tim in ND

Anonymous said...

Name calling is not going to cut it. That sort of thinking begets a feud between the left and the right with everyone caught in the middle. For example: the previous administrations methods in the war on terror, without regard to law or accepted standards of the past 100 years, has earned the current administration and its supporters very much political capital which they can use for any purpose they desire. A more judicious approach would not have accrued such benefit to the left. Should we be surprised if they use it before they lose it? I think not.

Anonymous said...

Watermelon. New term to me. I gather it refers to someone who outwardly is in support of environmental controls ("green"), but on the inside is all about socialism ("red"). Here we are trying to direct enviromental responsibility by way of the almighty dollar. Soon we will play that one so much that there will be no self interest left to manipulate. No carrots left in the bag, only sticks. No freedom left to protect. No incentive to produce. I think the watermelons are winning.