I know this save money by growing your own food subject has been covered ad nauseam over the past two decades; however, I have never written about the subject and mixed it with politics and today with the squeeze on peoples incomes all around the world becoming alarming I think both subjects could mix rather nicely. So if you want a bit of DJ politics and the food growers mix (picture me crossing my arms with my best home-boy look) then read on.
The GFC BS
The global financial crisis (GFC) of 08/09 and the collapse of financial institutions on the back of a housing downturn in the USA was simply blamed on poor lending practices and an unaccountable banking sector that shuffled their poison debts like musical chairs until one was left holding the rotten tomato. However, I believe blaming institutions is only part of the picture and a ruse to reflect the blame away from governments. Why do they keep saying the GFC is over when the struggle around the world is continuing and plain to see? The fact is the person on the street knows more about economics than the powers to be because the average Joe and Jill Blow live real economics in their daily lives.
Does anyone have an idea?
I'm no economist but that's not important because if you have an ear to the ground anybody would see there is a growing disconnect between the policy makers, their “advisors,” and the average person trying to live a modest but fulfilling life. Many of the policy makers and advisors are stupidly well-off and whilst they have the education to preach to us “lowly” convincing us they have the answers the truth is almost all of them are consumed by their own lifestyles, egos, and professional goals. Thereby, they know what to say but they don't really believe it because these privileged few have no idea what it’s really like to be on the bones of one's arse. And, it's not likely they ever will have an idea because they're not regularly associating with the people who are doing it tough.
Politicians are trained in media manipulation and populous communication so they can keep their jobs cycling in and out from opposition to government. CEOs of major players around the world are encouraged to make plans on how to best fleece the peasants so that the person on the bottom of the ladder stays there like a food source for the wealthy to graze on. Each time the bottom feeder starts to gather some savings to climb out of the slime hole the big fish come along and graze off any growing shoots with annual rises in utility prices, nanny state taxes, and other living expenses.
It's the Middle Class Crash (MCC) Not GFC
Western democracy is great and most agree it's a quirky system that does work; nevertheless, extreme greed disguised as capitalism is democracies schizophrenia and she needs to be medicated to bring under control. The difficulty western governments have gotten themselves into lately can be attributed to the collapse of their middle class not the mismanagement of the big financial institutions. Unfortunately, it is the middle class who are defaulting on their mortgages on mass and their businesses that are suffering under the enormous cost burdens. This is bringing the system down because banks can't cover their mortgage losses any more and people are getting laid-off work due to the small business owner not affording to employ them any longer or worse still closing down and going under so there isn't even jobs to go back to if the economic climate improves.
Public Asset Sell-off to Blame
For many years now, western governments have thought it prudent economics to sell-off public utilities to fund big budget promises to pork barrel their re-election. Now that the money has gone and there's nothing more to sell governments are borrowing to keep their promises – borrowing so much they can't pay it back.
This is where the double whammy hits the little guy – big government debt is putting pressure on state economies so the governments are having to find ways to gouge more money out of their people and this is naturally hurting the biggest society base (the middle class and below). On top of this, utility companies, which are mostly now all privatised, are left unchecked and are now run by greedy executives who are responsible to powerless shareholders not the voting public. It's the job of these executives to make money and be the record holder for the most profit a company has made otherwise they will have failed on their CV and likely won't be inline for promotion to boss of BHP or some other massive stock market giant one day.
So, they ramp-up the prices to bring in the profits, and small businesses (mostly owned by the majority middle class who are already over taxed) either have to absorb these costs or pass them on. In turn, services and commodities (like food) go up in price, then, the Reserve Banker sees prices going up and calls that inflation so him and his privileged board decides to put interest rates up (to curb inflation), which hurts small business and mortgage holders – yeah that really works. Is that all you got – the Caesar thumbs up or down on interest rates once a month ( I wouldn't mind that job)?
Socialism or Humanism?
It's not socialistic to want the majority of utilities to be state owned it's humanistic! Water, electricity, gas, public transport, sewage, waste removal, and public infrastructure are the main utilities coming to mind that each citizen should have a right to easily afford – I'm sure there's more. Once, these utilities and services were affordable and the moment they became a cash-cow is when the tide started turning.
I don't know how the governments around the world will fix this mess. Simplistically, I could say buy all the utilities back and reduce peoples cost of living so they could have more disposable income to spend on better living and lifestyle. This would certainly help to revive our capitalistic society but it isn't as easy as that and the mess our governments have put us in runs so deep that no one has any answers – just hope we can get through this period but some good people won't.
Can we do anything to relieve the pressure?
Yes we can. Dig-up a small patch of your lawn that's good for looking at (and little else) and turn it into a simple vegetable patch. If the grass was growing well the soil underneath should be ok and you may even get away without having to add anything (like fertiliser) for the first season. Rake the soil into small mounds in rows about a stretched hand high and two hands wide. Then think of a vegetable you often buy from the supermarket, something you enjoy eating, and pledge to grow your own of that particular vegetable for 12 months.
For less than the daily cost of your favourite vegetable buy a packet of seeds of that kind instead (either online or wherever). Considering your climate, sow some of those seeds in your patch (you won't need to use them all as one packet can give you hundreds of plants depending on the variety), water daily and in a few weeks you'll have seedlings of your favourite veg.
At the seedling stage reduce watering slightly so the soil feels damp when you stick a finger through the surface but not sodden. When the seedlings turn into plants (about 12 inches high – depending on the vegetable), water once or twice a week unless it's really hot and dry then you need to water more.
If the plants are looking dark green and stems or leaves are strong and pronounced don't bother with any fertiliser but if the plants are looking a little weak and the leaves are droopy and light in colour then add some fertiliser around the base or water with a soluble fertiliser instead. The next time you plant dig-in some manure or blood and bone fertiliser to help feed the new crop.
You will find rather quickly how easy it is to stop being constantly reliant on a store for your favourite vegetable. You may even decide to cut out buying other types of vegetables and grow them yourself too. Grow as much as possible depending on your climate and preserve the excess (by drying, freezing or bottling) for when you can't grow just to get you through to next season, or do without (rather than buy out of season). Over a year, you will have saved considerable money possibly hundreds. The extra money saved can help pay for those rising utility costs such as electricity and rates.
If more people grew their own food in direct competition with the supermarkets, demand would be less and some food prices would come down offering those who don't have the capacity to grow their own food cheaper groceries and those who do grow their own food an opportunity to save through lower interest rates and less inflationary pressures. It might be perfect world economics, nonetheless, it's a worthy thing to advocate and strive for not even mentioning the heath benefits and potential cost savings there also.
Finally, sorry to give your eyeballs more politics to read – I hope I didn't make them bleed. I try to rarely write about politics and more about my passion for self sufficiency, but occasionally, I do like to mix the two – it won't become a habit I promise. If you are struggling with the rising cost of living, and you don't currently grow any food but you are able to, I encourage you to give it a go. I know it won't solve all your financial problems; however, growing your own food may save you some dollars and getting out in the garden may also help distract you a little from those pressures giving your head a well earned rest. Your mind needs a rest sometimes too and gardening is an outstanding self-therapy for stress relief and although I mightn't be an economist – stress management is something I do know a lot about. Take care.
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Look, and see the Earth through her eyes.
Mark Valencia – Editor SSM