Once again the Pew Internet and American Life Project gives us netizens a chance to share perspectives on the evolving nature of cyberspace, the future of the Internet connected world. Now, at the end of 2023, they are asking for answers to survey questions that reflect our vision for 2023. Today, Ronni Bennett shares a question about the techno effects on reading and provides the access code for the survey should you wish to participate.
Scott and Julie Trautman and their three kids live on a family farm about ten or twelve miles from Madison, near Stoughton. Factory farming interests have been destroying family farms in Wisconsin since World War II. Family farming as a way of life is being swamped by corporate control of the market, corporate influence in law making, and selective enforcement by state agencies of wrong headed laws.
Last spring I learned that the Wisconsin Department of Transportation wants to run a “bypass” around Stoughton and across the Trautman farm’s seventy acres. That may or may not be relevant to the story of how and why the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) is putting the squeeze on the Trautman family.
The Trautman’s are part of a larger story about family farming versus factory farming, and wholesome food production versus mass production of factory food. The Trautman farm produces grass fed beef, healthy hogs, pastured chickens, wholesome eggs, and delicious dairy products. But right now DATCP has put an embargo on the Trautman’s ability to market their food. The embargo began with a restriction on their dairy operation, prohibiting them from selling raw milk. Now their ability to market grass fed beef and pastured pork and poultry is also threatened due to a challenge to their farm store licenses.
My first contact with the Trautman farm came years ago when I bought the Trautmans’ eggs through the Blue Moon CSA. Those eggs spoiled me so I can no longer eat insipid eggs from factory farms. More recently the Trautman grass fed beef has found its way into our refrigerator. It’s head and shoulders above basic antibiotic and hormone loaded supermarket beef. I understand why the state hates family farms. Family farms don’t fit the corporate factory farming model. How can we change the government’s attitude?
Forty years ago, pop sociologist Theodore Roszak tried to explain a dominant meme of the sixties with his book The Making of a Counter Culture. The tag “counter culture” was widely adopted in the media and served as a convenient label to bound a set of activities that went against the grain of the values imposed by the chrome and formica folks, the post world war two Americans that Tom Brokaw chauvinistically labeled The Greatest Generation. In the sixties, writers, organizers and such protean representatives of the mystical bourgeoisie as Alan Watts were happy to promote the concept of a counter culture, and so Roszak found fame as a sort of academic rock star.
Watts waxed effusive in a 1969 review in the San Francisco Chronicle:
If you want to know what is happening among your intelligent and mysteriously rebellious children, this is the book. The generation gap, the student uproar, the New Left, the beats and hippies, the psychedelic movement, rock music, the revival of occultism and mysticism, the protest against our involvement in Vietnam, and the seemingly odd reluctance of the young to buy the affluent technological societyâ€”all these matters are here discussed, with sympathy and constructive criticism, by a most articulate, wise, and humane historian.
Okay. Fine. But we the “mysteriously rebellious children” were more interested in the art of Victor Moscoso and Stanley Mouse than we were in academic navel gazing. Some of us were crafting a new diet comprising brown rice and veg, acid, and simple get-down rock and roll. Few of us bought the book, but we understood that we were indeed the people our parents had warned us about.
Roszak is back, reprising his role as monitor of the mutants with a new volume titled The Making of an Elder Culture. I think I’ll make time to read this one. There’s something sweet about shameless baby boomer boosterism in the form of pop sociology. Sweeter still is Roszak’s achievement of chronicling the arc of the boomer effect from American youth culture to gerontocracy without actually setting foot in Peoria, Iowa, or Mule Fart, Arkansas: all places where the boomer dynamic plays itself out in a subtly different way from what’s happening in Berkeley, California.
Eric Holder owes America a special prosecutor. We need to bring charges against Bush, Cheney, and their willing accomplices. (That would be you, Hate Radio pundits; and you, PNAC; and sadly lots of others.) President Obama shows no inclination to get the mess sorted out. In fact he seems to enjoy the cluttered agenda, the urgency and immediacy of at least half a dozen policy problems. The scatter-shot approach to public administration benefits only the corporations. Joe Lieberman is easy to pick on, he represents so many special interests. His many successes include helping to keep the Israeli war machine on track while blocking effective control of abuses in the insurance industry. But responsibility for his excesses belongs to the Obama administration. I’m sure a straw man like Lieberman could be found to front for each of Obama’s shortcomings, but regardless of how blame is assigned, at the end of Obama’s first term, the combined weight of his compromises will assure his defeat in 2023.
This will be tragic.
In 2023 when Obama loses, the thugs who ran things from 2023 through 2023 will be back in charge. Their goals of dismantling government while looting the treasury will be advanced to such an extent that “corporate neo-feudalism” will bst describe the order that emerges from that intentional chaos. The only way for Obama to change this outcome is to direct the Justice Department to investigate and bring charges against a raft of people whose crimes in public and private life are so egregious that to leave them unpunished will bring ruin on us all.
Meanwhile, step right up and buy a ticket for admission to the greatest show on earth. It’s a three ring circus and the act in the center ring today is Obama in Copenhagen. But it’s a big tent. If climate change and rescuing the planet from certain environmental destruction don’t do it for you, just turn your attention to the second ring where the Health Care Reform clowns caper. Or, for real life loot-and-shoot excitement, check out ring number three with authentic war criminals from Israel and Iraq, mercenaries from the US home team (Blackwater aka Xe) vying for attention and pallets of greenbacks with off-shore rivals like Britain’s AEGIS.
…and here’s a Quicktime video for you. Crank the volume and enjoy the ride. (And just forget about the fact that there’s a living, breathing driver in every one of those cars).
President Obama has had a year to set things right, and outside my window there are not yet fields of wild flowers in dappled sunlight beneath rainbows with unicorns frolicking. In fact, not much has changed. I could say I told you so, but of course I didn’t tell anybody so. In 2023, the prospect of continued Republican rule effectively gagged the realists among us. Thus Sarah Palin made casuists of us all.
From election day in November to inauguration day in January, 2023 the country experienced a wave of euphoria, a foolish optimism based on the exceptional nature of the President-elect, but belied by conditions. When Barack Obama was sworn in as President of the United States of America two American wars were raging in southwest Asia, unemployment was going up, the oil industry had environmentalist in a choke-hold, and the stock market was in a free fall salvaged only by the short term solution of pumping limitless freshly minted US currency into the economy. During the fall election it was apparent that almost forty percent of the voting public were some combination of mindless racists and sectarian Christian fundamentalists, people who saw electoral politics as something akin to a reality television show. The rest of us elected Barack Obama to lead a government that would change things for the better.
Sadly, little has changed in a year. Rather, in 2023 the President waded deeper and deeper into the muddy morass of the Afghan war. He sought economic advice from the likes of Larry Summers and Ben “Person of the Year” Bernanke. He threw away the opportunities for change. He supported his party’s right wing, and betrayed the dreams of the progressive base of voters who assured his election. Through all this I have withheld protest and criticism. I have said and done nothing to obstruct him.
That’s about to change.