The Administration’s focus on farmers: The bloodless version of the Soviet Ukrainian experiment? *UPDATED*

To date, I haven’t been paying that much attention to the Obama administration’s Big Government effort to keep America’s young down on the farms, now that they’ve seen TV.  Or can see TV . . . or should see TV, since the Obama administration is barring farm kids from actually working on the farm:

Last year, DOL Secretary Hilda Solis proposed rules that would restrict family farm operations by prohibiting youth under the age of 18 from being near certain age animals without adult supervision, participating in common livestock practices such as vaccinating and hoof trimming, and handling most animals more than six months old, which would severely limit participation in 4-H and FFA activities and restrict their youth farm safety classes; operating farm machinery over 20 PTO horsepower; completing tasks at elevations over six feet high; and working at stockyards and grain and feed facilities. The language of the proposed rule is so specific it would even ban youth from operating a battery powered screwdriver or a pressurized garden hose.

The internet has lit up with stories of young people who learned about responsibility on farms, who had happy hours and years working on 4H projects, and who were trained to take over the family farm.  It’s that last type of story that got my attention.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m reading (or, more specifically, listening to) Timothy Snyder’s excellent, and deeply depressing, Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin.  Snyder makes clear from the beginning that one cannot understand the killing fields of central Europe (the lands between Germany and Soviet Russia) without understanding Russian Communism.  The original Bolshevik’s were fundamentalist Marxists.  Lenin and his crew believed in the truth of every word that Marx and Engel put down on paper.

These words, of course, included the theory that Marxism was the inevitable byproduct of industrialization.  For Marxism to reach its apogee, the workers of the world needed to unite — with the understanding that workers were those who worked in the factories, not those who worked on the land.  Peasants might labor, but they didn’t work.  For that reason, Marx and Engels pretty much ignored the peasants in their writings.  Who needed ’em?

What Lenin and his crew couldn’t understand was why the first successful Marxist revolution happened, not in industrialized Germany, where they expected it to happen, but in primarily rural Russia.  The whole notion that, after the first labor pains of industrialization ended, industrialization would improve life, lessening the worker’s desire for socialism, eluded these true believers.  Instead, they concluded that theirs was an incomplete revolution, one that could reach fruition only if Russia was de-ruralized and properly industrialized. And so the Russians went after those pesky peasants.  (And do I remember Pol Pot’s minions and Mao’s crew doing precisely the same?)

Starved Ukrainian peasants 1933

In China, Cambodia, and the Soviet Union, the socialist purge of pesky peasants cost millions of lives.  People were shot, imprisoned and, in China and the Soviet Union, starved to death in the millions.  The politburos considered the cost in human lives to be a mere nothing compared to the glories of an inevitable socialist paradise on earth.  Moreover, in Mother Russia, those pathetic peasants still clung to an outdated religion that posited a paradise in the hereafter, so the politburo was just helping them towards their ultimate goal, in order to pave the way for the Soviet’s ultimate goal.

As for the fact that these irritating small farmers produced the food that fed the workers, the Soviets had the answer:  they would industrialize farming, making it just another cog in the socialist machinery.  The fact that the dead peasants took their hard-earned farming wisdom with them was irrelevant.  The collective brilliance of the state would have the answer.  Starvation was the inevitable result.  (And for a more recent example of this same thinking, take a peek into Zimbabwe, which went from lush bounty to starvation within less than a decade after Mugabe took the land from the farmers and gave it to the state’s friends, all of whom know nothing about farming.)

Remnants of Pol Pot's Killing Fields

Consistent with the Obama’s soft, loving view of socialism, it isn’t using round-ups or mandatory collectivism.  Instead, it’s simply ensuring taking steps to ensure that the current generation of small farmer is the last generation of small farmer.

Need I add that it’s time for voters to throw the bums out before the damage they inflict on this nation is irremediable?

UPDATE:  The Obama administration has dropped this proposed regulation — for now.  As reading Bloodlands reminds me, Leftists never abandon an initiative; they just retrench.  This one will return if Obama is reelected, albeit in somewhat different form.


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  • Ron19

    Saw a familiar expression today in the letters to the editor of my local newspaper: “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.  Karl Marx

    Isn’t that how the pre-Civil War plantations worked?  Provide the slaves with what they needed to keep working, but nothing that they wanted unless it was free of cost to the owner or overseer.  Take as much skilled and unskilled work from the slaves as you can get for an affordable cost.

    Guess who thinks they’re going to be the owners/overseers?  Gues which group they want you to be in?

    Ol’ Karl not only re-invented Socialism (see St. Augustine), he even re-invented slavery (see Jewish Testament/Christian Old Testament).

  • Simplemind

    Got my first job at the age of 12 answering phone in office of church.

    Best job of all was working in parking lot of amusement park. Worked there from age 15 to 22. 

    Because it was an “entertainment” industry they had some exemptions from regular child labor laws and so they could hire kids as young as 15.  Had to give us breaks every 4 hours I think.  No limit on number of hours per week.

    I worked well beyond 40 hours a week. Like double that.   The parking lot opened first thing in morning and closed last.  I was there from 6:30 in the moring to 1:00am that “night” on a Saturday.   Hot black top parking lot in August — feet would burn right through soles of your shoes.  It was fun.

    I basically paid my own way through college.

    Guess what — we even had energy to socialize after work. Ha Ha. I laugh when i think how upside down libs are… They are protecting the children right? Protecting them from growing up . . .

    Barack “I wouldn’t want my daughter’s punished with a baby” Obama.  Responsiblity: you should be familiar with it in your own life before you start trying to run everyone else’s. 
    He’s a J.E.F. Jug Earred Failure.

  • Jose

    Simply another case of the “intellectual elite” telling other people what to do.

    They been telling the military how to fight for a long time and we’ve seen how that works. They’ve been bossing parents around for far too long. They’re consolidating their authority to tell doctors what to do right now, unless the SCOTUS shoots them down. They are in the process of establishing control over religion (certain ones, anyway) so they can tell them what to do.

    The family farm is on life support as it is. This will kill it, and hobby farms, and prohibit anyone from growing their own food rather then consume pink slime, chicken nuggets, and soylent green.

  • Zhombre

    Of course, ostensibly this is done for the benign and tutelary purpose of Protecting the Children, however it ruins their adult lives.  This is the form of tyranny Tocqueville warned of: It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd.

    America has immense energy and agricultural resources — we could be net exporter both of fossil fuels and foodstuffs, had we the will — but the goal of this administration is to keep both bottled up. 

  • GingerB

    NO! This has to be one of the administration’s worst ideas-

  • Gringo

    My grandparents and mother grew up on farms, so I have some familiarity with how much children are worked on farms. A friend of mine in 8th grade got up at 4 in the morning to help his father milk the cows. While the regional high school  we attended the following year delighted in throwing the “dumb farmer” stereotype at us from the farming town, the sister of the friend on a dairy farm became a Math professor.
    This reminds of a question that has come up repeatedly in recent years. Progs and libs keep coming up with ONE MORE REGULATION, one more increment in government control that will allegedly make ours a better society. What is the limit of all these regulations? When will progs and libs say we have enough regulations for a just society?


    Take away the ability [see Marx quote at top] to learn the skills of farming, then take the farms. Control the breadbasket and assign all proceeds to Agenda 21 to be divided by “fair” share.

    When will progs and libs say we have enough regulations for a just society?”

    When the crumbs on your plate are stale.


  • Ymarsakar

    Evil does what evil is. And the Leftist alliance has been evil from the start of the word go. In case people hadn’t noticed.

  • David Foster

    Tom Wolfe observed that many of the engineers who contributed to the space program and to the rise of the microelectronics industry (many of the astronauts too, IIRC) had grown up as farm kids and had learned to understand machines and fix them without much help.

  • jj

    I grew up on a farm, and though we had the luxury of knowing that if something went really bad life would be unaffected and we’d still have enough to eat and a roof over our head; the kids were nonetheless expected to pitch on in.  There’s a hierarchy of participation.  When you’re little, and not very strong or coordinated, (farming is often physical: strength and coordination count), you do things that are possible for you to do.  You feed the horses, the chickens, cows, etc.  You collect eggs, do the milking, and work in the kitchen garden, as opposed to the fields, which are a different matter: much bigger, and increasingly mechanized as I was growing up. (A kid with a hoe is fine in the garden, useless in a 12 acre field.)  Eventually when you got a little height and became strong enough to use the clutch and brakes (change gears and stop the thing without killing anybody) you got moved onto tractors, taking over for adults whose adult strength and coordination would be usefully employed elsewhere. 
    Around our house we burned more than twenty cords of wood every winter, Dad being one of those guys who lit the fire at the end of September, banked it every night for a quick start in the morning next day, and it didn’t finally go out until April.  (There were five fireplaces in the house, but only two were regularly used.)  This meant we had to keep him supplied with wood; dried, aged, split, piled: ready to go.  This kept a couple of people busy all summer,  and by the early teens us kids were part of the crew, well practiced with axes, chainsaws, sledge hammers and wedges to split it, and muscle to stack it.  This summer’s wood probably wouldn’t go into a fireplace for three years while it dried, but it had to be cut, split, and stacked.
    The point is: axes.  Chainsaws.  Sledges and wedges.  Wheel-harrows.  Cultivators.  John Deere.  Ford Ferguson.  Hay-rakes.  Hay-forks.  Potato forks.  Cow horns and hooves.  Horse hooves and teeth.  Rooster spurs.  Band saws.  Bow saws.  Hatchets.  Scythes.  Lots of stuff with points, teeth, tines, edges.
    All kinds of stuff that, if you weren’t careful, would make a snatch at you, with intent to at least maim, and maybe kill.  Every year in farm country a kid or two gets killed, and all the rest of us were probably black and blue.  The worst I ever did was break a shoulder, though I did a great job.  Scars on my upper back where bones poked out through the skin, and I’ve been lop-sided most of my life, carrying my right shoulder about an inch lower than the left.  (Tailors notice this immediately, when they measure my sleeves.  “Hey, did you know your right arm’s about an inch longer than…”  “Yeah.  I did.”)
    We were always black and blue, and even occasionally bleeding in school.  We were not the only farm kids in our school, and the teachers were well aware that there would be a bunch of us who looked as though we’d been well abused every spring and fall – planting and harvest, busy times – and they expected it.  But I am aware of at least one earnest little social worker who went from NYU to a school district in upstate New York, and was quite concerned, seeing all the bruises, that she’d stumbled into a nest of child-abusers.  She relaxed a little bit when somebody – it might have been me – rather dryly pointed out that what city-bred her had stumbled into a was a nest of farmers.  (People who live in cities really don’t know, you know.  It’s a joke, of course – but they really don’t.  Not a clue about where it comes from.  They think it drops from the sky onto the supermarket shelves.  They really do.)
    Anyway, I understand the urge to make life safe for kids.  (It’s impossible, of course, but I understand the urge.)  Having been a farm kid, I’m also well aware that kids bounce a hell of a lot better than we think they do, and one whole huge hell of a lot better than any bureaucrat ass**** in Washington is likely to think they do.  Family farms rely on the coming generations, and by the time the kids are in their teens the farm will be not just relying on them, but leaning on them.  Heavily leaning on them.  At sixteen, seventeen, the kids will be 75% of the show.  It is precisely the same lack of understanding on the part of Hilda Solis as it is on the part of city-dwellers who think the food just magically “arrives” on the market shelves.  The same halfwits who think their welfare payments come from “Obama’s stash.”  They have no idea how the world works – none of them.  And they have no idea of the consequences of what they do. 
    Farming is not by nature safe.  What the hell, every farmer who ever lived ended up dead!  Every one!  100% fatality!  But then again, so has every bureaucrat.  Pilot.  Plumber.  Rodeo clown.  Whether Hilda Tudball understands it or not, the leading cause of death is life, and though she can kill the family farm, there isn’t a damn thing she can do about that.