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?)
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.)
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.