Oh my! What "once" happened in the oil industry was a rationalization
of production and especially transportation (distribution) of fluid
One of the subsequent effects was "commoditization" of fluid fuels:
which by definition means that *margins* will be narrow...unless
I can somehow differentiate my brand of a commodity and make it
appear to a naive consumer that this commodity is a "luxury" and
worth a higher price.
Whether *government* policy and regulation is *rational* is a totally
different question all together....and makes me wonder about how
you are presenting your line-of-thinking.
> Since sustainable ag systems are typically labor- rather than
> capital-intensive, their margins are likewise larger.
Of course, ag production is still "labor" intensive in China and
India. There is no social or political interest by the *average*
American to do stoop labor. A discussion of returning U.S. ag to
a labour intensive scheme is specious.
Now, are ag margins larger? I'd be hard put to find a large number
of ag producers who think their margins are high now or were high
100 years ago.
On the other hand, what I might be more interested to know is: does
my income exceed my costs...and, if positive, is my productivity
high enough to make it worth my while to continue in my current
(mode of) activity. Some ag producers are profitable; others, not.
In meeting ag producers, I see some who are smart and some who are not.
It doesn't surprise me that that some are not profitable: irrespective
of whether we are in Nigeria or North Carolina; whether the ag base is
labor- or capital-intensive.
> The difficulty
> arises that in a capitalist economy competition promotes
> capitalization to drives prices down, taking margins with it. So this
> is where margins went in the first place and it's where they're
> still going, stewardship costs or no.
There is no question that "driving prices down" benefits me...and
the *market place* is an excellent mechanism to accomplish this.
Even if "capitalistic" ag were not as efficient as we reasonabley
might hope, we can be certain that socialistic ag is, in fact, bankrupt
and communistic ag is deadly.
What a *modern* economy promotes to drive price down (to my benefit)
is the more efficient use of knowledges....and that is true whether
I am producing computers, autos or carrots.
> The stewardship costs that you seem to refer to (you are not
> specific about it) are usually in the form of labor costs, ie lower
> total product for labor expended. Consumers' demanding sustainably
> produced, higher priced foods is what might bring margins back from
> the brink.
Or alternatively, do my work (productive methodology) smarter. Steward-
ship is a political (abstract) construct...someday it may become
"quantitative" in nature, at which time we all can measure it,
track it, and (e)valuate it in the larger scheme of human activities.
> All factors of production can essentially be categorized as
> land, labor, or capital.
Oh sure. :^) and knowledge (know how) has no economic role, fucntion or
value? As soon as I see someone leave "knowledge" out of the picture,
I know that I'm talking to someone who has not kept up.
> In the prevailing neoclassical economic
> thinking, these three are held to be "infinitely substitutable" for
> each other.
On my! Only *knowledge* can be *infinitely* substitutable...in fact,
some people think that land, labor and capital are very, very much
diminished in importance compared to the roles of knowledge(s) and
I invite you and those reading this to puruse:
HarperBusiness, New Yorek, 1993
Lib. of Congress #HC59.15 D78 1993
> So in a capitalist world, the unavoidable solution to the
> problem of competition is to lower labor costs *and* land stewardship
> costs by ever-increasing capitalization. This "substitutability"
> fallacy is what is responsible for the degradation of the land, and
> this is why I find your remark about "the idea that someone would want
> to overtly degrade a system that is the reason for their being" to be
> wrongly applied.
"...the unavoidable solution..." Unavoidable? Crafty means: capitalism
is evil and we need to switch to a non-capitalist world...maybe
socialist, or deadly communist?
This is pure polemics...it proceeds from the notion that _individuals_
can not be trusted...that there is no human capacity to devise and
invent new ways to live and conduct economic actitivies...
And remember, "NEOclassical" anything is a sure sign of polemical
politics...open warfare between "schools of thought," especially
among-and-between academics or professional revolutionists.
> The increases in total product attendant upon industrial
> agriculture do *not* derive from the land itself; the land be damned.
> The gains derive from the intensified use of capital inputs and it is
> this "system" of capital flow that the "someone" wants taken care of.
...in other words, moneyed-interests and "bankers" are the real problem...
polemics, polemics, polemics. :^)
Steve Modena firstname.lastname@example.org