Episode-644- Listener Calls 4-15-11 — 27 Comments

  1. Jack,

    I completely agree with you on the Monsanto ‘organic’ nonsense. The same thing has happened in my line of work: “green/sustainable” design/construction. The average consumer has no idea they are being bamboozled by the corporations and the mainstream media. Thanks.

  2. @Jack,

    Right on in regards to the term “Organic” which was taught (properly) in 7th Grade Science Class when I was in school. Not in favor of scientific terms being mangled into marketing efforts.

    In terms of GMOs and Organic…perhaps this is an opportunity to shuck off that stupid mangling of the term “organic” and take away the cachet of the term from GMOs at the same time. People could start promoting an alternate term that is more accurate. Something that means “natural” essentially.

    “Organic” has been pounded into people’s minds to mean “Healthy” but that is not necessarily true. “Organic” can be very unhealthy as well.

    The movie you were referring to–“The Incredibles” GREAT movie.

  3. Jack, one of the dangers of using your debit/credit card I experienced today. Apparently, sometime last night, someone got my debit/credit card number and started making charges all over the place (including Cyprus and Russia). Luckily, my bank caught this, didn’t approve any of the charges and immediately contacted me. I hate to think of the damage that could have happened if they had not caught that.

  4. Modern Keynesian economics is a bit distorted. As I understand it, Keynes also advocated that governments save money (or slow spending) when times are good and expand spending when “stimulus” is needed. Reduced spending is an element that isn’t really practiced (we only ever increase spending), so modern “Keynesian” economics is a bastard of his original proposal. Kind of like referring to the current economic environment as “capitalism.”

    Disclaimer: I don’t support Keynesianism, I’m an Austrian and started down that path about 12 years ago or more during my first class with Dr. Walter Block (actually, my intro econ class was someone else, also an influential and like-minded individual in the same econ dept), now a Senior Fellow at the Mises Institute.

  5. Hi Jack,
    RE Monsanto & Organics: Though I agree with you in this instance, I think the argument against Genetic Manipulation may be a bit misguided. We have been playing around with genetic manipulation for thousands of years through selective breeding. We have had some great successes (grains, lettuces, tomatoes) and some terrible failures (purebred dogs with hip dysplasia). It is not the act of manipulation that is bad, but the intent behind it (and the consequences, intended & otherwise).

    If Monsanto makes a crop that is intentionally genetically sterile, well that’s a bad thing. If they sue others for having their genetic signatures when it could have just been blown over by pollen, that’s also bad thing. If they make a crop that can survive in the desert, or even help reclaim the desert, that’s not a bad thing at all.

    Again, labeling things organic that are clearly not like this is a joke. But that’s what happens when you try to codify things, you create loopholes that folks will exploit. Certifications like Organic or USDA Prime, imho, are a waste of taxpayer money.

    Just my thoughts. Love your show and keep up the good work.

  6. @bluprint:

    You took a class with Walter Block?! That’s awesome. He’s written some great stuff on the intersection of economics and the environment. I’ve actually corresponded with him. How was his class, and how much did students reject his Austrian views? He’d be a tough person to argue with.


  7. @Derek M,

    Selective breeding is in no way comparable to transmutation genetics via the use of a transmutational virus created in a laboratory.

    Comparing the two is like comparing digging a hole with a spoon to make a crater with an atomic bomb.

    I totally disagree about seeing GMOs as acceptable in any form. Planting a gene from a fish into a corn plant is nothing like selective breeding. I struggle with how you can justify such a comparison.

  8. @RationalHusker

    I actually took two classes with him. I don’t remember what exactly the first one was but the second was Environmental Economics. The whole class was filled with “Environmental Science” majors (basically a bunch of what Block calls “watermelons, pink on the inside and green on the outside) except myself (a comp sci major and econ minor at the time) and one other person (I think he was an econ major).

    With regard to the students’ response to was typical. They would regurgitate what they had memorized to say up to that point and he would present sound counter points, to which they would respond with the same old shit. I found it frustrating these people’s unwillingness to allow themselves to think in a different way. I mean, it’s college for Christ’s sake, spend some time exploring differing thought!

    I enjoyed him as a professor, thoroughly. He was tough but well considered. I find most interesting his background. He describes himself as a commie pinko jew kid from NY, very “liberal” (neo not classical) when he started out. From there he is now a die-hard Austrian free-market capitalist.

    I would love to attend the Austrian conference one day at Auburn.

  9. @bluprint:

    I don’t suppose you have any old course notes or materials? I’m in the environmental field, and would love some ammunition to use around my coworkers, but more importantly, some ideas of how to bring Austrian econ into what I do.


  10. @RationalHusker

    It’s been a very long time since I took that class, I’ve moved several times and certainly don’t have any notes.

    For some time, he has had numerous papers on his university site. Last I checked he was teaching at Loyola, you might look for some of his work there.

    And I guess it goes without saying you could explore the Mises Institute site for related work.

  11. USTREAM! Hell yeah! I’ve been waiting for that one! I’m doing it on my site, stole the idea from Chris Pirillo. The only issue i had to work out was with the audio. You should be able to do some cool rapid fire and interactive shows. Really looking forward to it.

  12. My guess as to the 5 primary forms of debt destroying America:

    #1) Credit cards
    #2) Student loans
    #3) All mortgages (home loans, business real estate loans, farm loans, etc.)
    #4) The monopoly held by the Federal Reserve over our Treasuries and the US Dollar itself
    #5) Mortgage-backed securities (not part of “#3 All mortgages” above)

  13. RE: Monstanto trying to edge their way into the “organics” market.

    I see the most important leverage in their evil profit-driven strategy to control the majority of the world’s seeds as being centered squarely in the leverage found in manipulating language. Seeds cannot be identified unless they are labeled with a written, language-based tag. Even the seeds you save in your shed every winter need to be labeled in plain English or else you have undone your own efforts to go back into that shed the following spring to try and plant whatever you intended to plant, at the right time, in the right place, in the correct quantity, etc. Without written language-based tags, your are planting blind.

    Monsanto and Big Agro and all of their ilk have achieved the following degrees of control over the language used in reference not just to seeds but also to the plants and the packaged food products that result from those seeds. And they achieved this ghastly degree of control by extending their many-tentacled influences upon the FDA, the USDA, and even the Supreme Court.

    1) They now have sway over the legalities governing the “Nutrition Label” and the “Ingredient List” requirements that all America food packages MUST bear. By being able to edit at-will the way the ingredients are listed on a food package, they can water down and obscure the clarity of what is found in a food product. Thus the consumer is denied written information about what it is he or she is buying for their ingestion.

    2) They have been able to corrupt and pervert the all-important GRAS List, the “Generally Regarded As Safe List.” This list now contains chemicals that are clearly NOT safe. But when a substance gets added to that list, the substance is then given free license for it to be used willy-nilly in just about any packaged food.

    3) They have been able to enforce what is called “food disparity laws.” Food disparity is a crime whereby someone bad-mouths a given food. It’s deemed a crime because it can potentially bankrupt a farmer (it’s akin to “food slander” or “food libel”). So food disparity laws essentially become a gag order which violates free speech and restricts journalists from reporting on bad foods which do bad things to people, and also restricts certain labels from being placed onto food packages. Food disparity laws have been used a) to prevent organic foods from making utterly true and factual label-claims of “Contains no recombinant bovine growth hormone” because such a label IMPLIES that any competing food which DOES contain recombinant bovine growth hormone must be a BAD food. And b) used to enable a food package to avoid any legal compulsion to sport warning labels which declare things like: “WARNING! Product contains recombinant bovine growth hormone” because of the unfair implication that there’s something wrong with it, insisting “no one has proven there is anything wrong with it” (which is clearly not true!).

    4) The famous case of the two Fox News reported who got fired for trying to expose rBGH as being a cancer-inducing substance includes the details where the TV station’s lawyers –at the behest of Monsanto– tried to change the wording in the news report to no longer say “causes cancer” to instead say “causes human health complications.”

    And now … the most important part of this comment: the definition of “organic.”

    5) The current legal definition of “natural food” here in the USA is very vague and unhelpful. So calling food “all natural” is shallow, empty and disingenuous. However, the current definition of “organic” is more rigid and has actual merit. But there are still ways around the not-so-sturdy gates and walls that we thought protected the purity of the realm of what can and cannot be called “organic.” The GRAS list is one way around it. Soon the term “organic” will be just as useless as “natural.”

    By controlling the language used in the labels on the seeds and the resulting food packages, and then also controlling the language of how the press talks about seeds and the resulting food, and most especially by controlling the language of the laws governing the labeling of our seeds and our food, they have won a three-pronged victory in denying us the information we need to fight dangerous foods, restrict their marketing, or even avoid such Monstersanto-based components to what we buy. So today when we find ourselves picking up a food package in the supermarket to try and read the label, we might as well be either blind or illiterate because the written language on the label itself is now useless. And there are no news sources (web news, magazines, newspapers, television etc) we can turn to for guidance because they are all being silenced via food disparity laws, halting their efforts to speak the truth. We are like the seed-saving gardener who foolishly failed to label their own home-stuffed seed envelopes back in the fall, now groping around in the garden shed during spring, wondering what each envelope contains.

    Language is everything here. And the lawyers have sewn up every last angle on the language governing our seeds and our food. And the “owned” USDA and “owned” FDA and the “owned” Supreme Court are letting them sew those stitches tighter and tighter every year.

  14. Jack!
    You did it! I finally found something to disagree with you on.
    1) The thing that distinguishes us from animals is that we don’t fling it at others.
    Arguably, this is precisely what the modern sewage system is, flinging our poop at others. Whether were pouring into the water ways or burning it in incinerators, we’re making it someone else’s problem, and paying taxes for the privilege.

    What (should) distinguish us from the animals is that we’re (theoretically) intelligent enough to Not crap in our drinking water.

    I just have to ask, how do you figure, in this day in age, when we know that fresh drinking water is our most valuable prep, and a rapidly diminishing resource world wide, that fouling good drinking water with human waste is “sustainable”. It certainly flies in the face of permaculture.

    There is no downside and no danger from composting human waste. And a list of upsides;
    1)It doesnt waste our most precious resource and most important prep. Water.
    2)It is part of a close loop permaculture system. No extra inputs, no waste.
    3)It generates a resource (compost)
    4)It is the cheapest(septic systems cost a fortune, no disgusting, expensive septic tank repairs, toilet repairs), most efficient means of dealing with human waste.
    5)You don’t have to pay taxes on the water or sewage for dealing with your S%^T.
    6)It is truly sustainable, you never have to worry about running out of water, chemicals, etc.

    The average person uses 3,700-7,000 gallons of water a year just flushing their toilet. How much does it cost to pump that water, and filter it?

    The average household uses over a fourth of its water flushing a toilet.

    Seems to me that you could water a lot of garden, fill a pond or, hell have a lawn. At least lawns are good for a nice picnic.

    Well, anyway, you’ve always said that we ought to disagree with you on something. This is my best opportunity so far 😉

    Hey, good luck on the move, escaping was the best day of my life!

  15. Those “backward” mortgages have to be in your top five. Actually, I don’t really understand those, so maybe they’re not actually debt? They seem evil, whatever their classification. Credit cards, obviously, are also there. Home equity line of credit.
    I know that’s not five, but those are my best guesses.
    Thanks for always teaching us something new.

  16. In my area of the country, regular chicken feed is $17.00 for a 50# bag. I have been buying the organic feed for $28.00 a 50# bag. Last week when I went to pick up some feed I was shocked to see non GMO feed for $32.00 on the pricing board. When I talked to the owner of the store he said that almost ALL corn has some GMO properties. The cat is out of the bag and we cannot stuff it back in.

  17. Feline pine probably works very well for humanure, but I would be very careful about using it as actual cat litter. I know a lot of veterinarians and they all agree it can be quite toxic to small animals, especially geriatric ones. Kind of the same idea as not using cedar chips for keeping rodents.

  18. After listening to the show, thinking over the weekend, talking to my friends and reading the messages above it is clear that it matters not what label you connect to a product, people are lazy and will take the easiest road every time.

    1) As soon as it is realized that more money (leverage) can be applied to something, the statement will be made that “hey were “X” so you’ll want to pick your’s up here”. Meanwhile back at the ranch there is no “X” anywhere near their product.

    2) People will look at not having to weed the garden so throw some of those fish genes into those seeds.

    3) Some have even gone to the extent to suggest that selective breeding is the same GMO, bullshit but ok.

    I believe that selective breeding is the only way that is acceptable to improve your lot. Humans have been doing that since there have been humans. We are selective about who we associate with, marry, etc… we have also been doing the same with our food. Selective breeding is natural, conversely implanting genes from one species into another is insane. Provided someone does not come up to me and show me a fish and an ear of corn having sex then I have to believe that GMO is unnatural and should not occur.

    What to do to stop this process? Short of taking them over and burning down their castles, you can’t. As it is not well looked upon the option of, going a viking, is not an option that the average will look upon favorably.


  19. One of the major problems with the gmos, organic or not is that our bodies do not recognize them on a cell level. Some thing in the dna is amiss and our bodies natural intelligence rejects it. So in wardly our bodies are in a battle with the “fake ” food. The food has “evolved ” much more rapidly then we have. ( more like devolved , but you get the point ) Unfortunaly over time and generations our systems (body) are weaken due to the lack of”natural ” foods and the energy wasted trying to”fight ” the mutation. Each generation of people will be born weaker and weaker , with more chronic disease, mental health issues and cancer. Look at the effect processed food has on us now. It has only been around for a few generations. We are rampant with diabetes, obesity, hbp, add etc. Theses are diseases of excess. To much of a poor diet. Not the only contributor to our current state of poor health, howver a major one. Yes Monsato would love for us to accept their spin on Organic GMO, and then make sterile gmo seeds.

  20. When I was a kid I heard “It’s not nice to fool mother nature.” In my experience this has been true. I don’t know how genetic modifications will harm us yet but Mother Nature will get her paybacks somehow. We may find out in a couple of decades.

  21. Lol @ the concept of “GMO Organic Produce”. frankly, this will further reduce the supply resiliance for food products. We have already seen issues with cross contamination ond the destruction of non gmo produce. the reality is that containment of these products is not effective. at all. anywhere that pollen can get at is potentualy contamininated and will eventually become contaminated. It is fully possible for viable pollon to cross oceans.

  22. The luggable loo idea sounds very interesting. I am not sure if it is legal or not technically, but it’s probably more eco friendly than a septic tank in reality .. I had shyed away from buy one of these luggable loo as it’s basically a toilet seat on a 5 gallon bucket with a $35 price tag, but the sawdust idea sounds pretty cool ..

    it appears that the humanure handbook is online for free:

    That quote is from Adam Smith or Keynes ? Was he a rich elite with 3 houses. I’m not sure if he was an acedemic or what might have been his motivation for making that statement ?

  23. Regarding “The Humanure Handbook” by Jerry Jenkins:

    You can actually read this book for free online at the book’s website:

    Whether or not you agree with Jenkins’ stance on recycling human excrement (it’s only “waste” if you push it off somewhere else), the book is an EXCELLENT guide to composting in general. Lots of scientific references but written in a clear, easy to read and funny style.