Back from Africa. Here in Alaska. So far. So good. So great, in fact.

The job is great. I am in a new place, working as the office manager for a small, independently owned business. The town of McCarthy. Year round population: 22.

I’ve been doing a bit of research for the purpose of doing a bit of writing for the purpose of a six day writers workshop here in McCarthy. The workshop promises to be promising, with some talented folks collaborating to lead the dance. So I’m trying to pull together some good pieces. They will, I hope eventually wind up in the book I’m writing.

In any event, I’ve called this meeting here at my blog to share a quote with you. (I should share more quotes, too, given that I’m swimmin’ in ’em.)

Here’s the quote:

“There isn’t one grain of anything in the world that is sold in a free market. Not one! The only place you see a free market is in the speeches of politicians. People who are not in the Midwest do not understand that this is a socialist country.”

Interesting, huh? This is a quote by Dwayne Andreas, the former CEO of Archer Daniels Midland, a corporation that processes food.

So, here’s that quote again, enlarged, super sized, if you will….this quote from an online article in Mother Jones:

“There isn’t one grain of anything in the world that is sold in a free market. Not one! The only place you see a free market is in the speeches of politicians. People who are not in the Midwest do not understand that this is a socialist country.”

It might seem odd that a man with personal assets well into nine figures would be so quick to hoist the red flag of socialism over the American heartland. But Andreas is essentially right. Agriculture is the last industry where the U.S. government so routinely sets prices and determines production levels, a complex arena in which doing business often has more to do with influencing legislation than with responding to supply and demand. Prospering in this environment is ADM’s forte.

“We’re the biggest [food and agriculture] company in the world,” Andreas explains. “How is the government going to run without people like us? We make 35 percent of the bread in this country, and that much of the margarine, and cooking oil, and all the other things.”

So I looked up Archer D Midlands on the ole Wikipedia. An I found this:

“ADM has cost the American economy billions of dollars since 1980 and has indirectly cost Americans tens of billions of dollars in higher prices and higher taxes over that same period. At least 43 percent of ADM’s annual profits are from products heavily subsidized or protected by the American government. Moreover, every $1 of profits earned by ADM’s corn sweetener operation costs consumers $10, and every $1 of profits earned by its bioethanol operation costs taxpayers $30.”

This only goes to the point that I try to make time and again (with what amounts to basically a zero percent success rate): Capitalism is not about “free markets.” It is about who controls the capital. Which means it is about centralized power.

My essays probably won’t touch on capitalism. But who knows? In the meantime, I thought I’d share the above quotes with ya’.

Enjoy. And please. Use processed foods responsibly.

One thought on “Free markets: a grain of truth

  1. That’s amazing, but VERY believable. I guess all you can do to correct the situation is to expose it. So many times people get away with things they shouldn’t is because they aren’t getting noticed.

    Like

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