Saturday, August 29, 2015

Managing Fisheries in Capitalism

Listening to the travails of pacific northwest fisheries folk, and the conflicts among the “stakeholders”, the sport fishermen were at once lamenting how hard they are hit by the decisions and how little in fact their “give-backs” help the overall problem.  Why don’t the big players give back more?

Well, this is capitalism.  There reason there are big players is that, under capitalism, through usury economic power is concentrated in ever fewer hands.  There may be many “stakeholders” at the table, but ultimately, any route you take to press your case, it is the monied folk who decide.  It may be a judge giving the ruling, or a committee, or a tribe, but finally, it is the money people who dictate.

Once the rivers ran silver with fish, and there was no shortage.  But we decided we needed to have cheap electricity to subsidize Boeing and crowd out any other good ideas in transportation.  Big dams, built with bonds, tax the locals, profits to the bankers. Usury facilitates this.

The Austrian School of Economics proposes a solution: just as there are more forests in the American Southeast than the Pacific Northwest, and as many lightening storms, the Southeast does not get the catastrophic forest fires for a simple difference: the Southeast forests are privately owned.  The Northwest forests are government owned.  Indeed, those Northwest fires all halt when they arrive at the privately owned fruit orchards.

So too the fisheries.  Just as we can plot out the coordinates on a stretch of land and assign its ownership to an individual, so to could we with a stretch of ocean.  “Get off my lawn” will never be heard, but trespassers would be known by radar.  Indeed, we are already there with international patrols of fisheries to keep poachers out of treaty seas.  In private hands expect fish to be protected just as trees and fruit are in private hands.

But the anarcho-capitalists tend to ignore the capitalist problem in their theory. In fact, those orchards are now all huge businesses, as are the forests in the Southeast.  The fisheries now are also in very few hands.  Either way, as long as the patterns and practices of capitalism are enforced as law, then we will have power concentrating in ever fewer hands, people no matter how brilliant still unable to get the policy right, even if they wanted to (and one assumes they don’t, just take it all now.)

No?  Then you tell me why we have expensive, poor food, vast unseen pollution, dwindling resources and compromised ecosystems?  Terrorists?  Wrong person as president?  Chinese currency games?

Once a family could be supported with a fishing boat and the fisheries were aplenty.  Then came the easy credit which allowed those who borrowed first and most the ability to buy up the means of production and swamped the smaller players with subsidized scale and in time prohibitive regulations, regs the small players could not comply with cost-effectively.  Get big or get out, as the Feds say.

Just as the “roll-up” (the capitalists word for it) of the local pet shop, gas station, stationery store, pharmacy, doctors office, grocery, hardware store ad infinitem was capitalized into Petco, Office Depot, CVS, HMO, Safeway, Lowes... so was fisheries and farming.  Now we have farmed fish and GMO corn, both deleterious to our bodies, economy and ecology.  

Fighting back is hard to do, but it starts with neither giving nor taking interest (usury), but starting your own business.  And as a part of that business, extend asset-backed no interest credit to your customers.  Much better than going to war for the capitalists, as is required from time to time (by capitalism).

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