Sunday, August 9, 2015

Seaweed Economics

There is a quirky magazine for foodies called Lucky Peach a copy of which I found very attractive, but they make it hard to get their content for free, in fact impossible short of buying a copy, which I always think is a mistake.  

Nonetheless the copy cited above had an article on seaweed harvesting on the Northern California Coast.  Splendid.  So many ideas, so anarchistic.  Some observations:

We overfish because with EZ Cheep credit massive fishery company can overwhelm the smaller fishermen by subsidies, regulation and lower prices through volume operations, just like Petco and Office Depot do it in other categories.

When fish costs less than it would in a natural economy, we eat too much too processed fish.  But but but, fish is a neglected source of food in the diet!  Family operation fresh fish would cost more, but we would not need to eat as much and it would be better for us than the frozen with preservatives processed stuff we get that is legally marked "wild fresh".

As to seaweed, we certainly are not eating enough of this, mainly because a market has not emerged.  We do get a lot of it. again, as an ingredient in processed foods, but I am talking about a salad of seaweed.   There is another benefit of developing family businesses in seaweed harvesting, in the article cited above the workers also constitute a coastline early warning system on ecological events along the coast.  Vast swathes of the USA coastline are uninhabited, great for farming seaweed with the added benefit of being watched.

As to fish and seaweed, we eat for nourishment, and good food is also delightful, and such sea fare may more expensive, but less needed.  All in all, you can get better nourishment for the same of less money.

And steps taken to process food either make it harder to digest, or degrade the product so you get less nourishment for ounce, or whatever metric.  It takes energy to digest, and if you are digesting empty food, or unbalanced diet, you are asking for all sorts of problems over time.  The less you need to eat, the better.  You need less food if you eat good food.

These seaweed harvesters are mixing their labor with natural resources to create a product to sell.  This is free market 101.  When they collect otherwise unused seaweed, and dry it, the seaweed becomes their property, with with they then enter into commerce.

Now, recall capitalism is about accumulation, not commonwealth, and the capitalists' work at polity not comity.  Free markets are about comity.

Because of the happy accident of the California coastal act, no one can own the seashore, or any part of it, so we have the reality of what was here among the Indians, and what is present in Hong Kong.  People thriving without owning the real estate under their working place.

Hong Kong is under the aegis of the Communist Party of the People's Republic of China, who have surpassed the capitalists in productivity with no land ownership.  We see in history the communists are a direct lot, they just executed the unneeded landlords.  In capitlaism the Supreme Court simply makes laws allowing for big business to take private lands for themselves.  If you resist, eventually, as in Communism, then the Capitalists will just kill you too.  Capitalists just take longer.

So here again we see peace and prosperity emerge in a free market, private property occurs when you mix your labor with natural resources, or otherwise trade your own services with those who do. Owning real estate is not necessary nor sufficient for a free market, indeed it seems to inhibit it.

The Indians and the communists got this part of the free market right for different reasons, but in any case, leases are necessary and sufficient for free markets.  Private real estate property is neither necessary nor sufficient in a free market.

As to regulation, the users of the seashore, the seaweed harvesters, have created rules and regs on how to sustainably maintain the seaweed beds.  You do not have to tell people whose lives depend on the resource how to manage the resource.

For latecomers, where leases are needed to define the territory (good fences make good neighbors) those earlier rules and regs can be included in the lease, and the lease enshrines them to maintain sustainabillity.  For example, the hegemon, to the extent it has done so,  already has made a hash of regulation of seaweed on the northern caifornia coast, and the only reason it has not killed off the micro-industry is the local regulators do not enforece the whimsical rules.  (What hegemon rules are not whimsical?)

With leases, the lease sustains the environment and those who own the lease mix their labor with natural resources, and the work is handed down to the next generation, who either renew the lease or let it go to the next highest bidder for a new lease.  (What is the entity that grants the lease? To whom the land belongs, the Indians?)

Now this of course is the right way to govern this limited resource we call land (or ther seas, which ought also be leased) but capitalism is about accumulation into ever fewer hands by the means of usury, so for capitalism to obtain its raison d’etre capitalism must have a provision for personal ownership of real estate.  I understand how this may fill you with rage at capitalism and capitalists, but we must remain meek, never resort to violence like the communists, and simply withdraw our consent to be governed by the hegemon so we can move forward, broken people that we all are, to the more just comity of no one owning the lands, or more specifically, giving it back to the Indians, who can then lease it out to one and all.

It will take time.

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