One of the first agricultural techniques, which is still practiced in many parts of the world, is “slash and burn agriculture.” It’s pretty simple:
Slash-and-burn is an agricultural technique that involves cutting and burning of trees and plants in forests or woodlands to create fields. It is subsistence agriculture that typically uses little technology or other tools. It is typically part of shifting cultivation agriculture, and of transhumance livestock herding.
It works by clearing an area, planting crops until the soil is depleted, and then moving on to the next area. Eventually, one may move back to the original area, after a period of allowing regrowth, but that isn’t always possible. Its use as a successful method depends on having a small population and a lot of land to move to. The problem with it is that it’s not a sustainable method of agriculture. Once you reach a certain population density, or have exhausted the land available, it becomes unsustainable. So, what does that have to do with the economy?
One of the things that amuses me is when I see the typical demographic of Tea Party or “true conservative” Republican Party members. Why does it amuse me? Well, I fall into that demographic as well. I’m in my 50′s, a rural white male. My childhood was spent in rural areas, and today I live in one. We were (and are) hard working, independent, “take care of yourself and your family” people. I had a strong religious background, in fact, many people assumed that when I grew up I’d be a minister. I went to college, joined the military afterward, and after leaving, went to work in the private sector. I even ran my own business for a few years. So “obviously” I should be a conservative Republican, not a liberal Democrat!
I wrote this post almost 4 years ago, and decided to update it in light of the failure to pass extended unemployment benefits.
I’ve spent a while reading statements from various right-wing politicians – Rand Paul being one of the more prominent – that extended unemployment benefits are a bad thing. You see they may increase the deficit, and (gasp!) they may cause people to put off taking low-level, low-paid jobs! There seems to be two major core assumptions: That the extension of the benefits decreases people’s willingness to look for work; and that there are plenty of jobs available, if only those lazy unemployed would just take them. To back up their case, they’ll come up with an apocryphal business owner whose minimum wage jobs are just going begging, because the unemployed won’t take them.
Many years ago, I was required to have a security clearance. As it later turned out, a much higher one than I actually needed, but at the time, the “guidelines” said that if I had a certain rank and was assigned to a certain post, I had to have it. So I sat down, and filled out a lot of paperwork. A complete life history, detailing where I’d lived during my life up to that point, what schools I’d attended, and a lot of other questions. I sent off transcript requests to my colleges, to have them send in transcripts to the agency in charge of the clearance. Then there were credit checks, criminal record checks, and the interviews which were … intensive. After that, came the reports from my family as various people called them to ask if I was “in trouble,” because they’d just been questioned about me by the FBI or by military investigators.