October 9, 2003
To the Editor:
Back in Roman times, there was an exodus of people from
the rural areas into the cities when their soils got depleted.
Pertinax offered to give ownership to anyone who would occupy and
cultivate any abandoned land, furthermore to exempt such land from taxes for
109 years. He had few takers.
A century later, Diocletian attempted more drastic
measures. He issued an edict
that bound all free farmers and slaves to the land they were expected to
Constantine, a generation later, made it a crime for
the son of a farmer to leave the farm on which he was reared.
It didnít work. Food
supply diminished and it was the beginning of the end of the Roman Empire.
Fast forward to 1969.
The task force on agriculture declared there were too many farmers
and one third of them had to go. With
the North American Free Trade Agreement and the demise of the Crow, tearing
up rail branch lines and closing elevators, getting farmers to leave the lad
was a resounding success.
But from a social point of view, it is a disaster.
Our infrastructure is fast disappearing.
Schools are being closed. Hospitals
are being closed. Churches are
being closed. Children must
have longer and longer bus rides for their education.
Cities are plagued with youth gangs, prostitution,
garbage disposal, homeless and food banks.
Maybe it is time for a task force on how to eliminate the food banks.
With the rise of factory farmers, raping of the soil
with chemical fertilizers and poisonous pesticides and herbicides in order
to maximize production, how long will it be before the organic material the
organic material in the soil will be depleted and we will be to where things
were in Pertinaxís time? Will
we ever learn?
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