Bread and circuses | Bleader

Friday, February 22, 2008

Bread and circuses

Posted By on 02.22.08 at 04:07 PM

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Next month, the bakers of America will march on Washington. Agricultural economists are freaking out: "Some fear a bout of bad weather could unravel the country's centuries-old identity." What's happening? The essential building blocks of the American diet, wheat, corn, and soybeans, are all at record or near-record price levels, because the Chinese are eating more meat and the demand for ethanol inevitably continues. Locally, this should make the near future very interesting--people will continue to make money hand over fist at the Chicago Board of Trade; farmland prices will increase, evening out the battle between 'burbs and farms; and politicians will continue to lavish money on midwestern states. You've got reason to be skeptical about the ethanol obsession, incidentally; Europe certainly is. Now's probably a good time to reread your Frank Norris:

And all those millions and millions of bushels of Wheat were gone now. The Wheat that had killed Cressler, that had ingulfed Jadwin's fortune and all but unseated reason itself; the Wheat that had intervened like a great torrent to drag her husband from her side and drown him in the roaring vortices of the Pit, had passed on, resistless, along its ordered and predetermined courses from West to East like a vast Titanic flood, had passed, leaving Death and Ruin in its wake, but bearing Life and Prosperity to the crowded cities and centres of Europe.

For a moment, vague, dark perplexities assailed her, questionings as to the elemental forces, the forces of demand and supply that ruled the world. This huge resistless Nourisher of the Nations -- why was it that it could not reach the People, could not fulfil its destiny, unmarred by all this suffering, unattended by all this misery?

Get Paul Thomas Anderson on the phone, I've got a movie idea. 

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