Posts Tagged ‘henry ford’
by stuartbramhall in Sustainability
(This is the last of three posts about the Industrial Hemp Farming Act Bill sponsored by Texas congressman and Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul.)
Hemp as a Tobacco Replacement Crop
With recent the recent anti-smoking movement and declining cigarette use among Americans, many tobacco farmers export as much as 85% of their crop to China, India and Eastern Europe, which have laxer anti-smoking laws (http://www.globalhemp.com/1995/01/industrial-hemp-and-other-alternative-crops-for-small-scale-tobacco-producers.html). However with tobacco exports declining more than 50% since 1996 (http://www.tobaccoatlas.org/trade.html), hemp is high on the list of possible replacement crops. Nothing is as big an earner as tobacco, which currently grosses approximately $1,500 per acre. Processed tomatoes are worth $775 per acre, while other food crops bring in much less, around $100-200 per acre. Industrial hemp earns $200-500 per acre, depending on the quality of the fiber. This is expected to increase as demand increases.
Thus it’s no surprise that many tobacco states have enacted laws legalizing hemp production, in anticipation that Congress and the Obama administration will come to their senses. The states authorizing industrial hemp cultivation are North Dakota, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Oregon, California, Montana, West Virginia and Vermont. North Carolina, another tobacco state and the home of Hemp Technologies and the first American hemp houses, has passed a bill to “study” possible legalization (http://www.cnbc.com/id/41741257).
Why the DEA Opposes Hemp Legalization
The main justification the DEA and Department of Justice give for continuing the ban on hemp is that law enforcement officials have difficulty distinguishing between hemp and marijuana (http://naihc.org/hemp_information/content/hempCharacter.html). Given that police in other countries where hemp cultivation is legal (Canada, China, New Zealand, and many parts of Europe) have no difficulty distinguishing between the two cannabis sativa varieties, this is a serious insult to the intelligence of American police and drug enforcement officials. Hemp is a tall, skinny plant with few major branches below the primary branches at the top. It’s grown in rows a foot apart. Marijuana plants, in contrast, are short and bushy and must be spaced six feet apart for optimum growth. Even the leaves are different. Hemp has seven long thin leaflets and marijuana five leaflets, with three of them nearly twice the width of hemp leaflets.
The 2011 Industrial Hemp Farming Act Bill
It should be a no-brainer. We are talking about revenue neutral environmental/sustainability legislation (revenue positive if it leads to new jobs and taxpayers) – the cost to the taxpayer of repealing this ban is zilch. The benefits are far too numerous to list in their entirety. Besides greatly reducing transportation and other import-related costs, we provide a great boon to financially struggling tobacco farmers and states, while offering homeowners a low cost energy efficient building and insulation material that helps conserve increasingly scarce forest lands.
In May 2011, Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul and 25 cosponsors introduced the 2011 Industrial Hemp Farming Act Bill (for the fourth time). It’s clear from the list of states that support hemp legalization that this is a non-controversial bipartisan issue. I can’t imagine any legitimate (i.e. rational) reasons why Congress and Obama would be blocking its passage – or why such an important Bill should go unreported in the corporate media. Presumably the reasons are political. In other words, some as yet unidentified corporate lobby opposes it because it threatens their financial interests.
I won’t speculate which one(s). However it’s pretty obvious why Hemp Technologies is moving to expand into Canada and New Zealand, where hemp cultivation is legal. Obviously America’s loss is their gain. As I mention in a prior blog, the US is the world’s largest hemp importer – they import most of it from their main economic rival, China, which is the world’s largest producer.
by stuartbramhall in Sustainability
(This is the second of three posts about the Industrial Hemp Farming Act Bill, sponsored by Texas congressman and Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul.)
The Decline of Hemp
Hemp first began losing ground in 1850 to cheaper substitutes made of cotton, jute, sisal and petroleum. Prior to the 1920s, hemp had to be processed by hand, involving huge labor costs incompatible with mass commercial production. Henry Ford, one of the first modern conservationists, remained a strong hemp advocate and had his own hemp plantation on his estate in Dearborn Michigan (http://www.hemphasis.net/History/history.htm). The body of his 1908 Model T was made of hemp-based plastic, which has far greater tensile strength and durability than steel. After George W Schlicten automated hemp processing in 1917 with a new machine called the hemp decoricator, Ford set up the first biomass fuel production plant in Iron Mountain, Michigan. Ford ran the first Model T on corn-based ethanol (alcohol), but was quick to recognize hemp as a cheaper and more efficient fuel source. His engineers in Iron Mountain developed processes to extract not only ethanol from hemp, but charcoal and other industrial chemicals, including tar, ethyl acetate and creosote. The 1919 Prohibition against alcohol, coupled with the growing political power of the oil lobby, derailed Ford’s plans. By 1920 gasoline had replaced ethanol as the auto fuel of choice.
The Corporate Conspiracy to End Hemp Cultivation
All this was happening at the precise moment that the munitions company DuPont was patenting synthetic fibers (nylon, rayon, Dacron, etc) and plastics derived from petroleum. Schlicten’s hemp decoricator and automated hemp processing, posed a major threat to DuPont’s ability to market their synthetic fibers for products previously made from hemp. DuPont also had a commercial interest in promoting wood-based paper production (they held the patent on the sulfates and sulfites used to produce paper pulp) and gasoline. They also held the patent on tetraethyl lead, which allowed gasoline to burn more smoothly in the engine Ford intended to run on ethanol (http://www.hemphasis.net/History/history.htm).
The main co-conspirators in the plot to kill hemp included DuPont, William Randolph Hearst (who owned a logging company and paper manufacturing plant in addition to his American newspaper empire) and Andrew Mellon, president of Mellon Bank and DuPont’s major financier (http://www.ozarkia.net/bill/pot/blunderof37.html). In 1930, Mellon, as US Secretary of the Treasury, created the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and appointed his nephew Henry Anslinger to run it. Between 1935 and 1937, Anslinger and a handful of DuPont’s cronies in Congress secretly wrote a bill to tax hemp production. Meanwhile Anslinger and Hearst orchestrated a massive media campaign demonizing a dangerous new drug called marihuana that supposedly turned Mexicans and black jazz musician into crazed killers. Congress was also deliberately tricked into believing marihuana was a totally new drug. The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was rushed through on a Friday afternoon before lawmakers had a chance to read it. Only a handful realized marihuana was the same as hemp, which was still viewed as an essential crop and vital to the paint and varnish industry (http://druglibrary.net/schaffer/Library/studies/vlr/vlr4.htm).
Between 1941 and 1945 the Marihuana Transfer Tax was waived, after Japan embargoed the sale of hemp, jute and other fibers essential to the war industry. The US government once again encouraged Americans to grow hemp for patriotic reasons (http://www.hempadvocates.org/understand.html). Farmers who planted it were exempted from the draft. Hemp was legally grown in Minnesota as late as 1968. In 1970 the Controlled Substances Act officially equated hemp with the drug marijuana and help cultivation became illegal. This was the same year the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act was declared unconstitutional (http://www.hemphasis.net/History/history.htm).
To be continued.
by stuartbramhall in Challenging the Corporate Media, Mind Control and Disinformation
In the last few weeks I have been perusing “free market” libertarian websites and blogs in an effort to get my head around similarities and differences between free market and left libertarians.
The first major stumbling block I have encountered is an alarming tendency by many right wing libertarians to appeal to common popular prejudices that certain groups of people – by virtue of their ethnicity, religion, nationality or other group identifiers – pose an inherent threat to the freedoms or integrity of the American people.
We tend to hear this type of illogical thinking mainly from right wing talk show hosts, such as Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh – usually in reference to Moslems or immigrants (of either Hispanic or Arabic origin) – or feminists. However Sarah Palin, who as the former governor as Alaska should know better, comes out with a lot of this stuff, too. In fact she persists in portraying Obama as a Muslim Marxist extremist – which is utter nonsense – because she knows it will inflame the passions of some of her right wing supporters.
The Guilt by Association Fallacy
In formal logic, this is referred to as an argumentum ad hominem fallacy. The “guilt by association” diatribes I find most troublesome are the anti-Semitic ones. This surprises me because I naively believed that we closed this ugly chapter of American history – namely the campaign by auto magnate Henry Ford and his followers to stereotype Jews as devious, money grubbing and power hungry – decades ago. I simply cannot fathom that any serious 21st century commentator would argue from the premise that someone’s Jewish background or religion would motivate them to undermine or circumvent the American democratic process to further specific causes or projects.
In the spirit of open mindedness, I am willing to entertain there is a group of Jewish bankers somewhere conspiring against our democratic form of government. What I object to is arguing from the assumption that such a group exists. I would expect all serious commentators to offer proof that there is something innate in a person’s Jewish heritage or religion that makes them do such things – just as I expect to see proof when scientists argue whether or not climate change is genuine.
Deflecting Blame from the Real Culprits
Unfortunately I am finding quite a lot of right wing websites and blogs that blame (without evidence) a faceless elite of international Jewish bankers for plotting to undermine or circumvent American democracy. Once again I believe this is an effort to distract disgruntled Americans from the real culprits – real life banks such as Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and the dozens of others who have just made off with trillions of dollars of taxpayer money – and the federal regulators (who also have names like Geithner, Paulson and Bernanke ) who are directly responsible for the bail-out and a decision not to investigate or prosecute overtly criminal behavior.
A good example is a recent paper on Rense.com about a (mainly Jewish) conspiracy to develop the atomic bomb and deploy it against Japan as part of their 5,000 year desire to rule the entire world. It’s a rather complicated conspiracy. In addition to the Rothchilds and their various banking lackeys, it also involves the Masons (President Truman was a Masonic organizer), Yale’s secretive Skull and Bones group (although all the Skull and Bones alumni I know of are Protestant) and J.P. Morgan and the Rand Corporation (which have no Jewish connections at all that I know of). Even more concerning is that the article has been reprinted on a number of right wing and libertarian websites.
Libertarian bloggers who pander to this kind of superstition and prejudice need to be challenged loudly and regularly. Besides making serious discussion of the real issues impossible, it also gives the pro-Israel lobby license to accuse human rights advocates of anti-Semitism when they try address serious legal and human rights issues connected with the Israeli occupation of Palestine.