Jonathan Field - Maker of Random Stuff

Monthly Archives: October 2013

Operation Cabbage, Phase One: Complete

I heard that my farming friend has recently completed the the harvest on his cabbage crop – some 3800 heads. He was able to sell them in town for about 50 cents apiece. After setting aside money to start his next crop, it works out to about $1600 over four months. That’s excellent money for his neck of the woods. I put about $300 in to get him started. We’re both thrilled with the results.

When he and I started talking earlier this year, he had no real plans for the future. He’s always loved farming, and had a decent piece of land on the Tugela river bank, but after life threw him some nasty surprises over the past two years, he didn’t have the capital or the will to get things started again.

After talking out a plan, I decided to give him the seed money, literally. Now he’s reaping the rewards, literally. I hear from his family that he’s in much better spirits, too.

The real question is what happens next. I hear he has set enough aside to plant and maintain another crop. I’m hoping that he’ll be able to maintain momentum, and I’m thinking of investing a bit more to help him sell the crop to a slightly wider area where he tells me you can get 70 cents a head. When I’m out there next spring we’ll talk about other options too: expanding the land, trying different crops, and whatever ideas he has.

Something that I’m exploring here is how to best help others. I see too many instances of money being dumped into developing areas with little long term impact. I’ve come to believe that money is virtually useless without guidance and follow-up. It can’t be a mindless gift, it has to be a partnership. It’s more work, but it’s no surprise that it takes more work to get results. I’m not sure what’s next for me in this area, but I will keep this in mind as I go forward.

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Since I’ve got the time…

I’m a bit surprised at how many people say the shutdown can be blamed on both sides equally. I wonder if it would be seen the same way if Democrats forced a shutdown to “negotiate” gun control. I mean, hey, we just want to talk about it. And by the way, we won’t let anything else happen, even stuff we normally support, until we talk about it. And by “talk about it” we mean “you cave”.

I wonder if I could have pulled that at work. I don’t like the benefits, but I’m told they’re not changing. So I shut down all our servers. The company can no longer function. Can we “negotiate” now? Don’t point that finger at me – if we go out of business it’s just as much your fault as mine.

I think many people want to feel balanced and nonpartisan. We’ve all got Republican friends and family, and we don’t want to upset them. So we talk about it as though both sides have a reasonable argument here and, well, what can you do? Crazy old Washington.

Except the two sides do not both have a reasonable argument. There is something fundamentally wrong with the Republican approach. I get that they don’t like the ACA, but that is something they have to address by attacking the ACA, not by attacking Veteran’s benefits and the Grand Canyon. Negotiating means you give something to get something. It does not mean you confiscate everything to get something. In any other arena we’d all recognize this for what it is: sabotage.

My stance on this is nonpartisan. I wouldn’t want sabotage to become an accepted tactic for any party. It creates a constant state of crisis and it’s a stupid way to run a country. Or anything. The fact that the Speaker of the House, the de facto leader of the Republican party, thought this was a good idea, or was convinced to pretend it was, is a colossal embarrassment and obliterates any semblance of competence or good faith. Even more shamefully, this is not an isolated incident, it’s just the latest culmination of an ongoing policy to disrupt the government while there’s a Democrat in office.

I put up with plenty of laws I don’t like. I want to see them changed. But I don’t want to change them by putting all that’s good in our country on the chopping block for political theater. And I’m not going to pay lip service to “balance” either: the Republican party gets full credit for cooking up and executing this crisis. I hope their ploy fails, and I hope they pay dearly in the midterms.

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