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As Part of Our Food Industry Complex Dies

A box of food

Most of us would agree that the military industrial complex is alive and well. The Washington Post reports that the US military, under increasing internal criticism as well as publicity from congressional leaders like John Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat, is downsizing planned allocations for what is described as Senior Leader Intransit Comfort Capsules (SLICC). Top US Air Force officials have nothing better to do than spend time and money on deciding the color d├ęcor of these specially constructed Comfort Capsules designed to transport high-ranking military and government leaders. These VIPs would be ensured an aesthetically-pleasing air-borne environment in which to “talk, work, and rest comfortably” that reflected their level in the command hierarchy. Comfort capsules include specially constructed swiveling leather chairs, beds, a table, 37-inch flat screen monitor with stereo speakers and a full-length mirror. I don’t begrudge top-level leaders in military, government, or management of “creature” comforts that they theoretically spent many years to earn. However, I do agree with the grumbling among lower-ranked military personnel and Congressional leaders that these counterterrorism allocations worth millions of dollars ought to be redirected to needs of “higher priority”. What is a very subtle oxymoron here is that as the military-industrial complex thrives, a part of the infrastructure of our “food-production complex” is dying.

David Streitfeld writes in the New York Times Business section on July 18, 2008 that an entire industry will shortly cease to exist; catfish farming. Increases in corn and soybean feed have not only driven “supermarket” food costs higher but may be causing irreparable damage to the very infrastructure on which the world depends for life; the “food production complex”. These business people can no longer make a profit selling their fish. While I don’t want to exaggerate the importance of catfish filets in the diet of an average American, I think it as noteworthy that regardless of size, an entire industry, not just one or two factories, is about to disappear. Do we really understand the long-term ramifications of the economic changes we are seeing in, for example, the use of corn and other feed products vis a vis energy prices. How often do we now hear from our politicians that “if we had started drilling for oil 6-8 years ago…” Is this yet another moment that we will regret in the next decade or two?

Our planet’s ecosystems are sending us clear signals of instability and serious distress. We must not underestimate the multi-dependencies among “business complexes” as well. They too form an infrastructure on which each member of the complex depends on another. But, don’t worry; I assume the Air Force galleys adjacent to the VIP comfort capsules are well-stocked with protein far more expensive than catfish.

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