The Four Boat Anchors Holding Back Permaculture
Where does the future of Permaculture lie? Well, I would like to start off with where it doesn’t lie as that may lead us along faster if we are open and honest about it. These are areas where I feel we are wasting time if we put any real effort into them…
Influencing the individual politics of others
Bitching about what is wrong with the current system
Doing everything for free or as a “nonprofit”
Focusing on PDCs over on the ground “workshops” and multiple income sources
I honestly believe each of the above represents no less than a series of boat anchors that hold back permaculture from moving forward at a much faster pace and gaining broader main stream acceptance. Indeed if each is examined with a basic analysis of what it creates versus what it impedes the true way to move Permaculture into broader acceptance becomes clear in my opinion.
Boat Anchor One – Influencing the Individual Politics of Others
Let me be clear, I feel we are largely past the point of political solutions to most of mankind’s problems. I classify myself as an anarcho libertarian but I really don’t care what you call yourself, I really don’t. You can be a liberal, a conservative, a centrist, whatever, as long as you are using and practicing permaculture, I feel we are going in the right direction. Make no mistake I am happy to debate politics with you, just not as a permaculture teacher or evangelist.
It is my personal contention that permaculture is an anti-political movement, one that is more anarchist than anything else. Yet I will admit I am not an authority when it comes to this claim, I prefer to cite permaculture’s founder, Bill Mollison in making this claim. Bill said the following in an interview you can view at this link http://www.scottlondon.com/interviews/mollison.html`
“Permaculture is anti-political. There is no room for politicians or administrators or priests. And there are no laws either. The only ethics we obey are: care of the earth, care of people, and reinvestment in those ends.”
Friends, I just don’t think it gets clearer than that! Too many permaculturists seem obsessed with solutions through legislation, “We need the government to _________”. I laugh at this because what we in Permaculture most need from government is for them to get the hell out of our way. Doubt me? Try to set up an ecovillage and really live fully off grid. When you do, the first real problem you will encounter is the government, along with a mile of codes. Frankly urban farmers and front yard gardens are assaulted almost daily in many parts of the US. Hell, why do you think Joel Salitan wrote a book called, “Everything I Want to do is Illegal”?
To me Permaculture is our best solution because it calls for action rather than committees and endless discussions about why the other side is the problem. Let me put it this way, if you are worried about carbon, leave taxes out of it when spreading the permaculture message. Stick to how to build self-sufficiency and less carbon will go in the air and more will go in the soil. One hugul bed will put more carbon in the soil then a hundred CFL bulbs will prevent from going into the atmosphere. You want social justice and food for the poor, go plant a garden where it will feed the poor. It is that simple. Now the truth is, when you plant that garden, likely the only problem you will tend to encounter is government obstruction. You may want to consider that the next time you put your faith in a state based solution. The key is though none of this is important if what you really want is more permaculture systems, permaculture businesses and permaculture living.
Teach permaculture thinking, and by that I mean the design science of permaculture. Once people have that it will influence them, it will lead them to better choices. You don’t have to tell them where they are wrong in your view, just show them how to be productive and you will accomplish more. There have been thousands of people turned off by what most would call “leftist ideology” in permaculture. Frankly, if you choose one side of the current political spectrum as your platform, you just shut down 50% of your market. I’d call that cutting off your nose to spite your face. Let me be clear, it doesn’t matter which side you choose, you cost yourself 50% of your potential market, either way.
The big reason to get off the politics though in permaculture is it works, it converts the unconverted. To be blunt, when taught pragmatically, permaculture converts the heathens! Preaching to the converted about things you all agree about does almost nothing to further permaculture thinking and design implementation. Teaching things like technique, design and function stacking is what does that. Does it really work? In early 2013, Geoff Lawton approached me and asked that I promote his online PDC to my audience. I was happy to do so, well, the results were over 500 registrations out of my audience alone. The majority of these people are either politically right leaning or are libertarian oriented such as myself. In other words not the usual suspects.
So where do you apply your political goals? In political arenas, and if you want to take permaculture with you God speed! I would love to see both liberals and conservatives shoving permaculture thinking at their elected officials. Hell, wouldn’t you like to see a couple million letter to congressmen that read, “Dear Honorable ______, I would like to know how your current policies are taking responsibility for ourselves and that of our children? Further I would like to know how you are caring for the earth, caring for people and returning all surplus to the system you are taking it from?” I think it is a long road and you are talking to people more concerned with power rather than solutions but, hey, I want permaculture everywhere so go for it. Just understand, you insist on making permaculture a political ideology, you will never grow it as rapidly as it can be grown on its own merits.
I would like to ask permaculturists that use the phrase “climate change” in every third sentence a simple question. If God himself spoke to your face and said, “I control the climate, fossil fuels have nothing to do with it”, would you still be as passionate about permaculture as you are now? Frankly my answer is yes I sure as hell would! I am trying to feed people, create individual liberty, stop desertification and prevent soil erosion along with a million other things. And hey if you really believe we need carbon sequestration, set a goal to get 10,000 feet of hugul beds installed or to get 100 food forests planted and don’t worry who the hell does it. I mean, what is really important, the solution or who is “right” about the problem? Please read that last question again and it you have a hard time answering it, think about what that really means.
Boat Anchor Two – Bitching about what is wrong with the current system.
This one there is a place for, that place is waking people up, but once they are awake, shelve it and focus on what to do right, not what others are doing wrong. Frankly I am a permaculture maniac when it comes to spreading the word. I know it works, I know how important it is and I will get a person interested by any tactic that will work as long as it is ethical. If showing them a factory chicken farm will do it, done! If explaining our main export is top soil will do it, done! If explaining GMOs and the reality that Roundup and Atrazine are in our food supply will do it, done! If explaining that I can cut their electric bill will do it, done! If showing them a beautiful food forest will do it, then I will do that.
The last item is the one I prefer, I feel it works better. You show someone massive productivity, great quality food and ease of maintenance and you generally get a question along the lines of “How can I do that”? If I get that question, I answer it, if I get a question like, “What can I do about GMOs?” I answer that. The key though is once I get a “how do I” or “what can I” from someone, I don’t really need to talk about what is wrong ever again; I simply need to show them and teach them what works.
At this point I want to instill the following in a person, the prime directive and the three ethics.
Prime Directive – The only responsible action is to take responsibility for ourselves and for that of our children.
Ethic One – Care of the earth.
Ethic Two – Care of people.
Ethic Three – Return of surplus to the end of the first two
If I can get them that far, from that point on, all I want to discuss is design science and system implementation. If they just want a garden, great we start there. Gardens are the gateway drug to permaculture. Sure they will have more weed issues and struggle a bit more in the beginning than if they sheet mulched and planted a more involved polyculture with some minor earthworks, but that is their choice. When they get tired of fighting but hooked on good food, they will ask for more.
I am not focused on the farm conglomerate with 10,000 acres of GMO soy. It concerns me, but I know I won’t change their minds with words or calling a congressman. Nor will I focus on the CAFOs. I am instead looking for the land owner barely getting by with 100 acres and some cattle who will consider a permaculture system. I want to tell this person, I can do the following for you…
Produce more and healthier cattle than you are right now that will sell at a premium
Reduce your expenses
Also produce hogs on that same land
Also produce chickens on that same land
Also produce over 100 varieties of nuts and fruits on that same land
Eliminate or drastically reduce irrigation
Enable you to hire more people at a great wage and still make more money for yourself
Make your land so productive and valuable that you will never risk losing it
Make your land so beautiful that your community will want to help you protect it
Build your top soil and fertility
Use heavy equipment for 2 weeks in a way that will eliminate your need to use it ever again
Give you more water than you know what to do with
Eliminate any need for fertilizer, herbicides or pesticides
Give your farm so much value some people will pay just to come look at it
Make is so beautiful and stable your great grandchildren will cherish it and you for creating it
When I think about that, I have no time for bitching about what is wrong with our current system. People do that daily, they gripe and moan and complain and then go to Walmart and buy the very crappy food they are bitching about.
On that note, I am not about to tell a single mom barely getting by how shitty food at Walmart is for her kids. She knows that and doesn’t need me to make her feel worse about it. Here is what I want to tell that mom, let me show you how to…
Grow food in your back yard from things you can get for free
Teach your children responsibility, work ethics and to care about themselves and others
Cut the cost of your grocery bills
Create a place your children want to spend their time and their friends want to be there too
Empower yourself to not be dependent on others
Know that you will be okay even if support systems like water or electricity fail
Feed your kids food of such high quality that it will put food from yuppie places like Whole Foods to shame
Inspire your entire neighborhood to do the same things
Solve problems, move yourself into a better place in life and understand true wealth
Set you and your family on fire with the knowledge that what you do matters
This approach works because it focuses on what people can do and most importantly what they can do now. Some in permaculture seem addicted to problems, that is all they wish to discuss, Monsanto this and factory farming that. Hey I get it, but do you know what happens if you tell a person long enough about how many problems there are? First they get pissed off, then they start talking about what should be done, then they get overwhelmed, then they go back to business as usual and feel defeated. They simply feel there is nothing they can do. You want permaculture to move forward, show people what to do, help them do it and ask them to pass that on.
Rich stars on TV may advocate organic food and talk about the evils of factory farming, but one guy with a shovel can do more to fix that problem than any such people will ever do. You want to fix our current issues, hand out shovels, rakes, hoes and instructions on how to use them.
Boat Anchor Three – Doing everything for free or as a “nonprofit”.
I find this one to be a well-meaning sentiment but largely connected to the first boat anchor of political ideology. We have entered a world where profit is equated with “evil corporations” and all corporations are evil in the minds of many people today. Then that same person who fears the connotations of evil corporations, incorporates but as a nonprofit. Let me say something as a business person, totally devoid of permaculture, just as a flat business principle. You don’t set up a corporate structure on any feel good ideology, political correctness or anything other than practical, pragmatic and legal reasoning.
A nonprofit corporation is just as capable of doing evil as a for profit corporation. In fact, in some cases, they can do more harm by hiding behind the lacy white curtain of “nonprofit status”. Over 300 million given to the Red Cross for the Haitian earthquake, blowing away like a fart in the wind springs to mind! Plenty of big nonprofits collect millions and millions of dollars and have CEOs with the same G class jets as Exxon and Monsanto CEOs. Being a not for profit corporation is a technical and legal decision. I have set up companies as both not for profit and as for profit and I prefer for profit, mainly because the government has less to say about how I run my business.
There are times specifically when working with government agencies or specific NGOs (non-governmental organizations) where this status makes a lot of sense or is it becomes practically mandatory. I will leave the not for profit discussion with this piece of advice; before setting up any business entity, discuss it with a qualified business attorney with a solid understanding of tax law. Don’t do it on LegalZoom.com, on your own for ANY BUSINESS, and know why the hell you are choosing the specific form.
I bring the above up only because the zeal to be a nonprofit company in permaculture is seldom fueled in my experience by any of the value of that structure. It is mostly fueled because of this concept that to profit is somehow wrong or evil. Look guys, here is a permaculture principle, “obtain a yield” and how about “a yield is technically unlimited”? Well, in a business, yield is profit that is why a business exists to make a profit. Businesses that make no profit end up bankrupt, got it?
When many starry eyed permaculture newbies want to become a professional permaculture teacher/consultant/writer/superhero/etc and race right for 501C3 status here is what they are actually saying, “I want to make enough money to pay myself and perhaps my employees a reasonable salary; I don’t want the company itself to be profitable”. Great you don’t need 501C status, the year of waiting to be approved and the additional restrictions that it comes with it for that. Instead, just pay out all profit as salary, if you feel overpaid, donate the surplus. Done, your company makes zero profit; you pay the taxes as an individual and donate any of the evil money that is “too much for one person to have” to whatever you want. Sadly though if this is how you think, likely those evil profits will never show up and you will be working a typical wage slave J-O-B in order to fund your “business”.
Let me put it to you this way, permaculture is the greatest system of design, thinking and problem solving ever created. If you really get it, you should be able to build a back yard oasis one day and paddock shift systems bordered by food forest strips the next. Then you should be able to solve the functional problems of a typical business that has nothing to do with farming the very next day. Sure you might bill the mom in the burbs at a lower rate than the farmer with 80 acres and you might not, as with all things permaculture, “it depends”. If that mom in the burbs is well to do and can afford it, she gets my market rate. If she is not so well to do but simply middle class maybe I work the rate a bit lower. If she is dead broke, she can pay me with adding to my portfolio, a letter of recommendation and a promise to be a force of good in her community, but she is going to provide value for value or I ain’t doing it. Does that make sense? We all have “value” and value should be exchanged for value in business.
Whether you are teaching and consulting or running your own farm, permaculture needs to be profitable if you are doing it as a business. Don’t get me wrong, if you have a job you want to keep, pay your bills that way and just love doing permaculture that is fine. If you have extra time and want to organize “permablitzs” at no real fee, go ahead, that is awesome, but you won’t pay your mortgage that way, so don’t delude yourself into thinking you will.
Let me put it to you this way, money is not evil. Money is nothing but a symbol for energy agreed upon as such by members of an economy. It is merely a means of exchange, nothing more. It isn’t alive; it doesn’t make its own decisions. Money, to put it in a permaculture metaphor, is like a giant bulldozer. In the hands of one man it can destroy a forest or put a strip mall in where a park used to be. Yet in our hands it can build a damn, rip a key line, build a swale and establish a food forest. Oh and for that dozer to do all those wonderful things you know what you need? Money! You need money to buy or rent the dozer, money to fuel it, money for a good operator to run it, money for infrastructure for the dozer to install, etc.
Simply put, many in permaculture suffer from a poverty consciousness. Permaculture is about abundance, one can’t really create abundance with a mindset glued to scarcity. So if you have a poverty consciousness and want to succeed in a permaculture business, get over it. Then you can be as charitable as you want and hell, you will likely end up having a great deal to give.
Boat Anchor Four – Focusing on PDCs over on the ground “workshops” and multiple income sources
I have had a few conversations with “successful permaculture businesses” and when reviewing their revenue teaching 2-6 PDCs a year provided from 75-95% of their income. Whoa! Talk about exposure to a down economy! Hey guys, isn’t this supposed to be about sustainability? How sustainable is a field with one crop? Now bridge the gap in your mind, how sustainable is a business with one revenue source? The PDC is the big money maker for many “pros”, some because frankly they are simply that good and that in demand. For those folks, great, rock on. Yet there can only be so many people of that status in what is, at least for now, a relatively small emerging market. For many, the reason PDCs are the main source of revenue is only because it’s the one thing they can sell enough of at a high enough price to survive.
I personally don’t try to make a lot of money on permaculture but we do fairly well with on the ground workshops. I can do this because I am not in permaculture for money; I have a business that pays my bills. I do permaculture for the pure evangelistic zeal of spreading it. Yet I do know how to run businesses, so if I were to quit my career as a Podcaster, how would I build a profitable permaculture business. I would do something like this
Install the best green and shade houses I could afford – plant business selling plants and cuttings
Install a blow you away permaculture site on my own property – feeds the above and tours for a fee
Save and market the shit out of seeds, specifically stuff that isn’t in every catalog – seed business
Set up pasture based laying chickens and if possible meat birds – eggs sold to neighbors may be meat too
I would run 6-8 large scale on the ground workshops a year, dirty hands stuff – student fees
I would likely teach 2 PDCs a year at most, I would follow Bill Wilson’s model and do part online and on site. http://midwestpermaculture.com/about/our-certification-courses/ – Yes a solid income from PDCs
I would however, really make my mark as a local consultant. I would go to every botanical garden, nature center or arboretum in 100 miles of my home and learn every plant that can be grown in my area. I would have meet up groups teaching basics like sheet mulching for free and for small fees in some instances. I would find a local herbalist and become a local plants expert. I would visit every place with a lawn where someone would talk to me and show them photos of what it could become. I would never answer questions from people the way we do in a PDC with “it depends” rather with, do this or do that, or tell me more so I can answer that for you.
The focus on PDCs as a gold standard for revenue, to me is a boat anchor because, while I wish every person on the planet would do it, it simply really isn’t for everyone. A PDC is really quite demanding, it requires a very high level of thinking and like most educations; it is more about how to learn rather than what you learn. When you leave a PDC one of two things happens.
You now have a way of thinking that leads to a lifetime of developing, teaching, designing but above all learning. You have been converted into a student of permaculture forever. A status you will never graduate from.
You think to yourself something like, “none of my real questions about what to plant in my yard where answered with anything other than ‘it depends’, why did I pay 1,200 dollars for that”?
You see, a PDC doesn’t actually make you to be a great designer; it gives you a foundation so you can become one. A PDC is a gateway to a lifetime of study, research and gaining experience. A permaculturist, if he or she is really good, is an architect of natural systems. One doesn’t become an architect in a 72 hour course. Many people take a PDC and sadly end up with feeling like option 2 versus option 1 above and I think, at least to a degree, it is because we oversell PDCs.
I recently taught a course with a fellow teacher. An individual with what I would call a Ferrari level permaculture education. A teacher certified by the PRI as a teacher, a guy with almost every course you can take under his belt. The man is brilliant in every way a permaculturist can be. Yet, at the end of this class as students presented designs (this was not a PDC) he kept saying things like, “You did that design and you don’t even have a PDC”. Frankly about 90% of the students had not taken a PDC before this class and my co-instructor was actually apprehensive about teaching a course as complex as we put together to people who had not yet taken a PDC. Again, I think this is because we have over sold the PDC to even ourselves.
I think there are two types of people that should take PDCs, they are
People that want an actual career of some sort in permaculture and know exactly what they will and won’t get at a PDC.
People that don’t want a career but know exactly what they will and won’t get at a PDC and still want to take one.
Both should see PDCs as a foundation, not as a one-time event. If you go to a good school to learn about self-defense with firearms, they will spend most of their time teaching you how to train on your own once you leave. So it is with a PDC. You are exposed to systems, designs, patterns, function stacking from concepts used all over the world; many will never apply to you directly. Most of us will never develop a chinampa because we won’t have a location suitable for doing it. Yet every PDC I have ever been part of has chinampas as part of the instruction. The reason to me as it leads so many, “Well, what if I did _______” thoughts. That is the point; the point isn’t to try to build a chinampa system in a Chicago suburb on a 10th of an acre or in a California desert where it just doesn’t fit. The value in the knowledge of a chinampa, even if you never build one, is what elements of it you can stack into a more appropriate solution for a design’s needs and restrictions.
This is the thinking one should go into a PDC with. If not likely you won’t really get the most out of it. Many people will be much better served to go to an intensive workshop about sheet mulching and urban back yard design that is tailored to where they live. So guess what folks, sell that to them, deliver it and do a damn good job with it. Teach them about 50 or more plants and show them how to catch roof water, don’t talk about it, do it, show it, and really teach it. Show them how to get IBCs cheap, don’t just say it, show it. Give people sources of materials and plants not just what stuff to use and buy. Form relationships with suppliers; network the shit out of those relationships as well.
My point is this. In permaculture there are many vertical markets. The top level educational market of PDCs and advanced earthworks, soils, urban design, long term internships, etc. is actually a very narrow vertical. The larger markets are things like…
Local demand for how to design my own back yard
Seeds and plants
Site level consulting
The truth is a lot of people in our world are broke because we are busy trying to sell something expensive to a group that is also often broke. There are millions of people that want at least a piece of what we have to offer and many of them have money, lots of money. Sell to them and sell them what they want and what they actually need. If they don’t need a PDC, sell them what they do need. If you do that you might find that many will start buying.
Some may think I am overly harsh in this article. I am sorry if anyone feels that way but I come at this with a very long track record of being successful in business. I am not here to talk about mud fairies and rainbows. I see permaculture as a solution to many of the most critical problems in our time. I want as many on board with as much as they will get on board with as I can get. The “hippy market” is small and mostly, not fully, but mostly broke. I can’t get permaculture into 1,000,000 new back yards with that approach, and neither can you. If we want the vast majority to get at least a little tuned in to permaculture we have to take it to them, in their language on their level.
I will be doing a presentation on these concepts at Permaculture Voices in March of 2014. In my presentation I will lay out detailed plans for making Permaculture profitable and main stream. If you would like to learn more about this conference where over 40 of Permaculture’s biggest names will be presenting, visit www.permaculturevoices.com
Over at The Survival Podcast I am always finding new things, thanks to my guests and listeners. Last year I learned about something called a “fodder system”. Fodder systems convert grain and seeds into high quality fodder for livestock. The most popular fodder is barley because it is cheap and grows fast, but you can make fodder from almost any seed that your animals would want to eat.
These fodder systems range from DIY systems using rain gutters and grow lights that take say a hundred or so bucks to create, all the way up to multi-thousand dollar commercial systems with automated timers, complete climate control, and lots of bells and whistles. The selling point of both systems is high quality feed and a relatively fast payback time.
Consider that when you grow fodder, one pound of barley, when grown to fodder, will become anywhere from 3-6 pounds of feed depending on how long you grow it out. We grow ours to about 4 times the weight. I do this mainly because I keep chickens and geese and the chickens don’t like it too grassy. What this means is my 50 pound bag of barley is equivalent to 200 pounds of feed.
High quality chicken feed is generally about 15 dollars a bag. Since we want to avoid both soy and GMOs we pay about 25 pounds a bag for a natural non-GMO, non-soy feed made by Texas Natural. It is made with wheat, sorghum, peanut meal, field peas and some other great stuff. In general, I am happy to pay more for a great product that keeps my birds and my family healthy. Yet we have about 12 laying hens and as many as 50 meat birds at times along with our geese. So it can get expensive.
So how much does it save us to spout fodder for our birds? Consider that we are paying about 14 dollars for a 50 pound bag for barley and ending up with 200 pounds of fodder. Price per pound is therefore, 7 cents! If growing for goats or cattle and taking it up to 6 times conversion, your 50 pounds of barley becomes 300 pounds, price per pound is therefore about 4.6 cents a pound, less than a nickel!
It gets better though, sprouted grain is a super food not just for people but for animals, too. Now that our birds are on sprouts, pasture and high quality feed, their health is amazing. They also absolutely love sprouted barley and some other sprouted things as well. With your animals loving something that is great for them, has no GMO threat, and costs you less, you can see why someone might invest hundreds or, in some cases, thousands of dollars in a fodder system, I am just here to tell you it isn’t necessary.
My system is made up of the following…
6 five gallon buckets, 5 with holes drilled in the bottom and one with no holes
Some cinder blocks for the buckets to sit on and drain
A scoop to measure the barley, this is actually my wife’s scoop for her bird feeders
Buckets at Lowes or Home Depot are about 3 bucks each, most people have or can borrow a drill, you can use anything like even rocks to sit your buckets on but 3 cinder blocks do the trick. New blocks if you have to buy them are, at most, 2 dollars. So even if you buy everything new, including the scoop, my system will cost you a maximum of no more than 30 dollars to build.
I know what you are thinking, well fine but how much time does it take compared to an automated system? Well, I spend about 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes in the evening with my system. I do this, drinking coffee in the AM, often with a beer in the PM so it never feels like work to me at all anyway. I could easily double my production if necessary with no more equipment. If I wanted to go up by 4 times, I would need only 6 more buckets and perhaps another minute or two a day maximum of my time. When we did our last meat bird cycle, I simply put in two scoops of barley a batch and once we slaughtered them I backed it down to one scoop.
Here is how it works,
Day One – Soak one to two scoops of barley in your bucket with no holes for about 12 hours. It is best to start your soaking in the evening.
Day Two Morning – Dump the barley that was soaked overnight into one of the buckets with holes drilled in the bottom. Let it drain and set it in your sprouting area. You want a shady spot that doesn’t get too hot, you don’t need much sun at all for this. Don’t start another batch soaking at this time.
Day Two Evening – Set your bucket of soaked barley on something to let it drain, I do this where the water will be of advantage to my garden. Fill the empty bucket with no holes about 3/4 full, dump that water on the soaked grain to keep it moist and rinse it off. Put a scoop in your bucket with no holes, add water to cover well, return both buckets to your sprouting area.
On the morning of day three you just continue the process, now stack a new bucket with holes inside the one with the two day soaked grain, and dump the grain you soaked overnight into the new strainer bucket. Fill the soaking bucket about 3/4 full, dump into the strainer buckets, let drain and return them to the sprouting area.
If you can set things up so the rinse water will drain to a garden from your sprouting area you won’t even have to move the buckets.
Each day you will notice the barley or seed of your choice is changing a bit. By day two you should see tiny white roots starting to pop out of the grain, day three you will see a lot of roots, day four a bit of green and day five quite a bit, this is when we feed the fodder to our birds. Each day I just stack all the buckets and dump one bucket of water into the top to rinse the grain and keep it moist. You can feed this grain to your animals at any point along the way or grow it out further. You will just need to decide what they like best and what gives you the best return of investment on your feed costs. Honestly the chickens like it best before it totally turns into a matt with grass on it. But the geese love it matted up and green. So we compromise and stop at 5 days versus the 7 days many grow fodder for.
You really can do this with any grain or seed that will sprout and form something your animals will want to eat. We tried black eyed peas and they were great spouts on 3 days but to our surprise the birds didn’t really like them. While they love to eat field peas, leaves, pods and all in the field where we cover crop with them, spouts just didn’t do it for them. I also tried black oil sunflower. My laying birds ate it and seemed to like it okay but didn’t get really excited. Our meat birds (freedom rangers) didn’t seem to want it at all. I will experiment with some other grains and seeds but for the most part it seems that barley is best.
Many have told me barley won’t sprout at temps much above 60 degrees. Like I said, we keep our buckets in a shaded alley between our garage and house. It is cool in there but we have had great results and our temps have ranged from 45-95 degrees during the time we have been using this system, we have never had a failure to sprout and grow. Will it work in the summer when temps climb well into the hundreds and overnight lows are still in the high 80s? I am not sure, but I am confident it will work most of our year in the south.
The other thing I am not sure of is how cold we can go before we have a failure to sprout. But we will find out. We can always move the system into our garage at that point, again you don’t need much light at all to just start the beginning of green growth and the birds actually like it less grassy anyway. I am going to try sprouting some sorghum and, if they like it, we can go to it in the hotter times of the year if necessary. Sorghum is still a non GMO crop and available in bulk at a low cost just like barley. We also know we can grow a lot of it on site because we ran trials with many varieties this year.
A few simple things to make your spouting successful
Don’t let your grain soak more than twelve hours. All grain has wild yeast and lacto fermenting bacteria on it. Left too long it will begin to ferment, it will then stink and likely not sprout well.
Drill small holes in your buckets, lots of small holes are better than a few big ones. This will let you try sprouting smaller seeds. Don’t sweat the holes. As long as the bucket drains, you are good. I used a 1/8 inch bit for my system.
Our “scoop” holds about 2 cups of grain, it works fine at that rate and we can go to two scoops (4 cups) with good results per each bucket. If you need more fodder, set up a second set of buckets.
I find it best to start my soaking in the evening. I am less likely to forget it that way. Since I feed the birds each morning that reminds me to strain it off. But do what works best for you.
Try to find a nice cool shaded spot for your sprouting and, again, if you can set it up so you can rinse in place, all the better. A 7th bucket could be used to bring the water in and take it out if you want to do that.
In any event, if you keep chickens, rabbits, geese or other livestock, this is a great and cheap way to cut your feed costs and provide super nutrition to your animals. If you ever decide you want a fancy automated system, fine go for it but try this first. You can always use the buckets as planters if you move up in such a system. Best of all this system requires zero electricity, as long as you have water and can dump a bucket, you are in business.
I have been told by those in the north that their winters are too cold for my method. My response is one cheap grow light and the buckets are likely sufficient in whatever area you would set up your fancy system. Frankly the light need only be placed over the last two buckets in the cycle, if at all. Again this process doesn’t need much light. Unless you are doing a 7 day cycle with major top growth for goat or cattle or something like that, I just can’t see making a much larger investment. So give this system a try, it won’t set you back much, your animals will love you for it, and it will seriously cut your feed costs.
What is a Paleo Diet?
A Concept Not A Defined Diet
Over at my daily podcast, The Survival Podcast, I have had a ton of questions about “The Paleo Diet” as it relates to current authors such as Robb Wolf, Loren Cordain and Mark Sisson. I have also had a lot of discussion as to how it relates to the work of pioneering researcher Dr. Weston Price. Questions like, “Does paleo allow dairy?”, “Is alcohol in moderation okay?”, “Can you eat grain if you soak it and call it paleo?” come in by the bucket load.
The first thing we need to accept in order that we may logically examine a paleo nutrition based lifestyle is something very hard for many to conceive of, paleo isn’t “a diet”. Paleo is a concept upon which many different people draw conclusions and develop and evolve a diet. Why is this distinction important? Simply because if you don’t see it this way, you think paleo is a list of what to eat and what not to eat and that list is based on the one author or blogger you choose to follow.
Authors such as Cordain, Wolf, and Sisson have done great work, you can learn a lot from them. They all also have a lot of similar recommendations but quite a few differences. None seems to have any need to bash the work of the other though, because I believe they all see paleo as again what it is, a concept. There is no definitive source that gets to say “A is paleo and B isn’t.” Paleo nutrition is basically an opinion derived from both scientific evidence and extrapolation based on human nature and the behavior of indigenous peoples.
Why is this so important? So that people interested in learning about the paleo concept can give themselves the freedom to examine the work of the many wonderful authors and bloggers. A group of pioneers who are working with and evolving this concept and develop a plan that works best for their lives.
What Did Our Paleo Ancestors Eat?
The fact of the matter is we do not know exactly how humans 10,000 years ago ate; they didn’t leave any a dining hall schedule or hard and fast records behind. Tons of research has been done, actual food stores found ,and we know a lot about what was available; but we don’t absolutely know for a fact that people ate X percent of this and Y percent of that. Anyone saying we do is either a liar, delusional, or a time traveler in disguise.
What we do know is paleolithic people were definitely hunter gathers. We know they had quite advanced technology for hunting and all the tools needed to butcher and kill animals from small to large. People with limited resources don’t develop and put energy into the creation of such implements and not put them to use. From this we know they killed and ate animals.
We also know they gathered wild fruit, tubers, nuts, seeds, and yes even grain. Grain of course is not acceptable according to many on the paleo lifestyle. I personally consider it “not on the diet” but that doesn’t make it “unacceptable” in all circumstances, more on that in a bit. What we can surmise though is as a gatherer you will gather that which is easiest and tastes best first. Nuts are easy to gather when they fall but take time and energy to crack. Wild grains are tiny and take a ton of work to process, so did they eat it, sure, did they make it a staple, not likely.
If I try to go food by food, item by item this article will become a book, many fine books exist on the concept so I have no intention to rewrite one here. My premise is that our paleo ancestors likely got the majority of their calories from stuff they could kill or pick and then easily consume with minimal effort. Anything requiring much energy was likely the equivalent of a “survival ration”. Most of these items store well if simply kept dry and you don’t have to process it right away. This would include a lot of wild grains and many nuts and seeds. Now some seeds are very easy to process, they don’t need hulling and are easily harvested, perhaps more of such seeds were used, we don’t know, all we can do is guess.
Now fruits and berries were likely very highly utilized but were mostly eaten seasonally. Sure you can dry them but there is only so much utility there. Vegetables of the time, which were mostly greens of one sort or another, were likely also seasonal; none store well. Many tubers store well but they can be bulky and likely were used mostly in winter when we believe these quite nomadic people were less on the move.
The World Is A Big Ass Place
Into this we have to add in something many paleo authors seem to not touch on. Paleo people were not just Nordic types in furry vests and the first Native Americans in temperate cold climates. By this time there were people in almost all parts of the world, certainly in all of the world’s climates. Tropics, desert, cool temperate and warm temperate have lots of different foods that would have been available. You can bet people living near a marsh quickly figured out how to eat clams, oysters, snails, etc. They are easy to gather and cook in their own little cooking containers. How many oysters did a person in central North America eat though? How about the tribesman in the African savannah? Do you think he was eating shellfish? Yet, in all but the driest environments, fish was likely consumed.
There were far less people and far more fish and the water was far cleaner 10,000 years or more ago. The work of Dr. Weston A Price showed us, by examining remaining indigenous people, that almost all such cultures used meat in one form or another. If you want to learn more about Dr. Price’s Work check out The Price Pottenger Nutritional Foundation at http://ppnf.org/ they are the official organization that has continued his work. While the PPNF eating guidelines are not 100% consistent with paleo they are a great example of the core of this way of eating. Additionally, they allow us to examine ways to use some foods not generally considered paleo. I will get to why this is important in a bit.
In essence this is what we know, our ancient ancestors ate a lot of meat, they ate pretty much 100% of all edible parts of any animal they killed. Stomach, liver, kidneys, abnormal fat, back fat, eyes, tongue, heart, etc. and it was a huge part of their intake. They gathered edible tubers, edible fruits and berries, edible greens and shoots, some seeds, nuts and in some instances wild grains. We can surmise that a lot of the seeds, grains, etc. were used in extreme moderation simply due to the work involved to make them edible. Paleo eating is built on this concept.
There Is No Pope Of Paleo
Some writers, such as Loren Cordain, who is for all intents and purposes the father of the currently thriving Paleo Community, have recommended lean cuts of meat. I disagree with this and most such authors such as Cordain and his protégé Robb Wolf have moved in the direction of more animal fats over time. Most of the newer writers and bloggers have started out with fat making up a lot of the diet, I agree with this.
The key to remember though is paleo again is a concept; it isn’t “a diet” like say “Weight Watchers” or “South Beach”. Sure some writers have set guidelines but it is based on their interpretation of the concept. Again the reason this is key for you as an individual is that no one gets to tell you exactly what you must and must not eat. Rather you simply look at guidelines and make your own choices and by experimentation determine what is best for you. This isn’t like the ancient Catholic church where the Pope could tell you exactly what you can’t eat on Fridays during Lent. Writers, bloggers, researchers, and scientists within the Paleo community are all to be seen as resources, not authorities.
Some people on paleo take a mostly lean meat and veggies approach. They cook mostly with things like olive oil and focus more on protein. They eat no grains; almost no legumes and no white starches like, say, white potato or rice. They will eat a bit of nuts here and there, tree nuts not things like peanuts that are actually legumes. They eat only grass-fed and pastured meats. Is that paleo? Yes. Is it what I do? No. Do I disagree with their assessment in some areas as to how early man ate? Absolutely. Does that mean they are not paleo or I am not paleo, can any of us be excommunicated by a “Pope of Paleo”? No.
What I Eat – It Ain’t All Paleo
I am not 100% paleo, 100% of the time. I consider myself paleo because the bulk of my diet is made up of foods that I either feel my ancestors consumed, or analogs to them. My ancestors didn’t eat beef from a Black Angus steer, because that animal didn’t exist. But said beef is quite similar chemically to buffalo or kudu, as long as it isn’t laced with chemicals and antibiotics and the animal isn’t fattened artificially on corn. Many things I eat some purists say are not paleo; I disagree, that is my right, I run my own life after all and I think for myself, you should do the same.
Some things I eat or drink I know full well are not paleo. These fall into four categories…
Items that I feel, based on biochemistry, don’t really do anything to the body that is negative on its effect and contrary to paleo biochemistry, but don’t really do much positive either. One example is alcohol in moderation. I don’t refer to “beer” or really specific beverage. I am referring to the actual ethyl alcohol in any “adult beverage”. The residual carbohydrates in a beer are clearly not paleo and can, in quantity, have a quite negative effect. Yet alcohol is processed differently than protein, fat, or carbohydrate and, if NOT taken to excess, is simply eliminated by the body. It has little to no effect on blood sugar in moderation. This is scientific fact.
Items that are not paleo but have been prepared in a way to mitigate their negative effects or are not totally detrimental even though I know they are not truly paleo. Let’s go back to beer for a second. Too much beer you get a beer belly, it is all about the carbs. Paleo results in a low carb lifestyle; it isn’t low carb just to be so it just works out that way. The key with beer though is it is grain based; however it is brewed with spouted grains, sprouting grains makes them LESS toxic. Lacto fermentation also makes grains less toxic so I would be far more likely to eat sourdough bread vs. typical bread. Still I am not going to eat fermented grains or sourdough daily, the carbohydrate load alone is counter to paleo biochemistry. I am also aware here that I am making toxic foods less toxic, not harmless. Corn is also on this list for me, old varieties of non GMO organic corn have a true history with humans over thousands of years. It isn’t good for you but a hell of a lot less harmful, in my opinion, then wheat. So I would generally choose a corn tortilla, if indulging, than a flour one.
Items that are beneficial to my health and don’t take away from the good that paleo does in any way. These are mostly fermented foods but fermented foods that are also paleo. Cabbage is a vegetable, it is on the consume list and, when fermented, it has a very positive health effect. Yet I know full well sauerkraut wasn’t being consumed in 10,000 BC. I put yogurt (real whole milk yogurt, there is no such thing as true yogurt that is low or no fat) in this category as well, along with things like kefir. Also included in this group would also be fermented pickles and escabeche. Escabeche is one of my true loves, the ingredients are all paleo but it is also fermented goodness. Classic escabeche is just fermented carrots, jalapeno, and onion cut in strips and fermented in salty water. I add garlic and sweet peppers to mine. I consider such fermented foods as “paleo friendly indigenous foods”. They came later than the paleo period but use paleo friendly ingredients and are rooted in indigenous cultures.
Items that are just not paleo and frankly not good for your health. Last night I ate some brisket tacos. I did so with plain old everyday flour tortillas. I put sharp cheddar on them, green tomatillo salsa, and I ate fricken four of them. I had no guilt, no ill effects, and no one took my “Justice League of Paleo Card” from me. Why did I eat that? I wanted it and damn it tasted good. Given the rest of the week I had eaten almost 100% solid it really did me no harm but I also know it isn’t “approved”, it is cheating or more to my way of thinking a comfort food to be eaten in extreme moderation. On rare occasions I truly indulge and go off the reservation. Last Thanksgiving I ate a huge pile of white potatoes and stuffing. I won’t do it this year, not because I want to be “good” but because I felt like crap last year. This year I will do some roasted sweet potato (Japanese Purple) and make stuffing from smoked sausage and chestnuts. I bet I will enjoy it more.
I hope this starts to paint a picture for you that paleo isn’t an all or nothing scenario. I eat what I want but I put it this way, I am 90% paleo, 90% of the time.
Here is a typical day, this is what I actually ate two days before writing this.
Coffee – I consider it neutral and not “un-paleo” others disagree.
Heavy organic cream – Again neutral, I would prefer it from raw milk but can’t find it in my area.
Pastured eggs with blue cheese and left over brisket – I call that paleo.
Afternoon – Nothing I just wasn’t hungry, this happens all the time now. Some days I don’t eat anything until 5 pm, and have no cravings or ill effect, this is not planned.
Chicken wings made with my own special chili and garlic oil on the grill, solid paleo.
Roasted carrots fine on paleo, especially as few as I ate.
Grilled green peppers absolutely paleo approved.
Two small pieces of dark chocolate, not paleo but no big deal in my opinion.
I drank a few beers too and that isn’t paleo but I don’t care, I am happy with my results with paleo eating at the core of my diet.
Jack at 290+ lbs.
First, let me tell you about the before version of Jack Spirko. At the heaviest I ever weighed myself I was 283. I know I was fatter at my fattest; I was losing weight before I was willing to get on the scale and look at my real predicament. I would estimate my weight at its worst at about 295 but I was too ashamed to weigh myself at the time. I am a former Army Airborne solider and never really accepted that I was fat until I had really gotten bad. Worse physically I was able to perform pretty well, in shape types often sucked wind if I hiked with them while I was fine. That was dangerous it led me into a false sense of feeling I was okay.
I was not okay by a long shot! I was killing myself! My blood sugar was nuts, if I failed to eat I would end up shaky, sweaty, sick, and mean as hell in a state called hypoglycemia. My blood pressure went in spikes all the time. While I could endure hard work I didn’t want to do it I just did it when I had to. I was on track for a heart attack by age 50 at best and likely close to type 2 diabetes, if not already there.
While I am now, as I put it, 90% paleo, 90% of the time, I didn’t start that way. My approach was to go 100% paleo approved (my version) with very little alcohol and dairy for 60 days. In that first 60 days I ate at a caloric level where the numbers say I should have gained weight but I didn’t, 20 pounds tumbled off in the first two months will I ate literal slabs or bacon and 1 pound plus fat laden rib eye steaks.
The first week I felt like crap as I withdrew from all the carbohydrates and processed foods. It was exactly like breaking a drug addiction. In fact, I believe modern processed food and the combination of high carbohydrates with refined sugar and fats is a drug. It causes the exact same things to occur as any illicit drug would. When you eat it you feel good, soon you feel compelled to eat more. When negative thing start to happen (declining health and getting fat in this case) people continue to do it. People in this state have withdrawal symptoms with even modest fasting times. And like me, when they quit, the detoxification is almost identical to drug withdrawals.
Those first 60 days happened almost three years ago. Over the next 10 months I continued to lose weight. By the end of that year I was down to 210 pounds. Considering I didn’t do a lot of exercising and that I was 190 pounds at 19 when I was in the Airborne; that’s pretty amazing. The big question though is always, not how much you lose but do you keep it off. I am happy to say over the next two years not only did I keep it off, I am now about 205, so I have slowly continued to lose weight.
You Have to Be Strict in the Beginning
I briefly discussed my path above to point something out that is very important. If you read what I eat you might come to the wrong conclusion. That you can be as lax as I am now and lose a lot of weight or correct dietary based illness or both. Likely you can’t. In the beginning I followed Robb Wolf’s book almost to the letter. My only departures were I ate fatty meat because I knew already it would work better and I drank likely a few more adult beverages than Rob would have approved of, though I drank almost no beer. I mostly enjoyed dry wines and Robb’s famous Nor Cal Margarita’s in the beginning.
After 60 days in I also didn’t just become as lax as I am today. At that time I was still addicted. I was still massively tempted to go down to a place like Cracker Barrel and shovel biscuits, chicken fried steak and white gravy into my pie hole. For another few months I avoided most restaurants and, if I did go, ordered things like steak fajitas and asked the server not to bring me chips or tortillas. I knew if they were on the table I would eat them. At this point, I began enjoying some beers again, sticking to lighter varieties for a while. I started to eat more cheese and some dairy and waited to see if it had any negative impact. I continued to get in better shape and had no ill effects. I continued at this level for about another 3 months.
After that I began letting myself have a bit of bread once a week if it popped up. I didn’t plan it like, okay Thursday is bread day. That is bad for the mind; you convince yourself you are sacrificing. But if I was at a steak house and they brought out bread and if I was in the mood I had a slice. I would on rare occasions have some rice and beans at a Mexican restaurant, but never ate them all, just a bit. I would eat almost all my meat and vegetables first and by doing so I would never really want the entire portion anyway.
Along the way something strange happened, my appetite declined and any trace of my former issues with hypoglycemia disappeared. When I was eating without thinking, I was already eating rib eyes, for example. I would eat one with broccoli and a huge potato and perhaps a big piece of garlic bread. Now the potato and bread were gone, and yet I found myself with a third of my steak going into the fridge for use in tomorrow’s breakfast. Then, as previously mentioned, I began fasting on many days with no intent of doing so, I just only ate if I felt like it. Yet none of this happened overnight. It was a long process and a great journey.
Thoughts on Exercise
People are amazed when I say I didn’t exercise and I didn’t in the way most people think of the word but you might have to. First and foremost, we are different beings you and I, you may not respond as well as I did or as fast as I did and may need something to kick on the furnace. The truth though is likely I didn’t have to hit the gym due to my lifestyle while this was occurring. We had just moved to a homestead in Arkansas. My days were spent cutting timber, splitting logs, digging gardens and taking walks with my dog up a very steep road over about 2 – 3 miles a day.
Today it is much the same. We are in Texas and have a 3 acre homestead. I walk the entire property multiple times a day seeing to our animals. I do a lot of work in the garden, I build a lot of things, I swim in our pool, and frankly, in the summer, sweat my ass off. Let me say I believe that unless you have specific goals as an athlete this is the ideal way to get “exercise”. Our paleo ancestors didn’t do cross fit or run on tread mills or stair masters. They certainly didn’t work out to “Buns of Steel”, etc. They ran, they walked, they hunted, they moved heavy objects but all energy extended had a purpose. That gave their lives purpose, and that, my friends, reduces stress. If you want to be paleo; take walks, focus only on things you can actually affect, turn the damn news off and tune into something positive. Getting active, getting outside, and relieving stress is a huge part of paleo.
That said not every person out there can live on their own little homestead doing construction projects, digging gardens, and working with livestock. Many are busy professionals who can only get a work out if they schedule time and do conventional exercise. If that is you, so be it. Still, make time to simply take walks. If you can find a place with hills and get off pavement, even better. If you have specific athletic goals then, of course, you will need to exercise. If you want to be ripped and cut and lean like a person on a magazine cover, you also will need to do a lot of exercise in a more conventional form. Yet I am convinced by my results if you simply want to be healthy, in shape and happy, all you need is an active lifestyle. Let me say though if exercise isn’t distressing for you and you enjoy it, don’t stop doing it either.
The best guideline I have come by for what is or isn’t paleo food is this one.
All food meant for human consumption can be eaten in its raw natural state by humans, even if we don’t eat it that way due to health concerns or cultural bias.
Consider what you have to do to make wheat edible. Cut it, thresh it, winnow it and you still have rock hard seeds unfit to eat. They must be then ground, cracked, soaked or cooked in some way or perhaps sprouted to make them edible. Folks that is not food meant by nature for humans! What animal does this for any food it naturally consumes other than us? The answer is none.
As previously discussed, some tolerate grain pretty well, but it is toxic. Soaking, fermentation and sprouting make grain less toxic, but it is still toxic to humans. Almost every food that is a no-go on paleo and primal eating universally will fit this bill. What about meat? Meat is good raw and it is quite digestible raw. It is only modern cultural bias and health concerns of parasites that make cooking meat necessary.
So my view is, if something isn’t a food you would eat with little to no preparation, it isn’t paleo. These foods are your building blocks. The other concern is too much sugar. While fruit is something early man ate, remember there were no orchards or Whole Foods Markets to run down to. Fruit wasn’t something you could eat every day and they certainly didn’t eat the same varieties every day. It was eaten seasonally so mimic that, especially early on.
To me, the way to move into this lifestyle is to first follow a proven method with some modifications if you see fit but keep pretty close to a proven plan. Fix what is broken in your body before cheating and eating things that don’t pass the “would I eat this in its raw form” test. If you want to experiment with fermented and sprouted grains, fine; but at least try the baseline first for, say, 60 days. You can do anything for 60 days; most people would gladly spend 60 days in jail in return for a million dollars, so 60 days without bread and rice ain’t going to kill you. If it works well, stick to it until you get closer to being truly healthy. Then slowly add different things back, stick to naturally grown things, no processed crap. Only try one or two things at a time as you reintroduce things. That way if something goes off kilter you can easily figure out what it was.
In time you will refine your personal dietary regiment and by doing it this way you absolutely will stick to it. You may very well find yourself eating more in keeping with the guidelines of people, who follow the work of Dr. Weston Price, or you may find yourself eating more like Robb Wolf or Loren Cordain, but you will find what works for you. That is indeed the key.
The reason though for going all in at first is because trust me most people don’t know how sick they are. Most don’t really know how fat they are either. You need that cleansing time, that break down and rebuilding and cold turkey addiction breaking period so you can actually know what healthy is again. Once you do you will be able to ascertain that some food or substance is a problem for you very early on.
My contention is most people that don’t clean out before adding back, end up failing, often with Yo-Yo diet-like symptoms. They lose weight, look good, gain it all back and more and it becomes harder to lose the next time around. Frankly let me tell you I did this weight loss thing about 12 years ago. The story you just read isn’t my first battle with weight. In the 90s, I discovered Protein Power by the Doctors Eades. I was fat, not as fat as this last time but overweight. I went on Protein Power and it worked great but, within a year, I was fat again and began the slow gain that took me up over 290 pounds.
I firmly believe that not trying to make “low carb pancakes” as people on diets that are only low carb do is a big part of why my success this time is permanent. I don’t count carbohydrates, I don’t feel deprived, I eat food designed for humans to consume it. Yet I had to break the food addictions first. I had to strip it down to true caveman level stuff and only then did I slowly and purposefully find my way to what works for me.
Just remember Paleo is a concept; eating in a way that mimics our early ancestor’s diet, the diet we are genetically designed for. Start at that foundation, get active, give it time to work, and adapt it to your life once you have regained your health.
This is a common argument I have seen countless versions of; in fact, I have seen it taken to downright attacks on one’s claim of being a libertarian. It will often take the form of something such as, “Well, you claim to be a libertarian and think everything the government does is wrong, but you benefit from pubic roads, use public lands, and you even get your water from government-run utilities.” The connotation is that the libertarian is either ungrateful and disingenuous or simply all theory and no practice.
The problem, from what I have seen, is most libertarians have no real idea how to respond to such claims. The general response is to write off the other party, or more often to attack them as wanting “government to run their lives.” This exact scenario just played itself out on my website when a person who took exception to libertarianism left a comment with a link to this political cartoon in the comments section of my blog.
The image shows various pets complaining that humans have never done anything for them, all while enjoying the benefits of being fully cared for, with an attempt at a clever caption titled “If House Pets Were Libertarians.” In the cartoonist’s attempt to be clever, he has actually made an exceptional case for libertarians. People are not pets. Now the government is trying to treat us like pets, but I sure don’t want to be one – even with good food and free trips to the vet. The animals in the cartoon can’t use logic, reason and forethought. Humans can. This stab against libertarians is actually an excellent cartoon with the right interpretation.
The average libertarian actually does know that many things that have been done by government are “useful”, they just know, in most cases, government wasn’t required to get them done. They know they could have been done, for less money and with more efficiency, without big brother. Their anger at government hides this fact and is one of the things that impairs reaching more people with the libertarian message.
Here is a simple way to explain these so-called government “successes” and why the libertarian will choose to “benefit” from the results of big government, even while speaking against them. Consider what I would be forced to do if our government somehow legally took 50,000 dollars directly from my bank account, and then bought me a 25,000 dollar car with my own money. If I had no legal recourse, no way to fight the injustice, I would have no choice but to simply accept and drive the car. Sure it would get me to work every day and the big government types would say, “Look, see, he uses the car and doesn’t acknowledge it.”
Now was this program a success? Is the car useful to me? Does it run when I turn the key, stop when I hit the brakes, and will I use it to get where I need to go? Of course I will use the car, but the reality is, my right to buy the model I wanted, at the price I was willing to pay, has been taken away from me. I had four choices before I was “helped” by the car program.
If I had been left to my own choices I could have…
1. Purchased a similar car for 25,000 dollars instead of the 50,000 it ended up costing me.
2. Purchased a much nicer car with the full 50,000 dollars they took away from me.
3. Purchased a less expensive car all together and kept most of my money for other needs.
4. Not purchased any car at all and chosen to walk; hell, maybe I wanted a motorcycle!
The reality of successful government programs is perfectly illustrated in this example, where my money is stolen and spent in a way I disapprove of, and then they tell me how lucky I am to have the car they overpaid for and chose for me. So, the next time you are challenged about this type of thing, use this example. I had a great friend at one time that called this “eggplant theory.” To quote him, “I hate eggplant, they take my money and feed me eggplant, and tell me I should be happy to be fed.”
That sums it up pretty well. Sure, the libertarian will utilize the few useful things that government has produced, but it is only because we have paid for it and have been left with no alternative.
~ Jack Spirko
You hear it all the time from those who want gun control laws added to the more than 25,000 plus existing regulations, “if it only saves one life, it is worth it.” Many of us who actually value simple small things like the right of self determination, the constitution of the nation, and individual liberty will often point to automotive deaths as a counter argument, but I have a better one – deaths and injuries due to staircases. Let’s examine some classic gun grabber logic and apply it to staircases. I think you will be shocked at the results.
First some statistics, falling down stairs on average
Kills over 1,300 people per year – (source)
Over 1 million people are injured per year in stairway falls – (source)
Nearly 100,000 children a year are injured enough by stairway falls to require hospitalization – (source)
Young children and the elderly are the most victimized by falls – (source)
Let’s take those numbers over a decade we get…
13,000 deaths that never had to happen
10,000,000 plus hospital visits that never had to happen
1,000,000 children hospitalized for serious injury that never had to happen
An unfair and disproportionate group of victims who are small kids or older adults that need protection
Now I know those that love regulation are thinking, I know we can do something, some sort of warning sign campaign or perhaps requiring some sort of additional safety whereever stairs are. Oh no, if we are going with “if it saves even one life” logic like gun grabbers, let us go to the next one, “no one needs a gun”. Now you and I may be tempted to point out that no one needs a lot of things people own. Like say a DVD collection of Desperate Housewives, but that people have a right to property. Let’s not go there though, let’s follow this logic into something that will kill 130,000 people and injure more that 10,000,000 and put over 1,000,000 precious babies in the hospital in the next 10 years.
Here is a radical thought, “no one needs stairs”. Heresy? Not really, clearly I am not serious when I say we should ban stairs, but let us examine it with gun control logic. Why do you think you need stairs? Well, to get to the second or higher floor of a building for one thing. Really? Man, elevators have been safer than stairs since 1852 when the cable brake was invented by Elisha Otis. So we just need to ban stairs (except for emergency use and their use by trained professionals, of course) and we will save over 13,000 lives in only 10 years, not to mention prevent over 10,000,000 hospital visits.
Not practical? Now hold on this is gun grabber logic where the government has a fleet of magic unicorns that fart rainbows and solve problem with things called regulations, laws, congressional committees, building codes and “government oversight” not to mention taxing the evil rich!
Let’s start with what we can all agree on, the madness must stop. So, at a minimum, we have to ban the building of any new stairs for general use. All new constructions will have stairs only for emergency evacuations, there will be licensed trained professionals that can use them for other needs and who will direct us untrained types down them if necessary. That is right, if you need to use your stairs dial 911 and professionals will come to your aid.
This will add to tax payer expense as all public buildings will have to have additional elevators added, as the ones for equal access to the handicapped won’t be sufficient. However, we know, due to those elevators, that government regulations work, if you mandate elevators they will appear! Of course it is only right that the rich pay their fair share, so we also can pass laws saying any and all commercial buildings (this would include apartments) must have sufficient elevators installed for all use by residents/customers. We are not unreasonable, this plan can be phased in over a few years. Oh and big companies that would be adversely affected can get a waiver, you know like, Walmart did with Obamacare.
Now wait, I know what you are thinking, you’re thinking what about areas where an elevator isn’t practical, where you only need a few stairs, right. Well, that is still to dangerous! But it isn’t a problem, have you ever wondered why we have both stairs and wheelchair ramps in the same place outside a building for instance? Time for this moronic redundancy to end, if a ramp is good enough for a person in a wheelchair, it is good enough for people who can walk upright, too. This will save a ton of money in construction costs and, as you will soon see, we are going to need plenty of money to solve this deadly problem.
Now, of course, we will be installing these elevators and closing all stairs in schools as well, that happens in the above paragraph. But hey kids are at the greatest risk! So all schools need to also be stair free zones. Not only will be give priority to removing all dangerous stairs from schools over other government facilities, but we will double the new substantial penalties for anyone creating anything close to a stair without a permit. If it happens in a “stair free zone”, 5 years of prison becomes 10, I mean we have to protect the children.
Oh wait! On that note, kids can be part of the problem due to neanderthal type parents that join radical new groups like the new NSWA (National Stair Way Association). Such parents encourage their poor children to continue an archaic process of stair usage as though it was some sort of right granted by a mythical “creator”. So we will need a zero tolerance policy on stairs in schools. If little Timmy stacks books the wrong way, out he goes or if little Tammy chews her state approved sandwich into a blocky shape she has to go, too. I mean, when that horrible little monster of a kid chewed his pop tart in the shape of a gun, they suspended him right? For the love of God, lives are at stake! Need I remind you 13,000 people will die from this that don’t have to if we fail to act!
So okay now the kids are safe, all stairs are out of schools or only to be used by trained professionals who must be first called in to help others use them. We have stair free zones that double the stair building prison sentences for anyone creating a stair on school property or within 1 mile around it. Finally the kids are safe, at least at school. We will also have “stair free zones” on all public property, let a protesting member of the NSWA climb on his “soap box” in a public area, hey bud that looks like a stair, so it is 5 years in the clink, well 10 for you buddy, this is a stair free zone. Again, no one needs stairs, we are not barbarians, technology has a safer answer.
So now the big problem, grandma and the kids are all now safe in rental units or safe secure stair free zones when in public buildings. Yet what about the middle class and the lower middle class, wealthy enough to have a home but not an elevator.
Hold on, first let’s start with what we all agree on, the madness has to stop. So we will start with new construction, no more two story homes without approval. If you want two stories you have to show “good cause”. If approved, you are responsible for your own elevator. If you are a licensed professional, you can use your stairs without calling 911 first, but your family may only do so in time of emergency under supervision. I mean, you don’t think it is okay for a wife of a New York City police officer to handle his service pistol do you? That is dangerous, he is the trained professional, not her.
Hell, you know what, this no more or seriously limited two story house construction is a great idea anyway. I mean two and three story homes are far less energy efficient than a one story home. Hey don’t you care about the polar bears, are you some evil climate change denier or something? Yep, smaller, more energy efficient housing for everyone. Well, except for the connected and the wealthy that can get a permit, we are on to something here. Now we can turn to the existing 100 million plus owner occupied homes, about half of which are two story, and fix that. It is a big challenge, but America should be an example to the rest of the world!
Let’s face it, there is no way the average person can afford having their stairs walled off and an elevator installed, we need government to step up for that! So we can create a new government workforce, we can call it the “Elevator Installations and Maintenance Squad” the EIMS, all such groups need catchy sounding names! These will be good government jobs and help lower unemployment. First they will get on the massive task of putting in about 50 million elevators and blocking off an equal number of stairways. There will be job training and benefits. It will be expensive, but let’s just raise the marginal top tax rate from 39% to 49%, those rich assholes have plenty of money! And if that isn’t enough to pay for this, we can print money. The story that printing money causes inflation is a right wing conspiracy theory!
Heck, in the end the program will pay for itself! Consider the size of this workforce and what it will mean to the economy. It won’t only help big cities either, rural America has plenty of two story houses, I wonder if that big old Walton’s House is still around, it needs an elevator, too, you know! I mean, you might think after all new homes are one story or self funded for elevators and all existing homes retrofitted we are done, but who is going to maintain all this new technology? The EIMS, of course, don’t forget the M all letters are important in a government agency, you know, you can’t just pick and choose the ones you like.
I mean, with so many new elevators in both public, private and commercial hands, there is no way the private sector can be trusted to look after them all. The EIMS will be a great place to work for many decades. The brilliant Mr. Keynes taught us about this. Think about it, all EIMS members are trained pros, they will get permits easily via their jobs for two story homes. So that is more work for them in installation and maintenance right there. They are going to spend the money they are paid, so what is the problem, it goes into the economy stupid!
They will buy cars, send their kids to safe schools, have a great benefits package. This will spur the economy to even greater heights, and this is all while saving millions from serious injury and tens of thousands from certain death over the years! There really is no reason not to do this, I mean, with guns we have that pesky second amendment! There is no constitutional right to stairs, nor should there be. No stupid myopic conservative supreme court justices to get in the way, just that annoying NSWA lobby, but hell we can crush them like the prehistoric regressive vermin they are.
There will be even more jobs of course! Sure we have existing government agencies and the NIMS but we know no government agency can be self policed. So we will add yet another organization that will regulate all these new agencies and departments and elevators. This is a national movement, the tenth amendment doesn’t apply to this. The individual states can’t be trusted here. So a new federal agency will be created to provide this oversight and law enforcement service.
We will call it the BSCJ or the Bureau of Stairways, Cosmetics and Junk Food. While there is currently regulation of Cosmetics and Junk Food, it is pretty lapse and by consolidating them into the new BSCJ, we will save tax payers even more money all while creating even more jobs. I know hiring more government workers seems counter-intuitive to saving tax payers money, but you just have to trust me here. Of course this new organization will also need policing but that is no problem, we will just place it under the DOJ (Department of Justice).
I get it right here at the end you are all about getting on board with this right? You are just struggling with the last part, the BSCJ, right? I mean, do we really need another department of the DOJ and what the heck in the world do Cosmetics and Junk Food have to do with Stairways? Well, there is precedent for something that seems this unrelated and it always exists in the DOJ, so we know it will work perfectly. Of course I am talking about the BATF! People didn’t think alcohol, tobacco and firearms had a lot to do with each other back when that department was created either, but man it has worked out.
It is simple, we get some cool black jackets with big old white SCJ letters on them. Then we give these trained professionals guns, armored cars and tactical training just like the AFT gets. We make the SCJ a “a tax-collecting, enforcement and regulatory arm of the US Department of the Treasury” within the DOJ, just like the ATF is. We give them authority to tax collect, enforce law and see to our safety. From what the existing ATF says on their own website, if we do that, we can expect a 35 to 1 return on our money! Seriously that isn’t just a liberal pipe dream, you can see this 35 to 1 claim on the ATF’s own website here. Hell, all any government agency needs is guns and the power to tax and we can have more money than we know what to do with, but that is a story for another day.
The ATF has taken down the page that shows that claim sense the writing of this article. They still have the exact same claim on the ATF for Kids site.
For now can’t we just all agree to stop the madness! It is time for marches by MADS (Mothers Against Dangerous Staircases), time to call your congressmen and demand this. How can we fail to act when this program would revitalize our national economy, create good paying jobs, save lives, keep people out of the hospital and gives tax payers a 35 to 1 return on investment. The time is now, the hour of decision is at hand. We can cling to an outdated and archaic belief or move forward into a new progressive and safer society.
To those of you clinging to your Big Macs, lipsticks and stairways, let me simply add – the next poor child or elderly parent that falls to their death or injury could be your own. I mean, if we can save even one life…