How Ludwig von Mises Dispels Current Myths About Capitalism | Andrius Valevicius



the title in the program was the paper I gave last year so I don't know how that happened professor garrison do you like putting balkan sobranie tobacco in your pipe while you were my professor back in 1977 my professor of metaphysics because i remember you smell you had a pipe and you always had that turkish yeah you always smoked balkan sobranie so it's the same guy I haven't seen you since but what a coincidence here we are and we're back to back and with the same yeah I took up smoking a pipe after that class too I still smoke mind sometimes okay yes I want to talk about have sort of two parts to my paper and of course I'll have to i think i have about 20 minutes is that ok ok i'll read my abstract first the purpose of this paper will be to take a look at catos work on agriculture cato lived in the 2nd century before christ to see how Romans organized agricultural activity this paper is not meant to be a purely historical reflection but the purpose is to see whether there are any mount elements of Roman practice which could be applied in the world of highly subsidized agricultural activity today for example Cato teaches that your barn should be bigger than your house showing propensity towards frugality simplicity and investment also I would like to ask thus is the small farm an economic possibility today in the world of industrial farming is the small farm worth promoting can any one country also unilaterally reduce its subsidies and maintain its agricultural sovereignty at the same time what would be the consequences of liberalism in agriculture today good or bad and can we learn anything from the pragmatism of the Romans and for those of you that are that we're at the session this morning as you can see my paper is somewhat similar to to the one that was given this morning on farming now I'd like to say a few words i live in quebec and so i can only sort of speak for my region which I know quite well and you Quebec we have a somewhat of a crisis in farming today there is a lot of farming activity in Quebec but I think it's the same thing everywhere the it's extremely expensive now to acquire a farm it's almost impossible for young couples let's say in their 20s to acquire a farm any farm will cost at least a million dollars and if you want to for example build a farm from scratch let's say a hog farm with stables being about 3 feet 300 feet long and that could perhaps keep a thousand hogs you're looking at about 5 million dollars that's including the purchase of the land a couple hundred acres of land you need a lot of cultivated land to spread the spread the manure and so on you have to have the septic tank and the stables a house and everything else so it's it's all in the millions of dollars and the thing is who is going to farm in the future because young people they just can't enter and if they would have if they have to yes through our government organizations that give mortgages at very good conditions but you know the the root of the word mortgage there is what ghazala MA in French it means it's like a death wish it's like a bond the right till death so it's a very tough way to start when you're mortgaged for over a million dollars another big problem with the farms today too is these large farms is that thirty-nine percent of the farms do not have anyone to take them over means there's no succession the children of the farmers do not want to stay on the farm they've left the farm and even in the cases where children one of the children wants to take over the farm it's not often a very happy situation for the farmer because a lot of these farmers there are couples who are maybe in their late 50s they verte they work very hard for 30 years and as you know in farming it's seven days a week you really can't take holidays or go down south it's it's a lot of work and they don't necessarily want to give their farm to their kids I mean they would like to live a bit themselves and have some money but they're basically forced to give the farm to the children they can try selling their farm but because the farms cost so much nobody can buy them and so what happens to a lot of farms where there are no children coming in and where they have to be sold instead selling the whole farm they sell it piece by piece they take down the stables they sell the equipment if it's a dairy farm they sell their equipment they try selling their quotas HH etc so it's a very tough situation now in Quebec and this was confirmed to me by a bank that fifty percent of the farms don't even make any profit at all and that is with the subsidies they get despite the subsidies only half hour making some kind of a profit and on most farms either the husband or the wife has a day job because they cannot survive just from the farming now also we have challenges in the sense that we're in a very cold climate and it's very hard to compete with farms and southern areas like here or in or in Brazil so what is happening is that the farms are a lot of farms are being dismantled and this is leading to a certain risk in terms of like I said agricultural sovereignty or as you said this morning food security if farms are going to waste how can how can a society let's say in our case of certain province how can we be sure of being able to feed ourselves in the future if you rely rely just on imports you can say well you can import food well that's fine but the cost of transportation and oil is going up all the time and and food can become very expensive in that sense so it is worth it is worth saving it is worth working towards now also of course the subsidies have distorted things to a great extent for example in the 1980s the Quebec government was subsidizing the creation of hog farms but today they're trying to they've put a moratorium on hog farms you cannot create a hog farm today because the environmental movement now is very much against hog farming and for different reasons that you could perhaps you know understand so and another thing is that the subsidies the system of subsidies that exists has created the fact that farm equipment is extremely expensive and I'm not just talking about machinery large machineries tractors or combines but even the smallest things like small thermostats and he ventilators regulators in the stables that control the temperature and so on or any kind of like pieces of hardware you have to find the prices are very inflated and if you need any kind of specialized work which has to be done by unionized labor the charges are very very high because there are these subsidies there so the whole thing is the whole situation seems to be into a bit into a big mess but it's not a joke it's a very serious thing also in the world today there is going to be a food crisis we're already having food riots around food and many parts of the world there's a desert ification going on in other words deserts are growing in China more and more the deserts are expanding in Australia the deserts are growing there are problems of drought even in the Canadian Prairies so the farm areas that are left somehow have to stay productive otherwise humanity will be in big trouble and now the my question is also as you said this morning in your paper and with the problem of subsidies is that of course the subsidies go to the biggest industrial farms and the small farmer gets almost nothing because a lot of the small farmers are working under contract to bigger companies and the bigger companies are the producers they get the subsidies and then they put the squeeze on the small farmer who has to basically work for peanuts now another problem that this subsidies has created is a lot of the big industrial farms are very very highly leveraged they've had their big expansion because they've borrowed money huge amounts of money knowing that they're going to have the subsidies to to make their to make their payments so this is all a very complex situation what i want what i would like to say is that we have to somehow find a way back to the family farm now for a family to survive i have an old book i should have brought it I bother the garage sale is called five acres and independence it was written in the 1930s at the height of the depression to get to teach people how to farm there five acres and survive and maybe a small farm today could be a hundred acres but somehow this has to be reenact arm and I came across this text by the Roman statesman Cato and the Styx is from the second century and when I read it a few years ago I was just fascinated by it and I thought how much wisdom and the text kato was a statesman who who grew up on a farm himself and I just read a little bit he says growing up on the farm he acquired the qualities of simplicity frugality honesty austerity and patriotism which were to become the typical Roman virtues and from his youth he also acquired a love for the soil nevertheless he went on to do a military and political career and then he became a very very large scale farmer he wrote about a hundred and fifty books and he was actually one of the first self-published author in history kind of like the rich dad poor dad guy he was extremely popular and he also used to he held some 170 speeches in front of the Roman Senate and he was once on a mission in Carthage and he hated the Carthaginians and he used to end every speech by saying Carthage must be destroyed and that started the third Punic War having the Senate hack then followed his advice anyways of all his writings and all his work everything is lost we only have fragments that we can read in Cicero and other authors except for one book which is called dead agricoltura on agriculture and it is a fascinating look book that covers all aspects of agriculture from land from equipment from planting the different types of crops talks about land reform this is a senior statesman writing and at the end of the book he even gives his own recipe for cheesecake son he covers everything now let me read a little bit Marcus Cato begins his book de agricultura by admitting there are some activities which are more profitable than farming such as being a traitor which by the way can also be very risky he says but the most honorable of occupations is that of the farmer and so it has been from the times of the Ancients and to quote Marcus Cato the traitor I consider to be an energetic man and one bent on making money but but as I said above it is a dangerous career and one subject to disaster on the other hand it is from farming the farming class that the bravest men and sturdiest soldiers come and they're calling is most highly respective respected their livelihood is most assured and is looked upon with the least hostility and those who are engaged in that pursuit are least inclined to be disaffected Kate who gives his advice to one who was thinking about buying a farm this book is a practical manual for farmers or those wishing to acquire a farm he says do not rush into it and look around very carefully it is not enough to just go over at once he recommends examining the investment very carefully first of all the land must be in such a place where you will have pleasure each time you visited then he writes look at the neighbors farms notice how the neighbors keep up their places if the district is good they should be well kept the farm should be located where the climate is good not subject to storms and if possible it should lie at the foot of a mountain and face south there should be workers living nearby water sources should be abundant and the farm should be close to a town or a seaport or a good road it is best if the farm is in an area where ownership does not change very often and where those who have sold their farms are sorry to have done so it is best to buy the farm from someone who is a good farmer and a good builder observe to how well the farm is equipped if there are numerous oil presses and will and wine vats you can know that the farm has a good yield if there are few you know that the yield is poor but more important than the equipment is the location you don't want to be paying just for equipment it is the location which is to be the principal value kaito says and i quote see that it is equipped as economically as possible remember that a farm is like a man however great the income if there is extravagance little is left when one acquires the farm the first thing is to go over everything when the master arrives at the farmstead after paying his respects to the god of the household let him go over the whole farm if possible the same day then the owner must meet the farm manager and learn what has been done recently and what is still to be done afterwards cash accounts must be checked grain accounts purchases etc etc then decisions must be made and orders given and do this in writing says KO k to advises that nothing be kept on the farm which is not needed sell soup superfluous things don't keep old stock sell worn-out oxen blemish cattle blemish sheep wool hides an old wagon old tools and an old slave a sickly slave and whatever else is superfluous the master should have the selling habit not the buying habit Kito advises that much before building planting has to be done first the farmer should think a long time about building but planting is a thing not to be thought about but done you should build when you reach the age of 36 but only if the land has been planted then before the house must come the barn it is well for the master to have a well-built barn when you do build your house build within your means cato says also make the house a comfortable one so that you spend more time there if you build substantially on a good farm placing the house in a good situation so that you can live comfortably in the country you will like to visit it and will do so oftener the farm will improve there will be less wrongdoing and you will receive greater returns also be a good neighbor Cato writes it will be good for business be a good neighbor and do not let your people commit offenses if you are popular in the neighborhood it will be easier for you to sell your produce easier to let out your work easier to secure extra hands if you build the neighbors will help you with their work their teams and their material if trouble comes upon you which god forbid they will be glad to stand by you it is important to find a good manager for this the farm he must not steal he must settle disputes among the slaves and punish them in proportion to their faults he must see that the servants are comfortably provided for and do not suffer from cold or hunger in other words he must take proper care of the workforce and in today's terms pay them a proper wage the manager must not tolerate any nonsense or shady work but he must also know but he must also know how to praise work well done says Cato so you can see it's very modern in in his psychology he must express his appreciation of good work so that others may take pleasure in well-doing furthermore the manager must be loyal to the master he must keep the servants busy and see that the Masters orders are carried out he must not assume that he knows more than the master he must consider the Masters friends his own friends he must extend credit to know one without orders from the master and must collect loans made by the master he must not want to make any purchases without the knowledge of the master nor want to keep anything hidden from the master he must have no hangers-on and Cato then also goes into the importance of rationality in business decisions in the farm the master must not consult fortune tellers or profits or diviners or astrologers in other words religious beliefs when must give thankfulness to the gods but basically dishes decisions I made rationally and all of this I found very much just to finish off I could I have could go on but just to finish off saying although this is very much in line with the writings of Ludwig von Mises and the sort of common sense approach to business and the also reason being are our main criteria and you have all of this in this in this ancient text bye bye Cato and I think I'll I'll stop there just to respect the time period




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