Archive for May 25th, 2008

7 Million Americans May Have Died of Hunger in the Great Depression

Sharon May 25th, 2008

I have not been able to find the original Wikipedia article or any of the critiques mentioned in the article.  But it does answer a question I’ve had for a long time at least in one way – because we know people died of starvation during the Depression in the US.  Hoover told us “at least no one has starved” and then they started pulling bodies out of Chicago tenements.  There was a minimum of a 25% malnutrition rate in urban schools in many places.  So yes, we know people died.  But I’ve located no full scale investigation until now.

And again, just as we saw in Gaidar’s analysis of the fall of the Soviet Union, we begin to realize that moving rural populations off the land can devastate whole nations.  Preserving farmers isn’t just about preserving rural landscapes.  Without food and the people who grow it, we don’t eat – period. 

 How many people may starve this time?  And how many will we know about, even as it happens? 

“The researcher, Boris Borisov, in his article titled “The American Famine” estimated the victims of the financial crisis in the US at over seven million people. The researcher also directly compared the US events of 1932-1933 with Holodomor, or Famine, in the USSR during 1932-1933.

In the article, Borisov used the official data of the US Census Bureau. Having revised the number of the US population, birth and date rates, immigration and emigration, the researcher came to conclusion that the United States lost over seven million people during the famine of 1932-1933.

“According to the US statistics, the US lost not less than 8 million 553 thousand people from 1931 to 1940. Afterwards, population growth indices change twice instantly exactly between 1930-1931: the indices drop and stay on the same level for ten years. There can no explanation to this phenomenon found in the extensive text of the report by the US Department of Commerce “Statistical Abstract of the United States,” the author wrote. “


Expecting the Unexpected

Sharon May 25th, 2008

In case I needed a clearer reminder that I should not, shall we say, expect things to go as  planned in my life, there are 14 sheep and a donkey on my front porch.

My reaction to this oddly calm.  ”Ok, now I have to go out and yell “Get off the freakin’ porch you stupid walking sweaters”…again – or I could just ignore them and hose the porch later.”  Hmmm…laziness and amusement win.

I would actually have bet anything that you couldn’t get 14 sheep and a donkey (and my 8 year old in his pajamas) on my porch.  Oh, and I probably should have taken down the laundry before the donkey started helping me with it.  Well, it is down. 

You see, we have some sheep, and the world’s cutest guard donkey, Xote.  They don’t belong to me, but to my friend Elaine.  She brought over the sheep, set up the electric fencing on our main pasture, and then went on vacation to visit family in Minnesota for two weeks.  And now there’s something wrong with the fence - it doesn’t seem to be a problem of vegetation on the circuit, and we’re not really clear on what it is, and are somewhat hampered by the fact that Eric had minor surgery a couple of days ago (he’s fine, no big deal) and isn’t supposed to be doing too much hiking or chasing of sheep, and I’ve got a week to finish a book that is ummm…not finished.   

So after fixing the fence once and then having it go down again, and with a slew of sheep roaming my backyard and worries about the coyotes that den across the road (9 of the sheep are cute little lambs),  it occurred to me that we have a safe area for them – the 1/4 acre of fenced front yard with the playset, a large chunk of my neglected garden and an 8 foot fence to keep my oldest son from roaming.  So, I lured the critters in, and they are now trimming our overgrown lawn (push mowing is off Eric’s agenda for a few days too), eating my garden (this would be a problem except that I’ve planted so little that everything can be easily replaced, and if they trim back the thistles and dandelions, this might even be a net good), and playing in the sandbox (the lambs like to jump in it).  Oh, and they like to stand on the front porch and look in the window while I type.

Well, the kids are thrilled, and I’m more amused than annoyed – plus, suddenly I have an excuse for not gardening – yay – it is all the sheep’s fault.  There’s really nothing like a scapesheep ;-) .  It is tough on the early lettuce, and on the dogs, who feel strongly that sheep do not belong on the playset, but, well, life goes on.  We’re trying to be adaptable.

And I’m going to say that adaptability pretty much is what is wanted in the coming days.  For example, check out this post at The Automatic Earth: besides the regular old bad news, the fact that the city of Santa Barbara is now alloting parking lots to middle class homeless people living in their cars does seem to be one of those stark things.  Just in case you didn’t get that link, it is over at The Automatic Earth.  (Ilargi recently complained that I stole his links and didn’t send people to his site, so I wish to make it up to you by mentioning that this information is available at The Automatic Earth enough times that he’ll forgive me ;-) ). 

Things are umm…deteriorating.  That doesn’t mean the end of the world is immediately at hand, just, that well, as the poem goes, things fall apart.  But don’t you fall apart – there’s still plenty to do and plenty to laugh about.  For example, I could loan you some sheep for your porch.  They are the very latest thing!

One thing you can laugh about is this article.  My first reaction to it was real annoyance.  You see, the author interviewed me for it, and I was the one who passed her on to the wonderful Kathy Breault.  But the problem is neither the paper nor the author can see what is in front of their eyes – creative adaptation and community awareness.  They just see “survivalism.”  The idea that Kathy, who is deeply community oriented, and focusing on making her region sustainable is a “survivalist” in the sense that most people mean it is, about as accurate as saying I’m a Republican.  But the truth is, sometimes you can only see things through the lenses you’ve been given.  And the appropriate reaction to that is probably laughter. 

Or maybe the problem is this – there’s still a lot of denial about the PO problem.  And if we can shoehorn the problem into a box that makes sense to us “this is the province of the bunker and ammo crowd” we can put off the recognition that PO is going to change our lives whether we want it to or not, that all of us, are actually “survivalists” in the sense that we want to survive and go on, and create something worth keeping – and laughing about.