Forty Acres and a Mule


Welcome back to the Scuttlebutt, Coffee or your choice of hard pop on the counter, let’s talk.


If you somehow are completely without communication with the outside world, and yet get this weekly bitch session with yours surly, maybe you aren’t aware that it’s Black History Month.  


Honestly, I can’t imagine how you could not have heard it about a thousand times by now, after all, it’s three days into it, so I’ve been told by every news source, advertisement, entertainment, etc. at least a dozen times each.


So, allow me to beat that particular drum as well, but in my own unique way.  See I spent far too much time in uniform, both Navy and Cop, to give a shit what color the skin is under the uniform, all the mothafuckas I served with were Navy blue or cop blue to me.  But for a bunch of enlightened liberals (gag), it’s not that way… I’m going to take a couple of shots at them today.


First, let us note that the ACLU in their annual election just voted for and elected a black female as their president!  “Well, yeah, and?” You say. Yes, I’m talking about you in the back with the drool coming off the corner of your lip. “what’s new about that? We know the ACLU is ENLIGHTENED and PROGRESSIVE, of course, they have a black woman running the show!”  


Not so fast there Sparky. This is the first Black President in the 101-year existence of the ACLU!  Note, not the first Black woman, the first Black ANYTHING.  See the ACLU is a bunch of “New York” liberals.  They may want to “help” the downtrodden, but they don’t want them in their front room.  I can’t find any other women that have led the organization… and it’s a funny thing when you start diving into the history of the organization who was running the show is kept really quiet… It’s hard to find more than a handful of presidents from that entire 101 years.  It’s not hard to find that they were originally founded to support the IWW and other Communist forces that were being “kept down” by “the man.”  Oh, they’ve done some good over the time, from their founding as “the American Union Against Militarism and the National Civil Liberties Bureau” to today… 


Their Charter is noble, to defend all free speech, and ensure that all thought on matters of public concern should be freely expressed, without interference. One does wonder where they stand on the de-platforming of conservatives though. I know they don’t support your right to be armed, they’ve made that abundantly clear.  


They supported Scopes in the Scopes trial, so I’ll give them a nod there. Though in effect they lost. They supported the founder of the American Communist Party to the SCOTUS… they lost. They couldn’t figure out whether to support FDR on Executive Order 9066 (the Japanese internment law) See FDR was one of their boys.  They did however fight for one Nisei, Fred Korematsu, who refused to be relocated, and was jailed for it… Uh, you guessed it. They LOST.  They fought for labor unions to keep them from having to swear that the leaders were not members of the communist party… Yup, they lost.  They finally won something worth talking about with Brown VS the Board of Education. If you don’t know what that was GO LOOK IT UP, you’re dink.  


They went to bat against the Chicago PD in the fifties as well and basically won, which was a good thing, the Chicago PD was and is a bunch of machine thugs, and I say that as a former cop.  They won a real and important victory on Mapp Vs Ohio that established the “fruits of the poisonous tree” doctrine.  Again if you don’t know it, look it up.  After a long series of battles they finally destroyed the UnAmerican Activities Investigations… (damn shame that when the Soviet Union fell and we got a look at their records it turns out McCarthy was right and most of the people he accused were on the Soviet payroll, but hey at least the cops couldn’t fuck with them for being spies.) They won a real and large victory in Gideon v Wainwright, regarding the right to an attorney.  And I’ll give them full marks for the Miranda case.  Of course, they also supported the Illinois Nazis in ’77 which undoes a LOT of attaboys.   In short, they bat about 500 at best. But hey, maybe they finally found their way?


Now, let us talk about that title.  40 Acres and a Mule.  This was the promise the Federal government gave to the “Freedman’s Bureau” as a result of Sherman’s Special Field Order #15.  The trouble was, the folks the government gave the land to, didn’t get to keep it very long, as an extraordinary group of fuckheads called Carpet Baggers came down and swindled the poor bastards out of it.


Well, let me talk about some more history.  Much closer to modern times.  Let’s look at Rhodesia and its conversion over to Zimbabwe.  Rhodesia was for many decades the breadbasket of Africa.  They exported food to the entire continent. After the success of the revolution though, Mugabe, being a good little commie… (well not really, the only good commie has been given the Pinochet treatment, and sadly, Mugabe is still with us, and still running the show as president for life.)


Anyway, Mugabe decided that he needed to take the farms from the folks that knew how to run them and give them to the good little guerillas that put him in power so that all could enjoy the fruits of communism.  And so it came to be that the place is starving to death.


Now we have the DNC again.  In an article by the NYT, they are, along with Senators Cory Brooker, Elisabeth Warren, and Kirsten Gillibrand, planning to give black farmers up to 160 acres to encourage Black farmers to start farming again.  All of this was wrapped up in a very pretty little story about Sedrick Rowe, a PHD student in Georgia studying Soil Health and little green studies while running an organic peanut farm.


Sigh.  Organic farming is a feel-good story.  The left loves it.  And they love showing a Black man making good doing it. (By the way, if you want to read the article it’s here:


Oh, this tail has all of the wonders that make a leftist’s heart grow fonder.  This guy’s quote: “It weighs on my mind,” he said of the history of discrimination, and violence, that drove so many of his predecessors from their farms. “Growing our own food feels like the first step in getting more African-American people back into farming.”  Wow, brings a tear, don’t it? 


Oh and “The administration has promised to make agriculture a cornerstone of its ambitious climate agenda, looking to farmers to take up farming methods that could keep planet-warming carbon dioxide locked in the soil and out of the atmosphere. At the same time, President Biden has pledged to tackle a legacy of discrimination that has driven generations of Black Americans from their farms, with steps to improve Black and other minority farmers’ access to land, loans and other assistance, including “climate smart” production.”


Here’s the thing though. There just isn’t much market for organic free-range peanuts from enlightened PHD candidates. It’s a niche market and a damn tiny niche at that.  Maybe 500 guys can make a living in such a market nationally.  Boy, it sounds pretty doesn’t it?  But “Discrimination and violence” didn’t drive people, Black or White, or Yellow with purple polka dots off the farms, with all due respect to Mr. Rowe.  


See, Mr. Rowe didn’t grow up in farm country; he was taught to farm by training from “a Land Trust” called “New Communities.” He was a city kid.  Well, I did grow up in farm country, and many of my ancestors were in fact farmers.  Do you know why we got out of it?  It’s hard fucking work for not much pay, and unless you find a niche and some idiots that are willing to pay four times as much for inferior crops, you have to run a DAMN big stretch to make money off of it.  This article makes a big deal of the fact that there are a lot fewer Black farmers than there were in 1920.  


What it doesn’t mention is that there are lot fewer farmers of ANY color than there were in 1920.  It’s not that “racism and violence” drove them out, it’s that the city, with good-paying jobs that were a lot less hard on the body, were hiring people to do less work, for more money.  WWII and the industrialization of the nation killed the small family farm, alongside the discovery that with modern farming methods and modern equipment one guy could run a spread that took fifteen families to run just thirty years before.


Once upon a time, all farming was “organic”.  We spread shit on the ground, plowed it in, and rotated our crops because you couldn’t get a crop out of the land every year without ripping all of the nourishment out of the soil.  We put a lot of fields in clover and other nitrogen-fixing plants to help heal the soil, before planting cash crops again.  Under that system, food was expensive, and we made just enough of it to feed a much smaller population of Americans, with a little left over.


Flash forward fifty years.


We feed the WORLD.  We make so damn much food that people don’t buy it because it’s not “pretty”.  We are so successful at feeding the world that when we try to convert some of our corn crops from food to alcohol fuel, Central and South America scream that we’re trying to starve them to death.  


Well, Mamacita, If you think the cut in export and raise in price from corn to gasohol is a bitch, just wait!  If we go back to all organic farming we will drop our throughput by a factor of six.  Oh, we’ll still feed the US, but that “Pretty” food you’re used to? Kiss that shit goodbye. And much of the world that we feed now? Yeah, they’re going on real short rations.


There’s a niche for this guy and his organic farm, and a few hundred like them around the nation strictly and solely because we make SO much food, and we’ve gotten so far away from farms, and what farming is, that we have no CLUE what this stuff looks like.  Milk comes in plastic, and meat comes on Styrofoam, and as a result of being the richest nation in the world, we can kid ourselves that nationally going all organic would be a good thing.  


But they’re selling you on Mugabe’s policies, and they’re offering you “forty acres and a mule.” They want to offer you “credits” for the carbon you sequester in the soil through sustainable farming methods… “and a mule”.  Mr. Rowe’s “organic farming practices fetch several times the price of standard peanuts on the market.” says the article. That’s because he HAS to sell them at that price to make a living, because his yields are so small, and there are enough fools to pay it that he can get by.  But how many folks are there in the world that can afford to pay “several times the price” for their food budget?  “and a mule.” 


Mr. Rowe and his supporters are the new Mugabe, the new carpet bagger, who will give you the land “for a pittance, my friend, a mere pittance, just sign right here!”, then when you don’t make a go of it, take it away from you after you’ve paid them for years.  It’s called foreclosure.


If you want to get into farming, no matter what your skin color, GO FOR IT.  But you better understand the real costs, the real work, and the economy.  A farmer is a business owner, an agronomist, a mechanic, an electrician, a welder, a chemist, a climatologist, and a stockbroker.  He HAS TO BE.  Do it because you love it, or don’t do it.  There are easier ways to make a living.  And you don’t have to watch out for guys with cigars and carpet bags.


Stay safe.

Until next time I remain,

Yours in service.

William Lehman.


  1. Excellent summary of farming. As an aside, approximately 40% of our corn production is converted to ethanol. I suggest that this has a parallel with Jacob’s management of Pharaoh’s granaries in that the 40% maintains expertise and production that provides certainty of supply in the event of natural or man-made disaster i.e. ethanol production can be quickly abandoned and those suppies diverted to feed people. A government that doesn’t ensure cheap food is as expendable as one that doesn’t plow roads or pick up garbage.

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