New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Agriculture and Democracy

July 27, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Evaggelos Vallianatos

Too Few Farms, and These Too Large

by Evaggelos Vallianatos

Walter Goldschmidt, 1913-2010, was an anthropologist who worked for the US Department of Agriculture. In the early 1940s, he brought to light the undoing of rural America by large farmers and warned USDA officials that large farmers were destabilizing rural communities in the Central Valley of California.[1]

Giant agriculture and democracy

Goldschmidt was the first American scholar in the twentieth century who documented the relationship between farming and democracy. He knew rural America had been under attack by large farmers for several decades. He witnessed American agriculture change from a way of life for raising food and sustaining democratic society to a business for making money and exerting political influence. This has had, as Goldschmidt predicted, unforeseeable deleterious consequences for nature, food, human health and democracy. One can visualize this giant agriculture as a massive factory that has taken roots in the land, industrializing both farming and food and farmers, making rural America a colony for the extraction of profit. Giant agriculture is leaving behind millions of broken family farms. It has contaminated water and land, disrupted and poisoned nature, and created a wounded rural America open to conquest by urban culture and power. (more…)

Volunteer Spirit

April 30, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Jay Walljasper, Politics

Implementing Strong Pro-Commons Policies

by Jay Walljasper

The Tea Party, libertarians and other so-called conservatives devoted to slashing all government spending not related to the military, prisons and highways have an easy answer when asked what happens to people whose lives and livelihoods depend on public programs. They point to volunteerism — the tradition of people taking care of each other which has sustained human civilization for millennia.

It’s a compelling idea, which evokes the spirit of the commons (the growing movement to protect and expand the whole sphere of cultural and economic assets belonging to all of us together). Volunteers working largely outside the realm of government — neighborhood organizations, fire brigades, blood banks and other civic initiatives — are obvious examples of commons-based sharing and caring.

So that means Ron Paul, Michelle Bachmann and Mitt Romney qualify as commoners (people working to improve the state of our commons)? Even with their adamant skepticism about Medicare, environmental regulations and campaign finance limits? (more…)

The Weapons-Free Dividend

August 11, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Economy, Lawrence Wittner, Politics

How to Save a Quarter Trillion Dollars

by Lawrence Wittner

In the midst of the current stampede to slash federal spending, Congress might want to take a look at two unnecessary (and dangerous) “national security” programs that, if cut, would save the U.S. over a quarter of a trillion dollars over the next decade.

The first of these is the Obama administration’s plan to spend at least $185 billion in the next ten years to “modernize” the U.S. government’s nuclear weapons arsenal.  At present, the U.S. government possesses approximately 8,500 nuclear warheads, and it is hard to imagine that this country would be safer from attack if it built more nuclear weapons or “improved” those it already possesses.

Indeed, President Barack Obama has declared — both on the 2008 campaign trail and as president — that he is committed to building a world without nuclear weapons. (more…)

Take a Hike

August 01, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Politics, Randall Amster

Misconceptions and Machinations Keep Activists Incarcerated in Iran

by Randall Amster

(Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in May 2010, and is reprinted today in light of the recent trial of the two hikers remaining in custody, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal. For more information, please visit their website.)

You’ve probably heard about the three hikers being held in Iran since last summer. Their case has become a political football, highlighting the inherent tensions and absurd machinations of the U.S.-Iran relationship. If you’ve followed the story even casually, you also likely have an impression of the hikers as either being dumb and naive or spoiled kids deserving of their fate. These perceptions are actually well off the mark, and in some ways have served to perpetuate their plight. Incarcerated for nearly a year now, we might finally consider taking a moment to set the record straight, and in the process come to appreciate the dedicated activism of these remarkable individuals. (more…)