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2553. Musical chairs, safty nets, Hoover in 1918
We need to cut co2, current and already present from past emissions. This means stopping things and it will feel like musical chairs and people, losing their place, will be scrambling. One approach would be to spend on the construction of safe centers for shelter and food for newly displaced people as CO2 is shut off. We probably can’t even organize for this. Society is held together by relationships, contracts and a place in the landscape. The result is a richly woven fabric which, because it is stable, also impedes change.
To see that strong acts are possible in a crisis we need to look at what Hoover did at the end of WW 1, 1918, to prevent famine in Europe. It is not a well known story. I simply quote
“Once officially installed, Hoover flexed his muscle. Shifting emphasis from dampening demand for food to encouraging supply, he elaborated his plans for stimulating production and restraining prices of key commodities. He called to Washington representatives from every link in the food chain, from “soil to stomach,” as he liked to say, for two hundred separate conferences. They negotiated self-governing rules and regulations for their various industries.
Recognizing that businessmen were uneasy with his assertion of control over their livelihoods, Hoover attempted to reassure them with his language. He would guide and coordinate markets—what he called “constructive regulation”—rather than dictate to them. He would help to stabilize rather than set prices. He expressed confidence that farmers were rational and cooperative enough to take his direction, eliminating the need for him to employ the “drastic force” at his disposal.
His faith in volunteerism was not an absolute faith, however. Hoover knew that he had an awful job and that his Food Administration would be blamed for any instances of price inflation or short supply. There was a grain of realism in his comment about the food dictator dying on the barbed wire of the first-line[…]” realism in his comment about the food dictator dying on the barbed wire of the first-line entrenchments, so he hedged his bets. The wheat market prompted the first of several aggressive interventions. Unstable prices and uncertainty over the government’s plans for grain markets in the summer of 1917 had led farmers to withhold wheat from market and millers to cut production. Facing a national flour shortage, Hoover licensed all wheat elevators and flour mills in the country, thus lending himself the ability to put out of business those operators who hoarded or set unreasonable prices. He launched the Food Administration Grain Corporation, the first U.S. government corporation created by executive fiat, with a mandate to buy, store, and sell wheat in domestic and international markets. It dictated the fair price at $2.20 a bushel, substantially less than wheat had been commanding throughout the summer. The price was set primarily to satisfy consumers.
Grain growers, of course, were furious to find Hoover choking prices for their crops when demand was high and the costs of machinery, fertilizer, and other inputs were rising. Protest rallies were organized from the Dakotas to New Mexico. Farmers continued to withhold their wheat from[…]”
Hoover: An Extraordinary Life in Extraordinary Times