Leslie Riley, Constitution Party of Mississippi candidate for agriculture commissioner

“Thomas Jefferson believed that we would remain a free, prosperous people so long as we were a nation of family farms and small businesses and small towns…. He was right.”

As quoted by WLOX-TV

15 Responses to “Leslie Riley, Constitution Party of Mississippi candidate for agriculture commissioner”

  1. matt Says:

    Show me the hemp.

  2. Trent Hill Says:

    Agreed.

  3. Kn@ppster Says:

    Jefferson was all wet.

    Even in his time, America was becoming a nation of industry and commerce. “Prosperous” southern farmers were prosperous because they had slaves at their disposal to take care of the labor-intensive realities of agriculture, affording themselves the leisurely life on the backs of others. There was a word for the “family farm” which didn’t use slave labor. That word was “poverty.”

    It took the Industrial Revolution—and that Revolution’s attendant trend toward urbanization to support industrialization—to make the slaveless farmer “prosperous.” The first stage of that revolution (Eli Whitney’s cotton gin) actually made slave labor even more attractive, since its function was to separate the seeds from cotton, and it took more labor to keep the gin busy. It was Cyrus McCormick’s reaper, the motorized tractor, etc., that allowed a family farm to scratch out more than a bare living with only the labor of the farmer and his family.

  4. Cody Quirk Says:

    Well, apparently Leslie doesn’t own slaves, so he can do it all the work on his own. I doubt he has illegals do it for him either.

  5. Michael Says:

    Kn@ppster, only 5 percent of the South owned slaves. Plus the Dred Scott ruling had made slavery, in effect, legal in the North. A Northerner could go to one of the 5 percent, buy a slave, and take them back North with no legal problems. Mind you, the state of Connecticut didn’t ban slavery until 1848, and almost all of the slave ships were built in New England.

  6. Kn@ppster Says:

    Cody,

    That’s my point exactly. Leslie (and the rest of us) live in (relative to the early 18th century) luxury because America urbanized and industrialized.

    Had America remained “a nation of family farms and small businesses and small towns,” most of us would still be shitting in outhouses, breaking our backs at the plough and looking forward to, if we were lucky, one meal a week with meat.

    Prosperity for everyone, not just for Virginia’s slave-owning planter class, depended on industrialization—and industrialization, in turn, required big business and urbanization.

    Big business, because even if Blacksmith Bob could pour 4-ton steel ingots at his backyard mill, what railroad would build a spur to service such a small, unprofitable output? Industrialization meant big plants. And since big plants meant lots of employees … well, we take 50-mile commutes for granted today (I did 45 miles each way for several years). In 1805, a 50-mile commute meant two days each way. Until the automobile and the commuter train, working in a factory meant you lived within a short WALK of where you worked. And that meant that if you were going to have factories, you were going to have cities.

    I grew up on, and around, “family farms.” My grandfather started out working as a sharecropper—the landowner was a former slave and my mother was born in the log cabin that that slave had built when he was first freed. My grandfather eventually managed to buy some land of his own … but it was the tractor and the truck and the tools he could pull behind them that meant he got to retire to a two-bedroom home with electric lights and indoor plumbing (and that was a late thing—the farm was still outhouse-served when I was a kid, there was a family party when they put in the “works,” and the skeleton of the old mule-pulled wagon was one of my childhood toys). His “family farm” could never have put 800 acres under cultivation in corn and soybeans and run 100 head of beef cattle with just the labor power of him, his wife, his nine daughters and his two sons. Without the city to serve as both provider of their tools and consumer of their goods, “prosperity” would have been a Henny Youngman one-liner to them.

    If you want to argue that “a nation of family farms and small businesses and small towns” is conducive to freedom, well, maybe. But as far as prosperity is concerned, I repeat—Jefferson didn’t know what the hell he was talking about.

  7. matt Says:

    Tom,
    I mostly agree. I think small farms are conducive to independence, but in the past you mentioned, they were not at all conducive to prosperity. My grandfather was also a poor farmer (albeit a northern one), and prosperity never came to his farm until my uncle modernized and expanded.

    Today, however, due to unprecedented infrastructure, technology, and prosperity (your point is taken), I think there are some excellent niches for the small farmer. Organic products and free-range meats are really hot and getting hotter, since people are tired of putting garbage in their bodies. What we need is deregulation and an end to corporate subsidies.

  8. Kn@ppster Says:

    Matt,

    Hey, I think we’re in agreement there. The pendulum is swinging in the other direction.

    Now that industrialization has given us two cars in every garage, we can afford to spread back out. Back when I made that 45-mile-each-way commute, it was because I had moved out of the city and to my small hometown. We don’t have to stack ourselves up in tenements next to the factories we work at any more. Urbanization was followed by suburbanization, and these days I know city workers who go home to isolated country homes at night.

    For many years, starting with the Jacquard loom, workers were afraid that machines would “cost them their jobs.” They turned out to be wrong—industrialization reduced costs so much that demand went through the roof, and there were more jobs running the machines to make more things than there were making the things by hand before. As late as the late 90s at the last factory I worked at, my union brothers and sisters got all bent out of shape when a production line got automated, reducing the number of workers needed on it from 6 to 1. Thing is, within six months the factory had added another shift on that line (one more worker), an additional forklift driver per shift to keep the faster line supplied with empty bottles at one end and haul away finished product at the other (two more workers), and an additional line worker when they realized just how fast the thing could run (two more workers). They were already back to where they had been … and that was before they added another miller to keep the line in product, another four man hours per day of labor trucking the stuff to the distribution center, etc.!

    And, at the final end, the increase in supply of that product, combined with some promotion, made a product available to the consumer more cheaply, enabling that consumer to spend less of his money on that product (hot sauce) ...

    ... which leaves more money in his pocket. We’ve all become so much more wealthy through that whole process that now we can buy free range chicken and organic mushrooms and all that crap, which means that the guy who wants to do the “family farm thing” and stare at a mule’s ass instead of driving a tractor so that he feels good about his environmental impact can do so and still afford a flush toilet and a Prius instead of living in a tar paper shack. But he—and we—couldn’t have gotten there without the industrialization.

    I don’t mean to say that Jefferson was an idiot or anything. He was just a man of his time, and his time was the period when the Industrial Revolution was just cranking up and nobody could see how far, or in what directions, it would go. Adam Smith had explained the benefits of mass production (his “pin factory” bit). Eli Whitney had introduced standardized parts. The steam engine was still a novelty but looked promising. Slavery was set to get worse before it got better. But Jefferson had something bigger on his mind—an entire continent laid out at our feet. It’s not surprising that he placed his bet on the mythological yeoman farmer.

  9. Ryan Brennan (ThirdPartyNews.net) Says:

    Nice to see this candidate quote Jefferson, my favorite founding father & president.

  10. Cody Quirk Says:

    Good point, but personally, I don’t like the city and I’m trying to move out of one right now.

  11. Kn@ppster Says:

    Cody,

    Actually, I’m looking to move out of the city as well. Or, technically, out of the suburbs. I live a mile or so west of the St. Louis city limit, but if I go half a mile to my east I’m in a crack bazaar even though I’m technically still in the ‘burbs.

    I’d like to find a nice place in very rural Missouri, or maybe even Arkansas, Tennessee or Mississippi. I have the luxury of being able to contemplate such a move because of hyper-industrialization, though. If I move to the country, I’ll be doing the same thing I’m doing now. My work is contingent on the availability of a working computer, an operating phone line, and an ISP that offers service in my area.

  12. Cody Quirk Says:

    I’m in Murrieta, California- nothing but traffic, houses, fascist cops, soccer-moms with boob-jobs, tanned skin and beached blonde hair, men dressed like they’re staring in a porno flic, you have kids dressing either like punk rockers or gangsters, and the little todlers wear cloths with logos of strippers.

    AARRRGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

    Trying to get a place up in Carson City, NV or around the area- if I can’t get work there then I’ll try Utah as Plan B.

    One thing’s for sure, if you want decency and peace & quiet

    DON’T MOVE TO CALIFORNIA!

  13. Sean Scallon Says:

    I wish Miss Reily well. For too long the issue of sustainable agricultre has been in the hands of the left. It’s important for the CP to step up for the nation;s small farmers and carve out a niche on the right for the small farmer the way Jefferson did. We will always have big farms but there has to be room for the small farmer as well and its good to have this debate across the country. Good luck Leslie!

  14. Sean Scallon Says:

    I wish Miss Reily well. For too long the issue of sustainable agricultre has been in the hands of the left. It’s important for the CP to step up for the nation;s small farmers and carve out a niche on the right for the small farmer the way Jefferson did. We will always have big farms but there has to be room for the small farmer as well and its good to have this debate across the country. Good luck Leslie!

  15. Cody Quirk Says:

    Uhmmm,

    Leslie is a guy.

    Sorry:(

    But he is.

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