Recently a graduating college student asked me to read her senior paper about farmer suicides in India. She's planning to become an attorney in the social justice field. It's a noble intent, but I shudder at what I read in the paper because of its assumptions. The other worrying thing is the jump to conclusions.
To be sure, I'm no friend of Monsanto or genetically modified organisms, but the broad brush of guilt taints the whole theme. India plants nearly 20 million acres of cotton. Here is a typical sentence that makes me wonder about today's college students' perceptions of cause and effect and the over-arching reasons: "The capitalist world in which this incident has been able to occur is at the root of the conflict." She says Monsanto is responsible for 290,000 suicides.
Here is another quote: "Monsanto would not be able to obtain such global control of the seed industry if the market was more regulated. A free market may benefit large companies such as Monsanto, yet it neglects the well-being of the individuals they are taking advantage of in order to succeed." I would suggest that Monsanto has been able to take control of things because the government subsidizes it and hampers the free market. Exactly opposite her conclusions. In fact, most folks who want to save seeds find themselves increasingly at odds with government regulators. We should all be horrified that the constitution the U.S. handed to Iraq after topping Sadam Hussein criminalized seed saving. Does that sound like capitalism and free markets to you?
Interestingly, the paper also includes a couple of other tidbits. One is that Monsanto seed sales are down by 15 percent. I wonder how that happened? Do you reckon people (the market) are responding and adjusting their purchases? Hmmmm. Further, she points out that 10 percent of the cotton crop acreage has already been shifted to other crops as farmers leave GMO cotton. Well, sounds like some voluntaryism going on there in market response.
The point is that markets respond to things, and they respond best when government manipulates least. All government manipulation--did you catch that? ALL--rewards the big players and stifles innovators and the lunatic fringe. The problem is not capitalism; the problem is government manipulation (Socialism, Bernie Sanders, whatever you want to call it) masquerading as capitalism. Unfortunately, today's colleges are not differentiating that and we are raising a generation of young people who assume government bureaucrats are more honest and nimble than individuals responding to information.
Were the government not taking taxpayer dollars to support universities who provide credibility and free research to Monsanto, the other side (my side) would enjoy a more level playing field to address solutions to problems. But the stacked deck makes it more difficult. That's not capitalism and it certainly isn't a free market.
What, if anything, would you like to see less manipulated by the government?