Sunday, November 1, 2015

For Domestic Agriculture Protection

Just a few hours ago Jack Point had an article against Tariffs that protect the local farmer.  One of the arguments he uses are the Corn Laws of 1840''s that protected aristocrat large landowners in the UK.

For a start there is no comparison because Corn Laws were protective for large aristocrat landowners in UK, whereas most agricultural land in Sri Lanka are small holdings of about 2-3 acres (except Tea/Rubber). 
 Note: Sri Lanka has one of the highest population densities  #43, (309/km2, 800/km2), and one of the lowest rates of urbanization with a 15% urban population # 191 out of 198

The other is that Jack Point is probably unaware of the history prior to the creation and repeal of Corn Laws.

In point form,
  • Law (Enclosure Acts  (also here) 1750-1860) pushed rural poor out of countryside.
  • Cheap Labor for factories. (Think life described by Dickens and Thomas Hardy)
  • Oligarch/aristocrat consolidate land.
  • Oligarch/aristocrats Pass laws (Corn Laws) to get higher prices for their products.
  • Laws to keep Factory Wage Slaves in check.
  • By time the laws were repealed the damage was done. It was near impossible for one time rural poor, now factory wage slaves to move back into and buy property in the villages. 
  • To Quote
    The lands seized by the acts were then consolidated into individual and privately owned farms, with large, politically connected farmers receiving the best land. Often, small landowners could not afford the legal and other associated costs of enclosure and so were forced out
Win win situation for the Oligarach/aristocrat/Factory Owner.
Similar laws were enacted in the US too to ensure urbanization and cheap factory workers.

All that Free Market stuff is bullshit.

In Sri Lanka, most land holdings are small holders 2-3 acres. When you see large acres  of paddy land it does not belong to a single owner.  There would be many owners in this paddy tract, Also agricutural workers are not just 24% of population.  Many Govt workers, police officers/constables, private sector employees in cities towns except for Kandy/Colombo  have an acre or two, typically paddy land in their ancestral villages.  They would not be classified as agricultural worker, even though they take leave and go and work on planting and harvesting.

Yes, rice and other agricultural produce is cheaper from India Pakistan and Bangaladesh.  And produce imported is taxed for revenue and hopefully protect agriculture in Sri Lanka.

At least one of the reasons for  cheap agricultural produce from India Pakistan and Bangaladesh is because large land holdings with dirt cheap labor in those countries. 

Do we want Sri Lankas small holder farmers to live a life of poverty like in India/Pakistan/Bangaladesh.
Do we want small holder farmers to flock to cities and become wage slaves.

What was said in England should also be applicable in Sri Lanka

Every cottage shall have his porcyon [portion, ie plot of land] assigned to him according to his rent, and then shall not the riche man oppress the poore man with his catell, and every man shall eate his owne close at his pleasure.

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