This “summer of Hell,” to borrow Peters’ phrase, has had me in too many hospital/doctor waiting rooms. But as I was recently counting up co-pays and deductibles in my head and wondering how to rob Peter to pay Paul this month, what did I behold in this sawbones’ lobby? Timemagazine (I know, who knew they still published and in print?) And it had the answer to my problems: “If you want to become rich: Become a farmer.” Really. Really? That quotation and the lead as a whole is straight from a Wall Street guru, Jim Rogers. And while he justifies his profit prophecy with some Berry-like chestnuts — “We don’t need more bankers. What we need are more farmers” and “the world has got a serious food problem…the only real way to solve it is to draw more people back to agriculture”—he shows his true colors as the Anti-Wendell with “the invisibile hand will do its magic” to keep food prices and farm profits up. He’s so bullish on Green Acres-for-all he claims, “farming incomes will rise dramatically in the next few decades, faster than those in most other industries — even Wall Street.” The ironies abound especially in the strange lack of subtraction on exhibit in the pop economics that suffuses the whole piece.
Front Porchers will enjoy, nevertheless, the profile of a Nebraska farming town that follows, and the interviews with its farmers provide a less rosy forecast. Together with testimony from other economists not as bullish as Rogers, the opening lead winds up getting more fairly contextualized and almost refuted by the end. Check it out at http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2080767-3,00.html