Mariner officially retired from his professions around the age of sixty-seven. He can’t speak for other retirees but he has drifted away from modern innovations and new technologies. Each year he finds himself respecting minimalism more. Not so much a minimalist as it relates to the arts but more like Jacob Amman, the founder of the Amish movement who lived before the Industrial Revolution; more like homesteaders living only with biodegradable resources. If mariner were still within the normal age span of a Homo sapiens, he might just go out of town somewhere, buy a few acres and adopt a pre-industrial lifestyle.
Mariner speaks to his predispositions as a preface to the movement by the Indian government to eliminate small farm, one family economics in favor of industrializing agriculture. 300,000 farmers marched in protest and continued to harass the government by blocking public roads and other public services. Unions representing 14 million truck drivers support the farmers. Further, the corporations would dictate prices – a move that would starve out small farmers (Just like the US poultry industry today). The sudden lurching from a small farm culture into a corporate-driven culture in less than two years adds to the consternation.
Mariner remembers in the 1960’s – 1970’s when his county in Iowa suffered a similar decline in farm population and a real estate market that forced small-farm land to be sold to larger, industrialized farms. In 1960, the average acre of land in his county cost $223/acre. In 1975 the average acre of land cost $965/acre. The price of land alone eliminated small farm economics.
The cultural side of agricultural industrialization is mariner’s town. In just ten years, the town went from a bustling, positive society to the beginning of a commercially dying town. In 1960 the county population was 44,207; in 2018 the population was 34,055. The largest cities in the county have roughly the same population over this period. In other words, something like 10,000 people from rural areas have disappeared.
Mariner’s home town is close enough to the cities to survive as a bedroom town with many farm family retirees but the vitality, the agricultural smell of its commerce has disappeared. Mariner’s wife and neighbors remember in the 1960’s everyone knew everyone else; that is not the case today.
Mariner visited his auto repair shop in town the other day. He and the owner reminisced about the old days when one could grow their own automobiles – otherwise known as horses and mules.
To all supernumeraries, the world grows more alien by the day.