Friday, January 08, 2010

Chinatown springs to mind when reading AlterNet's expose of the CA "water crisis"

Not long ago I was watching a California farmer showing his parched fields on "60 Minutes" and talking about what a disaster the drought was. AlterNet's riveting expose of the "water crisis" puts that interview and a lot of others in a completely different light. I came away from it thinking of the awesome corruption of the water grab at the center of Polanski's film Chinatown.
But you get to meet one of the boys from Westlands doing his struggling farmer routine on 60 Minutes, giving viewers a walkthrough of his family-farm-in-crisis, explaining how the drought forced him to fallow some of his fields while, in the background, massive shredding trucks turned $18-million worth his almond trees into a neat pile of wood chips. The 60 Minutes segment, like most other farmer profiles, left out the stuff that would squelch any sympathy for their cause. Like the fact that the Woolf family clan operates the "biggest farming operation in Fresno County" that receives $4.2 million in taxpayer-subsidized water every year, enough to supply a city of 150,000 people. In the past decade, the dozen or so companies partially owned by Stuart Woolf have taken in roughly $8 million in federal crop subsidies. But Stuart Woolf still feels like he isn't getting enough. In 2008, he threatened a congressional subcommittee that he'd move his family's farm holdings to Portugal, Spain, Turkey and even China if the feds didn't give him more taxpayer-subsidized water.
The article starts here. It's a powerful read.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

did anybody get a nostril sliced open in the 60 Minutes segment like nicholson did in the movie ??

you know that had to hurt like a byatch.