Nov 19 2119, New York – There was a time when most people in the world were impoverished food renters. Ownership of food was concentrated in the hands of a tiny sliver of farmers and big corporations. Everyone else was at the mercy of this tiny sliver who wielded all the power.
Until one day, when people gradually woke up to this idiocy. “Why should we throw away our hard earned money, every time we eat a meal!?” That was a powerful rallying cry, as people slowly started ditching their yoke and taking ownership of their own food consumption. More and more people started buying farmland, so that they may feed themselves and their family. No longer would they find themselves at the mercy of price gouging farmers and corporations. No longer was eating food a wasteful luxury. Now it could instead be an investment.
Of course, most people had no idea how to farm their own land or raise their own livestock. But that was an easily solved problem. An entire industry was born that handled all this for you. All you have to do is buy the land and decide which crops or livestock you want to grow, and when. You can then hire someone else to do most of the farming, harvesting, storage, packaging and transportation. It doesn’t get any better than that.
A handful of fools were still stuck in their way of doing things. “What’s wrong with just buying food at the grocery stores? Why not invest your money in other things, like the stock market, and use that money to buy all the food you want?” But people paid little heed to such fools. Everyone knew that no matter how many index funds you owned, you certainly couldn’t eat them. And no one wants to waste their money at the grocery store every week – what an idiotic extravagance. Besides, who on earth would respect a man who doesn’t even own his own farm.
The trend might have started small, but it certainly became mainstream once the government started encouraging it. “To be a good citizen, you need to have roots in this country… literally”, the president boldly declared as he signed a series of laws that would enable every citizen to become a food owner. Government lending agencies were born, whose mission was to provide every American with access to loans in order to buy their own plot of farmland. All interest payments on such loans were declared to be tax deductible, as would all expenses associated with farming.
Sure, there were some inconveniences. People’s choices were now dramatically reduced – you had to plan out your land purchase and farming logistics extremely carefully, or you would find yourself eating things you hated for years and years. A fact that caused great divisions within families that had very different culinary preferences.
With time, solutions arose to mitigate the above problem. You could rent out your farm to others, and rent someone else’s farm for yourself. You could also sign up for time-shares where you would own a parcel of farmland only for some weeks of the year – allowing you to enjoy those exotic produce on special occasions. If all else failed, you could still go to the grocery store and buy other produce of course. But that was reserved for special occasions. You’d have to be a fool to throw your money away every week.
Sure, there were other inconveniences associated with farm ownership. For one, most people hired a farm agent to navigate the financial and legal aspects of buying and selling farm land. These agents charged a 5% fee. But given the amount of value they provided, it easily justified the tens of thousands of dollars in fees.
And sure, owning farmland was a major inconvenience if you ever wanted to move to a different city or state. If your farm wasn’t close to your new home, you would most likely have to sell your farmland and buy a new one closer to your new residence. A hurdle that caused considerable anxiety and stress to all movers. You could certainly hire a farm agent to rent your farm out, or manage your farmland entirely in your absence and sell all produce to food renters. But the agents charged a significant fee for their services, so this wasn’t a very common arrangement.
It’s worth mentioning that the above inconvenience is vastly overblown. Very few people ever move elsewhere to begin with. Once you’ve bought farmland and laid roots in a region, the last thing you would want to do is uproot yourself and move elsewhere. Sure, some eggheads would claim that this is harming the nation’s economic dynamism as people can’t easily move to other parts of the country where their skills are most in demand. But clearly the economy is doing just fine, thank you very much.
In time, people came to realize that buying farmland was more than just a way to avoid throwing your money away. In fact, it was even more than a status symbol. It was an investment. And a great one at that. After all, the population keeps on growing every day, but the amount of farmland remains fixed. And every single person, old or young, needs food to eat. Besides, considering all the tax breaks and government loans and services available, you would be a fool not to take advantage of them.
In due time, the only people still renting food, were those who were too young or too poor to buy farmland. Everyone else took out a loan and bought the biggest most fertile farmland they could afford, and paid it off over the next 30 years. Your farmland was no longer just a place to grow food that you could eat. It was now your savings account, your retirement plan, your children’s inheritance, and a trophy of life success.
Hence why the great food crisis of 2109 brought the entire economy to its knees. Some wise guys figured out ways to both vastly improve agricultural efficiency and grow produce in extremely land-efficient structures. Clearly they failed to anticipate the human costs of their technological invention. Soon, the glut in food output caused a crash in food prices, and in the value of farmland. People found their hard-earned retirement plan going up in smoke, and their investments were getting decimated in front of their very eyes. Particularly the woeful corn-farm owners who got hit with a double whammy – changing culinary tastes that made their produce near obsolete.
Thankfully, the government was able to step in and restore some order to this chaos. By instituting strict controls on the use of hydroponics and how much produce each acre of farmland was allowed to output, the government was able to stabilize and prop up the value of farmland. In some particular cases, such as corn, the government even stepped in and directly purchased it for their own food banks, in order to protect the lamentable corn-farm owners.
There were some who complained that these measures were interfering with the free market, costing the government hundreds of billions in expenditures, and artificially raising the cost of food. As a direct result of which, poor food-renters now faced significantly higher costs-of-living, and increased bills every week at the grocery store. They even claimed that some cities now faced a severe food crisis, with food prices so high that the average person could no longer afford to live there.
Such concerns are certainly valid, but we cannot simply ignore the needs of the sizable food-owner constituency. We should strike a balance between the food-renters who are crying for lower food prices, and the food-owners who deserve to have their investments protected. Besides, woe unto the politician who dares to take on the powerful farm-agent lobby.
There was a time when the vast majority of people simply threw their money away at the grocery store every week. It was inevitable that people would eventually realize their folly. What started as a niche way to cut down on expenses, soon became a status symbol, and is now a mainstream way to save and invest your money. With an entire industry of farm loans, farm agents, time-shares and food-rentals that have grown around it, this trend is unlikely to reverse course anytime soon. It is indisputable that we have now become, a nation of proud food owners.