Jan

13

Although coffee farming is a part time job, being a philosopher, just as being a speculator, is a 24 hour day job. On our subsistence coffee farm, January is the end of the picking and the season for pruning and fertilizing. Pruning clears away the dead wood, and leaves room and energy for the young shoots, which have the most flowers and the most beans. Fertilizer helps the formation of new shoots and flowers so that next season there will be beans to pick. It is work in the hot sun for no reward, except a season away. So during the manual labor, there is time to philosophize.

Farmers seek their reward in the future, despite the present labor, and the risks of the weather and of price fluctuations. In the fullness of the seasons, his crop comes to fruition and can be harvested. There is no rushing it. He depends on the vagary of the rains, and he is confident that he will produce. He hedges his risks in various ways: in land, in futures, in other crops, in his family, in community activity. It is a good life.

The speculator's job is to clear away the dead wood, the non-productive uses of capital to make way for young growth that will bear flowers and fruit. The speculator is the fertilizer that contributes capital to produce new products and efficient systems of capital use. He works hard and seeks his reward in the future. There is no rushing a trade. He depends on the vagaries of the markets, of world events, of politics, and even the weather, confident that his speculation will bear fruit. He hedges his risk in many ways: in his lands, in a steady portfolio of bonds, in his family and community activity. It is a good life.


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