Why will the rich and powerful give up this easy money? | Cartoonist - Nick Anderson; on 2005-02-08; source & courtesy - cartoonistgroup.com | Click for larger source image.
European skies are to become home to new drones. The remote–controlled unmanned aircraft are set to police Europe’s farmlands for possible cheating and law violation. The decision has sparked grave privacy concerns.
Each year the European Union spends almost half of its budget on its Common Agricultural Policy. Europe’s farms and agricultural lands cost taxpayers billions of euros in subsidies.
Cases of fraudulent subsidy claims are many. But as the cheating gets more inventive, the agricultural inspectors get more technologically advanced.
EU regulators have in the past used satellites to keep an eye on those claiming subsidies. These provided aerial images of farmlands, which were searched for signs of possible subsidy cheating or breaches of environmental rules.
But satellite images proved a failure in unfavorable weather conditions and mountainous terrain. One case was even dropped in court due to insufficient satellite evidence.
In their quest for more reliable instruments, EU inspectors chose unmanned aerial vehicles.
Used mostly for combat missions and surveillance, the drones will now serve agricultural policing aims.
Reports suggest that France and Italy are already trying them out for this purpose. (via EU farm-policing drone plan sparks anger — RT).
Champions of ‘Free Trade’
This brings two issues to the fore.
Why do Western farmers need close to US$100 billion (EU subsidy-US$75 billion & US subsidy-US$25 billion) in subsidy to compete with African and Indian farmers? Remember shortages in Europe after WWII? Is that the future of the West?
Can there be ‘free trade’ with US$100 billion in subsidy?
Leaders of the ‘Free World’
Between Europe and USA, there are more CCTVs, data recording (telephone, internet, conversations, et al) than what any secret or any other type of police ever had. The West has the largest prison population in the history of mankind.
More than 2 million in US alone – and another half a million in EU. More than Russia (0.85 million) and China (15.5) combined.
The one big difference between China and Russia on one hand and the West on the other is paperwork. The West produces enormous paperwork, procedure, laws, lawyers, to convince so many people to keep so many people in prison. Unlike China and Russia – who are not yet so skilled at this kind of show.
Now the ‘Free’ World will spy on its own farmers.
Some freedom, this.