From Points and Figures:
Last night I went to see the documentary Farmageddon in Chicago. I also stayed for the full panel discussion…
…This documentary illustrates the plight of the organic farmer, specifically the organic dairy farmer. If a dairy farmer wants to sell raw milk, they will be run out of business and many times imprisoned by the federal bureaucracy. The USDA actively tries to run Raw Milk Producers out of the business. They work closely with agents from state agricultural agencies.
The documentary shows film of agents descending on various organic farms and outlets, guns drawn, SWAT teams present. It’s straight out of science fiction and something that you can’t believe happens in America. I can understand a huge police presence when going after a drug lord, but a family farmer? Sure, farmers keep guns but in my experience they aren’t violent people…
Why does this happen? Because we have built a corporate and government system which is forcefully opposed to a free market. The market is where people go to buy – what is in the market is whatever people try to sell. With reasonable regulations for genuine safety, people are supposed to broadly be able to decide what they will buy in the market and what they will sell. The trouble with this rather common-sense ideal of the market is that it cuts in to the profits of the largest sellers and by giving people choice is annoys Big Government which prefers that you buy what the government wants you to buy.
Its not just organic milk producers. Time and time again over my life I’ve seen the heavy club of government working in tandem with established business interests to crush market place upstarts. If you ever wondered why we’ve only got 3 US auto makers – instead of 30, as the size of the American auto market would indicate – it is because Big Government and Big Corporation have set things up so that no one else can enter the market…except, of course, for big, foreign outfits who can afford to grease the legislative and regulatory wheels. What the final result of all this has been is a progressive constriction on entry in to the market place – ultimately, a restriction on the ability of average Americans to create new wealth.
All of this utter nonsense of safety regulations, lawsuits, warning labels, etc works out to be nothing more than restraint of trade – and a restraint of trade which ensures easy profits for Big Corporation and a steady stream of donations to politicians in favor of Big Government (Big Union is in there, too…a sort of hybrid of Big Government and Big Corporation, working both sides of the street, as it were). For 100,000 years or so the human race managed to consume milk products and we never died out – some how or another with out a single regulation from the FDA, humanity survived milk consumption. The bottom line is that milk is food…a sort of food human beings are very used to eating. Of course, like all human activities, eating food does carry a risk. But, then again, life is risk…and, in the end, you never get out of it alive, anyway.
Don’t get me wrong here – I’m no libertarian arguing for a completely unregulated market, but what regulation there is must be there to ensure honesty and dignity. If it starts getting in to deciding what you will buy, then it is a negation of the market place. If someone wants to buy raw milk, then as long as the seller is honest about his product, then government has no interest in the transaction. So, too, with all other economic transactions…as long as no one is defrauded or degraded (a human being cannot sell a human being – even if that human being is himself), then government should, for the most part, keep hands-off.
When I speak of freeing up our economy, this is what I mean – getting rid of the government and the corporations who shackle the economy. We are bound hand and foot…and thus our people are growing poor, our dependent class is growing and foreign competitors are starting to catch us up. We can fix this – but to do so Big Government and Big Corporation must be brought to heel.