Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Nadir Of Statism

These past few years have seen statist encroachments into every area of American life. One of the least appreciated of these is Michelle Obama’s attempt to dictate our diets, particularly our children's diets. Were there more federal force or dollars behind that effort, perhaps we’d take it as seriously as it deserves. Yet it’s worth a moment to reflect that at one time, meddling with our food supply stood at the heart of federal policy. There’s nothing to prevent Washington from revisiting that era with a somewhat different orientation...say, one that prioritizes limiting the fiscal damage done by ObamaCare.

But wait: what have we here?

How we produce and consume food has a bigger impact on Americans’ well-being than any other human activity. The food industry is the largest sector of our economy; food touches everything from our health to the environment, climate change, economic inequality and the federal budget. Yet we have no food policy — no plan or agreed-upon principles — for managing American agriculture or the food system as a whole.

That must change.

The food system and the diet it’s created have caused incalculable damage to the health of our people and our land, water and air. If a foreign power were to do such harm, we’d regard it as a threat to national security, if not an act of war, and the government would formulate a comprehensive plan and marshal resources to combat it. (The administration even named an Ebola czar to respond to a disease that threatens few Americans.) So when hundreds of thousands of annual deaths are preventable — as the deaths from the chronic diseases linked to the modern American way of eating surely are — preventing those needless deaths is a national priority.

A national food policy would do that, by investing resources to guarantee that:

  • All Americans have access to healthful food;
  • Farm policies are designed to support our public health and environmental objectives;
  • Our food supply is free of toxic bacteria, chemicals and drugs;
  • Production and marketing of our food are done transparently;
  • The food industry pays a fair wage to those it employs;
  • Food marketing sets children up for healthful lives by instilling in them a habit of eating real food;
  • Animals are treated with compassion and attention to their well-being;
  • The food system’s carbon footprint is reduced, and the amount of carbon sequestered on farmland is increased;
  • The food system is sufficiently resilient to withstand the effects of climate change.

Only those with a vested interest in the status quo would argue against creating public policies with these goals.

This is one of those once rare but increasingly frequent moments when words fail me. The authors of this vile piece are actually proposing that the federal government be given the power to dictate what foods should be available to us, and in what quantities. Have they no sense of the terrors a government with control over its subjects’ food supply could inflict? Have they not considered, as the United States is the “breadbasket” to much of the world, the harms such a policy could wreak internationally? Are they utterly without an appreciation for the terrible danger that flows from giving an innately coercive, inherently vicious institution supreme power over the supports of life?

From the brief bios at the start of the piece, it would seem that they’re fully aware of all of that...and none of it troubles them:

Mark Bittman, an opinion columnist and food writer for the New York Times, is the author of “How to Cook Everything Fast.” Michael Pollan, who teaches journalism at the University of California at Berkeley, is the author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” Ricardo Salvador is a senior scientist and director of the food and environment program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Olivier De Schutter, a professor of international human rights law at the Catholic University of Louvain, was the U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food from 2008 to 2014.

By the way, does anyone else remember a certain Albert Gore Jr? I think he once made a movie:

It’s time for a national policy on food. Brilliant essay in today’s Washington Post: http://t.co/bvGjpej5wN — Al Gore (@algore) November 9, 2014

This is it, Gentle Reader. We’ve reached the nadir of statism, the complete subjection of all other sentiments to the Left’s true and eternal priority: Government Uber Alles.

I could rant a dozen different ways about the above-quoted column. None of the others matter as much as this: that it was printed at all. The authors are bald-faced about their desire to control the most intimate decisions Americans (and many unacknowledged others) make every day of our lives. More, they don’t trouble to conceal the tentacles their agenda extends into other aspects of American society; indeed, they trumpet them as positive features of their proposal. Yet the editors of the Washington Post were untroubled by the piece, and granted it space in their publication, in these waning days of the New York Times arguably the most important organ of print journalism in the Western world.

Time was, even the most thoroughgoing totalitarian felt he had to conceal his power lust and give lip service to freedom. Time was, an editor at an American news organ would recoil from including so openly totalitarian a pitch in its pages. Time was, even the most completely washed-up has-been of American politics, seething with envy over having been displaced from the halls of power by disdained others and determined to wrest back a shred of relevance, would have known better than to endorse such a noxious prescription.

Time was.

It’s difficult to interpret this development, even with the current context for assistance. The most hopeful possibility is that the Left, to which the authors (and the editorial staff of the Post) clearly belong, have become desperate after the elections of a week ago, and are “pushing all their chips to the center of the table.” The most troubling possibility is that after decade upon decade of gradualism ever trending toward totalitarianism, the United States is largely ready to become a new Soviet Union under a “democratic” facade...if given the “right” rationale for submitting to such a regime.

I’ll leave the last word to our beloved Majesty, Emperor Misha:

Really now. The Washington Compost should just go ahead and change its name to “Volkischer Beobachter” already.

Or, given the sign of the times, perhaps they should start helping Obola digging a hole for his bunker.

He’ll be needing it soon.


FrozenPatriot said...

...never mind the minor inconvenience that NONE of the topics (glowBull warming, EPA, food production, "income inequality", animal compassion, etc. ad nauseum) listed in the comPost piece are enumerated as being addressable by FEDGOV according to article one, section eight of the US Constitution. That unconstitutional bureaucrats and their media sycophants aren't fleeing towns covered in tar and feathers, or hanging from lampposts, simply boggles the mind...

Will the day ever come?

RichJ said...

This is just another example of the wickedness these Marxists (or should I say devil's spawn?) use to further their personal power and hide their inadequacy and self loathing from themselves.

Fran, you are right to put "Democracy" in quotes. It is just another term that has been co-opted by them. Democracy, even without the newspeak connotation, simply doesn't scale beyond five or so people sitting around the dining room table. It always ends up being used as a disguise for tyranny. DeToqueville's "Democracy in America" is quite eloquent about this.

In this vein, I have been reading "https://www.traditionalright.com/victoria/" the last few days... something that the WRSA has pointed out several times. For those unfamiliar with it, I would recommend it. It catalogs similar cultural Marxist tactics deployed by the statists and how a group of Christian Marines coped.

It's Armageddon time, folks. Society is accelerating down the slick slope toward the burning lake. Get your crampons on and try to at least hold position if not climb out to the high ground.

Reg T said...

Of course we should let the government control our food. The Ukrainians of 1932-33 can tell you how beneficial that was to their well-being:


The Chinese, under Mao, had their own version of the Holodomor.

I'm sure Michelle Obama would love have that kind of control over what our school children can eat.

pdwalker said...

Statists will never stop.

The world is not enough.

Joseph said...

Mark Bittman is also notable for proposing that food labels include a rating for Foodness.

We can imagine a manufacturer of freeze-dried potatoes being taken away in handcuffs for giving his product a high "Foodness" rating, followed by the revelation that freeze-dried potatoes were an Incan recipe.