The Freedom to Choose
As we enter the holiday weekend, and the 245th anniversary of Independence Day, there’s much to think about considering the state of freedom and liberty in the United States. I try to stay out of politics in this blog, but then again, many so-called political issues of our day were/are moral, humanitarian, or civil concerns prior to being politicized. So, today I will dabble with some subjects that could be considered political, although I’ll try to keep it positive and educational. Here, in the words of Patrick Henry, is my disclaimer; “Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense? I should consider myself as guilty of treason toward my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.”
As you know, this year has brought its challenges here at Pasture to Fork because of County Health Department—along with state and township—interference in our private farm-to-table food venture. To be honest, this personal struggle for food and farming freedom has served to impersonate to us the greater battle for “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” taking place in many areas and industries throughout the United States (and perhaps the world).
I recently learned that since January, at least twenty “Cease and Desist” orders have been issued to small farms by the Department of Agriculture in Pennsylvania. It’s becoming more obvious who these arms of government really work for; Corporate Food. Here’s how it works; Corporate Food lobbies control measures into law—usually in the name of “food safety.” Many of these directives sound good at face value, and may even be driven by decent motives (let’s give them the benefit of doubt). However, when in practice they almost serve the interests of size and scale, which is to say they drive small producers out of the marketplace.
Eliminating small producers from the food arena is appealing to government regulators because it’s much easier to regulate (or look past) a few large players in the industry than many small farms. The way I see it, the battle is defined by Truth-and-Transparency vs. Hide-behind-the-Label. Corporate Food benefits from widening the chasm between producer and consumer (which encourages dependency on a paper-thin label), while small localized producers endeavor to span the rift and connect with the consumer.
When I say I’m in favor of a totally free-market food system, people blanch. “You mean, no government oversight?”, they ask. And why not? Until the late 1800’s, government was not involved in food regulation whatsoever. In fact, there was no FDA until 1906, and guess what, both producer and consumer were more responsible. Plus, in the last century experience and scientific discovery has taught us much along the lines of safe, healthy nutrition for the human body (although I would suggest more was learned in the fringes than in the greater food industry).
The reason I’m for deregulating is rooted in two separate—but connected—beliefs. Number one is the ability of the free market as a great playing field leveler. The free market has long proven its aptitude in allowing good merchants to thrive, and poor vendors to either change their ways, serve the customer well, or be forced out of business. I think I hear you say we have free markets here in America. Unfortunately, my friend, there are very few truly free markets (which is to say totally unregulated) remaining in the USA. What we have replacing formerly free markets are regulated industries where the larger players form associations in order to wine and dine regulators and lawmakers alike at the expanse of product quality and consumer satisfaction. Plus, in most cases they enjoy corporate immunity from litigation. Most industries have been consolidated to a few large corporations who may not have single-company monopolies (which are prohibited by law), but nonetheless enjoy monopoly status in the fact that they have a minimum of competition and the partiality of the regulating industry.
The second reason I say “Deregulate!” is because of the correlation between freedom and risk. Most regulation is put in place for supposed safety or consumer protection. While that sounds good in and of itself, it also places the legal/illegal status of many good products or services at the whims of lawmakers and regulators (who often act based on pressure from corporate America). Take raw milk as an example. For hundreds and thousands of years raw milk was consumed with little risk. Until the late 1800’s when it became politicized and laws were passed prohibiting the sale of raw milk. Now, most Americans are led to believe raw milk is an unsafe and unhealthy product. You see, the large players in the dairy industry benefit from pasteurization laws because it allows them to produce far more volume than their locality can consume without jeopardizing shelf life. It allows milk to be a week old before gracing grocery store shelves.
The freedom to choose cannot be separated from risk. Free markets are risky to a certain extent, but it remains debatable whether they’re riskier than corporate immunity obtained via the guns of government. Look at any major food recall in the past twenty years and you will see that they came from approved and inspected facilities, not to mention large. The larger the facility, the more volume is produced—and distributed throughout the nation—before a problem is detected. Too often by the time a problem is detected, hundreds of people have been affected. Plus, retribution is rare for those who are hurt via tainted food from these sources (again, immunity).
The basis of regulation, I believe, lies in the control of wealth. Free markets allow for a far greater distribution of wealth to whoever endeavors to serve the customer well in the marketplace. Regulated markets, on the other hand, consolidate wealth to a narrow group of people, some of whom may be indirect recipients (i.e., beneficiaries via campaign funds and tropical cruises). BTW, this also applies to the free exchange of ideas we’re now seeing suppressed. Knowledge is a form of wealth.
So, what do we do? I don’t want to leave you on a paranoid note, so here’s my take on what we can do;
- Choose the more difficult path. Have you ever noticed that the easiest-to-obtain items often come from large corporations who dominate the marketplace, but are not necessarily good for society in general?
- Vote with your dollars wisely. Our dollar may be a more powerful medium for change than our vote at the polls.
- Whenever, possible, boycott Walmart, Amazon, Lowes, Home Depot, Target, etc., and patronize local mom-and-pop stores.
- Cancel Prime (that’s hard, but not impossible)
- Cook from scratch (sorry, I couldn’t help but insert this selfishly motivated plug)
- Seriously consider homeschool, or some form of a private school. This is of utmost importance, because our young people are now indoctrinated to accept a totally regulated nanny state to take care of them, and make all their decisions for them.
In order to create a better future for future generations, and any semblance of a free market, we must consciously choose to support free markets when and wherever we can. I believe this has never been more important than it is now. We see Corporate America being used now to enforce leftist woke ideologies like never before, and unless she feels the backlash in her back pocket from folks like you and I, the nonsense will continue to worsen, and the powers that be will continue to decide what you and I can and cannot purchase. And that, is The View from the Country.
Quotes worth Re-Quoting –
“The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.”
― Patrick Henry
“The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government – lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.”
― Patrick Henry
“If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”
― Samuel Adams