By Nathan Barton
Like the farmers who operate dairies and confined feeder operations have to do with some of the byproducts of their animal husbandry, so apparently the Foundation for Economic Education seems to betray its purpose by spreading a similar product in a recent article. The article is supposed to be asking the question “could the market really end meat?” but seems instead to be a paean to the “wonders” of veggie burgers, trying to lead us to believe that it is only a matter of time and that the market has already determined that meat for human consumption is already going away.
Now, I admit that FEE just reposted this article, written by an economics professor at George Mason University in Virginia for his blog. As well known as GMU is for its understanding and support of free market economics and liberty, this guy just doesn’t seem to be either up to their usual academic standards OR to be concerned about free markets and liberty – such as the right of individuals (consumers) to decide what and what not to buy.
This professor, although labeled as “broadly libertarian” (whatever that means), seems to be a typical product of our educational system, and one of the coastal elites who does not understand the realities of life in flyover country or with any real experience in stockraising or any other part of agricultural pursuits, and who does not see any value in it. His background, at least academically, is from the Pacific Northwest (on the Canadian side) and modern Tidewater Virginia. I suppose he has overcome some of the deficiencies of his background and education to even be “broadly libertarian” and in favor of free markets. But…
He ignores the facts of history and biology. People ARE meat-eaters, and vegetarianism, much less veganism, is both an aberration and detrimental to both personal health and the health of society. We were MADE that way: it requires significant behavioral modifications both to end the natural human desire for meat and to get the body to adjust (however poorly) to life without that source of protein and other nutrients. (There are a few unfortunate but rare persons who are unable to eat meat, but they are NOT 99.9% of society, and our economy and society should not be built around them any more than it should be built around the 1-2% homosexuals, or the 0.5% wealthy and politically powerful elite.)
Far better than writing about how vegetarianism is inevitable (if the market will JUST cooperate like good little citizens should (and must)) and meat is dead, perhaps his knowledge (I don’t see that he has anything OTHER than academic skills or experience) could be better applied to seeing how to free the market (for both meat producers, distributors AND consumers of meat). As discussed on a recent talk show, per capita consumption of beef has dropped from 60 pounds to 38 pounds per year, here in the Fifty States. But this, when you look at the situation with even a modicum of quantitative and rational research, is NOT due to people making rational and voluntary choices. And certainly not deciding against meat: chicken consumption in the same period has gone from 24 pounds to 41 pounds per year. Together with increases of other animal products (including dairy).
Rather, it is due to a combination of factors: prices and propaganda. The prices, when you trace things back to the various underlying factors, can be laid at the feet of government and its associated institutions (such as the Federal Reserve and their crony-capitalist buddies in multi-national corporations). Government regulations and policies which favor the huge corporations while restraining and making smaller more agile firms (including farming and ranching enterprises) are just part of the problem. Propaganda, on the other side of the coin, is very much attributable to government and MORE of its partners in evil: particularly academia and the health care industry/profession. (And Hollywood and the rest of the media, of course.) For years we have been told by government and its minions how meat (especially red meat) is bad for us. For decades we have been told that ranchers (and farmers) are threats to the environment: that ranching is a form of exploitation which the earth cannot sustain, that animals have the same rights as humans (just another kind of animal, but NOT to be allowed to be a predator like a hawk or wolf or lynx), and that something MUST be done.
For organizations like FEE and GMU, and individuals like this professor, to spread their manure in support of these efforts to engineer and change society and humans, even if unintentional, is inexcusable. They are simply facilitating the continuing efforts of government to more and more control all human activities.
Enough is enough.
Mama’s Note: Have not had a steak in many years, but it wasn’t for lack of a desire to eat one. Unfortunately, the ranchers are not totally free of guilt in this. One of the myths of the modern market set up is the idea that prices should never go down, that these farmers and ranchers are somehow entitled to constant growth and ever higher prices. An end to the subsidies and idiotic rooms full of regulations would do a large service to all their customers – and themselves in the long run, but too many can’t see that. I watch the bargain bin at the grocery store constantly, but a steak “marked down” from $9. a pound to “only” $7. a pound is still no bargain.