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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Government, Food, and Libel

Mrs. MOTW brought home Food, Inc from the library. Now, actually, I've wanted to see that film for some little time. I am not unaware of how the food business has changed over the decades. Dreher talked about it quite a bit in Crunchy Cons (highly recommended reading, see my review here).

Mostly, I didn't see too much different from what I expected to see, having read about many of these issues before. I will say that I was mildly aggravated by the persistent tone that so many of the people in the film had, an undercurrent of "these companies will do anything, including make you sick, for a profit." I, of course, am:

A) Goin' "DUH! Read Genesis, people are fallen!" Real conservatives are never surprised at crappy human behavior, including their own.

B) Wondering how the fact that it is government interference in the marketplace that makes this stuff possible could have had so little impact on so many of the people being interviewed. People being interviewed for the film repeatedly noted that the food market is skewed because of government subsidies--government subsidies which have been lobbied for by people in the fast-food business, agribusiness, and so forth. It was government distortion of the marketplace, albeit brought on by powerful, moneyed interests, that caused the problem, but everybody seemed to be concerned with how they could get government to fix the problem.

Get the government the heck out of the way, anyone? As the film's director was quoted as saying in the Wikipedia article, emphasis mine:
...the whole system is made possible by government subsidies to a few huge crops like corn. It's a form of socialism that's making us sick.

Now, just how you gonna get government out of the way? An educated population, that's how.

Pity we ain't got one o' those.

But that's not what I started out to write about. The film made a few references to "veggie libel laws." Having never heard of such a thing, I went and googled it. I will be monkey's fershlugginer uncle, there is such a thing. 13 states (including Oklahoma), apparently, have special laws that make it much easier to sue people who make disparaging comments about an agricultural product. Apparently, if you've got a negative opinion about certain foods, unless you have the Oprah's deep pockets, you had better keep it to yourself.


Go watch the film. Your time won't be wasted.

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