Friday, March 27, 2009

Why Market Liberalizers Are Dumb

"Given the reality of what consumers can and can't do, market liberalizers' enduring fantasy—that the collective power of tens of millions of conscientious shoppers will force suppliers to correct their bad practices—has been replaced by a grimmer understanding: Until we can make the market see all the costs of unsustainable farming, and until we learn how to temper its obsessive focus on ever greater efficiencies, market-driven sustainability will fail."
From this:

It's not that I think most people are dumb. Wait. I do think most people are dumb. But that's because I'm a privileged and cynical upper middle class snobby smartypants who doesn't always realize the perspective her liberal college education gave her or that not everyone else shares it.

Anyhow, let's assume for the moment that we are all equally smart in our own ways and that intelligence is entirely subjective. The system that produces our food (also known as the food system) is so incredibly complex and dynamic that people who spend all of their time studying it and nothing else can't determine which factors are making things better, which are making things worse, and what food choices we should be making in order to sustain ourselves indefinitely on the planet.

And I'm not including myself in this category of academically minded food nerds. The people I'm describing use methodology, and statistics, and big words, and know what the word empirical means. They have data. They read magazines with lots of words and no pictures that have the word Journal in their title. These people can't give us an ethically minded shopping list that will help us save the world, without the expectation that it will change in 3 days.

So how can we possibly expect the rest of us, with our People Magazine, and our video games and our dog psychologist appointments and hair straightening sessions, our kickboxing classes and happy hours, how can we possibly know all of the evilness that's going around, enough to say NO to that bag of Fritos, not because they will make you fat and pimply, but because ADM or whomever the fuck grows the corn for Fritos is receiving millions of dollars in Farm Bill subsidies that is propping up a poisonous system of agriculture and impoverishing subsistence corn growers in Mexico? How many of us besides me and my liberal elitist friends and neighbors are letting those facts guide their purchasing decisions?

And that is well-known information at this point. A few weeks ago I learned of a study being done on preserving indigenous foods in Oregon and how wind-turbines (you know, groovy, wind-generated green energy) are disrupting these efforts. So cross wind-farms off the list of things we can be in favor of.

Anyhoo, the point I'm trying to make is that, if those libertarians out there, and you know who you are, honestly think the free market will save the world, you are dumb. It won't. Regulations can be gnarly, but just go ahead and dismantle them. And then, enjoy swimming in your sea of plastic bags and discarded water bottles, while munching on your salmonella infested peanut butter sandwich. Oh, and I hope you don't really like trees, 'cause they're going to all be cut down. And I know your kids have asthma, but at least your giant gas guzzling car has 4 different anti-theft devices.

Okay, I'm done being snarky.

1 comment:

No Lawn Sean said...

I really appreciate your cynicism. Somewhere between the journals and the bar I wait with a stir-up hoe and a regenerative solution