Saturday, October 7, 2006

People don't want spinach that makes them sick.

And they don't need the FBI to make sure that doesn't happen. Lew Rockwell puts it nicely here.

The companies that grow and distribute spinach have a vested interest in making sure that food is safe. Otherwise, they won't sell it. The government, on the other hand, only has a vested interest in getting more power. Who do you want regulating the spinach you eat?
The truth is that the people who buy and sell are far more interested in the well being of the public than lifetime bureaucrats who have no professional stake in the outcome of the enterprising process than the man in the moon. Their one and only interest is protecting their power and position. Increasingly, they seize on any and every headline to whip up public frenzy.

This is government in the Bush age, in which every turn of events becomes a matter for federal goon squads to crack skulls. People often claim that the government used 9/11 as an excuse to do what they wanted to do in any case, which was to trample on the Constitution's protections against violations of our personal liberty. Not only is that true; the government is now using even the smallest and most petty excuses to do the same.

But you might say: at what cost? What is the big deal as to whether the FDA and the FBI are involved in the great spinach case or not? Surely the only result will be that merchants will become more careful about guarding the health of consumers.

Actually, I don't think that is a foregone conclusion. Many more people die per day on government highways than became sick in this spinach scare, and I see no hysteria to prosecute road builders or bureaucrats at the Transportation Department. Far from protecting people, the government has a special skill associated with perpetually endangering people such as American soldiers in hostile foreign lands, not to speak of civilians. It is not at all obvious that government has the interests of our health at heart when it regulates and controls us.

There is also an ideological cost here. Whenever government demonizes merchants, it encourages the view that we must be forever on the lookout for dishonest business people who are seeking to make us sick, and from whom only the great civil servants in government can protect us.

This feeds right into the zero sum fallacy - that in order for a big mean corporation to have a profit, someone has to lose. Which, if you made it through ECON 101, you know is incorrect.

Right? You do know that, don't you?

Rockwell also nicely points out how much free enterprise has helped us, and compares it to the 'help' the government provides.
These sorts of investigations actually encourage the view that free enterprise is a source of danger and a health hazard rather than our source of service and health enhancement. After all, a century ago, people would have found it to be nothing short of a miracle that greens could survive a cross-country trek and land on your dining table in pretty much the same state as when they were picked.
Leftists will say the only reason it arrives safe is because of the government, which, is hogwash. it arrives safe because spinach producers make a profit doing it, and they know that killing their customers is generally bad for business. The government, on the other hand, doesn't have to worry about customers. Which makes the killing easier.

No comments: