Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Letting Government Order (for) You, Recipe for Disaster

Sometimes, news items far from the main topic of discussion can help clarify ideas enormously. Case in point...

MSNBC, otherwise known as the American version of Pravda, reports that top chefs are encouraging Obama to "improve food policy".

Right. See a problem? Ask the government to fix it. That method has worked so well up 'til now. Hearing that recommendation, the fundamental question to ask is: Why should America have a food policy?

This is both collectivism and the inevitable consequent lack of self-responsibility run amok. Surely, what food to buy and eat should be an individual or, at most, family decision. But it points to a much larger problem, one that reveals one of the root causes of the current crisis: the longing for the 'safety' of dependency, the desire to have an all-wise parent solve your problems.

Up to about the mid-20th century, Americans were used to solving their own problems. Granted, Uncle Sam was always on their backs to some extent. But prior to about 1910, that load was so light as to be almost non-existent for most everyone. Even the Depression Era had plenty of influential voices that still advocated that people help themselves. Fascist-style propaganda of the sort exemplified by a popular song of the period still touted the need to "dig, dig, dig, dig for your supper." It didn't sing, "let someone else feed you while you stand on your shovel and do nothing."

Then came the era of the late 1960s and later that asserted "we are all in this together" followed soon after by "therefore, the President must tell everyone what to do." Or, as Ayn Rand eloquently summed it up: "One neck for one leash."

That it has reached the stage in recent years of trying to control food choices clearly shows that we are on the path to slavery. Nanny state advocates have been yakking about the food supply for decades now. But with Obama in office, the advocates of no-preservatives now want to add steroids to the dish.

"What I'm hoping is that he's going to recognize that we need to do what we can in our country to encourage real food for everyone."

One could spend much useless time debating what constitutes "real food." It always comes down to whatever the collectivist-statist believes would be "best" for health, animal life, or what have you. But debating the specific issue is entirely beside the point. It's not appropriate for the government to even think about discussing to develop a plan to study the subject. It's simply none of anyone else's business, as is an entire range of other concrete issues on the news menu today.

Yet, this state of affairs has hardly been forced on everyone. The majority have invited it, even down to such personal details as what to eat. That this is a big step forward on the road to totalitarianism is summed up by this quote from one of those 'top chefs': "My advice would be more of a symbolic nature, and to not underestimate what can be done through the White House."

If ever was there a statement that eloquently reveals how much some people want a dictator, this is it.

One can't blame Obama entirely, because that commits the same mistake of focusing on one man. He was elected by a wide margin. Just over half the people of the United States are responsible for that, not just the man himself. If it hadn't been him, some other power hungry bacterium would have happened along. Circumstances such as the present create a ripe environment for the growth of that type of germ and there are many more like him in Congress on both sides of the aisle.

Only when the cultural influences and influencers shift in the direction of freedom will we see an end to the trend. Who those are and when they'll operate effectively is anybody's guess. The New York Times continues to be widely read, but also widely mocked. The major media are often roundly criticized by Left and Right (and other points on the political compass), but sometimes by people like Rush Limbaugh, who is clearly a major media figure himself.

No one, including myself, knows exactly how to get the right ideas implemented (though there are thousands who have a pretty clear notion of what they are).

Turning the major universities around seems impossible at this stage. Public education won't be reformed in the next two lifetimes to become once again a place for teaching students not what to think but how. TV news has finally fulfilled to completion Newton Minnow's characterization of the medium in the early 1960s as "the vast wasteland." None of these venues for the spread of facts and ideas will anytime soon favor objectivity, much less individual freedom.

The only feasible options appear to revolve around online columns. If enough right-thinking bloggers, online news and opinion columnists, et al can somehow persuade the right people, and enough of them, with the right ideas, there is still a chance to keep America, Land of the Free, from becoming more than just an obsolete slogan and an historical anomaly.

In the meantime, given the toxic pork the Feds are about to force feed us, try to keep your food down.

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