More Regulation for Global Agriculture
May 24, 2009
According to an ACES news release entitled 'Globalized Agriculture Requires Regulation' from the University of Illinois , freedom and liberty in the ag sector are likely to see some major restrictions in the next few years.
"We may well see increasing public control by human decision-makers over almost every detail of food production, marketing, and distribution" according to the release.
The justification for the increased restrictions and limits on the way we farm sound eerily similar to the justifications for increased regulation and outright government takeover of other industries in the past. Of course as always, the justification for more government intrusion into our lives is based on the public interest:
"We'll have a change of public policy relating to the actions of individuals through the entire system to a level we've never seen before,the public interest is larger than that of any individual if it is determined through democratic decisions."
Wow! Of course, thankfully (hopefully) in the United States we have a Constitutional Republic instead of just a democracy. Democratic decisions make the public interest 'larger' than the 'individual' only if they are consistent with the limited powers specifically laid out in the constitution. Our system was set up specifically to protect the individual from the so called 'public interest' or tyranny as it was known in the days of our founders. Of course these protections have not prevented the destruction of the banking and auto industries and takeover by government. I don't remember an initiative by anyone to amend the constitution to make these takeovers and the regulations and interventions that destroyed these industries constitutional.
The idea that 'the public interest is larger than that of any individual' has been the central dogma of collectivist ideology and some of the most tyrannical regimes in history. The current state of affairs and the attitudes sweeping the nation are described in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. Rand describes this 'public interest' mentality for what it really is:
"Who is the public? What does it hold as its good? ... If it is now believed that my fellow man may sacrifice me in any manner they please for the sake of whatever they deem to be their own good, if they believe that they may seize my property simply because they need it-well so does any burglar. There is only one difference: the burglar does not ask me to sanction his act."
The acts of a burglar cannot be sanctioned by any democratic process any more than the same act carried out by government. ( which again is why our constitution limits what we can put subject to a vote) I think however, just as happened under Roosevelt and Carter, these failed 'public interest' philosophies will prove ineffective. No matter how great our leaders, how genuine their intentions, because government relies on the limited knowledge and preferences of a few voters, bureaucrats, or elected officials, it never has adequate information for effectively running our lives at the micro level. Whether it is health care, automobiles, or feeding the world, only markets have proven capable of producing adequate information and incentives for allocating resources to their best possible use. Public private partnerships only confuse matters more.
Hopefully, we won't have to wast a decade mired in stagnation while we rediscover the basic principles of individualism, freedom, and liberty that made this country so exceptional.
To quote from the FFA Creed:
"I believe that American agriculture can and will hold true to the best traditions of our national life."
The link for the article ( ACES News: Globalized Agriculture Requires Regulation) can be found here
Matt Bogard, Economic Sense