Thursday, January 6, 2011
Liberal National Food Policy = Collectivization of Canadian Farms
Okay, so the title is an eye-catcher. The Liberals aren't advocating an immediate Stalin-style collectivization. But if Mises' work is of any indication, this “middle-of-the-road” policy will eventually result in total State control of the food business. What the Liberals are proposing is that all of Canada's food and farming problems can be solved by State coercion. Let's examine the madness of the National Food Policy.
“We need more home-grown food on Canadian tables – because our health and our economy depend on it,” said Mr. Ignatieff. “Our farmers produce the healthiest, safest, highest-quality foods in the world – and we’ll help them get more of their products on our tables with Canada’s first comprehensive National Food Policy.”
Not bad doublespeak, Iggy. I agree with virtually everything in that statement, save for the last bit of course. And that's the essence of the State – they say things that sound good and a lot of Canadians support, but we tend to forget that the State is a criminal organization, and people like Ignatieff are actually criminals. I know they don't look like criminals, but trust me they are.
In fact, don't trust me. Look at the State yourself. Everyone else in society uses the market of voluntary exchange to produce wealth. The State, and those dependent on it, require the confiscation of wealth by exercising force. Process that through your head, and it becomes quite clear how criminal these government organizations really are. Let's continue:
“We’re working with farmers to build new farm programs from the farm up, and not Ottawa down,” said Liberal Agriculture Critic Wayne Easter. “Farmers have told us that a new National Food Policy must wipe the slate clean to create regionally flexible programs by farmers, for farmers.”
And what better way of doing this then allowing farmers not to pay any taxes. Think about it. Not only would a tax-free life give farmers supplement income to create their own regional farming operations based on local free market principles, but it would also give an incentive for more people to take up farming. More farmers, more food, more choices, lower prices. It's a win-win.
If an NFP is necessary, then it should consist of nothing more then an application farmers can apply for to opt-out of taxes. Or allow municipalities to function as defacto tax governments and therefore issuers of these applicants. Or we could use the honor system.
I personally recommend the honor system.
Unfortunately this is not the Liberal plan for our food. The National Food Policy is based off of “five core areas for action.”
I. Healthy Living: Health promotion and education
A new Healthy Choices program to educate Canadians on healthy eating, how the food system works, and how to minimize threats to food safety.
What kind of program are the Liberals advocating? A massive propaganda campaign like Harper's Economic Action program, or direct funding to schools to “educate” Canadians on information that the internet already has. In some ways, the Liberal's platform resembles more of a Nanny State than the NDP's.
New, progressive labelling regulations that give clear and simple information to Canadians on the nutritional value of the foods they purchase, improves the regulatory process for new health claims, and clarifies Product of Canada labelling.
I don't want to sound like Glenn Beck going on about the “progressives” but in this context, progressive basically means less freedom. Small independent farmers, the people the Liberals claim to be representing, will have to abide by various bureaucratic regulation in order to meet the regulatory “Product of Canada” labeling. This will raise overhead costs, possibly pushing up consumer prices.
Introduce strong new regulatory standards on transfats.
If Canadians don't know what transfats are, they can go online and learn about them. If they want to buy some locally produced food and there's no disclaimer about the amount of transfats, and something like that is important to the customer, then they have a choice to refrain from buying the product. Magically, or rather rationally, the producer may notice a pattern and decide to start putting transfat information on his products to facilitate more sales.
Yes, it is that simple.
What the Liberals are proposing are bureaucrats (because bureaus are the only way States can do business) deciding the “new regulatory standards” dealing with transfats. Does this mean a complete ban on transfats is possible? Certainly, regulators almost always expand their original mandate once given funding. Remember the CRTC was supposed to just regulate broadcast airwaves? Now they regulate the internet.
$40 million over four years to implement a new federal Healthy Start program to support existing programs helping 250,000 children from low-income families access healthy, home-grown foods, in partnership with the provinces, territories and non-governmental organizations. A Liberal government will also commit to ongoing support for the Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program (CPNP) and Aboriginal Head Start Program (AHSP).
As children are locked up in schools all day, five days a week, the State sells off their future with debt instruments. It does this so it can afford stupid-ass programs like these. $40 million over over four years may only average $1.20 from each Canadian, but this rests on the assumption that this won't go over budget. And that's a stupid assumption. On top of that, as the State is fundamentally wealth-destroying, there is no reason a private charity can't provide the “250,000 low-income children” a decent meal plan. $1.20 from every Canadian isn't much to ask. If donated voluntarily there'd be an incentive not to waste it.
$80 million over four years to create a Buy Local Fund. The Fund will promote high-quality, home-grown foods produced by local farmers and support a Farmers’ Markets Development Program to market and grow Canada’s farmers’ markets, in cooperation with the provinces and territories.
$2.40 from each Canadian over four years to force other Canadians to buy local. The idea that we can support local farmers by stealing from everyone first is counter-productive. Like I wrote before, the solutions to supporting local farmers and farmers' markets consists of voluntary exchange without any uncompensated appropriation. The freedom to transact in any currency, as well as hire at any wage will also be extremely beneficial. Definitely more so than more bureaucratic programs that are going to far exceed their projected costs and operate inefficiently.
Imagine yourself as a farmer. After going through all the bureaucratic headaches just to grow food on your property, now you find yourself at the mercy of a “Farmers' Markets Development Program” just to sell your goods on the open market. Does anyone really believe this policy is going to bring about plentiful, relatively cheap, home-grown foods?
II. Safe Food: Strengthening inspection and enforcement
Undertake a comprehensive review of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), to ensure Canada’s food safety system is effectively coordinated to minimize risks and assure Canadians that the food on their dinner tables is safe.
Selling these bureaucracies off to interested investors and entrepreneurs will do far more to minimize risks than any State coercion. Using profit as their incentive, as payment for these services are now voluntarily made, these private enterprises would aim to keep risks low and provide accountability on the safety of the food in question. Consumers have no choice and no preference when it comes to inefficient State bureaucracies. In the case of a disaster where people are poisoned the first thing bureaus get is more funding. Contrast to the private sector where enterprises can go out of business, rewarding the efficient businesses that take over.
Invest an additional $50 million over four years to improve food inspection by the CFIA and to ensure the same food safety standards set for Canadian producers are applied to foods imported into Canada.
If every Canadian donated a $1.50 over four years to improve food inspection, then we'd actually get some progress. If every Canadian had $1.50 stolen from them over a period of four years, then the wealth would be destroyed. The economic calculations that bureaus make aren't based off of any business model, like real supply and demand or profit-and-loss. Money is instead rewarded to those that follow arbitrary rules and regulations. Don't be surprised if the $1.50 increases to $2.50, then $5.00, then $7.50, etc. Contrast that to the free market, where prices tend to go lower as efficiency improves.
I'm not saying the Liberals should privatize everything (although I do recommend it). All I'm saying is that if these bureaucracies really are important, then allow Canadians to donate to them voluntarily. That'd help filter through government waste.
III. Sustainable Farm Incomes: Supporting innovation and protecting against risk
A Clean Slate Commitment to undertake a complete review of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada programming in partnership with farmers within the first year of a Liberal government, including business risk management programs, agricultural research, innovation and environmental programs.
Absolutely not. Theft on a massive scale to justify the State spending money on what they see as important for agriculture. On paper it may sound great, but in reality it is just more State control of the farming industry. If we don't learn from Stalin or Mao's regime, we're going to repeat those same mistakes.
A commitment to restore AgriFlex to its original mission of offering regionally flexible programs including practical, bankable business risk management to help farmers meet their costs of production. This could include the Risk Management Program in Ontario, Assurance stabilization des revenues agricoles in Quebec, market price insurance and improved crop insurance in the West, or a Buy Atlantic program in the Atlantic provinces.
Bureaucracies, State insurance programs, and protectionist policies. At the beginning of this post I outlined the best solution for farming – no taxes. It's a rather simple and direct concept, but it would work. Even if there was a rough starting, in the long-run it'd turn out far more productive than these State interferences in the free market.
IV. Environmental Farmland Stewardship
Work with Canada’s farmers to strengthen Canada’s Environmental Farm Plans, support improved fertilizer and pesticide management, and introduce new environmental goods and services programs that reward farmers for environmentally-sustainable initiatives such as setting aside land for wildlife habitats or carbon sequestration.
The State cannot work with Canadian farmers, it can only dictate or mandate policies which farmers are obliged to follow. The austerity of the “green economy” will lead to shortages, misallocations and a lower standard of living for all. The best way to practice sustainable farming is to allow the market to decide what sustainability actually means.
Further, as part of the Liberal commitment to quadruple Canada’s clean energy production, a Liberal government will invest significantly in the development of clean energy from Canadian farms – biomass, wind, solar and geothermal energy.
The Liberals like using the word “invest.” The State cannot invest money, it only destroys wealth. If I stole your credit card and bought myself a vending machine, then allowed you to keep some of the profits from selling chocolate bars and energy drinks – would you consider that an “investment?” How about if I didn't let you have some of profits but gave you free samples instead? Contrast to buying the vending yourself for your own purposes. Or loaning the money to me to buy the vending machine? When wealth is stolen, it is destroyed.
This may seem evident, but it's surprising how many people still view taxes as part of the “social contract” we have with the State. If there is such thing as a social contract, it is with each other. Our family, our friends, our community – and why the hell not – even our country. There is no contract with the State, there is only the appropriation of wealth for purposes deemed necessary by the State itself. The market of voluntary exchange is the social contract we're looking for. A networked community of individuals providing goods and services by voluntary payments.
When the time comes, people will invest in clean energy. We can speed up this process by allowing people to keep more of their own wealth instead of siphoning it off into unproductive sectors.
V. International Leadership: Opening new markets and building capacity
Expand export opportunities and build Canada’s international brand as a producer of the highest-quality foods and beverages in the world by strengthening coordination between Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
I've already explained how to really rejuvenate Canada's food production, so let's just analyze what the Liberals are actually proposing here. Using the coercive arm of the State, farmers are now subject to increasing bureaucracy. As more consumers are forced into buying local, by State decree, there will be less food to go around and prices will be higher. Scarcity and high prices are the direct result of farmers growing (or not growing) according to regulations instead of market incentives. No doubt, the State will try to artificially lower the high prices causing even more shortages. Meanwhile, what little food we do have will be shipped abroad to build Canada's reputation as a food and beverage exporter. Starving at home, selling abroad, only the State reaps the benefits.
Worst case scenario? Probably, but a possible scenario as unintended consequences always arise from State meddling. Famines are almost always a result of food shortages due to State coercion. It's foolish to believe “it can't happen here” just because this is Canada.
Work to build capacity in local food production and food security among world’s most vulnerable nations, particularly in Africa, by reassessing the Canadian International Development Agency’s priority nations list, and focus on initiatives such as micro-lending, research, trade-related capacity building, and enhancing agricultural productivity and sustainability.
More spending, more coercion, more debt. The Liberals like to claim they're the fiscal conscience of Canada, the only party that can tackle the deficit, but so far we've seen nothing but promises for more spending. This tops the list as it involves spending our wealth on African dictatorships. Anyone who believes that foreign aid is actually beneficial is living in a fantasy or hasn't done their homework. First, allow individuals to fix their own financial issues, then we can donate to private charities that help alleviate poverty in the third-world.
Speaking of the third world, if there's any doubt that the free market would work, one needs to look no farther then Cuba. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Cuban socialist establishment faced major obstacles if they wanted to retain power. In response to food shortages, the State declared all land used for growing would be rent-free. The result? In Cuba, almost everyone is a farmer.
I think something similar could happen in Canada if the State relinquished all forms of taxes (including property tax) on anyone willing to grow food. Cuba may be a poor socialist dictatorship, but they have a decent farming industry. Canada is a rich socialist dictatorship, but if plans like the National Food Policy are ever fully implemented, State coercion will deem Canada just as poor as our communist neighbours.
Overall what the Liberals are proposing is based on, presumably, good intentions. But a violent criminal organization cannot bring about peaceful exchange. If the National Food Policy was actually enacted, it would hurt farmers more than it would help. The solution to Canada's social problems is not State coercion, but the voluntary principles of the free market.
A vote for the Liberals is a vote for starvation
A vote for anyone else is a waste of time
Informing people, letting them know that the State is a dangerous, violent and unnecessary institution will be far more effective than any election.