Sunday, December 19, 2010

Government Take Over of Food, Restaurants, (Land?) in Offing for Multnomah County. Food As a "Right."

Contributed by Victoria Taft, KPAM 860

Think I’m exaggerating? As promised, I’m now blogging what I’ve pointed out all week on the program: on January 27th the Multnomah County Commission will consider the “Multnomah Food Action Plan.” Find it HERE. This trojan horse represents itself as a way to fight hunger while at the same time getting rid of what its authors determine is “unhealthy” food. It puts the government at the forefront of making food related decisions for you; including where you buy it including government sanctioned, “food hubs.” It encourages more people to be put on welfare and government housing. The plan calls for manipulating the urban growth boundary, urging land trusts, and forcing people to grow food on empty lots. It would look better on paper if the authors considered private property rights and individual liberty in their plan, but alas, in the People’s Republic this is a plan that has at its heart, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need. HERE.” It’s a socialist utopian dream--which has never worked and which seeks to use our money to accomplish it. It makes food--and maybe even shelter--a right. Instead of working, able bodied people will have to do virtually nothing to support themselves. If you think times are financially tight now, just wait till Multnomah County becomes an even bigger welfare magnet than it already is. As Margaret Thatcher once observed, “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other peoples' money.”

This plan is breathtaking in its scope. It calls for the county to direct how people receive food in so called “food hubs,” assigns the county the duty to “reduce unhealthy food availability [think McDonalds lawsuits],” reduce property rights with its plan to “establish an agricultural land trust,” “increase acceptance” and “promote enrollment” of the food stamp program (SNAP), make it “easier” to eat more healthfully--by diktat--of course. In short, it would put government in charge of what access you have to food. And the plan makes a foray into housing calling for the county to “create sustainable living conditions.”

And it’s all done in the name of ‘social justice.’
Multnomah County, like much of the country, is at a critical juncture in fixing its food system. Currently, we have a two-track food system: those who can afford it have access to sustainable, locally grown, healthful foods, while the poor have few healthful food options in their communities, and even fewer economic resources to purchase such foods. Hunger, food insecurity, and health disparities result from a system that perpetuates economic inequality and social injustice. The scales must be rebalanced.
There are some things that I like in the food plan such as production of food for the poor and a seed library to share seeds. But they’re only effective if free people can decide to involve themselves in such programs.

“Empowering,” “funding,” “creating,” “fund opportunities for,” “increasing opportunities for,” “develop incentives,” mean we’re going to pay for this “new” plan to take over the marketplace. Furthermore, the avowed goal to hook more people on welfare is unseemly and wrong. When did it become government’s job to make it easier for people to shirk their own responsibilities?

Worse, millions of taxpayer dollars will undoubtedly be wasted on this program before we arrive at the point where it’s obvious government can’t solve the problem of people wanting to eat french fries.

Among the groups urging more government involvement--if not takeover--of the food available in Multnomah County are those whose fortunes will rise with the government’s increased involvement.

ReCode Oregon meets in the “Che” (Guevarra) room of a local church. Their goal is “legalizing sustainability.” Various farmer’s markets support the plan. We can agree that farmer’s markets are wonderful community assets. But they’re private and they’re “markets.” They would become even more beholden to  government under this plan.

TransitionPDX is a group created to agitate for government control of food. The group invokes the belief of ‘peak oil’ and ‘climate change’ as reasons to transition to government control over food.

The reasons for needing the program according to the food plan web page? Well it reads like they sat down and threw everything against the wall. Objectives appear to be in conflict with the other.
• About 36,000 people in Multnomah County access emergency
food boxes each month.
• Only a small portion of the food we consume is locally grown.
• Over half of all adults in Multnomah County are overweight or obese.
• Chronic disease such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke is on the rise.
• About 30% of Multnomah County children receive food through the SNAP food assistance program.
• The average age of an Oregon farmer is 58 years.
On one hand people are hungry but on the other hand the do gooders want to deprive them of fast food or out of town sources of food.

On one hand they claim to be concerned about the poor but on the other hand they want to drive up the cost of food by having most of it from local sources.

On one hand they say 30% of children are on the food stamp program--a huge number--and on the other hand call for a higher number of people to be on welfare.

On one hand they claim more people should grow food and on the other hand they want to use the force of government regulation to deprive people of private property rights to do it.

For free markets--literally--and free peoples this plan is a disaster. Making food and shelter a ‘right’ sounds like a laudable goal, until you realize that when government takes over, things have a tendency to rise in price, not to mention it disincentivising taking care of oneself. When lesser things become a ‘right’ government takes control of it and people come to expect it.

We become Greece.

I want to help people. That’s why I give to charity. Government is not and should not become a charity.

[Victoria Taft may be heard daily, Monday through Friday on KPAM 860, Portland, Oregon from 11:00 AM to 3 PM. She blogs at her own blog,]

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