Monsanto strikes again
Wednesday, 8:57 pm
While I’m on my free-market rant today....
When it comes to the free market… it’s freer for some than for others.
As of January 1, consumers in Pennsylvania will no longer see labels on milk containers that say “Contains no artificial growth hormones” or “No bBGH” or “No bBST”—because the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has made it illegal for producers to put those labels on their milk cartons.
Why? Well, it looks as if people much prefer milk produced by cows that have never been given artificial growth hormones. (As I do.) And, given the choice, growing numbers purchase the hormone-free milk. That makes Monsanto, the manufacturer of the the growth hormones, very unhappy. They’re getting hammered in the good old market place and so are the farmers who use the hormone to squeeze another gallon of milk out their cows each day.
The head of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture claims that the labels are very confusing to customers, suggesting to them that hormone-free milk is good milk and the other stuff is bad milk.
Well, yeah. That’s my feeling. Why drink Monsanto’s hormones when I don’t have to?
It’s called giving consumers a choice of what to put in their bodies. If people prefer not to buy milk produced by cows raised on artificial growth hormones, then that is surely their right to select a product that doesn’t have any in it. Well, not if you live in Pennsylvania. (I don’t think Massachusetts would ever be that dumb, but you never know.)
New Jersey and Ohio are next.
So...Monsanto can’t deal with being squeezed by consumers who hate their pharmaceutical product (a drug that is banned in half the rest of the world) and don’t want it in their food. People have been voting with their wallets and milk selections. More and more groceries have turned to hormone-free milk for their store brands in response. That’s the way things are supposed to work.
If Monsanto can’t beat the competition, fair and square, using their public relations campaigns to convince consumers of how safe their yummy growth hormones are, they can beat us into submission by finally finding a kindred spirit in one of the states who will make ‘no growth hormone’ labels illegal for them. And for us, because we’re so confused, dontcha know. Monsanto rules and the producers who give customers what they want get screwed...along with the customers. There’s a fair and free market for ya.
Wednesday, 10:53 am
There is an interview with Vice-President Cheney in the current issue of Fortune. It's entitled Why is Dick Cheney Smiling? The little blurb below the title explains why Dick Cheney is smiling: Because he thinks the doomsayers are wrong about the economy, and he has another year in office to fight off attacks on the Bush tax cuts.
You kind of wonder how he could not be concerned about the economy, but that becomes clear later in the article:
In the coming months, as the administration struggles with the threat of recession, White House insiders say the staunchly free-market Vice President can be expected to resist any impulse to soften the blow with government action.
"The fact is, the markets work, and they are working," said Cheney in an interview in his White House office. "And people - some of the big companies obviously - have taken risks. Risk means risk. And there's an upside as well as a downside in some of the choices they've made. We have to be careful not to have this set of developments lead us to significantly expand the role of government in ways that may do damage long-term for the economy."
The same goes for Democratic efforts to curb the predatory lending practices that left naive homeowners in trouble, says Cheney: "We don't want to interfere with the basic, fundamental working of the markets."
That's pretty much a supply-sider, free-market, laissez-faire approach to the world. Mr. Cheney believes in the value and importance of an ism...not people. Mr. Cheney is most certainly a devoted disciple of the late Milton Friedman, may he rot in hell.
So, I guess, according to Cheney, the market is working as it should and if we all go down the tubes because of rank corporate corruption, greed, and stupidity -- well, the market will adjust and we'll have to be patient even while the masses starve. Which is to say, he would choose not to lift one little finger to do anything to relieve anyone's suffering because the market will provide. Eventually. How ever long it takes. That's probably an easy way to think when you have millions in the bank and a home that's totally energy independent -- and a temporary residence that's heated and lit by taxpayer money. Betcha he's not wearing long johns. As long as he feels no pain, the world is rosy. Kind of reminds me of the supply-sider policies during the Irish Potato Famine. One wonders what this country would look like today had Cheney and his cronies been in power during our Great Depression.
Meanwhile, up in Maine....
Burrill’s company has a $60,000 diesel-powered wood splitter that can split two cords of wood an hour. Whenever the price of fuel increases, the cost of splitting wood goes up accordingly. Burrill said that while he would like to raise prices this year, he hopes to hold off as long as he can.
"I think you’re going to see the price go up if the price of oil goes up," Burrill said Tuesday. "We’re using diesel for the trucks, then there’s the tires, anything that has to do with petroleum products. I’d like to hold it at $200 a cord because people are hurting in so many ways. Their car, food, everything seems to be going up. People just can’t function with the cost of living. The whole thing has gone to pot."
Bowen noted that the price per cord had increased from $220 to $275 a cord in southern Maine in the past few weeks and that he would not be surprised if prices in the midcoast reached similar levels by next year. Green wood, which is not ideal for burning because it is still wet with resins, is selling for about $175 a cord in central Maine.
The price of oil will be the determining factor in whether the cost of wood rises or falls, Bowen said.
"If fuel drops back down to $2 a gallon, you’re not going to be seeing $200-a-cord firewood," he said. "But I don’t see that happening. The whole economy is dead. Not just in the woods -- look at the fishermen, they’re hurting too. I don’t know how people will make a living if it stays like this."
But Dick Cheney is still smiling.