Thursday, November 17, 2011

Best Program Name to Deceive Public

"Supply Management"  This is the set of policies that protects and subsidizes parts of Canada's farming industry--dairy, eggs, chickens, as far as I can tell.  Funny that I have resided here for nearly ten years before I realized how systematic and how amazingly regressive Canada's farming policies happen to be.  Why now?  Because Canada's protection of this small hunk of the farming industry is putting at risk its participation in trade talks--the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

But at least now I understand why milk, eggs and chicken are so damned expensive here.  Competing products from abroad face a 200% tariff or more!  Now, that is what we call protection.  And regressive taxes since the poor pay a larger share of their income on food, and Canada has inflated food prices to help a very small slice of the population.

This makes complete sense to me.  Well, not because it is right and good but because I lectured just a couple of weeks ago about the few things I understand about the politics of international economics.  Specifically, the story of concentrated pain and diffuse suffering.  If Canada changed farm policy to be less protective of this small group, it would that small group quite a lot and benefit the larger group of consumers (some 30 million plus people).  So who mobilizes?  The small group quite energetically and the large group not at all.  Plus the drawing of ridings (districts) is always behind the times, so rural areas always (not just in Canada but most places) have more political clout than their proportion of the population (in the US, we call this the Senate).

The only thing potentially dumber than this policy for the public welfare would be if the government facilitated the use of corn for fuel.  Oh, that already happened?* Terrific.

*  I am thinking of adding Sarcasm sauce to my collection of sauces (perspective, awesome, denial, secret, distraction, ignorance).  What do folks think?  No tariffs on my sauces.

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