Sunday, July 26, 2015

Mach and Cheese: When Media Outlets Become Spokespeople for Lobbies

I tried to resist but I could not: this piece on Supply Management is such an utter crock of shit.  The big question is: why has the CBC become the sock puppet of the dairy industry?  A piece entitled "Why politicians defend farm marketing boards" ignores the political logic (more on that below), so what does the piece actually do?  As economist Stephen Gordon tweeted:
We can go through the list one by one, I suppose.
  • No bailouts?  Nope, supply management is not a bailout, which is a temporary effort to save a failing business/sector.  Instead, it is yearly (or is it monthly?) subsidy essentially since restricted supply increases prices despite what this set of talking points asserts.  Check out the price of cheese: $5-7 for a small block?  Really?  
    • "Price comparisons for food can be fraught due to variable factors like transportation costs and retail competitiveness"  Sure, this is true especially when there is no competition!!!  This is what a cartel is all about--setting prices high and then denying it.  Don't compare prices because ...ooops, they would show that Canadians are paying more.
  • Food sovereignty?  This point is absolutely stupid.  It says that export foods like beef and pork and grain can fall on hard times ... but dairy does not.  Wait, have the Canadian beef/pork/grain industries disappeared?  Have their farmers given up and moved to the cities for alternative careers?  No. NO!  So, why should dairy be special.  Oops.
    • The point about perishables actually makes it clear why dairy will not disappear--Canada will not be importing milk from cheaper producers anytime soon since the stuff spoils.
  • Sustaining the little guy?  One could do that without providing bonanzas, I suppose.  But if we let the market work its magic (and its destruction) elsewhere in the economy, why are dairy farmer so super-special?  Why protect them and not small bookstore owners?  Oh, because if we protected all small businesses from competition, we would pay more and get less.  Got it.
  • Trade threats are empty?  Yes, other countries have barriers, which they may lower if Canada lowers its barriers.  Ooops.  Got to give to get.
  • Who needs votes?  The basic point is that politicians pander to the dairy farmers and will continue to do so regardless of party.  Why?  Ask Machiavelli:
`` We must bear in mind, then, that there is nothing more difficult and dangerous, or more doubtful of success, than an attempt to introduce a new order of things in any state.  For the innovator has for enemies all those who derived advantages from the old order of things, whilst those who expect to be benefited by the new institutions will be but lukewarm defenders.  This indifference arises in part from fear of their adversaries who were favoured by the existing laws, and partly from the incredulity of men who have no faith in anything new that is not the result of well-established experience.  Hence it is that, whenever the opponents of the new order of things have the opportunity to attack it, they will do it with the zeal of partisans, whilst the others defend it but feebly, so that it is dangerous to rely upon the latter.'' 
So, yeah, supply management is not going away, especially when the mainstream media outlets parrot their talking points.

UPDATE: This got tweeted later in the day:

No comments: