Friday, November 23, 2007

Farm Subsidies

I saw this graphic and I had to blog about it. Link here is the blogger's post from whence it came.

Farm subsidies don't make sense economically. They make even less sense ethically (impoverished African farmers are put out of business by rich subsidized American farmers). For these two reasons, I've always been strongly opposed to these ridiculous price supports. Now, as if I needed it, I have another good reason to be strongly opposed to subsidies - they are a major reason why we have such serious health problems in the USA.

The pyramid reveals that subsidies for meat and dairy are roughly 200 times larger than our subsidies for fruits and veggies. In other words, we are making meat and dairy products cheaper relative to fruits and vegetables.

And we can't figure out why we have an obesity epidemic.

The original author had a great quote: "For all the talk of the health costs, the most economically rational purchase on earth is a Big Mac." That should not be the case. If we are going to subsidize anything, it should be the fruits and the veggies, not the meat and cheese. It's hard for me to say that, considering how much I love meat. But if meat was more expensive, I'd eat less - and so would everyone else. And we'd all be much, much better off for it.

Here is something to think about next time you are pondering your position regarding the health care debate. Increasing the cost of meat and cheese while decreasing the cost of fruit and veggies would have a bigger impact on national health outcomes than any changes we could make to our system. It wouldn't even be close. Here in the USA, however, we don't like the obvious, simple solutions. If it doesn't involve a brand new bureaucracy, we're not interested. Thats why we're going to go with (maybe) a complex cap-and-trade system for reducing CO2 levels instead of just levying a simple carbon tax.

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