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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Food Safety Modernization Act

Evil laws are always given noble-sounding names. One example is the proposed "Food Safety Modernization Act" (S510). It should be called the "The Ban Small Farms And Heirloom Seeds Act" or "The Monsanto Corporate Welfare Act". (The Senate didn't have a final vote on S510 before adjourning.)

The law itself is actually vague. It says "FDA bureaucrats may do whatever they want." The FDA may then impose regulations that cripple/ban small farms. The FDA might declare heirloom seeds "unsafe".

More laws are written by regulators than by Congress. Other examples are the fake healthcare reform law and the fake financial reform law. A lot of the details will be determined later by bureaucrats/regulators.

In addition to lobbying Congress, insiders also lobby regulators. There's a "revolving door". You work as a regulator for a few years, and then you get a high-paying job in the industry you formerly regulated. If you make the "right" decisions as a regulator, you're rewarded with a high-paying job later.

Some people say that it's unconstitutional, when Congress delegates law-writing power to unelected bureaucrats. The regulations are exactly like a law, with potential violence or jail time for violating them.

When Monsanto sells seeds, they sell "terminator seeds". The plant has no seeds or infertile seeds, so the farmer must buy seeds again next year. "Terminator seeds" are completely unnatural. They're the product of an evil corporate cartel in a non-free market.

With "heirloom seeds", the farmer can keep the seeds to plant next year. Monsanto executives would prefer to have heirloom seeds declared illegal. The Food Safety Modernization Act is vague enough that the FDA could do this.

The Food Safety Modernization Act is only slightly more evil than laws that already exist. If it's illegal to grow hemp in your backyard, then why not make it illegal to grow tomatoes in your backyard? If incandescent light bulbs are illegal, then why not make heirloom seeds illegal?

Most of the recent "food safety" scares occurred at large corporate farms. The "solution" is more regulations that will cripple small farms. Regulations are a regressive tax, because the compliance costs is usually fixed, independent of the size of your business.

These "food safety" scares are heavily hyped by the mainstream media. Via "Problem! Reaction! Solution!", these heavily hyped accidents are an excuse for laws that restrict people's freedom. Instead of forcing large corporations to behave, the actual effect of the regulations is that they cripple small businesses and small farms.

One example is the raw milk ban. People should be able to buy raw milk if they want to. If you buy directly from the farmer and drink it right away, it should be safe. If the milk sits in a supermarket for a week before someone buys it, then of course you have to pasteurize it. The "raw milk ban" favors corporations at the expense of small farmers.

A small business owners values his reputation, and must be careful. A large corporate cartel has a State-backed monopoly/oligopoly. It makes no difference if they have a good product or poison people. The way the legal system and regulatory system works, there's no penalty for selling contaminated food.

As another example, it's illegal to sell corn labeled as "non-GMO corn" (not genetically engineered). The FDA says "GMO corn is safe, so that label is unreasonable." However, the FDA is denying people the right to choose. If some people (irrationally?) prefer non-GMO corn, then they should be allowed to buy it.

Monsanto and large corporate farms would love to declare heirloom seeds and small farms illegal. The Food Safety Modernization Act is a typical corporate welfare law, disguised as a safety law.

Even though large corporations receive huge State subsidies, small farms are successfully competing with them. As usual, large corporations lobby the State to eliminate competition.

Some small farmers might be selling directly for cash off-the-books. The Food Safety Modernization Act could make this riskier, if "possession of tomato plants/seeds" is declared to be a crime.

"Ban heirloom seeds" and "ban small farms" doesn't pass the "too obviously evil" test. However, it's only slightly more evil than laws almost everyone already accepts. The actual law is vague, but the FDA bureaucrats could make a very pro-Monsanto interpretation of the law.

"This law is too obviously evil!" or "This law is obviously Unconstitutional!" argument doesn't work. Insiders may do as they please. Police/thugs then enforce those bad laws, saying "I'm just doing my job. I have to respect the rule of law."

State insiders know who are the masters and who are the slaves. If you say that a law is flagrantly Unconstitutional or too evil, then they will just laugh at you.


Anonymous said...

This law makes small vegetable and fruit growers like me nervous. Costs and fees will not be fairly proportioned based on the size of the operations, or burdensome record keeping imposed.

"Some people say" is a weasel words phrase to be avoided.

Anonymous said...

They say the same about the MEPs in the European Parliament i.e. that the MEPs don't write the laws. Rather it is unelected bureaucrats that write the European law.

Some people say the United Kingdom parliament now has no real job to do. The MPs in Parliament are NOT the same as government. MPs should hold government to account, but they don't.

The UK parliament does not make the laws anymore. It is the unelected EU bureaucrats.

Rompy Pompy the EU President is UNELECTED.

Bas said...

Interesting also how the Huffington Post stopped all commenting on an article supposedly busting all the "myths" on this act ( Read the last post by the moderator before he locked it, basically telling all commenters they're idiots! If a website uses a comments feature, you're being hypocritical if you only allow people to post when they follow your views.

Anonymous said...

What you say about raw milk is incorrect.

Bas said...

From the info I found online raw milk is apparently healthier than people seem to think. Another great example of State brainwashing.

Anonymous said...

Recently on the British television Channel 4, there was a programme on how the clowns in government use "legal" measures to AVOID PAYING TAX such as trusts to avoid inheritance tax.

Details have been repeated on

The television programme (not the Daily Mail article) said how one tax haven island (I can't remember if it was the Caymans or British Virgin Islands) was running short of government money and so had to ask the United Kingdom for a loan or outright donation of money.

I think it was granted.

So there is an island allowing corporations effectively run in countries such as the UK (annual board meetings in the banana country though, ha!) to register there, avoid paying tax and then when the government runs out of money, they ask the UK for a wodge of cash.


No wonder this clown country has run out of money if nobody pays tax when registered there.

It is not enough not to pay tax, these clowns have to take our money as well via the bailout of the island's government.

This definitely fails the laugh test.

Anonymous said...

To the poster above:

Really? No, you are incorrect.

How do you like this discussion so far?

Anonymous said...

In the film K-Pax the protagonist said

"Every being in the universe knows right from wrong, Mark."

Just think about this for a bit.

On this planet we have books and books of laws. So many laws nobody can possibly know them all.

And yet despite all the written laws, LAW IS NO LONGER BACKED BY COMMON SENSE OR MORALITY.

If tax is valid, then everyone should pay a fair share.

However why should wealthy people pay less tax legally?

Why are there legal means to dodge tax for wealthy companies and banks and politicians?

But the little man has to pay tax.

Why is setting up a trust to avoid inheritance tax legal?

If the law WAS BACKED BY MORALITY, then a few pages of typewritten text would not mean the difference between legality and illegality.

I believe FSK has said in a different post, judges believe just saying a few magic words makes something legal.


Either it is right or wrong, moral or not.

A rich clown dodging tax using some secret scheme cooked up by accountants and slimeball lawyers is not moral if a little man cannot do the same thing.

I heard the sick clown lawyers make wealthy clients sign contracts saying they will keep the ways to avoid tax they tell them secret.



Scott said...

Homogenized milk is dangerous, it significantly increases the risk of heart disease due to breaking the bonds between the xanthine oxidase and the fat globules, allowing the XO to pass into the blood system where it damages the lining of the arteries, causing Atherosclerosis. This is why XO inhibitors reduce the incidence of Atherosclerosis, a proven scientific fact.

Anyone who says that homogenized milk is safe is scientifically ignorant.

Kata said...

@ "K-Pax" Anon:

Rich people are using loopholes to escape taxation because:

1) there is no such thing as "fair"
2) taxation is theft
3) what you call "Fair tax" is a progressive tax, and as such is a horrendous theft. But even neutral taxation is theft (where everyone pays same % rate). The only acceptable form of taxation is as prescribed in constitution, same amount from everyone, and even that would be theft to anyone who didn't vote for it.

Do you also require your friends to pay more for a pizza you both eat if he makes more than you do? That would only be "fair"!

Anonymous said...

In reply for Kata's comment on my K-Pax post.

The current situation we have in the United Kingdom is that rich people pay far less tax than poorer people via the following:

a) Trusts to avoid inheritance tax
b) Payment as dividends instead of wages as dividends have a lower tax rate
c) Houses registered in the names of foreign corporations to avoid taxes
d) Lots of wheezes to avoid corporation tax such as laundering money through Ireland and then foreign corporations etc.

And lots more.

The rich can use slimy accountants and dodgy lawyers to avoid tax. Poor people cannot.

So we have a system which is an inversion of fairness. Even if taxation is theft, why should rich people pay less than poor people?

We have jokers in the government tell us "we are all in it together" when at the same time their families are using trusts to avoid inheritance tax.

We have David Cameron telling us before the election that he will raise the threshold of inheritance tax.

But it was not raised.

Of course it wasn't raised. It doesn't need to be raised if rich people, like David's friend George Osborne, can avoid it with schemes not available to poor people.

It is morally reprehensible for government ministers to talk about cracking down on tax avoidance when they themselves are doing it.

Do as I say not as I do say the jokers in government.

Bas said...

Taxing rich people is as much highway robbery as taxing poor people, maybe even more so.

I've never understood this socialist witch hunt against rich people. Rich people paying MORE taxes is unfair, if you think about it for more than a second. Rich people are generally healthier (less pressure on health care system), provide their own transportation (not public transportation), commit fewer crimes, they're not a burden to the welfare state, etc.

I do have a problem with rich people buying government force to amass more wealth and power. I don’t have a problem with rich people – who, through innovation and having business sense - have created their own fortune. However few of those there may be nowadays :)

FSK said...

There's two conflicting things:

1. All taxation is theft. No matter who you are, it isn't immoral to dodge taxes.
2. It's hypocritical when insiders avoid the tax laws they themselves wrote. There are two legal systems, one for insiders and one for everyone else.

Most insiders pay *NEGATIVE* tax rate, even if they use no trusts or tricks. The State subsidies they receive are greater than any taxes they pay.

For example, Lloyd Blankfein pays a negative taxation rate, no matter what actual dollar amount he pays. His salary is 100% due to State violence.

Anonymous said...

The bill exempts food producers who sell half of their food directly to consumers, have sales of under $500,000 and sell within 500 miles. I wouldn't worry too much.

Bas said...

And I do worry! The legislation tries to fix a nonexistent problem. Anonymous, please quote the bill text that prohibits the FDA from arbitrarily closing down smaller farms as a result of this bill?

You can't - since every decision will be at the discretion of the FDA. Besides that, I rather not have a visit about my veggie garden by the DHS - which is made entirely possible by this law.

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