Friday, June 24, 2011

Joel Salatin on Republicans and Democrats

Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal: War Stories from the Local Food Front is a perfect case study in how government intervention is making our lives worse. Joel Salatin documents the ways in which bureaucrats have terrorized the efforts of perfectly honest farmers trying to sell what is ultimately (a) friendlier to the environment and (b) higher in quality than anything bought in supermarkets. Local food, suggests Salatin, is one issue which may be able to bring folks of both progressive and conservative mindsets together. For instance, there is this interesting passage in Chapter 4:
Without exception, we have found that these issues excited both sides of the aisle. To the Republicans, this is small business and entrepreneurship held back by meaningless regulations.

To the Democrats, this is about environmental farming and chemical-free food accessing the marketplace. As the alternative food movement continues to gain steam, I enjoy watching the liberals squirm when they find their freedom of food choice arbitrarily quashed by their partners in the government. Those folks that are supposed to insure fairness and equality for all the citizens.

And it's equally interesting to watch the Republicans squirm when they realize the collusion between the bureaucracy and Wall Street. The coziness between tax breaks and the seats of power. Corporate welfare. When tax-free bonds are handed out like candy to big players but little players get whacked on the nose if they have one "NOT FOR SALE" package on an invoice.
The reason both the Left and the Right fail to properly understand these issues is that Americans still tend to view politics in primarily democratic terms. But make no mistake, Salatin and his farm have not been hindered primarily by Republicans or Democrats, but by bureaucrats, that is, full time government employees. The problem is not simply that there are too many laws on the books. The problem is that our laws hand over an inordinate amount of discretionary power to permanent--and unelected--members of the government. This is no longer a problem that can be dealt with democratically, at least not directly.

And it's also worth echoing Salatin on one point which can't be stressed enough: powerful people tend to collude. Letting big corporations get their way is hardly "libertarian;" just the same, handing over more and more power to government bureaucrats seems hardly "liberal."

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