The Thursday 09/21/06 edition of the Detroit Free Press carried an awful editorial titled "Recall Power Can Mean Safer Food." It starts with:
"Contaminated spinach's link to one death and 131 illnesses in 21 states makes a strong case for Congress to empower the Food and Drug Administration with recall authority."
"While grocers nationwide have heeded the agency's prompt and sensible request to remove the product from stores, food safety is too critical to trust compliance to an honor system."
We can't trust men who deal with each other on a voluntary basis but we must trust an institution vested with a monopoly on the legalized use of force and trust them to use it "sensibly." A hatred of the free market and capitalism can't be made much clearer (though the editorial tries to make it clearer below). Despite the fact that individuals acting voluntarily did the right thing, we can't trust them to do it again. We must give the FDA the power to start the use of force against them. Aside from the fact that Americans can't be trusted, the Free Press has other reasons for relying on government force:
"Many experts believe it's only a matter of time before the food supply is subject to terrorism. So the FDA, and related agencies such as the U.S Department of Agriculture, must be able to swiftly order that products be pulled."
That's right. Without government force, us ignorant unwashed masses will just keep on buying and eating the food poisoned by terrorists. The editorial continues:
"Lawmakers have been skittish about extending recall power. Companies that need to remain competitive balk at anything that might betray trade secrets, including how and where they distribute their products.[Obviously, the Free Press suffers from no such skittishness--ME] Even with one of the safest food supplies in the world, more than 76 million Americans a year contract some sort of food-related illness, with 325,000 serious enough to require hospitalization. An estimated 5,000 people die. [It doesn't occur to the Freep that 76 million sick people every year just might be a good reason to get rid of or at least question the existence of the FDA--ME] Food producers and merchants will play a role in protecting the public health.[You bet! It will be a slave to master role.--ME] But the government can't afford simply to trust these companies to do the right thing."
I said they would try to make their hatred of capitalism clearer, there it is. Despite the safest food supply in the world, despite only 5000 deaths a year from food poisoning out of a population of almost 300 million, despite the fact that private individuals handled the spinach scare promptly and sensibly, "these companies" and us ignorant masses can't be trusted "to do the right thing." More government power is "in order":
"Recall authority is in order, and it's a logical step. [This last is for sure!--ME] The FDA already sends inspectors to farms and cooling and packaging facilities to monitor safety. The visits are part of the agency's "lettuce safety imitative," launched last month to deal with resurfacing of E. coli outbreaks." And:
"The fieldwork will no doubt make FDA officials more knowledgeable about tracing problem produce, maybe even pinpointing a source. Congress must work with equal diligence to ensure that knowledge is paired with the overdue power for the FDA to act quickly so suspected problems don't grow into public health nightmares."
In other words, without government force, "suspected problems" will "grow into public health nightmares." Throughout the editorial, the Freep never does explain why the market can't be trusted, or why governemnt should be. The Free Press's attitude toward the initiation of government force reminds me of Yogi Berra's promotion of Aflac insurance in those TV commercials: "If you don't have it, that's why you need it."
Philosopher Ayn Rand once said "Do not, however, make the error of reversing cause and effect: the good of the country was made possible precisely by the fact that it was not forced on anyone as a moral goal or duty; it was merely an effect; the cause was a man's right to pursue his own good." (From "What is Capitalism" in "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal." p-29)
The Freep would probably contend that it is not advocating a moral goal or duty, but only a practical solution to a practical problem. But there is nothing more impractical than the unprincipled use of governmental force.