Subsidies: Sickness and Profit
Have you ever wondered why the government subsidizes food that is bad for our health?
Government funds (our tax dollars) go to farmers that grow corn, wheat and soybeans resulting in artificially low prices for these foods. You may be asking, “what’s wrong with paying less for food?”
There are fundamentally two problems with our farm subsidy programs: 1) it reduces the variety of affordable foods and 2) the funds support crops that are turned into high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated fats.
Between 1975 and 1984 most soda manufacturers switched from sugar to high-fructose corn syrup because of price. You may find the correlation between the rapid rise of obesity and the introduction of soft-drinks with HFCS interesting (see figure below). In addition, there is a disturbing correlation between diabetes and the use of HFCS (below). Close to 70% of the packaged foods found on grocery store shelves are manufactured with HFCS or hydrogenated fats. Even the price of beef is artificially low because they are fed an unhealthy diet of subsidized grains instead of their natural meal of grass. The cattle are given doses of antibiotics to keep them from getting too sick for meat processing.
Foods that are healthier for us, such as vegetables, are not subsidized. Have you seen the prices for fresh veggies lately? They are outrageous! The good and healthy stuff is not affordable relative to unhealthy subsidized food. These government funded programs are pre-selecting our foods by artificially lowering prices for a small variety of farmed crops.
If we want a healthy society, we must re-create a free market by doing away with farm subsidies or by allowing equal funding for all crops. This will be very difficult because the large corporate-run farms receive over 70% of the subsidies. Their lobbyist and big banking partners will do all they can to eliminate a free market. In addition, a healthy society is not good for the pharmaceutical, health insurance and medical industries which also have strong lobby groups.
It’s an interesting dilemma; today’s corporate landscape of profit with sickness vs a change to health with a free market.
Roger Ingalls is well traveled and has seen the good and bad of many foreign governments. He hopes his blogging will encourage readers to think more deeply about the American political system and its impact on US citizens and the international community.