Time to Abandon the Regulatory Mentality

4 08 2011

As California continues to slide into its ocean of debt (with the rest of the country not far behind), it’s reassuring to know that the bureaucrats are still hard at work protecting us from the greatest present threat to our social order: raw milk.

Vermeer's Domestic Terrorist at Work, oil on canvas, 1658

Why else would a multi-agency strike force consisting of members of the LA County Sheriff’s Office, the FDA, the Department of Agriculture, and the Centers for Disease Control have teamed up, Injustice League-style, to shut down a California raw milk ring and arrest three raw milk pushers?

Compared to the other issues of the day, the squabble over raw milk seems a bit trivial. But the same troubling mentality that triggers grocery store raids drives the regulatory creep that is suffocating innovation and eliminating consumer choice from coast to coast. That us slack-jawed consumers understand the risks of buying and drinking raw, unpasteurized milk is outside the realm of comprehension of the regulators – so they feel the impulse to make decisions for us and pull the milk from the shelves entirely.

When applied to raw milk, this impulse to control seems ridiculous. Yet we accept regulations that impact other areas of our lives almost blindly, whether from the FDA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Consumer Products Safety Commission…one could go on and on.

This desensitization to creeping regulation often goes a step further into outright paternalism: we accept regulations not for our own sake, but to protect some hypothetical segment of the population that is uneducated or otherwise unable to make independent decisions. I’d venture that many of the health-conscious organic gourmands who support raw food sales are quite fine with the crusade against Happy Meals or the recent law that requires restaurant chains to publish nutritional information on their menus, all to shield others from the consequences of their choices.

To the regulators, however, we are all uneducated, childlike consumers who need coddling. Now more than ever, we must recognize that the individual is the only one qualified to make his or her own decisions. No matter how seductively “common sense” a regulation may seem, it will lead to further control down the road. Give bureaucrats an inch, and they will come back for a mile. And your side of fries. And your raw milk.




2 responses

6 08 2011

I am more inclined to see the other half of the equation, not so much about the FDA protecting us from our good choices (drinking raw milk and healthy eating) but the effect this growing trend of health choices has on traditional pasteurized milk and other processed food producers. Same goes for the harassment of supplement manufacturers and natural food claims of health benefits and its effects on the pharmaceutical industry and patent medicine.

It’s control for the sake of protecting an agenda where the money flows greatest.

8 08 2011
Graham Kozak

That’s very true. Big business is rarely shy when it comes to using regulatory power–whatever its original intent–to bolster their competitive advantage. In fact, the dairy industry is one of the most staunch opponents of raw milk production.

“Honest” proponents of increased regulation seem to forget that widening the scope of government intervention creates new opportunities for interest groups to gain, and abuse, power.

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