Friday, April 20, 2012

Daily Briefing for Friday, April 20, 2012

Good Insights....Even If Is From Peggy Noonan

On again, off again conservative Peggy Noonan was apparently "on" this week when she penned this piece about the crisis of character our nation currently faces.  (Noonan's most famous "off" day came when she wrote a glowing piece about Obama just days before the 2008 election, for which she has now spent the better part of three years trying to undo.  It's fine for someone to write a pro-Obama piece if they so choose; what's not acceptable is for someone who calls themselves a conservative to do so).

But truth be told, are the litany of items Noonan cites as examples evidence of some new phenomenon, or have similar issues come to the surface over the last twenty years or so?  More importantly to you, what does this have to do with prepping?

It has a lot to do with being prepared.  Part of being prepared is being able to read the tea leaves and forecast what's coming ahead.  The slide we've been on for some three decades now - a devaluing dollar, growing budget deficits, erosion of personal freedoms and liberties, the growth of government, the increase in the number of people on government assistance, the abolition of winners and losers in our school systems, and on and on - has yielded the kinds of things Noonan cataloged in her piece. 

We need to be in the business of gleaning what these things mean for us if and when some sort of emergency, be it a regional natural disaster, a series of bank holidays, a massive recession or depression, or climate of hostility between races or other groups of people stemming from a controversial shooting like the Treyvon Martin case.  What would the masses of people do when things got tough?  How would it affect you?

The Food Desert

This is laughable.

A "food desert" is apparently a geographic area where there are low income neighborhoods with high concentrations of people who are far from a grocery store.  So sayeth the United States Department of Agriculture.

Regular readers like C.B. Fraser would be interested to know his town, Mufreesboro, Tennessee (where I once lived and practiced law) is a "food desert."  (Mufreesboro is the home of Middle Tennessee State University with several large employers in the area, including a Nissan manufacturing plant and a regional headquarters for State Farm Insurance.  It was also ranked the 20th best city in the United States in 2010 by Money magazine.).  Meanwhile, the tiny community where I grew up down the road from Murfreesboro, whose nearest grocery store is ten miles away, is strangely not in a food desert.

Take a moment to see where your nearest food desert is.  Then ask yourself:  Are people truly not able to get access to fresh fruits and vegetables in those areas?

And more than likely, you'll reach the same conclusion about this food desert nonsense that I did - it's laughable.  Even the New York Times ran a story calling the "food desert" crisis into question.

So why should we care about what the USDA is up to?  Because it's yet another example of a manufactured crisis designed to inject more government involvement into food production and distribution, invariably creating more bureaucracy and inefficiencies in the food markets.

Interestingly, in another missive from the Times, its editorial board sang the praises of efforts to end the food desert in New York City:

In New York City, where perhaps 750,000 people inhabit food deserts, officials are just beginning to find ways to help. The city has expanded its licenses for carts selling fruits and vegetables, provided $2 bonuses for people using food stamps at greenmarkets and encouraged bodegas to offer healthier items like low-fat milk.

I literally laughed out loud when I read this.  Do you mean to tell me there are 750,000 people living exiled in a magical "food desert," and despite the fact there's that many of them, city officials are "just now beginning to find ways to help?"  And the solution speaks volumes:

  • "expand[ing] its licenses for carts selling fruits and vegetables," (a clear sign that perhaps the city's licensing requirement was, in and of itself, a hindrance to the three quarters of a million people languishing in the government-induced food desert.)
  • "provid[ing] $2 bonuses for people using food stamps at greenmarkets" (Must it always be about food stamps?  And picking winners (greenmarkets) and losers (other stores which are not greenmarkets?))
  • "encourag[ing] bodegas to offer healthier items like low fat milk" (After all, the reason we have so many obese people in America is because bodegas aren't pimping low fat milk; it has nothing to do with the tremendous demand for beer and high calorie junk food, and precious little interest in exercise and healthy eating.) 

I could go on and on about this.  But I want you to think about this - as food inflation continues, and as agricultural yields continue to be in high demand from a fast growing population, more government involvement in our food distribution policy cannot help matters.  Be thinking now how you will hedge against the possible risks associated with such efforts.

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