Friday, September 23, 2011

Got Milk? Raw Milk?

One of the earliest slogans associated with the American Revolution was "No Taxation Without Representation." Blithely ignoring the conditions that provoked such sentiments, today's Tea Party has decided to rewrite history so that the Founding Fathers can tell them what they want to hear ("No taxation") instead of what they need to hear (hard facts). Instead of embracing a classic like Song of the Loon, they have taken to loudly chanting their own "Song of the Loons."

In his 1960 musical adaptation of Oliver Twist, Lionel Bart wrote the following lyrics for Fagin:
"In this life, one thing counts
In the bank, large amounts
I'm afraid these don't grow on trees,
You've got to pick a pocket or two.
Why should we break our backs
Stupidly paying tax?
Better get some untaxed income
Better pick a pocket or two.
Robin Hood, what a crook!
Gave away what he took.
Charity's fine, subscribe to mine.
Get out and pick a pocket or two.
You've got to pick a pocket or two, boys.
You've got to pick a pocket or two."
The intoxicating combination of overwhelming greed and privileged bullying has given many Republicans the false assumption that entitlements belong to them and them alone (less wealthy people who dare to demand a fair share of the American dream are viewed as scurrilous gatecrashers). Like Louisiana's clueless Congressman John Fleming (who complained that, after paying all the expenses for his chain of Subway sandwich shops, he only had $400,000 left over), they have become experts at playing the victim card.

Their new status as victims has left many Republicans furiously masturbating to the fantasy that they belong to a mythical race of oppressed job creators. Chanting "class warfare" and "Let them die" as their fear-engorged members discharge a sticky, hate-filled ejaculate into their sweaty little hands, these rabid fools have not only convinced themselves that God is on their side, but that their war on taxes represents the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Add in the recent news that President Obama has proposed eliminating a form of direct subsidy payment that, regardless of need, gives $5 billion to farmers each year and the screams of class warfare will undoubtedly become louder.

Thankfully, some extremely wealthy people (as well as influential economists) have started to call Republicans on their bullshit.

If you harbor the slightest doubt about the ferocity with which the upper class is waging economic warfare against the middle class, here are two reminders from the administration of George W. Bush, when cronyism reigned supreme.
  • Once Bush secured the Presidential nomination, his campaign staff insisted that conservatives keep their mouths shut until the election was won. His refusal to tolerate any dissension within the ranks was matched by his determination to "give value to our investors."
  • After the 9/11 attack, word quickly spread throughout the business community about seminars being offered on how small businesses could cash in on the upcoming Iraq War by becoming military contractors.
* * * * * * * * *
Earlier this month, Reuters ran a story about an 18-month old Cambodian boy entitled Baby Suckles Directly From Cow For Milk. This story about going directly to the source of raw milk was far less shocking to rural residents than to those who live in urban areas.

Several years ago, Kristin Canty's child suffered from severe allergies and asthma that would not respond to standard medical care. Upon learning how raw milk had helped many patients overcome their symptoms, she started to feed it to her son with impressive results. Soon, she was purchasing raw milk on a regular basis. As she explains:
"Even though the health benefits of raw milk are largely accepted as scientifically proven, many government agencies claim that it’s too dangerous to drink. They don’t make the distinction between milk that is meant for pasteurization, (from factory farms that are not concerned with cleanliness and that feed grains, antibiotics, and steroids to their cows) and milk from grass-fed, pasture-rotated cows, that is intended to be consumed raw."

As I watched Canty's new documentary, Farmageddon, there were many moments in which I was reminded of the sheer thuggery of the Bush administration.  If you watch the film with the thought "Follow the money" in the back of your mind, you'll come away convinced that a lot of the government action has less to do with the actual quality of milk being sold than with lobbyists for large agricultural firms trying to snuff out any competition. In her director's statement, Canty writes:
"One day I heard about a raid that occurred at a food co-op in Ohio. Armed agents, by order of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, entered a private home and held eight children and their parents at gunpoint for six hours while they ransacked their house, took their personal food, food from their co-op, and their cell phones. I then learned that there were more farms and co-ops that had been raided for simply providing the foods that the members wanted to eat. The farm raids aren’t only about the milk. In the case of the Ohio Co-op, it was about control of the food retail system.
Farmageddon is in no way meant to convince anyone to drink raw milk, or eat grass-fed beef, but rather an argument to allow those that want to make those choices to do so. It is simply about freedom of food choice. The government needs to stop harassing small farmers, private food buying clubs and co- ops. Without food freedom, we are not free."

Poster art for Farmageddon

Whether  you shop at a local farmers' market, Whole Foods, try to eat a diet heavy in organic foods, and/or support the locavore movement, you'll learn a lot while watching Farmageddon. Parts of Canty's documentary will confirm your beliefs; others will make you furious over government officials who have been bought and paid for. Here's the trailer:

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