Saturday, September 22, 2018

Putting the Fox in Charge of the Canary

In Ohio, Big Agriculture is suddenly concerned about the welfare of animals. Run!

Even after you have accepted the degree to which money has locked down the American political system, and hence its government; after you realize that there are really no more Democrats and Republicans in American politics, just Moneycrats and losers; it can still be astonishing what Money can do.

In Ohio this year, Big Agriculture decided it was threatened by the pesky people from the Humane Society of the United States who have persuaded several states to moderate the brutal treatment of animals in factory farms -- such things as confining nursing sows in cages so small they can neither turn around nor even get up. Widely broadcast videos of the misery and brutality that is routinely involved in providing our beef, pork and poultry have aroused the disgust of enough people that the usual chant of "leave us alone our your food prices will go up," or "leave us alone or we'll stop creating jobs," aren't working so well any more.

But the industrialists have become very adept at applying many shades of greenwash to what they do, and their response to the threat to their profits in Ohio was typically masterful. They organized a ballot initiative to do what the Humane people said they wanted -- to establish a board to regulate the practices of Ohio agriculture! It was almost like they had an epiphany, and had changed their ways. There were even going to be representatives of the Humane Society on the board! And of consumers! And so deeply did the state Farm Bureau (which represents Big Agriculture while pretending to care for tiny, family farms) believe in the need to be regulated by this new commissions that it spent half a million dollars (of the many millions spent) to advertise the need for the ballot initiative to pass.

Only those who took a closer look noticed that after you had the representatives of the consumers and the Humane people on the commission, you had two members, with 11 more to represent Big Ag. And then you noticed that they wrote the initiative to make the Commission a creature not of the legislature or the executive but of the state Constitution. This means that this commission would have the power to override or nullify any act of the legislature or any regulation promulgated by a state agency concerning agriculture. And its own edicts would be beyond appeal.
Of course the ballot initiative passed. How much money did you think the Humane Society was going to raise to speak out against the misery of animals? And how were they supposed to get across the even larger point, in 30-second commercials, that the mistreatment of the animals helps to make them ill, requiring the massive application of antibiotics, which creates superbugs such as MRSA, toxic E. coli and salmonella, all of which are sickening and killing us, in increasing numbers.

Recall the classic example of the canary in the coal mine, which the miners took down there to let them know when the air was running out. When the canary's eyes crossed, and it dropped to the bottom of its cage, the miners would swing into immediate action. And the point of what they did was not to save the canary. It was to save themselves. It's one thing to feel empathy for the poor animals suffering in our meat factories. It is quite another to understand that the rising mortal threats are not just to them, but to ourselves.

Ohio voters also approved on Tuesday the introduction of gambling casinos into the state's four largest cities. But the roll of the dice with the highest stakes was their agreement to put the agri-business foxes in charge of the agri-business chicken coops.

About the Writer

Tom Lewis is an editor for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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4 comments on Putting the Fox in Charge of the Canary

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By Lady D on November 08, 2009 at 11:10 am

Great article, to bad it wasn't written and circulated pre vote.

As far as replicators go, well by that time the only lamb that will be alive will be on the holodeck. And we all know how alive that ... program off.


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By Tom Lewis on November 08, 2009 at 11:34 am

Thanks for the comments. 

Personally I prefer to look to nature for lessons and hope, rather than to technology. We can eat some of the animals in our care without degrading their lives and our own with cruelty. As perhaps only someone raised on a small farm can fully understand, you can let animals be true to their nature, live comfortably and yes, even be our good friends, until the time comes.

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By JJFCPA on November 09, 2009 at 10:31 am

Well written and analyzed subject area. It is too bad that this is true. Every now and then you see a politican who seems to stand above with principals that focus on the common good not just one's constituents and financial supporters. This weekend, Democrat hawks hid under the table.

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By alan handwerger on November 09, 2009 at 10:56 am

Tom -- I really liked this. I'd like to see you elaborate on your response (to comments) on the idea of allowing animals to live the essence of their lives -- and how doing so makes the inevitable end acceptable.

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