GORDON: Ladies and gentlemen, good evening
KAT: Greetings fellows!
GORDON: This is Gordon of Evan and Gordon Talk, and with me tonight is Kat- filling for Evan who is wandering the Canadian wilderness naked in a desperate bid to find himself.
KAT: We all wish you good luck Evan, beware of bears.
GORDON: Our subject for this evening’s discussion is regulation (primarily of the food and beverage industry, though the subject obviously spans far more than that).
KAT: A lot more.
We want to take a look at if these regulations are benefiting us, or causing more problems than they are worth. So Gordon, what inspired you to pick this topic for tonight?
GORDON: The subject’s been on my mind for a while, but recently, I saw a story about a “Food Not Bombs” group being shut down.
KAT: Ah, good old anarchists. I’m assuming Food not Bombs is also an anarchist group there in the states?
GORDON: I believe they refer to themselves as “anti-hunger organizers”, but yeah, that’s pretty much the gist of it.
Now this is not the article I saw, but it’s one of many chronicling the harassment of the group for lacking licenses when holding picnics for the homeless of various cities.
KAT: That’s a real shame. We are lucky here in Canada that we are covered by the Donation of Food Act; so unless a food donor actually has nefarious intent there is no chance of being sued or shut down.
GORDON: I’m seeing here that you can get shut down if food is “rotten.” Here in the US, stores have to chuck out relatively fresh food because it’s passed the expiration date and is therefore “not fit for consumption.” Same is true with most kitchens and restaurants, from my understanding.
I guess the definition’s still a little broad we’ll just assume Canadians don’t hate the poor as much as we do.
KAT: Yes, we have the same problem. Especially with corporations that are based in the States. John and I are pretty big into dumpster diving, however, and we’ve found that local markets are very friendly towards divers (we cut down on their waste costs) and will sometimes even put their still-good-but-past-expiration-foods in a box beside the dumpster so we don’t have to do too much digging.
We actually have court precedence that allows dumpster goods to be fair game to the public. Unfortunately, most companies lock or crush their throw-aways so no one can get at them.
GORDON: Again, I’m going to cite the well established fact that Canadians are better human beings, even if they are still technically the subjects of an inbred German family thousands of miles away. But moving on- another issue we have in the states is barbers.
Well, not an issue so much, but we have had stories crop of people offering free haircuts and shaves to the homeless being shut down for operating without a license.
GORDON: I’m inclined to agree
KAT: I’m not sure where we better humans/ inbred Germans [I called the English royal family inbred, not Canadians- Gordon] stand on haircuts actually.
Gordon: A similar issue, from my understanding, arises with the USDA regulating what crops farmers can and can’t keep. Let me look it up and-
Yep, here it is:
KAT: Ah Farming. I always get in trouble with my farming friends when I write about farming. They tend to get slammed a lot by us environmental types…
GORDON: Apparently, it’s from an old regulation attempting to keep crop prices high enough to ensure a steady income. It sounds great at first glance, but the implication is that you don’t get to control the literal fruits of your own labor for fears of flooding the market- though apparently it hurts small growers more than the factory farms who can afford to take the hit.
KAT: I’ve found farming in general to be complicated.
I have a good friend here who is a dairy farmer and has tried to explain certain concepts to me. like the “quota” idea you seem to be mentioning above. We don’t let some farms flood the market in case they put other farms out of business. So they’re only allowed to make a certain amount per farm. But I think smaller/organic farms, especially those working at markets may have different standards. I would have to look that up some more.
I do realize that there are definite issues with the politics of farming, but do you think there is a better way to keep the market from being flooded? Other than assigning quotas? I would have thought as a communist you would support quotas, it restricts capitalism to some degree.
GORDON: Once upon a time, I might have agreed with you, but in truth, we Marxists aren’t exactly crazy about regulations. Considering the massive corruption that inevitably occurs, it seems that most companies wind up controlling the very bodies designed to regulate them. Just look at the FDA, currently controlled by a former member of Monsanto. Look at Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a former lawyer for Monsanto who has bowed to the super-corporation’s every whim.
KAT: Fair enough, there is definitely huge problems with the government bodies in charge of the regulations, but are you actually suggesting unfettered capitalism? I mean, I for one enjoy many of the restrictions we have. To return to the issue of dairy (which I’ve been lectured on a time of two), here in Canada we have considerably higher restrictions on hormones, requirements for labeling, etc. I’d rather have less than ideal regulations than none at all. Cause then we might end up with downright ridiculous issues, like companies sneaking aspartame in milk …
GORDON: I’m certainly not arguing for unfettered Capitalism- my end goal is the control of the means of production by the workers- I have strong doubts that the public would poison their own milk (or, if they did, it would at least be by their own volition).
I guess if I had to choose though, I’d rather see a system that allows for greater freedom for the individual to, for example, feed the homeless in a public park and offer haircuts than have the government, even unwittingly, put laws into place for public protection that hurt the most vulnerable members of society
I mean, I don’t advocate feeding the homeless expired meat, but I’d rather them have that than no meat, right?
KAT: That’s more than fair, but I think you are throwing the baby out with the bathwater there a bit. I mean, not all regulations are as ridiculous as those examples.
GORDON: I won’t argue with that- the fact that we don’t have (in this country)(legal) child labor stands as a testament to that (even if we do get horsemeat marketed as beef).
KAT: And when it comes to farming in particular, with recent advancements in technology I’m pretty darn sure that without the controls put in place by quotas that a few large farms would go ahead and just put everyone else out of business.
GORDON: I gotta wonder if it’s not an inevitability though. Capitalism spreads like a cancer through the state (which it had created to protect itself in the first place) and gets into everything. Are regulations not just ticking time-bombs? The FDA becomes the pawn of Monsanto, the MMA (Mineral Management Administration) becomes corrupted by BP, and so on. Aren’t all regulations eventually going to get hijacked?
KAT: Well, you can also use that argument when it comes to any form of government. Don’t all forms (Democracy, Communism) all succumb to a dictatorship in the end? By giving up on regulations before we even begin it’s like giving up on ever trying to implement any form of government beyond a dictatorship because we know that’s where things will end up anyways.
GORDON: Well, that’s why we call for the elimination of the state, but I get what you’re saying. Since we’re about out of time, why don’t we let the readers decide?
KAT: Sounds perfect.
GORDON: Readers, vote on the poll below which one of us you think is closer to the solution- and give Kat a round of applause for her first Evan and Gordon Talk [Shouldn’t that read “Kat and Gordon Talk”? -Evan].
Kat: I had a good time being a surrogate Evan.
GORDON: Again, Evan is currently out in the Canadian wilderness on a spiritual quest, butt naked- our hopes and prayers are with you, buddy.
KAT: Just a heads up, poison oak is not a good TP alternative.
GORDON: Don’t listen to her lies, Evan. Leaves of three makes good TP.
GORDON: Okay people, we’re out- be sure to leave suggestions for next week’s talk.