Start: 95.4 Last week: 89.5 This week: 88.9

That’s encouraging. Moving on ...

I know that a dignified silence is far and away the best response to the raving lunatic who insists on sitting next to you on an otherwise empty bus. I also know that it only takes good people to stay silent for the lunatic to believe that their ravings are incontrovertible. Which is why I am prepared to fling my teeny pebble at the absurd Charlotte Allen, who for reasons best known to the editors at the L.A. Times seems to have a permanent hole to fill over there. A week or so ago she had published a piece of drek that is nothing but deceit and wilful ignorance from start to finish. Fortunately it seems to have caused less than a stir, except here.

Ms Allen's “argument” is that cheap is good, whether it is clothes, furniture or gasoline, and cheap food is the best of all. She vaguely acknowledges that there may just possibly be externalities, but they don’t really matter. All that matters is how much money people hand over for their food at the supermarket cash register. The amount they pay indirectly for the consequences of moving that food around, or cleaning up after its production, or dealing with the sickness it causes, is really of no concern to her, almost certainly because she doesn’t make any contribution to cleaning up after herself.

All of which is simply laughable. But I want to poke particular fun at two of her statements.

First off, there's the nonsense in the standfirst (which might have been the subs' fault)1 and an internal paragraph.

By demanding we all pay more to fund their agendas in these harsh economic times, foodie snobs and lefty social critics may as well tell us to eat artisanal cake.
Demanding that other people impoverish themselves, especially these days, in the name of your pet cause -- fostering craftsmanship, feeling "connected" to the land, "living more lightly on the planet" or whatever -- goes way beyond Marie Antoinette saying "let them eat cake." It's more like Marie Antoinette dressing up in her shepherdess costume and holding court in a fake rustic cottage at the Petit Trianon.

Oh how droll, how erudite, how historical, to bring up that trigger of freedoms and individual liberty, Marie Antoinette. Except, of course, that any four-year old with access to the internet could have told Ms Allen not only that Marie Antoinette almost certainly did not say that, but also that nobody is demanding that anyone impoverish themselves. In a country, however, where being poor and obese costs tax-payers billions of dollars a year, far more than smoking, it would actually pay the big government that libertarians profess to dislike to make food, especially “cheap” and profitable food, more expensive.

And then there's this:

Those who think that there is something wrong with owning more than two pairs of sneakers or that exquisite fastidiousness about what you put into your mouth equals virtue need to be tele-transported back to, say, the Depression itself, when privation was in earnest and few people had telephones, much less cellphones. Read some 1930s memoirs: Back then, people who couldn't afford "quality" furniture slept on mattresses on the floor and hammered together makeshift tables out of orange crates. They went barefoot during the summer and sewed their children's clothes out of (non-organic) flour sacks. That was what "cheap" meant then -- not today's plethora of affordable goods that the social critics would like to take away from us.

They sewed their children's clothes out of (non-organic) flour sacks. Now, how was it that they had those non-organic flour sacks lying around? Could you find one today in even the most impecunious home? Of course not. You would, with luck, find the double plastic and cellophane bags in which cheap bread is wrapped to keep it “fresh”. But even a paper flour sack, bought because a homemade loaf is much more nutritious than supermarket pap or the crap that wraps a burger, would be most unlikely. And why? Because Allen and her fellow travelers have pushed cheap-now as hard as they possibly can, and hang the consequences. And who has benefited? Certainly not the poor saps who swallow their rhetoric every day.

As I’ve said before, people, especially those with less money, are not stupid. They buy the cheapest calories they can, now, and hang the consequences. Paying the true price for food is not elitist. Buying cheap food is enriching the pockets of the fabulously wealthy and impoverishing the citizens whose government ultimately pays the medical bills.

  1. 2021-09-08: It’s no longer in the archived version, which suggests that it might have been the subs. 

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