What Could Go Wrong When Governments Take Control of Food?
By Daisy Luther/Organic PrepperOctober 07, 2023
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In another episode of "Have We Learned Nothing from History?" two governments in the past couple of days have decided to take the high prices of food into their own hands.
Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, wants to heap more taxes on grocery stores to punish them for high prices. And Chicago's mayor, Brandon Johnson, has proposed city-owned grocery stores.
Some other times the government has taken control of the food supply
Historically, it's the beginning of the end for people when the government begins to interfere with food pricing, production, and distribution. Just look at some of the rules that were established in Venezuela that led to widespread hunger.
The government took control of food production facilities. They began forcing farmers to produce food for less than the cost of growing or raising it. They rationed food to families. They even began to track people who were growing their own food. In short, every terrible decision it was possible to make, they made. And the people suffered for it.
There's an article by a friend of mine, Scott Terry, that I always cite when talking about the collectivization of food. He wrote a concerning history of this troubling phenomenon right here in America and it's well worth a read. His article is specifically about agriculture but the same principles hold true of other governmental controls on food.
In short, he concludes that:
There are several reasons why the collectivists want to destroy agriculture in America.
The first being that the farmer has traditionally been the great stumbling block to communism and totalitarianism. Stalin found this out the hard way and had to murder seven million Ukrainian farmers by starvation. One cannot enslave a population of independent freeholders. They must be removed one way or another.
The second reason is that the easiest way to control people is through food. There are executive orders on the books that give the federal government the power to confiscate and nationalize the nations agricultural resources.
Now, it is much easier to control a handful of farms as opposed to controlling several million farms. These plans have been on the books for many years (and always renewed by all subsequent presidents) and help explain why the USDA has always encouraged farmers to "get big or get out". No industry in America has seen more consolidation than agriculture.
Stalin starved as many as 7 million Ukrainians during the Holomodor. China's Great Famine was the result of governmental decisions and 30 million people died of starvation. Ethiopia has been accused of deliberately starving its own citizens. North Korea has such stringent rules around who can have food and what they can have that people starve to death in the middle of wheat fields because their harvests go to the government.
In short, it's always ALWAYS a terrible idea.
What does Justin Trudeau want to do?
The heads of Canada's largest grocery store chains were hastily summoned to the capitol in Ottawa to discuss plans to "stabilize food prices" after PM Trudeau issued an ultimatum:
The meeting was the result of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declaring on Friday that he was summonsing top officials from Loblaw, Metro, Empire, Walmart and Costco to begin discussions to address what a House committee has long been studying(opens in a new tab): the escalating price of groceries in Canada.
Trudeau's ultimatum was: Come up with a credible plan by Thanksgiving or he'll consider "the use of tax measures in order to restore the grocery price stability that Canadians expect."
"Such actions must not negatively impact small suppliers or the price that farmers receive for their products, nor should they impact pricing mechanisms as determined by supply-managed industries," Champagne's office said Monday, elaborating on the government's expectations.
Trudeau seems to think that the stores are rolling in money.
"Trudeau said food is "too expensive for too many families," and said given these major grocery chains are making "record profits" he plans to "hold them to account."
Of course, putting it solely on the backs of grocery store chains without also including producers means that the stores will lose money. And what happens when a product line isn't profitable? Oh. They stop selling those products.
What could possibly go wrong?
Meanwhile in Chicago...
In Chicago, stores like Walmart and Whole Foods have shut their doors in certain neighborhoods, creating food deserts. Mayor Brandon Johnson has a plan for that.
Spoiler: It's not tackling the high levels of crime that may have caused the exodus in the first place.
One explanation could be the shoplifting epidemic taking over America, which has seen retailers struggling to cope with the consequence-less pilfering, stripping them of revenue that's also led to the closure of a "landmark" grocery store in Baltimore that shut its doors after nearly 25 years.
Experts have blamed the surge on lax policies -- including the passage of Prop 47 in California, which reduced theft from a potential felony to a misdemeanor -- as well as calls to defund the police in 2020 following the murder of George Floyd, which resulted in a mass exodus of cops nationwide.
The atmosphere has made retail-laden cities like New York, San Francisco and Chicago a "shoplifter's paradise."
According to the Chicago Police Department, thefts are up 25% to-date year over year. Robberies are up 11%.
Illinois is also one of the states that has shifted to a state with crimes that don't require cash bail for criminals to be released after they're apprehended.
Anyway... back to the plan.
Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson said he wants to open city-owned grocery stores to serve neighborhoods that have become "food deserts" after four Walmart stores and a Whole Foods closed.
Johnson announced last week that his administration would partner with the nonprofit advocacy group Economic Security Project to put stores in underserved areas of the city.
Local Republicans are not pleased:
Republican politicians in the Democrat-run Windy City blasted the plan as something out of "Soviet-style central planning."
"Take all the problems private chains face in low-income areas, then add in amateur management by a bureaucracy, Chicago-style political corruption in hiring and contracting, and a limited range of products," said Steve Boulton, the chairman of the Chicago Republican Party.
"Private chains should just pull out of all the neighborhoods, because the city stores will have better police protection and lower prices subsidized by the long-suffering Chicago taxpayer."
"Food deserts do exist in Chicago neighborhoods, but the answer is promoting capitalist prosperity and stopping crime, not injecting more socialist dependency," Boulton added.
Again...what could possibly go wrong?
We're seeing a concerning trend these days.
Governments are getting way too big for their britches. They want to control every facet of our lives, up to and including how much businesses can charge for the food we eat.
Obviously, I don't like to go to the store and find that a box of Triscuits costs $7. But I can choose not to buy the Triscuits. I can go buy other things that are more reasonably priced. Once the government begins to interfere and companies are no longer making profits, not only will products still be expensive, but they'll become harder and harder to come by.
We saw semi-empty grocery stores for the first time that I recall in my lifetime during the Covid-induced supply chain crisis in 2020. We've never fully bounced back from that. The supplies that refilled the shelves were smaller, often lower quality, and far more expensive.
This, of course, leads governments to come up with "solutions" and add more restrictions and regulations. Instead of letting the free market thrash it out, they've made it more and more difficult for farmers and small stores to recover. I fear that we're rapidly moving toward a world where you can only shop at Walmart, Amazon, and CVS.
Every time the government gets involved in things that should be simple - like producing, selling, and buying food - this is another way that they can control people. It's happened time and time again throughout history but people are so desperate for solutions that they think, "It'll be different this time."