Food Safety, Healthcare, and TeaBagger Experiment?

 talk of "big government" is cliche. The government has to be "big" in order to serve 300 million people. Both sides are guilty of big spending. Image courtesy of McClatchy News Services.

All this talk of "big government" is cliche. The government has to be "big" in order to serve 300 million people. Both sides are guilty of big spending. It's our country, we have to pay for it somehow, even when the economy is in the toilet. Image courtesy of McClatchy News Services.

Last week when Kerri went to collect our produce from our local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) pick-up point, it simply wasn’t there. Our name was on the list, but our box was missing. I put a call into Be Wise Ranch (our farm) and left a pleasant, but uncertain message wondering where our food had gone. It’s been a week and we still haven’t heard back from them, and our vegetable drawer remains empty. However, with school starting, and plenty to witness in the public arena, we’ve been more relaxed about (or at least distracted from) the disappearance of our lettuce.

On Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services launched a new website for the public to learn more about food safety issues, and while we’d like to see some type of new agency dedicated specifically to these issues, for now an online resource was the least they could do. We’re not complaining, in fact, we’re very pleased by this new site, but it doesn’t suffice in the face of our fractured food safety system. Yet, while food safety is one of the most important concerns of our day, the launch of this site was easily overshadowed by the on-going healthcare debate, the centerpiece of President Obama’s domestic agenda.

While the “teabaggers” (or mostly right-wing anti-Obamaphytes posing as “real” Americans) marched on Washington today with a grab bag of conservative talking points (I saw signs proclaiming “Jesus Saves”, “Say No to Socialism”, and even a few confederate flags), the most important thing that Americans can do to take a stand on issues of healthcare is to start eating well, and to get involved in the struggle for food justice.

Regardless of where you stand politically, what you eat plays a larger role in your overall health than who provides your healthcare, or how much it costs. Healthcare is important. That being said, Michael Pollan also had an interesting piece in the New York Times a few days ago further strengthening the link between these two issues.

This march on Washington, while cathartic for the folks involved, will do little to shape the national debate on healthcare. Obama’s speech in Minneapolis had a more focused and memorable ring to it with his “Fire it Up!” and “Ready to Go!” What I’m waiting for is for one of these “teabaggers” to ante up and stop paying taxes altogether. I secretly hope that they document it in a blog, and write a book, as that seems like a great way for others to connect with what the issues are for those involved.

I wonder if this hypothetical experiment would include not using any government services paid for by taxes (that would only seem fair), which would mean: no mail, no driving (your license, and your streets are managed by the government!), no flying (darn that FAA!), no t.v. or radio (down with the FCC!), no sending the kids to get a free public education (no more liberal indoctrination!), no federal student aid, no medicare or medicaid, no eating food that comes from a place that is safety checked by the government (hunger strike!), no calling the police or fire department in an emergency, no use of national parks or monuments, no food for the needy (let them starve!) and of course, no supporting the troops. DOWN WITH BIG GOVERNMENT! I think a blog and book of this nature would be far better than ours. At the very least, it would be more interesting than hearing about our missing produce…

Any takers?

– Christopher



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14 responses to “Food Safety, Healthcare, and TeaBagger Experiment?

  1. Pingback: Food Safety, Healthcare, and TeaBagger Experiment? « One Dollar …

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  5. Chris,

    Interesting site – good experiment, I wish more of the poor would follow your sound advice.

    You’re a little off in your assessment of the teabag movement. The teabag movement is neither liberal nor conservative and doesn’t seek to abolish essential government services.

    Rather supporters are concerned about the vast spending on non income-producing projects which will have devastating consequences for the US, especially for the poor and middle class. Let us hope that the proposal for public health insurance does not pass. The issue facing affordability of health care isn’t insurance, it is cost, which is excessively high due to government regulation combined with a non-logical tax incentive for employers to provide health insurance and a penalty on individuals.

    The teabag movement is about severely limiting what constitutes an “essential” service. Most agree these include police, military, and infrastructure.

    Almost everything else should be eliminated. This would include your proposal for a new agency to monitor food safety. This function would be much better and more efficiently served through an existing non-government organization such as the farm bureau or one of many others.

  6. Justin,

    Thanks for such a thoughtful response. I understand what the TeaBaggers are saying they’re for. However, that message (the one you so thoughtfully articulated), is most ardently voiced by those who have other issues that they’re rolling into the delivery of this message (hence the variety of conservative talking points on the protest signs).

    I think that “essential” and “non-essential” are largely dependent on who you’re speaking with.

    Additionally, I think that one would do well to be careful making statements about what the poor should do. I do this sometimes (about various groupings of people), but I’m really trying to stop; it’s not useful. At the very least it’s condescending, at its worst it can be very dangerous.

    – Christopher

  7. anonymous

    the USPS dosen’t receive any Taxpayer money, so they could still use the Mail.

  8. Sandra

    I really enjoy reading your posts concern about feeding the poor and thoughtful food choices but truly your obvious distain for the protestors who have a constitutional right to protest governments infringement on their choices in life is really not what I thought this blog was about.

    I was a protestor, not “posing” as anything but an American with the right to free speech and definately concerned with the bad decisions I feel this current administration is making. I am not a “teabagger”, a nasty minded moniker coined by someone diametrically opposed to my ideas and beliefs.

    I would like to continue visiting your blog but not if this is going to become a political platform for you to ridicule because we have different political opinions than yours. As I have often observed individuals on the left are the most close minded individuals around. Of course it is your blog and you can write whatever you chose.

    I wish you well with your upcoming book.

  9. Paul

    The story is fine without the witty political comments. Why would you try to politicize this and pass it as some sort of liberal effort?

    I am a conservative, bible believing Christian who does believe the system is in need of reform, those protestors are excersizing their constitutionally protected rights so why would you mock a fellow American for excersizing their fundamental rights?

    I regret coming to this site based on its clear bias toward free thinking Americans concerned over the direction this country is going.

    Wish you well, you wont see this IP address again

  10. It’s too bad that you felt so upset by my post. I have no issue with people exercising their rights, nor am I mocking them for doing so. What I am mocking is the ideas themselves (many of which are so convoluted as to not make sense). As someone who has worked on campaigns for change, this 9/12 day of action was a message disaster. There was literally no focus. I have yet to see an interview with any citizen that was there who clearly understands the issues, or even has a basic knowledge of them. See this video to help clarify what I mean. Lastly, I will take your comments on us as “free-thinking Americans” as a compliment. I wish you well. Have a wonderful day.

  11. Jane

    It’s not “no” government I want, it’s “less” government; government closer to home and representatives who actually represent me.
    Just as you have discovered the many benefits – social, economic and otherwise, of food grown closer to home, some of us believe that government is healthier and better able to meet the needs of the people if it is closer to home. More ‘organic,’ if you will. Some of us believe that government is like an invasive although useful plant … not something to completely irradicate, but requiring diligence to contain within its proper boundary so it will not totally take over the garden to the detriment of the other plants, animals and people who would benefit from its bounty. I’m guessing from the posts I’ve read, that you believe, in your heart of hearts, that the small, local farm is better than a huge mega agri-business farm somewhere far away. Some of us feel that way about government as well. Analogies can be carried to a point where they cease to be useful, and while there are other correlations I see between government and gardening and nourishing the body and the planet, I don’t want to run it into the ground. My purpose was to use something you already know and believe to be true to give insight into something … less familiar ? less comfortable? diametrically opposed to everything you hold near and dear?
    PS I think you are misrepresenting ‘teabaggers,’ and perhaps losing sight of the fact that this is a collection of people just now coming together to voice their concerns. This, as all new movements, will take time to develop and mature into a more focused, cohesive, unified group. As to the interviews you’ve seen or heard … what you hear is dependent on what is broadcast. There are knowledgeable, thoughtful, articulate speakers who have not received airtime. Additionally, there are people who do not take advantage of all the services they are eligible to receive because they do not want the attendant government intrusion in their life or because they do not believe it is the function of government to provide those services.

  12. I understand the analogy, and I’m thankful for your insight. We probably agree more than you think we do about the role of government.

    As for the teabaggers, a group organized or supported by Glenn Beck is not a group that I can take seriously. I hope you’re right and that there’s some articulate folks among the ignorant shouting, and I hope they are given some airtime to express their views. I want nothing more than to understand how “Obama is like Hitler/Marx” (are they joking?)…or why “We want our country back!” (back from what?). Their rhetoric is beyond reasonable.

    In addition, I’d love to see an actual plan for progress coming from these folks. Anyone can chant a slogan, no matter how insane, if people around them are chanting it. It takes some brains to actually have a plan to solve the challenges facing our country.

    Of course the irony of all of this is that this fringe of the republican party had the white house and congress for the better part of eight years, and their policies are what got the country into this mess. More of that? No thank you.

  13. Lisa

    As has been stated previously, the “teabagger” movement is not a “republican” movement, although people who identify as republicans might be part of it. Most of us have an equal amount of disdain for the Bush Administration as the current one–Bush did, of course, begin the mess and the first series of bail-outs. Obama really took the baton and ran with it, though!

    No one in the tea party movement wants “more of that.” The party system itself is a disaster; I’d be happy to see the words “republican” and “democrat” wiped from the English language. America has become so concerned with being part of a party that the party name takes precedent over the actual issues–this is unacceptable. I’m a vegan, I’m fiscally conservative, against big federal government, and I’m pro-choice and pro-gay marriage. What party do I fit into? Neither, and I’m not going to change my values to fit one just so I can vote for someone based on their party instead of their values.

    This isn’t a political blog so I won’t muddy your comment box with any more rambling. I just want to clarify that we are not a republican movement.

  14. Thanks for your thoughts! In the spirit of full disclosure, I edited out the last line of your comment. I did this because as a rule we don’t post anything that is a direct insult to ourselves or other readers. Usually we delete entire comments out of hand if they have something like that, but I felt that your comment was worth adding to the discussion, just minus the last line.

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