Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Vegetarian Mandate

On October 31st I wrote:
It’s so simple, just find a big 'social problem' with dozens, or hundreds, of different causes and impose a single 2,000 page solution. I don’t know why we didn’t think of this approach to solve the obesity epidemic. We’ll just put nutrition labels on candy machines, ban soft drinks over 16 ounces and move toward taxing calories.
While we've already done the first two of those things, the part about taxing calories was half tongue-in-cheek. I needn't have worried that it was over the top, though I did get the wrong social problem. I should have known "Climate Change" would be the real reason: UK Researchers: Tax Food to Reduce Climate Change
“Emissions pricing of foods would generate a much needed contribution of the food system to reducing the impacts of global climate change,” said Dr Marco Springmann of the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food, who led the study. “We hope that’s something policymakers gathering this week at the Marrakech climate conference will take note of.”

Much of the emissions reduction would stem from higher prices and lower consumption of animal products, as their emissions are particularly high. The researchers found that beef would have to be 40% more expensive globally to pay for the climate damage caused by its production. The price of milk and other meats would need to increase by up to 20%, and the price of vegetable oils would also increase significantly.
This is a perfect example of MIT Technology Review editor David Rotman's demand for an updated command-and-control industrial policy:
[There is a] compelling argument that we need more coherent and deliberate strategic planning in tackling our economic problems, especially in finding more effective ways to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions
The 2000 pages needed to implement this will consist of 1) tax credits for pregnant mothers, exemptions for starving third worlders and waivers for Senators and Congressmen and their aides; 2) lobbyist provisions for Archer Daniels Midland; 3) definition of the bureaucratic requirements; 4) determination of the amount of tax for protein content, say tofu vs. hamburger; 5) surtaxes based on greenhouse gas contribution variation due to processing and transportation; 6) all manner of amendments entirely unrelated to the taxing of food and 7) other things you'll have to read the bill to find out.

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