Bureaucracy and Personal Responsibility for Food Safety
Perhaps, I’ve been too busy lately to do any complaining. Although, I don’t suppose it’s complaining so much as letting people know what we must deal with, so that we can all get on with eliminating the problems and the even peskier counterproductive solutions.
I don’t think I’ll ever be quiet about this until we have our freedom to farm and heal unencumbered by the self-righteous bureaucrats and their public cheerleaders.
As business owners, which many of our customers are, the number of government regulations, taxations, and frustrations are reaching an intolerable critical mass. Every time a child becomes ill eating the toxic rubbish people call food, there’s the common cry for justice, “The government should do something!”
What they don’t realize is that all a group of people sitting around a boardroom table can do to prevent a future problem is dream up their best idea and enforce it with law on everybody regardless of applicability. What’s worse is that their best idea is requiring a never-ending paper/rabbit trail – perhaps the most suffocating application.
Folks, you all need to understand that EVERY time you legislate “safety,” it comes at the expense of somebody’s and inevitably, everybody’s freedom. This is an inexorable law. I’m not saying there’s never a place for sacrificing freedom to achieve safety. We tell our children not to cross the road alone. But to pump out an endless stream of safety regulations without taking full responsibility for the cost of freedom is ignorant, short-sighted, and irresponsible.
There ought to be some basic rules about rulemaking.
Before coming up with a solution, the problem needs to be properly identified. For example, when eggs give people salmonella poisoning, don’t blame it on the chicken poop that’s on the shell and then create an unnecessary, arduous egg cleaning program. Instead, blame the farmer who keeps his birds in such a filthy stinking hole that all his birds have subclinical salmonella poisoning.
When a problem is specific to a person or group, the law ought to apply only to that offender. For example, if your chicken barn can be smelled from the road, it should be shut down. If you have open air barns with deep bedding that never stink, you can sell your eggs whenever and wherever you please.
A simple surprise visit to the barn by inspectors twice a year for a sniff test would eliminate all egg-related salmonella risks. For crying out loud, my kids could be inspectors. They have noses and know a lot more about chickens and healthy eggs than any CFIA inspector I’ve ever met. Like the Bible says, “the Law is for the lawless!”
Rules shouldn’t favour the guilty parties and penalize the innocent. I asked a fellow who was defending government food safety inspections some poignant questions a couple months ago. He was a tradesperson who was working for us and had already enjoyed a few meals that we had provided. I asked him if he felt unsafe while eating those meals. He said no. I asked him if he ate Maple Leaf pork and he said yes. I asked him if he would still eat Maple Leaf pork if he knew there were never any government inspectors checking on them. He looked at me with disgust and replied, “No way!”
My point was clear. He already knew who and who not to trust. The government inspectors were helping Maple Leaf seem credible and were imposing regulations and protocols to make sure their pork doesn’t kill anyone (not that they’re always successful).
The regulations and inspections are very beneficial for these gross facilities because the public wouldn’t trust them otherwise. But we, on the other hand, have a transparent and obviously clean farm and kitchen. I don’t think anyone would care if we were inspected or not. This fellow certainly didn’t.
So, I repeat, rules shouldn’t profit the rulebreakers and impede the conscientious.
Laws shouldn’t be imposed to keep people safe from their bad choices – be it consumers or producers. Laws should outline the penalty for an offense.
If the Excel beef plant in Brooks kills somebody with negligent and unsanitary practices, the person responsible ought to pay a satisfactory penalty. Anyone who behaves irresponsibly for the sake of greed at the cost of someone’s life ought to pay and pay dearly.
But here’s the radical idea! WE SHOULD NOT be requiring with legislation that people do things differently. Good laws are not for telling people how to do things; they’re for penalizing bad outcomes. NO INSPECTORS. No taxpayer dollars dreaming up ineffectual solutions to problems misunderstood or denied.
Just think how hard it would be to regain credibility after causing a tragic event without a bunch of government nobodies milling around with clipboards pretending like they identified the problem that they amazingly didn’t notice in the first place.
What if the news on Channel 1 was, “Excel Beef kills another person. Let’s hope they get their act together before they go out of business,” with a video of the owners being hauled off to prison?
Let these criminals pay for their own media campaign. Let them admit wrongdoing and prove to the public they’ve turned over a new leaf.
Until then, I think people will buy a lot more of our beef and I don’t think they’ll complain as much about the price of decent farming and sanitary processing.
How on earth is anybody supposed to learn how to find the Truth in their lifetime when their consequence compass is constantly being buried by self-righteous do-gooders claiming to care much more than we do about children dying of food poisoning? I hate the idea of poisoned children so much that I’d like to burn down every CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) and mega-processor in North America.
Maybe if consumers weren’t running around from one sale to the next looking for the cheapest pound of ground beef on the market, our food system wouldn’t be engaged in a race to the bottom.
The fact is, there is no difference between a producer irresponsibly cutting corners to save a buck while killing a child, and a parent ignorantly cutting corners at the grocery store looking to save a buck and killing their child. This is the truth everyone cringes at, but honestly, what kind of food do people expect at those prices?
The only way you get ground beef so cheap is if you take the trimmings that are otherwise high risk for contamination and treat them with toxic ammonia to kill the pathogens. Why doesn’t the adage, “You get what you pay for,” occur to people when they’re buying groceries? It’s sad.
Now, those are five suggestions and perhaps they all overlap. The basic concept is this: Laws are supposed to enforce and not impose; they’re to promote justice, and not take it away. Laws that make things worse are tyrannical.
Oh, and if you ever get a chance to eliminate bureaucracy and its ghastly trail of paperwork, don’t waste the opportunity. Just get a match. I’ve got lots of decent, honest, hard work lined up for all the jobless bureaucrats.
“Bureaucrats write memoranda both because they appear to be busy when they are writing and because the memos, once written, immediately become proof they were busy.” -Charles Peters