Sunday, March 21, 2010

Meat Subsidies

All of a sudden I’m seeing articles claiming meat is getting a massive amount of subsidies and causing great harm to the environment. The problem is in researching the numbers behind the claims. It seems a whole lot of assumptions are being made to get to the number. The large amount of claimed subsidies don’t go to meat, but to soy and corn farmers, well as far as I can tell. The stretch they are doing is counting the subsidies that soy and corn farmers are receiving should be counted as subsidies to meat production.

I feel this stretch is not appropriate. For if we apply the logic to other venues of government subsidies we should get rid of public transportation. For instance many employees in the bay area utilize subsidized public transportation. Companies with a large presence in the bay area include the like of Cisco, Oracle, Autodesk and other high margin businesses in the bay area. Cisco has a gross profit margin of 68%, Oracle is at 82% and Autodesk is at 95%. Most agriculture operations would like to even come close to achieving these subsidies. Many of the articles I’ve read demonize Tyson Foods; yet they only have an 8.3% gross profit margin. BART received a subsidy of $318,212,902 for the last fiscal year (non-ridership revenue), the companies seam to hardly need the subsidies. The anti-meat crowd would have to decry these blatant subsidies based on their logic. Unfortunately I would say they wouldn’t agree with my logic in this case.

Another point is environmental damages. I would say Cisco, Oracle and Autodesk contribute greatly to global warming due to providing the tools to continue the use of power hungry data centers, personal computers and small computer devices. Another logical reason to get rid of the public transportation subsidies that benefit these companies. Maybe BART needs to check where everyone works and make people pay based on where they work. It would remove the subsidies.

I don’t mind people being against meat, they have that right to voice their opinion. I would like a little more truth in the claims. For if we added up all of the costs of what we do we’d quickly come to the conclusion that we shouldn’t do anything because it all causes environmental impacts and costs to the government.

1 comment:

  1. You have a very good point. The fact is that we have a three tiered problem. The first being that nearly any "study" or "survey" can be manipulated to produce just any desired result. The smallest amount of digging reveals these "studies" to be flawed and skewed in most cases.

    Second we have the eternal problem of "exactly how far back do you climb up the causality rope?" If you claim that assistance given to soy bean farmers counts as subsidies to the meat industry then why not also count tax benefits given to chemical firms that develop the disinfectants used by the meat cutters in the processing plants. Or local tax cuts given to plants that produce the foam platters meat is so often sold on? It's a ludicrous leap frog game that produces no winners.

    Lastly there is the sad reality that we live in a society where FAR too few people are willing to think for themselves. These massive media drones simply stand in the waters of the information stream and swallow whatever may come by. That becomes the opinion d'jour. It is what the ill-informed become inflamed over. At least until they swallow the next opinion floating the in the stream. Of course, we all know what floats in the water.

    Maybe some day the world will be filled with people who combine common sense and independent thought. But probably not.

    - KFD -