Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tainted Milk?

China 2008 ... New York City, 1858 ... in New York, thousands of babies died when fed "swill milk" - only government regulation and the passage of the Food and Drug Act, 1906.

The similarities between China today and New York 150 years ago shouldn’t come as a great surprise. Adulteration on such a scandalous scale occurs in societies with a toxic combination of characteristics: a fast-growing capitalist economy coupled with a government unable or unwilling to regulate the food supply. In such get-rich-quick societies, there is a huge temptation to tamper with food, particularly when margins are low. The rewards are instant, and it’s not always easy for consumers to detect the difference between the pure and the doctored — particularly with a substance like milk, which we have been taught to trust implicitly.

Check out this thoughtful article HERE.

Such scandals are not bad luck. They are symptomatic of a deep failure of politics. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao’s hasty gestures — punishing the dairies, forcing the head of the food quality agency to resign — have done nothing to deal with the underlying regulatory vacuum.

A simple reminder that good societies are regulated by good government ... when left to themselves, markets always exceed the boundary and begin to cannibalize themselves, leaving us to pick up the pieces.

The Free Market System is never free ... but costly beyond compare, in lives lost and hopes broken when the system fails, as it always does, like an adolescent on a spending spree.

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