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Gvt distributed food, and how it might work.

Recoil42Recoil42 Registered User regular
edited November 2006 in Debate and/or Discourse
Ah, don't you just love those late night conversations with your friends? It's now 6 in the morning, the building is completely silent, I've got a can of Jolt cola in my body, and so I'm strangely not tired at all, and well up for deep debate and discussion, which, thankfully, one of my good floormates has provided. And it's an interesting one.

I'm going to post the original writing, and then our MSN convo... I'll try and edit it a bit for brevity and such, but forewarning, this is going to very much be a tl;dr thing.



http://groups.yahoo.com/group/uw-45130/message/1529
Well, my British buddy calls me a pinko but he's an incredibly
objective moderate, and this idea is as much his as mine, so maybe it
has some virtue. This actually came up when the two of were
discussing how best to distribute the massive oil money of Equatorial
Guinea after we kill the president and sieze the country, but I think
it could work for Canada as well. Maybe not Canada, but Brasil or
Sweden at least.

Sorry that it's a little long. I'm feeling wordy tonight.

Everyone needs to eat and, ideally, everyone eats about the same
amount. Raise taxes and start a state-owned, or state-sponsored, food
brand. This brand will produce and distribute all the basic, healthy
foods (bread, pasta, apples, fish, eggs, milk and such) to everyone
free of charge.

The state can't predict demand accurately, you say, and what of
consumer freedom and free enterprise, you wonder. This system will
have no problems of the like. Rather than being the sole provider of
food, the state-brand will be one of many providers. To ensure that
private business will be able to compete the state will subsidize all
food production that meets quality and health standards. If, for
instance, the state is able to produce, or buy, and distribute a loaf
of bread for $0.55 then it will subsidize every private loaf of bread
that same $0.55.

The private bread people can still compete. They may be able to
profit solely on the subsidy and give their bread away. They may not.
They likely won't even want to try. Likely, I think, they'll use the
subsidy to make a slightly better bread and sell it to all the people
who'd rather not eat the state bread. People don't like to feel
cheap, if they can afford to be snotty, they will. So, private
bakeries market a premium bread and sell it for $0.50 or $1.25 or
$6.75 or whatever. It doesn't really matter how they distribute their
bread because, after all, every loaf of bread sold by the
money-grubbing bread brand is one less that needs to be given away by
the state. It makes no real difference if the state spends $0.55
giving away a loaf of bread or if they spend $0.55 having someone else
sell it.

How will this be funded? Tax hike. Massive tax hike, actually.

'If poor man don't eat well', the conservative might say, 'it doesn't
really matter to me'. If he doesn't eat well, though, then he isn't
healthy. If he isn't healthy then he's not able to work very well, or
look for work very well. What's more, an unhealthy man is MUCH more
likely than a healthy one to be a burden on public health care. Is it
cheaper to have the poor man hungry, sick and unproductive or to feed
him? I'm not really sure, I don't know the numbers, but I don't
really care. I'd still rather see him eat.

As it is now, he's likely eating on the rich man's dollar anyways,
what with his welfare check and all. He's not eating well, though.
He eats a lot of grain and not much meat or fresh fruit. The same
goes for his poor kids; rather than drinking real fruit juice they No
Name drink mix. Do their growing bones get enough milk? I reckon not.

Oh, but it's worse than that, he's not just taking the rich man's
money to buy his cheap food and his expensive health care, he's also
using it to buy his premium cable, his crystal meth and his lotto
tickets. If he gets free food, though, then his cost of living is
very much reduced and his welfare checks are utterly slashed. Now he
has less public money to piss away on beer and popcorn. Better than
that, though, he's also not sucking up so much of the health care
money and he's better able to find/work a job. Will he bother to get
a job if he doesn't need it to eat? Of course! He's got just as much
invested in Western consumerism as you and I do. If he doesn't have a
nice car, Nike shoes and a gift for his girlfriend, what does he have?

So, the higher-earning tax payers are less burdened by others' health
care and welfare but they're now paying this god-awful food tax. Is
it worth it? What to the rich and middle classes really get?

They get food! It's not like the tax amounts to lost money, it buys
food. Really, it's like they're paying the government for there food
rather than paying the grocery store. They're also paying for some
poorer people's food but they do that already, as discussed above.

Better than that, though, they get an incentive to eat healthy food,
which is subsidized, rather than unhealthy food at full price. They
can still eat junk if they want to, of course, but they might feel
less inclined. Just has healthy food and good health afford poor
people greater productivity and less time in hospital, it does the
rich as well.

Summery, everyone always has all they need to eat well. The
population as a whole enjoys better health and is better able to be
productive in the work place. Spending on health care can be reduced.
Spending on welfare can be greatly reduced and the poor are still
better off.

Sound good?


We're just discussing this now, and I'd thought I'd throw this up here and see if it elicited any comments from the D&D crowd...

Recoil42 on

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    JinniganJinnigan Registered User regular
    edited November 2006
    tl;dr

    Jinnigan on
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    ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS regular
    edited November 2006
    Yeah man, you should work on consolidating that post.

    ege02 on
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    blizzard224blizzard224 Registered User regular
    edited November 2006
    *Obligationary ololz communism post*

    blizzard224 on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
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    mccmcc glitch Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited November 2006
    This is too complicated. Can't we just do what we did in Afghanistan, and push big crates full of food out of airplanes over populated areas?

    mcc on
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    YarYar Registered User regular
    edited November 2006
    It seems clear from your chatlog that you guys have basically regurgitated a centuries-old discussion, and only scratched the surface at all of the problems. With only a cursory conversation on the matter you both already seem to realize how inefficient and impossible this is. So what further discussion do you want?

    Yar on
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    3lwap03lwap0 Registered User regular
    edited November 2006
    soylent_green.jpg

    No? Damn.

    3lwap0 on
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    Recoil42Recoil42 Registered User regular
    edited November 2006
    Changing the format of this thread, maybe for more success. Just leaving the initial idea above, which hopefully someone would comment on, and is less tl;dr, and putting the MSN conversation here, for some further insight from ourselves.




    You might require a little bit of background reading for some of the conversation if you're not from Ontario on familiar with the LCBO -- here in Ontario, and in various other parts of Canada, alcohol is government controlled and sold through "crown corporations":

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LCBO




    And the MSN convo itself....
    yellow = him, lime = me.

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/uw-45130/message/1529
    I'm so terribly clever, yes?

    This is you?

    Indeed.

    Reading.....
    An interesting concept, but ah.... foodstamps and their related fraud ring a bell?

    Not especially. Explain?

    Now, the distribution of this cannot be done as a straight food-is-all-brought-to-a-central-place-in-each-population-centre, come and get it as you need system, correct? As there would be too much potential for abuse in our still capitalistic society, where one might hoard food, or, because it's free, you might find an increase in waste, because it is no longer directly in one's self interest to conserve the food.
    Correct?
    So the distribution and its permissions must be done through some sort of proprietary currency.

    Aye.

    "Foodmoney", or whatever you want to call it... of which each family is allowed X amount of loaves per Y time period, and such.

    This could be non-transferable, though, in the same way that our meal plan is non-transferable.
    Now, there may be some people who want more than they are allowed. If they are able to buy food from someone else, though, then they are also able to buy a private brand from the store.

    Right, but that does not matter. Because you cannot prevent the free market from coming up with 35 cent bread.

    And then a drug addict might, for instance, that he does not require bread of the 55 cent quality. He therefore spends his own money on the 35 cent bread, and sells his 55 cent coupon at a loss, let's say for 40 cents, to a drug dealer, going towards drugs.

    Sans subsidy, obviously. The subsidy only applies if you are under your allowance. If above, you pay the unsubsidized price.

    It's a silly example on the cent scale, but remember that food costs hundreds per month.

    Indeed.

    Are you familiar with the foodstamp program in the US?

    Reading about it now.

    Wikipedia?

    Aye.



    We would have to ensure that the bread currancy is non-transferable, to begin with.

    It seems unlikely that anyone would actually buy a truckload of physical bread and sell it to the drug dealer who would then resell in some black-market bread ring.

    Right, but that doesn't matter, because as long as the state is providing a quality product, as your concept mandates, then there will always be an opportunity for a third party to create a lesser quality product at lesser cost

    and that lesser quality product at a lesser cost creates some possibility of trade, somewhere.

    As might be noted somewhere, this is now being combated with the idea of EBT's, which are like foodstamp debit cards, tied to the individual

    but there was a HUGE problem for a long time of, not the physical trading of bread, but of the proprietary currency!

    IE, "I'll give you my next week's supply of bread for a XXXXX of XXXXXXX"

    Aye.

    where XX*XX is some sort of addiction or whatever

    Surely it is better to give proprietary currency, though, than actual currency as per Ontario Works.

    And instead of living off of the premium, government owned 55 cent bread, the addict would then buy the cheapo, non government bread at 35 cents, and survive off that for the next week

    and the problem has now gone full circle

    Indeed.

    ....yeah, that's true

    but the point still stands of some form of potential for this to happen, to some degree

    Indeed.

    for instance, a crooked store, of which all would certainly have surplus of the bread each week they throw away

    might accept the proprietary currency for the bread, and instead, sell the "customer" something else completely, a pack of cigarettes or what have you, and bill that 55 cents to the government

    But still, if there is to be side-selling then there must also be buying. If there is to be buying then there must be someone who's not able to get as much government bread as they'd like to have. If this is the case, then we must ask why they're not buying their state bread from the bread shop with their own proprietary currency. There should be no shortage.

    unless you find some way of accounting for each loaf of bread, this is impossible to counter.

    Hmm.

    No, that's not the issue here, it's that this can all get funneled into more organized crime fraud

    Indeed. This is a difficult problem.

    we're not talking a drug dealer who just happens to be really hungry.... we're talking about what organized crime could potentially do with all this proprietary currency, the potential for fraud there.

    Again, You can never produce EXACTLY the amount of bread the entire country needs, because of the third parties, which will always supplement and be the choice of those who... just don't care

    it's a great idea, don't get me wrong, but the execution requires some sort of... tamper-proofing, shall we say?

    Indeed it does.

    because again, just to restate the idea, this would have to be implemented in a store credit type thing, right? The government products would be embedded in a regular store. Otherwise, it just wouldn't work -- no one wants to go to the government owned store JUST to get their bread, milk and eggs.

    So we're talking a system in which the bread would be delivered to regular commercial stores by

    the government, and the stores would be credited 55 cents or whatever for each loaf sold

    But because you have no direct control over these stores, as they're not government owned... you now have the potential for a crooke store... which, every time they get a shipment of bread, just throw it all away, and sell cigarettes for bread credit redemption, or whatever.

    and they'd get credited from the government for this

    and whoops, houston, we have a problem

    That's what I was thinking. On the other hand, it could be a system where the store was not government owned but closely monitored and regulated like The Beer Store. This would get complicated, though.

    Not complicated so much as over-bearing.

    Right, but see, the problem here, is that people are willing to go to a specific store for alcohol, because people like alcohol that much. It's an addiction, a drug.

    People would not be willing to do that for...eggs.

    Heh. If they could only get food at the food store, do you think that they'd boycott the place?

    Not that that's at all the intent of the idea.

    Right, but then your plan for free market bread in addition to your government bread goes straight out the window.

    You'd have to ban the sale of bread at non-government stores?

    The government stores could sell free-market bread.

    However, we'd now have no free-market bread stores, which is as bad as no free-marked bread.

    And you're fucked, because it's now again completely government controlled on the sales side, despite the bread itself coming from free market factories

    Indeed/

    Now, the LCBO can't raise prices, because despite people loving alcohol, it is not a necessity, and they can, with enough financial burden, give it up.

    The same cannot really be said for eggs, bread, and milk.

    Well, it could, but it would require a total societal shift in eating habits and dietary whatever, which is another discussion altogether.

    We could give the subsidy to the consumer rather than the store. The consumer pays cash, the transaction is recorded and the customer is then refunded the amount into his bank account. The obvious problem, though, would be that the consumer could pay not for $200 in groceries but $100 in bribe and then the store would record a fraudulent transaction and the government would refund $200.

    Also, that would require that our shopper have $200 in the first place, which he may not.

    As well, at a knee-jerk reaction level, I haven't thought it through yet, but this might also cause some problem with distribution of actual legit product. Maybe. Have to think about that for a sec.

    I really gotta get them to screw down this flat of wood jutting from my wall, it's very noisy

    Well, the store would have to buy the actual bread if it's going to tell the government that it sold that bread. It could buy the government bread, sell it on the side, buy the 35 cent bread and try to sell that for 55 cents.

    Indeed.

    I'm not following you on that one.

    Aye. After thought, wrong.

    poasting this conversation on the interwebs for third party discussion, if you don't mind

    And that's where we're currently at. Insight, discussion, objection, ideas, whatever, totally welcome.

    Recoil42 on
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    fjafjanfjafjan Registered User regular
    edited November 2006
    im just curius of what you think of how sweden works, you know, if you think we are border line communist or what. Just asking.

    fjafjan on
    Yepp, THE Fjafjan (who's THE fjafjan?)
    - "Proving once again the deadliest animal of all ... is the Zoo Keeper" - Philip J Fry
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    RoundBoyRoundBoy Registered User regular
    edited November 2006
    3lwap0 wrote:
    soylent_green.jpg

    No? Damn.

    SPOILERS IN THE IMAGE! Thanks for ruining the movie for me.

    Jail!

    RoundBoy on
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    Librarians harbor a terrible secret. Find it.
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    YarYar Registered User regular
    edited November 2006
    Recoil42 wrote:
    You might require a little bit of background reading for some of the conversation if you're not from Ontario on familiar with the LCBO -- here in Ontario, and in various other parts of Canada, alcohol is government controlled and sold through "crown corporations".
    It's like that here in some states, too. All liquor in NC is sold in "ABC" stores (Alcoholic Beverage Control Board).

    It's an easy way for the government to make some extra revenue.

    Again, it seems from your chat log that you guys have already figured out what all of the basic problems are.

    Yar on
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    Recoil42Recoil42 Registered User regular
    edited November 2006
    fjafjan wrote:
    im just curius of what you think of how sweden works, you know, if you think we are border line communist or what. Just asking.

    How does Sweden work? Wasn't aware that you guys had any system in place like this?

    Recoil42 on
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    ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited November 2006
    In general, giving someone something for free is less desireable than giving him the ability to acquire that item himself at normal price. That is, rather than give people free food, we should help them get jobs so they can buy their own.

    In short: Horrible, horrible idea, as you guys pretty much already realized.

    ElJeffe on
    I submitted an entry to Lego Ideas, and if 10,000 people support me, it'll be turned into an actual Lego set!If you'd like to see and support my submission, follow this link.
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    NisslNissl Registered User regular
    edited November 2006
    The state food won't be competitive on taste or price if history is any indicator. If it isn't, there will be a lot of pressure from the created bureaucracy to further undermine private competition so they can keep their jobs.

    Also, exactly who gets to decide what foods people get for free and how many of them they get? I don't eat eggs or meat, do I have to fight for more of a veggie share? What if the government mis-estimates what people want?

    Give people the money to purchase food instead of having the state make food. Wait, that's food stamps, we already do that.

    Nissl on
    360: Purkinje
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    Irond WillIrond Will WARNING: NO HURTFUL COMMENTS, PLEASE!!!!! Cambridge. MAModerator mod
    edited November 2006
    I fail to see the systemic need here. Food is pretty damn cheap in the US, and multiple public/ private organizations exist to meet the needs of those few who cannot afford food. Furthermore, your government-production-of-food idea might be a good way to combat price fixing in producers, but price fixing isn't a terrible problem in food regardless.

    In essence, you'd be talking about spawning a huge bureaucracy and hiking taxes greatly to meet a need that is, for the most part, already met adequately.

    Now - put some thought into medical care and housing. Both are huge problems our society faces in terms of need and lack of access/ availability, and neither has obvious solutions.

    Irond Will on
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    Andrew_JayAndrew_Jay Registered User regular
    edited May 2021
    -

    Andrew_Jay on
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    ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited November 2006
    Andrew_Jay wrote:
    Aside from the problems already mentioned, the plan also doesn't address where the food is coming from. However, I'd assume that the massive quantities of money and government spending that this would entail are going to be directed at doemstic food producers - subsidising grain, apples, meat, etc. produced in the coutry, rather than imports.

    Existing subsidies are bad enough in much of the developed world - throwing even more cash at food production is just going to help push even more people in Asia, Africa and Latin America into dire poverty.
    Goddammit, A_J, you beat me to it. :x

    But yeah, this would be a great way to de facto subsidize heroin and cocaine production even more than we already do.

    Thanatos on
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    GoumindongGoumindong Registered User regular
    edited November 2006
    We're just discussing this now, and I'd thought I'd throw this up here and see if it elicited any comments from the D&D crowd...

    Why dont you just subsidise the good foods? Why do you have to have the government produce?

    There is no difference between a regulation and a tax in its effects on the quantity supplied, except that the regulation benefits producers, and a tax benefits the government.

    Subsidies are just negative taxes, so a subsidy hurts the govt and a minimum quantity regulation hurts suppliers.

    However, a government run food network hurts the govt as much as a subsidy does, except they have to more work.

    Really, if the govt wants to increase the amount of good foods purchased there is no reason for government production when they can just set a subsidy.

    edit: If the govt sets the subsidy on end goods meeting a specific condition that is not determined by nationality, it will not have any effect on developing and agricultural nations livlyhood, and could even have a positive effect on production in those nations depending on the requirements.

    Goumindong on
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    MrBigmusclesMrBigmuscles Registered User regular
    edited November 2006
    The program would just end up getting hijacked by corn and soy producers who would absorb all the subsidies even though they are already profitable, and those two products would end up in all kinds of foods that they don't belong in just to justify the subsidy, and we would end up paying twice for unhealthy food that never should have been produced in the first place. Oh wait, that's already how it is.

    MrBigmuscles on
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    Hi I'm Vee!Hi I'm Vee! Formerly VH; She/Her; Is an E X P E R I E N C E Registered User regular
    edited November 2006
    See, when I discuss this kind of thing with my friends, we always end up discarding complicated solutions like this, and just agree that we should drop millions of packets of Top Ramen over starving countries/regions/cities. Cheap AND easy to make! What's not to like?

    Hi I'm Vee! on
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    fjafjanfjafjan Registered User regular
    edited November 2006
    Recoil42 wrote:
    fjafjan wrote:
    im just curius of what you think of how sweden works, you know, if you think we are border line communist or what. Just asking.

    How does Sweden work? Wasn't aware that you guys had any system in place like this?

    Not in the least, and while i personally don't think it sounds that crazy I'm just saying we are no longer quite as socialist as we used to be ...

    I don't think that the goverment should produce food though, however some way of supporting food that is healthy and punishing unhealthy would not be a bad idea though.
    I will have to think on it a bit more though, I personally feel that the goverment should provide the most fundamental services for everyone(Health care, education, food and living) but require work in return, since there are a good deal of goverment jobs that need to be done those could be perfomed by these people. An idea anyway

    fjafjan on
    Yepp, THE Fjafjan (who's THE fjafjan?)
    - "Proving once again the deadliest animal of all ... is the Zoo Keeper" - Philip J Fry
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    Irond WillIrond Will WARNING: NO HURTFUL COMMENTS, PLEASE!!!!! Cambridge. MAModerator mod
    edited November 2006
    See, when I discuss this kind of thing with my friends, we always end up discarding complicated solutions like this, and just agree that we should drop millions of packets of Top Ramen over starving countries/regions/cities. Cheap AND easy to make! What's not to like?

    Tapeworms all over the world would rejoice.

    Irond Will on
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    VishNubVishNub Registered User regular
    edited November 2006
    cx

    VishNub on
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    Hi I'm Vee!Hi I'm Vee! Formerly VH; She/Her; Is an E X P E R I E N C E Registered User regular
    edited November 2006
    Irond Will wrote:
    See, when I discuss this kind of thing with my friends, we always end up discarding complicated solutions like this, and just agree that we should drop millions of packets of Top Ramen over starving countries/regions/cities. Cheap AND easy to make! What's not to like?

    Tapeworms all over the world would rejoice.

    See? It's win/win.

    Hi I'm Vee! on
    vRyue2p.png
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    DeathmongerDeathmonger Registered User regular
    edited November 2006
    Minimal federal government with only consumer protection and anti-trust laws in the way of business regulation, a defensive military, law enforcement and public-education FTW.

    Government officials do not know how to run businessess, especially when they're not usually held very accountable. When there is gain to be had, i.e. by selling subsidized foods in foreign places, thereby gleaning a profit while pushing out local labor, people who know who to run business materialize and start abusing the system.

    Who says the poorest, to whom you attribute all kinds of self-destructive behaviour, will eat food they're given? If addicted to a substance they would try to exchange the food for said substance.

    Deathmonger on
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    The SaviorThe Savior Registered User regular
    edited November 2006
    mcc wrote:
    This is too complicated. Can't we just do what we did in Afghanistan, and push big crates full of food out of airplanes over populated areas?
    Do we get to drop cluster bombs that look just like the food packets?

    The Savior on
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    KrizKriz Registered User regular
    edited November 2006
    Victory brand Government cheese?

    Kriz on
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    IncenjucarIncenjucar VChatter Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited November 2006
    Eh.

    Government food?

    All that means is that my family would start hunting more often, and we'd be the Lords of Sausage.

    And I am largely serious in that.

    Hunting/fishing/gardening kind of throws most government food programs out of whack.

    Incenjucar on
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