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In the "death by a thousand cuts" category:

A big story on NPR's Morning Edition touts the benefits of olive oil in the diet, but notes that for maximum benefit, the oil must be fresh. Unfortunately, a lot of imported oil isn't.

The story contains this seemingly anodyne statement:

[T]he U.S. Food and Drug Administration used to police olive oil imports to ensure producers were meeting quality and freshness standards. But those efforts have fallen off.
Eh--a bunch of lazy bureaucrats sticking their noses into our glorious free market: who needs 'em? Of course, the article doesn't say why those efforts have "fallen off", but would you care to guess it might have something to do with austerity, possibly backed by industry lobbying?

OK, friends, how much in additional taxes would you personally be willing to pay to make sure your olive oil was healthy? A quarter a year? And Randians: please explain to me how the so-called "free market" could address a problem like this. Maybe some feisty entrepreneur will get rich selling "do-it-yourself olive oil testing kits" and we can all spend our time testing samples of the oils on the store shelves. Smell the Freedom!

Multiply this little case by a thousand, and that's the utopia conservative ideology has created for us.

Pathetic.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (14+ / 0-)

    What is valued is practiced. What is not valued is not practiced. -- Plato

    by RobLewis on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 09:50:50 AM PDT

  •  "Free market" is a euphemism. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    phonegery, jabney, Chi

    The purpose of a euphemism is to make something unsavory sound good.

    In truth the "free market" simply refers to taking free goods (from the public treasure) to market for a profit. The market is the place where the "mark" gets fleeced by the middlemen.

    The middlemen have evolved from the highwaymen, the fellows who used to block the road to extort payment from travelers before they could proceed. While the middlemen perceive the public bodies which actually build and maintain the roads as competitors for tolls, the middlemen have no legitimate claim, unless our legislators give them one.
    How might they do that? By handing over to the middlemen the task of managing the currency and letting them collect a cut (dividends on bonds) of every public dollar spent.

  •  I'll try (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sparhawk, Gooserock
    please explain to me how the so-called "free market" could address a problem like this.
    I think they would point to the confluence of two factors:

    1) People that buy brands that take advantage of this lapse to put stale oil on the shelves will be displeased by the product and switch to other brands.

    2) Competitive brands will recognize that fresh oil is better oil and that's what customers want and will therefore only use the freshest oil and market it accordingly to differentiate their product.

    The combination of these things will work to drive down sales of the low-quality product and boost sales of the fresher product.  This dynamic will further provide incentive to businesses to ONLY use the fresh product.

    ....that's the best hypothesis I can supply about how the other side supposes this will work.

    Lastly, the Libertarians would also say that the freshness of your extra virgin olive oil is not a legitimate government concern.  Eating oil that has aged since it was pressed is not a health risk, but merely a gourmet consumer preference.

    If oil freshness is that important to you (and it is to me!), feel free to seek out the best product you can find and/or afford but this is not worth spending tax dollars or dedicating USDA resources that could be better spent fighting food-bourne illness outbreaks, meat processing plant inspections, fertilizer use regulations, etc.

    Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

    by Wisper on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 10:03:28 AM PDT

    •  to counter that though (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      whenwego, Kingsmeg

      I would raise two points:

      1.) What is more likely to happen is that the market will reduce to a low common denominator and we'll be left with a flood of low-grade products that will just become the norm with quality/healthy products relegated to the expensive gourmet market that few people could afford.  Wine was like this for years....  (they would be utterly unfazed by this)

      2.) There is a compelling gov't interest if these companies are deliberately marketing something as fresh EVOO and "tricking" people into paying a premium price for a product that is actually sub-standard but one they have no ability to discern.  This approaches the threshold of fraud or mislabeling which should be prevented and punished via market regulation.  (again, they would say that these fraudster companies will run themselves out of business when they can't compete with other honest quality products)

      Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

      by Wisper on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 10:07:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  How They Suppose It Will Work is That Rich (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jabney

      ownership will gain more wealth. That is the sole purpose of neoliberal so-called economics and so-called thinking.

      NEVER confuse what a conservative says with what they think.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 10:39:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  There is no guarantee, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Praxical

      absent government regulation, that a given brand of oil will have consistent quality. For example, if supply tightens up there will be powerful incentives to meet demand with substandard goods.

      Also, there's nothing to stop a supplier from lying about the age or quality of their product. This is a case of asymmetric information: one party to the transaction knows more about the goods than the other. In such cases, the so-called free market does not deliver its promised optimum results. Any many, if not most, markets suffer from this problem.

      Check out John Cassidy's book How Markets Fail for a full explanation.

      What is valued is practiced. What is not valued is not practiced. -- Plato

      by RobLewis on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 11:20:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Rob - the free market could work in various ways (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    virginislandsguy

    Non government consumer groups routinely test products like olive oil and publish their findings. Individuals post online their experience with the taste, color, and freshness of the olive oil they use. If you have a store that you trust and it performs quality tests on its olive oil providers, you could feel comfortable purchasing your oil there.

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 10:07:35 AM PDT

  •  Here is a great recap of the policies on this (0+ / 0-)

    Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

    by Wisper on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 10:12:00 AM PDT

  •  The situation with olive oil has been going on for (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, Mortifyd

    many years.

    Part of the problem is that the 'Standard American Diet' tastes like processed crap (salty, fatty, sweet). This has been the case for about a generation now. Many people never eat fresh food at all, nevermind being a stickler for good olive oil, and therefore can't recognize good oil from bad.

    From the market perspective, this means that the quality of the oil doesn't matter because people eat whatever oil they buy and have no complaint. They will make their buying decision based on factors other than taste and quality, like price or brand loyalty.

    You can't get away with that in Europe. They still know what real food tastes like over there.

    From a public health perspective, we all lose, since there's no mechanism in the marketplace to make sure we get the beneficial properties associated with fresh olive oil.

    Women do 2/3 of the world's work, receive 10% of the world's income and own 1% of the means of production.

    by LibrErica on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 10:33:57 AM PDT

  •  There've Been Repeated Reports That it's Not Even (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mother Shipper

    all olive oil in olive oil.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 10:40:57 AM PDT

  •  Ever since Don Corleone died (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kingsmeg, TrueBlueMajority

    the olive oil business has gone downhill!

  •  Easy. (0+ / 0-)
    And Randians: please explain to me how the so-called "free market" could address a problem like this.
    They're busy stealing used oil from restaurants and mixing it with used motor oil and looking for the perfect chemical cocktail that will make the result look like 'olive oil'.  And if the resulting sludge is worse for you than a pound of lard (and the chemicals cause cancer and impotence), who cares? Profits!!!!

    190 milliseconds....

    by Kingsmeg on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 10:59:31 AM PDT

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