Attorney and author David Robinson Simon opens Chapter One of Meatonomics with a chilling idea based on Aldous Huxley’s prophetic 1932 novel, Brave New World:
“… humans exist solely to support the economy and are conditioned from birth to buy things. Government bureaucrats manipulate the sheep-like citizens with drugs and slogans to make them consume as much as possible.”
What makes this picture even more alarming is that Huxley thought humanity wouldn’t reach that point for another five centuries. His book examines how the 21st-century meat industry has accelerated its arrival.
That the meat industry’s policies have long caused problems for:
is no secret.
In Meatonomics, however, Simon presents a fourth, well-hidden casualty of these policies: economics. The meat producers rely on the government to help fund and market their business. Consumers pick the hidden costs involved.
In other words, what we pay for steak or milk at the grocery store is a fraction of its production and advertising costs. Our tax dollars subsidize those.
In Meatonomics, Simon calculates the “external costs” of America’s animal-food production at around $415 billion per year.
“If these external numbers were added to the grocery-store prices of animal foods, they would nearly triple the cost of these items,” he writes in the introduction. “A gallon of milk would jump from $3.50 to $9, and a store-bought, two-pound package of pork ribs would run $32 instead of $12.”
In terms of the American family household, for every dollar of the weekly budget that goes to meat and dairy, the producers get $2 in government funding.
Even those who avoid meat or dairy can’t escape! For example, Simon estimates that every $4 Big Mac sandwich adds $7 to the external costs we share as members of a meat-addicted society.
The Government Connection
What’s the government’s role in this hidden scheme? Simon thoroughly examines how the meat and dairy industries influence legislative and regulatory policies.
Congress collects a small percentage of the wholesale price of these products — and uses it to fund the industries’ marketing organizations. In turn, consumers are enticed to buy because of artificially low pricing and misleading, but legal, advertising.
What We Can Do
Recalling the public outcry that resulted from heavily taxing deadly, addictive cigarettes in the 1980s, Simon suggests the same treatment for meat and dairy products. It may be the only way to wean Americans from their overconsumption.
Will future generations look back to the early 21st century and thank us for taking a stand against these industries’ devastating, government-assisted impact?
Meatonomics offers an expertly designed blueprint for imposing this tax, so let’s raise our voices and get this book into our lawmakers’ hands!