Sunday, December 10, 2006

Protectionism at Home

The Washington Post carries a useful reminder of just how socialized the US economy can be at times: particularly for dairy products.

In the summer of 2003, shoppers in Southern California began getting a break on the price of milk.

A maverick dairyman named Hein Hettinga started bottling his own milk and selling it for as much as 20 cents a gallon less than the competition, exercising his right to work outside the rigid system that has controlled U.S. milk production for almost 70 years. Soon the effects were rippling through the state, helping to hold down retail prices at supermarkets and warehouse stores.

That was when a coalition of giant milk companies and dairies, along with their congressional allies, decided to crush Hettinga's initiative. For three years, the milk lobby spent millions of dollars on lobbying and campaign contributions and made deals with lawmakers, including incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.).

Last March, Congress passed a law reshaping the Western milk market and essentially ending Hettinga's experiment -- all without a single congressional hearing...

Read the whole thing. And note that the 'pro-market' guy in the fight is Congressman Jerry Lewis - whom many conservatives criticize for the way he headed the Appropriations Committee. The anti-market forces include Arizona Senator Jon Kyl.

Sometimes where you stand depends on where you sit.

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