Cato solution for getting fresh fruit & veggies to urban residents: Wal-Mart

OK, I'm sometimes slow to get the full upshot. I know many progressives disclaim alot that is heard on NPR these days after the Republican Revolution's successful taming...well, you know. Heck, even NPR station directors say it.

But, this afternoon, after an interesting piece discussing the USDA's local food initiative in which Michelle Obama has been playing a public role, I had the personal "I concede!" moment.

The idea that one should "know your food, know your farmer" was the topic covered with USDA head Tom Vilsack. In it was provided the context of a role for his former constituency of Iowa where it's 'a necessity to support agriculture subsidies' to win elections. Doesn't the gravity of Monsanto also weigh pretty heavily in Iowa politics?

OK, I knew about that sort of thing and, so, was still a little surprised to hear some things I considered to be positive from Obama-appointee Vilsack about the need to boost local production and enable local farmers to be profitable while producing quality edibles. Such as by doubling the value of WIC funds used in purchases by city residents at farmers' markets just a glance away from the White House.

The upshot was that he seemed to be an advocate of the local food program despite not being quite so ready to embrace organic production with both arms nor to make an orphan of the 70% of US agricultural production that comes from 4% of the producers.

Overall, the story delivered better news than I expected.

Then came time for the 'counterpoint', the balancing side of fairness, and I was whacked upside the head with one of those famous NPR driveway moments. 

I'm not so fond of the new generation as I'd been of the previous, before Kenneth Tomlinson's tenure at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting made me first consciously aware that a disclaimer clause is necessary for some memorable 'can't turn the car off, still listening to NPR' moments, like 'cause I cannot believe the crock of it she's laying out.

The reporter's choice of Sallie James, Trade Policy Analyst of the Cato Institute, to close an interesting segment suggested that I should keep listening.  I didn't yet recognize it was to be one of those 3-G moments. I should have known, since where else but Cato can you be sure to get Wal-Mart's side of the story?  Wal-Mart?!

Oh yeah, my memory isn't what it used to be and nowadays I forget so easily.  But any of the Cato Institute sound-alikes would be available to help echo-chamber essentially the same message.  They are talking-point disciplined:

Groups the benefited from Cato's generosity were Agencia Americana ($30,000 "to help fund study on S.A. corruption"); the Philanthropy Roundtable ($5,000); the Manhattan Institute ($5,000); the American Enterprise Institute ($5,000); the Fund for American Studies ($10,000); the Bluegrass Institute ($50,000); the Cascade Policy Institute ($25,000); the Ethan Allen Institute ($50,000); the Evergreen Freedom Foundation ($100,000); the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii ($40,000); the Illinois Policy Institute ($50,000); the James Madison Institute ($100,000); the John Locke Foundation ($20,000); the Maine Heritage Policy Center ($50,000); the Maryland Public Policy Institute ($40,000); the Nevada Policy Research Institute ($50,000); the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs ($50,000); the Rio Grande Foundation ($50,000); the Show-Me Institute ($50,000); the South Carolina Policy Council ($90,000); the Sutherland Institute ($40,000); the Tennessee Center for Policy Research ($50,000); the Texas Public Policy Foundation ($100,000); the Virginia Institute for Public Policy ($25,000); the Yankee Institute ($68,000); and the Independent Institute ($60,000).

The Kochs and Cato Institute fund 'em so you don't have to.  Well, OK, if you're Altria or Exxon-Mobil or RJR or..Wal-Mart, Cato does farming and message laundry.  The field of think-tank astroturf has long been well-fertilized by crop-rotation through Big Tobacco.and the Kochs and their usual Chamber of Commerce ally has been a good coordinator of the message for more than a decade.  Think tort reform.  Think climate change.

So, I concede!

Sorry, you ask about what Sallie James had to say? The bottomline, of course, is the bottomline and you could have guessed the title of this story by now.  If you really want fresh meats and produce, get Wal-Mart to do it!

I heard that on NPR.


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