Wednesday , August 12 2020
Home / Tim Worstall /Why appoint a Minister to mess with what works?

Why appoint a Minister to mess with what works?

Summary:
A call for there to be a Minister for food security:Ministers should consider enshrining in law a right to food and must appoint a new minister for food security, according to an influential committee of MPs, after the coronavirus pandemic exposed serious problems with the government’s handling of the food system in a crisis.Well, largely speaking the government didn’t handle the food system in this recent crisis. Could be why it all worked. Panic buying – which was often just consumers responding to the need to eat all meals at home – and shortages of some staples in the shops, characterised the start of the Covid-19 crisis after the government failed to communicate properly with the public and the food industry, the MPs on the environment, food and rural affairs committee found in a new

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A call for there to be a Minister for food security:

Ministers should consider enshrining in law a right to food and must appoint a new minister for food security, according to an influential committee of MPs, after the coronavirus pandemic exposed serious problems with the government’s handling of the food system in a crisis.

Well, largely speaking the government didn’t handle the food system in this recent crisis. Could be why it all worked.

Panic buying – which was often just consumers responding to the need to eat all meals at home – and shortages of some staples in the shops, characterised the start of the Covid-19 crisis after the government failed to communicate properly with the public and the food industry, the MPs on the environment, food and rural affairs committee found in a new report.

The government “appeared unprepared” for the impact of the closure of restaurants and cafes, they said, and was too slow to provide guidance for workers in the food supply sector.

The current, largely free market, food supply system worked fantastically in the recent crisis. Sure, there were empty shelves at times but that was more about time to deliver from warehouses than anything else. There was no significant shortage for any significant period of time of anything. Which shows a certain robustness in that system really. For the system did go through an enormous shock. That switch of tens of percents of the nation’s calories being provided by commercial (restaurants, take aways, sandwich shops, works canteens and so on) to running through the retail and then domestic channels was an immense change.

The system worked though. The only major problem noted was the government’s own rules. Products packaged for that commercial system couldn’t be simply re-routed into the retail because labelling requirements are different. Government thereby reducing the flexibility of the system in that emergency.

A cynic would describe this call for a Minister, for more regulation, as being a cry in the wilderness. If people can indeed through voluntary cooperation sort out major problems for themselves then what purpose government? What need of politicians and their interventions? As it would be most uncomfortable for those questions to be generally asked better get politics involved so as to obviate the query.

A realist would be less harsh. If the food system does actually work that would damage the battle against obesity. So, we need a politician in charge so that we all can become thin.

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Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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