Wednesday , July 28 2021
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An exercise in entirely missing the point

Summary:
Following on from that ludicrous National Food Strategy we are berated with this in The Guardian:The Food Strategy review itself makes this very clear; it cites the eye-opening statistic that 85% of the land used to feed the UK population is devoted to rearing animals, even though animal products provide only 32% of our calories. Given the need to act quickly before it’s too late, the report’s suggestions are often frustratingly mild.The mental image of someone observing us with folded arms, foot tapping, awaiting our mumbled response to this clear and obvious fact is difficult to clear from the mind.Yet the correct response is “Yes, and?”For the base point of our having an economy, even a civilisation, is being ignored. That base point being that we humans should gain as much of whatever

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Following on from that ludicrous National Food Strategy we are berated with this in The Guardian:

The Food Strategy review itself makes this very clear; it cites the eye-opening statistic that 85% of the land used to feed the UK population is devoted to rearing animals, even though animal products provide only 32% of our calories. Given the need to act quickly before it’s too late, the report’s suggestions are often frustratingly mild.

The mental image of someone observing us with folded arms, foot tapping, awaiting our mumbled response to this clear and obvious fact is difficult to clear from the mind.

Yet the correct response is “Yes, and?”

For the base point of our having an economy, even a civilisation, is being ignored. That base point being that we humans should gain as much of whatever it is we desire from the assets available to us. The rational - omniscient, benevolent etc - planner and the chaos of the free market are not at odds here. The aim is to maximise human utility over time.

There’s a certain free gift of nature in the amount of land out there. Depending on how we count it 30 to 50% isn’t - or hardly is - used by humans. The amount we use for any intensive form of agriculture is falling - when measured per capita it’s near halved in recent decades.

That land is an asset. Gaining a higher return from an asset is also known as “getting richer.” If it is true, and it seems to be, that we humans value meat and dairy more than the alternative starchy stodge crop then we are being made richer by gaining access to that meat and dairy.

That is, this statement that lots of land is used for meat and dairy.

And?

Opposition to this idea - that we are aiming to maximise human utility - clearly calls into question the idea that the would be planners are benevolent. Or even omniscient, given that they’re failing to even ask the right question.

One more little point about the report itself. We are told in it, as proof absolute that something is wrong, that the UK has 28 types of KitKat bar available. We’ve not checked this, not counted, although it has been pointed out to us that Japan has 200. But if Mr. Dimbleby, as he does, presents this as an obvious indication of some problem then he’d better have an answer to this next question. How many types of KitKat should there be?

And why?

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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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