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Milking Us

For all those who imagine government to be a caring promoter of the public interest — an agency motivated chiefly by the desire to do what’s right and best for citizens — an institution above the greedy money-grabbing of business people — a venue in which philosophically and scientifically engaged adults discuss and debate the nature of the good society and act with due diligence to be good stewards of the power that they possess over the rest of us — an organization that can be trusted with the authority to engineer us to ever-greater heights of happiness and security and nobleness, this report from today’s Washington Post will help to dispel such delusions.

Here’s the crux:

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

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.).

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

"They wanted to make sure there would be no more Heins," said Mary Keough Ledman, a dairy economist who observed the battle.

who ran a big business and was no political innocent, fought back with
his own lobbyists and alliances with lawmakers. But he found he was no
match for the dairy lobby.

"I had an awakening," the 64-year-old Dutch-born dairyman said. "It’s not totally free enterprise in the United States."

Indeed not.  But, everything is relative.  The U.S. is not the Soviet Union, or even France.  Still, we Americans should be aware of the venality, the meanness, the duplicity, and the downright vilenss of the pompous power-hungry pols who specialize in being elected to Congress.