The whole idea behind free market capitalism is that the informed consumer will make informed decisions and that is the best mechanism for allocating capital. Ha! I used to be a free-marketeer which is similar to being a Mouseketeer, only slightly less mature.
But what happens when the consumer isn't allowed to know? What kind of system is that?
The raging battle in Congress over granting President Obama “fast track” authority for his proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership came home to Montana last week with a new ruling by the World Trade Organization against the U.S. country-of-origin labeling law. It is also a timely and glaring example of why Obama and his “free” trade pact backers are completely wrong when they contend such trade agreements cannot force the U.S. to change its laws in response to rulings made outside the American justice system.
Our country-of-origin labeling law requires identification of where meat animals were born, raised and slaughtered. Americans overwhelmingly favor such labels, which makes perfect sense since consumers both want and have every right to know where their food is produced.
Last Monday the World Trade Organization’s Appellate Body sided with Canada and Mexico in a challenge that such labeling creates a “trade barrier” in violation of NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Act, negotiated and enacted by former President Bill Clinton.
Translation? "Our corporate overlords have spoken and we will comply." Your right to know the origin of your food cannot get in the way of international trade, you silly serf!
Only days later, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Agriculture Committee took up the issue and on Thursday voted 38-6 to repeal the country-of-origin labeling law. In a great example of Congressional doubletalk, the committee’s chairman, Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, said it was a “targeted” response, adding: “We cannot sit back and let American businesses be held hostage to the desires of a small minority who refuse to acknowledge that the battle is lost."