Milking the system

Milking the system

The Farm and Dairy newspaper reports that the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board “wants a state law changed that would require milk dealers to give longer notice to dairies when ending contracts.”

Keystone State regulations now require a 28-day notice. The marketing board – an anachronism if there ever was one of failed command economics – proposes a 90-day notice.

The marketing board is acting on a petition from the state Department of Agriculture, filed “after Dean Foods terminated milk contracts in March 2018 with more than 100 dairy farms in eight states, including 27 in Pennsylvania,” the weekly newspaper reports.

But Farm and Dairy also notes that Dean, in fact, gave those dairy farms a 90-day notice. The government worries that 28-days’ notice is too short.

The proposed change would grant an exemption to milk dealers experiencing hardship.

So, whatever happened to “right of contract”?

Consider it the latest perversion in a marketplace long perverted by government. Simply put, there’s long been too much milk produced, enabled by government policies that set price floors that only encourage continuing overproduction by dairy farmers.

Talk about milking the system. Government perpetuation of such nonsense is public policy at its worst.

Long ago and far away (in the late 1990s, to be precise), Allegheny County voters approved changing the form of county government from a three-commissioner system to that of a chief executive and a county council.

It was sold as a more representative form of government. At least in theory.

But in practice, the switch had developed into something of an autocracy with the long Democrat-controlled County Council having morphed into a rubber stamp for the Democrat chief executive. Trading a “tri-tocracy,” so to speak, for the current autocracy is the exact opposite of what was supposed to happen.

Or as the Post-Gazette so adroitly (if not concomitantly surprisingly) addressed the matter in a July 1 editorial:

“Council simply has become complacent on the watch of a strong-willed executive who doesn’t like people second-guessing him. … There is a danger in the legislative body ceding authority and going silent, the route that Pittsburgh City Council also seems to be going.”

After all, representative government should be representative of the people, not the county executive or the city mayor.

Indeed, this organized system of complacency is being milked.

As German philosopher Immanuel Kant reminded in 1795:

“To be fully comfortable to the principle of right, the form of government must be representative. This is the only one that permits republicanism, without which the government is arbitrary and despotic, whatever the constitution” – or, in this case, the city and county charters – “may be.”

Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).