Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Rights & Reason: Got Taxpayer Money?

Institute for Justice is taking on government-mandated advertising. For those of you who don't know, the government routinely requires various agricultural producers to chip in for generic industry ads designed to boost interest in the product. Radley Balko explains:
So all of those "Got Milk?" ads you've seen aren't the result of milk producers getting together voluntarily to launch an ad campaign, they're the result of a federal mandate requiring every dairy producer to pay up, whether they want to or not.

IJ is representing a small dairy farm that wishes not to associate itself with its Big Dairy competitors.

I think there's another interesting angle to this story, too. The federal government is simultaneously requiring diary producers fund ad campaigns for milk, while cozying up to nanny-state organizations that criticize Big Dairy for promoting an unhealthy product in those very campaigns.

When the day comes that John Banzhaf finally launches his class action suit against Big Dairy or Big Pork, then, will he be able to name as co-defendant every dairy producer who was compelled by law to support the ad campaigns?
There's another connection that needs to be made: Banzhaf's lawsuits are predicated on the view that unhealthy habits, of any kind, injure society because of the extensive network of government spending on healthcare. In other words, if people eat too much and get heart disease, the public picks up the tab via Medicare, Medicaid, or indirectly through other healthcare subsidies. The simple answer is to get the government out of health care spending. But that's obviously too simple an answer for a "public interest" terrorist (er, lawyer) like Banzhaf.

Like the forced advertising requirement, forced taxpayer spending on health care imposes unnecessary costs on the marketplace, while creating a whole host of contradictions that never seem to get resolved.

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