Sunday, June 27, 2010

As high as an elephant's eye

Today I decided to finally put together the sweater that I started knitting two years ago. And while knitting it, I listened to the audio from the documentary "King Corn."

"We subsidize Happy Meals. We don't subsidize healthy meals."
- King of Corn

"If you take that meal, if you take that McDonald's meal. You don't realize it when you eat it, but you're eating corn. Beef has been corn-fed. Soda is corn. It's all high fructose corn syrup. It's the main ingredient even the french fries, which are, you know, half the calories in french fries come from the fat that they're fried in and that fat is liable to be corn or soy oil.

And so when you're at that McDonald's, you're eating Iowa food. Everything on your plate is corn." - King of Corn

It's a pretty powerful demonstration of how the enactment of a government policy shapes our lives. Government incentives and disincentives set the rules of the game. After that we all do our best to win by those rules. Guidelines point us in irresistible directions, and lead to intended and unintended outcomes.

But theoretically in our case, the government is us, so we have a say in what those guidelines are and our government is accountable to us, when assessing the outcomes. That is, if we care enough to pay attention and hold them accountable. Which is more than can be said, in general, for a corporation or a non-profit.

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