By Tony Farkas
Like many of you, I’m a parent, and I’ve been through the trials and tribulations of all parents, that being feeding time.
Feeding time is whenever a baby squalls that certain way and you know it’s time, regardless of whatever the clock says.
With us, and also like many others, the babies could not be breastfed, so formula was the way to go. We instinctively knew where the baby food aisle was in every grocery store within 50 miles (diapers, too, cause one leads to the other) and even had rotating gallon bottles, cause nobody put baby’s meals on hold.
(I remember with crystal clarity the first time we put cereal in the formula. The look I got saying “why has this been hidden from me” is etched forever in my mind.)
It would have been insanity squared if we could not come up with formula; squared in that where we lived was at least 100 miles away from any major city, and there was no such thing as UberEats.
I can only imagine the anxiety and frustration of parents that is connected with the current shortages of formula plaguing the country. I can understand their plight; what I can’t understand, though, is how our country was led to this.
I say led, because there was a specific chain of events causing this dilemma, starting with the economic shutdown forced on us through the COVID years, which then cause production delays, then the country’s unfathomable reliance on China for goods leading to supply chain issues, then rampant inflation causing delivery problems, and then come to find out that only four — as in 4 — companies in the country produce formula, one of which was shut down in Michigan for contamination but never allowed to reopen once the issues were rectified.
In response to what obviously was caused by the government in the first place, the government has invoked the Defense Production Act, which means formula manufacturers get first dibs on necessary ingredients and equipment. In my mind, that’s one step away from nationalizing the infant food industry, which is perilously close anyway, since the single, No. 1 consumer of baby formula is … the government, where all this started.
See, the government decided what is safe manufacturing methods, and then through the FDA and OSHA implemented those methods, then brought the hammer down when a plant did not live up to those regulations.
See, also, that studies show that whatever formula company is contracted to government’s USDA and WIC programs to provide formula also gets top billing in grocery store shelves, which is de facto government pushing its preferences down our shopping carts.
See, even moreso, that these and many problems are the result of unelected bureaucrats deciding to fix a problem that may or may not have existed by issuing stricter guidelines than were currently in place, beginning a spiral effect that continually worsens until the government throws up its hands, says its all a mess, and takes things over completely.
For examples, look at Social Security, health care, WPA, etc. All of the government programs that were started with the best of intentions but because the government doesn’t play by any set of rules, nor does it have any real knowledge of the things it intends to regulate, as well as trying to appease any and all fringe or activist groups what believe they need a slice of the government pie because of years of being ignored or some such nonsense, all of them are either failed or on their last legs.
Of course there are the arguments that the government exists not only to legislate, but to protect its people. The government can protect the borders, sure, but protecting people from themselves is not their purview.
Since the government is insulated from the effects and consequences of their own meddling, nothing gets any better.
Free markets can and will determine production and costs, and it has done that quite well without Uncle Sam deciding what’s good for us.