The Meat of the Matter

Column by Alex R. Knight III.

Exclusive to STR

I can recall a story that circulated widely throughout the field of work I was in during the early 1990s, involving the owner of a meat processing plant in Nebraska.

It seems that this businessman (with help from his paid employees, of course) had produced a load of beef that he then wished to bring to market. In order to do this, however, the meat in question had to be anointed (inspected and approved) by that sanctified protector of American health, the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Based on the processing plant’s location, there was only one USDA facility allocated to perform the holy ritual, and so the business owner in question contacted the government facility’s director.

This marvelously helpful individual informed the plant owner that he was extremely busy for the time being, but would be able to travel to the Nebraska plant (I believe the USDA building was in South Dakota) within a week’s time. The business owner said that would be fine, and the conversation ended amicably enough.

Flash forward one week. There had been no word from the USDA man, and so the plant owner dialed him up again. This time he was told that it might be as much as another two weeks before the extremely busy USDA representative would be able to find time to travel to neighboring Nebraska, and that the anxious wanna-be purveyor of beef would simply have to hold his horses (well, cows). The businessman tried to politely inform the government priest, as it were, that he had a customer waiting to purchase his product, and that he could not be delayed much longer. Quite tersely, the USDAcrat told the urgent plant owner that such considerations were not his problem, and that he’d be paying a visit in two weeks. This was followed by a click on the other end of the phone line, and a dial tone.

Two more weeks passed in Nebraska, without hide nor hair of anyone identifying themselves as a member of the USDA. The businessman, now deeply concerned he was going to lose his customer, and still holding the product in cold storage at his own plant, contacted the USDA man a third time.

On this occasion he was met with an explosion of verbal abuse. The plant owner was told by this USDA regional director, in no uncertain terms and in quite colorful language, that he would come to Nebraska – or not – whenever and whether he damn well pleased. Furthermore, the owner of the meat processing plant was told in maximum decibel fashion, if he ever had both the gall and temerity to contact the holy godlike USDAcrat ever again, that this unquestionable tin deity would in fact see to it that the businessman’s facility was not only shut down for good, but that he would be facing federal criminal charges.

The next phone calls made by the beleaguered business owner were to both USDA central headquarters in Washington, District of Criminals, and to whomever was being referred to as that region of Nebraska’s “congressional representative” at the time. After many more phone calls, letters sent by registered U.S. mail – both from the businessman and his privately-hired attorney – and the threat of a federal lawsuit, someone lower down on the government food chain from the Napoleonic USDA district director was dispatched to Nebraska from the South Dakota USDA to place the much sought-after seal of approval on the load of beef so that it could then be duly sold and consumed by hungry customers -- without subjecting the product’s producer to fines, shutdown, and arrest.

Whether the self-styled USDAeity was ever disciplined, demoted, or simply fired as a result of his arrogance was never known to myself or my co-workers – and likely never even to the Nebraska plant owner himself. Maybe I’m just being cynical, but I’d guess not. Rarely do the unproductive members of state bureaucracy sanction each other. They only do that to those of us forced to fork over their paychecks, and usually with unrelenting and remorseless brutality. After all, government attracts mostly psychopaths and sociopaths (what modern psychologists refer to as Antisocial Personality), and so what else is to be realistically expected?

We see this pattern repeated in every aspect of socialistic non-free market monopoly privilege – exemplified, of course, by every government agency that exists, from massive federal monstrosities to local water commissions. And that’s even when we only consider those governmental protection rackets that might actually have infrastructural counterparts, in some form, in a freed-markets, voluntary society. There are a supermajority of others that only exist because they are insulated entirely from market forces – such as the IRS, NSA, DEA, BATFE, etc. Most people, given a choice, would not choose to invest a cent in these non-productive agencies of raw authoritarianism and pure waste. They exist only because the government concept does, and is still widely accepted.

Is this what the leftie (and other) government apologists want to defend? Whether they realize or desire to admit to it or not, they promote an oligarchy of remorseless, unaccountable megalomaniacs to rule over us all. For all their heated worship of “democratic values,” they either fail or refuse to acknowledge that other than the elected titular figureheads, those calling themselves government are largely comprised of those voters not only have very little say over – but absolutely none whatsoever. Dictatorship or “democracy” (and personally I see very little fundamental difference between the two, except degree of outward appearances and PR), all governments operate on the same foundational principle: Obey, or be killed.

Government, as an idea and institution, is a ready-made haven for the most vicious, cruel, unfeeling, hateful, violent, vengeful, callous, unempathetic, cold, ignorant, arrogant, egotistical, and sadistic host of bitches and bastards on the planet. It always has been. And there is zero evidence to suggest that this is changing, or ever will. The contrary, in fact. It seems to be intensifying on all fronts.

When, but when, government-lovers, will you finally learn and admit this?

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Alex R. Knight III's picture
Columns on STR: 112

Alex R. Knight III is the author of numerous horror, science-fiction, and fantasy tales, including Tales from Dark 7.  He has also written and published poetry; non-fiction articles, reviews, and essays for a variety of venues; and is former Communications Director for the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire.  In 1998, he was awarded Activist of the Year for that organization.  He now lives and writes in rural southern Vermont where he holds a B.A. in Literature & Writing from Union Institute & University, and looks forward to living in a governmentless society of liberty.

Comments

Jim Davies's picture

Nice one, Alex. I see you're turning your horror-story writing skills from fiction to real life!  This is the kind of utterly frustrating experience that drove some in that other fictional work Unintended Consequences to kill their oppressors and so begin a revolution.
 
What do you think; do "vicious, cruel, unfeeling, hateful, violent, vengeful, callous, unempathetic, cold, ignorant, arrogant, egotistical, and sadistic host of bitches and bastards" get that way before joining government, or as a result of joining government?

Alex R. Knight III's picture

It may well be a combination, though I think the former type are far more prevalent.  Most bureaucrats are either neutral -- just there for the paycheck and benefits -- or it's their identity, and they see themselves as on a self-righteous crusade that satisfies all their most base desires.
 
The government concept lends itself readily to that kind of person.  It must for that very reason alone be ended.

golefevre's picture

What? That evil "bid-ness" man would have sold tainted meat without the sacrosanct approval of that USDA saint! My own experiences with that "agency" is that they actively go out of their way to make buying and selling of consumable commodities difficult. Would we pay for the USDA if given a choice? Loaded question. No, we don't want that damn "agency." More properly stated, would you voluntarily pay more to know that the foods you are eating are safe? Hell yes I would, and it's not like there isn't precedence for such a case: Kosher and Halal foods come to mind.

Paul's picture

"Is this what the leftie (and other) government apologists want to defend?"

That I doubt. They likely recognize there is a problem, but believe the agencies in question can be reformed. Just need to wait some more, heh.

I yearn for the day when meat will have a sticker on it that says, "NOT USDA inspected!" and when this will increase its value to vendor and customer alike.