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Sunday, Aug 14, 2022
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Regulations: A Modest Proposal

As we make our way through the holidays, it’s become clear to me that there’s a problem our elected officials need to solve. Food is one of our fundamental needs, as core to our survival as water, shelter and warmth. It only makes sense that as a society, we should regulate it: to make sure it’s safe, healthy, environmentally friendly, and that everyone has enough of it. We should require any food sold in Los Angeles to be approved by our local elected officials. We want local control, so the process should begin at the neighborhood level before being escalated to the City Council. Each member of the local commissions, committees, and councils will have priorities – some will want low-fat food, some will be vegetarians, some will champion the keto diet, others will try to ban carbs, others will point out banning that cheaper carbs will hurt poor families. After this process, the only food available will be steamed vegetables (because who could object to steamed vegetables?) and filet mignon (because it makes just enough profit to pay for the consultants and political donations to shepherd it through the process). But that is just the price you pay for a local vetting process. Here in California, we care about the environment, so before any of these leafy greens can make it to our table, we should create an extended environmental review process. Instead of limiting that process to experts, we should allow anyone to sue, in case the experts have missed something. That means more time and legal expenses because some of the low-fat, vegetarian, carb-hating contingent will sue just for the heck of it. But that is just the price you pay for protecting the environment. Of course, our steamed vegetables will be pretty expensive since the producers of those soggy carrots and zucchini had to pay the time and cost of the vetting process and the lawsuits from the environmental process. The obvious solution is to add fees onto the food, so we can subsidize food for low-income families. This has the unfortunate but necessary side effect of raising the cost of regular-priced food, so more families need subsidized food. Up go the fees, greedy vegetable farmers’ objections be damned. Since food is related to health, and health is related to well-being, and well-being is related to cultural amenities, we should also put a very small surcharge on food to pay for arts programs. Food is so expensive now; a small surcharge won’t make much of a difference. Besides, only rich people will pay the surcharge, since they are the only ones who can afford to buy food now. Screw those rich folks with their fancy steamed vegetables and filet mignon, anyway. But wait a second – we need poor families to be able to buy food too. It’s so expensive that the only solution is to impose some kind of price control. We should limit the amount that purveyors of steamed broccoli can charge. Of course, that might mean they stop producing food completely but…I’m working on the solution to that problem. I’m sure it will be a great idea. Our basic needs: food, water, and shelter. Clearly, my proposal is the way to ensure that here in the San Fernando Valley, we have enough food to eat. And our elected officials must agree with me, because this is precisely how they are approaching our housing crisis. I sure am glad that we won’t have to worry about any of our residents’ basic needs going unmet this holiday season. Stuart Waldman is President of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, a business advocacy organization based in Van Nuys that represents employers in the San Fernando Valley at the local, state and federal levels of government.

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