Greetings all:

The Governor’s office switchboard is kind of tied up with the furor over taxing milk. Apparently a majority of the legislature decided that they would eliminate part of the tax on food, and then re-impose the taxes on one food item at a time, through the back door. That is an important issue, but it is not the most important reason for this email.

Representative Mark Martin sponsored HB 1114, a bill to allow the sale of limited quantities of raw milk. The limit of 100 gallons a month fixed therein is absurdly too little, there are individual cows capable of producing more than that in one month. HB 1114 is too limited but nevertheless a step in the right direction.

I spent 30 days in Boguchar, Russia as part of the process of adopting two teenagers from an orphanage there. When I later asked my adopted son if pasteurized milk was sold there, he laughed and said they had no money for chemicals. While pasteurization is technically not the addition of a chemical, it is certainly a process that kills the enzymes and other life within the milk.

My wife and I recall seeing but one overweight child in the town, out of perhaps 1,000 students. The children were in good flesh but not fat. Even in the orphanage, we saw little evidence of illness, even such routine things as the common cold. Diabetes and allergies were nearly unheard of.

They eat lots of meat, milk, butter, eggs, fats, and sweets. They just don’t have the processed foods to which we have become accustomed. If this doesn’t prove that unprocessed foods are healthier than the processed, pasteurized, homogenized, and otherwise altered foods of our country, I can’t imagine what would.

We face dire economic circumstances, the product of too much government intervention. Do we have to compound our financial problems with a health crisis of our own making? Estimates suggest that up to 1 in 7 of children today will have diet related diabetes, and that’s just one of a laundry list of chronic diseases brought on by a bad diet. How do we pay for that, when we are already simply running the printing presses to “pay” for massive bailouts and stimulus packages?

Any limitation on the sale of raw milk by the force of law is in essence done at the barrel of a gun. If you think not, try disregarding the prohibition on the sale or purchase of wholesome raw milk. Men with guns will come to your house. If that isn’t good enough the guns will be drawn, and — well, I’ll put my money on the armed government agents in that showdown. People have in fact gone to jail, or faced criminal investigation and harassment, for selling raw milk. Surely we can all agree that a gunbattle over raw milk is not a feasible option. Its cheaper to buy your own cow.

Here is the stated purpose of HB1451, which taxes milk:

An Act to Ensure an Adequate Supply of Arkansas Milk for Arkansas Consumers; to Stabilize and Stimulate Dairy Farms in Arkansas; to Create the Dairy Stabilization Fund; and for Other Purposes.

Somehow, I hadn’t noticed a shortage. Even if we had a shortage, is not sufficiently established that “you get more of what you subsidize, and less of what you tax?” The General Assembly taxes tobacco to have less of it, and now seeks to tax milk to have more of it. Explain to me if you can the logic of such thinking.

Pardon me for thinking that this tax is motivated by greed and a desire to destroy the small farmer. Why else would we tax milk, the fresher refresher, the drink for busy bodies?

When will our legislators recognize that the best way to ensure that consumers get what they want and need is to return to a policy of leaving us alone? Don’t tax us, don’t stimulate us, don’t subsidize us. Government should focus on the core functions of government, and nothing else.

Oscar Stilley