3.12.2010

The sweet taste of freedom...

... apparently tastes a lot like milk.

Now, I know that many people reading this have probably never had raw milk. I haven't had it since I was very, very young and don't even remember it, but this isn't so much about the raw milk itself as it is the right to consume and produce a product free from government intervention. The opponents of raw milk are arguing that farmers and consumers need to be saved from themselves.

You see, if the government doesn't step in to save us from ourselves, people will get sick and die. I can go down to the corner store, buy a 30 pack of beer and a carton of cigarettes every day if I wanted to. I could consume them all by myself. I can eat 3 Big Macs for dinner every night and slowly kill myself with liver disease, lung cancer and heart disease - but raw milk! How dare I drink milk!

This is not to say that the government should regulate those other things, but that the government is going too far in general. This is the Dairy State. Milk and cheese are as synonymous with Wisconsin as beer and the Green Bay Packers. If produced in a clean environment, from healthy cows, raw milk is perfectly safe. My parents drank it straight from the bulk tanks on my grandfathers' farms. My grandparents and their families grew up on it. My two grandfathers are now 83 and 90 years old and in pretty darn good health for their ages.

But that doesn't matter. There may be some danger in consuming raw milk so the benevolent hand of government must reach into our refrigerators and our kitchens and tell us we can't have it. But you can't eliminate all risk. Are we going to ban playing outside by little kids because they could get hurt or sick?

Thankfully, several hundred Wisconsinites - farmers and consumers - drove for hours to attend a hearing in Eau Claire to say enough is enough.

I know that to those of you who have never lived on a farm or had family members make a living farming might not think it's a big deal, but like I said, this isn't just about milk. It's about saying that enough is enough. There are dozens of bills introduced in the last few years that aim at protecting us from ourselves by restricting our freedom to buy foods that we want to eat. There are bills that raise taxes on beer, liquor, soda and other "unhealthy" foods. If we don't even have the freedom to choose what kind of food we want to eat, what does that say about our society? What would be off-limits for government regulation?

I hope that this is the beginning of a push-back against the nanny-state. Hopefully in targeting the symbol of Wisconsin - milk; good, wholesome milk - this is a wake-up call to the idiocy of government telling us what we can and cannot do in almost all aspects of our lives.