Worst Editorial Award

Some day I’m going to get around to this as well. However, Paul Krugman has offered up so many candidates it’s hard to be fair to all the other columnists. In a recent entry, Krugman blames tainted spinach, poisonous peanut butter and killer tomatoes on Milton Friedman, the Republican Party, conservatives in general and basically anyone else who has any common sense.

I have analyzed this claim before [here], but this time around we get a 100-year overview. Here is history according to Krugman: Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle exposed meat packers willing to poison the public with tainted meat. To stop these greedy, profit-seeking robber barons, Congress passed the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act in 1906. For the next 90 years all went well until a Republican Congress with George W. in the White House held back the regulators and let the poisoners run wild again.

Trouble is: all this is fantasy.

As a college student reading The Jungle, I remember wondering: why wasn’t everybody dead? Then as a graduate student I discovered the historian Gabriel Kalko had the answer. Federal regulation had little impact on the behavior of the large Chicago meat packers. In fact, they lobbied for the legislation. The reason: it raised the costs for their smaller competitors and put them out of business. As for recent history, Tyler Cowen [here] has put the sword to that myth as well, showing a downward trend in food-borne disease outbreaks over the past decade.

Comments (2)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. John Getz says:

    John. I get so disgusted at the deceipt that the liberals throw out and the simple minded pick up on them. Will there ever be a shift toward truth?

  2. Lee C. Waaks says:

    Actually, it was Tyler Cowen's co-blogger, Alex Tabarrok, who responded to Krugman's anti-market bias.