January 2, 2007
Where`s the Beef?By Timothy Birdnow
In the mid 1980`s the Wendy's Hamburger chain ran an attention-grabbing advertising campaign in which an octogenarian (who sounded amazingly like Helen Thomas) bellyached about the stingy amount of meat on her sandwich; "where`s the beef?" became a nationally known slogan, and embodied the prosperity of our nation. We were red blooded Americans, by God, proud and vigorous, with hearty appetites for red blooded all American beef!
In many ways, this advertising campaign embodied part of what it means to be an American; beef lies at the heart of our cuisine, and was the staple of the cowboy, the cavalrymen, the settlers on the Great Plains. The Texas Longhorn wandering the dusty backcountry of the Lone Star State was the symbol of American grit, American independence and cussedness. The dairy farms with their quaint barns and quiet pastoral scenes in Wisconsin or Iowa were a part of Americana as were the great open ranches of Montana, or the boxcars transporting cattle across the width and breadth of these United States.
When that elderly woman wailed so plaintively about her missing meat, she was reaching into the heart and soul of Americans, tugging at something very fundamental in the American psyche; other nations might make do with fish, or rice, or vegetable stir-fry, but here in the U.S. of A. we eat the good stuff - U.S.D.A. prime (for those who can afford it). Our identity as Americans was being challenged by the skimpy portion of meat that that the old woman received. Even Walter Mondale, in his 49 state losing campaign for President, adopted the slogan. Perhaps the voters just wouldn't buy it as authentic coming from a very liberal Democrat.
This slogan did not sit well with many on the Left, either; there had been a movement for decades to do away with beef. Vegetarianism had been a part of some Asian religions for centuries (and liberals love to push alternatives to our Judea-Christian ethos), and meat avoidance had its place among left-leaning Protestant sects during the 19th Century.
Environmentalists hated beef because it used land which the tree-huggers wanted to return to pasture or forest; anti-capitalists hated beef because it was a symbol of the triumph of wealth over poverty. The poor throughout the world traditionally couldn't afford to eat it. Advocates for the poor hated it because it takes much anywhere from 4 to 10 pounds of grain to produce one pound of beef, presumably denying the poor their land for soybeans and wheatgrass. Animal rights nut-jobs hate it because, well, it's taken from animals. All of these disparate groups were gunning for that symbol of American bounty, and now they think they've found the means to permanently remove that patty from Granny Wendy's bun.
Back about the same time that Wendy's was running their `"where's the beef" ads, Leftist the world over were flocking to yet another doomsday theory, one which made the case that human industrial emissions were raising the temperature of the Earth. Since Carbon Dioxide is emitted by virtually all human activity-including breathing, the Left had a perfect tool to force their particular nightmare vision on the world. Global Warming predicts spectacular disaster resulting from Man's every action, which means that we need to have international regulations on all economic activity, on our diets, on our fertility, on our land usage and our general way of life.
Automobiles: restrict them! Factories: force "carbon trading" to restrict the developed countries (of course, exempt the socialists and developing countries like China). Don't allow poor farmers to clear fields in the Amazon Basin or the Congo. Restrict fishing while we're at it! Oh, and absolutely, positively, get rid of Beef!
There was absolutely no way anybody who has followed the Environmentalist Movement couldn't see this coming; a United Nation report now claims that cow flatulence is a major cause of Global Warming. That's right; every time you enjoy one of those juicy Hardee`s Thickburgers, you, you personally, are helping to destroy Mother Earth. Every steak you buy, every potroast you eat, is encouraging the despoilment of the air you breathe, the sinking of the seacoasts, the melting of the glaciers and the desertification of now fertile land. All this is caused by cattle and their poor etiquette.
As James Lileks points out:
So, there you have it! American beef is killing Mother Gaia!
Back in the early `80`s liberals were all spouting off about our collective guilt at enjoying beef while people starved. Their argument was that, since it took many pounds of grain to produce one pound of beef, we should eat just one pound of grain and give the rest to the poor. Of course, this completely disregards basic economics, and ignores the real problems of hunger in the world; left wing socialist policies. Most hunger worldwide results from artificial conditions such as civil wars, despotism, atrocious fiscal and economic policy, and strife-all of which ultimately derive from liberal theories implemented in the newly independent nations in the ‘60`s.
The drive toward de-colonization, the implementation of socialist or Keynesian economic theories, etc. produced much of the poverty we see worldwide today. Old wounds were opened between tribes, with nobody to stop the bloodshed once the Europeans were gone (at the insistence of the Left) and evil ideologies flourished, helping the local strongman justify and consolidate his power. State takeovers of businesses, of land, nationalizing the main industries destroyed economies throughout the Third World. Remember the great famine in Ethiopia? Socialist policies and distribution problems were at the heart of it. Ditto most of the famines of the 20th Century. Why is Zimbabwe such an economic basket case today, while the old Rhodesia prospered?
The liberal believes, in her purity of heart, that America and the West are eating up the future. Back in the `80`s I spoke to a liberal from Brazil, and commented on her home country's success at using sugar cane to produce fuel. She grew quite angry with me, demanding to know how we dare grow crops for fuel when people were starving. I pointed out that more food would be produced by mechanized farms, that the loss of farmland producing food would be more than compensated for by the extra acreage that could be cropped via tractor. I pointed out that much of the hunger in the world was a problem of distribution, that civil wars and tyrants would simply hijack any charitable donations for their armies (as they had done in Ethiopia during the great famine), and that spreading misery equally was hardly an optimal solution. She couldn't answer any of these points, yet continued to assert her fundamental tenant of faith that this was somehow immoral.
The Liberal believes that we, by breeding cattle, growing tobacco, and manufacturing goods, are causing Third World deprivation. These are the roots of poverty, hunger, and oppression (not the policies which they themselves advocated) and these terrible things must be removed in the interest of "fairness". We must all live a simpler, more natural, poorer life where misery is equally spread.
That is at the root of liberal Puritanism. This is why they tend to support measures which restrict alcohol and tobacco consumption, and why they are so heavily on board with the "health lobby." Knowing better than we how we should behave, they seek a transformation in our way of life to bring us to an agrarian Eden where we live forever.
The Left has thrown away the God of the Bible, and has been forced to find cheap substitutes. The ``People`` and ``Equality`` are some replacement gods. Gaia, the ancient goddess of the Earth, is the most recent usurper worshipped by the Left (the Gang Greens I like to call them.) As with any false religion, sacrifices and rituals are needed to placate the deity in question; in the Environmental religion those sacrifices and rituals consist of living poorly, treading lightly on the Earth, sacrificing our automobiles, our high-energy lifestyles, separating our trash for recycling, composting our excrement, and, yes, giving up beef.
It also explains the strange dichotomy in liberal thought; the inanimate Earth is to be protected, animals are to be protected, but the babies and the unborn can be harvested for their stem cells or killed for convenience. Chickens are tortured in supposed Nazi-style concentration camps, but it is a medical procedure to shove a scissors and tongs into a human baby's skull to kill it.
Of course, those cute little deer and other animals of which the liberals are so fond likewise contribute to global warming, but you will never hear a proposal to lengthen the hunting season from them.
In fact, there is a radical wing of Environmentalism called the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, which calls for:
To the more radical worshippers of Gaia, Man is a pestilence to be eradicated. We certainly have no right feasting on greasy cheeseburgers while poisoning Mother Earth.
Cow farting is now taxed in New Zealand. If we can regulate bovine flatulence, how long before human flatulence is regulated and taxed? How long before we are all fitted with a gas-o-meter to determine how much we are emitting for tax purposes? And if meat is off the table and the predictable consequences legume consumption taxed, starvation may be the only alternative. The extinctionists may yet get their way, voluntary or not.
I for one intend to continue breathing, and I will continue to enjoy the standard of the American diet. But if the Left has its way, we may all join with Granny Wendy in search of our beef.
Timothy Birdnow blogs at Birdblog.