Raw Federal Power

After four years of careful deliberation, the Food and Drug Administration has decided to continue enforcing a ban on interstate raw milk sales. According to the grand bureaucracy, the lifting of the ban is not "in the public interest," nor will it "promote the objectives of FDA and the statutes it administers."

One can be forgiven for being mystified -- it was assumed, up until recently, that the "public interest" was what the public wanted, not what a massive government regulatory machine desired. But such is the state of representative government in 21st-century America: the myopic meddling of a quasi-constitutional executive ministry trumps the rights of the citizenry. The "objectives" of the FDA are very clear in this case; they have little to do with "food" and "drugs" and more to do with the asinine "administration" of which it partakes.

All is not lost, thankfully, or at least all is not lost all at one time: many states, such as Arkansas and Montana, have legalized or are in the process of legalizing raw milk sales to a certain degree. And yet the specter of the Federal government remains. Is there any question that the benighted regulators of the USDA and the FDA will eventually try to ban raw milk within state borders as well as across them?

Critics may scoff, of course -- why, the notion that the FDA would ever completely ban raw milk is a conspiracy theory fit only for fools! But the historical corollaries are there; one only need look to see that as the power of the state grows, so too grows the length and breadth of its authoritarian impulses.

For instance, the National Firearms Act of 1934 was created primarily to regulate (and largely ban) fully automatic machine guns, along with sawed-off shotguns and weapon silencers. Could any sensible person at the time argue against such commonsense laws? Fast-forward to today, and we are told by our president and our elected officials that semiautomatic firearms, little more than dressed-up hunting rifles, are too dangerous to allow on our streets. Calls of protest are meant, in part, with the following logic: we don't allow fully automatic machine guns on our streets due to the NFA of 1934, ergo we don't have an unlimited right to firearms, ergo we don't have the right to AR-15s.

And it only took 79 years to get here!

Consider, too, the early-20th century regulation of marijuana in the United States: the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 mandated that all products containing cannabis indica be properly labeled as such to inform the consumer. From this commonsense, unobtrusive beginning, we now have a massive federal apparatus that devotes itself entirely to the confiscation of marijuana plants and the prosecution of those who grow and purchase them: we have spent billions and billions of dollars and incarcerated millions of people on marijuana charges since the simple, unassuming PFDA of 1906. Whether or not one believes pot should be legal, it's clear that the United States Government possesses virtually zero ability to restrain itself once it has been granted a little bit of power.

Finally, and perhaps most pertinently to our current national debate, consider the Necessary and Proper clause of the Constitution: that Congress "shall have power... to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution" the enumerated powers under Article One, Section 8. Opponents of the Constitution declared that this unobtrusive legalese would create a Federal government of limitless authority. It didn't -- not at first, anyway. Centuries later, our government would use the Necessary and Proper Clause (along with the Commerce Clause) to authorize a great and sweeping number of onerous regulations -- including Obamacare, the darling legislation of the modern American left, a patently unconstitutional piece of law that was engendered by the very document that was supposed to protect against it.

Given these realities, it is perfectly reasonable to assume that the FDA, or some other Federal agency as-yet undreamed, will eventually outlaw all raw milk everywhere, irrespective of state sovereignty and of the separation of powers that once defined the United States government. And it is not hard to see why this will take place. We have, by and large, become accustomed to the gradual transfer of power from the average citizen to the empowered bureaucrat; many have fully accepted that the government is the ultimate arbiter of what is right and proper, be it the type of firearm you may own or the kind of drug you may ingest or the type of milk you may drink.

Were the people of this country to wake up tomorrow and recognize the dearth of autonomy that has been left to them, things might begin to change, however slowly. But do not count on it. The Federal government has declared that the sovereignty of the individual is not a part of "the public interest." All that's left is the interest of those at the top, and we know, from history, how that usually plays out.

After four years of careful deliberation, the Food and Drug Administration has decided to continue enforcing a ban on interstate raw milk sales. According to the grand bureaucracy, the lifting of the ban is not "in the public interest," nor will it "promote the objectives of FDA and the statutes it administers."

One can be forgiven for being mystified -- it was assumed, up until recently, that the "public interest" was what the public wanted, not what a massive government regulatory machine desired. But such is the state of representative government in 21st-century America: the myopic meddling of a quasi-constitutional executive ministry trumps the rights of the citizenry. The "objectives" of the FDA are very clear in this case; they have little to do with "food" and "drugs" and more to do with the asinine "administration" of which it partakes.

All is not lost, thankfully, or at least all is not lost all at one time: many states, such as Arkansas and Montana, have legalized or are in the process of legalizing raw milk sales to a certain degree. And yet the specter of the Federal government remains. Is there any question that the benighted regulators of the USDA and the FDA will eventually try to ban raw milk within state borders as well as across them?

Critics may scoff, of course -- why, the notion that the FDA would ever completely ban raw milk is a conspiracy theory fit only for fools! But the historical corollaries are there; one only need look to see that as the power of the state grows, so too grows the length and breadth of its authoritarian impulses.

For instance, the National Firearms Act of 1934 was created primarily to regulate (and largely ban) fully automatic machine guns, along with sawed-off shotguns and weapon silencers. Could any sensible person at the time argue against such commonsense laws? Fast-forward to today, and we are told by our president and our elected officials that semiautomatic firearms, little more than dressed-up hunting rifles, are too dangerous to allow on our streets. Calls of protest are meant, in part, with the following logic: we don't allow fully automatic machine guns on our streets due to the NFA of 1934, ergo we don't have an unlimited right to firearms, ergo we don't have the right to AR-15s.

And it only took 79 years to get here!

Consider, too, the early-20th century regulation of marijuana in the United States: the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 mandated that all products containing cannabis indica be properly labeled as such to inform the consumer. From this commonsense, unobtrusive beginning, we now have a massive federal apparatus that devotes itself entirely to the confiscation of marijuana plants and the prosecution of those who grow and purchase them: we have spent billions and billions of dollars and incarcerated millions of people on marijuana charges since the simple, unassuming PFDA of 1906. Whether or not one believes pot should be legal, it's clear that the United States Government possesses virtually zero ability to restrain itself once it has been granted a little bit of power.

Finally, and perhaps most pertinently to our current national debate, consider the Necessary and Proper clause of the Constitution: that Congress "shall have power... to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution" the enumerated powers under Article One, Section 8. Opponents of the Constitution declared that this unobtrusive legalese would create a Federal government of limitless authority. It didn't -- not at first, anyway. Centuries later, our government would use the Necessary and Proper Clause (along with the Commerce Clause) to authorize a great and sweeping number of onerous regulations -- including Obamacare, the darling legislation of the modern American left, a patently unconstitutional piece of law that was engendered by the very document that was supposed to protect against it.

Given these realities, it is perfectly reasonable to assume that the FDA, or some other Federal agency as-yet undreamed, will eventually outlaw all raw milk everywhere, irrespective of state sovereignty and of the separation of powers that once defined the United States government. And it is not hard to see why this will take place. We have, by and large, become accustomed to the gradual transfer of power from the average citizen to the empowered bureaucrat; many have fully accepted that the government is the ultimate arbiter of what is right and proper, be it the type of firearm you may own or the kind of drug you may ingest or the type of milk you may drink.

Were the people of this country to wake up tomorrow and recognize the dearth of autonomy that has been left to them, things might begin to change, however slowly. But do not count on it. The Federal government has declared that the sovereignty of the individual is not a part of "the public interest." All that's left is the interest of those at the top, and we know, from history, how that usually plays out.

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