In the early part of the twentieth century, one segment of American society succeeded in gathering the political muscle to impose its will on the rest of society in the form prohibition of the production and sale of alcoholic beverages. National Prohibition (1919-1933) came about because its proponents strongly believed that the evils of beverage alcohol, demonized by its opponents as “Demon Rum,” and “John Barleycorn,” far outweighed any benefits to society.
In their attempts to cleanse America of the problems caused by alcoholic beverages, Prohibition’s backers created a whole new set of problems—unintended consequences— that turned out to be worse than the original ones. Things like bootlegging, speakeasies, organized crime, Al Capone, loss of tax opportunities, an overall increase in lawlessness. And by some estimates, the consumption of alcohol actually increased! The “Noble Experiment” turned out to not be so noble after all. Prohibition’s effects were so detrimental that it was repealed in 1933.
As something of a student of history, it appears to me that the controversy being stirred up today by the animal rights people about the evils of “modern farming,” “factory farms,” “animal cruelty,” and so on, have some striking similarities, but also some striking differences with Prohibition. It’s similar in the respect that one segment of society is grossly overstating their case in their efforts to legislate away our ability to choose to eat meat from animals. Because they believe that animals essentially have equal rights with people and choose to be vegetarians or vegans, they believe all other Americans should eat like them, whether they want to or not. And they’re fanatical in their determination to generate enough propaganda, raise enough money, and build enough political capital to make it happen.
The differences are that while there were (and are) some down sides to society’s consumption of alcohol, there is no real (as opposed to the agenda-driven, misinformation regularly found in the mainstream media) down side to the appropriate consumption of meat. People don’t typically commit DUI’s, abuse their spouses, neglect their children, or need to go into rehab because they consume burgers, pork chops or fried chicken. Consumed in reasonable amounts, foods derived from animal protein are delicious, healthy and nutritious products, produced primarily by American family farmers. The stuff about animal cruelty, misuse of antibiotics, and just about all the rest of it is a slickly-packaged, emotionally-based, agenda-driven 99 percent pack of lies and distortions, being force fed to a public no longer connected enough to the family farm to know the difference.
While the particular set of unintended consequences may be different this time around, they’re just as real, if not more damaging. If the animal rights movement gets its way, you could see things like: an increase in world hunger; not only American livestock producers going out of business, but also a large share of the crop farmers who supply feed grains to them; our national security being compromised by sending a key component of our food industry out of the country, similar to our current national dependency on foreign oil; animals in those countries not being treated nearly as well as they are here by American producers; the elimination of one of the few areas in which we actually have a trade surplus; loss of millions of jobs in food processing, manufacturing and other industries that support agriculture; the serious underutilization of one of the most productive agricultural areas in the world; just to name a few.
Perhaps the saddest consequence of all, however, will be the disappearance of a time-honored and noble way of life—that of the American family livestock producer. Since time immemorial, fathers and mothers, grandpas and grandmas, have passed down to their children and grandchildren, the family farm and their love of caring for animals and earning their living by producing food in a responsible manner. If the animal rights people have their way, however, those days can’t end soon enough.