We're told that Adam Smith and this free trade lark are wrong because, well, because what?
However, decades of seeming plenty, with supermarket aisles full of cheap, enticing products, moved food off the list of political priorities. cold war images of people queuing for bread in the Soviet Union reinforced the belief that government’s only role in feeding its people was to enable a free market. The fundamental principle of food policy was reduced to Adam Smith’s famous line: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”
Two new reports published today suggest that with Brexit looming we need to put food back at the top of the political agenda. A policy briefing by the Soil Association shows how the rules of global food trade affect public health as well as economies. It suggests that if Britain entered into a trade deal with the US along the lines of the North American Free Trade Area (Nafta), we can expect rising obesity. This is exactly what happened in Canada and Mexico after they joined Nafta. As cheaper, ultra-processed, high-sugar foods became more widely imported from the US, people understandably ate more of them.
The Adam Smith style free market contention is that those free markets provide more of what people want than alternative systems. And that they provide them cheaper.
That more people get more cheap food as a result of free markets in that Adam Smith style is not a refutation of the benefits, nor even a problem. Rather, it's a confirmation of the base contention, isn't it?
At which point, what is it that Baggini is complaining about?
Ah, yes, the poor shouldn't have plentiful and cheap food because they'll become large and clutter up the countryside with their unsightly blobby bodies. Or something.
There was a time when philosophers at least prided themselves on their logic, wasn't there?