I wrote about this once before, but the scandal of America’s taxpayer-subsidized initiative aimed at getting people to eat more cheese has made it to the New York Times:
Then help arrived from an organization called Dairy Management. It teamed up with Domino’s to develop a new line of pizzas with 40 percent more cheese, and proceeded to devise and pay for a $12 million marketing campaign.
Consumers devoured the cheesier pizza, and sales soared by double digits. “This partnership is clearly working,” Brandon Solano, the Domino’s vice president for brand innovation, said in a statement to The New York Times.
But as healthy as this pizza has been for Domino’s, one slice contains as much as two-thirds of a day’s maximum recommended amount of saturated fat, which has been linked to heart disease and is high in calories.
And Dairy Management, which has made cheese its cause, is not a private business consultant. It is a marketing creation of the United States Department of Agriculture — the same agency at the center of a federal anti-obesity drive that discourages over-consumption of some of the very foods Dairy Management is vigorously promoting.
Except for the fact that their pizza is bad, I don’t particularly think it’s worth giving Dominoes an especially hard time about their nutritional practices. Their nutritional calculator page is very handy (though the assumption that you’re eating just one slice is a bit unrealistic) and many eateries leave you totally in the dark about this stuff. But there’s just no need whatsoever for a government program of this sort.
And that, to me, is what’s frustrating about a lot of the recent conversation around “government spending” and “are public employees paid too much.” When the government is doing something useless or harmful that it shouldn’t be doing at all then there’s no salary or pension level at which public employees or government contractors are delivering value to the American people. If you’ve got a worthwhile public function, it’s foolish to undermine it by being stingy about spending. But there’s a fair amount of stuff like this in the budget that we could entirely do without. I’d like to think that the new Republican Congress’ budget cutting zeal will give us a chance to re-examine some of these programs, but realistically I think we’ll find that implicit and explicit subsidies to US producers of this sort continue to find favor.