Organic Lettuce should cost $100

This week, I joyfully threw a carton of organic spinach into my cart and marveled at the $3.99 price. By my calculations, all organic lettuces (including things like spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, swiss chard...) should cost well over $100.

Which begs the question: why was I BUYING organic spinach? Hadn't I planted rows of spinach, swiss chard, and various lettuces?

This is what happened:

I'm sorry, but some aspects of organic gardening just suck. To be fair, caterpillars would come and attack plants whether you doused them in pesticides or not. But it's so devastating that those squiggly little plump a-holes can tear through your entire crop in a day.

Even when you kill every one in your sight (been there, done that!) a new batch seems to hatch before your eyes.

It's a modern miracle that cartons and cartons of organic lettuces and spinach can arrive (uneaten and unscathed) to supermarkets across the world. It's a marvel that they even survive the heat. Within moments of picking leafy greens in the garden, they already start to wilt.

Let's also remember that every perishable food item (thinks strawberries, lettuce, blueberries, tomatoes, raspberries, peaches...) must be picked by delicate hands. Human hands. Labor costs money. Seeds cost money. Farm equipment costs money. Land costs money. Fertilizers cost money. Transportation costs money.... You get the idea.

Obviously our food supply is WAY underpriced. Subsidies, immigration troubles, and government regulations obviously play a starring role in this drama. In the end, all of us that actually pay taxes are footing the bill.

While everyone and their brother can buy a box of spinach for $3.99, the real cost is paid by our ungodly tax bills. I know, I know, taxes aren't so bad, right? Well, they aren't if you're in the group of Americans that do not pay taxes. That's 40% of Americans. Forty Percent! And a good chunk of Americans fall into the 10% bracket - most likely receiving more "benefits" than they pay in each year.

Our tax bill is huge. Why the hose? Because my husband works his butt off and we decided to limit ourselves to 2 children. We also pay all of our bills, borrow responsibly and have never taken advantage of a government handout.

My husband may not be living a double life, but he is definitely supporting another family "somewhere." He's probably, single-handedly, supporting 2 or 3 welfare families.  Something is wrong when an average welfare family receives more in benefits than the average police officer receives in yearly salary. And he's working: risking his life and paying for his family's food, shelter, and livelihood. And paying taxes!

So let's tax the "rich." Any 2 income families with college educations (meaning they gave up at least 4 years of earnings and time to get there!) are most likely what American's would call rich.  Or in our case, a one income family where the income-earner works so much that they don't get to have a life.

What if we actually expected a little more from the bottom? What if life wasn't a free ride for 40% of the country?

And what would happen if we actually paid the true cost of food?  Would there be riots and social upheaval? Of course there would. At first anyway.

Eventually, people would acclimate. If we actually paid the real cost of food, people would eat less. Obesity problem solved. 

If we actually paid farm workers and factory workers a decent living wage, the former would probably visit a clinic instead of an ER and the latter would be more apt to stay working as opposed to living off the government payroll. Okay immigrants would probably still run to the ER, until regulations allow hospitals to turn them away.

More people would be working - again obesity problem solved? Processed foods would cost exponentially more than whole food (considering the REAL cost of corn production!) Dare I say, obesity problem solved?

Maybe people would start growing at least some of their own food. Those who currently live for free, might consider having fewer children. And if government rules changed and forced them to enter the workforce without a full handout of perks, money, and free food, they might actually act responsibly. Those that didn't would hopefully fade away or expire.

With everyone eating less (I did mention - obesity problem solved, right?) people would be healthier and wouldn't be bleeding states dry from ever increasing medicaid and medicare costs. Those are the "entitlement" or welfare health care programs. You know, the ones that give incentives (or at least offer no penalties) for visiting the doctor or ER to welfare families.

When we visit the doctor, we pay a $40 copay. And that's after we've paid $4200 a year to have the insurance in the first place. What the hell? Why doesn't our government try to encourage responsible use of the free health care system?

In a nutshell, here's my recommendation to the future president of the United States and all legislators.

  • Expect more from the bottom half of society - decrease welfare payments, expect recipients to work, enforce a TIME LIMIT on welfare, implement stricter "disability" requirements, institute copays for government healthcare at all income brackets, and cut "cash" or entertainment welfare payments.
  • Increase the Federal Minimum wage to a rate that allows a reasonable standard of living. 
  • Stop subsidizing farms and food production. Let people pay the true cost of food.
  • Allow hospitals to turn people away from the ER. 
  • Increase the tax rates on passive income, limit deductions and tax shelters for the highest income bracket.
  • Maintain our National defense budget, specifically with regard to controlling sea trade and managing strategic anti-missle defense locations. 
  • Allow emerging markets to actively participate in free trade as opposed to continually offering food and monetary aid. 
  • Stop the bailouts - let people fail. Let the people who foreclosed on their mortgages pay the penalties. Don't spread the actions of a few across the many who didn't default. 
  • Legalize drugs. Those who wish to do drugs will always do them (legal or not.) By legalizing, you can bring down the prices that cause people to kill for their next fix, limit trafficking (in drugs, humans, and more) and remove the allure or "mystique" that people feel about doing something illegal. If a bunch of druggies overdose themselves, so what. Plus, you will finally have a means to tax this black market and regulate it. It is exactly the same as Alcohol and Prohibition. Alcohol is a drug too.
  • Rethink the current Health care bill. Don't force the young and healthy to share the risks (and prices) with the sick and old. 
  • Consider harsher penalties for crimes, especially repeat offenders. Look into less expensive death penalties so it can be utilized more frequently.
  • Require legislators to pay taxes and be part of Social Security instead of their own pension plans.
There's so much more that could be said. And it's all, somehow, related to lettuce. Sheesh. Stepping off the soap box now.

5 comments:

debbie said...

I am sorry, but the bottom 40% aren't "getting a free ride". The working poor still pay taxes. If they paid even more, they would have no money left- remember they are the working "poor". You are making alot of assumptions and even more stereotypes about the poor. They all don't have 10 kids just to get a larger check.
As per your "rules"
- Many states DO have a time limit. Example, in Michigan there is a 4 year lifetime limit for welfare. You must be either working or looking for work, if you are able bodied in order to get food stamps. They already get very little in welfare, most times it is way under a thousand dollars a month. Any less than that, and it would be immpossible to find and pay for shelter, living expenses, etc. I am not sure what you mean by entertainment welfare, but there is no such thing.
It is extremely hard to get disability. It is a myth that it isn't. At least 75% of the cases are rountinely turned down on the first application. It can take up to two years between the first application and the final decision. It is not easy to get.
- I do agree about raising the minimum wage. It needs to be done.
-farm subsidies were originally put in place during the dust bowl. They were needed so that farmers could have the minimum to keep farming and barely sketch out a living. Since then they have been used as a form of "welfare" for large corporations that do factory farming. I think only true family farmers should get it. Any corporations, no.
-allow hospitals to turn away people. Do you want people dying in the street? That is what would happen.
-the home mortgage bust is more the fault of the bankers and stock managers who gambled and bet on them. They got off scott free. Without them, people that couldn't afford the mortgages would have never got them in the first place. (Not that they should have taken them, but let's go after the real villians in this. Instead they got golden parachutes and millions in bonuses)
- Do young people buy life insurance, burial insurance? Yes, do they plan on using it now? No, they know they need it in the future though.
It is a good idea to have insurance while you are young and healthy. Just one illness can devistate a life financially if they don't.

Anonymous said...

DEBBIE - YOU'RE AN IDIOT. HERE ARE THE FACTS IN BOLD:
debbie said..
"the bottom 40% aren't "getting a free ride". The working poor still pay taxes. If they paid even more, they would have no money left"
IN 2008 36.3% OF AMERICANS FILED TAX RETURNS SHOWED A ZERO OR NEGATIVE TAX LIABILITY. THAT'S NEARLY 40%! THAT'S DIRECTLY FROM THE IRS. DON'T WHINE ABOUT THE WORKING POOR. PEOPLE HAVE CHOICES - THEY MAY NOT PARTAKE IN ALL THESE THINGS BUT THEY DO PARTICIPATE IN SOME: DRINKING, VACATIONING, SMOKING, GOING TO MOVIES, EATING AT RESTAURANTS, BUYING NEW CARS WHEN THE OLD STILL WORKS, UPGRADING HOUSES OR WORSE BUYING MORE THAN THEY COULD AFFORD..DON'T WHINE ABOUT THE BANKS, PEOPLE ALL HAVE CHOICES AND CHOSE TO TAKE OUT A MORTGAGE THEY COULD NOT AFFORD.
As per your "rules"
- Many states DO have a time limit. Example, in Michigan there is a 4 year lifetime limit for welfare. Any less than that, and it would be immpossible to find and pay for shelter, living expenses, etc.PLAN AHEAD! THEY YOU WOULD HAVE MONEY EVEN IF YOU LOSE YOUR JOB!
THIS WAS PASSED BUT WITH A TON OF EXCEPTIONS - YES IT MAY HAVE LIMITED SOME, BUT IN OTHER AREAS IT JUST FORCED PEOPLE TO RELOCATE TO NEARBY STATES TO CONTINUE COLLECTING WELFARE. LETS BE HONEST - NOT ALL BUT MANY ON WELFARE ARE SIMPLY TOO LAZY AND MAKE UP PROBLEMS TO GET DISABILITY OR WELFARE. NOT ALL, BUT EVEN IF 10% ARE ABUSING THE SYSTEM IT'S COSTING THE 60% WHO DO PAY TAXES MORE MONEY THAN IT SHOULD. THERE ARE JOBS OUT THERE - PEOPLE WHO SAY THEY ARE LOOKING FOR WORK, COULD TAKE MANY JOBS, THEY SIMPLY FEEL THEY ARE "TOO GOOD" TO WORK AT MCDONALDS OR COSTCO OR SOME OTHER LOW WAGE PAYING JOB UNTIL THEY FIND ANOTHER MIDDLE CLASS PAYING JOB. IT'S BETTER THAN BEING A LEECH OFF THE SYSTEM (EVEN IF THAT MEANS YOU TECHNICALLY MAKE SLIGHTLY LESS THAN WELFARE - YOU MUST WORK FOR EVERY DIME YOU EARN - NO HANDOUTS - NO FREE RIDES - GET OUT THERE AND FILL A JOB UNTIL ANOTHER BETTER ONE COMES ALONG. FOR THE RECORD YES I DID A CRAPPY LOW PAYING JOB IN 2011 WHILE I LOOKED FOR A BETTER JOB AFTER BEING LAID OFF. RESULT? THE PERSON INTERVIEWING ME RESPECTED ME FOR WORKING HARD WHILE LOOKING FOR A NEW JOB - THAT WORK ETHIC WAS A MAJOR REASON HE HIRED ME.

CONTINUED ON NEXT COMMENT:

Anonymous said...

CONTINUED:

-allow hospitals to turn away people. Do you want people dying in the street?
YES LET THEM DIE OR PROVIDE ONLY THE MOST BASIC OF CARE ONLY FOR THEM. RESULT - ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS WILL LEAVE THE US WHEN THEY REALIZE THEIR HEALTH IS AT RISK IF THEY STAY, THOSE WITHOUT INSURANCE WILL BE MORE CAREFUL, THINK TWICE ABOUT GOING TO A HOSPITAL, AND MAKE SURE THEIR FAMILIES REMAIN COVERED WITH HEALTH INSURANCE. NO MORE FREE RIDES. SO WHAT IF THAT MEANS SOME PEOPLE DIE...MORE THAN LIKELY IT WILL BE THE UNPRODUCTIVE MEMBERS OF SOCIETY - SURE SOME MAY BE PRODUCTIVE BUT THAT'S LIFE. THINK IT'S HARSH...MAYBE - BUT REALITY CHECK LIFE IS HARSH!! ONLY THOSE LIKE DEBBIE GETTING A FREE RIDE BELIEVE LIFE SHOULD BE A HAND OUT.
-the home mortgage bust is more the fault of the bankers and stock managers who gambled and bet on them.
SEE ABOVE ON MORTGAGES - THESE WERE AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE. THOSE WHO TOOK ADVANTAGE AND LIVES LIFE HIGH ON THE HOG SHOULD PAY A PRICE. YES I AGREE GO AFTER THE PREDATORY LENDERS AS WELL, BUT DON'T LET THOSE WHO REFINANCES WITH AN INTEREST ONLY, 5-1 ARM, REVERSE MORTGAGE, ETC...GET AWAY SCOTT FREE - IF YOU DECIDE TO WALK AWAY FINE, THAT'S A CHOICE BUT UNDERSTAND IT COME WITH CONSEQUENCES FOR YOUR CREDIT AND ABILITY TO GET CREDIT IN THE FUTURE. PERFECT SINCE IT WILL PREVENT THOSE WHO MADE BAD CHOICES FROM HAVING THE ABILITY TO TAKE A VACATION IN THE FUTURE TO HAWAII OR WHERE EVER AND PUT IT ON THEIR CREDIT CARD - MEANWHILE THOSE WORKING HARD TAKE LOCAL INEXPENSIVE VACATIONS BECAUSE THEY KNOW IT'S ALL THEN CAN CURRENTLY AFFORD - IT'S CALLED PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY...GO FIGURE.
- Do young people buy life insurance, burial insurance? Yes, do they plan on using it now? No, they know they need it in the future though. AGAIN EVERYONE HAD CHOICES TO PLAN FOR THE FUTURE AND GIVE UP SOME OF THE PRESENT TO PAY FOR THAT INSURANCE. THOSE WHO CHOOSE TO IGNORE THE FUTURE AND ONLY LIVE FOR THE PRESENT ARE AT RISK OF NOT HAVING THE FUTURE. AGAIN ITS HARSH BUT REALITY. CHOOSE NOW OR LATER YOU CAN'T HAVE EVERYTHING NOW AND COMPLAIN YOU NEED MORE IN THE FUTURE BECAUSE YOU DIDNT PREPARE.

NOTHING IN LIFE IS FREE IF THAT MEANS YOU STRUGGLE SO BE IT. NATURAL SELECTION AT ITS FINEST - DRIVE OUT ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS - FORCE PEOPLE TO TAKE LOW PAYING JOBS WHILE THEY LOOK FOR BETTER ONES.

Heather Williams said...

How can a poor person SAVE money if all their money is spent on rent, utilities, and/or children?
The system of this seems to come full circle as the children of poor families are left out of the social circle in school (think clothing from goodwill, no trendy toys to share with friends), sometimes resulting in bad grades due to depression, trouble at home between fighting parents/siblings, etc. Teachers pick favorites, the poor student doesn't get enough support.
Peer pressure can result in people going to great lengths to fit in, this can include doing drugs, drinking, acting out with violence, etc.
Then it's on to college and debt if they try and fail; or it's onward to minimum wage and dead end jobs in the food industry. This causes poorer people to have to rent in urban areas so that they can get to work on cheap public transportation (busing, trolley, subway, what-have-you).
Let's say the average poor college student moved from their urban residence into the country where it's cheaper to rent. However there wouldn't be any work for them so he/she would have to drive to the city; it would cost more gas, pollute more, and be a total waste of time.
Then there's more risks involved for the cars so they have to make repairs or possibly get a new vehicle. Buying a new vehicle usually involves the auto industry offering loan after loan and peer pressure is never good for those who have experienced the strain and adversity of it all their lives. So they break down and need a car right away to provide for themselves or their family; or they buy another beater if they can find one at a decent price (that's less than $500 for those of you not in the know).
My point is that being poor isn't about sitting on one's behind; they don't have the money for that. It's a struggle. Plain and simple. It rips families in half, tearing apart their support systems so they look to the government and they thank all that is holy that it's there. Because the alternative is living homeless.
Ask any social worker. They'll probably tell you the same. Though I think you've probably never lived in poverty if you cannot see the dilemma here.

Heather Williams said...

How can a poor person SAVE money if all their money is spent on rent, utilities, and/or children?
The system of this seems to come full circle as the children of poor families are left out of the social circle in school (think clothing from goodwill, no trendy toys to share with friends), sometimes resulting in bad grades due to depression, trouble at home between fighting parents/siblings, etc. Teachers pick favorites, the poor student doesn't get enough support.
Peer pressure can result in people going to great lengths to fit in, this can include doing drugs, drinking, acting out with violence, etc.
Then it's on to college and debt if they try and fail; or it's onward to minimum wage and dead end jobs in the food industry. This causes poorer people to have to rent in urban areas so that they can get to work on cheap public transportation (busing, trolley, subway, what-have-you).
Let's say the average poor college student moved from their urban residence into the country where it's cheaper to rent. However there wouldn't be any work for them so he/she would have to drive to the city; it would cost more gas, pollute more, and be a total waste of time.
Then there's more risks involved for the cars so they have to make repairs or possibly get a new vehicle. Buying a new vehicle usually involves the auto industry offering loan after loan and peer pressure is never good for those who have experienced the strain and adversity of it all their lives. So they break down and need a car right away to provide for themselves or their family; or they buy another beater if they can find one at a decent price (that's less than $500 for those of you not in the know).
My point is that being poor isn't about sitting on one's behind; they don't have the money for that. It's a struggle. Plain and simple. It rips families in half, tearing apart their support systems so they look to the government and they thank all that is holy that it's there. Because the alternative is living homeless.
Ask any social worker. They'll probably tell you the same. Though I think you've probably never lived in poverty if you cannot see the dilemma here.

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Thank you for your comments! I appreciate all your tips, advice, and well wishes!

Angela

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