Saturday, November 16, 2013

What to watch for in 2013 and 2014: Reflecting on 2013

My new job combined with not having access to a computer to actually type has really taken a toll on my blog posts, lately.  It just hasn't been the same.  But, oh well.  I'm going to reflect a little bit more on the 2013 elections before I start looking toward the 2014 elections.

2013

Alabama's 1st Congressional District: In what some political commentators have noted as a considerable strike against the Tea Party, the establishment backed Republican candidate Bradley Byrne defeated Tea Party upstart Dean Young in the Republican primary of a very conservative district and will almost certainly be the newest Congressman from Alabama. 

Byrne had received endorsements from the traditional players from the Conservative movement, in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Washington establishment including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy. He outraised Young nearly 2:1 but only beat him 52.5%-47.5%. Young announced that he would not support Speaker John Boehner and that Barack Obama was born in Kenya. 

Traditional conservative players, such as the Chamber of Commerce, are likely to open their wallets during the Republican primaries in 2014 to help keep establishment Republicans in power, as long as they can.  Does this mean that the TEA Party is dead?  Not by a long shot.  They may still be able to win in Conservative districts where they primary their targets.  But they are no longer the only ones wanting to get involved in the messy game of primarying the incumbent.

TEA Party incumbents, such as Justin Amash and Kerry Bentivolio will be primaried from the center of the party.  The good news for the TEA Party is that their groups have the appearance of grassroots and may able to change quicker than those relyin gon the establishment model.  The other good news is that the TEA Party knows the message it wants to send in the primareis, as they've done it for a few election cycles now.  The traditional players are not used to it and the edge in the primaries still might favor the TEA Party Republicans in the near future.

Washington: Voters in the state of Washington became the latest to reject labeling of GMO's on food products.  In 2012, voters in California rejected a similar measure.  The advertising campaign led by food companies, General Mills, Nestle USA, PepsiCo, Coca Cola, and Monsanto, effectively swayed voters into believing that the labels would raise grocery prices to unaffordable levels.

Monsanto, who spent $5 million in advertising against the law, has created biotech corn, soybeans, and other crops that pop up in a number of food products.  All in all, opponents of the measure spent $46 million in a successful effort to defeat the measure.  The advertising campagin remains successful and as more states try to put this type of law through the ballot box, you'll likely see more and more of the same advertisements.

The claim is that labeling GMO's will increase costs to the consumer by an average of $350 or $400 per year for an average family household of three people.  But, of course, as Consumer Reports notes, that depends on the assumptions you make.  The increase would come IF companies IMMEDIATELY switched to organic or all-natural products because, that's actually expensive.  But just labeling the food?  There's no proof, looking at the other countries that have passed labeling laws that mere labeling would raise food prices.

Many people would still buy the products even with the GMO label on them because they might just want to throw it in the face of the liberals who support the measure but also because it's cheaper.  But even if they don't, Consumer Reports and I agree, that the market would adjust to changes.  If nobody is buying the genetically engineered food, it's not like the food companies are going to stop making money.  They will simply adjust and buy crops that are no longer genetically modified. 

But the real rub is this: Food companies spent upwards of $30 million to defeat this law.  Instead of spending this money to defeat the law, they could have spent the money already beginning to switch to organic or non-genetically modified foods.  But they didn't.  Nobody is calling them on it.  But whatever.  The more that the average company shareholder can convince the average person that it's in their best interest to support what's best for the bottom line, the more we'll see people reject these measures.

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