Ron Paul reportedly received a standing ovation after saying ”I think we ought to vote for the right to drink raw milk!” Little issues like raw milk may seem trivial compared to Paul’s usual talking points about the Fed, inflation, sound money, and endless foreign wars but we are starting to see that these quality of life and freedom of choice issues are just as important – if not more so – to the average working stiff. Dr. Mark Thornton’s article, Legalize Milk, Real Milk, got over 25,000 reads in about 3 days and Jeffrey Tucker’s Why Everything is Dirtier was just as popular.
What does this mean? I believe that it shows that most people have trouble following the many degrees of separation from entities like the Fed to rising prices and housing booms. And this is precisely what keeps the government safe from public outcry. If consumers notice that their favorite box of cereal used to be 16 oz but is now only 12 oz, they don’t curse Bernanke under their breath, instead they rail about greedy corporations trying to cheat them. They don’t realize that the producer is missing their earnings targets because of the rapidly increasing cost of raw materials and must shrink package sizes because consumers are unwilling to tolerate price hikes.
Ron Paul and Mark Thornton have realized that people can be reached by showing them more direct links between government and a declining living standard. They can see that the regulations promulgated by unelected bureaucrats at federal agencies like the FDA and EPA have a direct impact on their ability to go about their daily lives. This insight into what really matters to people, things like clean clothes and good milk, enables them to reach new, more broad groups of people and spark an interest in the philosophy of freedom.