Hard Times and Horsemeat: Coming Here?

Andrew Kreig
Justice Integrity Project

February 17, 2013

mredMy morning newspaper Feb. 17 provided several depressing reports. I learned more about the spread of horsemeat in Europe’s human food supply. Subscribers read also about austerity measures in the United States that hurt the young, old, and those in between.

The downward developments are worth noting, especially because they contrast so much with the uplifting words and stagecraft of the president’s recent second-term Inaugural and State of the Union speeches.

Our normal topic in this space — injustice — is gloomy in its own way. Legal rights will seem increasingly like a luxury in hard times ahead, subject to new limits on freedom. Few will recall that due process and other legal rights are not a luxurious token of the nation’s success, but were a necessary precondition.

As for Europe, we now know that unwitting consumers there have been eating horsemeat. It’s cheap for the food processors and under-funded, lax regulators have not been careful about eliminating mystery meat from processed foods.

So how far is the United States from that disgusting danger? Perhaps a long way. There are no known horsemeat gourmands here, unlike Europe. So it would be hard to slip meat into relevant plants even if inspectors are downsized.

But don’t count on avoiding other regulatory setbacks. We are much less worried about health, war costs, and privacy intrusions than we should be. In addition, our leaders and media focus us far more than is healthy on religion-inspired witch-hunts and sex obsessions. Those do nothing to help the economy and most consumers.

We should draw on our rich history of films and books portraying harsh economic conditions. As a reminder, the government-enforced poverty and other oppression of Orwell’s1984 was once regarded as so horrible that the public would resist it.

Instead, we in America dare not protest even with expert evidence available that the federal government is collecting virtually all of our emails and phone calls. No federal official dares call a hearing to invite testimony on these illegal searches. Instead, officials stand by as the whistleblowers are imprisoned under Bush and Obama administrations alike. On the economy, we endure a long-term propaganda campaign as if FDR, the Depression, and the New Deal never succeeded.

We and our representatives listen in near silence as paid liars with fancy job titles and graduate degrees pretend that taxes were low during the Eisenhower administration, and that trickle-down economics during the Bush administration did not destroy the economy in 2007-2008.


In 1973, the science fiction movie Soylent Green portrayed 2022, when the nation’s main food supply would be marketed under the brand name “Soylent.” The film starred Charlton Heston, shown above right. The film suggested that poverty and austerity would lead to harsh options in food supply and other living conditions. Although fantasy, the film’s concept was relatively logical compared to economic nostrums being peddled in Washington these days. That’s true especially in the hallowed halls of Congress and the most famous so-called “think tanks” filled with ideologic shills.

Movies get our attention, just like the stories in my Washington Post today. We can protect ourselves at least somewhat if we know both headlines and the history.

Listed below are today’s headlines. Regarding austerity, check out: State of the millennial union: Underemployed an overloaded and Future retirees at greater risk; Majority may be worse off than parents. Another angle is: Cash-strapped Job Corps won’t take new recruits. It shows the federal government curtailing jobs at the program designed to employ idealistic and under-employed young people.   Read the rest of the post here.


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Michael Collins

DC area

7 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Horse is supposed to be pretty tasty. So long as it’s properly labelled, I don’t really have a problem with this. I probably won’t eat it myself, but those who want to should be able to. Same goes for dog and cat.

  • Horse meat is delicious. It was briefly popular in Portland (Or) in the 70’s; leaner and cheaper than beef. Used it for awhile, but fell out of favor and one by one the markets dried up.
    We’d be better off not eating meat in general; better for the planet.
    I broke my addiction to meat decades ago, but still indulge from time to time but generally not more than twice in a week; usually less.
    Curious the uproar though…

  • We don’t worry about intrusion on our personal lives and loss of civil liberties, Michael, because it is being guided by a president who is a Democrat and whom we like and trust. When it was being done by a Republican president whom we did not like and trust we were up in arms and screaming bloody murder, but now that it is being done by a president who utters words that we like to hear and has a nice warm smile, we are okay with it.

    None of the warmongering and imperial process changed when Obama was elected, in fact it got worse. Instead of a president who could imprison for life without charge or due process of law, we now have a president who can kill without due process of law. But this one is a Democrat, says words we like to hear and has a nice smile. We trust him and so everything is good.

    • You make an important point. It’s not when anyone steals our rights, as thinly protected as they may be. This administration ignored the significant cross party “constitutionalists” in 2008 – from Bruce Fein to Grunwald – and adopted the national security state as its own.

      Here’s a little history Murder Trumps Torture Says Bugliosi April 8, 2009 Bugliosi was right.

      It’s been interesting following through on the criticisms of Obama the last four years in my writing. There’s a list of places where those my invectives are no longer welcome. But I get paid the same no matter what I say (well my pseudonym) – nothing;)

  • I listen to the news on Radio France International. The first reports were about the uproar over horsemeat in Britain. They were kind of condescending, depicting the British as having a peculiar emotional view of horses. Within a few days, the tone had turned into outrage over the failure of the laws on honest labeling.

    • Those British and their stallions! I like how each society characterizes the other with their references to “the British disease” and “the French disease” – sadomasochism and syphilis respectively.

      The appalling thing is that some of the horses were filled with a nasty medicine that is not human-friendly. Oh well…

  • 90% of what meat tastes like depends on the cooking. One can ruin the finest aged beef or cook scrap meat into a delicious dinner. Horse is just another meat and was fairly common here during WWII when I first ate it. I happened to grow up in prime cattle country where local beef was available and cheap, so horse never really got big, but in cities it was more popular.

    But you’re right that since they are not grown for meat, there are no FDA controls on what people can put into the horses that might get into the food chain. While we may shudder at the crap Industrial Farming/Ranching puts into our food, at least there’s some oversight and documentation.

    Saw an article recently from some outfit that tracks these things: there is a loose census of horses in the country. When horses die or are slaughterd, official notice is the norm. Looking at the estimated population and recorded deaths, there’s a huge mismatch. Either tens of thousands of horses are living incredibly long lives or their deaths are not recorded because they’re being shipped abroad.

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