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Archive for April 10th, 2010

$10 Tomato

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My daughter came home from school (10th grade at Jesuit High) talking about a speaker (Frank Rosenbloom) who discussed a $10 Tomato.  Below is Mr Rosenbloom story of the $10 tomato.

How could we end up with a $10 tomato?  The prices of tomatoes, potatoes, breakfast cereal and other commodities are generally kept fairly low because consumers control what they buy. No matter what we do in our current system of shopping, we will not see a $10 tomato until Obamanomics causes hyperinflation and we begin using tomatoes as currency. 

However, there is one other way that we could see a $10 tomato.  That is if we get government involved in the food industry.  For starters, the government could start a grocery insurance system for retired people to ensure sure that all retired people could afford groceries. This system would also be utilized by wealthy retired people, even by those who owned grocery stores and tomato farms.  It could also be used by persons who were disabled; and a similar but separate system could be initiated for people who fall below a certain income level.  One benefit of this system is that confused shoppers (such as me) would have fewer products from which to choose. The government would have lists of groceries that were acceptable, others that were off-limits. Perhaps there would be only about five breakfast cereals and only one type of our hapless tomato offered to individuals on the Government grocery plan.

Of course, we have to get much more complicated than this.  Let’s continue by making it impossible for retired people to purchase food outside this system. Then, the shoppers in this new system would pay a monthly premium for the privilege of using grocery stores.  All of us would pay a federal grocery tax, the government telling us that we are paying for our future groceries.  The groceries we will use in the future are not even seeds yet, but we’ve heard this before.

Complex paperwork would be required to enroll in these plans and even more would be needed any time someone went shopping, with a pre-authorization before placing any groceries into the shopping cart.  Retired or poor shoppers would not pay for their tomatoes at the time of purchase.  The grocery store would instead have to bill a government agency, “Foodicare”, for the products that the shopper “purchased”.  In many instances a month or two later the grocery store would receive a statement, called an “explanation of grocery benefits”.  This document would explain why particular tomatoes taken home by a customer did not fit the size requirements for government-subsidized tomatoes and payment would be denied. Of course, the customer has already eaten their tomatoes and the grocery store would be left holding the (grocery) bag.  The same thing would happen with other groceries and pretty soon the grocery stores would end up with fairly large accounts receivable, inappropriately named because they would never receive the money. These would become government grocery write-offs.

The stores would have to offset their losses.  What better way than to have private insurance companies offer larger amounts of money as insurance for payment of groceries?  The government would be all for this, as it would not only substantiate the tactics that the government was using regarding payment for tomatoes but ensure that other people who previously actually paid for their tomatoes were primed and ready for government sponsored tomatoes once they hit the age of 65.

That, my friends is how you would see a $10 tomato.  But, even the government has not been so stupid as to become involved in the grocery business — yet.  The same argument for becoming involved in tomatoes can be used as that for the government becoming involved in health care.  Retired folk have lower income, food is a right and the government is here to help. Everybody should seriously watch out for the Obama tomato