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Chicken tax (wikipedia.org)
75 points by laktak on May 17, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 28 comments

>Largely because of post-World War II intensive chicken farming and accompanying price reductions, chicken, once internationally synonymous with luxury, became a staple food in the U.S.

These intensive farming methods basically involve treating chickens as protein factories with no regard for their welfare. Packing as many of them as possible into a small space and breeding them to put on weight so quickly that their legs often can't support their bodies.

I wish more people would face up to the reality that cheap meat is only possible by mistreating animals in quite horrific ways. If we treated chickens properly, their meat would still be considered an expensive delicacy.

Then again, if you treat animals well it's likely worse for the environment (more land required for agriculture etc) so there's really no escaping the fact that humanity needs to eat less meat.

I think humane meat production would be better for the environment. Less concentrated animal waste means less runoff pollution directly. And there are additional indirect benefits as well.

Less concentration also leads to less use of antibiotics, which isn't a traditionally environmental concern. But an unwanted side effect (like pollution) of mass antibiotic use is reduction in antibiotic efficacy.

I agree with most of your points, but saying that treating animals well is worse for the environment is pretty misleading. "Treating animals better" should include not feeding them growth hormones or pumping them full of antibiotics which enter the food chain via the meat and ground water. Treating animals well is good for the environment, and drastically reducing consumption or not eating them at all is especially good (think of Amazon deforestation to make way for cattle ranches).

The effects of antibiotics entering the water table pale in comparison to 1. the extra pesticides that enter the water table from growing the extra plant matter that must be used to feed free-range animals, and 2. the pollution from the processes required to create the fertilizer to grow said plant matter.

You can think of an animal as a way to convert a whole lot of plant matter into a little meat. Growing plant matter for feed, itself, pollutes in various ways. A given animal might be less healthy eating corn than eating grass, but if it needs to eat 10x the weight in grass in its lifetime... that animal, raised that way, is now likely responsible for 10x the pollution.

>the extra pesticides that enter the water table from growing the extra plant matter that must be used to feed free-range animals

1) Why must it be grown? Shouldn't there just be less animals in places that can't support their grazing?

2) Why are you applying pesticides and fertilizer?

You misunderstand the entire concept of modern agriculture, I think: agriculture is demand-driven. People want food, and have money to spend on food, and so companies (farms) come into existence to turn natural resources into food, so that they can take that money.

You can't just have there be "less animals", without feeding less people than have the money to pay to be fed—which is effectively impossible without abandoning capitalism: a new company would always come into existence to capture that surplus.

Looking at things through a demand-driven lens, #1 and #2 are one-another's answers: if all the existing companies restrict themselves to non-"enriched" agriculture, then the market can only support a certain number of those companies—but there is still demand, so a new company will come into existence that uses (or one of the existing companies "innovate" to use) pesticides and fertilizer, to squeeze more feedstock out of the same land, to produce more meat from a given agricultural base, to answer the unmet demand.

(The real "problem" with this system is that demand isn't fixed; the more food there is available in an area, the more new people the people in that area tend to make, creating a positive feedback loop where demand will never be fully satisfied, necessitating a "race to the bottom" of who can squeeze their natural resources the hardest. Fix that, rather than abandoning an allocation system for operating too well.)

Let's not forget that grass is what they have evolved to eat. The fact that we can get away with feeding them food that is 10x more calorie dense does not make that approach correct. As others have said, the most environmentally friendly solution is to drastically reduce consumption of animals, regardless of what we feed them.

Humanity doesn't need to eat less meat; humanity just needs to finish disconnecting meat production from animals. :)

But why? Animals eat animals, and death is just part of life. Should humans really need to transcend what has been part of our nature for so long because we developed empathy for animals or should we stay close to what we have been all this time. I think that's very much open for arguing. Should we start preventing cats from eating birds? Should we replace every animals diet with vegetarian alternatives?

Because—as half the threads above say, if you'd care to read them—animal farming is very bad for the environment. It's not about the ethics; it's about how much pollution it generates to create the fertilizer and the pesticide to grow the grass or grain that we feed the animals, and about the methane the animals release during their lives—beef-cattle methane, by itself, is 16% of (indirectly-)anthropogenic greenhouse emissions.

Lab-grown meat isn't important because it's "cruelty-free"; it's important because it's possible to make it far, far cheaper in externalities (and, hopefully, in real dollar-value costs as well) than the alternative. That means more people fed balanced diets per carbon-dollar.

Responsible pet owners already prevent cats from eating birds. Dozens of songbird species have gone extinct because of people who let their housecats go outside without supervision... it's not "natural" in any sense to artificially sustain a predator animal so that it can periodically go out and eat songbirds. If housecats had to sustain themselves on what they could catch, there would be much fewer of them and the sustained effect on bird populations would be much smaller.

The documentary "Farm to Fridge" pretty much covers the horrible, immoral practices these industries follows.

Sadly, the majority of the population doesn't care about immorality.

So are you advocating for Artisan Chickens? Also yes America eats too much meat.

An excellent episode of Planet Money on this


This is why we don't get some of the cool trucks we see elsewhere.

There was also the disgraceful Banana tradewar where arbitrary US tariffs on cashmere devastated the local economy of the Scottish Borders.

What prevented any of the big 3 from copying a European or Japanese light truck design as a means of taking advantage of the tariff? With 3 major manufacturers in America, Why did small truck and van development totally stall? If I recall correctly, prior to the arrival of Mercedes' Sprinter, the Ford Econoline brand of vans, along with their dodge and chevy competitors, were typically based on truck frame designs a decade or two older.

Nothing prevented them; Detroit automakers either had substantial interests in foreign makers selling light trucks outside North America, or were in some cases selling small pickups and vans designed by their own foreign divisions.

They simply did not feel that smaller/lighter trucks & vans would be profitable, or profitable enough. This goes off and on; often one of the Detroit makes will go years without having an entry in the small truck market.

There are advantages to using a pickup-style perimeter frame to make a van, that said, unlike Ford & Chevy, the Dodge B-series vans were unitized from the '70s on.

Thinking about it, if the US economy was still on the gold standard in the 1970s, it probably would have been declined when Japanese cars and other goods took over and would be very different by now. As a side note, one of the reason we got off it was government spending, which means as the more money NSA or Medicare for example spends more money gets printed (by increasing government debt).

Economics is a big thing if you do not have a background in it, I recommend the book Economics in One Lesson. It was enlightening.

The chicken tax used to tick me off. Then I figured out the trick around it: get a /heavy/ truck instead. The heavy truck market is way better than the light truck market. It's kind of insane and unfortunately yet another way US federal regulations (eg CAFE) encourage ineffeciency


Comments like this add nothing. This is not Reddit, please do not leave these types of comments.

I don't reddit, but I was giving my opinion as everyone does here. If you disagree with it fine, but I disagree it adds "nothing". It's pointing out the absurdity (with sarcasm) of these types of measures, touted as "protecting the people", if you disagree please cite why.

Your other reply to onmobiletemp is great. The goal is to have all comments on HN that - so that half the comments aren't jokes, memes, and overly hyperbolic sarcasm.

Please save these comments for reddit and facebook

Or better yet don't post them anywhere. There's no reason Facebook has to be a cesspool.

> no reason

Policing costs money, annoys the rubes.

Besides, how else are you going to find out what the servants are up to?

I will expound, these types of measures to "protect the people" are absurd, farcical, and generally do way more harm than good, causing ridiculous friction in the market that helps no one. This tariff only helps the inefficient.

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