Hey, Mario Batali, What If the Food Industry Was Like Big Pharma and the Insurers?

Updated Sep 22, 2009

(No, Big Pharma and the Insurers are not a grunge band from Jersey. Or, um, I don’t think so anyway.)

Grubb Street New York quotes Mario Batali on the food industry and how it does business:

“We buy stuff. We fix it up and we sell it for profit at a market value. When you’re overpriced, people stop coming. The pharmaceutical industry should follow that way of thinking. Listen to the food industry” ~ Mario Batali’s Health-Care Plan

Then the blog commenter notes the vastly higher profits of Big Pharma.

Both Batali and the blog have it wrong. Batali is indeed a “capitalist pig”, but there’s no evidence that Health Insurers or Big Pharma are in any way related to capitalism. This is where everyone supporting the bloodsucking industry are wrong.

Free market capitalism depends upon Batali’s observation, “When you’re overpriced, people stop coming.” Problem is, can we really depend upon folks to just drop health insurance or stop taking medicine when the prices get too high? Not in your life (because it is, well, your life, isn’t it?).

But what if the food industry was run like the health care industry? Before you could eat, you’d be forced into buying into a plan that would allow access to restaurants and supermarkets—unless you were uber rich of course. You couldn’t order what you wanted; by law you’d have to depend on chefs and food consultants to tell you what will be put on your plate or in your cart. Conversely, you could watch advertisements on television and badger your food consultant for particular foods you’d seen on the boob tube and hope your plan covered such edibles.

Then, even if you agreed with what came on your plate, there would be a 22% chance that your plan would refuse to cover it. You’d have to wipe the drool off your chin and wait for something cheaper and probably less healthy to arrive.

If you couldn’t afford a plan you really wouldn’t have to worry, the slop bucket out back in the alley should do you quite well. Unless there are other people who couldn’t afford a plan, then you’d have to fight for those bits of mashed potatoes with the stubbed-out cigarette butt sticking from the pile like a birthday candle. Mmmm civilization! Tasty!

Oh, wait, we’ve looped back to reality already, haven’t we? Must be time to go.

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