Parity Economics Revisited: Saving Our Food From Pandemic Depression

After several weeks of closure due to the pandemic, proprietor Steve and his family have now reopened Christopher Golden Woks: Chinese Food for Take out. Within 24 hours, they were as busy as ever, with customers waiting outside for their orders. Even their daughter was taking phone orders remotely, and passing them along to the store for deliveries or pick-up. Many food shops are working to stay viable by converting to carry-out orders only, but that has always been Golden Woks’ modus operandi. Photo by Brian Pape.

By Joe Bongiovanni

Hang in there for just a moment, Villagers, this is actually a good news story. And I promise to provide the answer to your question, “What the heck is parity economics?” (at least in part). But first, why is parity economics important to the pandemic population—meaning, everybody today— Villagers and Iowans alike? Clue: food.

Once upon a time, Villagers strolled on 14th Street and gathered at Union Square. Today, many are fearful of taking that stroll, hunkered down at home, out of a job and income.

Economists say COVID-19 is causing the most serious financial/economic consequences ever, and dangerously disrupting what they call the “supply chains” of our economic production. Among the bigger questions: “Will this suffering ever end?’ “How?” “When?” Another—when thinking about grandkids, “How secure are the foodstuffs our families and businesses will need next week, next month, next year, forevermore?” Food. Health. Life…seems worth thinking on a bit.

The destructive COVID-19 forces make parity economics critical to surviving this pandemic’s grasp on our future well-being, as well as a good news story.

First, understand the ultimate simplicity of resolving one of the pandemic’s potential food-scarcity issues. It is this:

Parity economics is already the law of the land. Look up Section 602 of Title 7 of our nation’s laws. Right there in black-and-white. DO PARITY.

The short, quick proffer on what it means for the U.S. to do parity is this: we need to guarantee that the farmer will be paid appropriately for producing the food that we want to eat, rather than, as is current practic, have the sale price of products set in manipulated markets where futures, commodity brokers, and bankers act in accordance with the goal of maximizing profits—which can bleed purchasers dry. Cheapen the Food!

That’s it. That’s how the parity economics principle works. Pay the farmer the cost of producing our feed, and the farmers will not only survive, they will flourish. As an extra benefit, our overall economy will be primed to achieve our GDP potential at all levels and in all sectors. The Title 7 law—“setting a floor price” for agricultural and other raw materials-based products at the first point of sale—provides the farmer with the income needed to pay the costs of putting a bushel of wheat into the food chain. Do that, Mr. Secretary of Agriculture, and we will all be OK with producing food. Now, tomorrow, and forevermore. As I said, this is a good news story.

One might wonder—certainly, I hardly believe it—if it is really possible to DO PARITY. The answer is yes. And it could be easy to do without taxpayer expense. So, why will Agriculture Secretary Purdue not do whatever needs doing to make that possibility a reality? For the grandkids. Right now. While I’m writing Part II.

In Part II I’m going to get specific on what action is needed to actuate parity economics. I’ll also get to the other question: if it’s so simple, why are we not doing it right now? Finally, I will explain how parity economics is our best bet for assuring that our national income achieves its highest potential, always, while also enabling a just and equitable distribution of the national wealth being produced.

Parity Economy II. See ya’ then.

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