Hurray for Hellman’s By John Médaille - June 4, 2010 13 Reading Time: < 1 Facebook Twitter Email Print I am not quite sure what Hellman’s gets out of this, but it’s the best public service spot I’ve seen. Watch their “Buy Canadian” commercial. Hat tip to Grace Potts. RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR The Nightstand Finding Rest in the Immanent Frame: a Review of Tish Harrison Warren’s Prayer in the Night Politics & Power Playing the Long Game: A Review of Abraham Lincoln’s Statesmanship The Stump A Conservative for Our Time Short Precedents, Technosolutionism, and A Hidden Life The Blackboard Poor Little Lamb The Barbershop Human Interaction: The Most Essential Business 13 COMMENTS Pretty sleazy abuse of statistics. Sometimes it gives percentage changes, sometimes absolute values, It compares apples to oranges to kumkwats. It shifts the ground with each example without using numbers that can be compared with other countries and other products within the same country, which might be done if one is to make a case that any of it is out of line. Seems like a pretty standard abuse of statistics, really. Standard and sleazy, both. Not very honest or informative. Wow, that’s some commercial John. How much of Hellman’s mayo is made using Canadian farm produce? If they are using Canadian produce, should Americans buy their mayo (beyond the fact that it’s pretty nasty)? It’s amazing for a multinational product line to be advertising in favor of national agricultural self-sufficiency. You’re right – what gives?? As for the subject on the decline of the Canadian family farm, readers should check out this amazing song and video, called “Degeneration” by Les Aieux. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKCRHhmHvjg (I had posted this link previously on an older posting by Bill Kauffman, who asked whether there should be an FPR theme song. Readers who missed that post should go back and check out some of the amazing and wonderful suggestions that were offered by readers). https://www.frontporchrepublic.com/2009/07/lookin%E2%80%99-out-my-back-door-or-sounds-from-boo-radley%E2%80%99s-porch/ Thanks for the link to that song, Patrick. That’s one to go on my MP3 player so I can listen while I’m riding (and maybe sing along, which might be safe to do in the places where the countryside is now empty of people). Hellman’s mayonnaise is “pretty nasty,” Patrick? Not on our tables, it’s not. Hellman’s is the only mayo we buy, because it’s the only mass-produced, grocery-store-available mayo that uses real eggs and no corn syrup. I love the stuff. If I’m seriously misinformed in my tastes, please inform me; I want to know. Hellmann’s is owned by Unilever an Anglo-Dutch company with its origins stemming from Warrington and Port Sunlight near Liverpool in the UK. The driving force behind the original company William Hesketh Lever was a paternalist philanthropist. It is perhaps in the tradition of its founder that Unilever decided to allow Hellmann’s in Canada to run the video advertisement since they are trying as a company to promote a responsible image with regard to sustainability. Here is Unilever’s strategy document:- http://unilever.com/images/sd_UnileverSDReport170310_amended_tcm13-212972.pdf Whilst they would appear to have a strategy to support small farmers to ensure continuity of supply I’ve not found mention of a policy to always seek to source produce from farmers as close to the processing plant as possible. This is understandable in the sense that the company wishes to adhere to capitalism’s competitive main tenet of driving down costs, particularly labor costs, irrespective of any adverse effects. Unilever’s sustainability strategy is not, therefore, as sustainable as they would like you to believe and in many respects is destructive by destroying farm viability in high wage economies unless tax payer subsidies are applied. The business model in high wage economies is therefore one of “state socialism” for capital. This latter point has been made by John Medaille many times before in slightly different form with regard to the Walmart business model. In their video advertisement Hellmann’s are attempting to play the “patriotism card” to attract more sales but in reality they are further masking the hidden war between Capital and Citizens. I describe it as “hidden” because very few people when they think about economics and politics address the issue that there are votes in money (capital) just as much as there are votes in ballot boxes. Should Canadian citizens wish to implement a strategy of growing more of their own food rather than importing it and thereby reduce their tax subsidization of agriculture they will find themselves in conflict with the the minority who control the use of capital like the Unilever company that wishes to maintain its competitive position by sourcing cheap farming labor wherever it can find it in the world. Capital thus undermines the will, or sovereignty, of the citizens leading to debt induced lack of demand problems as we are currently witnessing in the world’s developed economies. The issue before citizens of all economies is one of recovering sovereignty by wresting control of capital from a minority and how this can be made made to work without destroying enterprise and innovation and reimposing regressive minority control by government politicians and bureaucrats. @ russell: to me, anything that’s less than homemade is pretty nasty. it’s pretty quick and easy to make your own and the taste is so far superior that you wouldn’t believe it. here’s a really easy youtube tutorial on how: http://www.izlese.org/aioli-recipe-homemade-garlic-mayo-recipe1.html just do what he does without the garlic. super easy. or, if you have an immersion blender, it’s even easier. check out the youtube tutorials on that. Maybe Hellman’s just needs more people making mayonnaise-based salads, and promoting local agriculture with abused stats is one way to meet multiple marketing objectives simultaneously. A good point is made nevertheless, one that could have saved my family farm if made convincingly 40-50 years ago. That “Degeneration” song makes my heart ache. My dad became a factory worker instead of a government functionary, but it still rings true. Now I grow corn and tomatoes in a tiny Midtown backyard, yanking poison ivy and weeds in the evening and dreaming of bees buzzing in an orchard. I’m glad to know others feel the same deep homesickness, and struggle with the same “why couldn’t y’all promote this before our farm failed?” bitterness. As I watched the video, I was thinking to myself, “I wonder how many comments, YouTube comments that is, I’ll have to read before someone says, ‘the morons at Hellmans must never have heard of free trade.'” Well, it took exactly two. The second comment references Ricardo and the law of comparative advantage. Of course the commenter spills forth the standard libertarian/free market clap trap, “free trade makes all richer because we can spend the money we save on food on other things.” I find this line of reasoning nauseating for several reasons. First, I find that about ninety percent of the people who make these sort of comments don’t understand the concept of comparative advantage. As Paul Craig Roberts has pointed out on multiple occasions, most economists and libertarians either don’t understand the difference between comparative and absolute advantage, or if they do understand the difference, they conviently fail to mention the negative aspects of the latter. However, my main objection to this line of reasoing is that it doesn’t take into account the societal and ecological costs of these cheap veggies, clothes, or what have you. Sure, the fact that you can buy a pound of strawberries from Central America at Walmart for three dollars is nice, I guess. Personally, I’ve never had any produce from a supermarket that I thought was edible. But the fact that the strawberry farmer down the road has to sell his farm to some “developer” who will then cover it over with a strip mall isn’t so nice. And I get even sicker thinking about what this free trade nonsense has done to rural communities throughout the world. As I said, I can’t speak or write intelligently on this matter. For whatever reason, I have such a visceral response to hearing this crap repeated that I loose the ability to reason. Robert, You seem to associate the loss of the family farm with free trade. Do I assume correctly? I could point out that the Soviet Union didn’t have free trade, but they lost all their family farms, too, even faster than we did. Stalin had the kulaks exterminated, and turned the farms into big, corporate farms. In our country we used a different means to accomplish the same end: agricultural price supports and subsidies. It drove out the small farmers and made the big ones bigger, turning them into welfare queens. Which method was more effective and humane is hard to say. But without either of those, the family farm still would have gone away. That loss probably saddens me more than it saddens all the rest of you put together. My preferred solution would be to have eliminated all leftwing statists. But even though that would have slowed down the loss, it wouldn’t have stopped it. The loss of the family farm is a problem people have been complaining about in our country since the late 18th century — though back then the complaints were mostly about why young people were leaving the farms to go to the city even though country life was better in so many ways. But it was part of the same process. Pretty soon the process will be complete, and there will be nothing left to complain about. Unless we reinstate serfdom. I suppose that would be one way to reverse the process. A substantial netzero gas tax would help, too. After reading through my first post again I realized it could have used a more thorough proofreading. I apologize for the errors. John Gorentz, It’s not only the loss of the farms that concerns me; rather, it’s the loss of entire communities to this nonsensical idea that free trade is always good because it lowers prices that keeps me up at nights. I suppose I agree with much of your point about the movement of people from the farms to the cities, though I tend to think the move was out of necessity and not choice. I also have no doubt that you can point to an unlimited amount of data showing how much better off free trade and open markets have made all of us. Believe me, I have read a good deal of this data myself. What the data doesn’t show though is the costs that countless small towns and communities across the country have paid so that we can all buy unlimited quantities of cheap crap at Walmart. It doesn’t tell the stories of the hard working men and women who have had their lives turned upside down because their employer decided they could increase shareholder value by shipping jobs to the third world. Yes, I know companies who move production overseas are only responding to the public’s demand for inexpensive goods. I also know that many people have no idea what the real costs of these cheap goods are. And no, I don’t wish to see people in the developing world stuck in poverty forever. Rather, I would like to see them develop their own sustainable local economies. “…it’s the loss of entire communities to this nonsensical idea that free trade is always good because it lowers prices that keeps me up at nights.” Can you name or describe a single community that has been lost to this idea? “I suppose I agree with much of your point about the movement of people from the farms to the cities, though I tend to think the move was out of necessity and not choice.” There has been much scholarly research on this topic, so you don’t have to just guess at it. But it’s ironic that you make this comparison between necessity and individual human choice when you’re busy complaining about the destruction wrought by individual human choice in the form of free trade. “I also have no doubt that you can point to an unlimited amount of data showing how much better off free trade and open markets have made all of us. Believe me, I have read a good deal of this data myself.” I have no idea why you have no doubt about what data I can show. “What the data doesn’t show though is the costs that countless small towns and communities across the country have paid so that we can all buy unlimited quantities of cheap crap at Walmart. It doesn’t tell the stories of the hard working men and women who have had their lives turned upside down because their employer decided they could increase shareholder value by shipping jobs to the third world.” You are mistaken that there are no data about this. I don’t have those data at my fingertips, but there are data. And I might point out that even Walmart products aren’t unlimited. We all have to live within limits — even Walmart sometimes does, though it tends to create special laws just for Walmart. But the people who choose to buy at Walmart have to live within limits, and WalMart has to live within the limits of their means. I mention this because “Limits” is one of the bywords for this blog, along with “Place” and “Liberty.” (BTW, when Walmart comes to a community asking for exceptions to local zoning ordinances so it can build in the style to which it has become accustomed, my instinctive reaction is to say, “No, you have to live by the same rules as everyone else.” But it’s interesting that WM often gets its way about these things where other companies would not.) “Rather, I would like to see them develop their own sustainable local economies.” As someone who has been accused of setting up his own third world country on his own goat ‘n chicken acreage, I understand the desire to have sustainable local economies. But instead of cursing the darkness, let’s try lighting a candle. There are communities that have chosen, not so much as individuals but as communities, to reject the modern technologies and products that tend to destroy their communities. The Amish do this. They adopt new technology and products all the time, but they do it very deliberately, based on community experience and values. It’s not done with heavy-handed compulsion from the center. There is no Amish pope. The only time the Amish have developed anything resembling a central authority is when they’ve needed to deal with the U.S. Government on topics like military conscription and Social Security. And that’s because the U.S. Government finds it desirable to deal with the Amish as a whole, not as individual communities. (The same sort of thing took place with Native American tribes in the 19th century. They had no central authority, but sometimes developed “chiefs” due to pressure from the U.S. Government to have someone who could be co-opted into service.) So the Amish go their own ways as communities, to some extent. But it only works because of internal social controls that a lot of the rest of us would find oppressive. These controls would _definitely_ be oppressive if enacted on a national scale. Most of us could not make ourselves live like that. Understand why that is, and it will help us understand what it would mean to reject the Walmartization of society, and to understand the limits of crying and moaning about the loss of community. (Not that I don’t see Amish people shopping at the local WalMart in our town.) But back to your obsession with free trade. The Amish are in a tussle with the national and state governments over the sales of baked goods and other foods. I’ve bought food at local Amish stands — fresh baked rhubarb pies and such. The kitchens where these foods are made have not been inspected by the food police. There is a certain amount of trust involved when you buy food from a local grower or kitchen. There is an element of daring and of taking the risk that they’re not playing Typhoid Mary on you. The state and national governments hate that kind of trusting relationship among people. It threatens the relationship between autonomous individuals and the almighty state. So they are trying to put a stop to it by enacting onerous food safety and certification procedures that only the big conglomerates have the means and stomach to deal with. But I support the free trade that allows me to buy food from Amish kitchens, or go down to the dairy farmer’s bulk tank and (using clean techniques so as not to run him afoul of the dairy inspectors) dip out some raw, unpasturized milk into a container to take home to drink. It helps build local, sustainable communities. Comments are closed.