by Marion Nestle
Jul 6 2011

How to pay for a better food system?

At TPMDC, Brian Beutler explains why the U.S. does not have enough money to pay for food assistance programs, safety regulation, better school food, or support for sustainable agriculture.


  • Anthro

    Well, DUH!

    Sarcasm intended. Insult, NOT. Great visual.

  • Andrew

    Hm… It’s pretty hard to graph out 2011 budget numbers when *there is no 2011 budget*. So this image is inherently false.

    However, even if you moved it back one year, you would see that the numbers are not accurate if you’re only breaking the budget up into three buckets. All non-discretionary spending is not at the same level as it was in 2001, though it may be at the same *proportionate* amount.

    And what is that small gray unlabeled sliver anyway?

    Lies, damn lies, and statistics.

  • Andrew

    PS. Also notice that they don’t compare apples to apples: the military numbers are not adjusted for population, like the other two are.

  • scholarwatch

    That’s one poor statistical analysis from a dubious source.

    Just what we’ve come to expect from NYU “experts”.
    Watch for the NYU online diploma coming soon – Discover card accepted!

  • Welcome to the club. Major government overspending reflects the average joe’s image problem. Fake it till we make it?

  • Anon

    We have got change our regulatory paradigm, the sooner the better. We need to devise a third party surveillance food safety system, contracted by the firms, with oversight of the private third party by government agencies. We need to make sure the purveyors from the point of origin to the purveyors, have full skin in the game. We simply have not had, do not have, and will not nearly have sufficient funds of taxpayer origin to support the directly regulated system at the level of scrutiny needed. We have a long history of enabling legislation constructing grand castles and then funding legislation then starving the agencies responsible for running the castle.

    Quoting myself as JMG3Y at

    IMO some higher level systems thinking needs to be applied here.

    In “Dancing with Systems” ( Donella Meadows wrote: “. . . starting with history discourages the common and distracting tendency we all have to define a problem not by the system’s actual behavior, but by the lack of our favorite solution. ” Another read of hers is here –

    It seems to me that everyone’s favorite solution here is passing legislation and spending more money. I contend that as long as the underlying system is flawed, that is the incentives for all the parties in the product path aren’t present and aligned properly, Congress can’t write enough legislation or throw enough taxpayer money at the problem to fix it through direct regulation, whether it is food safety, the drug war, or financial derivatives. As a consequence of a flawed system, we move from wreck to wreck to wreck and I predict will continue to do so.

  • Cherry picking the Federal Budget (of which there is not) over special interests is not going to work. True, the military appears to get a disproportionate share of dollars, but, what price for our safety and freedom?

    The truth of the matter is that all line items must be reduced. Otherwise the word budget is a fantasy (which it has been for several decades). If we, as a country, are to continue to be “the Land of Opportunity”, then a REAL budget must be formulated and ADHERED TO…just as we do in running our household and personal expenses.

  • MYoung

    I agree, the data is skewed.

  • L

    Interesting how the creators of this chart consider the Pentagon “discretionary” but Medicare “mandatory”. I think many Americans would disagree. Why not label them simply as “Security/Defense” and “Social” programs and call their 3rd category “other domestic programs”. Sigh. I get tired of the constant sacrificing of intellectual honesty to push one political agenda over any others.

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