You know what would vastly improve everyday life in Western nations?
A complete and total cessation of the relentless schoolmarmery that is forever oozing from the state and its corporate collaborators like some foul poop-green algal bloom. I want a lot of things, but very high up on my list is that I want politicians, NGOs, Netflix, television adverts, public health mandarins and random clipboard girls on the street to stop teaching me sophomoric lessons about things. There’s no reason they can’t go about governing, fundraising, streaming video, selling products and improving public wellbeing without acting like a legion of officious pimply babysitters.
I try to avoid pop culture themes here at the Plague Chronicle, but I’m making an exception for this story, because it illustrates like few others the needling, nagging, shrieking nature of the regime that oppresses us. The arc of liberal democracy is long, but it bends towards a legion of overweight box wine-drinking state media Gutmenschen with overmany house cats and intractable toenail fungus kicking at our shins with their smelly battered Birkenstocks and shouting in our ears about the same three tiresome things over and over again, forever.
This week, the German discount supermarket chain Penny (a member of the Rewe Group) has arrogated to itself the project of teaching its predominantly lower-income working-class clientele about the grave environmental impact of the cheap processed food in which it specialises. They’ve decided to do this in the midst of massive food price inflation, which has left 11% of Germans unable to afford daily meals, by… selectively marking up food prices to reflect their ‘True Environmental Cost’.
Their “Wahre Kosten” (“True Prices”) publicity campaign is one massively tedious extended lecture to their customers about why they need to “Make an environmental choice when [they] shop”:
Food has social and environmental impacts from its production to your purchase, but they are not reflected in the retail price. If you want to remedy them, it costs money – the so-called true costs. The University of Greifswald and the Technical University of Nuremberg have scientifically calculated these for our selected products. The following factors were taken into account in the calculation:
This factor includes all climate-damaging emissions from the agriculture required for the products, e.g. methane produced by cattle or CO2 produced by diesel-powered tractors.
This factor includes all pollutants that have a negative impact on groundwater or other water sources and reservoirs – e.g. nitrogen from fertilisers or the toxicity of pesticides entering the water.
The use of land for the production of agricultural goods and the resulting degradation of its quality, e.g. through the alteration of natural land for arable use, is important.
This is not about how healthy a product is when consumed. Rather, it is about the damage to health caused by pesticides or the ammonia produced by animal husbandry.