The European horse meat scandal hasn’t tainted our food supply, yet I believe this is a perfect case study of why government has a very active role to play as referee over capitalism.
Frozen foods, hamburgers, and even IKEA Swedish meatballs have all been found to contain horsemeat! The point of entry is believed to be processing plants in the Irish Republic that, in order to generate more profits, secretly put horsemeat into the food supply.
Who knows if they were buying off inspectors, or how they were doing it. A dozen countries in the EU have been found to be heavily contaminated with horsemeat.
A number of food processors have gone bankrupt, supermarket chains are having to withdraw millions if not billions of euros in food from shelves, and every week, there are more discoveries of horse meat. The latest is in school cafeterias.
Now, maybe this won’t happen here because we don’t import a lot of meat. But the thing is, we need government oversight too. Government has a role to play in health and safety. The reality is normal capitalist rules don’t work when it comes to health, safety, or the environment because that would mean lower profits.
This whole scandal exposes that the EU is a complete abject failure at having proper food inspections. So that is a reasonable role for modern government to provide.
The other thing is, look at the cost to capitalism of people cutting corners. You have millions in loses for a variety of businesses because people were cheating, not to mention all the layoffs created when offending businesses cease operation.
Enlightened self-interest is one of core concepts that makes capitalism work. But there are always people who will try to take a shortcut to score extra profit at the risk of health, safety, or the life of citizens. And that’s why it’s reasonable to expect government to play the role of referee.