Head in the Oven, Rear End in the Freezer and Calling it a Nice Average Temperature

     The externality crowd (the politicizers, activists and interest groups who believe that agricultural producers are pushing a multitude of costs off on the globe and their community without paying for them), should take a look in the mirror.  When a small group of the population, such as those who have a true willingness to pay for things like country of origin labeling, organic food, locally produced food, carbon-neutral food, etc. gain the political clout to force the costs of these attributes on everyone (willing to pay or not), they have used the government to structuralize a huge cost externality.  Which is to say, they have forced others to pay for attributes only they demand. 

     Their typical response is that food is so cheap in this country, that adding these attributes and forcing their cost into the system for everyone is justified and "affordable".  That's an argument they buttress by referring to the fact that on average, less than 10% of personal income is spent on food in this country.  The amount spent on food as a percentage of income is actually a distribution which is hidden by the average.  The lowest 20% of wage-earners, the working poor, spend well above 20% of their income on food. 

     To the extent their externalities push global food prices higher and higher they should know that the poor in Egypt spend 80% of their personal income on food and that's after heavy government subsidies for bread, for instance.  Folks who love to impose their preferences on others and therefore the costs of unwanted attributes, seem to abandon their own willingness to pay principles when incomes fall in an economy. http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/news/sales-of-organic-food-slump-by-up-to-30-per-cent-1656632.html