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Self-defeating interest groups

February 29th, 2004

This piece by Michael Shmith is mainly about smoking. But one passage resonated with me

Growing up in a smoking household was a rite of passage similar to the dreaded ceremony of school milk. Just as I remain convinced a generation of baby boomers are repulsed by milk because of the warm quarter-pints we were forced to consume at morning recess, I believe childhood exposure to secondary smoking often served as a subliminal early warning system

I think, though I don’t know, that compulsory school milk was the product of lobbying by the dairy industry. If so, there can have been few more counterproductive pieces of interest group politics. Like Shmith, and for the same reason, I never touch the stuff.

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  1. February 29th, 2004 at 18:09 | #1

    “I think, though I don’t know, that compulsory school milk was the product of lobbying by the dairy industry.”

    It’s far more likely to be following a movement for it in Britain, where there was a sound reason (though I don’t know where the movement prevailed first). The British reason was to make up material dietary deficiencies among poor children, who could be reached most easily through the school system. Don’t forget how very poor poor was in those days.

  2. derrida derider
    March 1st, 2004 at 12:16 | #2

    I remember political debate about this as the baby boomers came of age – I’m sure compulsory warm curdled milk played a part in the revolt of the young against their elders. It certainly was (at least in NSW) a thoughtful gesture by the Country Party to its constituents, though the rationale given was the one noted by PM Lawrence. The same applies with food stamps in the US; they were a Depression-era attempt to raise food prices, and to this day this welfare program is administered by the Dept of Agriculture.

    And yeah, it took me at least a decade to get over my horror of milk.

  3. March 1st, 2004 at 13:05 | #3

    I grew up in a household where both parents smoked, and of the 3 of us kids, 2 of us are pack a day smokers. I guess the guy is just, you know, making s**t up?

  4. John Quiggin
    March 1st, 2004 at 13:22 | #4

    I’m not too sure about smoking – my Dad was a light pipesmoker and he gave up when I was ten. But Shmith is spot-on about milk.

  5. March 2nd, 2004 at 01:24 | #5

    One of the top reasons I don’t smoke is that my dad did. I do still drink lots of milk, but on the other hand the milk we had in school was always cold.

  6. March 2nd, 2004 at 10:48 | #6

    I’m with Stentor, as our NSW country milk was also always cold (and sometimes flavoured), and much sought after. Maybe the campaign only back-fired in hot QLD?

  7. Brian Bahnisch
    March 2nd, 2004 at 22:26 | #7

    I’m old enough to have missed the milk in QLD. My missus had it though and is a teacher. She reckons it was hot and disgusting!

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