Save the Roquefort

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

One of the charming little gifts the Bush administration left for the American people before vacating the White House was to slap a fat tariff on several popular European products, including Irish steel-cut oatmeal, French truffles, foie gras, Italian sparkling water, and a whopping 300 percent tariff on Roquefort cheese. The official line from the Bush administration was that the tariffs were retaliation for the EU’s rejection of hormone-fed beef (don’t mess with Texas!).

That’s a pretty lame excuse. Even accepting the flawed premise that there’s much to be gained from retaliatory tariffs, the combined cost of the new tariffs isn’t nearly enough to offset the EU’s position on beef, and isn’t going to persuade anyone in Europe to change it. Let’s call this what it is: a big middle finger to the arugula-eating, Whole Foods crowd the Bush administration so despises. The aim here wasn’t to punish Europe, it was to punish the Bush administration’s vision of the typical Obama voter.

Anyway, there’s a wonderful little cheese shop just down the road from me called the Cheesetique. Owner Jill Erber was pissed off enough about the Roquefort tariff to let loose with a righteous Jeffersonian free-trade rant on the Cheesetique blog. If there’s one thing I love more than a quarter pound of St. Andre triple creme, it’s a few paragraphs of anti-government fury from an unlikely source.

Think I’ll patronize the Cheesetique this afternoon. If you live in the area, aside from the enormous selection of cheese, I also highly recommend their store-roasted tomatoes, which they preserve in olive oil. They’re delicious on just about everything.

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16 Responses to “Save the Roquefort”

  1. #1 |  anonymous | 

    I can’t stand Bush, but this still strikes me as a bit conspiracy-theory-ish? You think he tried to get even with liberals by taxing their favorite foods? I would need to see some reasonable evidence of this being the reason, rather than it being due to the influence of the American blue cheese lobby, Quaker Oats, etc.

  2. #2 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Radley,
    This is UNPOSSIBLE! Bush was all about deregulation, free markets, and capitalism…hence the super trouble we have right now. Remember, for 100 years we have had UNCHECKED free markets, free trade, deregulation and capitalism and it lead us to the Greater Depression.

    Oh, and Joe Worker (hero of America) doesn’t eat truffles! Sounds like a tax and an assault on the wealthy which is really the American spirit!

  3. #3 |  Radley Balko | 

    #1:

    I think the collection of products hit with the last-minute tariffs makes that explanation unlikely. Is there really a strong U.S. lobby for domestically produced sparkling water? Truffles? I’m also not sure McCann’s (the Irish oatmeal) is really much of a competitor to Quaker. It’s already several times more expensive and not nearly as widely available. I could be wrong, but I can’t see Quaker wasting the time and energy to lobby for a tariff on a product with so little market share.

    Also, what would be the benefit to the Bush administration for caving to these various lobbies just as it’s leaving office?

  4. #4 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Cheese Blog = WIN!

    Maybe the terrorists haven’t won (yet).

  5. #5 |  jwh | 

    …..and this differentiates from Obama’s current on-going economy-destroying policies of giving the Obama voters the middle finger how……..?

  6. #6 |  Adolphus | 

    This type of thing always cheesed me off. (pun intended)

    All presidents and lawmakers indulge in this nonsense, claiming out the front of their mouths they don’t want to raise taxes and then initiating new tariffs or reinterpreting old taxes and tariffs to be more inclusive to raise money and/or use as a punishment/protectionism. The first Bush did this frequently so he could honor his whole “read my lips, no new taxes” promise right up until he broke that promise. I recall, with very little fanfare until it was a fait accompli, his administration re-classified all imported vehicles so each model was in its highest possible tariff bracket (is that phrase?) making mini-vans trucks not cars for example.

    I know there is a difference between taxes and tariffs, but when I have to pay more money for things and more of that money ends up in government coffers, the difference is meaningless to me in that regard.

    Don’t even get me started on jurisdictions who raise fines, monkey with parking meters and stoplights, or other nonsense to raise money so as not to raise taxes.

    This is why I don’t have a lot of sympathy when people try to evoke sympathy for wealthier Americans by saying that some large percentage of taxes are raised through some small percentage of Americans and they are only discussing income taxes. When they consider all of the many ways my money ends up in government hands, I’ll pay more attention.

  7. #7 |  exileguy | 

    I wouldn’t put anything past old Dubya. Nothing surprises me, and I expect we’ll be living with the fallout from his reign for many years.

  8. #8 |  Nando | 

    I’ve been to Cheestique a few times and love it. There is also a butcher shop a few doors down that you should check out when you’re there.

  9. #9 |  shoulderShrug | 

    hahah this is actually funny. I guess a bunch of rich elitist white kids and those wannabe hippies will have to shell out more of their parent’s money/starbuck’s wages (respectively).

  10. #10 |  Michael | 

    I agree with Jill!! I love that cheese! I bet they stop using it, or charging you more for it, in many my favorite restaurants.

  11. #11 |  damaged justice | 

    “Ninety percent of all subsidies go to just five crops: corn, rice, cotton, wheat, and soybeans.”

    And by a not so astounding coincidence, all of these are bad for humans when ingested.

    Keep subsidizing carbs, and keep wondering why Americans get fat and have heart attacks.

  12. #12 |  Pinandpuller | 

    “This isn’t much of a cheese shoppe.” John Cleese

  13. #13 |  Brandon Bowers | 

    Well, I guess we can count 9 there as evidence to support Radley’s theory.

  14. #14 |  Niemollerisms II - Think Free : Freedom Politics | 

    [...] they came for the Roquefort, and I didn’t speak up because I ate Camembert… Share and [...]

  15. #15 |  Oatwhore | 

    Sorry but the steel cut oats are far superior to the parboiled stuff from quaker. I mean the parboiled stuff is half cooked and pressed before it even gets to you. The steel cut stuff takes longer to cook, but it’s hardier and it tastes much better.

  16. #16 |  A.G. Pym | 

    @#15:

    And you don’t need to go offshore to find most excellent pinhead oats, either: “Bob’s Red Mill” oats are something like $4/lb in their plastic sack at my Albertson’s. Every Bob’s product I’ve tried has been superb. The only thing that rolled oats is better for is cookies – pinhead oats make them an interesting chewing exercise rather than a lovely treat.

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