The government manages a lot of things.
Air and water quality, roads and bridges,
the tone of the national conversation.
Also, once upon a time, a heck-load of cheese.
[Oh my God. It’s cheese!]
It all started in 1976.
Jimmy Carter was running for president, and he started floating this idea.
– Although I am a farmer,
I am not in favor of guaranteeing farmers a profit.
I am in favor of giving famers an equal break.
This wasn’t just political pandering.
There’s an argument that our country has to
be able to produce its own food,
because relying on other countries for food — that’s a national security risk.
Now this was a campaign promise
that nobody really expected him to fulfill,
but then he became president,
and in 1977 he announced his plan to help farmers.
And he wasn’t alone — Congress wanted in.
We now go live to the Capitol.
–Uh, we also love the farmers.
And so they passed a law for dairy farmers saying
that they wanted the price of milk
to go up automatically every six months.
There are two ways to make that happen.
You either lower the supply by telling producers to produce less milk,
or increase the demand.
Our government decided that increasing consumption
was more American than agriculture quotas.
So they started buying milk themselves.
The Carter administration has announced a new
program to increase the demand of milk.
Milk prices are expected to rise…
–Buckle up, Bessie.
But the thing about milk is,
it’s kind of hard to stockpile and transport.
You’d have to get all these huge tankers,
and of course it starts going bad the minute it’s out of the cow.
当然 牛奶在从奶牛身上挤出来的那一刻 就已经开始变质了
So they moved one step down the supply chain to dairy-based products
The way this program worked is that the federal government says,
“We will buy as much cheese, butter or nonfat dry milk
as you want to sell us, at these prices.”
奶酪 黄油 或脱脂牛奶”
The government buys more cheese, cheesemakers buy more milk
and the resulting demand pushes the price of milk up.
The government is creating a price floor,
and in order to do this,
they have to be willing to buy all of the cheese
that anybody wants to sell them at this price.
And if you’re a cheese seller and you hear this,
you’re like, “Well,
I’m going to just sell them
my worst cheese at that price.”
So to prevent this, the government said,” Look,
if we’re going to buy your cheese,
first you have to meet with Bob.”
Bob Aschebrock was a cheese grater. No,
no, no, no, no, a cheese grader.
Like what a teacher does.
Bob’s job was to make sure that all
of the cheese met USDA grade A cheddar standards.
He spent 30 years testing and tasting cheese for the United States government.
He’d use his cheese-trying equipment
to look for the 17 flavor defects
that could happen in cheddar cheese.
Flat, bitter, yeasty, malty, acidic,
口味单调 苦 发酵过度 麦芽味重 酸
old milk, fruity, metallic, sour,
牛奶不新鲜 果味浓重 金属味 有酸腐味
whey taint, wheaty, onion,
乳清过多致使味道混浊 谷物残留 有刺鼻气味
barny, lipase and sulfide — it just goes on.
储存不当 脂肪酶含量过高 有硫化物等等
Bob and his fellow cheese graders were on the road all the time,
just eating cheese;
and the government just kept buying and buying.
Before long, every warehouse in Wisconsin was full.
There was cheese in practically every cold storage
in the United States, and the government needed an even bigger space to put it in.
Ideally one with its own temperature controls.
So they began renting these caves in Kansas.
35 feet beneath the ground, the size of 120 football fields.
And trainloads of cheese started to show up.
And when news gets out
that the government is filling caves with cheese,
the press goes nuts.
“I’m Steve Inskeep.
Cheese-span is reporting that the latest chatter in cheddar
is the cheese cave crisis.
Ron Elving has this report.”
“The rind is off the government cheese program.”
Eventually, Jimmy Carter left office,
and Ronald Reagan was left to figure out what
to do with all of this cheese.
The government was buying one in every four pounds of the country’s cheddar cheese.
在美国 每四磅卖出的切达奶酪中 就有一磅是政府购买的
“Well, my God, Jimmy.
“哦 我的天啊 吉米
It’s all cheese.”
And the clock was ticking
because all this cheese was starting to get moldy.
So the government needed to find a market for the stuff, and fast.
“ Well, they have to be careful because of something called commercial displacement.
If they just send a flood of cheese on the market,
they’ll end up hurting the producers
they’re trying to help
by providing a less expensive product to meet existing demand.”
So the government had the cheddar reprocessed into new bricks
and started giving it away at food banks.
The idea was that these consumers
probably weren’t going to buy cheese anyway,
so they’re not necessarily hurting the market.
And lo, a new pop culture icon was born.
“ Government cheese makes the best grilled cheese
you done ever had in your life.”
“Where do you buy government cheese?”
You don’t buy it…
You have to be on…
you got to be on their special mailing list.
You’re going to end
up eating a steady diet of government cheese
and living in a van down by the river.”
The government cheese caves started to empty out.
The guaranteed milk price,
which had been going up automatically every six months,
was eventually frozen.
But that does not mean the government had fixed the problem.
The thing about price controls is that once you start them,
they are really, really hard to unwind.
This is a basic supply and demand problem.
The government was demanding an unnatural amount of milk,
and so farmers were supplying an unnatural amount of milk.
One part of the solution then was to gently get that milk supply down.
So the government literally paid dairy farmers
to stop producing milk.
That did some good.
And then on the other side,
the government tried to replace some of their artificial
demand for milk with new real demand for milk.
Which led to things like — Got Milk?
于是就有了 “got milk?”的牛奶广告战
So this weird campaign promise had a hand
in basically the two most important dairy
moments in pop culture,
and it served as an instant signifier of a government program
gone fully off the rails.
The government manages a lot of things.