Saving FAT: The great experiment begun that summer of 1964.

Blog, Healthcare & Welfare, Peter Holle


A summit of leading hunger experts convened and recommended sweeping changes to the way citizens met their food needs. The government implemented the "Maggie Stone" Commission Report shortly after that and there was joy across the land.
Nobody would go hungry again.
It was an ambitious undertaking but there was confidence and enthusiasm. The Government established a spanking new Ministry called the "Food Administration Taskforce" (FAT for short). FAT’s objective was to eliminate hunger by guaranteeing subsidized food to all citizens. Modern FAT facilities – public food stores – replaced the corner stores and supermarkets. FAT would end hunger by removing food from the vagaries of the marketplace. Of course taxes went down with lost jobs, but it was a noble cause.
The people in cities, towns, and villages rejoiced as their politicians cut the ribbon on spanking new FAT facilities. The construction and operation of FAT shops created jobs. And they were good jobs, high paying jobs, which brought stability to the community.
From the start the Stone report cautioned about maintaining adequate FAT program funding. So people had to pay a flat fee per month to cover basic food costs and pay for the expanding FAT system. There were small deficits but the government promised to subsidize FAT costs from general revenues. It raised taxes but maintained it was for an equitable cause.
Some politicians promised to eliminate the flat fee to cover FAT costs. And they won an election. The food at the FAT depots was now free for all. What could be fairer?
But there were problems. Demand grew much faster than anticipated. The government responded by building more FAT facilities and hiring thousands of government workers to cope. Some groused about uneven quality and the lack of certain foods. There were waiting lists to get the more interesting foods. Some offered to pay for these food varieties. The odd FAT
depot out in the country started experimenting with food fees.
About this time some commentator suggested that the whole FAT arrangement was wasting resources. What was wrong with the old system? She was shouted down. Columnists howled. And the government enshrined the principle of food fairness by passing a law that banned food fees.
Taxes started rising fast to fund the rising cost of FAT. Over 14,000 FAT administrators convened to explore solutions to food shortages, quality problems, and cost difficulties. FAT workers protested about the need to preserve food fairness for all and pressured the politicians to continue raising taxes to save the system and stop hunger.
At an emergency summit FAT officials presented politicians with progressive solutions to save their system. A "get tough" plan by an assistant deputy minister from the Asparagus Division and the special advisor on economic development at the Ice Cream Directorate saved the day. A new royal commission would report in 2 years. The government also hired a consultant to make another report. Meanwhile, since the people didn’t want to accept the responsibility of paying higher taxes, FAT would save money by cutting costs.
The politicians accepted the plan to save FAT jobs. It raised taxes as usual but also introduced innovative and responsible cost saving measures. They agreed to close all FAT facilities down a few days every month. The workers snidely called them "non-fat" days.
No food for a while. It was fair, the politicians had saved the FAT.