Why Vermont’s favorite ice cream entrepreneurs may no longer get a pass now that Becca Balint has left the Vermont Legislature
By Guy Page
Rep. Becca Balint’s recent criticism of Ben & Jerry’s child labor practices underscores what some critics have been saying (oh, okay, I’ve been thinking) about Ben & Jerry’s for a very long time:
Great ice cream. Abysmal child-abuse-for-profit. Three times over.
When it comes to global warming, child obesity, and human trafficking, Ben & Jerry’s is a predatory perp.
And yet they always get a pass from the Vermont Legislature. Balint is only heaving verbal rocks at them now that she’s a member of the country’s most influential stoning brigade, the progressive caucus of the United States Congress. When she led the Senate, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield were always welcome to lug a few gallons of ice cream into the State House cafeteria and scoop ice cream for lobbyists and lawmakers while schmoozing about their favorite progressive issue (climate change, universal health care, mostly).
Human trafficking – Balint’s letter to Ben & Jerry’s owner Unilever (shared with the media) asks, “When did your suppliers begin using migrant child labor?” It’s as if she’s somehow unaware that the flood of unchecked illegal immigrants into Vermont to work on dairy farms are victims of human trafficking cartels that want their money – and have no compunction about forcing children to help Mom and Dad pay the coyote.
Sure, farmers need workers, and sure, America needs immigrants. What they/we don’t need are the cartels as human resource managers. There’s a better way – but I don’t recall Balint bravely singling out B&J’s role in empowering human trafficking on the campaign trail. Maybe that’s because the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation supports progressive non-profits near and dear to Balint’s heart: like climate hawk and activist trainer 350.org.
Child obesity – This issue was hot for a while. Now the pendulum of progressive outrage has swung the other way. Fat activists saying Michelle Obama’s favorite cause fails the equity test and even fosters anorexia. But think about it – Ben & Jerry’s not only sells a high calorie, highly-addictive comfort food, it gives it away free to groups of young people. There was a time when you couldn’t swing a dead cat at a youth gathering without knocking over a tub of free Ben & Jerry’s. Generosity? Or grooming future addicts?
Climate Change – Maybe Ben & Jerry’s supports Bill McKibben’s 350.org for the same reason fossil-fuel utilities are willing to buy carbon credits. It’s just a matter of time before Vermont’s climate warriors, fresh from their victories over oil-burning furnaces, turn their spears and crossbows on the Vermont dairy farm, a target-rich environment of methane-producing cows. It’s like medieval indulgences: the Bad Guys pay the Good Guys so that the Good Guys won’t hassle them about continuing to sleep with their sisters, as James Ehlers said so clearly if crassly in Monday’s Vermont Daily Chronicle.
This is child abuse (the .350org narrative says) because the looming global disaster that is climate change will climax decades, even generations from now. The climate cult’s prophets warn that the sins of the parents will be visited on the children, down to the third and fourth generation. Repent now!
Supporters of Israel could add that Ben & Jerry’s also backs the Palestinian movement without strong, public condemnation of its frequent straying from the non-violent tenets of the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation. More and more, Ben & Jerry’s is looking less like a sweet dairy cow and more like the pig that prefers to wallow in the mud.
Woe betide the corporate lobbyist who has to answer to his/her big bosses at Unilever who failed to prevent the inevitable social media meme headline going viral: “FIGHT child obesity! SAVE Mother Earth! STOP human trafficking! BOYCOTT Ben & Jerry’s!”
And it could happen. Probably will happen. But not because of genuine moral outrage. Pardon my cynicism but….
FTX isn’t there anymore to cough up big campaign bucks. But Unilever is. Becca Balint, the new farmhand, has hooked up the campaign contribution milking machine to the Ben & Jerry’s cash cow and will keep that machine humming until the old girl is drained dry.