Got milk? Not for my dime!

An interesting article (thanks to Tim for pointing it out) appears in the Washington Post about the constitutionality of government-mandated, privately-funded speech.

It appears that "Got Milk?", "Beef-It's what's for dinner", "Pork: the other white meat", and "Cotton: the fabric of our lives" are all embroiled in a set of legal entanglements centered around the government mandating (through laws and taxes) the dissemination of these messages and requiring that the parties in question pay for them.

The beef (pardon the pun) is that in each of these areas, American producers would like to differentiate their products from their competitors and would rather spend money through tighter industry associations with focusses on their particular form of product, such as grain-fed vs. grass-fed beef.

It may prove to be an interesting year with these suits set to end up in the Court with decisions in July.

Until then, we'll continue to be asked if we've "Got Milk?"

Although I find most of the article interesting, I'm not sure about the interpretation involving the "Army of One" campaign. It seems to me (as ignorant as I am about the law and such things) that speech taken on by the government as part of their general funds and course of business (ads about tax compliance, recruiting for the armed forces, PSAs funded by government agencies) makes a certain amount of sense.

I think there's a specific line to be drawn when an industry is targeted for taxation and then those moneys are spent on specific programs that contradict the purposes of the program (really, would anybody be complaining if the producers felt that they were getting their money's worth?).

For anyone who's interested, The Cattlemen's Beef Promotion and Research Board is indeed funded by a $1/head tax on beef cattle and appears to have legislative constraints on its overhead spending.