- - Wednesday, February 7, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

A judge in New York, where irreverence of everything is prized, once suggested that the grand jury system for bringing criminal indictments be abolished because district attorneys with a gift of glib gab can easily persuade grand jurors to “indict a ham sandwich.”

This logically applies to special counsels, too, and Robert Mueller, who so far has spent millions of dollars investigating President Trump’s collusion, so called, with Vladimir Putin to cook the results of the 2016 election, has so far bagged only a couple of ham sandwiches. He’s counting on his powers of gab to bag the tasty butt of some consequential pig.

Meanwhile, the fourth earl of Sandwich, who legend has it invented the humble sandwich in 1762 by ordering his servants to put meat between two slices of bread, could not have foreseen the consequences. His name was given to the sandwich when he and his horse were challenged to a race by the earl of Derby, so the legend goes, and fortunately the earl of Derby won. Otherwise the Kentucky Sandwich would have become the most celebrated American horse race.

But ham is guilty of something far more sinister, far more heinous, than the misbehavior of a mere Republican president or the crime of good taste. Scientists at the University of Manchester in Britain have found that ham sandwiches are guilty of contributing to global warming (or climate change, as we’re instructed to call it now).

Not just ham sandwiches, either. All sandwiches, whether of ham, cheese, peanut butter and jelly or the classic BLT, homemade or commercially prepared, are guilty of contributing to global warming to one degree or another. The plastic-wrapped convenience-store sandwich is particularly culpable for creating the greenhouse gases that doom us all.

The scientists concluded that the 11.5 billion sandwiches consumed annually in the United Kingdom, as counted by the British Sandwich Association, could be responsible for the equivalent of the annual carbon emissions of the 8.6 million cars in Britain.

Some varieties of sandwiches leave a larger carbon footprint than others. The Bigfoot of sandwiches is the store-bought breakfast sandwich of egg and bacon or sausage. Each sandwich contains, in addition to the calories, the carbon-emission equivalent of driving a car 12 miles (on the wrong side of the road).

The humble homemade ham and cheese sandwich actually leaves the smallest carbon footprint of all, and its indictment presumably carries the fewest counts. The packaging, transportation and refrigeration of the plastic-wrapped sandwiches are contributing factors, but the filling, the lettuce, tomato, cheese, bread and even the condiments are the chief villains.

The findings of the British scientists about the role of meat in general and pork in particular is tasty catnip to the animal-rights crowd, coming as it did soon after the Bloomberg News account of the previous day that such animal advocates are bullish on a proposed tax on meat. Excise taxes on beef, pork and chicken could be “the next big thing” in a nation that already imposes sin taxes on tobacco, booze and sugar-sweetened drinks.

Ashley Byrne of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is positively giddy at the prospect of a meat tax, since meat takes what she called an “incredible toll on the environment.” It makes “absolute sense” to tax it.

Proponents of a meat tax, whose ranks overlap with those of climate-change hysterics, point to a September 2013 report of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization that estimated that livestock emissions account for 14.5 percent of all “man-made” greenhouse gases. The FAO further estimated that cattle production for meat and milk cause 65 percent of those emissions.

It’s not clear how bovine and porcine flatulence counts as “man-made,” but perhaps if everyone ate fewer sandwiches — especially deli-style double-decker clubs, piled high with meats and cheeses — and stopped washing them down with a glass of milk, the rude and ill-mannered blasts of gas would be minimized. The author of that Bloomberg report was one Michael Bologna. If you can’t believe Bologna, who can you believe?

The liberals who advocate taxing meat as a means of curbing global warming must surely realize that taxing food is particularly regressive, because everyone eats meat if they can afford it, since man and his mate are natural carnivores, and the poor spend a disproportionate share of their income on food. This study is almost enough to persuade good citizens to give up the pleasures of the table.


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