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The Pizza Police

The Pizza Police →

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Congressman Fred Upton, writing in National Review:

The nutritional boards may cost a lot of dough, but at least the pizza-loving populace will be exposed to the caloric details of their feast, right? Hardly. Ninety percent of Domino’s customers never see the menu sign. That’s because they place their orders on the Internet or over the phone; whether the pie is delivered or picked up in-store, at best the consumer would see the calorie sign only after the order is placed.

Thanks to an Obamacare provision, restaurants will have to spend thousands of dollars putting up government mandated signs that few of their customers will ever see. All in the name of bullying you into eating healthier. Who's your nanny now?

Government Bulbs: Slightly More Efficient, Vastly More Expensive

Incandescent Bulbs Return to the Cutting Edge - NYTimes.com

...the incandescent bulb is turning into a case study of the way government mandates can spur innovation.

... The first bulbs to emerge from this push, Philips Lighting's Halogena Energy Savers, are expensive compared with older incandescents. They sell for $5 apiece and more, compared with as little as 25 cents for standard bulbs.

But they are also 30 percent more efficient than older bulbs. Philips says that a 70-watt Halogena Energy Saver gives off the same amount of light as a traditional 100-watt bulb and lasts about three times as long, eventually paying for itself.

It's a case study in the way that mandates can spur innovation, but I'm not sure the news is as good as the New York Times seems to think it is. A government mandate has so far managed to make incandescent bulbs 30% more efficient and 1900% more expensive. This is progress?

Don't Attack My Mike's!

No More Mike's Hard Lemonades For Me:

OK, perhaps it is a guilty pleasure, but I enjoy downing a couple of Mike Hard Lemonade's on a hot afternoon. Now, it seems, the Food Nazi's at the Center for Science in the Public Interest want to stop me.

Public Citizen's blog announced that CSPI plans to sue the beverage sellers, asking for disgorgement of profits from flavored malt beverages, unless they agree to take them off the market. Their theory? By making flavored alcoholic beverages that taste good, they are effectively marketing to children.(Because, after all, adults don't like beverages that taste good.)

(Via Coyote Blog.)

Mike's Hard Lemonade is one of the few alcoholic drinks that I actually like. (The other, Smirnoff Ice, is almost certainly on their hit list too.) I'm going to be quite ticked if any judge actually rules in favor of these know-nothing busybodies.

Banned for Your Own Good

The city of Madison believes that if it limits your freedom it can truly make you safer. Next up on their agenda: plastic water bottles.

The city of Madison, enamored of bans on everything from smoking to phosphorus fertilizers, may be setting its regulatory sights on another target -- plastic.

In coming months, the city's Commission on the Environment is likely to begin discussing bans on the sale of bottled water at public events and the use of plastic grocery bags.

Jon Standridge, chairman of the commission, said members voted unanimously at the end of last year to place both items on upcoming agendas.

"Each year toward the end of the calendar year we sit down and talk about what people are interested in," Standridge said. "We ask if something is an environmental problem and if it is worth taking up. And if it is worth taking up, is there something we can do?"


Regardless of what happens, Dreckmann said, discussion of the issue is important because it will make people more aware.

"Whether or not we actually do something about it, it's just good to raise the consciousness of people, to have them think about the environmental consequences of drinking bottled water instead of just turning the tap."

If water bottles are really, truly a problem let's fix the problem. Calculate how much they add to the cost of the city's garbage costs. Count how many of them are sold in the city. Put a city tax on each water bottle sold, equal to the disposal cost. In other words, put a price on the damage that the water bottles are doing. Then, let consumers decide whether or not they want to pay that price.

Maybe a per-bottle trash tax isn't the best way to pass the cost along to the consumers. But it's a better way than simply banning the bottles and leaving consumers no choice at all. Why is the Madison city government so opposed to choice and freedom?

G.O.P. Outlook: Sunny

GOP Logo

Above: New GOP logo.

Although the Bush Administration has quite typically failed to capitalize on it politically, all Americans are this week definitely enjoying the benefits of Republican-birthed legislation: additional sunlight.

According to FOX News,

"If you turned your clocks back one hour Sunday morning thinking it was the annual move back to Standard Time, all you succeeded in doing was moving into a new time zone... President Bush in 2005 signed the Energy Conservation Act, which pushed back the time change in an effort to squeeze just a little more daylight — and a bit of energy savings [And let's not forget sleep - Adam] — into the daily lives of Americans."

Yes, it's certainly a public relations coup ("GOP '08: A Little Ray of Sunshine In Your Life"). However, those of us of a more theological bent perhaps cannot help but wonder: could this be one more ominous example of Big Government extending its influence into spheres best left inviolate? Is an inept bureaucracy really capable of deciding better than ourselves and God just how much daylight we should all get?

I do not think I am jumping at shadows (of which I notice there are now fewer). There are already worrisome reports by refugees from that most confused of government powers, North Korea - apparently on Sunday morning it became March. The American state of Georgia, still experiencing a severe drought, must now contend with an extra 1% of scorching rays from Father Sol. And questions are already being raised as to just how deep in bed our elected officials are with Big SPF.

Add to all of this a horrifying experience I had once with a tanning salon (I literally spent three days naked as a result) and - well, I guess I'm just afraid of your average, low-income American getting burned by The Man again. Let's be careful out there.

This entry was tagged. Humor Nanny State

Hong Kong: The Last Free City on Earth

We'd all do well to occasionally remember what exactly we mean by the word "freedom".

I thought about that as I read through the Heritage Foundation's Freedom Index for 2007, a list which rates each of 161 countries in the world according to that country's level of economic freedom - that is, the level of control private citizens are given over their own earnings.

Now according to the Heritage Foundation's scale, the citizens of any country with less than a rating of 80% are not to be considered "free". Which is a fair enough suggestion, we Minor Thinkers will suggest; after all, who can really claim with pride, "I am master of 4/5's of my fate"? One might very forgivably consider the possession of 4/5's of freedom a good time to start planning a government overthrow.

Unfortunately, by that yardstick only seven countries in the world qualify as "free".

They are Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, the United States, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Ireland.

In the various separate categories of ratings ("Freedom from Govt.", "Monetary Freedom", "Investment Freedom", etc.), only Hong Kong is found completely acceptable, save in the field of "Freedom from Corruption" (the only field not directly tied to government policy); all other countries dip below the 80% level in one category or another and simply possess an average of at least 80%.

Hong Kong.

It's a single metropolis in a world of metropolises, and it's presently the only society on Earth wiithin which you are always more than 9/10ths your own master.

And back in 1997, I notice, Great Britain tossed it to China's Communists.

The Great Village Robbery

Local Oregon homeowners were flooded out last month. Six properties, worth about $1 million total, were significantly damaged. Now the homeowners want the village government to buy their properties -- at their pre-flood value -- so they can start over in a new house.


Johnson said he'll be happy if the village makes him an offer that comes close to what he could get if he sold his house under normal circumstances.

"We know that's a problem area," Staton said of the low-lying section where the homes were built in the mid-1960s. "If I lived there, or if my kids lived there, I'd want to be bought out and be able to live someplace else, " he said.

Mark Below, Oregon 's director of public works, said the developers who put up the homes evidently felt the area was dry enough to build on. "There was no floodplain mapping done at that time, " he said.

Village Trustee Jon Lourigan said if federal and state funding falls through, the village should use taxpayer dollars to buy the homes.

...buying the properties without outside assistance would be an enormous purchase for a village whose operating budget this year is $4.8 million.

This is what flood insurance is supposed to cover. Apparently, none of these homeowners had flood insurance. They gambled that their homes would never flood. They lost that bet. Now they want someone else to cover their losses.

These homeowners want to potentially increase the village budget by 25%, so that they can get out of their existing homes and into new ones with zero financial loss? What selfishness! Taxes would have to go up for the entire rest of the village in order to accomplish this.

At least have the guts to walk through the village door by door demanding $125 from each person in the house. Because that's what you're doing here, Mr. Johnson. And if you'd be too ashamed, embarrassed, or scared to that, you should be too embarrassed and ashamed to ask for tax handouts.

DUI Abuse

It used to be that DUI citations were given out for actually driving while under the influence of alcohol. Increasingly, they're being given out for simply being "under the influence". This strikes me as a gross violation of civil liberties. Since when did it become illegal to simply have alcohol in your system?

The first story comes from Hamburg, New Jersey.

A New Jersey appellate court yesterday upheld the principle that convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) can be imposed on individuals who were not driving. David Montalvo, 36, found this out as he responsibly tried to sleep off his intoxication in his GMC pickup truck while safely stopped in the parking lot of the Market Place Deli on a cold February morning last year. At around 5am he awoke to see a Hamburg Police Department patrolman standing over him. The officer had opened the door of Montalvo's truck to rouse the man and insist that he take a breathalyzer test. Montalvo refused.

For his attempt to follow the law and drive responsibly, David Montalvo now owes the city more than $4000, plus legal fees. Punishing people for doing the right thing in an effort to motivate them to do the right thing. I think New Jersey has discovered an entirely new principle of human behavior.

Next up, Rochester New Hampshire. Dover man arrested for taping his DWI investigation

A 48-year-old Chestnut Street man was arrested early this morning for wiretapping for allegedly recording police while they were investigating him for driving while intoxicated.

Police say they were patrolling the downtown area at 2:54 a.m. when they discovered Christopher A. Power of 52 Chestnut St. sitting in the driver's seat of a vehicle with its motor running at the Rochester Common.

After speaking with Power, police began investigating him for driving while intoxicated and arrested him. During the arrest an audio recording device was discovered.

Not only is it apparently illegal to sit in a parked car while alcohol is in your blood, it's also illegal to record police in the performance of their duties.

Err, since when? They work for the public, in the public good. Shouldn't the public be allowed to monitor that that's actually what they're doing? What are the police trying to hide? I thought the government line was that only criminals should be afraid of surveillance. Are the New Hampshire police hiding something?

Building the Healthcare Business

George C. Halvorson, CEO of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals wants to force you to buy healthcare. He doesn't care if you want healthcare or if you think you need healthcare.

"Anything short of an absolute single-payer system requires an individual mandate. If you don't have that, then people will make decisions about coverage that will result in far less than universal coverage."

"Individual mandate": code words meaning that the government will force you buy healthcare and fine you if you don't. "Far less than universal coverage": people might otherwise choose not to purchase health insurance.

The comments were made while Mr. Halvorson was discussing European style healthcare. Several European countries allow private insurerers to sell healthcare, requiring only that every citizen purchase a health insurance plan. This is the model of healthcare "reform" that Mr. Halvorson favors. I can understand why he would be in favor of "individual mandates" -- he heads up an organization that makes quite a good profit selling health insurance. I'm sure Kaiser would earn even higher profits if more people bought health insurance. On the other hand, no one should be forced by their government to make a private company richer.

Individual mandates: just say no.

Smoking Insanity

Police officials in North Platte, Nebraska are moving dangerously close to an act of pure insanity:

In response to a recent report from the U.S. Surgeon General about the dangers of second-hand smoke, local police officials report they are preparing to crack down on drivers who expose their children to second-hand smoke.

The report shows second-hand smoke is particularly harmful to young children whose developing bodies are especially vulnerable. Second-hand smoke can cause a number of life-threatening childhood illnesses such as asthma.

"With that in mind, we are researching to determine whether law enforcement has probable cause to arrest anyone exposing children to second-hand smoke inside a vehicle," Gutschenritter said. He added the police department is working with the county attorney to determine if smoking in a vehicle with children present would be considered child abuse.

Child abuse in Nebraska is punishable by a year in jail and / or a $1000 fine. Failing to buckle-up your child is punishable by a $25 fine.

Says Michael Siegel

Do you mean to tell me that to prevent the mere risk of some ear infections and respiratory infections, the Lincoln County Tobacco Coalition is willing to support the imprisonment of parents, removing them from their kids for a period of up to one year? You can't be serious. It is far more devastating, to be sure, for children to have a parent removed from them, than for the child to be at increased potential risk of an ear or upper respiratory infection.

There's no other way to put it. If the North Platte police department goes ahead with this, they will prove themselves to be complete idiots. Second-hand smoke is nowhere near as dangerous as these "experts" make it out to be. I should know. My parents are not smokers, but my aunt is. Some of my fondest childhood memories involving going outside with my aunt, while she smoked. She smoked while driving me around town on many occasions. My lungs have suffered no ill effects. Whatever risk of heart disease I may face is due to my weight -- not to her cigarettes.

It is (or should be) absolutely unbelievable that her behavior is worthy of either an immense fine or jail time. "The land of the free" is being destroyed by these hysterical public health "experts". How else do you describe a country where you have the freedom to do anything except for that which might possibly harm you in some ill-defined manner?

Rebuilding New Orleans

According to FoxNews, Mayor Ray Nagin said that New Orleans residents should be allowed to rebuild anywhere -- as long as they do so at their own risk. Quoth the good mayor I don't recommend you going in areas I'm not comfortable with. I'm confident that the citizens can decide intelligently for themselves..

Actually, I am too. Unfortunately, I'm afraid that citizens will intelligently decide to rebuild in dangerous areas. Why? Because apparently poor decisions no longer have harsh consequences. President Bush's Gulf Coast Rebuilding Coordinator, Donald Powell, recently announced that President Bush would seek $4.2 billion for uninsured home owners that lived in the flood plains of New Orleans. The home owners that lived in that flood plain risked being flooded out. Many of them chose to accept that risk even without flood insurance. No matter. The federal government is now promising to cancel out any of the painful consequences of those decisions.

With consequences like that, I'm sure many citizens will choose to live wherever they please. It would be an intelligent decision too. After all, if the government's bailed them out once, it's likely to do it again. And we'll pay for it. How's that for living in the land of freedom and opportunity? Our government is guaranteeing that you can have the freedom to live wherever you want and your fellow citizens will have the opportunity of paying for your choice.

Making a Choice

In American politics today, there is a simple question that divides us: who makes our choices? Do we make our own choices or do we stand aside and let someone else make our choices for us? This is the question that fuels the debate over school choice, over ethanol mandates, over FDA drug approvals, and over a host of other issues.

There are those that believe that only government employees can be trusted to make decisions. They believe that parents cannot be trusted to choose a school for their own children. They believe that drivers cannot be trusted to choose the best fuel for their vehicles. They believe that patients cannot be trusted to choose which medicines to take. As a result, they established the FDA to pick and choose our medicines for us. They established local School Boards to run the schools, making it as difficult as possible for parents to use non-government schools. They support ethanol mandates, to make us use the fuels they like best.

This governmental paternalism is always presented as a benevolent service. A service that government willingly provides to its citizens. But is it benevolent? Does government paternalism really make our lives better? Are we really better off if the government makes our choices for us?

Let me make this entire issue more personal: do you trust the FDA to make the right decisions about your drugs? Be cautious how you respond. The FDA has two criteria for approving drugs: is it safe and does it work? Every drug must be tested thoroughly -- a process that often lasts 10 years or more. Some drugs make it through these tests and are approved for sale, most don't.

What does it mean when a drug fails its tests? It means that the drug doesn't work more often than it does. It means that the drug hurts more people than it helps. It doesn't mean that the drug never works and it doesn't mean that the drug always causes harm. FDA employees look at the test results and make a decision. Does the drug work often enough, in a safe enough manner to be sold? In some manner, these decisions are arbitrary. There is no hard and fast line that can determine whether or not a drug is appropriate for human usage.

FDA doctors look at all of the variables, all of the tests, all of the evidence and make one decision. This decision is binding on all 300 million American citizens. This decision is no mere recommendation. It is a crime to use a drug that the FDA has not certified as being safe and effective. Both the patient taking it and the doctor prescribing it can be thrown into jail if their usage of the drug does not meet FDA "guidelines".

Is the FDA's decision really that valid? Is it really valid for all 300 million Americans? Probably not. There are tradeoffs involved in the decision to take any drug. Is it going to work? How well will it work? What side effects will there be? How severe will the side effects be? Is there a danger of death? How big is that danger of death? What benefits does the drug offer? How dramatic are those benefits? Are those benefits worth the danger of death? These are questions that don't have a one-size fits all answer. Some drugs may be very dangerous for some patients and very safe for others. Some drugs may have no effect on one person and a life-changing effect for another person. And yet, the FDA makes the same decision binding on both people.

Case in point: yesterday, the FDA heard testimony from patients with multiple sclerosis about a called Tysabri. This drug has been called a breakthrough for the treatment of M.S. Multiple sclerosis is a neurological disease that affects about 400,000 Americans. It wouldn't be surprising if a drug that treats neurological defects has neurological side effects. So it is with Tysabri. Tysabri has been linked to P.M.L. (progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy), a rare but deadly neurologic virus.

On the one hand, we have a drug that's been hailed as a breakthrough treatment for a debilitating disease. On the other hand, we have a drug that can kill those who take it. Should it be available for patients to take or not? The FDA is currently deciding. The FDA is currently deciding whether or not M.S. patients can take a potentially life-changing (and possibly life threatening) drug. Why is the FDA deciding this issue? Why can't these patients make their own decisions? Pamela Clark of Salt Lake City told the agency that "We understand the risks of using experimental drugs, but we also understand the risks of doing nothing." She also reported that "Tysabri had allowed her to walk to a duck pond with her two 5-year-old sons and stand up long enough to cook dinner."

Tysabri has made Pamela's life better. It's allowed her to enjoy life again. She weighed the risk and decided that the benefit of the drug was worth the risk. Unfortunately for Pamela, she's not allowed to make that decision. She has to wait for the FDA to make the decision for her.

Do you think that's right? Do you think that Pamela should be prevented from deciding for herself? Do you think that her illness distorts her judgment in such a way that she is incapable of making her own decision? Would your answer change if you were in Pamela's shoes? Are you willing to turn control of your life over to government employees?

It's time to make a choice.

Mother, May I (Start a Business)?

If you live in Colorado, you may be surprised at how hard it is to start a business. Coyote recently won a concession to manage the Elk Creek Marina on Blue Mesa Lake. He posted a list on Getting the Government's Permission to do Business. It's a 20 item list. Everything on there is either time-consuming, expensive, or both.

  • To register as a foreign corporation, we need to hire a person to be a "registered agent" to be a contact with the state. The only real purpose of this person I have ever found is to provide an avenue for mail to get lost.
  • We need to fill out a pretty elaborate application to sell Colorado fishing licenses, and may need to post another bond to do so. (Update: Confirmed, we need a $4000 bond).
  • We need to go through an extensive application process to transfer three current liquor licenses into our name. I wrote about liquor license hassles here.
  • The person on the phone today told me a corporation in Colorado cannot own more than two liquor licenses. If this is true, we will have to form a second company in Colorado, repeating all the tasks above plus the initial work just to form the company
  • Our managers need to attend food handlers training in Colorado. Of course, they have attended the exact same course in California, but Colorado wants them to sit through it again within their state's borders

There's more. Lots more. Think of this if you wonder why there aren't more jobs available. Every potential employer has to go through this hassle before being legally allowed to offer jobs.