The Food and Drug Administration is one of those departments that will be virtually impossible to ever remove. After all, they’re supposedly responsible for keeping our food supply safe. History tells us that prior to the FDA, food companies were putting all kinds of dangerous crap in foods and drinks…hence the FDA sprang into existence.
However, things are getting kind of silly when it comes to orange juice from Brazil. You see, down there, they use a fungicide called carbendazim. Carbendazim isn’t used here anymore, so no one has bothered to write a regulation on tolerances for the chemical. As such, Brazilian frozen, concentrated orange juice is currently illegal since it has traces of a chemical that we just don’t use anymore.
Obviously, this is because carbendazim is unsafe in any dosage, right? Wrong.
If you happen to notice sometime later this year that you’re suddenly paying a lot more for orange juice, you can blame America’s food safety authorities. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, after several weeks of deliberation, has blocked imports of frozen, concentrated orange juice from Brazil, probably for the next 18 months or so, even though the agency says the juice is perfectly safe.
The FDA’s explanation is that its hands are legally tied. Its tests show that practically all concentrated juice from Brazil currently contains traces of the fungicide carbendazim, first detected in December by Coca-Cola, maker of Minute Maid juices. The amounts are small — so small that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says no consumers should be concerned.
As you can imagine, there wasn’t much in President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address that would please libertarians. John Stossel notes that much of what the president said is in fact anathema to those of us that believe in limited government, and offers some of what he would have said if he were in Obama’s shoes:
Our debt has passed $15 trillion. It will reach Greek levels in just 10 years.
But if we make reasonable cuts to what government spends, our economy can grow us out of our debt. Cutting doesn’t just make economic sense, it is also the moral thing to do. Government is best which governs least.
We’ll start by closing the Department of Education, which saves $100 billion a year. It’s insane to take money from states only to launder it through Washington and then return it to states.
Next, we’ll close the Department of Housing and Urban Development. That saves $41 billion. We had plenty of housing in America before a department was created.
Then we eliminate the Commerce Department: $9 billion. A government that can’t count votes accurately should not try to negotiate trade. We will eliminate all corporate welfare and all subsidies. That means agriculture subsidies, green energy subsidies, ethanol subsidies and so on. None of it is needed.
I propose selling Amtrak. Why is government in the transportation business? Let private companies compete to run the trains.
And we must finally stop one of the biggest assaults on freedom and our pocketbook: the war on drugs. I used drugs. It’s immoral to imprison people who do what I did and now laugh about.
Still, all these cuts combined will only dent our deficit. We must cut Medicare, Social Security and the military.
Last night, President Barack Obama was supposed to speak on the State of the Nation, but in usual fashion, he turned it into a campaign speech. In case you missed it, you can watch it here or read the transcript. Don’t forget to watch or read the Republican response offered by Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels.
There was nothing in the speech that was ground-breaking. It was more of the same tired themes, such as his divisive class warfare rhetoric (much of it was inaccurate) and tearing down businesses. No substantive defense was offered for the failed economic policies that he continues to push.
Some of the policy experts from the Cato Institute, the Washington-based libetarian think thank, parsed the themes that Obama relayed and found much to be disappointed in:
While thousands of left-leaning folks took to the street last year to decry corporatism via the Occupy movement, many have managed to miss the corporatism of the left.
MapLight has conducted an analysis of campaign contributions from key industry groups to members of the U.S. Senate (July 1, 2005 - June 30, 2011) and found that:
- Entertainment interest groups that support these bills gave 7.2 times as much ($14,423,991) to members of the U.S. Senate as Internet interest groups that oppose these bills ($2,011,332).
- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has received 4.8 times as much from entertainment interest groups that support these bills ($571,500) as from Internet interest groups that oppose these bills ($118,050).
Now, is’nt that just fascinating?
Gary Johnson, former Governor of New Mexico and current Republican presidential candidate, plans to file a complaint against CBS with the regulatory bodies — the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Election Commission (FEC) — over being excluded from this GOP debate that took place on Saturday:
Gary Johnson’s presidential campaign is filing an official complaint with both the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over their candidate’s exclusion from the most recent GOP debate, Johnson’s campaign announced Tuesday.
Johnson’s complaint charges that debate sponsor CBS significantly contributed to the candidates who were allowed to participate in the debate, “directly and significantly supporting those candidates it favors, and advocating the nomination of one of their favorites and opposing the nomination of [Johnson], whom CBS evidently disfavors.”
Saturday’s debate, co-hosted by CBS and National Journal, was the first debate to air on broadcast television. According to Johnson’s complaint, “the public owns the airways over which CBS broadcasts, and the public deserves to be free from bias- favoring some candidates over others- as well as illegal support of certain presidential candidates on national network television.”
You can read the complaint here.
I’m always heartened to see third parties, of any stripe, get more attention in the news media. Such as this story from the Daily Caller:
The Occupy Wall Street protests have attracted significant support from Democratic Party politicians. But two of the country’s most significant third parties say that the message of the protests is that the two-party system is broken.
Green Party Media Coordinator Scott McLarty told The Daily Caller, “the claim from some people that the Occupy Wall Street and related ‘Occupy’ protests express support for the Democratic Party is more than disingenuous, it’s plain dishonest.”
“Organizers have made it repeatedly clear that the protests are not partisan, to the point of barring representatives of political parties from speaking publicly at the protests,” McLarty said. “The protests aren’t only driven by anger over the Wall Street’s greed and recklessness, but also by the two party political status quo that enabled Wall Street’s theft of the country’s future.”
Now, I may not agree with the Green Party on a lot of things, but I completely agree that it was both parties that led us to where we are today (and if we look at the unemployment trends for the next decade, then yes, I also agree that they “enabled Wall Street’s theft of the country’s future,” via bailouts, bad regulation, and out-and-out collusion.)
Remember the Gibson Guitar raid, a prime example of how absurd regulations and harrassment by government are hurting businesses? Members of the Tennessee delegation are working to ensure that the portions of the Lacey Act that lead to the raid are amended to avoid this problem in the future:
Members of the House from Tennessee introduced legislation on Thursday aimed at easing a controversial ban on the use of illegally traded wood for musicians and music retailers, several weeks after the federal government raided Gibson Guitar over allegations the company was violating that ban.
The bill, from Reps. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), would make several changes to the Lacey Act aimed at mitigating the penalties imposed on violators. But while the bill is a reaction to the raids on Gibson’s facilities in Memphis and Nashville — two cities with storied music histories — the lawmakers stressed that it would not affect any ongoing cases under Lacey.
The bill, H.R. 3210, is titled the Retailers and Entertainers Lacey Implementation and Enforcement Fairness (RELIEF) Act.
“In theory, anybody who travels outside the country or even across the state line with an old guitar right now would be in legal jeopardy,” Cooper said. “The RELIEF Act protects guitar pickers and small businesses, and it treats them fairly.”
Blackburn added that the bill fits in with the Republican effort to ease federal regulations, which the GOP says is hurting U.S. job creation.
Over at Cato @ Liberty, Tad DeHaven offers some thoughts on Rep. Ron Paul’s recently released budget proposal, the “Plan to Restore America,” which would eliminate five cabinet-level departments and cut $1 trillion in spending:
Presidential candidate Ron Paul has released a fiscal reform plan that would dramatically cut spending and rein in the size and scope of the federal government. My reaction to the proposal can be summed up in one word: hallelujah.
Republican policymakers – including the current GOP field of presidential candidates – talk a good game about reducing spending, but very few are willing to spell out exactly what they’d cut. As NRO’s Kevin Williamson puts it in the title of his write-up on the plan, “Ron Paul Dropping a Reality Bomb on the GOP Field.”
The following are some of the plan’s highlights:
EconomicFreedom.org, which put out a video last month explaining that economic freedom brings quality of life, released a new video yesterday showing that excessive government spending and regulation are among the reasons United States is falling behind other countries:
When you were a kid, what kinds of hobbies did you have? Remote control cars have always been popular. Me? I was intrigued with rockets. I built a couple but never got to launch them for a variety of reasons, but I always was fascinated by the idea that a kid could built something that would travel way up in the sky.
Of course, the United States government is less than intrigued. Tower Hobbies sent this out to their customers recently:
Dear Tower Hobbies Customer,
Many people are concerned with new government regulations that are designed to limit our hobby industry. You’ve probably heard about the new FAA regulations limiting our use of R/C airplanes and proposed shipping bans for R/C batteries.
New regulations are being considered regarding model rocket motors. This may not immediately impact your particular hobby but it’s just another step toward regulation of materials used in hobbies and deserves your attention.
The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has recently advised that they propose to terminate a special permit under which model rocket motors and igniters have been shipped for the last 33 years. If the permit is terminated model rocket motors and igniters will no longer be able to be shipped as “Flammable Solids” and will instead have to be shipped as “Explosives.”
In 33 years there have been no incidents involved in the shipping and transporting of model rocket motors and igniters.
Hobbyists need your support. Attached is a sample e-mail that we request you send immediately to express your support.
We believe that shipping model rocket motors and igniters as “Explosives” would only cause unnecessary concern for hobby shops, educators, youth group leaders and families using model rockets for educational and recreational purposes.