Friday, December 31, 2010

No Medicine For You

from The American Spectator:

5:17 AM (14 hours ago)No Medicine for Youfrom The American Spectator and AmSpecBlog by Andrew ClineIf you have a Health Savings Account or Flex Spending Account with money in it, your task today, the last day of 2010, is to go to the drug store, whip out that card, and buy as much over-the-counter medication as you think you might need in 2011. If you don't, you'll have to pay for it out of pocket starting tomorrow.

For reasons not entirely clear except to those who wrote the 2010 health care bill, as of tomorrow it will be illegal to use an HSA or FSA to buy over-the-counter drugs without a doctor's prescription.

Wait… that can't be right. The whole point of over-the-counter drugs is to let people medicate without a prescription. The government wouldn't make you go to the doctor's office and get a prescription just so you can use your tax-free medical savings account to buy aspirin. Would it?

Yes it would. Or, to reinterpret a campaign slogan: Yes, they did.

Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Spending Accounts are designed to reduce health care costs by empowering consumers. They allow users to save money tax-free and spend it on allowable medical purchases.

An FSA is designed to pay for expenses not covered by your insurance. You fill it with pre-tax contributions, then use it to pay for expenses such as dental treatment (typically not covered by regular health insurance), eyeglasses or office co-pays. Any money not spent by the end of the year is lost.

An HSA is designed to supplement your insurance. With a high-deductible health plan, HSA users can contribute pre-tax dollars to their accounts, then use the money to pay their regular medical bills, including everything from hospital visits to cold medicine.

Both accounts could be used to pay for over-the-counter medications. But not after today.

After today, if you catch a cold and have an FSA or HSA, you can use your card to pay for a visit to your doctor, but not to buy yourself some DayQuil -- unless you get a prescription for it. To avoid a doctor's visit, you will have to pay out-of-pocket for over-the-counter medications

These new restrictions also apply to HRAs, Health Reimbursement Accounts funded by employers, and Archer Medical Savings Accounts.

The law will further restrict FSAs two years from now. Starting in 2013, FSA contributions will be capped at $2,500.

Why in the world would the government make you go to the doctor and get a prescription for an over-the-counter medication before you could buy it with a tax-free account created for the very purpose of encouraging people to save health care dollars rather than waste them on needless doctor's office visits?

Some say the change is a revenue-raiser for the government to help offset the cost of the health care law. Every dollar not put into these tax-free accounts is a dollar that gets taxed. But I think the reason was pure class warfare.

Reporting on the change, Kaiser Health News had this interesting analysis in June:

Many Democrats say HSAs are a tax shelter for healthy, affluent people who can afford to sock money away and leave it there to grow. A 2008 Government Accountability Office report found that the average household income of people with HSAs was $139,000, compared with $57,000 for all other taxpayers. Critics also say that requiring people to dig deeper into their own pockets to pay for health care encourages them to cut back on care they need."

The Democrats snuck this provision into the health care bill (and they did sneak it in; after the bill was passed, the New York Times called the provision a "surprise" for consumers) in part to stick it to "the rich." It was a leveling maneuver: remove a perk enjoyed by more affluent Americans to even the score between them and everyone else.

The other motive was control. People who control their own health care spending make different decisions than those for whom cost is less of a factor because more costs are paid by insurers. That helps lower health care costs. But Democrats don't trust people to make their own decisions, which is what these accounts enable people to do. So they cut a major perk from the accounts to encourage people to visit the doctor for routine medical decisions they had been making themselves.

In short, because Democrats envy the affluent and don't trust Americans to take care of themselves, starting tomorrow you can't use your HSA or FSA to buy aspirin or cold medicine, unless you waste time and money going to the doctor for permission first. So stock up today and hope the new Congress can get this ridiculous restriction repealed before your medications expire. See you at the pharmacy.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Using Regulation Against The Will Of The People

From Big Government:

Using Regulation Against The Will Of The Peopleby Robert Allen Bonelli

Written into the Declaration of Independence is a simple imperative, “Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Our nation was built on this concept, but the Obama administration is using its power to write regulation to circumvent the will of the people and advance its own agenda.

Three recent examples of this over reach are shocking and all Americans should demand an end to the practice and a reversal of what has already been done. Citizens need to think, whether they agree with the reasons for the circumvention or not, about what is at stake. Using regulation to specifically subjugate the will of the people to the agenda of any president is nothing less than tyranny.

The New York Times and Fox News, an unlikely combination, recently reported that the Obama Administration is taking advantage of a rule in the final version of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (“Obamacare”) that authorizes Medicare coverage of yearly physical examinations. The new rule says Medicare will cover voluntary advance care planning to discuss end-of-life treatment as part of an annual visit. The mandate for end-of-life planning, commonly referred to as death panels, was specifically legislated out of Obamacare because of the uproar by the majority of Americans. Most recent polls show 60% or more of the electorate wants Obamacare repealed, but this particular mandate was rejected by the people before the law was passed.

Using this embedded rule, one of the hundreds of Obamacare surprises that will be revealed over time, the Obama administration is able to achieve its policy goal through the regulation-writing process. In this case, doctors will be encouraged to provide information on how to prepare an advance directive, stating how aggressively patients wish to be treated if they are so sick that they cannot make health care decisions for themselves. Regardless of the merits, this is not what the people want. If this seemingly harmless step is allowed to be taken, what else can be written into regulations that will further circumvent the will of the people?

Early this month, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) voted to regulate the Internet for the first time. This scheme, known as Net Neutrality that forbids Internet service providers from impeding access to legal web content, may seem minor but it raises larger free speech issues and the threat of more intrusive regulation. Even Congress has been sensitive to the First Amendment implications of any legislation regulating the Internet and has been careful in taking any action to date.

The people want debate by their elected representatives on this issue, not the imposition of new regulation at the whim of a president who believes he knows better than the citizenry. This move, along party lines by the appointed commissioners of the FCC and publically welcomed by Mr. Obama, is nothing more than a power grab in defiance of the will of the people.

Perhaps the most dangerous use of regulatory power hanging over the American people is the judicially extended powers of the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) to regulate specific greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, as pollutants under the forty year old Clean Air Act. The Clean Air Act was originally written to regulate air pollutants, not something that is ever present in the air – and certainly not something that is part of life itself!

The Supreme Court made the ruling in April of 2007 in the case The State of Massachusetts v. the Environmental Protection Agency but little has been done since. However, with the support of the Obama administration, the EPA is now ready to regulate carbon dioxide. The Clean Air Act, as it is now written, requires that any source that emits more than 250 tons of carbon dioxide per year be required to capture those emissions. That threshold is so low that not only would it impose higher costs on power plants and refineries, but also farms, rural schools and hospitals.

If the EPA is allowed to follow through on using the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon dioxide, Washington D.C. bureaucrats will have more control over the lives of citizens and their businesses than the citizens themselves.

These three examples clearly prove how the Obama administration is poised to use the regulation-writing process to advance its own agenda regardless of what the American people want. The administration is also acting in open defiance to our form of representative government. Regardless of where anyone stands on these three particular issues, it is the dictatorial action implied by this process that should be rejected. The 112th Congress can use its power to review any regulation to strike down this power grab. The American people need to demand that this new Congress act swiftly to send the president notice that our liberty will not be taken from us by the stroke of a pen.

Robert Allen Bonelli is the author of “Liberty Rising,” an accomplished business executive, public speaker and involved citizen.

De-Motivational Poster

Man-Made Famine In America

From The American Thinker:

December 30, 2010

Manmade famine in America

Thomas Lifson

It seems inconceivable, but people in America are going hungry en masse due to a famine caused by political authorities. Fresno, California is not yet a sister city of Kiev, Ukraine, but the two cities, capitals of rich agricultural regions, share a history of mass hunger caused by central governments indifferent to the suffering of their people, in the pursuit of ideological goals. Investor's Business Daily explains:

Fresno is the agricultural capital of America. More food per acre in more variety can be grown in the fertile Central Valley surrounding this community than on any other land in America - perhaps in the world.

Yet far from being a paradise, Fresno is starting to resemble Zimbabwe or 1930s Ukraine, a victim of a famine machine that is entirely man-made, not by red communists this time, but by greens.

State and federal officials, driven by the agenda of environmental extremists, have made it extremely difficult for the valley's farms, introducing costly environmental regulations and cutting off critical water supplies to save the Delta smelt, a bait fish. It's all driving the economy to collapse.

In the southwest part of the Central Valley, water allotments as low as 10% of normal have created a visible dust bowl. The knock-on effect can be seen in cities like Fresno, where November's unemployment among the packers, cannery workers and professional fields that make agriculture productive stands at 16.9%.

So bad is the economy, due to federal water restrictions, that almost a quarter of local families are going hungry in Fresno:

Local newspapers and Fresno County officials are trying to rally Facebook users to vote for Fresno in a corporate contest sponsored by Wal-Mart for $1 million in charity food donations for the hungry. Fresno, a city of 505,000, has taken the national lead because 24.1% of Fresno's families are going hungry.

The destruction of the agricultural economy of America's most productive region is yet another example of federal policies literally destroying America's productive capacity. To be sure, the Fresno famine is not causing mass starvation, merely hunger. But this is America, and destroying jobs and agricultural capacity is a shameful initiative of government.

Posted at 09:32 AM

Will The Federal Government Control Our Food?

From Big Government:

Food Fight: Will the Federal Government Control Our Food?by Dr. Susan Berry

Amidst the hustle and bustle of the “lame duck” Congress, another law was passed that didn’t quite get the same media coverage as the Bush tax extension “package,” the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and the new START treaty. The Food Safety Modernization Act was not steeped in the same level of popular controversy as these other pieces of legislation. Nevertheless, its passage may affect our daily lives even more than these, and in a rather stealth manner.

Yes, the week before Christmas, the 111th Congress of the United States gave Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), quite extensive authority over food production in our country. That’s food- from the seeds that grow the plants and the animals that provide the meat and milk, to the Lean Cuisine you had for dinner.

Originally proposed last year by Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, the new law will cost about 1.4 billion dollars over a four-year period. It arrived, as much legislation does, in response to several major crises. Recent salmonella outbreaks in eggs and peanuts, as well as E. coli, in spinach, caused sickness, and some deaths, within the country. These outbreaks led to food recalls and much criticism of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is under the authority of HHS, for its poor oversight of already known risky food producers.

The new law is intended to redirect the FDA from the position of crisis management of food-borne illness emergencies to that of preventing them. Under the new law, food manufacturers will be required to engage in detailed record-keeping of their processing systems and ways in which they can avoid bacterial contamination of their products. All of these records, and test results proving their systems to be effective means of eliminating contamination, must be shared with the FDA. The agency will now have the authority to order food recalls (currently, it only requests them). and will be required to perform inspections of food producers more often.

So, what’s wrong with this?

There are three issues that should concern us:

1) Will this new law really make our food safer?

In an article in Forbes Magazine, Gregory Conko provides a thorough assessment of this legislation. He asserts that the new law is a waste of tax-payer money and will not achieve its stated goals. Conko explains that, first, while “more frequent inspections may seem superficially appealing…the new law would merely require inspections for most facilities every five years [instead of ten years], and once every three years for identified “high-risk” facilities.” Clearly, alot can happen in three to five years.

Second, Conko points out that even more frequent inspections of the visual type performed by FDA and other agency inspectors cannot detect microscopic bacteria that cause food-borne illness. A food production facility may look clean, but is it really? Conversely, a cluttered area in a facility may be sterile, but just a little messy.

Conko goes on to observe that, as with many systems imposed by bureaucrats who have little knowledge of the industry they are regulating, the detailed risk-reduction record-keeping, required by the new law, may only serve to pile up more cumbersome paperwork on private food companies that could be using their time to develop more effective food safety practices.

2) How will the type of food we grow and produce be controlled?

This is probably the most important issue affecting us with this new legislation because the new law is vague in its language of what constitutes a “farm” (Is a garden a “farm?”), and how the Secretary of HHS can regulate the types of seeds that are planted and fertilizers used (Will “manure” be permitted?) And what about people who enjoy foods in their raw form, like milk and honey? Will these be outlawed as well because we all now have to eat and drink the same foods that are most easily regulated by the Secretary of HHS?

The bill was supported by huge food companies like Campbell’s Soup and Cargill, and industrial seed companies like Monsanto, which spent millions of dollars lobbying for its passage. Large industrial seed companies are big producers of genetically modified seeds and, in recent years, have become increasingly threatened by the presence of small organic farms, farmers’ markets, and the local food movement which celebrates the benefits of heirloom and genetically true vegetables and fruits, as well as organic farming methods and fertilizers. For the latter, the direct farmer to consumer relationship is what matters, and the government will be in the way.

According to Conko, industrial seed giants are wealthy enough to pay the huge costs associated with the more frequent inspections required by the new law. In addition, they already have in place much of the expensive record-keeping system that will now be required of smaller farms that could be forced out of business by costs of the new procedures.

Enter another Democrat, Senator Jon Tester of Montana, himself a small farmer, to “appear to” save the day. He produced an amendment to the bill which recognized that small farmers would have a difficult time complying with the requirements of the new legislation. His amendment, which was included in the law, sets a dollar amount, namely $500,000, as the cut-off between the definitions of “small farmer” and “big farmer,” a line that hardly seems easily defined. As is often the case, the Democrats produced a huge piece of legislation with far-reaching consequences, and tried to make it more popular by adding yet more legislation to it.

3) What will the costs of the new law be for Americans?

As already noted, farms and food producers will be paying more fees to the government for all the increased inspections and record filings. These will, ultimately, be passed on to consumers. So, if we are not paying more for food because of inflation caused by the Federal Reserve printing money, we will be paying more because of the Food Safety Modernization Act.

However, the real cost of the legislation will be the increase of tax-payer dollars needed to support the mounting number of FDA and other HHS personnel performing more inspections in the field. In fact, the legislation gives the Secretary of HHS the authority to hire 4,000 federal employees in 2011 alone in order to implement the law. By 2014, 5,000 federal employees will be hired by this agency in support of this law. Clearly, in this new legislation, the current administration underscores its belief that the only way to handle problems is by expanding the power of the federal government.

It remains to be seen whether the Food Safety Modernization Act will be on the “Defund” list of the new Republican House of Representatives.

Regulators War Against Nature


11:50 AM (9 hours ago)Regulators War Against Naturefrom Mises Economics Blog by S.M. Oliva

At the behest of pharmaceutical companies, the European Union is poised to ban competing natural and herbal remedies from the marketplace. Daniel Hannan, a member of the European Parliament for England, sounds the alarm in the London Telegraph:

Some products will be proscribed outright; others subjected to a prohibitively expensive licensing regime.

Why is the EU criminalising a harmless activity pursued by 20 million Europeans?

[ . . . ]

Three factors are in play. First, Eurocrats love regulating things. The argument that you should leave well alone – that herbalists have no interest in poisoning their customers, that the presumption of innocence should apply in this as in any other case, that the trade has flourished for centuries without state oversight – is anathema to them. To the EU official, “unlicensed” is synonymous with “illegal”.

Second, the EU has fallen for that modern idiocy known as “the precautionary principle”. As I wrote when this ban was first mooted, you can’t prove a negative. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, it was widely believed that the noise of a passing train would cause a pregnant woman to miscarry. Had we applied “the precautionary principle”, we would never have laid a single inch of track. After all, the rail operators of the day couldn’t prove that they wouldn’t cause miscarriages, any more than today’s health stores can prove that their wares are not toxic.

Third, and most important, the ban suits the big pharmaceutical corporations, who lobbied openly and enthusiastically for its adoption. The large chains will be able to afford the compliance costs. Smaller herbalists will not, and many will go out of business, leaving the mega-firms with something close to a monopoly.

Here’s the thing, though. Such a ban would never have got through the national legislatures. MPs would have been deluged, as MEPs were, by letters from thousands of constituents who felt that their health was being imperilled. In a national parliament, this would almost certainly have been enough to block the proposal; but the EU was designed more or less explicitly to withstand public opinion. Lobbyists understood from the outset that their best chance was to push through in Brussels what no democratic parliament would accept. See, once again, how the EU has become a mechanism for the advancement of corporate interests in defiance of the common weal.

In the United States, of course, we have unelected regulatory agencies that mimic the European Union. As I’ve long reported, the Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Administration have colluded for years to impose backdoor bans on herbal remedies by harassing small retailers out of business and declaring — without constitutional authority — that no product may be sold without meeting the FDA’s standard of “scientific” proof of efficacy and safety. To “protect” the consumer, they must be deprived of information and choices — or so the FTC claims.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Kudzu: A Lesson In Big Government Failure

From The American Thinker:

December 26, 2010

Kudzu: A Lesson in Big Government Failure

By Joseph Haas

Wherever you may go in the southeastern United States, you will see a vine swallowing whole buildings and forests. It is as relentless as Sherman, destroying whole areas of the South. Chances are you've seen the plant before, even if you don't know exactly what it is. The vine is called kudzu, and it symbolizes all that is wrong with Big Government.

Native to Asia, kudzu was brought to the United States in the 19th century for an expo in Philadelphia. Renowned for its impressive growing abilities, the vine was distributed small-scale to private interests, particularly for garden use. While it is likely that kudzu would have spread in some areas, it is unlikely to have reached crisis levels had the government not negligently incorporated kudzu into its agricultural policy.

During the Great Depression, the farming industry was in shambles. Many farmers left their farms to wither away in the winter. In the Midwest and prairie states, winds snatched up the soil in giant sandstorms known as the Dust Bowl. In the Southeast, giant fields were eroded, leaving the farmland ruined.

After a triumphant election, the newly sworn in President Franklin Roosevelt set forth on an aggressive policy push known as the First Hundred Days to create policy and programs known collectively as the New Deal. Among these was the Soil Erosion service, formed under the authority of the Department of the Interior in 1933. The SES attempted to address the growing crisis surrounding the erosion of the nation's soil. Reorganized in 1935, the SES was handed over to the Department of Agriculture, where it began to actively take on the disaster.

It was inside the Soil Erosion Service that the decision was made to use kudzu. SES higher-ups were aware of kudzu's growing abilities, but they did not think of the ramifications that mass planting would have on local ecosystems. The Department of Agriculture used the Civilian Conservation Corps to distribute and plant the seeds. Over a period of ten years, one hundred million kudzu seeds were planted, mostly in the South. The government even bribed farmers to plant kudzu at eight dollars per acre. By the end of the program, 46 million acres of kudzu had been planted.

The idea behind kudzu was simple. The vine could hold the soil in place until the farmers were ready to plant again. All a farmer needed to do was plow it over. In fact, it re-nourished the soil and provided food for grazing livestock. The government touted the program as a success, but that success was short-lived. The farmers who covered their land in kudzu soon learned just how fast kudzu could grow. The South proved to be the perfect environment for kudzu, as it has a long warm season, plentiful rainfall, and no natural predators or diseases to threaten the plant. In some areas, kudzu continues to grow up to a foot a day.

Kudzu can cover a large area in a small amount of time. It can destroy an entire forest -- and regional timber industries -- in a few short years. The vine grows over the trees and other underbrush, smothering everything under its weight. Kudzu also causes headaches for telecommunications and electric companies, whose poles are snapped or shorted out by the vine. Farmland covered in kudzu by the U.S. government has been permanently lost, to say nothing of the millions of dollars wasted. Just how bad is the spread of kudzu? Each year, it spreads an additional 150,000 acres. To date, kudzu covers around 10,000 square miles in the United States. To put it in perspective, the area lost to kudzu is roughly the same size as the state of Massachusetts.

Kudzu is regarded as a Southern ecological disaster, but in the past few years, it has been discovered as far north as Ontario, Canada and as far west as Oregon. In fact, kudzu is growing in thirty-two states. While it's arguable that it cannot spread at the rates found in the South due to the colder climate, it could do considerable damage to various markets, especially the northern timber industry.

By the 1950s, the federal government realized its mistake. Government officials advised against planting kudzu as a cover crop, though they largely did nothing to ameliorate the damage they had done already. The end result is what we have today: huge tracts of land rendered completely useless by government policy. It wasn't until the 1990s that Congress labeled kudzu a noxious weed, but still the problem persists.

Kudzu can be seen in a larger context when examining the New Deal. Roosevelt's aggressive domestic policy and massive expansion of the federal government are still with us today. The bureaucracy created under the New Deal is continually spreading, tightening its grip, and smothering the American people -- just like kudzu's effect on the environment. There is little to no political will to curb and fix Depression-era policies like entitlement programs (and kudzu). One day, America will wake up to find herself smothering -- not under the green leaves of a vine, but under the red tape of the same government who created the kudzu crisis.


Alderman, Derek H. "Channing Cope and the Making of a Miracle Vine." Geographical Review 94.2 (2004). Print.

Bennett, H. H. "Adjustment of Agriculture to Its Environment." Annals of the Association of American Geographers 33.4 (1943). Print.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sometimes, Being Green Just Isn't Healthy

From The American Thinker:

December 23, 2010

Sometimes, being green just isn't healthy

Ethel C. Fenig

After governments have been phasing out incandescent light bulbs as energy hogs causing climate change in favor of expensive, mercury loaded, twisty bulbs which give off a harsh, flickering light which supposedly use less energy, some scientists have not so surprisingly discovered "they can release potentially harmful amounts of mercury if broken."


Levels of toxic vapour around smashed eco-bulbs were up to 20 times higher than the safe guideline limit for an indoor area, the study said.

It added that broken bulbs posed a potential health risk to pregnant women, babies and small children.

Also, the energy saving bulbs' subtly flickering harsh light can be dangerous:

Medical charities say they can trigger epileptic fits, migraines and skin rashes and have called for an ‘opt out' for vulnerable people.

Other than these dire health hazards, the bulbs are just fine according to environmentalists, who just don't seem to care--or know--that mercury is not good for the environment.

Posted at 07:20 AM

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"Green Jobs" Down The Drain: Taxpayer-Subsidized Solar-Cell Maker Shuts Down

From The American Thinker:

December 22, 2010

Taxpayer-subsidized solar cell maker shuts down

Thomas Lifson

So much for green jobs being the wave of the future, as promised by President Obama. Taxpayer-subsidized solar cell maker Spectra-Watt has announced it is shuttering its plant. The Poughkeepsie Journal reports:

In a stunning reversal, the frequently lauded and taxpayer-funded SpectraWatt Inc. has told the state it will close its solar cell plant starting in March and lay off 117 workers.

The announcement was startling because in the past two months, the company, which had been promised about $8 million in tax dollars, planned to train more workers and changed its work shifts to enable a 24-hour operation.

The company blames the unusually cold winter in Europe:

"This action is undertaken in response to deteriorating market conditions resulting from a harsher-than-usual European winter causing a large drop-off in demand for solar cells.

Wait a minute! Aren't we subsidizing solar cells instead of building coal fired plants because we're supposed to be worried about global warming?

It is time to junk all these green power schemes before we waste any more money borrowed from China.

Hat tip: Bryan Demko

Posted at 06:11 PM Legislative Update


Table of Contents


H.R. 6543: Drug Safety Enhancement Act of 2011

H.R. 6544:

H.R. 6552: The Single Food Safety Agency Act of 2010


S. 3597: Securing Health for Ocean Resources and Environment Act (SHORE) Act

S. 2870: International Fisheries Stewardship and Enforcement Act

H.R. 2868: Chemical and Water Security Act of 2009

H.R. 2062: Migratory Bird Treaty Act Penalty and Enforcement Act of 2009

S. 30: Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009


H.R. 6543: Drug Safety Enhancement Act of 2011

Sponsor: Dingell (D - MI)

Official Title: To amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to improve the safety of drugs, and for other purposes.


12/17/2010: Introduced in House

12/17/2010: Referred to House Energy and Commerce Committee

Commentary: This bill amends the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic (FDC) Act to provide the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) additional authority to monitor drug production both domestically and overseas. H.R. 6543 would give the FDA additional enforcement tools for this endeavor, including mandatory recall authority, increased civil and criminal penalties, and new authority to subpoena records related to possible violations. Title 21 U.S.C. § 333 currently punishes initial violations of the FDC Act with criminal sanctions of up to 1 year imprisonment, fines of up to $1,000, or both, and subsequent violations of the Act with criminal sanctions of up to 3 years imprisonment, fines of up to $10,000, or both. H.R. 6543 would amend Section 333 of Title 21 to increase criminal sanctions for certain violations under the FDC Act, particularly infringements of 21 U.S.C. §§ 331(a), (b), (c), (d), (f), (g), (i), (k), and (jj)(3). Violations of these sections would be punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment, fines under Title 18 of the U.S. Code, or both. H.R. 6543 would also lift the cap on criminal fines for "prescription drug marketing violations" by amending Section 333 of Title 21 to allow for fines in accordance with Title 18 of the U.S. Code rather than fines of up to $250,000. Finally, the bill also amends Section 333 of Title 21 to allow for the criminal forfeiture of "any property, real or personal, constituting or traceable to the gross proceeds obtained, directly or indirectly, as a result of" any violation, or conspiracy to commit any violation, of the FDC Act with respect to drugs.

H.R. 6544:

Sponsor: Conyers (D - MI)

Official Title: A bill to amend Title 18, United States Code, to provide for the protection of the general public, and for other purposes.


12/17/2010: Introduced in House

12/17/2010: Referred to House Judiciary Committee

Commentary: This extremely broad bill would amend Title 18 of the U.S. code to subject any "business entity" or "product supervisor with respect to a product or business practice" to criminal sanctions for failure to inform or warn about a "serious danger" associated with any product, component of a product, or business practice. Any entity or supervisor who "knowingly" fails to warn (within 15 days of discovery of the dangerous product or practice) an appropriate federal agency, affected employees, or others who can "reasonably be identified" as at risk of harm would be subject to criminal sanctions of up to 5 years imprisonment, fines under Title 18 of the U.S. Code, or both. The bill would also criminalize retaliation against whistleblowers who warn a federal agency or any employee about a dangerous product or business practice, subjecting violators to criminal sanctions of up to 1 year imprisonment, fines under Title 18 of the U.S. Code, or both. The language of H.R. 6544 neither defines "dangerous" nor the mens rea term "knowingly" for the purposes of the statute, thus extending the reach of the bill to wide swaths of potentially legitimate and non-blameworthy conduct.

H.R. 6552: The Single Food Safety Agency Act of 2010

Sponsor: DeLauro (D - CT)

Official Title: To establish the Food Safety Administration to protect the public health by preventing food-borne illness, ensuring the safety of food, improving research on contaminants leading to food-borne illness, and improving security of food from intentional contamination, and for other purposes.


12/17/2010: Introduced in House

12/17/2010: Referred to House Energy and Commerce Committee

12/17/2010: Referred to House Agriculture Committee

Commentary: This bill would establish a new federal agency known as the Food Safety Administration for the announced purpose of "protect[ing] the public health by preventing food-borne illness, ensuring the safety of food, improving research on contaminants leading to food-borne illness, and improving security of food from intentional contamination." H.R. 6552 would also increase the criminal penalty provisions of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic (FDC) Act for violations associated with "misbranded or adulterated" food products. Title 21 U.S.C. § 333 currently punishes initial violations of the FDC Act with criminal sanctions of up to 1 year imprisonment, fines of up to $1,000, or both, and subsequent violations of the Act with criminal sanctions of up to 3 years imprisonment, fines of up to $10,000, or both. H.R. 6552 would amend Section 333 of Title 21 to increase criminal sanctions for certain violations respecting misbranded or adulterated food under the FDC Act, particularly infringements of 21 U.S.C. §§ 331 (a), (b), (c), (k), or (v). Violations of these sections would be punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment, fines under Title 18 of the U.S. Code, or both.

S. 3597: Securing Health for Ocean Resources and Environment Act (SHORE) Act

Sponsor: Rockefeller (D - WV)

Official Title: A bill to improve the ability of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Coast Guard, and coastal States to sustain healthy ocean and coastal ecosystems by maintaining and sustaining their capabilities relating to oil spill preparedness, prevention, response, restoration, and research, and for other purposes.


7/15/2010: Introduced in Senate

7/15/2010: Referred to Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee

7/27/2010: Ordered to be reported Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee

12/17/2010: Reported to Senate with an amendment in the nature of a substitute by Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee

12/17/2010: Placed on Senate calendar

Commentary: This bill would make a number of substantial changes to several federal environmental laws, including the Oil Pollution Act, Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, and Clean Water Act to give the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Coast Guard, and Commerce Department more authority and responsibility in a wide range of areas, particularly the maintenance and protection of ocean and coastal ecosystems. A large section of S. 3597 includes provisions similar to S. 2089, the Coral Reef Conservation Amendments Act of 2009. Like S. 2089, this Act would criminalize all activity that would "destroy, take, cause the loss of, or injure any coral reef or any component thereof" except in instances involving activity authorized or allowed under Federal or State law, necessary for the sake of "bona fide marine scientific research," or taken pursuant to an emergency situation. Any person (other than a foreign government or any entity of such government) who "knowingly" commits such a violation would be subject to criminal penalties of up to 5 years imprisonment, fines under Title 18 of the U.S. Code, or both. Any person (other than a foreign government or any entity of such government) who commits such a violation and who, "in the exercise of due care should have known" that their conduct violated the bill would be subject to criminal penalties of up to 1 year imprisonment, fines under Title 18 of the U.S. Code, or both. Similar criminal penalties are also included for individuals who "knowingly" or "in the exercise of due care should have known" that they were unlawfully possessing, selling, delivering, carrying, transporting, or shipping any coral taken in violation of the legislation. S. 3597 also criminalizes "interference with enforcement" of the Act and subjects violators to criminal penalties of up to 5 years imprisonment, a fine of not more than $500,000 for individuals or $1,000,000 for organizations, or both. If the interference involved the use of a "dangerous weapon," involved conduct that caused bodily injury to any officer authorized to enforce the provisions of the Act, or placed any such officer "in fear of imminent bodily injury," then the maximum term of imprisonment would be raised to 10 years. Beyond these provisions, S. 3597 also includes a general "catch-all" clause that makes it unlawful for "any person to violate any provision of this title, any permit issued pursuant to this title, or any regulation promulgated pursuant to this title." Knowing violations of this provision would be subject to criminal penalties of up to 5 years imprisonment, fines under Title 18 of the U.S. Code, or both. Violations committed without the exercise of due care would be subject to criminal penalties of up to 1 year imprisonment, fines under Title 18 of the U.S. Code, or both. In addition to this panoply of new criminal sanctions, S. 3597 also amends 16 U.S.C. § 6401 et seq. to allow for the criminal forfeiture of "any property, real or personal, constituting or traceable to the gross proceeds taken, obtained, or retained, in connection with or as a result" of an offense under the Act. Likewise, the bill would amend the same sections of Title 16 to allow for the criminal forfeiture of "any property, real or personal, used or intended to be used, in any manner, to commit or facilitate the commission of (an) offense" under the Act.

S. 2870: International Fisheries Stewardship and Enforcement Act

Sponsor: Inouye (D - HI)

Official Title: A bill to establish uniform administrative and enforcement procedures and penalties for the enforcement of the High Seas Driftnet Fishing Moratorium Protection Act and similar statutes, and for other purposes.


12/10/2009: Introduced in Senate

12/10/2009: Referred to Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee

3/24/2010: Mark up in the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee

3/24/2010: Reported to Senate

12/17/2010: Placed on Senate calendar

Commentary: This bill is similar to H.R. 1080, the Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing Enforcement Act of 2009, which has been passed by the House of Representatives, received in the Senate, and referred to committee. The Act's new criminal provisions apply to violations of a number of existing statutes that protect forms of marine life. The Act creates new criminal offenses and establishes penalties for both the new and existing offenses, including large maximum fines. In particular, it would be a criminal offense to (a) import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase in interstate or foreign commerce any fish or fish product taken in violation of a treaty or agreement to which the United States is a party; or (b) make or submit a false record, account, label for, or identification of any fish that passes in interstate or foreign commerce. Certain violations of the Act can subject a person to up to five years in prison, a fine of $500,000, or both. Where a dangerous weapon is involved or bodily injury to any protected federal officer results, the maximum term of imprisonment is 10 years. Corporations that violate certain provisions can be fined up to $1 million.

H.R. 2868: Chemical and Water Security Act of 2009

Sponsor: Thompson (D - MS)

Official Title: To amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to enhance security and protect against acts of terrorism against chemical facilities, to amend the Safe Drinking Water Act to enhance the security of public water systems, and to amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to enhance the security of wastewater treatment works, and for other purposes.


6/15/2009: Introduced

6/15/2009: Referred to House Homeland Security Committee

6/15/2009: Referred to House Energy and Commerce Committee

7/13/2009: Reported as amended by House Homeland Security Committee

7/13/2009: Referred to House Judiciary Committee

10/23/2009: Reported as amended by House Energy and Commerce Committee

10/23/2009: Discharged House Judiciary Committee

11/6/2009: House Passage

11/9/2009: Received in the Senate

11/9/2009: Referred to Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee

3/3/2010: Hearing Held by Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee

7/28/2010: Mark up in the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee

7/28/2010: Ordered to be reported Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee

12/16/2010: Reported to Senate with an amendment in the nature of a substitute by Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee

12/16/2010: Placed on Senate calendar

Commentary: This wide-ranging bill includes numerous provisions increasing federal control over the security of chemical facilities, water supplies, and wastewater treatment processes. Among other things, the bill authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to designate certain chemical substances as "substances of concern" based on potential adverse effects resulting from a terrorist incident and directs the Secretary to identify the terrorism risk of specified chemical facilities and water systems, to establish vulnerability assessment standards, and to require facilities to submit assessments and site security plans. The bill designates these vulnerability assessments, site security plans, and related documentation as "protected information." The legislation requires the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to develop regulations and permits the Administrator to issue orders "as necessary to prohibit the unauthorized disclosure of protected information." The bill provides for criminal penalties of up to one year imprisonment and/or criminal fines for the unlawful disclosure of protected information "in knowing violation of the regulations and orders."

H.R. 2062: Migratory Bird Treaty Act Penalty and Enforcement Act of 2009

Sponsor: DeFazio (D - OR)

Official Title: A bill to amend the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to provide for penalties and enforcement for intentionally taking protected avian species, and for other purposes.


4/23/2009: Introduced

4/23/2009: Referred to House Natural Resources Committee

5/13/2009: Hearing Held by House Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife

11/18/2009: Discharged House Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife

11/18/2009: Mark up in the House Natural Resources Committee

12/7/2009: Reported as amended by House Natural Resources Committee

12/7/2009: House Passage

12/8/2009: Received in Senate

12/8/2009: Referred to Senate Environment and Public Works Committee

4/21/2010: Mark up in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee

4/21/2010: Ordered to be reported Senate Environment and Public Works Committee

12/17/2010: Reported to Senate by Senate Environment and Public Works Committee

12/17/2010: Placed on Senate calendar

Commentary: This bill, a companion to S. 2811, would amend the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (the same law at issue in the Supreme Court's seminal Missouri v. Holland (1920)), which currently prohibits the taking of migratory birds with intent to sell or barter them, to prohibit the "intentional[] and malicious[]" taking of birds altogether, regardless of whether the accused acted with criminal intent. (Most hunting is specifically exempted from the treaty and the implementing statute.) Further, the bill would impose criminal penalties for any violation of the Act or regulations issued under it. Violations of either provision would be punishable by criminal fines of up to $50,000 and imprisonment of up to 2 years.

S. 30: Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009

Sponsor: Nelson (D - FL)

Official Title: A bill to amend the Communications Act of 1934 to prohibit manipulation of caller identification information.


1/7/2009: Introduced

1/7/2009: Referred to Senate Commerce Committee

1/7/2009: Referred to Senate Science and Transportation Committee

8/5/2009: Mark up in the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee

11/2/2009: Reported to Senate Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee

2/23/2010: Senate Passage

2/24/2010: Received in House

2/24/2010: Referred to House Energy and Commerce Committee

12/15/2010: House passage by voice vote under suspension of the rules

12/17/2010: Sent to President

Commentary: This bill would prohibit the knowing transmission of misleading or inaccurate caller identification information with the intent to "defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value." Violations would be punishable by civil penalties (including forfeiture), criminal fines of up to $10,000 per violation, and imprisonment of up to one year.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

An Everyday Example As To Why Government Regulation Is Bad

From The American Spectator:

An Everyday Example of Why Big Gov't Is Badfrom The American Spectator and AmSpecBlog by Hunter BakerMy favorite pair of glasses has a scratched lens (despite the much vaunted "no-scratch" coating). So, I went to Lenscrafters to get the lens replaced. They asked me when I got the prescription. It turns out it was a little over a year ago. "I'm sorry," the woman at Lenscrafters tells me, "but we cannot replace the lens because your prescription has expired."

Let's review the situation. I have a scratched lens in a pair of glasses which are working very well for me. I can see perfectly clearly with the current prescription which is now just a little over a year old. State law prohibits Lenscrafters from replacing the lens. It is apparently ILLEGAL to replace a lens with a prescription older than 12 months.

Now, who benefits from a law of this type? Is it the consumer? No. Is it Lenscrafters? Not necessarily. They lost the opportunity to charge me for a replacement lens, though they may do better from me having to buy new glasses. But the biggest beneficiary is optometrists. Thanks to the law causing prescriptions to LEGALLY expire, I MUST go to an optometrist to solve my problem. Through legal (and therefore coercive) means, the optometrists have made themselves necessary gatekeepers to me resolving my personal vision issues even though I already have a prescription that works well.

Law is supposed to be made for the common good. But what we miss is that the government is an excellent instrument for profit seeking through regulation. If you make the government too big and too important, a variety of interests will go to the government to find a way to make their money instead of making it through customer service, innovation, etc..

Monday, December 20, 2010

Food Supply Control Bill Passes In Surprise Sunday Night Vote

From The American Thinker:

December 20, 2010

Food supply control bill passes in surprise Sunday night vote

Thomas Lifson

Like some horror movie zombie that can't be killed, S510, the federal power grab over family farms and the entire food production system passed the Senate in an unexpected Sunday night vote. Alexander Bolton of The Hill reports:

Reid's staff earlier in the day had told a coalition of groups supporting the legislation that it had a chance of passing but the prospects appeared to dim as Sunday wore on. The swift approval by unanimous consent caught some aides and lobbyists working on it by surprise.

Sen. Tom Coburn, the outspoken conservative Republican from Oklahoma, had been blocking the legislation. He lifted his objection at the final moment.

Why Senator Coburn reversed himself, enabling this bill, which empowers unelected bureaucrats to control family farms with regulations to be written later, is a mystery.

The bill now goes back to the lame duck House. A Congress repudiated by the voters may well enact this bad law, whose "unforeseen" consequences could be catastrophic for small growers and food processors.

Posted at 08:43 AM

EPA's Costly Rules Will Cost Jobs And Set Back Nation's Economic Recovery

From AEI:

EPA's Costly Rules Will Cost Jobs and Set Back Nation's Economic Recovery By Mark J. Perry

The Sacramento Bee

Monday, December 20, 2010

Our nation is in a high stakes race with China to develop clean energy technologies but we are falling behind. It may be hard to remember now, but we surprised the world years ago by overtaking Russia in the space race, and we can surpass China now if we make some small but important changes in government energy policy.

While our industries, universities and research centers have achieved great technological advances through innovation, some of our energy policies are slowing progress, and we are currently stuck in neutral.

The Obama Administration seems committed to the idea that in order to achieve breakthroughs in the development of technologies for low-carbon energy sources, we must raise the cost of fossil fuels.

Thus, the Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and large industries beginning in January. The agency maintains that power plants and factories can reduce emissions.

The Obama Administration's policy of picking winners and losers in energy development is really not helpful.Since coal accounts for more than half of the electricity produced in the United States, and no technology for capturing and storing carbon power-plant emissions is commercially available yet, the EPA would force utilities to shut down many coal plants and use alternative energy sources instead.

EPA's plan is troublesome. Our nation is finally beginning to emerge from one of the worst economic downturns in many years, and raising the cost of burning coal and other fossil fuels will stall the recovery.

The cost of switching fuels for utility companies will be in the tens of billions of dollars-and it will be passed directly to businesses and households in the form of higher electricity prices. Thousands of U.S. jobs could be in jeopardy.

If the EPA proceeds with carbon regulation and power plants are forced to close, energy costs will climb and companies will have less money available for the very research on clean-energy technologies that we need in order to stay competitive with China and other countries.

The Obama Administration's policy of picking winners and losers in energy development is really not helpful. It should stop subsidizing renewable sources like solar thermal power, wind energy and biomass that can't compete in the marketplace. Solar and wind energy can only provide energy intermittently at best, and even with heavy subsidies, they still account for only a small fraction of America's energy production.

The need for energy technologies that are reliable and affordable is too great to allow ideologues and government bureaucrats to stop the country from doing what needs to be done.

Private industry needs the freedom to innovate and discover new technologies. Over the past five years, oil and natural gas companies have developed safe and efficient techniques to drill through shale. Through a combination of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, companies can now reach enormous deposits of natural gas in Appalachia, Texas, Louisiana and other regions of the country. And some of the same techniques are now being used to access large deposits of oil in western North Dakota.

This advance in drilling technology has reduced market prices dramatically and made natural gas the new fuel of choice.

Because natural gas produces 60 percent less carbon than coal and no mercury or other particulate emissions, its use as a fuel for electricity production is certain to grow. It's reliable. It's clean. And it's ushering in a low-carbon future at a fraction of the cost of government regulation.

A free market can deliver the energy Americans need. Congress needs to make sure the EPA doesn't sabotage that process with costly, ideological rules.

Mark J. Perry is a visiting scholar at AEI.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

New EPA Rules Will Cost Americans Jobs

From Big Government:

Dec 16, 2010 (2 days ago)New EPA Rules Will Cost American Jobsfrom Big Government by Capitol ConfidentialA newly released economic impact study finds that the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Tailoring Rule” – a back-door Cap-and-Trade style regulation scheme that limits the greenhouse gases industries can emit – jeopardizes over 130 renewable energy projects, between 11,000 and 26,000 green jobs, and $18 billion in capital investment across the country.

Worse, that is just the Tailoring Rule’s effect on a single industry, biomass. Although biomass is generally considered a carbon neutral and renewable energy resource, the EPA included in it’s list of “most wanted” industries. The economies and renewable energy goals of nearly 30 states could be jeopardized.

The study is neatly summarized here on the National Alliance of Forest Owners’ website, along with comments from people central to the industry. The full study is posted below.

Activists Suing McDonald's Over Happy Meal Toys

From The American Thinker:

December 17, 2010

Activists suing McDonald's over Happy Meal toys

Rick Moran

The Center for Science in the Public Interest is suing McDonalds, demanding that it take its toys out of Happy Meals.

The reasoning? I'd tell you that you wouldn't believe it but I know that nothing surprises most of you when it comes to sheer left wing lunacy:

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group, claims it violates California law for the hamburger chain to make its meals too appealing to kids, thus launching them on a lifelong course to overeating and other health horrors. It's representing an allegedly typical mother of two from Sacramento named Monet Parham. What's Parham's (so to speak) beef? "Because of McDonald's marketing, [her daughter] Maya has frequently pestered Parham into purchasing Happy Meals, thereby spending money on a product she would not otherwise have purchased."

You're probably wondering: How is this grounds for a lawsuit? No one forced Parham to take her daughters to McDonald's, buy them that particular menu item, and sit by as they ate every last French fry in the bag (if they did).

No, she's suing because when she said no, her kids became disagreeable and "pouted" - for which she wants class action status. If she gets it, McDonald's isn't the only company that should worry. Other kids pout because parents won't get them 800-piece Lego sets, Madame Alexander dolls and Disney World vacations. Are those companies going to be liable too?

No. Words.

Megan McArdle informs us of the plaintiff's background:

Monet Parham, by the way, seems to be an activist employed by the California government to advocate the ingestion of vegetables, though some pains seem to have been taken to obscure this connection. Our founding fathers are no doubt spinning in their graves fast enough to provide cheap, clean, renewable power to the entire Atlantic seaboard.

What right do these galoots have to interfere so intimately in the parent-child relationship? They're smarter than us, of course. We're too dumb to know what's best for our children so they have to turn the world upside down and force us to do the right thing by our kids - by their light.

If Mrs. Parham wants to abdicate her responsibilities as a parent, then her kids should be taken from her immediately. If you're too stupid to say "no" to your kids then you're too stupid to raise them. And if you don't like the fact that they "pout" then give the kids up for adoption because you are unfit as a parent - and probably destructive of your child's development into a normal human being.

Worse than sex abuse or physical abuse, these poor kids have suffered psychological abuse at the hands of this nutcase. Children need limits and boundaries. They don't like them - no child does. They are apt to scream, pout, cry, throw a tantrum if they don't get what they want. It scores the heart of most parents to see kids do this but they are comforted by the fact that they know they are doing right.

Any parent that doesn't realize this is stunting their child's development.

Posted at 12:05 AM

Friday, December 17, 2010

California Government Hits Rock Bottom, Keeps Digging

From The American Thinker:

December 17, 2010

California government hits rock bottom - keeps digging

Rick Moran

California's Air Resources Board passed a cap and trade regulation for the state's top 600 industrial facilities that will almost certainly bring economic activity in the state to a near standstill:

The program is the centerpiece of the state's 2006 global warming law, which aims to slash carbon dioxide and other planet-heating pollution to 1990 levels by 2020. That would amount to a 15% cut from today's level.

The cap-and-trade system "will help drive innovation, create more green jobs and clean up our air and environment," said California Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary D. Nichols, adding that it "provides flexibility" to industry and takes "into consideration the current economic climate."

Carbon dioxide emissions, mostly from burning fossil fuels, are trapping heat in Earth's atmosphere, spurring changes in the climate. Scientists say California has begun to experience the effects, with hotter temperatures, rising sea levels and the melting of the Sierra snowpack, which provides fresh water for cities and farms.

Under the state's cap-and-trade plan, emissions from the 600 biggest industrial facilities, including cement manufacturers, electrical plants and oil refineries, would be capped in 2012, with that limit gradually decreasing over eight years in an effort to encourage energy efficiency and renewable sources of power.

Companies would be granted "allowances" for each metric ton of greenhouse gas they emit, and they could trade unused allowances among themselves to cut costs.

Cutting emissions by 15% in 8 years is economic suicide. There's no other way to say it. The federal cap and trade law was designed to cut a similar percentage of emissions but spread out over more than twice the time span. Many economists predicted a potential loss of GDP for the federal law of 3-5%. Can you imagine the devastation the California regulations will wreak on business?

It's like the California government is telling the people to pack up and leave, that there will be little opportunity in the former Golden State.

Posted at 09:49 AM

Americans Disagree With Michelle Obama's Forced Food Act

From The American Thinker:

December 18, 2010

Americans disagree with Michelle's forced food act

Ethel C. Fenig

The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act that Michelle Obama just force fed on her husband and the American public isn't going over too well with the latter population according to a Rasmussen poll.

[The] $4.6 billion law allows the USDA to set nutritional standards for foods made and sold in schools; increases the number of children who qualify for school meal programs, and "sets basic standards for school wellness policies including goals for nutrition promotion and education and physical activity."

More than 77% disagreed with the law while

only 23 percent of those surveyed think the federal government should have a direct role in setting the nutritional standards for public schools.


While recent polls show that Americans are concerned about issues of obesity in the country, 51 percent failed to see the threat to national security.

Who should control what kids eat? Oh what a surprise--parents.

34 percent of respondents thought that parents should have the ultimate say in their child's nutritional diet. Seventeen percent believed state and local governments know best when setting such standards.

Posted at 12:05 AM

The High Cost Of Command

from Human Events:

The High Cost Of Command

by John Hayward

12/17/2010Trackback Link (Loading. . .)

The Center for Automotive Research has released an illuminating report on the effects of fuel economy standards desired by the Obama Administration. These standards would begin taking effect in 2017, raising the mandated average fuel economy of vehicles to 60 miles per gallon by 2025.

The CAR study, as quoted by the Reuters news agency, says this plan would add an average of $6400 to the cost of new vehicles, causing Americans to hang onto their old cars for longer. This, in turn, would cost the auto manufacturing industry 220,000 jobs. Include the ripple effect on sales forces and suppliers, and you’re up to 1.3 million jobs. Let it be noted, before we mull over those numbers, that CAR is funded by the auto industry, but their research is generally well-respected.

Defenders of the Obama policy would doubtless maintain that reducing our consumption of fossil fuels is worth these costs, although everyone gets a little queasy when discussing large-scale job losses these days. Massive government subsidies were plowed into the Chevy Volt, a product of government-owned General Motors, for this very reason. The direct federal subsidy for purchasers, when the Volt was rolled out, was $7500, but the subsidies invested in production amounted to another $7200 apiece, assuming Volt production over the next two years reaches the announced targets. That’s at least $14,700 per unit in subsidies for a tiny, hideously overpriced car that few people would buy, at its nominal sticker price of $41,000. Assuming anyone could buy them: a CNN report from November indicates the EPA is having trouble calculating the Volt’s fuel economy, and they can’t officially go on sale without an EPA fuel estimate. Savor the fabulously expensive irony!

The fundamental issue here is the division of a resource, fuel, which is crucial to many sectors of our economy. The government seeks to ration this resource by commanding us to use less of it, a command implemented by forcing manufacturers to supply us only with expensive, fuel-efficient cars. The most likely result of this command will not be people happily paying another $6400 to drive those cars. Instead, they’ll hang on to older vehicles for longer – an effect CAR’s chief economist, Sean McAlinden, calls “the Cuban auto syndrome,” because prisoners of that worker’s paradise are known to hang on to old vehicles for decades.

The alternative is to allow market forces to drive the consumption of fuel. The government is tempted to tinker with this, too. Statists frequently advocate slapping huge taxes on gasoline, which is already heavily taxed, on the theory that people will use less of it, when it becomes more expensive. Once again, the “unintended consequences” of this government command would be devastating: increase in the cost of nearly all goods, since fuel is used in their creation or delivery, along with massive unemployment as driving long distances to work becomes impractical.

Another expression of government command comes in the form of subsidies for mass transportation, especially railroads. People might not be inclined to purchase rail tickets, or put up with the slower pace of railroad transportation, at their true price. The government spends billions subsidizing these tickets, to create the illusion that they cost much less… when, in fact, the subsidized portion of the cost is merely mixed into the slurry of general taxation, and spread across the many people who do not ride trains. Personally, I like trains, and would love to have high-speed rail service across my home state of Florida, but I would want this service paid for by its users, not financed by deluded deficit spending or high taxes. So far, nobody has figured out a way to do that.

If we let market forces determine the cost of fuel and automobiles, increased fuel efficiency will come naturally. In theory, it would also come much more gradually, and we’ve got to SAVE THE EARTH RIGHT NOW!!!!!, but in practice free-market technology is never as slow as statists claim it will be. Plenty of people willingly buy fuel-efficient cars now. Attracting their business is a goal automakers will pursue of their own volition, with rational and profitable business plans.

People will voluntarily adjust their lives around fuel prices that rise naturally, due to dwindling supplies, with much less economic disruption than the violent changes ordained by central planners. Corporations have a powerful incentive to attract their business, by exploring new sources of fuel, or developing alternative energy technologies that actually work. I’ve been told, by people in the know, that such technologies are fifty to a hundred years away. We have enough fossil fuel to get there in a reasoned and scientific way. The journey is no faster when undertaken in a blind panic, by politicians who draw great power from the votes of blind people… but it will be a lot more painful.

The market is far better at allocating resources than any central planners who have ever lived, or will ever live. We don’t need to trash our auto industry, and every industry connected with it, to learn that lesson one more time.


John Hayward is a staff writer for HUMAN EVENTS, and author of the recently published Doctor Zero: Year One. Follow him on Twitter: Doc_0. Contact him by email at

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Legislative Update


Table of Contents


H.R. 6497: Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act of 2010


S. 3806: Secure Employee Competency and Updating Readiness Enhancements for (SECURE) Facilities Act of 2010

S. 2782: Lieutenant Colonel Dominic "Rocky" Baragona Justice for American Heroes Harmed by Contractors Act


H.R. 6497: Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act of 2010

Sponsor: Berman (D - CA)

Official Title: A bill to authorize the cancellation of removal and adjustment of status of certain alien students who are long-term United States residents and who entered the United States as children, and for other purposes.


12/7/2010: Introduced in House

12/7/2010: Referred to House Judiciary Committee

12/7/2010: Referred to House Armed Services Committee

12/7/2010: Referred to House Ways and Means Committee

12/7/2010: Referred to House Education and Labor Committee

12/7/2010: Referred to House Homeland Security Committee

Commentary: This bill is another version of the DREAM Act (see S. 729, S. 3962, S. 3963, S. 3992, H.R. 1751, H.R. 5281, and H.R. 6327), which would grant legal status to certain illegal aliens who attend college in the United States or serve in a branch of the U.S. armed forces. Like S. 3963, S. 3992, and H.R. 5281, this bill would grant its benefits only to those persons who are under 30 years of age at the time of legislative passage. This most-recent edition of the Act does not contain language that would restore the ability of illegal aliens to receive in-state tuition benefits. It likewise makes no changes to the new criminal penalties for false statements announced in previous iterations of the legislation. H.R. 6497 would impose criminal penalties on anyone who files an application for relief under the Act who "willfully and knowingly falsifies, misrepresents, or conceals a material fact or makes any false or fraudulent statement or representation" in conjunction with their application. Violations of this provision are punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment, fines in accordance with Title 18 of the U.S. Code, or both. This new criminal offense would be duplicative of, and uses substantially similar language to, the general federal "false statements" statute (18 U.S.C. § 1001).

S. 3806: Secure Employee Competency and Updating Readiness Enhancements for (SECURE) Facilities Act of 2010

Sponsor: Lieberman (I - CT)

Official Title: A bill to protect federal employees and visitors, improve the security of federal facilities and authorize and modernize the Federal Protective Service.


9/20/2010: Introduced in Senate

9/20/2010: Referred to Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee

12/10/2010: Reported to Senate with an amendment in the nature of a substitute by Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee

12/10/2010: Placed on Senate calendar

Commentary: This bill includes provisions that would amend 40 U.S.C. § 1315. It would authorize the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to issue regulations deemed necessary to protect and administer property owned or occupied by the federal government and persons on that property. An individual who violates any of those regulations would be subject to imprisonment for up to 30 days, a fine as authorized by Title 18 of the U.S. Code, or both.

S. 2782: Lieutenant Colonel Dominic "Rocky" Baragona Justice for American Heroes Harmed by Contractors Act

Sponsor: McCaskill (D - MO)

Official Title: To provide personal jurisdiction in causes of action against contractors of the United States performing contracts abroad with respect to members of the Armed Forces, civilian employees of the United States, and United States citizen employees of companies performing work for the United States in connection with contractor activities, and for other purposes.


11/17/2009: Introduced in Senate

11/17/2009: Referred to Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee

4/28/2010: Mark up in the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee

4/28/2010: Reported to Senate

12/9/2010: Reported to Senate with an amendment in the nature of a substitute by Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee

12/9/2010: Placed on Senate calendar

Commentary: This bill would require the Federal Acquisition Regulation to be amended to impose the quasi-criminal penalty of debarment or suspension upon federal contractors for evading service of process in civil actions or criminal prosecutions, or for refusing or failing to appear in federal court in actions brought against them by the United States, its citizens or its nationals "in connection with the performance of a contract." The bill would also require the Federal Acquisition Regulation to be amended to require contractors performing federal contracts of $1 million or more outside the United States to consent at the time of contracting to personal jurisdiction in U.S. courts with respect to any future criminal prosecutions and civil actions "brought by the United States alleging wrongdoing."

Gresham's Law Of Green Energy: High-Cost Subsidized Renewable Resources Destroy Jobs And Hurt Consumers

from The Heritage Foundation:

Natural Resources, Environment, and Science

Gresham’s Law of Green Energy: High-cost Subsidized Renewable Resources Destroy Jobs and Hurt Consumers

by Jonathan A. Lesser

Cato Institute

December 13, 2010


While the U. S. economy continues to struggle, politicians, green energy advocates, and energy regulators have adopted a “green jobs” mantra. They espouse the view that policies mandating renewable resources will provide not only environmental benefits, but economic salvation as well. Industries that require never ending subsidies simply cannot increase overall economic welfare. To conclude otherwise is to believe in “free-lunch” economics of the worst kind. Yet, free lunch economics are driving the push for renewable energy.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Federal Judge rules Fish Study That Turned The San Joaquin Valley Into A Desert Was Based On Junk-Science

From Gateway Pundit:

9:58 PM (2 hours ago)Federal Judge Rules Liberal Fish Study That Forced Officials to Cut Off California Water Was Based on Junk Sciencefrom Gateway Pundit by Jim HoftIn December 2008, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued what is known as a “biological opinion” imposing water reductions on the San Joaquin Valley and environs to safeguard the federally protected hypomesus transpacificus, a.k.a., the delta smelt. As a result, tens of billions of gallons of water from mountains east and north of Sacramento was channelled away from farmers and into the ocean, leaving hundreds of thousands of acres of arable land fallow or scorched.

Democrats created a dust bowl based on junk science.

A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that the liberal study that forced California officials to cutback on water to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta was based on faulty science.

SFGate reported:

A federal judge has ruled that a landmark 2008 environmental study laying the groundwork for controversial water cutbacks from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta relied on faulty science.

In his much-anticipated decision released Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Oliver Wanger ordered the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to re-examine and rewrite its plan for the threatened delta smelt.

The agency’s solution for shoring up the collapsing species – namely cutting water exports to California cities and farms – is “arbitrary” and “capricious,” the Fresno judge wrote in his 225-page decision…

…Wanger’s ruling upheld the evidence showing that the delta pumps do indeed trap and kill many delta smelt – a consolation for environmental groups that had fought for pumping cutbacks. However, the judge found fundamental flaws in the scientific analysis on the benefits of trimming water supplies to urban and rural areas and said the federal agency failed to examine the economic impacts of such a policy.


Agricultural water districts, plaintiffs in the case and the most vocal critic of the 2008 Fish and Wildlife Service report – officially termed a “biological opinion”- were delighted with Tuesday’s decision.

“With the economy struggling and unemployment still soaring, it is welcome to see a judge refusing to rubber-stamp extreme, destructive and unjustified environmental regulations,” said Damien Schiff, attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation, which backed several farmers in a lawsuit against the federal government. “Bottom line: The people win; junk science loses.”

Add starLikeShareShare with noteEmailKeep unreadAdd tags9:50 PM (2 hours ago)Exhibitionfrom The Slab by (The Slabber)

Add starLikeShareShare with noteEmailKeep unreadAdd tags9:50 PM (2 hours ago)Dadaismfrom The Slab by (The Slabber)

Add starLikeShareShare with noteEmailKeep unreadAdd tags9:46 PM (3 hours ago)Crash the White House/Medicare czar closed-door meetingfrom Michelle Malkin by Michelle Malkin

Let’s briefly review the Obama administration’s unprecedented transparency record:

*Loophole-ridden, special interest-pandering DISCLOSE Act

*Backdoor kickbacks

*Secret Big Labor deals

*C-SPAN camera evasion

*Disclosure-ducking coffeehouse meetings

*Sunlight-shirking holiday and midnight floor votes

*Behind-the-scenes recess appointments

That’s for starters. And now, the White House is set to hold a new round of backdoor meetings with recess appointee Donald Berwick, the Medicare/Medicaid czar, on the besieged Obamacare mandate.

The Hill reports:

The White House has invited stakeholders to discuss the healthcare law with the administration’s controversial appointee to head Medicare.

According to a memo obtained by The Hill, the event on Friday with Medicare Administrator Donald Berwick at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the White House will be the first of several meetings on healthcare’s implementation to be hosted by administration officials.

The invitation from administration health policy adviser Zeke Emanuel, former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s brother, marks a renewed outreach to industry stakeholders from a White House that had initially promised to keep lobbyists at arm’s length. The invitations for Friday’s kick-off meeting were sent to specialty medical societies, which have a lobbying component, according to several sources.

“We are kicking off a series of White House meetings between senior administration officials and healthcare providers to exchange ideas on areas in need of attention,” Emanuel wrote in the invitation. “We invite you (or a representative) and your organization to join us.”

I hope Tea Party activists and Health Care Town Hall protesters in the D.C. area can get to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Friday and crash this meeting.

Let the sun shine in.

Demand answers from cut-and-run Don Berwick.

And bring your “Dude, Where’s My Waiver” signs!

Add starLikeShareShare with noteEmailKeep unreadAdd tags9:46 PM (3 hours ago)“60 Minutes” Profiles Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones; Romo and Austin Sound Off on Jones – Video 12/12/10from Freedom's Lighthouse by Brian

Here is an outstanding profile done by 60 Minutes on the owner of the Dallas Cowboys – Jerry Jones. Reporter Scott Pelley follows Jones through the “season from hell” for the Cowboys, who have a dismal 4-9 record so far, after being expected to contend for the Super Bowl. The report gives a real inside look at what makes Jones tick, and provides a good look a just how much Jones wants to win.

Interestingly, the report points out that even though there are 32 NFL Teams, the Dallas Cowboys rake in 25% of NFL memorabilia that is sold. The Cowboys are also ranked as the most valuable sports franchise just ahead of the New York Yankees.

Below is a clip of Cowboys Quarterback Tony Romo and Wide Receiver Miles Austin giving their thoughts on Owner Jerry Jones:

Add starLikeShareShare with noteEmailKeep unreadAdd tags9:37 PM (3 hours ago)Philosophy Word of the Day – Naturalistic Fallacyfrom Cloud of Witnesses by fleance7“The relation between is/ought, fact/value, objectivity/normativity, and science/ethics all touch on the notion of the naturalistic fallacy. In general terms, this notion is an expression of the philosophical argument that one cannot infer from the one to the other; one cannot infer from is to ought, nor can one make an inference from scientific observations to ethical arguments. Any such attempt means committing the naturalistic fallacy. Historically, David Hume (1711–1776) and G. E. Moore (1873–1958) were the primary advocates of the invalidity of a moral argument based on such an inference.

“. . . The term naturalistic fallacy goes back to G. E. Moore, who in Principia Ethica (1903) argued that the notion of the good could not be based by reference to nonmoral entities. The good is a simple, indefinable concept, not composed by other nonmoral parts. This is precisely the problem of the naturalistic fallacy, which points to nature or to some other nonmoral entity and argues that this serves as the basis of moral normativity. Thereby the difference between these parts is ignored, as is the invalidity of inferring from one to the other. By committing the naturalistic fallacy, one would substitute “good” with a nonmoral property.” (continue article)

— Ulrik B. Nissen in Encyclopedia of Science and Religion

* It would seem that Sam Harris’s latest book, The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values, largely falls into the category of the naturalistic fallacy.

Tagged: David Hume, ethics, fact/value, G. E. Moore, inference, Is–ought problem, morality, Naturalistic fallacy, normativity, Philosophy, philosophy word of the day, Principia Ethica, property, Sam Harris, Science, The Moral Landscape Add starLikeShareShare with noteEmailKeep unreadAdd tagsYou have no more items.But wait! We have recommended items waiting for you to read.Sweet! Show me my recommendations

Can A State Bypass The EPA?

From Town Hall:

Jillian Bandes

Can a State Bypass the EPA?

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Sign-Up In 2010, the EPA granted exactly two new coal mining permits in West Virginia. There are fifty outstanding permits, because according to the EPA, bugs are more important than jobs.

Mayfly populations are disrupted when coal companies dig beneath the surface of the earth, which the EPA says affects the amount of food and thus the populations of indigenous fish. Other research has indicated that as soon as those bugs leave, other ones take their place, and fish populations are unaffected.

As the result of this standoff, coal cannot expand in Appalachia, and some of the highest paying jobs in the state remain unfilled. For state representative Gary Howell, that’s unacceptable.

“The EPA gets their authority from the Commerce Clause. Where no interstate commerce exists, their authority stops,” he said. That’s why he has introduced a bill that would exempt West Virginia coal from the EPA’s grip, allowing coal to be regulated only by a state agency.

The EPA can only regulate interstate commerce, Howell explains. If coal is produced in West Virginia and burned in West Virginia, it shouldn’t be under the EPA’s jurisdiction. This doesn’t mean that environmental standards won’t be adhered to. It simply means that state agencies can streamline and prioritize enforcement instead of it being handled by a centralized bureaucracy.

“My bill clearly states that our mines still have to meet the federal EPA requirements. All I’m doing is shifting enforcement,” said Howell.

Does his bill pass muster?

“The answer is a firm maybe,” said Ilya Shapiro, a constitutional scholar at the Cato Institute. "The same issue is being raised currently by Montana in a court case about bullets. That's right, bullets – they want to avoid federal firearms regulations when these bullets only manufactured, sold, and used in Montana.”

Nick Dranias, the director of the Center for Constitutional Government at the Goldwater Institute, was optimistic.

“I think that Delegate-Elect Gary Howell is advancing precisely the kind of legislation that stands a chance of vindicating state sovereignty because it exerts powers traditionally recognized as within the powers reserved exclusively to the states,” said Dranias.

He did have some constructive criticism, however.

“To strengthen his law, I would suggest that Delegate-Elect Howell consider proposing a bill that would criminalize interference with the 'Put West Virginia to Work' Act, and authorize the state to compact with other like-minded states to mutually enforce and prosecute violations of similar laws,” he said. “If enforced by a congressionally-approved interstate compact, the 'Put West Virginia to Work' Act could trump the EPA's regulatory actions as a matter of federal law."

Jillian Bandes

Jillian Bandes is the National Political Reporter for

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cuccinelli's Other ObamaCare Victory

From The American Thinker:

December 15, 2010

Cuccinelli's Other ObamaCare Victory

By Mark J. Fitzgibbons

By now everyone knows about Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's win in his lawsuit against ObamaCare.

Judge Henry Hudson ruled that the individual mandate "exceeds the Commerce Clause powers vested in Congress under Article I" of the Constitution.

Judge Hudson also wrote, "The unchecked expansion of congressional power to the limits suggested by [the individual mandate provision in ObamaCare] would invite unbridled exercise of federal police powers."

What Cuccinelli did in defeating (for now) the individual mandate actually prevents an historically massive expansion of the federal government's audit and investigation powers.

If every American could be required to purchase health insurance, every American business or household would be subject to federal audits to ensure compliance. With a law over 2,000 pages that even Nancy Pelosi said needed to be passed before we knew what was in it, there assuredly would be lots of compliance requiring audits of individuals, businesses, and even state government.

Government investigations are subject to the 4th Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. The 4th Amendment was written to reflect concerns created by the odious Writs of Assistance.

Those Writs were used to collect taxes, and enforce other laws and court orders. They required presentation of testimony under oath before a judge about the suspected violation, and needed some specification about the place, persons and duration of searches. Colonists objected as procedural protections at common law broke down, and execution of the Writs became more discretionary and abusive.

Despite lessons from the Writs of Assistance, the 4th Amendment became compromised when Congress started creating new federal agencies to regulate interstate commerce, such as the Interstate Commerce Commission in the late 1800s, through Roosevelt's New Deal, and then the many federal agencies created since.

First, Congress authorized federal agencies to issue subpoenas rather than requiring agencies to seek their issuance from courts, a check on abuses of investigative power in place even at common law. Then, the courts lowered the standard of cause (reason to believe a law is violated) from "probable" to "reasonable."

In the landmark 4th Amendment decision Oklahoma Press Publishing v. Walling, FDR-appointee Justice Wiley Blount Rutledge institutionalized the "constructive" search, a term not found in the 4th Amendment. He explained that if a federal Administrator could not unilaterally subpoena documents, that "would render substantially impossible his effective discharge of investigation and enforcement which Congress placed upon him."

In one 1967 opinion, Justice Byron White wrote, "As government regulation of business enterprises has mushroomed in recent years, the need for effective investigative techniques to achieve the aims of such regulation has been subject to substantial comment and legislation."

In other words, as the federal government expanded its use of the Commerce Clause from keeping interstate commerce open and free to affirmatively burdening it, 4th Amendment protections gradually eroded in direct proportion.

Make no mistake about it: the erosion of the 4th Amendment has been essential to the rapid expansion of big government. Government investigations no longer determine simply whether laws are broken. Often, investigations are used to coerce acceptance of otherwise unlawful or extra-lawful government agency interpretations of law. Even Justice Rutledge wrote, "Officious examination can be expensive, so much so that it eats up men's substance."

Most individuals don't have the resources to fight unlawful investigations. For public relations purposes, businesses often won't fight them. Government knows this, which is why laws passed often become enforced in practice in ways most favorable to government, and in ways least favorable to individual and property rights. It's law by bullying, not by constitutional limitations.

The case law about 4th Amendment protections against government searches is still somewhat erratic, but the thresholds the government must overcome are weakest for tax audits by the Internal Revenue Service. Interestingly, the 4th Amendment standards are weakest for the IRS because, as courts have reasoned, they conduct so many audits. If I were deciding the issue, that would be no reason for weaker standards.

Judge Hudson ruled against ObamaCare as exceeding Congress's authority under the Commerce Clause. He also ruled that the penalty for not obtaining health insurance is not a tax, which would have saved the law. Regardless of whether ObamaCare exacts a tax or a penalty, the power of the government to investigate violations would be virtually the same.

Unlawful investigations are the equivalent of trespass and coercion of private property rights. Cuccinelli's not only litigating the constitutionality of Obamacare, he's defeating the tentacles of tyranny and Marxism. This is why liberals are breaking out their smear machines against him.

The matter will ultimately be resolved by the Supreme Court. If you want more information about the case from Cuccinelli himself, go here.