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OpenMarket: Business and Government

  • Goofy's Coffin Nails

    August 2, 2007
    When it comes to the politics of tobacco regulation, one of the most important dates is January 11, 1964, when then-Surgeon General Luther L. Terry presented to the public his now famous report on the health risks of smoking. It is now often implied by anti-tobacco activists that before that time, the American public was tragically ignorant about the downside of smoking. Sure, the tobacco companies had the research, they say, but being the evil organizations they were, they suppressed this vital public health information in the names of making piles of dirty, dirty money. Could this really be true? Did people in the 1950s and before really not know that nicotine was addictive or that tobacco smoke was bad for your lungs? Not according to the following Disney short from 1951, "No Smoking." Just watch what happens...
  • FDA Tobacco Regulation Clears Senate Committee

    August 2, 2007
    A Senate committee has just voted 13-to-8 in favor of the bill to give the FDA jurisdiction over tobacco products and the tobacco industry. The bill has been criticized on health grounds because it would make it harder to market reduced-harm tobacco products, such as smokeless tobacco products, to smokers, who would otherwise smoke cigarettes, which are much more likely to cause cancer. It has also been criticized for violating First Amendment rights to advertise and for undermining competition in the tobacco...
  • FDA Tobacco Regulation Bill Tramples Free Speech, Advertisers Say

    July 30, 2007
    Advertisers are objecting to the bill that would subject the tobacco industry to FDA regulation, saying that its restrictions on tobacco advertising would violate the Supreme Court's ruling striking down tobacco advertising restrictions in Lorillard Tobacco v. Reilly (2001). They also claim that it would set a bad precedent for advertising restrictions in other industries. There are many other objections to the bill, such as the fact that it would make it harder to sell smokeless tobacco to cigarette smokers, even though smokeless tobacco is less dangerous than...
  • FDA Regulation: Harmful to Smokers' Health?

    July 27, 2007
    Congress is on the verge of passing a bill that would subject tobacco products to FDA regulation. The FDA regulation bill would make it harder to market smokeless tobacco products to smokers, even though thousands of lives would be saved if smokers were to switch from cigarettes to reduced-risk tobacco products like smokeless tobacco. Cigarettes are much more dangerous, and more likely to cause cancer, than smokeless tobacco. The FDA regulation bill's potential adverse effect on health has drawn criticism from Senator Burr, an editorial in the Washington Times, and...
  • Anti-AIDS Spending Backfires

    July 23, 2007
    A U.N. effort to reduce the spread of AIDS to children by encouraging HIV-positive mothers to use formula rather than breast feeding has backfired in Botswana. It has resulted in many children dying from diarrhea, pneumonia, and malnutrition, while saving few, if any, from AIDS. In the Third World, the risk of a child contracting AIDS from breast feeding is less than risks associated with formula, such as getting diarrhea and other ailments from unsterilized water used to prepare the formula. AIDS rates remain stubbornly high in Botswana, which is one of Africa's wealthiest countries (owing to diamonds), and has one of its highest HIV-...
  • FDA Authority: Less Is More

    July 19, 2007
    Our good friend (and adjunct fellow) Henry Miller of the Hoover Institute responds in the pages of Regulation to charges that the FDA isn't regulating prescription drugs harshly enough:
    There is an old saying in Washington that when something has been repeated three times, it becomes a fact. The saying's most recent application is the supposed shortcomings in the safety of prescription drugs. The reality is that although all drugs have side effects — which can be serious and/or frequent — modern pharmaceuticals have wrought miracles in the control of pain, the treatment and prevention of infections, and the amelioration of diseases of aging such as arthritis and cancer. Regulators need to balance patients' access to...
  • Worthy Pleasure Seekers of the World Unite

    July 17, 2007
    Today the Senate Finance Committee is considering the "Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Reauthorization Act of 2007," which, according to James Thorner of the St. Petersburg Times, includes an interesting funding mechanism - raising the federal tax on cigars (currently 4.8 cents) to $10 per cigar. Yes, you read that correctly. Let's see what small-time cigar maker Eric Newman thinks of that idea:
    Eric Newman punches the numbers on his calculator and gapes at the results one more time. It's no mathematical error: The federal government has proposed raising taxes on premium cigars, the kind Newman's family has been rolling for decades in Ybor City, by as much as 20,000 percent. As part...
  • Mandatory Purchase

    July 9, 2007
    In a piece in Saturday's Washington Examiner, I examine the parallels between auto insurance and health insurance, and, for the most part, find that they're not that great. Here's one point I make:
    To begin with, borrowing the most talked about feature of auto insurance—mandatory purchase—won't actually provide coverage to all of the 47 million Americans who lack it. While over 95 percent of American motorists live in states that mandate auto insurance purchase, about 13 percent of accidents involve drivers without coverage. Countries like Switzerland, Israel, and Germany that require individuals to buy private health insurance, likewise, find that not everyone complies. Mandatory purchase would decrease the number of uninsured, but, alone, nobody can seriously contend that it would actually result in universal...
  • Could it happen here? Probably not.

    July 5, 2007
    Recent media reports indicate that some the leading suspects in the recently attempted terror attacks against the U.K. were doctors working for the National Health Service. Although some of the 9/11 plotters had significant formal education (leader Mohamed Atta had studied architecture) all had failed in attempts to enter high-status professions. It's easy to speculate that their resentment over this helped feed their desire to commit acts of terror. But the alleged U.K. plotters were DOCTORS with JOBS. Best as I understand, any doctor who can get a job offer in the U.S. can come. Although our immigration bureaucracy does everything it can to drive them away, our laws still do a pretty good job welcoming the well-educated...
  • Sicko's Sick Stunt

    July 2, 2007
    MTV film critic Kurt Loder takes apart Michael Moore's Sicko.  The entire review is well worth reading, but here's a sample, Loder on Moore's most distasteful stunt:
    Fidel Castro's island dictatorship, now in its 40th year of being listed as a human-rights violator by Amnesty International, is here depicted as a balmy paradise not unlike the Iraq of Saddam Hussein that Moore showed us in his earlier film, "Fahrenheit 9/11." He and his charges make their way — their pre-arranged way, if it need be said — to a state-of-the-art hospital where they receive a picturesquely warm welcome. In a voiceover, Moore, shown beaming at his little band of visitors, says he told the Cuban doctors to "give them the same care they'd give Cuban citizens." Then he adds, dramatically: "And they did."

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