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OpenMarket: Business and Government

  • Tim Carney on Drugs

    May 18, 2007
    Our good friend Tim Carney writes in today's Examiner about how Congress is pushing to expand the FDA's authority over prescription drugs, and why the pharmaceutical companies couldn't be happier:
    When the U.S. Senate passed a bill May 9 to expand the Food and Drug Administration's authority to regulate prescription drugs, the big drug makers applauded. This latest expansion of government regulatory power marked another win for the pharmaceutical industry, which has one of the most successful lobbying records in town. The U.S. pharmaceutical industry is built on federal regulations and more often than not finds itself on the side of increased government control over pharmaceuticals. This year's push (spearheaded by “Liberal Lion” Teddy Kennedy) to heighten...
  • The Honor of Being 'Lamberted'

    May 4, 2007
    I have recently been informed that a couple weeks ago I had the distinct honor of being 'Lamberted.' That is, I was the object of a tirade by Australian blogger Tim Lambert, a computer science professor who fancies himself an expert on everything from DDT to climate change. Lambert is one of the "DDT deniers" I reference in my book Eco-Freaks: Environmentalism Is Hazaardous to Your Health. Following the lead of his idol, Silent Spring author Rachel Carson, Lambert continues to promote the untruth that third-world countries ceased using DDT because the insecticide became ineffective due to mosquito resistance. Eco-Freaks...
  • The CAFE Debate: Safety v. Mileage

    May 3, 2007
    With today's Senate hearing on fuel economy, it's a good time to turn again to CEI's work on the Department of Transportation's corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards. As Sam has pointed out on many occasions (including today), the CAFE regs kill - contributing to as many as 2,600 additional passenger deaths each year. For the short answer on why this is the case, tune in to the following episode of The Simpleton's Guide. Because, simple is better.

    ...
  • Of Chocolate and Ice Cream

    May 3, 2007
    A number of blogs and mainstream media outlets are going wild over proposed FDA regulations that would redefine chocolate. Right now, to be called "chocolate" a substance has to contain cocoa solids and cocoa butter. This gives chocolate its unique, melt-in-the-mouth texture. Most "chocolate" is real now: according to the leading opponent of the proposed FDA switch, nine of the ten leading candy bars already contain real chocolate. Why would Mars, Hershey and the rest throw out treasured, well known brands by replacing cocoa butter with soy or something else? Quite simply, they wouldn't. If fact, the story of another popular sweet indicates that a looser chocolate definition would make things better. Until 1994, any sweet, frozen dairy product with less than 20 percent butterfat had to be...
  • Drug Industry Gone to the Dogs

    January 9, 2007
    My dog is fat. Obese, even, if the FDA is to be believed. The arrival of my new-born son two years ago has meant fewer and fewer long runs on the weekends for me and the dog, as well as more and more table 'scraps' being hand-fed to the pooch by the boy. Tipping the scales at a whopping 90 pounds (or roughly 20 percent) over his ideal weight, BJ needs some help. Fortunately, last week the FDA approved the very first diet drug for dogs -- a Pfizer product called derlotapide, to be marketed under the trade name Slentrol. The introduction of a prescription-only diet drug for pets says a lot about a country. (It might suggest a thing or two about me personally as well, but let...
  • Draining the Swamp: Reform for Anti-Malaria Policy

    December 14, 2006
    The White House is hosting a summit on malaria this week, and our good friend Roger Bate will be attending. And since Roger has such excellent timing, he also has an op-ed out today assessing the state of anti-malaria efforts and what we can hope for coming out of the summit:
    Malaria, an entirely preventable and treatable disease, kills at least a million people yearly, mostly children under age 5 and pregnant women. Prompted by anti-malaria advocates, the U.S. Congress led a series of investigations into USAID's malaria control programs between September 2004 and January 2006. These hearings found almost no monitoring and evaluation of performance, no ability to account for spending with any meaningful precision, and the promotion...
  • Tobacco Scam

    December 7, 2006
    In 1998, the big tobacco companies entered into a $250 billion settlement with trial lawyers and the attorneys general of 46 states. Big Tobacco agreed to pay this vast sum, plus $14 billion extra in lawyers' fees to politically-connected trial lawyers, in exchange for protections against competition from little tobacco companies (which are forced to make escrow payments on every cigarette they sell in competition with Big Tobacco) that are not part of the settlement. To justify giving the trial lawyers this absurd amount of money (and giving the tobacco companies protection against competition that would otherwise violate the antitrust laws), supporters of the settlement claimed it was for a good cause: funding smoking cessation programs. For example, Brooke Masters'...
  • Saudis to Sue Tobacco Companies

    December 1, 2006
    The Saudi government is threatening to sue American tobacco companies such as Philip Morris to force them to pay the healthcare costs of Saudi smokers. The lawsuit may seem laughably inconsistent with the basic idea of personal responsibility. But the Saudis are just imitating America's own trial lawyers. in 1998, American trial lawyers, assisted by 46 state attorneys general, succeeded in getting Big Tobacco to pay $250 billion over 25 years to state governments, supposedly to pay for smokers' healthcare costs, in a backroom deal called the Master Settlement Agreement. (An extra $14 billion was paid to the lawyers. CEI is challenging the settlement in federal court as a violation of the Constitution's Compact Clause). Big Tobacco shortsightedly went along because the trial lawyers added a sweetener to the deal...
  • For Best Results, Drink Like a Sardinian

    November 30, 2006
    There's more scientific evidence that moderate consumption of red wine is good for you:
    New research from the William Harvey Research Institute and the University of Glasgow shows that red wines from areas of greater longevity in southwest France and Sardinia have higher levels of procyanidins - a type of flavonoid polyphenol with potent protective effects on blood vessels. A number of population studies have revealed that moderate drinkers of red wine have less heart disease than non-drinkers. As a result it has become widely accepted that a glass or two of red wine per day is good for your heart.
    The Q & A with one of the researchers also updates our understanding of a previous development in the wine-is-good-for-you literature:...
  • Breast-Related Assurances from the First Lady of Illinois

    November 28, 2006
    Some Illinois political observers are raising their eyebrows about a stack of greeting cards that Gov. Rod Blagojevich's office sent out before the election congratulating new parents on their bundles of joy (and reminding them to get their kids immunized). The implication here being that Blagojevich wanted to spend a little government money to get his name in front of potential voters just before the election. I kind of doubt that, but in any case, focusing on that ignores the much more amusing angle, which is that many of the cards were delivered over a year late:
    "I thought it was laughable," said 29-year-old Andrew Fitzgibbon of Lincoln. "Here my daughter is turning 1 and I get something...

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