October 19, 2007You know things are bad when elected officials find it perfectly acceptable to call millions of Americans — including some of their own constituents — stupid and irresponsible! That's how Salt Lake City Mayor Ross C. "Rocky" Anderson described the millions of Americans who drink bottled water. According to one report, he noted at a press conference that consumption of bottled water "very clearly reflects the wasteful and reckless consumerism in this countryâ€¦You really have to wonder at the utter stupidity and the irresponsibility sometimes of American consumers."
I think many reasonable people would disagree with Mayor Anderson. What's really reckless and stupid is
Salt Lake City's recently enacted policy that prohibits firefighters from bringing bottled water to...
October 18, 2007Today's USA Today reports on the growing trend among city lawmakers to tax, ban, and otherwise regulate bottled water. CEI recently highlighted the absurdity of these policies in an op-ed article. Since then, lawmakers in the City of Chicago have proposed taxing bottled water ten cents a bottle because supposedly this product is wasteful.
It is true that the bottles use energy to make and transport, but so does every other item in commerce. Singling out of bottle water is simply arbitrary. And bottle water isn't “wasteful” to the people who chose it. Many of us find it convenient to pick up a chilled, fresh drink of water while on the road. Who would rather carry around refillable bottles with lukewarm...
October 1, 2007Ever wonder why supermarkets don't have an enormous excess supply of such things as bread and butter? Usually, the amount they have is about right. That's because market signals and disciplines discourage waste, so supply meets demand. A New York Times story this past weekend on ethanol shows what happens when government artificially creates demand. Government mandates have produced a massive oversupply of this politically selected fuel, raising corn and food prices and creating a logistical nightmare when it comes to managing it all. Of course, the proposed Washington “solution” is yet more government generated demand! Expect more price hikes and more waste.
September 30, 2007In an appendix titled “What You Can Do” found in their latest book — This Moment on Earth — Senator John Kerry and wife Theresa Heinz Kerry call on their readers to make sacrifices that will reduce mankind's “environmental footprint.” Like Al Gore, however, they take a pass. After all, the rich can afford to buy what amounts to indulgences: “Those of us in politics, traveling at times in motorcades, flying on private planes on occasion, you name itâ€¦now buy carbon offsets by making a donation to an organization that specializes in carbon neutrality,” they explain.
The idea that somehow the lifestyles of the rich and famous can buy their morality is really absurd. In fact, the entire concept of offsetting one's personal moral precepts is offensive, especially when those people taking the offsets want to regulate away other people's freedoms. ...
September 20, 2007Cheers to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in the White House's Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Yesterday, it released a memorandum to federal agencies regarding standards for risk assessments. Agencies conduct such assessments to determine whether regulations are necessary to address a specific concern and to consider the potential costs and benefits of various regulatory approaches.
This memorandum offers a much needed response to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report issued earlier this year on a proposed OMB/OIRA bulletin covering the same topic. NAS suggested that those standards were unsound because they did not...
September 17, 2007Activists on the left don't seem to mind expanding bureaucracy and red tape when it hits businesses, consumers, property owners, and taxpayers in general. They support heavy paperwork programs that produce little, if any environmental benefit, like those under the Toxics Release Inventory. They regularly launch lawsuits under the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act to stop construction, logging, and many other private-sector activities, costing taxpayers and small businesses millions. And they fight all efforts to make environmental laws more effective and affordable. Yet when government is required to do a little paperwork, leftists suddenly complain about bureaucracy and call for streamlining.
In a recent OMB Watch paper of the Data Quality Act, this leftist group complains that industry is...
September 12, 2007A story in today's Washington Post highlights the fact that with all the news about Chinese toy recalls, regulators are ignoring other, more serious risks. This is a real problem, but it is much larger than the recent problems with China. Environmental health and safety activists focus on politically selected risks — leading everyone else to ignore the more serious ones in many areas. Lately, conservatives have joined in to some extent because they don't like communist China. I share their disdain for communism, but I don't see any reason to jump on the green bandwagon or bash free trade.
Concern about lead paint in toys is a very big story because the greens have demonized lead exposure at any level. In reality, lead...
September 11, 2007Today's New York Post reports that a medical center funded by the federal government to research potential health effects of the World Trade Center debris to rescue workers has exaggerated the risks and engaged in scientifically questionable practices. The Post story commends The New York Times for breaking this story last week in a front page story.
Can't say I am surprised. The center involved is a division of Mount Sinai Medical Center, headed by activist Dr. Philip J. Landrigan.
Landrigan often works in tandem with environmentalists, who use Mount Sinai research to make all sorts of unfounded claims about the risks of chemicals. This case focuses on research conducted by...
September 10, 2007Canadian politicians are worried. News reports say that several politicians had recently given some of their blood to the greens, who examined it for “toxic chemicals.” The greens report that these lawmakers' bodies are “polluted” with all kinds of synthetic chemicals. Among the problem chemicals they identified is bisphenol A.
So What? These studies are simply political ploys used by environmental activists to inspire fear and thereby bolster their calls for more regulation. For example, there is no evidence that bisphenol A presents any problems at all.
The human body has always been full of all kinds of chemicals from the environment in minute amounts. Even cavemen had chemicals in their bodies — just...
August 31, 2007With all the hype about recalls of Chinese toys, jewelry, and other children's items, consumers — especially parents — in the West are understandably concerned if not downright fearful of Chinese goods. Yet the risks don't match the hype as Brendan O'Neill of Spiked points out very well.
So what drives the extreme response? O'Neill offers some thought provoking perspectives on other forces that may be at play. He notes:
Look behind the headlines and it seems that, yes, some toys and various other products from
China fall short of tough Western safety standards, but they are far from lethal. They're not even particularly toxic. Instead, the â€˜toxic toys' drama has become a rather poisonous metaphor for contemporary Western fears of China, of its apparently rapacious economic growth and its...