November 16, 2015
Four years ago, I had the privilege—and the daunting task—of searching for a new president to lead CEI, when founder Fred Smith decided it was time for him to step down. Our six-person search committee set out to find an intelligent and charismatic leader with a positive vision for defending individual liberty and free enterprise, and the focus to lead us toward achieving those goals. We pored over scores of resumes, held dozens of interviews with many highly qualified candidates, and eventually selected Lawson Bader as our unanimous choice to be the next CEI president.
Following an organization’s founder as president is a formidable job. But Lawson rose to the challenge, and proudly led CEI in some of its most important battles: fighting the Obama administration’s energy rationing policies, the National Labor Relations Board’s onerous employment rules, the Treasury...
August 6, 2015
We’ve all done it: shared a story about some study showing that chocolate is a weight-loss miracle food or a story about how KFC serves...
July 16, 2015
A few months ago, statistician and risk analyst Nassim Nicholas Taleb, known mostly for his intriguing 2007 book The Black Swan, teamed up with a handful of colleagues to write a “scholarly” diatribe claiming to demonstrate that “what appear to be small and reasonable risks” with GMOs may “accumulate inevitably to certain irreversible harm.” Therefore, the precautionary principle “should be used to prescribe severe limits on GMOs.” The paper received a lot of attention in scientific circles, but was roundly dismissed for being long on overblown rhetoric but conspicuously short on any meaningful reference to the scientific literature describing the risks and safety of genetic engineering, and for containing no understanding of how modern genetic engineering fits within the context of centuries of far more crude genetic...
September 16, 2014
I was very sad to hear last week that Elizabeth Whelan, founder and president of the American Council on Science and Health, had passed away. Beth had a great scientific mind—always asking questions, and always seeking new knowledge—not just information, but understanding. And it was that innate desire to know, to better understand, and to share the truth that led her, in 1978, to found an organization dedicated to injecting solid scientific information into public debates and public policy on public health. Under Beth’s leadership, and with her aggressive, no nonsense activism, ACSH became a leading voice in science advocacy and “go to” source of information about a range of science and health issues.
I came to know Beth many years ago after becoming interested in food and drug safety issues. As a...
August 1, 2014
The Kansas Republican primary race pitting incumbent Rep. Mike Pompeo against his 4th congressional district predecessor Todd Tiahrt has become heated lately. The generally reliable conservative Tiahrt is hammering Pompeo for sponsoring a bill the former says is a sellout of free market conservative principles. In truth, the bill to limit state power over genetically modified (GM) foods is something conservatives and other free market advocates should get behind.
May 7, 2014Two years ago, voters in California narrowly defeated Proposition 37 , a ballot initiative that would have required labeling of most -- but not all -- genetically engineered foods (sometimes called bioengineered, genetically modified or GMO). Arguably the most important reason for Prop 37’s defeat was the fact that most newspapers in the state, including all but one major paper, editorialized against the measure. (The sole exception was the San Francisco Chronicle, which did not take a position.)
Anti-technology activists weren’t satisfied, however, so now they’re pushing a bill in the state legislature that would require what a majority of state voters rejected less than two years ago. Fortunately, the Los Angeles Times...
April 9, 2014Earlier today, Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) and G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) introduced a bill in the House that would establish federal standards for the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods and preempt a growing patchwork quilt of state action on GE labeling. The underlying motivation behind the “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014” (H.R. 4432) is praiseworthy, so the congressmen deserve an A for effort. However, the execution leaves more than a little to be desired.
This year, an estimated 25, or more, states will consider legislation or ballot initiatives that would mandate special labeling for many GE foods. As I’ve written before, those proposals are bad policy, make no sense scientifically, would needlessly raise the cost of producing and selling safe, nutritious and wholesome food, and are arguably unconstitutional on several grounds. Nor would they give consumers...
March 22, 2013With time running out for the Senate to act on a continuing budget resolution, members are trying to find some magic pot of money that would mask the fact that our government spends far more than it raises in revenue. Tonight, it looks like Sen. David Vitter has resurrected an old proposal to ban what are known as reverse payment patent settlements -- agreements in which brand name drug manufacturers pay generic firms not to challenge patents on the innovators’ drugs.
Critics, including the Obama administration and the Federal Trade Commission, call these settlements “pay-for-...
June 29, 2012Former CEI scholar Tom Miller (now with AEI) has some thoughts on the Obamacare decision in today's Los Angeles Times. Tom summarizes the meaning of yesterday's decisions, but the meat of his article is spent asking, in his very thoughtful way, "What's next?"
"We have already heard cries for repealing the law in Congress, but the fact is that most of the healthcare industry is resigned to shrugging its shoulders and falling back into line with the political deals it cut with the Obama administration several years ago. The political case for repeal will become much stronger among grass-roots voters — particularly independent ones — outside the Beltway this fall if it is...
June 28, 2012
In a move that seems to have surprised many observers, the Supreme Court today upheld nearly all of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act by a 4+1 to 4 majority (I'll explain the math below). Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the Court's opinion, joined with the four liberal justices in affirming the individual mandate and essentially all of the Medicaid provisions. The Court's three reliable conservatives, plus Justice Kennedy, wrote in dissent that the entire law should be ruled invalid. The opinions can be read in their entirety here.
Addressing the question of the individual mandate, Roberts agreed that the mandate was not a proper exercise of Congress's commerce power:
"The power to regulate commerce presupposes the existence of commercial activity to be regulated. ... As...