July 24, 2015
Recent polls show that Iowans aren’t too keen on legalizing online gambling in their state. They’re mistaken, in my view, but that’s their prerogative. And Iowans’ choices don’t affect me, given that I don’t live in the state. But a bill currently in the Senate Judiciary Committee could change that, by centralizing decisions on gambling in Washington.
The Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA S. 1168) would amend the 1961 Federal Wire Act, a bill passed long before the Internet existed that was intended to target the mafia’s sports betting racket, would impose a national prohibition on states legalizing almost all forms of online gambling—even for those states that have already done so. This Saturday, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who has not yet taken a public stance on RAWA, will hold three town hall meetings in southeastern Iowa, giving him an opportunity to make his...
July 21, 2015
Yes, there’s a holiday for everything, but National Junk Food Day has particular relevance in light of a recent decision by the Food and Drug Administration. As the Cato Institute pointed out, the foods we indulge in today may be very different when we celebrate next year. That is because the FDA decided to create a de facto ban on partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (aka artificial trans fats). While most food producers eliminated the much maligned additive in the last 15 years and Americans have reduced consumption from 4.6 grams per day in 2003 to less than a gram in 2013, some products still contain trans fats—most of which are sweets that require long shelf-life. Despite a dearth of research on the effect of consuming trans fats at the low levels Americans do, the FDA asserted...
July 17, 2015
Will Saletan has an exhaustively researched and cogently argued piece at Slate on the dishonesty of the anti-biotechnology activists and the harm they have caused. He lays out, for all to see, the naked truth about their efforts. It has nothing to do with the truth. They only care about pushing their agenda, even if it comes at the cost of human lives. As Saletan writes, “[t]hey want more studies. They’ll always want more studies. They call themselves skeptics. But when you cling to an unsubstantiated belief, even after two decades of research and experience, that’s not skepticism. It’s dogma.”
Saletan describes the tactics employed by activists to hoodwink the public and politicians. Fear-mongering...
June 16, 2015
Ding dong the witch is dead; killed by the federal government…well, that’s if the witch was a recluse people hardly ever saw, probably hasn’t hurt anyone, and was brought into town by the person burning her at the stake. The “witch” I’m referring to is trans fats, which were officially banned today via Food and Drug Administration (FDA) edict. A witch hunt is a good way to describe what the FDA did; revoking the additive’s determination as “generally recognized as safe,” because despite the fact that Americans have almost completely eliminated the substance from our diets voluntarily, the administration believes any amount of trans fats can be harmful. The fact that there is no scientific evidence to prove this didn’t seem to temper calls to “burn it...
May 26, 2015
You might not know it, but about half the cost of your preferred alcoholic beverage is made up of taxes and fees. One man in Congress, Rep. Todd Young (R-Ind.) wants to change that. Today he introduced a bill that would introduced a bill that would cut the current federal excise tax rate on whiskey, rum, vodka, and gin. For the first 100,000 gallons, the bill would reduce the tax from from $13.50 per proof gallon to $2.70 per proof gallon, and for subsequent gallons the tax would be $9 per proof gallon.
H.R. 2520 has support from both the American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA) and the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. (DISCUS), which said in their...
May 12, 2015
Last month, researchers at the University of Florida published a study in the American Journal of Public Health that concluded, “Increases in alcohol excise taxes, such as the 2009 Illinois act, could save thousands of lives yearly across the United States as part of a comprehensive strategy to reduce alcohol-impaired driving.” Their study presented the case that the 2009 tax increase resulted in a statistically significant reduction in alcohol-related deaths in Illinois. However, as I pointed out in a blog post, there only appears to be a reduction in fatalities because of the authors’ selective inclusion and exclusion of data. Rebecca Goldin,...
April 21, 2015
What do two-time world poker champ Doyle “Texas Dolly” Brunson, presidential-hopeful Rand Paul, and Fraternal Order of Police President Chuck Canterbury have in common? They’ve all come out against the so-called Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), which would create a national prohibition on Internet gambling.
They are just three of the thousands of Americans who oppose a law that was written by and for the benefit of one casino owner: Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson. RAWA is not only a threat to those who want the freedom to gamble online, but also to those who value personal liberty, consumer protections, and a limited federal government.
A two-time World Series of Poker champ, an inductee to the Poker Hall of Fame, and author of the poker bible, Texas Dolly is without question the most famous...
April 9, 2015
A new study from the University of Florida asserts that because Illinois instituted an alcohol tax increase in 2009 and the rate of alcohol-related traffic fatalities have declined 26 percent since 2009, the tax must certainly be responsible for the decline in deaths. Of course, news outlets have begun touting the study as evidence that increasing taxes results in fewer deaths. Are they right?
A team of UF Health researchers discovered that fatal alcohol-related car crashes in Illinois declined 26 percent after a 2009 increase in alcohol tax. The decrease was even more marked for young people, at 37 percent.
So, was it the alcohol tax increase that led to the state’s declining alcohol related...
April 6, 2015
A week after members of Congress debated a bill that would forbid states from legalizing online gambling, the Poker Players Alliance have issued a petition asking the White House to veto the measure. In order to receive a response from the White House the petition must receive 100,000 signatures by May 2.
Despite having legal and effectively regulated online gambling in America for more than two years, some in Congress insist that allowing states to legalize and regulate the activity is too dangerous for America. Supporters of the woefully mistitled Restoration of America’s Wire...
March 27, 2015
It’s the most wonderful time of year! Human Achievement Hour is once again upon us, giving us reason to pause and consider recent innovations that have or will significantly improve the human condition. I usually like to focus on some development in medicine or environmental tech, but this year I feel compelled to highlight what may be the most significant advancement in the modern economy. What began with eBay—the digital garage sale—has now blossomed into an entire economy and a way of life. You may have heard it called the “sharing economy,” or “collaborative consumption” is actually about efficient resource allocation.
Instead of leaving rooms or homes empty and unused families can make extra money by renting them out to vacationers or business people through Airbnb or VRBO. Instead of paying to leave your car at the airport—you can now have someone ...