January 27, 2015
Alcohol is a favorite target for health nannies and politicians looking to boost revenue. Excessive drinkers, they say, cost society millions or billions of dollars! Because society incurs the costs of the irresponsible minority, they assert, society has the right to try and curtail this voluntary behavior. Of course, whenever campaigners quote figures about the exact dollar-amount alcohol consumption “costs” society, they rarely include estimates of the benefits of alcohol consumption for both individuals and societies. That may have to change in the wake of a new study.
Teetotalers like those over at Alcohol Justice (formerly the Marin Institute) promote the idea of “charging for harm.” That is, they think we should increase the taxes on alcohol—...
January 13, 2015
The trade association, WineAmerica, which represents 600 wineries in the U.S., seems to think so. The group has hired a lobbyists to push the FDA to allow them to provide a range of calories in each variety of wine rather than precise counts for each particular wine.
That would mean, for example, wineries could disclose that a 5-ounce glass of wine with 13 percent alcohol has between 130 and 140 calories, as opposed to testing to find the exact calorie count for every specific wine.
The new rule is part of the same section—4205—of the Affordable Care Act that mandates calorie labeling for restaurants with 20 or more locations. The provision has caused a...
December 17, 2014
This week we get to say goodbye to the 113th Congress. For those who believe in free markets and individual liberty, it was a doozy. There were some losses, but also some big wins. One victory in particular is worth noting because the battle involved one of the worst aspects of politics: entrenched and connected special interests, versus one of the best aspects: a pro-liberty grassroots uprising of individuals against cronyism.
Like all so-called vices, gambling has always had its foes, from religious leaders who believe it is evil to public health professionals and social advocates worrying exploitation of young, ill, and poor. For the most part, these interests have been unable to stop the demand for or rise in legal gambling throughout the United States. But when one of the world’s richest men says he’ll spend what it takes to ban Internet gambling, all bets are off....
December 2, 2014
Once again, the Fraternal Order of Police expressed their staunch opposition to a federal prohibition on Internet gambling. In a letter sent to Sens. Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, and Reps. John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi, FOP National President Chuck Canterbury writes:
Congress cannot ban its way out of this problem as this would simply drive online gambling further and further underground and put more and more people at risk. Internet gaming forced into the shadows would exacerbate current difficulties and create new dangers. Not only does the black market for internet gaming include no consumer protections, it also operates entirely offshore with unlicensed operators, drastically increasing the threat of identity theft, fraud or...
November 22, 2014
It was a bad week for Sheldon Adelson. The billionaire casino owner has said he’ll spend whatever it takes to stop the spread of legal online gambling in the U.S. To that end, his lobbyists authored a bill, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), which would do just that; rewriting a 53-year-old law to create a de facto national ban on all Internet gambling. For a while, it seemed his measure was making headway; the bills had picked up cosponsors—18 for the House Bill 4301 and four for the Senate Bill 2159—and was set for a hearing in the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations sometime in...
November 17, 2014
The Washington Times points out that Jonathan Gruber, our nation’s most famous sufferer of foot-in-mouth-disease, has profited greatly from the “stupid” American public to whom he felt the need to lie in order to pass his health care reform. In an editorial, the paper details the nearly $300,000 paycheck Gruber received from the Department of Health and Human Services to “sing the praises of the health care scheme.”
And that’s not all. Several states—including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Vermont, West Virginia, Maine, Colorado, and Oregon—used Obamacare grants to pay Gruber millions of dollars for his services.
Outrageous? Yes. But should we really be surprised?
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) routinely pays researchers with certain biases to produce “...
October 3, 2014
Being a journalist is not an easy job; it demands fast paced and high volume production. For those “wonk” journalists tasked with analyzing data-heavy reports for laymen readers, the task is even more difficult. A new post from Forbes’s Trevor Butterworth scrutinizes some recent articles from The Washington Post’s Wonkblog, highlighting how some journos aren’t exactly rising to the challenge. And the consequences go beyond a misinformed public.
On September 25, Wonkblog posted an article claiming that 24 million American adults are consuming a shocking average of 74 drinks per week. Butterworth delves into the source of those data and...
September 29, 2014
Today is the anniversary of one of the most significant food and drug related events in recent memory. Often discussed in college business classes these days, the 1982 Tylenol poisonings is usually heralded as the prime example of how companies should handle a consumer relations disaster. However, it is also a shining example of how the market itself—acting to protect its customers and thus its profits—can improve public safety. The actions that Johnson & Johnson took in the wake of this tragedy, without a doubt, improved the safety of consumers of all over-the-counter (OTC) drugs for the next 30 years.
Within three days, beginning on September 29, 1982, seven people in the Chicago area died after taking Extra-Strength Tylenol laced with cyanide. More than 30 years later, who committed this crime and why remains a mystery. After an investigation, it was determined that...
September 26, 2014
A new study out of Israel on the possible effects of artificial sweeteners is making a lot of headlines this week. Unfortunately (and as usual) members of the media from Forbes to NPR’s Diane Rehm are reporting on the study without taking into consideration the growing criticism of its methodology, conclusions, and prior research on the topic. As Stephen O’Rahilly, endocrinologist and head of Cambridge’s metabolic research lab put it, “It would be unfortunate if this data were to influence public...
September 12, 2014
It’s not exactly a blood-pressure raising headline, which is probably why the new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is actually bears the alarming titled, High Sodium Intake in Children and Adolescents: Cause for Concern. The study will no doubt be hailed by public health advocates as proof that something must be done to bring America’s sodium intake in line with the recommendations of the CDC and other health originations. However, the report’s findings, when put into context of 50 years’ worth of research on global salt consumption aren’t alarming at all.
High sodium intake is associated with all sorts of nasty health problems—as the CDC was careful to note in the opening paragraph of its report. As...