Free Markets, Free People
The following statistics were released today on the state of the US Economy:
The consumer sentiment index rose to 75.3 this month, the highest reading since last February.
New home sales were soft in January, coming in at a 321k annual rate. that’s down -0.9% from December’s 324k rate.
You remember the “Citizen’s United” case I’m sure. And you probably remember the cries from the left when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the 1st Amendment saying that amendment prohibited the government from restricting political expenditures by corporations and unions.
Bad decision according to them, remember? What was it Barack Obama said? That the decision "gives the special interests and their lobbyists even more power in Washington — while undermining the influence of average Americans who make small contributions to support their preferred candidates."
He even lectured the Supreme Court justices at that year’s State of the Union Address saying, "last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections. Well I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities."
Yes, those evil corporations were sure to be bankrolling American elections to the detriment of the “little people”.
But unions? Meh. Not a word from Obama about unions.
Unions are getting ready to pour money into the 2012 elections. The AP’s Sam Hananel reports that AFSCME is planning to spend at least $100 million, the SEIU will spend $85 million or more, and total union efforts will reach at least $400 million. While many of its affiliate unions, such as AFSCME, will spend heavily on advertising and candidates, the AFL-CIO will continue to focus on developing the infrastructure for year-round, grassroots mobilization.
And not a word since. When I hear Barack Obama rail against union spending and call for it to end, then I’ll believe he’s against unlimited spending for principled reasons (not that I’d agree, but I’d given him that benefit of the doubt) and not political ones. Until then he’s just another in a long line of political hacks trying to limit the funds of those who would spend their money in opposition to him.
Right now there’s a shortage of orange juice in the US because of a number of diseases, especially one called “greening” that has been destroying the crop.
However, there’s an alternative – import Brazilian orange juice.
But we can’t:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, after several weeks of deliberation, has blocked imports of frozen, concentrated orange juice from Brazil, probably for the next 18 months or so, even though the agency says the juice is perfectly safe.
So if it is admittedly safe and we need the juice to help meet demand (and keep the price down) why can’t we import this juice? Why can’t we do what is necessary with something the FDA says is safe?
The FDA’s explanation is that its hands are legally tied. Its tests show that practically all concentrated juice from Brazil currently contains traces of the fungicide carbendazim, first detected in December by Coca-Cola, maker of Minute Maid juices. The amounts are small — so small that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says no consumers should be concerned.
The problem is, carbendazim has not been used on oranges in the U.S. in recent years, and the legal permission to use it on that crop has lapsed. As a result, there’s not a legal "tolerance" for residues of this pesticide in orange products.
So, according to the FDA, any speck of this fungicide, if found in orange juice, is an illegal adulterant and won’t be allowed, even though residues of the same fungicide are allowed in many other foods, including apple and grape juice.
There is no “legal permission” to use the fungicide on the crop because such “permission” has lapsed and thus there is no “legal tolerance” for any residue no matter how benign. Consequently, because of that lapse the regulatory regime says “no go” on the import of something perfectly safe and in demand.
The result of the unwarranted ban (this orange juice is welcome in Europe, by the way):
In 2010, about 11 percent of all the orange juice consumed in America came from Brazil, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That share may seem modest, but economist Thomas Prusa of Rutgers tells The Salt that cutting it out could boost wholesale prices of concentrated orange juice by 20 to 45 percent.
So gas prices aren’t the only thing going up soon. And in the case of orange juice, the price increase can be tied directly to government regulation.
As orange juice goes up by 20 to 45%, who is it that will be hurt the most? That’s right – the poorest among us who now either have to find a substitute or perhaps forgo the juice altogether.