Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: April 19, 2012


Greenpeace’s dumb answer to a good question

Apparently Greenpeace has decided that dissent and disagreement (especially when it is effective) doesn’t warrant protection under the right to free speech.

That’s especially true if you’re a dirty, rotten global warming “denier”.

From a FAQ on the Greenpeace site, this question: “Don’t the deniers have a right to free speech?"

No poisoning of the well with the question, is there?  They couldn’t ask “don’t those who disagree with the theory of man-made global warming have a right to free speech”?

If they’d phrased the question that way it might have been harder to attempt to justify this idiotic answer (not that it can be justified even with their poison question):

"There’s a difference between free speech and a campaign to deny the climate science with the goal of undermining international action on climate change," Greenpeace argues. "However, there’s also responsibility that goes with freedom of speech – which is based around honesty and transparency.  Freedom of speech does not apply to misinformation and propaganda."

Because, you know, there’s consensus and the science is settled and all that.  Nothing like smug but unsubstantiated faith in their crumbling cause, huh?

Given the last sentence, if Greenpeace believes that to be true one has to wonder when they’ll begin to self-censor.

Let freedom, scientific inquiry, honest debate and free speech ring.

Or join Greenpeace.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Economic Statistics for 19 Apr 12

The following statistics were released today on the state of the US economy:

Initial jobless claims were 386,000 last week, while the previous week’s claims were revised sharply upwards to 388,000. The four-week moving average of 374,750 is the highest since January.

The index of Leading Indicators rose 0.3% in March, a growth rate that could best be described as sustainable, though not robust.

Manufacturing growth slowed slightly in the Philadelphia Fed district, as the Fed Survey slipped to 8.5 from last month’s 12.5.

Existing home sales were worse than expected for March, with sales down -2.6% to a 4.48M annual rate. Sales are hampered by tight credit and a still sluggish labor market.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose to -31.4, tying the best reading since March, 2008.

~
Dale Franks
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Obesity in poor communities not linked to “food deserts”

I’m sure you remember a few years ago the LA City Council banned fast food joints from low income neighborhoods for a year.  The New York Times explains the reason they thought that was a function of government:

It has become an article of faith among some policy makers and advocates, including Michelle Obama, that poor urban neighborhoods are food deserts, bereft of fresh fruits and vegetables.

The purpose of the ban was to prevent more fast food from being made available in these poor neighborhoods that were considered “food deserts”.  The belief, and that’s all it is, was that the availability of fast food and the unavailability of “fresh fruits and vegetables” was a contributor to the obesity found in poor communities.

And the myth had its own narrative too:

Speaking in October on the South Side of Chicago, she said that in too many neighborhoods “if people want to buy a head of lettuce or salad or some fruit for their kid’s lunch, they have to take two or three buses, maybe pay for a taxicab, in order to do it.”

Except for the fact that two new studies say that’s just not true.

Both, using different methodology, came to the same conclusion:

Such neighborhoods not only have more fast food restaurants and convenience stores than more affluent ones, but more grocery stores, supermarkets and full-service restaurants, too. And there is no relationship between the type of food being sold in a neighborhood and obesity among its children and adolescents.

Within a couple of miles of almost any urban neighborhood, “you can get basically any type of food,” said Roland Sturm of the RAND Corporation, lead author of one of the studies. “Maybe we should call it a food swamp rather than a desert,” he said.

Indeed, it is, instead, choice at work.  And, as usual, government feels they should be involved in deciding which choices are made.  Now, it’s easy to say, “yeah, but it’s obesity and obesity isn’t good for you”.

Given.  But does that mean it is government’s job to intrude and attempt to remedy the situation with other people’s money?

Taking into consideration what the two studies have revealed, it seems, as is often the case, that government is barking up the wrong tree.   The myth, or if you prefer “article of faith”, seems to be wrong. Actual facts destroy the myth.  More than adequate supplies of fresh fruits and vegetables are readily available in poor neighborhoods.  The problem is the poor choose not to avail themselves of them.

So obesity among the poor isn’t the fault of “food deserts” (or a lack of food it seems) in poor communities and banning fast food joints and encouraging more grocery stores to locate there isn’t going to help ameliorate the problem.  Nor, apparently, is healthier food in schools.

Now what?

In fact, the only way to really impact obesity is to control choice isn’t it?  Dropping weight requires portion control, control of the type of food eaten and a certain level of exercise.

So what’s an intrusive and activist government to do now that their myth has been shattered?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Congress to mandate “black box” on all cars after 2015?

Yesterday I pointed to a piece of legislation that is in the House right now (after being passed by the Senate) which would give the IRS the power to confiscate your passport without judicial review and merely on the suspicion you owe a certain amount of back taxes.

Given the Orwellian name Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act or MAP-21,  the legislation also mandates that all new cars have a “event data recorder” installed starting in 2015.

Now other than for government use, there are very few reasons why an owner of a vehicle would want such a device installed in his or her car.

The only reason an owner might want one was in case of an accident, it may provide some proof of their innocence in terms of fault.  But we’ve become quite sophisticated in accident investigation already and seem quite capable of determining that now without the aid of an onboard “event data recorder”.

Section 31406 of Senate Bill 1813 (known as MAP-21), calls for “Mandatory Event Data Recorders” to be installed in all new automobiles and legislates for civil penalties to be imposed against individuals for failing to do so.

“Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall revise part 563 of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, to require, beginning with model year 2015, that new passenger motor vehicles sold in the United States be equipped with an event data recorder that meets the requirements under that part,” states the bill.

Nice.

Although the text of legislation states that such data would remain the property of the owner of the vehicle, the government would have the power to access it in a number of circumstances, including by court order, if the owner consents to make it available, and pursuant to an investigation or inspection conducted by the Secretary of Transportation.

And, one would assume, government access to such data would be expanded as government found additional reasons to want it.  Not to mention the addition of new “recording” devices or the like which might be even more intrusive in the future (if they manage to get away with this).  Like imposing a road use tax.  How handy would such a device be to government then?

This sort of government intrusion bothers the heck out of me.  Never mind that this mandate (along with new CAFÉ standards) will increase the cost of a new car, the real point is this is being done as something government desires, not the individual.  There’s no hew and cry or demand for such a device now.  This serves one constituency and one constituency only – government.

Additionally, it isn’t optional.  You have no choice but to pay for one if you buy a new car.  And you will most likely be prosecuted if you disable it.

These are the sorts of intrusions citizens ought to be fighting tooth and nail.  It isn’t the job of government to mandate recording devices on private vehicles.  If they want to have them installed on their vehicle fleets, that’s fine.

But not mine.  Not without my consent and damn sure not as a mandate with legal consequences for non-compliance.

There are now two reasons MAP-21 should be shot down in the House.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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