Free Markets, Free People

FDA


Cantor, cheese and other stuff

So Eric Cantor went down in flames in the Virginia Republican primary I see.  I can’t say I’m the least bit chagrined.  Cantor is the quintessential establishment Republican.  And like most of that ilk, he was more worried about what the press thought of him than doing what was right by his principles.  I notice the media spin doctors are immediately claiming that he really didn’t lose because of his stand on immigration (i.e. a hard lean toward “amnesty” for illegals although he tried to deny it).  After all if they admit that immigration reform was a reason for his defeat, then they have to admit that its dead for this year (as, given this lesson, no Republican running for reelection in the House  - that would be all of them – is going to touch it with a 10 foot pole).  The spin doctors also know that if it is dead for this year, it may be dead, at least in its present form, for good, if Republicans win the Senate.  One also assumes that Republicans are aware of the polls out there that place immigration reform as a low priority issue for voters right now (yeah, surprise, they’re much more interested in jobs and economic growth than illegal aliens).

I think another reason for Cantor’s loss is a deep dissatisfaction with Republican House leadership – such that it is.  Add his lack of popularity within his own district and an acceptable alternative candidate and you have the prefect electoral storm. Finally, Tea Party candidate Dave Brat’s win signaled, much to the annoyance of the left, that the Tea Party is hardly “dead”.  It’ll be interesting to see how the establishment Republicans react to this upset.

On another subject, yesterday we saw where the FDA had unilaterally decided that it might be necessary to ban the centuries old tradition of aging cheese on wooden shelves.  Because, you know, there’s been such an epidemic of sickness from such practices here lately and over the ages. What?  There hasn’t?  There hasn’t been any real problem at all?  However:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an executive decree banning the centuries old practice of aging cheese on wooden boards.  One bureaucrat within the FDA, without surveying all of the scientific literature, and without public commentary, has rattled hundreds of small businesses across the United States.  Consumers who eat any kind of aged cheese should prepare for a potentially catastrophic disruption in the market for artisan, non-processed cheese.

Now that was yesterday.  Today, yeah, its cave in time.  There has been such an outcry from cheese makers, the public and just about anyone else that could find a forum that the FDA is hastily backing down.  Overlawyered brings us up to date:

Following an enormous outcry from cheese makers, commentators, and the general public, the agency beats a hasty retreat. Commentator/ Pepperdine lawprof Greg McNeil has the details at Forbes (and his earlier commentary on the legalities of the agency’s action is also informative). Earlier here.

In a classic bureaucratic move, the agency denied it had actually issued a new policy (technically true, if you accept the premise that a policy letter from its chief person in charge of cheese regulation is not the same as a formally adopted new policy) and left itself the discretion to adopt such a policy in future if it wishes (merely declaring itself open to persuasion that wood shelving might prove compatible with the FSMA).

McNeal:

This is also a lesson for people in other regulated industries. When government officials make pronouncements that don’t seem grounded in law or policy, and threaten your livelihood with an enforcement action, you must organize and fight back. While specialized industries may think that nobody cares, the fight over aged cheese proves that people’s voices can be heard…

Yes, true.  But … there’s always a ‘but’, Overlawyered points out something that is true and often overlooked.  You have to be willing to fight for it all, not just the popular stuff.  You have to be willing the challenge all the nonsense bureaucrats put out there:

There is a less optimistic version, however. It happens that a large number of editors, commentators, and others among the chattering classes are both personally interested in the availability of fine cheese and familiar enough with the process by which it is made to be un-cowed by claims of superior agency expertise. That might also be true of a few other issues here and there — cottage food sold at farmer’s markets, artisanal brewing practices — but it’s inevitably not going to be true of hundreds of other issues that arise under the new Food Safety Modernization Act. In a similar way, the outcry againstCPSIA, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, rose to a politically effective level only on a selected few issues (publishers and libraries got a fix so that older children’s books would not have to be trashed; youthmotorsports eventually obtained an exemption, and so forth) but large numbers of smaller children’s products and specialties whose makers had less of a political voice simply disappeared.

Absolutely true.  I think of those who want to drink raw milk for instance.  Where does the government get off saying you can’t drink something you choose to drink if you’re willing to take the risk and suffer any consequences?  Something that, until pasteurization, everyone drank?  But since those who prefer raw milk don’t have a large lobby, they’re subjected to government bullying and laws prohibiting them from making that choice.

Choice is freedom.  Limiting of choice is limiting freedom and government is in the freedom limiting business.  The premise is you’re not able to make good choices yourself, so government must keep you from doing so.  Question?  If aging cheese on wood was dangerous to our health and it had been the reason from many deaths over the centuries, how do you suppose the market for such cheeses might have been effected by now?  Right.  It certainly wouldn’t have come down to some government bureaucrat making a unilateral decision in 2014, that’s for sure.

In Iraq, Mosul has fallen to terrorists.  Nightwatch brings us up to date:

ISIL has been trying to take Mosul since earlier in June, but only lately assembled enough forces to rout the security forces and overrun the city.

ISIL now controls two major cities in the Sunni region of Iraq: Fallujah and Mosul. Its fighters tried to overrun several other cities, but failed. Its aim is to create an Islamic emirate that joins Iraq and Syria.

The group had been affiliated with al Qaida for many years, since the time of Abu Musab Zarqawi, according to the National Counter Terrorism Center. In February al Qaida disavowed all links with ISIL because its actions were more extreme than al Qaida and it would not follow orders to stop fighting the al Nusrah Front in Syria, which al-Qaida supports.

On Sunday in Syria, ISIL fighters clashed with the al-Qaida-affiliated al Nusrah Front in eastern Syria, while its Iraq wing fought to capture Mosul in Iraq. This is a formidable group. Only the Syrian Kurds stand in the way of ISIL consolidating large areas in Iraq and Syria under its control.

Mosul’s capture reinforces the judgment that Iraq has re-entered civil war. ISIL is more than an insurgency because it has an effective organization and is conquering territory. By force of arms, it has created a power-sharing arrangement with the government in Baghdad and fragmented the country. A statement by the Muslim scholars association today encouraged ISIL to hold Mosul and to set up an administration. It urged the youth of the city to defend it against the Baghdad government.

ISIL’s control in Syria seems tenuous and contested by other opposition groups. In Iraq, it is the dominant anti-government force and it has broken Iraq, for now.

My position?  If Iraqi’s want a free Iraq, they’d better fight for it.  They’ve been given the time, the equipment and the training.  Now, it’s up to them.

Finally, yesterday I literally had to laugh out loud when I read something Robert Reich, a former Secretary of Labor, had written on his Facebook page.  It simply demonstrates how effing silly – and dangerous to your freedoms – these people are:

President Obama announced steps yesterday he said will make student loans more affordable. It’s probably all he can manage with a grid-locked Congress, but it’s still tinkering with a system of college financing that’s spinning out of control. What’s really needed is to make college free of charge and require all graduates to pay 10 percent of their earnings for the first 10 years of full-time work into a fund that pays the costs (additional years of graduate school means added years of payments). That way, nobody graduates with debts; young people from lower-income families can afford to attend; graduates who go into high-wage occupations in effect subsidize those who go into lower-wage work; and we move toward a system of genuinely equal opportunity. What do you think?

Right … free college for all.  Graduate with no debt!

Question: How in the world does this dolt think that making all graduates pay “10 percent of their earnings for the first 10 years” to fund “free college” doesn’t equal being in debt?  Oh, and who would keep track of all this?  Why the IRS of course – another in a long line of ideas to further centralize control of all aspects of your life at the federal level and add to the federal bureaucracy’s reach and power.

Then add the scam value of this.  Ride the gravy train for 3 or 4 years of free college and then walk away as a non-graduate.  Nothing to pay, right?  I mean the stipulation is that “graduates” pay, so why not hang out in a college dorm, eat in the chow hall, do your own thing while also doing barely enough to stay in school.  That way you can let these other dopes subsidize those years for you.  Then, move, apply to a new school and repeat.  Trust me, there are enough “professional students” in this world that I can promise that would be done.

Oh … and read the comments to the Reich post.  They’ll make you weep.

~McQ


Brazilian orange juice banned in US

oranges

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?

Regulation.

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.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Nanny and the “Kinder Eggs”

I hope everyone one had a bright and sunny Easter (or Passover)weekend and were able to enjoy it with their family and friends.  It was nice to take a day off from just about everything.

Mark Steyn’s kids apparently didn’t get the opportunity to enjoy it in the way they wished.  Apparently as the family tried to reenter the US from Canada, our sharp eyed border agents protected them from something that they didn’t even realize was a threat.  Yes, friends, Nanny took away the kid’s “Kinder Eggs” to protect them from a potential choking hazard:

Late last night, crossing the Quebec/Vermont border, my children had two boxes of “Kinder Eggs” (“Est. Dom. Value $7.50″) confiscated by Customs & Border Protection.

Don’t worry, it’s for their own safety. I had no idea that the United States is the only nation on the planet (well, okay, excepting North Korea and Saudi Arabia and one or two others) to ban Kinder Eggs. According to the CBP:

Kinder Chocolate Eggs are hollow milk chocolate eggs about the size of a large hen’s egg usually packaged in a colorful foil wrapper. They are a popular treat and collector’s item during holiday periods in various countries around the world, including those in Europe, South America and even Canada. A toy within the egg is contained in an oval-shaped plastic capsule. The toy requires assembly and each egg contains a different toy. Many of the toys that have been tested by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in the past were determined to present a choking hazard for young children.

And yet oddly enough generations of European and Latin American children remain unchoked. Gotta love that “even Canada”, by the way: Is that an implied threat that Kinder Egg consumption is incompatible with participation in NORAD or membership of NAFTA?

Obviously Nanny doesn’t feel that Steyn is enough of a parent to supervise his children’s consumption of this confection and the CPC, enforced by the CBP have decided no parent in the US is qualified or should be allowed to have this product. Steyn is obviously an unfit parent just for allowing the little tykes to buy the eggs, no? 

And just to make you feel safer, they keep stats of how many eggs they’ve confiscated, because, you know, it’s all "for the children".   Always nice to be able to tout how vigilant you’ve been with confiscating kid’s confections even while the border remains a super-highway for illegal immigrants:

The Food and Drug Administration has issued an import alert for Kinder Eggs, because they are a confectionery product with a non-nutritive object imbedded in it. As in years past, CBP, the Food and Drug Administration and CPSC work in close collaboration to ensure the safety of imported goods by examining, sampling and testing products that may present such import safety hazards. Last year, CBP officers discovered more than 25,000 of these banned chocolate eggs. More than 2,000 separate seizures were made of this product.

I assume some smart bureaucrat will at some point translate that into a claim the lives of 25,000 children have been saved, or some such nonsense.  They could use that to at least justify in their own minds the unwarranted intrusion into the role of the parent, or something, right?  Not that they’ve felt a need to justify that in the past (I wonder what Nanny thinks of Cracker Jacks?).

Speaking of intrusion, you had better secure your WiFi network if you haven’t already – otherwise ICE’s SWAT team may be planning a visit, especially if you have a pervert for a neighbor. 

But be thankful today – Nanny is on the case and Kinder Eggs shall not touch your child’s lips.

Don’t you feel so much safer and secure?

~McQ


TSA symptomatic of government’s growing fascism

You know, for the most part I’m not one to throw around inflammatory words if I can help it.  I think their use normally marginalizes the person using them as most folks tend to immediately turn off whatever that person has to say thinking them to be an extremist.

But frankly, I just don’t know how else to describe what I see going on out there.  Listening to current and former TSA officials say things like “hey, no one likes 4th Amendment violations, but we’re going to have to do it”, just sends a chill down my spine.  Talk about the banality of evil.

That’s not the only example.   Take cell phones for instance.  Your benevolent, freedom loving government is considering requiring technology in future cars that will allow them to disable cell phones.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said using a cell phone while driving is so dangerous that devices may soon be installed in cars to forcibly stop drivers — and potentially anyone else in the vehicle — from using them.

“There’s a lot of technology out there now that can disable phones and we’re looking at that,” said LaHood on MSNBC. LaHood said the cellphone scramblers were one way, and also stressed the importance of “personal responsibility.”

[…]

“I think it will be done,” said LaHood. “I think the technology is there and I think you’re going to see the technology become adaptable in automobiles to disable these cell phones. We need to do a lot more if were going to save lives.”

Emphasis mine – but it highlights the rationalization used by government drones to restrict your freedoms and violate your rights.  It is the new “for the children”, the latest of excuses used to limit your freedom. 

The TSA and the nonsense spouted by LaHood are only the most visible examples of this growing phenomenon. Government, under the rationalization that it had to save us from financial failure, has intruded upon and taken over vast areas of the economy – health care, car companies, financial institutions.

It’s even trying to further expand its intrusion into the food production industry with a bill now being debated in the Senate (and which has 7 GOP senate cosponsors). The bill would place restrictions on even hobbiest farmers. It would also expand the powers of the FDA and place some power in the hands of Homeland Security.

That’s not the only attack going on in that area.

And the usual suspects are all for this sort of thing.  Oh, of course, you’ll hear them claim publicly about how important our freedoms are and how we should work to preserve them, but when blatant examples of right’s violations surface, they side with security over rights.

They’re also not at all concerned anymore with what they used to decry when it was the opposition holding the presidency.  Remember the outrage on the left about the so-called “imperial executive”, George W. Bush?  Remember the promises of reversing that if Barack Obama won the presidency?

Apparently that’s not that big of a deal anymore:

Former President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff John Podesta, now the head of the Center for American Progress, called on President Obama to push forward with his agenda using federal agencies and executive branch power Tuesday, even though Democrats were dealt a blow in the recent midterm elections. Podesta said the American people want the president to move forward with his agenda.

“I think most of the conversation since the election has been about how President Obama adjusts to the new situation on Capitol Hill,” Podesta said. “While that’s an important conversation, it simply ignores the president’s ability to use all levels of his power and authority to move the country forward.”

“Forward” toward what, Mr. Podesta?  Creeping fascism?  Heck, it’s not even creeping anymore.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." – Ben Franklin

We’re rapidly approaching deserving neither. Freedom means risk. Security, in the hands of government, means oppression in its name. If you can’t see that growing more and more everyday, you’re simply blind. Time to say "stop this madness" and "hands off my freedoms" with a bit of emphasis and mean it.

~McQ


First they took the salt …

Interesting how the Washington Post chooses to begin this article:

The Food and Drug Administration is planning an unprecedented effort to gradually reduce the salt consumed each day by Americans, saying that less sodium in everything from soup to nuts would prevent thousands of deaths from hypertension and heart disease. The initiative, to be launched this year, would eventually lead to the first legal limits on the amount of salt allowed in food products.

Anyone care to guess why the FDA hadn’t planned an “unprecedented effort” before? 

Because until a month or so ago, we could all claim it was none of the government’s business couldn’t we?  But now that they’ve invested themselves with the power to save healthcare in this country by cutting costs – and doing so with “preventive medicine” – where do you suppose this “unprecedented effort” is founded?

If you don’t believe me, read the article.

But for the past 30 years, health officials have grown increasingly alarmed as salt intake has increased with the explosion in processed foods and restaurant meals. Most adults consume about twice the government’s daily recommended limit, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Until now, the government has pushed the food industry to voluntarily reduce salt and tried to educate consumers about the dangers of excessive sodium. But in a study to be released Wednesday, an expert panel convened by the Institute of Medicine concludes that those measures have failed. The panel will recommend that the government take action, according to sources familiar with the findings.

Wow … for you that have been paying attention I sarcastically ask, “are you surprised?” Is this not the next logical step in taking over every aspect of your life.

You see, a panel of experts have determined that too much sodium is bad for you. They have tried to play this freedom game with you and have you voluntarily cut your consumption, but you didn’t. So to hell with the charade – since you don’t know what’s good for you and won’t do what is necessary to comply with the experts, they’ll just recommend you be forced to do so.

Are salt rationing cards far behind?

Ironically (and unsurprisingly) much like AGW, the science is not at all settled concerning the harm salt does.

High-salt diets may not increase the risk of death, contrary to long-held medical beliefs, according to investigators from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University.

They reached their conclusion after examining dietary intake among a nationally representative sample of adults in the U.S. The Einstein researchers actually observed a significantly increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease (CVD) associated with lower sodium diets.

Not that the FDA will pause and consider that. In fact, when it says unprecedented, it means unprecedented concerning the level of intrusion it now plans:

The government intends to work with the food industry and health experts to reduce sodium gradually over a period of years to adjust the American palate to a less salty diet, according to FDA sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the initiative had not been formally announced.

Officials have not determined the salt limits. In a complicated undertaking, the FDA would analyze the salt in spaghetti sauces, breads and thousands of other products that make up the $600 billion food and beverage market, sources said. Working with food manufacturers, the government would set limits for salt in these categories, designed to gradually ratchet down sodium consumption. The changes would be calibrated so that consumers barely notice the modification.

Yes free people, the government will now decide how much salt can be in a receipe and, they promise, they’ll reduce it so gradually you won’t even notice.  Why?

“We can’t just rely on the individual to do something,” said Cheryl Anderson, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who served on the Institute of Medicine committee. “Food manufacturers have to reduce the amount of sodium in foods.”

You people just aren’t reliable enough to do what the experts expect you to do so … so they’ll just take the choice away.

How do you like them apples, boys and girls?  Now, be a good little prole and shuffle along.  Nothing to see here, nothing to see …

~McQ

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