New York manages to protect consumers from the menace of buying crackers or a corkscrew at a wine shop. Or at least it manages to protect someone from something [Ira Stoll]
- Government (including the writers of school lunch regulations) has pushed us toward a less healthy diet, part 73: the case for full-fat milk is looking stronger than ever [Time]
- “Obama’s latest food crackdown: Salt” [Helena Bottemiller Evich, Politico]
- Paternalist objections to the assumption of risk doctrine, and some answers [Avihay Dorfman via Benjamin Zipursky]
- Really, what harm can another cigarette tax hike or two do? (map: “Prevalence of illicit tobacco in 2013,” Francesco Calderoni) Tobacco is human rights issue, claims a Georgetown Law center on health and law;
- Vaping as dangerous as smoking? Really? Jacob Sullum challenges Dr. Margaret Cuomo;
- Australian physicians group urges drastic new restrictions on alcohol access, including higher purchase age, 0.0 blood alcohol driving limit, “interventions” for pregnant women [Sydney Morning Herald]
Bethesda Magazine profiles David Trone, whose Total Wine and More chain has helped introduce or reintroduce price-cutting, the negotiating of quantity discounts from vendors, and other advances in the business model for alcohol sales. Along the way, after infuriating competitors who were protected by existing state regulatory arrangements, Trone has been arrested three times, targeted by a Pennsylvania attorney general who was himself later sentenced to prison, subjected to grand jury proceedings at which allied merchants were urged to sever ties with him, and much more, which culminated in getting most of the charges thrown out and paying money to settle others. He spent millions on legal fees. After bad regulatory and legal experiences in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Trone shifted to a new strategy, part of which has involved generous campaign contributions: “So generally what we do now when we enter a new state is hire a lobbyist, hire a great legal team, and go meet the regulators. It’s preemptive, 100 percent.” Now he’s running for Congress.
- Arizona considers relaxing its law banning potluck meals outside workplace [KPHO]
- Class action says there is starch in McDonald’s mozzarella sticks and wants money for that [Eater]
- Small North Carolina brewer pulls out of one market rather than trigger state law forcing it to deal through licensed distributors [Charlotte Business Journal]
- Speaking of consumer-unfriendly laws that benefit in-state alcohol distributors with political clout, South Carolina considers adding an “at-rest” law to its three-tier regulatory system [Columbia, S.C. Free Times]
- “These decisions are being made by people who are four to five generations removed from food production.” [Oregon rancher Keith Nantz, Washington Post, on federal land policy]
- Freakout memes aside, shed no tears for country-of-origin-labeling on meat [K. William Watson/Cato, Jayson Lusk] “Reign of Terroir: How to Resist Europe’s Efforts to Control Common Food Names as Geographical Indications” [K. William Watson/Cato]
- “Drunk with power — how Prohibition led to big government” [Julia Vitullo-Martin, New York Post reviewing Lisa McGirr, The War On Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State]
Updating last Wednesday’s post — about how the federal Centers for Disease Control has advised that women of childbearing years not drink a drop of wine, beer or spirits unless they are on birth control — I did a longer post Friday at Cato at Liberty. Excerpt:
And yet I would have expected no less from a CDC headed by Thomas Frieden, formerly Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s public health czar in New York City. Under Frieden, an arch-enemy of salt, sugar, and guns, the CDC to the detriment of its focus on communicable disease has involved itself in topics from playground safety to suburban housing sprawl; has boldly employed federal tax dollars toward lobbying for changes in law; has set itself against all evidence that e-cigarettes (“vaping”) can serve as vital harm reduction for persons who would otherwise smoke; and much, much more.
“Women of childbearing age should avoid alcohol unless they’re using contraception, federal health officials said Tuesday, in a move to reduce the number of babies born with fetal alcohol syndrome.” [Liz Szabo/USA Today (“CDC: Young women should avoid alcohol unless using birth control”), Tracy Clark-Flory/Vocativ (with headline above)]
Rebecca Kukla, professor at the Kennedy School of Ethics, had the following comment, quoted in the Vocativ piece:
We don’t tell pregnant women not to drive cars, even though we are much more certain that there’s a nonzero risk to their fetuses from each car ride than from each drink. The ideal of zero risk is both impossible to meet and completely paralyzing to try to meet. The idea that the pleasures and routines that make up women’s days are mere luxuries that are not worth any risk whatsoever is patronizing and sexist, and it would also turn their lives into complete hell if really taken to its conclusion. It also imposes a much higher risk reduction bar on pregnant women than on parents of small children, for no apparent reason.
We have had numerous occasions over the years to remark on the direction in which Obama appointee Thomas Frieden has taken the Centers for Disease Control.
More: Alexandra Petri, Washington Post (CDC’s warning “incredibly condescending”).
Julia Vitullo-Martin in the New York Post and Joseph Bottum in the Free Beacon review Lisa McGirr’s new book “The War on Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State.” “Is there another American story, another account of a major American era, that has been so completely hijacked and turned against its actual history?” writes Bottum. “The truth is that Prohibition, in its essence, was a deeply progressive movement.”
In the drive for alcohol prohibition in the United States, as in many other paternalistic crusades to this day, a major theme was to demonize business; that somehow helped in shaking the sense that the main point of banning something was to restrict the freedom of the customer. Memes absent, opinion cartoons were the most persuasive tool available. “In the late 19th century, the cartoonist Frank Beard (not to be confused with ZZ Top’s ironically clean-shaven drummer) was among the most influential of those illustrators. He was a committed ‘Dry,’ whose images of seedy tavern owners, corrupt officials, and neglected children gave the Prohibition movement a moral force and an instant visual power.” [Joanna Scutts, Tales of the Cocktail]
Meanwhile, yesterday was Repeal Day, celebrated each year as the anniversary of the nation’s rejection of the Great Experiment. As David Boaz recalls, Cato has done two discussions commemorating the event, including one with me last year. Here is the other, from 2008: