I wonder what people would say if I made my students write letters to their Congressman supporting Senator Shelby’s Dodd-Frank corrections bills? Actually, I don’t wonder. they’d say I was abusing my power. And they’d be right. Only someone blinded by their own self-righteous arrogance would fail to see the gross impropriety here.
Now Banzhaf has sent out another press release, which aside from tossing an inaccurate brickbat or two at my motivations for challenging him, takes care to specify — as his earlier press release did not — that students in the class are free to propose lobbying for at least some deregulatory ideas. The two examples he gives are as follows: “students could also ask legislators to reduce limits on the sale of items from food trucks [or] cut back on unnecessary food-related regulations.” Whether liberty-minded students could actually get course credit for lobbying on behalf of food-related positions that Banzhaf opposes — as distinct from seeking out some subtopic in the field where he happens to agree with them — remains unclear.
A press release from George Washington University Prof. John Banzhaf describes his latest stunt as follows: “Undergrads Required To Lobby For Obama Policy.” In this case, it’s more for a policy identified with Michael Bloomberg — limits on the size of sweetened drinks — which students were asked to promote in letters to their own lawmakers. I’ve got a write-up at Cato at Liberty, where I list some of the other occasions on which Overlawyered readers have met the gadfly professor. (&Katherine Mangu-Ward, Center for Consumer Freedom) Update: many reactions, including another press release from Prof. Banzhaf.
Maryland bicycling advocates can tell the difference, and are opposing a proposal by Del. Maggie McIntosh (D-Baltimore) to mandate helmet use. There’s a lesson somewhere in there, or so I surmise in my new Cato post. Update: more details from an opponent.
Future of food freedom looking brighter these days at state level [Baylen Linnekin] Polls looking good for it, too [same] “The FDA’s Pathetic Food Safety Proposal” [same]
“Class claim against Crock-Pot seems a crock” [Sean Wajert]
USDA issues proposed rules on vending machine fare and other school “competitive foods” [Lunch Tray, SmarterTimes, Julie Gunlock/IWF (good news: rules don't address bake sales and birthday cupcakes. Bad news: why is this Washington's business at all?)]
Lawyer suing Subway over “Footlong” also handled controversial red-light camera action [NJLRA]
So, lung, it’s been good to know you: fans of authentic Scottish haggis still vexed by US ban [BBC]
If you don’t want quite this much capacity — if you’re cooking for one or two, and hate leftovers — then I recommend getting an older (pre-1990) crockpot off of eBay. In recent years, food safety regulations and fear of liability has caused manufacturers to raise the heat on their slow cookers, which means the food cooks faster. I entertain enough that I reluctantly gave up lower heat for larger capacity (old crockpots tend to come in 2-3 quart sizes, rather than the 5-6 quarts that are standard now.) But only an older crockpot will give you really low and slow cooking.
Ban smoking entirely, or issue licenses to smokers? In some quarters of the public-health world, those appear to be the end points of the spectrum of debate as they pursue the “endgame” of a “tobacco-free society.” [Jacob Sullum]
Related: “Soda Noir,” Owen Smith’s funny cover illustration for the June 18 New Yorker. And George Will reveals in his column that as part of its stimulus program the federal government spent millions of dollars on campaigns at the local and state level to crack down on sweetened drinks, a policy of dubious legality given that existing law “prohibits the use of federal funds ‘to influence in any manner … an official of any government, to favor, adopt, or oppose, by vote or otherwise, any legislation, law, ratification, policy, or appropriation.’” [earlier here, here]
After the state’s high court stigmatized pit bulls as distinctively dangerous, the state legislature has (as warned of in this space) reacted by extending liability to owners of all dogs, “first bite” or not [WaPo] “The trial lawyer’s expert just testified he sees dogs as a man or woman’s ego on the end of a leash.” [Mike Smigiel]
A Washington Post article asks: “Is the ‘nanny state’ in Montgomery working?” (No, but it makes councilors in the affluent liberal redoubt feel good about themselves.) And even in Montgomery, councilman George Leventhal (D-At Large) spots a Laffer Curve [Dan Mitchell, Cato at Liberty]
Also in Montgomery, county slates vote next month on union-backed bill to require service contractors to take over employment of displaced workers for 90 days [Gazette] Leventhal is caustic: “I do not only work for SEIU 32BJ. My colleagues may feel they do.” [Rachel Baye, Examiner]
Despite its solicitude for the SEIU, the county’s concern for low-income workers has its limits, as when property owners seek to increase the stock of affordable housing near jobs by dividing one-family residences into two-family [Ben Ross, Greater Greater Washington]
“Doctors, hospitals concerned about hefty malpractice awards” [Baltimore Sun]
Caleb Brown interviews me in this new Cato Institute podcast, in which we discuss the futility of Mayor Bloomberg’s effort to turn NYC soda fans into two-fisted drinkers (that is, they’ll need to carry one in each hand); the role of federal grants from the Obama administration; and more broadly, the creepily intrusive ambitions of the New York City Health Department. If the embedded version doesn’t work, you can find it here.
Related: “The issue is freedom, not soft drinks.” [Jonathan Tobin, Commentary]. “Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign,” wrote John Stuart Mill [Patrick Basham, U.S. News] A new study finds restricting people’s junk food choices doesn’t help them lose weight [Reuters] James Lileks offers a helpful picture gallery distinguishing “Poison” from “Not Poison,” and classes a-burger-and-a-Coke in the latter category. Contrariwise, a ban backer at the Daily Beast is happy to contemplate future rules limiting hamburger sizes: “why not? Eight- and ten-ounce burgers are sick things.” And from earldean71: “If history is any guide at least one Atlanta suburb will pass an ordinance requiring giant soda drinks if NYC has a ban.” Earlier here, here, here, here, etc.
In San Francisco, Judge Richard Kramer has dismissed the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s lawsuit on behalf of parent Monet Parham seeking to declare unlawful McDonald’s practice of including a toy in its Happy Meal. I wrote about the case last year. [SF Weekly, earlier here, here]
Get your copy today!My new book tackles the question of why so many bad ideas come from the law schools. "Cutting-edge commentary, hard-hitting, witty, astute." -- Publisher's Weekly. "Excellent... A fine dissection of these strangely powerful institutions" -- Wall Street Journal.