- “In reality, government officials often have strong incentives to mandate warnings that are misleading or flat-out wrong” [Ilya Somin] George Akerlof and Robert Shiller’s analysis of consumers as fools leaves something to be desired [Alex Tabarrok, New Rambler Review]
- “The suppression of competition [is] a core driver of skyrocketing inequality.” New Steven Teles article sure to be much discussed touches on occupational entry restriction, land values inflated by municipal regulation, many other topics of interest [National Affairs]
- “Patterico Prevails: Vexatious Legal Attack on Speech Fails” [Popehat]
- On the topic of legal remedies against looks-ism, which I wrote about in The Excuse Factory, C-SPAN airs my comments as a counterpoint to Prof. Rhode [video, begins 1:30, more including transcript]
- “How copyright is killing your favorite memes” [Caitlin Dewey, Washington Post “Intersect”]
- University of Nebraska/Kearney agrees to pay $140,000 to two former students for not allowing psychological support dogs in dorms [Department of Justice press release]
- Regulation of child care provision drives up costs, has unintended consequences [Diana Thomas and Devon Gorry, Mercatus]
Bloomberg-era nannying continues under Mayor Bill de Blasio: “The [New York City] Board of Health voted unanimously to require chain eateries to put salt-shaker emblems on menus to denote dishes with more than the recommended daily limit of 2,300 milligrams of sodium.” [Associated Press] There are several problems with this, beginning with the coercion: it’s not the proper role of government to force itself on the marketplace as a diet and health adviser. The salt guidelines themselves, moreover, are so rigorous in their demands for salt restriction that only one in ten Americans currently succeeds in meeting them; while some persons (notably cardiac patients) can lower their risk by going on a salt-restricted diet, it seems to confer no benefit on many others and may even bring health risks of its own. Aside from breeding “warning fatigue” that encourages consumers to ignore increasingly complicated signage, the measure brings serious compliance costs, especially if restaurants try to introduce new offerings frequently or vary their offerings to reflect local or individual customer preferences. Finally, the de Blasio administration bypassed the City Council (which by design is answerable to the entire city, including consumer and business voters) in favor of going for an edict by the Board of Health. Mayor Bloomberg tried the same tactic with his soda ban, only to see it struck down by the courts.
“Never apologize, never explain” is not a maxim to recommend for a state’s top law enforcer, and that goes for New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the subject of my recent City Journal piece. Early this year Schneiderman charged that herbal supplements on sale at GNC, Walmart and other major retailers, when subjected to special tests arranged by his office, were found to lack DNA associated with the advertised herbs. Within days close observers and experts in the field had deduced why Schneiderman’s tests had produced such remarkable results: he had relied on testing methods badly unsuited to identifying active ingredients in substances that, like most of the supplements, had undergone extensive processing [see, e.g., Nicola Twilley, New Yorker; Live Science; Bill Hammond, New York Daily News]
Other officials might have beat a timely retreat. Schneiderman’s office instead dug in, refusing to apologize, back down or even publicly disclose key facts about its testing methods. I’ve done a Cato Daily Podcast with Caleb Brown about the whole episode, including what is perhaps the most ominous aspect: such is the legal leverage of a New York attorney general that the targets chose to settle anyway. City Journal piece, again, here.
Caleb Brown interviews me and Trevor Burrus about some of the term’s lower-profile Supreme Court cases, including Abercrombie & Fitch (religious accommodation), disparate impact housing discrimination, Yates (whether the Sarbanes-Oxley financial accounting law forbids destroying fish), Horne (raisin takings), three-strikes sentencing and (Trevor) the Texas confederate flag license plate case. We also preview next term’s important Friedrich v. California Teachers Association case on public sector union dues collection (more on which, Michael Rosman).
Related: ten cases the Court should have taken last term but didn’t [Mark Chenoweth, WLF]
You can listen via guest host Rick Sincere’s column at the Virginia political blog Bearing Drift.
Today is the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Listen to Diane Rehm’s roundtable on the law with me and other guests here:
Five years ago I wrote on the occasion of the ADA’s 20th anniversary. I criticized the more recent, United Nations-drafted Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in this 2012 piece. And the potentially massive disruptions to be expected from a legal requirement that websites be “accessible” — a regulatory idea that the Obama administration is thought to be in the very final stages of considering — have been a regular theme here for many years, as has the harm done by ADA filing mills that file accessibility complaints by the batch against businesses and property owners, often with recovery of attorneys’ fees in mind. More: James Bovard, USA Today.
The video is now up of the Right On Crime panel on civil asset forfeiture at which I joined Grover Norquist, Jason Pye and moderator John Malcolm. It was followed by a second panel with Derek Cohen, Robert Frommer, Evan Armstrong, and forfeiture victim Joseph Rivers. Further discussion here at Right on Crime, earlier on the panel; our forfeiture tag.
“The FDA’s move to make transfats harder to use has broad implications for consumers, businesses and the power of government to deny people meaningful choices.” It won’t be the last ingredient valued by some consumers that “public health” advocates seek to ban or limit, either. I discuss with Caleb Brown in this new Cato podcast. More background here.
I joined host Ray Dunaway yesterday on Hartford’s WTIC 1080 to discuss the OPM hack (earlier on which) and schemes to extend federal regulatory control over private data security. You can listen here.
And from yesterday’s House hearing on the subject: “OPM chief ducks blame for data breach, pins it on ‘whole of government'” [Washington Examiner]