Subscribe: Reason Magazine - Topics > Regulation
http://reason.com/topics/topic/203.xml
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade B rated
Language: English
Tags:
business  businesses  cigarettes  fda  information  manufacturers  marijuana  new  nicotine  products  public  salmon  study 
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: Reason Magazine - Topics > Regulation

Regulation



All Reason.com articles with the "Regulation" tag.



Published: Thu, 21 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Last Build Date: Thu, 21 Sep 2017 06:52:07 -0400

 



D.C. Threatens to Punish Manufacturers for Failing 'Flushability' Standards It Won't Define

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 11:25:00 -0400

To flush or not to flush? The Kimberly-Clark Corporation is suing D.C. over the question, after a law the city passed last year tried to keep the company from labeling its disposable wipes "flushable." The whole matter might seem a little silly for those outside the septic or paper product industries. But it provides a perfect case study in arbitrary regulation and government incompetence. Under the Nonwoven Disposable Products Act of 2016, passed last December, disposable paper products such as cleansing wipes are forbidden from being labeled as flushable "unless there is competent and reliable scientific evidence to substantiate that the non-woven disposable product is flushable sewer safe, and septic safe." Products that don't meet this standard must be labeled with "Do Not Flush." Come January 1, 2018, manufacturers of everything from facial tissues to paper towels could face civic penalties and fines for failure to meet the new labeling requirements. Yet the city has offered no guidance on what counts as "competent and reliable scientific evidence" of flushability, nor information on how the city will test suspicious paper products. And repeated requests by Kimberly-Clark for more information went unanswered. At hearings about the rule, experts for the city suggested that no disposable cleansing wipe currently on the market was fit to be flushed, and that even some toilet paper wasn't flushable. This puts companies like Kimberly-Clark—a major manufacturer of personal care products (including several lines of cleansing wipes that can supposedly be flushed without clogging toilets and pipes)—in a bind. They have no way to determine how to ensure their products will meet D.C.'s standard. But if they fail to follow these unknowable rules, D.C. can punish them. In a lawsuit filed September 15 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Kimberly-Clark contends that the law is unconstitutional for a host of reasons, including its failure to set clear standards for avoiding sanctions. The suit also argues that D.C. is violating Kimberly-Clark's First Amendment rights by forcing the company to make untrue statements about its products and that it impermissably seeks to hold Kimberly-Clark "vicariously liable for the actions of others, namely the unaffiliated businesses that buy Kimberly-Clark's flushable wipes elsewhere in the United States and then—lawfully—choose to resell them to local consumers." And then there is the question of the Constitution's Commerce Clause, which grants Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce. Kimberly-Clark products are made in South Carolina, where labeling the wipes as flushable is legal. Thus, the suit argues, D.C.'s flushable-product policy "invalidly seeks to regulate the conduct of manufacturers in other states by imposing civil sanctions on conduct that is entirely lawful" there. Meanwhile, the act entirely fails to regulate any local activity: It remains lawful under the Act for retailers to buy wipes labeled as flushable and to resell those products to consumers in D.C., regardless of whether that labeling is deemed consistent with the Act. Likewise, it remains lawful for D.C. consumers to purchase and use those very same products, no matter how they are labeled. But it is the manufacturers who exclusively bear liability for this activity, as the only thing regulated by the Act is non-local manufacturing and labeling activity. Thus, whether construed as a per se invalid regulation of out-of-state commercial conduct or as a regulation that inordinately burdens interstate commerce, the Act violates the Commerce Clause. According to a company statement, Kimberly-Clark wipes "are engineered to rapidly lose strength as soon as they are flushed" and "meet or exceed widely accepted industry guidelines for flushability." In the "largest sewer collection study, conducted in New York City in 2016, not a single Kimberly-Clark flushable wipe was found," it notes. A Federal Trade Commission investigation agreed that the wipes are sufficiently flushable. The sponsor [...]



Will Consumer Privacy Initiatives Slow the Internet Economy?

Fri, 15 Sep 2017 00:01:00 -0400

As the legislative session ends, California political junkies will soon turn their attention to the slate of initiatives making their way to the November 2018 ballot. One of the more significant proposed statewide measures is the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018, which would give consumers the "right" to know what information businesses collect and to stop them from using it for commercial purposes. The initiative promises consumers "control" over the personal information businesses glean from "tracking and collection devices"—and seeks to restore privacy rights at a time of "accelerating encroachment on personal freedom and security." It would apply to all businesses, ranging from internet service providers to websites to cellphone companies. The proposal has sparked concern in tech-friendly California, given that it could impose significant costs on everything from small-time websites to major internet players such as Facebook, Google and Amazon. If the measure qualifies for the ballot and is approved by voters, it would apply not only to California-based internet companies, but to any entity that does business in the state. So, it could have national reverberations. "Forcing companies to allow consumers to opt out of tracking, and not allowing those companies to charge more or deny service to consumers who do opt out, would be burdensome for websites and application developers, and would significantly hurt the advertising industry since it would decrease the amount of targeted advertising they can do," said Tom Struble, tech policy manager at the R Street Institute in Washington, D.C. The initiative would provide consumers with four new "rights" that would be inserted into the state Constitution. First, consumers would have the right to learn about the categories of personal information that any business has collected from them. Second, consumers would have the right to know how that specific personal information is being used—i.e., whether it has been sold or shared for marketing or advertising purposes. Third, consumers would have the right to "direct a business" not to sell or share that information. Finally, the initiative grants consumers the right to "equal service or price," which means the business would be forbidden from charging different prices or limiting services if a consumer directs a business not to use the information. Companies would be required to honor a consumer's information request within 30 days and provide it at no charge. The initiative requires companies to set up a toll-free telephone number and website by which consumers could make a "verifiable" request. The initiative's backers argue that consumers "are in a position of relative dependence on businesses" that collect this information and that it is difficult for them "to monitor business operations or prevent companies from using your personal information for the companies' financial benefit." Critics, however, argue that the measure doesn't make necessary distinctions. Unlike a bill now in the California legislature, it doesn't distinguish between, say, internet service providers that operate essentially like paid utilities and businesses that offer access to their websites and are paid based on advertising fees. It also does nothing about a potentially greater threat to privacy—collection of data by state and local governments. The issue has gotten more attention since April, when President Donald Trump signed a law that repealed some Obama-era Federal Communications Commission rules. The rules would have required internet service providers to get permission before using a customer's information, such as their browsing history, to create targeted online advertisements. The California Legislature is now trying to restore some of those Obama-era rules. Assembly Bill 375 was designed to "protect California consumers since Congress and the Trump administration effectively halted a set of federal consumer privacy protection rules on internet service providers that were scheduled to take effect," acco[...]



How Obama's EPA Nearly Bankrupted John Duarte's Farm

Thu, 14 Sep 2017 13:05:00 -0400

EPA Chief Scott Pruitt has set out to transform the agency he leads to a greater extent than any of Trump's other cabinet appointees, pledging to end what he dubbed the agency's "anti-energy agenda" by loosening requirements on carbon emissions and eliminating land use restrictions. In his first speech to EPA employees, Pruitt laid out his goal of returning the agency to its core focus of protecting the environment while following what he called "the letter of the law." "I believe that we as an agency, and we as a nation, can be both pro-energy and jobs and pro-environment," Pruitt told his staff. Environmentalists vehemently opposed Pruitt's appointment, depicting him as a climate change denier determined to undermine the EPA's core mission of protecting the environment. One of Pruitt's first targets is a controversial rule on water pollution put in place by the Obama administration that he deemed a "power grab" by environmental regulators. To better understand why property rights advocates applauded the move, consider the case of fourth-generation farmer John Duarte, who has fought a protracted and costly legal battle with federal regulators over how to till his 450-acre farm in Tehama County, California. In 2012, the Army Corps of Engineers, working in conjunction with the EPA, accused Duarte of damaging wetland features on his property. He was hit with $30 million in fines and restoration fees. Duarte's troubles stemmed from a 2015 provision in the Clean Water Act known as the Waters of the United States rule that was meant to better protect large bodies of water by regulating use of the streams, ponds, and ditches that flow into them. The EPA has used this provision to micromanage private land use. The agency accused Duarte of mismanaging the wetland areas located on his property, claiming that his four-inch plow furrows created small mountain ranges. They contend Duarte should have obtained a permit before tilling his own land. "The average time to obtain a Clean Water Act permit is close to two years, and the average cost just to hire the consultants and do the studies to get permits approaches a quarter of a million dollars," says Anthony François, a lawyer with the Pacific Legal Foundation who represented Duarte in his case against the government. "Clearly if you had to undertake that kind of cost and time just to get the necessary permit to plow your fields every year you're not going to grow a lot of food." In 2016, attorneys general from 31 states (including Pruitt) challenged the Obama administration's overreach on the Clean Water Act. The case is still active in federal court. University of Virginia Law Professor Jason Scott Johnston, who is also an adjunct scholar at the libertarian CATO Institute, believes it's likely the Supreme Court would strike down the 2015 water regulation. He says that the Obama administration expanded the definition of wetlands beyond the parameters set by the Court in the 2007 Rapanos v. United States decision. "The broad trend of environmental regulation during the Obama administration was to use the coercive threat or reality of regulation simply to try to shut down entire industries and entire types of economic activity," says Johnston. "They have promulgated a definition of wetlands which clearly contradicts what the Supreme Court said." In February, President Donald Trump signed an executive order instructing the EPA to repeal the Waters of the United States rule, but getting the regulation off the books could take several years and be delayed by legal challenges from environmental groups. Meanwhile, Duarte settled his case in August for $1.1 million to avoid paying a significantly larger fine. He hopes Pruitt's focus on regulatory rollback will restore farmers' property rights. "We become peasants where these federal prosecutors can come in like the Sheriff of Nottingham, decide for themselves what they think a family can pay," Duarte says. "If the federal prosecutors can come on this land with this set of facts, there[...]



Nevada's Legislative Counsel Says Marijuana Lounges Are Already Legal

Thu, 14 Sep 2017 12:30:00 -0400

The owner of Essence Cannabis Dispensary, a pot shop on the Las Vegas Strip, complains that there's "no other industry in the world" where "you can you buy a product and then not use it anywhere." A solution to that problem may be closer than commonly thought. According to a recent opinion from Nevada's Legislative Counsel Bureau (LCB), it is already legal for businesses to allow cannabis consumption, as long as they do not also sell it. Question 2, the legalization initiative that Nevada voters approved last November, makes it a misdemeanor, punishable by a $600 fine, to consume marijuana in a store that sells it or in any "public place," defined as "an area to which the public is invited or in which the public is permitted regardless of age." According to the Las Vegas Police Department, that means "marijuana consumption is only allowed at private residences" and "can never be consumed inside a business." But the definition of "public place" is ambiguous and can be read to allow cannabis consumption in businesses that exclude people younger than 21, the state's minimum marijuana purchase and possession age. That is how Nevada Legislative Counsel Brenda Erdoes interprets the law. "It is the opinion of this office that a business may establish and operate a lounge or other facility or special event at which patrons of the business are allowed to use marijuana," Erdoes says in a letter she sent state Sen. Tick Segerblom (D-Las Vegas) on Sunday. Her reasoning hinges on the definition of "public place": This language would not prohibit the possession or use of marijuana at a place to which the public is not invited or permitted, including a person's home or a lounge or other facility with restricted access, such as a private lounge or other facility, which is closed to the public and only allows entry to persons who are 21 years of age or older, so long as the possession or consumption of marijuana at such a location is not exposed to public view. Similarly, possession or consumption of marijuana would not be prohibited at an event which imposes restrictions for entry on the basis of age so long as the possession or consumption of marijuana is not exposed to public view during the event. However, while a retail marijuana store would fall into this category of businesses which impose restrictions for entry on the basis of age, consumption of marijuana within a retail marijuana store is specifically prohibited. Erdoes adds that pot-friendly businesses would be subject to local regulation. "This basically says local governments can license these businesses if they want to," Segerblom told the Las Vegas Sun. Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, could exercise that option soon. The Clark County Commissioners plan to discuss the issue at a meeting next week. "I do feel it is very important for the people who are coming from out of town, the tourists, which are a big contributor to the industry's business, I'm told, to have a place where they can legally and safely consume the product," Steve Sisolak, who chairs the board of county commissioners, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Nevada dispensaries have been serving recreational consumers, many of them tourists, since the beginning of July. Gov. Brian Sandoval, who warns that marijuana lounges could invite a federal crackdown, is not pleased. "I think it's way too early to be doing something like that," Sandoval told the Review-Journal. "I think it's important that we continue to see how the sale of recreational marijuana evolves." The governor thinks Erdoes is wrong about what current law allows. "I do not agree with the LCB opinion and believe that statutory authority is necessary to establish local marijuana smoking shops," he told the Sun. "I am concerned with these establishments popping up piecemeal throughout the state with differing rules and regulatory structure." Sandoval noted that Segerblom introduced a bill that would have explicitly allowed local governments to license cannabis-f[...]



Want to Get Into California's Legal Pot Market? Expect a Regulatory Morass

Fri, 08 Sep 2017 10:10:00 -0400

There was never a question that California would have a huge retail marijuana industry. It's the most populous state in the U.S., and it has either the sixth or 11th largest GDP in the world, depending on whether you factor in the high cost of living. The state's medical marijuana industry has been so locally and loosely regulated that some places have had de facto legalization for years. So: lots of money, lots of people, and a big customer base. In less than five months, the state will begin granting retail marijuana licenses. In a new report issued this week, the California Bureau of Cannabis Control (CBCC) says it expects to grant 11,500 licenses across the medical and retail marijuana industries in just the first year. For comparison's sake, Colorado—which began licensing medical cannabis businesses in 2010 and retail cannabis businesses in 2013—had 2,932 license holders across both industries as of June 2017. And because this is California and marijuana is a federally prohibited substance, the CBCC has also announced that red tape is coming. While the particulars have yet to be hammered out, the bureau released an outline of the emergency regulations it plans to implement before January 1, 2018. These are broad strokes and subject to change, but they suggest California's pot regulations—like those in Colorado and Washington—will be dense, intermittently arbitrary, and exacting. Just for groans, let's take a look at the kinds of hurdles businesses will have to clear in order to receive and maintain one of the four major California cannabis licenses. So you want to be a cannabis distributor! Cannabis distributors will be the California pot industry's biggest middlemen. They're slated to be the only licensees that can legally move cannabis between the various points on the supply chain, from cultivators and manufacturers to retailers. They're also responsible for making sure all cannabis products are tested by licensed labs. They "can act as wholesalers or may charge other licensees a fee for conducting distribution on their behalf." Distributors can package/repackage and label/relabel whole-plant products (which California regs refer to as flowers) but not manufactured products, which must remain in the original packaging and labeling. Distributors will need to either buy or lease commercial shipping vehicles. Said vehicles must be equipped with GPS tracking units. Distributors must transmit a manifest for each shipment to the CBCC and the recipient before delivery, and enter the shipment's information in the state's track-and-trace database. "Transportation may not be done by aircraft, watercraft, rail, drones, human powered vehicles, or unmanned vehicles." The container for the cannabis must be lockable and opaque. Distributors will be responsible for storing cannabis products at specific temperatures and returning faulty products to cultivators and manufacturers. So you want to be a marijuana testing company! If you love the chemistry of marijuana, I hope you also love doing paperwork, because you're going to be swimming in it. Labs will have to test all cannabis products—both medical and retail—for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), cannabidiol (CBD), cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), cannabigerol (CBG), and cannabinol (CBN). Tests for other cannabis components, such as terpenes, are optional. Labs will also be required to test for heavy metals, pesticides, mycotoxins, processing chemicals, solvents, microbiological impurities, pathogens, water activity, moisture content, hair, poop, bugs, and stray bits of plastic. The CBCC will set thresholds for each category. All test results must be reported to the distributor and entered into the track-and-trace database. High levels of dangerous substances must be reported to the CBCC within 24 hours. Plant samples that exceed the water content can be returned to the cultivator for additional curing and drying, but will need to be [...]



Vaccines, Peter Thiel and the Fine Art of the Journalistic Hatchet Job

Fri, 01 Sep 2017 18:10:00 -0400

"Peter Thiel Funds 'Unethical' Offshore Herpes Vaccine Trial," blared a headline over at the DailyBeast. The single problem is that it's false. The story is illustrated with a photoshop of venture capitalist Peter Thiel holding a menacing syringe. Even more damning, the editors added, "The Trump adviser is part of a group of wealthy businessmen spending millions to test the vaccine on people—while evading Food and Drug Administration regulations." Which is also false. The DailyBeast article was published on August 27. The headline for the biotech news site genomeweb's summary of the story reads, "A Libertarian Vaccine?" The headline and the story appear to be an instance of never letting facts get in the way. Unwary readers encountering the artfully constructed article would likely be led to conclude that a cabal of greedy libertarian venture capitalists had experimented on desperate people without their consent. The problem that the startup in the story, Rational Vaccines, is taking on is huge. In the United States, more than 23 million people—about one in seven people ages 14 to 49 —have genital herpes. As many as three million suffer herpes outbreaks four to 24 times per year. Those who suffer frequent outbreaks experience open sores, considerable pain, frequent headaches, and the infection sometimes results in blindness and life-threatening bouts of meningitis. Chronic sufferers experience stigma and social isolation. The vaccine trial referred to in the story took place more than a year ago. Thiel Capital actually invested on August 23. So what gives? What actually happened is that in 2015 and 2016 Southern Illinois University viral immunologist William Halford set up a trial of his attenuated herpes simplex 2 (HSV-2) vaccine. He inoculated 20 volunteers from the U.S. and U.K. at a site on the Caribbean island country of Nevis and St. Kitts. Rational Vaccines reported in an October, 2016 press release participants had, on average, experienced a 3-fold reduction in their herpes symptom-days per month relative to their experience taking standard treatment antiviral drugs. Halford submitted his results to a peer-reviewed journal that initially rejected his paper and asked for further data. Halford had years earlier contracted a rare form of cancer and died in June at age 48. Halford had been researching herpes viruses for more than two decades. Eventually he came to question the medical consensus that vaccines should be developed using viral protein subunits. Previous virus vaccines including polio, measles, rubella, and chickenpox had been created using live-attenuated viruses. Such vaccines used weakened versions of viruses that could not cause disease to prime the immune system protect against natural strains. By the 1980s, many vaccine researchers concluded that using proteins derived from disease-causing viruses was safer. However, Halford's research convinced him an HSV subunit vaccine would be relatively ineffective because HSV genomes are much more complicated than simpler human papillomavirus and hepatitis B viruses. Attempts to develop HSV subunit vaccines have so far not borne fruit. In lab mice his live-attenuated vaccine elicited 10 to 100 times greater protection against genital herpes than a subunit vaccine did, Halford reported. To check its safety, Halford injected himself with his own vaccine. Rational Vaccines is developing both a therapeutic vaccine for people who are already infected and a prophylactic vaccine to protect the rest of from becoming infected. Halford and Augustin Fernandez III, CEO investor in Rational Vaccines approached Thiel Capital and other possible venture investors in April 2017, after the preliminary results of the initial trial were in. Fernandez says he never spoke with Thiel, but met with Jason Camm, chief medical officer of Thiel Capital. In an interview, Fernandez confirmed that Thiel Capital did not formally invest in the current [...]



Researcher Says V.A. Obstruction Jeopardizes Study of Marijuana As PTSD Treatment

Tue, 29 Aug 2017 18:15:00 -0400

The first U.S. study to test marijuana as a treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder, which had been in the works since 2009, finally got under way last February and has enrolled 25 subjects since then. But the lead researcher, Phoenix psychiatrist Sue Sisley, says the study, which needs a total of 76 subjects, has been jeopardized by a lack of cooperation from the local Veterans Health Administration hospital. "Despite our best efforts to work with the Phoenix VA hospital and share information about the study," Sisley writes in a recent letter to Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin, "they have been unwilling to assist by providing information to their patients and medical staff about a federally legal clinical trial happening right in their backyard that is of crucial importance to the veteran community." At the current recruitment rate, she says, the study will not be completed within the time required by a $2.2 million grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. According to Sisley's letter, the hospital's director, RimaAnn Nelson, "is citing regulations that she cannot support research that does not utilize VA personnel." Sisley is asking Shulkin to intervene so that she can post flyers advertising the study at the hospital, distribute referral letters that can be used by interested patients, and present a lecture about the research to the medical staff. (She says she gave a talk at the hospital four years ago and was told she'd be invited back once the study had received all the approvals needed to proceed with recruitment.) Sisley also asks that the hospital "include information about the PTSD/cannabis study in any kind of electronic communications that are shared with VA staff and patients." Sisley and her colleagues are looking for veterans in the Phoenix area with "chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD arising from their combat-related service in the US armed forces and with duration of PTSD lasting at least six months." The FDA-approved protocol for the study, which is sponsored by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), lists 14 inclusion criteria and seven exclusion criteria. Sisley says she and the other researchers had to screen more than 300 potential subjects to identify 25 who met the criteria. They need 51 more, which Sisley figures will require screening another 700 or so veterans. "If we cannot recruit enough veterans," Sisley writes in her letter to Shulkin, "we will need to change the inclusion criteria to allow subjects with PTSD from any cause to enroll in the study. This is a change that we do not want to make if at all possible." Sisley says the subjects enrolled so far have nearly completed the study. "Once those vets are through, there will be no reason to pay lab staff to sit aimlessly waiting for more veterans to miraculously appear," Sisley says. "There will be no improvement in veteran volunteers until the Phoenix V.A. hospital agrees to start cooperating with us. They have blocked access to appropriate Phoenix area veterans with PTSD for the past two years now." When I ask Paul Coupaud, director of communication at the Phoenix V.A. hospital, why Sisley can't advertise her study there, he notes that "marijuana is still considered federally illegal," adding that "we can't tell people to go and try something that's illegal." When I point out that the study has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and is therefore legal under federal as well as state law, Coupaud says the real obstacle is that department regulations say "we cannot advertise any research study other than what V.A. is doing; we can't advertise outside research." He said Secretary Shulkin could amend that rule. I emailed the Department of Veterans Affairs about Sisley's complaints last week but have not heard back. The MAPS study has been focused on veterans from the beginning. Rick Doblin, executi[...]



Trump vs. the Business Community

Sun, 20 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Most business executives fumed and groused for the eight years Barack Obama was in the White House. He was a former community organizer who had never met a payroll, and those in the corporate boardrooms thought he was no friend of free enterprise. In 2010, New York real estate and media tycoon Mortimer Zuckerman said Obama's "demonization of business" was discouraging investment, sapping job growth and generally creating an "economic Katrina." Gary Shapiro, head of the Consumer Technology Association, called Obama "the most anti-business president" in his lifetime. Former General Electric Chairman Jack Welch implored the president, "Stop it. You can't go industry by industry ... through intimidation, business by business by business." As ordeals go, though, theirs was notably mild. The stock market soared; corporate profits nearly tripled; and the unemployment rate declined from 7.8 percent to 4.8 percent. From the depths of the Great Recession, the economy began what is now the third-longest expansion on record. When it came to the economy, the Obama years looked more like Mardi Gras than Hurricane Katrina. Now, instead of a liberal lawyer in the White House, CEOs have one of their own. And they're finding it's not everything they hoped. The stock market and other economic indicators look about the same as they did before Donald Trump took office. In Obama's final six months, the economy added an average of nearly 181,000 jobs per month. In Trump's first six months, it added 179,000 per month. GDP growth has even slowed a bit. More troublesome at the moment is Trump's insistence on defending Confederate monuments and stoking white racial resentments. In recent days, so many CEOs resigned from the president's two business advisory councils that Trump closed them down. Some of the executives no doubt were genuinely upset at the president's coddling of bigots and his inability to behave with a dignity befitting his office. Some were fearful of alienating customers who find Trump toxic. Other business executives are edging away from the president as though he were an erratic panhandler, and for the same reason: Best not to be close to him if he flips out. You don't want to have to stand there in silent mortification, as White House chief of staff John Kelly had to do the other day, while the president makes a fool of himself on national TV. It would not be good for your company or your career. But even before Trump's Charlottesville debacle, he was not covering himself with capitalist glory. His January travel order put him at odds with some 100 tech firms that sued to block it, arguing, "It disrupts ongoing business operations. And it threatens companies' ability to attract talent, business, and investment to the United States." His decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord didn't go down well with many big companies, 25 of which had signed a letter urging him to stay in. Even oil giants Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips opposed the withdrawal. In abandoning the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, Trump spurned the recommendation of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. His insistence on renegotiating NAFTA has the Big Three automakers worried about their supply chains. A lot of executives applaud Trump's war on federal regulation. But what else has he done for them? His failures on Obamacare have generated uncertainty among insurance companies and health care providers. His sour relations with Congress make tax reform less plausible every day. Infrastructure is what he was supposed to focus on Tuesday when he appeared before reporters at Trump Tower. But he buried that issue by venting about Charlottesville. Perhaps worst of all, he has been the arrogant bully that Jack Welch and others accused Obama of being. Trump slammed Boeing over the cost of Air Force One. He blasted Ford over a planned factory in Mexico. He has repeatedly attack[...]



Chicago Mandates Security Guards, Cameras on Party Buses

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 16:00:00 -0400

Chicago is cracking down on what one alderman outrageously referred to as "potential rolling cemeteries"—otherwise known as party buses—with a new ordinance requiring expensive security cameras and a licensed guard on trips where alcohol is involved. Over the past two years 11 shootings connected to party bus passengers resulted in three killings (in a city with 762 homicides in 2016). The new ordinance kicked in this June and applies to vehicles that can hold 10 or more people and only provide pre-arranged transportation (called charter and sightseeing vehicles). It is city officials' latest attempt to rein in what they claim are dangerous party buses because, as stated by License Committee Chairwoman and Ward 37 Alderman Emma Mitts, "sometimes fatal violence can break out at a moment's notice thanks to the potent mix of guns and alcohol." Most of the new rules are meant to target the bigger charter and sightseeing vehicles that can carry 15 or more passengers. For bigger buses where alcohol will be consumed on the vehicle or during trip stops, it must be outfitted with a security camera, have a licensed security guard present, all passengers must be informed of the prohibited acts, and the driver must take "affirmative steps" to ensure that no prohibited acts are taking place. Those prohibited acts include underage drinking, disorderly conduct, possessing drug paraphernalia or drugs, unlawful possession or discharging a firearm, throwing items from the vehicle, indecent exposure, and littering. Igor Vulicevic, owner of ChiTown LimoBus told Reason that bus shootings are isolated incidents. "Watch the ten o'clock news. How many were killed on a daily basis in Chicago?" Vulicevic said. "I don't think that the buses are the problem." According to Vulicevic, the ordinance is "very poorly defined," and bus companies have been fined for not having security guards or cameras on trips with fewer than 15 passengers. A press release from the mayor's office states that that these rules apply to "[b]uses that have 15 or more passengers" which makes it sound like the city is targeting large, rowdy parties. However, the ordinance is actually based on the bus carrying capacity. If there are only five people on the bus, the regulations still apply. "Things like this are absolutely mindboggling… ," Vulicevic said. "This is just a simple example so you can see how semantics can actually cost somebody a thousand dollars." Additionally, the city now requires all vehicles that are rated for 15 or more passengers (regardless of alcohol consumption) keep a full itinerary of the trip, and all charter and sightseeing vehicles registered by the city (even those which carry fewer than 15 passengers) must have their city vehicle number printed on the side of the bus. Vulicevic said that it cost his business $4,000 upfront to get each bus up to code—$16,000 for his four buses. He expressed concern that increasing costs of business could actually make roadways more dangerous for consumers. "I think it [the ordinance] will put lots of people at risk. … We provide safe and reliable transportation to the citizens and the residents of this city… ," Vulicevic said. "The rates have already gone up. We simply cannot afford paying for all of this. ... So who has to pay? The consumer has to pay. And if the consumer cannot afford it then they will have to drive on their own and it will bring the risk of drinking and driving." The mayor's office also advertised the ordinance as a way to "help police officers more easily identify unlicensed party buses so they can be stopped." Fines for noncompliance with city regulations can range from $100 to $10,000. The Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection and Chicago Police conducted an investigation for illegal vehicles at the end of July and sent cease-and-desist letters to 1[...]



Canadians Can Eat Genetically Enhanced Salmon; Americans Can't

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 10:25:00 -0400

Our neighors to the north can now enjoy salmon genetically enhanced to grow faster and eat less feed. Thanks to absurd overregulation, Americans can't. The Atlantic salmon are enhanced using a Chinook salmon gene that enables them to grow much faster using less feed. Nature News reports that AquaBounty Technologies, which developed the fish, has now sold nearly five tons of it to customers in Canada. The company applied to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to get approval for its genetically enhanced salmon back in 1995; it took the agency til 2015 to rule that AquAdvantage salmon, as the product is known, "is as safe to eat as any non-genetically engineered (GE) Atlantic salmon, and also as nutritious." Health Canada approved it for sale six months later. But you still can't buy it here in the U.S. The usual claque of anti-science activists are suing the FDA in an effort to block the company from marketing the fish. And Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, aiming to protect her state's salmon fishers from competition, has inserted a rider in the agriculture spending bill that bans the sale of enhanced salmon until the the FDA publishes its final labeling guidelines. Murkowski claims that Americans must be warned that AquAdvantage salmon are "frankenfish." As a general regulatory principle, genetically enhanced foods do not have to be labeled unless they are nutritionally different than their conventional versions. Canada sensibly does not require special labels on AquAdvantage salmon. AquaBounty is currently raising its sterile triploid salmon in an onshore facility in Panama. In June the company announced that it will expand a Prince Edward Island production facility and has acquired a fish farm in Indiana, where it plans to begin raising its enhanced fish for the U.S. market. Aquabounty sold its fish at wholesale for $5.30 per pound in Canada. In comparison, Tradex Foods reports that the current price on fresh atlantic salmon (farmed) in Miami for trimmed fillets is $4.25-$4.30 per pound. In any case, Alaskan fishers should rest easy. The Aquabounty facility in Indiana would produce about 1,200 tons of Atlantic salmon annually. Americans annually consume about 180,000 tons of Atlantic salmon, of which 170,000 tons are imported. Only 2,000 tons of Atlantic salmon are wild-caught. Most of the 105,000 tons of Pacific salmon is wild and is caught in domestic waters. Congress has tied the FDA's hands with respect to the AquAdvantage salmon, but the agency could do a great deal of good by withdrawing the scientifically ridiculous draft regulations meant to govern genomically improved livestock, which the Obama administration issued on its way out of the door in January. Personally, I dislike the flavor of salmon. But I plan to eat an AquAdvantage fillet as soon as I can legally lay hands on one.[...]



The Government Is Here to Make Sure Your Fidget Spinner Doesn't Kill Everybody

Fri, 11 Aug 2017 15:45:00 -0400

(image) The fidget spinner: harmless fad that suffered a cultural backlash almost as soon as we became aware they existed? Or deadly killer?

It's a harmless fad, but months after we've all grown tired of even thinking about the things, the federal government is here to make sure you don't kill yourself, kill everyone around you, and burn down your neighborhood with a small spinning toy.

Guys, there's a Fidget Spinner Safety Information Center. The United States Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has a new "guidance" out with a page explaining how to safely spin a toy.

The commission's acting chair, Anne Marie Buerkle, even put out a press release encouraging people to let them know about unsafe fidget spinners and "help our agency stay on top of this emerging hazard."

The agency's efforts have prompted a CNN piece about the not-terribly-hidden dangers of the toy. Primarily, fidget spinners have small parts that children can choke on. That's a consumer product warning so typical that it's almost meaningless. There was one notable choking incident in May that resulted in a 10-year-old having to get surgery to remove part of a spinner. As CNN notes, manufacturers already warn that the spinners are potentially a choking hazard.

Some fidget spinners also have batteries in them to operate little lights, so if you have one of those, go make sure your smoke detectors are in working order right this minute! I'm not exaggerating: One of the CPSC's safety tips is to check that you have working smoke detectors if you have fidget spinners with batteries in your house. And don't charge it overnight while you're sleeping!

Disappointingly, the CPSC does not warn against attempting to sharpen the edges of the fidget spinner so it becomes a ninja star. That seems like the kind of thing certain types of kids would try to do.

The CPSC also warns that there are all sorts of regulations fidget spinner manufacturers must adhere to in order to legally sell their product in the market.

Well, at least they actually get to sell their wares on the marketplace. Readers may recall the fate of small magnet toys like Buckyballs and Zen Magnets, which the CPSC intimidated out of the market out of exaggerated fear of their risks. Watch ReasonTV on Buckballs vs. the CPSC back in 2012 below. Buckyballs are, by the way, back for sale! (And Zen Magnets are available here.)

src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KONkQx0wm1c" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" width="560" height="340" frameborder="0">




How Freedom Made Us Rich

Wed, 09 Aug 2017 13:00:00 -0400

"In [1492], if you were going to bet on who was going to have a 'Great Enrichment,'" says University of Illinois at Chicago economist Deirdre McCloskey, "you would have been crazy not to bet on China because China had the most advanced commercial institutions, the most advanced ship building technology, [and] the most advanced machinery all together." But it didn't work out that way. "My claim," McCloskey says, "is that liberty was the key to modern economic growth." In her new book, Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World, the third volume in a trilogy, McCloskey argues that our vast accumulation of wealth over the past two hundred years— which she's dubbed "The Great Enrichment"—was the result of "massively better ideas in technology and institutions." Where did they arise from? &tag=reasonmagazineA"A new liberty and dignity for commoners," she argues, "expressed as the ideology of European liberalism." McCloskey sat down with Nick Gillespie at Freedom Fest, the annual convention for libertarians in Las Vegas, for a wide-ranging conversation on topics including the roots of "The Great Enrichment," why her gender reassignment surgery was an "expression of [her] libertarianism", and the importance of advocating policies that "actually help the poor" instead of just "making people feel good about helping the poor. McCloskey is also a Reason columnist. Her archive is here. Edited by Todd Krainin. Cameras by Meredith Bragg and Justin Monticello. Subscribe to our YouTube channel. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Subscribe to our podcast at iTunes. This is a rush transcript—check all quotes against the audio for accuracy. Nick Gillespie: Hi, I'm Nick Gillespie with Reason and today we are sitting down with Deirdre McCloskey. She's an Emeritus Professor of Economics, History, English, and Communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the author most recently of Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World. She's also a columnist for Reason Magazine. Deirdre, thanks so much for talking with us. Long time contributing editor to Reason as well. McCloskey: I'm extremely pleased to be here and ... Gillespie: Well, your latest column, because I think this puts us right into a lot of current discussions, is titled The Myth of Technological Unemployment. McCloskey: Yeah. Gillespie: The subhead is, if the nightmare of technological unemployment were true, it would have already happened repeatedly and massively. In it, you take issue with a lot of libertarian or free-market economists who are talking about how we've reached the end of technological innovation or productivity growth and yeah, we're going to have to find something to do for people who are replaced by robots. McCloskey: Yeah. Gillespie: What's wrong with that? McCloskey: I think it's just completely wrong. My friend, Tyler Cowen, my friends at George Mason think maybe it's time for an intervention and Tyler, we think maybe we should send him to dry out somewhere because he seems to have gone crazy on this and he's not alone. I mean, there are people like Bob Gordon wrote a book last year, which was very successful. Gillespie: Which argued that basically say goodbye to 2%, ... McCloskey: Exactly. Gillespie: ... even 2% economic growth. McCloskey: Exactly. Innovation in the United States is finished and we've invented all the window screens and drop ceilings we're ever going to invent. There are a whole bunch of things wrong with it. One is that it doesn't make a lot of quantitative sense. In Tyler's book, which is called Average is Over, he's got a chart, which he says, "Summarizes my point." It's terrible. See the falling share of labor in national income. You look closely at t[...]



Innovation Drives the Small Manufacturing Boom—If It Can Survive Regulatory Meddling

Tue, 08 Aug 2017 00:01:00 -0400

Contrary to the claims of certain politicians, lots of stuff is still made in the United States. Enough stuff that it hit a new peak in output as of the first quarter of this year, in fact. Even more surprising is that, despite the automation that reduces costs and makes much domestic production possible, there's even some growth in manufacturing jobs (though the numbers remain far below their past heights). That small resurgence in jobs may be because of the recent boom in small, urban-based manufacturers. It's an encouraging trend, but don't get too attached to those new businesses and their employees. Regulators are busy trying to kill them off. "The renewal of manufacturing is not an abstract economic issue: It is very much an urban issue," the Massachusetts Institute of Technology trumpeted in 2014. "Because of changes in technology and consumer tastes, smaller-scale manufacturing is making a comeback in urban areas around the country," NPR's Marketplace added just a few weeks ago. Technologies like 3D-printing allow companies to produce small runs of automotive parts, custom truck bodies, and the like. Crowdfunding lets small businesses simultaneously raise capital and reduce costs to produce American-made clothing and gear at reasonable prices. And targeted production makes it possible to serve niche markets that might have gone overlooked in years past. It's innovation across the board, generally based in cities that had been losing old-style industry, but which still offer easy access to people, transportation, and resources. But warning signs of trouble to come were already there in the 2014 MIT article. "Can new manufacturing fit in with the ongoing evolution of cities, and if so, how?" it asked. The problem—and it's a big problem—is that cities are centers of creativity not just in generating new ideas for serving markets, but also in developing shackles for hobbling economic activity. The entrepreneurs creating new manufacturing businesses work in close proximity to people "evolving" the cities in which they live in more highly regulated directions that raise costs, impose hurdles, and choke off opportunities for creating jobs and prosperity. "The biggest single drag on U.S. manufacturing has been the decades-long encroachment of the regulatory state—with an army today of 300,000 regulators and an annual budget of $60 billion," Mark P. Mills of Northwestern University's McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science noted in a report issued in June of this year by the Manhattan Institute. "Complying with regulations costs manufacturers an average of $20,000 per employee per year, twice as great a burden as for other businesses. For the smallest manufacturers (i.e., those with fewer than 50 employees), that annual cost is $35,000 per employee per year. In surveys, America's manufacturers routinely rank regulatory burdens as the top impediment to growth; a large majority also say that regulatory burdens are higher in America than in other nations." Mills refers to regulatory challenges that are daunting to manufacturers doing business anywhere in the United States. So long as they're in place, keeping the manufacturing sector healthy, let alone growing it, will be an uphill battle for American entrepreneurs. But matters are even worse for the small manufacturers who have been fighting to bring jobs and innovation to American cities. Janet Adamy and Paul Overberg examined the recent decline in American mobility for a Wall Street Journal article. They found that the bitter urban-rural cultural divide and unwillingness to leave behind support networks and social services play a role, as does occupational licensing, but another major problem is found in high housing costs resulting[...]



A Cap on Nicotine in Cigarettes Would Be Hazardous to Health

Wed, 02 Aug 2017 15:20:00 -0400

Robert Proctor, the historian of science who wrote the fascinating 1999 book The Nazi War on Cancer, loves the Food and Drug Administration's idea of "reducing the nicotine in cigarettes to a nonaddictive level." Writing in The New York Times, Proctor, now a professor at Stanford, calls the FDA's proposal "exceptionally good news for tobacco control, and for human health." In fact, he says, "a legal cap on the nicotine in cigarettes could be one of the most important interventions in human health history." I don't think this intervention would work out the way Proctor imagines. His op-ed piece is an excellent example of expecting good intentions to ensure good outcomes, even when experience tells us the policy is bound to backfire. "Cigarettes with nonaddictive nicotine levels would be radically different from what used to be known as 'low tar' or 'light' cigarettes, marketing gimmicks now barred by law," Proctor assures us. "Those cigarettes were advertised as delivering less nicotine and tar into the lungs, even though there was no actual reduction." Although it is by no means clear that "there was no actual reduction," it's true that "light" cigarettes were at best only slightly less harmful than regular cigarettes. But the reason for that casts doubt on the logic of the proposal Proctor is championing. It turned out that smokers who switched to "light" cigarettes tended to engage in "compensatory behavior" that boosted nicotine delivery and moved them closer to their usual dose. They smoked more cigarettes, took more puffs from each one, took bigger puffs, or held the smoke deeper and longer. They even subconsciously covered the tiny filter holes that helped reduce a cigarette's machine-measured tar and nicotine yields. The upshot is that "light" cigarettes did not offer anything like the health advantage implied by those official, government-certified numbers. The problem was that tobacco companies reduced nicotine along with tar, when what they should have done was reduce tar while keeping nicotine the same. E-cigarettes embody the latter approach taken to its logical conclusion: They deliver nicotine with no tar at all, since they do not contain tobacco and do not rely on combustion. To its credit, the FDA has finally begun to recognize the huge potential health benefit of reducing the toxins and carcinogens that smokers absorb along with nicotine. In the case of conventional cigarettes, however, the agency is considering the opposite approach: forcing smokers to absorb more toxins and carcinogens for any given dose of nicotine. The aim, as Proctor says, is to "make addiction virtually impossible," so that "kids might start smoking, but they wouldn't have trouble quitting." But what about the 30 million or so Americans who already smoke cigarettes? Deliberately increasing their exposure to the dangerous compounds generated by burning tobacco is neither ethical nor sensible, even (or especially) from a "public health" perspective. There are other problems with the FDA's proposal, aside from its health-damaging paternalism. Proctor notes that "sales were disappointing" when Philip Morris introduced three brands of nicotine-free cigarettes in the 1980s, "in part because high-nicotine cigarettes remained on the market." But forcing cigarette manufacturers to dramatically reduce nicotine levels would stimulate a black market supplied by smuggled imports and illicitly manufactured smokes. Smokers could dodge the cap on nicotine by turning to the black market, spiking their cigarettes with liquid nicotine, or rolling their own using full-strength tobacco. As longtime British anti-smoking activist Clive Bates notes, it is not even clear that the FDA has the authority to man[...]



The FDA Warms to Vaping

Wed, 02 Aug 2017 00:01:00 -0400

On the face of it, the decision that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Friday, extending by four years a crucial deadline for e-cigarette manufacturers to seek approval of their products, was no more than a stay of execution. But the FDA also signaled a new receptiveness to vaping as a harm-reducing alternative to smoking, which suggests this reprieve could turn into a commutation. That would be good news for smokers who want to quit and for anyone sincerely interested in helping them. For too long American public health officials have been unreasonably hostile to e-cigarettes, which are far less hazardous than the conventional kind and offer a closer simulation of the real thing than nicotine gum or patches do. Scott Gottlieb, the new FDA commissioner, seems to appreciate the public health potential of this innovation. "The overwhelming amount of death and disease attributable to tobacco is caused by addiction to cigarettes," he says. "Envisioning a world where cigarettes would no longer create or sustain addiction, and where adults who still need or want nicotine could get it from alternative and less harmful sources, needs to be the cornerstone of our efforts—and we believe it's vital that we pursue this common ground." Gottlieb's vision of nonaddictive cigarettes involves mandating a gradual reduction in nicotine content, which would increase the risks that smokers face by forcing them to absorb more toxins and carcinogens for the same dose of nicotine. But his interest in less dangerous alternatives to cigarettes is encouraging. The FDA says "a key piece" of its new approach is "demonstrating a greater awareness that nicotine—while highly addictive—is delivered through products that represent a continuum of risk and is most harmful when delivered through smoke particles in combustible cigarettes." The agency wants to strike "an appropriate balance between regulation and encouraging development of innovative tobacco products that may be less dangerous than cigarettes." Toward that end, the FDA is giving e-cigarette companies until August 8, 2022, to apply for permission to keep their products on the market under regulations published last year, rather than the original deadline of November 8, 2018. The agency says it will use the extra time to seek additional public comment and develop clearer guidance for the industry. The 2016 regulations require manufacturers of vaping equipment and e-liquids to demonstrate that approval of their products "would be appropriate for the protection of the public health." It is not clear what that means in practice, but the FDA projected that applications would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per product, and many observers thought that was an underestimate. To give you a sense of how expensive and burdensome the process was expected to be, the FDA anticipated that it would receive applications for just a tiny percentage of existing products. The implication was that the regulations would drive the vast majority of companies out of business. If the FDA is serious about making "less harmful sources" of nicotine "the cornerstone of our efforts," it will develop transparent, straightforward, and practical criteria for approval of current and new vaping products. Standing between smokers and products that can save their lives is surely not "appropriate for the protection of the public health." Nor is making those products less appealing by arbitrarily restricting flavors. Since supposedly "kid-friendly" e-liquids are very popular among adults who switch from smoking to vaping, it's a bit worrisome that the FDA plans to solicit public comment on regulation of flavors, which it acknowl[...]