Last Thursday, a federal district court judge issued an injunction blocking the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet – the genteel name given the Bluegrass State’s department of transportation – from enforcing the state’s anti-competitive licensing law for movers.
In Bruner v. Zawacki, which is being litigated by Cato adjunct scholar Timothy Sandefur and our other friends at the Pacific Legal Foundation, small business owner Raleigh Bruner argues that the licensing laws, which allow existing moving companies to file “protests” to block new companies from opening, create a “Competitor’s Veto” that has no rational basis. Judge Danny Reeves ordered the state not to enforce those laws, at least until he has the opportunity to issue a complete opinion – but he strongly indicated that he already thinks those laws are unconstitutional:
The Sixth Circuit has held that “protecting a discrete interest group from economic competition is not a legitimate governmental purpose.” And it appears that the notice, protest, and hearing procedure in the statutes – both facially and as applied – operate solely to protect existing moving companies from outside economic competition. The defendants have admitted that they know of no instance where, upon a protest by an existing moving company, a new applicant has been granted a certificate … . [O]ver the past five years, no protest filed has been regarding an applicant’s safety record. Likewise, no applications have been denied on the grounds that the applicant was a danger to public health, safety, or welfare.
You can read more about the case at PLF’s Liberty Blog.
View full post on Cato @ Liberty
At stop lights, yellow lights being shortened to increase revenue for ticket cameras, people have died
We have documented the flat out abuse of the the motorist at the hands of municipalities which employ stop light cameras. Often there is a revenue sharing deal with a company which gets as much as 50% of all tickets issued by the cameras. There is real incentive for cities and towns to abuse the system.
But shortening yellow lights to increase revenue is just disgusting. This is happening in Florida (and likely other places.) At least one death is blamed on the department of transportation policy.
They are a cash cow. But a “for-profit business between cities and camera companies” that incentivizes making the roads more dangerous for citizens doesn’t sound like a particularly ethical undertaking for the government. As it turns out, “ethical” is not a word often associated with how the traffic cameras are operated. As Holman Jenkins recently explained in the Wall Street Journal, the cameras have become a sleazy new form of taxation, and “When governments are engaged in sleazy new forms of taxation, sleaze happens.”
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Michael F. Cannon
Today, the nation’s top health economists released a study that throws a huge “STOP” sign in front of ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion.
The Oregon Health Insurance Experiment, or OHIE, may be the most important study ever conducted on health insurance. Oregon officials randomly assigned thousands of low-income Medicaid applicants – basically, the most vulnerable portion of the group that would receive coverage under ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion – either to receive Medicaid coverage, or nothing. Health economists then compared the people who got Medicaid to the people who didn’t. The OHIE is the only randomized, controlled study ever conducted on the effects of having health insurance versus no health insurance. Randomized, controlled studies are the gold standard of such research.
Consistent with lackluster results from the first year, the OHIE’s second-year results found no evidence that Medicaid improves the physical health of enrollees. There were some modest improvements in depression and financial strain–but it is likely those gains could be achieved at a much lower cost than through an extremely expensive program like Medicaid. Here are the study’s results and conclusions:
We found no significant effect of Medicaid coverage on the prevalence or diagnosis of hypertension or high cholesterol levels or on the use of medication for these conditions. Medicaid coverage significantly increased the probability of a diagnosis of diabetes and the use of diabetes medication, but we observed no significant effect on average glycated hemoglobin levels or on the percentage of participants with levels of 6.5% or higher. Medicaid coverage decreased the probability of a positive screening for depression [by 30 percent], increased the use of many preventive services, and nearly eliminated catastrophic out-of-pocket medical expenditures…
This randomized, controlled study showed that Medicaid coverage generated no significant improvements in measured physical health outcomes in the first 2 years, but it did increase use of health care services, raise rates of diabetes detection and management, lower rates of depression, and reduce financial strain.
As one of the study’s authors explained to me, it did not find any effect on mortality because the sample size is too small. Mortality rates among the targeted population – able-bodied adults 19-64 below 100 percent of poverty who aren’t already eligible for government health insurance programs – are already very low. So even if expanding Medicaid reduces mortality among this group, and there is ample room for doubt, the effect would be so small that this study would be unable to detect it. That too is reason not to implement the Medicaid expansion. This is not a population that is going to start dying in droves if states decline to participate.
There is no way to spin these results as anything but a rebuke to those who are pushing states to expand Medicaid. The Obama administration has been trying to convince states to throw more than a trillion additional taxpayer dollars at Medicaid by participating in the expansion, when the best-designed research available cannot find any evidence that it improves the physical health of enrollees. The OHIE even studied the most vulnerable part of the Medicaid-expansion population – those below 100 percent of the federal poverty level – yet still found no improvements in physical health.
If Medicaid partisans are still determined to do something, the only responsible route is to launch similar experiments in other states, with an even larger sample size, to determine if there is anything the OHIE might have missed. Or they could design smaller, lower-cost, more targeted efforts to reduce depression and financial strain among the poor. (I propose deregulating health care.) This study shows there is absolutely no warrant to expand Medicaid at all.
View full post on Cato @ Liberty
Well, small gun retailers. The big accounts with Walmart and Dicks Sporting Goods, those are still cool. No doubt this is as a result of pressure from the White House. Rahm Emanuel is using the same tactics in Chicago.
Obama has paid GE handsomely over the past 5 years, the least GE can do is gut on board with the gun control efforts.
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To a degree almost impossible to imagine just a month ago, North Korea has won international attention, dominated events in Northeast Asia, and embarrassed the United States. Unfortunately, the Obama administration has played into Pyongyang’s hands by responding to the North’s provocations. Now Secretary of State John Kerry is visiting East Asia, beginning Friday, where the so-called Democratic People’s Republic of Korea will dominate the agenda.
Rushing off to the region on a high-profile trip is another mistake. Whatever Secretary Kerry does or says is likely to be seen as enhancing the DPRK’s stature. Better for him to have stayed home, phoning his counterparts as appropriate.
No doubt the Obama administration hopes to craft a diplomatic answer to what is widely seen as a crisis. However, Washington dare not reward the North for its caterwauling, even if Kim Jong-un suddenly adopts the mien of a serious leader of a serious nation. Rather, Secretary Kerry should hold out the possibility of engagement, even diplomatic relations—but only if Pyongyang chooses to behave like other nations. No more providing benefits in response to threats.
Moreover, the secretary and other U.S. officials should stop responding to every new North Korean development, big and small. America is a superpower with the ability to vaporize every acre of the DPRK. The North is impoverished; its people are starving; its military is antiquated. Its leaders are evil, not stupid or suicidal, and have neither the ability nor the incentive to attack America. Washington should respond to the next North Korean provocation, whether verbal challenge or missile test, with a collective yawn.
Hope continues to breed eternal that China will tame or replace the Kim regime. No doubt Beijing is frustrated with its nominal protégé. However, the Chinese government will act only if it believes doing so is in China’s interest. Insisting or demanding will achieve nothing. Secretary Kerry must seek to persuade Beijing, an unusual strategy for Washington, which is used to dictating to other nations.
North Korea is a human tragedy, but its belligerent behavior is primarily a problem for its neighbors, not the United States. Washington should give Pyongyang the (non) attention that it so richly deserves.
View full post on Cato @ Liberty
Senate votes 53-46 to stop US from joining UN Arms Trade Treaty
By Ramsey Cox – 03/23/13 04:36 AM ET
In the last batch of amendment votes to the budget, the Senate voted on several foreign policy proposals.
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) introduced an amendment that would prevent the United States from entering into the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty in order to uphold the Second Amendment. His amendment passed on a 53-46 vote.
Republicans have been critical of President Obama’s decision to consider the treaty, although Obama has said he would not vote for anything that would violate the Second Amendment.
The U.N. Arms Trade Treaty would regulate international arms sales. Negotiations end on March 28.
“We’re negotiating a treaty that cedes our authority to have trade agreements with our allies in terms of trading arms,” Inhofe said. “This is probably the last time this year that you’ll be able to vote for your Second Amendment rights.”
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) offered an alternative amendment that clarified that under current U.S. law, treaties don’t trump the Constitution and that the United States should not agree to any arms treaty that violates the Second Amendment rights. His amendment passed by voice vote.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sat Mar 23, 2013 9:44 am
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Michael F. Cannon
Today, the Cato Institute releases my latest working paper, “50 Vetoes: How States Can Stop the Obama Health Care Law.” From the executive summary:
Despite surviving a number of threats, President Obama’s health care law remains harmful, unstable, and unpopular. It also remains vulnerable to repeal, largely because Congress and the Supreme Court have granted each state the power to veto major provisions of the law before they take effect in 2014.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) itself empowers states to block the employer mandate, to exempt many of their low- and middle-income taxpayers from the individual mandate, and to reduce federal deficit spending, simply by not establishing a health insurance “exchange.” Supporters of the law do not care for this feature, yet they adopted it because they had no choice. The bill would not have become law without it.
To date, 34 states, accounting for roughly two-thirds of the U.S. population, have refused to create Exchanges. Under the statute, this shields employers in those states from a $2,000 per worker tax that will apply in states that are creating Exchanges (e.g., California, Colorado, New York). Those 34 states have exempted at least 8 million residents from taxes as high as $2,085 on families of four earning as little as $24,000. They have also reduced federal deficits by hundreds of billions of dollars.
The Obama administration is nevertheless attempting to tax those employers and individuals, contrary to the plain language of the PPACA and congressional intent, and to deny millions of Americans the opportunity to purchase low-cost, high-deductible coverage. Employers, consumers, and even state officials in those 34 states can challenge those illegal taxes in court, as Oklahoma has done. States can also block those illegal taxes—and even stop the federal government from operating an Exchange—by approving a strengthened version of the Health Care Freedom Act.
The PPACA’s Medicaid expansion, which would cost individual states up to $53 billion over its first 10 years, is now optional for states, thanks to the Supreme Court’s ruling in NFIB v. Sebelius. Some 16 states have announced they will not expand their programs, while half of the states remain undecided. Yet the Obama administration is trying to coerce states into implementing parts of the expansion that the Court rendered optional. States can replicate Maine’s lawsuit challenging this arbitrary attempt to limit the Court’s ruling.
Collectively, states can shield all employers and at least 12 million taxpayers from the law’s new taxes, and still reduce federal deficits by $1.7 trillion, simply by refusing to establish Exchanges or expand Medicaid.
Congress and President Obama have already repealed the third new entitlement program the PPACA created—the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act, or CLASS Act—as well as funding for the “co-op” plans meant to serve as an alternative to a “public option.” A critical mass of states exercising their vetoes over Exchanges and the Medicaid expansion can force Congress to reconsider, and hopefully repeal, the rest of this counterproductive law. Real health care reform is impossible until that happens.
View full post on Cato @ Liberty
Christopher A. Preble
With thanks to Mark Thompson at Time’s Battleland for calling this to my attention, the discussion yesterday on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” concerning the decision to invade Iraq was more interesting than the others that I’ve seen or read.
Host Howard Kurtz noted that editors at the New York Times had admitted to having “printed too many credulous claims about Saddam and Iraq.” Kurtz explained that Len Downie, then the editor of the Washington Post, had admitted “he had made a mistake of not putting more skeptical stories on the front page. Even the people who ran the news organizations seem to acknowledge that they had fallen short.” Given all this, Kurtz asked the panelists, “Didn’t most of the media…get rolled by the Bush administration during this run-up to war?”
The panel, which included Thompson, and Fred Francis, formerly with NBC, explained why the press got the story wrong: Saddam fooled a lot of people, including his own people and his neighbors. He fooled many people in the U.S. government, too.
But the Washington Post’s Rajiv Chandrasekaran properly looked past the distractions of phony Iraqi connections to 9/11 and Iraq’s nonexistent nuclear weapons. Chandrasekaran agreed with Kurtz that “there was far more that we all could have done. You could go to Iraq. I was in Iraq for the bulk of the six months leading up to the war. What you couldn’t really do is get an independent assessment of what Saddam really had.”
But, he continued:
it wasn’t just the issue of weapons of mass destruction. It was the broader questions. What is the political transition plan? Truth squadding the White House’s claims that Iraq could pay for it, the reconstruction of its country, the questions of the long simmering tensions between the principal religious and ethnic groups in the country. These were questions that were all easily reportable. They should have had more coverage. We didn’t do enough in really aggressively looking at all of that.
Chandrasekaran (who will be speaking at Cato in a few weeks) is right. The greatest argument against launching a war to overthrow Saddam Hussein was what would come after him. The advocates for the war hyped the threat of Saddam’s weapons, and what he would do with them, to build a case for the benefits that would obtain from the war. We now know that they exaggerated these benefits because Saddam didn’t have nuclear weapons. But the claim that Saddam would use the weapons, or give them to terrorists, was also dubious, and was noted as such at the time (and well before) by some of the leading opponents of the war.
But the war hawks also downplayed the costs of invading Iraq by claiming that there would be no need for a long-term U.S. troop presence, and certainly not as large as Army leaders had estimated. They dismissed the overwhelming evidence that Iraq was beset by ethnic and sectarian divisions. Bill Kristol famously dismissed the notion that “somehow the Shia can’t get along with the Sunni” as so much “pop sociology.” I suspect that they were aware of these divisions, because it would have been far harder to convince the American people to support a conflict if they knew that it was going to be long and costly, instead of the “cakewalk” that the war’s supporters claimed.
I cannot prove the war hawks knew the truth about Iraq and concealed it. I’m certain that they should have known. But they weren’t trying to stop a war; they were trying to start one.
And that is why those who should have known better and did not speak up, or who lent their credibility as experts to the side making the case for war, deserve special scorn on the 10-year anniversary of the start of the Iraq war. They failed to stop the war. The news media’s coverage was inadequate and lazy. In retrospect they should have paid more attention to the vocal few who raised serious objections. But reporters cannot be blamed for not finding experts who did not speak publicly. Or at all.
That is where Colin Powell comes in. He is likely to be remembered for his crucial role in making the case for war at the United Nations on February 5, 2003. But Powell should also be remembered for his words of caution six months earlier, in August 2002.
It is known today as the Pottery Barn principle–“If you break it, you own it.” But what Powell actually said reflects a deep appreciation for the folly of regime change and preventive war: “You are going to be the proud owner of twenty-five million people,” Powell warned the president. “You will own all their hopes, aspirations, problems… . It’s going to suck the oxygen out of everything.”
We know about this exchange from Bob Woodward, and Powell was probably the veteran reporter’s source, so the words could be dismissed as self-serving, or simply invented after the fact. But they shouldn’t be. Because what Powell allegedly said to Bush then could just as easily have been said by Condoleezza Rice in 2007 with respect to war with Iran, or by Hillary Clinton in 2011 regarding Bashar al-Assad in Syria, or by John Kerry in response to North Korea’s latest antics today. And even if Powell never said them, the sentiment is spot on. I only wish he had said them in public.
Whenever reporters, scholars, academics–or anyone in the public at large, for that matter–hears someone making the case for preventive war, the Pottery Barn principle, Powell’s unspoken warning from a war that never should have happened, should be burned in their brain. I think that it is. And that explains why Bill Kristol’s modern-day Project for a New American Century has proved far less effective than its predecessor.
I sincerely wish that we didn’t have to suffer the loss of blood and treasure, the thousands of American dead, and tens of thousands wounded, to learn these lessons. But I especially hope that we’re not already forgetting them.
View full post on Cato @ Liberty
Time To Stop Monsanto And The US Supreme Court
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2013 12:15 AM
Artwork: Ilargi for the Automatic Earth
The US Supreme Court heard a case on February 19 that is interesting perhaps not even so much because of the topic at hand but more because of the level of absurdity involved. It feels like we warpsped our way into a parallel universe where the laws of nature are entirely different from those on earth.
That is to say, the court should never have been in a position to hear the case, but it has created the legal space for itself, aided and abetted by Congress and the US patent system, to hear it anyway. Because of this we should all ask ourselves: How on earth have we ever allowed things to get this far? What were we thinking, and what were we not, because we were busy doing other things? And finally: how do we get out of this parallel universe and into our own?
I would argue that it’s perhaps the US Supreme Court itself (and maybe the US government as a whole) that should be taken to court by the international community, for instance for grossly overstepping its legal boundaries, but let’s first look at the case before the court last week.
The original suit, one that involved patent infringement, was filed by chemical conglomerate Monsanto, which has aggressively moved into the food industry in the past few decades with the implicit purpose of using it to sell more chemicals, against Indiana farmer Vernon Hugh Bowman.
It is one of a large number, 142, patent infringement suits against 410 farmers and 56 small businesses in the US. Monsanto alleges that Mr. Bowman has infringed on one of its patents, the Roundup Ready soybean, by buying cheap(er) "excess" soybeans from a local grain elevator for a late-season planting, which, first, allowed him not to pay the company the full price for its patented seeds, and second, runs counter to its demand that farmers buy new seeds for every planting instead of saving seeds from the previous harvest.
Reading about the case before it came before the court, I found Mr. Bowman’s argumentation neither very strong nor very interesting. In fact, he might as well be on Monsanto’s payroll. Mr. Bowman knew that many of the seeds he was buying were of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready variety, and he had been buying these seeds at full price on previous occasions, even earlier the same year. Which is why he sprayed the late crop in question with another Monsanto product, the Roundup herbicide. The first reports are that the Supreme Court Appears to Defend Patent on Soybean.
"Why in the world,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. asked, “would anybody spend any money to try to improve the seed if as soon as they sold the first one anybody could grow more and have as many of those seeds as they want?"
I’ll get back to this, but one thing should be clear: People have spend time and effort, blood sweat and tears, throughout history, to improve seeds. Why would that stop with Monsanto? Because they spend money? Nobody ever had the idea that their improved seeds would be eligible for patents. Along comes the chemical industry, takes the seeds that have undergone all these generations of improvements, changes them a little bit, and voila! owns them outright. No, really.
What Mr. Bowman purports to fight all the way up to the Supreme Court is Monsanto’s notion that the patent protection for its seeds "extends for generations down", and granted, that in itself is not a moot point. However, it pales in comparison with the much larger issues at play here. It’s part of a far more severe case of insanity that has silently become our reality while we were chowing down the supersized "foods" produced courtesy of Monsanto’s seed patents.
Here are some details from the Guardian:
Monsanto sued small farmers to protect seed patents, report says
In its report, called Seed Giants vs US Farmers, the [Center for Food Safety] said it had tracked numerous law suits that Monsanto had brought against farmers and found some 142 patent infringement suits against 410 farmers and 56 small businesses in more than 27 states. In total the firm has won more than $23 million from its targets, the report said.
However, one of those suits, against Indiana soybean farmer Vernon Hugh Bowman, is a potentially landmark patent case that could have wide implications for genetic engineering and who controls patents on living organisms. The CFS and SOS are both supporting Bowman in the case, which will be heard in the Supreme Court later this month.
"Corporations did not create seeds and many are challenging the existing patent system that allows private companies to assert ownership over a resource that is vital to survival and that historically has been in the public domain," said Debbie Barker, an expert with SOS and one of the report’s co-authors. Another co-author, CFS legal expert George Kimbrell, said victory in the Bowman case could help shift that balance of power back to farmers. "The great weight of history and the law is on the side of Mr Bowman and farmers in general," he said.
The report also revealed the dominance that large firms and their genetically altered crops have in the US and global market. It found that 53% of the world’s commercial seed market is controlled by just three firms – Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta.
Meanwhile genetically-altered commodity crops – and thus the influence of patent protection – have spread to become overwhelmingly dominant. In the US some 93% of soybeans and 86% of corn crops come from such seeds.
Yes sirree, you heard that right: patents on living organisms. Also known as a licence to kill (among other things). And if a farmer cannot own his seeds, what about his animals? Or what if Monsanto figures out a gene variation that limits your own personal risk of a disease, say, cancer? Does it own you outright then? Or will it only give you the choice between becoming a debt slave or dying young?
And in this specific court case, it doesn’t even stop there:
Monsanto, J.C. Penney, Elsevier: Intellectual Property
BSA – The Software Alliance, whose members include Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp., told the court that eliminating patent protection for self-replicating seeds could facilitate software piracy. Research universities and biotechnology companies say a victory by Bowman would harm their ability to license their work in cancer research, crop protection and nutrition.
Diagnostic companies including Agilent Technologies Inc. and Life Technologies Corp. said they often sell items for research use only, which allows them to charge lower prices by preventing replication of their products. They asked the court to uphold Monsanto’s conditions.
Brave new world, don’t you know. Once you manage to make people treat their food the same way they treat a software application, you have, let’s say, redefined progress. Still, that the highest court in the land, any land, does it, is a both deeply saddening and literally life threatening abomination. And it paints a society teetering on the very thin edges of its moral wits.
The essence of what’s involved is that Monsanto tweaked but one small part of the seed (a gene), but was subsequently granted full ownership of the whole seed by the US patent system. It can thus forcefully demand payment from farmers who may not even want the genetic mutation involved. What’s more, certainly for crops that cross-pollinate it’s inevitable that ever more "original" seeds become "contaminated" with Monsanto’s tweaked genes. And there we enter a legal (and moral) one-way street: while Monsanto can sue a farmer whose crops have been contaminated with its patented seeds, the farmer can not do the reverse, since Monsanto’s the only party that holds a patent. And that is truly insane on many fronts.
For 10-12,000 years, people all over the world have been improving agricultural crops in multiple ways, changing plants from their wild origins to their present domesticated versions. One of the most important changes, obviously, has been to make it easier to save seeds and plant these in the new year for the next harvest (no mean feat).
Monsanto now simply takes all of this away in just a few years time. With impunity. And with encouragement from the US government and Supreme Court. Farmers have to sign a contract that forces them to buy new seeds every single year, or they will be prosecuted. Some seeds have been genetically manipulated in such a way that seeds are infertile and impotent to begin with or don’t develop at all (terminator seeds).
Monsanto takes a proud global tradition of 12,000 years that has involved millions of farmers through hundreds of generations and kills off their sweat, toll and achievements in just a few years’ time. Making all farmers, and all people, dependent on its products. This is the opposite of food security. After all, when Monsanto et al thoroughly control our food supply, what do you think they will do? Lower prices? They are commercial conglomerates that run profit based businesses. Where and when possible, they are legally obliged to maximize profit for their shareholders. Hence, if and when they control our food supply they will in all likelihood be legally obliged to double or triple prices if doing so raises their profits.
When you think about it, it’s crazy in a very deep and profound way that people’s basic necessities are sold in international markets and thus subject to speculation and boom and bust cycles. Food, water, shelter, heating should be under control of the (local) people, not faceless corporations that can manipulate pricing as they see fit in their quest for profits that benefit equally faceless international shareholders. And I can rest assured I’ll be labeled a clown for saying so.
People need to be able to grow their own food, and that food should not be limited to only those crops that Monsanto and its ilk choose not to tweak and patent. In the present situation, however, as reflected in the way it’s treated by the US government and Supreme Court, you might be forgiven for thinking Monsanto does God’s work. And that’s not the only thing the company has in common with Goldman Sachs:
The Revolving Door: FDA and the Monsanto Company
According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), its responsibilities include “[p]rotecting the public health by assuring that foods are safe, wholesome, sanitary and properly labeled.” This responsibility entails regulating a large number of companies producing this nation’s food, making appointments to the high-level positions within the agency very important.
Most high-level FDA employees have a background in either medicine or law, but one of the largest private-sector sources is the Monsanto Company. Over the past decades, at least seven high-ranking employees in the FDA have an employment history with the Monsanto Company. Tweet Stat:
Connections have led many to speculate whether any conflicts of interest exist within this revolving door between the big food companies and the department charged with regulating them.
At the forefront of this controversy is Michael R. Taylor, currently the deputy commissioner of the Office of Foods. He was also the deputy commissioner for Policy within the FDA in the mid ’90s. However, between that position and his current FDA position, Mr. Taylor was employed by Monsanto as Vice President of Public Policy.
During his employment with Monsanto, the company was developing rBGH, a type of beef growth hormone. Mr. Taylor advised the company on the possible legal implications of using the hormone on cattle that could reach beef markets for human consumption. However, when Taylor left Monsanto for the FDA, he became one of the main authorities behind the FDA’s rBGH labeling guidelines, posing potential conflicts of interest.
Also tied up in the rBGH debacle are Margaret Miller and Susan Sechen. Miller, the deputy director of the Office of New Animal Drugs at the FDA, and a former Monsanto scientist, helped develop rBGH. Sechen, a data reviewer in Miller’s department, worked as a graduate student on some of the initial bovine drug studies. These studies were conducted at Cornell University and were financed by none other than Monsanto.
Other Monsanto alumni include Arthur Hayes, commissioner of the FDA from 1981 to 1983, and consultant to Searle’s public relations firm, which later merged with Monsanto. Michael A. Friedman, former acting commissioner of the FDA, later went on to become senior Vice President for Clinical Affairs at Searle, which is now a pharmaceutical division of Monsanto. Virginia Weldon only became a member of the FDA’s Endocrinologic and Metabolic Drugs Advisory Committee, after retiring as Vice President for Public Policy at Monsanto.
Well aware of its accused ‘revolving door’ connection with the FDA and other government agencies, Monsanto has issued several press releases denying collusion with the government. In fact, it posted on its official website that collusion theories relating to these agencies, including the FDA, “ignore the simple truth that people regularly change jobs to find positions that match their experience, skills and interests.”
In real life, the US legal system should protect its citizens against both Goldman Sachs and Monsanto, because both pose very real threats to everyone’s well being. Instead, both enjoy untouchables status and feed at the Washington trough. While there can be no doubt that Monsanto is a profitable business, the US agriculture industry still receives tens of billions in direct and indirect subsidies. Not that Europe feels like being left behind: from the recently agreed EU budget, no less than 40% goes to the food industry. Much of that ends up in France, lest a hundred kilometers tractors traffic jam wind up on the Champs Elysees, and if only French farmers would still use it to fight Monsanto, it might be well spent too, but those days are long gone.
It doesn’t matter what Congress or the Supreme Court say or decide. People anywhere in the world, and that includes the US, have an inalienable right to feed themselves. Present politics, and present interpretation of existing law by a highly politicized legal system deny people that right. As time goes by, any American who wishes to plant corn to feed their family increasingly runs the risk of being sued by Monsanto because its manipulated genes have spread to heritage seeds as well.
It’s not over the top to compare this to entering a parallel universe, because the laws that today govern our food supply are completely different from what people in the street think they are. Up is not up, and down not down. Our right to feed our children has been made subordinate to the right of chemical companies to change the very food we count on to keep our children fed. To top it all off, the "modern" food industry claims that it, and it alone, provides the necessary tools without which our children would go hungry. God’s work indeed. Makes you wonder what keeps the devil occupied these days.
One thing is certain: a Supreme Court that tramples its citizens’ inalienable rights has no authority. It’s amazingly simple.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Mon Feb 25, 2013 11:11 pm
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We now have the announcement that Ben Bernanke’s Fed will buy $45 billion a month in treasuries, QE4, until unemployment reaches 6.5% or his version of inflation exceeds 2.5%. What a surprise!
Last September, when Bernanke announced the third phase of the government’s program of borrowing from itself by creating new money and using it to buy government bonds, I wrote:
Bernanke says that the new announced round of money printing (QE3 plus more Twist) is intended to reduce unemployment. Does he believe that? It is possible that Bernanke really drinks his own Cool Aid, but I doubt it. Does he think that stock market gains will boost confidence and somehow help employment indirectly? Perhaps. He has in the past claimed credit for spiking the stock market, although he must know that the empirical evidence does not show a link to employment gains.
Why then this dramatic move only two months before a presidential election?…
The most likely explanation is that Bernanke is worried about the treasury auction market. He wants to be able to use his printed money at will to support it…. Ostensibly the QE3 purchases will be mortgages…. The program can always shift into treasuries at any time….
The post Don’t Stop the Presses! Bernanke Wants to Print a Whole Bunch More. appeared first on AgainstCronyCapitalism.org.
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