Category Archives: politics

FDA’s unhealthy obsession with salt

Nevermind that the latest science is suggesting that salt isn’t a big problem. The FDA is plowing ahead anyway. Jonathan Adler reports:

Is too much salt bad for you?  That used to be the conventional wisdom, but more recent scientific research has suggested the emphasis on salt is misplaced.  No matter.  As Walter Olson notes, the Food and Drug Administration appears to be moving ahead with plans to force gradual reductions in the salt content of processed foods.  Among other things, the FDA is concerning the adoption of federal targets for gradual salt content reductions to wean consumers from their taste for salt.  But reducing salt content will do more than alter food’s flavor.  It can affect texture and perishability as well.  Surely the FDA has better things to do than obsess over the salt content of processed foods.  But if the FDA persists, I suppose it just means these (no relation) will get more use.

Corporate-Government Love

One of the problems with the current state of government is the symbiosis between big government and big business. GE is a good example.

President Obama appointed GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt to head the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness presumably because Immelt knows something about creating jobs.

GE, on the other hand relies heavily on special government favors. In 2010, GE paid no taxes on U.S. profits of $5 billion. It took GE an amazing 57,000 pages to explain their tax return.

I guess GE created a lot of jobs producing a 57,000 page tax return.    

I know the U.N. serves and important role and all…

I know the U.N. serves and important role and all, but the corruption I just tough to take. Here are two stories:

U.S. Decries Salaries, Staffing in New U.N. Budget

The Obama administration told the United Nations that too few of its 10,307 workers are being cut and average salaries, currently $119,000 a year, have risen “dramatically.”

The U.S. ambassador for UN management and reform, Joseph M. Torsella, said today that the proposed $5.2 billion UN budget for the next two years would scrap only 44 jobs, a 0.4 percent reduction. After an “onslaught” of add-ons, the 2012-13 budget would rise more than 2 percent to $5.5 billion, he said.

“That is not a break from ‘business as usual’ but a continuation of it,” Torsella said in a speech in New York to the UN’s administrative and budgetary committee. “How does management intend to bring these numbers and costs back in line?”

And this one:

Tainted African ruler may get UN prize in his name

The African heads of state who converged on the capital of Equatorial Guinea this summer are used to life’s finer things – yet even they were impressed.

The minuscule nation located on the coast of Central Africa spent several times its yearly education budget to build a new $800 million resort in which to house the presidents attending this summer’s African Union summit.

Besides an 18-hole golf course, a five-star hotel and a spa, the country built a villa for each of the continent’s 52 presidents. Each one came with a gourmet chef and a private elevator leading to a suite overlooking the mile-long artificial beach that had been sculpted out of the country’s coast especially for them.

Western diplomats say that the charm offensive worked, and on Friday the United Nations’ cultural arm may be forced to create a prize named after Equatorial Guinea’s notoriously corrupt president, due to a resolution passed in June by the presidents staying at the lavish resort.

If that happens President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, a man whose regime is accused of gross human rights violations, will be associated with an organization whose stated mission is the promotion of peace and human rights through cultural dialogue.

During the AU summit this summer, Obiang succeeded in getting the body to pass a motion calling on UNESCO to approve a prize named in his honor.

Enough said.

Richard Epstein is not very happy with Obama’s American Jobs Act

Richard Epstein isn’t exactly a fan of the American Jobs Act:

What is so striking about Obama’s shopworn rhetoric is its juvenile intellectual quality. His explanation for how the AJA will create jobs is a non-starter because he does not explain how we get from here to there. As in so many other cases, the president thinks that waving a wand over a problem will make his most ardent wishes come true, even when similar earlier efforts have proved to be dismal failures. This dreadful hodgepodge of a bill will likely be dead-on-arrival in Congress, but it remains a patriotic duty to explicate some of its worst provisions.

The most evident feature of the AJA is that it is a combination of ill-conceived, disparate measures. The wandering quality of the bill makes it impossible to cover all of its silliness, but it is possible to focus on some of the core job provisions, all of which kill the very jobs that the AJA is supposed to create.

One does not have to dip very far into the bill to find trouble. Section 4 of the AJA imposes "Buy American" restrictions on the use of funds appropriated under this statute for work on public buildings. "[A]ll the iron, steel and manufactured goods" used on such projects are to be fabricated in the United States. There are obvious administrative difficulties in deciding what counts as a "manufactured good" for the purposes of the act. But don’t sweat the small stuff. The fatal problem with this form of jingoism is that, in the name of economic efficiency, it forces American taxpayers to pay more for less. That upside down logic may seem sensible to a die-hard Keynesian, but not to ordinary people who realize that deliberate overpayment for inferior goods makes no more sense in the public sector than in the private one.

Hey Rachel, I’ll lean forward, but you first

MSNBC’s commercial for itself as pretty amusing. May favorite features Rachel Maddow waxing rhapsodic about the Hoover Dam. 

I like The commercial is funny because Maddow would fight tooth and nail against the Hoover Dam if it were proposed today. Jonah Goldberg explains:

The reason the ad is so funny is that nobody thinks liberals such as Maddow would support anything like the Hoover Dam today. The Hoover Dam is a marvel. But by today’s green standards, it is a crime against nature. If you tried to build it, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Greenpeace would be in court tomorrow blocking it, with Ms. Maddow cheering them on.

Indeed, look at all the activists attacking the proposed construction of an oil pipeline from Canada to the Texas coast. It would create thousands of construction jobs and yet liberals oppose it for the usual petrophobic reasons. Ironically, liberals love building highways and bridges, but loathe making it affordable to drive on them. This is just a small example of the Catch-22 liberalism has found itself in. The Left yearns to “go big” but it wants to do so through the extremely narrow routes it has created for itself. They say government must rush into this economic crisis like firemen into a burning building. But they also don’t want to lighten the useless baggage the firemen must carry or remove the Byzantine obstacle course they’ve decreed the figurative firefighters must run through before getting to work.

One program for recovery worked, and the other hasn’t…

Steve Moore compares Obamanonics vs. Reaganomics:

If you really want to light the fuse of a liberal Democrat, compare Barack Obama’s economic performance after 30 months in office with that of Ronald Reagan. It’s not at all flattering for Mr. Obama.

The two presidents have a lot in common. Both inherited an American economy in collapse. And both applied daring, expensive remedies. Mr. Reagan passed the biggest tax cut ever, combined with an agenda of deregulation, monetary restraint and spending controls. Mr. Obama, of course, has given us a $1 trillion spending stimulus.

By the end of the summer of Reagan’s third year in office, the economy was soaring. The GDP growth rate was 5% and racing toward 7%, even 8% growth. In 1983 and ’84 output was growing so fast the biggest worry was that the economy would “overheat.” In the summer of 2011 we have an economy limping along at barely 1% growth and by some indications headed toward a “double-dip” recession. By the end of Reagan’s first term, it was Morning in America. Today there is gloomy talk of America in its twilight.

My purpose here is not more Reagan idolatry, but to point out an incontrovertible truth: One program for recovery worked, and the other hasn’t.

The Reagan philosophy was to incentivize production—i.e., the “supply side” of the economy—by lowering restraints on business expansion and investment. This was done by slashing marginal income tax rates, eliminating regulatory high hurdles, and reining in inflation with a tighter monetary policy.The Keynesians in the early 1980s assured us that the Reagan expansion would not and could not happen. Rapid growth with new jobs and falling rates of inflation (to 4% in 1983 from 13% in 1980) is an impossibility in Keynesian textbooks. If you increase demand, prices go up. If you increase supply—as Reagan did—prices go down.

Steve Jobs is America’s greatest failure

Steve Jobs has been great as Apple’s CEO because he learned from his failures and went on to produce great products:

Steve Jobs’s announcement that he is stepping down as CEO of Apple is not surprising. He’s a very sick man; and running the world’s largest market-cap technology firm can’t be easy for someone with pancreatic cancer and who-knows-what other ailments. 

Lots of digital ink will be spilled about Jobs in the coming days, most of it focusing on his truly marvelous successes. 

It’s better to focus on his failures.

Jobs (along with Steve Wozniak) brought us the Apple I and Apple II computers, early iterations of which sold in the mere hundreds and were complete failures. Not until the floppy disk was introduced and sufficient RAM added did the Apple II take off as a successful product. 

Jobs was the architect of Lisa, introduced in the early 1980s. You remember Lisa, don’t you? Of course you don’t. But this computer — which cost tens of millions of dollars to develop — was another epic fail. Shortly after Lisa, Apple had a success with its Macintosh computer. But Jobs was out of a job by then, having been tossed aside thanks to the Lisa fiasco. 

Jobs went on to found NeXT Computer, which was a big nothing-burger of a company. Its greatest success was that it was purchased by Apple — paving the way for the serial failure Jobs to return to his natural home. Jobs’s greatest successes were to come later — iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iPad, and more. 

There’s a moral here for a Washington culture that fears failure too much. In today’s Washington, large banks aren’t permitted to fail; nor are large auto firms. Next up will be too-big-to-fail hospital systems. Steve Jobs is a reminder that failure is a good and necessary thing. And that sometimes the greatest glories are born of catastrophe.

Tom Ricks wonders if JFK was the worst President of the 20th century

Tom Ricks, who was no fan of President Bush, isn’t enamored with JFK has Ricks has studied the Vietnam war:  

As I studied the Vietnam war over the last 14 months, I began to think that John F. Kennedy probably was the worst American president of the previous century.

In retrospect, he spent his 35 months in the White House stumbling from crisis to fiasco. He came into office and okayed the Bay of Pigs invasion. Then he went to a Vienna summit conference and got his clock cleaned by Khrushchev. That led to, among other things, the Cuban missile crisis and a whiff of nuclear apocalypse.

The evilness of raw milk

For sake of argument, let’s assume that people that want to eat or drink raw milk are loons. What justifies charging them with conspiracy and holding them on $100,000 bail? No one was mislead. The only people that were “harmed” by raw milk were people who wanted to drink raw milk, so where’s the actual harm. This seems like an awefully big waste of prosecutorial resources.