Combs Spouts Off

"It's my opinion and it's very true."

Posts Tagged ‘regulation’

Paternalists push potent pot proscription

Posted by Richard on April 1, 2016

The folks who fought against legal marijuana in Colorado have been fighting rear-guard actions ever since they lost at the polls, pushing local bans on pot shops, ever tighter restrictions on edibles, etc. Their latest effort involves the old “today’s marijuana is much more dangerous than the stuff you boomers smoked in college” argument:

A proposed ballot initiative and an amendment to a bill in the state House would cap the THC potency of recreational cannabis and marijuana products at a percentage below most of those products’ current averages.

The initiative would limit the potency of “marijuana and marijuana products” to 15 percent or 16 percent THC.

The average potency of Colorado pot products is already higher — 17.1 percent for cannabis flower and 62.1 percent for marijuana extracts, according to a state study.

Supporters of the legislation, introduced byRepublican state Rep. Kathleen Conti, say they’re being cautious until more research has been done and protecting the brain development of adolescents. But opponents say the measures are unreasonable and could squash some of the legal cannabis industry’s most popular categories.

“All the studies that have been done on THC levels have been done on THC levels between 2 and 8 percent,” said Conti, whose district encompasses parts of Greenwood Village and Littleton. “Most of the marijuana coming in now, the flowers are being rated at a THC count of about 17 percent on average, so this is dramatically over, and we really don’t know that we’ve gotten the true feel on the health risks associated with that marijuana.”

Let’s apply the same silly argument to another popular intoxicant. The alcohol content by volume (ABV) of the average mass-produced American lager beer is between 4 and 5 percent. The ABV of beers sold in grocery stores is capped at 3.2% (yes, Colorado still clings to that silly restriction). But more and more people are turning to tastier craft beers, and those often have an ABV of 7, 8, or even 10 percent and higher. And who knows what additional risks beer drinkers are taking when they switch from Coors Light to a Double IPA or (horrors!) a barleywine ale? Especially the adolescents. We should cap beer potency at 5% ABV. It’s for the children! (Never mind that it’s already illegal for adolescents to use either alcohol or pot.)

And OMG, what about distilled spirits? Someone who’s used to quaffing a pint or three of 5% ABV beer may not realize the danger of downing a pint or three of 90 proof (45% ABV) bourbon!

Of course, this is nonsense. Except for a small minority with no self-control (many of whom live under a bridge), people imbibe and smoke until they reach a comfortable level of inebriation and then stop. If they’re drinking Coors Light (or smoking 8% THC pot), they drink (smoke) more; if they’re drinking Upslope Imperial IPA (or smoking Purple Lady), they drink (smoke) less. If they’re drinking Bulleit (or vaping a concentrate), they drink (vape) much less.

Limit the THC content of legal marijuana, and users will burn more vegetable matter to achieve the same high, which is bad for their lungs. (Or they’ll switch to black market pot; anyone see an opportunity for a Baptists-and-bootleggers alliance here?)

But then, the puritans secretly believe that pursuers of such sybaritic pleasures deserve to be punished/harmed by them. That’s why it’s illegal for brewers and distillers to add B vitamins to their products, which would significantly reduce the incidence of liver damage among heavy drinkers.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Look, mom, that woman has a pee-pee!

Posted by Richard on January 8, 2016

Leon Wolf reports at Red State (emphases in original):

The Washington State Human Rights Commission, a regulatory agency, has been empowered by the Washington State legislature to draft legally binding rules for businesses to prevent “discrimination” on the basis of “sexual orientation and gender expression[.]” The commission has released its final rule, and boy is it a doozy.

Among other things, the rule makes it illegal to ask “unwelcome personal questions about an individual’s sexual orientation, gender expression or gender identity, or transgender status.” In other words, not only can women not prevent a person with full male equipment from entering their restroom or locker room, they can’t even ask what he is doing there.

Given that the rule applies to schools as well as businesses, your child can now run afoul of this law if they encounter one of the increasing number of prepubescent kids who are victims of the particular species of child abuse where parents tell their 8 year old kid they are transgendered.

As to what constitutes an “unwelcome” personal question about a person’s gender expression, the rule does not say; presumably, the person who is being questioned has sole discretion over whether to make someone into a lawbreaker or not.

The rule also makes it illegal for a business (including a school) to deliberately misuse the pronoun any person would prefer, thus meaning that Washington State has joined the city of New York in fining people who call human males “he” if they decide they want to be called “she.”

Our society has collectively lost its damn mind. It’s difficult to imagine a society so full of rot that it would allow a rule like this to be promulgated in a major political subdivision can expect to last for very long.

It is to laugh. Or to cry. Or maybe to engage in guerilla theater. What do you say, guys? Go to Seattle, join a gym, strut into the women’s locker room, and declare yourself a lesbian trapped in a man’s body!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Obama administration to regulate gas fireplaces

Posted by Richard on January 31, 2015

The Daily Caller headline reads “Feds To Regulate Fake Fireplaces To Stop Global Warming.”

Better go out and buy a gas fireplace and stove soon before federal regulations make them more expensive. Federal officials are looking to regulate the energy usage of fake fireplaces as part of the Obama administration’s effort to fight global warming.

I think they missed an opportunity there. The headline should have read “Feds To Regulate Fake Fireplaces To Pretend to Stop Fake Global Warming.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

In Florida, shear regulatory madness

Posted by Richard on September 19, 2014

Since the militarization of police forces began, there have been many instances of outrageous police overreach, and Mark Steyn has documented a number of them. His latest example may have you tearing your hair out.

I often joke with my hairdresser Amanda about the number of state permits she requires for the privilege of cutting my hair. As I point out on page 49 of After America (personally autographed copies of which are exclusively available, etc):

In the Fifties, one in twenty members of the workforce needed government permission in order to do his job. Today, it’s one in three.

That’s tyrannous – which is bad enough, albeit not unique to America: The entire developed world has massively expanded the hyper-regulatory state. But only in America does the Department of Paperwork command lethal force:

Go and read the whole unbelievable story.

Angry crowds should have descended upon the offices of Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation with protest signs. Or tar and feathers. What will it take for a significant portion of the population to rise up and shout, “Enough! This is tyranny!”?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Obama administration is creating another housing crisis

Posted by Richard on August 2, 2012

Pretty much everyone agrees that the financial crisis of 2008 was precipitated by the collapse of the housing bubble and subprime mortgages.

The left blames “predatory lenders” who somehow coerced or swindled borrowers into signing up for mortgages they couldn’t afford.

The right blames government regulations and intimidation, corruption and irresponsible practices at Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac, and lawsuits and intimidation from non-profits like ACORN for pressuring banks and mortgage institutions into making countless bad loans, which they then turned into CDOs and other derivative instruments in a futile attempt to avoid the consequences.

Unlike the left, which has only demagoguery and accusations, the right has facts to support its view. See also this and especially this.

But in any case, everyone pretty much agrees that vast numbers of loans to borrowers who would never be able to repay them were the root of the problem.

So why is the Obama administration trying to coerce lenders into making vast numbers of loans to borrowers who will never be able to repay them?

Well, this time it’s different. Because this time it’s not Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Community Reinvestment Act. This time it’s the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, a creation of Dodd-Frank (two of the prime architects of the 2008 crisis). This time they’re also going after the credit rating agencies.

And this time the subprime mortgages, lowered credit standards, and liar loans are limited to just blacks and Hispanics. Who will no doubt be protected from the consequences of whatever irresponsible choices they may make by the beneficence of the redistributionist Obama administration (if it continues for another four years).

Or maybe this time it will lead to yet another housing bubble ending in yet another housing collapse leading to yet another round of smaller financial institutions going under or being absorbed by the “too big to fail” institutions that have friends in Washington looking out for them — who will once again be bailed out at the expense of taxpayers who acted responsibly.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

“Take the heavy boot off the throat of America’s job creators”

Posted by Richard on July 27, 2012

Congressman Mike Kelly (R-PA3) delivered such a rousing  five-minute speech on the floor of the House yesterday that he received a standing ovation. Check it out.


[YouTube link]

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Crippling regulatory uncertainty

Posted by Richard on May 29, 2012

A friend who owns a condo showed me the latest condo community association newsletter the other day. An article in it illustrates in a small way why the economy in general and the housing market in particular aren’t going to get healthy as long as the Obama administration is in office.

Because they often attract first-time buyers with limited funds for down payments, condos are frequently financed with FHA loans. Let’s set aside for the moment the issue of whether the FHA program should exist — or needs to. It’s been in place for many years, guaranteeing loans with low down payments. To offset the increased risk, the government requires buyers to carry mortgage insurance until their equity in the property reaches 20%, and there are stricter rules on what properties qualify for an FHA loan.

Apparently for condos, HUD requires the condominium association to apply for FHA certification of its properties. And the process has become much more onerous under the Obama administration. For one thing, in this area as in so many others, the Obama administration has made regulatory uncertainty a way of life, as the newsletter explains (emphasis in original):

In November 2009, the federal government decided to change EVERYTHING with respect to the process and approval requirements for condominium associations only. Then they changed again in February 2011. And again in June 2011. …

Through June 2011, Westwind Management (our management company) was successful in recertifying all of its qualified condominium clients within HUD standards. Now, condominium associations are required to be recertified every two years. This is a time consuming and costly burden that was not necessary before 2009.

But it’s not just constantly changing regulations and burdensome paperwork. The managing agent has to keep HUD informed continuously of any information changes, possible defects, disputes among owners, etc. There are no doubt scores, and perhaps hundreds, of pages of hard-to-understand regulations detailing what the management agent is obligated to provide. And he or she is personally responsible for failure to comply:

The language is vague and the penalties are untenable. The penalty for a fraudulent package or not reporting changes is up to $1,000,000 in fines and/or a maximum of 30 years in prison.

Would you want that job? Or invest in a condo management company in this regulatory climate?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Blogger threatened for writing about nutrition

Posted by Richard on May 1, 2012

After being hospitalized with diabetes,  Steve Cooksey adopted a low-carb, high-protein diet. Within 30 days his diabetes was under control without drugs, and in three months he lost 45 pounds. He decided to start blogging about his success. When the North Carolina Board of Dietetics and Nutrition (NCBDN) discovered what he was doing, they informed him that he was breaking the law by “providing nutritional counseling” without a license. His blog could be shut down and he could face fines and jail time.

What kind of “nutritional counseling” did Cooksey offer? Responding to someone concerned about a diabetic friend, Cooksey wrote, “Your friend must first and foremost obtain and maintain normal blood sugars.” The NCBDN informed him that this kind of “assessing and advising requires a license.” It was OK for him to list the foods he ate, but if he recommended them to others, the NCBDN declared, he was “providing diabetic counseling which requires a license.”

This isn’t an isolated incident, according to WorldNetDaily. In fact, the FDA has gone much further and wants to go further still:

The actions against Cooksey are part of a growing trend by government officials to crack down on any groups or persons that offer alternatives to traditional medical treatment.

In 2010, the FDA raided the offices of Daniel Chapter One, a Christian ministry that promotes a diet based on the bible chapter that is its namesake after a federal judge refused to allow the FTC to level a massive fine against the company.

“They came in screaming and hollering, ‘This is a raid, hands up.’ I saw a gun in my face,” said Jim Feijo, founder of the company.

“They patted Jim down and removed him from the office. They didn’t show me a warrant. They came in very aggressively, that was needless,” said Tricia Feijo, Jim’s wife and partner and a trained homeopath.

Under Obamacare, the FDA has determined that a person’s own body is considered a drug and subject to regulation.

The Centeno-Schultz clinic in Denver pioneered Regenexx, a treatment in which a patient’s stem cells are removed, cultivated for two weeks in a lab then re-injected back into the body. The procedure is used to treat patients with knee injuries, partial rotator cuff tears in the shoulder and lower back disc bulges.

In 2008, the FDA informed Dr. Christopher Centeno that it considered the stem cells to be a drug and subsequently stopped the clinic from cultivating patients’ stem cells.

The FDA has even suggested that bottled water when used to treat dehydration should be regulated as a drug. Under the organization’s “Complementary and Alternative Medicine Products and Their Regulation by the Food and Drug Administration,” the agency said it should have the authority to regulate all vitamins, supplements, herbs and other natural substances, including water when used to “treat” dehydration.

Want to do something about outrageous nonsense like this? Life Extension Foundation’s Legislative Action Center is a good place to start.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Al “crucify them” Armendariz resigns

Posted by Richard on April 30, 2012

Last week, Sen. Inhofe (R-OK) released a video in which EPA administrator Al Armendariz talked about crucifying oil and gas companies. According to Christopher Helman at Forbes, the EPA tried just that with Fort Worth’s Range Resources until a federal court slapped them down.

Armendariz’s apology didn’t quiet the furor over his remarks, so over the weekend he was apparently persuaded to spend more time with his family:

The EPA Region 6 administrator who boasted of his “crucify them” philosophy of enforcement for oil and gas producers has resigned from his post at EPA. Al Armendariz announced Monday that he had submitted a letter of resignation Sunday.

Prior to his resignation the EPA administrator had more than half of the representatives from the states contained within Region 6 calling for his ouster.

(Region 6 includes Texas and the surrounding states, the heart of America’s oil and gas industry.)

Sen. Inhofe wasn’t satisfied by Armendariz’s resignation:

The ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works said that while it was right for Al Armendariz to resign in the wake of his comments positively comparing oil and gas regulation enforcement to Roman crucifixions, the EPA, under President Barack Obama, still has a problem with how it treats America’s energy producers.

“It is not just Armendariz. There are a lot of other Armendarizes around,” Inhofe told TheDC, explaining the problem has not been solved with the Region 6 administrator’s exit.

“We watch these guys. We get the complaints from people who are being run out of business by the EPA, and he’s one but there are several others also,” he said.

I’d wager a pretty penny that Armendariz is replaced by someone just as dedicated to the Obama administration’s War on Fossil Fuels, but more circumspect about what’s said in public.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Towards a more resilient financial system

Posted by Richard on March 15, 2012

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry has a proposal for preventing another financial crisis like that in 2008, and it’s a significant departure from the other reforms that have been advocated (emphasis in original):

My blueprint has two basic planks:
  • A return to the partnership model
  • Almost complete deregulation of the financial system
I know, I know, but hear me out.
What should be the goal of financial reform? Its goal should be not to prevent bubbles and busts, which are the normal result of an economy full of “animal spirits” (quiet, the Austrians in the back!), but to prevent the busts from a) necessitating taxpayer bailouts and b) having ripple effects that threaten the very existence of the financial system and wreck the economy, and by the way c) still ensure that credit flows throughout the economy (i.e., don’t destroy the village in order to save it).

Read the whole thing. It’s not a pure libertarian proposal by any means, and I’m not knowledgeable enough about banking and finance to evaluate it intelligently. But it strikes me as an interesting and at least superficially plausible proposal.

My friend David knows much more about such things than I do, and I’m interested in his opinion. Maybe he’ll let us know what he thinks.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Circumventing the ban on incandescent bulbs

Posted by Richard on September 28, 2010

Human ingenuity is a wondrous thing. With an opportunity for profit as a motivator, human ingenuity can find a way to overcome the best efforts of bureaucrats to stifle, regulate, control, and harass us. Case in point: The European Union's phase-out of incandescent light bulbs is well under way, with clear bulbs over 100W and all frosted bulbs already banned. (Similar regulations hit the US in January 2012, so start stockpiling traditional light bulbs now.)

The enviro-fascist busybodies behind these bans argue that incandescent bulbs are very inefficient, wasting a lot of energy as heat and thus contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, global warming, and the destruction of the planet. So they mandate CFLs that are much more efficient — produce less heat per lumen of light output. 

These EU regulations define lamp as a device to produce visible light. So it occurred to a clever German that the regulations don't apply to heating appliances. When a heater produces heat, it isn't waste — it's the intended output. Thus the Heatball was born. The page is in German. Here's my translation (with a little help from Babylon) of some key bits:

HEATBALL® What is that? 

A HEATBALL® is not a lamp, but it fits into the same socket!

The best invention since the light bulb! Heatballs are technologically very similar to classic light bulbs, but they are intended to heat instead of to illuminate.

In passive houses [?], incandescent lamps contribute significantly to heating the rooms. When incandescent lamps are replaced by energy-saving lamps, that heat must be replaced. …

A Heatball is an electrical resistance device intended to produce heat. Heatball is [also] performance art! Heatball is resistance against regulations that exceed democratic and parliamentary powers and that disempower citizens. Heatball is also resistance against extremist measures to protect our environment. …

That is so cool … I mean, hot! The Heatball is simply (ahem) brilliant, and it should stymie the nanny-staters in Brussels for now.

At least until they impose regulations limiting how much energy a heater can "waste" as visible light. 🙂

(HT: Slashdot)

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

License to describe

Posted by Richard on September 24, 2010

According to the Institute for Justice, in the 1950s, one in twenty members of the workforce had to have a government license to do their job; today, it's one in three. Defenders of all this government regulation and control argue that it's all about protecting consumers. That argument is specious enough when they're talking about laws to protect us from unskilled flower arrangers or hair braiders.

But the District of Columbia tops even those absurd licensing examples; it recently decided that tourists need to be protected from sightseeing guides who lack sufficient historical knowledge. So new regulations make it a crime, punishable by up to three months in jail, for tour guides to describe things without a license. Getting a license requires completing a bunch of paperwork, paying hundreds in required fees, and passing a multiple-choice test covering "an arbitrary hodgepodge of knowledge about the District."

Segs in the City provides sightseeing tours of Washington on Segways. Ironically, they don't need licenses for the Segways, or for teaching their customers how to ride them, but they do need licenses in order to describe the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. The Institute for Justice and Segs in the City's Tonia Edwards and Bill Main have filed a federal lawsuit arguing that they have a "First Amendment right to communicate for a living."

Check out this short video. And then support the Institute for Justice's fine work by donating a few bucks


[YouTube link]

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Posted by Richard on April 24, 2010

"Who shall watch the watchmen?"

On Wednesday, I posted about Gerald P. O'Driscoll's Wall Street Journal column arguing that regulations and bureaucrats can't protect consumers and investors. O'Driscoll based his argument on public choice theory. Now there's yet another explanation for regulatory failure: the regulators, confident that they're virtually immune from any consequences for failing to do their jobs, may just decide to spend their days watching porn instead of doing all that tedious number crunching.

So, in the face of all the theoretical arguments and empirical evidence that armies of bureaucrats and mountains of regulations have utterly failed to protect us from fraud, does the Obama administration say, "Maybe we ought to rethink this; let's talk to this O'Driscoll fellow and explore some fresh ideas"? 

Of course not! Instead, they're going to create new regulatory agencies to watch over the existing regulatory agencies and provide us with the "protection" that those regulatory agencies have failed to provide. They're going to address the problem of unmotivated, unaccountable, almost-impossible-to-fire bureaucrats by hiring a new army of unmotivated, unaccountable, almost-impossible-to-fire bureaucrats.

What could possibly go wrong?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Crony capitalism

Posted by Richard on April 21, 2010

This week, the Senate is considering the 1300-page Dodd financial services "reform" bill, another bloated piece of legislation that purports to fix an industry by smothering it with an army of new bureaucrats, a sea of new regulations, and a bewildering and foul-smelling stew of taxes and subsidies.

Gerald P. O'Driscoll contends that regulations and bureaucrats don't protect us from frauds and liars — quite the contrary:

The idea that multiplying rules and statutes can protect consumers and investors is surely one of the great intellectual failures of the 20th century. Any static rule will be circumvented or manipulated to evade its application. Better than multiplying rules, financial accounting should be governed by the traditional principle that one has an affirmative duty to present the true condition fairly and accurately—not withstanding what any rule might otherwise allow. And financial institutions should have a duty of care to their customers. Lawyers tell me that would get us closer to the common law approach to fraud and bad dealing.

Public choice theory has identified the root causes of regulatory failure as the capture of regulators by the industry being regulated. Regulatory agencies begin to identify with the interests of the regulated rather than the public they are charged to protect. In a paper for the Federal Reserve's Jackson Hole Conference in 2008, economist Willem Buiter described "cognitive capture," by which regulators become incapable of thinking in terms other than that of the industry. On April 5 of this year, The Wall Street Journal chronicled the revolving door between industry and regulator in "Staffer One Day, Opponent the Next."

Congressional committees overseeing industries succumb to the allure of campaign contributions, the solicitations of industry lobbyists, and the siren song of experts whose livelihood is beholden to the industry. The interests of industry and government become intertwined and it is regulation that binds those interests together. Business succeeds by getting along with politicians and regulators. And vice-versa through the revolving door.

We call that system not the free-market, but crony capitalism. It owes more to Benito Mussolini than to Adam Smith.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Harmful regulation video contest

Posted by Richard on April 20, 2010

Make a video showing how government regulations are causing harm, and you could win a prize. From Adam Bitely:

The EPA has decided to start a video contest, seeking to gather films promoting government regulations. The prize is $2,500 of stolen cash from the taxpayer.

Screw that.

Americans for Limited Government/NetRight Nation and the Fr33 Agents Network have announced that we will host our own contest. The reward is $2,500 not stolen from the tax payers.

Check out the rules and additional information, and then start making a video.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »