Consumer Rights and Innovation

June 24, 2012

Our entire system of copyright, patents and other controls is out of control.  Corporate and other interests want to own and control everything, while giving consumers and small inventors the short end of the stick.

Recently software makers have tried to tell people that the products that they buy are not actually their own-that they only have a personal life stake in the product, but that they do not have the right to sell, give away or modify it.  If you buy a book on Kindle or the Rosetta Stone program you do not have the right to sell it.  I think that it is time to give some push back from consumers that when we buy something, we actually buy it, and we can do what we want with it.

Please sign the petition: http://www.youvebeenowned.org/

ACT NOW: DON’T LET COPYRIGHT HOLDERS STEAL OUR PROPERTY RIGHTS!


Do you really own the smartphone or computer you’re using to read this? If you sold your books, would you be breaking the law? A federal court in New York says you would be, even if you legally paid for and bought them.

It’s unbelievable, but trademark and copyright holders really are trying to use a legal loophole to take away your right to sell things that you own: Please add your name at right to fight back.

Public interest advocates are taking the case all the way to the Supreme Court, and Demand Progress is joining up with a coalition of groups — including many of those that came together to kill SOPA — to support the rights of ordinary Internet users and everyday consumers.

We are working to defend a long-standing principle known as the “First-Sale Doctrine.” This common-sense rule gives us the right to sell most property we own, but big businesses have been trying to chip away at out our rights in the courts. If the Supreme Court supports the lower court’s decision, we won’t really “own” anything if any part of it was made in a different country. And practically anything you own — from your iPod to your house — could have been made abroad, in whole or in part.

We only have a few months to make our voices heard before the Supreme Court makes a lasting ruling. We are asking President Obama and the U.S. Department of Justice to stand up for the little guy: The President can urge the Court to side with consumers, but he’ll only do it if we bring enough pressure to bare.

If we lose this fight, practically anybody who wants to resell products they bought — from Macbooks and iPhones to our clothing and textbooks — will have to ask copyright holders for permission first. And they’ll have the right to deny it!

It’s bad for so many reasons: It’ll undermine Craigslist and Ebay, hurt the environment, increase incentives for manufacturers to move jobs off-shore, and effectively ban the traditional American yard sale. For more info, please check out Marvin Ammori’s article about the lawsuit.

In addition, our patent system is actually discouraging innovation and competition…but it is great for the lawyers and patent trolls who feast on the carcase of our economy and society.

EEF is leading the fight to protect consumers in this respect.  Please sign the petition below.  Thank you.

Petition at: https://defendinnovation.org/

The patent system is in crisis, and it endangers the future of software development in the United States. Let’s create a system that defends innovation, instead of hindering it.

-A patent covering software should be shorter: no more than five years from the application date.

-If the patent is invalid or there’s no infringement, the trolls should have to pay the legal fees.

-Patent applicants should be required to provide an example of running software code for each claim in the patent.

-Infringers should avoid liability if they independently arrive at the patented invention.

-Patents and licenses should be public right away. Patent owners should be required to keep their public records up-to-date.

-The law should limit damages so that a patent owner can’t collect millions if the patent represented only a tiny fraction of a defendant’s product.

-Congress should commission  a study and hold hearings to examine whether software patents actually benefit our economy at all.

About Defend Innovation

“TO PROMOTE THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE AND USEFUL ARTS”

U.S. Constitution, on the justification for patents

Civil liberties groups, academics, innovators, and Internet users team up to address the broken patent system.

Patents are supposed to foster innovation, but modern software patents have been turned against inventors. We need your help to defend innovation from a broken patent system. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Internet Users Sign on to EFF’s seven proposals for fixing the patents system. Add your name and a comment. We’ll take these signatures with us when we go to Washington, D.C., to tell legislators about our concerns with the patent system. The more names, the more powerful the document will be to lawmakers.
  2. Companies EFF wants to hear from developers, engineers, and creators of all types. We’re going to travel through Silicon Valley and beyond to talk with those who really feel the effects of today’s flawed patent system: Internet companies. We want to have a conversation with you – find out how you are using patents, what you’d like to see in the patent system, where it is flawed and where it works. Some companies (like Twitter) are already hacking the patent system, and we want to hear what you think about that. We’ll explain our proposals for repairing the system and hope to get your feedback. Click here to suggest a date for EFF to stop by for a meeting.
  3. Individual Inventors, Lawyers and Academics You know patents – you’ve been following the patent process inside and out for years. We want your feedback about the major problems with the current system, EFF’s seven proposals, and your experiences in the field.

We’re going to take everything we learned from Defend Innovation and distill it into a whitepaper – In Defense of Innovation. We plan to take this document with us to D.C. and use it to educate lawmakers about what’s really going on in the patent system – complete with a roadmap to fix it.

Signatures

Matt Bailey
Software is becoming an ever increasingly important part of our lives . Our broken patent system discourages small independent developers from taking the risks to develop something totally new.
Thomas Parkinson
I continue to defend against patent trolls. Would do anything to stop them.
Donald Hayward
Software patents are one of the gravest threats to achieving the future that we’ve all dreamed of.
David Switzer
Software patents are silly because they often allow of patenting of vague concepts/ideas, that are more universal than brand new concepts… lawsuit madness!
People who have been following the software patent space know just how flawed the current system is and how, instead of promoting new inventions, software patents are being turned against everyday inventors. It’s got creators up in arms (and rightly so) and we’ve been working for years to bring attention to this growing crisis.  A lot of people want to abolish software patents altogether, while others hold out hope that reforms can help address the situation. Well, here’s the truth of it: neither reforms nor abolition of software patents will be possible unless software patents are treated differently under the law than other types of patents.
Copyright is also something that needs to be dramatically reformed.  I believe that copyright should only apply for about 12 years before it becomes public domain.  Movies cannot even sing happy birthday without paying a copyright…and the damn song was written in the 19 century.  This is beyond absurd.

Our Medical System

June 24, 2012

The American medical system is the worst of all worlds.  It is a for profit system run like a cartel, with plenty of government involvement.  It has all of the disadvantages of a for profit system with few of the advantages.  The system is uncompetitive and shielded from competition, and the consumer gets screwed every step of the way.  Our system is so expensive because it is a monopoly, and there is no incentive to control costs.  Quite the contrary.  Much better to over charge for everything.  Health is discouraged, and chronic illness is encouraged because it helps the bottom line.  Government is an enabler in all of this, and Medicare is one big hunk of corporate welfare.  Keep the money and illness flowing, baby!!

We need to have a system which focuses on competition, alternatives, promoting real health and keeping costs down.  Alliance for Natural Health has come comments on the waste in Medicare.

Government Rules Keeping Medicine in the Dark Ages

June 18, 2012

ages darkNot only in the Dark Ages. But way more expensive than it need be. Can you imagine what a car would cost if regulated this way?

Much of the problem stems from Medicare. That massive program runs by billing codes. Billing codes control the way various services are packaged and priced; currently, Medicare has a list of about 7,500 physician-related tasks they can get paid for doing. As John C. Goodman of the National Center for Policy Analysis points out, private insurance tends to pay the way Medicare pays. So do most employers.

But think of the two most common—and most critical—tools in our technology-driven world: communicating by telephone or email. One of these is a very old technology and the other one not new. Yet Medicare won’t pay for physicians to consult with patients using either of these devices—at least, not in any meaningful way. State laws and regulations also make it difficult to for physicians to offer medical advice by email—especially if the patient lives across state lines. Doctors are typically licensed to practice in only one state, and so might not be able to offer medical advice in another.

Imagine for a moment that producers of all manufactured products were barred by federal regulation from using telephone or email. How much do you think products would cost if their production were subject to such rules? How much would any product cost if its production and delivery had to stay in the dark ages?

There are many other examples. Let’s say you need to refill your prescription. Medicare will only pay the doctor if you come to his office and make it an “office visit.” It doesn’t matter that you probably don’t need an office visit and this is just wasting everyone’s time.

While these may be mere inconveniences for most of us, for others they represent dangerous gaps in their quality of healthcare. Disabled patients might not be mobile, and are often in need of even more frequent contact with doctors—though they don’t necessarily need an office visit. What if they could have actual conversations by phone, or get quick answers by email, or even have face-to-face consultations via Skype? These tools would benefit patients living in rural areas with limited access to medical care the same way.

It’s not just phone and email and prescriptions. Medicare won’t pay for your doctor’s assistance in getting a low price for a CT scan or for negotiating on your behalf for specialist services or for any other cost-saving he or she devises. It won’t pay a doctor to teach a diabetic how to monitor his own glucose level and in other ways manage his own diabetes. The same goes for all chronic illnesses—even though that’s where most of the money goes and even though studies show that well-trained patients can manage much of their own care, with lower costs and higher quality outcomes.

Once a medical office has a system is in place, it is very difficult to change it—even if it reduces medical costs. At a time when doctors feel that they are being squeezed on their fees by insurance companies, most become very focused on which activities are billable and which are not—and most are going to try to minimize their non-billable time. They are certainly not going to do anything that takes money out of their own pockets.

Speaking of out-of-pocket expenses, you may be interested to know that Medicare (and therefore most insurance) doesn’t cover blood and urine tests unless prompted by an illness, so even if you can get your doctor to order them, you have to pay for them yourselves, and that may subject your doctor to all sorts of risks, even the risk of jail, which we will discuss in a future article. Yet these types of screening tests are vital; they are where the future of medicine lies.


Sugar

June 24, 2012

I agree with Dr. Mercola in opposition to the NY large drink ban.  The following article provides an excellent critique of the ban and the dangers of sugar in our diet.  We need to educate people on why they should not drink soda, instead of coming up with futile bans.  Dr Mercola explains it all well…

The BEST Way to Stop a “Beer Belly”

June 11 2012 | 181,324 views | + Add to Favorites |

by Dr. Mercola

If you’ve paid any attention to the US news over the past week, you’ve surely heard that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed a ban on the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces, in an effort to combat obesity.

The announcement was made just days before Mayor Bloomberg celebrated National Donut Day in Madison Square Park, where, on June 1, the largest box of Entenmann’s Donuts ever created was proudly unveiledi

Bloomberg’s plan would prohibit the sale of cups or bottles of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces from restaurants, delis, movie theaters, sports arenas, street vendors, and any other establishment that is regulated by the New York City Department of Health. According to CNN, the NYC Department of Health will submit the proposed measure to the Board of Health on June 12. The board will then accept comments for next three months, after which it will make its decision. If approved, the proposal would take effect six months later—as early as March of next year—and restaurant owners would have nine months from the adoption of the proposal to comply before any fines would be levied.

According to Bloomberg, New York City spends $4 billion a year on medical care for overweight people, and he wants to “do” something about that. CNN recently quoted the Mayor as sayingii:

“This is something we think we have the legal authority to do. We¹re not taking away anybody’s right to do something; we’re simply making it different for them in how they do it.” He said he hoped the move will help lead to different behaviors.”

Why Impose a Measure that Cannot Achieve its Stated Aim?

Folks, this is a perfect example of nonsensical Big Brother intervention. It’s a knee-jerk “solution” that doesn’t solve anything.

Prohibiting people from buying one large rather than two smaller sized sodas is in no way, shape or form going to solve the problem of obesity. Of all the hare-brained ideas out there, this one really takes the cake. All it will do is increase profits for the manufacturers and sellers, as people who want more will buy more, and drive up industry consumption of plastic and create more waste… I truly do not believe that this plan will have any major impact on altering consumer behavior.

While it is encouraging to see the increased appreciation of the contribution of soda to the obesity epidemic, it’s extremely disappointing to see such short-sightedness and narrow-mindedness among our political leaders. This legislation will actually encourage people who want the large sizes to select diet sodas, which are not included in the ban. This will have the paradoxical effect of actually worsening obesity rates, as many studies show diet soda is worse than regular soda at increasing obesity.

Clearly, soda is one of the absolute worst things you can consume, and yes, it certainly contributes to obesity.

But placing prohibitions on serving sizes is not a real solution because it does not address the fundamental problem; which is that people have been, and still are, being lied to by health officials and industry-owned media on virtually every health and dietary issue there is. In fact, most of the nutritional information distributed by our public health agencies was created and /or manipulated by the processed food and beverage industry. Public dietary recommendations have no real basis in actual knowledge of nutrition, and commonly used tools such as the food pyramid are designed to protect profits of industries such as Big Sugar and Big Ag, which is now led by multi-national corporations like Monsanto, which is now fighting tooth and nail to prevent having to disclose genetically engineered products on food labels…

Without accurate and truthful information, how will the average consumer know how to optimize their health?

If our government truly wants to address the obesity problem, they must stop supporting and protecting the profits of the industries that are running our food and health system into the ground. That’s a tall order, and a measure like this one is nothing but political grandstanding that will have no real effect whatsoever, other than indoctrinating the public into thinking it’s okay for our government to dictate what foods and drinks you are and are not allowed to buy.

Devil’s Advocate

All of that said, there are those who stand behind Bloomberg’s proposal. In a recent article for Time Magazine, Shannon Brownlee writesiii:

“NYC’s mayor wouldn’t be trying to outlaw giant sugary drinks if we hadn’t lost all sense of a normal serving size…

Bloomberg has gotten a lot of flack from the beverage industry and free marketeers, but he’s right to propose such a ban: we shouldn’t really be drinking anything out of those bathtub-sized cups but water, and certainly not a 7/11 Double Gulp that contains 55 ounces and more than 700 calories. But huge has become the new normal. The fact that such a ban is even being proposed shows you how out of whack our sense of proportion has become.

When I was a kid, Coca-Cola came in 6-ounce glass bottles, and that seemed like plenty. It wasn’t all that long ago that a 12-ounce soda was considered perfectly sufficient—even large. But walk into any pizzeria or deli these days and you’ll have a very hard time even finding 12-ounce cans of anything. 20-ounce plastic bottles are now considered the standard single-serving size.

… The ban on large drinks, on the other hand, could reset our notion of what a normal beverage serving looks like, and that could make all the difference.”

She makes an excellent point. Many if not most Americans have indeed lost all sense of proportion. Especially our youth, to whom “bathtub-sized” portions are the norm. Still, I believe there are many problems with Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal. Besides the fact that it places unnecessary restrictions on personal freedom of choice, it does nothing to address the core issue of public education about the dangers of sugar, particularly fructose in the form of high fructose corn syrup. Furthermore, the measure does not apply to diet sodas (which are even more pernicious), fruit juices, dairy-based drinks, “enhanced” water beverages, or alcohol.

This is a clear sign that the Mayor simply does not understand the basics of nutrition and obesity, as not only is there is no major difference between soda and other fructose-laden drinks, but diet soda is in many ways even more hazardous to your health than regular soda. In fact, studies have shown that diet sodas, which contain artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, actually boost your risk of obesity more than regular soda does! Artificial sweeteners are also associated with an increased risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome—just like regular soda.

I’m certainly not proposing that all of these excluded drinks be placed under the same size-prohibition; I’m simply pointing out that singling out certain types of sugary drinks and restricting sale of larger sizes is not a viable or sensible solution. What’s needed is proper education by people who are not beholden to industry interests, along with fundamental changes to the entire food industry, starting with our agricultural subsidies.

Skyrocketing Obesity is Related to Misleading the Public on Health Issues

Obesity is the result of inappropriate lifestyle choices, and unfortunately, our government has done an abysmal job at disseminating accurate information about diet and health. For example, conventional advice that is driving public health in the wrong direction includes:

  • Avoiding saturated fat: The myth that saturated fat causes heart disease has undoubtedly harmed an incalculable number of lives over the past several decades, even though it all began as little more than a scientifically unsupported marketing strategy for Crisco cooking oil. Most people actually need at least 50 percent of their diet to include healthful saturated fats such as organic, pastured eggs, avocados, coconut oil, real butter and grass-fed beef in order to optimize their health
  • Cutting calories: Not all calories are created equal, and counting calories will not help you lose weight if you’re consuming the wrong kind of calories
  • Reducing your cholesterol to extremely low levels: Cholesterol is actually NOT the major culprit in heart disease or any disease, and the guidelines that dictate what number your cholesterol levels should be to keep you “healthy” are fraught with conflict of interest — and have never been proven to be good for your health
  • Choosing diet foods will help you lose weight: Substances like Splenda and aspartame may have zero calories, but your body isn’t fooled. When it gets a “sweet” taste, it expects calories to follow, and when this doesn’t occur it leads to distortions in your biochemistry that may actually lead to weight gain

This is just a tiny sampling of the misleading information on weight and obesity disseminated by our government agencies. A more complete list of conventional health myths could easily fill an entire series of books. The reason behind this sad state of affairs is the fact that the very industries that profit from these lies are the ones funding most of the research; infiltrating our regulatory agencies; and bribing our political officials to support their financially-driven agenda through any number of legal, and at times not so legal, means.

How Much Fructose Do You Consume Daily?

The average American now consumes 1/3 of a pound of sugar daily. That’s five ounces or 150 grams, half of which is fructose, which is 300 percent more than the amount that will trigger biochemical havoc. And many Americans consume more than twice that amount.

If everyone could easily keep their total grams of fructose to below about 25 grams per day then I believe we would start seeing some radical changes in obesity statistics. But the key issue is that while that is theoretically possible, few people are actually doing it, and the reliance on processed food is the primary reason for this failure.

Soda is certainly a MAJOR culprit, but again, restricting the sale of Big Gulps is not going to do much to curb this epidemic as long as people fail to realize the metabolic ramifications of fructose—the majority of which is hidden in processed foods. High fructose corn syrup is used in virtually everything, making it very difficult to determine just how much fructose you’re consuming every single day. So the problem is much bigger than the fact that it’s “too easy” to order a larger size drink when you’re in a fast food restaurant… The entire meal is laden with sugar!

Even infant formula and baby starter foods contain massive amounts of fructose, even though babies have absolutely no biological need for it. The fact of the matter is, it’s a cheap ingredient that makes the food taste good, which, naturally, is good for sales. Sugar also has the same addictive quality as cocaine, which further promotes incessant snacking and overeating, in addition to overconsumption of soda and other sweet beverages.

Fructose Wreaks Metabolic Havoc in Your Body…

Thanks to the excellent work of researchers like Dr. Robert Lustig, and Dr. Richard Johnson, we now know that fructose:

  • Is metabolized differently from glucose, with the majority being turned directly into fat
  • Tricks your body into gaining weight by fooling your metabolism, as it turns off your body’s appetite-control system. Fructose does not appropriately stimulate insulin, which in turn does not suppress ghrelin (the “hunger hormone”) and doesn’t stimulate leptin (the “satiety hormone”), which together result in your eating more and developing insulin resistance.
  • Rapidly leads to weight gain and abdominal obesity (“beer belly”), decreased HDL, increased LDL, elevated triglycerides, elevated blood sugar, and high blood pressure—i.e., classic metabolic syndrome.
  • Over time leads to insulin resistance, which is not only an underlying factor of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, but also many cancers.

If you have not yet taken the time to watch Dr. Lustig’s excellent lecture on sugar, I urge you to do so now. This is the kind of information that needs to be taught to school children and nutritionists across the country if we’re ever going to change consumer behavior.

This is a Flash-based video and may not be viewable on mobile devices.

Two Keys that Can Curb Out-of-Control Obesity

As explained by Dr. Robert Lustig, fructose is “isocaloric but not isometabolic.” This means you can have the same amount of calories from fructose or glucose, fructose and protein, or fructose and fat, but the metabolic effect will be entirely different despite the identical calorie count. The reason for this is primarily related to the fact that different nutrients provoke different hormonal responses, and those hormonal responses determine, among other things, how much fat you accumulate. This is why the idea that you can lose weight by counting calories simply doesn’t work.

After fructose, other sugars and grains are likely the most excessively consumed food that promotes weight gain and chronic disease. Other sugars can easily include items that are typically viewed as healthy, such as fruit juice or even large amounts of high fructose fruits. In large amounts these items will adversely affect your insulin, which is a crucially potent fat regulator.

I believe there are two primary dietary recommendations that could make all the difference in the world, were they to be widely advocated. Unfortunately, this is not likely to happen anytime soon, because accepting these recommendations would mean cutting profitability for the food industry—not to mention the fact that major health agencies would have to confess that they’ve been misleading you for a very long time!

The two primary keys I’m talking about are:

  1. Severely restricting carbohydrates (sugars, fructose, and grains) in your diet, and
  2. Increasing healthy fat consumption

While health authorities insist that sugar is fine “in moderation,” and that grains are an essential part of a healthy diet and can actually help you prevent heart disease, they fail to take into consideration that:

  1. Fructose is the NUMBER ONE source of calories in the US, which means our consumption of it is far from “moderate.” As stated earlier, this is not at all surprising when you consider that fructose, primarily in the form of cheap high fructose corn syrup, is in just about everything—even food items you’d never expect would need it, including diet foods and ‘enhanced’ water products
  2. Refined carbohydrates (breakfast cereals, bagels, waffles etc) quickly breaks down to sugar, increase your insulin levels, and cause insulin resistance, which is the number one underlying factor of nearly every chronic disease known to man, including heart disease

Take Control of Your Own Health

Clearly, we need to address obesity. But that entails addressing our entire food system—from agricultural subsidies, to advertising, to public dietary recommendations; school lunches, and nutritional education in general. In order to do that, we must face these giant food and beverage industries head on… Bloomberg is obviously not up for that task. Hopefully some day, someone will be.

In the meantime, I urge you to take control of your own health, and take the time to educate yourself about the facts of how to achieve optimal health. My web site contains tens of thousands of articles addressing virtually every facet of health, from how to optimize your diet and exercise routine, to the dangers of various drugs and the safest alternatives.

To get you started, I recommend reviewing my Nutritional Plan, which will guide you step-by-step from the beginner’s level to advanced. Making small incremental changes is perhaps the easiest way to change your lifestyle into one that will support and promote good health well into your old age.

References:


The Health Ranger, who is against HFCS, is also against the soda ban, simply because he does not trust government to be able manage their power correctly, and I tend to agree.  Our government is corrupt, unaccountable, riddled with conflicts of interest and wasteful.

Instead of banning soda, maybe it’s time we banned stupid government bans

by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor

(NaturalNews) As the Health Ranger, I’m on the record strongly opposing soda consumption. Years ago, I wrote the popular self-help guide, “The Five Soft Drink Monsters,” which helps soda addicts get off sodas and transition to healthier drinks like tea or water (http://programs.webseed.com/The_Five_Soft_Drink_Monsters__TV.htm). Yet even I think the sudden wave of interest in nanny-state cities like New York and Cambridge wanting to ban soda sales is pure insanity.

For starters, I’m trying to wrap my head around the idea that states are increasingly decriminalizing marijuana even as they are moving toward criminalizing sodas. Before long, if a New York police officer happens upon a gang banger smoking a joint and drinking a Big Gulp soda, the kid will be arrested for the soda, not the joint!

What this is going to lead to, if we’re not careful, is the Department of Homeland Soda Security (DHSS), with 50,000 new agents roaming the streets, groping your genitals (just like the TSA) in order to see if you might be carrying “illegal soda” in your pants. “Is that a 16 oz. soda in your pants, or are you just happy to see me?”

How to turn everything into a crime

This police state / nanny state insanity has got to stop in America. The TSA, for its part, has never caught a single terrorist, yet the agency itself has terrorized tens of millions of Americans. It has become the source of fear and terrorism in America.

The Department of Homeland Security, for its part, has only been effective at raising domestic paranoia and turning normal behaviors into suspected crimes. So now, to top it off, we get these completely insane privacy-invading, micro-managing nanny bureaucrats like Bloomberg and now Cambridge Mayor Henrietta Davis who think that they can solve all the world’s problems if we just give them enough power to dominate and control our lives.

It starts with criminalizing soda “possession,” followed by arrests of people caught with “intent to distribute” soda. From there, it escalates into two guys who talked about distributing soda and are now being charged with “conspiracy to distribute an illegal substance,” which is of course a felony. Can you imagine these people winding up in the joint, next to a violent rapist who asks, “What are you in for?”

“Pepsi.”

It doesn’t even stop with soda. As the nanny state insanity escalates, before long you’re facing prison time for using too many sheets of toilet paper in a public restroom monitored by TSA security cameras manned by government perverts and pedophiles (who else?). Before you know it, you’ve got government “mattress inspectors” conducting warrantless searches into your home, confirming you haven’t removed the safety warning tag off your mattress. If the government has its way, the average person will commit a dozen crimes before leaving the house in the morning, and then the police state goon squads can selectively enforce all their arcane, ninnying laws against political enemies or those who speak out against the government.

That’s what this is coming to. Be careful any time you surrender power to the State. You’re just begging to be censored, suppressed and have your rights stolen away by all the liberal “do gooder” Big Government worshippers who think a perfect world is one in which citizens are utterly enslaved and completely dominated by well-intentioned bureaucrats.

The real contradiction: Big sodas are illegal unless they contain aspartame

The real hilarity in these soda bans becomes apparent when you realize the bans don’t apply to diet soda! So as long as your 16 oz. soda contains the brain-damaging chemical known as aspartame (http://www.naturalnews.com/Infographic-Top-10-Worst-Sources-of-Aspart…), the state allows you to drink as much as you want!

So it’s not really a ban on all the harmful ingredients sodas contain such as phosphoric acid, a highly acidic substance that causes kidney stones and bone mineral depletion. Pepsi’s lawyers recently admitted this acid is so powerful it can dissolve a mouse and turn it into a gel-like substance (http://www.naturalnews.com/034602_Mountain_Dew_mouse_dissolved.html). This acid is present both in regular sodas and diet sodas.

The soda ban, it seems, is really just a ban on sodas made with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which has suddenly become the enemy of choice in an irrational world of nutritionally illiterate bureaucrats. Sure, HFCS is bad for your health and promotes diabetes and obesity, but aspartame promotes seizures and blindness, and it remains perfectly acceptable to Mayor Bloomberg. After all, what would New York City be without a few seizure cases on the sidewalk?

What’s really extraordinary is what Bloomberg did not ban. There is no ban on cancer-causing sodium nitrite in hot dogs, sausages, bacon and beef jerky. So you can eat your way to pancreatic cancer with the full approval of the Mayor, but if you dare sip a drink of some corn syrup, then all of a sudden you’re a bad person.

There was no ban on MSG, either. So you can eat your way to obesity, diabetes and hormone disorders, wolfing down MSG snack chips and jerky treats, and the Mayor is fine with all that.

So it’s not about protecting the health of the people, you see. If that were true, he would ban the far more dangerous foods and snacks sold throughout New York City. It’s really about scoring political points by appearing to be the “protector” of the citizens.

And this, my friends, is the most dangerous role of government: Be on red alert any time you hear, “We’re from the government, and we’re here to protect you from yourself.”

We’re from the government, and we’re here to protect you from yourself!

These are quite possibly the twelve most dangerous words ever uttered in America. Because from this illogical and liberty-crushing premise, the government can justify any and all invasions of your privacy. It can surveil your home power usage through Smart Meters. It can install chemical sensors in your toilet to see if you’re using recreational drugs. It can (and does) read your email, monitor your phone calls and scan your back yard using high altitude military spy drones. It’s all done for your own protection, didn’t you know?

Such is the mantra of every police state: We’re monitoring you for your own protection!

If you diverge from the currently accepted, politically-motivated pattern of “normalcy,” you suddenly become an enemy of the state. Are you trying to grow medicinal herbs in your own yard? That’s not acceptable! The bureaucrats destroy the garden! (http://www.newson6.com/story/18802728/woman-sues-city-of-tulsa-for-cu…) and (http://www.prisonplanet.com/all-over-america-government-control-freak…)

Are you home schooling your children and keeping them away from vaccines? You’re an enemy of the state, didn’t you know? And the state will bring guns to your home, kidnap your children, and force them to be vaccinated at gunpoint. (http://www.naturalnews.com/022267.html)

Are you buying ammunition for preparedness? You’re “hoarding ammo!” And clearly, that makes you a nut job even though the largest hoarder of ammo is the United States government itself, and the Department of Homeland Security specifically (http://www.naturalnews.com/035649_DHS_ammunition_domestic_war.html).

See, once you abandon liberty and allow the government to micro-manage everything in your life, you are no longer a free citizen living in a free society. You’re just a subservient slave to the system. And the system — the government — is run by insane people on a power trip. They are never satisfied with their power and seek to dominate and control every little detail of our lives to the point of total enslavement.

Maybe it’s time to ban stupid government bans

There is one thing we should ban, however: government bans that target the People.

It’s time to end all the stupid, politically-calculated, freedom crushing bans that have been put in place by federal, state and local governments. No more banning industrial hemp farming or even medical marijuana use. No bans on food choice. No bans on home gardening. No bans on owning gold, or ammo, or even legal firearms.

Corporate bans, in contrast, make perfect sense, since corporations have no souls, no compassion, no ethics and no morals. Corporations must be banned from dumping toxic chemicals into the river, selling poison and calling it food, or ripping off senior citizens with complex financial scams. If there’s anywhere that regulations and bans are needed, it’s in the world of corporations, not the world of individuals.

Heck, maybe it’s time to just ban big government and get back to a society based on liberty. There’s already a blueprint for such a society; it’s called the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and these documents specifically say that all powers not granted to the federal government are reserved to the states, or to the People. Virtually every federal regulatory body operating in America today operates in outright violation of the Constitution, including the DEA, ATF, DHS, TSA, FDA, USDA, FTC, FCC, and even the failed Department of Education.

Because if we’re really going to talk about banning things in America, we should probably start by banning all the rogue, out-of-control federal agencies that prey upon the American people as tyrants. Instead of banning soda, in other words, maybe we should just ban tyranny in America.

Sources for this story include:
http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2012/06/soda-ban-spreads-to-cambridge-ma…
http://www2.cambridgema.gov/cityClerk/PolicyOrder.cfm?item_id=35515
http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/301770/bloomberg-s-soda-ban-jo…


Paul Krugman

June 24, 2012

Paul Krugman is the toast of the New York Times elite.  They just love the fact that he won a Noble prize, and also that he constantly pushes for more deficit financed “stimulus”, and government spending.  The fact that he supports the FED is also seen as a plus.  The reality is the Krugman is delusional as this Mises institute report shows.

Krugman’s Intellectual Waterloo

Mises Daily: Monday, June 22, 2009 by

Napoleon Krugman at Waterloo

Last Monday evening, Lew Rockwell, from a tip by someone named “Travis,” posted this damning quote of Paul Krugman’s from a 2002 New York Timeseditorial:

To fight this recession the Fed needs…soaring household spending to offset moribund business investment. [So] Alan Greenspan needs to create a housing bubble to replace the Nasdaq bubble.

Krugman. 2002. Calling for a housing bubble.

What’s more, by explicitly calling for a new bubble to replace the recently burst one, he anticipated by 6 years the Onion‘s hilarious “report” that “demand for a new investment bubble began months ago, when the subprime mortgage bubble burst and left the business world without a suitable source of pretend income.” Except Krugman was being serious.

The quote caught on in the blogosphere, to such an extent that Krugman actually responded in his New York Times blog Wednesday morning:

Guys, read it again. It wasn’t a piece of policy advocacy, it was just economic analysis. What I said was that the only way the Fed could get traction would be if it could inflate a housing bubble. And that’s just what happened.

So with a deft little two-step, Krugman paints himself as a doctor who gave an excellent diagnostic, and not a disastrous prescription. One of his ditto-heads posted on his blog that saying Krugman advocated or caused the housing bubble was “Like saying Nostradamus caused the rise of European fascism.”

The Lone Gunmen

The Lone Gunmen

At the same time, with his headline of “And I was on the grassy knoll, too” he paints his critics (especially the Austrians) as conspiracy theorists, akin to the Lone Gunmen (the Kennedy-assassination theorists from the X-Files TV show). Just like with the matter of Jekyll Island and the events leading up to the creation of the Fed, an obvious conclusion from a matter of public record is portrayed by establishment sophistry as unmoored crankiness. And once again, it works: another ditto-head dismissively remarked “no need to reason with those folks.”

Even economist Arnold Kling bent over backwards to interpret the column in a benign light:

He was not cheerfully advocating a housing bubble, but instead he was glumly saying that the only way he could see to get out of the recession would be for such a bubble to occur.

Krugman thanked Kling for his “gracious, sensible explication”. I can just imagine Kling running around his office in glee at having been nodded at by a celebrity Nobel Laureate, exclaiming, “He likes me! He likes me!”

Mark Thornton on the Mises blog followed up with a devastating collection of 2001 Krugman quotes clearly documenting his support for inducing a housing bubble. The most damning of this batch is the following from a 2001 interview with Lou Dobbs:

Meanwhile, economic policy should encourage other spending to offset the temporary slump in business investment. Low interest rates, which promote spending on housing and other durable goods, are the main answer. [emphasis added]

How the hell can anyone spin that as a purely academic musing, and not a policy recommendation for artificially inducing housing spending?

Ignoring the other quotes for a moment, and just judging from the 2002 column, did Krugman support pumping up a housing bubble or not? Given that, even in his recent blog defending himself, he explicitly stated his belief that “the only way the Fed could get traction would be if it could inflate a housing bubble,” there are only two possibilities:

  1. He did not support inducing a housing bubble, and wanted the Fed to not fight the recession.
  2. He did support inducing a housing bubble.

Anyone even somewhat familiar with Krugman’s attitude toward Fed activism should know that proposition #1, that Krugman supported a do-nothing policy, is preposterous. So, especially after bringing back in the quotes gathered by Mark Thornton, the case for proposition #2 is overwhelming.

And what about his strawman protests that he didn’t cause the housing bubble, much less the Enron scandal or Kennedy’s assassination? The man is willfully missing the point. What is damning about these quotes is not that he necessarily causedanything. What is devastating about them is that they expose the intellectual bankruptcy of his economic principles. Those who look up to him like the second coming of Adam Smith should realize that the neo-Keynesian principles that lead him to advocate aggressive interest-rate cuts and mammoth public spending now, are the very same principles that led him to advocate inducing a housing bubble then. He would himself affirm that his economic principles haven’t fundamentally changed since then. So the conclusions and policy prescriptions he infers from them are just as wildly wrong now as they were then.

Daniel James Sanchez is editor of Mises.org and director of the Mises Academy. Friend him on Facebook. Send him mail. Comment on the blog.

Keynesian keeps failing, and yet the elites continue their blind faith based belief in it.  The Austrian School makes a lot more sense, but the elites ignore it.  Now Europe has a new plan to “stimulate” the economy with phantom money.  Europe is in trouble because its deficits are too big and its economies are distorted and uncompetitive.  Increasing the deficit by having the government waste more money is not going to fix the problems of uncompetitiveness of the southern European economies or convince bond holders.

Since the crisis began Europe has talked about plan after plan to avoid dealing with the basic issues.  Instead of freeing up their economies, dealing with government waste and unions, as well as letting banks fail, instead they have tried to keep the status quo, and used financial trickery to “fix” the problem.  Nothing ever gets solved and the plans go nowhere.  This latest “stimulus” plan is more smoke and mirrors.  Mish Shedlock has a few choice words about it in his blog.

Eurozone 1% Shell Game Stimulus Mirage; Meaning of Necessary; “Real” Stimulus

Germany, France, Italy, and Spain have agreed to spend 1% of GDP on new stimulus measures.

Where is the money coming from? They will not say. Most likely from somewhere else, better known as nowhere.

The Guardian reports Eurozone big four pledge 1% of GDP to underwrite banks and stimulate growth.

The leaders of the eurozone’s biggest economies announced on Friday night that 1% of the European Union’s GDP was to be set aside to help the continent grow its way out of the financial crisis. But doubts were immediately expressed as to what share of the package – said to be worth €130bn (£105m) – would be genuinely new money.

After several hours of apparently tense discussions, there was no immediate agreement on a plan outlined by Italy’s prime minister, Mario Monti, on Thursday, aimed at stabilising Europe’s banks and protecting countries under attack in the markets.

“There was an agreement between all of us to use any necessary mechanism to obtain financial stability in the eurozone,” said Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish prime minister, afterwards.

But the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, insisted that the EU must take full advantage of the instruments already at its disposal. Her remark suggested she is wary of two new funds – to guarantee bank depositors and as a lender of last resort to ailing banks – understood to have been on the agenda at Friday’s talks.

In a sign that tempers are becoming increasingly frayed before next week’s crucial summit, the normally gentlemanly Monti used his closing remarks to attack France and Germany publicly.

Nicholas Spiro, of Spiro Sovereign Strategy, said: “The pact has a shuffling of the deckchairs feel to it.”

Meaning of “Necessary”

I added emphasis to the word “necessary” in the above clip. However, I cannot take credit for it.

Instead, credit goes to Financial Times writer Martin Wolf for his column The G20 on the eurozone and fiscal policy

This week’s G20 communiqué dealt with the eurozone. Let us examine it closely.

“Euro area members of the G20 will take all necessary measures to safeguard the integrity and stability of the area, improve the functioning of financial markets and break the feedback loop between sovereigns and banks.”

The crucial word here is “necessary”. We can safely say that agreement on what this means is altogether lacking.

Real Stimulus

There is no stimulus plan. It’s a shell game. No new funds have been promised for stimulus. Rather, previously earmarked funds will simply be given that label.

Bear in mind that I am not in favor of stimulus plans anyway, at least monetary ones.

The best stimulus plan Europe and the US could possibly do is modify work rules making it easier to fire (and therefore hire) workers, scrap prevailing wage laws, end collective bargaining of public unions, scrap tariffs, and eliminate farm subsidies.

Instead, France is taking a giant step backwards as noted in Hollande About to Wreck France With Economically Insane Proposal: “Make Layoffs So Expensive For Companies That It’s Not Worth It”

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com
Click Here To Scroll Thru My Recent Post List


The Politics of Immigration

June 24, 2012

The elites in America just love immigration.  The politically correct left loves the browning of America, while corporate America love´s how illegals work cheap and with no rights, just like a 19th century workforce.  Plus the elites like the fact that immigrants provide a steady stream of maids and gardeners to take care of them.  At the end of the day the immigrant workers go home to their “barrios” leaving the elites to enjoy their lily white neighborhoods.  The working class may be affected by declining property values due to immigrants moving into their neighborhoods, but the elites have less to worry about.  Beverly Hills is not going Mexican any time soon.

The elites make endless excuses for why mass uncontrolled illegal immigration is great.  The reality is otherwise as this NumberUSA article shows.

‘Fixing’ immigration and class myopia

By Jonette Christian, Thursday, June 14, 2012, 10:37 AM EDT

The L.A. Times oped “Fixing Immigration” perpetuates the class myopia which often colors mainline media’s perspective on immigration. Once again, we’re told to “fix” immigration with another legalization scheme for the 11 million illegal aliens who are currently here (amnesty number 8), that Americans won’t do menial labor, that “self deportation” is a “fantasy”, that enforcing immigration laws is “draconian” and will cause our crops to rot on the ground, and that we need a “comprehensive” solution that leads to legalization (again) and more visas (again). Let’s examine the facts.

As the Pew Hispanic Center reports, illegal immigration from Mexico has significantly decreased. No surprise. Most illegal aliens came to America to get better paying jobs. When the jobs dry up, many go home and tell their families not to bother coming. Just like Americans left the rust belt when they lost their jobs. The illegal population has always been in flux, traveling back and forth. Since 1980 millions of illegal aliens have returned home (self deported). Living in a country illegally is stressful and inconvenient, and that’s appropriate.

The Pew Hispanic Center estimated that 8 million illegal aliens held American jobs in 2010, even as 20 million unemployed/ underemployed Americans sought work. When the federal government briefly enforced immigration laws with worksite raids during the last years of the Bush administration, Americans lined up to take those jobs, even before the recession. After the federal raid at Crider Poultry in Georgia 2006, wages increased $1 an hour. Employers were forced to raise wages to attract Americans, and native-born black workers rose from 14% to 65% of the workforce. After the raid at Howard Industries, Mississippi 2008, blacks again became the majority of the workforce. After the raid at Swift Meats, Colorado 2006, the line of applicants hoping to fill jobs vacated by illegal workers was “out the door”. After the raid at Smithfield Foods, North Carolina 2007, blacks again became the majority of workers, and after 16 years of struggle, workers were finally unionized.

Who says Americans won’t do those jobs? But Americans couldn’t get the jobs until the government enforced our laws. Many journalists focus on illegal-alien communities feeling “targeted” and “distressed” after enforcement operations, describing enforcement legislation as “harsh” and “anti-immigrant”, and they commonly ignore the beneficial impact of enforcement on native born workers, legal immigrants, and refugees who flocked to those jobs after the raids.

Our highest unemployment rates today are among unskilled blacks and native born Hispanics with the same skill sets as most illegal workers. Well educated Americans, like the newspaper editors and politicians who incessantly call for “fixing” immigration by passing more legalization schemes, don’t compete for those jobs. They hire immigrants to clean their houses, mow their lawns and paint their nails. And they’re oblivious to the distinction between who hires and who competes.

So what about the rotting fruits and vegetables? Do we need to legalize 11 million illegal immigrants to get our crops harvested? Not really. The federal government has created a guest worker program (the H-2A visa), specifically for agricultural workers, with no limit on the number of workers an employer can sponsor. That’s right. There’s no excuse for anyone to be illegal. But employers prefer illegal workers because it’s less paper work; they don’t have to pay minimum wage, overtime, sick pay, observe safety regulations, provide housing, or pay social security taxes. Illegal workers are wonderfully compliant, and their employers enjoy a huge advantage over competitors who play by the rules. And their advantage is protected by federal policies that continually reward those who thumb their nose at the law, like the so called “comprehensive” immigration legislation the L.A. Times promotes.

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, only 4% of illegal aliens work in agriculture. The rest work in construction, maintenance, cleaning, repair, manufacturing, food preparation and service. Is it true that Americans don’t want those jobs either? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the majority of workers in each of those fields are native born. But the number of illegal workers flooding those labor markets drives down wages. And that’s why President Clinton’s U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform advised Congress to reduce legal immigration and strictly enforce laws at the worksite, not more legalization schemes.

If illegal aliens were competing for jobs with journalists, editors, congressmen, and university professors, driving down their wages and forcing them to compete against each other, one wonders what plans for “fixing” this system would percolate among the educated classes.

JONETTE CHRISTIAN is a NumbersUSA volunteer and works with Mainers for Sensible Immigration Reform


Yet more influence peddling

June 24, 2012

Cenk has some choice words for the latest scandals in Washington.


Keynsian Economics

June 21, 2012

The more I learn about economics the more I realize that our economic system is organic, in other words that any artificial constraint placed upon it, creates an equal and opposite negative reaction.  When the government tries to control prices by decree, products disappear, and when they artificially lower interest rates and we get bubbles full of boom and bust and malinvestment.

The video below basically describes the housing bubbles in numerous countries caused by artificially low interest rates, which lead to a debt boom, which lead to an economic bubble in housing, and the eventual collapse where all of the over-investment has to be clawed back, and the accumulated debt becomes a big over hanging problem.

Politicians love Keynesian economics because it promises to give them something for nothing.  Keynesianism promotes budget deficits, which enable politicians to spend more than they tax…at least until deficits become so huge that they lead to crisis (the PIGS).  It also leads to economic bubbles, which keep people happy…until they burst.  Now the bubble has burst, but instead of facing the pain, our leaders have spent 4 years trying to come up with tricks hide the pain, deny the debt, avoid the problems and desperately re-inflate the bubble.  By now the old medicine is not working.  It is like a person who gets drunk, has a great time, and wakes up the next day with a huge hangover.  Instead of resting and getting better, he drink a huge amount of alcohol, gets drunk again and has a fun time.  The next day he wakes up with an even bigger hangover, so he drink even more alcohol, but there comes a time when more alcohol just makes him sick.  Drinking more is not working, and his body never detoxifies, but he keeps doing it, in the hopes that the old drunk party fun will come back.  It does not.

This describes our economy, except exchange alcohol for money printing, deficits, low interest rates and, moral hazard (crony capitalism), and we have essentially the same situation.  Never wanting to face reality and the pain, engaging in endless extend and pretend, and never getting better.

The video below is by Schiff and it explains the fundamentals of a market economy, and many of the ways that government and corruption screw up the economy.  It is a bit long, but a great illustration of a lot of important principles.