Tag: milk

The President’s Spilled-Milk Joke

One of President Obama’s better applause lines the other night came when he stepped into the unaccustomed public role of a deregulator:

We got rid of one rule from 40 years ago that could have forced some dairy farmers to spend $10,000 a year proving that they could contain a spill — because milk was somehow classified as an oil. With a rule like that, I guess it was worth crying over spilled milk.

I will note for the record that we had made a bit of a hobbyhorse of EPA’s dairy-oil-spill controls, taking note of them in no fewer than four posts as the sort of regulatory overkill the Obama administration should disavow. House Republicans complain that the president is now putting himself at the head of someone else’s parade, since their members had long urged repeal of the rules and the Obama EPA under administrator Lisa Jackson had dragged its heels about going along. But I’m not going to complain. The ability to get out in front of the other side’s parades served President Bill Clinton well, and I just wish President Obama would use it more often.

President Obama’s ‘War on Fun’

My DC Examiner column this week focuses on Barack Obama’s transformation into our National Noodge, nudging, shoving, poking and prodding Americans into healthier lifestyles via the powers of the federal government.

A year ago, the New York Times got all excited about the “new age of regulation” the administration was busy ushering in. The president had elevated “a new breed of regulators”: folks like regulatory czar Cass Sunstein, who wants to “nudge” Americans toward healthier consumption choices, and CDC head Thomas Frieden, who, as NYC health commissioner, proclaimed ”when anyone dies at an early age from a preventable cause in New York City, it’s my fault.”

Today’s column tracks how this killjoy crusade is playing out:

Quitting smoking was “a personal challenge for [Obama],” the first lady explained recently, and she never “poked and prodded.”

Of course not. It’s obnoxious to hector your loved ones. “Poking and prodding” is what good government does to perfect strangers. And that’s what the Obama administration has been doing, with unusual zeal, for the past 2 1/2 years.

You’re not a real president until you fight a metaphorical “war” on a social problem. So, to LBJ’s “War on Poverty” and Reagan’s “War on Drugs,” add Obama’s “War on Fun.” Like the “War on Terror,” it’s being fought on many fronts…

Among them: graphic warning labels for cigarettes; a ban on clove cigarettes and possibly menthols; shutting down online poker sites; banning caffeinated malt liquor; mandatory menu-labeling and ratcheting down allowable sodium levels in food to “adjust the American palate to a less salty diet.” Even healthy “real food” aficionados can find themselves in the crosshairs, as Dan Allgyer, an Amish farmer selling raw milk discovered last month, when FDA agents and federal marshals raided his farm.

Last year, in a remarkably silly column entitled “Obama’s Happiness Deficit,” Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt wondered whether the president’s political difficulties stemmed from the fact that “he doesn’t seem all that happy being president.” I couldn’t care less whether Obama’s enjoying his job. He asked for it, he got it. But if he isn’t having fun, he shouldn’t take it out on the rest of us.

Easter Bunny’s Burden

From Pennsylvania, bad news for chocolate lovers:

The Hershey Company says it is raising wholesale prices by 9.7% on most of its candy products. The maker of Reese’s, Kit Kat, Hershey’s Kisses and Twizzlers cited increased costs for raw materials, fuel, utilities and transportation.

The costs of two key raw materials—sugar and dairy products—are artificially inflated by federal government policies, the effect of which is to harm U.S. consumers and U.S. food producers, such as Hershey.

Senator Richard Lugar has introduced legislation to reform U.S. sugar policies. His timing is good, as world food prices are rising and some experts predict that sugar prices will soar in coming years.

The best ways to combat rising food prices—which particular harm people with moderate incomes—are free markets, open international trade, and vigorous competition. Unfortunately, those pro-growth and progressive policies are absent in the U.S. dairy and sugar industries, which are subject to Soviet-style central planning. (See here and here).

A consultant study last year (not commissioned by Hershey) indicated that high corporate taxes are also a negative with respect to Hershey’s U.S. production:

The Hershey Co. will be driven to shift more Pennsylvania manufacturing jobs overseas because of artificially high sugar prices in the U.S. market and the state’s high corporate tax rate, according to a new industry cost study by The Boyd Co.

In an interview, Boyd Co. CEO John Boyd Jr. speculated that Hershey would acquire additional overseas plant capacity through its intended acquisitions in foreign markets and then shift production from its North American plants to lower-cost countries and markets.

A key part of this shift will be to avoid markedly higher sugar prices under U.S. protectionary tariffs and quotas, Boyd said. Candy companies with operations in the U.S. pay about 21 cents a pound for sugar, compared to about 9 cents a pound on the world market

Politicians talk endlessly about jobs, jobs, jobs. But job creation is thwarted in the U.S. food and candy industries by government protectionism, taxes and regulations.

I don’t know the Easter Bunny’s political views, but I bet he would support Senator Lugar’s “Free Sugar Act” to generate more chocolate-making jobs in America.