We've all heard about the ongoing battle of lawyers and plaintiffs to hold the tobacco industry responsible for a wide variety of health ills.
That's just the beginning. In a society where the concept of individual responsibility has been under attack for quite some time, there is almost no action that can't be blamed on others.
Take your daily diet. Do you like milk? Norman Mayo does. He drinks lots of it. So much that he thinks milk was responsible for his recent stroke.
So, like any good modern-day American, Mayo decided to file suit. His targets? Safeway Supermarkets and the Dairy Farmers of America. Said Mayo, "...milk is just as dangerous as tobacco."
Of course any good movement requires an intellectual vanguard, and Yale University is here to provide it. Two Yale University researchers recently attacked the food industry for providing food "...high in fat, high in calories, delicious, widely available and low in cost." We're not joking --Kelly Brownell, director of Yale's Center For Eating and Weight Disorders, actually said this.
We can only assume that Ms. Brownell would prefer that Americans eat a steady diet of nasty tasting, expensive, and hard-to-find food. If we couldn't afford to eat, can't find food, and don't like the taste, we'd all be bound to shed a few pounds. True enough.
We had always thought that producing food that tasted good, was affordable, and widely available was one of the great achievements of modern society. But we're pretty naive.
Ms. Brownell has an innovative solution: A fat tax. Foods that contribute to obesity would be subject to special taxes. This notion is not as far-fetched as it might seem. There are already a host of "sin taxes" which supposedly discourage consumption of alcohol and cigarettes. A sin tax on brownies and chocolate chip cookies could be just around the corner.
Here at the Daily Outrage we normally have a breakfast of steak and eggs after we finish the morning update. But we're about to make a change. We're going to add a dessert of milk and brownies to our morning repast.
Get it while you can.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reduced its estimate of lives that would be saved by its new regulations on ozone and airborne fine particles from 40,000 to 20,000 annually, then to 15,000, and later to just 10,150. Economists and analysts warn, however, that the stricter standards actually pose health hazards and are likely to cost -- not save -- lives.
It is universally accepted that reducing a person's wealth also reduces their quality of health.
Harvard University professor W. Kip Viscusi estimates that for every $50 million spent on regulations an extra death occurs.
The Reason Public Policy Institute, using a different model, puts the figure at an extra death for only $4.5 million spent on compliance with regulations.
President Clinton's own Council of Economic Advisers estimates that new regulations will cost $60 billion annually. Other analyses from Reason and George Mason University's Center for the Study of Public Choice put the costs much higher.
Averaging the lowest cost estimates with the highest translates to an additional 52,000 deaths a year due to the new rules -- more lives lost than to automobile accidents.
Michael Fumento (American Enterprise Institute), "Lethal Dose of New Air Rules," Washington Times, September 10, 1997. For more on Air Pollution go to http://www.ncpa.org/pi/enviro/envdex1.html
Fast-track was instrumental in the 1993 passage of the Uruguay Round of major international trade liberalization and the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement. But in 1994 the Clinton administration proposed including the requirement for environmental and labor standards in renewal of the authority.
Economists say the arguments in favor of including the mandate for standards in trade agreements are flawed:
It is argued that trade is unfair if countries have different pollution control and labor standards -- but economists say that is only natural, since circumstances differ among nations.
Labor unions argue that countries will lower their standards to attract multinational corporations in a "race to the bottom" -- but there is no evidence this has occurred, and economist Arik Levinson has shown that multinationals mostly use the most environmentally friendly technology.
Unions also say products made with such low labor standards that sweatshops are permitted are morally unacceptable -- but such value-based denials of market access will encourage others to impose their values on the U.S.
Finally, it is claimed that trade with poor countries is driving down U.S. workers' wages -- but economists say the impact is negligible since wages aren't determined by the price of imported goods but by U.S. workers' productivity.
There are international agencies to monitor and advance labor, environmental and child welfare objectives, say economists, and trade agreements should reduce trade barriers, not raise new ones.
Source: Jagdish Bhagwati, "Fast Track: Not so Fast," Wall Street Journal, September 10, 1997. For more on Trade go to http://www.ncpa.org/pd/trade/trade.html
In a recent decision, for example, a federal appeals court ruled that New York City jails will continue to be micromanaged by a 1978 federal consent decree. Amended more than 90 times, the consent decree is now thicker than two Manhattan phone books and controls every aspect of city jails housing 20,000 inmates. Among its excruciatingly detailed provisions:
-Only licensed barbers are allowed to cut prisoners' hair.
-Already-sugared coffee may never be served at meals.
-Boraxo should never be used to clean showers.
-The court-appointed jail monitor must be given a city car within one grade of the prison commissioner's.
Any change in provisions covered by the consent decree must be approved by the court. The city recently had to ask permission to put the prison law library off limits to prisoners who had attacked other prisoners and instead deliver law books to their cells. After 11 more slashings and other violent episodes, a federal judge issued an order detailing exactly how the books were to be delivered.
Other courts are considering whether the Litigation Reform Act is constitutional and applicable to various decrees. One appeals court voided a consent decree covering all prisoners in South Carolina and another ordered a federal judge to decide if Iowa qualified to have a 1984 consent decree terminated.
Such cases are headed toward the U.S. Supreme Court, since prisoner-rights attorneys are contesting the reform act, claiming state and local prison systems have entered into a contract with prisoners -- even when it comes to requirements that prisoners' TVs get the Sports Channel via satellite.
Source: David Schoenbrod, "In New York City, the Jails Still Belong to the Judges," Wall Street Journal, September 10, 1997. For more on Crime & Punishment go to http://www.ncpa.org/pi/crime/crime.html
The deal will cost tobacco companies $370 billion, bring them under Food and Drug Administration regulation, limit advertising and require them to pay large fines unless children stop smoking. In return, critics argue, they will be given partial immunity from litigation that hasn't cost a dollar in damages in over 40 years.
Here's how analysts explain the tobacco deal:
For 40 years, juries held that smokers had to bear the health consequences of their smoking.
But state prosecutors threw out centuries of common law, and told jurors smokers weren't responsible for their actions.
Then they changed the law so that they only needed to show that a patient's illness was more prevalent among smokers than non-smokers; in other words, statistics -- and no other evidence.
Critics point out that some of the trial lawyers who devised these tactics were later hired by the states at contingency fees of up to 30 percent -- and had bankrolled the political campaigns of the very people who hired them.
The answer, critics say, is reducing the size of the regulatory state, which creates huge and perverse incentives for profiteering by politicians and the entities they regulate.
Source: Robert A. Levy (senior fellow in constitutional studies, Cato Institute), "You Call This 'Power'"?, USA Today, September 10, 1997.
Productivity for the non-farm sector was up 2.7 percent.
That's an improvement over the sixth-tenths of one percent estimate issued last month by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
It's the fastest quarterly growth since late 1993.
The meaning of the impressive numbers' significance, however, depends on whether you believe the productivity optimists or pessimists.
Here's the optimists' interpretation:
The upward trend reinforces a continuing trend in recent productivity growth.
The U.S. is headed back toward a level of efficiency absent for the last 25 years.
The nation's workers produced much more from April through June without working more hours.
Rising productivity is the only explanation for the simultaneous coexistence of low inflation, rising profits and the beginnings of wage increases.
The pessimists see things differently:
The optimists are only looking at short term figures; over the long term (1991-1997) productivity growth has averaged only 1.2 percent.
During the country's best period for productivity growth, 1947-1973, it grew an average of 2.8 percent annually.
Rising profits might be coming, not from rising hourly output, but rather from hiring more workers.
Or, higher profits might be the result simply of holding back on pay hikes.
Complicating matters, as Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan recently pointed out, is the difficulty in measuring productivity in several major sectors, including financial institutions and noncorporate partnerships and proprietorships. In these sectors, productivity seems to be falling despite higher profits, which would appear to indicate an error in measurement.
If the measurement is restricted to the nonfinancial corporate sector, however, the BLS reports a 3.2 percent growth in the second quarter and an average of 2.4 percent over the last four quarters.
Source: Louis Uchitelle, "Productivity Up; What It Signals Is Still Debated," New York Times, September 10, 1997. For more on the Economy go to http://www.ncpa.org/pd/economy/ecoinc.html
General aviation aircraft -- those planes smaller than commercial jet liners -- reached a high of 17,811 planes built in 1978.
But production crashed over the next 16 years, hitting a low of 928 planes in 1994, and wiping out 100,000 jobs.
Cessna stopped building single-engine planes in 1986, and Piper filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1991.
General aviation's losses were tied directly to skyrocketing product liability suits, analysts believe. Companies could be sued for almost any accident, no matter who was at fault, and no matter how old the plane was.
One suit against Cessna in 1994 involved an accident with a plane that had been out of production for 40 years. National Transportation Safety Board statistics showed that 90 percent of all general aviation accidents were the result of pilot error.
Then Congress passed the General Aviation Revitalization Act in 1994. It stated that aircraft makers couldn't be sued for accidents involving airplanes more than 18 years old, the so-called "statute of repose." Since then:
Piper came out of bankruptcy and Cessna got back into the single-engine market with a $50-million plant.
The number of general aviation aircraft shipped rose to 1,077 in 1995 and 1,130 in 1996.
Revenues for 1996 and the first half of 1997 hit all-time highs.
More than 9,000 jobs have been created since 1994, and industry analysts predict 25,000 will be created by the end of the century.
Legal reform advocates note that the cost to the economy as a whole from liability suits is $300 billion a year. They believe the lessons learned from general aviation should be applied across the board: there should be a statute of repose of 15 years; companies should not be held liable for injuries they didn't cause; there should be a cap on punitive damages; and fair-share liability should replace the current joint-and-several liability, where any party found even 1 percent at fault can be forced to pay an entire judgment.
Source: Raymond J. Keating (chief economist, Small Business Survival Committee), "Reform Product Liability and Watch Industry Soar," Investor's Business Daily, September 9, 1997. For more on Tort Reform go to http://www.ncpa.org/pd/law/law.html
The IWC adopted a moratorium on whaling in 1983, requiring member countries to receive specific exemptions from the commission to hunt whales. Some endangered species, such as the bowhead whale and some fin whales, are taken by tribal hunters for their own consumption; but no IWC members are proposing to havest any endangered whales.
The minke whale has a world population of more than one million; whereas Japan, Greenland and Norway harvest a few hundred each year.
The grey whale, which was removed from the endangered species list in 1994, has a population of more than 20,000.
The Makah Indian tribe wants to resume its traditional hunts and take five grey whales off the coast of Washington state each year -- while Russian hunters are allowed to take 169 grey whales each year.
The sperm whale is on the U.S. endangered species list, but the estimated worldwide population of males older than 13 years and females older than 10 years is more than one million, according to the IWC and National Marine Fisheries Service.
Selectively protecting some species, says Aron, can have unintended consequences. For example, although the blue whale has not been hunted for many decades, there is evidence blue whale populations have not recovered in the Antarctic. Apparently seals, minke whales and other species have filled the biological niche blue whales once occupied; thus harvesting the blue whales' competitors could help them to recover.
Source: William Aron, "Save the Whalers," Wall Street Journal, September 9, 1997.
Experts say the legal definition of "learning disability" is vague, unsubstantiated by science and may amount to no more than poor math, reading or social skills.
Advocates of the learning disabled estimate that between 15 percent and 20 percent of the population may have a learning disability.
Public schools are mandated to provide to every disabled child an Individual Education Program; 51 percent of the 5.3 million children with IEPs are classified as learning disabled.
Up to 300,000 current college students have claimed learning disabilities, according to the authors of Promoting Postsecondary Education for Students with Learning Disabilities.
Learning disabled students are receiving exemptions from required academic courses like reading, math and foreign languages. Special accommodations may include note takers, tutors and untimed tests. Untimed tests raise students' scores by an average of 100 points, according to the College Board, but over-predict their success in college.
Thus 18,000 learning disabled examinees received special administration of the SAT in 1991-92, and 40,000 in 1996-97, says the Educational Testing Service.
Requests for accommodations on Advanced Placement tests, which give course credit for subject knowledge, more than quadrupled, and in 1996 more than 2,244 students took the tests untimed.
Certification and licensure exams for professionals are also under assault.
In 1995 the National Board of Medical Examiners administered over 450 untimed Medical College Admissions Tests -- a five-fold increase from 1990.
This year, in New York state alone, more than 400 law school graduates requested to take the bar exam untimed.
Robert Sternberg, a Yale University psychologist, argues in Off Track that the concept of learning disability ought to be abandoned, since there is no evidence to support the view that these children are neurologically impaired.
Source: Ruth Shalit, "Defining Disability Down," New Republic, August 25, 1997.
"You know how before blacks (as well as other slaves) were set free that they too were not considered people and that jews were not considered people at times too and that in ALL these cases babies, blacks, jews, indians, people from india, unborn babies, chinese, people of various differing skin colors yada yada, etc you name it were killed abused etc all in the name of "Well they are not people so it is ok", right?! WRONG!
So anyway get on the phone 1-800-230-PLAN and talk with these people, engage them in polite conversation and ask them, You know I was thinking that the so called unborn really are just kinda disabled, thats right you know kinda like not able to talk or defend themselves, and you know with the American's with Disabilities Act, [ADA] should we not be able to apply the ADA act to intervene on their behalf, after all no one would deny that these babies would otherwise be able to defend themselves if they were not in this "disabled" condition, surely the ADA act aplies to such a disability as confinement due to being in the womb, if such a well meaning act does not apply to the most defenseless innocent of us all who else COULD it apply to ? DEMAND an answer, a position statement of some sort, and thank them profusely for their time and concern and thoughts in working together to protect the innocent and defenseless.
The reason besides the obvious that this is particularly important at this juncture is that Vice Perpetraitor ALGORE is stumping hard to lower the earths population due to his theory that global warming is exacerbated by overpopulation [even though we are supposed to get one of the worst winters in a long time go figure].
If you are not already aware of the plans currently afoot please check this out.
Dont forget to tell others of this direct line to Planned "Parent" Hoods big behind: 1-800-230-PLAN
Make it apart of your DAILY plans to give them a call and chit chat. BE POLITE, it works better and prevents premature dial tone !
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