- “Copyright Troll’s Tech ‘Experts’ Can Apparently Detect Infringement Before It Happens” [Tim Cushing, TechDirt] “Judge Alsup Threatens To Block Malibu Media From Any More Copyright Trolling In Northern California” [Mike Masnick, same]
- “The Truth About Seattle’s Proposed Soda Tax and its Ilk” [Baylen Linnekin quoting my piece on the Howard County, Maryland campaign against soft drinks; my related on Philadelphia soda tax] Update: measure passes;
- “Judge calls attorney a ‘lowlife’ in tossing defamation suit, says ‘truth is an absolute defense'” [Julia Marsh, New York Post]
- Rent control in Mumbai, as closer to home, brings strife, litigiousness, and crumbling housing stock [Alex Tabarrok] “How Germany Made Rent Control ‘Work'” [Kristian Niemietz, FEE]
- Together with Judge Alex Williams, Jr., I wrote an op-ed for the Baltimore Sun on the Maryland legislature’s misbegotten scheme to require a six-state compact before fixing its gerrymander-prone redistricting system;
- Inefficient land title recording leaves billions on table, but lawmakers show scant interest in reform [Arnold Kling]
According to coverage at places like NPR and CNN, an innovative campaign in Howard County, Maryland “provides a road map for other communities to reduce consumption of sugary drinks.” Not so fast, I argue in my new Washington Examiner piece: the suburban county in question is not remotely typical of America as a whole, the Howard County Unsweetened campaign blurred public and private boundaries in a dubious way, and the whole enterprise generated a deserved political pushback. While the plan, promoted by the local Horizon Foundation, might not have been all bad, “it sowed divisiveness, put government resources to improper purpose, and rested on a premise of frank paternalism. When it arrives in your community, you might want to respond as you might to a second pitcher of cola — by pushing it away with a polite, ‘no thanks.'”
- “What’re You In For?” “Lemonade.” A Boston professor wants sugary drinks handled the same way as alcohol [my new Cato post]
- Hershey, many other firms sued over “slack fill” packaging by guy who wrote book entitled “Sue and Grow Rich” [John O’Brien, Legal NewsLine]
- What if we forced food to be more local? The unintended consequences might surprise you [Jayson Lusk]
- “Shaking up the Conventional Wisdom on Salt” [Michelle Minton, CEI, in January]
- Demands in U.K. to put “junk food” in plain packaging the way some countries require for cigarettes [Trevor Little, World Trademark Review] Another demand of U.K. anti-food campaigners: stop discounting and offering deals on snacks and candies [BBC]
- Missed from 2011: FDA vetoes culinary use of the subtle tonka bean, but is it actually any more toxic than nutmeg? [Ike DeLorenzo, The Atlantic]
When I wrote about the Philadelphia soda tax last week I didn’t expect it to stimulate much in the way of systematic lawbreaking, as distinct from lawful evasion by consumers’ heading out to buy in the suburbs. But Bob McManus, writing at City Journal, has probably seen farther than I:
…for retailers who deal in, say, 100-case lots ($720), or major-market wholesalers handling 10,000-case shipments ($72,000), the temptation to integrate untaxed product into their inventories and pocket the difference is obvious.
In other words, the primary mechanism of unlawful evasion will probably not be speakeasy-like underground depots, but rather ordinary merchants’ temptation to falsify their volume of soda business for tax purposes. And some branch of city law enforcement will then have the responsibility of policing all these corner store operations without succumbing to either corruption or oppression. Isn’t it great that the Philadelphia police department has such great relations with corner bodega owners?
P.S. Presumably unrelated touch of Philly roughness: Jillian Kay Melchior/Heat Street on the role in getting the bill passed of much-feared construction unionist John Dougherty, seen earlier in this space.
I quote Samuel Johnson’s famous definition of excise in my new Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed on the city’s recently enacted soda levy. More: Peter Van Doren, Cato; Jacob Sullum and Elizabeth Nolan Brown on claims of a food deserts problem, both at Reason. And see July 5 update (openings for merchant illegality and public corruption).
- Almond growing in California is not all that water-intensive compared with other crops. So why does it gets demonized in the name of social justice? [Victor Davis Hanson, Hoover]
- Had unexpected findings of a study on dietary fat and health 40 years ago been fully aired, nutrition policy might have taken different turn [Peter Whoriskey, Washington Post] “Today’s scientific hypotheses may be wrong. Better, then, not to make them law.” [David Boaz, Cato]
- Royal Crown Cola was on its way to becoming one of the great soda companies, then came the cyclamate scare compounded by the irrational Delaney Clause [Mental Floss]
- Jayson Lusk on the economics of food waste;
- “Menu Mandates and Obesity: A Futile Effort” [Aaron Yelowitz, new Cato Policy Analysis, earlier]
- “When an industry demands that the government regulate it more strictly, you usually don’t have to look very far to find a barely-hidden agenda.” [Jesse Walker, Reason on catfish makers]
- Delay FDA menu labeling rules? Tinker? No, repeal [Baylen Linnekin, earlier]
- European trade negotiators would like to keep cheeses and beverages on American shelves from bearing names like Parmesan, Gouda, feta, Champagne, port, and sherry unless made over there. Nein danke, no grazie, non merci [William Watson, Cato] Weird how EU laws prevent spirits producers from being completely honest with consumers [Jacob Grier]
- Regressive-yet-progressive: “Taxing soda fits the narrative in which the obese are oppressed and soda manufacturers are the oppressors.” [Arnold Kling]
- New research (“no consensus among scientists on whether a population-wide reduction of salt was associated with better health outcomes”) could be blow to Gotham’s sodium regulation cause [Dan Goldberg, Politico New York] “Suit Halts NYC’s Misguided Restaurant Salt Warning Labels” [Linnekin]
- Lawyers in hot coffee suits still pushing “unreasonably high holding temperature” theories [Nick Farr, Abnormal Use, earlier]
- Chef turned Amish traditional sausage maker in rural Maine finds that regulation is a grind [Linnekin]
Baylen Linnekin asked several food policy wonks what they thought were last year’s and next year’s biggest food stories, and here is part of my reply:
The troubles at Chipotle (whose food I like and buy, despite its dumb anti-GMO stance) brought home two points: local and handmade and every other good thing bring real tradeoffs, and food hazards aren’t just the result of moral laxity fixable by replacing “them” with educated idealists like “us.”
I also predicted that food commentator Mark Bittman, often criticized in this space, would find few takers for his notion of carding kids who want to buy a Coke. Read the whole thing here, and unrelatedly, if you are interested in food issues, check out this Russ Roberts interview with outstanding food scholar Rachel Laudan (earlier).