In 2009, Congress gave the FDA the authority to regulate tobacco. The FDA responded with gusto:
The Food and Drug Administration wants large, graphic warning labels to scare smokers, but tobacco companies say that violates their right to free speech.
Diseased lungs, gnarly rotting teeth, even what appears to be the corpse of a smoker are some of the images that accompany the bold new cigarette labels the FDA requires to cover half a pack of cigarettes, front and back. The written warnings include: “Smoking Can Kill You” and “Cigarettes Cause Cancer.”
As you might expect, the cigarette companies fiercely oppose this approach, and the federal courts are grappling with this issue.
In Australia, the High Court just ruled that the cigarette companies must place gruesome labels on their packs of cigarettes.
The High Court rejected a challenge by tobacco companies who argued the value of their trademarks will be destroyed if they are no longer able to display their distinctive colors, brand designs and logos on packs of cigarettes.
“Requires labeling on raw or processed food offered for sale to consumers if made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specified ways. Prohibits labeling or advertising such food as “natural.” Exempts foods that are: certified organic; unintentionally produced with genetically engineered material; made from animals fed or injected with genetically engineered material but not genetically engineered themselves; processed with or containing only small amounts of genetically engineered ingredients; administered for treatment of medical conditions; sold for immediate consumption such as in a restaurant; or alcoholic beverages.”
Essentially, it requires a label on foods that are genetically modified. That’s it. A label indicating whether or not the food one is considering buying has been tampered with at the genetic level. It doesn’t ban or tax such products, it just offers you, the consumer, the chance to know what is in the food you are purchasing.
Here is a list of the companies opposed to this Proposition, and the amount they have spent just this week to defeat it:
From Moyers & Company, a short story about the origins Medicare, including Ronald Reagan’s demonization of the proposed program:
At Better Medicine, Negoba points out how doctors contribute to the high cost of health care. Even though some doctors make high salaries (some specialists making extremely high salaries), the salaries are not the biggest part of the problem.
A doctor can be just as valuable as a controller of loss as a source of profit. In either case, the amount of money flow a doctor controls is easily 5-10 times the amount he or she makes in salary. Many larger systems with interests both at the office and hospital level will take losses on salary to retain a physician whose orders then net a profit in orders.
According to the BBC: The price of meat will skyrocket and we might all be getting much of our protein from eating insects.
“Things like crickets and grasshoppers will be ground down and used as an ingredient in things like burgers.” . . . But insects will need an image overhaul if they are to become more palatable to the squeamish Europeans and North Americans, says Gaye. “They will become popular when we get away from the word insects and use something like mini-livestock.”
Restaurants and bars play special music to make you eat and drink too much. This claim sounded a bit far-fetched, but then I read this article by the NYT: “Working or Playing Indoors, New Yorkers Face an Unabated Roar.”
Not only can the loud music and the rhythms make you eat and drink too much; it can and does damage the hearing of the patrons. Much of the music is louder than “a C train hurtling downtown in Manhattan.” Normal conversation is 60-65 decibels. Music in many restaurants exceeds 90 decibels, some exceeding 100 decibels.
How loud is too loud?
The background noise is too loud, Dr. [Gordon] Hughes said, if a person’s voice has to be raised to be heard by someone three feet away. Signs of too much exposure include not hearing well after the noise stops, a ringing sound and feeling as if the ears are under pressure or blocked. None of these symptoms necessarily mean the damage is permanent, though even if hearing seems restored to normal, damage may have been done. Yet hearing loss from noise typically takes months or even years to develop.
I played in a band when I was younger, and I do regret the damage I’ve done to my ears (I hear fairly well, but I have a difficult time discriminating a particular conversation in a loud room. Because I’d like to hear other people talk and because I want them to be able to hear me, I work hard to sway the selection process toward a restaurant or bar in which we can hear each other easily. Not only do I want to hear the word, but I want to hear the dynamic range of the other people–it’s hard to express oneself fully if one is always shouting. Nonetheless, despite my efforts, and despite the assurance that we’re going to a “quiet” place, probably half of these places fail the test quoted above.
Further, I find it strange that we have become a country where people need to wear hearing protection in order to safely enjoy many types of concerts.
I often wonder why the Republicans chose the name “Obamacare” in their attempts to ridicule Barack Obama’s “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” After all, the first half, “Obama,” merely gives credit to the person who orchestrated the passage of the legislation and “care” is a benign word, even a pleasant word. Maybe they liked it better than the “Make the Rich Pay for Poor Children’s Medical Treatment Act.” Or maybe they thought that people hate “Obama” so much that just by saying his name it will make them angry. The bottom line is that it seems to be a lot like the phrase “Yankee Doodle,” originally meant as an insult, but adopted and even embraced by the target of the taunt.
Now that the new law has mostly survived, what does it mean for real-life Americans? There are many articles, like this one, that point out some things and make a few predictions, but no one seems to know the answers to two basic questions that are on my mind. What kind of insurance will ordinary Americans be able to purchase with regard to A) Quality of Care and B) Cost of Care? I’m not convinced that the new act has meaningful price controls on premiums or that the quality of care will be well-regulated. In fact, I will predict that the insurance companies will essentially take the following position: “Sure, you can have all of those new bells and whistles demanded by the Act, but you’re going to need to pay for it.” Here are some of those bells and whistles. And then the American public will likely not be witness to the intense behind-the-scenes lobbying that will result in 20% premium increases every year. I hope not, but I’m not optimistic.
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At Common Dreams, Cenk Uygur explains how bad the mainstream media is using the example of the individual mandate:
The individual mandate in the health care law was originally proposed by the Heritage Foundation, the most conservative think tank in the country. It was supported by almost every Republican in the country, including the first President Bush, Mitt Romney and conservative stalwarts like Orrin Hatch. Simply put, it was a conservative idea. There is no question about that; it is a fact.
Let me immediately digress to point out how terrible our media is since about 2% of the country knows that fact. If you asked the average American now, I’m sure they would say it was a liberal idea originally proposed by Barack Obama. Another fact — Barack Obama was originally opposed to the mandate during his campaign for president.
Uygur also uses this example to illustrate that Obama’s strategy of trying to work with the Republicans was wrongheaded.