Marshall Sutherland
Do not eat your veggies — if they are grown in your front yard, Miami Shores says


The Village of Miami Shores bans vegetable gardens in front yards, and a green-thumb couple fighting the law recently lost their appeal. They vow to take the case to the Florida Supreme Court.
Adam Robertson
Mike Macgirvin
I'm amused by the prospect of that happening here. Could turn into a legal quagmire; you see my house is sideways on the lot and that makes the definition of a front yard (space between the road and the front of the house) a bit tenuous. Then there's the fact that it's about a ten minute hike to traverse the length of the driveway; and you can't even see the house from the other end. If there were vegetables growing in between (and there are), you'd never know it from driving by on the street.
Marshall Sutherland
Robin Feldman on Drug Patents, Generics, and Drug Wars | EconTalk | Library of Economics and Liberty


Robin Feldman of the University of California Hastings College of Law and author of Drug Wars talks about her book with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Feldman explores the various ways that pharmaceutical companies try to reduce competition from generic drugs. The conversation includes a discussion of the Hatch-Waxman Act and the sometimes crazy world of patent protection.
Marshall Sutherland
Since When Is a Book Signing Not a Good Thing? | Edible East Bay

AB 1570, a law passed by the California Legislature last year, expands California’s autograph law, which formerly applied only to sports memorabilia. It now covers any signed commodity worth over five dollars, including books. Anyone offering autographed books, including bookstore owners, must personally guarantee the authenticity of each autograph through an onerous certification process (which includes disclosure of personal information for both buyer and seller), and sellers face significant financial penalties if the signature is proven fraudulent.

As usual, California leads the way into the regulatory quagmire.
Mike Macgirvin
The question arises what to do if you get an autograph of a publicly unknown person (worth less than five dollars) and they later become a superstar in some field of endaevour.
Marshall Sutherland
If you want to sell it, I suggest doing it outside of California.
Marshall Sutherland

Mark Hamill vs. Autographed Memorabilia: The Revenge of the Dark Side
by ReasonTV on YouTube

A California-law championed by the Star Wars actor hurts booksellers and tramples on free speech.
Marshall Sutherland
Christy Ford Chapin on the Evolution of the American Health Care System | EconTalk | Library of Economics and Liberty


Historian Christy Ford Chapin of University of Maryland Baltimore County and Johns Hopkins and author of Ensuring America's Health talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about her book--a history of how America's health care system came to be dominated by insurance companies or government agencies paying doctors per procedure. Chapin explains how this system emerged from efforts by the American Medical Association to stop various reform efforts over the decades. Chapin argues that different models might have emerged that would lead to a more effective health care system.
Marshall Sutherland
If you believe what you read on on food labels, you should listen to this.

Primal Blueprint Podcast : #156: Jeff Scot Philips
Elle Russ chats with Jeff Scot Philips -  a nutritionist, professional speaker, and the author of BIG FAT FOOD FRAUD. In his early twenties he founded the company Fit Food, a food delivery company that sold healthy meals to gyms, weight loss centers, and grocery stores. He then co-founded a food manufacturing business, producing and private labeling meals for other companies and brands. Topics discussed in this episode:  ”Edutising": how food companies disguise advertising as education, and why consumes shouldn't trust anything you see in the news. How food companies turned gluten-free, among other trendy things, into a scam and why health food can be worse for people than junk food. The various ways food companies manipulate nutrition facts and ingredients, why they do it, and how to look out for it. Working with the USDA / FDA, and how lethargic, and sometimes harmful, they are (e.g. making food companies put sugar --breads, pastas, etc. -- in frozen dinners, and how the FDA told Jeff that unless his food starts making people sick, they didn't want to regulate him. Why the FDA's new food labels (2018) will be even worse for consumers than they are now.
Marshall Sutherland
Here is an example from the podcast in question/answer form:

Q: How do you make a salmon entree healthy?
A: You add a sugary sauce to it. The government guidelines for whether something is healthy is based pretty much entirely on the percentage of calories come from fat (maybe this is finally changing), so adding calories with sugar reduces the percentage of calories coming from fat, making it "healthier" (adding starch also works).
Maria Karlsen
Marshall Sutherland
Something the guest talks about in the podcast that I have mixed feeling about is the "normalizing" of portion sizes. That is, changing the portion size to match what people actually eat, as opposed to what they should eat. I agree with him that making huge portions seem "normal" is a bad thing, but at the same time, I think people sort of gloss over the portion size and look at the other numbers. When looking at a 20 oz soda, which I think is listed as having 2 servings (It has been years since I paid any attention to one of those), I expect most people would look at the calories and completely miss that those represent only half of the bottle. And if someone starts munching on a bag of chips (serving size = 10 chips!), they have no idea how many "servings" they ate by the time they are done. So, what little value the label might provide is totally lost when it represents some fraction of what the person is actually consuming.
Marshall Sutherland
I did find some news stories about this incident.

Sovereign ManSovereign Man wrote the following post Wed, 11 Jan 2017 09:22:24 -0500
Land of the Free: Michigan man issued parking ticket in his own driveway
Land of the Free: Michigan man issued parking ticket in his own driveway

The state of Michigan is not exactly known for its balmy weather this time of year.

And residents reasonably do what they have to do to cope with often extreme winter temperatures.

Last Thursday a man named Taylor Trupiano of Roseville, Michigan did what a lot of people do in cold climates.

He walked out of his house, started his car, turned on the heat, and went back inside for a few minutes while his engine and vehicle interior warmed up.

According to Mr. Trupiano, he was only inside for about 7 or 8 minutes.

But by the time he came back to his car, there was already a parking ticket on his windshield– with a fine totaling $128.

Some local police officer had apparently driven by, noticed the vehicle was unattended, written up this heinous infraction, and left.

There are so many things wrong with this picture it’s hard to know where to begin.

First off, the citation that Mr. Trupiano received was a parking ticket. Yet his car was parked on his own private property.

Let that sink in: this man received a parking ticket while his car was parked on his own property.

You can’t even park your car on your own property anymore without being in violation of some series of laws, rules, or local ordinances.

The city government’s reasoning is that, if you leave a vehicle unattended, it may encourage car thieves to steal it.

This is pretty flimsy logic.

Sure, maybe if a car thief is standing right there he/she may take the opportunity.

But it’s not like some lowlife felon is going to turn the other cheek and stop stealing cars just because there are no unattended vehicles with the keys in the ignition.

Criminals bent on theft are going to steal no matter what, just like some murderous thug in Chicago is going to find a gun and kill people regardless of local firearm regulations.

When the story broke on local news, Roseville’s Police Chief told reporters that his department is unapologetic about issuing the citation to Mr. Trupiano.

Sounding like a man who cares more about statistics than actually catching criminals, the Chief claimed that 5-10 unattended vehicles are stolen every winter, which “drives our crime rates up.”

I looked at Roseville’s crime rates. They’re high. This is not a safe place.

With a population of less than 50,000, there are nearly 2,000 property crime incidents per year.

That includes at least a few hundred car thefts– which means that 5-10 vehicles is statistically trivial.

Clearly this issue of unattended vehicles is NOT the root of the problem.

And even if all the citizens of Roseville never again left their vehicles unattended, even on a cold winter day for just a few minutes to let the car warm up, it still wouldn’t make a dent in the larger crime rate.

But that doesn’t matter.

Roseville’s city government deals with its crime problem by establishing obscure regulations to restrict what law-abiding people are allowed to do in their own homes with their private property.

It doesn’t matter whether you are aware that these ridiculous rules even exist: ignorance of the law is not an excuse.

You’re probably in violation of half a dozen rules and regulations right now without even knowing about them.

Naturally, they’re all for your own good… to protect you against all the terrible choices that you might make as a grown adult.

Thank goodness these people are here to save us from ourselves! Of course, there’s always more work to do.

Speaking of statistically trivial risks, I read recently that falling vending machines kill a handful of people each year. Let’s get rid of them.

Roller coaster malfunctions claim 4 lives each year. Maybe they should ban those too.

Sugary drinks are clearly bad for you. Perhaps they should outlaw those, at least above a certain size.

Oh wait, they’re already trying to do that.

This is what freedom means today in the United Nanny States of America.
Marshall Sutherland
Sovereign ManSovereign Man wrote the following post Mon, 02 Jan 2017 09:24:06 -0500
A great story from when America was still the Land of Opportunity
A great story from when America was still the Land of Opportunity

Last week during a long overdue vacation, a close friend of mine recommended reading the autobiography of Rich DeVos called Simply Rich.

DeVos is a billionaire entrepreneur who started countless ventures during his nine decades on this earth.

Back in the 1946, for example, DeVos started an airline… virtually overnight.

He just bought an airplane and started flying people around. No rules. No regulations.

They didn’t even have an airport. The local airfield north of Grand Rapids, Michigan, where they were based, hadn’t been completed yet.

As DeVos recounts in his book, “We put pontoon floats on our plane and took off and landed on the Grand River, which ran along the airfield.”

His first office at the airfield was an old chicken coop that he found, washed in the river, and re-painted.

The following year he and his partner opened up one of Michigan’s first “Drive Through” restaurants at the airfield, catering to passengers, workers, flight students, and spectators who came by in the evenings just to marvel at the planes.

Again, no rules. No regulations.

They just saw an opportunity and went for it.

DeVos started another business selling ice cream; another offering fishing excursions on Lake Superior; and another delivering trucks cross-country.

The truck delivery business was one of the more interesting ones; it started when he was just a kid– someone asked him to drive two pickups from Grand Rapids to Bozeman, Montana.

There were no hotels or motels… or even interstates back then.

So DeVos and his friend had to zig-zag their way across corn fields to get there, sleeping on haystacks each night along the way.

The book is a hell of an adventure– a reminder of how free and unencumbered things used to be.

Back in America’s heyday, people succeeded based on their hard work, ingenuity, and willingness to take action.

They didn’t have to spend three years filling out paperwork so that some government bureaucracy could justify its existence.

It was an environment that created unparalleled opportunity and prosperity which, candidly, have long since faded.

Today there are rules for everything; in fact, just this morning, the US federal government published an astonishing 709 pages of new regulations.

And that’s just for today. They publish new regulations every single business day. So tomorrow there will be even more.

These rules make it more difficult to produce, to start a business, to sell a product or service to a willing consumer.

And these rules carry costs, whether it’s in paying a fee, filling out paperwork, etc.

So just imagine the effect that literally decades worth of rules and regulations has had on US productivity (which is now noticeably contracting, even according to government data.)

It’s also worth noting that roughly 30% of occupations in the Land of the Free now require some sort of government license.

In its study “License to Work”, the Institute for Justice reports that 45 out of 50 of the largest cities in the United States have put up substantial obstacles to prevent budding entrepreneurs from selling food from street carts.

A manicurist in Alabama requires 163 days of training, while a shampoo specialist at a Tennessee hair salon must undergo 70 days of training, take two exams, and pay $140 in fees to obtain a license.

Hawaii requires fire alarm installers to undergo a whopping four years of training, pass two exams, and pay $380 in fees to obtain a license.

And a tree trimmer in California must also undergo four years of training, pass two exams, and pay $851 in fees to obtain a license.

It’s absurd.

Nothing that Rich DeVos his partner accomplished in their teens and 20s is even legal anymore.

It makes me think about all the people today who will never have the chance to realize their full potential thanks to the mountain of regulations blocking their way.

This is an important point to understand.

Looking at the data– the incredible overregulation, $20 trillion in debt, insolvent pension funds, etc., it’s painfully obvious that the US is past its prime and holding back millions of people from achieving greater prosperity.

Rich DeVos started so many businesses back in the 1940s because the government stayed out of the way and enabled hard-working risk takers to succeed.

Today the government spends $2 billion to build a website and churns out hundreds of pages of regulations each day.

And this trend gets worse each year.

Understanding this simple reality doesn’t mean that you’re pessimistic, unpatriotic, or expecting the end of the world.

It just makes you rational.

Things change. That’s the bottom line.

The US is still a fantastic place. But it’s no longer the same Land of Opportunity it was when Rich DeVos was getting started.

As I’ve summarized before, the US is a great place to consume… but an increasingly difficult place to PRODUCE.

That imbalance has serious long-term consequences, which we are only starting to experience.