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Month: May 2020

LES DÉCÈS DE LA CRISE ÉCONOMIQUE SERONT-ILS IGNORÉS?

On aime à opposer les deux côtés de ce choix binaire : défendre l’économie mondiale ou la vie humaine – or c’est une absurdité… dangereuse.

« Restez chez vous, sauvez des vies ! » – tel est le mantra répété par la classe politique, les médias et les réseaux sociaux. La peur du coronavirus a amené les citoyens à une justification d’un pouvoir accru donné à l’Etat, et provoqué une méfiance généralisée entre les personnes.

La police pénalise ceux qui se déplacent pour « des raisons non-essentielles » et des voisins appellent la police pour dénoncer ceux qui font du sport. Les dégâts sur notre tissu social seront eux aussi un sujet à discuter après cette crise.

Une des idées les plus répandues est celle de protéger des vies au lieu de protéger l’économie (les investisseurs ou les entreprises). Il ne manque plus que le sempiternel « vous ne pouvez pas manger votre argent » comme conclusion philosophique de la pensée du moment.

Au Royaume-Uni, le chroniqueur Toby Young a analysé les données de l’économie locale pour mesurer le véritable impact sur les « vies perdues » lors de cette crise (et celle à venir).

Vies perdues, vies sauvées

Lorsque l’économie se contracte, l’espérance de vie diminue en raison d’une augmentation de la pauvreté, des crimes violents et des suicides. Lors de la crise financière mondiale de 2007-2009, le taux de suicide avait augmenté de 4,8% aux Etats-Unis selon le Centre de contrôle des maladies (CDC), et de 6,5% en Europe selon l’Organisation mondiale de la santé.

Philip Thomas, professeur de gestion des risques à l’université de Bristol, a calculé que si le PIB du Royaume-Uni chute de plus de 6,4% par personne à la suite du confinement obligatoire, il y aura plus d’années de vie perdues que d’années de vie sauvées, en se basant sur les estimations du Dr Ferguson.

Le professeur Thomas souligne que le PIB par habitant a chuté de 6% au Royaume-Uni lors du krach financier de 2007-2009 – or de nombreux économistes prédisent que l’impact négatif du confinement obligatoire sera au moins deux fois plus important.

Il conclut :

« Le défi pour le gouvernement britannique sera de gérer ses interventions de manière à ce que l’inévitable récession imminente ne soit pas aussi grave que le krach financier de 2007-2009. »

Il convient donc de s’assurer que le remède ne soit pas pire que le virus.

Mauvaises conclusions

Cependant, cette réflexion est actuellement politiquement incorrecte. On nous demande de mettre nos vies en suspens et de pousser l’économie mondiale dans une récession mortelle sous peine d’être coupable de collaboration avec le virus. Ceux qui s’opposent au confinement obligatoire seront décrits comme des brutes sans cœur.

Pire encore sont ceux qui utilisent cette crise pour argumenter en faveur des pires politiques totalitaires, dont le socialiste Thomas Porcher, qui propose un large programme de nationalisation de grandes entreprises, comme si les fondamentaux économiques n’avaient plus cours en cette période.

Pour les ONG d’extrême-gauche comme les Amis de la Terre, c’est un renouveau complet de l’économie qui est désirable. Ils accusent même le système économique mondialisé d’être à l’origine de la crise sanitaire.

Assez ironiquement, on peut considérer que c’est l’inverse : cette crise a débuté par le manque de transparence d’une régime communiste totalitaire et la surrèglementation du secteur de la médecine. Les industries prêtes à aider le personnel médical sont confrontées aux normes étatiques les empêchant de produire du matériel d’urgence.

Au niveau des traitements, nous voyons que les pays possédant une mixité importante entre hôpitaux privés et publics se débrouillent mieux que ceux qui ont tout misé sur la suppression du secteur privé.

Les victimes du krach seront-elles ignorées ? Oui.

Pire encore, les Etats en tireront les mauvaises conclusions. Suite à la crise du Covid-19, nous allons nous retrouver avec moins de libertés individuelles, moins d’argent et un contrôle accru de la part de l’Etat.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

[Marketing Medium] Reducing Alcohol Minimum Pricing Is A Win For Consumers

Toronto, ON –  The Ontario government has announced that the minimum price for spirits will be reduced for restaurants selling spirits. Specifically, 750ml bottles of rum, gin, vodka, whiskey, and tequila sold by restaurants will have a minimum price of $34.65, which is down from the previous minimum of $51.72.David Clement, Toronto-based North American Affairs Manager for the Consumer Choice Center (CCC), said “The reduction of minimum pricing is a big win for consumers in Ontario.

source http://meltwater.pressify.io/publication/5eb2d83cb100b60004e98136/5aa837df2542970e001981f6

[Marketing Medium] Reducing Alcohol Minimum Pricing Is A Win For Consumers

Toronto, ON –  The Ontario government has announced that the minimum price for spirits will be reduced for restaurants selling spirits. Specifically, 750ml bottles of rum, gin, vodka, whiskey, and tequila sold by restaurants will have a minimum price of $34.65, which is down from the previous minimum of $51.72.David Clement, Toronto-based North American Affairs Manager for the Consumer Choice Center (CCC), said “The reduction of minimum pricing is a big win for consumers in Ontario.

from Consumer Choice Center https://ift.tt/2YGbzSU

Consumer nationalism will lead to the downfall of free trade

The post-coronavirus world will not only be shaped by its policies, but by its narratives. By appealing to the desire to protect domestic economies, nationalism is likely to become a defining feature of consumer behaviour in the years to come.

Multiple countries have launched “buy domestic” initiatives as part of national efforts to alleviate the economic consequences of the pandemic. The idea was vehemently endorsed by farmers in the UK who urged the public to buy British and support local agriculture.

Even more strikingly, French finance minister Bruno Le Maire told supermarkets to “stock French products”, showing a complete disregard for the ethos of the single market. This is just a hint of what is to come.

Such rhetoric was triggered mainly by the disruption of supply chains as a result of emergency measures. Most governments were unprepared for the outbreak of a deadly virus, and this has made them appear weak and incapable.

Though well-intentioned, rushed decisions such as lockdowns are a consequence of an economic, moral and mental gridlock that governments found themselves in. It is very human to blame everyone but oneself, so governments – which failed to ensure a free flow of goods in case of emergency – chose to blame their reliance on imports from other countries.

It’s an easy solution, and a frightened electorate will likely buy into the self-sufficiency narrative. Combine it with nationalism and trade barriers and the downfall of free trade will be unavoidable.

The concept of consumer nationalism was developed by the University of South Carolina’s Terence Shimp and Subhash Sharma. It is used to refer to consumers’ beliefs “about the appropriateness, indeed morality, of purchasing foreign-made products”. Ethnocentric consumers believe that purchasing imported products should be avoided because “it hurts the domestic economy, causes loss of jobs, and is plainly unpatriotic”.

Unlike tariffs and other trade barriers, consumer nationalism can be enforced independently and often doesn’t have to be paired with tangible interventions such as putting domestic products on front shelves in supermarkets. 

The power of consumer nationalism is that it has a propensity to impact economic events and move the needle away from free trade. At its core, “buy British to save the economy” is a very simple narrative that speaks to our sense of identity and our desire to contribute to the revival of the economy.

Spread through media and the word of the mouth, narratives affect consumer behaviour more than we can imagine. No one has explained the phenomenon better than Robert Shiller, a professor at Yale University, who argued that economic events are substantially driven by the contagious spread of oversimplified and easily transmitted variants of economic narratives. 

The most popular anti-trade narrative is that free trade destroys jobs, and its spread is far-reaching. In 2016, a CBS poll asked Americans: “Overall, would you say US trade with other countries creates more jobs for the US, loses more jobs for the US, or does US trade with other countries have no effect on US jobs?”

Roughly 15 per cent of respondents said that trade has little or no effect on the number of jobs. Around seven per cent were unsure. Of the others, 29 per cent thought trade created jobs and 48 per cent thought it destroyed them.

When asked outside the job narrative context, 43 per cent of respondents said that free trade helped the economy while 34 per cent said it hurt it. The most ironic part is that the prevalence of anti-trade narratives is an excellent way for governments to justify actual interventions. 

Milton Friedman once said: “The way you solve things is by making it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right things.” If we apply this logic to narratives, it turns out that the intentional spread of narratives makes some policies politically profitable in the long run since the nudged electorate comes to believe it’s in their interest to pay more for domestic products – because we have to save the economy! 

As such, the “buy domestic” narrative is a voluntary nudge that may or may not work, and there is nothing wrong with it, per se. After all, some consumers really want to pay more for domestic products.

The worry, however, is that it might, in the end, be translated into import restrictions and leave no choice to those who prefer imported goods. The voice of the minority of consumers – who don’t want to make what is framed by governments as a “necessary sacrifice” – will be left out.

Trade has lifted billions of people out of poverty by expanding our consumer choice through lower prices and increased variety of goods. It hasn’t got the credit it deserves, and the average person probably doesn’t realise that by buying foreign goods they are engaging in a global-wide exchange that has, among other things, enhanced peaceful relations between countries. 

The pandemic is a test for us all, and we are all looking for something in our world order to blame. Free trade isn’t what caused the pandemic, but it is what can help make the post-coronavirus world better. And that is the narrative that needs championing more than ever.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

Sustainability and innovation should go hand in hand in the EU

In the last two decades, Europe has decided to go its own way in agricultural policies. While both North and South America, and also Japan have moved to even more technology-driven modern agriculture, Europe has gone backwards and keeps banning more and more scientifically proven advances and methods in agriculture. In recent trade talks, top American diplomats have repeatedly mocked the regulatory framework in the EU as anachronistic.

“We must remove constraints to the adoption of innovative new approaches and technologies, including overly burdensome and unnecessary regulatory restrictions, and will to speak truth to our citizens about technology, productivity and safety.”

Those were the words of U.S Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in an op-ed published on Euractiv in February. In a slightly less diplomatic fashion, the U.S ambassador to the United Kingdom, Woody Wilson, coined the EU’s approach “Museum of Agriculture” in an op-ed for The Telegraph just this March.

Both Perdue and Wilson argue that the European Union’s restrictions on modern agricultural technology are not sustainable, and severely limit future trade deals.

To judge whether they are correct or not is not related to how much you love or hate the United States, but how much you love or hate food price stability. We Europeans can be the judge of this ourselves.

Let’s assess the situation as it is. Both conventional and organic agriculture deal with pests they need to get rid of in order not to jeopardise food security and price stability for consumers. Both require chemicals as part of their crop protection tools.

As Africa shows, locust plagues can be devastating for food security, and climate science enables us to detect that certain pests will come from distant places to our shores sooner than later, making insecticides necessary. In order to avoid fungus and deadly mycotoxins, we use fungicides.

Politically, these chemical crop protection tools are not popular, as increasing amounts of environmentalists push politicians to ban them. This has left the political spectrum of left vs. right and is equally distributed on both sides.

Unfortunately, whether or not these chemicals have been shown to be safe by national and international food safety authorities matters – in the context of modern post-truth politics – very little.

What does seem to matter is that modern crop protection tools are labelled as being unsustainable. However, sustainability is insufficiently defined, and has thus served as an excuse to embolden existing misconceptions about agriculture.

If anything, sustainability should be based on modern and innovative agriculture that caters to the need of the environment, food safety, food security, and competitive prices for consumers. Those tools are available to us today.

Through genetic engineering, scientists have found a way to reduce the use of traditional crop protection products, while increasing crop yield. Yet once again, a political suspicion towards agro-tech innovation bars the way forward, in this case through the 2001 GMO directive, which practically bans all genetic engineering for the purpose of crops.

Climate change alters the way we produce food whether we want it or not. Rare and not so rare diseases make it necessary for us to adapt our food supply to consumers who need it. Specific genetic modifications allow us to overcome random mutations of the past, and develop precise changes in the field of food.

The United States, together with Israel, Japan, Argentina, and Brazil, are leading the world with permissive rules for gene-editing. This novel technology can improve life expectancy, food security, and food prices for all consumers. The EU’s rules, by comparison, are 20 years old and not rooted in science, as an increasing amount of scientists are now explaining.

Do the Americans want to compete with European farmers and sell increasing amounts of food on this continent?

This is not only obviously the case, but it is also mutual. If we invested as much time as we do on demonising American products here into promoting European products abroad, then it would be our farmers massively expanding into the American market with superior produce. In the scenario, consumers keep their choices of food, and retailers and producers need to be required to label the origins of food.

Most of all, altering our rules on new breeding technologies (or gene editing) ought to be done in the interest of European consumers more than in those of American exporters. Europe should lead the way on agricultural innovation and give lessons for innovation, not take them from the United States. In the interests of European consumers, we should allow for innovation, and then be a global leader in it.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

Ban on cigarettes during MCO strengthened black market: Survey

The ban on cigarette sales during the MCO has increased the sale of contraband products which could have been averted, says industry player.

KUALA LUMPUR, May 6, 2020 — A blanket cigarettes sale ban during the Movement control order (MCO) gave the black market for tobacco a boost.

This is what a public opinion poll shows. It says a majority of Malaysians believe the cigarettes sale ban was negative.

The latest Asia Pacific survey saw over 1000 adults responding in Malaysia. It was commissioned by the advocacy group, the Consumer Choice Center (CCC).

The leading independent polling company, Populus was responsible for the fieldwork. It found that:

  • Eight out of ten Malaysian adults (80%) agrees that people would defy a ban on tobacco sale during a lockdown. They would go to great length to get the products.
  • Almost three-quarters of all respondents (72%, and 78% of smokers) agrees that people would continue to purchase tobacco products, but that sales would shift to black/illegal markets.
  • Unsurprisingly, most Malaysians (58%) thought a restriction would encourage people to quit.
  • 71% agrees that prohibition could increase the spread of coronavirus. They say the illegal sale of products that do not meet safety standards in distribution is risky.
  • the spread of Coronavirus through the sale of illegal products that do not meet safety standards in distribution.

Fred Roeder, Managing Director of the Consumer Choice Center says,“Our research clearly shows that people will still smoke and will likely go to great lengths to find alternative supply whenever theirs runs dry.

“Under restrictive MCO measures, encouraging unnecessary movement put lives at risk by increasing the chances of contracting and transmitting Covid-19.”

Roeder says the MCO caused a disruption in the distribution of legal cigarettes.

This resulted in an explosion of illicit cigarette trade, as highlighted by the relevant authorities in recent news reports.”

The vast majority of respondents (72%) say the ban on the sale of tobacco diverts vital resources from combatting Covid-19. They cite the increase in enforcement cost and time.

“Malaysian enforcement authorities have recently expended plenty of resources to counter illicit trade. There were roadblocks and thorough checks on food couriers and e-hailing service providers.

Nevertheless, this was the cause of unnecessary delays in an already difficult situation,” explains Roeder.

“While the initiative to encourage people to stop smoking during MCO is well-intentioned, it was a failure. Instead, this move has enriched transnational criminal syndicates and corrupt facilitators while reinforcing the endemic presence of illegal cigarettes in Malaysia,” he says.

“As Malaysia enters the phase of conditional MCO, the resumption of normal sales by legitimate players may not be enough to break the stranglehold on the market that illicit traders have gained over the last one-and-a-half months.”

He says there is a need for more effort, be it through bold policies and stricter enforcement to control this scourge effectively.

CCC conducted the survey in five countries in the Asia Pacific region including Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines and South Korea.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

The folly of opposing patents on a Covid vaccine

Doctors Without Borders does incredible work in the interest of patients around the globe. It has an exemplary track record of bringing doctors to the front lines of combat zones, famines, and pandemics — helping those patients that are left alone and victims of large crises.

During the 2014-2015 Ebola epidemic in West Africa, MSF (to use its French acronym) was the leading organisation fighting for patients — far more so than the World Health Organization, which is bureaucratic and has slow response times. For that and its previous 48 years of service, it needs to be applauded.

However, its current opposition to patents on drugs treating Covid-19 misunderstands the importance of intellectual property rights for medical innovation.

MSF is also running a campaign on access to medicines which distorts the realities of the drug market, while calling for solutions that would harm scientific innovation. The “Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines” wants to increase the availability of medicines in developing nations by addressing drug pricing and intellectual property rights. In the eyes of MSF, producers and researchers are enriching themselves off the backs of those who can least afford it.

What MSF gets wrong is that intellectual property rights and patents do not hinder innovation but actually enable medical progress.

Dozens of pharmaceutical companies have not only started searching for a vaccine against Covid-19 but have also thrown a lot of resources into getting millions of tests produced, looking at what existing drugs might be able to treat the disease, and donating money and materials to health systems across the world.

In fact, the philanthropic efforts of pharmaceutical companies are impressively underreported. By any standard, these companies are offering charitable support, including to organisations working with patients on the ground. However, Doctors Without Borders has said that it will not accept in-kind donations of drugs from pharmaceutical companies, but instead purchase them at market prices. Donors to MSF would probably be stunned by the idea that their donations are spent on drugs that MSF could have got for free.

While the industry also cares about access a lot, dysfunctional health systems and infrastructure are often the barrier between a patient and a treatment or vaccine. We need to realise that charitable acts are only possible if profits are also encouraged. Pharmaceutical companies develop drugs, protect their inventions and make profits. If you cut out patent rights from the equation, the incentive to innovate disappears, and life-saving medicines that cost billions to develop will stay off the market.

Doctors without Borders calls for preventing drug profiteering on the novel coronavirus, while ignoring the significant donations being made to help stop this virus. In fact, most efforts to combat the disease are public-private partnerships, much like the fight against Ebola was.

Remember too that stopping companies making a profit from drugs both eliminates incentives and ignores both the risks and the costs of working on a new drug. Who are we to tell lab workers to come into work every day for free, when there are risks associated with going to work and interacting with fellow employees?

The idea of so-called compulsory licenses, which de facto takes a patent away from a manufacturer in one country and gives it to another, might even delay the introduction of a Covid-19 vaccine even more. It takes know how and supply chains to manufacture and deliver a working vaccine. It is questionable whether a vaccine produced under compulsory licensing would actually be less expensive than the original one.

Much can be said about drug manufacturing and access to essential medicines. But a proper debate needs to be held on the basis of certain basic facts. Among these is that pharmaceutical companies invest vast sums of money to provide life-saving medicines, and those same companies have also taken action to help those in the most need. With Covid-19, we are facing one of the biggest public health crises ever – Innovation and medical breakthroughs are needed now more than ever. Undermining the ownership of innovations will definitely not lead to the breakthroughs that will ultimately get us out of this nightmare.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

“Die Schuldigen nicht in den Skihütten von Ischgl suchen”

Die weltweite Verbraucherorganisation Consumer Choice Center nimmt die Gastwirte im österreichischen Party-Hotspot in Schutz.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

[Marketing Medium] Austrian ski huts shouldn’t face coronavirus lawsuits

Yaël Ossowski, Vienna-based deputy director of the global consumer advocacy group Consumer Choice Center, said “The effects of the pandemic have been recognized by many legal experts as Force Majeure, and thus lawsuits that attempt to place blame on individual establishments or towns for the spread of the coronavirus are just flat out wrong.

source http://meltwater.pressify.io/publication/5eb0290be04b81000406f43c/5aa837df2542970e001981f6

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