Day: August 31, 2022

Biden’s Agriculture Regulations Would Weaponize EPA, Increase Prices

Congress is inept at making legislation precise – this fact has allowed consecutive administrations for decades to use federal agencies for their political goals. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is among those examples. Worse than the political implications are the real-life effects that a recent regulatory decision will have on consumers.

The EPA has moved to effectively ban a herbicide commonly used in the United States, particularly in corn production. This chemical, atrazine, will be familiar to some readers because of the comical way in which conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has long claimed that it “turns the friggin’ frogs gay”. Other than the alleged goal of feminizing the entire adult male population for an objective supposedly unknown to Jones himself, atrazine does fulfil an essential function. 

As the second-most widely used herbicide in the country, the compound doesn’t only assure that fields are free of undesired weeds but it also allows for the practice of no-till farming – a technique that eliminates diesel-fueled tillage and avoids soil erosion. The less tillage performed on farmland, the less carbon dioxide emissions are being released into the atmosphere – a no-brainer for those adamant about reducing the impact that agriculture has on our carbon footprint.

Without this herbicide, farmers in the United States will face a very bleak future. 65 million acres of corn, sorghum, and sugar cane would be directly affected, with as much as 70 percent of corn in the Midwest, South and East of the U.S. If consumers thought supply chain disruptions during COVID were dire, they’re in for quite a surprise if the EPA pushes through this reevaluation. 

Why not just go organic?

In organic farming, no-till farming is immensely challenging at best, and the absence of synthetic pesticides creates significant crop losses. A study by the University of Melbourne in Australia shows that organic farming yields 43 percent to 72 percent less than conventional methods — and that achieving the same output requires 130 percent more farmland. Adding to that, a move to an all-organic farming model would increase carbon dioxide emissions by up to 70 percent.

Just as disconcerting as the effects of an atrazine ban would be on the American farm system is the way in which the EPA achieves this goal. The agency relies on external studies to support the so-called concentration equivalent level of concern (CE-LOC), which is currently set at 15 ppb (parts per billion). This number was reached after careful consideration: while high concentrations of atrazine runoff can suppress algae populations in nearby streams and waterways, the 15 ppb level assured that that would not be possible. 

According to the EPA, research supports a CE-LOC of 3.4 ppb. At this concentration level, the chemical becomes unusable for farmers, thus effectively making it illegal. The EPA’s own SAPs (Science Advisory Panel) have alerted the agency to the fact that many of the studies it bases itself on are unreliable. In plain English: the EPA relies on junk science to ban a vital agricultural tool, and its own scientists have made it aware of how unsensible that is.

Until September 2, the decision to reevaluate atrazine is able to be commented on by farmers, but even if the reactions are majoratively negative, the EPA could be able to push through the decision before the end of the year with devastating effects on farmers and consumers. As corn production will be adversely affected, the price of corn and corn-based ethanol will skyrocket, only exacerbating the existing food price inflation. Corn prices have already increased by more than 20 percent in 2020 and 2021, respectively, with 2022 on a similar trajectory. If the EPA pushes through a ban on atrazine, the Biden administration will most likely hide behind these inflation figures and blame the effects on COVID or the war in Ukraine, as it does so consistently.

The political aim of the administration to ban pesticide after pesticide is similar to the aims of the European Union, which has set out to cut pesticide use in half by 2030. When USDA assessed the effects of the planned European reforms, it found that it would increase food prices by between 20 and 53 percent, and also lead to a considerable reduction in GDP. If those are the blueprints that Joe Biden makes his decision by, then American consumers are in for a bumpy ride.

Originally published here

Would a single-use plastic ban be counterproductive?

petition filed by a number of environmental organizations calls on the General Services Administration to halt the acquisition of single-use plastics across the entire federal government. According to these groups, plastic packaging harms the environment, and with the U.S government being the largest consumer of goods and services in the world (spending more than $650 billion on products and services each year), it should uphold a standard of abandoning plastic.

However, contrary to the idealism of the campaigners, banning the federal government from using single-use plastic goods would not benefit the environment. In fact, life-cycle assessments on items such as single-use plastic bags have shown that there is a discrepancy between actual re-use rates of alternative bags and the re-use rate to break even on environmental grounds. Paper bags need to be re-used four times, LDPE bags five times, non-woven PP bags 14 times and cotton bags 173 times. Their actual re-use rates are about half that, making them less sustainable than single-use plastic bags, which may also be used by consumers as bin liners. A 2020 study by University of Michigan Professor Shelie Miller displayed how alternatives to single-use plastic items are dependent on high re-use rates. Those rates are often not achieved.

The same effects appear when we compare glass bottles to plastic bottles. As glass bottles are much heavier, their carbon footprint for transport is also higher. Whoever substitutes a plastic straw with a bamboo straw should also probably be aware of their significant carbon footprint.

Further than that, the federal government doesn’t only purchase plastic straws or plastic-bottled water. In fact, a ban on plastic would impact a plethora of products the government acquires for vital services, ranging from national parks and wildlife to construction and shipping logistics. If the GSA were to consider a ban, the least it should do is conduct an impact assessment on the effect it would have on sustaining those services. However, as a general measure, a ban is no strategy for transition: It prevents government departments from using plastic where necessary and does not guarantee a path forward for substitution. For instance, the GSA is transitioning to electrify its fleet of vehicles, yet without banning gasoline-powered vehicles. 

A lot of the animosity toward plastic is derived from the idea that all single-use plastics are just used once and then burned in a pit or thrown in the ocean. This outdated perception drives a lot of the imagery we see used by campaigners.

In fact, the concept of “single-use” becomes redundant after we consider how far we’ve come with recycling. Over 90 percent of Americans living in cities with a population of over 125,000 people, already have access to recycling of single-use plastic bags. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S recycling rate for what’s known as PET plastics (polyethylene terephthalate) increased from 2 percent in the 1980s to more than 24 percent in 2018. Over time, an increasing amount of plastics will end up being endlessly recycled.

A ban on single-use plastics through the General Services Administration would undermine the immense progress that has been made in the field of plastics over the past decades. The divestment from plastic would prevent manufacturers from developing new products and increase prices for everyday consumer goods. Most of all, it would be counterproductive to the goals that the environmental activists claim they support. In fact, it’s another one of those examples where supporters of single-use plastic can say to environmentalists: I’m on your side, but you’re not.

Originally published here

Kaji terperinci terlebih dulu Generasi Penamat tembakau

Pusat Pilihan Pengguna (CCC) telah menganjurkan satu forum secara dalam talian bertajuk Generasi Penamat: Langkah Tepat atau Menjerat, baru-baru ini.

Forum itu dianjurkan bagi mendapat pendangan dan membincangkan isu terkini berkaitan Akta Kawalan Tembakau dan Merokok yang bakal melarang individu yang lahir dari tahun 2007 untuk memiliki, membeli dan mengguna produk rokok termasuk rokok elektronik.

Menurut wakil Consumer Choice Center Malaysia, Tarmizi Anuwar, pelaksanaan Generasi Penamat Tembakau adalah satu tindakan yang terburu-buru dan seharusnya mengambil kira pelbagai sudut bagi memastikan ia adalah satu usaha yang akan berjaya dengan cemerlang.

“Pendapat pakar dalam bidang terutamanya saintifik dan kesihatan harus diambil kira. Oleh kerana itu, kamu menganjurkan sesi perkongsian ilmiah ini bagi membincangkan dan melihat isu ini dalam skop yang lebih luas,’ katanya.

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Pentingnya Perlindungan Hak Kekayaan Intelektual untuk Perkembangan Perusahaan Rintisan di Indonesia

Perusahaan rintisan, atau yang dikenal dengan start-up, saat ini mengalami peningkatan yang pesat di berbagai negara di dunia, termasuk juga di Indonesia. 

Saat ini, berbagai perusahaan rintisan asal Indonesia telah menyediakan berbagai layanan yang membantu kegiatan sehari-hari jutaan orang, mulai dari menyediakan sarana transportasi, pendidikan, jual-beli online, dan lain sebagainya.

Masyarakat yang tinggal di lingkungan urban, pasti sangat akrab dengan berbagai layanan yang disediakan oleh berbagai perusahaan rintisan yang ada di Indonesia. 

Melalui layanan yang disediakan oleh berbagai perusahaan rintisan, dengan mudah kita bisa bisa memesan makanan, mengikuti berbagai kegiatan belajar, serta mengirim uang secara mudah dengan hanya melalui telepon pintar yang kita miliki. 

Hal ini tentunya meruapakan sesuatu yang tidak terpikirkan bisa dilakukan oleh banyak orang dua hingga tiga dekade yang lalu.

Perkembangan berbagai perusahaan rintisan secara sangat pesat tentu membawa banyak dampak positif terhadap jutaan orang. Berkat berbagai perusahaan rintisan di Indonesia, jutaan orang bisa mendapatkan pekerjaan, dan juga para pedagang bisa menjual berbagai barang dagangannya dengan mudah tanpa adanya halangan batasan lokasi geografis. 

Selain itu, jutaan konsumen juga menjadi dimudahkan dengan berbagai layanan yang disediakan, seperti memesan sarana transportasi dengan mudah, membeli tiket pertunjukan secara cepat, hingga mendapatkan barang yang mereka inginkan tanpa harus mencari di berbagai toko secara offline.

Indonesia sendiri masuk sebagai salah satu negara dengan perusahaan rintisan atau start-up terbanyak di dunia. Tercatat pada tahun 2022 ini, ada 2.346 perusahaan rintisan yang ada di Indonesia. Amerika Serikat dan India sendiri menduduki peringkat pertama dan kedua, dengan jumlah perusahaan rintisan sebesar 71.405 dan 13.244 perusahaan di kedua negara tersebut (databoks.katadata.co.id, 13/4/2022).

Dengan pesatnya perkembangan perusahaan rintisan di Indonesia, maka adanya kebijakan yang tepat untuk memastikan bahwa perkembangan tersebut tidak menjadi terhambat merupakan sesuatu yang sangat penting untuk dilakukan. 

Terlebih lagi, peningkatan perusahaan rintisan juga merupakan salah satu dari program ekonomi pemerintah, salah satunya melalui Kementerian Pariwisata dan Ekonomi Kreatif, yang menargetkan adanya 500 perusahaan rintisan baru pada tahun 2023 (bisnis.tempo.co, 22/8/2022).

Bila perkembangan berbagai perusahaan rintisan tersebut menjadi terhambat, maka tentunya akan membawa dampak yang negatif. Hal ini mulai dari semakin sedikitnya lapangan kerja yang tersedia, dan juga semakin sulitnya para konsumen untuk mendapatkan manfaat layanan yang disediakan oleh berbagai perusahaan tersebut.

Ada beberapa langkah yang harus diperhatikan oleh para pembuat kebijakan demi tercapainya tujuan tersebut. misalnya melalui kebijakan regulasi yang terlalu ketat, sehingga berpotensi besar menghambat inovasi dan perkembangan dari berbagai perusahaan rintisan di Indonesia. 

Selain itu, kebijakan lain yang sangat penting untuk diberlakukan agar kita bisa membangun ekosistem yang mendukung perkembangan berbagai perusahaan rintisan di Indonesia adalah memastikan adanya perlindungan kekayaan intelektual yang kuat.

Perlindungan hak kekayaan intelektual yang kuat merupakan hal yang sangat penting demi terciptanya ekosistem perusahaan rintisan yang baik. Ketika seseorang ingin membangun sebuah perusahaan misalnya, termasuk perusahaan rintisan, maka ada banyak faktor yang harus diperhatikan oleh orang tersebut, salah satunya adalah bagaimana cara menumbuhkan nilai aset dari perusahaan yang ingin dibangun. 

Hak kekayaan intelektual merupakan salah satu aset yang sangat penting yang dimiliki oleh sebuah perusahaan, terlebih lagi perusahaan rintisan.

Ketika sebuah perusahaan rintisan mendaftarkan inovasi mereka dalam bentuk berbagai kekayaan intelektual, seperti paten dan hak cipta, maka nilai dari perusahaan tersebut akan meningkat. Dengan demikian, perusahaan tersebut akan lebih mudah untuk menarik para investor demi mengembangkan usahanya (inc42.com, 12/5/2019).

Selain itu, melalui perlindungan kekayaan intelektual, maka sebuah perusahaan bisa menggunakan inovasi yang mereka buat untuk tujuan komersial, seperti menyediakan barang dan jasa layanan tertentu kepada target pasar mereka. Bila hak kekayaan intelektual tersebut tidak dilindungi, maka dengan mudah perusahaan lain dapat mencuri karya tersebut, dan dipergunakan untuk keuntungan diri mereka sendiri. 

Dengan demikian, insentif bagi perusahaan rintisan untuk berinovasi menjadi semakin kecil, dan juga para investor akan enggan menginvestasikan dana mereka di perusahaan-perusahaan rintisan di Indonesia.

Di Indonesia sendiri, masih terdapat banyak tantangan terkait dengan perlindungan hak kekayaan intelektual. Dengan mudah kita bisa menemukan berbagai produk bajakan yang dijual secara bebas di berbagai pertokoan dan pusat perbelanjaan. 

Barang-barang bajakan tersebut meliputi bermacam-macam barang, mulai dari pakaian, perangkat lunak, film, dan lain sebagainya. Tidak sedikit juga berbagai usaha yang menggunakan produk-produk bajakan tersebut untuk kegiatan usahanya.

Hal ini tentu merupakan masalah yang sangat penting untuk diatasi oleh para pembuat kebijakan. Bila kekayaan intelektual, seperti hak cipta dan paten tidak dilindungi secara kuat, maka hal tersebut akan membawa dampak yang negatif terhadap perkembangan perusahaan rintisan di Indonesia, yang tentunya juga akan berdampak pada pertumbuhan ekonomi dan juga pembukaan lapangan kerja bagi jutaan masyarakat Indonesia.

Sebagai penutup, hak kekayaan intelektual merupakan hal yang sangat penting untuk mendukung berbagai sektor industri di Indonesia. Hal ini tentu termasuk juga sektor industri teknologi informasi yang banyak didominasi oleh berbagai perusahaan rintisan. 

Dengan demikian, diharapkan berbagai perusahaan startup dapat berkembang dengan jauh lebih pesat di Indonesia, dan membawa banyak dampak positif bagi perekonomian dan jutaan masyarakat Indonesia.

Originally published here

Reisender entdeckt Edeka-Ausschank für lau: „One good thing about Germany“

Deutschland hat Touristen viel zu bieten, etwa die tollen Berglandschaften und klare Seen. Einem Reisenden blieb nur eines positiv im Kopf: Edeka.

Berlin – Verallgemeinerungen greifen meist zu kurz. So gelten die Deutschen zwar als besonders pünktlich, doch wer einmal mit der Deutschen Bahn gefahren ist, wird eines Besseren belehrt. Andererseits hat Deutschland auch einiges zu bieten, über 50 Unesco-Welterbestätten etwa oder idyllische Natur. Ein Reisender begeistert sich allerdings eher für eine andere Entdeckung: Gratis Alkohol im Edeka-Markt.

Gratis Weinprobe bei Edeka überzeugt: „Eine gute Sache an Deutschland“

In einem ellenlangen Twitter-Thread erzählt ein deutscher Reisender von seinen Abenteuern in der Bundesrepublik. Als Fahrgast in der Deutschen Bahn, beim Taxifahren, in einer Begegnung mit dem Deutschen Zoll oder beim Zahlen per Karte in Deutschland. Aus Sicht des Nutzers läuft einiges zwar schief. Doch er findet auch etwas Positives: Gratis Alkohol um 9 Uhr morgens im Edeka zum Beispiel.

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Some back-to-school shoppers turn to BNPL to cover higher prices: TransUnion survey

Some shoppers dealing with increased prices on back-to-school items are using everything in their arsenals to tackle the extra costs, including buy now, pay later (BNPL), according to recent survey data.

New research from TransUnion found that 55% of consumers said they expected to spend more on their back-to-school shopping this year, with inflation driving the increase. 

And more than one-third of these consumers said they have already used or plan to use BNPL — which is an interest-free installment payment plan that’s available at many major retailers — to break up the cost of their back-to-school purchases. The back-to-school shopping trends research was conducted via an online survey of 1,000 adults in July 2022.

Of the consumers using BNPL for back-to-school shopping, nearly two-thirds of them, or 62%, said they are doing so to buy books and other items needed for school, while 52% said they are using it to buy an expensive school-related item, like a computer, the survey said.  

Millennials are by far the largest group of consumers opting to use BNPL for this purpose, with 47% of that generation using the alternative financing option for their back-to-school shopping, according to TransUnion. 

“Families are especially hard hit by inflation, and back-to-school shopping represents a significant cost on top of everyday expenses,” Cecilia Seiden, vice president of TransUnion’s retail business, said. “The ability to spread those payments out over time, interest-free, is a very attractive option to parents and students who are already stretched thin financially.”

If you are looking for ways to reduce your expenses and put money back in your wallet, you could consider using a personal loan to pay off high-interest debt at a lower rate, helping you save money each month. You can visit Credible to find your personalized interest rate today.

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Why Political Interference in Big Tech Continues To Be a Big Mistake

little common sense and a little historical context make it relatively easy to see that monopoly power concerns for Big Tech are blown out of proportion, since internet incumbents don’t last forever and even the greatest industry leaders can be beaten at their own game. Take for instance AOL’s AIM, which despite having immense market powercouldn’t maintain its dominant position indefinitely – and the same is true for others within the tech sector.

Gen Xers remember when Facebook replaced Friendster and Myspace, just as younger audiences have now replaced Facebook with TikTok and Snapchat. And while TikTok is garnering quite a bit of media attention, Twitch and Discord are poised to be next as preferred platforms

Based on these examples, the pitching of proposals in Congress regarding who can or cannot tweet seems counterintuitive, especially since Twitter ranks rather low in usersanyway. 

Yael Ossowski, deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center, notes that “If Congress succeeds in changing antitrust laws to curb tech power, it will not be to the benefit of the typical user and consumer online. Rather, it would fulfill the political goals of a coalition that seeks to curtail much more than mergers and acquisitions: certain political speech, movements they view as hostile, and products to which they would rather consumers not have access.” Indeed, having the government determine who can post or what can be posted is a more concerning matter than that of a private organization.

iven that government oversight tends to grow overtime, and that regulations rarely get repealed once in place, competition serves a better means than government interference for curtailing Big Tech’s bad behavior. Even the best of the best in the business realm go by the wayside in due time, which is why calls for antitrust action against Big Tech should be squashed and claims for content moderation should also be put to rest – despite the detestable deleting of accounts and posts based on political grounds.

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