Day: September 28, 2022

President Biden Must Waive the Jones Act Immediately to Help Hurricane Victims

In the aftermath of the devastating Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico, a ship containing 300,000 barrels of desperately-needed diesel fuel is waiting offshore until it can secure an exemption to the 1920 Jones Act, mandating only US ships can ship goods between US ports, among other protectionist restrictions.

Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierlusi has called on the federal government to grant the waiver immediately.

The Consumer Choice Center calls the Biden Administration’s indecision a “crippling example of the harms of restricting trade and commerce for nationalistic and political gain, and why the Jones Act must be immediately waived and then repealed.”

“President Biden’s Administration can immediately waive the Jones Act to speed rescue and recovery operations in Puerto Rico and along America’s coasts. The fact that desperate people, in the wake of hurricanes and natural disasters, must continuously ask the federal government to temporarily waive this law demonstrates it is no longer fit for purpose and should be repealed altogether,” said Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center, a global consumer advocacy group.

“For too long, the Jones Act has acted as a protectionist racket, benefiting shipbuilding union leaders at the expense of American consumers and entrepreneurs. The OECD estimates that a repeal of the Jones Act would benefit the American economy by up to $64 billion, lowering prices for consumers and offering new opportunities for investment and innovation.

“The fact that we are in a time of economic uncertainty, high gas prices, and rising inflation, and the Biden Administration and its agencies are more focused on protecting their labor union constituents, rather than citizens in need, is a crippling example of the harms of restricting trade and commerce for nationalistic and political gain, and why the Jones Act must be immediately waived and then repealed,” said Ossowski.

“The Consumer Choice Center supports the efforts of Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) to do just that with the Open America’s Water Act. Congress can do its part to support these bills and give people relief today and going forward. “Consumers and citizens deserve better,” added Ossowski.

On our syndicated radio program Consumer Choice Radio, we interviewed Colin Grabow, a policy analyst at the Cato Institute’s Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies, on how the Jones Act is making people poorer. WATCH HERE.

The trouble with King Charles’ unorthodox views on modern farming

During his long tenure as the successor to the throne, then-Prince Charles was a defender of the environment. The Prince of Wales website underlinesthe use of “his unique position to champion action for a sustainable future.”He testifies to having made changes in his own lifestyle that made him more eco-friendly: running his Aston Martin luxury car on surplus white winenot eating meat or fish two days of the week and forgoing dairy products one day a week. When the monarch was in charge of Highgrove farm in southwest England, all production was only organic farming.

King Charles didn’t discover his penchant for sustainability all by himself. After Charles met the Indian anti-globalization activist and environmental advocate Vandana Shiva, his focus shifted from raising awareness about climate change to advocacy for more extreme measures. Shiva has repeatedly come under fire for her unorthodox claims and methods, most recently when over 50 biotechnology experts wrote an open letter to the University of Missouri Kansas City regarding an upcoming lecture. The letter attacks her support for hand-weeding — a labor-intensive farming practice used in developing countries because of a lack of pesticides; banned in the state of California — her claim that fertilizers should never be allowed in agriculture, or a tweet in which she likened the use of genetically engineered crops to rape.

Shiva also regards GMOs as “patriarchal” and “anthropocentric,” a view seconded by Charles who referred to them in 2008 as a big environmental disaster. The fact that the royal takes advice that translates to his own ideas became apparent when he published his book “Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World” in 2011. In it, he bemoans that the industrialized world has turned its back on God and the harmony of things — that we divorced from the “sacred geometry” by implementing global capitalism at the expense of the environment.

One review of the book states, “He regards opposing views as cynicism or blindness. He likes to overlook complexity.”

Whether or not Charles used to run an organic farm that practiced hand-weeding ought not to matter in British politics, except that it does. The new king, despite being a constitutional monarch, is influential in all nations where he serves as a sovereign, and does have the ability to lobby for his views. 

Just last year, the British press revealed the extent to which Queen Elizabeth had been able to use opaque back channels of legislative procedure to influence laws. Publicly expressed political views are also on the table. When a Canadian radio broadcaster tricked the Queen into a prank call with a pretend Jean Chrétien, then prime minister of Canada, it became apparent to what extent the sovereign was willing to go to publicly announce her opposition to Québec’s attempt at gaining independence.

The policies that Charles supports would fundamentally change the global farming system, causing significant disruptions. Despite innovation in the field of organic agriculture, the practice yields less food than conventional methods, an average 43 percent to 72 percent less. When researchers modeled a 100 percent adoption scenario of organic practices in England and Wales, and they found that it would actually increase carbon dioxide emissions because more natural resources are required to produce the same amount of goods.

Charles’ views on farming stand in contrast with the UK Parliament’s priorities. The House of Commons is considering a bill that would allow genetic engineering in crops. Such a move would be one of the more notable breaks from EU policy, in which legislation prevents the use of modern gene-editing technology. The UK has also shied away from more radical agriculture reforms the EU is embracing: while the EU “Farm to Fork” strategy plans for a considerable reduction in farmland use, the UK government promises plans that help British farmers become more productive. The fact that the “Farm to Fork” legislative packages now face delays in Brussels over concerns of food shortages further underlines the point that Charles’ preferred model of sustainability could lead to disaster.

Whatever your views on the royal family, it’s clear that we excuse irrational policy prescriptions from Buckingham Palace. It’s high time the monarch abandon his advisers and unfounded views on modern agriculture. 

Originally published here

Free up the cannabis market

Removing CBD products from the Cannabis Act would have several immediate benefits for consumers

Last week Ottawa announced that the Cannabis Act, passed in 2018, will finally get its long-overdue mandatory review, which was supposed to take place in October 2021.

Regulators will have to answer some tough questions regarding Canada’s legalization experiment. As Liberal MP Nathanial Erskine-Smith conceded: “We didn’t get it perfect, or exactly right the first time, and this is an opportunity to make sure we get it right going forward.” One of the core priorities of the expert panel reviewing the act is better understanding how the legal market can stamp out the illegal market, which is still prominent.

According to the Ontario Cannabis Store’s own report, the legal market has made significant gains since 2018 but still only accounts for 59 per cent of all cannabis consumed. So what can be changed in the Cannabis Act to target the 41 per cent of cannabis that continues to be supplied by the illicit market?

First, CBD products, those containing cannabidiol but either no or very little THC, which is what produces the high, should be removed from the cannabis act altogether. Products that are not intoxicating and have a significantly lower risk profile shouldn’t be treated the same as cannabis products that include THC.

Removing CBD products from the Cannabis Act would have several immediate benefits for consumers. The first is that it would exempt CBD products from the heavy-handed marketing, branding and plain packaging restrictions set out in the Cannabis Act. Regulating cannabis the same way as tobacco is regulated was a mistake, given the important differences in risks among the various cannabis products. But regulating CBD products like tobacco is downright comical. To end the joke, we should treat any CBD product with a THC concentration of less than 0.3 per cent (the U.S. legal standard) as a natural health product and exempt it from the rules and regulations of the Cannabis Act.

On the producer side, removing CBD products from the Cannabis Act would help licensed producers make use of the glut of cannabis that ends up being destroyed as a result of oversupply — an oversupply that fails to lower prices because excise taxes create an artificially high price floor, while the excise tax stamp regime landlocks finished product within provincial boundaries. Fully 26 per cent of the legal cannabis produced in Canada in 2021, 426 million grams, ended up being destroyed because of oversupply. If CBD were removed from the act, this excess cannabis could be used to create CBD products, which could be sold at other retail outlets, not just licensed cannabis stores, thus significantly expanding buying opportunities for consumers.

On marketing and branding, the rules should be re-written to mirror what Canadians accept for alcohol. Cannabis is no more and arguably much less dangerous than alcohol, so its sale to adults shouldn’t be more strictly regulated. This wouldn’t just be for consistency’s sake, either. People who buy their cannabis in the illicit market need to be aggressively marketed to if the government wants to keep growing the legal market. Marketing and branding rules that are far less paternalistic than those currently in place would be a huge step forward in allowing retailers and producers to reach consumers still buying outside the legal regime.

Regarding product and price, some simple steps would go a long way. First, the 30-gram limits on both purchase and possession in public should be scrapped. There are no such purchase restrictions for alcohol: an adult of legal age can walk into a liquor store, more often than not owned by the government, and buy as many bottles of liquor as they please. If consumers can buy more than a lethal dosage of alcohol from a government store, they should be able to buy more than 30 grams of cannabis from legal retailers.

Regarding edibles and beverages, the act should either remove the 10mg THC restriction or significantly increase it. This restriction gives a leg-up to the illegal market, where edibles are often 10 to 20 times more potent. If legal edibles are to compete, they have to be comparable products.

Finally, as far as price regulation goes, the legal market needs to be much more competitive. Significantly simplifying and lowering the excise tax would help cannabis to be produced at lower costs and sold at lower prices, thus making it more attractive for those still buying illegally. Replacing the $1/gram minimum tax with a flat percentage would give a significant competitive boost to the legal market.

It is worth celebrating that 59 per cent of the cannabis market is now legal but serious changes are needed to crack down on the remaining 41 per cent. If the Cannabis Act is not amended to make the legal market more consumer-friendly, efforts to grow the legal market may fail.

Originally published here

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