Opinion: Marijuana promises economic benefit, poses financial questions

Michiganians voted Tuesday to introduce a new industry to the state that is expected to bring in $765 million in revenue over the next year and thousands of new jobs.

What we’re talking about is legal cannabis.

Look no further than the state of Colorado to see the incredible effects of legal cannabis on the economy, whether it’s the new influx of tax revenue, massive job growth, or discovering the plant’s health advantages.

By August, Colorado already hit $1 billion in legal cannabis sales for the year, bringing in over $200 million in taxes. Last year’s sales hit $1.5 billion. With a higher population and a GDP close to $100 million greater than Colorado, Michigan will have a lot to look forward to once it goes green.

However, federal law has continued to provide financial obstacles to states that have legalized medicinal or recreational marijuana.

If you’ve ever purchased cannabis legally with a medical card or in a state with recreational sales, you likely bought the product with cash. The lack of payment options is due to banks operating under federal law, which still prohibits the consumption and selling of marijuana after being (included with bath salts and heroin) listed under Schedule 1 of The Controlled Substances Act.

A history of injustice

Marijuana was added to this list in 1971 when the act was initially introduced during the Nixon administration, which notoriously began the national War on Drugs. Since then, the federal government has spent over $1 trillion in futile, anti-drug efforts. This is apparent when observing the fact that there were “8.2 million marijuana arrests between 2001 and 2010, 88 percent … for simply having marijuana.”

Here’s what characterizes a Schedule 1 drug:

To begin, the drug or other substance must have a high potential for abuse. Second, the drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical treatment use in the United States. Last, the drug has a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.

As we now know, marijuana has shown to be an effective agent against a multitude of illnesses and disorders, ranging from treating chronic pain to providing relief for cancer patients. .

The strongest argument prohibitionists explore is the fact that marijuana, like many drugs available today (such as caffeine, alcohol, or tobacco), could be heavily abused. This view isn’t wrong. Someone could become dependent on marijuana to the point they can no longer be as productive as they otherwise would be.

Despite that, there are zero recorded marijuana-induced deaths in the United States.

The way forward

In Michigan, the ballot initiative on cannabis brought to voters this week was brought forward by the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. A seller must obtain the required licenses, you must be 21 years of age to purchase, sell, or consume, and it’s still illegal to drive under the influence. This is very similar to buying your favorite six-pack.

But, there’s always a catch.

Even though Michigan voters decided to legalize recreational marijuana, it won’t be exactly like alcohol. It’s still illegal at the federal level, meaning you will likely be limited to purchasing cannabis with only cash.

At this point, only a small number of banks and credit unions will accept cannabis-related capital. In June of this year, Forbes noted, “411 banks and credit unions in the U.S. were ‘actively’ operating accounts for marijuana businesses, according to a report from the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).”

While this number continues to rise, it’s not on pace to keep up with an exponentially growing number of new dispensaries and growers from all over the country. Putting that in jeopardy has been former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who back in January gave the green light to federal prosecutors to enforce federal law on banks that work directly with cannabis-related ventures. Risk-averse banks are unlikely to forfeit eligibility of Federal Deposit Insurance for marijuana businesses.

Despite the risk, there have a been a few notable proposals in California that have looked to curb this issue. Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher recently came out claiming he’s working directly with President Donald Trump to push marijuana reform, specifically legalizing medical marijuana at the federal level. That in turn, would likely lead to the rescheduling of marijuana. With minimal details about the possible legislation available, the following solution provided would be contingent on cannabis staying on as a Schedule 1 drug. That means this predicament could no longer be an issue by next year.

The most viable and practical solution introduced to California’s state legislature is SB-930. As explained in our article in MG Magazine, the bill “would allow the formation of private cannabis limited-charter banks and credit unions. These banks would be allowed to deal only with cannabis firms, allowing them to legally pay vendors, take out loans, and pay their tax bills at the end of the year.” By receiving banking licenses from the state level, cannabis firms would be able to bank their profits, and tax payments, legally.

Lessons from Canada

At our northern border, Canada took the step of becoming the largest industrialized country to legalize cannabis on Oct. 17. Unlike the many pockets of legalization and prohibition here in the U.S., Canada’s new policy establishes an entirely new, legal market. As long as citizens follow the rules governed by the provinces, cannabis firms can take out loans and lines of credit, open bank accounts, and pay their employees with direct deposit. And citizens can purchase using a number of payment methods, not just cash.

The difference between how the cannabis markets operate, however, is still not uniform across the country. Each province has created rules and restrictions on who may sell the product. In Ontario and Quebec, the state liquor stores have a monopoly on cannabis sales. In Saskatchewan and Manitoba, private retailers are allowed to operate. Some provinces, like Quebec, ban home growing, even though federal allows citizens to grow up to six plants.

Regardless of the jurisdictional and regulatory differences, the fact remains that Canadians are freely able to buy cannabis in a commercial setting, taxes are collected, and banks and auxiliary services can benefit. Achieving the same in Michigan will require changes in federal law, but we can at least move forward one aspect of this battle come Election Day.

What’s clear is that a private solution is favored over a public one if our goal is maximum innovation and efficiency. A public bank operated by government bureaucrats would lead to a burden on Michigan taxpayers and hinder economic growth. But there are other ways to innovate and be creative to find solutions.

In Michigan, we like to embrace our craft beer industry with a sense of pride. We understand and love the art and innovation that come with brewing a solid beer. If we want to join the 21st century, it’s time we do the same with marijuana, just like voters said on Tuesday.

Garett Roush is the North American leadership manager with Students For Liberty and a fellow with the Consumer Choice Center.

Yaël Ossowski is deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center.

Originally published at https://eu.detroitnews.com/story/opinion/2018/11/07/marijuana-promises-economic-benefit-poses-financial-questions/1904480002/

U.S. Midterm Primer: What’s at stake for consumer choice?

The Consumer Choice Center doesn’t take positions on any specific political campaigns or elections, but there are at least some interesting state-level ballot proposals happening around the country that could overwhelmingly benefit consumer choice.

In the U.S. federal system, state residents are eligible to vote on certain popular initiatives and state constitutional amendments that will have a major impact on daily life for citizens and consumers.

CANNABIS

Michigan and North Dakota will both vote to legalize cannabis at the state level in separate ballot initiatives. Legalizing cannabis would be a boon to the economy and consumer choice, removing cannabis sales from the black market and allowing governments to both regulate and tax it safely and securely. That’s a huge win for consumers in those states. The same applies to medical cannabis on the ballot in Utah and Missouri. Allowing legitimate medical patients the ability to use cannabis to cure their ailments legally will help potentially thousands of consumers.

GROCERY TAXES

In Washington State and Oregon, there are separate ballot proposals that would prohibit local jurisdictions from imposing additional taxes on grocery items. That would favor all consumers, and help ensure that hard-working American families won’t be forced to pay higher prices for what they already consume, or be forced to shop across city and county lines in order to find the most affordable food. Because they’re regressive, grocery taxes end up hurting lower income houses the most. By capping local jurisdictions’ abilities to raise taxes on groceries across the board, the proposal would ensure Washington and Oregon consumers won’t be subject to discriminatory tax hikes at the local level.

If Seattle is any indication, which passed a city-wide soda tax last year, consumers would be cautious. The soda tax was intended to lower consumption of sugary beverages, but considering the city now estimates it’ll collect $6 million more in taxes than they anticipated, more people are actually buying sodas than before or the numbers are wrong. Data we have from Cook County, Philadelphia, and Mexico consistently shows that higher soda taxes push people to seek alternatives with even more sugar or to shop across state lines to get their sugary drinks. Soda tax measures are well-intentioned, but end up hurting the poor.

ENERGY AND VAPING

Similarly, California’s Prop 6 would require voter approval for all future vehicle tax and fuel fees, as well as cancel the 2017 fuel taxes enacted by the state legislature. Such a proposal ensures consumers have a voice on the fees tacked on for those who drive cars and rely on transportation.

A ballot proposal in Florida seeks to ban both offshore drilling and vaping indoors in the same proposition. The fact that these questions are coupled together is unfair to Florida’s citizens and consumers. Vaping is proven to be less harmful than smoking and shouldn’t be treated the same as tobacco.

NET NEUTRALITY AND INTERNET REGULATIONS

Not up for a vote but still very important issue are a number of states considering their own net neutrality Internat regulations. As we saw in California, state legislatures and executives are considering passing their own rules for Internet regulation. Allowing each and every state to impose their own Internet rules would burden consumers and harm innovation.

More than that, state-level Internet regulations will threaten the vast entrepreneurial and tech space that is growing across the country, and push companies to set up in jurisdictions that promise true Internet freedom rather than state-imposed regulation of content and delivery of Internet services.

FEDERAL ISSUES IN CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS

Along with state ballot proposals, the entire U.S. House will be up for election, as well as two-thirds of the U.S. Senate. Important issues on our radar include the future of fees and taxes imposed on the airline passengers, proposals to ban single-use plastics, self-driving car and truck regulations, national cannabis decriminalization, health care freedom, and many more.

Be sure to follow the Consumer Choice Center on social media, subscribe to our newsletter and join CCC as a member, and consider making a donation if you believe our work is important for lifestyle freedom, market access, and consumer choice.

WHO’s afraid of vaping?

For the second time in two years, I sat in the public gallery at a United Nations conference in Geneva as a senior UN bureaucrat told us that all members of the media and public were barred from the proceedings, writes Yael Ossowski for Spiked. This particular occasion was one of the UN’s biannual sessions to update the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

The FCTC is the first global-health treaty enacted by WHO. It has been ratified by 181 countries and forms the basis of a number of national laws across the globe, such as tobacco taxes, advertising restrictions, and plain cigarette packaging.

Each biannual meeting is a taxpayer-financed talkfest, dominated by various health ministries and anti-tobacco organisations like the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the Framework Convention Alliance, who are not only granted ‘observer status’, but also intervene in the large plenary debates and use their platform to shame the delegates of any country that doesn’t adopt a prohibitionist attitude toward tobacco.

Though the conference claims to be about science and public health, it is anything but.

For instance, new vaping and e-cigarette technologies are the most popular stop-smoking aids in England, used by 1.2million Brits according to the latest government figures. A Public Health England report says that vaping can reduce health risks by 95 and can increase the chances of quitting smoking by up to 50%.

But the arguments for vaping are dismissed by WHO as ‘unfounded’ and ‘inconclusive’. One top NGO said parties at the meeting should ‘refrain from engaging in lengthy and inconclusive discussion’ on alternative nicotine products like vaping.

Vaping activists had tried to attend the conference to share their stories of how they quit smoking. Volunteers from the International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organisations proudly blew clouds of water vapour outside the conference’s doors. Unlike the more prohibitionist NGOs, they were denied observer status.

The clear anti-vaping bias led to some absurd claims.

Anne Bucher, director-general of the EU’s Health and Food Safety Directorate, was adamant that, despite containing no tobacco, vaping and e-cigarette devices should be considered ‘tobacco products’, subject to all the same laws, restrictions, and bans.

The treaty itself sought to enforce the same restrictions on vaping and e-cigarettes as cigarettes and cigars. This could actually hamper people’s ability to quit smoking.

Another object of hate was the media. Delegates from countries including China, Zimbabwe, the Maldives and Uganda claimed the entire conference should take place without media or public scrutiny. ‘What we’re dealing with is the mafia’, said the delegate from Afghanistan, referring to the public sat in the gallery above.

A representative from Chad lamented that more people did not know about the FCTC meeting and its impact. In the same breath, he argued in favour of kicking out the public and media after the opening plenary.

It was a bizarre and Orwellian conference. The proposals that emerged in the name of protecting public health could seriously set back the improvements in public-health that have come about thanks to alternatives to cigarettes like vaping, e-cigarettes and snus.

One thing became clear: innovative products, new markets and the much hated ‘industry’ were doing more to bring about better health outcomes than the UN’s supranational health bureaucracy.

* Yaël Ossowski is a Canadian journalist and deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center.

The healthcare system is a racket — direct primary care could fix it

Everyone has a healthcare horror story.

A hidden charge on the hospital bill. A last minute test or scan that ends up costing four figures. Hours spent on the phone with insurance companies to follow up on a claim and get a reimbursement. Prescriptions costing hundreds of dollars.

And it’s getting more expensive.

Since 2007, the cost of healthcare has risen 21.6 percent, while all other prices in the economy have risen by just 17.3 percent, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

It’s become an unfortunate reality for many, and it’s been rightly pushed into the arena of politics.

But despite the well-intended reforms of the past two decades, including the Affordable Care Act, millions are still feeling the pinch. Why?

Too often, talk of healthcare reform is focused on insurance rather than care. It’s less about how the doctor treats your family and more about who foots the bill. Almost no one can get a straight answer about the price of procedures or medicines.

Medical insurance, once a simple way to cover higher-than-normal expenses, has become a catch-all for almost all health spending. It’s no longer about surprise injuries and illnesses. Insurance is now used to cover every ache, pain, anxiety, pill, and more. It’s like using car insurance to cover every oil change, new windshield wiper, or tire.

And in order to recoup the amount they give out, insurance companies must price their options accordingly, which leads to higher prices for consumers. That’s why healthcare expenses in 2016 amounted to 17.8 percent of GDP, higher than any other industrialized country.

At least one new doctor-patient arrangement is promising a revolution in consumer choice by bypassing insurance altogether. It’s called direct primary care, and it’s catching on across the country.

Rather than relying on insurance for ordinary health expenses, these new doctor clinics rely on monthly fees from patients, usually less than $100.

If anything more is required during doctor visits, the prices for every service and test are transparent and don’t vary depending on your plan. By not accepting insurance of any type, each clinic saves on administrative costs and overhead, prioritizing patients over costly insurers.

The results are just as intended: lower costs, more preventive care, and more face time with medical professionals.

I first learned about direct primary care when searching for a new doctor that would be flexible and affordable for my situation.

Luckily enough, I found one within driving distance in Charlotte, N.C., after consulting the mapmaintained by DPC Frontier, an online resource for direct primary care patients.

After one quick phone call, the physical was scheduled. Because the doctor wasn’t rushed to see dozens of patients, thanks to the monthly subscription model he maintains for patients, he took his time and answered every question I had. In case I needed to have anything more done, the prices for procedures, tests, and more were clearly published on his website.

Then, the bill for the simple visit was paid before I left. There was no insurance follow-up, no co-pay, and no need to file any additional paperwork. It was as if I was paying the doctor for providing the service directly, rather than the dozens of middlemen required in the current insurance racket.

But this was just a simple doctor’s visit. What would happen if I had a serious injury or disease?

Here’s what my doctor recommended: Take out a high-deductible health insurance policy intended for disasters and emergencies, and sign-up for a monthly direct primary care plan. That way, you’re covered in extreme circumstances with the high-deductible plan, but can also have preventive care with the doctor’s visits at the direct primary care clinic.

Seeing that in action was indeed refreshing. As a patient, I was empowered to own and control my own healthcare spending. And as a doctor, he was freed from bureaucracy to focus on his patients.

Whether direct primary care will be the answer to all problems remains to be seen.

Of course, chronic ailments and complicated procedures will still be of concern. Those who cannot afford the monthly fees may not be able to participate. But there is at least some momentum to open up this type of patient-doctor relationship to everyone.

For people with health savings accounts offered by employers, a bill passed by the House over the summer would allow account holders to use their health accounts on direct primary care subscriptions. It currently awaits a vote in the Senate.

A similar bill sits in the House Ways and Means Committee, presumably waiting for Congress to return from campaigning in their home districts to move it forward.

If our politicians want to try to reform healthcare, the answer may lie in empowering patients and doctors to contract on their own.

Considering there is a nationwide movement of doctors looking to free themselves from insurers, and endorsements from organizations such as the American Academy of Family Physicians, it’s worth taking another look at direct primary care.

Yaël Ossowski is an economic journalist and deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center based in Washington, D.C.

Originally published at https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/the-healthcare-system-is-a-racket-direct-primary-care-could-fix-it

Quebec should embrace cannabis to promote the economy

The CAQ’s anti-pot stance is sure to hurt consumers and citizens in Quebec.

The new Quebec premier Francois Legault of the Coalition Avenir Quebec says he wants to put more money in the pockets of Quebecers.

And now that the CAQ has the mandate of a majority government, his words will soon turn into actions.

Legault and the CAQ have already declared they want more of a role for the private sector in health care and want to eliminate bureaucracy. Added to that, they want to cut taxes across the board.

In addition, the CAQ has put the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) on notice, saying that the state agency “profits from its monopoly status to take advantage of consumers,” and the time has come to privatize it.

Each of these proposals represent historical opportunities for consumers and entrepreneurs.

But when it comes to cannabis, which was legalized on Wednesday nationwide, the CAQ is wrong. Their anti-pot stance is sure to hurt consumers and citizens in Quebec.

The Most Restrictive Laws

As the Globe and Mail detailed last week, Quebec will have the most restrictive laws in the country when cannabis is legalized.

In the cannabis regulations passed by the previous Quebec Liberal Party, consumers in Quebec will be banned from growing the plant at home, and will only have 25 stores to choose from across the province, including just four in Montreal. Even more, prices will be fixed by the new SQDC and customers will only be allowed to have 150 grams of dried cannabis at home. Ontario, on the other hand, will open up 40 stores by July 2019, allowing consumers to buy online in the meantime. In Saskatchewan, up to 60 permits will be handed out to private retailers. Manibota is the only other province to ban home growing.

The CAQ voted against the Liberals’ provincial plan in June and have indicatedthey want even more regulations, including a ban on public consumption and an age limit of 21 years old.

For Legault and the CAQ, the “commodification” of cannabis is a bad idea that Quebec has been forced to accept.

That said, will the CAQ’s sour opinion on cannabis ensure Quebec is left behind in the green economic boom?

An economy both green and strong

In 2019, the cannabis market is expected to reach $1 billion, representing a fourth of the national total.

That represents not only millions in additional revenue for the province via taxes, but also an invitation to innovation for hundreds of entrepreneurs and innovators who will respond to the new demand of the population. That’ll mean more investment and more jobs across the economy. Cannabis stores will need goods and services they’ll receive from the market, and all businesses around them will benefit. It’s a win-win scenario.

As such, it’s a reality that will only come to fruition if we have a government that offers us simple, effective laws that prove conducive to the new market of cannabis.

The problem with a restrictive cannabis law regime is simple: the more restrictive it is, the more likely consumers are to stay in the black market to acquire the product. According to Deloitte, only 47 percent of Quebecers have the intention of even using the legal cannabis market. The majority will still in the black market, far from government’s regulations and taxing authority.

Is that the CAQ’s grand plan? We hope not.

The legalization of cannabis in Canada is a historic occasion to demonstrate our capacity to be an innovative, smart, and entrepreneurial country with sound and effective public policies.

That’s the economic message the CAQ wanted to send voters at the last election. If they want to continue flying that flag, they’re going to have to open up to the wonders of cannabis.

Yaël Ossowski is an economic journalist and deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center.

WHO’s afraid of vaping

The war on vaping is a threat to public health.

For the second time in two years, I sat in the public gallery at a United Nations conference in Geneva as a senior UN bureaucrat told us that all members of the media and public were to be barred from the proceedings. This particular occasion was one of the UN’s biannual sessions to update the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

The FCTC is the first global-health treaty enacted by WHO. It has been ratified by 181 countries and forms the basis of a number of national laws across the globe, such as tobacco taxes, advertising restrictions, and plain cigarette packaging.

Each biannual meeting is a taxpayer-financed talkfest, dominated by various health ministries and anti-tobacco organisations like the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the Framework Convention Alliance, who are not only granted ‘observer status’, but also intervene in the large plenary debates and use their platform to shame the delegates of any country which doesn’t adopt a prohibitionist attitude toward tobacco.

Though the conference claims to be about science and public health, it is anything but. For instance, new vaping and e-cigarette technologies are the most popular stop-smoking aids in England, used by 1.2million Brits according to the latest government figures. A Public Health England report says that vaping can reduce health risks by 95 per cent and can increase the chances of quitting smoking by up to 50 per cent.

But the arguments for vaping are dismissed by WHO as ‘unfounded’ and ‘inconclusive’. One top NGO said parties at the meeting should ‘refrain from engaging in lengthy and inconclusive discussion’ on alternative nicotine products like vaping.

Vaping activists had tried to attend the conference to share their stories of how they quit smoking. Volunteers from the International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organisations (INNCO) proudly blew clouds of water vapour outside the conference’s doors. Unlike the more prohibitionist NGOs, they were denied observer status.

The clear anti-vaping bias led to some absurd claims. Anne Bucher, director-general of the EU’s Health and Food Safety Directorate, was adamant that, despite containing no tobacco, vaping and e-cigarette devices should be considered ‘tobacco products’, subject to all the same laws, restrictions, and bans. The treaty itself sought to enforce the same restrictions on vaping and e-cigarettes as cigarettes and cigars. This could actually hamper people’s ability to quit smoking.

Another object of hate was the media. Delegates from countries including China, Zimbabwe, the Maldives and Uganda claimed the entire conference should take place without media or public scrutiny. ‘What we’re dealing with is the mafia’, said the delegate from Afghanistan, referring to the public sat in the gallery above.

A representative from Chad lamented that more people did not know about the FCTC meeting and its impact. In the same breath, he argued in favour of kicking out the public and media after the opening plenary.

It was a bizarre and Orwellian conference. The proposals that emerged in the name of protecting public health could seriously set back the improvements in public-health that have come about thanks to alternatives to cigarettes like vaping, e-cigarettes and snus.

One thing became clear: innovative products, new markets and the much hated ‘industry’ were doing more to bring about better health outcomes than the UN’s supranational health bureaucracy.

Yaël Ossowski is a Canadian journalist and deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center

Originally published at https://www.spiked-online.com/2018/10/12/whos-afraid-of-vaping/

 

The FCTC receives the BAN Award for denying the science on life-saving e-cigarette and vaping technology

The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, a treaty of the World Health Organization (WHO), receives the October 2018 BAN Award for preventing tobacco harm reduction and denying the science on life-saving e-cigarette and vaping technology.

The award is given to highlight the Consumer Choice Center’s #defundWHO the main goal of which is to unveil the truth about the World Health Organization.

Starting October 1st, the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and its 181 member states meet for its 8th Conference of Parties in Geneva in order to discuss the future of tobacco control.

“Over the next several days, the World Health Organization’s FCTC will meet to determine what the global rules and initiatives will be concerning tobacco control and the future of smoking. Missing from the entire conversation, however, will be the impact of life-saving e-cigarette and vaping devices, which are proven to be less harmful than combustion cigarettes,” said Consumer Choice Center deputy director Yaël Ossowski.

“The United Kingdom’s National Health Service recommends smokers switch to smokeless products such as e-cigs, vape, and heat-not-burn devices, while the FCTC suggests banning them altogether to its member delegations,” said Ossowski.

“What is leading the FCTC in Geneva this week is not science nor sound policy. It is purely an attempt to control and limit the new innovations that are helping people quit smoking, which should be an outrage,” said Ossowski.

About the BAN Award:

Every month the Consumer Choice Center awards an institution, person, or organization with the Bureau of Nannyism or short BAN Award. The BAN Awards recognize the work of an individual or organization that has made major contributions to advocating limits on consumer choice. This award serves to recognize extraordinary abilities in disregarding consumers and evidence-based public policy. The award was created by the Consumer Choice Center to draw attention to the important role politicians, lobbies, and advocates play in limiting consumers’ choice and ignoring them in the policymaking process.

Selection criteria: The Bureau of Nannyism (BAN) is a group of consumer choice advocates that discuss nominations on a monthly base and award the nominee with the most innovative or most blunt actions against consumer choice with the BAN award.

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.

Sorry Mr. Trump, we’re not “Chinese propaganda” on trade

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to denounce several articles in the Des Moines Register as Chinese “propaganda ads” because of the facts presented on trade and tariffs.

Included was an article written by the Consumer Choice Center that revealed the impact of tariffs on communities in North and South Carolina, which could affect up to 150,000 jobs in the chemicals, transportation equipment, and machinery industries that rely on exports, more than 36 percent of them in the Charlotte area.

“There is no Chinese conspiracy on trade. The real conspiracy is against the American people, who suffer when tariffs are enacted and goods are made more expensive,” said Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center, a consumer advocacy group located in Washington, D.C.

“The fact that the president would characterize factual analysis on the impact on workers and consumers as ‘Chinese propaganda’ reveals that this trade war has not been thought out. Ordinary men and women across America have to pay higher prices for products when tariffs are enacted in order to offset the imposed taxes. Tariffs are taxes, plain and simple.

“Pointing out the economic lunacy of enacting a trade war that will impact small and medium-sized businesses across the country, including the employees in those firms and at firms that rely on them, is vital and necessary, and the Consumer Choice Center will never cease from doing so,” said Ossowski.

“That’s why we launched the #freetrade4us campaign, and why we are seeing such great response from the consumers we represent who have already signed our petition for more free trade, not less.

“We hope the president reverses his policies on trade and tariffs and allows American businesses and consumers to enjoy low prices and free trade that can make everyone more prosperous.”

***CCC Deputy Director Yaël Ossowski is available to speak with accredited media on consumer regulations and consumer choice issues. Please send media inquiries HERE.***

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.

Delta Airlines increases its fee for checked baggage

CONSUMER AFFAIRS: “With more competition among airlines for routes and flyers, consumers, on the whole, are seeing a great trend in cheaper tickets,” Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center, a consumer advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., told ConsumerAffairs.

“But that means airlines are having to bump up prices for checked luggage to help recoup some of the costs, but it looks like loyalty to a specific airline is paying out dividends. Many airline customers are applying for airline-branded credit cards that offer free check-in bags and discounted second bags, while others are using the perks of airline status to opt out of the costs.”

READ MORE

Sens. Markey, Blumenthal receive Consumer Choice Center BAN Award for trying to make flying more expensive

U.S. Senators Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) receive the September 2018 BAN Award for proposing to make flying more expensive by re-regulating the airline industry and forbidding certain fees for better service and options on flights.

The U.S. Senate’s version of the FAA reauthorization bill includes a provision authored by U.S. Senators Markey and Blumenthal that would regulate airline pricing. The provision, already rejected by the Dept. of Transportation, is known as the Forbidding Airlines from Imposing Ridiculous (FAIR) Fees Act.

The Consumer Choice Center’s Deputy Director Yaël Ossowski said: “supporters contend the FAIR Fees Act will benefit consumers, but the reality is it would force airlines to abandon the successful business model that has made commercial air travel the most affordable it has been in over 20 years.”

The award is given to highlight the Consumer Choice Center’s new#FreeSkiesAreFAIR campaign to try to protect affordable ticket prices for flyers.

“The range of new flight options, cheaper regional air carriers, and no-frills flights are making travel cheaper and better for consumers. Bringing the federal government in to set prices will only end up hurting the very consumers and constituents politicians seek to help,” said Ossowski.

“Eliminating or dramatically altering the current change fee structure would take the power of choice away from the consumer and allow the federal government to implement a one-size-fits-all approach to airline pricing. Given that consumers have very different preferences when they fly, whether with flexibility or upgrades, a uniform solution to airfare pricing does not meet the reality of what consumers demand.

Every month the Consumer Choice Center awards an institution, person, or organization with the Bureau of Nannyism or short BAN Award. The BAN Awards recognize the work of an individual or organization that has made major contributions to advocating limits on consumer choice. This award serves to recognize extraordinary abilities in disregarding consumers and evidence-based public policy. The award was created by the Consumer Choice Center to draw attention to the important role politicians, lobbies, and advocates play in limiting consumers’ choice and ignoring them in the policymaking process.

Selection criteria: The Bureau of Nannyism (BAN) is a group of consumer choice advocates that discuss nominations on a monthly base and award the nominee with the most innovative or most blunt actions against consumer choice with the BAN award.

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