It’s time for the government to put consumers first

It’s a great time to be alive. In the past few years, we’ve been incredibly lucky to gain access to great technologies and services that make our lives better every day.

Just think about the great problem-solving innovations we’ve had in recent years. Want a safer alternative to consuming nicotine? Enter vape devices. Looking for a cheap, easy, and safe taxi? Ride-sharing. Do you have an extra bedroom and a need for some quick cash? Home-sharing. Congestion and emissions from too many cars in traffic? E-scooters hit the street. Instant access to thousands of hours of TV and movies without paying for Sky or pirating? Come on in, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. Cheaper flights to visit countries and cities you’ve never before explored? Thank you, Ryanair, easyJet, and Southwest.

With every new innovation, however, comes the predictable hoard of legislators and activists ready to combat it.

We saw this in London in 2017, after Transport for London stripped Uber of its license. Succumbing to the pressure of the domestic black cab and taxi industry, political leaders put onerous burdensin place for all ride-sharing services, depriving consumers of the choice of these platforms.

There are many reasons activists and politicians use to justify these regulations. Some believe Uber is unfair to taxi drivers, or desperately want more taxes from those who make extra cash from renting out their rooms on Airbnb. Other times, they express their fury at the lack of the right blend of government regulation to steer innovations in the direction they prefer.

The time has come to say enough is enough.

There are millions of consumers who enjoy these products and services, using them to improve their standard of living. We need to be able to articulate that.

As citizens of democracies, we all have a right to get active in the political process to make our voices heard. Most of us use our votes, while some donate to campaigns or politicians they believe in. 

Fundamentally, each of us has an obligation to participate in some way if we want to make a difference. Whether that be in starting your own organization, lobbying your local council, writing articles, or giving speeches. 

It’s important to hold those in power to account and contribute to the battle of ideas. The more ideas we have in the public sphere and the more activists championing them, the more democratic our societies can become.

So why is this frowned upon when it comes to the innovations and choices consumers make in the market place?

That question will become increasingly important as our societies grow and opportunities emerge. That’s why my colleagues and I started the Consumer Choice Center, a millennial activism group that advocates for greater consumer choice, specifically lifestyle freedom, consumer access, and the right to choose.

Wherever you live, that message may speak to you. The freedom to choose is popular. More than that, there is an entire constituency of consumers who embrace innovation, are early adopters of new technologies, and prefer simple and smart evidence-based regulations that help foster progress. Above all, we need to defend the interests of the consumer, often left behind in the regulatory process.

We must also champion the importance of evidence-based policy concerning GMOs, legalising and smartly regulating cannabis, choice in fashion, free trade, and more.

We champion these causes because we believe in them. We believe defending them is how consumers will continue to prosper, rather than succumb to protectionist narratives present in too many government bodies. 

The Consumer Choice Center has been able to bring these ideas to the halls of the European parliament, the US Congress, the Canadian parliament, the Israeli Knesset, and dozens of other committees and local jurisdictions.

In the United Kingdom, these activities are sorely needed. Whether it was the branding ban passed in 2017, bans on certain types of milkshakes, taxes on plastic packaging, or junk food ad bans, the need to defend consumers from bad public policy is pressing.

That said, such an endeavour will attract critics. In governing capitals around the world, there are a plethora of ideological groups who smear activists that don’t don a prohibitionist mentality.

Existing consumer groups, mostly funded by government grants, want to restrict consumer choice rather than expand it. 

We believe consumers are intelligent and rational actors. They don’t need to be paternalised, bullied, or condescended. Smart consumers are informed consumers. Restricting choice means you or I have less ability to consume or use products that we favour for our own well-being. 

Endorsing this mantra, in this day and age, naturally means you’ll make enemies, especially those who claim to have a monopoly on what they believe is right for the consumer. That’s exactly why people need an alternative. 

Groups like the Consumer Choice Center and its partners are making a change, and people are reclaiming their right to choose. That is something we should all celebrate.

Originally published on https://1828uk.com/2019/04/18/the-consumer-must-come-first-2/

mm

About Yaël Ossowski

Yaël Ossowski is a journalist, activist, and writer. He's currently deputy director at the Consumer Choice Center, and senior development officer for Students For Liberty. He was previously a national investigative reporter and chief Spanish translator at Watchdog.org, and worked at newspapers and television stations across the country. He received a Master’s Degree in Philosophy, Politics, Economics (PPE) at the CEVRO Institute in Prague. Born in Québec and raised in the southern United States, he currently lives in Vienna, Austria.

« Le consommateur sera toujours plus malin que le législateur. »

Bill Wirtz est policy analyst au Consumer Choice Center. Il dresse le bilan de deux ans d’actions auprès des bureaucrates. Avec toujours le même message : cessez de croire qu’un consommateur est un être irresponsable.

Contrepoints : Bill Wirtz, cela fait deux ans que le Consumer Choice Center protège les consommateurs non pas contre les entreprises cherchant à maximiser leur profit, mais contre les bureaucrates qui cherchent à imposer leurs vues.

Bill Wirtz : Je considère qu’il y a deux sortes de lobbies : celui qui défend son business et celui qui tente de limiter l’expansion de ses concurrents. Dans le premier cas, il s’agit de défense de la liberté d’entreprendre ; dans le second, on parle de crony capitalism. Chez Consumer Choice Center, nous défendrons Uber parce qu’il permet au consommateur d’obtenir, dans les grandes villes, un service concurrentiel à celui des taxis. Nous cesserons de le défendre s’il venait, un jour, à nous demander, par l’entremise d’une loi ou d’une règle, de limiter les parts de marché de Taxify ou de ses concurrents VTC. Idem si les cigarettiers nous demandent demain d’interdire la cigarette électronique.

C. : Quels avantages le consommateur européen peut-il retirer de cette mise en concurrence ?

B.W. : Il faut une libéralisation totale et des règles claires pour tout le monde, à chaque niveau de pouvoir. Exemple : l’Union européenne veut libéraliser le marché des bus. On a vu les conséquences de cette ouverture à la concurrence, en France et en Allemagne, sur les tarifs (Flixbus, etc.). Des lignes d’autocars à bas prix sont devenues rentables. L’UE a dit « si on a un marché intérieur, on doit pouvoir aller de Lisbonne à Zagreb sans restrictions ». Mais le diable est dans les détails. Si le maire de Zagreb dit qu’il veut protéger ses entreprises locales, il peut décider de créer une taxe locale (en croate) pour rendre les choses administrativement compliquées, et pour protéger les autocaristes locaux. C’est un frein à la libéralisation uniforme. Nous voulons, chez CCC, une transparence totale là dessus. Le petit autocariste de Zagreb n’a pas les mêmes armes que Flixbus pour se renseigner sur les réglementations. La simplification administrative totale est donc aussi un atout pour les petits entrepreneurs.

C. : Autre aspect de votre lutte : les lois paternalistes.

B.W. : Ce sont les taxes spécifiques sur des produits considérés comme malsains, et qui n’ont d’autre but que de réglementer ou interdire leur usage, restreindre les heures et les lieux de consommation, etc. Au Royaume-Uni, l’État veut interdire la publicité pour la malbouffe. Comment peut-on à ce point considérer le consommateur comme non responsable, comme influençable, alors qu’en même temps, on lui fait assez confiance pour voter pour un représentant qui décidera à sa place. La déconnexion de la classe politique avec le consommateur est flagrante. Prenez un autre exemple : le foie gras compte deux fois plus de calories que le Big Mac. Or, c’est ce dernier qui est catalogué au rayon malbouffe. Les erreurs commises avec la pyramide alimentaire, qui jugeait le gras responsable des maladies coronariennes et qui ont amené les gouvernements du monde entier à lutter contre le gras, n’ont-elles donc pas suffi ? Le meilleur juge, c’est le consommateur informé. La force bureaucratique n’a pas à inciter la consommation dans un sens ou dans l’autre. L’État n’a rien à faire dans nos assiettes. Ni dans notre lit, ni dans notre vie privée.

C. : Nous sommes à 2 mois des élections européennes. Le grand combat pour la liberté du consommateur, quel sera-t-il ?

B.W. : On parle beaucoup de climat, de protection de l’environnement. Avec pour but, à chaque fois, de limiter la consommation (les vols en avion ou la viande, par ex.). La proposition de taxer les transports aériens (poussée par les Pays-Bas, supportée par la Finlande, la France et la Belgique) vise à réduire les vols low cost. Mais elle portera préjudice aux pays de l’Est, à moindre pouvoir d’achat. Les Roumains, les Bulgares ont aussi le droit de voyager et pour eux, une taxe même minime représente un grand montant. En plus, les alternatives de trains rapides, à l’Est, n’existent pas. Le démocratisation des transports se fait par les prix, générés par la concurrence. Le consommateur sera toujours plus malin, en général, que le législateur. Les Pays-Bas ont taxé les vols au départ de leur pays. Ils ont arrêté car les voyageurs préféraient partir de Francfort ou Bruxelles. L’idée, alors, a été de se dire que la taxe sera efficace si elle est appliquée à toute l’Europe. Donc, quand on parle de climat il faut entendre, dans la tête des législateurs, « taxes » et « assainissement des finances publiques ». Les opinions bien tranchées de nos dirigeants sur les voyageurs en avion sont, en outre, d’une condescendance inimaginable, lorsqu’on sait qu’ils empruntent régulièrement l’avion. La rentabilité se calcule dans un marché libre. Construire un tunnel entre Helsinki et Tallin, vu les densités de population de ces deux villes, c’est impayable ! Il faut donc se tourner vers des alternatives, dont l’avion fait partie.

DES ÉLUS EUROPÉENS DÉPENDANTS DE LEUR PROPRE OPINION PUBLIQUE

B.W. : Pour les élections européennes, on essaie d’interpeller les parlementaires à enrayer le flot de mesures liberticides. Mais dans bien des cas (à l’exception des politiciens les plus fédéralistes), ils défendent les intérêts de leur propre État pour prendre des mesures protectionnistes. Ils savent que cela peut avoir des conséquences sur leur réélection (ils craignent le backlash électoral). Un exemple, c’est celui des taxes sur le riz importé du Myanmar ou du Cambodge. Pour compenser les pertes dues aux riziculteurs asiatiques, l’Europe leur accorde des subventions au développement !

C. : Il existe quand même des avancées positives, au sein de l’Union.

B.W. : Oui. Le Luxembourg sera le premier pays européen à légaliser complètement le cannabis(cela fait partie du programme de gouvernement). C’est un signal important, venant d’un pays fondateur de l’UE. Cela peut servir d’exemple à la France ou à la Belgique. Mais après des décennies de répression, les mentalités ont du mal à changer. Encore une fois, laissons au consommateur responsable le choix d’ingérer ce qu’il veut !

C. : L’UE est-elle libérale ?

B.W. : Le message des pères fondateurs était basé sur le libre-échange et l’abandon du protectionnisme. On en est encore loin, en cette ère de commerce international : l’Europe veut protéger ses entreprises aux dépens des autres. Et souvent, cela coûte plus cher aux consommateurs européens. N’oubliez jamais que ce sont eux qui paient, en dernier ressort.

Originally published at https://www.contrepoints.org/2019/03/28/340194-le-consommateur-sera-toujours-plus-malin-que-le-legislateur

Vegane Mode am Pranger: Dämonisierung tierischer Produkte soll aufhören

Die „Mythen“ veganer Mode sollen entlarvt werden

Vor etwa einer Woche verkündigte das britische „Consumer Choice Center“ in einer Pressemeldung den Start der Kampagne #ChoiceInFashion: „Wir möchten die Verbraucher über tierische Materialien informieren und die Mythen und urbanen Legenden über vegane Mode entlarven, die von selbsternannten Tierschutzgruppen verbreitet werden.“ Die Konsumenten würden einem zunehmenden Druck ausgesetzt um tierische Produkte zu meiden, beklagt die Kampagne. Der CCC (der sich abkürzt wie die Clean Clothes Campaign) vertritt Verbraucher in über 100 Ländern und kämpft für die Erhaltung der Auswahl an Konsumgütern (nicht nur in der Mode) und gegen die zunehmende Regulierung. „Wir beobachten aufmerksam die regulatorischen Trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brüssel, Genf und anderen Hotspots der Regulierung und informieren und aktivieren die Verbraucher, um für den Fortbestand der Wahlmöglichkeit zu kämpfen“, heißt es weiter. Kurz: Die Dämonisierung tierischer Produkte soll aufhören!

READ MORE

Global consumer advocate says legal pot is good for communities

The Consumer Choice Center is confirming what marijuana advocates have been saying for a long time.

It said smart regulation of cannabis will reduce violent crime and boost economic gains. Those are some of the findings in its policy paper on the regulation of cannabis.

“It is clear that legalizing cannabis for medical and recreational consumption has boosted consumer choice and, at the same time, successfully deterred continued crime and black market activity throughout North America,” said Toronto-based Consumer Choice North American Affairs Manager David Clement.

The center said the latest research demonstrates that legalizing cannabis helps reduce overall levels of violent crime, as has been the case in the State of Washington. According to researchers, medical marijuana laws in California were found to have reduced both violent and property crime by 20 per cent.

“We stress the importance of smart regulatory policy in each jurisdiction where it is considered, and pieced together important lessons and recommendations that policy-makers should heed in their next steps to create a legal and safe market for cannabis,” added Clement.

The center’s policy paper examines cannabis policy recommendations for retail regulations, public consumption laws, selling to non-residents, taxation, grower licences, and branding. Among them are opening private retail stores, allowing public consumption in the same places as tobacco, creating cannabis lounges and establishments, investing in educational resources for minors and at-risk consumers, keeping taxation reasonably low, and allowing public advertising and freedom of branding.

The Consumer Choice Center promotes economic freedom and empowers consumers to raise their voice. It said regulators keep regulating more and more areas of consumers’ lives, leading to less consumer choice and usually higher costs.

Originally published at https://blackburnnews.com/windsor/windsor-news/2019/01/28/global-consumer-advocate-says-legal-pot-good-communities/

mm

About David Clement

David Clement is the North American Affairs Manager for the Consumer Choice Center and is based out of Oakville, Ontario. David holds a BA in Political Science and a MA in International Relations from Wilfrid Laurier University. Previously, David was the Research Assistant to the Canada Research Chair in International Human Rights. David has been regularly featured on the CBC, Global News, The Toronto Star and various other major Canadian news outlets.

Conclave da Cannabis é realizado junto a Fórum Mundial em Davos

Com proposta de discutir a globalização, Fórum Econômico Mundial, em Davos, na Suíça, recebe a elite global, que terá a oportunidade de conversar com outra elite, a da maconha, em evento chamado Conclave da Cannabis.

Conclave da Cannabis

A elite global que está presente em Davos para o encontro anual do Fórum Econômico Mundial se junta a um novo grupo: a elite da maconha.

Um grupo de executivos de empresas e ex-políticos, todos envolvidos na florescente indústria da cannabis, participa do que está sendo anunciado com o primeiro “Conclave da Cannabis”, um encontro que será realizado em um restaurante alpino acessível apenas por teleférico.

Os participantes do evento serão capazes de “ouvir percepções dos principais executivos e investidores da cannabis enquanto desfrutam de um almoço suíço”.

Segundo artigo do Financial Post, entre os convidados para o almoço estão o ex-primeiro ministro israelense Ehud Barak, que é presidente da companhia de maconha medicinal InterCure, de Israel, e Bruce Linton, CEO da Canopy Growth Corp.

Este ano marca a primeira vez que os eventos de cannabis, atraindo membros proeminentes da indústria, estão sendo mantidos à margem do Fórum Econômico Mundial, um sinal de crescente legitimidade do setor global de maconha.

#PraCegoVer: arte de divulgação do evento onde pode-se o nome “Cannabis Conclave” em cinza azulado, ao centro e no topo, e, logo abaixo o texto “Davos, Switzerland, 24/01/2019” em branco; ao fundo vemos uma fotografia dos Alpes Suíços e seus vilarejos e, no rodapé, os logos dos patrocinadores.

O banco canadense de investimentos Canaccord Genuity, uma das primeiras empresas de investimento a se envolver em negociações de maconha, é co-patrocinador da Cannabis Conclave, junto com o Consumer Choice Center, organização sediada em Bruxelas que se autodenomina “uma organização de defesa do consumidor para mobilizar a geração do milênio contra uma regulamentação sobrecarregada que limita a escolha”.

Vários líderes da indústria presentes no Conclave da Cannabis também estão na programação para participarem de um segundo evento do setor de maconha chamado Canada Cannabis House, patrocinado por Canadian Securities Exchange e OTC Markets Group Inc.

READ MORE

A new crowd is joining the world’s movers and shakers at Davos’ elite party this year — marijuana growers

The first ever ‘Cannabis Conclave’ — held at an alpine restaurant only accessible by cable car — is a sign of growing legitimacy for the business

The global elite are on their way to the Swiss alpine town of Davos for the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering, but this year a new group is joining the party: the cannabis elite.

A bevy of company executives and former politicians — all of whom are now involved in the burgeoning legal cannabis industry — are expected to attend what is being billed as the first ever “Cannabis Conclave,” a three-hour lunch at an alpine restaurant only accessible by cable car.

Attendees of the event at Restaurant Höhenweg will be able to “listen to insights by leading cannabis executives and investors while enjoying a three-course Swiss lunch” consisting of Swiss cheese pasta, meat fondue and “kaiserschmarrn” or fried pancakes.

Among those scheduled to appear at the lunch are former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak, who serves as chairman of the Israeli medical cannabis company InterCure, and Bruce Linton, CEO of Canopy Growth Corp. 

This year marks the first time that cannabis events, attracting prominent members of the industry, are being held on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum, a sign of growing legitimacy of the global marijuana sector.

Canadian investment bank Canaccord Genuity Corp. — one of the first investment firms to become involved in cannabis dealmaking — is a co-sponsor of Cannabis Conclave, along with the Consumer Choice Center, an organization based in Brussels that calls itself a “consumer rights organization to mobilize millennials against overburdensome regulation that limits choice.”

A number of the industry leaders present at the Cannabis Conclave are also scheduled to attend a second marijuana sector event called the Canada Cannabis House, sponsored by the Canadian Securities Exchange and OTC Markets Group Inc. — two stock exchanges on which the bulk of cannabis companies are listed.

READ MORE

Cannabis elite descend on Davos to familiarize global elite with sector

A bevy of company executives and former politicians — all of whom are now involved in the burgeoning legal cannabis industry — are expected to attend what is being billed as the first ever “Cannabis Conclave,” a three-hour lunch at an alpine restaurant only accessible by cable car.

Attendees of the event at Restaurant Höhenweg will be able to “listen to insights by leading cannabis executives and investors while enjoying a three-course Swiss lunch” consisting of Swiss cheese pasta, meat fondue and “kaiserschmarrn” or fried pancakes.

Among those schedule to appear at the lunch are former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak, who serves as chairman of the Israeli medical cannabis company InterCure, and Bruce Linton, CEO of Canopy Growth Corp. 

This year marks the first time that cannabis events, attracting prominent members of the industry, are being held on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum, a sign of growing legitimacy of the global marijuana sector.

Canadian investment bank Canaccord Genuity Corp. — one of the first investment firms to become involved in cannabis dealmaking — is a co-sponsor of Cannabis Conclave, along with the Consumer Choice Center, an organization based in Brussels that calls itself a “consumer rights organization to mobilize millennials against overburdensome regulation that limits choice.”

A number of the industry leaders present at the Cannabis Conclave are also scheduled to attend a second marijuana sector event called the Canada Cannabis House, sponsored by the Canadian Securities Exchange and OTC Markets Group Inc. — two stock exchanges on which the bulk of cannabis companies are listed.

The Canada Cannabis House will take place as a series of speaking events over the course of three days, exploring everything from how to secure funding as a pot company to the potential that emerging cannabis markets such as Thailand and Malaysia hold for the sector.

Anthony ‘The Mooch’ Scaramucci will interview former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak, who is chairman of Israeli medical cannabis company InterCure

Other key cannabis industry figures participating in both events include: Kevin Murphy, the CEO of Acreage Holdings, one of the largest cannabis companies in the U.S.; Navdeep Dhaliwal, president of Supreme Cannabis, a Canadian licensed producer; and Saul Kaye, CEO of Israel Cannabis, who led the charge to get Israeli lawmakers to approve the export of medical cannabis.

READ MORE

合法化後供不應求 大麻價格漲逾17%

負監督全球監管政策的消費者權益組織——消費者選擇中心(Consumer Choice Centre)的北美事務經理克萊門特(David Clement)表示,大麻價格上漲很正常,有兩個主要因素推高了大麻成本:稅收和缺乏競爭。

克萊門特表示,合法就代表要繳納省稅和聯邦稅,加上生產商的許可執照費用和固定開支成本,這些費用都轉嫁給最終用戶。他說:「執行大麻法案中的規則和條例,每年就要花費5億元,政府自然要從許可執照費上獲取收入來彌補開支。」

READ MORE
mm

About David Clement

David Clement is the North American Affairs Manager for the Consumer Choice Center and is based out of Oakville, Ontario. David holds a BA in Political Science and a MA in International Relations from Wilfrid Laurier University. Previously, David was the Research Assistant to the Canada Research Chair in International Human Rights. David has been regularly featured on the CBC, Global News, The Toronto Star and various other major Canadian news outlets.