Do food safety standards pass a cost/benefit test?

From Fox News:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Sunday ordered the recall of 143 million pounds of beef . . . .

The recall will affect beef products dating to Feb. 1, 2006, that came from Chino-based Westland/Hallmark Meat Co., the federal agency said. The company provided meat to various federal programs.

Officials estimate that about 37 million pounds of the recalled beef went to school programs, but they believe most of the meat probably has already been eaten.

"We don't know how much product is out there right now. We don't think there is a health hazard, but we do have to take this action," said Dr. Dick Raymond, USDA Undersecretary for Food Safety. . . .

No illnesses have been linked to the newly recalled meat, and officials said the health threat was likely small. . . .

Two facts: Most of the beef in the largest ever recall of beef has probably already been eaten. It doesn't seem as if anyone has gotten sick from eating it. I wonder how much of the cost of our food is due to this obviously very costly regulatory process. Huge amounts of food are thrown out. How much do you think that adds to the cost of food? "Health threat was likely small."



The cost of government regulation: this seems to large to believe

A new study by Theo Eicher at the University of Washington finds:

"Fully $200,000 of that [$226,000] increase [1989 and 2006] was the result of land-use regulations"!

Thanks to Sonya Jones for sending me this link.

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The impact of MPG regulations

GATHER ’round, children: a long time ago, before S.U.V.’s roamed the earth, families great and small piled into something called a station wagon.

It was a primitive thing, often paneled in wood — yes, it is true — and later a man-made, nostalgic variety thereof. These pioneering wagons served Americans well, though today you young’uns would be seized by child protective services if they spotted you bouncing in back, innocent of seat belts and such notions as parental supervision.

Younger generations can be forgiven if they see station wagons as hazy boomer memories. Some companies stubbornly roll out new wagons, but buyers mostly ignore them. Mazda recently axed its terrific 6 wagon after selling just 12,249 retail copies in 2004-7. Dodge has announced the end of its muscular but weak-selling Magnum.

Do you want to know what happened to the station wagon? It is called CAFE regulations. The MPG regulations were imposed on station wagon and not SUVs. Not a deep mystery, but with Bush signing the new MPG regulations this week it shows how important these regulations are in pushing people away from the cars that they otherwise would have purchased.



Government Regulation: Our mistake, you pay

Bill Akins describes how his Akins Accelerator operates when a rifle is attached. The patented device, which allows target shooters to convert a rifle into a simulated fully automatic weapon, has been declared a machine gun by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

By Christian Wade of The Tampa Tribune

Published: December 18, 2007

HUDSON - It was a simple idea, with big potential.

For years, marksmen have been using a technique called bump firing, shooting a semiautomatic rifle from the hip and allowing the weapon's recoil to pull the trigger.

With federal regulations keeping fully automatic weapons out of their hands, it was one of the few ways for firearm enthusiasts to enjoy the thrill of firing a machine gun.

If there was only a way to simulate that action, Bill Akins wondered, by creating a device that mechanized the recoil resistance to fire more rapid, and accurate, bursts of bullets.

Thus, the Akins Accelerator was born.

Akins, 54, is an expert marksman, ex-Marine, Elvis impersonator, seventh-generation Floridian and member of the National Rifle Association.

The Hudson man spent nearly a decade designing his Accelerator. He got a patent for his invention. Then he poured his life savings into marketing and producing it for distribution.

In the era of gun control laws, the device promised to revolutionize target shooting.

"They were selling like hotcakes," Akins said. "We were truly amazed by the response."

That was until the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives banned the Accelerator — two years after approving it.

To the ATF, the mechanism is an illegal converter kit that, if it fell into the wrong hands, could turn a run-of the-mill target rifle into a 700-round-per-minute killing machine.

Under the threat of imprisonment, officials ordered Akins to cease production, turn over the recoil springs from his existing stock and hand over his customer list.

And they didn't give him a dime in return.

More than five years later, Akins is teetering on the verge of bankruptcy.

His business partner has severed ties with his company. His investors have bailed. He has a warehouse in Oregon filled with more than $750,000 worth of useless stock. His reputation has been sullied by trade publications that once praised his invention. . . .



Another unintended Consequence of government regulation

If you happen to be buying a new windows machine these days and you get upset about how long it takes to start up, know that about a minute of that three minute start up time when you turn your machine on occurs because Microsoft can no longer control part of the user experience and that is true thanks to the Department of Justice.

Walt Mossberg says his Vista startup experience was pretty horrid because of the tons of ads and other things that OEMs load onto the OS. They do that to try to make a few extra bucks on each machine sold. Microsoft can’t stop them because the DOJ made it impossible to push around the OEMs and keep them from ruining the startup experience. . . .

It appears from Walt Mossberg that the start up time for Vista would still much slower than Macs even without this extra software, but an additional minute when you are having to already wait 2 minutes for your machine to start seems pretty long.

Restarting took over three minutes, and a cold start took more than two minutes. That suggests the computer is loading a bunch of stuff I neither know about nor want. By contrast, a brand new Apple MacBook laptop, under the same test conditions, restarted in 34 seconds and did a cold start in 29 seconds. . . .

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This will really set feminists off

Not that I thought very much of the concerns about the earlier versions of breast implants, but what objection can they come up with now?

British women may be offered a “natural” form of breast enlargement that uses stem cells and fat from a woman's own body, under plans being considered by doctors.

The technique, pioneered in Japan, results in breasts that look and feel smoother than conventional cosmetic surgery using implants. This is because the stem cells enable the fat to grow its own blood supply, thus becoming an integral part of the breast rather than a foreign lump.

Stem cells have the potential to change into any cells in the body. They are found in most tissues, especially fat. . . . .

Ironically, the procedure seems to have been originally developed in the US and will soon be forthcoming in the journal Tissue Engineering, but seems to be spreading around the world much faster than it is here. Presumably it is due to the regulatory environment in the US. The procedure using a woman's own fat cells seems to be even safer, but these regulatory delays will keep on having women use the artificial implants.

See also this.