The Cronyism Grown Into U.S. Food Aid

America is a generous country. Taxpayers can take pride in the fact that, under the terms of the 2014 Farm Bill, they will send more than $2 billion worth of food to needy countries this year. Thanks to these aid programs, more than 50 million people in 51 countries will be fed by U.S. foreign aid. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that these programs are rife with cronyism that make them more expensive and less effective than they should be.

Just how much cronyism is there? Enough that another 8 to 10 million people could be fed at no added cost just by removing two unnecessary regulations.

What do these regulations do? The first requires that nearly all U.S. food aid be sourced from American farmers. The logic is that American food aid can combine generosity with national self-interest, stabilizing U.S. agricultural markets while providing aid.

But that self-interest has a cost, and a significant one. Namely, there is often more than enough food nearby that could be purchased and transported at a far lower cost and with far less waste than by shipping American food across the ocean. Even Africa, the continent most commonly associated with hunger crises, produces more than enough food to feed itself — as does the world as a whole, for that matter. In light of this fact, requiring that food aid be sourced in the United States no longer makes sense.

It’s a bizarre case where the costs of cronyism so outweigh the benefits that even one of the primary beneficiaries, the American Farm Bureau Federation, supports reform. The problem is that this regulation is a relic of a different era, one in which food aid was a meaningful portion of American agricultural exports and in which local food production in hunger-stricken areas was rarely sufficient to meet local demand. That is no longer the case — food aid today accounts for less than 1 percent of agricultural exports and less than 0.1 percent of food production in the country. The times have changed, but our rules have not.

The other regulation mandates that at least half of all U.S. food aid be carried on U.S.-flag vessels, known as the Cargo Preference for Food Aid (CPFA). The Government Accountability Office (GAO) studied the effects of the CPFA, and found that the costs were significant. Overall, the GAO estimated that the CFPA increased costs of shipping by 23 percent between 2011 and 2014, making up over $107 million of the total $456 million cost.

This time, the original intent behind the rule was based on national security concerns rather than economic ones. Lawmakers intended to use the food aid program to subsidize a merchant marine that could be called upon in times of war. Yet again, the organization that the regulation is intended to benefit, the Department of Defense, supports reform. The vast majority of U.S. vessels carrying food aid do not meet minimum standards for reform, and the DoD has stated that elimination of the regulation would not impact America’s maritime readiness in the case of war.

It is an unfortunate fact that as much as 60 percent of the food aid budget is spent on items that have nothing to do with food — such as transportation costs for the American food that we’re sending halfway around the world on more expensive American ships. And it’s why simple reform, such as the bipartisan Food for Peace Reform Act of 2018, would free up nearly $300 million simply by reducing the requirement for U.S.-sourced food to 25 percent.

It’s rare that cronyism is so egregious and outdated that its beneficiaries support reform. When they do, lawmakers should take the hint, and support reform as well.

The post The Cronyism Grown Into U.S. Food Aid appeared first on The American Spectator.

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Louisiana Governor Signs Knife Law Reform, Removes Switchblade Ban

Louisiana Governor Signs Knife Law Reform, Removes Switchblade Ban
Louisiana Governor Signs Knife Law Reform, Removes Switchblade Ban

Arizona -(Ammoland.com)- On 25 May, 2018, Governor Edwards of Louisiana signed HB 892 into law. The bill now becomes ACT 341, which reforms Louisiana knife law, removing a 1950’s era ban on switchblades.  From wafb.com:

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) –

On Friday, May 25, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed 79 bills into new laws.

The bills he signed are as follows:

(snip)

ACT 341 – HB 892 Provides relative to the illegal carrying of certain knives.

The wording of HB892, now ACT 341, is as shown at legiscan.   From legiscan.com:

(4)(a)
The manufacture, ownership, possession, custody or use intentional concealment on one’s person of any switchblade knife, spring knife, or other knife or similar instrument having a blade which may be automatically unfolded or extended from a handle by the manipulation of a button, switch, latch, or similar contrivance located on the handle. Section 2. R.S. 14:95(J) is hereby repealed in its entirety.


CODING:
Words in struck through type are deletions from existing law; words underscored are additions.

The legislative history of R.S 14:95 indicates the switchblade ban was put into place in 1956. The banning of switchblade knives was based on a propaganda campaign initiated in New York by Congressman James J. Delaney. Congressman Delany made a name for himself by pushing emotional appeals to ban switchblade knives, claiming that they were only useful for crime. Other New York politicians joined him. The same arguments used by the knife banners are in use today by current activists pushing for a disarmed population. From 1958, arguing for a national ban on switchblade knives, Senator Frank J. Pino:

New York State Senator Frank J. Pino of Brooklyn had a glib rebuttal for the sportsman angle. He testified, “Actually, these knives are, I would say inherently dangerous, they have only one purpose. They are just deadly. They are lethal weapons, and they are suited for crime, that is all they are suited for. So that the sportsmen really have nothing substantial to complain about. But they do complain. It is an emotional thing with them, somehow.

Sound familar? It should. Substitute “assault weapons” for knives and the same paragraph would fit in perfectly with the emotional arguments being pushed today to ban semi-automatic rifles. In 1958, there were plenty of semi-automatic rifles available. They could be freely ordered through the mail. So could anti-aircraft cannon, anti-tank cannon, and ammunition. But crime was very low, and the understanding of the limits of the Commerce clause was still relatively strong.

It was understood that the federal govenment could not regulate commerce inside of state borders.  That is why federal legislation was restricted to banning importation of switchblade knives and banning interstate transportation of switchblade knives. Even the interstate transport ban was recognized by the Department of Justice as problematic, and expansive of federal power. From knife-expert.com:

Deputy Attorney General William P. Rogers wrote, “The Department of Justice is unable to recommend enactment of this legislation. 

 “The committee may wish to consider whether the problem to which this legislation is addressed is one properly within the police powers of the various States. As you know, Federal law now prohibits the interstate transportation of certain inherently dangerous articles such as dynamite and nitroglycerin on carriers also transporting passengers. The instant measures would extend the doctrine upon which such prohibitions are based by prohibiting the transportation of a single item which is not inherently dangerous but requires the introduction of a wrongful human element to make it so. “Switchblade knives in the hands of criminals are, of course, potentially dangerous weapons. However, since they serve useful and even essential purposes in the hands of persons such as sportsmen, shipping clerks, and others engaged in lawful pursuits, the committee may deem it preferable that they be regulated at the State rather than the Federal level.”

In the end, the power of yellow journalism to create crises where none existed, triumphed. Congress passed the federal ban, following the example of several states. A pattern for the passage of national laws based on an emotion driven, media favored agenda, had been created.

Louisiana has joined the trend of reversing that injustice. The number of states that still ban switchblade knives is growing smaller and smaller.

It has taken six decades, likely confiscations of millions of knives from people who never harmed anyone; thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of lives ruined by arrests and convictions that served no useful purpose.

It is an object lesson in bad legislation.

Switchblade
Switchblade

©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.

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About Dean Weingarten:Dean Weingarten

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

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A New Lawsuit Has Customers Of This Brand Of Tuna Outraged

A tuna fish conspiracy has customers of Bumble Bee tuna completely outraged, after the CEO of Bumble Foods, Christopher Lischewski, was charged with fixing the price of canned tuna. The price fixing resulted in a higher cost for consumers, who are understandably upset by his shady business practices. Lischewski was indicted by a grand jury on one count of price fixing.

Prosecutors allege that between November 2010 and December 2013, Lischewski conspired with two rival companies to keep the prices high. Three more executives, two from Bumble Food and one from StarKist have all pleaded guilty to price fixing.

Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim remarked: “American consumers deserve free enterprise, not fixed prices, so the department will not tolerate crimes like the one charged in today’s indictment.”

Lischewski’s attorney, John Keker, however, maintains that his client is innocent, noting: “When the facts are known and the truth emerges, Mr. Lischewski will be found not guilty, and that vindication will rightfully restore his good name.”

The US government began investigating possible price fixing between StarKist, Bumble Bee Foods and Chicken of the Sea more than two years ago, with the companies accused of agreeing on a price to sell their product to suppliers.

These three companies account for around 74% of the US canned tuna market and supply retailers like Walmart, Kroger and Albertsons, who sued the three firms for fixing prices in 2016. Former senior vice president for sales at StarKist, Stephen Hodge, pleaded guilty last year to price-fixing and two other Bumble Bee Foods executives pleaded guilty to the scheme, with the company agreeing to pay a $25 million fine.

Many people have weighed in with comments on the Daily Mail’s coverage of the criminal business practices, with one commenter noting: “Totally believe this. I remember tuna was really expensive a couple years ago” and another saying, “I won’t buy Bumble Bee any more.”

Others discussed the quality of tuna and believe that consumers should be looking to other brands for better quality, as one person remarked: “Bumble Bee tuna is the worst canned tuna one can buy. As another reader mentioned, it’s like liquid fish. It’s more than 50% water. Kirkland albacore or Chicken of the Sea albacore are among the best canned tunas, in both flavor and volume.”

Some commenters made light of the situation, with one person joking: “well, at least they did not flounder about the indictment” and another person believing “Charlie Tuna must be in on this.”

One commenter discussed the economy, in general, stating: “Every time the price of gas goes up, everything at the store becomes more expensive to compensate transportation costs. When oil goes down, the cost of goods doesn’t. The cost of all the other canned tuna is the same where I am. They’re all profiting from it in some way.”

Another commenter agreed, responding: “You are dead on. When gas hit nearly $5 a gallon several years ago, groceries went through the roof, then gas went back down to nearly $2 a gallon and grocery prices stayed high. Who pocketed the extra profits? Kroger, Wally and all grocers?”

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