Monday, August 30, 2004

TODAY'S HEADLINERS (Mon. 8/30)

The government is still keeping a sharp eye out for "market manipulators" in the oil market, according to an AP report: "[T]he Commodity Futures Trading Commission said a seven-month investigation into last year's surging natural gas prices yielded no evidence that markets were manipulated." Oh thank goodness. But: "The CFTC will continue to monitor market information and aggressively pursue any individual or entity that intentionally seeks to undermine the integrity of futures markets," the CFTC's acting chair, Sharon Brown-Hruska, said in a statement. Oh I have no doubt.

Neither the Democrat nor the Republican candidate for the Indiana governorship will accomodate individuals ordering drugs from Canada online, the Indianapolis Star reports. Most of the time you'll hear proponents of such a ban suggest that it's for your own good. But, of course, there's always a bigger reason: "[E]ven if state legislators consider such a service, they would face potent opposition from drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co., Central Indiana's largest private employer." Why do people spend so much time complaining about private "monopolies" when the government provides the best monopolies themselves? ... By the way: "While thousands of Americans buy prescription drugs from Canadian pharmacies on their own, or with the help of private programs, state endorsement of the purchases lends legitimacy to purchases that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says are illegal. Despite its position, the FDA has done little to crack down on the widespread buying." Uh-oh. We'll all be dropping like flies any second now.

One governor decided he'd take on the feds in the prescription drugs arena, however. Gov. Brad Henry of Oklahoma said that "I believe Oklahomans, particularly senior citizens, should have access to affordable prescription drugs, and I will do everything I can to make that happen, whether it involves some form of a reimportation program or another initiative," according to the Daily Ardmoreite. Henry hopes to loosen regulations on drug imports from countries like Canada. Not surprisingly, this will be met with much opposition from the feds: Sund said Henry realizes taking on the prescription drug issue means taking on the federal government. "He knows it won't be an easy proposition, but he thinks it's such an important issue that we have to be willing to make that challenge," Sund said. The prescription drug issue is one of those funny little issues that tie the government in knots. Politicians don't seem to know what to do with it. On the one hand you have irate consumers complaining about being gouged, and on the other hand you have private businesses complaining about their business being "outsourced" to Canada. It's basically a lose-lose situation if you're an elected official. How beautiful is that.

A man in Opelousas, Louisianna wants to force all private commercial businesses to have restrooms available to the general public. The Daily Star reports that James Delion is lobbying for a city ordinance requiring restrooms to be at all publicly-used facilities because he stopped at a grocery store one day and couldn't find a public restroom. But, well, apparently there's already a law like this on the books. Continued the article: "Delion wants to make it a law in Opelousas for all commercial establishments to follow state law..." That's some in-depth reporting for you. "If it is not on the books, I hope to get one. It is inconvenient to go to a place of business and have to leave because they don't have public facilities," he said. That's a great idea. I think next we should have a law that requires businesses to provide goods and services that consumers want.

A "no-cupcake" policy at Chandler School in Duxbury, Massachusetts is facing some resistance for its ban on sweets at birthday parties to curb child obesity, according to the Boston Globe. One mother, Betsy Hunter, has collected about 200 signatures to defeat the policy that was enacted back in June. The Boston Herald's editorial staff had an apt response when the policy was adopted: "It's a tie. Score one for parents in Brookline where a proposal to ban spanking or other physical punishments as a means of disciplining children was soundly defeated. But score one for the parenting police who have set a new policy in a Duxbury school to ban cupcakes at classroom birthday parties. ... In Massachusetts' fine tradition of "more government is better government," we probably won't have to wait long for a tie-breaker in favor of the parenting police."

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