Here’s a story that’ll tickle your McRibs. On December 1 a law seemingly banning McDonald’s Happy Meals went into effect in San Francisco. The “Healthy Meal Incentives Ordinance” prohibits restaurants from giving away toys with meals that do not meet with the city’s approval — namely, meals with too many calories, too much salt or fat, or insufficient fruits and vegetables. Just a few days before the ordinance took effect, SF Weekly reports, McDonald’s announced it had found a simple way around the statute: Charge customers extra for the toys.
Now in order to obtain a Happy Meal toy, parents will first have to buy the meal and then pay an additional 10 cents, which will be considered a donation to Ronald McDonald House charities. With Burger King’s announcement that it will implement a similar policy, the Happy Meal ban has thus effectively been neutralized.
However, for the nanny-state types who thought they were protecting children from dangerous fast food, there is even worse news. Prior to December 1, McDonald’s stores in San Francisco actually allowed patrons to purchase a Happy Meal toy by itself for $2.18 rather than having to buy the meal to obtain the toy. Now that the Golden Arches are going to charge extra for the toys, they are discontinuing the toy-only policy. Henceforth, any parent wishing to purchase a Happy Meal toy for a child will be forced to buy the meal, too. This, the Independent Institute’s Anthony Gregory points out, is “another unintended consequence of a bad law, since now, on the margin, customers will sometimes opt to buy the greasy food targeted by the law just so they can get the toy, when before they would have not bought the food.”
The decision by social workers in Cleveland, Ohio, to take a 200-pound third grader away from his mother and place him in foster care is raising concerns about how much power county and state social service agencies have to interfere in the lives of families.
As reported by the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, the eight-year-old boy was taken from the home in October after case workers determined that his mother wasn’t doing enough to control his weight. The officials said the boy’s severe obesity placed him at risk for developing such medical conditions as diabetes and hypertension.
The Cato Institute has discovered a proposal by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to institute one of the most intrusive regulations yet in the food processing industry. This proposal, which was published for comments in the Federal Register on September 15, is laying the groundwork for setting federal targets for the reduction of salt levels in various foods.
The Federal Register notice observes that “taste for sodium is acquired and can be modified.” The regulation, if implemented, would affect directly the salt level in products that Americans buy at grocery stores or in restaurants. (The public comment period ended November 29.)
The original purpose of the Food and Drug Administration at the time of its creation 105 years ago was to prevent the sale of adulterated or misbranded drugs. The problem that led to this law was false or misleading information about what was in the drugs sold to the public. These days, almost every product sold in a grocery store has on its label extensive information about the calories, carbohydrates, fiber, protein, and other data about the food. And these labels can be helpful. Americans who inform themselves about medical research or receive instructions from private physicians actively seek this information. But this doesn't mean that more strict regulations are beneficial. (Even the labeling laws would not be necessary if laws were strictly enforced against fraud.)
It seems the only way to find out what a politician really thinks is to wait until he leaves office. No longer concerned with obtaining either votes or campaign contributions, he is then free to reveal his true beliefs — and often does.
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), for example, announced on Monday that he would be retiring at the end of his term. The next day, reports the Daily Caller, he signed on as a cosponsor of Rep. Phil Roe’s (R-Tenn.) bill to repeal ObamaCare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), a bureaucracy Roe called “the real death panel” in the healthcare law in an interview with the conservative news site in March. Frank thus became the 12th — and by far the most prominent — Democrat, and the 212th congressman overall, to cosponsor Roe’s bill.
IPAB is a 15-member panel appointed by the President to keep Medicare costs under control, thereby keeping the deficit in check. “The board would cap the total amount of money Medicare recipients could receive for care,” the Daily Caller explains. Should a beneficiary require care whose cost exceeds the amount set by IPAB, he would simply be out of luck.
“Basically, there’s a certain amount of money that’s allocated for Medicare spending each year,” Roe told the Daily Caller. “Once you hit that amount that’s been appropriated, this board, this bureaucratically appointed board, can then decide, not based on quality or need, but based on strictly cost.”
Dr. Donald M. Berwick, the controversial administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) appointed by President Barack Obama during a congressional recess, announced that he will be resigning from his post on December 2, about a month before his appointment would have expired.
Obama originally nominated Berwick to the position in April 2010. Despite being controlled by Democrats, the Senate failed to schedule a confirmation hearing for Berwick. Obama then performed an end run around that chamber and appointed Berwick during a July congressional recess, leaving him with a term that would expire at the end of 2011 unless the Senate later confirmed him. Obama nominated him again in January 2011; but after meeting with fierce resistance from Republicans, 42 of whom wrote him a letter requesting that he withdraw the nomination, he did little to advance Berwick’s cause. “Once it became clear that the President wasn’t willing to stick his neck out, Berwick left,” commented Forbes’ David Whelan. “You can’t blame him.”
Obama undoubtedly calculated that if he did indeed stick his neck out, he was likely to meet the same fate, politically speaking, as the famed specter of Sleepy Hollow. Berwick had, after all, been quite open about his fondness for socialized medicine — which, as Whelan points out, is “not surprising, given that he was the President’s nominee.” For instance, wrote William P. Hoar in The New American:
They call it Dearbornistan, Michigan, for more than one reason. Yet another surfaced last week week when The Detroit News and the Associated Press reported that a male nurse, fired for treating women Muslim patients at a taxpayer-subsidized health clinic, has filed a lawsuit against Dearborn.
That’s right. According to the lawsuit, John Benitez, Jr. was terminated for doing his job because “conservative” Muslims complained about him treating women wearing the hijab, although he did so under the orders of a doctor.
Some 30 percent of Dearborn residents are Arabs, although it is unclear what percentage of those are Muslims. One indication is that Dearborn boasts the largest mosque in North America. Another is the mounting evidence of bias against Christians in such places as Fordson High School, where the student body is 80 percent Arab.
No Male Nurses for Women Muslims
A nursing as well as Army veteran, Benitez, 63, began working at the clinic in September 2010, AP reported, citing the complaint filed by his lawyer, Deborah L. Gordon.
The Supreme Court approved petitions last week to hear arguments in two cases challenging the constitutionality of ObamaCare. One of the issues that will be argued before the justices of the high court is the legality of the currently operating Medicaid scheme.
Admittedly, the question is a very “narrow” one, but it will have far-reaching impact on the future of federalism and on the power of Congress to raise and spend revenue.
In one of the cases filed against President Obama’s pet project, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta rejected a similar claim against provisions of Medicaid. In that suit, filed by the Attorneys General of the states of Florida, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Nebraska, the court held that the expansion of the program made under provisions of ObamaCare was constitutional.
The essence of the states’ argument is that the use of the existing Medicaid arrangement to provide expanded healthcare coverage to citizens of the states is unduly burdensome on the governments of those states. ObamaCare mandates that the states cover 100 percent of the administrative expenses associated with implementing the new Medicaid policies set out in ObamaCare.
Catholics who believe the federal government should not be able to compel healthcare providers to perform abortions “have this conscience thing” that they really need to overcome, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told the Washington Post recently. Otherwise, she said, women “could die” from a lack of access to abortion services.
Pelosi made those remarks in response to a question from the Post concerning her comments on the Protect Life Act (H.R. 358), a bill that passed the House of Representatives in October. That bill was itself a response to an ObamaCare mandate “that would require all private health plans to cover sterilizations and contraceptives, including those that cause abortion, under the broad definition of ‘preventive services,’ ” explains former Colorado Rep. Bob Beauprez in a Townhall.com column. Beauprez continues:
The United Kingdom has announced that it will continue to use airport body scanners and backscatter X-ray scanners and will not permit passengers to opt out of the machines if they are chosen for further screening — despite reports of the potential dangers posed by radiation from the machines. The announcement follows the European Commission’s adoption of strict new guidelines regarding the limited use of the body scanners and a full ban of the backscatter X-ray scanners pending further studies.
Britain's Daily Mail reported on November 21 that 13-year-old Lucy Hinks has been left debilitated, likely from injections of the Cervarix cervical cancer vaccine, GlaxoSmithKline’s version of Gardasil, which is manufactured by Merck. She was vaccinated along with her classmates at Wigton's Nelson Thomlinson School in Cumbria. The teenager — who has not opened her eyes in seven weeks, and can neither walk nor talk — requires constant care, and sleeps 23 hours a day. Her mother, Pauline, said, “'I'd not wish what we've been through on anyone. I've not seen the whites of Lucy's eyes for weeks and nobody can tell us when it will turn. I could put up with the constant sleep. I believe her body needs it. But it's the fact that to me she's in a waking coma, with no treatment.” Lucy's father, Steve, spends his time scouring the Internet for cures.
Mrs. Hinks added, “I have regrets. But it's no good having them because you can't change what we've got. Hindsight is a marvellous thing.”
The Hinks family, of Port Carlisle, is now encouraging parents to get as much information as possible before submitting to the vaccination program they believe caused their daughter’s illness. British doctors are 95 percent sure her diagnosis is ME[Myalgic Encephalomyelitis]/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Tests have ruled out a brain tumor or glandular fever, and Lucy’s pediatrician is investigating links to the vaccine.