The Conversation

Culture

Food Freedom

Feb 28, 2013 11:28 AM PT

I just attended an event at the American Enterprise Institute on "Big government and big food vs. food trucks, foodies, and farmers markets."  One of the speakers is the founder of the Food Truck Association and one of the most popular food trucks in DC, Red Hook Lobster Pound.  He spoke about the antiquated regulations in D.C. that treat food trucks as ice cream trucks.  For instance, trucks aren't allowed to stay parked unless there is a line of people.  DC officials say increased regulations on food trucks are about managing sidewalk congestion, but really it's a few members of the DC restaurant association urging DC officials to "level the playing field" for area restaurants.   

Another panelist talked about regulations on farmers markets.  Again, these regulations are not just overregulation by government officials, but officials working with interests who are against those hit hardest by the regulations.  One example is an Ohio regulation that says farmers markets must have bathrooms and sinks for customers.  Given that most customers aren't spending the day at the market, it's rather silly.  I can imagine renting bathroom facilities for a few hours increases the booth cost for vendors and makes it harder for smaller vendors to participate.  (Nevermind that even if there were Port-a-Pottys at a farmers market most of us would do all we could to avoid using them.)

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Politics

More Evidence We're Winning: Forbes Rips Obama for 'Colossal Media Blunder'

Feb 28, 2013 11:07 AM PT

Bill Frezz at Forbes makes the exact same point I have about how Obama and the media's big sequester gamble is now collapsing:

President Obama has gone all-in trying to get Republicans to blink and serve up another round of tax increases in lieu of the looming spending sequester. Eschewing talks with Congress or any pretense of leadership, he is instead flying around the country burning $180,000 an hour on Air Force One laying out a parade of horribles that will descend upon us if the growth of federal spending were reduced by one iota.

Why is he doing this? Because the mainstream media are lapping it up. Poisoned meat coming to grocery shelves near you! Air traffic grinds to a screeching halt! Fires, murder, and mayhem in the streets as first responders are laid off! No visits to the Washington Monument! OK, it all makes for good copy. ...

If there are any smart Republicans left in Congress, watching Obama’s increasingly extreme threats should get them to thinking: Go ahead, make my day. If there are any trusted advisors to the President who aren’t complete toadies they must be thinking: How in the world do we get out of the corner we’ve painted ourselves into?

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Economy

Economic Fallout, and the Rise of Chinese "Ghost Towns"

Feb 28, 2013 10:37 AM PT

The bloated and seemingly unstoppable Chinese economy is not immune to downturn, after all.

Phoenix Island, the man-made utopia erected on the southern coast of Hainan province, is mostly comprised of deserted high-rises and empty poolside areas. The ramping-up of Chinese real estate has come to a screeching halt in the face of sluggish exports and off-loading of properties. The island was the result of government-generated credit boom for property investment. 

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Gun Control

Taking Joe Biden at his word

Feb 28, 2013 9:59 AM PT

Taking Joe Biden seriously is extremely dangerous - it can get you arrested or killed.  But setting aside the illegality of doing the things Biden says women should do to protect themselves with shotguns (everything he's suggested thus far is a felony offense), the Independent Journal Review decided to test his assertion that women will find shotguns easier to aim than AR-15s...

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