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Like the NY Jets, it seems the AP writers cannot bear the thought of success. A day after I praised them for getting some economics right for a change, it is back to the same old stuff. This is what qualifies as groundbreaking review of regulatory documents these days (I am analogizing here …):

  • The Bush Administration ignored remarkably prescient warnings that extremely inexpensive tuna-chocolate lasagna was being sold by American fast-food restaurants, some even allowing customers to purchase these toxic items on credit.
  • Food industry analysts warnings of fallout, horror stories and losses were repeatedly ignored.
  • The administration’s blind eye to the impending tuna-chocolate lasagna crisis is emblematic of its governing philosophy, which trusted market forces and discounted the value of government intervention in the economy. (wow, this canard never seems to get tired).
  • In 2005, faced with ominous signs that the fast-food industry was in jeopardy, food regulators proposed new guidelines for fast-food restaurants wishing to sell tuna-chocolate lasagna, these included:
  1. Regulators told fast-food company executives that tuna-chocolate lasagna was often inappropriate for people who were allergic to fish and chocolate.
  2. Fast food companies would have been required to increase efforts to verify that the dollars they received from their customers were not counterfeited, or that the credit cards used to pay for the lasagna was legit.
  3. Regulators proposed a cap on the production of tuna-chocolate lasagna so a string of McDonalds franchise closings wouldn’t cripple local economies.
  4. Fast food chains that sold the recipes to other fast food chains and investors were told to be sure their customers knew exactly what they were buying.
  5. Regulators urged fast-food chains to help customers make “responsible decisions” and clearly advise them that their cholesterol might skyrocket and stomach cramps might ensue soon after consumption.

All of these proposals never even saw the desk of the President! Ask yourself two questions. First, what enabled or encourages people to purchase tuna-chocolate lasagna? Second, what enabled or encourages companies to produce tuna-chocolate lasagna. What is different about the fast-food industry than the financial industry? Sadly, these questions are not asked by the popular press, nor the politicians crafting regulations in Washington.

I bought an in-car GPS gadget a few months ago and I hate it. Should my neighbor be asked to reimburse me for my stupid purchase? Should we regulate Tom-Tom in order to insure that they do not peddle any more of these horrible products onto people like me?

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