“Politics: To leftist food scolds, eating more vegetables is important. So why are California’s two Democratic senators having a cow about a water bill that would let their Central Valley’s farmers grow more veggies? House Republican Devin Nunes’ Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Water Relief Act (H.R. 1837), which passed easily in the House last week, was the first standalone bill to address the persistent problem of arbitrary state decisions to deny water to the farmers of the Central Valley. It’s a good bill. But not to the more obtuse Democrats. Sen. Dianne Feinstein has denounced the Nunes bill as “a recipe for disaster,” and — after years of doing nothing —is trying to work up some sort of alternative bill to please her radical environmental backers. Democrat Sen. Barbara Boxer, meanwhile, has been howling about the bill too. That’s a bit ironic, since she brags on her website that she introduced the “Healthy Food in Schools Act” in 2010 that “would improve nutrition in school-provided meals by offering more fresh produce to students.” Hello? Is Boxer aware that the very farmers she wants to deny water to just happen to be America’s most productive vegetable and fruit producers?”
“It made me want to try to jump through the legal hoops required to open a simple lemonade stand in New York City. Here’s some of what one has to do:
— Register as sole proprietor with the County Clerk’s Office (must be done in person)
— Apply to the IRS for an Employer Identification Number.
— Complete 15-hr Food Protection Course!
— After the course, register for an exam that takes 1 hour. You must score 70 percent to pass. (Sample question: “What toxins are associated with the puffer fish?”) If you pass, allow three to five weeks for delivery of Food Protection Certificate.
— Register for sales tax Certificate of Authority
— Apply for a Temporary Food Service Establishment Permit. Must bring copies of the previous documents and completed forms to the Consumer Affairs Licensing Center.
Then, at least 21 days before opening your establishment, you must arrange for an inspection with the Health Department’s Bureau of Food Safety and Community Sanitation. It takes about three weeks to get your appointment. If you pass, you can set up a business once you:
— Buy a portable fire extinguisher from a company certified by the New York Fire Department and set up a contract for waste disposal.
— We couldn’t finish the process. Had we been able to schedule our health inspection and open my stand legally, it would have taken us 65 days.
I sold lemonade anyway. I looked dumb hawking it with my giant fire extinguisher on the table. Tourists told me they couldn’t believe that I had to get “all those permits.” A Pakistani man said: “That’s crazy! You should move to Pakistan!”
But I don’t want to move to Pakistan.”
“AMERICANS love to laugh at ridiculous regulations. A Florida law requires vending-machine labels to urge the public to file a report if the label is not there. The Federal Railroad Administration insists that all trains must be painted with an “F” at the front, so you can tell which end is which. Bureaucratic busybodies in Bethesda, Maryland, have shut down children’s lemonade stands because the enterprising young moppets did not have trading licences. The list goes hilariously on.
But red tape in America is no laughing matter. The problem is not the rules that are self-evidently absurd. It is the ones that sound reasonable on their own but impose a huge burden collectively. America is meant to be the home of laissez-faire. Unlike Europeans, whose lives have long been circumscribed by meddling governments and diktats from Brussels, Americans are supposed to be free to choose, for better or for worse. Yet for some time America has been straying from this ideal.”
“Economic uncertainty and concern about government regulations have small businesses worried for the future and disinclined to hire new employees, according to a fourth quarter survey by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The study surveyed 1,322 small business executives, and found that just over half said “economic uncertainty” was one of the top reasons they were not hiring new employees. Government regulations, the federal deficit and the national debt also worried the business owners. 84 percent of respondents indicated that the national debt made them uncertain about the future. 86 percent said that regulations, restrictions and taxes were major concerns. What could be coming down the pipeline next is also scary, with 59 percent saying the possibility of future regulations is even scarier than the current regulations.”
“Empire’s statement says the insurer is sensitive to the economic challenges facing small businesses and its goal is to offer affordable health insurance plans to New York’s small businesses, but that it has had financial losses in the small group business that it called unsustainable.
“It’s incredibly destabilizing and it will drive the cost of insurance up, because without competition, obviously, the incentive for insurance companies to keep rates down is significantly depressed, and it will also limit choice for the consumer,” Mr. Hasday said.
Officers of New York State Association of Health Underwriters sent a letter—of which Mr. Hasday was one of the signers—dated November 2, addressed to the superintendent of the State Department of Financial Services, stating concerns that a major carrier, which it did not mention by name, is withdrawing from the small group market because of rate request denials/reductions in the last five consecutive quarters. Mr. Hasday later confirmed that the letter referred to Empire.
“The major carrier’s pending withdrawal from the small group market is nothing short of catastrophic to small employers in the state,” it says. “Multiple small employers with literally tens of thousands of employees are going to be left without coverage, as there will be only two to three other carriers left in which brokers may try to place coverage. If the other carriers follow suit, the availability of coverage will dry up entirely.”
The letter points to two changes in state law from 2009 that the State Association of Health Underwriters says it “vociferously opposed.” Those were requiring insurance companies to get approval from the State Insurance Department before changing any rates. The other was the requirement that an insurance company could only spend a certain percentage of premiums for non-claim costs.
“We argued that prior approval would become a politicized process, that the rates would amount to price control, and the rates that would be approved would be substantially below the rates ultimately required by the insurance companies to do business,” Mr. Hasday said.”