Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Another out-of-control government agency

Health department tyrants raid local 'farm to fork' picnic dinner, orders all food to be destroyed with bleach

It is the latest case of extreme government food tyranny, and one that is sure to have you reeling in anger and disgust. Health department officials recently conducted a raid of Quail Hollow Farm, an organic community supported agriculture (CSA) farm in southern Nevada, during its special "farm to fork" picnic dinner put on for guests -- and the agent who arrived on the scene ordered that all the fresh, local produce and pasture-based meat that was intended for the meal be destroyed with bleach.

For about five years now, Quail Hollow Farm has been growing organic produce and raising healthy, pasture-based animals which it provides to members as part of a CSA program. And it recently held its first annual "Farm to Fork Dinner Event," which offered guests an opportunity to tour the farm, meet those responsible for growing and raising the food, and of course partake in sharing a meal composed of the delicious bounty with others.

But when the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) got word of the event and decided to get involved, this simple gathering of friends and neighbors around a giant, family-style picnic table quickly became a convenient target for the heavy hand of an out-of-control government agency. And Monte and Laura Bledsoe, the owners and operators of Quail Hollow Farm, were unprepared for what would happen next.

Laura Bledsoe explains in a letter to her guests written after the fact that two days prior to the event, SNHD contacted the farm to say that, because the picnic was technically a "public" event, the couple would have to obtain a "special use permit," or else face a very steep fine. Not wanting to risk having the event disrupted, the Bledsoes agreed to jump through all the demanded legal hoops even though their gathering was really just a backyard picnic.

But the day of the event, an inspector from SNHD, Mary Oaks, showed up and declared that all the food the Bledsoes would be serving was "unfit for consumption," and that it would have to be destroyed. Though there was no logical or lawful reasoning behind this declaration, and the Bledsoes had complied with all the requirements, Oaks insisted that the food be discarded and destroyed using a bleach solution.

One of the so-called reasons for this action included the fact that some of the food packaging did not contain labels, even though labels are not necessary if the food is eaten within 72 hours. Oaks also cited the fact that some of the meat was not US Department of Agriculture (USDA) certified, that the vegetables had already been cut and were thus a "bio-hazard," and that there were no receipts for the food (which was all grown on the farm, not purchased from a grocery store).



Small Business and Regulation

Dodd/Frank and Obamacare are choking off funds for business expansion and new jobs

A recurring theme in this series on small businesses and regulation is the effect that Dodd-Frank is having on small firms’ borrowing.

In previous parts in this series, the owners of both the American Business Group and Matthew’s House brought up the difficulty that small businesses are experiencing in accessing capital.

Mike Bucci, owner of K & M of VA, Inc., has had similar problems. He noted how lending for his small business had changed within the space of a year:
About 16 months ago I went to my bank and said I needed to expand my credit line. My credit is impeccable. I pay everything on time. When I was speaking to the customer service person, he told me, “Wow, I can’t believe you qualify for our lowest rate. No one ever does.” The bank’s attitude was, yes, we can do this. About six or seven months ago I needed to expand my credit line again. My business was growing and I needed to expand my inventories. The bank’s attitude had done a 180. It now had a new department to handle small business requests. They initially told me that not only would they not expand my credit line, but they wanted to shrink it. I wouldn’t take no for an answer, so I went to see the guy in charge of this department. He told me, in effect, that he would never lose his job for saying no to a loan. This new department was the bank’s “no” team.

Bucci eventually got the capital he needed from other sources, but it took up a lot of his time over the next few months.

He has owned K & M of VA, Inc. for over five years. Basically, it is an “idea” business — Bucci is always on the lookout for ideas for new products. His business will develop a product idea, source it, and market it. His signature product, thus far, is called the “painter pyramid.” He usually has just under 10 employees working for him.

“There are two things, I think, that are making it hard for small businesses to access capital,” Bucci said. “There are the capital liquidity requirements (for banks). That’s one of the drivers. There is also a tone that Dodd-Frank has set with the regulators. Regulators are now in their ‘hyper-sensitivity’ mode because they got burned recently.”

Dodd-Frank isn’t the only major legislation passed in the 111th Congress that has Bucci struggling.

“Securing health coverage for a small business was scary before the inappropriately named ‘Affordable Care Act’ was passed,” he said. “The rate of scariness has only increased. It’s driving extraordinary price increases. I’ve seen a 30% increase in premiums. A few other owners I’ve talked to have seen increases near 70%. Before this, my increases were south of 20%. I think what ObamaCare has done is that it has created much more uncertainty for insurance providers, and I think they are building that into the price.”

The increase will cost him thousands of dollars extra in the coming year. “I have a very small business, and thousands matter,” he said.



Facing Eurocollapse: An end to Europhoria

Conrad Black writes in a very literary way below but what he says is mostly sensible. I have highlighted a couple of points for those who find him hard going. He is pleased that Europe's problems dynamite the admiration of Europe that used to ooze from the American Left ("Europhoria")

As the world financial crisis deepens, it is unlikely that it can be alleviated without carefully reviewing the infelicitous confluence of mistakes in Europe and the United States that has brought it to its present extreme state. The European Monetary Union, involving 17 countries, was based on a number of generally admirable premises, but also on a couple of false assumptions.

Greece, in particular, joined the euro, scrapping the ancient drachma, on a false prospectus prepared with the help of the ubiquitous, not to say adaptable, Goldman Sachs. Greece fluffed up its assets, finessed its liabilities, and leapt into the eurozone like a circus acrobat moving forcefully to a higher but stronger trapeze. In practice, the real backing of the euro was about three fifths a Deutschmark, one quarter a French franc, 5 percent a Dutch guilder, and the rest a potpourri of everyone else. (Britain has abstained and Switzerland is not a member.) Kohl and his officials presumably suspected that Greece and some of the others were over-egging the pudding a little, but were prepared to stand for it in the higher interests of a popular Germany girt about with grateful allies.

All of Western Europe has been suffering from a collapsed birthrate, and has been paying fiscal and political Danegeld to organized labor and the small farmers for notoriously obvious historic reasons. Only about 40 percent of eurozone residents work, and demographics assure that an ever-increasing percentage of people are on benefit, piggybacking on the productive minority within each country and in the EU as a whole.

And for over ten years, Greece, Portugal, Italy, and Spain have been issuing prodigious quantities of debt (Italian sovereign debt is 120 percent of GDP, compared with about 90 percent in the U.S.), in euros, and the European Central Bank laboriously conserved the fiction that all Euro-debt was of equivalent quality. The European private-sector banks, pretending that the riskier issues had the same debt standing as the German government’s, hold nearly $2 trillion of these unreliable sovereign obligations, which obviously imperils the European banking system, and backs into questions of the solvency of a number of European countries.

As one palliative after another has been put forward, and been shattered by deteriorating events, and as each solution, accompanied by a fanfare on the theme of “Mission Accomplished,” has failed, confidence has eroded. As historian Niall Ferguson [wittily] remarked, the West failed to “beware Greeks bearing debts.” The European Central Bank imposed on Greece a regime of spending cuts and tax increases that was bound, in the short term, to increase the deficit; instead of a package such as Ireland adopted (with considerable success so far), of expense reductions but also incentives to investment, that has reduced its deficit. The fate of Greece has been that of a sovereign Lehman Brothers that has rewarded the short sellers.

Whatever happens to Greece — and the sojourn with the referendum was a bolt of insanity — Europe must prescribe measures for other laggards that encourage economic growth. Herbert Hoover proved that you can’t shrink your way out of bad economic news, just as Barack Obama has proved that you can’t spend your way out of it either.

Europe will have to put everything behind its banking system, pare back the welfare cocoon, and promote economic and natural-population growth. (It was a little gratuitous for a major American newspaper recently to refer to the birth of a child to French president Nicolas Sarkozy and his glamorous wife as “a gesture to family values.”)

These are very serious problems, but they have at least banished Europhoria, and they can be met by determined leadership. Germany’s Angela Merkel and the incoming conservative Spanish regime are probably up to it. Sarkozy is questionable, and it should finally be time for a change from the Berlusconi carnival in Rome. There has been some talk of a Euro-bailout by China. If any arrangement were made with the People’s Republic, it would be so usurious that the European commissioners would soon be personally conveying their Chinese creditors through the streets of Europe’s capitals in rickshaws. It’s up to the Europeans; the Americans can’t help them this time.

I have dilated on the American economic and budgetary condition at such length and so often, here and elsewhere, that strict economy of words and metaphors is appropriate. It is a bit rich for Barack Obama and Timothy Geithner (though it is a relief to hear Mr. Geithner speak in public again after a lengthy simulation of a cigar-store Indian) to urge stimulative spending in Europe. Europe is not prepared, to its great credit, to resort to the fraud of simply “electronically” buying its own bonds, as the U.S. has been doing with the last $3 trillion of new debt; and the policy has failed in the United States. The $800 billion stimulus package of 2009 accompanied an addition of 2.5 million unemployed, despite the creation of over 400,000 new federal-government jobs.

The collapse of anticipated U.S. economic growth from an expected 3.5 percent to 0.7 percent in the first half of this year (though the latest figures are better) amplifies the failure of public-sector pump-priming. The two-part debt-ceiling fiasco — the original impasse, followed by the failure to agree on the required deficit reduction — emphasizes the ineffectuality of the country’s leadership.

As American conditions deteriorated, a great deal of capital moved out of equities and other places to low-yield but liquid money-market funds, until it came to light that these funds were engaged in large-scale loans to European banks imperiled by the sovereign-debt crisis. This drove Americans out of Europe and back to U.S. debt held by the same money-market funds, ironically (and briefly) facilitating continued fiscal profligacy in the U.S.

The whole stimulus concept is a fraud, because as much productive resources are immobilized in borrowing the stimulus as are created in spending it. And the spectacle of the administration claiming to seek deficit reduction in the debt-ceiling process, while asking for $477 billion of new borrowed stimulus in what is called a “jobs bill,” is contemptible, and is universally seen as such. The idea that temporary tax cuts will permanently invigorate the economy even after they have been cancelled after a year is nonsense.

One more time, the country needs entitlement reform, consumption and some transaction taxes (though not the taxes the Wall Street Journal has been frightening its readers with), personal- and corporate-income-tax reductions, tax simplification, promotion of alternative energy sources, real health-care reform, and the bundling together of most of the monstrous public-sector debt bomb in a sinking fund with a believable plan for reducing it without just monetizing the Obama debt hemorrhage, which most observers suspect is now in the cards.

Not all hope for progress after the 2012 election has been extinguished. The principal Western countries are great nations and they will survive, but not the way they have been pursuing that objective in recent years.




Dems push to repeal DOMA: "Senate Democrats who back gay marriage have decided now is the time to repeal a federal law defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The Democrats may satisfy their gay marriage supporters, but the bill won't get very far. ... The bill's chief sponsor, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., says she doesn't have the votes for Senate passage, and the bill would have no chance in a House controlled by Republican conservatives."

Muslims out of the armed forces? "Local and national Muslims called for state officials Saturday to rebuke state [TN] Rep. Rick Womick for remarks he made that all Muslims be removed from the U.S. military. ... Womick, though, stood by his comments and offered no apology when contacted by The Daily News Journal. 'Who are we at war with?' Womick said. 'We are at war with al-Qaida and the Taliban, who are Muslims. It’s a Catch-22. They are not allowed to kill their fellow Muslims; we’re at war with Muslims. The only solution I see is that they not be allowed in the military.'"

Did Mossad do it? "Mystery surrounds yesterday's explosion at a Revolutionary Guard ammunition depot that was so large it was felt and heard almost 30 miles away in Tehran. Even as funerals began on Sunday for the 15 soldiers killed, Iranian commanders sought to downplay any connection to Iran's advanced ballistic missile arsenal and its controversial nuclear program."

Watchdog: IRS taxpayer files not secure: "The IRS is having problems securing personal taxpayer data and is not doing enough to prevent 'unauthorized users' from accessing that information, according to a new report. The Government Accountability Office this past week warned that the IRS continues to suffer from a 'material weakness' in information security. While the report praised the IRS for encrypting more files and taking other steps to address the problem, the GAO said the agency is still at 'increased risk of compromising confidential IRS and taxpayer information"

Iran pot bubbles, will it cook Obama?: "President Obama has suddenly been confronted by a bubbling challenge from Iran he almost certainly would have preferred to avoid during a presidential election year. Like President George W. Bush before him, he pledged to block Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon. But his offer to talk with Iran’s leadership was rebuffed."

Counting sheep: "To save money, the Agriculture Department will no longer perform as many reports on the size and scope of some industries. Good. But New York Times writer William Neuman asks: 'If the government stops counting catfish do catfish farmers disappear?' He argues that if the government doesn't keep track of the number of catfish, no one will, and industries will disappear because lobbyists and investors won't know the size of the industries. Hello? Industries 'disappear because because lobbyists and investors won't know the size of the industries?' What?"

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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