School lunches have never been at the pinnacle of fine dining, but with recent federal regulations as part of the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, those meals have not only gotten worse but are also more wasteful. The regulations mandate a host of requirements on portion size, calories and colors of fruits that can be served and stipulate that to count for federal reimbursement the student must take items they may not even want. The end result is massive quantities of wasted food. Far from allowing common sense regulations and more market competition these rules are kept in place “for the children.”
“According to a 2013 study by Brigham Young University based on Utah schools, the extra produce costs school districts $5.4 million a day, with $3.8 million of that being tossed in the trash. Other studies find “significant waste,” including 40 percent of all the lunches served in four Boston schools. Nationally, the annual cost of wasted food is more than $1 billion.”
According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, last week 59 new regulations were added to the Federal Register which places the current page count at 20,727. Of those new regulations, two will impose more than half a billion dollars in compliance costs.
“A new regulation requiring all new cars to have rearview cameras installed by 2018 garnered national attention last week, not least because it will add $132 to $142 to the cost of low-end cars; consumers on the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum are not happy. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates compliance costs of $546 million to $620 million.”
How long will the government pursue money it thinks belongs to it? Ask Gilbert Hyatt, who in 1970 invented a microprocessor computer chip which helped to spark the proliferation of computer technology. In 1990 he was awarded a patent for the processor and made a large profit as a result. Since then, California’s Franchise Tax Board has pursued him for $7.4 million in back taxes, which today has reached almost $55 million in fines and penalties. Hyatt was not even living in California when he received the money originally, but since he was before he received the patent, the state thinks they deserve a share.
“On Friday, Hyatt, now 76, filed a federal lawsuit accusing the state of violating his constitutional rights in pursuit of a sum that now tops $55 million as interest and penalties have accrued. He’s asking for an injunction forbidding the state from pursing its claim any further. After all these years and legal expenses, he just wants California to leave him alone already”
The Independent Institute points out waste caused by federal school lunch regulations.
The Los Angeles Unified School District, second largest in the nation, serves 650,000 meals a day. Students throw out at least $100,000 of food a day according to district officials, approximately $18 million a year… The federal rules also forbid taking the wasted food off campus.
Cato blogger Peter Van Doren points out a curious statistic regarding rear-view cameras.
…NHTSA concluded that the cost per life saved from installation of the cameras ranged from about 1.5 times, to more than 3 times the 6.1 million dollar value of a statistical life used by the Department of Transportation to evaluate the cost effectiveness of its regulations. NHTSA waited until the possibility of intervention by the courts forced it to issue the rule.
Occupational licensing laws are one of the chief problems facing potential job seekers in many states. Jobs from Florists to fortune tellers must seek approval from the state to practice their trade. Never mind the thousands of dollars these licenses can cost, sometimes their enforcement is completely arbitrary. Buzzfeed has put together a list of eleven jobs that require licenses.
“Today, one out of every three Americans needs a license from the government before they can legally work. Back in the 1950s, it was only one out of every 20 workers. So licensing has gone way beyond doctors and lawyers and into some pretty strange territory.”
Last month, Matthew Mitchell wrote about Tesla’s difficulties operating a car showroom in New Jersey, and included this thought:
Behind every privilege to a particular firm, there is a taxpayer, a customer, or a competitor who ends up paying for it. And those who are privileged today can easily find themselves on the other side of the equation tomorrow.
Cronyism isn’t harmless.
Each year Tax Freedom Day marks how long it has taken the country to pay its tax burden. This year the federal tax burden will take 111 days which falls on April 21st. Each state has its own tax freedom day though: Louisiana’s was the earliest on March 30th while Connecticut and New Jersey will be the tied for the latest, falling on May 9th.
“This year, Americans will pay approximately $3 trillion to the federal government and an additional $1.5 trillion to state and local governments for a total tax bill of $4.5 trillion. This will take the nation 111 days to pay, or until April 21st.”
Cato blogger Andrew Coulson points out that education productivity has declined, despite being a state-run monopoly.
If anything, the rate of technological progress across fields seems negatively correlated with federal spending—and indeed with government spending at all levels. As illustrated in my recent study of State Education Trends, education has suffered a massive productivity collapse over the past 40 years. Perhaps not coincidentally, it is the only field in this country dominated by a government-funded, state-run monopoly.
Veronique de Rugy points out that when the Export-Import Bank’s costs and risks are properly calculated, the bank might lose more money than it makes.
As I noted previously, Jason Delisle and Christopher Papagianis provided more background on how these alleged profits in 2012 were almost surely an accounting illusion. “The government’s official accounting rules effectively force budget analysts to understate the cost of loan programs . . . by excluding, or not factoring in the cost for market risk,” they write at e21.
The whole piece is worth reading, and can be found here.