Tag Archives: Food

Foreign aid more about helping friends at home

Jared Pincin and Brian Brenberg write a column in USA Today about cronyism in the US foreign aid program:

Cronies never miss an opportunity to feast on taxpayer dollars — even if it means taking from those who are most vulnerable.

The United States is the largest donor of international humanitarian aid, contributing roughly $8 billion in emergency food aid over the past five years. But a significant portion of that food aid is “tied,” which means the food must be sourced from U.S. suppliers and transported on U.S. ships, even if cheaper alternatives exist. The benefits of tying go to politically-connected companies in the U.S. at the expense of aid recipients. It’s a prime example of cronyism at work.

Pinup Panini Food Truck Quits Over Proposed Regulations

Benjamin R. Freed at the DCist writes about a food truck that is going out of business because of proposed regulations:

Another D.C. food truck is leaving the road over the District government’s proposed regulations over the growing industry. Cori Bryant, the owner of the Pinup Panini sandwich truck, announced that today would be her last day serving pressed sandwiches out of the window of her light blue truck painted with the image of a 1940s-style pinup girl.

“The new regs are to much for this little startup,” Bryant wrote from her truck’s Twitter account this morning. And after serving today’s lunch crowd in Chinatown, Pinup Panini packed it up for good.

Crony Capitalism vs. American Food

Baylen Linnekin at Reason comments on cronyism in the dairy industry:

Historically, this industry has been one of the most visible practitioners of crony capitalism—at least since it began to use government to squeeze out competition from newfangled margarine—a less expensive alternative to butter—in the mid- to late-1800s. The industry later supported a similar push to ban cheap milk substitutes like filled milk—best (or, perhaps, worst) evidenced in the seminal 1938 Supreme Court case United States v. Carolene Products.

Report: Profits from Poverty, How Food Stamps Benefit Corporations

The Government Accountability Institute recently published a report detailing how the food stamp industry is receiving huge benefits from the program:

An investigation by the Government Accountability Institute has found that:

  • Three companies – J.P. Morgan EFS, Affiliated Computer Services, and eFunds – provide EBT services for 49 states and 3 US territories.
  • Since 2004, 18 of 24 states who contract with J.P. Morgan to provide welfare benefits have contracted to pay $560,492,596.02. New York alone has a seven-year contract worth $126,394,917.
  • Projected average food stamp spending post-recession will be 175%

The report concludes:

All too often poverty in America is used as a political weapon by both political parties to galvanize their voting base. What is lost in the midst of such politicking is the crony connection of corporations that have positioned themselves to profit from poverty.

Crony Baloney: Online Wine a Tough Sell

Online retail sales this year are thought to be 12% of total sales, and it’s not surprising why online sales keep growing. Buying online is convenient, selection is ever growing, and you don’t ever have to visit a crowded mall.

But one industry isn’t having much luck expanding their online sales. The wine industry isn’t anywhere near that 12% number, in fact, they are closer to 1%. It isn’t for lack of trying; as this Wall Street Journal article (subscription required) explains, there have been many attempts by both wineries and distributors, even including retail powerhouse Amazon, to sell wine online. Most have ended in failure.

Why has this been such a hard sell? Because of all the laws and regulations governing the sale of alcohol in the states. While these rules are ostensibly for public health and safety, many are blatantly in place to protect the local distributors and keep out any competition. For examples, the article states:

Violating wine-shipping rules and limits can lead to fines, suspension or, ultimately, termination of a winery’s license. Because of laws favoring local distributors, the wineries themselves can’t ship directly to consumers in 11 states, including Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma, according to advocacy group Free the Grapes…

Rich Bergsund, chief executive of Wine.com Inc., has experienced those vagaries firsthand. The San Francisco-based online wine merchant has been fined by New York state for shipping wine in gift baskets stuffed with food; state law mandates food and alcohol be shipped separately. It has had to build seven separate warehouses to satisfy differing sets of state regulations.

Wineries should be able to sell their wine online, and state laws shouldn’t protect local distributors at the expense of consumers. I give this two baloneys:

cronybaloney2

The War on Food Trucks

Nick Sorrentino at AgainstCronyCapitalism writes about the current battle over food trucks:

The war on low overhead food establishments is the main reason why those silly stories about lemonade stands run by children being shut down due to lack of permits popped up over the summer. Not that the lemonade stands are a threat, it is the “grown up” version of lemonade stands, the food truck, that restaurants are afraid of.

And they should be afraid. Food trucks make a lot of sense for nearly everyone but the owner of a restaurant. Sorry, but markets change. Restricting access to a service most people want just to favor an entrenched interest is unfair to both the entrepreneur and the taco eating public.

Atlanta Food Truck Park temporarily closed due to permit issues; re-opens

Jon Watson at the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Food and More blog writes about how in the past few weeks an entire group of food trucks were shut down because of improper permits:

Last Thursday, the Atlanta Police Department License and Permits unit arrived at the Atlanta Food Truck Park and began shutting down trucks left and right…

…the State of Georgia’s code… would mean a re-application process and hundreds of dollars in fees every time a food truck wants to operate from any location that isn’t one of the two on file with the State Health Department.

However, unlike many similar cases where brick and mortar restaurants push rules to harm food trucks, this story has a happy ending. The permitting issues were ironed out and the park has been re-opened!

Bethlehem council to tweak mobile vendor law

Nicole Radzievich of the Morning Call, an Eastern Pennsylvania newspaper, writes about one town’s changes to a mobile vendor law, which has one vendor upset:

Chris Morales of Easy Weenies told the council members he is disappointed with the recommendations.

“To be open two years, grow a business and, because a couple people want to complain, you took it right out of my hands,” Morales told council. “It really hurts me more than anything because I worked really hard.”