The odd joys of government lunacy

The odd joys of government lunacy

Before the tryptophan in the turkey induces somnolence, give thanks for living in such an entertaining country.

This year, for example, we learned that California’s legislature includes 93 persons who seem never to have had sex.

They enacted the “affirmative consent” law directing college administrators to tell students that sexual consent cannot be silence but must be “affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement” and “ongoing throughout a sexual activity.”

Claremont McKenna College requires “all” — not “both,” which would discriminate against groups — participants in a sexual engagement to understand that withdrawal of consent can be any behavior conveying “that an individual is hesitant, confused, uncertain.”

A severely moral California high school principal prohibited the football booster club from raising money by selling donated Chick-fil-A meals because this company opposed same-sex marriage.

The school superintendent approved the ban because “we value inclusivity and diversity.” Up to a point.

At a Washington state community college, invitations to a “happy hour” celebrating diversity and combating racism said white people were not invited.

At Broward College near Miami, a conservative who was asking students if they agreed that “big government sucks” was told by a campus security guard that she must take her question to the campus “free-speech area.”

She got off lightly: The federal government has distributed to local police, including those of some colleges and school districts, more than 600 surplus MRAP (mine-resistant ambush-protected) armored vehicles designed for Iraq and Afghanistan.

The federal government, which has Tomahawk cruise missiles and Apache and Lakota helicopters, used the code name “Geronimo” in the attack that killed Osama bin Laden but objected to the name of the Washington Redskins.

The Department of Homeland Security, unsleepingly vigilant, raided a Kansas City shop to stop sales of panties emblazoned with unauthorized Royals logos.

A US Forest Service article on safe marshmallow-toasting did not neglect to nag us: It suggested fruit rather than chocolate in s’mores. The droll Orange County Register wondered, “Why not replace the marshmallow with a Brussels sprout?”

The federal government’s food police began cracking down on schools’ fundraising bake sales: Step away from those brownies and put your hands on a fruit cup.

Niagara County, NY, spent $700,000 of its Tobacco Master Settlement Money not on fighting smoking but on golf course equipment.

In Seattle, the Freedom Socialist Party, which favors a $20-an-hour minimum wage, advertised a job opening for a Web developer to be paid $13 an hour.

Joe Biden was off by 160,839 when citing the number of people killed in the 2011 Joplin, Mo., tornado. He said 161,000. But the former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee expressed optimism about “the nation of Africa.”

Barack Obama explained the Keystone XL pipeline: “It is providing the ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land, down to the Gulf, where it will be sold everywhere else.

“That doesn’t have an impact on US gas prices.” Someone very patient should try to explain to him that prices of petroleum are set by a global market.

Hamlet: “Do you see yonder cloud that’s almost in shape of a camel?”

Polonius: “By the mass, and ’tis like a camel, indeed.”

Hamlet: “Methinks it is like a weasel.”

Polonius: “It is backed like a weasel.”

Hamlet: “Or like a whale?”

Polonius: “Very like a whale.”

Fortunately, Polonius was not among the Colorado Springs second-graders invited to use their imaginations in seeing shapes in clouds. Kody Smith said one looked like a gun. So a behavior report was filed against the 8-year-old.

A South Carolina high school student was arrested and suspended after having written a story about killing a dinosaur with a gun.

“The Great Immensity,” a climate-change musical financed by $700,000 from the National Science Foundation, quickly closed.

Outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, perhaps planning for wars with small carbon footprints, fretted that global warming “could threaten many of our training activities.”

Alarmed by reports that global warming will cause a 4-foot rise in sea levels, California Gov. Jerry Brown warned that “Los Angeles’ airport’s going to be underwater.” It is more than 120 feet above sea level.

Because everything confirms the theory of impending catastrophic global warming, in 2005 Hurricane Katrina was called a harbinger of increasingly violent weather caused by . . . well, you know.

Today, Louisianans are thankful that this was the ninth consecutive hurricane season without a major hurricane landfall.

Cows Flee California Seeking a Better Economic Climate

Cows Flee California Seeking a Better Economic Climate

By Bill Frezza

It’s not just millionaires and billionaires who are fleeing the economic madness in California. Even cows are starting to depart for greener pastures. That’s right, 400 bovine refugees shuffled off to Kansas just this month, with more expected to follow as over 100 dairy farms in California close their doors.

Why are cows voting with their hooves?

It’s hard to find a government program as insane as the complex web of price supports, market orders, direct payments, diversion programs, herd reductions, import barriers, export subsidies, and stacked-to-the-rafters cheese warehouses that characterize Uncle Sam’s efforts to “rationally manage” the dairy market. If you really want to understand how crony capitalism works to create market conditions only a Soviet commissar could love, take a look at what happens when byzantine federal regulations collide with state interventions.

Around the time of the New Deal, guaranteeing the milk supply joined life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as one of the cardinal responsibilities of government. While this may be ascribed to a desire by politicians to always have enough babies to kiss, some suspect that buying the votes of dairy farmers had something to do with it.

And so, while presidents come and go and Congress regularly passes reform bills to correct distortions caused by prior reforms, dairy programs enjoy the closest thing to perpetual life that a lobbyist could hope for. The main task of these programs is to make sure that market forces will never be allowed to balance supply and demand.

To ensure the public good, the federal government and some states set a minimum legal price on milk. Selling milk for less can actually land you in jail. While this doesn’t sound like such a good deal for consumers or innovative producers, it’s great for well-connected dairy farmers and the politicians they support.

Artificially high prices impose a tax on anybody who drinks milk or eats cheese and other dairy products. Estimates put the cost to consumers as high as $5 billion a year. But since this tax is hidden, legislators get to enjoy the gratitude of dairy farmers without having to face the wrath of consumers, who remain in the dark about how much they are individually paying.

Our nation’s 65,000 dairy farms have been producing a chronic oversupply of milk for as long as the government has taken an interest in their product. While 65,000 dairy farms sounds like a lot for a market that can’t gag down all the milk modern hormone-boosted cows produce, things used to be even worse. There were once 200,000 dairy farms producing an oversupply of milk, at one point filling government cheese warehouses with $4 billion dollars of uneaten inventory.

Ever wondered where government cheese came from?

If milk can’t find buyers at artificially inflated prices, the government buys the excess with our tax dollars and turns it into cheese. But we aren’t allowed to eat the cheese we paid for as this would be unfair to commercial cheese makers. So the cheese sits in storage until it either rots or can be quietly given away to the poor, both at home and abroad.

The crisis in California stems from Golden State cheese makers carrying more political clout than dairy farmers. As a result, the minimum legal price of milk in California is 2 ½ cents per pound less than the average minimum legal price in other states. Two and a half cents may not sound like much, but in a business in chronic oversupply, that’s larger than typical profit margins.

With feedstock costs skyrocketing due to the diversion of corn to make subsidized ethanol-another brilliantly managed business- California dairy farmers are on the ropes. Meanwhile, California cheese makers enjoy a competitive advantage because it is illegal for out-of-state cheese makers to buy cheaper California milk.

In desperation, instead of shipping the excess milk out of state, California dairy farms are shutting down and shipping their cows to states with higher minimum prices, allowing them to contribute to the glut there. This has caused California milk lobbyists to scream bloody murder, demanding that California bring its minimum prices in line with other states. Cheese lobbyists just smile, knowing that they have more legislators in their pockets and can afford to sit tight. That’s just how central planning works.

A few years ago, the Office of Management and Budget assessed federal dairy price support programs as part of a broad initiative to gauge the effectiveness of over 1,000 government programs. It found that the dairy program had not demonstrated results, has design flaws that limit its effectiveness, and distorts trade in a way that puts the U.S. in violation of World Trade Organization rules.

What action was taken as a result of this negative report? None, of course. If you go to ExpectMore.gov to read the program assessment, a note pops up that says, “This is historical material, ‘frozen in time.’ The web site is no longer updated and links to external web sites and some internal pages will not work.” That’s just how special-interest democracy works.

So bon voyage, intrepid cows. Yet another trillion-dollar farm bill is being cobbled together in Washington as we speak. And the odds that any deficit producing, wealth-destroying, consumer-shafting dairy programs will be phased out, allowing the dairy industry to restructure itself on rational lines, are about as good as that of the Supreme Court waking up one morning and ruling that the Constitution never granted Congress the power to set milk prices in the first place.