Externalities in our Baby’s Food


The American Academy of Pediatrics issued the guidelines in a statementand scientific technical report on Monday. The group joins other medical and advocacy groups that have expressed concern about the growing body of scientific evidence indicating that certain chemicals that enter foods may interfere with the body’s natural hormones in ways that may affect long-term growth and development.

The pediatricians’ group, which represents some 67,000 of the country’s children’s doctors, is also calling for more rigorous testing and regulation of thousands of chemicals used as food additives or indirectly added to foods when they are used in manufacturing or leach from packaging and plastics.

Among the chemicals that raised particular concern are nitrates and nitrites, which are used as preservatives, primarily in meat products; phthalates, which are used to make plastic packaging; and bisphenols, used in the lining of metal cans for canned food products. Also of concern to the pediatricians are perfluoroalkyl chemicals, or PFCs, used in grease-proof paper and packaging, and perchlorates, an antistatic agent used in plastic packaging.

Source: NYT 7/24/18.


Government for Sale

Held every year at the Washington Hilton, the prayer breakfast festivities span several days during the first week of February, with the American president appearing at a ceremonial breakfast on Thursday. The days are packed with programming, after which guests head to private suites with names like the Africa room and the Middle East room, or to fancier hotels in nearby Georgetown, where they mingle late into the night — praying, sharing business cards and sometimes draining expensive bottles of cognac. A favorite activity is an annual midnight tour of the Capitol, hosted by a former congressman.

Some describe the gathering as similar to the World Economic Forum, except that Jesus is the organizing principle. The eclectic guest list has included the Dalai Lama, the Rev. Billy Graham, Mother Teresa, the singer Bono and the former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs, as well as the Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and President Paul Kagame of Rwanda.

Lobbyists say the event has become even more of a coveted invitation in the Trump era, as foreign politicians scrambled to forge connections with a president who swept into office with few ties to the international community or Washington’s hierarchy of established foreign access brokers.

Source: NYT 7/29/18.

Quotes: When It Comes to Activism…

“See, in my community violence is a form of currency,” he continued. “It’s not about if you are violent, it’s about if people buy into the idea that you may be violent. They’ll treat you a certain way.

“In middle-class communities, intelligence is the same thing,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you are intelligent, if people think you’re intelligent you’ll be treated with certain reverence because of it. Once I started to pick that up, I was like, ‘Right. O.K. I can see how I would navigate over here.’ ”

Too often, he said, people are reluctant to admit they are wrong, to save face. “It’s much easier to see the holes in another person’s story than it is to get honest about the yarns you’ve been spinning.”

When it comes to politics and activism, “we think that if we condemn someone hard enough, maybe they’ll just humble themselves and admit that they’re wrong,” he said.

“I don’t think anybody works like that, do they?”

Darren McGarvey, Poverty Safari, quoted in NYT 7/21/18.

Was Sex Better Under Socialism?

A comparative sociological study of East and West Germans conducted after reunification in 1990 found that Eastern women had twice as many orgasms as Western women. Researchers marveled at this disparity in reported sexual satisfaction, especially since East German women suffered from the notorious double burden of formal employment and housework. In contrast, postwar West German women had stayed home and enjoyed all the labor-saving devices produced by the roaring capitalist economy. But they had less sex, and less satisfying sex, than women who had to line up for toilet paper.

Source: NYT 8/12/17.

The full article, worth reading, makes the point that Eastern European communism was a stultifying economic system where even toilet paper was hard to come by, citizens didn’t have to work to the point of exhaustion each day, as they do in the post-1989 capitalist economies, thereby leaving them time for recreation.

See for example, my earlier post of rising overtime hours of US manufacturing workers.

Quoting a former citizen of East Germany who compared her life to her daughter living under capitalism.

Ms. Durcheva was a single mother for many years, but she insisted that her life before 1989 was more gratifying than the stressful existence of her daughter, who was born in the late 1970s.

“All she does is work and work,” Ms. Durcheva told me in 2013, “and when she comes home at night she is too tired to be with her husband. But it doesn’t matter, because he is tired, too. They sit together in front of the television like zombies. When I was her age, we had much more fun.”

Creeping Socialism?

only 19% of Americans ages 18 to 29 identified themselves as “capitalists.”

From a recent Time Magazine article, Saving Capitalism.

A couple of weeks ago, a poll conducted by the Harvard Institute of Politics found something startling: only 19% of Americans ages 18 to 29 identified themselves as “capitalists.” In the richest and most market-oriented country in the world, only 42% of that group said they “supported capitalism.” The numbers were higher among older people; still, only 26% considered themselves capitalists. A little over half supported the system as a whole.

Source: Time Magazine, May 12, 2016.

The Harvard Institute of Politics poll can be found here.

Your Risk of Dying From ….

Your risk of dying from various causes, as of 2016, according to the National Safety Council.

Lifetime odds of death for selected causes, United States, 2016
Cause of Death Odds of Dying
Heart Disease 1 in 6
Cancer 1 in 7
Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease 1 in 27
Suicide 1 in 91
Motor Vehicle Crash 1 in 102
Opioid pain killers 1 in 109
Fall 1 in 119
Gun Assault 1 in 285
Pedestrian Incident 1 in 561
Motorcyclist 1 in 846
Drowning 1 in 1,086
Fire or Smoke 1 in 1,506
Choking on Food 1 in 3,138
Bicyclist 1 in 4,050
Accidental Gun Discharge 1 in 8,305
Sunstroke 1 in 8,976
Electrocution, Radiation, Extreme Temperatures and Pressure 1 in 14,630
Sharp objects 1 in 27,407
Hornet, wasp and bee stings 1 in 54,093
Hot surfaces and substances 1 in 56,316
Cataclysmic Storm 1 in 62,288
Lightning 1 in 114,195
Dog attack 1 in 132,614
Railway passenger 1 in 178,741
Passenger on an airplane 1 in 205,552

Those Damn Government Bureaucrats, Keeping Us From Eating Poison Food Again…

At least 53 people have been sickened by tainted, chopped romaine lettuce in an expanding E. coli outbreak that now spans 16 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday.

At least 53 people have been sickened by tainted, chopped romaine lettuce in an expanding E. coli outbreak that now spans 16 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday.

Source: New York Times, E.Coli Outbreak Tied to Romain Lettuce, 4/19/18.

Unless you have an advanced chemistry lab in your house or you grow all your own food — meaning, 99.99% of the US population — you assume the food you buy in grocery stores and are served in restaurants is safe to eat.  That assumption is right with only infinitesimal exceptions.  Let’s do the math using some “back of the envelope” numbers

  • 360 million Americans
  • Each eats 3 meals a day on average
  • Each meal consists of 3 food items on average

That means, on average, conservatively, Americans consume 3,240,000,000 — that’s 3.2 billion — food items per day.   This is a conservative estimate because in the age or processed foods, most food items contain dozens of ingredients.

Accordingly to the article, over 24 days, March 14 to April 6, or 77,760,000,000 (that 77.8 Billion) food items consumed, 53 people were reported to be made ill by the contaminated lettuce. Even if the 53 reported cases was only 1/100th of the actual number of e.coli cases, that means the food supply error rate was only 1 sickness per 147 Million food items.  The average person, who lives to 80, only consumes under 300,000 food items his his or her life has a less than 0.02% chance of food poisoning in their lifetime.

In contrast, the National Safety Council reports your risk of dying from a lightening strike in your lifetime as 1 in 114,000.



Chart: Dark Money

Dark Money groups are growing in size, scope, and share of election spending with each election cycle.

The total amount of “dark money” — campaign spending that cannot be traced back to individuals due to intentional obfuscation of its source in recent elections.

Chart - Outside spend wo attribution - 2018-04-19

Source: Center for Responsive Politics, 4/19/18.