Category Archives: Nanny State

CEI Podcast for September 5, 2013: A New Energy Drink Scare?

Have a listen here.

Fellow in Consumer Policy Studies Michelle Minton puts a scary new study about energy drinks and children into its proper, non-scary context. The risks that do exist are best dealt with through parental supervision, not legislation.


CEI Podcast for June 7, 2013: National Donut Day

Have a listen here.

June 7 is National Donut Day. General Counsel Sam Kazman is urging Americans to eat not one but two donuts—one for themselves, and one for their liberty. Contrary to what some regulators and food activists might say, it’s ok to indulge now and then.

CEI Podcast for May 30, 2013: The Politics of Caffeine

Have a listen here.

The Food and Drug Administration recently announced plans to investigate, and possibly regulate, caffeine consumption. Fellow in Consumer Policy Studies Michelle Minton prefers separation of food and state.

Regulation Roundup


Regulation of the Day 230: The Temperature of Beer

beer in ice
The state of Indiana regulates the temperature at which convenience stores may sell beer. Specifically, they must sell it at room temperature. Cold beer is forbidden. The law, unique to Indiana, is presumably motivated by temperance concerns. People can’t buy beer on the spur of the moment and it drink it cold right away. They have to take it home and refrigerate it first. Instead of instant gratification, people have to plan ahead. This promotes more responsible drinking habits, the thinking goes.

Then again, the law exempts wine sales. Any Indianan who wants to can buy a chilled bottle of wine from the local 7-11 and drink it immediately. Instead of keeping people sober, the law amounts in practice to discrimination against beer. Wine producers might not mind that so much, but nearly everyone else does.

Even so, a push to overturn the law in the legislature failed earlier this year. That’s why three convenience store chains are suing to overturn the law. The case is currently moving through federal court. An employee of one chain told WISH, a local television station:

“Thorton’s has not built a convenience store in Indiana since 2006,” said David Bridgers of Thorton’s convenience stores, “for the sole reason of its antiquated alcohol laws.”

So not only does Indiana’s warm beer law fail to promote temperance, it is directly hampering job creation in the state.

The plaintiffs also argue that Indiana’s room-temperature beer law is unconstitutional, violating the equal protection clause in two ways. One, the law only applies to convenience stores. Grocery stores and other types of retailers may sell cold beer. Different retailers shouldn’t be treated differently, they argue. Two, wine should not have an artificial competitive advantage over beer. Government’s job is to ensure that they compete as equals on level ground, not to tilt that ground unequally.

Scot Imus of the IPCA, a trade association for convenience stores, told a trade publication that “We are confident that the court will agree with us that it is not the job of government to pick winners and losers in the marketplace.”

Most Indianans are hoping he’s right.

CEI Podcast for February 21, 2013: The Wages of Sin Taxes

sin tax
Have a listen here.

CEI and the Adam Smith Institute have teamed up to publish a U.S. edition of Christopher Snowdon’s study “The Wages of Sin Taxes.” He argues that sin taxes are an ineffective way to treat the harmful effects of drinking, smoking, and obesity. Fellow in Consumer Policy Studies Michelle Minton wrote the foreword.

Regulation Roundup

polydactyl cat
Some of the stranger happenings in the world of regulation:

  • In the village of Great Neck, New York, hanging laundry in your front yard is an offense punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and 15 days in jail.
  • Ernest Hemingway famously owned polydactyl cats, which have six toes instead of the usual five. Descendants of those cats still live at the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum in Florida. The USDA is insisting that the museum “obtain an exhibitor’s license; contain and cage the cats in individual shelters at night, or alternatively, construct a higher fence or an electric wire atop the existing brick wall, or alternatively, hire a night watchman to monitor the cats; tag each cat for identification purposes; construct additional elevated resting surfaces for the cats within their existing enclosures; and pay fines for the Museum’s non-compliance with the AWA.”
  • A California DMV office issued a driver’s license to a blind man.
  • Canada is considering scrapping its food package size regulations. Heinz wants to keep the rules in place.
  • Scientists, for a BBC special, were going to point a radio telescope at a recently discovered planet, in hopes of discovering signals put out by an intelligent alien civilization. Health and Safety regulators shut them down because of a lack of procedures in place in the unlikely event they find something.
  • Health and safety regulators in a Manchester, UK hospital banned metal paper clips after an employee cut their finger with one. A wit remarked, “We should just be lucky the safety memo didn’t run to two pages, that might have proved a bit tricky.”
  • Hairdressers in the EU may soon face a ban on high heels and jewelry. They will be required to wear non-slip shoes, converse with clients, and face a limit on how many haircuts they can perform in a day. The cost for the UK alone would be £75 million, or about $120 million.