What the right’s gas stove freakout was really about

“touches on a real, coast-to-coast crusade by liberal city and state leaders to prohibit gas stoves and furnaces in new buildings, on the grounds that they endanger health and contribute to climate change. But the White House has disavowed enacting any such ban at the federal level. (“The president does not support banning gas stoves,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters after the issue came up repeatedly at Wednesday’s news briefing.)”

“In December, Beyer and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) asked the Consumer Product Safety Commission to look at the health risks posed by gas stoves’ methane emissions.
Then a member of that five-person commission suggested to Bloomberg News in a story this week that a ban on new gas stoves could be one of many options to be pursued in the future. But the member, Biden nominee Richard Trumka Jr., had previously failed to get his fellow commissioners to support even regulating stoves, as POLITICO’s E&E News reported Tuesday. Instead, the commission plans to gather “public input” on stoves’ health hazards and possible solutions.

“I am not looking to ban gas stoves and the CPSC has no proceeding to do so,” Chair Alexander Hoehn-Saric later said in a statement.

By then, though, the issue had escalated to culture-war level — and lawmakers unleashed a barrage of snarky comments.”

“a rising number of studies point to possible health hazards, increasing the urgency of squelch any potential federal ban.

A recently published study nabbed headlines for concluding that gas stove emissions contribute to one in eight cases of childhood asthma — likening it to the dangers posed by second-hand tobacco smoke. And a 2022 report from the American Lung Association that looked at dozens of prior studies found that gas stoves and ovens are major sources of harmful indoor air pollutants that the federal government doesn’t regulate because they occur indoors.”

What 2022 Taught Us About Freeing American Alcohol Markets

“In the first two years of the pandemic, American alcohol rules underwent a fundamental shift. States started enacting emergency orders—and then cementing those orders in legislation—that authorized never-before-seen innovations in alcohol policy, such as letting restaurants and bars deliver booze and sell it to go. But if 2020 and 2021 ushered in new hopes of opening up American alcohol markets, 2022 is the year when protectionism struck back.
In the early months of the pandemic, state governments were reacting in real time to unprecedented circumstances. The new environment included stay-at-home orders, social distancing guidelines, and masking mandates. It no longer became viable for most retail businesses to rely solely on an in-person customer base, as the entire economy shifted over to a delivery-centric model. Restaurants, breweries, wineries, and neighborhood liquor stores all faced an existential business crisis.

States reacted by upending a nearly centurylong consensus on alcohol regulations. Before, it was essentially unheard-of to let a pizzeria throw in a margarita with a delivery order. Then states started issuing emergency orders that allowed it. And practices that had been slightly more common—such as allowing alcohol to be included in grocery store deliveries, which numerous states permitted before COVID-19—spread to an unprecedented number of locales.

Unsurprisingly, these changes proved popular. In states where citizens were polled, strong majorities expressed their support for more types of to-go and delivery booze. Lawmakers can read polls, and a wave of states either extended the reforms or made them permanent.

The results were dramatic. When 2020 began, no place in America had a statewide to-go or delivery alcohol law for restaurants. By the fall of 2021, 29 states had such a law on the books. During that time, another seven states passed laws permitting alcohol delivery from off-premise stores, such as grocery or liquor stores, and eight states passed laws expanding the delivery capabilities of breweries, distilleries, and other alcohol producers.

But in 2022, this explosive rate of reform slowed down. The progress didn’t stop altogether: Nine more states passed to-go or delivery alcohol laws for restaurants, and one more state authorized alcohol delivery from off-premise stores. But the pace of change noticeably declined. Worse yet, several reforms suffered high-profile defeats.”

“The opposition has finally had a chance to get organized. And by the opposition, I mean entrenched economic interests. In Colorado, incumbent liquor store owners felt the proposed ballot initiatives would hurt their bottom lines by allowing other types of stores, like grocery or chain stores, to sell and deliver alcohol. . And in California and elsewhere, alcohol wholesalers have become increasingly aggressive in opposing any direct-to-consumer reforms that would let alcohol makers cut out the middleman and ship products directly to their customers.”

Oregon’s Newly Legal Magic Mushroom Industry Could Be Strangled by Restrictive Zoning Regulations

“The initiative that legalized magic mushroom businesses allows cities and counties to ban them via ballot initiative. Local governments also retain the power to craft “time, place, and manner” regulations over psilocybin businesses.
This past election, 25 of Oregon’s 36 counties voted to ban psilocybin businesses, including four that voted to legalize psilocybin in 2020. Only two counties that put the questions to voters, Deschutes and Jackson counties, kept these businesses legal.

And this week, those two counties will consider new land use regulations that could severely restrict where newly legal “psilocybin service centers” can set up shop.”

“When marijuana was legalized in Oregon, it went through a similar journey. Voters approved a relatively liberal legalization ballot initiative. The legislature followed this up with more constricting regulations. Then a long list of local governments opted not to allow marijuana businesses. Those that did often imposed zoning regulations that made a lot of prime real estate off-limits to the new industry.

Given that history, it’s perhaps unsurprising that local governments would want to tightly regulate legalized psychedelics facilities—given how novel and new they are.

Subjecting new industries to heavy regulation is nevertheless a great way to strangle them in the crib. A business as weird as legalized shrooms requires a lot of experimentation. And we shouldn’t trust county commissions to design the perfect trip.”

Cities Switch From Requiring Too Many Parking Spaces To Banning Too Many Parking Spaces

“This is part of a trend.
Across the country, jurisdictions are waking up to the high costs of mandated parking. But the reforms they enact often pair an elimination of costly parking minimums with counterproductive parking maximums.”

“imposing parking maximums comes with its own costs.

At best, they’ll force developers to make some special showing to city officials that their buildings will require more spaces than what the parking maximum allows in order to obtain a variance. The costs and delays of that process will be paid by consumers too.

Worse still, parking maximums could prevent builders from adding parking spaces they think are necessary.

The problem with parking minimums isn’t per se that they made buildings more expensive; it’s that they added expenses people don’t think are worth paying.

If people are willing to pay for additional parking spaces but are prevented from having them, that will reduce the utility of a new development. Residents of a new apartment might have to compete for too few parking spaces. Business owners could lose customers for lack of available parking.

Multiply those results across a whole city, and overall economic efficiency suffers.”

The U.K. Competition Authority ‘Wins,’ but Consumers Lose

“Competition regulators around the world are attacking some of the most successful and innovative entrepreneurs in the world—American companies. Strangely, they can’t seem to agree on what markets these companies are “monopolizing” or what they have done wrong. And regulators sometimes contradict each other with their complaints.
The most recent example of this behavior comes from the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority. It decided to force Meta, the parent company of Facebook, to sell GIPHY—a popular tool that makes short, animated and looped videos (GIFs) that users love to share in their social media posts—to an “approved buyer.”

But were U.K. consumers harmed by the previous integration of this service? And will they be better off when a different, likely also large, company owns a mostly free online tool that people use for fun on social media?

The short answers are no and no. Much like the dog that finally catches the car, this “win” for proponents of breaking up American tech businesses will actually be a loss for the consumers they’re supposed to protect. The U.K. decision will hurt the biggest benefactors of the GIPHY-Meta merger: creators and users. And because of the nature of many internet services, it is unlikely the impact will only be felt in the U.K.”

“So how does a Meta-GIPHY acquisition actually help consumers? It’s easy to think of it just as a fun way to drop Real Housewives into your text banter with friends or to show your fandom for a favorite sports team or artist. Users benefit from the ease of inserting these fun graphics through a service like GIPHY rather than having to create them on their own. Still, there are other GIF generators users could reach for, and they typically do when they can’t find what they want on GIPHY.

Social media users, however, are not GIPHY’s only consumers. Brands, creators, and artists use GIPHY to design digital products that increase the awareness of their brands. Since most of GIPHY is free, that allows folks to do so at a very low cost. Still, these same creators have many other options when it comes to how to gain similar awareness, such as Snap filters or Instagram stickers. And this current model has resulted in minimal costs for its clients.

However, with a new company purchasing the service, or if it is forced to go independent, GIPHY’s revenue model could completely change. Instead, GIPHY’s new owner could seek a pay-per-use each time a person posts a GIF or charge a subscription fee to users. Even if the pricing model doesn’t change, creators of sponsored content that supports GIPHY might not find as much value in a new owner or a less integrated service. They might then spend their resources elsewhere, leaving GIPHY to languish.

Given the lack of clear harm from a Meta-GIPHY merger, why did the U.K. decide to intervene? U.K. regulators feared that Meta was getting too big, and they wanted their “approved buyers” to own it instead. This “big is bad” rhetoric is especially ironic given that Meta is not the behemoth it once was.”

“There is a concerning, deeper message here, and in actions like the FTC’s decision to challenge Meta’s acquisition of Within, that is alarming for the future of free markets, innovation, and business. Regulators are telling successful American companies not to innovate without permission, and that even if an acquisition benefits consumers, it still may not be approved.”

“Do we want consumers to pick winners and losers in the marketplace, or do we want to permit politicians to prop up the companies they like, at the expense of American businesses?”

How Federal Energy Regulations Make Dishwashers Worse

“The increase in unused dishwashers is correlated with federal energy efficiency standards that have made newer models less effective. In the last 20 years, the U.S. Department of Energy has twice tightened those standards, which limit the amount of water and electricity that dishwashers use. Manufacturers have met those standards by building machines that recirculate less water over a longer wash cycle.
Data compiled by D.C.’s Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) show that average cycle times rose from just over an hour when the first standards were adopted in 1987 to nearly two-and-a-half hours as of 2018. In complaints collected by CEI, many consumers said the longer cycle times had led them to start handwashing dishes.

The regression in dishwasher use is a great lesson in unintended consequences. As Procter & Gamble points out in its “do it” campaign, handwashing uses far more water than machine washing. Environmental standards that discourage the use of machines undermine the original goals of those rules.”

“The Trump administration briefly liberalized dishwasher standards, but the Biden administration quickly reimposed the old rules. Millions of Americans will now spill needless gallons of water down the drain by cleaning their dishes in the sink while a machine that could have done the work for them sits sadly handicapped and idle.”

Review: Can Legal Weed Win? Yes, but Only Through Deregulation

“When California legalized recreational marijuana in 2016, the state had more than 3,000 weed shops. They ostensibly served the medical market, but the rules were so loose that pretty much anyone who wanted pot could buy it legally. Six years later, California had less than half as many licensed marijuana merchants, accounting for between a quarter and a third of total sales.
Something clearly has gone wrong “when you try to legalize weed and accidentally end up illegalizing it instead,” note University of California, Davis, economists Robin Goldstein and Daniel Sumner. In their book Can Legal Weed Win?, they explain how burdensome licensing requirements, regulations, and taxes have frustrated plans to displace the black market.”