Living has risks. Government should not prohibit things that are not proven safe.

The Des Moines Register recently published a report about Madison County Boar of Supervisors considering a requirement that wind turbines be setback 1.5 miles from the nearest home.  Ben Johnson, a cardiologist who lives in Madison County was quoted as saying, “Industrial wind turbines have never been proven to be safe, nor free of adverse health effects,”

It is difficult, if not impossible, to prove that anything is safe or free of adverse health effects.   For example, driving or riding in a car at any speed has never been proven to be safe. No amount of second-hand barbeque smoke has been proven safe.  Eating chocolate has never been proven free of adverse health effects. We live in a risky world. It would be impossible to live our lives if we were prohibited from doing anything that was not proven safe or free from adverse health effects.

We should not have policies that prohibit things until they are proven safe or free of adverse health effects. Unless something is proven to be unreasonably dangerous, it should be allowed.

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Reduce monopoly protection.

Patents are not natural property rights.  They are government created and enforced monopoly rights.  It is debatable whether patents encourage or hinder innovation and inventiveness. Even if patents promote inventiveness, there is no specific optimal number of years of protection.  In many instances, there is a good case to be made that no patent right,s or very limited patent rights, might spur more invention.  The case of pharmaceuticals and medical devices is more complicated because of government regulations that require much greater spending before a product is allowed on the market.  Even in those cases, we should err on the side of more limited monopoly rights and less use of government force and protection.  Humankind has made tremendous progress by being free to copy the ideas of one another.  What if fire, or the wheel, had been allowed to be patented?  Would that have spurred invention?  Our elected representatives should support shorter periods of time for monopoly patent protection.
Links to Register guest opinions:

Diet soda makes you fat?

The Des Moines Register on Friday, July 12, 2013 included an article that stated:

“…a Purdue University study has found that diet sodas may be linked to a number of health problems from obesity to diabetes to heart disease, just like their more sugary counterparts. Susie Swithers, a professor of psychological sciences and a behavioral neuroscientist, reviewed a number of recent studies looking at whether drinking diet soft drinks over the long term increases the likelihood that a person will overeat, gain weight and then develop other health problems.”  

If you go to the source, you find that the author of the “study” classifies the paper as an “opinion”, not a scientific study.  She reviewed a number of other studies and wrote her opinion about what she concluded from her review.  She speculated that drinking artificially sweetened soda may induce “metabolic derangements” that may end up causing a person to ear more other food.

I think she is wrong and I think she reversed the cause and effect.

I speculate that people who are thin don’t worry so much about what they drink and so they drink regular sugar soft drinks. People who are overweight try to reduce calories when they can, and diet soda is a relatively easy way to reduce calories. So, there is a tendency for people who are overweight to drink diet soft drinks. The article/opinion reverses the cause and effect. Diet soda does not cause obesity. People who are obese, or who tend to have weight control problems, drink more diet soda than relatively thin people.

Register link: http://desmoinesregister.ia.newsmemory.com/?token=13abe498c163be0585425849bd704e33&cnum=2598331&fod=1111111STD&selDate=20130714&licenseType=paid_subscriber&

Source article: http://www.cell.com/trends/endocrinology-metabolism/abstract/S1043-2760(13)00087-8