Beck distorts regulations to smear "Sunstein and the choice architects"

››› ››› TERRY KREPEL & SHAUNA THEEL

Glenn Beck cited a litany of cases as examples of how "choice architects have changed your life" through supposedly excessive regulation. But Beck misleadingly or falsely described the nature of many of the examples he cited.

Beck attacks "Cass Sunstein and the choice architects" for promulgating regulations

Beck: Your life has been changed "because you're Homer Simpson and you haven't noticed." From the September 22 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:

BECK: If you think I'm exaggerating, let's take a look at how the choice architects have changed your life all because you're Homer Simpson and you haven't noticed. These are just the things that they have done in the last 18 months on food. Now, this is all going to be up on Fox News.com, Fox Nation, TheBlaze.com and GlennBeck.com. I want you to see all of these things because it's too much to even show you. But let me just start with food.

Left to your own devices, you're gong to eat too much, you're going to be a big fat fatty, and you'll eat the wrong food. You'll become unhealthy. Well, enter Cass Sunstein and the choice architects. Boston officials -- remember who is in charge of Boston; oh, yeah, that's right, Barack Obama's best friend -- they're now considering a ban on soda in vending machines and snack bars all across the city. The reason? Well, people are too fat. A third-grader was given a harsh punishment of a week's detention. Why? Not for a fight, not for a gun, but for violating junk state laws on junk food limits. She wasn't trafficking in chocolate to other students, no, no, no. She had a Jolly Rancher. And when I say a Jolly Rancher, I don't mean a bag; I mean a Jolly Rancher. A week's detention.

New York City had a bill introduced last March. In it, it read, "No owner or operator of a restaurant in the state shall use salt in any form in the preparation of any food for consumption by customers." Restaurants would be fined $1,000. California, the first to ban trans fats to battle heart disease, because it's best for you. The FDA, in an amazing thing, threatened to crack down on Cheerios. They threatened -- here's the letter -- threatened to regulate them. Cheerios. Why? Because they made unauthorized health claims. Notice they didn't say "inaccurate"; they said "unauthorized." The FDA threatened to, quote, "consider the cereal a drug which could not be marketed without it all being submitted first for approval." Cheerios.

[...]

OK, so we're telling you about all the regulations that have been put in place in just the past 18 months. The solution for violence? Ban guns. Toy safety? Regulate yard sales. Can't have yard sales anymore. Remember Operation Resale Roundup we told you about? Nobody else reported on it, we said it was a big deal. Your yard sale is being regulated. And now every private transaction over $600 annually, you have to fill out a form for the IRS. That one was tucked into the health care bill to raise $17 billion to help pay for the health care -- if I sell something for $600, I have to now report it to the -- excuse me? Private transactions?

San Francisco now wants to ban pets because -- well, you can't sell pets because too many people just don't know what they're getting into. Georgia, Georgia cited -- oh, this is not Georgia, this is Georgia -- cited a man, we told you yesterday, for growing vegetables, growing vegetables on his own property and then giving them away. Starting next year, California begins imposing strict efficiency standards on big-screen TVs. You're not going to be able to get a TV like this or even smaller in California because it's too big and uses too much energy. Jeans, baggy pants, banned, Georgia town. San Francisco, they also want to ban Happy Meals at McDonald's because, well, you're marketing to kids, they want the toy. By the way, there's a recommendation out now by the Institute of Medicine that there should be no-fast-food zoning. Just like no-gun zones, no-fast-food zones around school. They'll just keep pushing them out farther and farther, out of the food deserts.

The FTC has now begun to regulate bloggers. Why would you do that? It's not freedom of speech, no, no, no, we just want to regulate them a little bit. The Department of Labor has cracked down on unpaid internships, saying they are tantamount to exploitation. So now they just won't get any experience.

Beck offers false or misleading descriptions of regulations

Proposed Boston soda ban would apply only to city-owned property. Beck said:

Boston officials -- remember who is in charge of Boston; oh, yeah, that's right, Barack Obama's best friend -- they're now considering a ban on soda in vending machines and snack bars all across the city. The reason? Well, people are too fat.

Contrary to Beck's claim that a proposed Boston "ban on soda" would apply "all over the city," The Boston Globe reported that proposed restrictions would apply only to "sugar-sweetened beverages" sold "on city-owned property."

Jolly Rancher incident stemmed from school policy, not state law. Beck said:

A third-grader was given a harsh punishment of a week's detention. Why? Not for a fight, not for a gun, but for violating junk state laws on junk food limits. She wasn't trafficking in chocolate to other students, no, no, no. She had a Jolly Rancher. And when I say a Jolly Rancher, I don't mean a bag; I mean a Jolly Rancher. A week's detention.

In fact, The Houston Chronicle reported that the 10-year-old Texas girl who received a week's detention for "having a Jolly Rancher at lunch" was punished not due to "junk state laws on junk food limits," as Beck claimed, but because "[t]he district prohibits students from having candy and gum on campus." The Chronicle quoted a school superintendent saying that "the state's school nutrition policy bans certain foods of minimal nutritional value, including candy and gum," but also noted a state official stating that the policy "does not apply to lunches that students bring from home or to a candy swap between friends."

New Calif. trans fats ban applies only to restaurants. Beck said:

California, the first to ban trans fats to battle heart disease, because it's best for you.

In fact, the trans fats ban that went into effect at the beginning of 2010 applies only to restaurant food. California had previously banned trans fats in school food.

Claim removed from Cheerios packaging after FDA determined General Mills' research didn't "clearly support the claim." Beck said:

The FDA, in an amazing thing, threatened to crack down on Cheerios. They threatened -- here's the letter -- threatened to regulate them. Cheerios. Why? Because they made unauthorized health claims. Notice they didn't say "inaccurate"; they said "unauthorized." The FDA threatened to, quote, "consider the cereal a drug which could not be marketed without it all being submitted first for approval." Cheerios.

In a May 5, 2009, letter to General Mills, maker of Cheerios, the FDA stated that claims on Cheerios packaging, including that "in just 6 weeks Cheerios can reduce bad cholesterol by an average of 4 percent," indicate that the cereal "is promoted for conditions that cause it to be a drug because the product is intended for use in the prevention, mitigation, and treatment of disease" and the cereal "may not be legally marketed with the above claims in the United States without an approved new drug application." The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that studies submitted by General Mills to back up the claims were determined by the FDA to not "clearly support the claim," and that the questioned claims have been removed from Cheerios packaging, though the company "continues to press the matter with the FDA."

Regulations don't ban yard sales, they ban yard sales from selling recalled items. Beck said:

Toy safety? Regulate yard sales. Can't have yard sales anymore. Remember Operation Resale Roundup we told you about? Nobody else reported on it, we said it was a big deal. Your yard sale is being regulated.

In 2008, Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, which prohibits the sale of recalled products, including by resale stores and at yard sales. Reason's Hit and Run blog noted that while "technically" anyone who sells recalled merchandise "could be on the hook for thousands of dollars worth of fines," it is "unlikely" that federal officials "are going to bust up your yard sale."

Man growing vegetables violated zoning laws, land has since been rezoned to permit such activity. Beck said:

Georgia, Georgia cited -- oh, this is not Georgia, this is Georgia -- cited a man, we told you yesterday, for growing vegetables, growing vegetables on his own property and then giving them away.

Georgia resident Steve Miller was not fined for "growing vegetables on his own property and then giving them away," as Beck claimed; he was fined for growing vegetables on land not properly zoned for the amount of vegetables he was growing -- he reportedly had "about one and a quarter acres in production." Atlanta Magazine reported that while Miller is fighting fines related to the zoning violation, his land has since been rezoned to permit his vegetable operation.

San Francisco seeks to ban toys in fast-food meals, not the meals themselves. Beck said:

San Francisco, they also want to ban Happy Meals at McDonald's because, well, you're marketing to kids, they want the toy.

Contrary to Beck's claim that San Francisco is seeking "to ban Happy Meals at McDonald's because, well, you're marketing to kids, they want the toy," the proposed law would establish that meals "must contain fruits and vegetables, not exceed 600 calories or 200 calories for a single food item and must not have beverages that have excessive fat or sugar" in order to offer toys and other "incentive items."

FTC blogger regulation simply requires bloggers offering endorsements to disclose payments they received from the subject. Beck said:

The FTC has now begun to regulate bloggers. Why would you do that? It's not freedom of speech, no, no, no, we just want to regulate them a little bit.

In fact, Federal Trade Commission rules issued in 2009 require bloggers who offer endorsements to "disclose any payments they have received from the subjects of their reviews or face penalties of up to $11,000 per violation," according to The Washington Post, which also noted that the FTC "had not updated its policy on endorsements in nearly three decades."

Posted In
Government
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Glenn Beck
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Glenn Beck show
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