The end of the year is a time not only for reflection, but for lists. This year, we have our own end of year list, recognizing some of the worst offenders to consumer freedom in 2018. We suspect our naughty list isn’t quite as long as Santa’s, but we wouldn’t be surprised to discover some of these names make an appearance on both lists.
As the former CEO, Wayne Pacelle’s affiliation with the Humane Society of the United States—which uses deceptive marketing and received bad marks for its handling (read: mishandling) of donor funds—is enough to consider Pacelle a prime candidate for this year’s naughty list. But that wasn’t enough on its own to land him a spot here.
In the throes of the #MeToo movement, Pacelle faced credible allegations of sexual harassment, allegedly using his position at HSUS to prey on women in the office. There’s nothing humane about that sort of behavior, and he eventually resigned his post–but not before the board of directors unbelievably gave him a vote of confidence. We suspect we’ll be seeing more from Pacelle in 2019: Just a few months after his resignation, he was back at his old tricks, raising money for a new PAC.
GOV. JERRY BROWN
There has been plenty of bad legislation coming out of California this year bearing Governor Jerry Brown’s signature, but the Governor of the Golden State made this list for one piece of legislation in particular: banning plastic straws in California, the first statewide ban of its kind.
Plastic straw bans have been all the craze this year, despite protests from disability rights advocates and sound arguments pointing out that, even if the entire United States stopped using plastic straws tomorrow, the environmental impact would be minimal.
All things considered, banning plastic straws amounts to little more than virtue signaling and efforts to replace straws with plastic “sippy cup” style lids has a good chance of inadvertently furthering the amount of plastic pollution in the ocean.
SAN FRANCISCO SUPERVISOR KATY TANG
Katy Tang pushed for a citywide ban on the sale of fur in San Francisco, which went into effect earlier this year, making San Francisco the largest city in the United States to ban sales of fur. For this work, Tang received an award from radical animal liberation organization PETA.
Banning the sale of fur is a blow to consumer freedom, and merely forces would-be fur purchasers to either go outside the city limits or to order online. This year was also marked by a number of major designers caving into animal rights activists and dropping fur from their future collections, but a brand changing offerings is not the same as a city government using legislation to ban people from selling a product.
Consumer freedom involves being able to make your own choices about what you purchase, and people in San Francisco who don’t want to buy fur have always had that right. For those who do want to buy fur—and for those who support freedom more generally—San Francisco’s fur ban is a step backward. Expect to see restrictions on leather, wool, and similar products next. Doesn’t San Francisco have bigger problems?
PUBLIC HEALTH ENGLAND
A government agency in the UK, Public Health England has proposed an anti-obesity plan that would include forcing pizza makers to change their offerings to reduce calories. In other words, pizzas would either shrink or lose their toppings.
This plan is seriously misguided, due to the simple fact that people ought to have the right to determine how much they eat. For example, most people don’t eat a whole pizza in one sitting and larger pizzas can easily be shared or saved for later. Add to this the fact that people can always simply buy more pizzas in order to circumvent the calorie mandate. Pizza has plenty of toppings to choose from, but there’s good reason nobody orders their pizza with red tape.
LOS ANGELES CITY COUNCILMAN PAUL KORETZ
A latecomer to the naughty list, Councilman Paul Koretz recently introduced a proposal to force movie theaters to provide vegan protein options. The fact that he is proposing this in Los Angeles—the home of Hollywood—only rubs salt in the wound.
Even worse, his justification is not based on facts and he imagines a link between hamburgers and wildfires, so he hopes his legislation will stop people from eating meat.
Koretz’s legislation, if enacted, is likely to force theaters to make unprofitable decisions that wouldn’t be dreamed of in lieu of his bill. Most movie theater popcorn is already vegan and people aren’t exactly clamoring for tofu sandwiches at the movies.