The latest lesson comes from the European Parliament, voting to increase the size of warning labels on cigarette packs and pointing out that e-cigarettes and flavored cigarettes are just as dangerous.
But those measures are not enough. What is needed are the graphic warning labels the Congress authorized the Food and Drug Administration to print four years ago. Unfortunately, the FDA was stymied in court.
One warning label showed a toe tag on a corpse. In another, a mother blew smoke in her baby’s face. In yet another, next to the grim message, “WARNING: cigarettes cause cancer,” an ashen-faced woman lies dying in a hospital bed.
Most graphic and most gruesome of all: “WARNING: cigarettes are addictive.” Alongside is a picture of a man puffing away, exhaling smoke from a hole in his chest.
Nevertheless, the noisome work of the tobacco industry is constantly being glamorized by deceptive advertising despite the fact that 700,000 Europeans and 440,000 Americans die annually from smoking-related illnesses.
Smoking does kill.
Most governing bodies in the United States stop debate with a simple majority vote. Not in the U.S. Senate, hag-ridden by the filibuster.
It prevents essential measures such as immigration reform and gun control. It enthrones the tyranny of the minority.
Dennis Myers, news editor of the Reno News & Review, wrote an extensive backgrounder in a cover story for the Reno News & Review in 2009. It was aptly titled “The World’s Greatest Dysfunctional Body.”
Myers, the most thoughtful and deepest journalist in Nevada, summed up his argument: “The Senate has become a parliamentary skull and bones, worshipping pointless ritual rather than serving the public’s needs. The senators are playing sanity-challenged parliamentary games.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada can do something about it but he won’t. When he first ran for the Senate in 1986 he opposed the filibuster, calling it crazy.
Now his constant vows to change the rules are hollow.
Every time Republican obstructionists thwart President Obama’s judicial or governmental nominees, Reid flashes justifiable anger. So he threatens to get a 51-vote majority to adopt the “nuclear option” of abolishing the filibuster’s 60-vote rule.
“Something has to change and I hope we can make the changes necessary,” he says.
Actually he fears that if Democrats lose control of the Senate they need the filibuster as a “veto.” So Reid issues words, words, words, pious hopes for cooperation, but never any action.
Pay at fast food chains is so low that millions of employees get $7 billion a year in welfare benefits, a study by a labor economist at the University of California, Berkeley, reveals.
“The median wage for these workers is $8.65 an hour,” Professor Ken Jacobs says. “Only 13 percent have health benefits through their employer. The combination of low wages, meager benefits and often part-time work means that many families of fast food workers must rely on taxpayer-funded safety-net programs to makes ends meet.”
Meanwhile, the largest fast food chains make more than $15 billion in profits. The villains: McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, KFC, Subway, Burger King, Wendy’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Dairy Queen, Little Caesar’s and Domino’s.