Short takes: ND border-hopping | Medical device tax | Phony consumer choice

Obamacare tax hits home: Obamacare’s medical device tax has only been in effect for six months, but it is already drying up venture capital, slowing innovation, and killing jobs. According to Dr. Fred Burbank and Thomas Fogarty, writing in the Wall Street Journal: "Unless the federal government changes the 2.3% revenue tax, and until the Patent Office and the FDA improve their turnaround time for regulatory decisions, medical-device startups in the U.S. are all but doomed. For the sake of medical innovation and the future of health care, our lawmakers should repeal this damaging tax immediately."

The broken promise of "consumer choice": When Gov. Dayton signed an executive order in 2011 calling for the creation of a state health insurance exchange, he promised that Minnesota’s health insurance exchange would "maximize consumer choice". In fact, just three months ago, the state trademarked "MNsure: Where You Choose Health Coverage". But now, according to the Star Tribune: "April Todd-Malmlo, MNsure’s executive director, alerted the MNsure executive board in late June that some low-income workers and individuals who are new to public health programs will be automatically assigned an insurance plan during MNsure’s first months. That’s a departure from what proponents have touted as a key advantage of the exchange — consumer choice."

Raisin hell: The Washington Post has an unbelievable story on the "national raisin reserve", a little-known bureaucratic relic of the Truman era that gives the federal government extraordinary confiscatory power, tramples on the rights of farmers and radically interferes with and distorts markets. Excerpt: "It works like this: In a given year, the government may decide that farmers are growing more raisins than Americans will want to eat. That would cause supply to outstrip demand. Raisin prices would drop. And raisin farmers might go out of business. To prevent that, the government does something drastic. It takes away a percentage of every farmer’s raisins. Often, without paying for them."

Breaking the labor union monopoly: The Competitive Enterprise Institute makes the case for reforming the National Labor Relations Act. President Franklin Roosevelt signed the NLRA into law 78 years ago and, according to CEI, "in that time, it has become clear the Act’s sole purpose is to grant labor unions special privileges which are unavailable to any other private organization or individual."

Cigarette tax and border cities: An excellent post at Say Anything Blog examines the real-world impact of Minnesota’s massive cigarette hike. Excerpt: "The larger the disparity between markets the more consumers will change behavior. We have seen this for years with Canadians who shop in North Dakota. However you do not need a passport, customs and a multi hour drive to get to Fargo from Moorhead. For somebody who buys a carton of Marlboro cigarettes by the carton in Minnesota it now costs $83.00 vs. $39.40 in North Dakota."

Food stamp nation: Nearly 1 in 6 Americans are now on food stamps. Minnesota’s rate of food stamp enrollment is 10 percent, lower than the national average but historically high for the state.

Someone in Minneapolis, please call Colonel Sanders: The New York Post reports on the latest first-world hipster problem plaguing urban outposts from New York to Minneapolis: unwanted chickens. According to the Post, urban chicken farmers purchase hens with the "back to nature" dreams of producing organic, sustainable eggs in their back yards. Sadly, our hipster farmer friends are learning the average hen’s egg-producing days are short-lived, that cute chick grows into a loud, backyard nuisance. As such, Minneapolis is now home to a "chicken rescue" that has seen a sudden surge in business: "Mary Britton Clouse who runs Chicken Run Rescue in Minneapolis, Minn., notes that 50 birds were dropped off in 2001 while nearly 500 were dropped off last year alone."

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