ICYMI: Why Higher US Postal Service Rates Are Here to Stay

In case you missed it: President and CEO of the American Consumer Institute (ACI) Steve Pociask recently examined in the Federal Times that the recent price increases by the United States Postal Service could be in place for years to come, forcing consumers to continue to empty their wallets. Pociask notes that because of the Postal Service’s monopoly on mail delivery, the agency’s leaders can “blatantly take advantage of consumers,” pointing to the Postal Service’s decision to consolidate facilities across the country, including 500 processing locations, 1,000 transfer hubs, and more. Furthemore, Steve highlights the flaws of the Postal Service Reform Act, scrutinizing the integrated network provision. He notes “The term amounts to a mandate to deliver mail and packages together six days a week, but beyond that, the term is only loosely defined. To the USPS’ detriment, the integrated network fails to assert any semblance of rational accounting procedures…

Do Food Trucks Threaten Brick and Mortar Restaurants?

…a brick and mortar restaurant. In many cases, they have effectively lobbied cities and localities to create or maintain restrictive parking and zoning ordinances, that in practice severely limit food truck operations. The major losers of these regulations are American entrepreneurs who face barriers to entry, and consumers who now have less options to choose from. Now a new study by the Institute for Justice (IJ) called “Food Truck Truth” sets the record straight. The study analyzed 12 years of county-level census data to determine whether an increase in the number of food trucks corresponded with a decline in the number of brick and mortar restaurants. What researchers found was that not only was there no associated decline in the number of traditional restaurants, but an increase in the number of food trucks was strongly correlated with restaurant growth. Across the period of study, from 2005 to 2016, the “average…

Study Links PBMs to Medicine Overpayments

…also be established that allow consumers to decide whether they prefer to fill a prescription using insurance or cash, depending on what provides them the greatest savings. While each of the policy solutions just described should be evaluated according to its own merits, it is clear that acting on even a few of this paper’s recommendations would go a long way towards generating additional cost savings for consumers in the generic drug market. The price of generics has long been an area that was overlooked in the scheme of other PBM abuses. This is, at least in part, due to the fact that generics are already considerably cheaper than brand-named drugs. However, that does not mean consumers are paying a fair price for generics. More often than not, consumers pay far above the market value of their medication. Lawmakers should take note of this injustice and act on some of…

How to Report Unwanted Spam Texts

With spam text messages on the rise and scammers increasing utilizing them for elaborate schemes, consumers should know how to report them. Unwanted text messages have increased in recent years, but Americans don’t know there has been a simple-to-use service available to report messages. Most major carriers, including AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon, each allow consumers to report a message to 7726 (SPAM). By forwarding a message to the 7726 number, future unwanted text messages will be filtered out for users in much the same way that reporting a “phishing” email blocks future emails for Gmail and outlook. There is also no the charge for forwarding such messages. The consumer will not stop receiving unwanted text messages immediately, but it will help cut down on the number of messages received over the long run, as well as cutting them for others. It is important that consumers know this service exists and…

Federal Times: Why US Postal Service Rates Keep Going Up

Consumers nationwide are struggling in new, alarming ways to manage the economic challenges of price inflation and shortages of necessary goods. Rapid increases in the cost of gasoline, groceries, and other household items have a particularly harsh impact on those with the least wiggle room in their budgets, namely everyday citizens and small businesses. While the federal government expresses interest in mitigating inflation on one hand, it is also guilty of reaching deeper and deeper into consumers wallets. Case in point: the U.S. Postal Service.  This commentary is available at the Federal Times….

Antitrust Legislation Repeats the Same Mistakes in Agriculture as in Tech

…to meet this demand for more transparent supply chains and address food safety concerns is to create integrated and coordinated supply chains. In other words, the less integrated a supply chain is, the more hands an item passes through, and the more difficult it is to track and ensure quality. A less integrated system of food production would lower transparency and make it more difficult for consumers to know where their food comes from. Consolidation not only allows for increased transparency but can also lower prices. According to a paper published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, consolidation in the beef packing industry led to a reduction in processing costs of over 35 percent. According to the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank, consolidation of certain levels of the agriculture industry—specifically food marketing—has benefited consumers and allowed food costs to be a small and typically stable share of household budgets….

The Hill: Action to Break Up ‘Big Tech’ Will Mean Price Hikes

It is evident that the Senate bill under consideration would “create more problems than it solves,” especially under the current economic uncertainty. As elections approach, Congress should consider addressing issues that consumers and voters care about, like inflation, and not destroy the competitive online marketplace that offers consumers more options at lower prices. Prioritizing legislation that consumers don’t care about and that would ultimately harm them should not be a priority for Washington. Krisztina Pusok and Steve Pociask are with the American Consumer Institute, a nonprofit educational and research organization. You can read the entire commentary in the Hill….

The Economic Standard: Fintech Faces Regulatory Peril

…financial technology and is a new method of banking that relies on “software and algorithms that are used on computers and, increasingly, smartphones” to deliver financial services to businesses and consumers. Unlike traditional banks, fintech companies do not operate as banks, and their use of advanced technology allows them to employ fewer people, enabling them to offer lower interest rates to consumers. Fintech companies are now worth an estimated $7.9 billion. Since the emergence of fintech in 2008 as an alternative to traditional banking institutions, it has proved immensely popular with consumers. In their 2021 report, The Fintech Effect, Plaid reported that 88% of Americans now use fintech services, a number larger than those who use video streaming services or social media. While consumers routinely cite convenience (93%) and saving money (78%) as the top reasons for using fintech, they also reported that fintech allowed them to keep track of finances, gave them more control, and enabled them…

FDA’s Decision to Ban JUUL E-cigarettes Will Jeopardize American Lives

Today’s announcement by the FDA that JUUL’s vaping products will be ordered off the market is another stark reminder of the agency’s forgotten mission to protect the health of American consumers. The scientific evidence clearly shows that e-cigarettes and vaping products, while not totally safe, are 95% safer than combustible tobacco products and twice as effective in helping smokers quit tobacco products altogether. By ignoring the science, the FDA is endangering the lives of millions of Americans. JUUL, like a handful of other popular e-cigarette and vaping products, followed the FDA’s guidelines by submitting detailed scientific data from over 110 studies totaling over 125,000 pages evaluating the product’s impact on both current users of tobacco products and nonusers in its application to the agency, which FDA still deemed insufficient. Today’s decision by the FDA is questionable in many ways, especially when many products, including synthetic products, remain on store shelves…

Report Finds the U.S. May Experience Blackouts

…includes states like Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, faces a particularly high risk of capacity shortfall. The region is expected to have 2.3% less generation capacity this summer than last. The western half of the country also faces an elevated risk of exhausting energy reserves during “above-normal conditions.” Extreme weather events like prolonged periods of hot weather, wildfires, and droughts, as well as supply chain issues, may lead to blackouts for large swaths of the country. This is bad news for anyone living in these areas, as residents are likely to have to cope with unpleasant living conditions during the hottest months of the year. Energy shortages also lead to higher prices for consumers. Indeed, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), U.S. energy prices jumped 4.3% in 2021, representing the largest annual increase in nominal electricity expenditures in over a decade. Utility bills for customers increased by $5 a…