One of America’s premier nanny agencies, the Food and Drug Administration has decided to stop using an idiotic metric that has informed the way it micromanages your life choices. The “lost pleasure” principle calculates how much pleasure you lose when you abstain from certain “bad” behavior in favor of “healthier” options with a long term gain. And those healthier options are determined by the government. The metric was used to quantify the benefits of the ever-expanding list of government regulations concerning what kind of food one should eat or use of tobacco.
Economists at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration incorporated lost-pleasure calculations last year in analyzing proposed rules for e-cigarettes and the posting of calorie counts on restaurant menus. The agency said the analysis provided a more accurate picture of the estimated benefits of a regulation.
Alas, the Agency was criticized from all directions, “public health advocates, lawmakers, and economists” according to Reuters, with objectors saying that the principle was not properly used. In fact, some critics “feared it would weaken the government’s ability to defend such rules in court.” You know a government regulation is good when the feds are already getting ready for a court battle.
The FDA’s mother ship, the Department of Health and Human Services, has stepped in and put a stop to the analysis, according to officials.
HHS Assistant Secretary Richard Frank, a healthcare economist on leave from Harvard Medical School, asked leading researchers to offer “ideas for new ways of analyzing lost consumer surplus in these cases,” according to a letter last month to members of Congress, which was reviewed by Reuters.
“Lost consumer surplus” is the technical term used by economists for the lost pleasure that results when someone curtails an enjoyable behavior.
The working group convened by Frank will issue a white paper that concludes the FDA’s calculations “went too far.”
“We’re not saying that lost consumer surplus is in no way useful, but it’s a matter of degree and how you apply it,” he said. There were concerns “that too much weight was put on it,” he added. For example, the approach reduced the projected benefits of tobacco and e-cigarette regulation by 70 percent.
The FDA is planning on finalizing new regulations of all tobacco products using the now discredited “lost pleasure” analysis by June. The agnecy declined to address why they would impose a rule on Americans using criteria that has been debunked.