GMO Food

Top 5 Pieces of Good News in the Bad News

Tired of bad news? Maybe you're just taking it the wrong way.



Bad news is nothing new. Just think of the scene in Network where Faye Dunaway flips through the New York Daily News, or watch Bill Hicks' stand up routine about going crazy while watching the bad news on CNN. "War, Famine, Death, AIDS, Homeless, Recession, Depression," as Hicks chanted, seems to describe the template for news. If it bleeds it leads.

Which is not to say there's not bad news, or not a lot of it, but there's good news too, sometimes in the bad news. Here are five pieces of potentially good news about the bad news.

5. More and More Food Is Genetically Modified

Genetically modified foods caused such a scare in Europe that the EU tried to ban them, and still resists their importation. The demand for "organic" food in the United States, meanwhile, has helped companies like Whole Foods grow exponentially over the last decade.

the truth's never as sensational

But what's wrong with "Frankenfood"? Genetic modifications are mainly used to increase crop yield, to feed more people while using the same amount of land and resources.

Fear of genetically modified foods is another manifestation of technophobia. The next time someone tries to tell you corporations are poisoning the food supply, remind him or her that the government recommended Americans consume 5 to 10 servings of high-carb food a day. Government tariffs made high fructose corn syrup ubiquitous. Corporations are just trying to give you what you want at the highest price you are willing to pay. Genetically modified foods help them get there.

4. Unemployment Staying Strong

longer than the unemployment line

Official unemployment has been stuck above 8 percent for years, and is going down only slowly, but as Doug Rushkoff asked, who wants a job anyway? Capitalism isn't just about the nine to five, it's about the wealth creation. High unemployment could actually be good news.

Among the mostly useless and interventionist provisions in President Barack Obama's JOBS Act (remember that?), there was one uncharacteristically good idea: allowing people to use their unemployment benefits as start-up capital for a small business.

If government dropped the pretense it can do anything to "create jobs" and stopped meddling with the economy, the workforce might catch up to the technology.

There's a wealth of creative power in the country. It's being constricted by 20th century regulations and outdated entitlement programs young people aren't interested in anyway. Unemployed doesn't have to mean dead-beat!

3. Global Warming

ours, if we can keep it

The scientific consensus suggests the globe is warming, and bureaucrats from Washington to Brussels want to use it as an excuse to push through more government, more taxes, and more regulations. But climate change doesn't have to be such a downer.

Climate change, after all, may well be responsible for the rise of homo sapiens in the first place. Why? Because we were the most adaptable. Adaptability means progress. In fact, big centralized government plans have retarded a lot of human progress; reliance on a system of slavery in Ancient Greece and Rome prevented the development of technology that would increase productivity (who needs to be productive when you can just capture more free labor?), the centralized Church helped keep Europe in the dark ages for centuries, and China's political unification has been blamed for the lack of Chinese shipping during the age of exploration.  

While conferences in Copenhagen or Bonn may not contribute much to climate change but more carbon dioxide emissions (from the delegates and their modes of travel), science holds the answers, if you can cut through the doom and gloom politics.  

2. Congress Is Passing Fewer Laws and No One Wants to Compromise

crying unrelated

The last Congress suffered a significant drop in the amount of legislation it was able to pass. Though groups like Americans Elect bemoan the lack of centrism, there's not a lot of desire for new lawmaking among the electorate.

Despite the Democratic Senate's failure to pass a budget in half a decade, gridlock is swell news. What does it mean for Congress to set aside its differences and work for the common good anyway? Nice on paper, the common good is impossible to define in the real world. Partisanship is an inevitable byproduct of democracy.

Even supposing partisanship to be a problem, it's not clear that compromise, rather than coalition building, is the solution. The increase in insurgent candidates on the right and the left might make go-along/get-along harder for the establishment. It might also strengthen some emerging coalitions on ending monstrosities like the War on Drugs or the Fed. In fact, this news should be upgraded to fantastic!

1. Drones Coming To the Friendly Skies

as american as goulash

The FAA expects to have regulations in place by 2014 for the use of unmanned aerial vehicles in American airspace by government and commercial entities. Already, police in North Dakota have used a drone to apprehend a criminal suspect, and the market's already offered up some personal drones.

Reason's Tim Cavanaugh notes the benefits of drones in military technology. The president used drones to reduce due process for terrorism suspects and militants (defined as all military-aged males) to an off-the-record conversation at the White House. So what's the good news about the technology's homecoming?

When was the last time Judge Andrew Napolitano and columnist Charles Krauthammer agreed on anything? Both suggested a domestic drone would likely get shot down pretty quickly. Napolitano accurately observed that that first person to down a drone of any kind would be widely recognized as a hero.

Americans may be divided on, or even largely supportive of, the use of drones to rain death on foreign populations. The idea of using the technology on the domestic population, for surveillance and increasingly military-style enforcement for suspected crimes against the environment, is a lot more unsettling. Perhaps unsettling enough to make the electorate do something about it. That would be great news. 

Ed Krayewski is an associate editor for 24/7 News at

NEXT: Sheldon Richman on F.A. Hayek and Individualism

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  1. I never noticed before that the overlord ants wear sweat pants and tube socks.

    1. That is because you need to know who wears the pants after they take over.

    2. Nah, it’s because the easy food and labor their human subjects provide has made them fat and lazy. Our insect overlords spend the day sitting on the sofa watching Brak Show reruns.

    3. Protect the Queen!

      Which one’s the Queen?

      I’m the Queen.

      No you’re not.


      Freedom! Horrible! Horrible! Freedom!

    4. I for one welcome our new insect overlords

    5. Two Simpson references in a row, I feel so at home right now.

      *wipes tear from eye*

      1. “Careful! They’re ruffled!”

  2. New Gojira is released in a few days. Yet it has leaked. \m/

  3. The issues concerning Global Warming perplex me.

    One idea that I obsess over is whether it might never be possible to reverse climate trends and whether humans can accept the futility of their actions and the inevitability of our extinction.

    After all, despite our ability to manipulate other forces of nature, climate change is a billion year old force on a global scale. Is it so crazy to suppose that we’ll never be able change the current situation?

    1. That’s because you understand that weather/climate, like an economy, is a deterministic, but highly complex and chaotic (in the mathematical sense), system. Currently, our understanding of meteorology allows us to predict weather conditions somewhat accurately for, what, 2 or 3 days?

      However, there exists a large portion of the world community that doesn’t understand, or refuses to believe, that long-term predictions of such chaotic systems aren’t possible. Indeed, they have the hubris to believe they can even “control” the weather or the economy and steer it into the conditions they wish.

      Fools, all of them.

      1. Currently, our understanding of meteorology allows us to predict weather conditions somewhat accurately for, what, 2 or 3 days?

        In December it will be colder then today.

        1. Not in Australia.

          1. My models have accounted for this.

            Australia is a none existent fantasy land.

            1. Do you have a newsletter?

        2. I’m in Venice, CA. It’s 64 today. In December, there can very well be days that are much hotter than this.

          1. My Models have accounted for this.

            Californian’s are pot smoking hippies that don’t even know what time it is let along what the weather is like outside.

        3. In December it will be colder then today.

          Later today it will be colder than it is now. And a few hours later it will be warmer than that.

          1. The forecast for tonight: Dark, with dark through the rest of the night followed by widely scattered light in the morning.

            1. ….but there’s a fucking ICBM on the way here from Russia, so who really cares about the weather?

    2. Those who think in terms of “stopping” or “reversing” global warming are idiots. The scale is massive and complicated beyond comprehension. And even if the scientists could have the diagnosis and prescriptions right (when they start offering solutions that don’t involve implementing massive transfers of wealth to interested parties then perhaps they might be on to something), the politicians would inevitably fuck up the execution.

      The trick is to figure out ways to adapt to climate change where it is necessary. It hasn’t been shown that it’s necessary anywhere in the world yet. Anything done on a large scale will be fruitless and tailored not to help climate change, but to help interested political insiders (See Solyndra). It’s all about localized responses which address specific problems, not these pie in the sky carbon trading schemes and other bullshit programs. Because when you have schemes like that you get nothing but government sponsored oppression and pain.

      1. Those who think in terms of “stopping” or “reversing” global warming are idiots.

        Well that and the reasons they claim it will warm up have gone away.


        CO2 emissions in the United States in 2011 fell by 92 Mt, or 1.7%, primarily due to ongoing switching from coal to natural gas in power generation and an exceptionally mild winter, which reduced the demand for space heating. US emissions have now fallen by 430 Mt (7.7%) since 2006, the largest reduction of all countries or regions.

        1. That just proves that Gore was right.

  4. Slow day here on Reason. Guess I should just make a Shrike comment and say you’re looking at these things all wrong. They are good for the opposite reasons you have stated, except for the lack of new legislation, which is because those darned Republicans aren’t bi-partisan enough!

    1. “Guess I should just make a Shrike comment”

      Can’t do it.
      Shriek is a phenomenon; that level of stupid simply isn’t available to most mortals.

      1. Well, he could always go old school and ask if fibertarians= agricultural city statetist.

        1. Don’t flatter me by believing for one second that I was brave enough to make an attempt at mimicking that chaps persona. I made that comment with the heaviest dose of sarcasm I could muster up and load in it.

      2. just about every thread i read, i hear rumors of this force of stupidity, shrike.

        yet i never see shrike.

        its like he is a leprechaun. a crazy, boorish, dim-witted leprechaun.

        is he andy richter?

        1. He now posts as Palin’s Buttplug, but it’s the same old shrike.

  5. That actualyl makes a whole lot of sene dude. WOw.

  6. Government using drones domestically? I got a hunch the cartels use them already. What a handy little widget to move a few precious pounds not just across the border but deep into hinterlands of USA.

    Seriously, if they build subs already as good as they do a mini low-budget Predator is well-within their techno-envelope.

    And the Big Mother will freak out at first public ‘incident’ with one of those things crashing into a house or what-not.

    1. I can see it now. A drug cartel mule drone crashes into someone’s house and the entire family is arrested for possession.

    2. I love the idea. Many comic possibilities. And there’s another incentive to shoot down drones: to get pounds of drugs.

      1. Like I need a reason.

  7. 2 and 4 remind me of the complaints from the Left that the Republicans and other naysayers don’t want Obama’s economic policy to succeed…

    I personally admit that it’s sort of true, but only to the extent that I identify with the inhabitants of an island threatened by an erupting volcano. If my tribe’s chief and high priest starts throwing children into the caldera to appease the gods, which I know is a load of superstitious crap, I really don’t want the eruption to subside now, making this bastard into a hero and reinforcing his child-sacrifice policy for generations to come.

    1. I absolutely want him to fail.

      Were he to “succeed”, it would only be in dragging us that much closer to Euro-style socialism.

  8. The idea of using the technology on the domestic population, for surveillance and increasingly military-style enforcement for suspected crimes against the environment, is a lot more unsettling. Perhaps unsettling enough to make the electorate do something about it. That would be great news.

    By that logic, getting thrown in some conspiracy theorist’s idea of a FEMA camp for speaking out against the government would be even better news, right?

    If they started sending out death squads to target libertarians, I suppose, using your logic, that would be the best news of all?

  9. OT:…..77479.html

    “It is likely that the sharp disagreement rate will go up next week and the week after,” she said.

    I don’t how much Ruth Bader Ginsburg is into left wing double speak…one might assume that she is out of the loop.

    Anyway her statement makes me think her side lost on Obamacare. That is why the it a sharp disagreement of 4 vs 5.

    If her side had won it would have been a consensus of 5 vs 4

    1. We should probably prepare for the infuriating talkpoints of “right-wing controlled court”, “partisan decision”, and my personal favorite, “JUDISSHAL ACTAVISUM!”

    2. Also, the 4-hour block of MSNBC pundits musing over the implications of “how the decision helps to energize the Obama campaign!”

      1. And some interview with a weeping lefty claiming ‘the end of democracy!’.

    3. Ginsburg noted that one ACA-related question the court must decide is whether the whole law must fall if the individual mandate is unconstitutional–“or may the mandate be chopped, like a head of broccoli, from the rest of it?”

      But no, she didn’t drop any hints about what the answer will be.

      Read more:…..z1xysUUXi0

      If there was any giveaway, that’s it right there.

      There wouldn’t be any controversy about whether the rest of ObamaCare can stand without the mandate–if they hadn’t already decided to rule against the individual mandate.

      Having said that, it’s never over until it’s over.

      1. Incidentally, and this is just speculation on my part, but I was trying to read the tea leaves and figure out what Obama was thinking when he did what he did on immigration the other day…

        He may have gotten word that the Supreme Court is likely to rule against the mandate, in which case, he may be thinking that it will behoove him to run over the next four months as sort of an embattled liberal–for all sorts of liberal causes.

        The other possibility is that he’s a buffoon, who has no idea what he’s doing, not even when it comes to what’s in his own best interest of getting elected. That having been said, if residue from the Tea Party case against Obama is still sticking–that he’s hostile to the principles of the Constitution–then that argument’s gonna gather a lot more steam if the Supreme Court more or less exposes his hostility by way of striking down the mandate…

        In which case, appealing to women, minorities, unions, immigrant interests, etc. may be his only hope. If he loses on the individual mandate, I think he’ll have a hard time marketing himself as a centrist anywhere outside of Washington D.C., Manhattan and Hollywood.

        …and I think he knows it.

        Once again, just speculation on my part. But if that is his thinking, it would explain a lot. If he’s gonna win after losing the mandate, he’ll win with his base. To win, he thinks he needs to go full retard.

        1. But, you’re never supposed to go full retard, it never works when you do it. Of course, this is the administration that thought it was a good idea to market itself by inserting itself into past president’s biographies, so maybe they have already gone full retard?

          1. My favorite may still be that Obamacare, which they claim will reduce medical costs, includes a tax on companies that make medical devices. Only the truly brilliant can explain how that is supposed to work.

            1. I understand it.

              Obama wants hospitals to spend less money on new technology so that they’ll have more money to spend on standard care.

              So, the latest ultrasound equipment? He doesn’t want hospitals spending money on that; he wants that money spent on adding beds to the hospital and adding more nurses to take care of more patients.

              That’s the explanation.

              It’s very much like the reason ObamaCare puts a punitive tax on “Cadillac” healthcare plans, where employers give their employees great plans with almost no employee contribution.

              …Obama wants more people to get average care and fewer people to get excellent care. Employers giving their employees great insurance plans is part of the problem, and punitively taxing companies for investing in new technology is part of the solution.

              ObamaCare is the worst piece of legislation–I’m still not over it. It’s like it was written by someone who knows absolutely nothing about how businesses work and grow. Technological innovation is the enemy of economic growth, donchya know?

              P.S. ATM machines!

              1. Except that demand for ultrasound machines and wheelchairs is unlikely to be so elastic that an extra few percent on the cost will change anybody’s behavior. It just adds a few percent to overall costs (plus all the unintended consequences).

                1. You may be right.

                  I knew all I needed to know once I realized they thought investing in technology was a problem.

  10. Would you also say it’s time to crack open our neighbors’ skulls and feast on the sweet goo inside?

      1. I second that Ken, WTF?

      2. Another Simpsons reference.

    1. Wait…is there a bad time for that?

  11. Whoa, Ed. This first section on genetically modified food is embarrassingly unthoughtful. The government recommended something so it is what we want? Subsidized corn and subsequent market distortions are analogous corporations giving us what we want? Do you anything about markets and regulatory corruption and co-option – any public choice at all?

    Dear REASON editor,
    is there no vetting process for bringing on writers?

    1. There really are some legitimate concerns about GMO foods. E.g. one way they can increase yields is to create crops that generate their own pesticides. You don’t have to be a loon to be concerned about that.

      My other gripe with the article: splitting it among so many pages just seems like whoring for page views. Come on, three paragraphs per page?

    2. The point was that the government guidelines were wrong, the govt. supports unhealthy food, and the idea that evul corporations are trying to make you eat badly vs. the holy government looking out for you is bullshit.

    3. “The government recommended something so it is what we want”

      1) You actually didn’t understand the point.
      2) You did understand it, but as a luddite you look for any confirmation you can find.
      Well, which is it?

  12. Nicely done, Ed. Fuck the naysayers.

    “Allllways look on the
    siiiiiide of life…
    da dum,
    dadum dadum dadum….”

  13. Might be interesting to see what a Class V or Class VI laser would do to a drone, especially if you put the beam right into a camera lens.

  14. Just for the record, Bill Hicks is an overrated hack…

  15. I want to add to bad news good news list:
    Greece defaulting: Letting countries like Greece undergo a natural bankruptcy will force the asking of honest questions in the mainstream media about the benefits of the EU and the euro.
    Chaos in Egypt: The US propping up of dubious regimes and involvement in middle eastern affairs does not help but makes things worse, at a certain point even the most hardened neocon or democracy crusading liberal cannot deny the facts on the ground. In the long run non involvement will be best thing for countries like Egypt.
    Country X is losing jobs to country Y:
    Simply makes it harder for politicians to hold grip over their local population, also makes it harder for X to go to war with Y.
    We are losing jobs because of technology Z:
    This has been argued probably since the first guy showed how farming can the get the same results as 10 hunters, in the long run anything that increases output and reduces human work input is a good thing.

    1. Greece defaulting: Letting countries like Greece undergo a natural bankruptcy will force the asking of honest questions in the mainstream media about the benefits of the EU and the euro.

      No it won’t. They’ll blame it on “austerity” and the refusal of the Germans to get off their goldhoard, end of story.

  16. Gotta take the good with the bad I guess. WOw.

  17. 20 Year Study Compares Job Growth Living Standards in Conservative Texas versus Liberal Massachusetts. Texas trounces Massachusetts, even during high tech boom of the 1990’s.


  18. 20 Year Study Compares Job Growth Living Standards in Conservative Texas versus Liberal Massachusetts. Texas trounces Massachusetts, even during high tech boom of the 1990’s.


  19. This is a funny article but yet sad.

  20. But what’s wrong with…..c-3_7.html “Frankenfood”? Genetic modifications are mainly used to increase crop yield, to feed more people while using the same amount of land and resources.

  21. This article bring a fine comedy in the news.

  22. Umm, GM food, global warming, and Congress passing fewer laws are all good things. Drone strikes and high unemployment are bad things. HOw is this a list of 5 bad things?

  23. Why does asking if someone has a newsletter activate the spam filter?

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