[imgcontainer right] [img:wallycartoontomjefferson1.jpeg] When foodie writers make lists of the most important food stories of the year, they seem to forget about markets and farmers. The latest example of food myopia comes from the Huffington Post. [/imgcontainer]

An oversight panel has concluded that the U.S. Postal Service used questionable data to pick the 3,600 post offices it intends to close. 

The Postal Regulatory Commission has issued an advisory report finding that the selection process did not take into account whether other offices were nearby or which closures would reduce the costs the most. Basically, the Commission said the Postal Service lacks enough data and analysis to make good decisions.

“We certainly challenge their methodology,” the commission’s chairman, Ruth Goldway, said Wednesday.

“They had a simple screening process,” she said. “But it did not optimize the choices. They don’t have really good data that tells them which post offices will continue to grow or be on a downhill path.”

The Postal Service had planned to replace most of the closed offices (2,500 of them at least) with clerks located in other businesses, city halls or libraries. But the Postal Regulatory Commission said the services provided by these “village post offices” would be too limited to be viable.

Postal officials said the best candidates for closure were rural post offices taking in less than $27,000 each year and city post offices doing less than $500,000 in business.

“We think the Postal Service can be right-sized,” Goldway said. “But not with the methodology they’re presenting.”

•A writer on the liberal Huffington Post lists the six big food stories of 2011 — and somehow misses the Obama administration’s collapse in its efforts to make agricultural markets more fair for food producers.

This is typical of foodie writers. The Obama administration announced two years ago that it saw indications of antitrust violations in the food business, particularly in the markets for meat. It began a long investigation. It held hearings all over the country. It even proposed new regulations. And then, nothing.

Huffington Post writer Nancy Huehnergarth helped found the New York State Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Alliance and it appears her notion of food politics ends at the plate when it comes to “food politics.” Her six “food politics lessons” of the year include things like “Congress is in bed with Big Food,” “the First Lady is a strong advocate for food policy,” and “Big Food” is using philanthropy to silence critics.

What she and most other liberal foodies miss, however, is the administration’s capitulation on markets. Two years ago, the Obama administration made a very large show of beginning an antitrust investigation that began with seeds and ended with grocery stores. They held hearings all over the country. Nothing happened and our liberal friends never noticed — never noticed the hearings in the first place and never noticed that the administration did nothing. 

This is one more example.

• One-third of Kentucky adults know a family member or friend who has abused prescription pain relievers. In largely rural Eastern Kentucky, that number rises to 43 percent. 

• Germany is trying to supply one-third of its energy needs with renewable sources within the decade. 

In June, the country reached 20 percent, compared to 9 percent in the U.S. 

• A Rasmussen poll finds that 53 percent of likely voters favor (at least somewhat) the building of the Keystone XL pipeline. 

The controversial pipeline would carry oil sands oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast. Opposition has been strong among environmentalists and in Nebraska, where the pipeline was to cross environmentally sensitive lands. 

• Here’s another example of why liberal Democrats have a hard time in rural precincts. Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich writing in the Baltimore Sun: 

As political analyst Michael Lind has noted, today’s tea party is less an ideological movement than the latest incarnation of an angry white minority — predominantly Southern, mainly rural, largely male — that has repeatedly attacked American democracy in order to get its way.

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