Maryland PIRG Latest Blog Posts

 | by
Ed Mierzwinski
Senior Director, Federal Consumer Program

Yesterday, in one of the few government buildings open for business during Hurricane Sandy, the Supreme Court heard an important case,Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc, concerning whether publishers can restrict owners of books from reselling their used legally-purchased copies. 

Is your pharmacy refilling your prescription without your knowledge or approval, and billing your insurance company for the cost?

The Maryland PIRG New Voters Project is a nonpartisan effort to help register young people and get them to the polls on Election Day. We believe the best way to get political leaders to pay attention to young people and our issues is to register and vote.

The new USDA proposed poultry inspection rule is being hailed as a commonsense, cost-saving rule by OIRA and of course the poultry industry.  It will purportedly streamline antiquated poultry inspection requirements, allowing companies to choose a more flexible approach with five-year savings apparently in excess of $1 billion. But in reality the proposed rule might actually put more dangerous chicken on your plate. 

If you're between the ages of 18 and 30, you've been in the news a lot lately. Young voters can have a big impact this election, and here's how.

Students have a tool to help them avoid student loan debt: the new financial aid shopping sheet, a simple form explaining the costs, financing options, and loan options for prospective students. 

Earlier this month, the House Agricultural Committee passed its version of the Farm Bill with a 35-11 vote.  It was greatly anticipated, as the country needs a fair and common sense bill that cut wasteful spending. In years past, the Farm Bill has given out tens of billions in taxpayer dollars to large, mature agribusinesses, and subsidized commodity crops that are often processed into the junk food ingredients fueling the obesity epidemic.  Between 1995 and 2010 we gave out $260 billion in agricultural subsidies to the country’s largest farming operations. With the expiration of the present Farm Bill coming in September, Congress has an opportunity to end this wasteful corporate welfare.

Current food policy has disproportionately subsidized the largest agribusinesses, who are already profitable and don’t need taxpayer handouts. And subsidized crops have often been used to produce unhealthy food. The current scheme of agriculture subsidies, including the notorious Direct Payments program, is heavily skewed towards largest agribusinesses, with only 4% of U.S. farmers pocketing 74% of subsidy payments. Directing taxpayer dollars to these mature, profitable businesses enriches them and allows them to prosper at the expense of smaller, unsubsidized farmers, without any benefit to the taxpayers who are footing the bill. 

"Congress listened to students and their families and delivered a bill that stops student loan interest rates from doubling," stated U.S. PIRG Higher Education Advocate Rich Williams. "Students already face unprecedented student loan debt and adding an additional $1,000 more would not only crunch individual borrowers, but would have further weighed down the recovering economy. We applaud Congress for coming together to pass this much-needed legislation."

Today the Supreme Court passed on the opportunity to revisit its disastrous 2010 Citizens United decision—which is wreaking havoc on democracy—and it has done so in a way that avoids giving the American public a much deserved explanation.