August 27, 2016


In a federal mandate for waste, envelope lobby reveals Washington (TIMOTHY P. CARNEY, 8/26/16, Washington Examiner)

Five years ago, a new quirky-sounding consumer-rights group set up shop in a sleepy corner of Capitol Hill. "Consumers for Paper Options is a group of individuals and organizations who believe paper-based communications are critically important for millions of Americans," the group explained in a press release, "especially those who are not yet part of the online community."

This week, Consumers for Paper Options scored a big win, according to the Wall Street Journal. Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Mary Jo White has abandoned her plan to loosen rules about the need to mail paper documents to investors in mutual funds.

Mutual funds were lobbying for more freedom when it came to mailing prospectuses -- those exhaustive, bulky, trash-can-bound explanations of the contents of your fund. In short, the funds wanted to be free to make electronic delivery the default, while allowing investors to insist on paper delivery. This is an obvious common-sense reform which would save whole forests of trees.

Consumers for Paper Options fought back. The group warned that changing the default from paper to electronic delivery would "Confuse potentially millions of investors who suddenly stop seeing important printed fund performance material from investment firms."

"Ask Congress to stop the SEC from impeding access to paper-based investment materials," the group's website blared.

Consumers for Paper Options seems to have won for now, the SEC's reported pullback suggests.

If you're not familiar with how Washington works, you might be baffled that such a group exists. But if you understand how the sausage is made, you've probably guessed what Consumers for Paper Options really is: a front group for the companies and unions that profit from the federally required mailing of unread and unwanted materials. They defend tree-killers.

Posted by at August 27, 2016 7:47 AM