The Best Polio Vaccine is Free Market Capitalism

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 25th, 2012

Week in Review

India is polio-free.  Pity the same can’t be said about her neighbors (see Effort to stop polio aims to vaccinate 111 million children in four days posted 3/23/2012 on the Los Angeles Times).

Polio, a viral disease that invades the nervous system, cannot be cured, only prevented. It mainly affects children under the age of five, leading to paralysis and even death.

The disease has been cut by more than 99% since the global campaign to eradicate polio was launched in 1988; India, which once had half of the polio cases in the world, recently marked a year without a case…

Last year, 650 cases were reported worldwide, with persistent pockets in Nigeria and along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The virus resurged in Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, and Niger.

If you follow the link you will see a map.  In that map you can see the three countries India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.  India, the most populated of the three, is polio-free.  Pakistan and Afghanistan, less populated, are not polio-free.  One would think that the sheer numbers would have made India the country with the most cases of polio.  But no.  Why?  What’s different between India and Pakistan/Afghanistan?  India is a country growing more modern by the day.  With a bustling economy.  And a rising standard of living.  Pakistan and Afghanistan, on the other hand, aren’t much different than they were a millennium ago.  Especially in the border region between these two countries.  They are not modern countries.  And suffer from diseases more modern countries have already eradicated.

Are their campaigns to eradicate polio in the United States?  Canada?  The United Kingdom?  Europe?  South Africa?  Australia?  New Zealand?  No.  Because these are advanced First World nations.  Where childhood includes the dreaded vaccinations.  Kids hate getting their shots.  But they get them.  And are healthier for it.  Unlike the kids in the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan.  Who suffer Third World poverty.  And infectious disease.

The best medicine for children?  Free market capitalism.  That produces a wealthy middle class.  A high standard of living for all.  And a social safety net for those who fall on hard times.  Where there is no Third World poverty.  And the children suffer little from infectious disease.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sir Tim Rice drops Support for Conservatives because they Support and Subsidize Wind Farms

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 25th, 2012

Week in Review

Sir Tim Rice is one of the greatest lyricists to ever write a lyric.  Yes, Lord Lloyd-Webber can write a catchy tune.  But it was Sir Tim’s lyrics that really made Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita come alive on stage.  Which is a very big reason why these shows still tour.  The man is brilliant.  And as it turns out, in more ways than one (see Sir Tim Rice on his new musical and working with Andrew Lloyd Webber by Roya Nikkhah posted 3/25/2012 on The Telegraph).

Falling out of love with the Conservatives, for starters. Once a stalwart party donor and fundraiser, his support has waned as the Tories’ enthusiasm has grown for “insane” policies such as supporting and subsidising wind farms.

“I recently declined to support a Conservative function because I’m so incensed about these wind turbines. Like all so-called climate-change doubters, I am very pro the environment, but I strongly believe that it is something that can only be cured locally. Some insane overall scheme isn’t going to cure all the problems. And the money that is wasted! As a landowner in Scotland [Sir Tim owns the 33,000-acre Dundonnell estate in Wester Ross on the west coast], I’ve been offered vast amounts of money to stick up wind turbines, which not only will make me richer, it will make less well-off people poorer, and will damage the environment. These schemes aren’t doing any good – just making rich people richer, and it’s depressing to see great areas of these useless objects up there.

“It’s a scam – a con – and until the Government has the brains to actually say, hang on, we’ve got it wrong, this is a total economic and environmental error, then I find it hard to give total support to them.”

It is so refreshing to hear someone in the arts community speak out against silly environmental policy.  Which is rather rare.  For people in the arts pursue their passions.  Their love of art leaves little room for much else.  So they don’t spend a whole lot of time studying the issues of the day.  Their industry as a whole has a position on these issues.  Which many artists simply endorse.  Thinking they are well thought out positions.  But they’re not.  And are usually guided by their desire for further government funding.  Requiring higher taxes on businesses.  And as a result artists tend to be anti-business.  Because they ‘take money away’ from the arts.  Even though they accept grants from them and will display their names prior to a performance.  But in general they don’t much care for business.  And tend to come down on the side in favor of environmental regulation and green energy.  But not Sir Tim.  Who apparently has studied the issues.  And has made an informed decision. 

The reason why we use coal, natural gas and nuclear power is because these sources of energy are highly concentrated sources of energy.  A little of them will produce a lot of electricity.  And they are reliable.  They’ll produce electricity rain or shine.  Day or night.  Wind or no wind.  Wind power is none of this.  It is not a concentrated source of energy.  So it takes a lot of windmills to produce a little electricity.  And if the wind doesn’t blow they don’t produce any electricity.  So this is a lot of money to produce a little electricity.  It is not cost-efficient.  A terrible waste of investment capital.  And taxpayer money.  Which is the point Sir Tim is making. 

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Despite Strict Abortion Laws some UK Doctors provided Abortions for Women who didn’t Like the Sex of their Fetus

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 25th, 2012

Week in Review

The UK has law governing abortion.  Unlike the US.  Who has no law on the books.  Well, there were many laws on the books in the several states.  But Roe v. Wade made these moot.  Perhaps the most contentious Supreme Court ruling of all time.  And what many call legislating from the bench.  For this decision didn’t interpret law.  It made new law.  For there was no law on the federal register to interpret.  And that’s how abortions became legal in the United States.  Whereas the UK actually debated the issue.  And used their legislative body to write it into low.  A novel use of the legislature.  Legislating.

Roe v. Wade was based on an abortion that never was.  The ‘Jane Roe’ in Roe v. Wade was Norma McCorvey.  Who had her baby and gave it up for adoption.  Converted to Catholicism in later life.  And became pro-life.  She regrets her part in Roe v. Wade.  And now works to overturn that decision.  The only ‘law’ on the books for abortion in America.  Granting full access to abortion without any legislative debate whatsoever.  Which they probably didn’t want.  For they did have that debate in the UK.  And their law placed some restrictions on abortion (see Abortion forms being ‘pre-signed’ by Press Association posted 3/23/2012 on the guardian).

Spot checks at more than 250 abortion clinics this week found evidence of blank forms being signed in anticipation of patients seeking a termination.

The law states that, except in emergencies, two doctors must agree for a woman to have an abortion.

Although doctors do not have to see the woman in person, they must certify that they are aware of her circumstances and why she wants to go ahead with the procedure…

The news comes after a Daily Telegraph investigation last month uncovered allegations that doctors at three clinics had agreed to terminations based on the sex of the baby.

The General Medical Council (GMC) has suspended or placed restrictions on these doctors and the claims are being investigated by the Metropolitan police, Greater Manchester police and West Midlands police…

In the UK, abortions are allowed on certain grounds, including that continuing with the pregnancy would be a greater risk to the woman’s life, physical or mental health than ending the pregnancy, continuing would be more of a risk to the physical or mental health of any of the woman’s existing children and there is a real risk the child would have a serious physical or mental disability.

Apparently China isn’t the only nation that has aborted a pregnancy based on the sex of their baby.  This is perhaps the greatest concern to those on the pro-life side of the argument.  This selective breeding.  Just how far will people go in making their decisions in terminating their pregnancies?  An identified birth defect?  The sex of the baby?  The color of their hair (some kids pick on redheads in school).  If the fetus shows an obesity gene?  A short gene?  A premature bald gene?  An ugly gene?  A homosexual gene?  Just how far will parents go to have ‘perfect’ children?

Even an atheist has to admit this is getting too much like playing God.  A lot of women making these decisions are not in the best frame of mind.  A lot of them are young, too.  Who will have a lifetime ahead of them to think about this decision.  Which is why the British require counseling.  Because some women may change their mind.  Like Norma McCorvey did.  And if you do that would be a terrible thing to have to live with.

Often when it comes to an unwanted pregnancy the choice is to destroy a women’s life now by having a baby that she is ill-prepared to raise.  Or ruin her life later as she dwells on what she did when she was ill-prepared to raise a child.  Some may be burdened by this in later life.  Some may not.  But most would agree that they would much rather not ever be in the position to have to make this decision. 

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Elderly Cancer Patients are not Worth the Cost of Health Care they Consume so the Policy of the NHS is to Let them Die

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 25th, 2012

Week in Review

Proponents of Obamacare attack the profit-oriented private health insurers, medical device and drug manufacturers and hospitals.  Putting profits before people is wrong and shameful they say.  And just plain wrong.  No, the better way is to do like the Canadians.  And the British.  Adopt a health care system that puts people before profits.  Where everyone can smile and enjoy life.  Content in a perfect world where everyone gets whatever health care they need.  Not just the rich who can afford it.  So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at that health care utopia in the United Kingdom.  And see how wonderfully just, kind and generous their health care truly is (see Elderly dying due to ‘despicable age discrimination in NHS’ by Rebecca Smith posted 3/25/2012 on The Telegraph).

A lack of treatment or insufficient treatment is contributing to 14,000 deaths a year in people over the age of 75, Macmillan Cancer Support has found, in what it called an ‘unacceptable act of discrimination’.

Deaths from cancer are reducing in most age groups but at a slower rate in those aged 74 to 84 and are increasing in people aged 85 and over, the report said.

The report, The Age Old Excuse: the under treatment of older cancer patients, said treatment options are too often recommended on the basis of age rather than how fit the patient is…

Few clinical trials involve older people so clinicians are lacking evidence of how effective drugs may be in elderly people and few cancer specialists have had training in care of older people, the report said.

A survey found six in ten trainee oncologists had not received training in the additional care needs of the elderly such as preventing falls and incontinence management. This is despite half of all cancers occuring in the elderly, the report found…

“The NHS and social care providers must wake up to the specific issues older people face and ensure treatment decisions are based on their overall health not just their date of birth. Writing people off as too old for treatment is utterly shameful.”

This is the future of Obamacare.  This is what happens when the government pays for health care.  The government decides.  They decide who lives.  And who dies.  Who gets treatment.  And who is not worthy of treatment and should consider themselves lucky if they get a pill to dull their pain until they die.  When they finally stop being such an inconvenient and inconsiderate burden to government.

Why is the NHS like this?  Are the British cruel?  No.  It’s just business.  Health care costs continue to rise despite the power of government to stop these costs from rising.  Their population is aging.  And they have a massive budget deficit.  Made up primarily from the budget deficit in the NHS.  Taxes are already high.  And the economy is not doing as well as it once did.  Which means you can’t raise taxes anymore.  Unless you want to crash the economy and reduce tax revenues even further.  And with a massive deficit you can’t borrow anymore.  So if you can’t tax and you can’t borrow and you have an aging population consuming an ever larger share of the health care budget what do you do?  Why, you do what the NHS is doing.  You ration health care.  By making life and death decisions.  And the NHS has made a decision.  Old people over a certain age shall die of cancer.  And they will take that health care and give it to someone else who is more worthy of it.

Bureaucrats making life and death decisions for cost reasons?  Kind of sounds like a death panel, doesn’t it?  Now Obamacare doesn’t include anything called a ‘death panel’ but there will be a death panel.  Because there always is when you ration health care.  Which is what will happen as the government tries to rein in health care costs.  Because that’s the only way they can control costs.  By cutting costs.  And how to you cut costs?  You spend less on life-saving health care services.  And ration these services.  Deciding who has enough value to save.  And who doesn’t and should die.  By authority of the death panel.  The secretary.  Or some other bureaucrat.  Who you hope their life and death decisions are based on costs alone.  And not your politics.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Rich Doctors say Tax Them More to Help Fund the Canadian ‘Obamacare’ System that Makes them Rich

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 25th, 2012

Week in Review

People distrust rich people.  That’s why they want to tax them more.  Because they have more than enough money.  No matter what they say about earning their money or how they invest their wealth to create jobs.  People don’t want to hear any of this.  For they ‘know’ that these rich fat cats are lying just to keep from having to ‘share’ their wealth.  But whenever a rich guy says ‘tax us rich people more’ everyone hangs on to their every last word.  For if they are talking about raising taxes on the rich then these are not your typical rich.  They’re the good kind.  Like these doctors in Canada (see Tax us more, doctors urge (Are the lawyers listening?) by Michael Babad posted 3/22/2012 on The Globe and Mail).

A group of doctors is taking a page from Warren Buffett’s tax-the-rich call, urging the Canadian and Ontario governments to tax higher-income earners more…

Doctors for Fair Taxation plan to announce their scheme in Toronto this afternoon, calling for additional taxes on people earning more than $100,000. You’d be hit with an additional 1 per cent if you earn between $100,000 and $170,000, 2 per cent if you earn up to $640,000, and 3 per cent for up to $1.85-million. Above that it would be 6 per cent.

“We feel that this is a moral argument,” Dr. Michael Rachlis, who founded the group that so far boasts more than 50 physicians, told The Canadian Press.

“We cannot talk about throwing people out of work and cutting needed programs for people,” said Dr. Rachlis, an associate professor at the University of Toronto.

Wow.  Sounds very selfless, doesn’t it?  These rich guys asking to be taxed more to help their country?  At least on the surface it does.  But the question that begs to be asked is what are they spending so much money on that they have to raise taxes?  And when you learn what that is it puts these doctors into a different light.

Here’s an article from 2010.  About two years ago.  Talking about a budget crisis.  Where spending is out of control.  Spending that the Canadians just can’t sustain.  And where is this out of control spending?  Why, it just happens to be in the industry that pays these doctors.  Canada’s single-payer health care system.  Talk about coincidences.  These doctors asking rich people everywhere to help pay the nation’s bills.  Where the biggest bill is the one that pays these doctors (see Soaring costs force Canada to reassess health model by Claire Sibonney posted 3/31/2010 on Reuters).

Pressured by an aging population and the need to rein in budget deficits, Canada’s provinces are taking tough measures to curb healthcare costs, a trend that could erode the principles of the popular state-funded system.

Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, kicked off a fierce battle with drug companies and pharmacies when it said earlier this year it would halve generic drug prices and eliminate “incentive fees” to generic drug manufacturers.

British Columbia is replacing block grants to hospitals with fee-for-procedure payments and Quebec has a new flat health tax and a proposal for payments on each medical visit — an idea that critics say is an illegal user fee.

And a few provinces are also experimenting with private funding for procedures such as hip, knee and cataract surgery.

It’s likely just a start as the provinces, responsible for delivering healthcare, cope with the demands of a retiring baby-boom generation. Official figures show that senior citizens will make up 25 percent of the population by 2036.

Proponents of national health care in America blame the private health insurers, the pharmaceuticals and the hospitals for out of control health care costs.  What they say we need is a system like Canada.  Where they put people before profits.  And yet here they are.  The Canadians.  With a health care system suffering from out of control costs.  Which they are trying to fix with higher taxes.  Additional fees.  Even a little Americanization (that is, privatization).  Makes you wonder why we’re going forward with Obamacare while the Canadians are finding that type of a system is unsustainable.  Especially when our retiring baby boomers outnumber their retiring baby boomers. 

Canada, fretting over budget strains, wants to prune its system, while the United States, worrying about an army of uninsured, aims to create a state-backed safety net.

Healthcare in Canada is delivered through a publicly funded system, which covers all “medically necessary” hospital and physician care and curbs the role of private medicine. It ate up about 40 percent of provincial budgets, or some C$183 billion ($174 billion) last year.

Spending has been rising 6 percent a year under a deal that added C$41.3 billion of federal funding over 10 years.

But that deal ends in 2013, and the federal government is unlikely to be as generous in future, especially for one-off projects.

Wow.  Look at that.  Almost half of provincial budgets pay for the ‘free’ health care of Canadians.  Which is causing budget deficits at the provincial level.  And at the national level.  Well, up until 2013, that is.  When the national government is going to address their budget deficits by cutting their health care payments to the provinces.  Increasing the provincial budget deficits in the process.  Leaving the provincial governments to tax and spend more.  Or ration care and cut spending more.  Including doctor pay.  Could this have anything to do with those selfless physicians asking that their government tax the rich more?  Perhaps.

Brian Golden, a professor at University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Business, said provinces are weighing new sources of funding, including “means-testing” and moving toward evidence-based and pay-for-performance models.

“Why are we paying more or the same for cataract surgery when it costs substantially less today than it did 10 years ago? There’s going to be a finer look at what we’re paying for and, more importantly, what we’re getting for it,” he said.

Other problems include trying to control independently set salaries for top hospital executives and doctors and rein in spiraling costs for new medical technologies and drugs.

Ontario says healthcare could eat up 70 percent of its budget in 12 years, if all these costs are left unchecked…

The province has introduced legislation that ties hospital chief executive pay with the quality of patient care and says it wants to put more physicians on salary to save money.

In a report released last week, TD Bank said Ontario should consider other proposals to help cut costs, including scaling back drug coverage for affluent seniors and paying doctors according to quality and efficiency of care.

So the power of government inserted into the health care system has done nothing to lower the cost of medical procedures in Canada.  Makes you scratch your head, doesn’t it?  Because the proponents of Obamacare say that’s exactly what the power of government can do.  But in practice it has failed to do what these theorists say it can do.  Cut costs.  Through bureaucratic management.  And ‘turning of the screws’ on the medical device and drug manufacturers.  Despite this very practice NOT working in Canada.  Which means that the proponents of Obamacare think the Canadian bureaucrats simply aren’t smart enough to make their health care system work efficiently.  That the system of government-managed health care is a flawed system when it comes to costs and efficiency.  Or that government-managed health care is not about costs or efficiency.  But about the bureaucracy itself.  The control and power it offers the politicians.  And the votes it can buy them.

“Many of the advances in healthcare and life expectancy are due to the pharmaceutical industry so we should never demonize them,” said U of T’s Golden. “We need to ensure that they maintain a profitable business but our ability to make it very very profitable is constrained right now.”

Scotia Capital’s Webb said one cost-saving idea may be to make patients aware of how much it costs each time they visit a healthcare professional. “(The public) will use the services more wisely if they know how much it’s costing,” she said.

Wait a minute.  To fix the government-managed system they need to make the patients aware of the costs so they can choose wisely?  There’s a name for such a system.  We call it capitalism.  The very thing missing from government-managed health care.  And the very reason why government-managed systems (the Canadian health care system, the American Medicare/Medicaid programs, the UK’s National Health Service, etc.) fail to control costs.  And why Obamacare will fail to control costs.  Because they exclude the one thing that controls costs best from government-managed systems.  Capitalism.  Where people make spending decisions based on cost.  Which will never happen when someone other than the patient pays for the costs for the medical services a patient receives.  For no one ever asks ‘how much’ when they’re not paying the bill.

So when a rich doctor says to tax the rich more is this selfless?  Or selfish?  You decide.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Our Favorite Athletes are Part of the 1% and try to Minimize the Taxes they pay just like those on Wall Street

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 25th, 2012

Week in Review

Don’t think high taxes influences behavior?  Of course, no one cares about the evil 1%.  Those greedy Wall Street types that don’t pay their fair share of taxes.  But you know who else is in that greedy 1%?  Your favorite athletes.  And guess what?  They want to hold on to their earnings just like those greedy Wall Street types (see Professional Athletes’ Big-League Tax Bills by Jay MacDonald posted 3/15/2012 on Yahoo! Finance).

Behind every sports star who’s hauling down the big bucks is a keen-eyed certified public accountant quick-stepping through a maze of state and local income taxes imposed on nonresident athletes, commonly known as the “jock tax.”

Professional sports players get taxed by pretty much every city and state in which they play, says Ryan Losi, CPA and executive vice president of Piascik & Associates, a Glen Allen, Va., accounting firm that represents more than 70 professional athletes.

“NFL players typically file in 10 to 12 jurisdictions. NBA is somewhere between 16 and 20. MLB is somewhere between 20 and 26, and the NHL is between 14 and 16,” says Losi.

Professional sports players are great big cash piñatas to these city and states that chronically over spend.  They all want a piece of these guys.  To make sure they pay their ‘fair share’ of taxes.  While they can before some career-ending injury puts an end to this gravy train.  But because these players could lose millions in future career earnings because of a career-ending injury, they want to keep their money.  For they may never be able to get another job.  Sure, some may move into the front office.  Some may move on to coaching.  But few will earn the kind of money they did during their short careers.  So they want to keep as much as they earn.  To take care of their wife and kids.  And have enough for their retirements.  Which can be rather long for these worn out and injured bodies.  So they just don’t sit by passively while every taxing authority is shaking them down for everything they’re worth.

The lion’s share of most players’ income, their salary, is taxed in the city and state where the team is based. But income from other sources, including endorsements, personal appearances, dividends and interest income, is taxed in their state of residence.

This is the reason New York Giants quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning lives in Hoboken, N.J., instead of in the Big Apple. It’s simple arithmetic, says Raiola.

“If he were a resident of New York, he’d pay 8.97 percent New York state tax and another 3.78 percent New York City tax on top of that, not only on his wage income but also his endorsements and investment interest,” he says. “In New Jersey, he only pays 8.97 percent…”

Taxes — or the lack of them — may also have had something to do with NBA all-star and 2010 free agent LeBron James’ choice to play for the Miami Heat instead of the New York Knicks. Losi points to Florida’s lack of a state income tax.

“That may have been one of the factors that led LeBron to choose Florida versus New York,” says Losi. “Ten percent of his first contract was going to be the difference. For him, it was an extra 5 (percent to) 9 percent difference in tax. That’s real money.”

New York City may be the greatest city in the world but the rich pay an enormous amount of taxes to live there.  So many chose not to.  In fact, a lot of athletes chose where they live and raise their families based on their total tax burden.

Professional golfers, tennis players and other athletes who compete on the world stage often leave a third or more of their earnings in the local coffers.

“Whenever they play in foreign countries, they have to pay taxes in that jurisdiction, and the tax liability is much bigger than the 5 (percent) to 10 percent state tax. It’s usually in the 30 (percent) to 40 percent bracket,” says Losi. “Usually it’s withheld in their prize money, and they can file a nonresident return if they think they might have a refund coming.”

Because the United States is one of the few countries that taxes all personal income regardless of source, some pro sports stars who compete internationally actually have a financial disincentive to make their home in America.

“If they’re (not U.S. citizens or green card holders) and they’re not planning to stay here more than 183 days out of the year, from a tax perspective it absolutely makes sense to not live in the U.S.,” says Losi. “All the foreign golfers who come here to play, if they want all of their foreign prize money and endorsement money to be taxed, all they have to do is hang out here for 183 days.”

Being an athlete competing at the level that makes them millionaires is not an easy life.  While others look forward to weekends, holidays and vacations to kick back and relax and recharge their batteries with copious amounts of alcohol and enormous quantities of fattening foods these athletes don’t.  They often work on weekends and holidays.  And when they’re not working they’re practicing.  Where their practice is often more intense than their competition.  This is their life.  This is how they become elite athletes.  And their reward?  To be whacked open like a cash piñatas by the taxing authorities so the politicians they serve can take their money and spend it to buy votes for the next election.  And forcing them to choose where to live based on who will penalized them the least for being really good at something.

This is not a meritocracy.  Where we reward people for achievement.  This is out of control government spending to maintain a privileged class.  Politicians.  And government workers.  Who live and feed off of taxes.  To fund their class warfare that makes these privileged few secure in their class.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,