Russians still on Edge over Missile-Defense Sites despite Obama’s Promise to Please the Russians after his Election

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 5th, 2012

Week in Review

Apparently President Obama’s whispered words to Russian president Dmitry Medvedev to tell incoming Russian president Vladimir Putin not to worry about the missile-defense sites did little to assuage Russian angst.  He told Dmitry to tell Vladimir that he’ll have more flexibility once the 2012 election was over.  Because without having to worry about pleasing the people for yet another election he could act with impunity.  Dmitry said he would tell Vladimir.  And yet the Russians are still really upset over the missile-defense sites.  What, do they think Obama’s going to lose the 2012 election?  Perhaps (see Russian General Threatens ‘Pre-emptive’ Attacks by ANDREW E. KRAMER posted 5/3/2012 on The New York Times).

A senior Russian general threatened on Wednesday pre-emptive attacks on missile-defense sites in Poland and elsewhere in Eastern Europe in the event of a crisis, underscoring the Kremlin’s opposition to the Obama administration’s plans and further undermining relations between the countries…

Mr. Vershbow said NATO interceptors would not be able to be launched quickly enough to intercept a Russian intercontinental ballistic missile as it traveled toward the United States, calling it “a question of science and geography.” He noted that some Russian scientists and policy experts agreed with this assessment.

President George W. Bush proposed the system for Eastern Europe after withdrawing from the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty over Russia’s objections. President Obama first stalled the Eastern European program as part of the so-called reset in relations and then revived it in a new format, called the Phased Adaptive Approach.

Russian generals floated a number of objections to the revised plan. General Makarov, in his speech, said the United States was refusing to offer written guarantees that the interceptor missiles directed at Iran would not have the capacity to hit a Russian ICBM in flight as it streaked toward the United States with a nuclear warhead. American officials have said the proposed system will not have that capability.

Remember the days of Ronald Reagan?  When we were working on plans to put an antimissile defense system into space?  Over Soviet protests?  Those were the days.  When we did things to protect the United States.  And not try to be nice to people who weren’t playing nice with us.

The Left called Ronald Reagan a cowboy.  Not in a romantic way.  But as an insult.  The Left said he was too swaggering and putting the U.S. into danger with all of his anti-communist talk.  That we needed to talk to the Soviets.  Like Carter talked to the Russians.  And who, incidentally, caused the Soviets to change their nuclear policy.  Because of Carter’s displayed weakness the Soviets established a first-strike nuclear option.  That they came close to using during the Carter administration.  Because they were sure they could get away with doing it.

The Left didn’t like George W. Bush either.  For the same reasons.  Which is why the Obama administration sent Hillary Clinton to Russia with a ‘reset’ button to reset U.S.-Russian relations.  To undo all the damage George W. Bush, another cowboy, did.  Meanwhile Vladimir is riding around shirtless.  Showing his people, and the world, what a cowboy he is.  But for some reason, the Left doesn’t mind when Putin swaggers.

So apparently cowboys are bad unless they’re Russian cowboys.  And nuclear weapons are bad unless they’re Russian nuclear weapons.  And American and NATO defenses are good when they can’t intercept Russian nuclear ICBMs. 

What is wrong with this picture?

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The U.S. Postal Service is One of the Biggest and Least Successful Companies of All Time

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 5th, 2012

Week in Review

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) may not be part of the government.  But it sure acts like it is (see As a private firm the US Postal Service would rank 35th on the Fortune 500 list, but it would also be bankrupt posted 5/5/2012 on The Economist).

AT THE bottom of its press releases the US Postal Service brags that if it were a private company, it would rank 35th on the Fortune 500 list. Were it a private firm, it would also be bankrupt. The service loses $25m a day.

Hit hard by the recession and the march towards electronic mail, the Postal Service is in desperate need of reform…

A normal business could not operate like this. Over three-quarters of America’s post offices do not make a profit. Take, for example, the office in Alix, Arkansas, which last year cost $48,452 to run and brought in just $3,642 in revenue. Its earnings may be thinned by the presence of eight other post offices in an 11-mile radius. Under the Senate bill, the Alix office would remain open…

A more pressing concern for the service involves payments into a health-benefits fund for the future retired…

The focus will now shift to the House, which is considering a postal-reform bill of its own. Its author, Darrell Issa, a Republican from California, plans to end Saturday delivery and establish a financial-control board with a mandate to cut costs. His bill would take politics out of the process by creating an independent commission to oversee the closure of post offices. And it would aim to bring the pay of postal employees into line with the private sector.

The solution is easy to some.  Get rid of email.  Text messaging.  And paying your bills online.  That’s the solution they’ve used elsewhere in the economy to protect a dying industry from a higher quality, lower cost competitor.  They used tariffs to protect the U.S. automotive industry.  And as a result they have lost all but a fraction of the global market.  They’ve passed labor laws favoring higher cost union labor.  And chased manufacturers out of the country.  The Labor Department sued Boeing for building a new 787 Dreamliner plant in a nonunion state.  Because they wanted those planes to be built with costlier union labor.  Making them less competitive with Airbus.  Who continues to expand their market share.  So why not get rid of email?  It would be no more foolish than past solutions.

Of course, they can’t do that.  Too many young people enjoy emailing and texting.  And everything else in the digital world.  They can increase the price of a car or a plane ticket without it affecting your every waking moment.  You can’t do that with the Internet.  For the American youth have a fever.  And the only prescription is more Internet access.  Or more cowbell.  And if you take that away to save something they don’t use that will come back to bite them in the buttocks in the first election following that action.  And that’s a problem.  Because the youth don’t care about past institutions or economics.  Their world is centered on them.  And if you mess with their immediate pleasures in life they will punish you at the polls.

So the solution to the USPS may have to be a real solution.  To address the real problems.  Which are simple.  There isn’t enough paper mail to support the current size of the USPS.  Or the current budget.  So you’re going to have to close some offices.  Some sorting centers.  And other infrastructure.  Most important of all you’re going to have to cut the payroll.  Letting people go.  And reducing their pay and benefit packages for those who stay.  Including those for retirees.  Like they do in the real world.  It’s either that or figuring out a way to put a stamp on an email.  Which past postmasters have thought about.  And are no doubt thinking about again.  If they can just figure a way to blame George W. Bush.  Or the Republicans.  Because young people already hate them. 

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Some Canadian Doctors are Apparently Putting Profits before People

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 5th, 2012

Week in Review

The proponents of national health care say we need a national health care system like Canada has.  Where they put people before profits.  Which is what Obamacare will do.  Or so they say.  At least they hope it will make the American health care system as good as the Canadian one.  Which has stripped out of it the evil influences of capitalism.  And financial profit (see Manitoba MDs warned about limiting patient complaints posted 5/3/2012 on CBC News Health).

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba says it’s concerned that a growing number of doctors are asking patients to book separate appointments for each medical complaint they have.

The college, which governs medical practices in the province, is worried that doctors who limit a patient’s complaints during a visit may end up missing important information…

The woman’s husband, Bruce Angus, told CBC News earlier this week that his wife, Samantha, had originally gone to the doctor to discuss her back pain.

But when Samantha tried to mention that she was also having chest pains, the doctor allegedly said, “One appointment, one problem” and walked out of the office, according to Angus.

Samantha Angus, 60, died of a heart attack last week, about two weeks after that medical appointment took place…

Pope said the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) publishes a handbook that advises independent doctors on how to run their practices.

“You should consider how to educate your patients that the time you can offer for a ‘regular’ office appointment may limit the number of medical issues that can be addressed during a single visit,” the CMA’s guidelines for private practice states.

Pope admitted that doctors do have an incentive to limit the amount of time spent with each patient. Doctors are compensated by the province based on each visit.

Financial incentive?  In the Canadian health care system?  Say it isn’t so.  But there it is.  A system just dripping with profits.  And profit seekers.  So much for putting people before profits.

Are the Canadian doctors evil?  No.  They’re just rational.  They’ve spent a lot of time and money to become doctors.  And a national health care system doesn’t want to reward them for all of that hard work.  Instead, they want to make these doctors serve out of the goodness of their hearts.  Not for a large paycheck.  While the politicians no doubt make as much if not more than these doctors.  Without the time or money these doctors spent.  Either that or Canadians are just as greedy as Americans.

Something else to expect in the coming era of Obamacare.

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The Cantona practiced Ritual Human Sacrifice in Mexico 1,000 Years before the Aztecs

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 5th, 2012

Week in Review

The Founding Fathers owned slaves.  They took the Indians’ land.  They said all men were created equal but they treated women as second class citizens for over a hundred years.  Rich white men wrote the Constitution for rich white men.  These Christian barbarians even burned witches at the stake in their early history.  At least, these are things we hear the Left say all of the time about our Founding Fathers.  Their Constitution.  And the God-forsaken country they created.  These are the things they are teaching in our public schools and in our universities.  With no consideration of the context of time.  Unlike they give to every other culture on the planet.  Including cultures that ritually sacrificed their own people (see ‘Conclusive’ evidence of human sacrifice found in Mexico posted 5/3/2012 on The Telegraph).

Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History said the finding clearly corroborates accounts from later cultures about the use of sharp obsidian knives in sacrificing humans…

The collection of stone knives is from the little-known Cantona culture, which flourished just after the mysterious city-state of Teotihuacan. Cantona preceded by more than 1,000 years the region’s most famous human sacrifice practitioners, the Aztecs…

While historical accounts from Aztec times, as well as drawings and paintings from earlier cultures, had long suggested that priests used knives and other instruments for non-life-threatening bloodletting rituals, the presence of the muscle and tendon traces indicates the cuts were deep and intended to sever portions of the victim’s body…

Gillespie said human sacrifice practices either described by the Spanish conquerors or depicted in pre-Conquest paintings include heart removal, decapitation, dismemberment, disembowelling and skinning of victims.

To hear those on the Left speak all Americans are guilty for the sins of the Founding Fathers.  Which when taken in the grander scheme of things weren’t that bad.  At least they were nowhere as bad as the sins of the Cantona.  Or the Aztecs.  Who did some really horrible things.

Human sacrifice and cannibalism made it into the 20th century in some remote tribes.  But the Left will never condemn these people like they condemn the Founding Fathers.  They will treat their culture with respect for their ancient religious beliefs.  While calling Christians every derogatory name in the book.  They will put the religious ceremonies of the Cantona and the Aztecs into the context of their time.  While judging the Founding Fathers by today’s standards.  Why is that?

When one is blatantly biased against a group of people one can only conclude that they don’t like that group of people.  Or the country they created.  Even though their country never condoned ritual human sacrifice.  And when you put the Founding Fathers into the context of their times they were pretty enlightened when compared to countries in the Old World.  As well as the ancient cultures of the New World.

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Spain is Taking Center Stage in the Eurozone Crisis

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 5th, 2012

Week in Review

To be a generous welfare state requires one of two things.  Either a population making babies like bunnies.  To keep the base of the pyramid of the welfare state expanding greater than the top.  Or a booming economy that showers money onto the treasury.  If you have neither than you better have good credit (see Spanish borrowing costs to jump at auction, bank buying eyed by Paul Day posted 5/3/2012 on Reuters).

Spain has jumped to the forefront of the euro zone debt crisis due to concern over its public deficit and shrinking economy and pressure is growing for a plan to recapitalize its banks, which are burdened with bad debts from a property market crash…

Spanish banks, virtually cut out of wholesale debt markets after losing billions since a decade-long property bubble burst in 2008, snapped up cash the European Central Bank pumped into the euro zone banking system in December and February, in operations totaling more than a trillion euros.

Recent data from the Bank of Spain suggests that they used a portion of the ECB’s ultra-cheap three-year money to buy up high-yielding sovereign debt.

According to the central bank, Spanish lenders held just over 13 percent of domestic debt in November 2011, but that total soared to almost 30 percent by March. Non-residents held almost 56 percent of all Spanish debt in November, but by March, that proportion had fallen to 38.8 percent.

Spain has neither a population boom nor an economic boom.  Nor is her credit looking all that good.  Which does not bode well for the Eurozone. 

Too many countries look to the housing market as the panacea for all that ills an economy.  Keep money cheap to borrow.  To encourage people to borrow.  So they can borrow.  And buy overvalued houses.  This is the kind of government Keynesian tinkering that never ends well.  And there are so many examples in history you’d think we’d have learned this lesson by now.  Japan, Ireland, Spain and the United States.  And now even China is growing a little housing bubble of their own.  Bubbles are not good.  They are artificial economic growth.  And they always pop.  Just ask our good friends in Japan, Ireland, Spain and the United States.

And when those bubbles pop recessions set in.  To correct all of those overvalued prices.  There’s deflation.  Old debt that becomes impossible to repay.  So banks fail.  Just because government Keynesians had to tinker.  Playing with interest rates.  To keep them below what the market would have them.  It was good on the upside.  Great new government spending and benefits.  Which have to go away on the downside.  Because there isn’t the robust economic activity to pay for it.  Even the interest on the debt becomes difficult to pay.  And because all of this is in play no one wants to buy their sovereign debt anymore.  Which raises the interest they must pay on new debt to retire old debt.  And the vicious cycle just continues.

Trying to fix the debt problem is looking at a system and not the disease.  The disease is the welfare state.  And until they cut that spending the debt problem will never go away.

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The Form-Based Efficiency of the NHS fails to Save a Baby from Chicken Pox

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 5th, 2012

Week in Review

A baby dies despite the efficient use of forms in national health care (see Baby boy died from chicken pox after doctors sent him home THREE times – and all he needed was simple antibiotics by Paul Sims posted 5/3/2012 on the Daily Mail).

Hospital staff missed three vital opportunities to save a toddler with chicken pox and he would be alive today if they had acted, a coroner said yesterday.

Lewis Mullins was seen by doctors three times in three days after his mother became convinced his condition was deteriorating rapidly.

But on each occasion she was given painkillers to make her son more comfortable and sent home…

Rotherham coroner Nicola Munday said Lewis would have almost certainly have survived the infection had staff ‘heeded’ the warning signs, carried out routine tests and treated him…

She rushed her son to Rotherham’s NHS walk-in centre on Wednesday, March 30 last year and was told he had infected chickenpox.

But a questionnaire filled in by a nurse, which detailed Lewis’s pain, rash, high temperature, shaking episodes and breathing problems, was not passed to the GP who later saw him.

As a result the GP thought he was treating him for chickenpox and nothing more…

This is medicine on a grand scale.  National health care.  And what Obamacare will be like.  Where the focus will be on cost cutting and greater efficiencies.  Digitizing medical records.  Using forms and checklist discipline to process as many human inputs into the system as possible.  To make those limited health care resources stretch as far as possible.  Instead of old time medicine.  Where you have a family doctor.  And your family doctor knows you and your family.  Your family history.  A doctor that sees your children growing up.  A doctor that knows your child.  And his or her brothers and sisters.  Knowing them as children.  And not as checklists.  But we can’t have that with national health care.  And we won’t have that with Obamacare.  Because that will take too many doctors.  And too much time.  So our doctors will become strangers.  Strangers who peruse a checklist.  Then goes on and processes the next human input into the health care machine.

This would probably not have happened in the United States.  For even though health care there is still not nationalized most children receive a chicken pox immunization.

Miss Conlay is now calling for a national immunisation programme for chicken pox. Vaccination is routinely available in the United States and Canada, but it is not offered to children in the UK…

Of course one can only assume the reason why the UK doesn’t is for the same reason that directs every decision in the NHS.  Cost.  Currently immunization clearly isn’t cost-effective.

It’s not the people in the NHS.  It’s the NHS.  The system.  Which is asking them to do the impossible.  For with their aging population and rising budget deficits they have little choice but to cut costs and pursue greater efficiencies.  And even though there is this great example of a large national health care system struggling to deal with an aging population and rising deficits the United States is heading down this same road.  Only with more human inputs to the health care machine.  That is struggling to deal with an aging population and rising deficits as well.  Who likes to hold up the model of Medicare as a success story.  Even though they project Medicare to go bankrupt in a decade or two.  So enjoy your health care in America while you can.  For if Obamacare isn’t repealed these are the kind of stories we’ll be reading about.  Only on a grander scale.

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