Damned if we Decriminalize Drugs and Damned if we Don’t; either way Drugs have Damned Us

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 2nd, 2012

Week in Review

Drugs are a problem with no easy solution.  The drug market in the U.S. is fueling horrific crime south of the border.  And most violent crime in the U.S. is related to the illegal drug trade.  This makes a very strong case to decriminalize drugs.  And trust in responsible people to use drugs responsibly.  But then you have stories like this (see Miami Cannibal Attack: Horrific Dangers of “Bath Salts” Drug by Lisa Collier Cool posted 6/1/2012 on Yahoo! Health).

The “cannibal” attacker who gnawed off another man’s face in Miami is suspected to have been high on a dangerous street drug called “bath salts.” Police say that during the zombie-like naked rampage that horrified the world, Rudy Eugene, 31, displayed deranged behavior similar to other horrific crimes linked to bath salts, before being shot dead by police on Saturday.

Bath salts, which have been called the new LSD, cause people “to go completely insane and become very violent,” said Armando Aguilar, president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police told CNN. Also known by street names like “Ivory Wave,” “Vanilla Sky,” “Bliss,” “Dynamite” and “Purple Rain,” bath salts made headlines last year after a torrent of ER visits, thousands of calls to poison control centers, and a number of deaths, including murders and suicides…

Banned in several states, bath salts contain amphetamine-like chemicals that have uniquely hazardous effects on the brain. “If you take the worst attributes of meth, coke, PCP, LSD and Ecstasy and put them together, that’s what we’re seeing sometimes,” Mark Ryan, director of the Louisiana Poison Center, told The New York Times…

CNN reports, “The effects include producing feelings of empathy, stimulation, alertness, euphoria, sensory awareness and hallucinations. Other reported effects include rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, and sweating. According to the DEA, MDPV has been reported to cause intense panic attacks, psychosis, and a strong desire to use the drug again.”

Physiological effects include high blood pressure and increased heart rate, according to a report by WebMD. According to a CDC report of bath salt abusers in Michigan, users risk both psychological side effects and physical side effects.

In fact, according to Huffington Post:

•91 percent of users had neurological damage

•77 percent experienced cardiovascular damage

•49 percent had psychological difficulties associated with the drug

•37 percent of the people who suffered mental health problems reported attempting suicide or having suicidal thoughts related to bath salts

Bath salts are a more powerful drug than previous drugs.  In fact if you add the worse a handful of past drugs will do you get what this new drug will do.  In other words, those other drugs were gateway drugs to this drug.  Which is the general trend in using drugs.  Start out small.  And keep moving up to bigger and more powerful drugs.  Not every pothead may move on to bath salts.  But it is very likely that every bath salts user started out a pothead.  Making marijuana the gateway drug to all other drugs.

A lot of drugs will cause neurological and cardiovascular damage.  And a lot will cause mental health problems and suicide.  Sad but primarily only the user suffers these drug affects.  But when the side effects include insanity, violence, psychosis and murder the drug affects tend to affect more than the user.  Which makes a very strong case against decriminalizing drugs.  Even marijuana.  For it is the rare drug addict that starts off with a drug that causes insanity, violence, psychosis and murder. 

People have moved on from marijuana to stronger drugs.  While all of these drugs were illegal.  So if any of these drugs became legal it is only logical that it will pull more people into the drug-using world.  And help more people up the ladder to stronger drugs.  All the way to bath salts.

So when it comes to the big question of whether we should decriminalize drugs the sad truth is that we are damned if we do.  And damned if we don’t.  In short, either way drugs have damned us.

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College Students and Potheads will Curse the Israelis for Harshing their Mellow

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 2nd, 2012

Week in Review

There is good news on the medical marijuana front.  For both Democrats and Republicans.  Who can come to a bipartisan agreement on this once divisive issue.  Why, they may even decriminalize medical marijuana at the federal level.  So people suffering ill health anywhere can have access to the medicinal properties in medical marijuana without politics getting in the way of their healing (see Scientists create pot with no high by Meghan Neal posted 6/2/2012 on the New York Daily News).

Scientists in Israel say they’ve taken the high out of marijuana, creating a strain that doesn’t leave you stoned and even stops the food-craving “munchies.”

The new cannabis could benefit medical patients without the side effects of feeling stoned, AFP reported, citing an article from Israeli newspaper Maariv Daily.

A team at Tikkun Olam, a company in Israel, worked to boost the levels of cannabidiol — the part of the plant used to ease the symptoms of cancer and other diseases — and neutralize the side effects of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. That’s the part that induces a calm, light-headed feeling.

Isn’t this great news?  Just think of all the trouble this ends for all of those medical marijuana clinics in California.  No more accusations that they’re nothing more than drug dealers.  No one saying that they’re selling drugs and drug paraphernalia with little more than a doctor’s prescription (wink wink) faxed in from places unknown.  By mischievous people gaming the system.  No.  All of these suspicions are now gone.  Because medical marijuana won’t get you high anymore.  Everyone’s a winner. 

Except for those people who were gaming the system.  And those who want to legalize marijuana.  The college students and potheads.  Who vote Democrat in hopes of that day.  Who were hoping medical marijuana was a stepping stone to getting their beloved drug decriminalized.  But thanks to the Israelis this may prove to be a dead end.  So they will not rejoice for the ill who will gain access to this drug.  Instead they’ll curse the Israelis for harshing their mellow.

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Canada doesn’t pay for Medications and Urges People to become Capitalists in Lieu of Welfare

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 2nd, 2012

Week in Review

A lot of people think that Canada is this social utopia.  Where health care is all free.  And they put capitalism in its place.  But it’s not quite like that (see Microloans for mental-health patients rolling out across Ontario by Tavia Grant posted 6/1/2012 on The Globe and Mail).

There were times when Ed Middaugh had no home, no job and no money. He floated from couch to couch, in and out of hospitals during what he reluctantly calls “episodes,” unable to buy food because payments for medications consumed his whole monthly budget.

These days, Mr. Middaugh, 34, diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 19, runs his own general contracting business, where he does home renos, stonework and landscaping. He’s bright, articulate, motivated – and steady, thanks to a better mix of meds.

He’s also the recipient of an $8,500 small-business loan that enabled him to buy a used pickup and power tools – something he never could have imagined landing from a traditional bank due to a sporadic work history.

So many Americans yearn for a Canadian-style national health care system.  Well, the health care may have been free but it appears the prescriptions weren’t.  Not when someone has to choose between food and medications.  Why, that’s the kind of thing they say about the evil private health care system in America.  All the while cursing the evil pharmaceuticals. 

Also, this social utopia that puts people before profits has a unique solution to help those who need help.  Helping them to become small business owners.  Instead of a lifetime on government support they make a single investment to help these people take care of themselves.  By becoming capitalists.  Something many Americans wouldn’t expect from Canada.  But something they can learn from their good neighbors to the north.

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There may be no Regulation against Military Moms Breast Feeding while in Uniform but it Breaks a few other Regulations

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 2nd, 2012

Week in Review

When I was in college I had a friend that was in ROTC.  This is perhaps the most relaxed military environment there is.  Yet there were some pretty strict standards if I remember correctly.  Especially when it came to the uniform.  Even to the type and color of underwear they wore underneath (for both men and women). 

Cadets could not sling a backpack over their shoulder.  Their suit coat could not be worn unbuttoned.  Shoes had to be polished.  No webbing of the belt could show between the tip of the belt and the buckle.  There was something called the gig-line where the edge of the belt had to align with edge of the pants fly or something.  I think the tie had to be a double Windsor knot.  Even the hat had to be worn precisely (something like two fingers between the bottom of the hat and the eyebrow).  The little button in the back vent of the overcoat had to be buttoned.  There could be no wrinkles.  Or lint.  When a superior officer approached you snapped to attention.  If you were walking past a superior officer you had to snap a crisp salute a certain number of paces before passing.  You couldn’t wear the uniform in a bar or at a party.  Or do anything in it that would draw undo attention on yourself or reflect poorly on the service.  Such as attending some kind of demonstration while in uniform.  The only exception I know ever made to the uniform was for service women in Saudi Arabia.  Who must wear a head scarf so as not to offend the local Muslim population. 

There’s a reason why they are so strict with the uniform policy.  It’s the same reason they spend so much time drilling in formation.  It is to remove individuality.  And to increase unit adhesion.  Everyone is to look the same.  Think the same.  And act the same.  To maintain a high level of military discipline.  So that when you are stationed forward in a combat zone you function like a well-oiled machine.  Swiftly carrying out the orders of those above you.  Without questioning or hesitation.  Because in the chaos of battle it is only that military discipline that keeps people from panicking.  And following orders.  Which allows a unit the best chance of survival in combat.  And the best chance of successfully completing the mission.

Being in the military means you live by another set of rules.  Much of what you did in civilian life you simply can’t do in the military.  You can’t have visible tattoos.  You can’t have piercings and studs on your face.  You can’t have long hair.  Men can’t wear earrings.  Women can’t wear bright nail polish.  So many of the things that civilians take for granted just aren’t acceptable in the military.  So it is surprising that some women think they can pull a breast out of their uniform to nurse a baby in public (see Military Moms Breastfeeding in Uniform Stir Controversy by Lylah M. Alphonse posted 5/30/2012 on Shine from Yahoo!).

At a time when breastfeeding in public is already controversial, pictures of two military moms doing so while wearing their uniforms is sparking outrage…

The U.S. Air Force is supportive of our breastfeeding mothers and installations are continuously adapting to meet the needs of working mothers to offer suitable areas for their parenting needs,” Air Force spokesperson Captain Rose Richeson told Yahoo! Shine in an email. “The Air Force has standing instructions enabling mothers to feed their children, particularly when they transition back to work following maternity leave.” That includes allowing them to pump during the day, and providing private areas for breastfeeding in the Child Development Centers, she said, including the one at Fairchild Air Force Base…

According to Military Spouse Central, public displays of affection — even something as innocuous as holding hands — are not allowed while wearing a military uniform. Also forbidden while in uniform: eating, drinking, or talking on a cell phone while walking, carrying an umbrella that’s not black, and (in some cases) smoking or even chewing gum.

 Publicly breastfeeding definitely singles out these women from their fellow service members.  Their uniforms are not worn to regulations.  I doubt they could snap to attention if a superior officer approached.  And this is a form of a public demonstration.  To raise awareness of breastfeeding while in uniform.

What happens if these women are deployed to a combat zone?  They’re not going to take their babies into harm’s way.  Are they going to switch their babies to formula?  Are they going to pump and ship breast milk home?  Or are they going to get a special waiver and not have to serve in a forward zone?  If so they shouldn’t be in the military.  They should be civilians working for the military.  Who are exempt from combat.  So the military doesn’t have to deal with this kind of publicity with everything else on their plate.  Meeting expanding force requirements while enduring budget cuts.  And sending their people on multiple tours of duty in a forward combat zone.  Stressing them.  And the families they’ve left behind. 

These women may have already served in a combat zone.  They may have seen more combat than any of us will see.  And may deserve more gratitude than a nation can give them.  But there are some things that just don’t belong in the military.  From public displays of affection.  To a breast pulled out of a uniform to feed a baby.  However beautiful and natural that may be.  There’s a time and place for everything.  And breastfeeding in public belongs in the civilian world.  As long as the civilian laws permit it.  For when it comes down to it the business of the military is death and destruction.  And focusing attention on public breastfeeding while in uniform distracts the military from taking care of that business.

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President Obama’s Green Initiatives did not Create Jobs or Save the Planet

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 2nd, 2012

Week in Review

If the Energy Department was a private corporation it would be the ideal bailout target for a company like Bain Capital.  Inept management, poor investments and bad strategic policy.  It has everything.  So much so that it would be easier for the bailout team to ask them at Energy what actually worked.  It would keep the initial meeting much shorter (see Difference Engine: To and from the grid posted 6/1/2012 on The Economist).

Since then, interest rates have fallen, while the price of solar panels has tumbled even more so—thanks to Chinese overcapacity. Meanwhile, electricity rates (at least those in southern California) have risen noticeably. Your correspondent reckons photovoltaic solar systems now cost half as much as they did four years ago.

Two things could make or break America’s affair with solar power. One concerns the ushered in by the economic stimulus bill of 2009. Many of those temporary tax credits are now coming to an end. If nothing is done to extend them, the incentives will fall from a peak of over $44 billion in 2009 to $16 billion this year and $11 billion by 2014. That could bring the solar-installation business to a screeching halt and wipe out tens of thousands of green jobs. The industry’s future depends largely on the outcome of the November election….

The irony is that those who invest their own money to generate clean electricity from solar panels on their rooftops are likely to be the last to benefit from it environmentally. Nowadays, most people work outside the home during the day and consume the bulk of their residential electricity in the evening and during the night. In California, that is when the state—which meets only 70% of its electricity requirement from its own resources—relies heavily on cheap electricity imported from dirty coal-fired power stations elsewhere in the country. This situation will only be exacerbated if, as expected, plug-in battery vehicles, needing to be recharged overnight, account for an increasing share of the Californian fleet.

That aside, all your correspondent now has to worry about is whether the 31% anti-dumping tariff recently imposed on Chinese solar-panel makers really does deter them. Having seen such trade spats play out many times before, he suspects the tariffs will only spur Chinese firms to acquire the few remaining American solar-panel makers so that they can carry on manufacturing in low-cost Wuxi or Shanghai and do their final assembly in middle America (presumably with local subsidies to boot).

So solar panels have never been cheaper thanks to the Chinese.  Which is good.  These lower prices will encourage people to save the planet by installing solar panels onto their roofs.  Unless the government raises these low prices with a 31% anti-dumping tariff.  Hmm.  Looks like you have to choose between saving the planet.  And providing green jobs.  For as this anti-dumping tariff clearly shows you can’t have both.

And because jobs are more important than the environment the government is subsidizing the clean energy industry.  Let’s crunch some numbers.  They say we could lose “tens of thousands of green jobs.”  So let’s assume there were 80,000 jobs created in the first year.  And they declined by 10,000 every year to reflect with the growing number of bankruptcies in the green energy sector.  Dividing the incentive by the cost in the first year you get a cost of about $550,000 for each job created.  If do the same for the last year you also get a cost of about $550,000 for each job created.  That’s a lot of money to pay someone.  And I’m guessing that the Chinese aren’t paying their employees a half million each in wages and benefits.  Not when they’re making these solar panels so cheap that the U.S. has to slap an anti-dumping tariff on them.

Of course these numbers don’t include the $500 billion the government blew on Solyndra.  Or the other Solyndras out there.  Which when you factor all of these in these green jobs are costing the taxpayer probably in excess of a million dollars each.  For what?  To pay someone a $50,000 wage on an assembly line so he or she can take these earnings and stimulate the economy?  Talk about a negative return on investment.  And the president is attacking Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital past?  If Bain Capital took over the United States government to turn it around to get a sensible return on tax dollar investments guess who would be the first fired from his job?  The incompetent chief executive that spent a million dollars plus to get $50,000 worth of stimulus.

And the kicker is that none of this matters.  When solar power is available people are at work.  When people are home cranking up their air conditioners and plugging in their electric cars for the night the sun is down and coal-fired power plants are meeting this peak demand.  So we get nothing.  No jobs.  And we don’t even save the planet.  We just get higher taxes and more debt.  A pretty crappy deal if you ask me.  We have coal.  We should just use coal.  And not demonize it.  We’d arrive at the same outcome.  Only with fewer taxes and less debt.  And cheaper electricity.  Because we’d be bringing more coal-fired plants on line.  Now that is a smart turnaround plan.  The kind of turnaround that could end up in the win column at Bain Capital.

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President Obama brings Down the Price of Gas by Destroying the Economy with his Economic Policies

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 2nd, 2012

Week in Review

Remember the movie Monty Python’s Life of Brian?  If you haven’t seen it I highly recommend it.  The politics they lampoon of the Roman occupation?  Funny stuff.  Yes there’s a bit of nudity in it and some may find it a bit blasphemous.  So viewer discretion is recommended.  At the end as Brian was being mistakenly crucified the guy being crucified behind him to his right tried to cheer him up in song.  And told him to Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.  And the people sang.  From atop their crosses.  If these fictional people can see the bright side in their impending long-lasting deaths then we, too, should be able to see the bright side in the continuing bad economic news (see Gas prices are silver lining as economy weakens by Sandy Shore, The Associated Press, posted 6/1/2012 on Economy Watch).

There’s some good news behind the discouraging headlines on the economy: Gas is getting cheaper. At least two states had stations selling gas for $2.99 on Friday and it could fall below $3 in more areas over the weekend.

A plunge in oil prices has knocked more than 30 cents off the price of a gallon of gas in most parts of the U.S. since early April. The national average is now $3.61. Experts predict further decline in the next few weeks.

If Americans spend less filling their tanks, they’ll have more money for discretionary purchases. The downside? Lower oil and gas prices are symptoms of weakening economic conditions in the U.S. and around the globe.

On Friday, oil prices plunged nearly 4 percent as a bleak report on U.S. job growth heightened worries about a slowing global economy and waning oil demand. The unemployment rate rose to 8.2 percent from 8.1 percent. Sobering economic news from China and Europe also contributed to the drop…

Phil Flynn, an analyst for The Price Futures Group, believes falling gas prices could give consumers a psychological boost. But that could evaporate if hiring doesn’t pick up and stock markets keep swooning.

“If you don’t have a job, it doesn’t matter if gasoline prices are $5 or $2 a gallon,” he said.

So President Obama may get his wish after all.  To have low gas prices while he runs for reelection.  And all he had to do to lower gas prices was to destroy the economy with bad economic policy.  Shut down the oil exploration business when oil was in high demand.  Stop the building of a pipeline that would have put hundreds of thousands of jobs into the economic pipeline.  Unleash a wave of new regulations that have stunned small business.  Especially Obamacare.  Leaving them afraid to hire anyone as they fear what the Obama administration will do next to them.  And President Obama’s open attacks on capitalism haven’t assuaged anyone’s fears in the business community that his next policies will only harm them more.  The president has wasted trillions of dollars in stimulus and green energy subsidies that resulted in no net new jobs but in the bankruptcy of the businesses they backed.  And massive new debt that we can’t afford.  The future is bleak indeed.  But gas prices are falling because of it.  So there’s one thing the president can run on.  Things could be worse.  Gas prices could be higher.

It’s the one message President Obama can tell the American people.  That we should, like Brian, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.  No matter how bad the economic news continues to be.  Because he alone brought down the price of gas.  It’s just a pity so few have a job or feel secure enough in their job to enjoy these low prices.

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