The British are Discussing the Cost Advantage of Assisted Suicide on the NHS Budget

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 15th, 2012

Week in Review

During bad economic times nations see their tax revenues fall.  States with large public state benefits are hit especially hard.  And there is no greater and more costly state benefit than national health care.  So it is not surprising that there is talk about battling the rising cost of health care with legalized assisted suicide (see Recession strengthens case against assisted suicide, MPs say by John Bingham posted 9/15/2012 on The Telegraph).

MPS fear that moves to legalise assisted suicide in the midst of the current economic crisis could place frail and vulnerable people under added pressure to end their lives, the first poll of its kind has found…

Strong majorities also feared that changing the law could lead to vulnerable people – including even those with treatable conditions such as depression – feeling under pressure to opt for suicide.

This is the scary side of socialized medicine.  The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.  And if the few are costing too much they provide a means for the many to reduce the high cost of health care.

The National Health Service (NHS) is running a deficit.  The UK deficit is in large part due to the NHS.  So you know there are some bureaucrats thinking how much easier things would be if they had a way to remove their largest expense.  Treating sick people.  Especially those who consume a lot of health care benefits over a long period of time.  For one pill or injection is less costly than months of life support that could extend out to years.

The real scary part is once this becomes policy.  For who will make these decisions?  To end life?  Or to allow life to continue?  For the thing about terminal diseases is that they take some time to advance.  People don’t wake up one day in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s.  It could take up to 10 years or more for Alzheimer’s to claim a life.  So the question is when will that decision be made?  Year 9 of the disease?  Year 8?  Year 7?  Is it a judgment call?  The problem with that is that Alzheimer’s patients have their good days.  And they have their bad days.  If the medical bureaucrats judge them on one of their bad days they could deprive family from a few more months to a year or more of additional time with their loved one.  Who may be a burden to the government.  But is still a loved family member to someone.

People talked about death panels in Obamacare.  Even though Obamacare does not include the phrase ‘death panels’.  But they are there.  For Obamacare has an unelected panel of medical bureaucrats that will be making health care decisions for others.  With the goal of making health care more cost efficient.  And the best way to do that is to reduce the number of high consumers of health care services.  So don’t be surprised when they are having assisted suicide debates in the U.S. Congress.  For Obamacare will cause much larger budget deficits than the NHS has ever caused.  Because the U.S. has five times the population the UK has.  And will have five times the patients the NHS has.

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Study finds Link between Smoking Marijuana and Testicular Cancer

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 15th, 2012

Week in Review

Pot smoking can cause permanent brain damage.  It can lead to harder and more dangerous drug use.  But now there is something even more horrible it can do to you (see Marijuana use may increase risk of testicular cancer by Jon Bardin posted 9/10/2012 on the Los Angeles Times).

A new study, published Monday on the website of the medical journal Cancer, reports that men who have testicular cancer are twice as likely to have smoked marijuana before they were diagnosed than control subjects. The association existed only for nonseminomas, the more dangerous form of testicular cancer that is harder to treat.

In the study, carried out in Los Angeles, a team of researchers enrolled 163 men who had been diagnosed with testicular cancer between 1986 and 1991. They also recruited a larger group of control subjects who were matched to the patients on such characteristics as age, ethnicity, and what L.A. neighborhood the subjects lived in at the time they were diagnosed—a localized approach to controlling for socioeconomic status.

The researchers, led by Victoria Cortessis of the USC, quizzed the participants on a range of medical and lifestyle factors, including drug use. They found that marijuana use before they were diagnosed was linked to a two-fold increase in testicular cancer risk. Even with this increased risk, the likelihood of developing testicular cancer remains relatively low: According to the American Cancer Society, a normal man’s likelihood of developing the disease is about one in 270. The risk of dying from the disease is even lower, at one in 5,000.

One in 270?  The average graduating class size in a U.S. public school is about 125.  So if you go to high school in a big city chances are that at least one in your graduating class will have testicular cancer.  And the odds are that it will be one of the stoners in your grade.  And if you’re one of the stoners it could be you.  Sure, the odds are low.  But considering what’s at risk some may reconsider enjoying that ‘harmless’ marijuana.  Because it could cost a guy his two best friends.

So to wrap up marijuana may cause permanent brain damage, it may be a gateway drug to a more harmful drug/addiction or it may cause you to lose your testicles.  As sad as the first two are to consider it is probably the losing of your testicles that gets the attention of a young pot smoker most.  Even though the first two are far more likely to happen and destroy your life than the less likely losing of your testicles to marijuana-inflicted cancer.  Because a young man has priorities in his life.  And saving brain cells or avoiding drug addiction is clearly not one of them.

So don’t do drugs, high school kid.  Because it could kill you.  Or worse.  It could hurt your future sex life.  Giving a whole new meaning to the phrase if you don’t use them you will lose them.  To testicular cancer.

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Gas Prices continue to Rise as the Number of Working Oil Rigs in the U.S. Fall

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 15th, 2012

Week in Review

The law of supply and demand tells us when prices rise demand rises.  Causing supply to rise to meet that demand.  And it typically works when the free market is left to market forces.  Apparently that isn’t happening in the U.S. oil business.  So if you ever wonder why gasoline prices are so high this is the reason (see U.S. rig count unchanged at 1,864 by The Associated Press posted 9/14/2012 on USA Today).

The number of rigs actively exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. remained unchanged this week at 1,864.

Houston-based oilfield services company Baker Hughes reported Friday that 1,413 rigs were exploring for oil and 448 were searching for gas. Three were listed as miscellaneous. A year ago, Baker Hughes listed 1,985 rigs…

The rig count peaked at 4,530 in 1981 and bottomed at 488 in 1999.

The president may say we are drilling for more oil than ever before but the number of active rigs fell this year to 1,864 from last year’s 1,985.  A drop of 121 rigs.  At a time of increasing gasoline prices.  The rig trend appears to be trending in the wrong direction.  Rising prices mean demand is greater than supply.  So the number of rigs should increase not decrease.  To meet that rising demand.

The last time gasoline prices were soaring like this was during the Carter years.  Because gas prices were so high oil companies rushed in to meet that demand.  So that by 1981 (the first year of the Reagan administration) the number of rigs peaked at 4,530.  Which gave us the steepest fall in gas prices in U.S. history.  Falling from a high of $3.31 to about $1.75 a gallon (prices are in 2007 dollars).  All of those rigs (as well as others throughout the world) created a glut of oil in the market.  And that glut of oil brought gas prices down.

Gas prices are about as high as they were in 1981.  And yet we have fewer rigs drilling for oil.  Far fewer.  President Carter may have asked us to turn down our thermostats and wear a sweater to help in the energy crisis.  But he at least allowed the oil companies to drill for oil.  And they would drill today like they did under Carter for gas prices are as high as they were under Carter.  And the only reason that they are not can be that it is not as economically beneficial for them today as it was under Carter.  Or that the Obama administration is just not letting them drill.  And with prices and demand being as high as ever it suggests the latter.

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Chicago Teachers strike for More Compensation and Less Accountability

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 15th, 2012

Week in Review

The Chicago teachers went on strike.  And you can boil down what they want into 5 things.  With teacher evaluations and compensation probably being the most contentious (see Chicago Teachers Go on Strike: 5 Things They’re Fighting For by Madison Gray posted 9/10/2012 on Time NewsFeed).

Teachers are striking over an evaluation that union leaders say is not fair. The teachers union is seeking to downplay the weight of how well students perform in the outcome of their biennial evaluations. The evaluation system, CPS says, was created in collaboration with teachers and agreed upon in March…

Teachers wanted a significant raise in the first year of a new contract because of a longer school day proposed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. CPS says it offered them a 16% increase over four years, plus “step increases” for performance and to give incentives for more experienced teachers. The teachers themselves wanted to keep the former system of granting raises based on experience. The average salary for a Chicago public school teacher is $76,000, according to the district.

That average salary excludes health care and pension benefits.  According to Heritage, that comes to about 51% of their salary.  Or an additional $38,760 in compensation.  So the average Chicago teacher compensation is about $114,760.  Which appears pretty generous.  Especially when considering the median household income in Chicago is $46,350.  And the ‘pension’ added on top of that is typically 4% in 401(k) contributions adding another $1,854 in compensation.  While retirees have to wait until they’re 65 or so to live on their 40(k) savings it’s not quite the same for the Chicago teacher (see Chicago Teachers’ Retirement Benefits Are Extravagant by Jason Richwine posted 9/13/2012 on The Foundry).

A Chicago teacher who retired in 2011 after 30 or more years of service time could expect an annual pension payment of $77,496. For context, the average Social Security benefit—which requires a much higher employee contribution into the system—would likely be in the range of $25,000 to $30,000 per year for a worker with a similar salary history…

Chicago teachers also enjoy a benefit that is rare in the private sector—retiree health coverage, which allows teachers who retire (often in their 50s) to maintain their health insurance until Medicare kicks in at 65.

And, of course, this generous compensation comes with having their summers off.  With holidays and breaks a teacher only works about 9 months out of the year.  Doing the math that’s 8 hours a day for 5 days a week for 9 months comes to about 1,548 working hours.  Which is less than the definition of a part-time job of 30 hours a week or less.  Running these numbers the maximum number of hours a part-time worker can work before we consider them a full-time worker is 1,560 hours.  Or about 12 hours more than a teacher works in a year.  So current teacher pay and benefits are pretty generous for a part-time job.  There are many people working full time that don’t get anywhere near these kind of numbers.

For this kind of money you’d think that the Chicago Public School system is producing some of the best high school graduates in the nation.  But with a graduation rate of 40% that can’t be true.  So the people of Chicago are paying about the highest cost in public school education to see 60% of their children drop out of high school.  Perhaps this is the reason why they want to drop teacher evaluations.  For I know if I was only 40% good in my job I wouldn’t have a job any more.  Which would really smart for these teachers.  For they will find no part-time jobs that compensate as generously as their teaching jobs.  Which clearly answers the question why teachers have to purchase teaching supplies for their classrooms out of their own pockets.  For the teachers don’t leave much money in the district to pay for things like teaching supplies.

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Jessica Alba is a Movie Star, Mother and Small Business Owner who uses Venture Capital

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 15th, 2012

Week in Review

Jessica Alba is a movie star.  Mother.  Small business owner.  And Democrat.  She and her husband hosted the closing party at the recent Democrat National Convention in Charlotte.  So she’s pretty active in supporting her political party.  And she’s probably not a fan of Republican candidate Mitt Romney.  Probably a good thing, then, that she didn’t go to Bain Capital to raise her venture capital (see Jessica Alba: Running A Startup Is Really Hard, You Have To Be Passionate About What You Do by Sarah Perez posted 9/10/2012 on TechCrunch).

Kicking off the TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2012 sessions were The Honest Company co-founders, actress Jessica Alba and Brian Lee, also of ShoeDazzle, Teeology and LegalZoom. The two teamed up to launch Honest, an e-commerce startup offering a line of eco-friendly products for baby, family, and home. The company raised a $27 million Series A from General Catalyst, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Institutional Venture Partners in March this year, and first experimented with the trendy subscription-based service model for selling products, later opening up to offer the ability to directly buy from the website.

Given that Honest isn’t really a “tech” startup — Lee described it as a “mission-based company” — it faces different sorts of challenges than some of the other startups in the industry. But one thing that’s not different from the rest? According to Alba, “it’s really, really, really hard” to do a startup.

“It’s so hard,” Alba said, “you’re working day and night. It actually never stops. If you’re not so passionate and working day and night, it’s not going to happen.”

She no doubt will support her party in their attacks on the evils of venture capital firms like Bain Capital even while using venture capital herself to launch a startup business.  So venture capital is bad.  Unless you need some yourself.  Then of course it’s okay.  Just hope that her venture capital firm doesn’t bankrupt her business.  And throw all of her employees out of a job.  Putting them on the streets with no health care.  For if you listen to the Democrat campaign ads that is a very real possibility.

She probably should be more careful in her remarks, too.  For she did not credit the role of government or their roads and bridges in the making of her business.  She seems be taking full credit for working day and night.  And being passionate.  Almost as if she’s building this business herself.  If she’s not careful her party may reprimand her for suggesting that small business owners build their own businesses without the help of government.  Or by winning life’s lottery.  Which of course is preposterous according to the Democrat Party.

Jessica Alba is now a small business owner.  The backbone of this county.  Let’s wish her nothing but success so her business grows and creates jobs.  Lots of them.  So she can experience the joy of complying with some regulatory policy like Obamacare.  Boy, will that be an eye opener for her.  It could very well change her political affiliation.  As most small business owners tend to vote Republican.  Even the ones who start out as Democrats.  Because once they experience what it’s like doing business under the anti-business policies of the Democrat Party they tend to have a political realignment.

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FDR Suppressed the news of the Soviet’s Katyn Forest Massacre so he could give Eastern Europe to Stalin

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 15th, 2012

Week in Review

World conquest is a lot like real estate.  The three most important things are location, location and location.  And Poland has always been in a prime location.  If you look at a map you can see why.  To the east are Ukraine (bread basket of Europe), Belarus and Lithuania.  All one-time members of the Russian Empire.  As well as the Soviet Union.  To the west is Germany.  And Western Europe.  To the north is the Baltic Sea.  Making Poland the crossroads between Western Europe and Eastern Europe, Russia and the Soviet Union.  Prime real estate indeed.  From the days of Catherine the Great Russia wanted her land.  As did an Austrian about 150 years later.  Adolf Hitler.  Who conspired with another Russian to take her land.  Joseph Stalin.

Hitler and Stalin joined forces to conquer and partition Poland along the Narew, Vistula, and San rivers.  After the Allies gave Hitler Czechoslovakia.  Lying along the southern border of Poland.  So Poland felt the wrath of two of the worst dictators of the Twentieth Century.  As the Nazis invaded from the west and south (via Czechoslovakia).  And the Soviets invaded from the east.  They crushed Poland.  And committed some of the worst atrocities of World War II.  Which the Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland officially kicked off (see AP Exclusive: Memos show US hushed up Soviet crime by RANDY HERSCHAFT and VANESSA GERA, Associated Press, posted 9/10/2012 on Yahoo! News).

The American POWs sent secret coded messages to Washington with news of a Soviet atrocity: In 1943 they saw rows of corpses in an advanced state of decay in the Katyn forest, on the western edge of Russia, proof that the killers could not have been the Nazis who had only recently occupied the area.

The testimony about the infamous massacre of Polish officers might have lessened the tragic fate that befell Poland under the Soviets, some scholars believe. Instead, it mysteriously vanished into the heart of American power. The long-held suspicion is that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt didn’t want to anger Josef Stalin, an ally whom the Americans were counting on to defeat Germany and Japan during World War II.

Documents released Monday and seen in advance by The Associated Press lend weight to the belief that suppression within the highest levels of the U.S. government helped cover up Soviet guilt in the killing of some 22,000 Polish officers and other prisoners in the Katyn forest and other locations in 1940…

The Soviet secret police killed the 22,000 Poles with shots to the back of the head. Their aim was to eliminate a military and intellectual elite that would have put up stiff resistance to Soviet control. The men were among Poland’s most accomplished — officers and reserve officers who in their civilian lives worked as doctors, lawyers, teachers, or as other professionals. Their loss has proven an enduring wound to the Polish nation.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) loved Joseph Stalin.  It was the era of Big Government.  And Stalin liked what he saw happening in Italy under Benito Mussolini.  And what he saw in the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin.  These were men who thought big like FDR.  And knew the great things the state could do if only not hindered by laws and elections.  He would have professed admiration for another Big Government type had he not made his ambitions clear so early.  Because Nazi Germany was National Socialism.  With a lot of the same kind of make-work programs FDR had in his New Deal.

But FDR was naive when it came to communism.  While others saw the true Stalin FDR lived in denial.  He liked Uncle Joe.  Knew that he could talk to this man.  That he could trust this man.  He was so naive that his own administration contained Soviet operatives.  Something he would refuse to even entertain the possibility of.  Because the future was going to be made by men like Mussolini, Stalin and FDR.  Then that horrible day came.  When FDR suffered his greatest shock and disappointment.  When the Soviets and Nazis entered into their non-aggression pact.  The Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact of 1939.  Where the Soviets agreed not to enter any war Germany started.  In exchange for the Poland Partition and the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.  Also, the Soviets agreed to provide Germany the raw materials she needed for her war industry that the British denied Germany with her blockade.  Making the conquests of Nazi Germany possible.  As well as her crimes.  So Joseph Stalin has more blood on his hands than just that horrible massacre in the Katyn Forest.  He has the blood of all those who died under Nazi aggression.  And Nazi oppression.  Including the twenty million or more Soviets who perished in World War II.  The innocents who paid the price for their leader’s ambitions.  As they always do.

Then the ultimate Polish betrayal came at the Yalta Conference.  Where FDR still trusted Stalin.  And gave him whatever he asked without asking for anything in return.  The part of Poland Hitler agreed to give to the Soviets remained Soviet.  Her western border was moved into Germany.  But the Soviets never left Poland.  Poland fell behind the Iron Curtain that fell from “Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic.”  And all the conquered people behind the Iron Curtain remained oppressed throughout the Cold War.  Stuck in time.  Often hungry and without the basic necessities of everyday life.  Proving the point that presidents with aggressive domestic agendas tend to have inept and naïve foreign policy.  FDR may have won the war.  But he lost the peace.  And the price of losing the peace (44 years of Cold War) was as much if not greater than the cost of winning World War II.

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