North Korea and their War on Christmas

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 22nd, 2012

Week in Review

Apparently the U.S. isn’t the only place there is a war on Christmas (see South Koreans light giant border Christmas ‘tree’ by AP posted 12/23/2012 on USA Today).

South Koreans have lit a Christmas tree-shaped tower near the tense border with North Korea for the first time in two years following North Korea’s rocket launch…

Pyongyang views the tower as propaganda warfare, though it has not yet responded to this year’s lighting…

The tree wasn’t lit last year after officials asked Christians to refrain from doing so to avoid tension following the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il last December.

The North Korean government really hates Christmas.  As do all communists.  Who are officially atheists.  As the state doesn’t want anyone worshipping anything but them.  And they don’t want any moral restrains on their abuses of power.  If they want to torture and kill someone they don’t want anyone, or any god, telling them that it’s wrong to do that.  Especially the Prince of Peace.  Jesus.  In a country that has a military-first policy.  Where they will let people starve to death in a famine so they can feed their military.  And do.

The North Korean leaders no doubt know history.  They saw what happened in Poland.  President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher supported a little labor movement in Poland.  Along with another supporter of peace and freedom from oppression.  Pope John Paul II.  A Pole.  Who supported Lech Walesa.  The leader of Solidarity.  Who lead Poland out from underneath Soviet oppression.  And into a free market economy.  Which is the last thing the North Korean leaders want.  Which is why a Christmas tree on the border really bothers them.  It may give their people hope.

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The Taxpayers to lose Billions on the GM Bailout and likely will have to bail GM out Again

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 22nd, 2012

Week in Review

GM could have filed bankruptcy.  Like many companies do.  They reorganize.  Fix the problems that caused them to go bankrupt.  Then they emerge leaner and meaner.  And are able to compete in the market that bankrupted them before their reorganization.  That’s the usual path.  GM did not take it.  Why?  Because the thing that bankrupted GM was its high union costs.  Especially their legacy costs.  Paying pension and health care costs for more retirees than they have active workers.

Had they gone through a normal bankruptcy they would have made GM competitive again.  Which meant doing something to those costly union contracts.  But as the UAW is a valuable resource for the Democrat Party President Obama swept in and protected the UAW.  Giving them the money they needed to fund those pension plans.  Without fixing their competiveness problem.  Meaning they will likely need another bailout (see GM to benefit from tax break for years by David Shepardson posted 12/20/2012 on The Detroit News).

The Treasury Department’s decision to begin its exit from General Motors Co., despite low stock prices, means U.S. taxpayers are almost certain to incur large losses on the $49.5 billion bailout of the Detroit automaker.

At current stock prices, the government stands to lose nearly $13 billion.

To break even, it would need to sell its remaining 300 million shares for about $70 each. The Treasury will sell its remaining shares over the next 15 months, likely in a series of small sales, and that could stem some of the losses.

Unlike the 1980 Chrysler bailout, the Obama administration didn’t require GM to repay all of its government funds. Instead, the government swapped about $42 billion for a 61 percent equity stake in the automaker.

Former auto czar Steve Rattner said the government made the decision because it didn’t want the new GM to be carrying crushing debt. Instead, it gave GM billions of dollars after its bankruptcy to operate.

GM also got other financial benefits. For example, it has legally avoided paying federal income taxes since exiting bankruptcy, even though it has earned $16 billion in profits.

And GM likely will pay no income taxes for many years, because Treasury rulings let GM use $18 billion in losses from the “old GM” left behind in bankruptcy to offset profits.

Interesting.  We’re going to raise taxes on small business owners (those S corporations and LLCs who earn more than $250,000 in business profits that pass through to their personal tax returns) because those who can afford to pay a little more should.  But a company earning $16 billion (yes, that’s billion with a ‘B’) in profits doesn’t have to pay any income taxes.  Why?  Small business owners create far more jobs than GM does.  So why does GM get preferential treatment?  Because small businesses aren’t unionized.  And don’t pay union dues that feed back to the Democrat Party.

When the Carter administration bailed out Chrysler they at least got all of our money back.  They made no gifts of taxpayer money.  If that wasn’t bad enough our gift to GM didn’t fix their competitiveness problem.  So that when GM once again pays income taxes they will be right back where they were before.  Starved of cash.  And unable to fund their pension plans.

Had GM gone through a normal bankruptcy they would already be back in business.  Competitive.  And paying income taxes.  Without the taxpayers picking up the tab.  President Obama didn’t save GM.  He saved the UAW.  Who will eventually destroy GM with their legacy costs.

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Woman dying from Cystic Fibrosis gets New Life-Saving Lungs from Heavy Smoker and then dies from Lung Cancer

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 22nd, 2012

Week in Review

There are often very restricting rules to receive a donor organ.  If you’re on the list for a liver you’ll probably get denied that liver if you had one drink in the past month or so.  They do this because a donated organ is a gift.  There are more people waiting for this gift than there are available organs.  So to make sure the organ goes to the most deserving patient they have some strict rules.  Apparently there are no such rules for donors (see Cystic fibrosis woman died with smoker’s donor lungs posted 12/18/2012 on BBC News Essex).

A 27-year-old woman with cystic fibrosis died of cancer after she was given the donor lungs of a smoker.

Jennifer Wederell, of Hawkwell, Essex, died at home in August – 16 months after the transplant at Harefield Hospital in London…

She had been on the waiting list for a lung transplant for 18 months when in April 2011, she was told there had been a match…

She married her fiance David Wederell in September last year, but by February 2012 a malignant mass was found in her lungs.

“The shock immediately turned to anger in so far as all the risks were explained in the hour before her transplant and not once was the fact smoker’s lungs would be used mentioned,” said Mr Grannell.

“Regrettably, the number of lungs available for transplantation would fall by 40% if there was a policy of refusing those which have come from a smoker; waiting lists would increase and many more patients would die without a transplant…”

“Recipients of transplants are immunosuppressed, to stop the body rejecting the organ – this may have encouraged the cancer to grow. But is no one really knows- these are just theories.”

New warnings on cigarette packages in the U.S. include a scary picture of a diseased lung.  To scare you into quitting smoking.  Because while you can improve your health by quitting some damage is irreversible.  Smoking is that bad.  Smokers have an elevated risk of heart disease.  And lung cancer.  Yet they will give a woman with a suppressed immune system a set of lungs from a heavy smoker.  They were clinically healthy.  But as it turns out they had cancer.  Which probably should not surprise anyone as they came from a heavy smoker.

She was not informed that the donor was a heavy smoker.  Had they told her imagine that horrible decision.  Take a chance with cancer.  Or refuse them and take a chance of dying before the next set of lungs become available.

Was this a failure of national health care?  Cold impersonal staff that didn’t bother to inform the patient about the risk of getting a diseased lung?  Did the NHS just make this decision for her?  Because consulting her would just waste time?  They had already wasted an hour explaining all the risks to her an hour before the surgery.  How much more time would they waste if they had to wait for her to make up her mind about taking a chance with lung cancer?

Time.  It’s something they don’t have a lot of in the NHS.  They’re struggling to make their limited resources cover ever more patients as baby boomers fill their hospitals.  All while having to deal with budget cuts due to deficits.  So they are dealing with longer wait times, rationing of services and service denials.  Things are so difficult that some hospitals have put some elderly patients on the Liverpool Care Pathway for the Dying Patient without consulting their family.  Suspending food and liquids so they die.  Ostensibly to free up a bed and end a needless drain of hospital resources on someone who is just taking their sweet time to die.  It’s cold and callous but this is national health care.  And why they may not waste time waiting for patients to decide if they want to reject a potentially diseased lung.

A donated organ is a gift.  But a potentially cancerous organ?  Given to someone with a suppressed immune system?  Perhaps that’s more the product of a cold and calloused bureaucracy than a gift.  Something to look forward to under Obamacare.  Unless Obamacare just prescribes a pill to manage pain.  Sort of their own version of the Liverpool Care Pathway for the Dying Patient.  But with less to do with a patient’s end-of-life dignity and more to do with economic efficiency.

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China has a Rash of Knife Attacks on Schoolchildren

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 22nd, 2012

Week in Review

The U.S. is not the only country where schoolchildren are being hurt (see Knife-wielding man injures 22 children in China by Terril Yue Jones posted 12/14/2012 on Reuters).

A knife-wielding man slashed 22 children and an adult at an elementary school in central China on Friday, state media reported, the latest in a series of attacks on schoolchildren in the country…

There have been a series of attacks on schools and schoolchildren around China in recent years, some by people who have lost their jobs or felt left out of the country’s economic boom.

The rash of violence has prompted public calls for more measures to protect the young in a country where many couples only have one child.

In 2010, a man slashed 28 children, two teachers and a security guard in a kindergarten in eastern China.

The Left is always saying we should adopt China’s economic policies.  Great state involvement in the private sector.  Because it makes for a surging economy.  Where the state spends billions on make-work projects.  Making sure everyone has a job.  Except these people attacking defenseless schoolchildren apparently.

Bad things happen.  Even where people don’t have guns.  So who will the Chinese blame?  Knife manufacturers?  For if anything is clear these kids would not have been slashed if there were no knives.  Because no deranged individual would have ever thought to pick up a hammer, a crowbar, a rock or even a pointed stick.  No, it was the knife that pushed these people to these heinous acts.  And without knives they would have just sat home the days of their heinous attacks looking for jobs in the want ads.

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The Chinese Communists may approve Keynesian Stimulus Spending but they Censor Art

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 22nd, 2012

Week in Review

Those on the Left who want the federal government to take over ever more of the economy, such as Obamacare, look at communist China and sigh.  “Why can’t we have those kinds of government powers here?” they say.  They want to spend a few billions on Keynesian stimulus spending and they just do it.  Without the bickering of a two-party system, a bicameral legislature or a separation of powers.  For the Chinese, they say, are blessed without having a Constitution weakening the powers of the executive branch of government.  And with their absolute power they can do great things (see Beijing Bans Warhol’s Mao Portraits from China Exhibition by Frederik Balfour posted 12/17/2012 on Bloomberg).

Andy Warhol’s famous images of Chairman Mao won’t be part of the biggest ever traveling exhibition of his works when they go to China next year, an organizer said.

The show includes more than 300 paintings, photographs and films, featuring Warhol’s iconic Campbell’s Soup cans, Jackie Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe as well as 10 Mao paintings which Chinese authorities have decided to exclude…

A person familiar with the show, who asked not to be named because of the political sensitivity of the issue, confirmed the Mao works had been rejected by the Ministry of Culture. The Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs didn’t immediately respond to faxed questions seeking comment today…

According to the Christie’s auction website, Warhol chose Mao as “the ultimate star”, using an image of him taken from the portrait photograph reproduced in the Chairman’s so-called Little Red Book.

“He wasn’t being disrespectful,” Shiner said [director of The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh].

The Chinese communists censored art that was not disrespectful.  Imagine how such a policy of art censorship would upset the Left in this country.  Because a lot of the art the Left likes is very disrespectful to someone.  Such as Piss Christ.  By Andres Serrano.  A photograph of a plastic crucifix in a glass of his own urine.  Which won the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art’s “Awards in the Visual Arts” competition.  Thanks to a couple of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts.  Funded by taxpayers.

China also censors pornography.  Well, not censor so much as has an outright ban on it.  Even on the kind over the Internet.  Something else the Left would have a problem with.  Even though they admire China’s absolute power over the economy and would love to have some of that over here.  They would not like that absolute power infringing on their liberties.  Much like business owners don’t like an out of control government infringing on their liberties in running their businesses.

If we give the government absolute power over the economy you have to give them absolute power over everything else.  Including the cultural stuff.  For absolute power is absolute.  Which means they can reject art, ban pornography, censor movies and music, limit the size of the soda we drink, ban smoking, outlaw the internal combustion engine, etc.  Whatever they want to do.  Because that’s what absolute power means.  It’s not just a means to attack capitalism.

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