Patients in Britain’s NHS may soon start Paying more Out of Pocket for their Free Health Care

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 21st, 2013

Week in Review

Obamacare will centralize health care.  Make it more top-down with bureaucrats in Washington issuing directives on how a doctor should treat his or her patient.  They say this is how Obamacare will cut costs.  By putting it on the path to national health care.  Just like they have in Britain (see Free NHS treatment could be axed if economy does not recover, warns health chief by James Lyons posted 4/16/2013 on the Daily Mirror).

Free NHS treatment could be axed if the economy does not recover, the boss of the service warned yesterday.

Professor Malcolm Grant admitted charges for NHS services were a possibility as demand is set to rise by between 4% and 5% as the population gets older.

Looks like that free health care must be pretty expensive.  They could raise taxes more.  But the economy is already suffering in a recession.  Or they could cut spending elsewhere and transfer it to the NHS.  But with the government already running a deficit it is unlikely that anyone will agree on what to cut.  For if it was that easy they wouldn’t be running a deficit.  Which leaves making patients pay for more of their health care out of their own pocket.

Not surprising, really.  An aging population is going to consume more health care resources while fewer people are entering the workforce to pay for those resources.  Can’t raise taxes anymore.  So they cut back on costly staff (they won’t work for free) leading to longer wait times.  They ration health care services.  And they hasten the death of their most costly of patients.  The elderly.  By placing them on the Liverpool Care Pathway for the Dying Patient.  Which basically pulls the plugs on these patients allowing them to die quicker.  And yet they continue to spend more than their budget.  Which leaves little choice but to start charging patients for their ‘free’ national health care.

And thanks to Obamacare, this will be our future, too.  For we also have an aging population.  So get used to paying more and getting less.  And being less healthy.  For this is national health care.

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People attack Pharmaceuticals and can’t Understand why they Get Out of the Drug-Making Business

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 21st, 2013

Week in Review

Everyone hates the pharmaceuticals.  Because they don’t make life-saving drugs cheap enough.  And they don’t bring them to market quickly enough.  But when people need a new antibiotic that can take on a superbug who do they come running to?  Those evil and vile pharmaceuticals.  And they beg them to do what no one else can.  Save lives by bringing new drugs to market.  Of course when they do rush a drug to market and it hurts some people then everyone hates the pharmaceuticals.  For not taking the time to make sure the drug was safe before rushing it to market.  Just to make a buck.

Pharmaceuticals just can’t win.  They’re damned if they do.  And damned if they don’t.  It’s a wonder any of them stay in the business (see Antibiotic progress on superbugs called ‘alarmingly slow’ posted 4/21/2013 on CBC News).

Both biological and economic factors hinder the development of new antibiotics, Murray said. Yet new drugs are needed for resistant infections that continue to increase in frequency, causing significant illness and mortality, the society noted…

Wright’s team has some promising leads on potential antibiotics, but they can’t find a drug company willing to spend the money to get the drugs to market.

“Funding is the challenging thing,” Wright lamented.

The infectious disease society found that most of the large drug companies have left the antibiotic business. The group has proposed tax credits to encourage the remaining pharmaceutical companies to conduct the expensive clinical trials needed to test antibiotic candidates…

“One would like to think that the pharmaceutical industry has motives in mind that are to benefit health care and human kind in general. Sadly, I think their bottom line is a business,” said Simor, who has no shares or interest in the pharmaceutical industry.

Expensive clinical trials?  What, you mean they weren’t lying when they say it takes a lot of money to bring a new drug to market?  If so why are we always accusing them of charging too much for their drugs?  I mean, someone has to pay for all of those lawsuits.  As well as those clinical trials.  And there is only one thing that can.  The price per pill.

Yes, they are more concerned about their bottom line than benefitting human kind.  Because they can’t force their highly skilled people to work for free.  Most countries have labor laws against that sort of thing.  And because they have to pay for these people years before they can sell any drugs they are working on someone has to pay them in the mean time.  And these people are investors.  Who take the risk of paying people for years of work even though what they’re working on may be nothing but a dead-end that produces no revenue.  Which happens a lot.  So the drugs that actually make it to market have to pay for themselves.  And all of those dead-ends.

Capitalism makes those miracle drugs possible.  And the proof of that is that they need these drug companies to bring these drugs to market.  For the state cannot.  Because the state doesn’t know anything about risk taking.  The only thing they know is how to raise taxes to pay for an inefficient bureaucracy.  While a private drug company knows how to get an investor to pay for an efficient business plan.  Capitalism brings new drugs to market.  And when you attack capitalism too much (higher taxes, more regulations, no relief from frivolous lawsuits, etc.) those who wish to make a profit may get out of the drug-making business.

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Even though Solar Panels and Natural Gas Home Generators allow us to Disconnect from the Grid we Shouldn’t

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 21st, 2013

Week in Review

I remember losing power for a couple of hot and humid days.  The kind where you stick to everything because you’re just covered in sweat.  Making it almost impossible to sleep.  But I was able to borrow my father’s generator.  So I would not have to suffer through that insufferable heat and humidity.  While I was able to run my refrigerator, turn the lights on and even watch television I could not start my central air conditioner.  Even when I shut everything else off.  It was large enough to run the AC.  But it was just not big enough to start it.  I tried.  But as I did that inrush of current (about 40 amps) just stalled the generator.  Which could put out only 30 amps at 240 volts.  So even though I had a 30 amp generator to start an air conditioner that was on a 20 amp circuit breaker it wasn’t big enough.  Because of that momentary inrush of current.  So I suffered through that insufferable heat and humidity until the electric utility restored power.  And I never loved my electric utility more than when they did.

Now suppose I wanted to go to solar power.  How large of a solar array would I need that would start my air conditioner?  If one square inch of solar panel provided 70 milliwatts and you do a little math that comes to approximately a 950 square-foot solar array.  Or an array approximately 20 FT X 50 FT.  Which is a lot of solar panel.  Costly to install.  And if you want to use any electricity at night you’re going to need some kind of battery system.  But you won’t be able to run your air conditioner.  For one start would probably drain down that battery system.  So it’s not feasible to disconnect from the electric grid.  For you’re going to need something else when the sun doesn’t shine.  And because there can be windless nights a windmill won’t be the answer.  Because you’re going to need at least one source of electric power you can rely on to be there for you.  Like your electric utility.  Or, perhaps, your gas utility (see Relentless And Disruptive Innovation Will Shortly Affect US Electric Utilities by Peter Kelly-Detwiler posted 4/18/2013 on Forbes).

NRG’s CEO David Crane is one of the few utility CEO’s in the US who appears to fully appreciate – and publicly articulate – the potential for this coming dynamic.  At recent Wall Street Journal ECO:nomics conference, he indicated that solar power and natural gas are coming on strong, and that some customers may soon decide they do not need the electric utility. “If you have gas into your house and say you want to be as green as possible, maybe you’re anti-fracking or something and you have solar panels on your roof, you don’t need to be connected to the grid at all.”  He predicted that within a short timeframe, we may see technologies that allow for conversion of gas into electricity at the residential level.

If you want carefree and reliable electric power you connect to the electric grid.  Have a natural gas backup generator sized to power the entire house (large enough to even start your central air conditioner).  And a whole-house uninterruptible power supply (UPS).  To provide all your power needs momentarily while you switch from your electric utility to your gas utility.  Well, all but your central air conditioner (and other heavy electrical loads).  Which would have to wait for the natural gas generator to start running.  Because if you connected these to your UPS it might drain the battery down before that generator was up and running.  No problem.  For we can all go a minute or two without air conditioning.

So this combination would work.  With solar panels and a natural gas generator you could disconnect from the electric grid.  But is this something we should really do?  Not everyone will be able to afford solar panels and natural gas generators.  They will have to rely on the electric utility.  Some may only be able to afford the solar panels.  Staying connected to the grid for their nighttime power needs.  But if our electric utilities cut their generation and take it offline permanently it could cause some serious problems.  For what happens when a day of thunderstorms blocks the sun from our solar panels and everyone is still running their air conditioners?  The solar panels can no longer provide the peak power demand that they took from the electric utility (causing the utilities to reduce their generation capacity).  But if they reduced their generation capacity how are they going to be able to take back this peak power demand?  They won’t be able to.  And if they can’t that means rolling brownouts and blackouts.  Not a problem for those with the resources to install a backup generator.  But a big problem for everyone else.

We should study any plans to mothball any baseload electric generation.  For renewable sources of energy may be green but they are not reliable.  And electric power is not just about comfort in our homes.  It’s also about national security.  Imagine the Boston Marathon bombing happening during a time of rolling blackouts.  Imagine all of the things we take for granted not being there.  Like power in our homes to charge our smartphones.  And to power the televisions we saw the two bombers identified on.  We would have been both literally and figuratively in the dark.  Making it a lot easier for the bombers to have made their escape.  There’s a reason why we’re trying to harden our electric grid from cyber attacks.  Because we are simply too dependent on electric power for both the comforts and necessities of life.  Which is why we should be building more coal-fired power plants.  Not fewer.  Because coal is reliable and we have domestic sources of coal.  Ditto for natural gas and nuclear.  The mainstay of baseload power.  Because there is nothing more reliable.  Which comes in handy for national security.

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Like most Acts of Domestic Terrorism the Boston Bombings have a Connection to Militant Islam

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 21st, 2013

Week in Review

We’ve had some people with mental health problems obtain firearms and go on shooting sprees on soft targets.  Grade schools.  Colleges.  Theaters.  High schools.  The government’s answer to these?  Take guns away from law-abiding people.  As they don’t appear to want to track people with mental health problems.  Which would be easier.  Because there are a lot of warning signs.  Schools complain about strange and disturbing behavior.  Strange and disturbing enough to expel some people from school.  But it ends there.  And these people wander free amongst us.  Family members have even tried to get these people committed for public safety concerns.  But doing that today is so difficult that few can get people who are a danger to themselves or to the public committed.  Changing this would make grade schools, colleges, theaters and high schools safer than new gun control legislation.  For using guns is not the only way to kill soft targets (see Boston bombers: FBI hunting 12-strong terrorist “sleeper cell” linked to brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev by Christopher Bucktin and Andy Lines posted 4/21/2013 on the Mirror).

The FBI was last night hunting a 12-strong terrorist “sleeper cell” linked to the Boston marathon bomb brothers.

Police believe Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were specially trained to carry out the devastating attack.

More than 1,000 FBI operatives were last night working to track down the cell and arrested a man and two women 60 miles from Boston in the hours before Dzhokhar’s dramatic capture after a bloody shootout on Friday.

A source close to the investigation said: “We have no doubt the brothers were not acting alone. The devices used to detonate the two bombs were highly sophisticated and not the kind of thing people learn from Google.

“They were too advanced. Someone gave the brothers the skills and it is now our job to find out just who they were. Agents think the sleeper cell has up to a dozen members and has been waiting several years for their day to come…”

Investigators have begun piecing together how the “well-mannered” brothers of Chechen origin were radicalised. Neighbours of the family said older brother Tamerlan had recently become obsessed with Islam. He mysteriously left the US in January last year to spend six months in Russia. Yesterday senior FBI counter-terrorism official Kevin Brock said: “It’s a key thread for investigators.”

It also emerged the Bureau interviewed Tamerlan two years ago, at the request of the Russian government, but could not establish that he had ties to terrorist radicals.

This was despite his worrying Russian-language YouTube page featuring links to extremist Islamic sites and others since taken down by YouTube.

One link showed an hour-long speech by an Islamic teacher called Shaykh Feiz Mohammed, while other videos are labled “Terrorists” and “Islam”.

The radical cleric, with links to extremist British Muslims, encouraged his followers to become martyrs for Islam. He said: “Teach them this: There is nothing more beloved to me than wanting to die as a mujahid…”

US Government officials have said the brothers were not under surveillance as possible militants. And an FBI statement said the matter was closed because interviews with Tamerlan and family members “did not find any terrorism activity, domestic or foreign”. But now they believe the pair, who emigrated to the United States from Dagestan about a decade ago, were part of a terror cell.

If there is a sleeper cell they may be able find a trail to them by exploring the past lives of the two bombers.  There were a lot of warning signs before the bombings we missed.  Perhaps we’ll be able to see them when we’re actually looking for them.

It almost appears that we have a problem looking at people.  Whether they’re people with mental health problems.  Or domestic terrorists.  It’s as bad as our airport security.  Where we’re patting down every grandmother and child.  We need to start profiling people.  Not so much by skin color.  But by behavior.  And with good questioning.  “Where are you traveling?  Who are you visiting?  Where does he work?  What’s his boss’ name?  Where does his wife work?  How good are you at making bombs?”  Depending on the answers to these questions security either moves on to someone else.  Or they pull this person aside for further questioning.

We need well-trained and highly skilled people.  So we don’t turn the country into a police state.  Observe everyone.  Question those whose behavior looks off in some way.  And read their body language.  Is he searching for answers?  Or do they appear too well rehearsed?  Does he seem nervous?  Is he avoiding eye contact?  Is he sweating?  Does he laugh at the bomb question?  Or does he flinch involuntarily?  Does he seem different from other travelers?  Is he carrying a large backpack and doesn’t appear interested in what everyone else is interested in?  Like a marathon?  If so perhaps security should approach this person.  Talk to him.  Ask what’s inside that backpack.  And search that backpack.  You can’t search everyone standing along a marathon course.  But you can have security mingling through the crowds looking for things that are not like other things.

Of course before you can do that you have to admit that there are people out there that want to hurt us.  That there is a War on Terror.  And not explain terrorist attacks away as workplace violence (the Fort Hood shooting).  Or say that al Qaeda is on the ropes and deny additional security requests in a hot bed of Islamist activity (Benghazi).  Just because it wouldn’t look good during an election campaign where a common refrain was Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.

To fight the War on Terror will require some in government to stop putting politics first.  The gun control debate is more about passing long-desired legislation than it is about making our kids safe.  To prevent the senseless slaughter of innocent people by people with mental health problems it would be far more effective to institutionalize these people that are a risk to themselves and to the public.  And to protect us from further acts of domestic terrorism we have to be able to say words like Muslim extremist.  Militant Islamist.  Islamist terrorist.  For even Bill Maher has said that Islam is the one faith that has a history of killing Americans.  Not all Muslims are terrorists.  But Muslims carry out the majority of terrorist attacks.  And until you accept that fact how are you going to defend the United States against militant Islam?  For you can’t fight this war with one arm tied behind your back because of political correctness.  Which means when we’re profiling people we have to look at those who are most likely to kill us in a terrorist attack.  People who travel to hotbeds of Islamist activity.  Those who are kicked out of mosques for being too radical.  People who have YouTube pages featuring links to extremist Islamic sites.  And what do these all have in common?  That word the Obama administration does not like to use attached to any acts of domestic terrorism.  Muslim.

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President Obama has made Real Spending Cuts…in the Office for Bombing Prevention

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 21st, 2013

Week in Review

At first the Left was blaming the Republicans for the Boston Marathon bombings.  For their ‘anti-government’ views.  And causing President Obama’s proposed sequester to go into effect.  Then they were blaming white rightwing extremists because of the symbolism of the day.  Now that the bomber have been captured and we’ve learned who they are we see that perhaps those in government could have done a better job in preventing this particular terrorist attack (see Obama administration has SLASHED budget for domestic bombing prevention by 45 per cent, says former Homeland Security Assistant Secretary by David Martosko posted 4/16/2013 on the Daily Mail).

Barack Obama’s administration has cut the budget nearly in half for preventing domestic bombings, MailOnline can reveal.

Under President George W. Bush, the Department of Homeland Security had $20 million allocated for preventing the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by terrorists working inside the United States. The current White House has cut that funding down to $11 million.

That assessment comes from Robert Liscouski, a former Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection, in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15 that killed three Americans and injured at least 173 others.

He told MailOnline that the Obama-era DHS is, on the whole, about as well-positioned as it was during the Bush administration to handle the aftermath of the April 15 bombings in Boston, ‘but the Obama administration has continued to cut the budget for offices such as the Office for Bombing Prevention from $20 million started under Bush, to $11 million today…

The Office for Bombing Prevention (OBP) was created in 2003 when the Department of Homeland Security was founded. Its original name was the WMD/Bombing Prevention Unit, and it was part of the department’s Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate…

Today the OBP describes its mission as ‘enhanc[ing] the Nation’s ability to prevent, protect against, respond to, and mitigate the terrorist use of explosives against critical infrastructure, the private sector, and Federal, State, local, tribal, and territorial entities.’

Its website says it works to ‘coordinate national and intergovernmental bombing prevention efforts’ and ‘enhance counter-IED capabilities.’

But little is known about what role OBP actually plays in attempting to prevent bombings at public events that could be considered target-rich environments…

On February 26 the Obama White House issued a lengthy National Policy for Countering Improvised Explosive Devices. Obama wrote in an introduction to that document that ‘we have no greater responsibility than providing for the safety and security for [sic] our citizens, allies, and partners … The use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) threatens these interests by killing, injuring, and intimidating citizens and political leaders around the world.’

‘We must not become complacent,’ he wrote.

Even when the president writes he sounds like he is campaigning.  Sounds good.  But one day you have to stop campaigning and actually do your job.  And actually get results for policy actions.  Not just keep talking in lofty tones. And blaming continued failures on the opposition.

So we have a governmental agency that exists to prevent what happened in Boston this past April 15.  Well, we can assume that’s their job.  It sounds like it’s their job.  But no one really knows what this agency does.  Other than spend $11 million a year.  Reduced from $20 million under President Bush.  Hey, how about that?  The president can cut federal spending.  As long as it’s not for something important he can cut federal spending.  Green energy investments and studying why lesbians are generally more overweight than gay men are really important so he continues to spend on them.  But something less critical to the well-being of the nation, like preventing domestic terrorist bombings, that he can cut.

The mainstream media was blaming these bombings on some angry rightwing white guy before the dust settled.  And they gave their reasons why.  It was April 15th.  Tax day.  And angry white rightwing extremists hate paying taxes.  It was Patriots’ Day in Boston.  Another day of symbolic importance to white rightwing extremists.  It was near the anniversary of the fiery end to the government’s Waco siege.  And the Oklahoma City bombing.  So it was just dripping with white rightwing extremist symbolism.  So if the mainstream media could understand this within minutes of the bombings you’d think the government who spends a lot of time attacking those white rightwing extremists would have, too.  And used their OBP to take it up a notch in the weeks leading up to that day in Boston.  Such as stopping people weighed down by very large and heavy backpacks to search what’s inside.  A woman can’t see a concert these days without security searching her purse.  You’d think they’d have a backpack search policy on a day just dripping with white rightwing extremist symbolism.

Yes, hindsight is always 20-20.  But we’re learning there were some serious clues that we should have acted on.  The Russians asked us to look into bomber #1 in 2011 who was in the U.S. on a Green Card.  Due to his ties with radical Islamist groups in his homeland.  The FBI did.  But found no cause for concern.  Then he spent 7 months in Russia.  And visited his father in the Republic of Dagestan.  Which is next door to Chechnya.  A hotbed of Islamist terrorism.  Upon returning to the United States he got kicked out of a Boston mosque for being too radical.  He was in contact with radical Islamist groups.  And his YouTube channel was full of anti-American, Islamist and terrorist videos.  You’d think that the federal government would have been watching this guy very closely during the run-up to the Boston Marathon.  Perhaps even monitoring his purchases.  For if the OBP were not watching people like him just who were they watching?

The federal government’s primary job is to protect this country from its foreign and domestic enemies.  Perhaps we should be doing a little more of that and spending a little less on green energy investments.  And researching why lesbians tend to be heavier than gay men.  Had they there was a chance they could have prevented this one terrorist attack.  For Bomber #1 was leaving a trail of clues behind him for us to follow.  You can’t look into everyone doing one of the things he did.  But someone doing all of the things he did should have popped up on someone’s radar.  Hopefully we can learn from this intelligence failure.  And make it harder for the next domestic terrorist.

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