Georgia Specialty Plate to Include Confederate Battle Flag

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 23rd, 2014

Week in Review

Between combat and disease the American Civil War claimed some 620,000 lives.  The bloodiest war in U.S. history.  Killing more than all the wars from the Revolutionary War through the Vietnam War.  The North lost about 360,000.  While the South lost about 260,000.  So the North suffered about 100,000 more dead than the South.  However, the population of the South at the end of the war was approximately 3,000,000.  While the north had about 29,000,000.  So as a percentage of their population the North lost about 1.3% of her population.  While the South lost about 8.6% of her population.  Which is why some in the South want to honor their war dead (see Group puts Confederate flag on Ga. specialty tag by AP posted 2/19/2014 on Yahoo! News).

Georgia officials have once again approved a specialty license plate featuring the Confederate battle flag, infuriating civil rights advocates and renewing a debate among those who believe the symbol honors Confederate heritage and those who see it as racially charged.

Southerners call the American Civil War the War of Northern Aggression.  In which they fought for states’ rights.  After their control of the federal government faded thanks to the population growth in the north.  They lost control of the House.  And the only way to keep control of the Senate was by admitting new states into the union as slave states.  Finally, the Fugitive Slave Law was the last straw for some in the north.  Requiring them to capture and return runaway slaves even though those slaves were legally free in those northern states.  So a large federal government was good when it helped southern slave owners.  And states’ rights were bad when it didn’t help southern slave owners.

The rich southern planters controlled the government in the South.  They had the wealth.  And the slaves.  Their lives were like the lives shown on the plantations in the movie Gone with the Wind.  A landed aristocracy.  Just like it was in feudal Europe.  Only with slaves instead of peasants.  Wealth and power were concentrated in few hands.  Creating great wealth inequality.  Most southerners were dirt poor and worked on family farms and were too poor to even own a slave.  But it was these people the rich planters used to fight a war for them to preserve their landed aristocracy.  Not the American dream the Founding Fathers envisioned.  Or the dream these dirt-poor southern farmers were trying to live.  The freedom to be left alone to work their own land.  Which is, of course, why they went to war.  Someone was invading their land.

No government is going to allow a Nazi swastika on a license plate to commemorate the SS.  Because the SS did some bad things.  Some would even say they were evil.  The Confederate soldiers, though, were not evil.  They were Americans.  Who were lied to by the planter elite.  So they could maintain their Old World aristocracy.  These men fought bravely in battle.  And suffered horrible casualties.  Even Abraham Lincoln held no ill will towards these men.  When a general asked Lincoln how the defeated Confederates should be treated he said, “Let ’em up easy.”  All they had to do was sign paroles saying they would no longer fight and they could go home and resume their lives.  There were to be no retributions.  For once the war was over they were fellow countrymen again.

So putting a Confederate battle flag on a license plate is less of a sign of racism and more of a remembrance for those who fought in the battlefields of the Civil War.  Especially for the 8.6% of the population who perished.  Leaving behind widows.  And orphans.  So many that it was hardly possible for someone in the South not to have lost someone in that war.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

More Budget Cuts increase Wait Times to see Doctor in the National Health Service

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 23rd, 2014

Week in Review

The problem with national health care is that it is zero-sum when it comes to budgeting.  There is one big pie of funding that they divide throughout the system to pay for all of its parts.  But anyone who has ever paid attention to a budget debate in Washington has seen that there is never enough in the pie.  And no one is ever satisfied with their slice of the pie.  Worse, every department will spend every last cent in their appropriation lest they reduce next year’s appropriation by the amount of any unspent funds in this year’s appropriation.  No matter how wasteful that spending is.  Such as for conferences in Las Vegas.  Or extravagant office parties at home.

Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) is straining under the cost of an aging population.  More people are leaving the workforce than are entering it.  Which means fewer people are paying taxes.  Just as the number of people using the resources of the NHS is growing.  Forcing the NHS to do more with less.  Which has everyone complaining about their chunk of the NHS budget (see ‘Unprecedented’ cuts see GPs warn half of Britain will be unable to get appointments by Charlie Cooper posted 2/23/2014 on The Independent).

More than 34 million people will fail to secure an appointment with their doctor at some point this year, the GP’s professional body has claimed, blaming “unprecedented” cuts to funding for family practices.

The Royal College of General Practitioners said that the profession was “on its knees” and called for GPs to get a larger share of the NHS budget.

However, the Department of Health dismissed their findings – which would imply that more than half the UK population will miss out an appointment this year – as “complete nonsense” and accused the college of “sensationalising” the issue.

General practice has seen its share of the NHS budget – which totalled more than £109bn in England last year – significantly eroded in recent years, from 11 per cent in 2005/06 to 8.5 per cent in 2011/12…

“GPs and practice nurses want to provide high quality care for every single patient who seeks a consultation, and over the last decade we have increased the number of patients we see each year in England by 40m,” she said. “However [we] can’t keep doing more for less…”

“The GP survey showed the vast majority of patients are satisfied with their GP and rated their experience of making an appointment as good,” the spokesperson said, adding that GPs had been given an extra £50m to modernise services and stay open longer.

Whenever you want to see your doctor you need to make an appointment.  In the NHS that could take a few weeks.  Which is driving a lot of people to the A/E (accident and emergency departments).  Because they are sick now.  And don’t want to wait 2 weeks to see a doctor to get an antibiotic for their strep throat.

If you read the comments following the linked article you can get a feeling of what the British people think about the NHS.  And an idea of what Obamacare may lead to.  They love their NHS.  But are exasperated by it.  Some think the doctors are too greedy.  But there isn’t a mad rush to become a doctor to relieve the doctor shortage.  So whatever the pay is it isn’t enough to get people to join the profession.  Which ultimately increases the wait times to see a doctor.

The problem is that aging population.  People who remember a kinder and gentler NHS remember one before the baby boomers retired and overloaded the system.  Who are living longer into retirement.  Consuming more of the NHS’ limited resources than people did before the baby boomers retired.  Had Britain (and every other advanced economy) not reduced its birthrate around the Sixties they would not have this problem now.  But they did.  So they are.  As we will, too.  And every other advanced economy with an aging population will.  Making it a very bad time for national health care.  Yet President Obama and the Democrats have given us Obamacare at precisely this time.  Which is guaranteed to make health care in the United States worse.  If you don’t believe that just read the comments following the linked article.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

New York City Abortions changing the Color of the City

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 23rd, 2014

Week in Review

The Democrat’s most sacred issue is abortion.  Any attempts to restrict abortion and the left immediately starts bleating that the Republicans have a war on women.   As if the only thing women care about is having an abortion.  But could there be another reason behind their defense of abortion rights?  Perhaps.

New York City (NYC) requires that all abortions are reported.  They just released a report summarizing abortions in 2012 (see SUMMARY OF VITAL STATISTICS 2012 THE CITY OF NEW YORK PREGNANCY OUTCOMES released in February 2014).

All pregnancy outcomes, whether a live birth or a spontaneous or induced termination of pregnancy, are required by law to be reported to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.  This report compiles the information reported about these events to monitor the health of women and their infants in New York City.  For additional tables, technical notes and samples of NYC certificates of birth, please see the Bureau of Vital Statistics website at www.nyc.gov/vitalstats.

In Table 1. Pregnancy Outcomes, Pregnancy Outcome Rates*, and Pregnancy Rates* by Mother’s Age Group, Racial/Ethnic Group, and Borough of Residence, New York City, 2012 we see the information summarized here.

 NYC Live Births and Abortions R1

According to the U.S. census the demographic breakouts are approximately non-Hispanic white (63%), Hispanic (16.9%), non-Hispanic black (13.1%) and Asian and Pacific Islander (5.3%).  Which agrees with the order of the percentage of live births in the table above.  But things are different on the abortion side.  Where non-Hispanic blacks top the list of abortions.  With Hispanics a close second.  While non-Hispanic whites only come in third.   Despite their making up the largest percentage of the population.

If you look at the ratio of live births to abortions we see some startling statistics.  For every Asian and Pacific Islander abortion there were 4.71 live births.  For every non-Hispanic white abortion there were 4.03 live births.  But for every Hispanic abortion there were only 1.60 live births.  While for every non-Hispanic black abortion there were only 0.79 live births.  Or for every 10 abortions there were approximately 8 live births.  Meaning that more non-Hispanic black women are having abortions than having a live birth.

So what does this tell us about abortions?  That non-Hispanic blacks are more likely to have an abortion than any other group in NYC.  With Hispanics a close second.  Interesting.  For Hispanics and non-Hispanic blacks typically vote Democrat.  As the Democrats constantly tell them that Republicans hate them.  Even though Republicans oppose abortion.  So if Republicans had their way there would be more black and Hispanics babies being born.  Which would suggest that it’s not the Republicans that don’t like blacks and Hispanics.  But the Democrats.  Because keeping abortion legal is making NYC whiter.

For the sake of argument let’s change the title from ‘Abortions” to ‘Infant Mortality’ in the table above.  What do you think people would be saying then?  Probably not what they’re saying now about these abortion numbers.  Which is nothing.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

For an Idea of what National Health Care would be like just ride Metro-North

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 23rd, 2014

Week in Review

People don’t want national health care.  Which is why President Obama lied when he said “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.”  Because if he told the truth and told people they would lose the health care plans and doctors they liked and wanted to keep they would have opposed the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) with a passion.  For they would have seen the Affordable Care Act as nothing but a prelude for national health care.  A health care system run by government.  And we know how well government runs things (see The Perils of Metro-North by Lynnley Browning posted 2/20/2014 on Newsweek).

The high-profile trains, run by the state of New York entity Metro North Commuter Railroad, convey middle-class commuters but also a sizable chunk of the 1 percent, all along a 74-mile stretch between New Haven, Conn., and New York City — to hedge funds in Connecticut and to global banks, consulting, design and advertising firms in Manhattan. But these days, the rail’s increasingly delay-plagued service to one of the planet’s largest metropolises seems less an odd contrast of Third World and First World and more a taste of Dante’s Inferno…

Epic frustration and stress have reached an inflection point for the estimated 136,600 weekday riders on Metro-North’s New Haven Line, the transportation lifeblood of America’s monied and professional class living in Connecticut and working in New York (though some riders reverse commute to hedge funds in Greenwich and banks in Stamford). Long plagued by outdated cars, sketchy, aging tracks and accusations of mismanagement, the commuter rail has seen its dwindling reputation tarnished further in recent months by mishaps and delays, some lasting hours in freezing, unheated cars…

The entire line needs $3.6 billion in urgent repairs, according to the Regional Plan Association, an independent think tank.

Trash and piles of metal parts line many tracks. Smelly cars dating to the 1970s shake passengers in stiff seats from side to side like livestock. Floors are perpetually grimy, and train cars are in short supply. Expensive equipment sits idle. “One day the toilet flooded and the water was just seeping into the vestibule,” recalls Noelle Villanueva, a trader at First New York Securities who commutes from Fairfield, Conn., a large commuter town.

Engineers – the people driving the trains – occasionally “overshoot” their stops and, if the tracks allow it, have to back up, leaving commuters like Lamorte to wonder if the people behind the wheel are asleep, or drunk. Trains come in unannounced on the wrong platform, sending riders to scamper like voles across crumbling overhead passageways to the correct platform. A 117-year-old bridge spanning the Norwalk River, in Norwalk, Conn., sports gaping holes beside the tracks. “They have a rescue boat, but the guy’s usually 1,000 feet away, fishing, so you’ll be dead by the time he gets to you,” says Bill, an ironworker for Metro-North. (He declined to give his last name, citing a fear of retaliation…)

Commuters are increasingly wondering when someone else might die. Late last July, as temperatures soared near 100 degrees, a train near Westport broke down in the afternoon, leaving passengers, including several pregnant women, trapped in unairconditioned cars whose doors and windows would not open…

The lack of communication – think digital signs at stations that almost uniformly announce “Good service” – irks riders, some of whom pay $400 a month and more.

Passenger rail is a horrible economic model.  The costs are so great that it is virtually impossible for it to work without government subsidies.  But in places like the island of Manhattan there are few viable transportation options.  For though costly it can move a lot of people into and out of a very congested city.  But the problem with passenger rail in big cities is all the other big city problems that come with it.  Unions, lack of competition, corruption, etc.  It’s so bad that even when some of the 136,600 weekday riders pay $400 a month (the equivalent of a car payment) the money is so mismanaged that wear and tear adds up on the system over time to the tune of $3.6 billion.  Which is why people don’t want national health care.  They don’t want a health care system operated like Metro-North.  Which is why they are so mad at President Obama for his lie about Obamacare.  And taking away the health care plans and doctors they liked and wanted to keep.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , ,

Businesses and Jobs tend to move from Countries with High Regulatory Costs to ones with Low Regulatory Costs

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 23rd, 2014

Week in Review

A business is an investment.  Business owners invest capital and labor to make money.  Just like people buy government bonds to make money.  Of course, investing in government bonds is safe but it doesn’t create any jobs.  So we prefer when investors invest in a business.  Because a business will create jobs.

So where would investors prefer to risk their money?   That depends on the expected return on investment.  Historically there was always more money to be made in a business.  But higher regulatory costs have reduced that return on investment.  Leading a lot of investors to turn to government bonds.  Or to move their businesses to another country.  One with a less costly regulatory environment (see The rich world needs to cut red tape to encourage business posted 2/22/2014 on The Economist).

Singapore has come out on top as the least burdensome for the past eight years (see chart 3), whereas many EU countries are bumping along near the bottom. Of the 148 countries surveyed in 2013, Spain was ranked 125th, France 130th, Portugal 132nd, Greece 144th and Italy 146th.

Americans who complain about the Obama administration’s unhelpfulness towards business will also note ruefully that over the past seven years their country has slipped from 23rd to 80th place…

Broadly speaking, in recent years emerging markets seem to have been cutting their red tape whereas the rich world has been strengthening its regulatory regime…

But not all labour laws are equally useful. In much of Europe the problem is that regulations designed to protect existing workers from unfair dismissal often make employers reluctant to take on new ones. One international executive recounts the tale of a French worker who had been with his employer for just three years but was entitled to five years’ compensation for dismissal. “We wouldn’t put anyone in France if we can possibly avoid it,” the executive said…

The danger is that, once European companies come to expand capacity again, they may do so outside the euro zone, where employment contracts are more flexible and wages and social costs are lower…

The EU not only has inflexible labour markets and high costs; it has slower growth prospects than most emerging markets. That will tempt many businesses to move elsewhere. “Western Europe is at a severe disadvantage because of the costs when you have to restructure your operations,” says Martin Sorrell, the boss of WPP. By contrast, Singapore has a low tax rate, a light regulatory regime and an enviable location at the heart of Asia. Sir Martin thinks some multinationals will eventually move their headquarters to the city-state.

The best way to protect workers is with a robust economy.  Not regulations.  If you lower the tax burden and regulatory costs the return on investment on businesses will soar past the return on investment from government bonds.  And investors would put their money into businesses to make more money.  This is how you help workers get better pay and benefits.  You create such economic activity that there are more jobs than people to fill them.  Forcing employers to offer higher wages and better benefits.  The way it was when the United States became the number one economy in the world.  Not the way it is currently in the EU.  Or the United States.  Where the Great Recession lingers on.  Thanks to an anti-business economic climate.  And the mother of all costly regulatory policies.  Obamacare.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,