National Health Care in Brazil amputates Wrong Leg, turns to Cuba to relieve Doctor Shortage

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 12th, 2013

Week in Review

The proponents of Obamacare say the United States is the only advanced economy in the world that doesn’t have national health care.  Which is probably why the American health care system is the best in the world.  And things like this happen where they do have national health care (see Brazilian doctors remove the wrong leg of patient before amputating other leg by The Associated Press posted 10/9/2013 on The Vancouver Sun).

A Brazilian hospital says a patient with diabetic kidney failure has been left legless after going into an operation to amputate his right leg and having doctors remove his left…

“When the patient’s daughter told doctors they had removed the wrong leg, they amputated the other leg as well.”

Is this an isolated incident?  Or is it an indictment of national health care itself?  Well, according to the Washington Post (see Brazil, facing health-care crisis, imports Cuban doctors by Paula Moura and Juan Forero posted 8/30/2013) it doesn’t look that much like an isolated incident.

Since the 1960s, Cuba has deployed an army of doctors by the tens of thousands to the world’s most inhospitable corners, from Haiti to Africa’s killing fields to the ultra-violent barrios of Venezuela.

Now, thousands of Cubans are heading to relatively affluent Brazil to shore up a decrepit health-care system that has become a national embarrassment.

Two months after mass protests against the substandard condition of public health and other services, President Dilma Rousseff’s government has signed a deal to bring 4,000 Cubans by the end of the year to serve for three years in forlorn outposts where health officials say Brazilian doctors will not work. Under the contract, Brazil will pay the island’s cash-starved government $4,200 a month per doctor, or $200 million annually.

But the government’s plan has its doubters. Among them is Aline Lais Ribeiro, 17, who on a recent day waited three hours to see the lone doctor working a 24-hour shift in a shabby clinic in this gritty Sao Paulo suburb, one of the 700 towns where Cuban doctors will be assigned. She asked why the government has not put resources into building a quality health-care system to match Brazil’s developed-world pretensions.

So national health care in Brazil is “decrepit.”  A “national embarrassment.”  And “substandard.”  It’s so bad they are getting doctors from Cuba to relive their chronic doctor shortage.  With Cubans becoming doctors no doubt so they can escape their godforsaken island.  As the Cuban communists prostitute these doctors to bring in some hard currency to their “cash-starved government.”

If these doctors work about a 60-hour week at $4,200 per month that comes to approximately $16.27 per hour.  Recently in America unskilled fast-food workers went on strike to raise their hourly wage to $15.  Imagine that.  Unskilled workers demanding nearly the same amount of money Cuban doctors will work for in Brazil.  Well, they won’t get all of that money.  Most of it will go to the “cash-starved government” back in Cuba.

As Obamacare rolls out Brazil may lose these Cuban doctors.  As Obamacare creates a doctor shortage in the United States the Americans may offer those Cubans as much as $20 an hour to come practice medicine in America.  As a bonus incentive they will be able to retain their native language.  For the illegal aliens flooding our country who will receive Obamacare speak Spanish.  Not Portuguese like they do in Brazil.  But Spanish.  Like they speak in Cuba.  A win-win for the Obama administration.  And Cuba.  Well, the Cuban government.  For if they are exporting 4,000 Cuban doctors that may make the average Cuban wait a lot longer to see a doctor in their national health care system.

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India’s Keynesian Policies may cause S&P to downgrade their Credit Rating

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 13th, 2012

Week in Review

Monetary policy can be confusing.  Especially when the Keynesians start talking about it.  Bunch of policy wonks.  Pushing a defective ideology.  For it doesn’t do anything they say it will do.  Excessive government spending, and deficit spending, rarely ends well.  It only leads to larger debts, weaker growth and price inflation.  Wherever Keynesians try their policies (see Significant chance of cutting India rating in future: S&P by Neha Dasgupta and Swati Bhat posted 10/10/2012 on Reuters).

India still faced a one-in-three chance of a over the next 24 months, Standard & Poor’s said, although a series of reform steps launched in September had slightly improved the country’s prospects…

“Weaker-than-expected tax receipts, owing to weaker economic growth, and higher-than-budgeted subsidies are the main reasons behind it,” S&P said, referring to its deficit outlook.

The high deficit is counteracting the central bank’s efforts to control demand-driven price pressures, while the government’s use of domestic savings to finance the deficit is crowding out private investment and lowering growth prospects.

Governments tend to increase their spending during good economic times.  Because they can.  The problem is that good economic times don’t always last.  And when the economy tanks so do tax receipts.  Leaving the government with spending obligations that they no longer can afford to pay.  So they borrow more.  Run larger deficits.  And expand the money supply by lowering interest rates.  Which leads to, of course, price inflation.  And, finally, that oft asked question.  Is debt really anything to worry about when we owe money to ourselves?  Yes.  For when the government sells bonds to finance deficit spending it pulls investment capital from the private sector.  Where business owners could have used it to create economic activity.  And jobs.

So never be fooled by Keynesians and their rosy projections of economic growth.  For their policies hinder economic growth.  And cause credit downgrades.  Everywhere they’re tried.

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As the Brazilian Economy cools Rousseff looks to Tax Cuts and Privatization to Restore Economic Momentum

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 29th, 2012

Week in Review

The president of Brazil is Dilma Rousseff.  She belongs to the Workers’ Party.  A party that enjoys strong support from the labor unions.  Because it leans towards socialism.  At least in state-ownership of some state assets.  In particular those that employ a lot of people.  But the great Brazilian economic growth is sputtering.  Like an engine no longer firing on all cylinders.  Because of her party affiliation one would expect Rousseff to adopt Keynesian policies.  To stimulate their economy with some government spending.  But no.  She’s talking about doing something completely different (see UPDATE 1-Rousseff ‘very worried’ about Brazil economy by Alonso Soto and Brian Winter posted 7/23/2012 on Reuters).

President Dilma Rousseff is pessimistic about Brazil’s chances for a meaningful economic recovery this year and is pushing ahead with new measures aimed at lowering taxes and increasing investment, hoping they might give the economy a lift by 2013, government officials told Reuters.

The measures include a consolidation of some overlapping federal taxes; a new round of concessions that would allow the private sector to manage more of the country’s congested airports and seaports; and a more aggressive effort to reduce electricity costs for manufacturers and others, the officials said on condition of anonymity because they were discussing private policy discussions…

Rousseff, a trained economist, has reacted with several targeted tax cuts and more than half a dozen packages aimed at stimulating consumption and investment. However, many business leaders and foreign investors have complained that her policies have been too ad hoc and narrow in scope, citing forecasts that now see growth as low as 1.5 percent this year…

Some business leaders have called for Rousseff to take even more dramatic measures, such as an omnibus reform package that could substantially reduce or simplify Brazil’s tax load. Rousseff has opted instead to pursue more targeted reforms to help struggling sectors on a case-by-case basis, believing that Congress would block a more ambitious, organized effort.

So Rousseff would have been a more aggressive tax cutter if it weren’t for Congress.  So one can hardly blame her for her ad hoc ways.  You have to do the best you can with the cards you’re dealt.  Especially when your party tends to favor state ownership of industry and higher taxation to pay for the labor in those state-owned industries.

Lowering taxes and electricity costs?  Privatization?  Other than that part about consumption one would think that Rousseff’s economic training was of the Austrian school variety rather than the Keynesian brand.  Whatever her economic roots with policies like these Brazil should rebound well from this momentary interruption in their economic growth.

The move most likely to stir investors, for both practical and symbolic reasons, is the new round of port concessions. Airports and seaports are routinely cited as some of the country’s most crippling bottlenecks, slowing everything from commodities exports to business travel, as public investment failed to keep up with the boom in the economy over the past decade…

The officials declined to say which additional airports Rousseff was considering, but one of the targets could be Rio de Janeiro’s international airport, which needs renovations ahead of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics. Rio’s governor, Sergio Cabral, described the airport in an interview with Reuters last year as being like “a third-rate bus station…”

The Brazilian economy had been roaring thanks to the private sector.  What wasn’t keeping up with the private sector was the public sector.  While people were doing remarkable things in the private sector the best the government could do was make Rio de Janeiro’s international airport “a third-rate bus station.”  Which just goes to show you that for the best economic activity you have to release the human capital of the people.  When you let these people think.  When you let them create.  When you let them create the things they thought about you get the kind of explosive economic activity that put Brazil in the BRICS emerging economies.  While running ‘third-rate bus stations’ just doesn’t quite do it.

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The Private Sector is Investing in Natural Gas because there’s a Real Market for it unlike Solar and Wind

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 1st, 2012

Week in Review

The environmentalists have finally got something they wanted.  Private businesses choosing a cleaner fuel because they want to.  Not because they were forced to.  Or because they were bribed to.  But because these greedy little bastards can make more money by going green.  They hate the profit motive.  But at least these profits come with a cleaner environment.  You’d think they’d be happy.  But, of course, they’re not.  Because for this cleaner world they’d have to accept something they just hate too much (see Natural-Gas Vehicles Will Run Best Without Subsidies by the Editors posted 3/29/2012 on Bloomberg).

Few areas of American governance have been as incoherent in recent decades as energy policy, which is saying something. But lately, we keep seeing reasons for optimism.

Almost miraculously, the U.S. is both reducing its greenhouse-gas emissions and becoming increasingly energy independent. As Bloomberg News recently reported, the share of U.S. energy demand met by domestic sources increased to 81 percent through the first 10 months of 2011 — the highest level in 20 years — and emissions are expected to decline 12 percent by 2020.

A major factor in both trends is increased use of natural gas, a cleaner-burning fossil fuel now being extracted in abundance across the country. Hydraulic fracturing, a new production technology also known as fracking, has helped push prices for the fuel to a decade low, and has created plenty of jobs in the process…

Natural gas has many advantages — which is exactly why the industry doesn’t need more government help.

Proponents of federal aid argue that the costs of switching to natural gas on a large scale are prohibitive for trucking companies and consumers. But as Bloomberg News has reported, trucking companies are already buying more long-haul natural-gas trucks simply because the fuel is so cheap. Annual savings over diesel can add up to $20,000 for a single truck — so a company can recoup the extra cost of the new technology in about two years…

To meet increased demand, companies are building infrastructure on their own: Clean Energy Fuels Corp., which provides natural gas fuel for transportation, plans to build 70 liquefied natural-gas stations by the end of the year. General Electric Co. and Chesapeake Energy Corp. have formed an alliance to help make compressed natural gas available at more filling stations. Honda plans to install fueling stations at some of its dealerships. Fleets of taxis, trucks and buses across the country are using the fuel in growing numbers.

In other words, market forces are working. It’s not yet clear what will be the most efficient means to get natural gas to power vehicles — many options are on the table — but the private sector is the best place to experiment. Billions of dollars in government subsidies will only further distort the energy sector, threaten to create another industry reliant on Washington’s largesse and drive up prices by artificially boosting demand.

No trucking firms are buying any electric long-haul trucks and installing recharging stations across the country.  For that would be too costly.  And waste too much time.  But time is money for a trucker.  They don’t have time to wait for a battery to recharge every time they need to’re-fuel’.  That’s why they stick to fossil fuels.  Even the change to a cleaner and cheaper fuel is still a change to fossil fuel.  Because there’s no other fuel source outside of science fiction that can do what fossil fuels can do.

Because there is a market for natural gas-powered trucks the private sector is providing the infrastructure for it.  Without any ‘Solyndra’ subsidies or loan guarantees.  There’s money to make so private capital is flowing to where it needs to be to make this a reality.  Without any help from the government.  The way it should be in a free market economy.

This is everything the Obama administration could ask for.  Less fuel emissions.  Less dependence on foreign oil.  And they don’t have to use the power of government to make anyone adopt this technology.  There’s no downside.  Except, of course, the environmentalists.  Who hate hydraulic fracturing.  AKA fracking.  (And basically any fossil fuel in general.)  They say it contaminates the ground water.  So they don’t want it.  Just as they don’t want oil.  Or coal.  Or nuclear.  Or hydroelectric power.  Which basically leaves out every way to generate electricity except solar and wind.  Which can’t come close to producing the amount of electricity the other sources of electricity-generation can.  Which will be a big problem for the environmentalists.  Who want everyone to drive an emissions-free electric car.  Cars that will be very difficult to charge if the environmentalists don’t let us produce any electricity.  And the only things that’ll let us do this are the fossil fuels.  Or hydroelectric power.

There’s no pleasing some people.  Unless we all go back to the horse and buggy days.  Maybe that would make the environmentalists happy.  Having the air thick with horse manure.  With our streets covered in horse poop, pee and swarms of flies.  Maybe that would make them happy.  As it would all be natural.  Then again, this may be a problem with PETA.  Who would rather have the pollution if the alternative meant violating animal rights.  Which we would be violating if we enslaved horses to work for us.

You know who’s not having silly debates like this?  Brazil.  Russia.  India.  China.  And South Africa.  The BRICS emerging economies.  And the reason why they’re emerging and we’re wallowing in recession is that they don’t let their environmentalists sit at the big table with the grownups. 

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BRICS are taking on the United States, the Eurozone and the World Bank

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 31st, 2012

Week in Review

BRICS are on the ascendant.  Producing healthy economic growth while the old dogs who taught them everything they know are wallowing in economic despair.  Then again, the old dogs aren’t what they used to be.  For they are nothing like their former selves.  Or BRICS.  Who are embracing economic growth.  Instead of worrying about income redistribution and environmental policies that are killing the old dogs.  And these new dogs are looking to teach the old dogs a new trick (see Bank tops agenda at Brics summit of emerging nations posted 3/29/2012 on BBC India).

Brazil, Russia, China, India and South Africa (the Brics group) are proposing an alternative to the World Bank.

Leaders of the five nations, which now account for nearly 28% of the global economy, discussed closer trade links…

“The Brics countries have agreed to examine in greater detail a proposal to set up a South-South development bank, funded and managed by the Brics and other developing countries,” Mr Singh later said.

The Delhi Declaration expressed concern over the current global economic situation, especially in the euro zone…

The countries also resolved “to promote greater interaction among the business communities of Brics nations and easier visa facilities for businessmen”.

Mr Singh said the Brics group must speak with one voice on important issues such as reform of the UN Security Council.

President Hu said Brics nations should “enhance co-operation and intensify communication in international trade”…

The Brics nations have radically different economies and political systems and have often struggled to find common ground in the past.

But, they have been looking at ways to increase their trade links and decrease dependency on Europe and the United States.

Speak with one voice and improve international trade?  To compete against Europe and the United States?  Other than that part about Europe this sounds very familiar.  Oh, yes.  I remember.  This is what the Europeans said when they set up the Eurozone.  Which is struggling to survive.  Because they can’t speak with one voice.  For the individual nations may have surrendered their currency.  But they won’t surrender their sovereignty.  Which is why uber responsible Germany is continually frustrated by spendthrifts like Greece and Spain.  Not to blame Greece or Spain.  A common currency without a political unity was just a bad idea.

I suppose as long as BRICS don’t do anything foolish like try to set up a common currency to compete against the US dollar or the Euro they may do all right.  Being as they have such “radically different economies and political systems.”  But let’s just hope they don’t follow the “institutions of global political and economic governance created more than six decades ago” and ruin their emerging economies by turning them into social democracies.  Perhaps they can take a lesson from the Chileans.  Who have done a remarkable job embracing free market capitalism.  Thanks to their Chicago Boys.  And a little Milton Friedman.  Even privatized their social security system.  They’re doing pretty well now.  Unlike the nation that helped create them.  Spain.  Who is struggling with riots in their streets as they try to implement austerity to get their social spending under control.  So they can remain in the Eurozone.  And save the Euro.

Perhaps BRICS will be able to help bailout the Eurozone, too.  You know, as long as they don’t follow the Europeans down the Road to Serfdom.

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