The First, Second and Third Reich

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 1st, 2014

History 101

The Holy Roman Empire was the First German Reich

At the height of the Roman Empire the Mediterranean Sea was a Roman Lake.  For the Romans controlled all the land around the Mediterranean Sea.  As the Roman Empire controlled most of the civilized world.  From Africa to Britain.  From Spain to the Middle East.  And its presence in Europe would shape Europe and the world we know today.  But before the Romans could shape our world the barbarians had to destroy theirs.

The northern frontier of the Roman Empire ran along the Rhine and Danube rivers.  West of the Rhine and south of the Danube was the civilized Roman Empire.  On the other side of those rivers were the Ostrogoths, the Visogoths and the Vandals.  Barbarians.  Germanic people.  Who would sweep down (along with the Huns from Central Asia) and conquer the Western Roman Empire.  With a Germanic chieftain, Odoacer, deposing the last Roman emperor in the West.  Romulus Augustus.

After about 3 centuries Charlemagne, King of the Franks (Germanic tribes in and around modern day France), would unify Western Europe.  In a Christian kingdom.  Pleasing Pope Leo III.  Who went on to crown Charlemagne emperor of the Roman Empire.  But after he died his empire broke apart.  Meanwhile to the east Otto I was unifying the Germanic tribes into a single kingdom.  A German empire that stretched from northern Italy to the North and Baltic seas.  Encompassing a huge swathe of Central Europe (including but not limited to modern day Germany, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, The Netherlands, Switzerland, France (eastern lands), Italy and Poland).  A Christian empire.  Pleasing Pope John XII.  Who crowned Otto emperor.  And the First Reich (the first German empire) became the Holy Roman Empire.

Winning the Franco-Prussian War ushered in the Second German Reich

The First Reich would last for about 850 years.  Coming to an end in 1806 when the last Holy Roman Emperor, Francis II, abdicated after fighting and losing to Napoleon.  Who reorganize it into the German Confederation.  And reduced the First Reich to a French satellite.  Up until this time there were two large powers in the Reich vying for power.  Austria in the south.  And Prussia in the north.  Otto von Bismarck was a Prussian.  And Prussia was a militaristic nation.  That believed less in diplomacy and more in power.  And Bismarck would use force to unite the German states into a Prussian-dominated Germany.  While getting rid of its rival.  Austria.

War followed.  The Austro-Prussian War (1866) ended the German Confederation.  Prussia replaced the German Confederation with North German Confederation that excluded Austria.  This confederation included much of the northern lands of the First Reich.  To sooth the feelings between the north (led by Prussia) and the south (led by Austria) Bismarck made the French declare war on Prussia.  And when they did the southern German states sided with Prussia.  The Prussians and Germans moved quickly into northern France.  And after a long siege of Paris the Germans won the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871).  They took back a lot of lands lost to France.  Including Alsace-Lorraine.  Much to the chagrin of the French.  And unified the German states into a German Empire.  The Second Reich.

The German Empire industrialized.  Greatly increasing its economic and military might.  Shifting the balance of power in Europe.  Germany was now the most powerful nation in Europe.  Which concerned the other powers of Europe.  So they began to enter treaties with each other.  Such that if Germany attacked one nation another nation (or nations) would declare war on Germany.  To provide a deterrent against German aggression.  And rebalance the balance of power in Europe.  But then Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, traveled to Sarajevo.  Where Gavrilo Princip assassinated him.  Pushing the first domino in a sting of dominos to fall as all of Europe honored their treaties.

The Third Reich was the Largest and Shortest-Lived German Reich

Austria-Hungary invaded Serbia.  In support of Austria-Hungary Germany invaded Belgium and Luxembourg on their way to France.  Causing the United Kingdom to declare war on Germany.  In support of Serbia Russia declared war on Austria-Hungary.  Allying with France and the United Kingdom.  The Ottoman Empire declared war on Russia.  Then nation after nation joined a side and entered the war.  Even the United States.  By the time it was all over some 16 million people were dead.  As were the Russian, Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman and German empires.  The map of Europe changed.  And the Second Reich was over.  Having lasted 47 years.  Large chunks of the Second Reich were taken away.  Including Alsace-Lorraine.  And much of Prussia.  Which was restored to Poland.  Which infuriated a lot of Germans.  Especially one German war veteran in particular.  A corporal.  Adolf Hitler.

World War I ended in an armistice.  Meaning that no one surrendered.  But the American entry into the war pretty much meant that the Germans were going to lose.  All the nations had long grown weary of the war.  But here was a fresh nation that could field fresh troops against Germany.  Which was exhausted.  It had nothing left.  Which gave the Allies the upper hand in the peace that followed.  And it was a bitter peace for the Germans.  Who were singled out as the sole responsible party for the war.  Well, one thing led to another and Adolf Hitler inaugurated the Third Reich.  And he set about retrieving all that lost German territory.  He annexed Austria.  The Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia.  Then he took the rest of Czechoslovakia.  A country that conveniently ran along the southern border of Poland.  And then he kicked off World War II.

The Third Reich invaded Poland.  Norway.  The Low Countries.  France.  And the Soviet Union (the former Russian Empire).  Reclaiming all lost German lands.  Including Alsace-Lorraine.  And unifying them once again.  Even adding on to them.  Through the use of force.  The Prussian way.  The Third Reich was the largest German Reich yet.  But it was the shortest lived Reich.  Lasting only 12 years.  By the time World War II was over some 70 million people were dead.  Making the Third Reich the bloodiest Reich.  The Allies helped to rebuild West Germany (East Germany was behind the Iron Curtain) to keep her out of the Soviet Sphere.  To give it a thriving free market economy.  And prosperity.  By providing full employment.  Which also helped to prevent gangs of unemployed young men from getting nationalistic fervor.  Again.  West Germany integrated into the west.  Away from the Soviets.  And away from her Prussian past.

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Scotland wants to Keep the Pound in a (somewhat) Independent Scotland

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 8th, 2014

Week in Review

The Greek crisis happened because there was a currency union without a political union.  The Eurozone set some pretty strict limits on deficits and debt to join.  Why?  Because people in the Eurozone would all be using the same Euro.  So they didn’t want one country running up deficits or their debt.  Because if they did they wouldn’t just be messing with their economy.  They would be messing with the entire Eurozone economy.

Well, that’s what Greece did.  They were spending so much money that they had large deficits that added to a large debt.  A euro-denominated debt.  Which meant a default would raise borrowing costs for other euro-denominated debt.  Raising the borrowing costs for the Eurozone.  So to avoid that required other Eurozone nations to help Greece with their debt.  Requiring higher taxes in the more responsible countries of the Eurozone to pay for the irresponsible spending of Greece.  Neither option (default or rescue package) being a popular option.  Especially for the Greek people.  For the rescue package came with strings.  And the big one was austerity.  They had to stop spending so much.  Which meant a lot of people lost some of their government benefits.  Making them very unhappy.  Leading to some rioting in the streets.

Had there been a political union this would not have happened.  For there would have been only one entity borrowing and spending Euros.  One entity taxing the Eurozone nations.  And one entity printing money.  Much like the federal government in the United States.  And London in the United Kingdom (see Scotland’s referendum: Salmond says independence will benefit whole UK posted 3/4/2014 on BBC News Scotland Politics).

An independent Scotland with a strong economy would benefit the whole of the UK, First Minister Alex Salmond has told a gathering in London…

“I believe George Osborne’s speech on sterling three weeks ago – his ‘sermon on the pound’ – will come to be seen as a monumental error.

“It encapsulates the diktats from on high which are not the strength of the Westminster elite, but rather their fundamental weakness.

“In contrast, we will seek to engage with the people of England on the case for progressive reform.”

But Tory MP Mr Mundell said that Mr Salmond was saying that a choice to leave the UK and become independent “means staying exactly the same as we are now”.

He added: “By definition, that simply cannot happen.

“No one should be under any illusion that voting for independence means getting independence, which means becoming a new country outside the UK.

If the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis has taught us anything it’s that a currency union without a political union is not a good thing.  An independent Scotland would eliminate the political union there is now.  And the reason why England does not want a currency union with an independent Scotland is because of what happened in the Eurozone.  It doesn’t work.  At least, it doesn’t work well.  Which begs the question why do they want independence but not complete independence (keeping the pound)?

One can only surmise so they can have more autonomy over their taxing, borrowing and, of course, spending.  Perhaps to spend more.  Creating larger deficits.  And a greater pound-denominated debt.  Which would be of great concern to other holders of pound-denominated debt.  The rest of the United Kingdom.

It is unlikely that independence would lead to a stronger Scottish economy.  Or a stronger UK economy.  If it did then the whole point of the Eurozone would be a lie.  To create a larger economic zone to compete with the large economic zone that is the United States.  Because bigger is better.  At least in terms of GDP.  The British Empire was bigger than the United Kingdom is now.  And the United Kingdom is bigger than a United Kingdom without Scotland.  And an independent Scotland would be smaller than all of the above.  So if you want to maximize GDP you would want to maximize the size of your economy.  Not shrink it.  Which leads one to believe that the reason for independence is something other than economic.  Because the UK is too English?  Perhaps.  Whatever the reason let’s just hope everything works out for the best.  For the United Kingdom did make the world a better place.  With great people like Adam Smith from Scotland.  And John Locke from England.  To name only two of the greats to come from the United Kingdom.

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Britain and Scotland disagree over Scottish Currency in an Independent Scotland

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 16th, 2014

Week in Review

The Eurozone was a grand idea to make an economic zone that could compete against the United States.  A United States of Europe, if you will.  But the Eurozone has suffered a sovereign debt crisis that was unavoidable.  As many analysts have identified the problem causing the Eurozone all its sovereign debt woes.  The lack of a political union.

The solution they say is for member states to give up some of their sovereignty and allow a Eurozone government have more control.  Like the United States of America has.  Which means putting even stricter controls on member states when it comes to their spending.  Which, in turn, would limit their deficits.  And their borrowing needs.  Which brought on the sovereign debt crisis in the first place.  Excessive spending beyond their ability to pay for with taxes.  Normally not a problem for other countries when another country spends itself into oblivion.  Unless, of course, there is a currency union with that country.  Which makes their problems your problems.  Problems that are impossible to solve without a political union.

The Eurozone sovereign debt crisis illustrates that a currency union without a political union will not work.  Which makes the movement for Scottish independence very interesting (see Britain warns Scotland: Forget the pound if you walk away by Belinda Goldsmith, Reuters, posted 2/13/2014 on Yahoo! News).

Britain warned Scotland on Thursday it would have to give up the pound if Scots voted to end the 307-year-old union with England, declaring the currency could not be divided up “as if it were a CD collection” after a messy divorce…

The message was aimed at undermining the economic case for independence and one of the Scottish National Party’s (SNP) key proposals – that an independent Scotland would keep the pound…

The debate has intensified in recent weeks with Bank of England chief Mark Carney cautioning that a currency union would entail a surrender of some sovereignty…

The SNP [Scottish National Party] has indicated that if London prevented a currency union, an independent Scotland could refuse to take on a share of the UK’s 1.2 trillion pounds ($1.99 trillion) of government debt which Britain has promised to honor…

Osborne said the nationalist threat to walk away from its share of UK debt would mean punitively high interest rates for an independent Scotland and was an “empty threat”.

“In that scenario, international lenders would look at Scotland and see a fledgling country whose only credit history was one gigantic default,” Osborne said.

Currently there is a political union between Scotland and England.  The United Kingdom (UK).  And Scottish independence would go contrary to what some analysts say is needed to save the Eurozone.  Political unity.  The problem in the Eurozone is that no one nation wants to give up any of their sovereignty and have some distant power tell them what they can and cannot do.  The way some in Scotland feel about London.  That distant power that governs the United Kingdom.

The British pound is one of the world’s strongest currencies.  A product of the powers in London.  Because they have political control across the UK.  If they lose their political control over Scotland will it damage the British pound?  If the Eurozone is any measure of a currency union without a political union, yes.  So it will be interesting to see what happens between these two great nations.  Whose people made the world a better place.  People like the great Scotsman Adam Smith.  And the great Englishman John Locke.  To name just two.  So whatever happens let’s hope it’s in the best interest of both countries.  For countries everywhere enjoying economic freedom and human rights can thank these two countries for their contributions to the British Empire.  Which helped spread the best of Western Civilization around the world from the United States to Canada to Australia to Hong Kong.  And beyond.

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The Europeans are moving away from Green Energy as President Obama moves toward Green Energy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 30th, 2013

Week in Review

Europe had gone all in on the green energy bandwagon.  To save the world from catastrophic climate change brought about by manmade global warming.  But they paid a price.  They have increased the cost of electric power.  Which increased the cost of manufacturing.  Making them less competitive on the world markets.  Resulting in anemic economic growth.  And a sovereign debt crisis as tax revenues fell.

Their journey into green energy has been an unmitigated disaster.  They are now reversing course.  And climate change be damned.  If there ever was a problem to begin with.  For let’s face, what good did all of Europe’s green energy efforts do anyway?  The climate doomsayers are still warning us that we must act now before it’s too late.  So apparently whatever the Europeans did had no impact on the climate.  Only their economies (see Europe exits climate money pit as Obama jumps in by RON ARNOLD posted 6/27/2013 on the Washington Examiner).

Myron Ebell, director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, told me, “The centerpiece of President Obama’s climate plan is a declaration of all-out war on coal. The only affordable way to reduce emissions from existing coal-fired power plants – which now provide 40 percent of the nation’s electricity – is to close them down…”

Ebell added that “Obama is pursuing his anti-energy agenda undemocratically through executive actions that bypass the people’s elected representatives in Congress.”

Autocrat Obama is also doing it without learning from the European Union’s green energy experience: skyrocketing energy prices, a ruinous slide into fuel poverty, solar panel financial meltdown, wind power bankruptcies and the specter of EU disintegration. As a result, the EU suffered an outbreak of realism.

In May, Europe’s heads of state and government at the EU Summit promoted shale gas and reduced energy prices. They would rather promote competition than stop global warming.

Obama just returned from Northern Ireland at the G8 meeting where he evidently didn’t ask why the United Kingdom removed climate change from the agenda.

European carbon markets had collapsed with the price of carbon hitting record lows, wrecking the European Union’s trading scheme for industrial CO2 emissions.

British Gas owner Centrica was buying up shale gas drilling rights in Lancashire for fracking operations. Green investors faced bankruptcy as Spain cut subsidies even further.

Large German companies such as Siemens and Bosch abandoned the solar industry, which had lost them billions, while investments in failed solar companies, including Q-Cells and SolarWorld, destroyed 21 billion euros of capital.

In response, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told a June energy conference in Berlin to expect reduced government spending on energy like wind and solar power to keep Germany economically competitive. Europe’s clean energy economy had become a black hole eating euros.

The United Kingdom is struggling to maintain their National Health Service (NHS) under the pressures of an aging population.  Fewer people are entering the workforce to pay taxes to fund the NHS.  While more people are leaving the workforce and consuming more and more NHS resources as they live longer into retirement than ever before.  A clarion call for anyone considering moving in the direction of a national health care system that also has an aging population.  Yet that is exactly what president Obama did during his first two years in office while the nation was suffering in the worst recession since the Great Depression.  Instead of cutting taxes to put people back to work he put into place massive tax hikes coming our way to fund Obamacare.  Learning nothing from the British.

Now he has an entire continent showing how wrong it is to pursue green energy.  And what does he do?  Ignores the Europeans completely and plunges headlong into the same foolish mistake they made.  Instead of cutting taxes to help put Americans back to work in the worst recovery since that following the Great Depression he plans on raising taxes on energy producers.  To fund green energy.  While increasing regulatory costs on good, dependable coal-fired power plants.  Which will increase the cost of electric power.  As well as the cost of doing business.  Not to mention the higher electric bills coming our way because of his desire to follow the Europeans down the dead-end road of Green Energy.

It’s as if the president is doing everything within his power to destroy the American economy.  Or he is completely clueless on how economies work.  He went to Occidental College, Columbia University and Harvard Law School.  So either these institutions are clueless on how economies work.  Or President Obama is purposely trying to destroy the American economy.  For someone or some institution is responsible for the president’s horrible economic policies.  They didn’t just happen.  There must be a method to this madness.  At least a reason for it.  Some reason for turning us into a failed European social democracy.

Of course, many believe that is the reason.  To turn us into a European social democracy.  To transform the country from the free market capitalism of the Founding Fathers into something closer to the state socialism favored by such anti-capitalists like Karl Marx.  Those on the left ridicule any such claims.  But Obamacare and this new Green Energy policy sure have more in common with socialism than capitalism.  As does the present anemic economy.

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The Problems in the Eurozone may Influence Scottish Voters in their Independence Referendum

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 27th, 2013

Week in Review

During the Roaring Twenties the American economy was giving the economies of Europe a run for their money.  The Europeans, accustomed to running the world for so long, looked at the economic prowess of America with concern.  And began to talk about a United States of Europe to compete with the economic juggernaut across the pond.  But when Calvin Coolidge chose not to run for a second term the progressives got back into power.  And Herbert Hoover put an end to that surging economy.  Causing a stock market crash.  And throwing the country into recession.  Which FDR turned into the Great Depression.

So there was no United States of Europe.  But there would be a European Union one day.  And after that, a currency union.  The Eurozone.  To compete against the economic prowess of the United States.  But a currency union without a political union.  Without a single fiscal and monetary policy to support that currency union.  Which turned out to be a problem.  For without that political union the currency union was only as strong as its weakest state.  In the Eurozone that state was Greece.  Whose unrestrained government spending caused a debt crisis that threatened to bring down the entire Eurozone.  Unless the other members stepped in to bail out Greece.  Which they have.  But the crisis hasn’t gone away.  For the central governing authorities can only ask Greece to cut their spending.  Which there is a lot of opposition to in Greece.  Putting a lot of pressure on the Euro.

Greece isn’t the only problem.  There was Ireland.  Spain.  Portugal.  And Cyprus.  All sovereign nations.  Sharing a common currency.  Making it all but impossible to maintain a uniform fiscal policy throughout the Eurozone.  Like they can in the United States.  Because the United States of America is a political union.  With one central government.  One central fiscal authority.  And one central monetary authority.  Making it hard for any one state to undermine the currency.  (Though California is making a valiant effort.)  Which is the problem they’re having in the Eurozone.  Many of the states are threatening to undermine the common currency.  Making a very strong case against future currency unions without a political union.  Which is something they are considering with an upcoming referendum on Scottish independence (see UK says “no clear reason” to let independent Scotland use the pound by David Milliken posted 4/23/2013 on Reuters UK).

The euro zone’s experience of countries sharing a currency but not a government shows there is no clear case for an independent Scotland to use the pound, the Treasury said on Tuesday.

The nation of 5 million will hold a referendum on September 18 next year to decide whether to split from the United Kingdom, at the instigation of the Scottish National Party that runs the country’s devolved government.

Pro-independence campaigners want Scotland to keep sterling, at least in the early years of independence, and then to decide later whether to switch to its own currency.

But in a report on Tuesday, the Treasury said there was no clear case for the United Kingdom to agree to a formal currency union with an independent Scotland, which would have an economy of a similar size to New Zealand’s…

“The recent experience of the euro area has shown that it is extremely challenging to sustain a successful formal currency union without close fiscal integration and common arrangements for the resolution of banking sector difficulties,” it added.

Scotland and England have a long history.  Not all of it good.  But if we’ve learned anything from history it is that large economic blocs do better than smaller counties.  As the United States demonstrated.  And as the Eurozone tried to duplicate with their currency union.  But as that experiment showed us a currency union without a political union is a recipe for disaster.  If Scotland breaks from the United Kingdom they will have to go all of the way.  And leave sterling.  Which will make independence more difficult.  Having to set up a new currency with everything else they will have to do.  (Such as dealing with separating their military forces from the UK’s.  And providing for their own defense.  Or forming a military union with the UK.  Which will tie them closely to the UK.  Something many Scots no doubt will consider before voting in the referendum.)

Of course if they do and they devalue their new currency it would make their exports cheaper to those nations with a stronger currency.  But that weak currency will make anything they import more expensive.  As Scotland exports and imports a lot of stuff they won’t get a clear advantage in devaluing their new currency.  So they may peg their new currency to sterling.  The next best thing to keeping sterling.  Which will tie them closely to the UK.  Something many Scots no doubt will consider before voting in the referendum.  Perhaps choosing to stay in the UK.  As Quebec chose to stay in Canada in their past referendum.  Who had less in common with the rest of Canada than the Scots have with the UK.  For they don’t even speak the same language.

They could join the Eurozone.  But recent events in the Eurozone does not make that option as appealing as setting up a new currency.  Or staying a part of the UK.  It would probably be best for the rest of the world if Scotland remained part of the UK.  For the world will need at least one strong reserve currency.  As the Euro is making itself less attractive by the day.  The U.S. dollar may hit the wall soon with the amount of debt the Americans are racking up.  And the Chinese are likely to go the way of Japan before the decade is out.  And have their own Lost Decade with all their malinvestments.  The ultimate cause in the fall of state-capitalism.

Now the UK has its problems.  But their decision to stay out of the Eurozone was clearly sound as a pound.  And pound sterling may grow even more attractive as a reserve currency as these other countries continue to rely on easy credit and debt to pay for their burgeoning welfare states.  And/or their malinvestments.  But one thing the UK is doing that none of these other bloated states are doing is making real cuts in spending.  Even in their venerated NHS.  Giving the UK the edge in responsible governing these days.  And really making a strong argument against Scottish independence at this time.  Even for those who hate England.  For it is better to deal with the devil you know than the devil you don’t.  Especially during uncertain times.

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The Majority of Scots wish to remain part of the United Kingdom

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 27th, 2012

Week in Review

According to the polls the Scottish people want to remain part of Britain (see Just one in three Scots wants independence from Britain, poll shows by Simon Johnson posted 5/25/2012 on The Telegraph).

An opinion poll published by Alistair Darling, the former Chancellor, showed only 33 per cent of voters in Scotland want independence and 57 per cent are opposed…

Mr Salmond will be joined in Edinburgh this morning by celebrities and the leaders of minor left-wing parties to formally start his bid to end the 305-year-old Union between England and Scotland…

Mr Darling’s publication of the The YouGov poll, which also showed more people think a separate Scotland would be worse off financially, was timed to undermine their message…

Nearly half of respondents (47 per cent) said they thought Scotland would be financially worse off after separation compared to only 27 per cent who said it would be wealthier. Thirteen per cent said independence would make no difference.

The finances of an independent Scotland would depend on a couple of things.  First of all there’s Britain’s debt.  Trying to apportion Scotland’s share of that would be more an act of politics than accounting.  And what about the military?  Would the Scottish units in the British armed forces return to Scotland?  If so would Scotland pay to outfit replacement units in the British armed forces?  Or would Scotland just enter into an armed forces agreement with Britain to carry on as if they didn’t become an independent nation?  And what about the currency?  Would they still be part of the Bank of England?  Or would they join the Eurozone?  And be a part of it when it finally implodes?  Trade agreements?  How would this affect treaties negotiated by Britain for Scottish interests?  What about environmental regulations?  Would they exit the emissions trading scheme?  Would they exploit their coal and oil resources?  Or build more windmills?

Interesting questions but moot.  For based on a recent opinion poll it appears the Scottish are not in favor of altering 305 years of history.

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Elderly Cancer Patients are not Worth the Cost of Health Care they Consume so the Policy of the NHS is to Let them Die

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 25th, 2012

Week in Review

Proponents of Obamacare attack the profit-oriented private health insurers, medical device and drug manufacturers and hospitals.  Putting profits before people is wrong and shameful they say.  And just plain wrong.  No, the better way is to do like the Canadians.  And the British.  Adopt a health care system that puts people before profits.  Where everyone can smile and enjoy life.  Content in a perfect world where everyone gets whatever health care they need.  Not just the rich who can afford it.  So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at that health care utopia in the United Kingdom.  And see how wonderfully just, kind and generous their health care truly is (see Elderly dying due to ‘despicable age discrimination in NHS’ by Rebecca Smith posted 3/25/2012 on The Telegraph).

A lack of treatment or insufficient treatment is contributing to 14,000 deaths a year in people over the age of 75, Macmillan Cancer Support has found, in what it called an ‘unacceptable act of discrimination’.

Deaths from cancer are reducing in most age groups but at a slower rate in those aged 74 to 84 and are increasing in people aged 85 and over, the report said.

The report, The Age Old Excuse: the under treatment of older cancer patients, said treatment options are too often recommended on the basis of age rather than how fit the patient is…

Few clinical trials involve older people so clinicians are lacking evidence of how effective drugs may be in elderly people and few cancer specialists have had training in care of older people, the report said.

A survey found six in ten trainee oncologists had not received training in the additional care needs of the elderly such as preventing falls and incontinence management. This is despite half of all cancers occuring in the elderly, the report found…

“The NHS and social care providers must wake up to the specific issues older people face and ensure treatment decisions are based on their overall health not just their date of birth. Writing people off as too old for treatment is utterly shameful.”

This is the future of Obamacare.  This is what happens when the government pays for health care.  The government decides.  They decide who lives.  And who dies.  Who gets treatment.  And who is not worthy of treatment and should consider themselves lucky if they get a pill to dull their pain until they die.  When they finally stop being such an inconvenient and inconsiderate burden to government.

Why is the NHS like this?  Are the British cruel?  No.  It’s just business.  Health care costs continue to rise despite the power of government to stop these costs from rising.  Their population is aging.  And they have a massive budget deficit.  Made up primarily from the budget deficit in the NHS.  Taxes are already high.  And the economy is not doing as well as it once did.  Which means you can’t raise taxes anymore.  Unless you want to crash the economy and reduce tax revenues even further.  And with a massive deficit you can’t borrow anymore.  So if you can’t tax and you can’t borrow and you have an aging population consuming an ever larger share of the health care budget what do you do?  Why, you do what the NHS is doing.  You ration health care.  By making life and death decisions.  And the NHS has made a decision.  Old people over a certain age shall die of cancer.  And they will take that health care and give it to someone else who is more worthy of it.

Bureaucrats making life and death decisions for cost reasons?  Kind of sounds like a death panel, doesn’t it?  Now Obamacare doesn’t include anything called a ‘death panel’ but there will be a death panel.  Because there always is when you ration health care.  Which is what will happen as the government tries to rein in health care costs.  Because that’s the only way they can control costs.  By cutting costs.  And how to you cut costs?  You spend less on life-saving health care services.  And ration these services.  Deciding who has enough value to save.  And who doesn’t and should die.  By authority of the death panel.  The secretary.  Or some other bureaucrat.  Who you hope their life and death decisions are based on costs alone.  And not your politics.

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Welfare and Pensions in the UK are Bankrupting the Nation

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 26th, 2012

Week in Review

The United States followed the United Kingdom into the Industrial Revolution.  And emerged the greatest superpower on the planet.  We did well following her lead.  Emulating her capitalistic ways.  But we can stop now.  For we don’t need to follow her to where she is now.  Although we’re pretty darn close to that place already (see Osborne: UK has run out of money by Rowena Mason posted 2/26/2012 on The Telegraph).

“The British Government has run out of money because all the money was spent in the good years,” the Chancellor said. “The money and the investment and the jobs need to come from the private sector…”

The Chancellor’s tough words were echoed by Liberal Democrat Jeremy Browne, the foreign minister, who warned that Britain faced “accelerated decline” without measures to tackle its debt and increase competitiveness…

Mr Browne writes that reform of pensions, welfare and defence is essential to stop the departments “collapsing under the weight of their own debt”. “Just because the spending was sometimes on worthy causes does not in itself mean it was affordable,” he says…

Amid warnings that Britain urgently needed to adopt a more pro-business outlook, senior Conservatives have urged the Government to get rid of the 50 pence top rate of tax.

Figures from the Treasury last week suggested the policy was not raising the expected amount of revenue and was threatening to drive leading business people and entrepreneurs away from Britain. Dr Liam Fox, the former Conservative Defence Secretary, yesterday argued for the top tax rate to be scrapped, but added that cutting taxes on employment was even more important.

“I would have thought the priority was getting the costs of employers down and therefore I would rather have seen any reductions in taxation on employers’ taxation rather than personal taxation,” he told the BBC’s Sunday Politics show.

Oh Britannia, what has become of you?  And why in the world are we still following you?

Money, investment and jobs must come from the private sector?  Why that’s a novel idea.  One Britain had a century or more ago.  And one the United States had, too.  Before the welfare state made these two great nations less great.

Everyone knows that too much debt is a bad thing.   It’s no secret.  Bad things happen to people who can’t pay their bills.  And as it turns out, worse things can happen when a government can’t pay its bills.  Just ask the Greek government.  Who are dealing with riots in their streets.

The private sector created jobs long before governments ever did.  We need to remember this.  And we solve economic problems in the private sector.  Where there is a high price for failure.  Thanks to capitalism.  And profits.  Alien concepts to governments.  Which is why the greatest debt crises are always in the government.  Not in the private sector.  Something else we would do well to remember.

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The Queen defends the Church of England from Secular Attacks

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 18th, 2012

Week in Review

The U.S. Constitution prevented the new federal government from interfering with a state’s religious policy.  It did not create a wall between church and state.  It created a wall between the federal government and the states.  And on the states’ side of that wall they could do anything they wanted religiously.  Establish a state religion.  Or keep the established religion they had.  If the Catholics wanted to gather in Maryland and establish a Catholic state church they had that right.  And if there were Calvinists looking for a state to live in they could choose to settle in Calvinist Massachusetts.  With John Adams and his family.  If Quakers arrived in the New World they could move on to Pennsylvania where the Quakers were settling.  The Baptists could head to Virginia.

America was settled by religious people escaping religious persecution in Great Britain.  Which was Protestant.  And anti-Catholic.  They also didn’t care too much for the Protestant Calvinists.  Who they derisively called Puritans.  Yes, those Puritans who sailed on the Mayflower.  The people John Adams called neighbor.  Only a century earlier civil war tore England apart.  Resulting from a long and contentious history.  Pitting Catholics against Protestants.  Which the Protestants won.  But it left bitter resentment throughout the country.  Which is why a lot of people left the country.  For a new start.  And the freedom to worship in peace.  Free from harassment.

So both the UK and the USA have deep roots in Christianity.  And despite all of the blood spilled in the name of religion, that same religion helped to make the UK and the USA the great nations they became.  Based on Judeo-Christian values.  Where the governments and the people were deeply religious.  And even the non-practicing Christians and borderline atheists were steeped in these Judeo-Christian values.  Benjamin Franklin.  George Washington.  And Thomas Jefferson.  Who may have been an atheist but thought Jesus Christ was the greatest philosopher of all time.  Even made his own New Testament by cutting out the God parts.  It was these Judeo-Christian values that made great men.  It’s what made the Founding Fathers different from other men.  And how they were able to create a country that favored the people.  Not the ruling class.  Which they would most certainly have been part of.  But these were selfless men.  They did not do things for personal gain.  Something unheard of in those days when it came to governing a nation.  But they did.  Because of their religion.  And their British customs and traditions.  So it’s sad to see these attacks on Christianity in the USA.  Even more sad to see them in the UK (see Queen stands up for Christianity: ‘Church of England is misunderstood and under-appreciated’ by Rebecca English posted 2/16/2012 on the Daily Mail).

And she emphasised that while the Church, of which she is head, was ‘woven into the fabric of this country’ it also had a ‘duty’ to protect freedom of worship for other faiths in order to build ‘a better society’…

It is particularly timely given last week’s landmark legal ruling banning the saying of prayers at council meetings.

Christians and politicians reacted with dismay after a judge overturned centuries of custom by stopping a council in Devon putting prayers on the formal agenda.

On the same day, two Christian guesthouse owners failed in an attempt to overturn a £3,600 fine imposed for refusing – because it was against their religious beliefs – to allow a gay couple to occupy a double room.

These and other developments, including recent cases of public sector workers being banned from displaying Christian symbols at work, have sparked a debate over whether the country is becoming too secularised and what effect this will have on society…

‘Faith plays a key role in the identity of millions of people, providing not only a system of belief but also a sense of belonging. It can act as a spur for social action. Indeed, religious groups have a proud track record of helping those in the greatest need.’

The Church of England is such a big part of the history of the United Kingdom.  It was critical during the Enlightenment.  For it questioned Catholic dogma.  And a Pope that was only recently selling indulgences to finance some nice Renaissance art.  So there’s no question that politics was creeping into the Catholic Church.  Which is what Henry VIII did not want.  A distant central power interfering with state affairs.  Well, that, and a divorce.  So Henry VIII created his own church.  Lost some of the Catholic dogma.  Some of the politics.  But kept the Judeo-Christian values.  And Britain became great.

Agricultural advances, representative government, economic theory, technological advances – these all flourished in England.  Why?  Critical thinking.  The rule of law.  And Judeo-Christian values.  The customs and traditions that are woven into the fabric of the United Kingdom.  And they should all remain woven in the fabric.  Because customs and traditions define who a people are.  And it’s absurd to think that you can remove customs and traditions just because they are Judeo-Christian.  When we are bending over backwards to accommodate every custom and tradition that isn’t Judeo-Christian in our multicultural world.

So I say to the Queen and Defender of the Faith you go, girl.

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Opposition to Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) Reform Grows

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 12th, 2012

Week in Review

Things aren’t looking good for the bill to reform Britain’s National Health Service (NHS).  From within the Cameron cabinet.  From within the Tories.  And from within the opposition (see Ditch the bill! Tory bust-up over health reforms amid claims minister described it as Cameron’s ‘poll tax’ by Tim Shipman posted 2/11/2012 on the Daily Mail).

He is concerned that failure to act will undermine Mr Cameron’s progress in ‘detoxifying’ the Tory brand when it comes to the NHS. He also fears that any problems caused by cuts to the NHS will be blamed on the Bill.

He said: ‘David Cameron’s greatest political achievement as leader of the Opposition was to neutralise health as  an issue.

‘The greatest mistake of his  time as Prime Minister has been to put it back at the centre of political debate.

This is the problem when you give people anything.  Once you do you don’t dare take it away.  Or hint that you might.  That’s why the NHS has become a ‘third-rail’ of politics.  Like Social Security in the United States.  You touch it and it will hurt you politically.  Even if the program is grossly inefficient and providing substandard quality.  You just have to let it.  If you want to keep your elective office.

There are worries that radical measures that would have created a genuine market in healthcare provision, driving down costs, have been stripped out as part of parliamentary horsetrading.

What remains are plans to reform the structure of the NHS that are not seen to have any obvious health benefits for patients…

Labour will this week seek to kill the Bill with a series of wrecking amendments in the House of Lords. Labour leader Ed Miliband last night wrote to every single peer, calling for cross-party support to pass further amendments to the Bill as they scrutinise it.

And, of course, the political opposition will pounce on any reform attempts to make a bad program good because it’s politically expedient.  For they will take any opportunity to hurt the opposition.  Even if it hurts their constituents in the long run.  Because politics trump the wellbeing of the people.  Always.

Will this be the future of Obamacare in the United States?  No.  It won’t be this good.  For the United Kingdom is big but the United States is bigger.  Far bigger.  And Obamacare will cover far, far more people than the NHS covers.  In fact, no one has ever tried national health care on a scale like this before.  And though proponents like to point to the NHS (or even the Canadian system) as examples for the U.S. to copy there will be no comparison.  It will be like taking a recipe to feed 4 and guessing how to increase each ingredient so you can use that recipe to feed 100.  The food prepared for 100 will taste nothing like the food prepared for 4.  The quality will suffer.  As will the quality of health care under Obamacare.  Because covering everyone in the United States will cost so much that Obamacare will have to ration health care services on a scale far greater than the NHS does.  Far, far greater.

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