Mortality Due To Lack Of Health Insurance

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Posted on : 2/12/2010 11:45:00 PM | By : Dann | In : ,

Megan McArdle has some thoughts on how mortality relates the the lack of health insurance.....or not.

After giving it a read and perhaps some time to simmer in the old brain housing unit, consider how successive waves of medical innovation have save lives that formerly were lost.  If health care "reform" causes medical innovation to decrease...and perhaps cease in some areas....how many people are going to die that we might have saved.

This is not an argument against health care reform.  It is an argument in favor of not enacting "reforms" that will condemn us all to medicine that is stagnant.

Too Good Not To Copy

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Posted on : 2/12/2010 08:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In : ,

From Megan McArdle:

When you treat women like commodities, caveat emptor.
'Nuff said.

I Like This Blogger Thing

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Posted on : 2/11/2010 10:44:00 PM | By : Dann | In :

In case you haven't noticed, I kinda like Blogger.  For the most part, my entries are formatted properly and they are easy to post.  The time delay feature is great for spreading out a few posts across a few days rather than dumping a whole bunch on the site at one time.

I am enjoying myself.  I hope you are as well.

Gay Rights....Individual Rights, You Can't Have One Without The Other

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Posted on : 2/11/2010 10:42:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , ,

Okay, Okay....I know.  It seems like it is all gay, all the time around here.  Just bear with me.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.....well perhaps not all that far....I met my first almost out of the closet gay person.  At the time, he was US Marine.  Even better yet, he was a squared away Marine.  His room was always clean.  His uniform was spotless.  His grades in various aviation electronics schools were great.

He was a poster perfect United States Marine.

Did I mention that he was a Golden Gloves champion in the city he called home?

And he was beginning to realize that he might be gay.  At the time, I don't think he had even gone further than to just hang out with a small group of gay civilians.  His mistake at the time was to admit that he thought he might be gay to one of the Navy doctors.

In a matter of less than a week, he was gone.  All the work he had put into qualifying to repair aviation electronics was wasted.  Three months in boot camp was wasted.  He was just gone.

It wasn't too many years later that I began to notice that gay servicemembers were winning all sorts of awards.  The one that comes to mind the most was the guy that was Sailor of the Year.....for the entire Atlantic command of the Navy.

Add to that the fact that other countries permit gays to serve openly without having their military services completely fall apart.  Countries like: Argentina,  Australia,  Austria, Belgium, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland.....

Now hold it right there.  The Irish can manage to have gays serving honorably in their military and the U.S. can't???  Sheesh.

...Ireland, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Romania, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and Uruguay.

Robb Allen over at Sharp As A Marble served in the US Marines at about the same time that I did.  His response is one worth sharing.

In the Marine Corps, we knew there were gays with us. 99% of them were women and there was this one guy who everyone just assumed putted from the other side of the green. It creeped me out that he showered with us, but I got over that fast enough (I had a job to do and that was more important).

The people in the Corps today are generally not the same ones I served with. Today's Marine is more likely to not be as uptight about the gay cooties as I was. And as liberty minded as I am now, I see no reason to not allow gays to openly serve their country. Will it make some people uncomfortable? Sure. And my response is "Fuck 'em". I've learned that discomfort is not a valid reason to trample other people's rights.

I'm still not into the gay thing. It's not my particular bag of tea and I'm just as happy to not immerse myself in that culture. But I have no desire to eradicate that culture or to pass laws that makes people who are different than I am second class citizens. I won't join the Pink Pistols, but I'll be damned if I wouldn't stand side by side with a feather boa wearing drag queen to protect their rights.

It's time to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell.
 Past time, actually.

A Time For Intolerance

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Posted on : 2/11/2010 09:58:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , , ,

My 2.11....and [sigh] declining....readers might not have heard of the recent kerfuffle at Vanderbilt University.  It seems that Vanderbilt Adjunct Professor of Islam at the Divinity School and Muslim chaplain for Vanderbilt, Awadh Binhazim, recently gave his views regarding homosexuality and Islam.


What does the good professor have to say??
Question: Under Islamic law, if a homosexual person began to engage in homosexual relations on an ongoing and permanent way, with no intention of quitting, then the punishment under Islamic law would be death... unless, you know, he agreed to quit. As a practicing Muslim do you accept or reject this teaching of Islam?

Answer: ...I don't have a choice as a Muslim to accept or reject a teaching. I go with what Islam teaches.

...this is captured in other religions as well... so, the punishment is Islam is certain rules... probably a lot of time to explain it... you cannot prosecute someone just because you think they are homosexual. There has to be clear proof...


Question: Under Islamic law, is it punishable by death if you are a homosexual?

Answer: Yes.
You will note a fair number of ellipses in the above.  The reason is that the good professor attempts to weasel his way out of admitting his position that homosexuals can be appropriately punished by being put to death.

He tries to use the "but they do it too" defense by correctly pointing out that Jewish and Christian religious texts also condemn homosexuals to death.  He failed to note that the vast majority of Christians have either learned not to impose their faith on others, or how to ignore the literal translation of some portions of the Bible.

He tries to wriggle out of a tight spot by declaring that no country in the world is ruled exclusively by Islamic laws.  Apparently countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran [scroll down to see how Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ensures that his country remains  where the vast majority of their laws are derived from Islam don't qualify under the good professor's very narrow interpretation as being nations ruled by Islamic law.

This [picture and story from the Washington Post] is how Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ensures that his country remains 100% free from homosexuality.


 Out of 93 countries where homosexuality is a punishable offense, 7 punish homosexuals by putting them to death.  In each of those 7 countries, Islam is the dominant religion.

To be fair, one Christian dominated nation is currently considering putting HIV infected homosexuals to death; Uganda.

Why are Professor Binhazim's comments a concern?  Perhaps because they demonstrate a lack of tolerance for homosexuals.  Perhaps because they demonstrate his acceptance of religion being imposed on those that do not share his faith.

Perhaps because had he been some flavor of Christian, he would have been dismissed from the University, his comments publicly disavowed by students, faculty, alumni, and administration alike.  Tar and feathers would have been discussed.

Intolerance towards such savagery ought not to be considered a vice.  It is a timely virtue.

Derivatives On A National Scale

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Posted on : 2/11/2010 05:13:00 PM | By : Dann | In : ,

One of the unavoidable conclusions that we should draw from the fiscal meltdown of 2008 is that some people were making terribly unscrupulous decisions regarding the borrowing and lending of money.  I've been working on a longer post on the subject for a while, but for the moment consider the following.

One of the largest players in the credit default swap game was Goldman Sachs of New York.  They were busy telling their customers to invest in these derivatives while at the same time they were making investments....or more accurately making wagers....that those same derivative investments would fail.  When the house of cards finally fell, we had money that was leveraged as much as 15 to 1.

I read somewhere that one of the problems with the crash of 1929 and the subsequent depression was that money had been significantly leveraged.  I believe the ratio was...ummm.....15 to 1.  Erg.

With so much bad fiscal news, how can things get worse?

How about having Goldman Sachs create a credit swap for an entire country?  Greece, specifically.


Now, though, it looks like the Greek figure jugglers have been even more brazen than was previously thought. "Around 2002 in particular, various investment banks offered complex financial products with which governments could push part of their liabilities into the future," one insider recalled, adding that Mediterranean countries had snapped up such products.

Greece's debt managers agreed a huge deal with the savvy bankers of US investment bank Goldman Sachs at the start of 2002. The deal involved so-called cross-currency swaps in which government debt issued in dollars and yen was swapped for euro debt for a certain period -- to be exchanged back into the original currencies at a later date.


Such transactions are part of normal government refinancing. Europe's governments obtain funds from investors around the world by issuing bonds in yen, dollar or Swiss francs. But they need euros to pay their daily bills. Years later the bonds are repaid in the original foreign denominations.

But in the Greek case the US bankers devised a special kind of swap with fictional exchange rates. That enabled Greece to receive a far higher sum than the actual euro market value of 10 billion dollars or yen. In that way Goldman Sachs secretly arranged additional credit of up to $1 billion for the Greeks.

This credit disguised as a swap didn't show up in the Greek debt statistics. Eurostat's reporting rules don't comprehensively record transactions involving financial derivatives. "The Maastricht rules can be circumvented quite legally through swaps," says a German derivatives dealer.
 I am not given to reflexively calling for tar and feathers for businessmen, but in this case I may be willing to make an exception.

Thomas Jefferson On Good Government

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Posted on : 2/11/2010 07:21:00 AM | By : Dann | In : ,

An interesting read.

Of course, my favorite remains:

"With all [our] blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow citizens--a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities." --Thomas Jefferson: 1st Inaugural, 1801.

Party Time

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Posted on : 2/10/2010 08:54:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , ,

Andrew Breitbart has an opinion piece over at his Big Government site where he attempts to explain the underpinnings of the Tea Party movement.  It is worth a read.

Summing up his thoughts:


THE TEA PARTY MOVEMENT WANTS AMERICA TO RETURN TO CONSTITUTIONAL PRINCIPLES.


I would add to that......rough language ahead.....

       
  • Leave me the fuck alone.


And also.....paraphrasing here....

       
  • People don't like to be meddled with. The government tells us what to do, what to think, don't run, don't walk. They are in our homes and in our heads and they haven't the right. They're meddlesome.


More on the original text here.

I can hear the rejoinders already.  "That means that you want to do away with the EPA!  You want children and old people to die in the streets!  You want dirty drinking water!"

Um, no.

What I want is clean government.  That means no earmarks.  That means no holding the government hostage until you get a DoD airplane contract for your district.  That means government employees that can account for every dime in their agency's budget.  I am unwilling to accept the status quo on these issues.  I want Congresscritters that fight corruption rather than inviting it regardless of party affiliations.

What I want is Constitutional government.  There are some areas of our life that should be beyond the reach of our imperial federal government.  Education funding and regulation comes quickly to mind.  Perhaps the English language has changed over the last 230+ years, but I can't find the authority to fund and regulate education anywhere in the U.S. Constitution!  Nor can I locate an Amendment that grants that authority!  It must be that the feds are being meddlesome without our permission!

That whole consent of the governed thing is pretty important.

What I want is a government that is on a budget; a balanced budget.  The "Tea" in "Tea Party" stands for Taxed Enough Already.  Ain't it the truth, brother.

If Congress or the President feels the need to create a new program, then fine.  Which existing program are they prepared to cut?  How many federal employees are they going to layoff to pay for their new hair brained scheme?  Are they ready to strong arm the unions representing federal employees to get wage and benefit concessions?

They take too much of my hard earned income as it is.  They have repeatedly demonstrated that they lack the capacity to spend that money wisely.  The only rational solution is to cut the amount of money they have to spend until they can account for how it is spent, the activities they fund prudently accomplish their stated objectives, and those same activities promote the cause of individual liberty.

I am Taxed Enough Already.  They have taken more than I can afford to spend.  The piggy bank has been emptied.  As has been happening in the private sector forever, it is time for our government and our government employees to be down-sized, "right-sized", "bright-sized" and potentially even "capsized" along with the rest of us.

Our government representatives and employees in my local township get it.  We still get the services we need.

Our government representatives and employees in my local school district get it.  We still get the education we need.

Our government representatives and employees in my local county get it.  We still get the services we need.

Our government representatives and employees in Michigan state capitol get it.  We still get the services we need.  "Need".....not "want".  There is a difference.

It's time for our government representatives and employees in Washington D.C. to get it.  Permanently.

Pick One......A Request for Congressional Consistency

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Posted on : 2/10/2010 06:00:00 PM | By : Dann | In : ,

As is often the case, I see indefensible behaviors in Washington D.C. that are being excused or outright ignored by our friends on the left and their fellow travelers in the major media.  I have no doubt that our friends on the left and their fellow travelers in the major media felt the same way during the previous administration.

In this particular case, we have a Justice Department that is refusing to prosecute a couple members of the New Black Panther party for acts of voter intimidation on election day in 2008.  The....gentlemen.....in question are black.  They were directly outside of a polling place brandishing weapons and threatening voters that didn't agree with their point of view.

Were these.....gentlemen....white, I have no doubt that the trial would have already been completed and they would be behind bars; where they belong.

Were this a Republican administration working with a Republican Congress, I have no doubt that the wailing from the left and their fellow travelers in the major media would be sufficient to drown out Bourbon Street in New Orleans after the Saints won the Super Bowl.

But this ain't that.

Now we have the news that the Inspector General for the Justice Department has ruled that his office lacks the authority to investigate whether the decision not to prosecute was politically motivated.  John Conyers D-Michigan [regrettably] has decided to roll over an accept the decision by the office of the Inspector General and not conduct a Congressional investigation into the matter.

It was only two short years ago that Mr. Conyers had a different perspective on Congressional investigations of the administration.


"The Committee clearly has authority under the Constitution to investigate and expose possible violations of law and abuses of executive power," Mr. Conyers wrote in a 22-page memorandum less than two years ago. "The Committee also needs more complete information on the issue of the politicization of the Department of Justice." Even more to the point, the Detroit congressman wrote: "The proper course is to recognize claims of privilege only when properly asserted in response to specific questions during a particular hearing. The courts have stated that a personal assertion of Executive Privilege by the President is legally required for the privilege claim to be valid."

 
  I am unfortunately certain that the day will come when Mr. Conyers will be full of indignation over Presidential assertions of executive privilege.  The President will be a Republican.  And his indignation may well be justified.
 
His lack of current resolve only serves to undermine his position in the future when the tables have....again...been turned.

h/t to the Blogfather

Can Monopolies Be A 'Good' Thing?

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Posted on : 2/10/2010 12:08:00 PM | By : Dann | In : ,

Perhaps.

Megan McArdle notes that whenever a company has a monopoly that is not enshrined in the law, that there are limits to the amount of abuse a company can heap on consumers before it becomes attractive to do business with competitors.

By now, I'm assuming that most of you know the rough outlines of last week's dispute between Amazon and Macmillan.  The shorter version is that once the iPad was introduced, Macmillan used its new leverage to demand that Amazon let the publisher raise the prices of eBooks in order to protect sales of its front list hardcovers.  After a weak attempt at retaliating, Amazon folded.

The longer version you should get from our excellent Atlantic Business piece by Virginia Postrel.

So as soon as competition was introduced into the eBook market . . . prices to consumers go up?  This sounds like an odd outcome.  Isn't competition supposed to make prices go down?

Not necessarily.  Actually, if you're among the majority of Americans who view the Sherman Anti-Trust Act as one of the finest legislative achievements in our history, you'll be surprised to find that the evidence that breaking up monopolies helps consumers is actually kind of weak.  Monopolists often operate in markets where there are great returns to scale, and they keep competition out by offering prices too low for a smaller new entrant to compete.  After the breakup of Standard Oil, probably the Sherman Act's most famous scalp, prices for key petroleum distillates actually rose.
 Something to keep in mind.

Civility

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Posted on : 2/10/2010 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In :

Megan McArdle recently made her quarterly plea for civility among those that comment on her blog.  Fortunately....I think.....I don't have nearly the same scale of problems as almost every comment I have ever received has been polite.

As Megan suggests, disagreeing with someone does not automagically mean

My opponent is a selfish jerk who wants to bring as many people as possible under the dominion of his iron fist.  Also, he is stupid, has poor taste in clothes, and vivisects puppies in his spare time.
Quite right.  I think that many of the observations in that post apply equally well to other forms of communication on the Internet and well beyond it. 

Megan McArdle - The Blogs Will Roll

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Posted on : 2/10/2010 04:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , ,

I'd like to officially welcome Megan McArdle to my modest Blogroll.

Megan is a generally libertarian...as opposed to Libertarian...minded economist that writes for The Atlantic; a monthly magazine and daily website.

I find her positions to be generally well reasoned, well informed, and presented in an open minded fashion.....even when I disagree with her conclusions.

As an example, she is opposed to the current Congressional proposals as she believes that they will not deliver the advertised cost savings without cutting into either quality or access of health care.  At the same time, she has said that if any of the current proposals does become law and prove to cut costs and increase access without harming quality, then she would be very happy to admit she is wrong.

A position not terribly different from my own.

A second example would be her acceptance of the IPCC conclusions regarding global warming; that it is happening, that human activity is a prime motivator of such change, and that the scale of change calls for significant action.  She dismisses concerns over the "Climategate" emails as being not significant enough to change the basic conclusion.

Megan's head is crammed up her backside with respect to this particular issue, in the opinion of your most humble host.

In any case, I thoroughly enjoy reading Megan's blog and hope that you will as well.

Fearing Big Government

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Posted on : 2/09/2010 09:47:00 PM | By : Dann | In :

Victor David Hanson has posted an interesting essay called "Why We Fear Big Government".  I wouldn't call it a definitive essay on the subject, but it is a good start.

I should point out that his essay isn't titled "Why We Fear Government."  I have had some modest success influencing my local government.  None of the issues were very big and my positions  were generally considered to be "common sense" rather than the more ideological libertarian bent that I express here.

I find that the further removed that a government body is from the local population, the less the local population is able to affect the performance of that government body.  Another version of that perspective is that the more people an elected official represents, the less he or she listens to the people they represent.  For examples please refer to Congress, United States; Senate and House inclusive.

Update:

Here's  another criticism of big government that works just as well....

How 'Bout Dat Stimulus Pussy?

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Posted on : 2/09/2010 08:58:00 AM | By : Dann | In :

There's a brief animated GIF over at Stacy McCain's place that should be of interest to cat lovers.

Read or ignore the commentary as you will.