Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Phooey on Huntsman's Blue Ribbon Advisory Council

As more and more evidence comes out that man has very little to do with the established fact of Global Warming, damage controllers have set into high gear. Including a certain Utah governor's Blue Ribbon Advisory Council on Climate Change.


It was a Blue Ribbon panel. It is thus infallible. It had all of the experts. None of whom had any conflicts of interest or anything to gain. Right?

You'd like to think that, wouldn't you!

The Deseret News reported

A state blue ribbon task force on climate change stated emphatically Monday that humans are to blame for global warming and offered a slate of recommendations on ways Utah can fight the changes.

Disclaimer for infrequent readers of Simple Utah Mormon Politics: I believe that the earth is warming. I believe that we should look for ways to reduce emissions and clean up our environment. I do not, however, believe that we should do so under duress from people who are benefiting from government subsidy to say so, and would continue to benefit by greater government control when it is not warranted. Now, on with our story...

DesNews, itself an infallible source of truth, had this to say as well:

Recommendations are divided into high priority and medium priority items to combat global warming, which a consensus of scientists blames on greenhouse gas emissions. (Emphasis added.)

Horse feathers! I hope he didn't get that from the governor's august council.

Maybe I'm chastizing the Blue Ribbon Advisory Council (doesn't that sound nice? say it again with me: Blue Ribbon Advisory Council, Blue Ribbon Advi...) for the interpretations of a reporter. Here's how the...um...BRAC was quoted in the article:

"There is no longer any scientific doubt that the Earth's average surface temperature is increasing and that changes in ocean temperature, ice and snow cover, and sea level are consistent with this global warming," says the report.


Okay, so far I agree. Nothing wrong there. But then it said

"Based on extensive scientific research, there is very high confidence that human-generated increases in greenhouse gas concentrations are responsible for most of the global warming observed during the past 50 years."
Like with almost as high a degree of confidence that the weatherman thinks it's going to rain tomorrow?

Okay, so it was a little less confident than the first paragraph. It's interesting that the man-made global warming forecast has been downgraded to"Very high confidence" and "most". (Or has it always been that way?) Maybe the BRAC is not as confident that "humans are to blame" as the DesNews reporter.

Were you wondering who was on the Council? Here's a list. I'll be darned. It's completely devoid of any axe grinders! Just kidding.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Michael Medved is Actually Nice to Ron Paul

After what Michael Medved has said about Ron Paul in the past, I was rather surprised at how courteous he was to Mr. Paul in their interview on Michael's show yesterday.


I really like to listen to Michael Medved on the radio...except for when he disses candidates that he thinks cannot possibly win an election, when he denigrates people who think that the North American Union is proceeding apace, and when he belittles people as losers who want to belong to a political party other than the two major political parties in America.

Here's what he's said about Ron Paul (and Tom Tancredo, the only Republican candidate for President who hasn't been on the Medved Show yet) recently:

Two other also-rans in the Iowa Straw Poll, Tom Tancredo and Ron Paul, will no doubt continue their campaigns regardless of their non-existent chances of future success. Both men seek to publicize issues about which they’re passionate: a hard line on immigration for Mr. Tancredo, and an isolationist foreign policy for Mr. Paul. Their continued campaigning can actually provide a public service: demonstrating that their angry, alienated (and alienating) fringe perspectives draw scant support within the Republican Party.


Imagine how surprised I was when he was actually courteous to Ron Paul yesterday on his show, who used to be a Libertarian, who Medved thinks can't possibly become President, and who knows the North American Union is moving forward.

By the way, Ron Paul is not an "also-ran". He is, rather, a completely new breath of fresh air, who has stimulated the grass roots of politics like no other since perhaps Ronald Reagan. He is, rather, a person who lets you know exactly where he stands (yet he refuses to get into the name-calling and denigration game) and how and why he has had these particular stands for quite some time, unlike some other candidates in the presidential race among both major parties.

Neither is Ron Paul an "isolationist". He is, rather, a voice of clarity that America's foreign policy for the last few decades has been a conundrum of "pragmatic" inconsistencies. A clear reading of American history brings to light that America would have experienced far fewer problems--and would have identified far fewer bogeymen as stones on which to grind the axe of burgeoning establishmentarianism--if we had promulgated democracy and liberty by example rather than by force.

The only point which became a sticking one during Ron Paul's amiable conversation with Michael Medved--the Security and Prosperity Partnership or the North American Union. Mr. Medved exasperatedly asked Congressman Paul which members of Congress were talking about the SPP. That's not the question to be asking. The question to be asking is, why is the SPP proceeding, and Congress isn't saying anything about it?

Other than that, they discussed:

  • Congressman Paul's plans if he doesn't win the Republican nomination: He will concentrate on being re-elected to Congress.
  • Who he's inspired by: He listed Jim Grant, an economist, as a possible Secretary of Treasury.
  • Medved's respect for Mr. Paul, who, as an obstetrician, has consistently declined to perform abortions.
  • That Medved, Paul, and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee all agree that the Second Amendment had nothing to do with hunting, and everything to do with freedom and withstanding tyrannical government.
  • Mr. Paul's explanation that current laws granting monetary favors to the rich, and which transfer wealth from the middle class to the super rich, are not capitalism, but interventionism. Central economic planning is a failure, as evidenced by the inertia in the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina.


Monday, August 27, 2007

If Gonzalez Said That, He Shouldn't Have Been Given An Opportunity to Resign

US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales resigned today. But he'll still be around for another month. After what I've just found out, I'm not sure why he wasn't fired about 3 years ago. Interestingly, Orrin Hatch disagrees with me. It's time to can Senator Hatch as well.


I picked up a copy of the book Our Endangered Values by former US President Jimmy Carter some time ago, and have been reading it here at work whenever I get a free moment. It is an interesting coincidence that I read the following statements just today, on page 127 of his book, just minutes after hearing on the radio the news that US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales resigned effective September 17th.

The first quote by President Carter was a statement by the Department of Defense about torture, which I also found on the internet:

the president has the authority, as commander in chief, to approve almost any physical or psychological error actually doing interrogation up to and including torture.

Admittedly, at that time John Ashcroft was Attorney General, but soon thereafter Gonzales came on board in that post. And Gonzales was already around the Bush Administration at that point--as White House counsel. And he didn't say anything about it. That's wrong. That's bad.

Continuing on page 127, President Carter quotes Attorney General Gonzales, (which I also found on the internet):

In my judgment, this new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions.

He also said

"As you have said, the war against terrorism is a new kind of war," Gonzales wrote to Bush. "The nature of the new war places a high premium on other factors, such as the ability to quickly obtain information from captured terrorists and their sponsors in order to avoid further atrocities against American civilians."

In light of the Department of Defense memo, such a statement by Gonzales is unconscionable. But the worst part is it's not even accurate. If George Bush was doing his stinking job by reinforcing our coasts and borders, we wouldn't even be talking about this problem. Apparently, the Bush Administration relishes the bogeyman of "further atrocities" so much that secure borders would thwart his world-view--the necessity of (a) a Security and Prosperity Partnership and (b) America as the military colossus of the world.

Yet despite all this, Gonzales was essentially given an opportunity to resign, rather than being fired on the spot. Obviously, he wasn't fired, because his boss agreed with and was seeking just such a statement of endorsement. Maybe his boss should be fired.

What does it signify, when Orrin Hatch expresses support and appreciation for a job well done on the day of Gonzales' resignation?

"I hope that history will remember Attorney General Gonzales for his honorable service to his country, rather than for the absurd political theater to which some critics have subjected him," Hatch said in a statement. "He has overseen the Department of Justice's efforts to protect children from Internet predators, to combat human trafficking, and to prevent the spread of meth in our communities."

It signifies that Orrin Hatch needs to be fired, too. Remember that in the next election.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Daily Show, The Bill Maher Show, and The Colbert Report Like Ron Paul

I've been offended by Bill Maher several times before, but it was likely because of my misinterpretation of his intense hatred of George W. Bush. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert usually make mincemeat of their guests. But in three recent cases, I was surprised at how much these political satire hosts enjoyed their conversations with Ron Paul, and how well he held his own. I guess maybe Jon, Bill, Stephen, Ron, and I have something in common--we don't much care for the establishment. That's why Ron Paul makes such a great presidential candidate.


Ron Paul was recently a guest of The Colbert Report.

Here are some of the highlights of the conversation he had with Stephen Colbert.

"I'd rather be free and alive, and you can be." He said that Republicans deserved to lose the last election, because they did not follow the Constituion. "I ran
away from the President, and I won." "All these wars [on terrorism, drugs, and poverty] are just to scare the people into giving up their liberties." See the interview below.



Bill Maher announced recently on his show that "Ron Paul is My New Hero!"

The host asked Representative Paul, "If America was a smarter country, wouldn't you be leading in the polls?" Ron Paul said, among other things, that "We should spread [liberty and democracy] with a good example[, not by force]."



The Daily Show with Jon Stewart


On The Daily Show, host Jon Stewart said of and to Ron Paul "Consistent, principled, integrity. Americans don't usually go for that." One of Representative Paul's most enlightening statements of the interview was "Militarism is the opposite of defense," meaning that the Constitution allows the country to defend itself, but that's not what we've been doing for the last several years.




Televangelist Ousted: Mitt Romney is Satan. Muhammad a Murdering Pedophile

People have the right to say stupid things, but they don't have the right to use other people's forums to say it. The Council on American Islamic Relations claims success for getting televangelist Bill Keller off the air, but it was just good business sense, really. Bill Keller has assiduously exercised his right to be un-Christian, making a fool of himself in the process.


A "1,400-year-old lie from the pits of hell"? A "murdering pedophile"? This could probably be said about some Christian televangelists, but not about Muhammad, the prophet of Islam. Yet these were claims made recently on a no-longer-extant Christian(?) ministry show. He also said that "if you vote for Mitt Romney, you are voting for Satan."

Rosie O'Donnell wasn't anywhere close to right in claiming that fundamentalist Christianity is as bad as fundamentalist Islam, unless you count Bill Keller, from the fabulously successful "Live Prayer with Bill Keller". I made up the "fabulously successful" part.

Since launching his Live Prayer Internet ministry in 1999, Keller has also upset Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses and Scientologists by calling them false religions and cults, the Times said.

Keller claimed that
"Ultimately, it was pressure by CAIR that intimidated these people into taking me off the air," Keller told the newspaper. "It was not mutually agreeable. They told me they were taking me off the air, period."

No, your show just sucked, sir, said the TV station.
That [CAIR had anything to do with the cancellation] was disputed by WTOG Station Manager Laura Caruso, who said the decision was a programming one, made mutually.
Keller, 49, was told by station officials his contract originally due to end in December would be canceled as of Sept. 11.

I can't imagine too many people were watching his numbskull show in the first place.

Friday, August 24, 2007

A Glimpse Into The Bizarre Life of George Soros

George Soros is a Jew who betrayed Jews to the Holocaust while stealing their property. He is a prominent funding source behind MediaMatters.org. He made a boatload of money at the expense of the former Soviet Union. He helped fund the organization of the Hispanic protests of Spring 2006. He first suggested, in what would become a significant part of HillaryCare, that the US couldn't afford to provide proper health care to the elderly.


I always thought that George Soros was a shady character. After further research, I now know several reasons why.
Hastening Fellow Jews to the Gas Chambers

This one issue, and how he feels about it, tells you just about everything you need to know about how George Soros came to be the filthy person he is today. As a young Jew, Soros felt no guilt by helping the Nazis find and inter other Jews in concentration camps. And he participated in stealing their property. On Adam Smith's Money World on April 5th, 1993, he admitted that went with an official of the Hungarian ministry of agriculture and took over large estates of Jews who they helped send of to the concentration camps. Then, he interviewed with 60 Minutes, in which he admitted that it was actually kind of fun.

He was 14 when the Nazis entered Budapest. On December 20, 1998, there appeared this exchange between Soros and Steve Kroft on "60 Minutes":

Kroft: "You're a Hungarian Jew ..."
Soros: "Mm-hmm."

Kroft: "... who escaped the Holocaust ..."

Soros: "Mm-hmm."

Kroft: "... by posing as a Christian."

Soros: "Right."

Kroft: "And you watched lots of people get shipped off to the death camps."
Soros: "Right. I was 14 years old. And I would say that that's when my character was made."

Kroft: "In what way?"

Soros: "That one should think ahead. One should understand that--and anticipate events and when, when one is threatened. It was a tremendous threat of evil. I mean, it was a-- a very personal threat of evil."

Kroft: "My understanding is that you went ... went out, in fact, and helped in the confiscation of property from the Jews."

Soros: "Yes, that's right. Yes."

Kroft: "I mean, that's--that sounds like an experience that would send lots of people to the psychiatric couch for many, many years. Was it difficult?"

Soros: "Not, not at all. Not at all. Maybe as a child you don't ... you don't see the connection. But it was--it created no--no problem at all."

Kroft: "No feeling of guilt?"

Soros: "No."

Kroft: "For example, that, 'I'm Jewish, and here I am, watching these people go. I could just as easily be these, I should be there.' None of that?"

Soros: "Well, of course, ... I could be on the other side or I could be the one from whom the thing is being taken away. But there was no sense that I shouldn't be there, because that was--well, actually, in a funny way, it's just like in the markets--that is I weren't there--of course, I wasn't doing it, but somebody else would--would--would be taking it away anyhow. And it was the--whether I was there or not, I was only a spectator, the property was being taken away. So the--I had no role in taking away that property. So I had no sense of guilt."
It must make it a lot easier for him to steal people's money today--without a sense of guilt.

MediaMatters, but Only if it is Socialist.

The claim that MediaMatters.org is funded by Soros comes up fairly regularly. The most recently denial of Soros funding came last April:
In fact, Media Matters has never received funding from progressive philanthropist George Soros.

Okay. Technically that's true. If I hand several million dollars in your direction, but there is someone between us to whom I hand the money, and then that person hands the money to you, then in all hair-splitting technicality I didn't give the money to you.

Let's be a little preciser then. Soros gave the money to some of the organizations that he funds, and they gave it to Media Matters. Does that clear it up?

Well, Yeah I Guess I Did Steal From the Russians

Soros became a close friend of the Clintons during Bill Clintons presidency. Strangely, he was sent as part of an envoy who worked with the Soviets during their transition to a free market economy. During that time, billions of dollars vanished, and with it the ability of the Russian people to make a clean and successful break with Communism. Soros and other "consultants" of the Clinton Administration made out like bandits. David Ignatius of the Washington Post had this to say of that particular time in history:

What makes the Russian case so sad is that the Clinton administration may have squandered one of the most precious assets imaginable -- which is the idealism and goodwill of the Russian people as they emerged from 70 years of Communist rule. The Russia debacle may haunt us for generations.
George Soros was right in the middle of it. When pressed by the House Banking and Financial Services Committee in 1998, he admitted that he had stolen large sums of money through his influence with the Russian oligarchs.

Funding the 'Spontaneous' Hispanic Protests

David Horowitz and Richard Poe, in their book The Shadow Party list eight different groups which organized the 'spontaneous' Spring 2006 Hispanic protests throughout the United States, all of which received funding from Soros to do so. These organizations orchestrated rallies, provided transportation, and encouraged school administrations to look the other way as school children skipped school to take part in the protests.

Palliative Health Care for the Dying We receive help on this issue from Media Matters itself. Quoting Soros (by letting stand a quote from Richard Poe), Media Matters states:

Can we afford to care for the dying properly? ... [But] [a]ggressive, life-prolonging interventions, which may at times go against the patient's wishes, are much more expensive than proper care for the dying. This brings me to that hotly debated subject, physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia,' he continued in the next sentence.

Then, (somehow) in defense of Soros, Media Matters concludes:

Why didn't Poe tell us what Soros actually said about "that hotly debated subject"? Because, while Soros indicated that he personally thinks physician-assisted suicide should be legal, he explicitly said PDIA does not take that position.

If that's a defense of Soros, I'd hate to see Media Matters turn against him.

Incidentally, HillaryCare, which is attempted to come out of its grave, uses many of Soros' heath care ideas, which is why it was so unpopular in the first place. Hillary pushed the McCain Feingold Campaign finance reform bill, which made it much easier for Soros to fund such organizations as MoveOn.org.

When it comes to economics, George Soros appears to be a King Midas. But he's a thief without a conscience. I'd hate to be him, though. Everyone's conscience catches up with them sometime.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Sorry, You Can't Bring That Koran on the Plane With You!

Imagine how many people would scream bloody murder if a stewardess told someone that they couldn't bring their Koran on the airplane with them, because they were going to a country that prohibited Korans. Well, as far as I know there is no such country. But there is at least one country that won't let you bring a Bible.

I am currently reading the book entitled The Prince: The Secret Story of the World's Most Intriguing Royal, Prince Bandar bin Sultan. I suspected that it would be a whitewash of the issue, but I didn't really realize just how much.

The Jerusalem Post recently discovered a Saudi web site that spoke about items that could not be brought into the country:

"A number of items are not allowed to be brought into the kingdom due to religious reasons and local regulations," declares the Web site of Saudi Arabian Airlines, the country's national carrier.

After informing would-be visitors that items such as narcotics, firearms and pornography may not be transported into the country, the Web site adds: "Items and articles belonging to religions other than Islam are also prohibited. These may include Bibles, crucifixes, statues, carvings, items with religious symbols such as the Star of David, and others."
So they decided to do some investigating. They found that

An official at the Saudi Consulate in New York, who declined to give her name, told the Post that anyone bringing a Bible into the country or wearing a crucifix or Star of David around their neck would run into trouble with Saudi authorities.

"You are not allowed to bring that stuff into the kingdom," the consular official said. "If you do, they will take it away," she warned, adding, "If it is really important to you, then you can try to bring it and just see what happens, but I don't recommend that you do so."


I did a search on both the Google and Yahoo news services. The story was reported twice: by the Jerusalem Post and by The Christian Post.

People are nearly apoplectic that George W. Bush is attempting to sell weaponry to Saudi Arabia. What they unfortunately aren't as angry about, and that is told about in The Prince, is that every president since at least Nixon has sold weaponry to Saudi Arabia.

Maybe that's why nobody in the American press cares that, although Muslims can bring their Korans to America (as they should be able to), Americans can't take their Bibles to Saudi Arabia.

A British airline recently did prohibit someone taking a Bible with them on a flight.

Monday, August 20, 2007

A Compromise to Combat the Utah Public School Teacher Shortage

It seems every year Utah has a more acute lack of teachers to teach in the public schools. The way to solve this problem is to compromise--pay the teachers more and reduce the increase in the public school population through the encouragement of education vouchers.


The public school year 2007-08 is upon us, and some children will start their classes with temporary teachers, because some districts don't have enough teachers. Here's what we need to do.

1. Raise Teacher Salaries

The only reason that Washington County has enough teachers is because it hired 80% of all applicants for open teaching positions. This is very likely an indicator that the quality of education in Washington County will suffer. Like I've said before, you get what you pay for so you should pay for what you want. The Deseret News article linked to above includes a graphic indicating that at about $26,500, Utah is 7th of 8 western states in teacher salaries. Only 15% of teachers come from outside Utah, while a clear indicator that a lot of Utah teachers are leaving Utah is that surrounding states have as many as 60% of their teachers coming from out of state.

Interestingly, the article notes that Granite School District, at least partially as a result of the increase in education funding by the legislature last year, will be able to begin their new teachers at about $30,000. I'm not sure if this is the state average, or if some other factor is at work here. One commenter to the Deseret News article posits an opinion why:

We have too much adminstrative expenses in our Public School System, or too many chiefs, with too much pay. Then you would have the funds to pay the teachers a decent wage.

2. Support Education Vouchers

And I'm suggesting everyone, not just the grossly over-zealous, New York-based Parents for Choice in Education! Everyone should support vouchers. Here's why. Deseret News reports

Utah's student enrollment is expected to grow from 540,000 to more than 680,000 students by 2014. At the same time, Utah will need 44,000 new teachers, according to a Utah Educator Supply and Demand study by Utah State University.

Yet fewer people want to become teachers. The number of new teachers graduating from Utah colleges and universities dropped 13 percent between 2003 and 2006, the Utah Foundation reports.

There is very little educational choice in Utah. When there is more choice, there is more competition. When there is more competition, there is more excellence. When there is more excellence, teacher salaries can't help but go up, in public as well as private schools. That's a good thing for everyone.

One way to reduce the steamrolling tide of 140,000 new school children is to diversify education in Utah. It's time for the public education system in Utah to ask for help. It can't possibly field 44,000 new teachers in the next 7 years all by itself. There is no shame in admitting this. Rather, there is actually a great deal of nobility in admitting that there are various good ways to "skin a cat", and various good ways to educate a child.

Summary

The legislature went a fair distance last year in encouraging teachers to stay in Utah by issuing a substantial pay increase. It appears by the statistics, however, that it wasn't quite enough. Wee'll get the kind of education for our children that we want by paying the right kind of prices. We're a lot closer, but we're still not there.

It would show a great volume of good faith if at the same time the Utah public education establishment were to encourage alternate and equally good forms of education in Utah. Working together we can ensure that all of our children receive a good education, and not just most of them.

So let's encourage our legislators this year to continue toward the goal of providing adequate compensation for public school teachers. And at the same time, let's all vote for education vouchers in November.

BC and AD or BCE and CE - Which Way is Better?

Twenty years ago, I hadn't ever read a book that referred to the divisions of years as anything other than BC and AD. Now it seems that every other book I read refers to them as CE and BCE. Which way should it be? Does it matter?


I'm not even sure where BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini - In the year of our Lord) came from, but that's what I was always used to when I read history books. Until recently, when some scholars began referring to those eras as BCE (Before the Common Era) and (CE) Common Era. It offended me in my provincial sort of way, even though regardless of what terms were used, the same frame of reference was in effect--the birth of Christ.

And then I was called to active duty military service in Iraq, where the predominant religion believes that Jesus Christ was nothing more than a great prophet, and that because Allah needed no one beside him that he did not beget a Son. My world view began to open a bit, to where that doesn't bother me anymore.

At least I thought it didn't, until I began reading Muhammad: Prophet of God, by Daniel Peterson, Latter-Day Saint author and professor at LDS-Church-owned BYU. At the outset he uses the terms BCE and CE. Upon reading that, I was momentarily taken aback. I thought, initially, that it was okay for non-Christians to use that terminology, but for a Mormon, let alone a Christian? But the more I thought about it, the more I came to respect Dr. Peterson for using the terms.

It's not any doctrine of my church that we must use BC and AD, so what's the big deal, I've decided. Although recently Christianity has taken the spot as the largest general religious preference in the world, about 80+ percent of the world is not Christian.
So I think it shows more respect to those other religions if we allow and even encourage the use of BCE and CE.

What is your opinion?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Arctic Ice Hits All-Time Low...We Think

The National Snow and Ice Data Center reported today that Arctic sea ice has reached its lowest point in recorded history! Hmmmmm. Just how long has that particular history been recorded? You'll be surprised. But then again, if you've already seen the movie The Little Man-Made Global Warming Boy Who Cried Wolf, maybe you won't be.

Update 8/19: KVNU's For the People provides additional insights about the same article.

September 2005 used to mark the year with the lowest Arctic sea ice ever recorded in the history of earth, and this year is now worse than that.

"Today is a historic day," said Mark Serreze, a senior research scientist at the center. "This is the least sea ice we've ever seen in the satellite record and we have another month left to go in the melt season this year."

Satellite measurements showed 2.02 million square miles of ice in the Arctic, falling below the Sept. 21, 2005, record minimum of 2.05 million square miles, the agency said.

This data has been recorded since near the beginning of earth's history--sort of. Well, the recording all started way back just after the end of the Mesozoic era...1970 to be exact.

Scientists began monitoring the extent of Arctic sea ice in the 1970s when satellite images became available.

Holy smokes! We're done for!!!

Here are some other of my observations:

  • The skies were unusually clear during June and July, and wind conditions were abnormally high. "It is very strong evidence that we are starting to see an effect of greenhouse warming," [Sereze] said. Okay, he's the expert.
  • The melt is not occurring with near as much rapidity on the Atlantic side. I suspect it's because of all the greenhouse outhouse gas coming out of Hollywood.
It's too bad they can't get NASA to look into it. They might give them a pointer about what the hottest year in United States recorded history is. Hint: it was a few years before 1970.

Update: 8/19 Craig Limesand of KVNU For the People writes more about it here. John comments on KVNU that:

Didn’t the article also say that the polar ice on the north atlantic side is at near normal levels?

Doesn’t it also state that this latest measurement is the new record low, beating the record two years ago? How is it possible that the ice situation improved in 2006? Maybe global warming took a vacation, or maybe it is the carbon credits. This is complete hype and getting to be a total joke.

Thankfully, the hysteria is starting to be exposed and there is a push toward some mature evaluation.

It's interesting to see the ratcheting up of franticness as the Man-Made Global Warming lobby starts to see that more and more of us are onto them and the gig is almost up.

America's Dirty Little Financial Secret

Our financial situation in the United States is very tenuous. We've been hearing a lot the past few days about the housing mortgage meltdown. But our largest problem is government fiscal irresponsibility--especially in the venue of health care.


I'm currently reading The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Health Care. The author, David Gratzer's assessment of US health care is not pretty. Health care costs eat up about 35% of many states' budgets. The federal government pays for 50 cents of every health dollar in the country, and influences most of the rest of it.

I watched a video clip from 60 Minutes last night, (hat tip to David J. Miller at Pursuit of Liberty), that's got me a bit more convinced that if America is to not fall off the precipice of solvency, we need to get government out of a lot of the business that it has insinuated itself in.

In the 60 Minutes video, Steve Kroft interviews the Comptroller General of the United States, David Walker. Here are some of my notes from his interview.

Our worst enemy is our fiscal irresponsibility--not al Qaeda. Elected officials don't seem to want to talk about it, so US Comptroller General David Walker is on the road, talking to the taxpayers. We can no longer afford massive entitlement programs, in part due to the baby boom. By 2040 at the current rate, govt would be able to pay for some entitlements and the interest on our national debt--not much else.

The largest problem is health care costs. Medicare problem 5 times greater than Social Security. Medical costs rising twice rate of inflation. The medicare program change in 2003 to include prescription drugs was "probably the most irresponsible piece of legislation since the 1960s." We already couldn't keep the financial promises we had previously made.

We spend 50% more for health care than any other nation. Largest uninsured population. Higher infant mortality. Higher medical error rates. Senior citizens never see the bills. The system is unsustainable.

It is a detriment to the competitiveness of American businesses.

The conservative Heritage Foundation, the liberal Brookings Institution, and the non-partisan Concord Coalition all agree with Walker's assessment.

I encourage you to watch the video. It may not have been 60 Minutes' intent, but I think when you watch it, you'll be convinced as well that we have way too much government.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Yikes! Hottest Year in History! Icebergs Melting!

When we rely on computer models and people who get paid to produce gloom scenarios, we get falsification of facts on such controversial issues as global warming. Maybe the globe is warming. But, the hottest year on record? Not 1998. Worry about icebergs melting? Try 1922, before the prediction that we would have a global ice age. What this proves is that we don't know as much as we think we do about global warming, now do we?

1998 not quite the hottest year on record.

Recently NASA published "statistics" that "proved" that 1998 was the hottest year on record in the United States. Dadgum that blogosphere! NASA was forced to wipe egg off its face as it admitted that its statistics were wrong.

Some of America's top scientists have admitted that the calculations they used to show an increase in the country's temperatures were flawed, after a campaign by an amateur meteorologist using his blog.

Climatologists at Nasa's Goddard Institute of Space Science in New York have been forced to revise their estimations after research from Stephen MacIntyre, who published his findings on his Climate Audit site.

As a result of his calculations, which he e-mailed to Nasa, scientists at the agency now accept that 1934, not 1998, was the warmest year in the United States since records began.

Drats! Foiled again.

Icebergs are melting and they're almost gone!

That was the headline from a recent newspaper article, if you consider nearly 100 years ago recent. Nancy Pelosi recently returned from Greenland all freaked out about melting glaciers, but she's not the first one to freak unduly.

D.C. resident John Lockwood was conducting research at the Library of Congress and came across an intriguing Page 2 headline in the Nov. 2, 1922 edition of The Washington Post: "Arctic Ocean Getting Warm; Seals Vanish and Icebergs Melt."

The 1922 article, obtained by Inside the Beltway, goes on to mention "great masses of ice have now been replaced by moraines of earth and stones," and "at many points well-known glaciers have entirely disappeared."

"This was one of several such articles I have found at the Library of Congress for the 1920s and 1930s," says Mr. Lockwood. "I had read of the just-released NASA estimates, that four of the 10 hottest years in the U.S. were actually in the 1930s, with 1934 the hottest of all."

Now that puts a wrench in the monkey works. Al Gore, can we get a ruling?


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A History of the Socialization of US Health Care

Government spends approximately 50 cents of every dollar that is expended for health care in the United States. It controls the spending of nearly all the rest of that dollar. This is why a comparison of US health care to other socialist health care systems is inapt. The US health care system is socialist. Here's how it happened.


so·cial·ism (sō'shə-lĭz'əm) Pronunciation Key
n.
  1. Any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy.
Near the beginning of World War II, the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration imposed wage and price controls. As a result, employers looked for other ways to compensate their employees. One of the ways was to provide health insurance benefits.

On October 26, 1943, the Internal Revenue Service, in ruling that this was a legal practice, stated that employees were not required to pay taxes on health benefits provided to them by their employers. Gradually thereafter, employers began to foot the hidden bill for health care costs, and this benefit came to be looked upon by employees as a right. But less gradually, the cost for an employer to insure an employee has accelerated until the average cost for an employee's annual health premium for themselves and their family members is over $10,000.

The main (perhaps unintended) result has been that government makes far too many decisions regarding American health care, resulting in costly diseconomies of scale. This is why your health insurance premiums go up by 10% or more year after year. This is part of the reason why that although you bring home more money than you did last year, you feel poorer.

The least-easy-to-see result of the IRS decision has been an effective penalty on the self-employed and the unemployed. Because while others can get the pre-tax benefit of health insurance, the self- and unemployed must pay the taxes as well. Partially as a result of this, nearly 50 million Americans are without health insurance, and, as employers are stretched further and further to pay for costs that their employees never see, more and more Americans will be priced out of the health insurance market.

Another unintended result has been that employees no longer control or care how most of their health care dollars are spent, because government and insurance companies are the ones that actually pay for treatments that run the gamut from orthodontia to open-heart surgery.
  • An extra night in the hospital for observation?--No problem.
  • Don't know how much that hip replacement surgery costs?--Who cares?
  • Don't really need that cosmetic surgery? Oh well, it's cheap--my health plan pays for it.
  • No anesthesia, because you don't need it? Well, just take it, because it doesn't save me any money not to.
For the actual consumers of health care, it's become like using someone else's credit card.

"Nobody spends somebody else's money as carefully as he spends his own," said Milton Friedman. This is the problem with United States health care. It's not that we should change to a system more resembling Canada's or Britain's or Sweden's (actually it does resemble theirs, and actually they're starting to see skyrocketing costs, and they're changing to become more privately oriented--i.e. less socialistic.) The problem with the rising cost of US health care is that we don't care how much our health care costs.

Government needs to provide a fair playing field for health insurance and health care, by providing for more flexible, incentivized health spending, such as Health Spending Accounts. Government does need to live up to its commitments to those who currently qualify for Medicare and Medicaid, just like it needs to live up to its Social Security commitment.

But other than that, government needs to get out of the way. When it does, health care will cost less for all of us.

Stay tuned for the solution...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Drug Terrorism: Another Reason for a Wall on the Border


We are a people of laws that are being overrun in large part by our country's disrespect for law. But it's even worse. Our national government's lethargy in protecting our borders is financing terrorism against the United States.

Updated August 15, 2007: US Immigration employees are found to be aiding terrorists.


It is a slap in the face to immigrants who came here legally to say that it shouldn't matter to us that hundreds of thousands of people are coming here illegally. Of course it should!

Domestic production of methamphetamine is down, but only because a much more potent variety is coming from across our southern border. The Federal Government has known about this since shortly after 9/11, but they don't seem to care about it. In fact, they seem bound and determined to continue on with their Strategic Partnership for Prosperity.

intelligence agents discovered that Middle Eastern gangs were having pseudoephedrine, an over-the-counter drug, shipped from China and smuggled into the U.S. from Canada, to Mexican drug syndicates for manufacturing methamphetamine.

These "large bulks" of pseudoephedrine were then sold to cartels and transported with the aid of the Muslim gangs to "super meth labs" in Mexico. The proceeds from those sales were then transferred to Middle Eastern terrorist organizations.


In her new book, Los Republicanos, author Leslie Sanchez reminds us that Hispanic immigrants are largely family-oriented, hard working, and law abiding. After coming to America, they most often identify as American rather than Hispanic-American or Mexican-American. They very commonly indicate their race as Caucasian, and they very often despise illegal immigration as much as Americans who have lived here for generations.

So the issue is not about immigration, as many in the media paint it. It is about illegal immigration. And now you know of another reason to put a stop to the illegal variety. It's about your safety. It's about your right to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. Along with the immigrants who come here legally.

Update (August 15, 2007): The Washington Times reports today that

A criminal investigations report says several U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services employees are accused of aiding Islamic extremists with identification fraud and of exploiting the visa system for personal gain.

I guess it's not just an issue about a wall, although that is critically important. Terrorists would rather it appear that they are in the United States legally than that they are not. It makes it so they don't have to hide. Abu Mousab al Zarqawi made a name for himself in al Qaeda by perfecting the art of fabricating phoney identification.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Ron Paul, Earmarks, and the Fox News Attack Dogs


I've just decided I'm voting for Ron Paul for president, even if I have to write him in. I've written about him here several times before, but the latest attack on him proves that the liberals and conservatives from the "establishment" are running more scared than ever. Ron Paul is gaining traction in the Presidential race, and so the attack dogs are out. And "conservative" ones at that!

Ron Paul reported recently that he requested about $400 million in pork spending in Congress for this year. He's the devil, right? He is the biggest hypocrite on the face of the earth right? Not so fast. I don't think so. Let's look at some facts surrounding the issue, not just the once that Fox News wants you to know.

Try a Google search with the words "Ron Paul 400 million earmarks" (without the quotes), and you will find an interesting phenonenon. Brit Hume from Fox News reported Congressman Paul's declaration, and then hundreds of bloggers picked up on that one story. They are incensed! They are outraged! They are...well, not so fast.


Have you ever been a member of congress? Can you imagine that you would never request money to be allocated for anything? I always thought I wouldn't request unconstitutional things, but I don't know.

An earmark may or may not be pork. In other words, it may be something that the constitution actually allows, and then again it may not be.

Here are some quick facts about EarmarkGate:

It's not all for shrimp! Holy cow, what a sound bite society we live in!

Everyone requests earmarks
. Except for apparently John McCain. You wouldn't be doing your job if you didn't request earmarks (i.e. helped determine what spending goes on in Congress, especially if you are in the House of Representatives.) I know my senators and congressman here in Utah are very proud of the earmarks they request, even though they are of the porkish variety.

Ron Paul is one of the few who has divulged his earmark requests. As of a couple weeks ago, very few members of congress had even responded to requests that they do so. Nearly a hundred have specifically said that they would not release that kind of information. And nearly 300 have not even responded to the requests. Barack Obama requested almost the same dollar amount in earmarks as Ron Paul, but nobody is dogpiling on him. Obama requested that money be allocated to ensure that Asian carp cannot enter the Great Lakes, while Ron Paul requested nurturing and protection of the US shrimp industry. Sounds pretty similar.

Here is a summary of Congressman Paul's earmarks. They include funding:

  • To allow the Food and Drug administration to do antibiotic testing of seafood
  • For research into Athsma
  • Several of which are for the Army Corps of Engineers to design for and protect various harbors, shorelines, ports, river deltas, ship channels, and bayous in the Galveston, Texas area
  • For cancer research
  • For $25,000 to fund a Children's Identification and Location Database
  • For the Texas maritime training program.
  • To fix bridges, state highways, and interstate freeways in Texas. Oh my gosh, you've got to be kidding me! ;-)
  • For the Matagorda Episcopal Health Outreach Program. Here's what that is... (Be careful, you might be offended...not.)
  • For Vanadium Safety Readiness
  • For the Nursing Education Doctoral Program, etc. at the University of Texas
  • Ah, here's the one we've all be hearing about--money to research shrimp fishing in the Gulf coast area. Wow, that's brazen!!! But it gets worse. The last one is...
  • Money for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to study Wild American Shrimp Marketing. Well, um, he should be impeached!!!
Many of these requests were made on behalf of the Texas government and the Texas Department of Transportation. Do you find anything on there that is particularly porkish? Not me really, except for maybe the trolley system in Galveston. If you'd like to see the entire list, click here.

Can you people please settle down a little bit? Is it worse for Ron Paul to have requested them than for anyone else? No. Especially that I can hardly find a page on here that is a pork-type earmark. And it turns out that the shrimp industry is largely in the public domain, and it makes sense to study it and protect it for the general welfare of America.

So Brit Hume of Fox News, would you like to apologize? I didn't think so. Because Ron Paul is not the establishment's man.

And they're scared crapless of him.


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Random Thoughts About Public Education in Utah

Here are some random thoughts I've been having about public education in Utah. Teachers don't make enough. Class sizes are about right. Public schools are least likely to be racially and ethnically diverse.


If we want a quality education product, we need to pay our teachers more.

A friend of mine works in a metal fabrication plant. When his bosses started trying to save money by reducing the wages they paid new employees, my friend warned them of the likely consequences. If you pay someone $8 per hour, you're going to get $8 per hour work. If you start them at $15, you're going to get a much higher quality product, because then you'll attract the people that are worth that much. Time proved my friend correct, as his company began to lose business due to shoddy workmanship.

It's the same with education. We have to have teachers, because we keep having children. So we might as well have good ones. The reason there is a shortage of good public school teachers in Utah is because we don't pay them enough. If they can make more in the private sector with their specialties, we can't expect them to stay in public education. Yes, they should be allowed to be "in it for them money". There is nothing wrong with getting paid a good day's pay for a good day's work. For those of you who aren't public educators, aren't you in your job for the money? At least a little bit?

Even though the Utah teacher/pupil ratio is higher than the national average, it's not that bad.

According to the State of Utah, the teacher/pupil ratio for the 2005-2006 school year was 22.1. (The national average was 16.) It could be better, but that's not as bad as it has been. Part of the reason I say this is that any increase in education money should be prioritized toward paying teachers higher salaries and attracting high quality educators. In that context, I think we can live with 22 students per teacher, at least for the short term.

Public schools are not prone to being diverse when compared to other schools. Vouchers tend to improve the amount of diversity in schools.

Utah public schools are similar to Latter-Day Saint wards--where you live generally determines where you go to school. Public charter schools and private schools, although they have their own set of problems, are not beset with this limitation. Regular public schools are, therefore, less likely to be racially and ethnically diverse when compared to other types of schools, as Utah Taxpayer illustrates. My saying that is not a swipe at public educators; rather, it's just a fact of life. Vouchers could only improve the likelihood of diversity as more families become able to choose where to send their children to school.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

American Health Care Would Be Better if It Weren't Already So Socialist

The next time you try to compare US health care with a socialist program from another country...stop. It doesn't make sense to compare socialist health plans with each other. Saying that government should take more control of American health care because it's bad is like saying that because McDonald's french fries are bad for you, we should add more grease to them.


I listened to a fascinating presentation by Dr. David Gratzer, who is licensed to practice medicine in both the US and Canada. He thinks it is a mistake for the United States to get sucked into thinking that the Canadian health care system works better than the US's, especially when Canada is returning to privatization in many instances. So are some European countries. The grass really isn't as green on that side of the fence as it may first appear.

To listen to Dr. Gratzer's insights, click here. The presentation is about 65 minutes long, but if you download the file and use Windows Media Player at 2-times normal speed, it's only 32.5 minutes! At either speed it's well worth listening to.

Here are some of the insights from his talk:

  • American health care is terribly expensive because is terribly cheap. Because Americans are overinsured. (I wrote a post about this a while back.)
  • The US government currently pays for at least 50% of Americans' health care. That sounds kind of socialist to me. I'd say that's at least a 50-50 chance that the government is the problem. Dr. Gratzer agrees in his new book THE CURE: HOW CAPITALISM CAN SAVE AMERICAN HEALTH CARE.
  • Americans currently only pay about 14 cents out of pocket of every dollar that is spent on health care. That's not a recipe for efficient utilization of health services.
  • Our health care is pretty good if you think about it. It actually should cost a little more if we can cure diseases that 10, 20, or 50 years ago were sure tickets to an early death.
  • Of the 47 million Americans who don’t have health care, 1/3 make over $50k per year, and 1/3 qualify for Medicare. (And several of the rest are illegal aliens.)
  • Currently US spending on Health Care is 16% of GDP. Jan 1, 2013 is the projected date on which 4 trillion dollars, or 21% of GDP will be spending for health care in US. We are approaching a crisis.
  • The FDA could save Americans a great deal of money if it got back to simply determining whether a drug was safe, rather than also determining its efficacy (whether it works for its intended purpose).
  • Medicaid should be turned over to the states, where there can be much more innovation than at the Federal level. Some states may want to go with a government-single-payer system, but other states would have the option of fostering private competition.
  • Dr. Gratzer gives a different perspective on the 80/20 rule of health care--that 20% of the population generates 80% of the health care costs. That is true for any given point in time, he says, but in reality, the 80% population is not nearly a monolithic group of people. Instead, different groups of people in different years have complications with pregnancies, serious accidents, or need longer-term care.
I bought Dr. Gratzer's book last night off Amazon. It'll be here in a day or two. I'll let you know what other insights I find. But I already agree with his premise. Get rid of the socialistic portion of American health care, and we'll be a lot better off.

Letter to DesNews: We Don't Care Where the Crap Lindsay Lohan Is!

The Deseret News this morning told us that Lindsay Lohan might be somewhere in Utah. Oh my heck!!!

That is like so totally awesome!!!
Updated: 8-8-2007A gracious response from the Deseret News journalist.

What is it with so-called news sources that they have to slap putrescence on their pages and call it news? I must at least compliment the Deseret News for not having a non-news story about Lindsay Lohan rehabbing somewhere in Utah on their front page. (Of course if there hadn't been six miners missing in Huntington, Utah, Lohan may have been on the front page, huh?) I guess they were trying to keep up with the Salt Lake Tribune and the Daily Herald, who also think this story is news. BYU Newsnet didn't report it; the fetchers...

Not to mention that the DesNews article did not have a scintilla of original-source reporting in it, only citing such august sources as E Online, the Insider, and US Weekly. But I guess that helps them fill up space so they can get their paper out on time. And it's easy reporting!

I have a theory. We think so little of ourselves as a society that somehow we feel better about ourselves when we can identify with celebrity. Especially celebrity that has problems, because then we feel better about the problems we have. And we feel like it's okay to have more problems, so that we can be just like the Hollywood elite. The Trib, DesNews, and The Daily Herald are keyed into this, unfortunately.

I feel sorry for Lindsay Lohan, and I feel sorry for her father, who is very likely the bad example that she followed to get in the mess she is in. But what has she done for the world besides make a few good movies? And several bad ones? How is her life more newsworthy than yours?

But leave the poor girl alone. People magazine can invade her privacy just fine all by themselves, thank you very much! We don't want to know where she is. It is not a status symbol for our state if she is here. She's only person, just like anyone else.

Update 8-8-2007: I just received the following courteous response from the writer of the Deseret News article:

The Lohan article was an assignment, and I cannot tell you
why my editors felt it was important to write. I can only
speculate, as you have, that they are seeking to tailor news
content to the interests of the community.

An interesting fact: In 2006, the number one news search
on Google was "Paris Hilton," followed closely by "Orlando
Bloom." Sadly, "Hurricane Katrina" doesn't show up until
number five.
(http://www.google.com/intl/en/press/zeitgeist2006.html)

Why this is, I cannot say. Perhaps, as you said, "We think
so little of ourselves as a society that somehow we feel
better about ourselves when we can identify with celebrity."

I apologize for offending you. Thank you for your candid
comments.

Elizabeth []


This was my response:

Elizabeth,

I appreciate your writing me back. Despite what you were assigned to write about, let me say that I think you are an excellent writer.

I am not offended by you, because, as you say, your Lindsay Loah article was an assignment by the newspaper. I'd like to think that that's not something you would write about by choice, and that's the reasoning that compelled me to write to you in the first place. I hold the DesNews staff at fault. Several other newspapers around the state were able to constrain themselves from including this story in their pages.

Please pass on my comments to the DesNews staff, because no matter what people demand, Paris Hilton is not news (you're not the first journalist that I have contacted about such a subject) and neither is Lindsay Lohan.

Best of luck to you in your future journalistic endeavors.

Thanks again.

Frank Staheli


Monday, August 06, 2007

Gross! Liposuction Fluid is a Source of Adult Stem Cells. Cool!

Finally, you don't have to feel guilty for being overweight! In the past 18 months or so, it has been determined that your fat can be used as a source stem cells!



Alan Russell is the founding director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. Russell leads a biomedicine program that explores tissue engineering, stem cell research, biosurgery and artificial and biohybrid organs.

In a video recently posted on ted.com, he discuss several new forms of cell therapy. One of them is adult stem cell therapy. (As of this writing, there are still no known therapies using embryonic stem cells, and certain adult stem cells have been discovered that are as flexible--can generate any type of cell tissue--as embryonic stem cells are thought to be.)

Dr. Russell's presentation is about 19 and a half minutes.



At 13:35, you'll see how stem cells have been used from a patient to help heal that patient.

At 15:20, you'll see a discussion about how liposuction fluid has been found to be a source of adult stem cells. Ugh, gross! But cool!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Help! What Do State Legislators Know About the Utah State Math Curriculum?

The Deseret News reported today that some Utah legislators are up in arms about the new state secondary school mathematics curriculum that the State Board approved. I wish they would have given more details, but my first thought is that who would know more about what the curriculum should be--legislators, or educators. Does anyone know any more details?


The decision to change the curriculum was unanimous, so that ought to count for something. A good friend of mine is on the state board. I can't imagine he would have voted for something crappy.

The number of legislators said by DesNews to be bothered by the curriculum is three.

The impetus behind the concern was the apparent math fiasco in the Alpine School District, which generated a great deal of concern in many parents in that district.

In February 2006, Stephenson tasked a committee with studying the state's math core to correct problems he saw with the Alpine School District's controversial program, which allowed unconventional problem-solving methods to be used in deepening a student's understanding of math.

I glanced at about half the curriculum online today, and I couldn't see anything terribly wrong with it, but then again, it's been a year of Sundays since I had an Algebra or Trigonometry class.If there's a loophole of the kind that Alpine exploited, hopefully the parents will step in to get the problem corrected again. I wonder how recently the legislators have studied the subjects included in the state secondary math core? To be fair, I must also wonder the same thing about the State Board.

Admittedly, the curriculum discussion was controversial.

The committee, which included some of the nation's top mathematicians and math education professors, gave mixed reviews of Utah public school math, with some experts believing only a few changes were needed and others calling for a complete curriculum overhaul.

In November 2006, the Legislature's Public Education Interim Committee ordered creation of "world-class math standards," and a new committee went to work.

The mathematicians and math education professors on the committee were frequently at odds with each other over goals and developmentally appropriate methods for the Utah core.

I wonder if the three legislators attended the meetings where the curriculum was discussed?

A visited about it today with a friend who is on a local district school board. Some of my concerns come as a result of my discussion with him. It's hard to know whether these legislators have a particular ax to grind about education, or whether they seriously know something that I (and the State School Board) don't.

Can anyone enlighten me?

Thursday, August 02, 2007

A Look at the Man-Made Global Warming Lobby

Yes, yes, I know that the earth is warming. And I've come to accept the reality of man-made global warming. But you'll be surprised why.


I heard on the radio this morning that July 2007 was the hottest July ever in Utah, with an average temperature of about 84 degrees. Of the 5 hottest Julys ever in Utah, one was in 1960, and all the others were in the 21st century (2007, 2005, 2003, 2002 or something like that). Yeah, but...did man do it?

One of the synonyms for "to make" is "to fabricate". One of the definitions of "fabricate" is "to fake or forge." So in this way there is man-made global warming. This is the way in which I believe that man is making global warming. There are a lot of people who are fabricating "evidence" and "consensus" when it comes to global warming. Global warming is occurring, but man is making it up that man is at fault.

No one disputes the fact that the globe is warming. They (we) just dispute what is causing it.

I know, I know. Some of the scientists who dispute man-made global warming have been paid by the oil lobby. But what is not often noticed is that the scientists who "believe in" man-made global warming are paid by the global warming lobby. And they get A LOT more money. John Stossel, in his book Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity puts it this way:

Twenty-five billion dollars in government funding has been spent since 1990 to research global warming. If scientists and researchers were coming out releasing reports that global warming has little to do with man, and most to do with just how the planet works, there wouldn't be as much money to study it.

That's about 1000 times more than the oil lobby has paid the man-made global warming skeptics.

Everyone has an opinion. Many people with opinions use lobbying to bring their points to the ascendancy in the debate. I hate most lobbying, because it's unethical. Never trust someone whose paycheck is determined by whether they believe or disbelieve the issue they are studying.

Most scientists are conflicted about global warming, because if they admitted that man didn't have much to do with it, they'd have to look for a new job.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

What Do Health Care, Credit Card Companies, and Bankruptcies Have in Common?


Credit card companies continue to bombard us with invitations to use their products, yet guess who was the impetus behind the most recent changes in US bankruptcy laws, which, by the way, make it much more difficult for those who need it most to declare bankruptcy?

It's been a while since I studied how banks make money, but I remember enough to know that if you say "out of thin air" you'd be close enough. Bankers and credit card company tycoons are some of the richest people in the world. Yet when it comes to bankruptcy law, guess who was behind making it much harder for the average Joe Blow to declare bankruptcy?

I've opined before that people get into bankruptcy because they buy too big of houses. It turns out that that's not nearly as big a factor as I thought.

Since at least 1997, bankers and credit card moguls have been pressing for a squeeze on the little guy, and in 2005 they were successful.

The 500-page legislation won final congressional approval last week after being pushed for eight years by banks and credit card companies...

It's common anymore for lobbyists to write the legislation they are advocating, and I wouldn't be surprised in the least if such a thing happened in this case. Meanwhile, it becomes harder and harder for the little guy to get by.

What's the greatest cause of bankruptcy? Inability to pay health care costs. Incidentally, two of the largest lobbies in the US Congress represent the pharmaceutical companies, who want to keep the way open to make money hand over fist, and the trial lawyers, who want to make sure that large legal settlements related to health care will still be de rigueur. No wonder health care is cheaper in socialist Canada. The corruption of Socialism works at least as good as corrupt capitalism. It appears that in this instance, it's working better. I don't advocate a single-payer socialist system like Canada has. What I recommend is cleaning the cockroaches out of America's cupboards.

By the way, the lawyers probably don't like Texas much anymore, which moved to limit malpractice settlements in court, the result of which is a mass migration of doctors to Texas. I hope Utah follows Texas' example.

In an interview with DemocracyNow.org, David Swanson of DebtSlavery.org noted the following:

The truth of the matter is that bankruptcies are up, because debt is up, dramatically. And in fact, in relation to debt, bankruptcy filings are down. And debt is up in large part because of the neglected health care crisis. A well-done academic study found that about half of bankruptcy filings are the result of medical costs. Another 40% are due to job loss, divorce, or a death in the family. Most of the others are due to natural disaster or call up to fight in Iraq or identity theft or victim of a crime.
The money changers claim that the legislation was for a different reason.

The financial services industry argued that bankruptcy frequently is the last refuge of gamblers, impulsive shoppers, divorced or separated fathers avoiding child support, and multimillionaires who buy mansions in states with liberal homestead exemptions to shelter assets from creditors.

“In recent years too many people have abused the bankruptcy laws,” Bush said. “They walked away from debts even when they had the ability to repay them.”

That doesn't appear, however, to be really true. Over 95% of people who declare bankruptcy don't do so for any of the reasons the money changers claim.

It's interesting that when some people grow rich, all they want to do is get richer. The money lenders did not need this legislation; their pockets are already sufficiently lined.

What is really needed is to fix the problems that cause so many people to go into debt, such as making health care affordable. It's time for Congress to kick the pharmaceutical and trial lawyer lobbyists out of their office and tell them to never come back. For those like Orrin Hatch, who have been re-elected in large part due to the deep pockets of these lobbyists, it's time for an elective replacement.