American Elephants

Why Socialized Medicine Goes Bust…Every Time! by The Elephant's Child

Socialized Healthcare

Both Democrat candidates are extolling their plans for “universal health care”, otherwise known as socialized medicine. Apparently many young voters have no idea what the term ‘socialized medicine’ means. Certainly the idea of freedom from worry over how to pay for health insurance is enticing.

The basic idea of all insurance is that a large group of insured will pay a modest amount to be protected from risk. If the pool of insured people is large enough, when disaster falls upon one person, the amount to be paid out takes only a small amount from each of the others. Disasters seldom fall upon many at the same time (you immediately thought of Katrina and 9/11, didn’t you?) if there is wide geographic dispersion among the insured.

The case of health insurance is somewhat different. Catastrophic insurance is much the same — auto accidents, strokes and cancer are all examples of the need for catastrophic coverage. Examples that involve long hospital stays and very large bills.

The problems arise with coverage for ordinary doctor’s visits. Medicine has become much more complicated than it used to be. I don’t suppose that my parents saw a doctor more than a couple of dozen times in their lives, and my mother was a doctor’s daughter. Now with patent medicines touted for everything from sore feet to weight loss on radio commercials daily, and ads for prescription and over-the-counter medicines in every magazine, we are far more conscious of every discomfort. The media covers every advance in medicine, and every lawsuit. Dramatic stories of dire medical situations are a popular genre for movies and paperback thrillers. It is hardly surprising that we are a nation of, at least modestly, hypochondriacs.

When treatment, or at least comforting attention, from a physician is available, free, the natural tendency is to seek that attention more often. Young mothers rush their children off to the doctor at the slightest sign of fever or cold, when if they had to pay for it they might wait to see if the kid was really sick, and even then might recognize that colds usually last about seven days or if it’s bad — a week.

Legislators who pass laws about what will be included in medical coverage, are easily seduced by lobbyists and friends who want their particular need covered. So basic health care gradually expands to cover acupuncturists, birth-control pills, homeopathic medicine, massage therapy, for example, and worst of all, mental health care. I say worst of all, because it is extremely difficult to separate the merely unhappy from the mentally ill. So you have a constantly expanding definition of medical care, and a constantly expanding population of people needing (or at least demanding) that care.

This is a recipe for disaster, and disaster is what has been the inevitable result. Of course it is all right for a while, but all too soon costs exceed the original plan. Please remember that “free” is a misnomer. It is not free — you will pay for every bit of care with your taxes. The government does not have any money of its own — it can only give you things by taking your money to pay for it. So the squee-eezing begins. Taxes go up, doctors’ reimbursement goes down, hospitals and nurses are paid less. Doctors are urged to squeeze more patients in, prescribe only generic medicines, cut down on expensive tests, and so on and so on. It is inevitable.

To understand what happens, visit any of the British newspapers : The Telegraph, The Guardian, The Times, The Independent, The Scotsman. They all have a search function. Enter National Health Service or NHS and read about the terrible problems the British face — dirty hospitals, superbugs that have killed hundreds, patients traveling to hospitals in other countries to avoid the NHS, and patients who die waiting to be treated.

Investors Business Daily reports that Quebec’s former health minister is admitting that “the system he helped create is not sustainable. It has, as Claude Castonguay has succinctly noted, reached a crisis point.” Castonguay is known as the father of the public health system that was copied by the rest of Canada. He recognizes that the element of freedom of choice which Canadians exercise in the rest of their lives is missing in the most important area of all — their health.

There are plenty of examples in the real world. Perhaps you remember the 15,000 elderly who died in French hospitals a few years ago. Or did you read about the problems Sweden is facing? I know, I know, this time it will be different.

The demagogues promise free health care, freedom from fear and freedom from financial worries. They lie.


Is Are College Kidz lerning Enything? by The Elephant's Child
February 28, 2008, 8:56 pm
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Education, Foreign Policy, History

College Students

American college seniors are deeply ignorant about America’s history, political thought, free market economy and foreign relations. Approximately 7,000 college seniors who took the American civic literacy exam received an “F”. The average score was 54.2%, consistent with last years average score of 53.2%. The average senior failed all four subjects, scoring under 60% in each one.

Harvard seniors scored highest, but their average of 69.6% was only a “D+”. At 18 colleges, the average senior scored less than 50%. Depressing.

Now here’s the scary part—you can take the test and see how well you can do:

Take the Test

Never fear. The results come back instantaneously and privately. No one will ever know.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Buckley by American Elephant
February 27, 2008, 2:00 pm
Filed under: History, News, Politics | Tags: , , ,

William F. Buckley Jr.

William F. Buckley Jr. 1925-2008

William F. Buckley Jr., author, columnist, founder of National Review, towering intellect, the primary architect of modern conservatism, and a national treasure has died, at his desk, at the age of 83.

Our thoughts go to his family, friends and many loved ones.

Fellow admirers would do well to read the many excellent tributes that are rapidly accumulating at National Review, and on their blog, The Corner. Fellow conservatives would do well to pay tribute to Mr. Buckley by redoubling their efforts to advancing our shared ideals.

I think he would expect no less.

President Bush Reverses Global Warming! by American Elephant

President Bush Environmentalist

I kid you not. Global Warming is gone. Kaput! No More!

New figures from four of the most authoritative sources show the average global temperature has dropped enough to erase almost all the warming people were concerned about in the first place:

All four major global temperature tracking outlets (Hadley, NASA’s GISS, UAH, RSS) have released updated data. All show that over the past year, global temperatures have dropped precipitously.

Meteorologist Anthony Watts compiled the results of all the sources. The total amount of cooling ranges from 0.65C up to 0.75C — a value large enough to erase nearly all the global warming recorded over the past 100 years. [read more]

If President Bush gets blamed because the mayor of New Orleans and Governor of Louisiana refused to evacuate their own people, refused to follow their own disaster plans, and refused President Bush when he offered to help, then he sure as hell gets credit for reversing global warming!

Obama: Spam, Spam, Hope and Spam! by American Elephant

Obama mania

Barack Obama sure talks a pretty talk.

To me, however, and almost anyone I’ve encountered who no longer has the suffix “teen” included in their age, it has been almost universally decried as empty, vapid and disturbingly ignorant. Even my staunchly liberal friends tell me they are frightened by his utter lack of qualification and the cult-like following he has developed in spite of it.

Obama loves to talk about hope. Hope and change, and change and hope. Hope, hope, change and hope. He uses the word “hope” like  the Monty Python players use the word “Spam“.

And his followers eat it up.

He likes to talk about uniting America. “We are not red-states and blue-states,” he says to deafening cheers, “but the United States!” And yet, as the non-partisan National Journal has verified, Barack Obama has the singular most liberal voting record of anyone in the senate. Which by implication also means he has among the most, if not the most partisan voting record of anyone in the senate. Indeed, despite all his flowery rhetoric, Obama hasn’t co-sponsored one single bill with a Republican.

He has flatly refused to reach across the isle, he has zero experience uniting anyone but the far-left wing of the Democrat party, and has proven he is as partisan as they come. Yet his followers believe he will change Washington and unite America.

Which finally made me understand Obama’s appeal. (Aside from the fact that he’s the first viable candidate Democrats have had in 12 years with any semblance of a personality.)

Obama is the candidate who won’t make you feel bad that you don’t know anything about anything — because he doesn’t talk about anything. He doesn’t talk policy, he talks about feelings.

He is Oprahbama.

When Obama recently held a rally for 20,000 people in my area (Seattle), reporters asked a supporter what she thought the average age of attendees was. She guessed 16-22. Judging from the footage, and other reports, I would say she was right.

A recent survey shows that two-thirds of people in this age group can’t even find Iraq on a map after three years (at that point) of war. Yet Obama’s supporters are universally certain we should not be there — wherever there is. Twenty-nine percent couldn’t locate the Pacific Ocean, yet are convinced man is causing global warming.

No wonder they love Obama! He doesn’t require them to know anything about the issues, he only asks them to “hope” and “believe“. There won’t be any knowledge of math or history required and no one will ask them to find anything on a map!

Everyone will prosper if only we raise taxes enough! The reason healthcare is so expensive is because government doesn’t regulate it enough! Everything would be better if only we would abandon our fledgeling democratic ally in Iraq and allow terrorists to take it over!

These are the fantasies people believe when they “hope” instead of think.

And yet, if his naive followers get their way, with his $900 billion in new spending proposals (thus far), mammoth tax hikes, his Carter-era advisers, and dangerously naive foreign policy prescriptions, if Obama were to get elected, it will be the rest of America, and the world, that will be in very serious need of hope.

New Data Puts “Global Warming” On Ice by American Elephant

Penguins Take Over the World

The Earth warmed a tiny bit, in the recent past — for a while. This much we know (assuming measurements are accurate), but pretty much everything else “global warming” proponents claim is a mixture of theory and completely debunked horsehockey.

We do know that the Earth has warmed. Indeed, it has a long history of warming and cooling — but we do not know that the Earth will continue to warm. Environmentalists thought we knew. Al Gore tells us it is “scientific consensus” and therefore beyond debate. Unfortunately for Al, as with flat-Earth and geocentric theories, facts often have a pesky tendency to prove scientific consensus not only wrong, but meaningless.

Last December, a new study was published in the Royal Meteorological Society’s International Journal of Climatology to deafening media silence, that proves the computer models, upon which scientists are basing all their predictions of warming, do not work. When they entered in historic climate data — measurements from the past that we know to be accurate — the computer models completely failed to predict today’s current climate conditions. If they can’t predict the present, they most certainly can’t predict the future.

So now we are back to square one. We don’t know if the Earth will continue to warm, or if it will stay the same, or if it will get cooler.

But there are some new facts that you should bear in mind.

First, the globe hasn’t warmed since 2000. Contrary to environmentalists’ claims, global temperature has remained pretty much the same since 2001.

Secondly, the polar ice-caps are not disappearing as Al Gore told us. Not only has the Arctic ice-cap returned to its previous size, and is actually thicker than before, the antarctic ice cap is nearly one-third bigger than normal! So you can quit losing sleep worrying about penguins and polar bears.

Also, new data from the U.S. National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) confirms that, like much of the rest of the hemisphere, this winter has been colder than normal:

Snow cover over North America and much of Siberia, Mongolia and China is greater than at any time since 1966.

The U.S. National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) reported that many American cities and towns suffered record cold temperatures in January and early February. According to the NCDC, the average temperature in January “was -0.3 F cooler than the 1901-2000 (20th century) average.”

China is surviving its most brutal winter in a century. Temperatures in the normally balmy south were so low for so long that some middle-sized cities went days and even weeks without electricity because once power lines had toppled it was too cold or too icy to repair them.

There have been so many snow and ice storms in Ontario and Quebec in the past two months that the real estate market has felt the pinch as home buyers have stayed home rather than venturing out looking for new houses.

In just the first two weeks of February, Toronto received 70 cm of snow, smashing the record of 66.6 cm for the entire month set back in the pre-SUV, pre-Kyoto, pre-carbon footprint days of 1950. [read more]

Now, as the article states, one winter does not a trend make. But it is important to note that this years’ unusually cold winter, and the lack of any significant warming over the past seven years, fly in the face of everything Al Gore and the envirowhackos have been telling us.

And an increasingly large number of scientists are standing up and questioning the global warming mantra,

Last month, Oleg Sorokhtin, a fellow of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, shrugged off manmade climate change as “a drop in the bucket.” Showing that solar activity has entered an inactive phase, Prof. Sorokhtin advised people to “stock up on fur coats.”

He is not alone. Kenneth Tapping of our own [Canadian] National Research Council, who oversees a giant radio telescope focused on the sun, is convinced we are in for a long period of severely cold weather if sunspot activity does not pick up soon.

Don’t believe the hype. As we said last week, “It’s the Sun, Stupid!” The Earth is warming for the same reasons Mars and other planets have been shown to be simultaneously warming: the Sun does not always put out a constant amount of energy. It goes through phases of increased and decreased activity.

The idea that the Earth is going to continue to warm is not only an unproven theory, but much of what it is based on has been proven to be untrue. Not only has Earth not warmed in over 7 years, this winter has been the coldest in a long while. And as many scientists have postulated, we may be in for, or already in, a period of global cooling.

I wonder if environmentalists will insist we drive more SUVs? Somehow I doubt it.

Cool Sites for the Weekend by American Elephant
February 23, 2008, 3:13 am
Filed under: Blogging, Humor, Pop Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Old Time Radio

Everything old is new again.

Looking for something new to do this weekend with friends or family? Turn off the TV, break out a board game, maybe light a fire, and turn up the radio! Especially good when its stormy outside or the power has gone out.

And not all radio shows are old. There is a whole new generation of radio productions. The following shows play in my town on Saturday and Sunday nights, but are available all over the country, and on the web. Click the buttons to listen on the web or to find a radio station broadcasting them in your area:

Listen to Imagination Theater Imagination Theater is produced in Seattle by Jim French Productions and include episodes of “Sherlock Holmes”, “The Adventures of Harry Nile”, “Kincaid the Strangeseeker”, “Movies for Your Mind” and “the Hillary Caine Mysteries”, among others. The show is broadcast all over the nation, in New Zealand, and on XM radio. Click the button to find where you can find it in your area.

Listen to The Twilight Zone These Twilight Zone episodes are all new audio productions, voiced by celebrities you might well recognize, like Jason Alexander, Jim Caviezel, Jane Seymour, Fred Willard, Kate Jackson and many more of the original scripts by Rod Serling. Again, click the button to find times and stations in your area.

Listen to When Radio Was When Radio Was is just what it sounds like — classic old-time radio shows. From “The Shadow” to “Our Miss Brooks” and everything in between. They play drama, comedy, mystery, suspense, family, westerns, variety and more. perfect with a bowl of popcorn, a boardgame and a group of friends.

So turn off American Idol, pull yourself away from the computer and enjoy a nice low-tech evening with friends or family, or just a cozy night at home by yourself. They really are “movies for your mind!”

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