American Elephants

Brave New World — Redux by The Elephant's Child

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This is an experiment. WordPress lets me make a slideshow. If it keeps cycling over and over, hit the pause button. That seems to allow you to click your way through, without starting the endless cycle. As I said, it’s an experiment.  Sad, though.


Free-Market Medicine v. ObamaCare by The Elephant's Child

We recently demonstrated how free-market medicine works with a post about the Surgery Center of Oklahoma, which is a shining example. ObamaCare, on the other hand, is the left’s attempt to gradually funnel us all into single-payer, government-run health care.

Please note that ObamaCare is not about health, nor is it about medicine. It is about insurance and who pays for what. They tell us that ObamaCare will reduce costs and promise you all sorts of free goodies. Obama partly won the election by promising free contraceptives. (Well, of course they are not free because the rest of us will have to pay for them. I should clarify that: the young women who are getting “free” contraceptives will be paying for the “free contraceptives” of all the women in the country who are using contraceptives. Probably paying more than the $9.00 a month’s supply costs at a discount pharmacy. But I guess that’s how you learn about basic economics.

ObamaCare: think of it this way — draw two stick figures with a space between. Label one ‘patient‘ and the other ‘doctor.’ Between the two stick figures, draw a small box. Label that ‘insurance companies‘. Then above the small box, draw a much bigger box. Label that one, oh, just ‘government’ to represent the over 100 agencies and offices and euphemistically named bureaus that will supervise and control the patients and the doctors, the insurance companies, the pharmacies, the suppliers, the hospitals. All those agencies have who-knows-how-many employees who all have salaries which are excessive, except by DC standards. That little exercise alone should tell you that ObamaCare is going to cost a lot more. Yet ObamaCare is all supposedly about how much it will save you. (Not really, it is really about making you dependent on liberal government, so you will always vote for liberals.)

So, while free-market medicine is about competition and creativity, innovation and plain old American free enterprise, ObamaCare is about folding you into the arms of bureaucracy, where you will forever be dependent on government, until they decide that it costs too much.  Medicine becomes not a matter of the care a doctor gives to a patient, but for the physicians, it becomes a matter of trying to get paid enough to cover costs. For hospitals and suppliers, it becomes a matter of trying to cut costs to comply with government budgets.  The British NHS provides a running example of what we will become in time. To wit:

A BID to save nearly £3billion by slashing appointments with a doctor and treating patients via computer will put lives at risk, ministers were warned.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is planning a technological revolution that could spell the end of the traditional doctor’s surgery.

A new system of “virtual clinics” is being planned in which GPs connect with patients via iPads and Skype, an idea that NHS bosses are importing from India.

The reforms would save £2.9 billion “almost immediately” and improve the lives of most patients, for example by avoiding the need to find child care during appointments, Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said last week.

However, critics are concerned the initiative would create a two-tier NHS in which the less technologically able, particularly the elderly, would be left behind….

The ideas, contained in a Health Department report called Digital First, include arming community nurses with iPads in rural areas and making more use of Skype video calling between GPs and patients. There will be more online assessments “augmented” with video calls.

Mobile phone “apps” will be used to access lab reports and health records and negative test results will be sent by text messages rather than delivered in person. Mr Hunt, who made a fortune by creating an internet company, believes that while mobile broadband technology is revolutionising most walks of life, there is a problem once ­people encounter the relatively antiquated systems of the NHS.

The Government is trying to fill a £20 billion NHS funding gap and health chiefs want to reduce “needless” appointments that clog up staff time.

Well, the NHS has kept patients parked in ambulances outside hospitals because they can have only a specified number of admissions a day, they’ve conveniently offed seniors in their final years with ‘”do not resuscitate ” notes on the charts, cut back on cleaning and linen changing and drinking water and food. The battle has become — how to cut costs, not patient care and saving lives.

The innovation and inventiveness that produce savings are eliminated by the overweening bloated weight of bureaucracy, once established, is always seeking more power and more control, and attempting to reduce the costs that they themselves created with their processes.

Ethan Uslan plays George Gershwin’s S’Wonderful by The Elephant's Child
November 25, 2012, 8:49 pm
Filed under: Entertainment, Freedom, Music | Tags: , ,

I’ve been in a blue funk all weekend. Nothing like a bit of ragtime to change the mood. What cheerful music

(h/t: Vanderleun)

Goodbye California, And All Your #*#!*#! Geraniums! by The Elephant's Child

One of the best indications of a state’s economic health is the U-Haul Index, first publicized by economist Mark Perry. It shows what people are paying to move into or out of a state. Renting a 20-foot truck one way from San Francisco to San Antonio, Texas for example, costs $1,693.  Renting the same truck with San Francisco as the destination costs only $983.

As Perry explains:

The American people and businesses are voting with their feet and their one-way truck rentals to escape California and its forced unionism, high taxes, and high unemployment rate for a better life in low-tax, business-friendly, right-to-work states like Texas.

Texas has no individual or corporate income tax, and a lower sales tax. Texas’ state and local tax burden is less than eight percent of income, well below the national average. California’s is almost twelve percent. But it isn’t just taxes. California’s regulatory environment and huge deficits are chasing companies out-of-state. California is the testing ground for President Obama’s ideas of post-economic liberalism. All Obama’s dream programs are here — cap and trade (the first sale was a disaster), massive taxes on the rich, huge investment in unwanted high speed rail, lots of wind and solar, environmental regulation has decimated the great Central Valley in the name of the Delta smelt.

The state’s efforts to redistribute the wealth from those who earned it to those who didn’t, have resulted in California, which has 12% of the country’s population but a full one-third of the nation’s welfare cases.

Since 1990, California has lost nearly 3¼ million residents, most of them moving to Texas, Nevada and Arizona. A study from the Manhattan Institute blames the exodus on “chronic economic adversity,” fiscal instability, population density (Los Angeles and Orange County have nearly 7,000 people per square mile, more than New York or Chicago), taxes, regulation, high-priced power, high labor costs, the high price of housing and commercial real  estate. And the unemployment rate at 10.9 percent is dismal. In the U-Haul Index, California has been rated dead last for the eighth consecutive year.

Each year the evidence grows that people and businesses are leaving California or avoiding locating there because of the high cost of doing business due to excessive state taxes, excessive regulations,  and an inability of state government to understand the nature of the problems they are causing.

The U-Haul index demonstrates that more and more people are willing to pay extra to get out of California.

Arab Spring, Fall Foreign Policy Blunder. by The Elephant's Child

The “Arab Spring” was much celebrated by the Obama administration and the American media as an uprising of the Arab peoples living in the dictatorships of North Africa. Hope and change, freedom and democracy were, they were sure, in the wind.

If you remember, Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old Tunisian street vendor helped to start  what has become known as the Arab Spring, by an act of desperation by a young man whose efforts to eke out a living for his family were thwarted by government officials at every turn. He set himself on fire, for all to see, in a public square.

That act sparked a mass uprising in Tunisia, that quickly spread o Egypt, Yemen, Libya and Syria. So many spontaneous uprisings, at such a rapid pace.  Bouazizi’s self-immolation epitomized may Arab’s sense of helplessness and despair. Unorganized unhappiness and calls for leaders to “leave.” But in revolutions and uprisings, the organized are often prepared to take the opportunities that present themselves. And so it has been.

In Egypt, there was an 82-year-old dictator, 29 years in power, seeking another term while scheming to hand off power to his unpopular son. It was obvious that the Islamists would run away with the elections. And so they did, and we now have a bumper crop of Islamist regimes so radical that we’ll miss Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi. These are the results of the “democracy in the Middle East” that President Obama and the left managed with one of the worst foreign policy blunders in history.

Tens of thousands of Muslims rioted in Cairo’s Tahir Square last January, and the White House and the media spoke breathlessly of Western-style freedom blooming across the Arab desert. When skeptics cautioned that the Arab world has no history of democracy and radical Islamists would probably step in, the left sneered that they were bigots.

They ignored polls showing that large majorities of Egyptians were yearning for the chance to vote in Islamic law. Two-thirds wanted to get rid of Mubarak so they could have stonings of adulterers and beheadings of apostates — in Tahir Square.

Obama urged on the rioters and pressured Mubarak to step down. The Muslim Brotherhood got 60% of the vote, Mohamed Morsi was elected President, and promptly dismissed all the Generals of the Egyptian Army.

Now he has become guarantor of the cease fire between the Israelis and Gaza in a bizarre step, and on the strength of that granted himself broad powers above any court, declaring himself the guardian of Egypt’s revolution, and used his new powers to order the retrial of Hosni Mubarak. One Dictator gone to be replaced by another.

Opponents of President Mohamed Morsi were reported to have set fire to his party’s offices in several Egyptian cities in a spasm of protest after he claimed new powers. In Alexandria there were clashes between opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party and his followers.

Mr. Morsi, a longstanding member of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood won Western plaudits only days ago for “brokering a cease-fire” to halt eight days of lethal exchanges between Israeli defense forces and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.

Egypt is the most populous state in the Middle East, but poor. It cannot feed itself, but vast amounts of American aid seem to help. Their most important industry is tourism, which is not flourishing in the face of immanent uprisings at any moment.  Yet you have Islamists so radical that they want to tear down and destroy the pyramids as blasphemous, which are the nations only significant source of income. Stonings and beheadings in Tahir Square will probably not go over as tourist attractions.

I’m not sure that either Susan Rice nor John Kerry are up to the job.


Ten Sci-Fi Weapons That Actually Exist Now. by The Elephant's Child

Those little green or brown plastic army men become more outdated every day. The look of things is changing, the gear looks like it came out of some science fiction adventure. This article from Wired pictures ten weapons from a very real sci-fi arsenal. Laser weapons, robots, sonic blasters and puke rays — all real, and some have already made it to the battlefield. These futuristic weapons are being tested today. Veterans won’t recognize the battlefield. The field of weapons is always changing. It’s been a long time since Kentucky long rifles, muzzle loaders and powder horns, and the descendants of the Gatling gun are unrecognizable. Time marches on.

Happy Thanksgiving, and Are You Wearing Hairnets? by The Elephant's Child

Tee hee. Those who believe that government is good and more government probably better, need to really think, and try to make connections between events in the real world and their ideas about politics. There are examples all around us, and some are so interesting that they get published for the rest of us to read about.

— “The New York City Department of Health has been dispatching workers to storm-ravaged areas across the five boroughs as part of an outreach to ensure that volunteers are informed on proper food-handling and other safety issues. But the presence of health officials has caused some confusion as to where the city is drawing the line between advisement and enforcement.”

Bobby Eustace, an 11 year veteran with the NYC fire department said that on Sunday, he and his fellow firefighters from Ladder 27 in the Bronx were issued a notice of violation for not maintaining restaurant standards in a tent set up to feed victims and first responders at Breezy Point in Queens.

It’s just a little ridiculous. The inspector came up and asked if we were wearing hairnets. I told him “We have helmets. This is a disaster area.” Then he asked if we had gloves and thermometers for food. I said, “Yeah we have rectal and oral. Which one do you want ?” He wasn’t amused.

The Health Department worker then checked off a list of violations at the relief tent, including not having an HVAC system and fire extinguisher. (Ladder 27 doesn’t count?)

He told us that he might come back to see if we fixed the violations. But what can we do? We are just going to keep going until a professional catering company can help take over, Eustace said, adding that firefighters across the cit together have been contributing about $800 a day out of their own pockets to feeding victims in areas hit hard by Sandy.

A spokeswoman for the NYC Department of Health said it was just an outreach to inform volunteers on the proper way to handle food. We went out just to give recommendations. It was only an advisory role.

“Maybe that’s the intent, but that’s not what happened,” Eustace said. Personally, I was hoping we got one of those letter grade they give restaurants. We were hoping for an A letter grade.”


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