American Elephants


April is the cruelest month… by The Elephant's Child

I made a stupid mistake on my taxes and had to do them almost all over. One of my cats is sick, which calls for much mopping and cleaning, and a trip to the vet. Two separate cloudbursts yesterday with thunder and lightening. A trip to the emergency room. Several calls from friendly computer services in the far off Middle East who were eager to help with my computer problems. Other than that, April Fool’s Day seems somewhat ongoing. What is it about April anyway? Sorry about the light blogging. I will aim for more informative brilliance.

APRIL is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
A little life with dried tubers.



Immigration. Legal and Illegal, and the Difference. by The Elephant's Child

As promised, ICE has expanded their campaign to deport illegal immigrants with criminal records. They have announced the seizure of 368 illegals in seven states and Washington D.C. That’s a 250 percent increase over the 106 deportations announced a week ago.

ICE especially targeted members of the violent MS-13 gang and those illegals who had been charged with sex crimes against kids. In just one five day roundup in and around Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia, 82 illegals from 26 countries were arrested. Of those 82 individuals, 68 of those had previous criminal records for crimes like robbery, larceny and drug distribution. Two of the remaining 14 had ties to MS-13, two had final orders for removal, and two had pending local charges. The remainder had unlawfully entered the United States in violation of immigration laws.

158 were arrested in Texas. ICE is targeting convicted criminal aliens. The simple notion that President Trump means business has significantly curbed the flow of illegal immigration across the border.

Activists frequently contend that the United States is a “nation of immigrants”, which, if you go back to the 1630s is accurate, but has nothing to do with anything. Immigrants currently represent about 13.5 percent of the American population, the highest percentage in over 100 years. But then they consistently say that we have 11 million illegal aliens in the country, but they have been using the same number for years, and there is a strong suspicion that nobody knows. Everyone likes to think of America as welcoming and open, but this is not the case. Countries have borders and laws that determine how one becomes a legal immigrant.

Immigrants are apt to band together with others of the same background, and often engage in the same occupations. There is often a language barrier. Americans are frequently suspicious of those who do not speak their language. This has been going on since the beginnings of the country, and is well documented in books like David Hackett Fischer’s Albion’s Seed and Bernard Bailyn’s The Peopling of British North America. New waves of immigrants were not always welcomed, the Scots-Irish went to the Carolinas, the Germans to Germantown in Pennsylvania, the Quakers to Pennsylvania and of course the Dutch to New York.

We don’t know much about how many can be comfortably absorbed by the nation’s schools and infrastructure. Here is a map from the Center for Immigration Studies showing the percentages of  public school students from immigrant  households. In 1980, about 7 percent of public school students came from immigrant homes, in 1990, it was 11 percent and in 2015 about 23 percent of public school students came from immigrant homes or almost one in four, in 700 immigrant-heavy districts.

In 2015, between one-fourth and one-third of public school students from immigrant households were the children of illegal immigrants. The remainder were the children of legal immigrants. This is simply a reminder that there are real costs for illegal immigrants.

The Obama administration encouraged both legal and illegal immigration. They believed that immigrants would be more likely to support the Democratic Party, and made an effort to settle immigrants and refugees in districts where they would help to switch the vote to Democrats. You might notice that Obama ended the acceptance of refugees from Cuba, who were unlikely to support the Democrats after Communist Cuba.

For those who claim that we cannot afford a wall on our southern border, or those who think a wall would be mean, there is a cost for illegal immigrants—schools, welfare, the courts. During a lifetime of an illegal immigrant they create an average fiscal burden of $74,722. If a border wall stopped between 9 to 12 percent of those expected to successfully cross the border, the fiscal savings would equal the $12 to $15 billion cost of the wall.

Those on the Left usually consider the case of immigrants or refugees as a matter of feelings. If you do not sympathize deeply with those who want to come to the United States legally or illegally, then you are a bad person. Not all refugees want to leave their own countries, they just want temporary safety. Those on the Left believe in open borders, the more the merrier. I believe that countries get to choose how many immigrants and who they are.

Sweden has just had a belated wake-up call, learning that some of the migrants they welcomed to their country steal trucks and drive them into crowds to kill as many Swedes as possible. And a CNN reporter just had a wake-up interview with a Syrian refugee.

Not what the CNN host expected. Her expression is priceless.



America Already Has Single-Payer Health Care and It’s a Catastrophe! by The Elephant's Child

There are very few things that are better done by a large central bureaucracy, that is why folks on the right speak about “draining the swamp.” Bureaucrats don’t like to give up power, and, convinced of their own wisdom, usually fight any effort for reform. In particular, the federal bureaucracy cannot do health care, The case of the Veterans Administration is only the most visible failure.The Indian Health Service is reportedly a disaster. Medicaid promises much but few physicians are willing to see Medicaid patients. Medicare has always been a Ponzi scheme, and as the Baby Boomers are rapidly reaching retirement age, there are not enough members of the Baby Bust to support them. Medicare is due to go broke in short order.

 



Desperate Democrats Embarrass Themselves In Another Confirmation Hearing by The Elephant's Child

With the exposure of the Susan Rice story, and the dreadful sarin gas attack in Syria by the Assad administration on his own people other things escape our attention. The confirmation hearings for Dr. Scott Gottlieb who the president has nominated to run the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) didn’t get a lot of notice.

Our very own Seattle Senator Patty Murray and other Democrats devoted the morning to attacking Dr. Gottlieb for his “unprecedented financial entanglements” because he has consulted for various companies and invested in health-care start-ups. (Possibly because that is his area of expertise?) Sheldon Whitehouse suggested “dark money operations,” which is a strange description of financial disclosures available to all on the internet. Bernie Sanders tweeted that it was a “disgrace” to have an FDA commissioner who has taken money from drug companies.

These are the same committee Democrats who attacked Betsy DeVos for not having enough experience in public education, nor experience in government.  Consistency and hypocrisy are ongoing problems for the Democrats.

Dr. Gottlieb not only disclosed all his work in accordance with government rules and will liquidate his investments, he agreed to recuse himself for a year on decisions involving his past interests. He also promised to follow directions from the HHS ethics office and to be an “impartial and independent advocate for the public health.”

Another remarkable ugly charge was that Dr. Gottlieb would not address the opioid crisis because he has worked with companies that produce painkillers. Desperate Democrats, out of power, are having trouble finding believable or even sane talking points.

Dr. Gottlieb has called the opioid crisis “a public emergency on the order of Ebola and Zika” and suggested an “all-of-the-above” strategy that would include creating new painkillers that were less addictive and better patient care. He hopes to increase generic drug competition. He offered a tutorial in how companies exploit the regulatory barriers to competition for their commercial advantage,

He has written about how the FDA can unleash innovation without compromising public safety. Democrats, always confused about the evils of “profit” have forgotten about the immense value of expertise. This is another of President Trump’s outstanding nominees, so of course he should be attacked. It will be good to have someone who understands the needs of patients and their doctors and the pharmaceutical industry in that office.



If At First You Don’t Succeed, Do a Better Job Next Time! by The Elephant's Child

The Republican bill to take a tiny poke at fixing ObamaCare went nowhere. They didn’t have the votes—largely because the bill didn’t do much of anything. Everything you need to know about ObamaCare can be summed up in one quotation from Thomas Sowell.

It is amazing that people who think
we cannot afford to pay for doctors,
hospitals, and medication somehow
think that we can afford to pay
for doctors, hospitals, medication
and a government bureaucracy
to administer it.

Aside from affordability, federal government bureaucrats have no idea how to manage or control or supply health care. Every attempt by government to do health care has ended in disaster. The federal government cannot do VA health care, and veterans die while waiting to be seen. Indian health care is a disaster. Even the FDA is a disaster. Over regulated and over controlled.

Medicare was built on the idea that a growing population meant that if each generation paid in for the smaller generation that came before, then Medicare would go along smoothly with the old folks always cared for. This is usually called a Ponzi scheme. Nobody planned on the baby boomers. They are a huge generation beginning to retire, and Medicare is going broke, because the next generations are not larger. Oooops!

The Democrats devised all sorts of things that they thought would make their health care plan work better, and all sorts of regulations that they thought would save money, and all sorts of requirements that they thought would make people like the program better, and they lied about their basic purpose. Their basic purpose was to initiate a Single Payer Plan. But not because it would provide better care.

The British have a single payer plan in the National Health Service. The people get taxed and they get free health care. And the reason that it was the Democrats’ basic purpose was because the British people were so afraid of losing their health care that they always voted for keeping it, and for the Labour Party who promised that they could keep it. Unfortunately it doesn’t work, and the government keeps making new regulations to cut costs, and old folks die from neglect, and dehydration, and dirty sheets and infection, and long lines of ambulances line up at hospitals waiting for a vacant bed for the next patient. That’s Single Payer.

Here at home, the ideas that were behind all the regulation and requirements that they thought would save money didn’t, because Democrats do not understand the free market—that’s why they are Democrats. And because they do not understand the free market and competition, their bureaucrats had no idea how to devise plans that worked, and they didn’t even know how to get people to sign up, nor how to get enough insurance companies competing to bring costs down. Being Democrats, they assumed that insurance companies were evil (Capitalists) without any understanding that insurance companies have a lot of expertise in devising insurance, and with all insurance companies competing, there’s a lot of demand to be efficient, to create policies that work for consumers, to figure out how to keep prices down so the other insurance companies can’t take their business away. That’s how the free market works.

The Republicans said they had been working on a replacement for 8 months, but we have been stuck with a failing and unworkable ObamaCare for 7 years.

We are going to have to pay for most of the little stuff ourselves, with help for those who cannot care for themselves, and remember just what insurance really is. Insurance is meant to protect you from the big disasters, not the little things.Your car insurance protects you when someone runs into you and wrecks your car. Your homeowner insurance protects you when you have a kitchen fire or a broken pipe that floods the house. Health insurance should protect you when you break your leg, or find a cancer, or need immediate surgery, not buy your tampons or pay for your immunizations.

And if you devise a new health care plan for the people, you’d better damn well make sure that every member of Congress and the bureaucracy has to deal with exactly the same system.



Just an Ordinary Wednesday, Like All Wednesdays by The Elephant's Child

Wednesday, an ordinary middle of the week day. Not Spring yet, though there are a few lonely daffodils peeking out here and there. A terrorist attack in London at the Houses of Parliament, Three killed, many injured, terrorist killed. ISIS celebrates. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Nunes reports that Trumps’ personal communications may have been collected by intelligence agencies, details widely disseminated. Hackers claim to have breached 300 million APPLE accounts, Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan warned the European Union that if the diplomatic spat continues, Europeans won’t be able to walk their own streets safely anywhere in the world. The Turks threaten to send 15,000 migrants a month to Europe. Other than some horrendous rapes of underage children, it was just an ordinary almost Spring Wednesday. Sheesch!



Another Outstanding Appointment by President Trump by The Elephant's Child

President Trump has selected a physician who is a policy expert to run the Food and Drug Administration—which may be one of the toughest jobs in Washington. Dr. Gottleib served as a deputy commissioner at the FDA during the G.W. Bush Administration, and has worked at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. He is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and writes regularly on physician autonomy, drug prices, antibiotic development and more. In other words, he’s familiar with the problems. We’ll see if he can fix them.

One of Dr. Gottlieb’s priorities will be moving generic medicines to market, and competition is the best way to reduce the price of treatments like the now infamous EpiPen. About 10% of 1,300 branded drugs “have seen patents expire but still face zero generic competition,” Dr. Gottlieb wrote in the Journal last year. “New regulations have, in many cases, made it no longer economically viable for more than one generic firm to enter the market.” Now he can roll back such arbitrary directives.

Dr. Gottlieb has also suggested that the FDA should explain its reasoning when declining to approve a drug. FDA does not release a rejection notice known as a complete response letter. The rule ostensibly exists to protect manufacturers, but the silence allows the agency and a company to peddle divergent tales about what happened. The public is left with minimal information and FDA can operate without fear of accountability.

The need for new antibiotics is dire, and a bureaucracy overburdened with regulation and fearful of accountability is not the way to get things moving. The FDA has been overburdened with caution ever since the thalidomide scandal in the ’60s. Thalidomide was a tranquilizer, marketed as a mild sleeping pill safe even for pregnant women, but it turned out to cause thousands of babies to be born with malformed or missing limbs. Careful testing for safety is essential, but getting drugs to market to save lives is also important. Avoidance of accountability is not.




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