Category Archives: Healthcare

Fred Thompson Responds to the Fat Ass from Flint

Fox News:

WASHINGTON — TV star and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson declined Tuesday to meet with Michael Moore, suggesting the filmmaker instead might want to check himself into a mental hospital after Moore challenged Thompson to a one-on-one debate on health care.

I’m really disappointed that Fred Thompson couldn’t schedule a debate (I wonder why his schedule is so busy? Maybe he is close to announcing his candidacy for President) with the Fat Ass from Flint. I would have loved to see Michael Moore pummeled by someone much more intelligent than he is*. Still, I think Thompson made an excellent point in under 40 seconds.

The response follows a letter by Moore in which he scolded the Law & Order actor. Noting Thompson’s fondness for Cuban cigars, Moore wrote that Thompson is in no position to criticize Moore for traveling to Cuba with several ailing Sept. 11 emergency responders to make the argument that Cuba’s health care system is superior to the United States’.

“Putting aside the fact that you, like the Bush administration, seem far more concerned about the trip to Cuba than the health care of these 9/11 heroes, I was struck by the fact that your concerns (including comments about Castro’s reported financial worth) apparently do not extend to your own conduct,” Moore wrote in a letter sent to Thompson dated Tuesday.

“In light of your comments regarding Cuba and Castro, do you think the ‘box upon box of cigars — Montecristos from Havana’ that you have in your office have contributed to Castro’s reported wealth?” reads the letter, which also points out that Thompson earned “hundreds of thousands” in campaign contributions from the health care industry and worked as an industry lobbyist.

As much as I hate to admit it, the Fat Ass makes a good point here. The embargo against Cuba is enforced somewhat selectively. The embargo is quite hypocritical considering that America’s chief trading partner is Communist China. However, Moore knows damn well that had anyone else made an unapproved trip to Cuba, that person would also be under investigation and possibly face charges. He would have us to believe that this is nothing more than the Bush administration harassing him because he is such a vocal critic. His crockumentary Sicko will be premiering soon at the Cannes Film festival. Coincidence?

Of course the media and Hollywood elites will have nothing but admiration for this latest propaganda film. I doubt anyone in the media will raise the real questions surrounding Cuba’s healthcare system. Questions like “If Cuba’s healthcare system is so wonderful, why do so many Cubans put their families in rafts to make a 90+ mile trip to Florida in hopes to step onto dry ground in America?” How many Cubans die trying to make this trip? I doubt they would come here if America’s healthcare was so inferior.

It probably won’t occur to anyone in the MSM that perhaps Castro would want Moore’s propaganda to cover up the failings of his government. Moore is doing Castro a great service by acting as his propaganda minister. Does anyone for a second believe that Castro would allow Moore to show these 9/11 heroes being treated as the average Cuban?

Cuba’s socialist healthcare system is superior to that of the United States? I think we know who the real “sicko” is here and as Fred Thompson mentioned, Moore can voluntarily get all the help he needs in an American mental institution of his choice.

*If Moore is really interested in debating someone, Larry Elder extended an offer to debate him on his radio show 1,679 days, 20 hours, and 28 minutes ago as I write this. I’ll bet the Sage would give him the whole show.

Successful Dentist Shut Down By Florida Government…

…because he didn’t get the government’s permission.

Roger Bean, 60, was arrested on Tuesday and held on a $US6,000 bond.

Bean performed denture fittings and made false teeth in his garage, charging just $US200 for a full set of dentures, a procedure that typically costs more than $US2,000, authorities said.

But he was not licensed to practice in Florida.

Palm Beach County Sheriff’s detective Don Zumpano said there were “health risks with operating this type of facility outside of your house”, adding that Bean’s workspace was “filthy”.

Neighbours and clients, however, praised Bean for saving them thousands of dollars.

Ron St. Mary, 73, head of the neighbourhood crime watch, said Bean is no criminal.

“He’s helping the old people who don’t have a few dollars,” he said. “I think the world of him.”

Truthfully, he wasn’t quite a dentist. Much like the hair-braiders, Bean was simply providing a service that some dentists provide, that doesn’t really require the full training a dentist requires, for a much smaller fee. Nor did anyone think he was a licensed dentist, if he was working out of his “filthy garage”. But consumers understood that he could fit them for dentures for $200, while “real” dentists would charge 10 times as much.

Now, I’m not sure how much training it really takes to fit a mold and put together some dentures. But I didn’t hear any information in this story that suggests customers were complaining. What I do know, however, is that to become a dentist is much more in-depth than just fitting dentures. You learn enough to be entrusted with prescribing medicine and administering anesthesia, something that Bean did not do.

When you hear about something like this, you have to ask yourself who is helped. People who need dentures don’t seem to benefit. On the contrary, it’s dentists, who have now shut down a competitor and can charge 10 times what he charged for the same service. Who benefits from licensing? Is it the consumer? Nope… Milton Friedman laid it out quite succinctly:

State licensing rules limits entry into the professions, thereby allowing professionals to charge higher fees than if competition were more open. That (more than the public interest) is why professionals love licensing.

While you may think that stopping Roger Bean protects the public, I’d ask you to look at those old people who can’t afford $2000 for dentures. Does stopping Bean really help them?

Not Even to Save the Life of the Mother

Today on The Sean Hannity Show, Republican presidential hopeful Sam Brownback cleared up his position on the abortion issue. Normally this is not an issue which I like to discuss because I believe there are so many more important issues and I believe that this issue has taken up way too much of the political debate over the past several decades. But what Sam Brownback said in response to one of Hannity’s questions stunned me.

Toward the end of the interview, Hannity asked Brownback if he believed there should be any legal exceptions for abortion such as rape, incest, or the life of the mother. These seem like reasonable exceptions even to the most pro-life (or anti-choice) proponents but not to Sam Brownback. Even Sean Hannity who is very pro-life and very Catholic seemed to be a little taken back by his response.

Brownback clearly stated that there should be absolutely no legal exceptions for abortion. He admitted such a situation would be tragic but also said that “it’s not the baby’s fault.”

This attitude of Brownback’s is completely indefensible. While I do not believe any woman who is a rape victim should be legally required to bring a pregnancy to term, there is still some room to debate whether or not having an abortion is moral. But to say that the government must require a woman to potentially sacrifice her own life for the sake of her baby is absolute violation of her liberty. No person should ever be required by law or expected to sacrifice his or her life or limb for the sake of another for any reason (I similarly am opposed to military drafts for the same reason). If a person is to sacrifice his or her own life, it should only be done voluntarily.

My question to Senator Sam Brownback and his fellow travelers: What is so “pro-life” about taking a woman’s right to life away?

NOTE: I have not been able to locate the trascript of the interview at this time. If I should come across it, I will add the direct quote to the body of this post.

Carrying A Few Extra Around The Gut Area? Blame Congress!

Adam Drewnowski, a researcher at the University of Washington, had a question. Why is it that America works opposite of the rest of the world, where the rich are generally thin, and the poor are generally not so. So he decided to take a look:

Drewnowski gave himself a hypothetical dollar to spend, using it to purchase as many calories as he possibly could. He discovered that he could buy the most calories per dollar in the middle aisles of the supermarket, among the towering canyons of processed food and soft drink. (In the typical American supermarket, the fresh foods — dairy, meat, fish and produce — line the perimeter walls, while the imperishable packaged goods dominate the center.) Drewnowski found that a dollar could buy 1,200 calories of cookies or potato chips but only 250 calories of carrots. Looking for something to wash down those chips, he discovered that his dollar bought 875 calories of soda but only 170 calories of orange juice.

It’s been widely remarked that you don’t see a lot of poor people on the Atkins Diet. I had used that for a while, and in the span of a couple of months, dropped from 260 lbs to roughly my ideal weight, the low 220’s. But it’s not cheap. You’re eating decent quantities of fish, meat, fresh vegetables, etc. (Thankfully I’m blessed with genetically low cholesterol, so I never had to worry about that aspect). Think about it… You get a salmon filet and some nice broccoli with cheese sauce, a nice bottle of wine, and you’ll probably spend $5-10 per plate (more, depending on the wine). Feed a couple of people, and you’re out $20 or more. Hell, the last time I bought salmon and asparagus for myself I spent close to $20, because I went to the high-end grocer. You serve tortilla chips and a frozen pizza, with Coke to drink, you can feed the same number of people for $8. And who’s going to get a more healthful meal?

Of course, to some extent these things may never change, as there are certain laws of supply and demand, and corn syrup is cheap. But it’s still quite important to ask why, and whether this is something that’s naturally or artificially occurring. Is corn syrup artificially cheap? They say that high-fructose corn syrup is one of the worst things you can usually put into your body. Sugar is bad, but that corn syrup is horrible. Yet it, and a lot of other nasty multi-syllabic chemicals are found in all those foods in the center aisles of the grocery store. Why is that? Well, look no farther than our imperial federal government, and the corporate welfare state, in the guise of farm bills:

For the answer, you need look no farther than the farm bill. This resolutely unglamorous and head-hurtingly complicated piece of legislation, which comes around roughly every five years and is about to do so again, sets the rules for the American food system — indeed, to a considerable extent, for the world’s food system. Among other things, it determines which crops will be subsidized and which will not, and in the case of the carrot and the Twinkie, the farm bill as currently written offers a lot more support to the cake than to the root. Like most processed foods, the Twinkie is basically a clever arrangement of carbohydrates and fats teased out of corn, soybeans and wheat — three of the five commodity crops that the farm bill supports, to the tune of some $25 billion a year. (Rice and cotton are the others.) For the last several decades — indeed, for about as long as the American waistline has been ballooning — U.S. agricultural policy has been designed in such a way as to promote the overproduction of these five commodities, especially corn and soy.

That’s because the current farm bill helps commodity farmers by cutting them a check based on how many bushels they can grow, rather than, say, by supporting prices and limiting production, as farm bills once did. The result? A food system awash in added sugars (derived from corn) and added fats (derived mainly from soy), as well as dirt-cheap meat and milk (derived from both). By comparison, the farm bill does almost nothing to support farmers growing fresh produce. A result of these policy choices is on stark display in your supermarket, where the real price of fruits and vegetables between 1985 and 2000 increased by nearly 40 percent while the real price of soft drinks (a k a liquid corn) declined by 23 percent. The reason the least healthful calories in the supermarket are the cheapest is that those are the ones the farm bill encourages farmers to grow.

The author, Michael Pollan, goes on to lament some of the other nasty consequences of the farm bill, such as it creating such low corn prices that we’ve destroyed Mexico’s indigenous corn farming industry, which leads to northward immigration. Not to mention that having them rely on us for corn production has caused the tortilla price increases that I’ve mentioned here, because our new government intervention forces us to use our corn for ethanol, again increasing the price. (Note that I’m not missing the blind spot here. Increased corn prices due to the ethanol mandate will increase corn syrup prices, which will then make the food those poor Americans eat, the stuff that’s high in corn syrup, more expensive).

But go back to the original point. Our farm subsidies are designed such that they make unhealthy food options artificially cheap. Then, we tax sugar imports. Now, sugar isn’t the most healthy thing we can ingest, but it’s much better than corn syrup. But our government’s policies are making the incredibly unhealthy option cheap, artificially inflating the cost of the bad-but-not-horrible imported option, and the non-subsidized healthy options are expensive. It’s so far out of whack that to say it’s nonsensical is doing an injustice to good, honest nonsense.

If you think the government really wants you to be healthier, ask them why they don’t repeal farm subsidies? Maybe you’ll realize that they don’t have your best interests at heart, they’re looking to reward the people who get them elected. Farmers have more lobbying money than the health nuts, so they get their goods and— as usual— poor people get screwed.

Hat Tip: Reason

Book Review — Mean Martin Manning, by Scott Stein

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Some of you have probably notice me link the Scott Stein a few times in the past. I found him a while back, when he was looking for examples of humorous writing for a class he was teaching. In fact, I even got him to give me a literary critique of The Search For The Beast, which was quite helpful, and I hope to incorporate into future writing.

So I decided to pick up his new book, Mean Martin Manning. I actually paid for it, because his publisher apparently doesn’t give review copies to unknown bloggers with limited readership, but that’s alright, it was worth it (partly because it comes with little “extras” in the package, which is nice).

The book is a novel describing an exciting episode the normally uneventful life of Martin Manning, an elderly man who has spent 30 years shut off from the world. Surviving on cold-cuts, television, a collection of clocks and porcelain frogs, and ordering everything he needs from the internet, he’s quite happy to live without any human interaction whatsoever. But one day, in order to comply with a new government “Life Improvement” program, social worker Alice Pitney shows up. And all hell breaks loose.

Armed with the full force and power of the state government, Pitney is determined to help a man who wants no help. He’s forced into the improvement program, where he’s expected to eat healthy foods, interact with all sorts of crazy characters, and the self-sufficient shut-in is treated like a child to be trained in how to be a better person. In his first group therapy session, Manning says it best:

“You poor saps can go for Pitney’s bullshit if you like— I won’t hold it against you. I just want to give you fair warning. It might not look like it, but as we speak, I’m in an epic struggle with Caseworker Pitney for my very soul.”

Immovable force meets a nanny-statist who won’t take no for an answer, and all sorts of hilarity ensues. Oh, did I mention that Stein is funny? This book doesn’t read like Atlas Shrugged, it pops with it’s collection of smart-assed narration and just-cartoonish-enough characters. The book has an air of the fantastic about it, but then again, when you hear about some of the things going on in Britain, it almost seems like it will be here shortly.

As for the politics, I can’t see many libertarians not liking the book, or not cheering on Martin Manning as he fights against those who want to control him for his own good. It gives a face and a name to the insidious nature of the nanny state. It reminds you that you should stand extra guard when they try to come after you for your own good, as C.S. Lewis once said:

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

Overall, the book gets a hearty recommendation. It clicks in at just over 200 pages, so it’s a quick read, but long enough to develop the characters, put together a cohesive plot, and make it all interesting. As for distribution, I think you may need to go to the publisher directly on this one, though, unfortunately it’s not up on Amazon. Either way, check it out.

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