Monthly Archives: October 2012

Japanese Tsunami Relief Efforts Highlight Wisdom of Romney’s Postion on Disaster Relief

Surely you’ve seen it, making the rounds on the interwebs: Romney’s comment from the spring that he would like to shut down FEMA.  Now we have a hurri-blizzard-snowicane-Frankenstorm, everyone’s saying that Romney is totally clueless.  (Here’s a sample.)

Romney’s point, for those who missed it, is that state governments are better-equipped to handle local disasters, and that the private sector (e.g. the Red Cross) is very adept at disaster relief.  (More on this later.)

There are other problems with Big Government disaster relief, as highlighted by the Japanese relief efforts. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)  A recent audit shows that the money that was to be used for disaster relief and rebuilding has instead been allocated to totally unrelated projects, such as building roads and sports stadiums in areas far removed from the tsunami. Here’s what the NY Times, the same paper that trashed Gov. Romney yesterday for his comments on disaster relief, has to day:

The audits have cast a harsh light on the bureaucratic morass slowing Japan’s reconstruction effort, made worse by outlays of money to the unrelated projects seen by many as a throwback to the country’s days of unrestrained pork-barrel spending. The revelations are an embarrassment for Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, whose Democratic Party promised to make public spending more transparent when it came to power in 2009.

Among the projects that secured a slice of the reconstruction budget, according to the agency, are 330 million yen (about $4.1 million) in fixes to a sports stadium in central Tokyo; 500 million yen (almost $6.3 million) to build roads in Okinawa, over 1,000 miles from the disaster zone; and 2.3 billion yen (almost $29 million) toward measures to protect Japan’s whaling fleet from environmental activists.

A separate audit by Yoshimitsu Shiozaki, an expert in urban planning from Kobe University who looked at 9.2 trillion yens’ worth (over $115 billion) of spending, found that a quarter of that amount was allocated to projects unlikely to directly benefit anyone in the disaster zone.

Big-government spending ends up going towards a “bureaucratic morass” (their words, not mine, but I’m so borrowing)?  You don’t say.  Big-government spending gets earmarked for the districts of influential politicians, not disaster areas?  Go figure.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Law, Miscellanea

Gritting my teeth over the asinine Lena Durham

In case you missed it, Lena Durham has an Obama ad that compares voting to losing one’s virginity.  As an accomplished woman, I find it infuriating to be told to vote with my ‘lady parts’, as opposed to getting to vote like men vote – on the economy, the military, the national debt, and quantitative easing.

Since this is a health care policy blog, I’m going to hone in on this gem for today’s rant, whoops, I mean, blog post:

Your first time shouldn’t be with just anybody. You want to do it with a great guy…Someone who cares about and understands women. A guy who cares about whether you get health care insurance, specifically, whether you get birth control.

[Emphasis mine] I’ve been sick and I’ve been injured.  Like, frighteningly sick.  ‘Needed a tumor excised from my breast’ sick. Hit by a car – twice. Fractured a femur on a different occasion.  Had abdominal pain for two years that took three doctors, two ultrasounds, an MRI, and exploratory surgery to diagnose.  Even got whooping cough back in middle school.

And this empty-headed bitch thinks that those things can be compared to having to go to Target to buy her own birth control?

In fact, it’s not just that you can’t compare recreational use of contraception to having a huge chunk of abnormal cells removed from your body; the larger issue is that loading up health insurance plans with mandatory goodies means that in order for me to insure myself against the risk of needing cancer treatment, I have to pay for Sandra Fluke and Lena Durham to do the horizontal bop.

The Mafia couldn’t have dreamed up this good of an “offer you can’t refuse” scenario.  “That’s a nice wife you have there; looks like she’s expecting.  Wouldn’t want anything to happen to her during delivery or to your new baby, right?  So you would be willing to pay for the contraception of every irresponsible adult woman in America, right? Thought so.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Bioethics, Individual Mandate, ObamaCare

Brain Dead in Denmark

When 19-year-old Carina Melchior was diagnosed as being brain-dead after a car accident, her parents agreed to donate her organs.  Her respirator was shut off; yet, she continued to breathe. She is now making a full recovery.  (Story.) The hospital claims that there is no possibility of a false diagnosis of brain death [perhaps because the person would continue to live].

After this incident became public, hundreds of people in Denmark struck their names from the rolls of potential organ donors.  Miss Melchior’s family believes that this mistake was made because doctors are desperate for organs and saw her as a source of them, not as human with potential to live.

Not to point out the obvious or anything, but from a totally utilitarian point, they are right: we can save more lives by harvesting organs from a young, healthy person than we can from letting that young person live while would-be organ recipients die.  One healthy human has two healthy lungs, two kidneys, liver nodes, a gallon of blood, a heart, and all sorts of other fun stuff that can be used to save about a dozen lives.  One life versus a dozen lives? Given that perverse incentive to kill the person with a moral right to her organs, why are we shocked when doctors make questionable calls?

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Bioethics

ObamaCare’s perverse incentives

Robert Samuelson explains how ObamaCare harms the people it is most intended to help.  By requiring, for example, that employers provide insurance to employees who work more than thirty hours per week, employers of part-time, low-skilled, and seasonal employees have a huge incentive to reduce their employees’ hours.

As first reported in the Orlando Sentinel, Darden Restaurants — owners of about 2,000 outlets, including the Red Lobster and Olive Garden chains — is studying ways to shift more employees under the 30-hour ceiling. About three-quarters of its 185,000 workers are already under, says spokesman Rich Jeffers. The question is “can we go higher and still deliver a great [eating] experience.” The financial stakes are sizable. Suppose Darden moves 1,000 servers under 30 hours and avoids paying $5,000 insurance for each. The annual savings: $5 million.

As a reaction to Obamacare, this makes business sense, but in other ways, it doesn’t. Waiters and waitresses going below 30 hours a week will lose income. They make about $15 an hour with tips, says Jeffers. A server who drops five hours would lose $75 a week.

I’ll also add that it is very difficult for people in that position to work a second job: the hours of the first job are so unpredictable that a second job cannot be reliably scheduled around it.  That lost income is pure lost income – difficult or impossible to make up with another job.  (Also, I would presume that most people would prefer to work one full-time job, not two part-time jobs, and that most people would prefer mediocre benefits to getting no benefits in an attempt to get amazing benefits.)

Leave a comment

Filed under Economics, Employer Mandate, ObamaCare

Ayn Rand, prophet

I saw Atlas Shrugged Part II this weekend, so Rand was on my mind when I read this:

And it’s not just sad cows. Family owned Zacky Farms just filed for bankruptcy protection. They raise millions of turkeys and chickens, and they can’t afford to feed their flocks either. The corn is going to ethanol and pricing them out of business. And in addition to jacking up the cost of feed corn, it’s hitting pretty much the entire spectrum of food.

  • Cereal and bakery product prices have increased almost 77%
  • Meat, poultry, fish and egg prices have increased 78%
  • Fat and vegetable oil prices have increased more than 444%

There is, as the first linked article notes, a provision in the existing EPA E10 rules – which mandate 10% ethanol in your fuel – that allows for the rule to be lifted during an emergency. Thus far six states have considered it enough of an emergency to petition asking for the rule to be lifted. The EPA’s response to date has been to stay on course to head toward E15 rules.

E15, i.e. gasoline blended to be 15% ethanol, does not destroy engines quite as efficiently as sodium silicate, but does so eventually.  (So does E10.)  The metaphor of this Administration destroying engines is not lost on me, hence the Rand reference.

If you are trying to undermine the economy, destroy the independent working class and middle class, starve people, and ruin cars all at once, the E10 and E15 plans are pure genius.  If that isn’t your goal, then you’re criminally stupid and should not be trusted with cleaning out a litter box, let alone matters of national importance.

Leave a comment

Filed under Economics, Miscellanea

EPA sued for unethical and illegal human experimentation

Steve Milloy filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency for exposing people (particularly senior citizens, sick people, and the poor) to air pollution in an attempt to study its effects on humans.  (Link and one more.)  Milloy’s suit claims that the EPA paid people $12/hour to be exposed to PM2.5, a diesel-engine byproduct that the EPA itself states is so deadly that there is no healthy level of exposure.   The lawsuit also claims that there was not proper informed consent, nor was the study even appropriate for human trial.

(Interestingly, if the EPA defends its actions by saying there is a safe level of PM2.5 for exposure, the lawsuit then asks that the EPA revise its regulations concerning the particulate matter to reflect that.)

Leave a comment

Filed under Bioethics

This guy sounds like a catch even *before* he won the lottery

Sandeep Singh is a 22-year-old Hyannis man who played the lottery a few weeks after his girlfriend dumped him.  He won $4 in a scratch ticket, bought a few MegaMillions tickets.  One of them was  a winner, good for $30.5 million. Here’s the touching part:

Singh said he will definitely share the money with his sister, who is his only sibling. He plans to pay off his mother’s mortgage, share the prize with family, and donate money to charity.

“Just pay my mom’s house off, that’s the main thing,” he said.

Singh has been helping pay his family’s bills for years, working multiple jobs to make ends meet.

He started working at McDonald’s as a teenager. He said he will be giving his two weeks’ notice at Best Buy. Singh also works as a teller at Citizens Bank and said he will give his two weeks’ notice at the end of the fiscal quarter in December, according to the state lottery.

“My dad was around and then he passed away my freshman year of high school, so that’s when I really started helping out,” he said. “My mom needs the help and my family could use it, so God definitely helped us out at the right time.”

Singh studied computer science for two years at Cape Cod Community College and hopes to use some of the money to get his bachelor’s degree in business. Singh said he never thought much about a “dream school” but will look into the University of Massachusetts.

That’s a good kid with a head on his shoulders.  He works hard, helps his family, works two jobs, studies practical things, and can’t wait to pay off his mom’s mortgage and give money to charity.  Good for him.

Leave a comment

Filed under Miscellanea

Archaeologists find the likely location of Caesar’s murder

On the Ides of March, 44 B.C.E., Caesar was stabbed by rival Roman Senators.  Now, archaeologists have found a memorial to Caesar in the Curia of Pompey where the emperor was murdered.

Leave a comment

Filed under Miscellanea

Quelle Surprise!

The D.C. Health Benefit Exchange Authority, which regulates insurance exchanges within the District of Columbia, voted unanimously to require all small businesses [i.e. with fewer than fifty employees] to purchase employee health insurance through the government-run exchanges. (In 2016, businesses with fewer than one hundred employees will likely be required to join the exchanges.)

The move was opposed by more than 150 small businesses in Washington.

So much for “If you like your insurance, you can keep it.”  This also stifles small businesses and imposes requirements on them that are not imposed on larger businesses.  Moreover, ObamaCare made it impossible for small businesses and non-profits to form coalitions to buy health insurance at discounted group rates; a problem created by the government is, quelle surprise, “solved” by more government intervention.

Leave a comment

Filed under Employer Mandate, ObamaCare

The Pioneer Institute on the “Cadillac Tax” that will hit Massachusetts residents

Full brief is here.

As Josh Archambault explains, Massachusetts has very high premiums and health care costs.  The “Cadillac tax” is the Scylla of ObamaCare: get too fancy a health care plan, pay a penalty.  (The Charybdis element – get too basic a health care plan, like one that doesn’t cover contraception, and pay a fee – is more well-known.)

As Archambault explains, many middle-class families in the Commonwealth will pay this penalty:

For the 10 years following the introduction of the tax:

  • Business employee on a family plan will owe $86,905 in additional taxes.
  • Police officer on a family plan will owe $53,907 in additional taxes.
  • Teacher on an individual plan will owe $20,807 in additional taxes.

I’m not a RomneyCare fan.  We all know that.  But RomneyCare at least helps Massachusetts remain as the mecca for the best medical care in the world.  ObamaCare does the opposite: it reduces payments for Medicare (which accounts for 50% of hospital spending in Massachusetts), taxes health care plans that pay for MGH and Brigham & Women’s, and taxes medical devices at 2.5% of total sales.

Leave a comment

Filed under Individual Mandate, MA Health Care, ObamaCare