The Profit Motive vs. Socialized Medicine: A Blast from the Past

You (that’s you personally, whoever you might be) have access to far more in the way of medical treatment and medications because companies like Dow and Lilly were allowed to make money than if we had followed some ivory tower “good of society” model.

At my age, I take quite a few medications. More than half of them are “$4 generics” at my local Kroger, that’s $4 flat without insurance, and that’s medicines that didn’t even exist when I was a boy, medicines that only exist because companies like Lilly and Dow have been profitable places for people to invest money, have paid high salaries to attract some scary smart researchers and technicians to develop these new medicines and treatments.

Without these newer medicines I would be limited to the medicines my parents and grandparents had, medicines that were less effective, or with more and more severe side effects.  Thanks, but no.

Companies, with a profit motive developed smaller and less expensive X-Ray units.  Because of this my doctor has one in his office.  When I have an impact or joint injury I can get an X-Ray right there–immediately–without needing to go to the ER or scheduling an appointment with a hospital radiology department.  Less expensive and quicker diagnosis.

The same profit motive led to the development of portable EKG machines which my doctor also keeps in his office.  My annual exam includes an EKG every time.  Should I start to develop heart problems early diagnosis means early treatment with much better chances for my continued breathing. (I’m in favor of breathing and would like to continue doing it.) [Edit, 2017:  As of my last exam that had changed.  New regulation.  Ne government regulations, had required the insurance to no longer cover EKG’s as part of the annual exam.  Now they’re only covered after some heart problem is indicated.  Thus, thanks to the interference of government “helping” with health care, I am at more risk and the use of diagnostic tools that might save my life is delayed.]

The same profit motive led to the CAT scan unit being right there in my local hospital after my last auto accident. (Rear ended by a Tahoe while I was leaning forward to change stations on the radio putting me at about the worst possible posture for a whiplash injury.)  They’re everywhere.  They’re everywhere because people with profit motive made them available.

The same profit motive led to improvements in glucometers so I can quickly and reliably check my blood sugar with less pain and fuss than my mother did a scant two decades ago.

I could go on and on.

And if I can’t afford the latest and greatest? Well, I didn’t have it before either so I can’t really complain that much. And if only the latest and greatest can save my life and I don’t have it? Well, sucks to be me in that case, I guess. But although I may not have it, my daughter will. After all, yesterday’s “latest and greatest” is today’s “cheap and ubiquitous”.  But hamstring the Lillys and Dows of the world by undercutting profit and going to some Marxist “according to his need” (which is what that “they are necessities” amounts to) and she won’t.

Writer in Black: Profit Motive vs Socialized Medicine

School Attacks, Saving Lives, Part 8, 2018

The arming of school staff is not a panacea.  It cannot replace competent, practical identification and intervention programs–which include intelligent, aware teachers simply keeping their eyes and ears open–which might help to prevent–or interdict–some school shootings before they begin.  It is, rather, a very low or no cost protective measure for worst-case scenarios that has the great benefit of providing credible deterrence if properly publicized.

Arming willing staff is like providing fire extinguishers.Most teachers will complete an entire career without needing a fire extinguisher, but when they do need one, they need it immediately, badly, and nothing else will do.  So it is with firearms.

I’m about to provide a scenario based on reality.  I have been there and done that, in the classroom and in the responding police car.  A law enforcement agency in which I served as a SWAT officer actually responded to a juvenile shooter in a large high school.  In that case, the police—as is almost always true–had no real effect, despite actually being on site and in the building. In virtually every case, the police arrive too late to make any difference.  While the team was organizing and making plans (I happened to be out of town for that call-out) the absent-minded shooter became distracted by, of all things, a pizza, and put down his shotgun in the classroom where he was holding fellow students hostage.  A quick thinking youngster grabbed the shotgun, ending the affair.  Miraculously, no one was injured, and as in virtually every school attack, the police had no role in ending the incident–other than delivering the pizza the young terrorist demanded–which eventually distracted him.

School Attacks, Saving Lives, Part 8

Charter Schools Dodge a Bullet

C Two bills that would have deeply wounded the popular schools of choice are dead…for now.

Last week, two seemingly sure-shot bills were deep-sixed in the California legislature. AB 1506 would have placed a ceiling on the number of charter schools allowed in the state – the magic number being those in existence at the end of this year. A new school could open only if another had closed. Additionally, the more draconian SB 756 would have placed a moratorium on any new schools whatsoever until Jan. 1, 2022.

California Policy Center

The specter of unregulated schools was raised, but:this provokes the snark:

CTA president Eric Heins used the standard union mantra by insisting that the charter school industry in California has risen “without any accountability or transparency.” (Memo to Heins: Stop your hypocritical rant about accountability. California’s latest NAEP scores are pathetic. On the 2017 test, the state was near the bottom nationally, with 69 percent of 4th grade students not proficient in both math and reading. So maybe harping only on charter “accountability” is not a good idea.)

ibid

Frankly, the data keep showing that charter schools outperform public schools in many ways. If they’re so bad, lacking accountability and everything else, what does that say about public schools?

Data Disprove the ‘Voter Suppression’ Myth – WSJ

It just so happens that two weeks ago the Census Bureau released a report on voter turnout in 2018, which climbed 11 percentage points from the last midterm election, in 2014, and surpassed 50% for the first time since 1982. Moreover, the increased turnout was largely driven by the same minority voters Democrats claim are being disenfranchised. Black turnout grew around 27%, and Hispanic turnout increased about 50%. An analysis of the census data published by the Pew Research Center found that “all major racial and ethnic groups saw historic jumps in voter turnout” last year.

None of this comes as news to anyone who pays attention to sober facts instead of inflammatory rhetoric. The black voter turnout rate for the most part has grown steadily since the 1990s. This has occurred notwithstanding an increase in state voter-ID requirements over the same period. In 2012 blacks voted at higher rates than whites nationwide, including in Georgia, which was one of the first states in the country to implement a photo-ID requirement for voting. Ms. Abrams claims that Republicans have been hard at work trying to disenfranchise black voters, but the reality is that black voter registration is outpacing white registration in the Peach State.

Nor is it at all clear that minority voters share the view of politicians and activists who have chosen to racialize a debate over ensuring the accuracy and integrity of U.S. elections. Ms. Harris may feel that identification requirements for banking and flying should not apply to voting, but most people don’t have a problem with them. In a 2016 Gallup poll, voter-ID laws were supported by 4 in 5 respondents, including 95% of Republicans, 63% of Democrats, 81% of whites and 77% of nonwhites. In a 2012 survey published by the Washington Post, approval was similarly broad and deep, with 78% of whites, 65% of blacks and 64% of Hispanics expressing support for voter ID laws. When will Democrats learn how to lose an election without playing the race card?

Source: Data Disprove the ‘Voter Suppression’ Myth – WSJ

Of course, it’s only data. What do facts matter when you can point to a single hard case?

Trump as a Success

I didn’t vote for Donald Trump. I was afraid his obviously improvised campaign, imprecise explanations concerning how he planned to achieve his policy goals, and unsettling antics presaged a disastrous one-term presidency if he somehow managed to win. Unlike Bill Kristol and his ilk, however, I never considered voting for the execrable Hillary Clinton. So, knowing that Trump would win my deep red state anyway, I voted for what’s-his-name from New Mexico. Predictably, I was surprised when Trump won. But that was nothing compared to the astonishment I experienced when it dawned on me that he’s a remarkably effective President.

….

Trump’s most conspicuous successes have involved the economy. Under his predecessor GDP growth was characterized by the kind of malaise that prevailed during the Carter era, and we were told that a growth rate of about 2% and an unemployment rate of about 4.5% was the new normal. Trump rejected that prognosis and took steps to energize the economy. Now, despite the somewhat inexplicable meddling with interest rates by the Fed, GDP growth is at 3.4% and the unemployment rate is 3.7%. As Investor’s Business Daily points out, much of this is directly attributable to the Trump tax cuts so often maligned by the Democrats and the media …

American Spectator

5 Environmental and Human Trends Worth Celebrating This Earth Day

Peak Population: The world population will likely peak at 9.8 billion people at around 2080 and fall to 9.5 billion by 2100 in the medium fertility scenariocalculated by demographer Wolfgang Lutz and his colleagues at the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis.

….

Forest Expansion: Global tree canopy cover increased by 2.24 million square kilometers (865,000 square miles) between 1982 and 2016, reported researchers at the University of Maryland in a September 2018 study in ​Nature​.

….

Simon Resource Abundance Index: Data for 50 foundational commodities covering energy, food, materials, and metals was collected by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund between 1980 and 2017. Adjusted for inflation, the prices for 43 commodities declined, two remained equally valuable, and five commodities increased in price. On average, the real price of 50 commodities fell by 36.3 percent.

….

U.S. Air Pollution Trends: The Environmental Protection Agency reports that between 1980 and 2017, U.S. gross domestic product increased 165 percent, vehicle miles traveled increased 110 percent, energy consumption increased by 25 percent, and U.S. population grew by 44 percent. During the same period, emissions of carbon monoxide fell by 72 percent; lead by 99 percent; nitrogen oxides by 61 percent; compounds from automobile exhaust associated with ozone by 54 percent; sulfur dioxide by 89 percent, and particulates by 61 percent. During the same time period, total emissions of the six principal air pollutants dropped by 67 percent.
Peak Farmland: Global arable land (annual crops like wheat and corn) and permanent crops (such as coffee and cocoa) were planted on 1,371 million hectares in 1961. That rose to 1,533 million hectares in 2009. Rockefeller University researcher Jesse Ausubel and his co-authors project a return to 1,385 million hectares in 2060, thus restoring at least 146 million hectares to nature. This is an area two and a half times that of France or the size of ten Iowas. While cropland has continued to expand slowly since 2009, the World Bank reports that land devoted to agriculture (including pastures) peaked in 2000 at 4,918 million hectares and had fallen to 4,862 million hectares by 2015. This human withdrawal from the landscape is the likely prelude to a vast ecological restoration over the course of this century.

Reason Magazine

SPLC is Dysfunctional


But the organization has long been dysfunctional in even deeper ways, and the story of Dees and the SPLC is useful for illustrating some of the worst and most hypocritical tendencies in American liberalism. If we understand the full extent of what went wrong in this organization, we’ll better understand the ways in which a shallow “politics of spectacle” can take hold, and see the kinds of practices that need to be categorically rejected in the pursuit of progressive change.


The Southern Poverty Law Center perfectly shows social change done wrong. It was a top-down organization controlled by an incompetent and venal leadership.* It was hypocritical in the extreme, preaching anti-racism while fostering a racist internal culture and being led by men whose own commitment to equality was questionable. It didn’t care about listening to and incorporating the viewpoints of the people it was supposed to serve. It was obscenely rich in a time of terrible poverty, and squandered much its considerable wealth. Finally, it picked the wrong political targets, and focused on symbolic over substantive change. Each of these practices goes beyond the SPLC, and is endemic to a certain kind of “elite liberalism” that desires “progress” without sacrifice. It is the kind of liberalism recognized by Phil Ochs in 1966, and its chief characteristics are a deep hypocrisy and a lack of willingness to seriously challenge the status quo.


THE SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER IS EVERYTHING THAT’S WRONG WITH LIBERALISM


What the SPLC doesn’t do with its money is a problem. But there is also a problem with what it does do. The story here has been told many times: After beginning as something vaguely resembling a “poverty law” firm in the ’70s, and winning a number of important anti-discrimination fights, the SPLC turned much of its attention to going after “hate groups.” It pursued the Ku Klux Klan in court on behalf of its victims, winning large judgments. Over time, it began to track “hate” across the country, and it now has a 15-person staff producing “intelligence reports” on hate groups.
The SPLC’s shift toward focusing on hate groups was controversial within the organization. Some felt that it would make sense to focus on more systemic problems, like mass incarceration, rather than targeting (usually small) far-right fringe groups. But Dees saw an opportunity for both publicity and fundraising, and he was right. The organization mostly stopped taking death penalty cases (too controversial with donors) and instead focused on neo-Nazis, a group that pretty much everyone despises.
The SPLC devotes a phenomenal amount of effort to chronicling “hate” across the country. Its quarterly “Intelligence Report,” a beautifully-produced glossy magazine about hate groups, is mailed out by the hundreds of thousands. It writes long profiles of hate figures documenting their every bigoted utterance, and keeps tabs on hate groups through its signature “Hate Map.”
There has long been controversy over the SPLC’s “hate watch” activities. Conservatives are constantly complaining that they have been unfairly labeled racists, with mainstream conservative organizations like the Family Research Council landing themselves on the SPLC list. When Maajid Nawaz, a controversial critic of Islamism, was labeled an anti-Muslim extremist by the SPLC, he sued and received a $3 million settlement, plus an apology. One problem here is that the definition of “hate” is very unclear. It supposedly means having “beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people,” but in that case I’m a member of a hate group myself, since I despise bourgeois liberals. The SPLC includes “black nationalism” on its list of hate categories, which means that every time it reports the number of hate groups in America it is including the “New Black Panther Party” (and doing precisely what FOX News did in its own disgraceful reporting on the supposed threat posed by roving gangs of New Black Panthers).
The biggest problem with the hate map, though, is that it’s an outright fraud. I don’t use that term casually. I mean, the whole thing is a willful deception designed to scare older liberals into writing checks to the SPLC. The SPLC reported this year that the number of hate groups in the country is at a “record high,” that it is the “fourth straight year” of hate group growth, and that this growth coincides with Donald Trump’s rise to power. There are now a whopping 1,020 hate groups around the country. America is teeming with hate.

ibid


This whole SPLC set-up strikes me as fraudulent in the extreme. I don’t know how else to describe it. They have a team of people investigating these groups. They have to know that they’re inflating the danger. They know that when they report “over 1,000” hate groups in America, they’ve deliberately excluded membership numbers in order to sound as scary as possible. They’re perpetrating a deception, because they don’t want you to know that groups like the “Asatru Folk Assembly” are no political threat. The SPLC has continuously sent out terrifying lies to make old people part with their money. They’ve become fantastically wealthy from telling people that individual kooks in Kennesaw are “hate groups” on the march. And they’ve done far less with the money they receive than any other comparable civil rights group will do. To me, this is a scam bordering on criminal mail fraud. If you tell people things that aren’t true so that you can take their money and then not use that money for the thing you said you would use it for, you’re a fraudster. I hestitate to say that because I know lots of great people who have worked at the SPLC, and good work is done there. But the Morris Dees model is a scam: It finds as much “hate” as possible in order to make as much money as possible.
If you trawl through the Hate Map for a little while like I did, you may also feel uncomfortable for another reason. Most of the people they’re listing as threats seem as if they are poor and unschooled. I bet if you compared the average annual salary of the SPLC staff to the average salary of the people in these hate groups, you’d find a massive class divide. Whether it’s poor Black people joining weird sects like the United Nuwaupians, or poor white people getting together and calling themselves things like the “Folkgard of Holda & Odin,” these are people on society’s margins. A lot of this seems to be educated liberals having contempt for and fear of angry rednecks.
This is not to say that neo-Nazis aren’t fucking terrifying, or that they don’t pose any threat. The Daily Stormer is a real thing, and there is a lot of dangerous white supremacist nonsense believed by a lot of people. But the “hate” focus is all wrong: The biggest threats to people of color do not come from those who “hate” them, but from those (like the contemporary Republican Party) who are totally indifferent to whether they live or die. This is the frightening thing about contemporary racism: It does not come waving the Confederate flag, it comes waving the American flag.

Here we see what appear to be anti-Republican bona-fides.