Democrats Are Denying Basic Economics

The simplest way to understand economics is that it is a reckoning with unavoidable tradeoffs. If you spend money on something, you may obtain something in return—but you lose the ability to use those resources on something else. In the world of politics, economics helps us weigh the merits of those tradeoffs. It answers the question: Do the benefits of a policy outweigh the costs? Sometimes the benefits are larger. Sometimes they are meager or even nonexistent. But there are always costs. To acknowledge this is merely to acknowledge reality.

Under President Joe Biden, however, Democrats in Washington have decided that they can simply wish those tradeoffs away by declaring that they do not exist. Over and over again, they have argued that their policies do not or should not have any costs whatsoever.

Just this week, for example, White House press secretary Jen Psaki responded to a question about the tax impact of the $3.5 trillion spending plan now working its way through Congress by declaring that “there are some…who argue that in the past companies have passed on these costs to consumers…we feel that that’s unfair and absurd and the American people would not stand for that.”

When taxes are raised on corporations—the “companies” in Psaki’s response—corporations often respond by passing that tax on to others. In some cases, they pass costs to consumers. In others, as the Cato Institute’s Scott Lincicome wryly notes on Twitter, they reduce the amount they would have otherwise spent on wages. They have to pay more to do business, and so they make adjustments accordingly. Costs create consequences and tradeoffs.

Source: Democrats Are Denying Basic Economics

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Puberty Blockers

If informed consent is one of the pillars of clinical bioethics, puberty blockers fail the test, according to a leading psychiatrist and constitutional lawyer writing in the magazine Commentary. Paul McHugh, an emeritus professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins, and Gerard V. Bradley, a law professor at Notre Dame, argue that neither young people nor their parents can possibly understand what they are missing by delaying puberty, one of the most mysterious aspects of human physiology.

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Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Masks, and the Deadly Falsehoods Surrounding Them

In a terse essay titled “Science and Dictatorship,” Albert Einstein warned that “Science can flourish only in an atmosphere of free speech.” And on his deathbed, Einstein cautioned, “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted in important affairs.”

Source: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Masks, and the Deadly Falsehoods Surrounding Them

Even With Climate Change, the World Isn’t Doomed

Scott Adams has his “Law of Slow Moving Disasters”. Any disaster that we can see coming from a long way away tends to get solved long before it reaches us.

Humanity has overcome far greater problems before and can do so again.

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Young people across the world are terrified of climate change, according to a forthcoming Lancet study. More than 45% of people 16 to 25 in the 10 countries surveyed are so worried that it affects their daily life and functioning. Almost half of young Americans believe “humanity is doomed,” and two-thirds think “the future is frightening.” But while climate change is a problem, panic is unwarranted.

The data show that humanity has overcome much larger threats over the past century. In 1900, if humanity had gotten rid of air pollution—mostly indoor pollution caused by smoky fuels like wood and dung—the benefit would have been equivalent to global gross domestic product rising 23%. To a young audience, that might look like an insufficient measure of well-being, but higher GDP means better health, lower mortality, greater access to education and in general a better standard of living. By 2050 the problem of air pollution will be mostly solved. And that’s only one of the many issues humanity has shorn down over the last 100 years, according to data 21 top economists and I gathered.

….

The challenge climate change poses, both to the environment and society, looks rather small compared to those humanity has already met. Noble Prize-winning climate economist William Nordhaus has shown that a 6.3-degree Fahrenheit rise in world temperatures by 2100—which is probable if policy makers do little to stop climate change—would cost only 2.8% of global GDP a year. The United Nations’ latest estimate puts it even lower at 2.6% of GDP for a 6.6-degree Fahrenheit increase.

Moreover, the U.N. expects the average person to be 450% as rich in 2100 as today, absent the cost of climate change. Following current temperature projections, global warming would knock that down to only 434% as rich. That’s a problem, but it isn’t the end of the world.

Source: Even With Climate Change, the World Isn’t Doomed

Teach Men not to Rape

Facebook: “Tell men not to rape”
Me: “I think you just did.”

The Writer in Black

Saw the claim yet again on the Book of Faces that instead of teaching women how to protect themselves we should teach men and boys not to rape or be abusive.

That’s a great idea. There’s just one problem. There are over 3.9 billion men and boys in the world. That’s a lot of individuals to teach. And how effective can we expect that teaching to be? If we are 90% successful with a mere 10% not being willing to get the message, that’s still 390 million abusers and rapists out there. If we are 99% effective, with only one person in a hundred proving resistant to our efforts, that’s still 39 million abusers or rapists. If we’re 99.9999% effective, that’s still 3900 abusers or rapists.

We’ve been trying to teach people not to murder since Moses supposedly came down from the Mount and yet…here we are. Some people just…

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Food in fiction

Still, food in fiction is a great opportunity for your reader to enjoy some vicarious strangeness (not all of it nice). I got to write about the delights of hákarl and soldier termites in various books. I think it was Sir Terry Pratchett who said everything tastes a bit like chicken if you’re hungry enough. Trust me on this: hákarl never tastes like chicken. Not even if you are starving.

Source: Food in fiction

Covid Munchausen by Proxy?

If you’ve ever heard of the psychological disorder Munchausen Syndrome, you have probably also heard of a related disorder called Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, defined as

a mental health problem in which a caregiver makes up or causes an illness or injury in a person under his or her care…

Source: Munchausen Syndrom by Proxy

Munchausen by Proxy also shows up in TV shows and movies. Perhaps most notably in “The Sixth Sense” where the ghost of a child alerted the ghost seer to the evidence of his being slowly poisoned.

But what if the syndrome also affects public health officials — including the person leading the U.S. response to COVID-19, Dr. Anthony Fauci?

Does that sound preposterous to you?

….

I watched a clip recently of a weather person talking about a tropical storm heading toward Texas. It’s not a hurricane, the person admitted, but then she quickly added that we should still be terrified. It could turn into a hurricane before landfall! There could be flooding! There could be tornadoes!

And yes, I rolled my eyes.

Not that I object to being warned when there’s a notable weather system headed in my direction. But there’s something about being in the disaster-warning business that incentivizes people toward behaviors that feel vaguely unbalanced.

And here’s the thing: I’ve picked up on that same vibe when I’ve watched people talk about the COVID pandemic.

And then I came across a link to an old article titled “AIDS and the AZT Scandal,” published by Spin in 1989.

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As you may know, some of the same health authorities who were in charge during the AIDS crisis are still in charge today. Anthony Fauci — yes, that Anthony Fauci — would later come under criticism, in fact, for over-hyping the dangers of “casual” AIDS transmission.

That’s not an overstatement. Anthony Fauci was “the guy” who started an AIDS panic media feeding frenzy by suggesting in a Journal of American Medicine article that HIV could be transmitted by casual contact. (Per the link, Fauci would later call that very claim — the unsubstantiated claim that he, himself, propagated — “preposterous.” Remind you of anything yet?)

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What concerns me is that I see a pattern.

How to catch an abusive “caregiver.”

Let’s go back to that Psychiatric Times article on Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy that I referenced at the beginning of this post — the one that told us how good abusive caregivers are at hiding what they’re doing.

The most effective way to identify abusive caregivers, writes this article’s author, is to look at a patient’s medical records. Look for clues or patterns that indicate a caregiver is misleading clinicians. Give preference to data submitted by clinicians who directly observe documented information, rather than relying on accounts provided by the suspected abuser. Think about whether records make clinical sense.

Chronologically summarizing each medical contact into a table reveals patterns of health care utilization and parent/caregiver behavior in a format that is easy to analyze.

—“MUNCHAUSEN BY PROXY AND FACTITIOUS DISORDER IMPOSED ON ANOTHER,” PSYCHIATRIC TIMES

 

That’s what we need to do.

We need to look for patterns.

….

Here are some of the patterns I see.

Fauci seeks media and public attention. He clearly relishes being viewed as a caring, even sacrificial person.

He often makes statements that seem careless — and that throw the public into a panic.

He has, on more than one occasion, touted unproven drugs as being magical cures. These drugs later turned out to be useless at best. At worst, they exacerbated peoples’ suffering.

So what we should be asking…

Are “patients” who accept Fauci’s “care” better off than patients who do not?

PICC Line Works

Friday, I got a PICC line installed. I was told the procedure would take 45 minutes, and technically, it did.
This did not, however, count the set-up and the follow-up. It took about an hour to assemble the mise en place, and then after the line was in, it took another hour for a chest x-ray and to generate the appointments for the weekly dressing change.

However, the line seems to be accomplishing its purpose. Right after the line was installed, it was used to draw blood for my lab tests, and today it was used for the infusion of my monoclonal antibodies. I decided to accept the offer of a PICC line the day it took five tries to get a working IV started. Today, no tries at all because there was a line sticking out of my arm. No need to make new holes.

Alas, there are entities in Kaiser that aren’t allowed to hook up to the PICC. So over Thanksgiving Weekend, I’ll probably have to take myself to a clinic lab, and they’ll have to make a fresh hole in me. Hopefully, after the veins have had a rest, it’ll be easier for them. (Actually, they haven’t had much trouble with a blood draw.)

The PICC (Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter) line is a catheter that’s installed into a vein, and then threaded up to the superior vena cava. This spot is chosen because it’s nice and wide, and when strong drugs are injected, there’s time for some dilution to occur before they reach the wall of the vein. I’m under the impression that the current drugs, a monoclonal antibody and a bone-strengthening agent, aren’t that nasty. But they’ll be diluted anyway.

And so with this, my exploration of 21st Century medicine continues.

Those Nasty White People

If you search for references to potlach you will find gobs of positive portrayals of it as a gift giving festival with great symbolism as the giving or destroying valuables shows how wealthy you are.  Both the Canadian and American governments banned potlaches for many years because of those mean old missionaries.   I had a vague memory of the potlach that was so dark that the laws made sense.  With a little digging, I found it here.

The destruction of goods as a show of wealth could include either the freeing or killing of slaves, who were usually acquired specifically for potlach.

Source: Those Nasty White People

Do We Really Need New Anti-Asian Hate Crime Laws?

A holistic look at the data shatters the narrative about bias-based violence.

In March, a man opened fire at Young’s Asian Massage, just north of Atlanta. Later, he shot up two more Atlanta-area Asian spas. All told, eight people were killed. Six of them were Asian women. Was this a hate crime? Clearly, it targeted a certain sort of business.

….

Yet if Long was motivated by anti-Asian or anti-female bias, this would be considered, under Georgia and federal law, a hate crime. If he was motivated by hatred of sex workers, it would not. This ambiguity perfectly encapsulates the tangled logic behind U.S. hate crime laws.

….

The first half of 2021 was awash in stories about an alleged spike in bias-based actions against Asians in the United States. From TV ads to newspaper articles to the halls of Congress, stopping “Asian hate” became a major rallying cry. A New York Times headline from April 3 conjured “swelling anti-Asian violence” in America. “Covid ‘hate crimes’ against Asian Americans on rise,” warned the BBC, while Voice of America reported that “Hate Crimes Targeting Asian Americans Spiked by 150% in Major US Cities.”

The narrative was based on a grain of truth: In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Asians do seem to have faced an increase in verbal harassment—and occasionally worse—in some U.S. cities. But increases were far from consistent, and overall incident numbers remained quite small.

For instance, New York City saw an 833 percent rise in anti-Asian incidents between 2019 and 2020, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB). That certainly sounds dire. Yet the leap represents a rise from three incidents in 2019 to 28 incidents in 2020—in a city with an Asian population of 1.2 million overall.

Many reports of a supposed surge in anti-Asian animosity relied on data from CSUSB, which culled police records to assess bias-based incidents in 16 big U.S. cities. It found only one (Washington, D.C.) with a decline in anti-Asian incidents and one (Chicago) with no change. Data from the other cities looked grim: Anti-Asian incidents were up 150 percent in San Jose, 133 percent in Boston, and 114 percent in Los Angeles.

Yet expressing the data in terms of the percentage increase can be misleading. The raw numbers went from four to 10 in San Jose, six to 14 in Boston, and seven to 15 in Los Angeles. Cleveland, Dallas, and Philadelphia each saw six incidents in 2020, up from zero to two in 2019. Cincinnati and San Diego went from zero to one; Phoenix from two to three; San Francisco from six to nine; and Seattle from nine to 12.

Another much-cited figure came from a group called Stop AAPI Hate, which reported a staggering 3,795 hate incidents against Asians and Pacific Islanders between March 19, 2020, and February 28, 2021. But unlike the CSUSB study, this figure came from self-reports to the group’s hotline, not police records. And its reporting went far beyond potentially criminal incidents.

The Stop AAPI Hate tally lumps together physical attacks and serious crimes with verbal insults, discrimination, and “shunning.” If someone crossed the street or moved aside when an Asian person walked by, and the Asian person perceived it as deliberate avoidance based on race, that would be counted among the group’s statistics. (Notably, the period in question was during a pandemic, when many were going out of their way to avoid crossing paths with others, regardless of race.) Overall, 68.1 percent of reported incidents were verbal harassment, an additional 6.8 percent were online harassment, and 20.5 percent were shunning. Only around 11 percent of incidents reported to AAPI—or 421—alleged physical contact.

None of this is to diminish the emotional pain or fear that taunts or avoidance can cause. But it does add important context. Talk of hate crimes and bias incidents tends to conjure images of vandalism and violence. This makes the idea of even a small increase appear extremely dangerous to the targeted group and drives up trepidation among members of the community. As an example, several Asian teen girls told NPR in April that they were afraid to leave home or partake in ordinary activities.

Source: Do We Really Need New Anti-Asian Hate Crime Laws?