THE NEWSLETTER

Today's Note From a Madman

Monday, April 11, 2005

 

Madman:
94% of the people in Canada polled say they love the Canadian Health Care plan.
Hint Hin
t

Doctor:
There is a lot to like about it. The problem is that they have hyperinflation as well and deal with it by allocating a fixed amount to each region, when the region runs out of money, they are out of luck
.

Madman:
So what is the answer to a plan like Canada's that works, but needs a little help?


-Noah Greenberg


In response to the DOCTOR'S Health Care Plan, Robert Scardapane writes:


So, our payroll tax will cover health care. Does that mean the Doctor is advocating government provided health care insurance for all? How much tax will be taken out? I want to understand the solution at a high level rather than diving into a mountain of bulleted items.

Well, I knew that medical tort would be in there somewhere. A tort should be decided based on the degree of harm - the loss of wages and additional health care costs incurred by the malpractice. I don't think that a fixed dollar amount can be pre-determined. I have no problem with limiting the pain and suffering dollar amount.

Alarm bells are going off in my head. I am not a gun owner but I do believe that we have the right to own guns (civil liberty). Attempting to outlaw guns as a condition for medical coverage is a non-starter. People will get guns no matter what you do. The best we can do is to require registration and safety education.

I have a major quarrel with an item in the list of so-called solutions for the medical cost problem. I am taking a medication that my doctor explicitly told me NOT to use a generic because of evidence that the generic is not 100% equivalent to the brand name. It's unfair to pass the pharmaceutical corporations quality problems on to the consumer by forcing them to use inferior products.

It's always good to extend a debate. Smart people make smart proposals. -NG


GREAT QUOTE

"They just shouldn't lose their memos,"
-Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) in response to the FACT that Republicans, Senator Mel Martinez’s office in particular, have now admitted they wrote the infamous Schiavo memo. Now it makes sense why Sen. Nelson, a democrat from Florida, was one of the talking points as someone that could be hurt in the Schiavo case.

CATHOLICS FORGIVE PAST TRANSGRESSIONS NO MATTER HOW SINFUL

Cardinal Bernard Law, who was forced to resign in disgrace as archbishop of Boston two years ago for protecting sexually abusive priests, was named by the Vatican today as one of nine prelates who will have the honor of presiding over funeral Masses for Pope John Paul II. By permitting Cardinal Law to take the limelight in Rome just when the church is mourning the death of John Paul, the cardinals have reminded American Catholics that their most painful recent chapter barely registered in the Vatican. After he stepped down in Boston in 2003, he was given a spacious apartment and a prestigious although honorary post in Rome as archpriest of the Basilica of St. Mary Major.
-Laurie Goodstein, The NY Times, April 8, 2005

THE EPA LOOSES ITS E & P or A TOXIC EPA

On Thursday Senators Boxer (D-CA) and Nelson (D-FL) held a press conference to explain the reasons they put a “hold” on the nomination of Stephen L. Johnson as EPA Administrator to delay it moving out of committee. Sen. Boxer asked him directly to curtail a Florida program that tests pesticides in homes with young children over a two-year period to determine the effect on children. The program is reportedly on hold, but Sen. Boxer found there was still information on the website and a telephone number taking information (both were taken down after she pointed this out). Sen. Boxer and Nelson (who’s state the program is in) wanted a guarantee it would be curtailed and never conducted. Mr. Johnson said “NO”. Hence, the hold.

The program requires that families be willing to have their homes sprayed regularly and agree to contact with researchers every 2-6 months to determine results. For all of this risk the families receive $970 (ONLY if they complete the 2 years), some minor-value kids clothes, and a camcorder to record things. Want to know who sponsored the program through the EPA? The American Chemistry Council was very generous in their sponsorship and “generally seeks less stringent regulations for its members' products.” (Tidbit – They used to be called the Chemical Council but American Chemistry Council sounds so much better!)

Dr.’s advised that at the ages required in the study that their systems are very sensitive and effects associated with tests like this would not necessarily show up for years. Leaving one to think it is outrageous and unfathomable to be doing human toxicity testing which clearly endangers the health of those tested and can create serious health issues for years to come.
By the way, human testing was stopped during Clinton’s administration and re-instituted when Bush came to office. Is it a surprise that the area in Florida targeted for this testing was low income where $970 could entice people and make a difference in their budget? It is another unconscionable example of this administrations lack of respect for American citizens.
 

MORAL OF THE STORY: If you create a negative environment and don’t protect people you don’t get to legitimately use the E & P in EPA. They just get an A which may stand for arrogance.
-FELICITY BARRINGER and KENNETH CHANG, The New York Times, April 8, 2005

-Compiled by Casey Sweet


Quote telling it like it is:

"The war has been finished for two years. What did we get? There is no electricity, no services, no nothing."
-One protester from Sadr City, 30-year-old Ali Hussein, told AFP.

Below are two interesting pieces from the WashingtonPost.com on Sunday, April 10, 2005, written by Dana Milbank.

Middle Class Loses Ground

While Democrats and Republicans vie for voters on social issues, the middle class is taking an economic beating, according to the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy. The group, affiliated with Andrew Young, the Democratic former mayor of Atlanta, ranked 14 congressional votes of interest to those earning between $25,000 and $100,000. It reports that the average "middle class score" dropped from 61 to 43 percent in the House in 2003, and from 76 to 52 percent in the Senate in 2003. The group reported a "precipitous plunge" in the middle class score for GOP lawmakers over the period.

Gun Owners and Democrats

Byrd and the Republicans aren't the only ones combing through history in the filibuster debate. The Gun Owners of America, a Second Amendment group even more hard-line than the National Rifle Association, is reminding its members that the filibuster has been used in the past to block a ban on semiautomatic guns, .50-caliber weapons, a ban on gun-show sales, and a trigger-lock mandate.

In an e-mail alert these strange bedfellows of the Democrats in the filibuster fight warned that when "liberal, anti-gun Democrats get back into power and they want to push comprehensive gun bans, gun owners will be the ones using the filibuster." The group, targeting 18 Republican senators, called the filibuster "our greatest weapon for killing gun control."

-Compiled by Casey Sweet


In response to Madman's view on Capital Punishment, and SchwartzAPN's rebuttal, GeorgeMass writes:

I have to agree with SchwartzAPN on this issue. I grew up in England and have lived in the States for 17 years. I accept that the death penalty is a way of life here and would not dare criticize my adopted country on such a personal issue. But I have an opinion.

My position on the death penalty was formed as a child from watching the movie "Ten Rillington Place" starring Richard Attenborough and John Hurt. It details the a case of an innocent man being hung for a crime he didn't commit because he was learning impaired. It was a true case. Definitely worth watching.

I was not brought up in a religious household but was raised with the basic Christian/Judaic moral underpinnings. Watching Ten Rillington Place as a young child it was the concept was seared into my brain; there but for the grace of God go I.

The European Union makes the death penalty a barrier to membership. From my understanding we are partners only with Arab extremist nations in our use of the death penalty.

It's time to shake off our Calvinistic roots and cross the bridge to the 21st Century.

Madman writes back:

I agree that a learning impaired person should not be put to death. I do stand by my argument, however. I believe in the death penalty in the cases I outlined.

All one has to do is close their eyes and picture a loved one lying in a pool of blood. As a deterrent, I agree that the death penalty doesn't work. As punishment, I believe that it does.

-Noah Greenberg


A Nationwide Pay Cut

"Even if your employer hasn't actually cut your pay recently, when you look at the economy as a whole, it's as if all of America has taken a pay cut. That's because, for the first time in 14 years, wages aren't keeping up with inflation . The cost of living is creeping upward while employees' take-home pay stays the same. One reason for this (and, I think, a good reason for outrage) is that corporations are making record profits—but they're not passing any of that money onto their employees. They don't have to. In a stagnant job market like our current one, there are so many people willing to work at nearly any price that corporations can siphon more productivity out of their workers without any increased compensation. Add to this mess the increasingly higher health care premiums that employers are forcing workers to pay, plus cuts in government services that help low-income people, and there should be more than enough outrage to go around."
-Laura Donnelly, TomPaine.com


This is what John Kerry called the economic squeeze. The other inflationary pressures are rising gasoline and education costs. This truly has been a miserable decade thus far for most Americans.

Some see climbing profits and stagnant wages as not only unfair but also ultimately unsustainable. "Those that are baking the larger pie ought to see their slices expanding," said Jared Bernstein, an economist with the liberal Economic Policy Institute in Washington.

But higher wages could hurt the economy by stoking inflation further. Employers might pass the costs on to consumers in higher prices, and that in turn might prompt the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates more aggressively, possibly slowing the recovery or even triggering a recession.

For now, workers' wallets are being pummeled by something of a perfect storm of economic forces: a weak job market, rising health insurance premiums and other inflationary pressures.

-Robert Scardapane


In response to Madman's, "In light of that, when President Bush says he's going to privatize Social Security, but he's not going to touch all that money from the early baby-boomers, don't you believe him. When President Bush says there is no money in the lock box, just IOU's, you should believe him because his government, which borrowed over $600 million of that money has no intention of paying it back," Robert Scardapane writes:

In fact, Bush at one time said no baby-boomer would be effected and yet people between 45-55, the height of the baby boom, are effected by the White House's proposal (or is it still just their principles?). So, this is a real big Bush flip-flop.

On the subject of worthless IOU's, imagine Bush flying to China and meeting with a Chinese banker who shows him a vault filled with United States treasury bonds. Bush, the perennial joker, quips that is worthless paper. What would be the reaction? At the very least, I would expect outrage; at worse, a huge sell off of treasury bonds and tepid interest in new auctions. As I have remarked before, playing the worthless IOU card is criminally reckless scare tactics.


In regard to a confused Santorum, Robert Scardapane writes:

In case you hadn't noticed Bush is drawing some heat from Repubs on the money he is spending for the 60 day privatization propaganda campaign.

Bush also has a MBA. He never lets his degree get in the way of making a ridiculous economic argument. For example, his solution to the trade deficit is for Americans to buy American products. We would if we could!

I was also appalled to see our new Commerce Secretary Gutierrez working the Bush/Rove's social security "war" room. Shouldn't he be working on the China WTO textile dumping case we just filed? Thousands of textile workers are losing their job each and every day. I think that merits the Commerce Secretary's immediate attention.


Britain's Future

I seen a very interesting segment with viewers reacting to speeches by Tony Blair (Labor Party), Charles Kennedy (Liberal Democrat Party) and Michael Howard (Conservative Party). I was truly amazed that Charles Kennedy got the best reaction. In fact, the Liberal Democrats, positioned to the left of the Labor Party, have been making progress at the local level. They may not win this time around but are expected to take more seats in the Parliament. I think our friends from across the pond are trending toward the left. The Labor Party is now the centrists and the Conservatives are moving more right. Makes me wonder if there really is room for a third party in this country.

-Robert Scardapane


Stupid Quotes

 

"The United States is committed to the success of the United Nations, and we view the U.N. as an important component of our diplomacy,"
-John R. Bolton, at his Senate confirmation hearing to become the new US ambassador to the UN

"There's no such thing as the United Nations" and that the International Court of Justice is a "pretend court."
-John R. Bolton, as he spoke his mind and stated that the
United Nations Security Council needs only one permanent member, the United States, thus stating all other members of the UN are obsolete.

Is this the guy we want as our front man at the UN? Which statement depicts the REAL John R. Bolton?

President Bush, must everything you do piss someone off? There must have been someone better than John Bolton.

 

-Noah Greenberg


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-Noah Greenberg