Sacrificing rational concern to political correctness

Of course this is from San Francisco!

Congressman Mike Honda Urges FDA to Overturn Ban on Gay Blood Donors
By Michelle Roberts and NBC Bay Area Staff | Monday, Jul 7, 2014 | Updated 4:59 PM PDT

A Bay Area congressman is calling on the Food and Drug Administration to lift the ban preventing gay and bisexual men from donating blood.

Mike Honda (D-San Jose) started an online petition to try to get the FDA to overturn the ban. He says the ban is outdated, discriminatory and based on decades-old fears that have been discounted by science.

“The FDA should end the ban and revise its policy and focus on behavior and individual risk, and not on sexual orientation,” Honda said Monday.

After holding a news conference Monday afternoon, Honda was joined by other leaders – including Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen and County Supervisor Dave Cortese – for a blood drive outside the county administration building on Hedding Street.

More at the link.

Several months ago, when I was being considered as a donor for a bone marrow transplant, they sent me a very detailed questionnaire, wanting to know if I had had sex with another male within the past five years, or, if I had been female, the question was whether I had had sex with any male who had had sex with another male within the last five years. It’s serious business, because, unlike blood donation, if you are donating for a bone marrow transplant, you are the closest match for a specific recipient, and without that transplant, he will die. But I’d have been automatically excluded if I had been homosexual. I did have to go through some blood work, which included an HIV test, and everything came back negative.

It turned out that there was a closer match, so I didn’t have to donate anyway, for which I was glad: a bone marrow donation isn’t a pleasant thing.1 But the obvious question is: why should we tinker with reasonable safety precautions, put in place for a damned good reason, just to be politically correct?

And the obvious answer is: we shouldn’t.
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  1. I’d still have done it, but I sure wasn’t looking forward to it!

Once again, in the states led by Republicans, the economy is getting better faster than in the states led by the Democrats

From The Wall Street Journal:

North Carolina Got It Right on Unemployment Benefits
Unemployment in the Tar Heel State dropped by 17% in the second half of 2013 after extended benefits expired.
By John Hood | July 4, 2014 5:33 p.m. ET

Raleigh, N.C. — A year ago, North Carolina became the first state in the nation to exit the federal government’s extended-benefits program for the unemployed. Facing the prospect of job-killing hikes in payroll taxes to pay back Washington, Gov. Pat McCrory and the state legislature instead reduced the amount and duration of unemployment-insurance benefits, which had been higher in North Carolina than in most states. As a result the state lost its eligibility to participate in the extended-benefits program on July 1, 2013.

National media and liberal activists pounced. Citing the decision and several other “outrages” by the state’s first Republican-led government since Reconstruction—such as adopting a pro-growth flat tax, clearing out the state’s regulatory thicket, and rejecting ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion—left-wing critics subjected the Tar Heel State to months of invective and ridicule.

Within the state, the so-called Moral Monday movement drew thousands of protesters to the capital on a nearly weekly basis. Hundreds of arrests were made for violating the rules of the state’s Legislative Building. Outside the state, liberal media outlets excoriated North Carolina for ending extended benefits. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman called it a “war on the unemployed.” Even some conservative columnists and policy analysts criticized the decision as unwise and inconsistent with the principles of their new “reform conservatism” movement.

So, what actually happened in the Tar Heel State?

North Carolina didn’t descend into the Dickensian nightmare critics predicted. For the last six months of 2013, it was the only state where jobless recipients weren’t eligible for extended benefits. Yet during that period North Carolina had one of the nation’s largest improvements in labor-market performance and overall economic growth.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of payroll jobs in North Carolina rose by 1.5% in the second half of 2013, compared with a 0.8% rise for the nation as a whole. Total unemployment in the state dropped by 17%, compared with the national average drop of 12%. The state’s official unemployment rate fell to 6.9% in December 2013 from 8.3% in June, while the nationwide rate fell by eight-tenths of a point to 6.7%.

There’s more at the link, including a discussion of whether the North Carolina figures are some sort of statistical mirage, or show real progress.

But, I’ll give you a hint as to the answer: it’s not a statistical mirage!

Now, things aren’t perfect in North Carolina, but, then again, things aren’t perfect anywhere this side of heaven. But the unemployment picture is getting better, faster, in a state where the recession hit particularly hard, than is the case for the nation overall. And I’ll be extremely blunt here: job seekers in North Carolina are being motivated by hard necessity. Unemployment insurance is meant to cushion the blow for people who have lost the jobs they once held, to tide them over until they can find other employment, without losing everything. But when unemployment can last for years, the hard motivation of the loss of housing and an empty stomach ebbs, and the experience in Carolina1 indicates that that bitter necessity is yielding employment gains.

Thomas Carlyle is credited with giving economics the appellation of “the dismal science,” and a truly dismal field of study it can be. It is, at heart, a study of how human beings will react to different economic conditions, without a single shred of concern for humanity involved. Too often, people like Paul Krugman believe that a concern for humanity, a sympathy for the plight of the individual, can somehow be added to economics, and government economic policy, to make things better for people, and so very often such ideas fail, because they simply fail to understand, to believe, that economics doesn’t care about the individual.

Economics is, at its most basic level, the aggregate of billions of people taking tens of billions of economic decisions every single day, and those decisions are based upon what each individual sees as being in his best interests, either for himself or his family. What individuals see as their own best interests do not always coincide with what would be in their neighbors’ better interests, and, when you have someone making national economic policy based upon notions of what would be the best thing for our citizens, that someone very frequently estimates wrong concerning the economic decisions that individuals will take concerning various economic stimuli. That is why Marxist economics never worked, and that’s why socialist systems have to try to impose ever greater controls and restrictions on the decisions people can take.2

And thus you have the lingering problem of unemployment insurance. The idea, among the left, is that the extended benefits would simply give the recipients more time to find jobs in this rough economy, but the reality has been, as proved by the experience in North Carolina, that the extended benefits enabled displaced workers to wait longer, living on the benefits, than they needed to actually find jobs. The oh-so-humanitarian policy of making unemployment more bearable resulted in unemployment being more livable, and thus more of an economic choice. The hard edge of privation has proved to be a much stronger motivating force.

Is that nice? Is that kind? No, absolutely not, not in the slightest. But it is real, it is the truth, and it’s high time we did something really radical like told the truth.
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  1. To anyone who has ever lived in southeastern Virginia, North Carolina is usually just Carolina.
  2. Karl Marx based his entire economic theory on the notion that, eventually, everyone would agree and everyone would take their economic decisions the same way. A ten-year-old could have seen that such was a ridiculous notion, but far, far too many adults never could.

Rule 5 Blogging: After Independence Day

It’s the weekend and time, once again, for THE FIRST STREET JOURNAL’S version of Rule 5 Blogging. Robert Stacey Stacy McCain described Rule 5 as posting photos of pretty women somewhat déshabillé, but, on this site, our Rule 5 Blogging doesn’t put up pictures of Megan Fox in her summer clothes, but women, in full military gear, serving their countries in the armed forces. The terribly sexist authors on this site celebrate strong women, women who can take care of themselves and take care of others, women who have been willing to put their lives on the line in some not-so-friendly places, women who truly do have the “We can do it!” attitude.

The Marine's most important job: guarding the MREs!

The Marine’s most important job: guarding the MREs!

Continue reading ‘Rule 5 Blogging: After Independence Day’ »

From Around the Blogroll

Your Editor has been doing a lot of things the past few days other than blogging — yes, he does have areal life! — so this is going to be a quick one.

That’s it for this week! But I’d close by noting that we went up to Memorial Park in Jim Thorpe last night, for the fireworks, and I had to wear long pants and a sweatshirt, on the 5th of July. I want my global warming!

Hector Garza Is About To Take A Trip

Border Patrol Agent – Obama admin. aiding abetting facilitating the smuggling of illegals

THE BROWN SHIRTS ARE HERE THREATENING MEDICAL STAFF OF THE ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS

Hired thugs by the BO Maladministration threatened the Medical Staff treating the hoards of children invading the border.  The Thugs told them that if they say something, they will be ARRESTED.  Is this still the USA?

TODD’S AMERICAN DISPATCH Medical staff warned: Keep your mouths shut about illegal immigrants or face arrest

Todd StarnesBy Todd Starnes
Published July 01, 2014FoxNews.comFacebook5121 Twitter2661 livefyre2412

A government-contracted security force threatened to arrest doctors and nurses if they divulged any information about the contagion threat at a refugee camp housing illegal alien children at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, sources say.

In spite of the threat, several former camp workers broke their confidentiality agreements and shared exclusive details with me about the dangerous conditions at the camp. They said taxpayers deserve to know about the contagious diseases and the risks the children pose to Americans. I have agreed to not to disclose their identities because they fear retaliation and prosecution.

“There were several of us who wanted to talk about the camps, but the agents made it clear we would be arrested,” a psychiatric counselor told me. “We were under orders not to say anything.”

The sources said workers were guarded by a security force from the Baptist Family & Children’s Services, which the Department of Health and Human Services hired to run the Lackland Camp.

The sources say security forces called themselves the “Brown Shirts.”

“It was a very submissive atmosphere,” the counselor said. “Once you stepped onto the grounds, you abided by their laws – the Brown Shirt laws.

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/07/01/medical-staff-warned-keep-quiet-about-illegal-immigrants-or-face-arrest/

Economics 101: #Obamacare : making the inexpensive cost more Updated!

The original article was published last November, but in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., I wished to revisit it, and bring it up to date. First, the original article:
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After seeing the ad to the right on several sites — The Lonely Conservative, Sister Toldjah and The Pirate’s Cove — I started thinking, once again, about the costs of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. During the Sandra Fluke kerfuffle, it was noted that a Target just a few miles from Georgetown University, where she went to school, sold generic birth control pills to women without health insurance for a whopping $9.00 a month.

That was a couple of years ago, so I decided to check the Planned Parenthood website for their estimates concerning the costs of oral contraceptives:

How Do I Get Birth Control Pills? How Much Do Birth Control Pills Cost?

First, you’ll need to get a prescription. Visit a Planned Parenthood health center, a clinic, or a private health care provider for a prescription. Your health care provider will discuss your medical history with you, check your blood pressure, and give you any other medical exam that you may need. If you need an exam, it may cost about $35–$250.

Birth control pills may be purchased with a prescription at a drugstore or clinic. They cost about $15–$50 a month.

Planned Parenthood works to make health care accessible and affordable. Some health centers are able to charge according to income. Most accept health insurance. If you qualify, Medicaid or other state programs may lower your health care costs.

Call your local Planned Parenthood health center to get specific information on costs.

Now, for a woman who is paying cash for oral contraceptives, that means writing a check or using a debit card for $15.00 to $50.00, the cost of the prescription. The WalMart or Target or RiteAid pharmacies get their money, right away.

But the Obama Administration wants to change that. The President and his minions want everybody to have health insurance, and they want all health insurance policies to cover contraception, without any patient copayments. If that is the case, no woman will pay cash for her pills; she’ll show her insurance card instead.

And that means that the pharmacy will have to bill the woman’s insurance company. Rather than the quick cost of the cashier accepting the patient’s payment, the cashier will have to enter the insurance information, and someone — probably someone else — will then have to put together a bill to the insurance company.1 The insurance company will then have to process the bill, make certain that the expense is covered, and then make the payment to the pharmacy. All of those extra steps cost money!

Back at the pharmacy, it has to wait for payment. Instead of having the cash on hand, in payment for the medication received at the time it was sold, there will be a period of time — which could be weeks — that the pharmacy will, in effect, have to finance between the sale of the medication and being paid for it.

Well, someone has to pay those costs. The pharmacy will have to add their costs to the price of the medication, thus billing the insurance company for a higher amount. The insurance company, bearing an overhead cost of their own in processing the claims, will have to add that into the premium prices they charge.

The simple economic truth: oral contraceptives will cost more, because the PP&ACA is adding expenses to the purchase.

Of course, there’s still more. Oral contraceptives are fairly inexpensive, and there is some actual competition between brands for sales. When women pay cash for their birth patrol pills,2 there is an incentive for them to buy a less expensive brand if they have the option. But once price is removed as a consideration for the patient, there is no need for the patients to choose lower-priced generics or request their physicians to prescribe a lower cost pill. The PP&ACA requirement that contraceptives be completely covered, with no patient co-pays, removes the incentive for price competition concerning the patient.

Pharmaceutical companies exist for only one purpose: to make money for their shareholders. Without an incentive to reduce prices to gain market share, since patients won’t be price shopping, the pharmaceutical companies will be able to charge higher prices. This factor could be held in check, if PP&ACA regulations required co-payments from patients for prices beyond the generic brands, but the current requirement is for no copayments.

The government could start its own buying program, to buy the medication in bulk, but that would make the government the seller of medication, not the pharmaceutical companies. In theory, the government could get lower prices for the bulk purchases, but, in practice, government procurement of items has never been something which led to lower prices. Even if such a program were put in place, it adds additional overhead costs.

This is not exactly PhD level economics; this is just a simple recitation of the reality of business. Anyone who knows anything about business would have been able to see this . . . which is probably why the government cannot.
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Update, June 30th:

As you might imagine, the left are going ape over this decision. But Burwell v Hobby Lobby is fairly narrowly tailored, exempting only those “closely held” companies, not major corporations with widely-held stock. From The Wall Street Journal:

Hobby Lobby Ruling Raises Question: What Does ‘Closely Held’ Mean?
Companies Who Won Supreme Court Contraceptive Case Are Owned, Controlled by Single Family
By Stephanie Armour and Rachel Feintzeig | June 30, 2014 2:56 p.m. ET

The Supreme Court’s decision to exempt some closely held, for-profit firms from covering contraception in workers’ health plans sparked immediate questions about whether other companies may try to claim such an accommodation.

Their success may rest on the type of company they are and state corporate laws that can vary.

The three firms in the lawsuit—Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. and Mardel—all have the same business structure: they are owned and controlled by members of a single family.

But closely held firms can take other ownership forms. The Internal Revenue Service defines a closely held company as a corporation that has more than 50% of the value of its outstanding stock directly or indirectly owned by five or fewer individuals at any time during the last half of the tax year. Personal-service corporations, for instance health-care and law firms, don’t qualify as closely held.

Closely held companies are owned by a relatively small number of investors, typically including their founding families and management. Roughly 90% of all companies in the U.S. are closely held, according to a 2000 study by the Copenhagen Business School.

More at the link. It seems to me that this decision will actually wind up creating more court cases than it settles.

But it’s so useless: the actual costs of contraception in this country are so low that there is no need to make such an insurance-covered item.

  1. I am assuming a form of electronic billing rather than a printed and mailed bill, which would add even more costs.
  2. Not a typo; Archie Bunker called them that on the old All in the Family television series.

They can’t be both

I had some drivers from another plant up here today, and we got to talking politics. One of them said that he was a Democrat, because the Democrats were the party of the working man. I said, no, maybe Democrats used to be the party of the working man, but today they are the party of the non-working man, the party that wants to take money out of your pockets to give to people who won’t work.

The Democrats can be either the party of workers, or the party of non-workers, but they can’t be the party of both.

Economics 101: Nothing is free!

From the Los Angeles Times:

Thousands go without water as Detroit cuts service for nonpayment
By Alana Semuels | June 28, 2014

Nicole Hill holds up her past-due water bill at her home in Detroit. Her water has been off for about six weeks. (Paul Sancya / Associated Press)

It has been six weeks since the city turned off Nicole Hill’s water.

Dirty dishes are piled in the sink of her crowded kitchen, where the yellow-and-green linoleum floor is soiled and sticky. A small garbage can is filled with water from a neighbor, while a bigger one sits outside in the yard, where she hopes it will collect some rain. She’s developed an intricate recycling system of washing the dishes, cleaning the floor and flushing the toilet with the same water.

“It’s frightening, because you think this is something that only happens somewhere like Africa,” said Hill, a single mother who is studying homeland security at a local college. “But now I know what they’re going through — when I get somewhere there’s a water faucet, I drink until my stomach hurts.”

Hill is one of thousands of residents in Detroit who have had their water and sewer services turned off as part of a crackdown on customers who are behind on their bills. In April, the city set a target of cutting service to 3,000 customers a week who were more than $150 behind on their bills. In May, the water department sent out 46,000 warnings and cut off service to 4,531. The city says that cutting off water is the only way to get people to pay their bills as Detroit tries to emerge from bankruptcy — the utility is currently owed $90 million from customers, and nearly half the city’s 300,000 or so accounts are past due.

There’s more at the link, including some craziness about the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights getting involved, and stating that when customers can’t pay, “human rights simply forbids disconnections.

But the real silliness comes from Maureen Taylor, chair of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization,1 who said:

We live near the Great Lakes, we have the greatest source of fresh water on Earth, and we still can’t get water here.

Think about that. Yes, the Great Lakes contain roughly a fifth of all of the fresh water on earth, but the surface of Lake Michigan is lower than the city of Detroit, and, last time I checked, water does not flow uphill. To get water from their sources, the city of Detroit has to have pumps to move the water, and pipes to carry the water, and treatment centers to make sure the water is potable, and a whole bunch of workers to run all of that equipment. All of that costs money! If Miss Hill, who is described as “a single mother who is studying homeland security at a local college,” with no mention of her actually working for a living (though it doesn’t look, to judge from her photo, that she’s missed out on a whole lot of food), is to get water service for free, then how are the working men and women who get all of that free, fresh water from the reservoir to her home going to be paid?

This is that part that really urinates me off. Yeah, the water is nearby, but some people seem to think that because the Great Lakes are close by, it doesn’t cost anything to get it from the lakes into people’s homes. If Miss Hill doesn’t pay her water bill, then somebody else has to pay more to cover her water service, as well as paying for his own.

The reporter and The Los Angeles Times used the very common story method of “humanizing” the news, by telling us about a specific individual who has been hurt by having her water service shut off. We are supposed to have sympathy for her and her plight, and how she’s had to have her three children staying with friends “because she fears that child protection authorities will take them away if they find they are living in a home without running water.”2 But that’s a diversionary tactic, which is meant to prevent people from understanding the very simple fact that nothing in life is free: if you get something that you don’t pay for, then someone else had to pay for it for you.

The left don’t want you to know that, and think that a fairly large number of people are too stupid to figure it out.
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  1. The notion that there should be a “welfare rights organization” is something else I find repugnant. There should be no “right” to welfare.
  2. No mention is made concerning why a single mother has three children.

Rule 5 Blogging: Recruiting Women Through Art

It’s the weekend and time, once again, for THE FIRST STREET JOURNAL’S version of Rule 5 Blogging. Robert Stacey Stacy McCain described Rule 5 as posting photos of pretty women somewhat déshabillé, but, on this site, our Rule 5 Blogging doesn’t put up pictures of Megan Fox in her summer clothes, but women, in full military gear, serving their countries in the armed forces. The terribly sexist authors on this site celebrate strong women, women who can take care of themselves and take care of others, women who have been willing to put their lives on the line in some not-so-friendly places, women who truly do have the “We can do it!” attitude.

Today, we look at some of the artwork that has been done to encourage women to enlist. Click any picture to enlarge.

OK, I have a problem with this one! The American flag patch goes on the right shoulder, not the left.

OK, I have a problem with this one! The American flag patch goes on the right shoulder, not the left.

Continue reading ‘Rule 5 Blogging: Recruiting Women Through Art’ »