The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Archive for the ‘government’ Category

THE PERMANENT POLITICAL CLASS

If you’ve read any of the liberal press during the last several years you have no doubt heard about the Koch brothers.  They are the favorite whipping boys for our leftist friends, spawn of the devil and the root cause of all evil in the country and the world.  Well, they have made a lot of money which used to be thought of as the source of all malevolence.

The objection that the left has toward the Koch brothers, other than that they are extremely successful, is that they are involved in the energy business which is causing “global weather change” and even more important than that, they are not ashamed to use their wealth to support candidates for public office or, as the pundits like to phrase it, “buy elections.”  That the left has no objection to other billionaires who subscribe to their own agenda doing the same thing is a matter for a separate conversation.

An excellent book by Peter Schweizer entitled, “Extortion” ( Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2013) calls this theory into question – and does so with a great deal of interesting, detailed documentation.  The point that Schweizer makes in his work is that it is those in Congress actually extort these contributions from their constituents – and from those businesses and individuals which might suffer grave repercussions if they do not donate to them.  Schweizer uses the term extortion liberally throughout this extremely interesting book.  Incidentally, this technique is not restricted to members of Congress on only one side of the aisle but is well accepted and utilized by members of both caucuses.

Schweizer refers to those in power on Capitol Hill as the “Permanent Political Class.”  Once elected to office, we all know how difficult it is for a newcomer to unseat an incumbent.  And in the rare instance that happens, the power, influence and opportunity for self-aggrandizement is so strong that only the purest of souls can survive the overwhelming pressure to play the game – and sadly, that candidate isn’t running this year – or almost any other one.

A reasonable person might question why anyone would spend millions of dollars, and in some cases tens of millions, to secure a congressional seat which pays only $174,000 per year (plus some very attractive perks).  The spending on this year’s election is, by some estimates, going to approach $4 Billion.  That’s Billion with a capital “B” and will set an all time record for a mid-term election.

A further question is, what is it that large contributors get in return for their contributions?  Are they simply motivated by a sense of doing good for the country or are they merely trying to buy votes which are positively disposed to support those donors’ interests?  Or, more interestingly, as Schweizer convincingly points out, are they doing this because they are being extorted by those in power to make these contributions – threatened with adverse consequences and unfavorable votes should they withhold their donations.  How do veteran members of Congress perform this extortion?  The answer, while distasteful, is that they do so legally – but then, who wrote the rules?  They did.

Several years ago, two laws known by their acronyms of PIPA and SOFA were proposed.  These were supported by the entertainment industry because the two were purportedly designed to safeguard their intellectual property from theft – in large measure from Chinese pirates who stole new movies and recordings almost as fast as they were released.  Naturally, to secure a favorable vote on these two measures, Hollywood poured vast amounts of money into the PAC’s on which members of the committees that were writing these bills served.  Their lobbyists dropped millions of dollars worth of checks to secure their clients’ interests.

On the other side of the issue were companies such as Google, Microsoft and Facebook.  They were concerned that the way the law was written there would be a restriction on access to the internet.  They also dropped massive amounts of money in an effort to defeat the two measures.  That money went into exactly the same coffers where the lobbyists for Sony Pictures and their colleagues had left their deposits.  Schweizer refers to this procedure as “ The Double Dip,” and our politicians drool when they have the opportunity to play both sides against each other, collecting their tribute from all with great equanimity.

Another example of ways in which members of Congress can monetize the bills they pass is by passing laws which are so complex that no one understands them.  Two excellent examples are the PPACA (Obamacare) and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.  Both exceed two thousand pages in length and contain language that is not only confusing but in some instances is contradictory.  Enter the lobbyists – to the “rescue” of those who are impacted by these bills.

Interestingly, each law that Congress enacts then goes into a second phase in which unelected bureaucrats “interpret and clarify” the language and meaning of the original bill.  Staff members, rather than our elected members of Congress, actually write many of the laws which their bosses then pass.  So who would know better than those who actually crafted the language of the law what that language means?

It should come as no surprise that many of these staffers realize that they can maximize their personal earnings potential by joining a lobbying firm on “K” Street – and those firms, realizing that they can charge enormous fees – sometimes at ten thousand dollars per hour – hire them.  Many times these firms hire the sons, daughters and wives of members of Congress.  Just another perk of having a seat on the Hill.  A seven figure income is not only a nice “perk” – but it isn’t a bad living.

There are additional reasons that our elected legislators raise money which go beyond making sure that they have a sufficient war chest so that they can get re-elected.  One of the most egregious of these is that, should they decide to retire from “public service” they legally can take whatever funds remain in their PAC accounts, pay taxes on them and keep whatever’s left.  But in the meanwhile, it’s perfect legal for a congressman to “lend” money to his PAC and charge “a reasonable rate of interest” on the funds so loaned.  One congresswoman “loaned” herself $250,000 at an interest rate of 18% per year.  That loan has been on the books now for over twenty years, despite the fact that her PAC has always had sufficient funds to repay the loan.  Perhaps she considers that $45,000 annual interest payment as “mad money.”

If this leaves you with a sense of corruption gone wild, then your opinion exactly mirrors mine.  It is perhaps the reason that I tend generally not to vote for any incumbent in elections, whether that person is being elected to a federal, state or local position.  There are exceptions to that rule – but they are few and far between.

“Power corrupts – and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  The Permanent Political Class knows that – and they’re smiling all the way to the bank.

LESSONS FROM A CELEBRITY

“I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor.  Rich is better.”

– Sophie Tucker

 

Sophie Tucker had a tough life.  Born to a Ukrainian Jewish immigrant family she began singing in her parents’ restaurant in Connecticut for tips.  She appeared in The Ziegfeld Follies but her talent threatened some of her co-performers and they got her fired.  She went on to overcome these obstacles and became successful and famous.  And she earned the title, “The Last of the Red Hot Mamas.”

In 1927 when this recording of “Some of These Days” was made, there was no such thing as the minimum wage.  It would be eleven years until Franklin Delano Roosevelt pushed that proposal through Congress and it became illegal for any employer to pay an employee less than the magnanimous amount of twenty-five cents per hour.  A person working a full forty hour work week, fifty-two weeks a year could earn $512 per year.  Even by 1938 standards those were wages that insured a life of poverty or at the very best meager subsistence.

In 1964, two years before Tucker’s death, the Congress passed ‘The Civil Rights Act which officially prohibited discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.  Fortunately, Tucker had found a career in the one industry which had, at least, marginally, followed those principles before they became the law of the land – entertainment.  As prevalent and blatant as discrimination against blacks was in varying states and jurisdictions, Jews were frequently the subject of anti-Semitism – although it might have been more subtle than the hatred preached by the KKK and other groups.

This discrimination took the form of having “unofficial policies” in which Jews were regularly excluded from membership in private clubs and prevented them from living in certain areas which preferred an all-Gentile population, not unlike the redlining phenomenon that precluded blacks from home ownership in many communities.  And as with black Americans, there were any number of pejorative words and phrases coined to describe and demean Jews – although our more sensitive citizens usually waited until the person being so described left the room and then whispered it to his listener “sotto voce.”

Sonya Kalish which was Sophie Tucker’s birth name had obstacles to overcome.  So did everyone else in early 20th century America.  There were no governmentally inspired “safety nets” to which a person could look should they get in financial difficulty.  All that a person had was family, friends and their own drive, ability and ambition.  Fortunately, Tucker had a desire to succeed – and she did – enough to make her a national icon and a person who was well off financially.

I doubt that at any time, Sophie Tucker aspired to do just enough to make it through and get by.  She was someone who saw herself as a person whose aspirations were only as great as she believed them to be.  And perhaps it was exactly because we had no safety nets that she was impelled to succeed.  How much inspiration to do better do we have if we are given a minimal level which is assured if we do little or nothing?

Which brings us to the question of the minimum wage – an invitation to a life filled with need and poverty.

“If you’re against raising the minimum wage you’re a Tea Party Republican who hates people, wants them to starve, abhors the middle class and is only concerned about corporate profits.”  Perhaps you’ve heard that meme.  If not you don’t own a television or a computer which has access to current events.  If you believe that statement, you need to enroll in a remedial class in basic math.

We’ve had a Federal minimum wage law on the books for seventy-six years.  During that time, the percentage of Americans who are officially classified as living in poverty has increased as a percentage of the overall population.  Why should this be if a guaranteed minimum wage is intended to combat this phenomenon effectively and has been raised periodically during that time span?  Is there even the most ardent among those pushing for a forty percent increase who truly believes that should that be enacted it will lift those minimum wage earners out of their dire financial circumstances and suddenly move them into the middle class?  If you accept the government’s definition of what a middle class person earns you will find that the math simply doesn’t work.

Well let’s turn to the issue of greedy corporations looking to maximize their profits, all on the backs of their underpaid workers.  Most business owners would agree with the statement that the reason for going into business is to earn profits and to grow the business in order to increase the size of the profits.  The real disagreement with those on the left who would agree with that statement is that they then add on the final clause, “without regard to the working conditions or financial well-being of their employees.”   That statement can only be made by someone who is inexperienced in running their own business.

We all know that there are costs associated with hiring employees.  Those that are obvious include various taxes which are imposed and include FICA, FUTA, state unemployment contributions, paying state worker’s compensation premiums and providing health insurance.  Those are the legal, mandated additional costs that every employer incurs.  But there are indirect, less obvious costs that also impact an employer’s profitability.  One of the most important of those is productivity.

Most of us would agree that if two mechanics who were equally competent were available to repair our car and one charged twice the amount of the other, we would probably select the less expensive mechanic to do the job.  If we had two employees on our payroll and one was able to produce fifty widgets an hour and the other consistently only made twenty-five in an hour, wouldn’t that second employee only have half the value of his co-worker to our company and wouldn’t he be contributing only fifty percent the amount to our profitability?

This leads us to a simple question.  Is it fair to pay the more productive employee the same amount as his less efficient counterpart?  Or, more to the argument of those who believe everyone should get a guaranteed wage, would it be unfair to the less productive employee to pay him less than our second, more productive worker – even if that lesser amount conformed to the then prevalent minimum wage?

I suspect those with a “fairness” mindset would object to rewarding our more valuable employee because somehow they view that as an employer “demeaning” the other worker by paying him less, irrespective of the fact that he actually is less valuable to the company.  Unfortunately, the mantra, “Equal pay for equal work” disregards the fact that not all workers offer an equivalent amount of productivity for the time they spend in our offices or factories.

Those lobbying for an increased minimum wage believe that paying “less than a livable wage” is barbaric.  I would suggest that probably is true – and the individual who is willing to accept that wage and live under those conditions is not exhibiting the best judgment or acting in his own best self-interest.  Why then do people accept those sorts of positions?

The possible answers are that they are lazy and unwilling to work at a better paying, more demanding position; do not have the skills to qualify for a better paying position; or find that the particular minimum wage job satisfies their personal goals.  What other answer can there be to that question?  Despite the acrimonious debate over this subject, I have yet to hear that minimum wage-paying employers go out with shotguns, round up people and force them to work in their businesses, threatening them and their families with bodily harm if they fail to comply.

“Don’t let anybody tell you that it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs.”  That statement from no one other than non-Nobel prize winning economist, Hillary Clinton.  If we accept that statement, then it is government which is solely responsible for job creation – or lack of it.  In part I would agree with that concept – particularly the latter part because while insightful regulation is a positive thing, overregulation is a burden and a job destroyer.  If there is a dearth of jobs in this country and it is government who is the job creator, then obviously government is not doing very well in this regard.  Or are they?

We now have more people than in the country’s existence on some form of Federal dole, ranging from food stamps to telephones.  These are people whom the government has created and endowed with a job – to continue to vote for those who concocted these programs with promises that even better, more lucrative programs are in the works.  And people who are naïve and uneducated solidly endorse their own enslavement in election day after election day.  This Tuesday is unlikely to suggest that many of them have yet seen the light.

In 2008, half the country voted for “Hope and Change.”  We’ve gotten more than our fair share of the second part of the slogan.  I’m still optimistic that we will get a peek at the first part.  At least, I hope so.

 

THE TRANSGENDERED SUPREME COURT

A trip to the dog park is usually a peaceful, relaxing experience – perhaps more so for Gracie than for me.  Most of the folks who show up regularly find that sports is the subject of choice and the mornings are replete with stories about how they “would have hit that eight teamer … if only (fill in the blank) hadn’t happened.”  This, of course, reminds me of the old story that if only the bull had teats he would have been a cow.

Well, this morning, things were slightly different.  And the basis for the minor brouhaha had not to do with sports but stemmed from a discussion about dogs.

As three of us regulars were talking, the question of the genetic background of a dog who appears only occasionally arose.  The dog is a Labrador/French poodle mix which the owner had hoped to breed but ultimately could not find any takers so he had the dog neutered.  One of us, she maintains homes in Las Vegas and southern California made the observation that, ‘In California it’s illegal to cross breed dogs.”  She herself has a lovely Golden Retriever.

This prompted the other party to this conversation to make an observation about the stupidity (although he didn’t use that term) of all the laws in California and how Jerry Brown and the Democrat controlled chambers were ruining the state.  The statement went unchallenged by the woman – until my friend left – and she then lambasted me for the statement made by my friend who had already left.  My friend and I are both more closely attuned politically – and the woman who was incensed leans decidedly to the left.

In her rant, she said, “I’m tired of being attacked for my political views.”  In fact, nothing had been said about her views – merely about the governor of California.  She went on to say that, “Neither of you lives in California – so what right do you have to an opinion about how the state is being run?”  That statement so artfully fits into the thinking of those on the left that I suspect that if there is a manual on “How To Be A Liberal,” that primmer extolls that viewpoint in its first chapter.

I find it rather telling that in a state committed to “diversity” there should be an interdiction against creating dogs that are more “diverse.”  Hasn’t anyone wondered what the offspring of a Great Dane and a Chinese Hairless would look like?  And more to the specific point, the Golden Retriever, a breed which I love, has only been recognized as a “purebred” by the AKC since 1925.  The breed came about as the result of mixing Wavy-Coated Retrievers with the now extinct Tweed Water Spaniel.  Had the California law been in effect when the breed first saw the light of day it might never have come into being.

Returning to the point that, “If you don’t live there you’re not entitled to an opinion,” this is merely the outgrowth of a liberal philosophy which, by extension, should require that accused rapists can only be tried by a jury of other accused rapists; accused murderers should be tried only before others who were themselves accused of murder; and only women should be permitted to enact laws or adjudicate them which are relevant to other women.  Which brings us to the interesting question of why is it that the left endorses the 7 – 2 Supreme Court decision in Roe v Wade which was handed down by an all male court?  There is, however, an explanation.  I will leave it to you to determine its plausibility.

It’s been forty-one years since that decision was rendered.  Back in those days most Americans recognized people who belonged to one of two sexes.  That was before we became more enlightened and aware that there were also people whom today we call transgendered which, if I understand it properly refers to people who may be anatomically identified as belonging to one gender but who psychological identify as a member of the opposite sex.

While the number of people in America who are transgendered is difficult to ascertain accurately, the most recent data, which includes a survey that the State of California conducted, suggests that the total transgendered adult population is approximately 0.3% of the population, although other estimates suggest the number may be as high as 3.5%.  In 1973 when Roe v Wade was adjudicated, the total adult population of the country was 180 million – only a small percentage of whom, thankfully, were lawyers – and an even small number of those held positions as Federal judges – the primary recruiting source from which Supreme Court justices are recruited.

If we accept the premise that only women can logically decide issues that pertain to other women, then it would seem we are left with two rather disparate possibilities with regard to the landmark case.  Either the seven male Justices who voted in favor of legalizing abortion made a mistake; or the seven male Justices who voted in favor of legalizing abortion were actually transgendered.  Who knew that it would be possible to stack the court with that many transgendered people?

I look forward to my visit to the dog park tomorrow morning.  Who knows what else I’m going to learn?

WHO YA GONNA CALL?

It was the last post that Anahlia Cowherd posted on Facebook – a plea for help – help for deliverance from a predator who lived in her house – her grandfather.  Apparently, the sexual abuse she had received from her 79 year old relative, Honorario Yango came to her mother’s attention who then confronted her father with the allegations.  He in turn killed her, his granddaughter and attempted to kill his 10 year old grandson who thankfully escaped.  Yango then turned the gun on himself, saving the taxpayers from another costly trial – and the prison system from having to make space for yet another depraved pervert.  That last sentence might sound cold – because it is.  After reading story after story about the kooks who dominate the news with their predation either on relatives or strangers, it’s getting harder to maintain a rosy outlook on humanity.

Those stories sometimes revolve around sexual abuse but others are more generic, exhibiting sheer animal gratification and the thrill of killing.  Stories such as those regarding ISIS and the events last week in Canada, New York, earlier this week in Sacramento and the innocent woman in Moore, OK who was beheaded by a former co-worker in her office fit that second category.  There are far, far more of these stories than should be appearing in any civilized society.  If I were a betting person, and I am, I suspect that the curtain is far from falling on reports of this kind.

In my years as a self-employed business person I realized that I had certain skills on which I could dependably rely and that there were some areas of running the business in which others had more ability than I did.  Rather than spend my time performing duties in which I only had average ability, I chose another route to make sure that those aspects of the business were handled in the most professional manner.  That answer was to hire someone with the expertise to manage those activities.  Whether it’s a private business or the business of government that same principle applies.

Fortunately for the business person, their enterprise is fairly simple.  It is either to manufacture a product or offer a service and do that while earning a profit so that they can continue either to manufacture a product or offer a service.  The Founding Fathers had a similarly simplistic view of the function of the Federal government granting it very few responsibilities.  But one of those was to protect the country from intruders and to keep the country’s borders secure.  That wisdom seems to have been lost on those in Washington who have taken a path where they want to control everything – resulting in their not controlling much of anything very effectively.

Recently I came across a website which I spent some time exploring.  It is a website devoted to the topic of how to stop bullying.  Without regard to partisanship, I hope that we all might agree that the actions which caused Anahlia Cowherd’s death at her grandfather’s hand is bullying carried to an extreme.  It is a problem that affects people tragically, but fortunately that number is fairly small.  And if your view is like mine, the person who engages in bullying activities has mental problems which would best be treated medically rather than governmentally.  The rather well done website, by the way can be found at the following link:  www.stopbullying.gov.  Yes, that’s right, our Federal government used some of our tax dollars to create and maintain this site.  The fact that it is easy to navigate suggests that they did not use the same contractors who were hired to put up the Obamacare website.

I would be exceptionally happy if all bullying suddenly ceased – as a result of this website or otherwise.  But we all know that is not going to happen because that same activity has been around for my lifetime and I suspect was around for centuries before I arrived on planet Earth.  So while this website leaves us with an impression that our Federal government cares about the issue, it really does nothing to fix the problem – most likely because realistically, no fix is possible.

Meanwhile, in California, there are two law enforcement officers who are dead at the hands of one man, Luis Monroy-Bracamontes a Mexican national who has been deported four times, rejected twice at the border before he entered the country and two more times after he made it into the U.S and on his second “visit” remained here for five years.  This is the practical result of the Federal government’s failure to address one of its few Constitutional responsibilities – securing the country from intruders.  What is disheartening is that the present administration actively chooses to worry about issues like bullying and passively chooses to ignore the question of securing our borders and making the country a safer place for all our citizens.

It would be foolish to suggest that all those who are in the country illegally have either criminal inclinations or intent.  But the fact that we obviously don’t enforce our laws certainly would be an inducement to those who do have criminal inclination and intent to come here, knowing that we do not give their presence or activities a very high priority.  If we suddenly stopped prosecuting people who committed bank robbery, it should surprise no one if there were a spike in the number of bank robberies that were committed.

One of the premier planks in the liberal agenda is restricting access to firearms of people who are either mentally unstable or who have criminal backgrounds, all this as a stopgap provision until they can try to figure a way to sell the idea of banning all individual ownership of munitions for any reason or purpose.  I don’t know whether Anahlia’s grandfather had a weapon which was purchased legally and registered.  I do doubt that Luis Monroy-Bracamontes’ weapon was owned licitly.  And despite the fact that the two law enforcement officers were armed, he was able to ambush and kill them.

With the Federal government’s inability or inadequacy to prioritize the safety of American citizens, we are currently dealing only with isolated incidences of violence.  What if, and hopefully this doesn’t occur, the worldwide jihadist terror movement decided to launch widespread attacks throughout the country – or attack vulnerable infrastructure such as the electric grid.  Based on the responses from the Obama administration to date, is there a rational person among us who feels confident that any Federal response to such an incident would either be effective or timely?  And having developed a sufficient permanent underclass in all of our major cities, who does not believe that members of that group would take full advantage of this situation as an opportunity to loot stores and abscond with private property?

Perhaps the greatest lobbyist for American’s right to bear arms and for the NRA is the administration and its supporters themselves.  Should such an event occur, notifying your friends on Facebook or even dialing 911 may well prove either impossible or fruitless.  And it is for that reason, so many Americans feel that if they place a call to anyone to protect them in that emergency, that call will be to Smith and Wesson.

ICE CREAM AND POLITICS

I still remember the look of disbelief on Grandma’s face that evening at the dinner table.  It was a Sunday evening in the early fall of 1956.  We had just finished our first course, homemade chicken noodle soup, and Grandma had pulled the beef roast from the oven and set it on the platter in the center of the dining room table.  My father had already started on his salad.  We usually gave him a five minute head start on the lettuce and other veggies that were in his salad bowl since he chewed his food so thoroughly that not giving him a few extra minutes meant that we would have finished our meal and had to wait for him to polish off the rest of his food before we could begin on dessert.

Mom and Grandma had cleared the main course dishes from the table and were in the kitchen scooping out the ice cream.  Normally, Grandma would have baked a cake or pie, but we had gone to Tyce’s Farm in New Jersey on Saturday and she had purchased a half bushel of peaches.  That afternoon she had spent the time after church peeling them, making a sweet syrup and putting them into containers so that they could be frozen and we could enjoy them during the winter.

We had a relatively small refrigerator with an even smaller freezer compartment on the top of it.  She needed to make room for all her soon to be frozen peaches, so the Dolley Madison ice cream which was in there had to go.  Hence our ice cream dessert that night.  We had two of the three flavors that were generally available then, those being vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, and I requested a little of each of the first two.  I would then moosh them together and turn them into a lovely light brown soft mixture which I relished as I took each teaspoon full.

As we enjoyed our ice cream, Dad mentioned an article that he had read that morning in the Sunday “Herald Tribune.”  The presidential race was getting into full swing and he noticed that President Eisenhower was being honored at a fifty dollar a plate fund raising dinner to be held at The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.  That caused my always frugal Grandmother’s look of shock as she paused with her spoon of ice cream between her bowl and her lips.

“Fifty dollars for one meal?  What are they serving to be worth fifty dollars a person?  This entire meal for the four of us cost about six dollars – and we have leftovers.”

“Well, for fifty dollars you probably get chicken.  If you want roast beef, I think they serve that at the hundred dollar dinners,” my father replied.

My grandmother’s look was so filled with amazement that you would have thought that she had just seen a ghost.  There was no way that she could process either how someone would have the nerve to charge fifty dollars for a meal – or anyone stupid enough to pay it.  She had only a basic grasp of the political process – although she was always one of the first people in line on Election Day to make sure that she would make her voice heard.

My parents and she had voted for Ike in 1952 and would do so again – although my father played with the idea of casting his ballot for Adlai Stevenson.  He admired Stevenson’s intellectual prowess – but dad was a practical, bottom line person.  He might have admired Adlai’s intellect – but he knew a lot of very bright people who were unable to translate their genius into anything concrete that actually worked.  And he, together with many others in the country, remembered Eisenhower’s part in eliminating the Nazi threat from Europe and the world.  In addition, the country seemed to be moving in the right direction under Eisenhower’s administration.  And Dad didn’t believe in changing horses in midstream.

There was one other factor that played into my father’s thinking.  He didn’t have a great deal of faith in members of either party to fulfill their campaign promises.  This was not merely a matter of a contumacious agenda on their parts.  But there were the realities of political machinations, deal making and such, which might preclude even the best plans from being enacted to the nation’s benefit.  Perhaps it was cynicism – or perhaps it was just a clear perception of the way things were.  Overall, the checks and balances that the Founding Fathers had written into the Constitution were both a good and bad thing.

There was one other thing that played a part in my dad’s thinking.  Unlike today, the person for whom you voted basically was pretty similar to the person for whom you didn’t.  It was a little like ordering ice cream.  Whichever flavor you ordered, you still got a chilled dessert.  And things today haven’t changed that much.  The only real difference is that there seems to be only one flavor available for the devotee – and that flavor is Rocky Road.

MEDICAL HUMOR

A friend sent this to me and I must admit that I roared out loud when I read it.  Then I kicked myself for not thinking it up myself.  Enjoy!

 

This is really a good option!

Medicare – Part ‘G’— Nursing Home Plan

You are a sick senior citizen and the government says there is no nursing home care available for you.

So what do you do? —–

Our plan gives anyone 65 years or older, a gun (part G) and 4 bullets. You are allowed to shoot four Politicians. This means, of course, that you’ll be sent to prison where you’ll receive three meals a day, a roof over your head, central heating & air conditioning, cable TV, library and all the health care you need.

Need new teeth? No problem. Need glasses? That’s great. Need a hearing aid, a new hip, knees, kidney, lungs, sex change or heart? They’re all covered.

As an added bonus, your kids can come and visit you at least as often as they do now!

And who will be paying for all of this? The same government that just told you they can’t afford for you to go into a home. (And you can get rid of four useless politicians while you’re at it!) And because you’re a prisoner, you don’t have to pay any more income taxes.

Is this a great country or what?

Now that we have solved your senior financial planning, enjoy your week!

EBOLA AND MENTAL HEALTH

After my mother’s death, my Aunt Helene readily inserted herself as a surrogate.  I had always been very close to Mom’s younger sister and I welcomed her nurturing and support at both that difficult time and for many years afterward.  I never failed to call her weekly and always sent her a wonderful birthday present.  On her 70th birthday I hosted a party for her, her three children and their spouses at The Four Seasons for dinner – although I had to specify that they gave the guests menus without prices on them – as she would have gone into cardiac arrest if she saw the cost of the meal and would have opted for bread and a glass of water.  She was a very practical lady.

There was a one year period when I was a child when my aunt disappeared from the scene.  It’s as though she had been abducted by aliens and transported to a distant planetary system.  In fact, although my parents never told me what happened and I learned the truth many years later, she had been consigned and confined to Bellevue Hospital to be treated for what was diagnosed as schizophrenia.  This was in the late 1950’s.

The “modern medicine” of that day frequently addressed this psychological illness with what today we may consider to be a rather primitive treatment.  It  was known as “shock therapy.”  If you saw the first “Lethal Weapon” Mel Gibson movie, you may remember the scene where he is suspended by his hands from the ceiling and water is poured over him as his interrogator hits him with electrodes to force him to talk.  That’s “shock therapy.”  It’s apparently extremely painful.

Well, the medical practitioners at Bellevue pronounced my aunt “cured” after she had been confined there for a year and undergone that treatment twice a week during her interment.  She returned home to her family, but I could see that she had gotten much more docile, measuring every word and making sure never to offend anyone.  She had always been a very gentle person but her gentility had transmuted to an almost submissive meekness.  It was many years before she rediscovered some of her previous élan.  And discussing that one year was so painful that no one in the family dared speak of it or ask for details – until many years later when my aunt felt comfortable discussing it and brought it up herself.

Four years went by and Aunt Helene began experiencing the same symptoms she had exhibited before her commitment.  Many years later she confided in me that she would have committed suicide rather than repeat her “therapy” at Bellevue, which incidentally, was known as one of the premier psychiatric hospitals in the country.  Fortunately, she had found an osteopathic doctor and had been seeing him for several years.  She described her current symptoms and told him about her stint at Bellevue.  He told her that he had a theory but he would need to request her medical records from the hospital before he could confirm his belief.  While waiting for those records he ordered some blood work done so that he would have those results when he received her transcript from Bellevue.

Two weeks later he called my aunt with news – some bad, some good.  “Helene, you do have a medical condition – that’s the bad news.  The good news is it isn’t schizophrenia – it’s hypoglycemia.  You have low blood sugar, the reverse of diabetes.  And hypoglycemia manifests itself in many symptomatic ways that may look like schizophrenia.  We need to raise your blood sugar level which we probably can accomplish through diet – and you should be just fine.”  My aunt told me that when she hung up from that call she felt as though the weight of the world had been lifted from her shoulders.  And she dealt with her condition through dietary management until her death at the age of 85.  I still miss her as she was a wonderful lady.

The blood work that Dr. Castin had received from Bellevue Hospital showed the same low blood sugar levels five years earlier.  But none of the physicians there caught it.  So my aunt went through nearly one hundred unnecessary shock treatments which left deep psychological scars.  Well, we all know the old joke that if you’re on the operating table the one thing you don’t want to hear your surgeon say as you float off under the anesthesia is, “Oops.”

Ebola is a potentially fatal disease – the mortality rates ranging between 50 – 70% according to the World Health Organization.  Mostly it has been confined to large areas of west Africa.  Probably those mortality rates would be lower in countries with more advanced infrastructure and medical systems.  Both the flu and traffic accidents kills more people in the United States than have fallen to Ebola in Africa.

As much as man would like to think he is in complete control of his own destiny, what we used to refer to as Mother Nature has a vote in the conversation – and she sometimes holds a very strong hand.  We have seen devastating plagues afflict human populations several times in recent and past history.  And while it is probably true that we are better equipped today than in the Middle Ages when bubonic plague ravaged Europe, it would be pure hubris to believe that we are so wise and so well prepared that we are impervious to a potentially ruinous outbreak of something the old gal has cooked up for us.  Admitting that would be to take the first step toward truly preparing for the potential of just such an outbreak.  And therein lies the problem.

Repeatedly since the first Ebola victim came to America from Liberia and subsequently died in Dallas, we have been told that any “large scale” outbreak of the virus is unlikely.  While that sounds reassuring, I for one would like to know the definition of “large scale.”  Is that one hundred patients; one thousand or one million?  That would seem a germane question since we have now been informed by the CDC that we have five hospitals which are prepared to handle just such an outbreak should it occur.  What the CDC has neglected to tell us is that between all five of those hospitals, spread throughout the country, there are a total of eleven beds to accommodate those who might come to them with the infection.

The CDC and its head, Dr.Tom Frieden have not exactly been reassuring in the way in which they have handled the situation thus far.  Nurses’ union leaders are complaining that they not only have not been instructed in the protocols that should be implemented to insure their safety and the proper treatment of the patients entrusted to them, but that they do not have the appropriate equipment nor instruction in how to use it.  That is a bit chilling.

The president assured us that there was no chance that Ebola would make its way to the United States.  As of this writing, we now have four such cases, the latest being a returning doctor who is with Doctors Without Borders and lives in our most populous city, New York.  He is currently quarantined in Bellevue Hospital.

This evening, from that hospital, the mayor of NYC, Bill de Blasio and NY governor, Andrew Cuomo together with the physicians who head NYC’s and the state’s health services appeared together at a news conference to update and reassure the public about the most recent Ebola patient and any potential threats to the health of New Yorkers because of the exposure he may have had to others.  I was impressed with several things at that press gathering.

First, in the finest tradition of the White House, the scheduled press conference began late.  In fact it started nearly forty minutes late.  Simple common sense would suggest that if you’re dealing with a restive public who are concerned about a situation, delaying a scheduled press briefing is not the way to instill confidence.

Second, I was struck by the almost robotic monotone in which the public was updated on the latest Ebola patient by both the mayor, the governor and the female doctor who heads NYC’s health department.  I will give credit to the state’s chief physician.  He appeared definitely to have a pulse and seemed to engage actively and with interest in the topic at hand.  I don’t expect a Periclean speech from either our elected officials and certainly not from appointed bureaucrats, but a little bit of emotion would convey a sense of actual interest.

Third, we are asked to rely on our government’s public health officials and agencies to keep us safe from harm.  One of those on a Federal level would be Sylvia Burwell, the head of Health and Human Services.  You’ll remember that agency which formerly was headed by Kathleen Sibelius who brought us the Obamacare website roll out.  In his remarks, Governor Cuomo, never a candidate for a MENSA application, referred to Ms. Burwell as the head of Homeland Security – a post currently occupied by Jeh Johnson.  Forgive me but I’m not instilled with the warm glow of security when those who are supposed to be in charge don’t know where those with whom they may need to coordinate actually work.

If we accept, perhaps with a grain of salt, that Ebola is fortunately a hard virus to transmit from one person to another, that may give us some comfort.  But what is disturbing is the response from those within Federal agencies which seem at best, confused and unprepared.  That is not unlike this administration’s response to a host of other issues which have surfaced in the last six years.

There are threats which nature provides and which man has created.  The two terrorist attacks which have occurred in Canada, I use the term terrorists because Canada’s PM has done so being unafraid to call it as he sees it, are truly disturbing, especially in this context.  We have seen recent purported uses of mustard gas in Syria.  After 9/11 we had a mini crisis as we worried about the dissemination of anthrax.  And terrorists in Japan have used sarin gas to advance their agendas.

In view of the savage brutality of the Islamic extremists (terrorists), it is not beyond the realm of possibility to believe that if they view their mission as destroying the infidel by any means possible they would eagerly resort to the dissemination of chemical weapons within major U. S. or other western population centers without regard to the niceties of international conventions to the contrary.

I hope that our officials are correct and that any outbreak of Ebola in the U. S. will be limited in nature and that we may assist in eradicating it in west Africa.  But based on the response we’ve seen to date, to put all one’s faith in that outcome might cause a trained medical professional to question the state of our mental health.

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