Today is

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Organized Labor Should Ratify Great Lakes Fisheries

As I've been poring over newspaper articles and other traditional news reports for the past several months regarding the Asian Carp invasion of the Great Lakes, I couldn't help but consider the similarities surrounding the potential effects the Asian imports might have on the Great Lakes fisheries and the effects over-advantaged imported goods have had on our national manufacturing industry over the past several decades.

Single Asian Carp found in Chicago-area fish kill
JG Excerpt: (Dec. 3, 2009)
Environmentalists fear that if the silver or bighead species of giant Asian carp reach the lakes they could starve out native fish species and devastate a $7 billion-a-year fishing industry.
Similarly, around thirty years ago, some economists feared that if Asian products and other cheap imported goods were brought into America, whether welcome or not, they could starve out good paying jobs and devastate the $400 billion-a-year American manufacturing industry. Most critics were shouted down as false alarmists and protectionists.

So, I thought about some of the high-handed rhetoric leveled against labor unions over the years and how those themes might relate to this latest threat on the Great Lakes.

Is the Great Lakes Fishery past its usefulness?

Should the government prevent competition from decimating the fishery?

Without government intervention, what effect will global free market fishery imports have on the Great Lakes?

Should Congress legislate "Free Fish Trade Agreements" to sell out Great Lakes fish to foreigners and treat the alien invaders as a commerce opportunity instead of a scourge?

Have Perch, Walleye and Bass priced themselves out of the market?

The black humor and sarcasm here could be endless. But there are plenty of hard truths as well.

The Great Lakes Watershed is probably the last of the late great American manufacturing industries. The lakes manufacture those chunky American Walleyes, Yellow Perch, Lake Trout and Bass just to name a few. Are the fish so underworked and overpaid that they can't compete for their own survival? Of course I realize the obvious inherent and competitive differences between species in nature and man-made products crafted by labor union workers, but at the same time I also see plenty of parallels.

By comparison, the Asian Carp is the "Toyota of the Sea." They are voracious eaters that can apparently out-compete our well-fed and stock-pensioned American fish. Heck, some of our prized domestics swimming the Great Lakes require extensive government welfare (stocking programs, strict fishing regulations, etc.) just to survive, they obviously must be free-loading Socialists. Yikes!
Chicago Tribune Excerpt: (Dennis Byrne) Dec. 8, 2009)
The carp are just one of a long list of "invasive" species that over the years purportedly threatened the Great Lakes ecosystem and fishing industries. Somehow, they have survived. Could the dire predictions about the carp be overstated?
Another blog noted the apparent soft pedaling on the dangers posed by the alien fish by the Chicago media, again reminiscent of the nonchalance by the MSM during the invasion of imported merchandise over the past several decades.

Another scary assumption is: If our defense of the American manufacturing worker is any sign of our resolve to defend future industries from unfair and overly advantaged competitors and commerce, the Great Lakes are doomed.
Highbeam Excerpt: (May 29, 2009)
While the United States was losing 1.4 million manufacturing jobs from 2002 to 2006, China was substantially increasing the number of workers in its manufacturing sector, according to a new report on Chinese manufacturing employment and compensation costs from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Unfortunately for the American manufacturing worker (also known as the common sucker at election time), nobody decided to do much until after the job-kill was over. After first negotiating our jobs away through ill-conceived trade agreements, Congress has now granted hundreds of millions of dollars to further educate and retrain those losing their job to foreign competition. Of course the educational programs are intended NOT to advantage American workers the ability to compete against the foreign workers that now manufacture most of our consumer goods. Instead the programs are meant to help us compete for jobs against each other. The effects of globalization are relentlessly cruel.

With that said, it does appear like the Great Lakes fisheries are held in a higher regard than our manufacturing industry.
Chicago Tribune Excerpt: (Dec. 22, 2009)
"We don't want to have to look back years later when (Asian carp) have gotten into Lake Michigan and say, 'What was the matter with us? We should have done something,' " Cox said. "Clearly, (closing) the locks are easiest, the most reliable and the most effective steps we can take in short run."
At this point, I do hope the prized fish of the Great Lakes are not trashed on and spit upon like union laborers have been in the past. Which leads to my final point.

I think American labor unions are missing the boat with the Asian Carp invasion of the Great Lakes. It is more my suggestion than an opinion that the AFL-CIO, UAW and other unions should officially identify the Great Lakes fisheries as an American manufacturing sector (Made In America) and union, and stand up in its defense against all enemies. Few know more than labor unions how devastating the high costs and ill effects of imported goods, overly-advantaged competitors and alien invaders are on our economy. This episode should be a great opportunity to relate American labor's plight to the very same dangers the Great Lakes now face. They are one and the same.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Website Tracks Stimulus Money Spent In Rock County

The site, run through the state's Office of Recovery and Reinvestment, shows Rock County was awarded $53,970,266 in stimulus money of which $16.8 million is still due.

Of the $53.9 million awarded, approximately $39 million was awarded to Rock County school districts and another $5 million was divided between the county, Community Action, Family Services and Weatherization. The remaining balance of $9.8 million is earmarked for a variety of local road, bridge and infrastructure programs.

A few of the non-education recipients are...

County of Rock State Fiscal Stabilization Fund -- $2,826,027
Weatherization Assistance program -- $1,697,781
Community Action, Inc. of Rock/Walworth Counties -- $486,576
Family Services -- $65,171
Statewide, the top category by far is education spending at more than $1.2 billion. Second is transportation and infrastructure spending at $670 million.

View the full list of Rock County non-transportation recipients here. Then click "sub-recipients."

View full list of Rock County transportation recipients here. Then click "prime-recipients."

Friday, March 26, 2010

Fric And Frac Fire Frum

After reading the Wall Street Journal's article about the American Enterprise Institute cutting David Frum, I couldn't help thinking how deep the GOP is into their own self-destruction. We certainly don't want to slow down their momentum.

In the following excerpt, the "disaster" Frum writes about is not the health care reform bill, but his description of the way the congressional party leaders handled it.
WaPo Excerpt:
"A huge part of the blame for today's disaster attaches to conservatives and Republicans ourselves," Frum wrote. "At the beginning of this process we made a strategic decision: unlike, say, Democrats in 2001 when President Bush proposed his first tax cut, we would make no deal with the administration. No negotiations, no compromise, nothing. We were going for all the marbles. This would be Obama's Waterloo -- just as health care was [Bill] Clinton's in 1994. . .

Wall Street Journal Excerpt:
Mr. Frum now makes his living as the media's go-to basher of fellow Republicans, which is a stock Beltway role. But he's peddling bad revisionist history that would have been even worse politics. The truth is that Democrats never had any intention of working with Republicans, except to pick off two or three Senators and calling it "bipartisanship."
That's not the way I saw it, particularly when one considers the live televised health care summit with President Obama. This was the GOP's best chance to correct the failed strategy described by Frum, and prove to America that they were the party of idea's as they claimed. They blew it big time.

But the GOP's biggest mistake was when they invited and picked their number one partisan, Congressman Paul Ryan, to open the summit discussion on behalf of their caucus. Here they are all sitting around the tables at a historic meeting called a "summit" to work an above-board deal on health care for all to see and one of the two parties brings in and sets the stage with a bomb-throwing ideologue.

You'll remember Ryan began his diatribe by first talking about a 38 trillion dollar Medicare obligation and making common knowledge statements about deficits and debt. He called the health care reform plan a gimmick full of smoke and mirrors loaded with double counting, hidden spending and finally a Ponzi scheme, descriptions far more fitting for his Roadmap novel. But does that sound like someone who wants to win over the opposition and engage in dialogue to negotiate a deal? Not in my book. And judging by the democrats reaction to Ryan's teardown at the summit, not in their book either.

Sure, Ryan was entitled to his criticisms, but in the end that's all he offered. He had no ideas or plans whatsoever to exchange with the democrats to make the reform plan work. Instead he finished by demanding the whole process “start over, that’s basically the point.” In short, Ryan was the final GOP point man confirming what Frum saw from the beginning as the guaranteed failure that no negotiations, no compromise and no nothing will bring. They were going for all the marbles again with Ryan. He could have saved everybody some time at the summit by offering just a one word statement in place of his entire speech – “NO.”

The televised summit could have been the GOP’s finest hour with the HCR bill, instead it showed America that its perception of the Republican party was fully exposed and confirmed on reality TV, and they are indeed the party of no and no ideas.

The truth is, it was the Republicans who had no intention of working with Democrats on health care reform from the beginning as Frum pointed out, and confirmed at the end as Ryan sealed their fate. So in my view, Frum hits the mark with his constructive criticism of the direction and motives of the Republican party.
Washington Post Excerpt:
Frum has long been a contrarian conservative. He emerged as a harsh critic of Sarah Palin during the 2008 campaign and resigned from the National Review after Obama was elected. "I am really and truly frightened by the collapse of support for the Republican Party by the young and the educated."

He has also been at war with much of the talk-radio right. Frum wrote a Newsweek cover story last year lambasting Rush Limbaugh, calling the host a "walking stereotype of self-indulgence -- exactly the image that Barack Obama most wants to affix to our philosophy and our party."
Yeah, where does David Frum get off criticizing GOP's finest? The nerve! The WSJ, AEI and the GOP certainly have no need for a traitor like that. Dump the guy. Serves him right. Thank yooo GOP. Stay the course.
Urban Dictionary
Fric and Frac -- Those two idiots you know and see often, who always hang out together. One is never seen without the other. Retarded Siamese Twins. Synonymous with and the update of "Tweedledum and Tweedledee".

"Oh great, look out, here come Fric and Frac."
"Yeah man. Disperse! Before they get here and try to hang out with us!"

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Newspaper Reports Personal Credit History On City Council Candidate

Regardless of what you or I might think of K. Andreah Briarmoon, I thought the article published on the front page of Wednesday's Janesville Gazette was completely uncalled for. Not that her personal history or economic status is off limits to public scrutiny, after all - she is running for Janesville city council. It's just that she was singled out much like Kevin B. and Kelly O. were by the newspaper two years ago when they ran for city council.

Although Briarmoon has made herself an easy target with her own show on JATV and is a persistent city hall activist, front paging a private citizen's foreclosure and credit history would be an unreasonable invasion of privacy. So in order for the Gazette to justify the invasion they mixed in a question relating to her city council candidacy.
JG Excerpt:
When asked why residents should vote for her to manage the city budget when she apparently cannot manage her own, Briarmoon answered: “I chose to fight the city, and I knew it was going to cost me, and it did. I knew I was going to lose my properties. But our Constitution is worth it.
And what were the responses from the other candidates? Ooops, there were no other responses.

For one thing, city council members do not manage the budget. The city manager and his administration are charged with managing the city budget and lucky for them, they merely have to balance the budget without any regard to generate the revenue on their own. Not like the rest of us who must rely on our own personal productivity to generate an income to pay our bills. So let's not kid ourselves here, this really isn't about questioning a city council candidate's ability to balance a city budget based on their home budgeting experience and personal credit history. Because if it was, the newspaper would have reported on all the current council members and candidate's business and home finances just the same. They did not.

By doing what they did the newspaper purposely isolated and demeaned Briarmoon based on her economic hardship. In other words, they did a hit job on her.

Real classy.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

City Growth Plans Are Set In Stone, Unless...

During a city council discussion to consider a property owner's zoning change request came this remark from Janesville Council Member Tom McDonald regarding the city's Comprehensive growth Plan.
Quote From Council meeting:
(March 22, 2010)
"Again it is my understanding that this rezoning would be inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan, so under Wisconsin law can we even do this? My understanding is we would have to open up the (Comp) plan and actually change the plan and there would be an entire process that would go into that, so that is something we would not be able to do tonight."
The response from the city staffer? "Correct!"

Oddly, nobody challenged McDonald on that assertion. I say that because when the city council voted to approve of the city's growth plan just over one year ago, several council members justified their vote in favor of approval by insisting the plan was not set in stone because each zoning, annexation or development request would be judged case-by-case. Excluding this blog at the time, that premise was left unchallenged.

In addition to the obvious false justifications to hurriedly approve of the Comp Plan, and less than one month after (April, 2009) the plan was approved, the Janesville community planning director (no less) said that the city’s newly minted Comprehensive Plan was actually unable to direct future growth within the city's own school district. At least 60% of future development growth is expected to occur inside the Milton School District! Just incredible.

In another council discussion a month after (May, 2009) the school district disclosure, several council members repeated yet again how each parcel, development and proposal brought to the council would be acted upon and voted independently on their own merit. That the plan was not laid in stone, but simply a guide that could be changed at anytime.

In yet another challenge (June, 2009) to the city council's sense of flexibility regarding the Comp Plan guidelines, the City Manager (who did not challenge the council's "flexibility" assertion during approval of the Comp Plan) repeatedly interrupted and warned council members that approving a zoning change request that happens to run counter to the plan would set "a new and dangerous precedent."

However, that McDonald's statement on Monday night went unchallenged was finally an admittance that the council's general understanding of the Comp Plan was false from the start. Once the Comprehensive Plan and its boundaries and zoning requirements are approved, it becomes the written law making it nearly impossible to change zoning or deny annexation other than that specified by the plan. Unless as McDonald said, it is cracked open which will probably require public notices, additional hearings and of course, a different approach and goal to future growth.

After rushing the plan into approval eight months early, it's unfortunate that their willingness to accept some truth had to come one year too late.

Note: The city council eventually voted against the property owner's zoning change request at Monday night's meeting because, "it is inconsistent with the city's Comprehensive Growth Plan."

Monday, March 22, 2010

Courageous Democrats Restore American Exceptionalism

Without a public option or a genuine "everyone in, nobody out" single payer plan, it certainly wasn't the health care reform I wanted. But considering everything - I'm elated the House passed it without one single Republican voting for it.

Yet once again, Congressman Paul Ryan was his usual embarrassing self espousing the politically expedient "give them death now instead of our childrens' debt later" straw man slippery slope crony capitalist hypocrisy among others....
Ezra Klein Excerpt:
Well, the bill passed. And moments ago, Rep. Paul Ryan was on the floor of the House, bellowing against Democrats who would dare propose "across-the-board cuts to Medicare." This is breathless opportunism from Ryan -- he has proposed far deeper across-the-board cuts to Medicare, and is making arguments against the Democrats' bill that would be far more potent and accurate if aimed at his own -- but leave that aside for a moment.
Take it or leave it, the health care reform vote could be the momentum Democrats have been looking for, for years. No doubt some Democrats will face heavy opposition in tough districts in the Fall, but no one can accuse them of voting in favor of HCR just to save their own careers or kowtow to their campaign donors. That's an argument to save for "Hell No" Republicans.

Dems finally mustered the courage to stand up and show some spine against the phony rhetoric, hate and lies perpetrated by the desperate and fraudulent Right, and return to the core principles and values which they are identified with by the nation.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

GOP Playing Tea Card All The Way

Politico Excerpt:
On Friday, Minority Leader John Boehner put his last hopes on the protesters. "Republicans can't beat this bill, but the American people can. It's not too late to make your voice heard," he said in his weekly address.

On Saturday came the response.

Tea party protesters scream 'nigger' at black congressman
McClatchy DC Excerpt:
WASHINGTON — Demonstrators outside the U.S. Capitol, angry over the proposed health care bill, shouted "nigger" Saturday at U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia congressman and civil rights icon who was nearly beaten to death during an Alabama march in the 1960s....Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., said he was a few yards behind Lewis and distinctly heard "nigger."....Frank said the crowd consisted of a couple of hundred of people and that they referred to him as 'homo.' A writer for The Huffington Post said the protesters called Frank a "faggot."
Politico Excerpt:
"You represent the people of the United States...Don't be faint hearted, don't be weary of doing well with all your might today. Knock on those doors and make your case!" Rep. Michele Bachmann implored them.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Rep. Gwen Moore a Champion Against Crony Capitalism

Racine Post Excerpt:
Rep. Paul Ryan, R-WI, 1st District, has received $1,125,233 from industry lobbyists -- more than any other Wisconsin lawmaker.... Rep. Gwen Moore, D-WI, 4th (Milwaukee), by the way, scraped the bottom of the barrel in health care industry contributions -- a paltry $88,472, the only Wisconsin lawmaker who failed to reach six digits.
Find out who's who collecting the most capital for their cronyism with the health care industry.

Highly Paid Pall Bearers

Friday, March 19, 2010

Will Ryan's Hometown Newspaper Condemn His Op-Ed Policy?

It's been almost a year and a half since Congressman Paul Ryan has been writing op-eds exclusively for the Racine Journal Times without one word of acknowledgment or criticism coming from his hometown newspaper, the Janesville Gazette. I bring this up now because after all it is Sunshine Week, and the Gazette has been running editorials for some time now defending Open Records laws and supporting unfettered access to public information. On Thursday they continued this campaign with an editorial titled Reject legislation that would erode public information.

I would assume that open access to public information also means the ability for the citizenry to interact with public officials when the means are available. Such is the case with Web-based interconnectivity. I also bring this up because despite evidence to the contrary, Ryan is a representative not just for a select newspaper, special interest or local constituency, but an entire congressional district. Yet by not allowing his constituents to debate or challenge his views in an open forum, he is sending the message that his ideological views and statements are irrefutable and factually undeniable. Perhaps that is exactly the message he wants to send.

Granted, most of Ryan's op-eds have little to do with actual governing and more to do with his own ideology and projections, but what could he be afraid of? Even the Gazette wrote on Thursday, "Why stomp on access because a few people might abuse the system?

On the flipside, it is possible that Ryan offered his op-eds with the same publishing restrictions and exclusivity (dedicated page, at will, no comments) to other newspapers in his district - and they refused out of respect for themselves and their customers. The Janesville Gazette could very well be one of those newspapers who opted out of Ryan's deal since they are not printing his full body of op-eds. If that's true, they should say so. If it's not true that they were offered the same deal, they should then stand up for Sunshine and tell Ryan it is a mistake to prevent public commenting - for or against his views.

I normally wouldn't expect a newspaper to stand up for public access and engagement since they don't allow the same for their own editorials. But Ryan is on the public payroll. The editors of the Gazette are not. Everything he conveys from our congressional office, he owes to the public without restriction.


BDN Editorial: Stay informed, be engaged.

CBPP Shreds Ryan's Roadmap Numbers

At the Wall Street Journal, Paul Ryan writes again about his novel "Roadmap" and refers to it as A Republican Road, despite being rejected by fellow Republicans.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Teabaggers Mock Man With Parkinson's

We know they're idiots but I'm torn...are the folks in the video compassionate conservatives or Randiacs? Obviously, they are not Christians.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

State Going Backwards Incriminates Lobbyists

How bizarre. A lobbyist claiming the state is going backwards is like a bank robber yelling "stop - thief!!" It just doesn't add up.
Beloit Daily News Excerpt:
Wisconsin is flunking its economics test, according to Bill McCoshen, senior vice president of Capitol Consultants Inc. “Forward may be the state motto, but it’s going backward,” McCoshen said.
Just consider a few of the more recent high profile pieces of legislation that made their way through the Wisconsin state legislature and every one of them had been dirtied by the hands of the anti-competitive profits-over-policy lobbyists. From Wisconsin's drunk driving laws, to the payday loan industry, to the windmill siting statutes, to AT&T's video competition act, to corporate tax cuts or the implied creation of tax credit jobs. Every one of them was steered by lobbyists. And it doesn't matter whether Wisconsin's Senate or Assembly is led by Democrats or Republicans, the only common thread of influence setting the tone and direction of any impending legislation was from the armies of lobbyists shifting the gears. That is undeniable. The moment a legislator stood fast against the moneyed interests was the moment the legislator was deemed either a partisan, a tax and spend ideologue or against job creation. It never fails. So when I heard Tommy Thompson's lobbyist pal Bill McCoshen say that Wisconsin is going backward, he should know.

On the national front, the change I believed in had nothing to do with the health care reform bill, our military war complex or our national deficits as much as it had everything to do with the way things are done in State Houses and Washington D.C. So far absolutely nothing has changed. We are not only locked into reverse gear but lobbyists like Bill McCoshen with the help of the Citizens United ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court are seeking ways to put it into overdrive.

Yet when scandals arise almost like clockwork from the culture of corruption that has enveloped nearly every level of government, we tend to turn a blind eye towards the very source of the corrosive influence.

It's like blaming the water when a lake becomes polluted.

For more information on the lobbyist industry in Wisconsin, check out the top link bar at the Wheeler Report.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Party From “Hell" An Improvement On "Party of No"

Tea Party members gathered for a Ronald Reagan seance in the Dells on Saturday. It was reported that the meeting, organized by the astro turf group Americans for Prosperity, was dubbed an unofficial tea party convention.

In attendance were numerous Wisconsin GOP candidates and officeholders such as Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, Scott Walker, U.S. Senate candidates Terrence Wall and David Westlake, Supreme Court Justices Michael Gableman and David Prosser in addition to national speakers like anti-American Grover Norquist, “Joe the Plumber,” and Michael Reagan, the son of former President Ronald Reagan. Congressman Paul Ryan appeared in a videotaped message.
As noted at One Wisconsin Now,apparently some editing gremlins at both the Wisconsin State Journal and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel edited the word “zealot” out from a description of Grover Norquist in Saturday’s Associated Press story and replaced it with anti-tax "activist" and "advocate."
One of the bagger's highlights came from Tim Nerenz, a Libertarian candidate for Congress when he said, “We are not the party of no, we are the party of hell no."
Wispolitics Excerpt:
State GOP chairman Reince Priebus made a pitch to the crowd, saying the party is “rebuilding credibility” with near unanimous votes against “PelosiCare and ObamaCare.”
Illusory Tenant -- Prosser delivers magic words to Tea Party

Cognitive Dissidence -- Police called in on reported dispute

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Beck: Social Justice is Socially Unjust

ABC News Excerpt:
On his radio and television shows, Beck suggested any church promoting "social justice" or "economic justice" merely was using code words for Nazism and communism. "I beg you look for the words social justice or economic justice on your church Web site," he said. "If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. ... Am I advising people to leave their church? Yes!
The Fox News rodeo clown's recent perverted attack against social and economic justice reminded me of this interview from 1959 of Ayn Rand with Mike Wallace.

Ayn Rand Against Force Of Justice

The Ayn Rand videos with Mike Wallace or Phil Donahue on Youtube are particularly worth watching if you want to sneak a peek at the bizarre moral contradictions behind the marketing and philosophy currently undermining the socially benevolent fabric of our country. Instead of dealing with positive solutions to our ever imperfect governing democracy, Rand cultists such as Beck and our own congressman Paul Ryan intend to divide the nation with their wrong-headed definition of collectivism against their own wrong-headed definition of individualism in what can be described as a mission to fulfill Ayn Rand's self-deluded moral heresy. In the meantime, they don't care if they take down Christianity, the rule of law or anyone else who gets in the way.

Church Uses Marquee To Speak Out Against Beck.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Another Manufacturer Vacating Ryan's District

Thanks Congressman Ryan
After twelve years into Paul Ryan's award winning and star-studded career in congress, the factory workers in his district are finally getting served a heaping mouthful of dog food and a swift kick of tough love from his low-wage conservative and ideologically driven policies.
JG Excerpt:
JANESVILLE — A Janesville manufacturer that plans to close this fall will start laying off employees in May. Bourns, Inc., notified the state Monday it will eliminate about 30 positions on or about May 7.
Don't these folks know that their congressman won multiple and consecutive prestigious awards in manufacturing legislative excellence from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)?

During the 107th congress (2001-2003) Congressman Ryan scored a very favorable 95 out of a perfect 100 with NAM. During the 108th (2003-2005), he scored another 95 and during the 109th (2005-2007) he scored a perfect 100!! On top of his fine, fine manufacturing voting record during the same period, the entitled congressman voted with his Republican majority anywhere from 88% to 94% of the time. In retrospect, didn't General Motors or Chrysler Corporation ever get the message about Ryan's manufacturing awards? Sheesh... the ingrates nowadays.

But, how does an institution like NAM reconcile itself with the fact that a congressman voting their way over 90 percent of the time (during a GOP majority no less) not only resulted in a precipitous decline of a once robust manufacturing sector within that district, but also with the sinking reality that the manufacturing jobs are irretrievably lost forever?

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Postage And Health Care Increases Show a World Apart

In a short tale of two completely different worlds, I've always thought the complaints and criticisms of high costs and mismanagement towards the U.S Post office were unfair compared to the bonuses for failure issued in the free markets, particularly towards the exponentially skyrocketing premiums in the health care industry over the past ten years.
Consumer Watchdog Excerpt:
Over the past 10 years, premiums have risen 131 percent while wages have increased just 38 percent. In that time, inflation has gone up 28 percent.
In 1999, the cost of a U.S postage Stamp was 33 cents. Over the same 10-year period covering health care increases in the above chart, the cost of postage incrementally rose to 44 cents by May 2009, an increase of 33% which also turns out to be a reasonable medium between wage and price inflation.

In a imaginary scenario between the two industries swapping premium increases, if the HC industry lived by the modest cost/price standards of the nationalized U.S. Post Office, the $5,791 family premium in 1999 would only be about $7,546 today instead of $13,375. Conversely if the U.S post office lived by the profit-taking standards of the private health care insurance industry for the past ten years, a stamp would have been jacked up to about 76 cents in 2009. But even at that price it would still be a bargain.

Still I find it amazing how any industry including governmental bodies and agencies, post office included, have up until recently been able to survive absorbing the payroll shocks and runaway costs of the American health care industry.

Monday, March 08, 2010

If Tommy Runs, Will Sarah Campaign For Him?

Capital Times Excerpt:
Speaking at a previously organized fundraising event at Madison's High Noon Saloon, Feingold delighted in contrasting his record as a critic of special-interest lobbying and campaign spending with Thompson's recent work as a high-profile lobbyist in Washington.

Feingold said of Thompson: "Instead of taking on the special interests, he's been taking them on as clients."
No doubt, Thompson's advisers will misconstrue even this blog posting as additional evidence that Democrats feel threatened by him.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Republicans Bankrupt Without Selling Government

Morally and ethically bankrupt, the GOP asks itself...
RNC Leadership Excerpt
Page 30:

GOP: What can you sell when you do not have the White House, the House or the Senate...?

...or your souls.

View full 72 page GOP program hereGovernment for salePutting the Fun back in FUNdraising

a.k.a RNC Marketing 101

The headline that never was: Jim Bunning Throws Spitball at Unemployed.

Friday, March 05, 2010

One year later: Democrats Ramming HC Reform Down Our Throats

March 3 -- "I believe as we stand on the abyss tonight, for those Americans who are want to turn to God for answers that this is a time to be doing that, to ask for his help supernaturally so that we don't make this fatal step pushing our nation into socialized medicine..."
-- Rep. Todd Akin (R-Regressive) Missouri.
Is the GOP counting on the “Rapture” to avoid the lakes of fire, marauding demons and the destruction of mankind on Earth that are to come, if health care reform passes through on reconciliation? Check out the riotous Jon Stewart video featured in the left sidebar.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

GOP's 2010 Strategy: Fear. This is News?

Salon Excerpt:
The Republicans' strategy for motivating their base this year -- is fear. Fear of President Obama, fear of change, fear of some giant socialist revolution, of death panels, of government bureaucrats and liberals and anything else that might pop up. Still, you wouldn't expect the Republican National Committee to come right out and admit to that.
Same old Republican Rovian tactics. Make baseless statements often, spin into fear and divide the load. Rinse. Repeat often. And what are Democrats doing...still trying to negotiate with the irrational.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

A Word On Our Constitutional Collectivism

Get Liberty Org. Excerpt:
(Titled: The Enslaving Folly of Shared Sacrifice)
The second point that Teacherken’s plea makes is one of collectivism. We are implored to take “collective responsibility” and accept “shared sacrifice.” But nowhere in our founding documents are we as a people or a nation submerged into the rancid stew of one big mass. Individual liberty was the watchword and is the goal to which we must now aspire.
To put it bluntly - Bullshit!

Our Constitution does not begin “I the individual” or “I the corporations.” It begins, "We the people" in big bold letters nearly five times the size of any other words on the document. Our founding fathers (and mothers) did this for a reason. That document could be burned to a crisp by cultist legislators and nazi-con judges, but as long as the words “We the people” remain visibly intact, we still have our constitutional government. At the same time, our Bill of Rights makes no restrictions or limitations on individuals, instead it grants us the right to rise above on our own accord within the means of the Constitution and human law.

Implying our Constitution and freedoms are threatened by the rewards of shared sacrifice is a direct affront to the collective known as “we the people.” Ideally viewed, the founders of our country wrote the Constitution as patriots not to themselves, but for the collective. It's "country first," not "me first."

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

State Republicans Receive "Best Buy" Rating From Payday Lobbyists

Some numbers regarding "donations" to Wisconsin state legislative committees show the bargain the payday loan industry got from Republicans...
JS Online Excerpt:
Payday lenders and their lobbyists gave four campaign committees controlled by legislative leaders $28,350 in the second half of last year, the Democracy Campaign said - $13,900 to the Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee, $7,600 to the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate; $3,850 to the State Senate Democratic Campaign Committee, and $3,000 to the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee.
The Wisconsin State Assembly eventually voted 56-41 to kill what the predatory lenders fought hardest against - the interest rate cap amendment that Sheridan stands accused of changing his position on. Of that roll call, Republicans voted 34 - 10 to reject the interest cap amendment, while Democrats failed to reject the cap by a 22 - 31 margin. Yet the industry "donated" $17,750 to Democratic committees and only $10,600 to Republicans. At that rate the industry paid members of the Republican bloc $312 each for their majority "kill the cap" votes while paying a Democratic "minority" $807 each for their industry favored votes.

Controversy aside, along with the obvious detrimental influence lobbyists carry in Madison, if the payday industry depended only on Assembly democrats to shut down the rate cap, it was an extremely poor investment.

In a few weeks, The Democracy Campaign plans on calculating how much money the payday industry gave to individual lawmaker's campaigns between July 1 and Dec. 30. It'll be doubly interesting finding out how much each legislator received from the industry correlates to which way they voted on the interest cap amendment. Stay tuned for that one.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Rock County Coroner Hires New Chief Deputy

Sunday's Janesville Gazette contained only a "short" brief on the new upper level hire to the Rock County Coroner's office.

The full official press release issued by the coroner's office was as follows.
Official Press Release
February 26, 2010

Introducing New Chief Deputy for Rock County Coroner's Office

Rock County, WI - The Rock County Coroner's Office is pleased to welcome Louis C. Smit to the position of Chief Deputy Coroner for Rock County. Lou was sworn in on February 22, 2010 by Coroner Jenifer Keach. Louis (Lou) Smit has thirty-three (33) years of law enforcement experience from local, county and federal agencies and has a Bachelor's degree from National University. Lou is a U.S. Army veteran, having served with the 82nd Airborne Division. Following military service Lou continued working in death investigations and later worked as a police officer in Southern Nevada.

Lou was recruited into federal service and worked as a Special Agent with the U. S. Customs Service. While a federal agent, Lou was assigned to the Los Angeles Organized Crime Strike Force and worked in Texas assigned as a Racketeer Investigator investigating organized and drug related homicides (to include a very high profile series of "Cult Murders" involving U.S and Mexican citizens lured into Mexico where they were murdered by a cannibalistic cult).

Lou returned to County law enforcement in Northern Nevada and later worked as a Medical Examiner Death Investigator in Washington State for over 13 years. Lou has served as a professor of Criminal Justice - Forensic Death Investigations for Del Mar College (TX) as an on-line Professor. Additionally, he has authored several death investigation training texts and death scene guides.

For the last nine years, Lou has been with the Kitsap Co., WA Coroner's Office as a Deputy Coroner and was assigned as National Medicolegal Coordinator. Following the terrorist attacks upon the United States on 9/11, Lou led a team that recovered victims at the World Trade Center and interacted with a second team at the Pentagon. Lou's duties also included testifying at the 9/11 Commission.

Lou participated with several Congressional committees related to Homeland Security issues, as well as provided consultation to the Executive Offices of the President and vice President during the Tsunami of 2004/2005 and later in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Lou received the "President's Call To Service Award" Life Time Achievement and Multiple Gold Awards from the Executive Office of the President and from USA Freedom Corp for participation in Emergency Management and Response for the years 2004, 2005, and 2006. In 2007, Lou was invited by the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq to consult about medicolegal investigative training and forensic programs to assist the newly formed government to function as a 21st Century medicolegal system within the Office of the Minister of State for the Interior in Eribil, Iraq.
The new chief deputy obviously brings a substantial background and a wide-ranging set of capabilities to the office.

Welcome aboard Lou!

Note: The full story was also published at WIFR.