Saturday, April 16, 2011

Our Phony Budget Battles Are All Smoke and Mirrors | | AlterNet

Our Phony Budget Battles Are All Smoke and Mirrors
Both parties in Washington have supported and sustained massive ongoing deficits propping up a crippled, state-dependent capitalism.

Weeks of highly publicized debates - some in Congress, more in the mass media - brought Republicans and Democrats to a budget deal. To maximize public attention, they threatened a possible government shutdown. Both parties said that large government deficits and accumulated debt were "serious problems." They agreed that solving them required only spending cuts, not revenue increases. In unison, they repeated, "we" must "learn to live within our means."

In fact, both sides never actually engaged the deficit and the debt. They limited themselves to purely cosmetic, symbol-laden cuts (Republicans) and refusals to cut (Democrats). Aiming at the 2012 election, both parties used the deficit and budget debates purely to impress their voters.

Basic numbers tell the true story. The current (Fiscal Year 2011) budget spends about $3.5 trillion while receiving $2.0 trillion in tax revenues. The difference of $1.5 trillion (the equivalent of $1,500 billion) is this year's deficit. The US Treasury must borrow that from whoever will lend to the US government. After much hot air, Republicans and Democrats reached a "historic compromise," namely a spending cut of $38 billion. That will reduce this year's deficit from $1,500 billion to $1,462 billion, an economically insignificant sum. The sound and fury of Washington's debates signified nothing was to be done about the actual deficit.

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Harvesting our amygdalas? Or trying to make the world a better place?

The world has changed though, hasn't it? We have entered the Matrix, but it's not our body heat they want. They want the preference model encoded in our amygdala and a list of all the people that might influence that model tomorrow.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Contributing to the high cost of health care...

A survey published in the Archives of Internal Medicine offers a surprising finding: It turns out that the treatments doctors would pick for themselves are not always the treatments they would recommend to patients. Imagining themselves as patients, doctors often select treatments that carry a higher risk of death but fewer unpleasant side effects. Here's more on the new study, from Reuters:

"I don't think any patient would expect that. If they found out, they would raise a lot of questions," said Peter Ubel, at Duke University, who led the research.

"It has nothing to do with moral. It has everything to do with human nature. The doctors don't even know they are behaving this way."

In the survey, two sets of questions were sent to primary care physicians around the United States. One set asked about different types of hypothetical colon cancer surgery and another about a treatment for bird flu.

The doctors received either a survey that asked them to assume they were the patient, or one that asked them about their advice for patients.

Of 242 physicians who answered the colon cancer questionnaire, 38 percent went with the survey that carried a higher risk of death but fewer side effects for themselves. By contrast, only a quarter said they would recommend that treatment to their patients.

Read the full story at Reuters.

[Evidently doctors don't sue themselves for malpractice - or else they would insist on enduring all of the rule-out studies they order just to CYA (cover YOUR ass))

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Obesity, Disparities in Care Help Drive U.S. Stillbirths: Studies

Obesity, Disparities in Care Help Drive U.S. Stillbirths: Studies

27,000 American women still experience this often preventable outcome each year, experts say

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, April 13 (HealthDay News) -- While the rate of stillbirths in the United States has dropped over the past few decades, this tragic outcome is still a reality for far too many couples, experts say.

As part of a series of studies published online April 14 in The Lancet, researchers report that a leading cause of stillbirth in the United States may be obesity, which can raise the risk for fetal loss.

Obese women are more likely to have diabetes and hypertension, and "these are two of the major causes of stillbirth," noted the lead author of one paper, Dr. Robert L. Goldenberg, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia. "But for reasons that are not clear, above diabetes, above hypertension, obese women are still more likely to have a stillbirth [than thinner women]."

[LINK: Obesity, Disparities in Care Help Drive U.S. Stillbirths: Studies ]

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But they don't pay American taxes?!?!

GE to Invest $1.2 Billion in Indonesia

General Electric announced that it will invest $1.2 billion in Indonesia to expand its business operations outside the island of Java. GE said the investment will go toward developing energy, infrastructure, health and transport on the island of Kalimantan.

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the dumbest form of socialism ever

  Prof. Lawrence Lessig and others have anguished over the fact that we have yet to correct this system, calling it, "the dumbest form of socialism ever produced by man: where we socialize the risk, but privatize the benefit."

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Coming Age of Corporate Paternalism

The Coming Age of Corporate Paternalism

In HBR and elsewhere, a number of authors have wrung their hands about the public legitimacy of business. To steal from Churchill's definition of democracy, business has become the least popular American institution, except for all the others.

We can best see where influence really lies with President Obama's new council on jobs and competitiveness. Its responsibility is the public imperative of our time, to promote employment in the aftermath of the Great Recession. How does this Democratic president expect the council to do this? By "investing in American businesses to encourage hiring, to educate and train our workers to compete globally."

[ :LINK: The Coming Age of Corporate Paternalism ]

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Well kept secret... the ultimate vacation get-away...

Lotus of the Month Club

[courtesy of Frank :: ]

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Who has your back?!?

When you use the Internet, you entrust your online conversations, thoughts, experiences, locations, photos, and more to companies like Google, Yahoo and Facebook. But what happens when the government asks these companies to hand over your private information?  Please join me in urging Internet companies to stand up for their users when the government comes knocking.


- Bill


William Meloney VII
Voice: 270-215-4275

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Standard Politician vs. Standard Voter

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Taking molecular biology to a new level...


Adventures in Extreme Science

From Crick and Watson through J. Craig Venter, we had all our eggs in one basket — molecular biology, gene mapping, whatever you want to call it. It failed. And now we're counting on this guy.

By Tom Junod

Eric Schadt

Douglas Adesko

Published in our April issue, on sale soon

There may be another scientist in the world as smart as Eric Schadt. After all, scientists are a pretty smart lot, even though you'd be surprised at how few want to change the world, and how many of them have the trudging souls of brilliant, dutiful clerks. There may even be another scientist in the world as popular, as in demand as Eric Schadt, even though Eric works hard at everything he does, including his popularity, and is engaged, at any given time, in at least ten collaborations with other top scientists, not to mention the production — just last year — of a profligate thirty-five scientific papers, not to mention the delivery, year in and year out, of about forty talks and presentations after receiving invitations to deliver two or three hundred. (You'd also be surprised by how social a lot of scientists are, and how many parties they go to.) But if you're looking for a scientist whose great popularity rests in tirelessly writing papers and delivering speeches whose implicit and sometimes explicit message to the most eminent minds in his field is that they're wrong, that they've failed, and that the best way for them to stop wasting their lives is to follow him in a scientific revolution that he admits might not even work: Well, then you'd probably have to narrow your search a little bit. It takes a pretty smart guy to tell the smartest people in the world that all their success, all their hard-won knowledge has led them to a dead end ... that the approach they've taken has been a little, um, simplistic. It takes Eric Schadt to say that — and then to make the damned sale.

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R.I.P. Mr. Gil Robbins

Gil Robbins, Folk Singer With the Highwaymen, Dies at 80

Gil Robbins, a singer, guitarist and songwriter with the folk group the Highwaymen and a fixture on the folk-music scene, died on Tuesday at his home in Esteban CantĂș, Mexico. He was 80.

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China Detains Church Members Over Public Praying

China Detains Church Members Over Public Praying

BEIJING — The police detained dozens of members of an underground Protestant church on Sunday morning, after the congregation tried to pray in a public plaza in the north of the capital.

A parishioner was ordered into a van by a plainclothes police officer in Beijing on Sunday.

The police corralled scores of parishioners into buses and blocked church leaders from leaving their homes. Among those detained was a photographer from The New York Times, who was later released.

Last week the church, Shouwang, was evicted from the space it had been renting after the government pressured the landlord not to renew the lease. The congregation, one of the largest so-called house churches in China, has been seeking legal recognition from the authorities since 2006 without success.

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