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NYC Nanny

This is not the latest Lifetime TV reality show, but the state of affairs in the nation’s largest city.  The past few years New York City has taken some pretty big “Nanny State” steps.  They have eliminated smoking indoors and at outdoor stadiums, stopped the use of Trans fat, reduced salt in cooking, and most recently crNannyacked down on the dreaded “Big Gulp”.  In all of the reporting about these steps, you would think there would be more analysis as to why.  There are those who think this is just the natural progression of the liberal mindset, and NYC is certainly controlled by liberals, but there is a bigger issue at play here.  The overriding reason for all of this intervention in the free lives of New Yorkers is that near 40% of the population of NYC is on Medicaid.  The decisions in regards to health, by the people of New York, have a tremendous financial impact on the city.  How long before more city and state governments come to this conclusion?   

Medicaid was a program developed for the poor, but do-gooder lawmakers with an entitlement mentality have increased the coverage from the truly needy to as many as possible.  The funding for Medicaid is shared by the City, the State, and the Federal government.  The State of NY has capped its contribution, and the feds are an unreliable future source of money, so the funding going forward will increasingly fall on the City.  (http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/city_medicaid_near_critical_condition_gXDExUBXUJRS2hAZiXZ2EJ).  Faced with these facts what would a forward thinking executive do?  Try to Big Gulpreduce costs. 

As more and more people are enrolled on Medicaid, there develops a parent-child relationship between the government and the people.  These citizens have no incentive to keep themselves healthy, because they do not pay for the consequences of their bad decisions.  Mayor Bloomberg has decided that he will reduce the cost to NYC by eliminating unhealthy choices for all New Yorkers.  His steps, even with all of the collateral damage, are reasonable when viewed in this light. 

One of the major provisions of Obamacare is to cover more Americans through a further expansion of Medicaid.  This allows people at 133% of the poverty level to be covered by Medicaid.  (http://obamacarefacts.com/obamacares-medicaid-expansion.php).  This is akin to the policies of New York being spread nationwide.  Is New York City just the first place to make the preemptive decision to force healthy decisions on its citizens?       

mini big gulpThis is a look into the future for all Americans.  With the government increasingly picking up the tab for healthcare costs, it will create an excuse for control over all citizens’ daily life.  The feared implementation of a “Twinkie tax” (a tax on fatty foods) is nothing compared to the elimination of the unhealthy choices.  Now that the government is covering so many, this will be justified.  If all states accept the new Obamacare Medicaid expansion, America will end up like New York.

The President Can’t Govern

The President’s history of negotiations with Republicans has led to the remarkable feet of making Washington DC even more dysfunctional.  The President has behaved as if the country is split roughly 80-20 in his favor.  Through his negotiations and public pronouncements he has exploited every opportunity where he has had even the slightest advantage.  This has led to the Republicans slowly but surely coming to the conclusion that they can’t trust him and almost can’t work with him.  This is the man we have just elected for 4 moreMy stapler years. 

Politics is like a sporting event, but governing is more like a business.  Much like sports, winning by 1 point (or getting 50.6% of the vote in the recent election) gets the victory.  After the campaign the dynamics change almost immediately.  The winner needs to start working with the party that he just defeated in order to govern.  The rare exception to this rule came in 2009 when Mr. Obama was working with a majority in the House, as well as a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate of his own party.  This allowed him to govern without regard to the Republican point of view.  This situation lasted for 2 years, and the country received Obamacare as a gift from one party rule.  The next election in 2010 was historic in sweeping Republicans back into power in the House, and restored the balance that requires governing like a business.

In a company there are always conflicts between competing ideas or departments.  It is through the negotiations over these competing ideas that people learn about their ability to deal with those who oppose them.  Does the person push every advantage they have or do they realize that a win-win on an idea will help the company?  Unless someone is fired over the disagreement, these two parties must figure out how to work with each other.  This is not that different from the negotiations that must take place in Washington over completely different ideas of how government should work.  This is not new, but the inability of the current President to seek win-win scenarios is.

A perfect example of this is the recent negotiations over the fiscal cliff, which occurred at the beginning of the year.  This was a scenario where the President had the most leverage, in that, if nothing was resolved every person who paid taxes was going to see an increase.  In the run-up to the final deal there were many ideas floated to cut spending.  Replacing the sequester with other cuts, changing the rate of increase for entitlements, means testing Medicare, or raising the eligibility age for Social Security were all possible.  The President, however, used the fact that he had all of the leverage, and allowed none of it.  He made the Republicans swallow hard on a deal that only contained tax increases, extending unemployment, and with zero cuts in spending.  He won.

There is a different dynamic now in place with the sequester.  If nothing is done, spending will be cut, so the leverage is now with the Republicans.  Has the President acknowledged that he needs to deal with the republicans, and been humbled by his lack of leverage?  No. He has decided that he likes it better when the negotiations are winner-take-all, like an election.  This is why in recent weeks, rather than negotiating, he has been campaigning.  These campaign stops have been just like an election with staged events, human props, and scare tactics.  He is doing this even though the most recent election results show that we are roughly a 50-50 country, and his opponents can’t be fired for nearly 2 years.

The President enjoys sports, and as proof we will soon be subjected to the Presidential Bracket with the start of the NCAA Basketball Tournament (a tradition he began).  He, however, has almost no experience dealing with coequals in business.  He was elected to govern, and he simply can’t do it.  To come to this conclusion a little over a month into his second four year term is a bit disconcerting.  Years from now, perhaps when the looming debt crisis is upon us, people will look back on this time and say that we should have solved the problem of our mounting debt.  Perhaps with the passage of time the people will finally point the finger at this President. 

The Man Vote

A story reported ad nauseam this and every other election cycle is the fact that The Democrats poll better among women than Republicans.  The current Gallup poll has Mr. Obama ahead among women by 8%.  Even if you have been a regular consumer of news you may not know that this same poll has Romney ahead by 8% among men.  You probably do not know that the vote preference given by men has proven recently to be a better indicator of the overall winner of a presidential election than the advantage among women.  Why don’t we see a headline across newspapers or broadcasts asking the question…“What does Obama have to do to get the man vote?”

Exit polling has been in place since the 1972 election for President, and this has included separating the participants by gender.  For most elections, women and men vote in majorities for the winner.  Recently, however other trends have developed.  Women have voted for the Democrat running for president since 1992.  These votes have twice led to women voting for the loser in the presidential race.  If Mitt Romney loses women in this year’s election, it will just be the continuation of the 20 year trend of women voting for Democrats.  Men on the other hand have voted for the winner all but once in this same period of time.  That winner (Bill Clinton 1996) only lost the man vote by 1% (http://elections.nytimes.com/2008/results/president/national-exit-polls.html).  Men seem to be up for grabs in each election, whereas women lately have consistently given the edge to Democrats. 

If you were a promising young reporter, or even a grizzled veteran, isn’t this a better story?  Don’t these facts point to the man vote being a better indicator of the winner?  Are the current reports just media bias, since it makes the republican look bad?  Maybe they report this women gender gap so they can bring up abortion.  Many think that this is the reason for women leaning toward democrats, and it is controversial.  The media certainly loves to report on controversy.  When you see a gender gap story chiding the Romney campaign for their lack of support with women, occasionally they will also show the poll for men.  This is the part of the story that won’t be addressed by the reporter, but can actually give you useful information as we get closer to election day.  If history is our guide, this gender gap will tell you who will be the next president. 

I don’t know any presidential campaign that would be stupid enough to rule out roughly 50% of voters when crafting its message.  It is interesting, however, that when the media chooses to break down the electorate, they choose the wrong gender to focus on for the possible victor.  The media is fixated on the fact that women are showing a preference for President Obama by 8%, while they ignore the same preference number for Romney by men.  Perhaps a rebel will have a story saying that no one has ever won the presidency while losing the man vote by more than 1%.  If it ever happens, they may be on to something.

 

I Thought We Were Supposed to Hate the Banks

I am confused by the recent uproar about JP Morgan losing $2 billion.  I thought we were supposed to hate the banks.  If you have watched and listened closely whenever the administration and leading Democrats speak about business, it seems pretty clear that there are certain businesses we are supposed to hate.  I am quite certain that we are supposed to hate Fat-cat bankers.  So shouldn’t we, and those pushing this philosophy, be happy that this Wall Street bank lost money?

It has generally been the nature of politicians to blame outsiders for problems when their policies fail.  This is not unique to Democrats.  It just seems that way since their policies fail with greater frequency, and sometimes spectacularly.  The list of businesses that have been demonized by the President and his party just in the last few years includes prescription drug makers, health insurance companies, oil and gas companies, Las Vegas tourism, and Wall Street banks.  This list is not complete, and there are candidates waiting in the wings such as sugar soda bottlers, snack food makers, and fast food companies.  If in power long enough, perhaps just making a profit will attract targeting.

The loss at JP Morgan is an interesting case in that they lost money.  There is no risk of a bailout such as we saw with TARP in 2008, since only about one percent of the trading portfolio was lost.  The liberals in Washington, egged on by much of the media, have been telling us for the past few years that banks should not make so much money. In fact, the President was very upset in late 2009 when “Fat Cat Bankers” were making money again, and reinstating bonuses.  He said…

“I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall Street,” Mr. Obama said in an interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes” program on Sunday.

“They’re still puzzled why is it that people are mad at the banks. Well, let’s see, you guys are drawing down $10, $20 million bonuses after America went through the worst economic year that it’s gone through in — in decades, and you guys caused the problem.”

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB126073152465089651.html

Again, shouldn’t the President be happy?  One could only imagine if JP Morgan had announced an unexpected windfall profit of $2 billion on a trade, and raised bonuses.  Is there any doubt that these same people would be complaining about that?  Perhaps Jamie Dimon (CEO of JP Morgan) should put in a call to one of the tobacco companies to understand what is expected of him.  Make enough money to continue to pay taxes, but not too much to be truly successful or enrich yourself.

Misunderstanding Free Speech

Recently Ozzie Guillen, the manager of the Miami Marlins baseball team, said that he admired Fidel Castro.  It was ignorant and perhaps stupid, and has created a mini firestorm in southern Florida.  The comment has caused a fairly predictable reaction from many including the media, particularly in this case, the sports media.  The belief that we are constitutionally guaranteed the right to free speech, and with that freedom we can say whatever we want without consequence is false.

The first amendment is one of the most referenced and yet misunderstood parts of our constitution.  It reads as follows…Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.  ’Congress shall make no law’ means that the government cannot prevent you from speaking.  They also can’t prosecute or punish you for what you say.  That’s it!

There is no right to make others listen to you. You have no right to a public forum, unless it is to petition the government.  When people say…”I have a right to be heard!”  No, actually, you don’t.  Not when it comes to me.  There is no right for you to inflict your views on the rest of us individuals.  The government may have to listen to you, but I don’t.

The right to free speech doesn’t guarantee any rights with respect to how others will react to what you say.  People can speak out against you, protest, tell you how stupid you are, not buy your product, and your boss can even fire you.  There are all kinds of consequences to speaking out.  Ask the Dixie Chicks, Don Imus, Michael Richards, Rush Limbaugh, John Rocker, Jimmy ‘The Greek’, or Ozzie Guillen who got suspended by his team for what he said because it was bad for business.

Next time you hear some media type tell you about someone’s freedom of speech, know that all this means is they can’t go to jail for the stupid thing they said.  All else is fair game.

Look Both Ways Before You Cross the Street

Does that title ring any bells with anyone?  Weren’t we all taught that growing up?  Isn’t that the best way to teach it?  As early as you can talk to a child, don’t you say something to them like, “Now, pumpkin, watch out for 30 mile per hour, one and a half ton moving objects.   They make big boo-boo on you.  Ouchy-ouchy, Danger.”  It seems like more and more the safe and sensible mantra of  ‘Look both ways before you cross the street’ has given way entirely and dangerously to a state ofPedestrians have the right of way’.

Pedestrians have the right of way is certainly the correct rule of thumb.  That should be understood through simple human nature.  Obviously.  A car versus a person is not a fair fight like a fender bender.  So if push comes to shove, no matter what, don’t run them over.  I get that.  But by pushing that rule of thumb we have enabled many an arrogant and selfish pedestrian to endanger everyone by walking out into the street when they shouldn’t.

Their body language says it all.  They should be crossing the street with a humble, mild sense of fear while constantly looking from side to side to ensure their safety.  Instead their cross is more of an arrogant strut, looking straight ahead with a conceited bobb of the head while bringing their elbows up high in motion with each step.  As if to say, “That’s right.  You have to stop…  I’m the pedestrian…I have the right of way… I’m on foot.  You and your nasty combustion engine will just have to sit there and wait.”  Sadly, that head bobb may end up receiving  a little boost of momentum by the windshield of an SUV.

The brainwashing has become some invasive that it’s effecting everyone’s driving.  More and more often drivers will come to a complete stop in the middle of the street, where there isn’t even an intersection, if they see any hint of someone looking to cross.  This is so dangerous!    You can’t stop in the roadway.  The roadway is where motor vehicles operate.  They should be ticketed for obstructing traffic. Instead of drivers making sure the noble pedestrian makes their way ever so safely to the curb, how about leaning on your horn for a good three seconds then yelling out your window, “You’re in the middle of the street, you dumbass!”  This may seem extreme, but it’s for good of the community.  If necessary we will educate them one dumbass at a time…

Occupying Wall Street

The following are demands of one of the participants in the “Occupy Wall Street” movement.  The movement is new and fluid at this point, but this can be used to see the types of things that they are demanding.  We have taken the liberty of commenting on these demands.

Source:  http://occupywallst.org/forum/proposed-list-of-demands-for-occupy-wall-st-moveme/

  • Demand one: Restoration of the living wage. This demand can only be met by ending “Freetrade” by re-imposing trade tariffs on all imported goods entering the American market to level the playing field for domestic family farming and domestic manufacturing as most nations that are dumping cheap products onto the American market have radical wage and environmental regulation advantages. Another policy that must be instituted is raise the minimum wage to twenty dollars an hr.

Buy your flat screen TV’s now before this gets instituted.  When has raising the price of something (labor) led to more of it?

  • Demand two: Institute a universal single payer healthcare system. To do this all private insurers must be banned from the healthcare market as their only effect on the health of patients is to take money away from doctors, nurses and hospitals preventing them from doing their jobs and hand that money to wall street investors.

Ah, the longstanding liberal dream.  They are sticking with it despite all the countries that have it in place, proving that you get less quality and more rationing.

  • Demand three: Guaranteed living wage income regardless of employment.

Let’s see, I can get $20/ hr if I work, or stay home and get $20/hr for
watching sitcom reruns……..Lucy I’m Home!

  • Demand four: Free college education.

This should work as well as free K-12 education.  Please see “The Justice Department Should Sue My School” on this site.

  • Demand five: Begin a fast track process to bring the fossil fuel economy to an end while at the same time bringing the alternative energy economy up to energy demand.

Maybe we should have the government pick the best companies and lend them money like Solyndra.

  • Demand six: One trillion dollars in infrastructure (Water, Sewer, Rail, Roads and Bridges and Electrical Grid) spending now.

What have we been doing with the taxes designated for these purposes (ie gas tax, utility taxes)?

  • Demand seven: One trillion dollars in ecological restoration planting forests, reestablishing wetlands and the natural flow of river systems and decommissioning of all of America’s nuclear power plants.

There are more trees in the USA than there were in the early 1800s.  People used to use wood to heat their homes.  Ironically it was due to the use of fossil fuels and later nuclear power that has met our energy needs, that has allowed this restoration to occur (please see demand 5).

  • Demand eight: Racial and gender equal rights amendment.

I’d like to think we have laws against this already, but no harm from this  demand.

  • Demand nine: Open borders migration, anyone can travel anywhere to work and live.

We should be able to approve the people who are coming in (not crazy about convicted felons), and they should have proof of work.  This combined with an agreement that they cannot file for any type of public assistance for something like 10-20 years, and we could warm up to this.

  • Demand ten: Bring American elections up to international standards of a paper ballot precinct counted and recounted in front of an independent and party observers system.

So we cannot use technology to find out in hours who won an election.  We should probably move the presidential  inauguration back to March, since we may not have all of the ballots counted until then.

  • Demand eleven: Immediate across the board debt forgiveness for all. Debt forgiveness of sovereign debt, commercial loans, home mortgages, home equity loans, credit card debt, student loans and personal loans now! All debt must be stricken from the “Books.” World Bank Loans to all Nations, Bank to Bank Debt and all Bonds and Margin Call Debt in the stock market including all Derivatives or Credit Default Swaps, all 65 trillion dollars of them must also be stricken from the “Books.” And I don’t mean debt that is in default, I mean all debt on the entire planet period.

Wow, can the whole world watch Lucy?

  • Demand twelve: Outlaw all credit reporting agencies.

Somebody is not paying their bills.

  • Demand thirteen: Allow all workers to sign a ballot at any time during a union organizing campaign or at any time that represents their yeah or nay to having a union represent them in collective bargaining or to form a union.

Why do we even need unions, nobody will be working.

We understand that things are not going the way we wish economically.  That is why it is vital that we look to solutions that have been proven to work in the past.  This movement can turn into something positive if we pay attention to those who endorse it, and understand what their solutions are.  The more we know about the beliefs of our media outlets and elected officials the better choices we can make.

POLITICALLY CORRECT FOOD

Have you ever noticed that there is a preferred class of food portrayed in the media? It is the small organic farm. You have never seen a story about how mass produced foods by giant Agribusiness feeds the world, or how the predicted worldwide famine (popular in the 1970’s due to population increase) never happened because of the yield improvements of the large American Industrial Farmers. Politically correct organic food is portrayed as how things used to be before the chemicals and the big business got into our food. Did you know that the recent E. coli outbreak in Europe came from been sprouts from an organic farm? Maybe the fact that it came from an organic farm isn’t important to the story, or maybe that should be up to the news consumer to decide.

We cannot have our news media deciding which of the facts are important and not important, but that is exactly what they do. You cannot know everything about every story, but we rely upon news sources to sift out the pertinent facts. This E. coli story shows the bias that exists towards organic foods in most media organizations. If you think that your news does not go through a prism of politically correct filters before it reaches you, you are living in a fantasy world. Try to find a story about the E. coli incident that happens to mention the fact that it came from an organic farm. Most large news organizations are not including this important detail in their reporting. Of the two locations found mentioning this fact, one was a liberal health type website interested in dispelling fears of swearing off organic food (http://www.anh-usa.org/the-european-e-coli-outbreak-the-real-story/).

Issues are simple if they are black & white, and they are also easier for reporters. Most subjects are more complex and take more time to explain, and when the story is cut for time or print space the editing is vitally important. For whatever reason (often political) there is a template at most news organizations on each issue, and they wish to continue that narrative no matter where the facts lead. This has a direct effect on the stories that reporters go after as well as the content that makes “the news”. There are regular stories that are anti big business, and the food industry is no exception. Stories about how Monsanto is basically forcing people to use their seeds, or how big business is squeezing out the small family farmer are in the regular news rotation.

Imagine if food giant ADM (Archers Daniels Midland) had been responsible for this outbreak and the 3200+ affected as well as the 36 deaths that it caused. You can just see the stories that would be generated for the next few months. “ADM kills 36 and how many more?”…”Have we let industry take over our precious food supply?”…”Salary of ADM executives compared to the family farmer”…”Food subsidies being wasted”…”More money needed on inspections”…”ADM lobbyists watered down safe food law”. There would be a hearing in Congress where CEO’s of the big agribusinesses are asked probing grandstanding questions about how safe the food supply is.

I am not advocating or condemning organic foods or the family farm. They are not even mutually exclusive as there are big agribusinesses that produce organic food. What I am saying is this should be worthy of further investigation, and the exclusion of the word organic in the reporting up to this point does not give me a warm and cozy feeling about the information to come. If you compare this outbreak to other food related illnesses, more people have been killed in this incident than any I can find in the past 10 years, perhaps 20 years. Some organic farms use chemical based fertilizers similar to large industrial farms, but some use animal manure. The way one gets E. coli is to ingest feces. Gee is it just possible there is a story here? Hopefully we are still early in the reporting cycle such that these further questions will be investigated.

This story has the extra weight of the preconceived template of the media about the goodness of organic foods, and this must be broken in order to get to the truth. There are two different types of bias that I have seen in the media. One is when a media organization advocates a policy, and is almost always easy to spot. The other more destructive form of bias is not telling a story, or not revealing pertinent facts for the consumer to make a balanced judgment. We must all be vigilant in revealing this second form of bias. Our system and even our health are at risk.

STUPID STORIES 2/4/2011

Cost of a Commercial for the Super Bowl Hits $3 Million:  The commercials are often more of a draw than the game, but this is an annual installment of unnecessary news.  Maybe the silver lining is that we are interested in money, and this will translate into free markets and free people.  We can dream.

Charlie Sheen Checks into a Hospital after 36 Hour Party:  With the reduction in people’s attention span that we keep hearing about, it is terrible to think that a person’s only consumption of news for a particular day contained the words “Charlie Sheen”.

Insiders knew what Bernie Madoff was up to:  If you are an observer of the news, this story has surfaced on a regular basis since Mr. Madoff was revealed to have been running a Ponzi scheme.  The latest incarnation of this is that the owner of the Mets (Fred Wilpon) knew about the scheme, since he was friends with Mr. Madoff.  Perhaps we just can’t accept that this is just a bad guy, and he screwed his friends as well as people he didn’t know.  Other than banks, the list of victims is a who’s who of connected people and big wigs.  List of victims (http://s.wsj.net/public/resources/documents/st_madoff_victims_20081215.html).  You would think this would appeal to the populist angle of many news sources.  A headline like “Big Banks Get Screwed the Most by Madoff”, would attract many readers.  He could become a cult hero in today’s anti-bank climate.  I guess it just feels better to blame Madoff for why the Mets stink.

What are we not learning about while we consume these Stupid Stories?

WHY DON’T THEY ASK…? 1/20/2011

The recent debate about repealing the Obama Healthcare plan has brought up arguments on either side about the law that was passed last year.  One of the big talking points on both sides is whether the “American People” like the law or not.  During these debates Republicans often talk about the fact that the most polls show that a slight majority is against the law.  Democrats like to bring up the idea that when you ask people about specific parts of the law, they like them.  (http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/health/articles/2011/01/08/democrats_launch_defense_of_health_care_law/) I believe that this is a dishonest argument, and I have seen it presented repeatedly without being challenged. 

Let’s explore this argument unlike our friends in the media.  Polls can vary, but let’s accept that polls say people support the provisions in the bill that allow children to stay on their parents healthcare plan until they are 26 years old, cover more people through Medicaid, and avoid higher costs for pre-existing conditions.  I’m sure people don’t like the $500 billion that is cut out of Medicare, the higher taxes, the anticipated rationing, and the higher premiums for private insurance that will limit choices.  I get it now; they like all of the benefits, but don’t like the inevitable costs of the law.  This is like arguing that I like getting the land that comes with going to war, just not all of the killing.

How can this be allowed as a reasonable argument?  Why don’t they ask this of the defenders of Obamacare?  There can be an argument made for supporting this law.  Perhaps supporters think that the benefits are worth all of the additional costs.  By allowing this cherry-picking false argument to be presented, however, the media is doing us all a disservice in examining a critical issue for our country. 

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