Sunday, December 20, 2009

Environmental Update

I have heard it said that our most precious and dwindling resource is fresh water.  But let’s not put the environmentalists to work on that one, PLEASE.  They ALWAYS get it wrong.  Here is my sad-but-true story about the fight to save fresh water.

                          babblingbrook

About 2 years ago we renovated our kitchen.   Part of the job was a new dishwasher.  We had a 20 year old model that did a great job of cleaning, but it was ugly and noisy, so we bought a new Bosch, a brand that we had used before and our past experience with that brand was very positive.   But the new one—it just did not do a good job:  water spots on the glasses, dirt left on the plates and utensils. After about a year of cajoling the vendor, we finally had an “expert” come in to check it out.   The diagnosis?  Hard water.  But, we asked, why did the ugly, noisy, obsolete 20 year old dishwasher do a good job.

He answered that older dishwashers used 13-15 gallons of water, but the newer ones, in the interest of SAVING WATER, only use about 4 gallons.  Well, it seems if you use more water, the hardness (calcium and magnesium salts) gets washed away, but if you use less, the hardness does not get washed away.  Furthermore, the hardness build up in the circulation of the newer models, eventually restricting the flow of water so that the problem gets progressively worse.   If the water is  soft, as in our previous home, NO PROBLEM.  But, if the water is hard, as it is in most of the U.S., you have to get a water softener!

So, we installed a water softener, to the tune of $1850.00, and that’s cheap.  Here is the catch:   every third night or so, sometimes more, the water softener has to regenerate, a process that CONSUMES MORE THAN 25 GALLONS OF WATER.

For the sake of this discussion, I will overlook the cost of municipal water, which I have to pay for.  Lets just focus on the enviromental aspect:

Let’s say we run our dishwasher once a day.  That means we save 10 gallons of water per day compared with the old fashioned model.  If we regenerate the softener every 3 days (that’s the bare minimum) thats 25 gallons every three days (also the bare minimum).

So, every 9 days we save 90 gallons with the dishwasher and spend 75 gallons (minimum) with the water softener.   That is a best case scenario.   The reality is, the softener has to be regenerated more often that every 3 days and uses more than 25 gallons per cycle.

Hardly seems like much of a boon to the water supply.  It was a boon to my plumber, and to Blake Water Systems, who made the softener.

Do the geniuses, i.e., Congress,  who make environmental regulations ever bother to think these things through? 

 

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Copenhagen: Failure is Not an Option!





The above illustration and caption were reported today in Sphere by John D. Sutter. Apparently, there is a planet circling a star about 40 light years from here, and this planet may have WATER on it! Sounds like fertile soil for life: DNA, viruses, bacteria, paramecia, hydras, worms, brachiopods, crustaceans, reptiles, birds, dinosaurs, mammals, civilization! But judging from the caption, the natives (can't use the word aliens, politically incorrect) failed to address global warming.


Anybody wanna bet the atmosphere is chock full of CO2?


Does Al Gore know about this?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Just Words




In President Obama's stirring pep talk on Afghanistan last night two words were notably absent:

Victory and Defeat. But then, we already know Obama is uneasy with the idea of victory. According to Fox News from July 23, 2009:


I'm always worried about using the word 'victory,' because, you know, it
invokes this notion of Emperor Hirohito coming down and signing a surrender to
MacArthur," Obama told ABC News.


Of course, he is very comfortable with the idea of victory over certain groups, e.g., political opponents, Republicans, White House staff, corporate CEOs and other capitalists.


More troubling to me was his thinly veiled contempt for the Constitution, that he cryptically referred to in the next-to-last paragraph of his speech:


I believe with every fiber of my being that we--as Americans--can come
still together behind a common purpose. For our values are not simply words written into parchment--they are a creed thatcalls us together, and that hascarried us through the darkest of storms as one nation, one people.



Those "words written into parchment," aka the Constitution of the United States of America, are the source and foundation of that creed. His now publicly-stated disdain for this great document is very troubling.


Also, I guess when Obama says "the darkest storms," he is probably referring to the Bush presidency, and not the Civil War, WWI, WWII, or the Carter era.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Swiss Move the Muslim Cheese, and the Muslims are Not Pleased



The Muslims are up in arms over the Swiss vote to prohibit construction of minarets in Switzerland. AOL News reported the following:

"The Swiss have failed to give a clear signal for diversity, freedom of religion and human rights," said Omar Al-Rawi, integration representative of the Islamic Denomination in Austria, which said its reaction was "grief and deep disappointment."

What, exactly, does Mr. Al-Rawi expect? The Swiss, after all, are infidels, are they not? I wonder what his reaction was when the Taliban destroyed Buddhist shrines in Afghanistan. Was that a signal for diversity? Is Iranian persecution of Jews and Christians a signal for diversity? Etc., etc.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Crash?



I am going out on a limb here, but mark my words. It will turn out that the gate-crasher Salahis were invited to the Obamastate dinner. They fit right in with that crowd.

P.s. Can anyone remember a Bush state dinner? He gave them, but without the sycophantic coverage.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sweeping Away in England




Theunis Bates wrote, in Sphere

LONDON (Nov. 25) --
Almost seven years after Britain joined the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and amidst a still blazing public debate, a government-appointed panel has launched a sweeping investigation into why the country went to war and why British forces were so poorly prepared for the chaos that followed the fall of Saddam Hussein.


Maybe the Brits should launch a sweeping investigation into East Anglia University and the CRU over the eco-fraud they have perpetrated on the U.N., the U.S., and the rest of the world. Going to war against global warming based on intelligence from these clowns is akin to invading Iraq because the CIA said there were WMD. There is a difference, of course: there were WMD in Iraq. Even if Saddam Hussein's nuclear program was over-rated, there were abundant chemical and biological weapons and medium range missiles. Also, there were a multitude of other reasons for invading Iraq and seeking regime change, including violation of UN resolutions; stealing money from the oil-for-food program;financial and other support for palestinian terrorists; invading Iran and later Kuwait; using chemical weapons on Kurds; the torture, rape, imprisonment and murder of countless innocent Iraqis; etc.

Furthermore, in case the Brits have not noticed, we have been successful in Iraq. Saddam was deposed, tried and executed. There is a stable, democratically elected government that is a coalition of Sunnis, Shia and Kurds. The Iraqis are gradually taking over management of their own security.

On the other hand, how strong is the case for man made global climate change. Not very strong, if the leading "scientists" on the case have to fake their good results, and suppress their bad results. Investigate EAU, not the British military.

And remember: CO2 is Green! Oil is a biofuel! Global warming means a longer golf season!
Global warming is dead! Long live global warming!


Monday, October 26, 2009

Dithering



So, it is okay to dither about Afghanistan. By all means, Mr Obama, take your time responding to General McChrystal's request for troops. Nine or ten or twelve months of stagnation of our mission in Afghanistan is not important, as long as you get it right, right? By all means, let us wait while American soldiers are dying and the American taxpayer is going broke and the liberal American news media is going through such contortions to keep defending you that they will end up in a rehab hospital. Let us wait until there is a corruption-free government in Afghanistan, until Jimmy Carter certifies their elections are fair, until the Pakistanis clean up the Swat valley, until Ahmadinejad has a nuke. Dither away.

But health care reform? That, Mr. Obama, is an EMERGENCY. Heck, if you do not sign a health care bill by the end of the year, why, some democrat congressmen might not get re-elected in 2010! That would be a bloody shame. Never mind that not one single member of Congress or your administration understands the legislation; never mind that not one single government agency can produce a believable estimate of the cost of the thing; never mind that H.R. 3200 and the Baucus Bill were bought and paid for by the insurance industry, the SEIU, the hospitals and the Trial Lawyers Association; never mind that, a la Hillary Clinton, the whole process of creating the monstrosity has been cloaked in secrecy and politics. No dithering allowed on this.

Mr. Obama, one of the challenges of being President is knowing when to dither. You, my friend, have a lot of learning to do.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

MOP



WASHINGTON (Oct. 13) - The Pentagon is speeding up delivery
of a colossal bomb designed to destroy hidden weapons bunkers buried underground
and shielded by 10,000 pounds of reinforced concrete. (ANNE
GEARAN, AP, AOL News, 13 Oct. 2009
).


This is a slap in the face to the Nobel Prize Committee, or is it? Maybe the announcement about the MOP (massive ordnance penetrator) bomb was intentionally delayed until after the Obama became a Nobel Prize Winner.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

No Respect for Nobel Prize Winner Barack Hussein Obama

TEHRAN, Iran (Oct. 10) - Three defendants in Iran's mass trial of opposition figures accused of fueling the country's postelection unrest have been sentenced to death, an Iranian news agency reported Saturday. (Ali Akbar Dareini, AP, on AOL News, 10/10/09).

ZURICH (Oct. 10) - Turkey and Armenia signed an accord Saturday to establish diplomatic relations after a century of enmity, as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton helped the two sides clear a last-minute snag. (Matthew Lee, AP, on AOL News, 10/10/09).

Ahmadinejad obviously has not heard the news that Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize. Does he not realize that we have now entered a new era of peace under the leadership of Barack Hussein Obama. After all, Obama has opened dialogue with the Iranians. How dare Ahmadinejad execute 3 protesters. It is a slap in the face to Nobel Prize winner Barack Hussein Obama.

And Hillary! What are you thinking, stealing the limelight from Nobel Prize winner Barack Hussein Obama. The nerve of you, actually accomplishing something within days of his prize and not giving him credit for it.

P.s. This is Hillary's first actual accomplishment, in case anyone is keeping track.

Friday, October 2, 2009

LIke Carter on Chemo




Previously, Jimmy Carter owned the gold medal for weakness in an American president. His only accomplishment was 4 years of stagflation, and he turned Iran over to the Ayatollahs who have been a thorn in everyone's side for 30 years. Weak, weak, weak. Yes, Jimmy Carter held the Olympic Gold for weakness for 30 years...until now.




I thought, when Obama and Vice President Oprah announced their trips to Copenhagen, that the vote was in the bag. After all, Presidents make sure of these things--they get their underlings, like Rahm "Iago" Emanuel , to do the behind the scenes work--so that they will not put their nation's prestige on the line and have it backfire. However, it appears that Obama was counting on the world's love for him to carry the day. But he was wrong about their love, and he was wrong about the outcome.




President Obama's mission since his inauguration has been to weaken America, financially, militarily, and diplomatically.




MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Simple Change of Address


By all means, let us reform health care in this country so that the federal government runs the whole enchilada, and not just Medicare. Here is a short story about my recent experience with Medicare that illustrates my point. In essence, this story is about reporting a change of address.

I am an ophthalmologist. I own a small solo practice in Orange County, NY. Recently, I decided to merge with another local practice, and I spent a year or so and about $15,000. in legal fees negotiating the contract (FYI, roughly 50% of those fees had to do with complying with state and federal regulations, and the other party's legal fees were even higher). We signed the contract in the first week of August, and the merger date was set for October 1. This gave us 2 months to get everything in order.


A big part of the preparations was informing Medicare of the merger, so that the new merged practice could be paid for my services. The idea is, Medicare has to know where each doctor sees patients, and where to send payments for services rendered. Currently, I see patients at one office, and payments are sent to the same address. The practice I am joining has 3 locations for examining patients, and one of those is the billing address.

Early in August we submitted, in triplicate, form CMS-855R, a 5 page document that notifies Medicare of a physician's change of status. 3 weeks later we received a 2 page rejection notice (also in triplicate), because a zip code had been left out of one of the addresses. So, I called Medicare, and had a lengthy conversation with a pleasant woman who walked me through the form step by step so that it would be completed correctly, and she assured me that that was all I had to do. Then, I resubmitted CMS-855R in triplicate. That's 36 pages so far, if you are keeping track.


Everything was going along just fine--just peachy--until Thursday, September 24, 2009. On that day, we received another 2 page rejection notice in triplicate, informing us that, although the triplicate CMS-855Rs were completed correctly, we were also required to submit CMS-855I, a 28 page enrollment form, and, by the way, resubmit new CMS-855Rs in triplicate. Page count: 85 total.


So, early Friday morning, I called Medicare again, and another very nice woman walked me through the CMS-855I. This took at least 30 minutes. She was very helpful. When she finished, she added, "do not forget the CMS-855B." "The what?" I said. She replied that the CMS-855B was to inform Medicare that I was merging with the other practice. The CMS-855B also must be submitted in triplicate.


The CMS-855B is 48 pages long and incomprehensible. So...
Friday afternoon, I called Medicare again, and spoke with another polite, but somewhat impatient government employee, and walked me through the 48 page form. I completed it as instructed, and, on Monday added these 144 pages to the stack and sent them by certified mail to Medicare, with a cover letter requesting expedited processing.
Total pages: 229
Total time: 4 or 5 hours of my time, 1.5 hours of Medicare employee time on the phone with me, 1 or 2 hours of staff time. Remember, all this is to change my address, and I do not yet know whether my forms have been accepted.


If I were a liberal, I would be outraged at the colossal waste of paper, the demise of trees, and at the carbon footprint of all this nonsense. But I am not a liberal, and I am outraged that our government wants to take over even more control of the health care system. This drama that I have been through proves to me that Medicare does not know how to process a change of address form, let alone run the nation's health care system.

Medicare was concocted by Congress, who also gave us the tax code. I believe that a change of billing and service addresses should require approximately 1 paper or web page, and should be easy to process by anyone with a middle school education, that is, by anyone who is SMARTER THAN CONGRESS.
For more information, please go to www.cms.hhs.gov.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Saturday, September 19, 2009

True Cost of Environmentalism



According to some, the most serious looming environmental crisis is a shortage of fresh water.
Here is a story about the fresh water crisis and EPA regulations designed to conserve fresh water.

Three years ago, we renovated out kitchen. We bought a new high end Bosch dishwasher. Stainless steel on the inside, matches our cabinets on the outside, quiet as a mouse, but does not clean dishes for beans. Right from the beginning, we have had water spots on our glasses, and over time, it became worse: water spots, soap spots, dirt, etc. We had the repairmen here several times, to no avail. We tried everything: more soap, less soap, more rinse aid, less rinse aid. The store from whom we bought it, Michael's Appliances, and Bosch said that hard water
must be the culprit.

That sounded plausible, except for one minor problem: the previous dishwasher, a 20 (at least) year old rusty Whirlpool that sounded like a lawn mower had given us spotless dishes, and used the same water! So how could it be that hard water was the problem?

After 3 years of bickering (sorry, President Obama, the Constitution guarantees my right to bicker) with Michael's Appliances, they sent someone fairly knowledgable to our house, and he answered my question.

How is it that rusty-old-whirlpool cleans dishes better than shiny-new-Bosch? The old dishwasher used 13 to 15 gallons of water per wash cycle. The new one uses 4 to five gallons.
The new one, to save energy, has a less powerful heater, and the heater is a coil within the pipes of the dishwasher, instead of a big loop below the dish rack. So, it has less water and colder water. Hard water does interfere with the effectiveness of the soap, but if you use enough water, as in the old models, it does not matter. But with the lower water volume, it does matter. Over time, soap and calcium salts are deposited in the heater coil, and this interferes with the water flow and the heating efficiency, so that the machine becomes less and less effective over time.

So, now we have had to have the dishwasher removed, so the pipes could be properly cleaned out. We have to run hot water in the kitchen sink to pre-heat the water for the dishwasher. We have to get a whole-house water softener, a $2000. to $3000. investment. Water softeners (a) remove calcium and magnesium, which are good for you, (b) add sodium, which is bad for you, especially if you have high blood pressure, (c) have to be backwashed every night, which wastes dozens of gallons of water, and costs me more money, and (d) have to have the salt replenished from time to time, which costs me time and labor.

You can have the high-tech Bosch dishwasher; and you can have the EPA, while you are at it.
Give me the 20 year old clunker, and good, old-fashioned, patriotic, hard American water any day.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Obama Answers YES to My Blog



In "Obama Mulls big Health Care Speech," Charles Babbington of the Associated Press wrote the following:

Some Obama allies feel he gave too much leeway to Congress, where one bill has passed three House committees, another has passed a Senate committee and a third has been bogged down in protracted negotiations in the Senate Finance Committee.

See, even President Obama thinks that He is Smarter Than Congress!

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Perfect Storm?

A reader, GBK, was kind enough to comment on my blog about Ezekiel Emanuel, MD, PhD.

Ezekiel Emanuel is the brother of Rahm Emanuel, and in an act of apparent nepotism, has been appointed by Obama as a "health care" adviser. Ezekiel is a big proponent of H.R. 3200, the Obama/Pelosi bill. Betsey McCaughey is a political commentator who wrote an article published in the New York Post about Ezekiel Emanuel. GBK issued--along with disparaging remarks about the New York Post and Betsey McCaughey--the following challenge to me:

Here is a JAMA article cited numerous times in [McCaughey's] piece. It's a whole 3 pages, but I think you can handle it. http://www.ipalc.org/Healthcare_Policy/The%20Perfect%20Storm%20of%20Overutilization%20(JAMA%202008).pdf.
The gauntlet having been thus thrown, I took the liberty of reading the JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) article, which is co-authored by none other than the archangel Ezekiel Emanuel himself.

Ezekiel attempts to place the blame for the "perfect storm" of American Healthcare on doctors and--get this--patients. Doctors, because they try to do everything they can for their patients, and patients, because they demand the best that hi-tech medical care has to offer. In making the case against our existing system, Ezekiel managed to convince me more than ever that we are better off with what we have than with what the Congress wants us to have. Consider these comments by Ezekiel, which he offers as proof that our system is a failure compared to socialist models:

[Compared with their European Couterparts]
Hospital rooms in the United States offer more privacy,
comfort, and auxiliary services than do hospital rooms
in most other countries. US physicians’ offices are typically
more conveniently located and have parking nearby and more
attractive waiting rooms.



US patients utilize many more “new drugs”—
those on the market 5 years or fewer—than patients in other
countries.



This one is my favorite:


Peer recognition goes to the most thorough and aggressive physicians.
The prudent physician is not deemed particularly competent,
but rather inadequate. This culture is further reinforced
by a unique understanding of professional obligations,
specifically, the Hippocratic Oath’s admonition to “use
my power to help the sick to the best of my ability and judgment”
as an imperative
to do everything for the patient regardless
of cost or effect on others.

[emphasis added]


Although most physicians are not income maximizers, they knowthat it is better to be paid to do something, and the higher the payment the better.
[What about members of Congress? Do they know this?]


Then there is the patient side. US patients prefer high technology
over high touch.



In normal markets, demand is modulated by cost. But
third-party payment for patients attenuates this control. Although
patients experience deductibles, co-payments, and
other out-of-pocket expenses, health insurance and gov-
ernment programs significantly shield patients’ decisions from
the true costs of health care.


So, by all means, says Ezekiel, lets expand the insurance system; lets let the government get more and more involved; lets take away financial pressures from patients and doctors entirely and let Congress decide who gets treatment and who does not. That will surely help keep costs under control.

Like I said: I read Ezekiel's own words, and I oppose HR 3200 more than ever.


To see an example of a sensible, understandable plan that the government can undertake to improve health care in this country, see my blog 4 Steps and 3 Sentences to Health Care Reform, 2009 Aug. 23.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Ezekiel 25:17



"I will execute terrible vengeance against them to rebuke them for what they have done. And when I have inflicted my revenge, then they will know that I am the Lord."

And it appears the Lord (Obama) has sent the archangel Ezekiel (Emanuel) to exact vengeance upon those who have (a) spent health care dollars, (b) lived too long, (c) had the audacity to think that they could make deeply personal decisions for themselves, without the help of a government employee or program. Don't believe me? Then read about Ezekiel in Deadly Doctors, by Betsey McCaughey, New York Post, 2009 Aug. 17.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Four Steps and Three Sentences to Health Care Reform

Congress has produced a 2000 page mish-mosh that is supposed to be a plan for health care--pardon me, health insurance--reform. It is an incomprehensible monstrosity. Incomprehensible to me; incomprehensible to Ms. Pelosi; incomprehensible to every member of the House of Representatives; incomprehensible to Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer; incomprehensible to the President. I maintain that there is no one, but no one, who comprehends it. There is no group or committee, or even the Congress as a whole, that comprehends it. They are like "All the King's horses and all the King's men" trying to reassemble Humpty Dumpty when it comes to explaining this legislation. Is it any wonder that most Americans have turned against them?

I, on the other hand, can improve our health care system and save money in four simple steps that would require three sentences of legislation.

Step 1: Tort Reform.
Sentence 1: In malpractice cases, non-economic (aka punitive) damages are capped at $250,000.

Step 2: Equalize tax treatment of health insurance premiums.
Sentence 2: All health insurance premiums (not just for employer sponsored plans) are deductible for federal income tax purposes.

Step 3: National health insurance market.
Sentence 3: Health insurance may be purchased across state lines.

Step 4: Close our borders to illegal immigration.
Sentence 4: None required. This is already an obligation of our government. Indeed, protection of borders in an inherent obligation of any nation, and does not require legislation.
All it requires is for the Congress and the President to man up, to step up to the plate, to grow a pair, if you get my drift.

The rationale for each of these steps is obvious, and does not require explanation for most Americans. If you are a member of Congress and do not understand, please email me with your questions, and I will have my staff, or a student from the local middle school, send you an explanation.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Failed Health Care System?






The August 19 issue of JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, reported on mortality from heart attack ( acute myocardial infarction, or AMI). The article compared statistics from 2006 with those from 1995. In a span of only eleven years, there has been a 17% reduction in the death rate within 30 days of AMI. These are nationwide figures. Furthermore, there has been a reduction in hospital-to-hospital mortality, as one can see in the above graph: the bell curve on the left, representing 2006 data, is narrower than on the right. This means that the benefits are across the board, trickling down to both genders and all races and ethnicities.

To be sure, the federal government deserves some of the credit, since (a) the data came from Medicare, and (b) Medicare and the Joint Commission for Accreditation of Hospitals (JCAH) were responsible, in part, for imposing certain standards on the hospital and medical community. Nevertheless, these findings do not represent a health care system in distress; and, although health care in this country is expensive, it appears that we are getting what we pay for.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Plain English, a la H.R. 3200

SEC. 133. REQUIRING INFORMATION TRANSPARENCY AND PLAN DISCLOSURE.

(a) Accurate and Timely Disclosure-
(1) IN GENERAL- A qualified health benefits plan shall comply with standards established by the Commissioner for the accurate and timely disclosure of plan documents, plan terms and conditions, claims payment policies and practices, periodic financial disclosure, data on enrollment, data on disenrollment, data on the number of claims denials, data on rating practices, information on cost-sharing and payments with respect to any out-of-network coverage, and other information as determined appropriate by the Commissioner. The Commissioner shall require that such disclosure be provided in plain language.
(2) PLAIN LANGUAGE- In this subsection, the term `plain language' means language that the intended audience, including individuals with limited English proficiency, can readily understand and use because that language is clean, concise, well-organized, and follows other best practices of plain language writing.
(3) GUIDANCE- The Commissioner shall develop and issue guidance on best practices of plain language writing.

I wonder if the liars--uh, I mean, lawyers--who wrote H.R. 3200 could follow their own requirement:

From section 122:
      (3) MINIMUM ACTUARIAL VALUE-

        (A) IN GENERAL- The cost-sharing under the essential benefits package shall be designed to provide a level of coverage that is designed to provide benefits that are actuarially equivalent to approximately 70 percent of the full actuarial value of the benefits provided under the reference benefits package described in subparagraph (B).
Thankfully, the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, provides a section by section explanation of the bill. Here is the translation of 122 (3) (A):

Defines the initial essential benefit package as being actuarially

equivalent to 70% of the package if there were no cost-sharing imposed.


OK. Now I get it.

Here are some more examples:

SEC. 135. TIMELY PAYMENT OF CLAIMS.
A QHBP offering entity shall comply with the requirements of section 1857(f) of the Social Security Act with respect to a qualified health benefits plan it offers in the same manner an Medicare Advantage organization is required to comply with such requirements with respect to a Medicare Advantage plan it offers under part C of Medicare.

And Pelosi's translation:


Sec. 135. Timely payment of claims. Applies Medicare’s timely payment of claims standards to the plans offering coverage through the Exchange.

SEC. 242. AFFORDABLE CREDIT ELIGIBLE INDIVIDUAL.

...

(2) TREATMENT OF FAMILY- Except as the Commissioner may otherwise provide, members of the same family who are affordable credit eligible individuals shall be treated as a single affordable credit individual eligible for the applicable credit for such a family under this subtitle.

Pelosi's translation:

None provided

SEC. 301. INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY.
For an individual's responsibility to obtain acceptable coverage, see section 59B of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (as added by section 401 of this Act).

Pelosi's translation:


Sec. 301. Individual responsibility. Cross-references the shared responsibility provision in the Internal Revenue Code where an individual has the choice of maintaining acceptable coverage or paying a tax.

SEC. 244. AFFORDABILITY COST-SHARING CREDIT.
(a) In General- The affordability cost-sharing credit under this section for an affordable credit eligible individual enrolled in an Exchange-participating health benefits plan is in the form of the cost-sharing reduction described in subsection (b) provided under this section for the income tier in which the individual is classified based on the individual's family income.

Pelosi's translation:


Sec. 244. Affordability cost-sharing credit. The affordability cost-sharing credit reduces cost-sharing for individuals and families at or below 133% of poverty up to 400% of the federal poverty limit as specified in the act.

SEC. 245. INCOME DETERMINATIONS.

...

(c) Special Rules-
(1) CHANGES IN INCOME AS A PERCENT OF FPL- In the case that an individual's income (expressed as a percentage of the Federal poverty level for a family of the size involved) for a plan year is expected (in a manner specified by the Commissioner) to be significantly different from the income (as so expressed) used under subsection (a), the Commissioner shall establish rules requiring an individual to report, consistent with the mechanism established under paragraph (2), significant changes in such income (including a significant change in family composition) to the Commissioner and requiring the substitution of such income for the income otherwise applicable.

Pelosi's translation:


Sec. 245. Income determinations. To determine income, the Health Choices Commissioner uses income data from the individual’s most recent tax return. The federal poverty level applied is the level in effect as of the date of the application. The Commissioner takes such steps as are appropriate to ensure accuracy of determinations and redeterminations to protect program integrity. Processes are established for individuals with significant changes in income to inform the Commissioner of such change. There are penalties for misrepresentation of income. The Commissioner is required to conduct a study examining the feasibility and implication of adjusting the application of the federal poverty level for different geographic areas so as to reflect the variations in the cost-of-living among various areas in the country.

Had enough? There are 1018 pages in this bill; the last section is number 2531. I find what I have read so far to be incomprehensible for the most part, even with Nancy Pelosi's help in understanding it. This is despite the requirement, cited above, for plain language. It is typical of Congress to apply different standards to the rest of us than they apply to themselves.

Can you imagine the challenge for our dauntless congressmen--not the brightest stars in the firmament, for the most part--to try to understand this thing? Unfortunately, their failure to understand it will not stop them from voting for it.



Friday, July 31, 2009

Uncle, SAM



The Obama Justice Department just cried uncle to Richard Reid, the shoe bomber. He went on a hunger strike because he was being denied the "right" to pray in a group with his terroist comrades. According to Newsmax:


The Obama Justice Department has withdrawn
the "special administrative measures" imposed at the federal
prison in Colorado against "Shoe Bomber" Richard Reid, the
jihadist who tried to blow up a trans-Atlantic flight in 2001.
Special administrative measures (SAMs) are security
directives, renewable yearly, issued by the attorney general
when "there is a substantial risk that a prisoner’s
communications,correspondence or contacts with persons
could result in death or serious bodily injury" to others."



So, no more SAMs for Dick Reid. I hope he experiences spiritual growth from his daily prayers. I hope next year he has another hunger strike so he can make hajj to Mecca. Actually, he probably does not need to do the hunger strike. He should just ask Obama or Eric Holder, esq. I am sure they will say yes. And, by the way, when he gets on the plane for Saudi Arabia, do not check his shoes; that would be racial profiling.


P.s. Don't muslims fast for a month during Ramadan anyway?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Are you Smarter than the Vice President?

Today, Joe Biden was interviewed on ABC's "This Week". Here are some excerpts,  as reported by AP (Biden Says Bad Economy Was `Misread'):

Vice President Joe Biden said the Obama administration "misread how bad the economy was" but stands by its stimulus package and believes the plan will create more jobs as the pace of its spending picks up.



Makes sense. They misread how bad the economy was, so we should trust them to predict what will fix it. Makes perfect sense, to a partisan political hack like Joe Biden.


The figures we worked off of in January were the consensus figures...

Consensus. That is the basis for the global warming scare and the demonization of CO2. The "consensus" was wrong about the economy. How do we know the "consensus" is right about the climate? By the way, Joe, the climate is orders of magnitude more difficult to predict than the economy.


Major programs will take effect in September, including $7.5 billion for broadband Internet service, plus new money for high-speed rail and the nation's electrical grid, he said.

I can not wait. I fully expect upstate New York, economically stagnant for the past 30 years or so, to bounce back in September, when Obama and Biden start working on the electrical grid, and reinventing the internet.


Biden, asked whether the United States would put the lives of U.S. troops on the line should violence flare up again in Iraq, said "no." The U.S. still plans to withdraw all troops by 2011, Biden said. "That is the intention," he said. "We believe the Iraqis will be fully capable of maintaining their own security."

Why will the Iraqi's be fully capable of maintaining their own security. Could it be that the USA has given them their country back, and trained them, and gave them a few years of relative peace so that they could start governing themselves. This is incontrovertible: President Bush was right about Iraq, and our mission there has been nothing short of miraculous.


Biden said if the Iranian government seeks to engage in a dialogue with the United States, the U.S. will engage. "If the Iranians respond to the offer of engagement, we will engage," Biden said. "The offer's on the table."


I hope Der Fuhrer Khamenei and his toady Ahmadinejad treat Biden and Obama better than they treat their own citizens.


Are you smarter than the Vice President? Anybody is smarter than the Vice President.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Letter to Schumer*



Dear Senator Schumer:

If John McCain were President--or George W. Bush, George H. W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, or JFK--there would be no doubt about America's position on the events in Iran, and we would be foursquare behind the people who are fighting for liberty against their tyrannical Islamo-fascist government.

But the position taken by President Jimmy Carter, Jr. (aka Barack Obama) can best be described as wishy-washy. Is the President afraid to offend the Persian Fuhrer Khamenei or his lackey Ahmadinejad?

I am particularly concerned by the President's behavior toward Iran because I am a Jew, and care deeply about the security of Israel. His wishy-washy appeasement of the Iranian tyrant has already emboldened said tyrant, and does not bode well for Israel.

I would like you, Senator Schumer, as a leader of your party, as a fellow Jew, and as someone with influence in the White House, to encourage the President to take a more courageous stand: WITH the forces of good and AGAINST the forces of evil in Iran.

Sincerely yours,

The staff of "Are You Smarter Than Congress"


*Photo of Chuck conserving CO2

Monday, June 22, 2009

Lessons Learned from Liners*



My swimming pool is a font of knowledge.   Just from taking care of this financial sink-hole in my back yard I am achieving greater and greater understanding of envirnonmentalism and what it is doing to us.   Perhaps you have read my blog "The True Cost of Global Warming," which explains the impact of the CO2 scare on our every day lives through the story of one small ingredient of pool water, namely, lithium hypochlorite.  

In this essay, I reveal the sheer stupidity of  envirofascist involvement in the vinyl liner industry.

This morning, I had a pool guy over to fix my filter, and fix it he did.   As he was leaving, I asked him for a quote on a new liner.  The existing liner is at least 20 years old, and is ready for hospice care.   He told me a standard liner would be around $3600.00,   and an extra thick liner around $4600.   "What's the benefit of the thicker liner?" I asked naively.

He replied, sagely, "When your liner was installed, the expected life span was around 20 years.  But since then, new regulations have outlawed used of certain anti-algae chemicals in the liner,  because the chemicals can get into the environment when the liner is discarded;  and there are all kinds of rules and regulations and red tape regarding removal and recycling of used liners.  The problem is," he continued, "that removing the chemicals reduces the life span to about 10 years.   So, you might want to consider getting the thicker [more expensive] liner."

What does this mean for me, and what does it mean for the environment?   For me, it means an extra thousand bucks.   Mucho dineros.  'Scarole.  10 Benjamins.  Cha-ching!   For the environment:   it means less algaecide, BUT TWICE AS MANY LINERS HAVE TO BE MANUFACTURED AND DISCARDED!   Do the math,  environmentalists.     

*Apologies for the title to Athol Fugard, author of "Lessons Learned from Aloes."

Monday, June 8, 2009

President Moses



It appears that Obama is going to be more aggressive about pushing for his version of health care reform.  According to the New York Times (Stolberg 1), "With Congress beginning a burst of work on [health care legislation], top advisers say, the president is determined to make certain the final bill bears his stamp."  

Stamp?  I do not think so.   Based on his first five months in office, President Obama is clearly not one for mere stamps of approval.   Buried deep in the Times article is the Biblical truth:  
Aides say he will not dictate the fine print. "It was never is intent to come to Congress with stone tablets," said his senior adviser, David Axelrod.  But he will increasingly make his preferences known. (Stolberg 20)

Previously, Obama has been compared  to JFK, FDR, Teddy Roosevelt, Lincoln,  Warren Harding, Jefferson, Martin Luther King, and the Messiah, among others.   This is the first instance, to my knowledge, where he has been compared to Moses.

I wonder how the President's new muslim friends will react to this revelation.

Stolberg, Sheryl Gay.  Obama to Forge a Greater Role on Health Care. New York Times, 7 June 2009,   1, 20.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Obama to Press: Get Lost



The Press has been in Obama's camp since day one. They must think that he is their friend. I beg to differ, and so does Brenda Lee, a black female reporter who has the audacity to oppose so-called gay marriage, whatever that is. I guess she gets the Clarence Thomas treatment, i.e., it does not matter what your skin color is, what your profession is, what your walk of life is; if you do not tow the statist--formerly known as liberal--party line, you are to be ousted from the fraternity. That, apparently, is the President's stand. Brenda Lee learned that hard way that Barack Obama is no friend of hers.


Photo credit: Nick Ut/AP

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

True Cost of Global Warming



Last week I opened my pool.  (The water is extremely cold, since you ask). I went to the local pool supply to  buy some shock, which is a chemical that is used to chlorinate the water.    I use lithium shock, and the chemical name is lithium hypochlorite.    The price for 25 pounds of the stuff was $140.00.  Two years ago, it cost around $75-80.   I asked the clerk why the price went up.  He said the supply of lithium is shrinking, because they are using more and more of it for car batteries.   These car batteries to store power for hybrid cars;   hybrid cars are becoming popular because of last year's spike in gasoline prices, and because of hysteria about global warming, so the lithium shortage is only going to get worse.   Eventually, it will affect more that just swimming pool shock.   Eventually, it will drive up the price of hybrid cars.  Also, is there an ecologically sound way of disposing of those batteries?

Bottom line for me:  soon I will not be able to afford to keep my freezing cold pool clear, and all because of global warming.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

True Man-made Climate Change

Don't believe climate change is man-made?  That the recession is man-made?  Just watch this video.  It takes less than 5 minutes.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Obama Lite



It appears Colin Powell may be running for President again.   I thought he was retired, but he keeps putting his $.02 into the Republican debate, and, if you ask me thats what his opinion is worth.   According to Michael J. Sniffen (AOL News, 11 May 2009),
Powell has argued the Republican Party needs to move toward the center and reach out to growing black, Hispanic and Asian communities, but instead has been shrinking because it hasn't changed as the country changed in the face of economic distress. "Americans are looking for more government in their life, not less," Powell said last week.

If this is not Obama-politik, I will eat my hat.   I, for one, do not want more government in my life, and I know a lot of people, some of them liberal, who do not want more government in their lives.     There was a time when Powell  came across as a pretty good conservative, but that persona is gone now.   Clearly, he sees Obama as a brother, a soul-mate, and the philosophical bond between the two outweighs  Powell's allegiance to Constitutional limitations on government power.

I would paraphrase Powell's arguement as follows:  the Republican Party needs to stay on the right and reach out to growing black, Hispanic and Asian communities.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Suggested Reading for Barack



I strongly recommend Yertle the Turtle, by Dr. Seuss, to President Obama. No, this is not a macaca moment. Yertle is an allegorical figure, the king of Sala-ma-sond pond. As king, he becomes enamored of his own power; and he checks the Sala-ma-sond constitution, and, lo and behold, it says that the king is master of everything he can see. The more he can see, the more power accrues to him. So he commands the turtles to stack themselves higher and higher while he stays on top. Finally, Yertle, standing on a Freedom Tower of turtles, is so high that only the Moon is above his head; that is when the bottom of the stack, all those abused turtle-citizens that have propped him up at great personal expense, have a sort of revolution and bring him down.


Similarly, Barack Yertle Obama has been building his stack on the backs of others, many of them Obama supporters in the recent election. Examples include: Rick Wagoner, Jake Tapper, hedge fund managers, Yoo Bybee and Bradbury, any one who works on Wall Street, etc. Like King Yertle, President Obama lusts for power, for himself and his party. When that lust gets out of control, and it has, it will ultimately lead to his downfall. All we need is for someone at the bottom of the stack to sneeze. God bless you.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Senator Grassley Takes on Evil Doctors

The Wall Street Journal (4/28, Rockoff) reported:

The Institute of Medicine recommended Tuesday that
doctors, medical schools,professional groups and drug makers
make far-reaching changes to prevent industry gifts and payments
from influencing patient care and research.The IOM, part of the
National Academy of Sciences, proposed the elimination of many
now-common practices. It said doctors, for example, shouldn't
accept meals,trips or other gifts from companies. Nor should
physicians participate in clinical trials if they have a financial
interest in the outcome, or sign on to ghost-written articles.
The IOM also said professional societies shouldn't accept direct
industry funding for the development of guidelines on treating
patients. And it recommended that companies disclose payments
publicly, and in a central place.
The recommendations, contained in a 353-page report,come amid
heightened concern and investigations -- often led by Iowa
Republican Sen. Charles Grassley -- about the impact that industry
gifts and payments have on doctors, medical schools, professional
groups and journals
.



I would like to re-write this little tidbit, to aim it, if you will, where it should really be aimed:

The American
Taxpayer
recommended Tuesday that senators, congressmen, lobbyists, and other industry representatives, and make far-reaching changes to prevent industry gifts and payments from influencing the legislative process. The American Taxpayer, who elects funds and tolerates members of
Congress,
proposed the elimination of many now-common
practices. It said legislators, for example,shouldn't accept meals, trips or other gifts from companies or lobbyists. Nor should legislators participate in junkets or golf outings if they have a financial interest in the outcome. The IOM also said legislators shouldn't accept direct industry funding for the development of guidelines having to do with the same industry. And it recommended that companies and legislators disclose payments publicly, and in a central place.
The recommendations, contained in a 353-page report, come amid
heightened concern and investigations -- often led by the American Taxpayer-- about the impact that industry gifts and payments have on Senators, Congressman, their aides, and family members as well.

See also, "Reforming Medical Ethics," my blog published on 7 March 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

Matt Taibbi's True/Color

Matt Taibbi's True Color is blue, as in blue state. And he needs to brush up on his econo-terminology. In his post today on True/Slant he asks the following questions of "tea-baggers":

1. If you’re so horrified by debt and spending, where
were your tea parties when George Bush was adding $4 trillion
to the federal deficit?

2. If you’re so outraged by the bailouts, where were your tea
parties when the bailouts werefirst instituted by Henry Paulson
and George Bush last fall?

3. If you’re so troubled by pork, where were your tea parties
when the number and cost of congressional earmarks rose
spectacularly in each year of Republican congressional rule between
1996 and the end of the Republican majority in 2006?


First of all, "tea-baggers" is a sophomoric epithet, not worthy of a writer who is supposed to be a legitimate journalist. Second, why don't you learn the difference between the deficit and national debt. Even under the great borrower Obama, the deficit is not $4 trillion. Under Bush, the maximum deficit was around $450 billion, so even if the deficit were that large all 8 years, and it was not, the national debt would have been increased by less than $4 trillion. Obama is already way past the $4 trillion mark, and he has been president for less than 100 days. Third, we were outraged by the Bush/Paulson bailouts; you can ask Sen. Charles U. Schumer and Cong. John Hall about the emails I sent to them back then if you do not believe me. Fourth, we were and are outraged by republican pork. Why do you think they lost the Congress in 2006 and the Presidency in 2008?

However, Matt, when it comes to deficits and pork (and power grabs and prostration before petty potentates), the republicans are pikers. Put that in your pipe and puff it, Matt.

P.s. The tea parties were not just about bailouts, pork and taxes, although that is about as much as I can expect a liberal to understand. The tea perties, and the movement they represent, are about massive expansion of the federal government, and erosion of individual freedom that used to be guaranteed by the Constitution.

The first words of the Constitution are "We, the People of the United States of America," not "We, the Congress," or "We, the President."

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Nato Outmaneuvered by Somali Teenagers



This excerpt is from "Nato Forces Thwart Somali Pirate Attack," by Katherine Houreld, AP, posted on AOL News 4/19/09

The pirates' release underscores the difficulties
navies have in fighting rampant piracy off the coast of lawless
Somalia. Most of the time foreign navies simply disarm and
release the pirates they catch due to legal complications and
logistical difficulties in transporting pirates and witnesses to
court.

Sounds like it's NATO that is lawless. Piracy with impunity is the new Law of the Sea. In Somalia, they have Sharia law. Does anyone think an Islamic court would just let them go, or would they amputate their hands or their heads? I am sure Roxana Saberi, who is a victim of Sharia law in Iran, longs for the treatment these pirates are getting.




Saturday, April 18, 2009

Boo Hoo, No More Global Warming :(



The following is from an article written by Greg Roberts for The Australian, April 18, 2009:


A paper to be published soon by the British
Antarctic Survey in the journal Geophysical Research Letters
is expected to confirm that over the past 30 years,the area
of sea ice around the continent has expanded.

Roberts reports that the recent publicity about loss of ice from the Wilkins Ice Shelf, which is in western Antarctica, is misleading. Eastern Antarctica, which is much larger than western, has had an increase in ice mass over the last 10 years or more. Nevertheless, says Roberts, the Australian Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, continues to maintain that Antarctica is losing ice rapidly, and continues to make exaggerated predictions about the effect on world sea levels. Garrett is certainly aware of the findings to be pulished in Geophysical Research Letters, since the study originated in Australia. Q: Why would he say something so contrary to compelling scientific evidence? A: Peter Garrett is the Australian equivalent of Stephen L. Johnson and Christine Whitman, the current and former heads of the EPA; i.e., Garrett is a political appointee, his words are politically motivated, and therefore he is not to be trusted.


Additional evidence is easily seen in the above NASA photos of the Amery ice shelf: between 2001 and 2002 there was growth, not shrinkage of this eastern Antarctica ice. This is hardly indicative of warming.


I wish to state for the record my own scientific observation that the sea level is not rising. I have made this observation in Delray Beach, Florida, where my in-laws live. I have been visiting them from time to time over the past 15 years, and the beach is exactly the same size now as it was in the 1990s, when the Clintons were warning about warming. Rush Limbaugh, as you know, owns a compound in Palm Beach, a stone's throw from the Kennedy compound, and slightly up the coast from Delray. I will start worrying about global warming when Rush and the Kennedys build levees around their properties, and not before.


Anyway, I am in favor of global warming, because it would mean a longer golf season in New York.


Photo credit: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, arrows added.

Friday, April 10, 2009

How Much is a Captain Worth?




The Somali pirates--Rush Limbaugh has dubbed them maritime organizers--are asking for $2000000. and safe passage in exchange for hostage Richard Phillips, captain  of the Maersk Alabama.  So, the pirates are now kidnappers as well.   How do we deal with the pirates?   That used to be an easy question, butnow, it turns out,  it is a thorny one.  Consider these excerpts from recent news:

The Royal Navy, once the scourge of brigands on the high seas, has been told by the Foreign Office not to detain pirates because doing so may breach their human rights. (Marie Woolf, TimesOnline 13 Apr., 2008)

The U.S. Navy says it is holding 16 suspected pirates it captured off the coast of Somalia aboard a warship while awaiting orders to move the suspects to Kenya for prosecution.  The agreement to hand over suspected pirates to Kenya was reached last month between the U.S. and Kenyan governments.  But, the agreement has raised questions and concern from a leading human rights group.  (Alisha Ryu, VOANews.com 13 Feb., 2009)


In 1815, when the United States led the world in crushing the pirates off the Barbary Coast, retribution was swift and final. They either went down with their ships, were executed on the spot or they were taken back to England or Jamaica for trial where they were usually hanged and left dangling on posts along piers as a deterrent to others. (Thomas Rose, CBCNews.ca, 5 Feb., 2009)


If, somehow, we capture these individuals, how will the Obama Justice Department and Attorney General Eric Holder, handle them?   We know it will become a Justice Department matter, because they have already sent the FBI to negotiate with the pirates.   By all means, President Obama, make sure that the rights of the pirates are protected.  We can not send them to Somalia, where they might have their hands or heads cut off (Sharia law);   we can not send them to Kenya, because it might anger Prime Minister Gordon Brown;  we can not send them to Gitmo, where they would get 3 Halal meals a day and a copy of the Quran, because we are shutting Gitmo down;  so it looks like they will have to go to Rikers Island,  so they can make a plea bargain and be out on the street in a couple of years.  

My solution is the 1815 solution:  rescue the captain,  kill the pirates.   Don't you long for the good old days?


Photo credit: Talbot/AP

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Obama Passes the Test

During the presidential campaign, Senator Biden predicted that the new president would be tested early in his reign.   The test has now occurred, and I am pleased to report that President Obama has passed with flying colors.

The clever test, the launch of an ICBM by North Korea,  was  developed by former members of the axis of evil  (I say former members, because the axis of evil does not exist any more, by presidential edict).   These include North Korea, of course, China, and Iran.   Perhaps the Russians had some input as well.  They launched this non-satellite-bearing missile over one of our closest allies, Japan; this was an intentionally provocative act.
And how did our tall, dark and handsome President respond?   He turfed the problem to the Security Council of the United Nations, so that the "global regime" could address the situation.
We all know what the UN will do:  nothing.  Even if a resolution with teeth were concocted in the Security Council, China would veto it.   

The reason the test was so clever is that now the axis members know what to expect from Obama:   words.    They now know that they are free to test ICBMs,  produce and test nuclear weapons, and threaten American allies, like Japan, Taiwan, Israel, Iraq, India, etc.   The are free because our response will be words.   America, formerly a beacon of freedom for the downtrodden of the world, is now working to bring freedom to brutal tyrants, communists, and islamofascists the world over.

So, why do I say he passed the test?  Because the test was administered by our enemies,   and as far as they are concerned, he passed with flying colors.   Also, he passed in the eyes of his political supporters, because anything that smacks of appeasement, that weakens America, that makes us seem less arrogant and more like the Europeans, that increases the threat to Israel and our other allies in the region--anything he does that works toward these goals is AOK with the democrats and their axis--I mean, allies--at home.

"Global regime"  source:  Jonathan Martin and  David S. Cloud,  "Obama Calls for World 'Without Nukes' " Politico.com, 4/5/09

Monday, April 6, 2009

Obama-Geithner Bailout = Disaster

I am not a financial expert, so I do not expect anyone to take my word for it that the Obama/Geithner/Congress bailout plans--aka the stimulus bill--are bad new for the American taxpayer.   Perhaps you will believe Peyton Young, who is James Meade Professor of Economics at Oxford and a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.  Also, he is British, not Republican, so he can be trusted.   Please read his linked article from the Financial Times.    While you are at it, read "Don't Eat Wall Street's Big Fudge," by Francesco Guerrera.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Don't You Feel Sorry for Smokers?



ABC World News reported this little tobacco update on April 2, and it was printed in the "AMA Morning Rounds" on April 3:



...the House passed a landmark bill [Thursday] that
would for the first time give the federal government sweeping
authority over tobacco. Under the measure, the Food and Drug
Administration would have the power to limit the nicotine in
cigarettes, to regulate ads and to require warnings to appear
in larger print. The Senate now takes up its version...




So it has finally come to this. Cigarettes will come with a patient insert. Dosage and Administration. Warnings. Drug Interactions. Tobacco junkies will be showing up in the E.R. to try to sweet-talk some drowsy ER doc into writing a prescription. Child-proof caps on packs of cigarettes. Here's a smart business move for non-smokers: buy a stockpile of cigarettes now, because after the FDA gets hold of them the price will skyrocket and you can make a fortune selling yours on the street. Put three Marlboros in a ziplock bag and charge $20.00.



Say Phillip Morris wants to come out with a new brand. They will have to go through a 5 or 6 year FDA approval process costing at least tens of millions of dollars to get permission to market it. Sales reps will barge into doctor's offices trying to convince them to prescribe this or that brand by giving the office staff post-its and pens. Wait, I forgot: they are not allowed to give out post-its and pens any more (see my blog "Reforming Medical Ethics" posted March 7, 2009), because doctors are too morally weak, and might prescribe medications just because somebody left them a pen.

You know what the problem with Congress is? They have no cojones (Spanish for "backbone").
If tobacco use is so bad--and it is--outlaw it. They will not outlaw it because: (a) they get too much money from the tobacco lobby, (b) tobacco company employees represent too many votes, and (c) by putting a government agency in charge, it gives Congress more power. Those, unfortunately, are the bottom lines for them.