masthead-highres

Saturday, March 31, 2007

60 Minutes Does Health Care

Our David Hogberg will be watching tomorrow (Sunday, April 1) when CBS's 60 Minutes does a story on, in its words, "how the pharmaceutical industry lobby influenced Congress to pass the Medicare prescription drug law."

The leftie lobby group Families USA, which advocates an expansion of the government's role in health care, is claiming in an e-mail to supporters and others that "part of the program is based on data from the Families USA report, 'No Bargain: Medicare Drug Plans Deliver High Prices.' This report," the Families USA e-mail continues, "shows the huge differences between prices secured by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) -- which does bargain for cheaper drug prices -- and the much higher prices charged by all the private drug plans in Medicare Part D."

As the National Center's health care analyst, Senior Policy Analyst David Hogberg, explained in a January press release, the Families USA report 60 Minutes is reportedly relying upon is itself unreliable:
Health Care Expert Condemns New Liberal Report on Medicare Drug Prices

Research used in a new report by the left-of-center group Families USA, apparently meant to bolster House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's effort to give government employees the power to "negotiate" drug prices under Medicare Part D, is being called deceptive by a health care expert from the National Center for Public Policy Research.

"The Families USA report proves the wisdom behind Mark Twain's quip 'There are lies, damned lies and statistics,'" said National Center senior policy analyst David Hogberg, Ph.D.

Families USA's "No Bargain: Medicare Drug Plans Deliver High Prices" purports to compare the drug prices paid by the insurance plans that administer Medicare Part D to those paid by the Veteran's Administration. It claims that drug prices paid under Medicare Part D are much higher than those paid by the VA, in some cases, over 1,000 percent higher.

However, says Hogberg, the report draws its Medicare drug price data from nonrepresentative sources.

As an example of the flawed nature of the Families USA report, Hogberg notes that the Medicare drug price data used in the report to compare Medicare drug costs to the VA's drug costs come from only two counties - Montgomery County, Maryland and Hamilton County, Ohio. Based on median household income, both counties are above the national average. Montgomery County, for instance, is the fourth-richest county in the nation. Since wealthier areas, on average, tend to pay higher prices, Families USA's use of these counties as the source of their sample data all but guarantees that the Medicare drug prices data in their study will be exaggeratedly high.

"I call that cooking the data, pure and simple," Hogberg said. "You also have to dig deep into the Families USA study to learn the VA doesn't 'negotiate' drug prices. The VA pays only 76 percent of the nonfederal average manufacturer price of a drug. That's not a 'negotiation,' that's a price control. So, Families USA has skewed its results by using Medicare data only from wealthy counties and comparing it to prices obtained nationally by the VA, which was imposing price controls."

"I trust that sensible members of Congress and the media will dismiss this study for the nonsense that it is," Hogberg said.

In conclusion, Hogberg added, "In 2003, President George W. Bush signed into law a prescription drug program for Medicare, known now as Medicare Part D, that is administered by private drug companies. It bans Medicare from 'negotiating' directly with pharmaceutical companies. Proponents of government-run health care have long sought to remove this prohibition, but supporters of the ban believe that such 'negotiations' are akin to imposing government price controls, which all-but-inevitably lead to rationing, shortages, and a decline in health care quality."

Hogberg is the author of The National Center for Public Policy Research National Policy Analysis paper, "Letting Medicare "Negotiate" Drug Prices: Myths vs. Reality." The paper is available online at www.nationalcenter.org/NPA550MedicareDrugPrices.html.
Since Thursday, David has twice telephoned 60 Minutes, sent the show a fax, and e-mailed its producers to warn them that the Families USA data is "highly misleading."

David advised the show: "I want to emphasize that if you use [the Families USA] report in your segment, in the interest of journalistic objectivity you should have someone on the segment disputing its findings."

David asked that someone from 60 Minutes get back to him, but no one has done so.

He will be watching with interest Sunday evening to see how 60 Minutes presents this data.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:57 PM

Friday, March 30, 2007

Single-Payer Health Care: "Incompetence, Debt, Misery and Filth" - London Times

Britain's government-run single-payer health care system mixes men and women in hospital wards. Privacy and decency, let alone safety in some cases, apparently are incompatible with single-payer, government-run medicine.

If you read nothing else about single-payer government medicine all year, read the excerpts I post below from an article in the Times of London.

As you do, ask yourself if you would like your elderly parent, or sick or injured child, or anyone perhaps including your very worst enemy to be "cared for" in a hospital ward like the one described in this column by Minette Marrin, writing in the London Times:
...Week after week reliable reports and the government’s own figures tell a disgraceful story of incompetence, debt, misery and filth in the National Health Service. That story is supported, week after week, by heart-rending personal accounts of horrors on the wards.

The broken new Labour promise that caught most public attention last week was the failure to abolish mixed-sex wards. Janet Street-Porter, the ferocious media personality, wrote about the misery of her sister when dying of cancer in a mixed-sex NHS ward. Plenty of other people have tried to draw attention to this disgrace and Baroness Knight, the Conservative peer, has been campaigning about it for years but - such is the spirit of the times - it takes a loud-mouth celebrity to get public attention.

The same thing happened when Lord Winston made a fuss about the dreadful treatment that his elderly mother received in hospital. Only then did the government stop denying that there was anything wrong.

Street-Porter published extracts last week of the diary of Patricia Balsom, her dying sister. They were horrifying. Among the miseries she endured was lying neglected in a mixed ward, where she was woken more than once to see a naked male patient masturbating opposite her bed. Her shocking stories prompted a flood of others.

The late Eileen Fahey, for instance, dying of cancer, was put onto a mixed geriatric ward where confused people wandered about without supervision. One man with dementia regularly masturbated at the nurses’ station and tried to get into women patients’ beds; he was a threat to them all but staff took no notice, according to her daughter Maureen. Other patients have to give answers to intimate questions in the hearing of other patients. One deaf old man was repeatedly asked when he last had an erection, until tears ran down his cheeks.

A former midwife described eloquently on Radio 4 the indignities of being in a 24-bed mixed-sex ward, stripped of all dignity and intimidated. Bedlam was the word she used, and it applies even more accurately to the secure psychiatric mixed ward in London endured by Susan Craig last year, after a breakdown. She suffered regular sexual harassment, with mentally ill men groping her and exposing themselves. The nurses disbelieved her and told her husband she was "flaunting herself."

If so (I don’t believe them), their job was to protect a patient from her own folly. Instead they chose, in modern cant, to blame the victim.

Sexual harassment is only a small part of the problem. Many people, both men and women, feel their modesty is violated by such closeness to random members of the opposite sex, even when they are not threatened.

Patients lie naked, half washed and forgotten, their sick and ageing flesh exposed to everyone, while nurses rush elsewhere. It is commonplace to have to walk to filthy mixed lavatories with gowns wide open at the back. At a time of sickness and anxiety many people are profoundly embarrassed to be surrounded by a clutter of bed pans, colostomy bags, nakedness, cries of pain and sweat, blood and tears - their own and other people’s.

All this is much worse, for many, when they are surrounded by members of the opposite sex; shame and anxiety are not the best bedfellows of hope and healing.

Much has been written about the rape of modesty and the death of shame. However, it is still true in this weary country that most men and women prefer to perform private bodily functions alone if possible, and among their own sex only, if not. That’s why we have separate public lavatories and separate changing rooms in shops and clubs and pubs. That’s why people put up towels on the beach. That’s why women give birth in female wards, not in mixed wards or not - I hope - so far...

...My feeling is that mixed-sex wards are not the worst of NHS hospitals’ problems, although they demonstrate them. They demonstrate the incompetence and deviousness of hospital management in general, and they also show something worse. In all the stories I’ve come across what stands out is the ignorance, incompetence, laziness and heartlessness of all too many nurses, who are allowed to neglect and insult their patients without supervision and without sanction - in single-sex wards just as much as mixed...
Remember folks, this story isn't about Haiti, or North Korea, or some Third World country with no resources to speak of.

This is Britain. The Mother Country. The one a lot like us.

If the USA adopts single-payer, universal, government-run, "Medicare-for-All" (it hides behind many names) health care, this sort of thing will happen here.

Count on it.

Hat tip: Eye on Britain

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:56 PM

When Al Gore and Nancy Pelosi Act, It's A Crisis

Got an e-mail today from "Ilyse, Nita, Matt, Wes and the MoveOn.org Political Action Team" with a message I agree with entirely, but which is bit curious, coming from MoveOn.org's PAC:
Evidence is piling up that the climate crisis is well underway. Al Gore received a hero's welcome when he testified last week and offered a bold plan of action. And Speaker Pelosi has charged a special committee on global warming with drafting legislation by June.
That's the full paragraph, so it's in context.

If this is what it stands for, maybe I should consider joining MoveOn.org...

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:43 PM

New Phrase: "Fuel Poverty"

In Britain, very likely the country doing more than any other to fight what its government believes is a threat from human caused global warming, the phrase "fuel poverty" is gaining currency (no pun intended).

One of the side effects of many government proposals to fight global warming -- for instance, so-called "cap and trade" here in the United States -- is an increase in consumer energy bills.

Says the British ThisIsMoney.co.uk website (excerpted):
The number of households facing a choice between heating and eating has almost doubled in the past two years.

Spiralling gas and electricity bills have left nearly 4m having to spend at least 10 percent of their disposable income on heating and lighting - the definition of 'fuel poverty'.

This is an increase of more than 1.7m, according to an independent study. The research was commissioned by the Energy Efficiency Partnership for Homes - a group of 700 industry bodies concerned with domestic energy efficiency...

...Project director Nicholas Doyle warned: 'For thousands of people, the prospect of a warm and comfortable home is now a luxury that they cannot afford. The stark reality is that many people from low-income backgrounds are now faced with the choice of deciding whether to heat their home or provide for their family...

...Charities have drawn a clear link between rising power bills, fuel poverty and deaths of pensioners. The number of deaths between December 2005 and March 2006 exceeded the non-winter average by 25,700. Age Concern believes a significant number were hastened by cold, with elderly people worried about the cost of using their heating...
Hat tip: Iain Murray at Open Market

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:21 AM

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Joe Hicks Testifies About Cesar Chavez


Project 21's Joe Hicks testified today before the House Natural Resources Committee's Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands about H.R. 359, "The Cesar Estrada Chavez Study Act," introduced by Representative Hilda Solis (D-CA).

Rep. Solis apparently wasn't too thrilled. She waved a copy of Project 21's press release about, calling it "inflammatory," and saying she was going to enter it into the Congressional Record.

All I can say about that is: "Thanks!"

I also think it is funny that someone who wants to honor Cesar Chavez thinks a mere press release is "inflammatory." Perhaps Rep. Solis is too young to remember the Sixties?

I wonder if the liberal politicians who so ardently support honoring Cesar Chavez now are aware of Chavez's views on illegal immigration? As Joe recounts in his testimony (reprinted below), Chavez didn't quite follow the modern liberal line.
Testimony of Joe R. Hicks
U.S. House of Representatives
Committee on Natural Resources
Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands


March 29, 2007

I thank you for this opportunity to testify in opposition to H.R. 359. I do not think that the proposed special resource study of sites associated with the Life of Cesar Chavez would be a wise use of public funds. Unlike other Americans honored in such a manner, there has normally been a consensus on the contributions of such persons among the American people. No such consensus exists regarding the life and legacy of Cesar Chavez. In fact, no such consensus on Chavez's contributions exists even among farm workers, the population it is claimed that he and the United Farm Workers (UFW) represented.

I am not before you to argue that Chavez accomplished nothing, or that he is not a person of significance. He clearly is. However, what remains disputable is whether or not his work and his beliefs are worthy of recognition by all Americans.

The Bill under discussion today appears to presume this to be the case, but may in fact be based on biased information. The Bill also appears at a time when many supporters of Chavez are agitating for a national holiday in his honor. In this light, H.R. 359 may be simply a way to pave the road for such a national holiday.

Honoring national figures in this way is something that should be carefully considered. The obvious comparison is with the decision to make the birthday of Martin Luther King a national holiday. This was done after contentious national debate about the character and contributions of Dr. King. Questions were raised about King's personal life and the politics of some of his close aides. King's legacy survived this test because there was a consensus that King's life-long commitment to nonviolence and equal opportunity was unassailable. Whenever violence broke out at demonstrations he presided over, Dr. King rebuked transgressors to his non-violent stance in the strongest of terms - as he did of Black Power radicals who challenged his vision of a color-neutral society.

This, however, must be compared and contrasted with how Cesar Chavez dealt with violence as his UFW organizers often made use of strong-arm tactics against field workers in California's Central and Coachella Valleys. One field organizer said he remembers seeing "loyal Chavez followers bash the heads of reluctant field laborers." He said the organizers "visited the fields, intimidating peasants with threats and violence." Despite the public persona as a man of peace and nonviolence, Chavez did or said little to reign in the violence, which may explain why it's difficult to find farm workers who have anything good to say about him or the UFW. In fact, labor leaders who lead non-UFW farm worker associations hotly dispute the notion that Chavez or the UFW ever represented their views and challenge what they see as "mythology" surrounding Chavez.

Oddly, as Chavez has become an iconic figure among elements of the nations left activists, "immigrant's rights" organizers, and purveyors of identity politics, his views on illegal immigration are also in dispute. Despite his hero status among activists and those advocating on behalf of La Raza, Chavez often complained that the Immigration & Naturalization Service (INS) wasn't tough enough.

As Ruben Navarrette Jr. reported in the Arizona Republic: "Cesar Chavez, a labor leader intent on protecting union membership, was as effective a surrogate for the INS as ever existed. Indeed, Chavez and the United Farm Workers he headed routinely reported, to the INS, for deportation, suspected illegal immigrant workers who served as strike breakers or refused to unionize."

In fact, Chavez led a march in 1969 from the Coachella and Imperial Valleys to the Mexican border to underscore his position of opposition to undocumented labor.

I must be clear that I am not opposed to private efforts to commemorate or honor the life of Cesar Chavez. Privately-funded museums, or other such forms of recognition, would not be opposed by the vast majority of the American people. However, in this case, the record is too murky, the politics too contentious, the life contributions too shrouded in mythology to justify expending scarce public funds to study national sites associated with Chavez's life.

I come before you as someone intimately familiar with the organizing work and the tactics of the UFW and its leader Cesar Chavez. During the 1970s, the height of the UFW's efforts to organize field workers throughout the Southwest, I was a member of this nation's leftist political forces. In 1976, I spent time in the then-Soviet Union and was a member of the Communist party USA. I was in the company of Chavez on several occasions, interacted with his organizers on a routine basis, trained UFW activists in my "revolutionary theory" classes, and saw Chavez's organizers as simply another arm of our movement to radicalize and overthrow the existing political order in our nation.

While still a leftist in 1993, I marched arm-in-arm with the Reverend Jesse Jackson at the funeral of Chavez in Delano, California. At the well-attended event, I remembered thinking that, while Chavez was laid to rest and eulogized as a man of peace and nonviolence, almost none of his followers - those that I had known and worked with - has eschewed the use of violence against those who opposed them and their tactics. It was also clear to me that they believed that Chavez quietly approved of their heavy-handed tactics - in the main employed against impoverished agricultural field workers.

I don't say this to infer that Chavez was himself a violent man or ideologically a communist, but raise this only as additional context for a labor leader that presided over an organization that harbored deep hostility and resentment about the American nation.

All sides of the debate regarding the Cesar Estrada Chavez Study Act must be considered. It is critical that this Committee not be swayed by those arguing for some larger recognition of Cesar Chavez based on grounds of ethnic pride or that he be honored because of the growing Latino population nor the growing political clout of this nation's diverse Hispanic communities.

When Chavez's life is examined in closer detail, a darker side emerges. Free from the leftist prism through which I viewed the world for all-too-many years, I see his contributions in a far more clear and balanced way. How should the life of Cesar Chavez and the UFW be viewed by the American people? Is there a settled opinion on this? I argue that there is not. Therefore, I come today to state my opposition to the special resource study. Thank you.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:54 PM

Thank God for Senator Inhofe II

From TheHill.com comes word that Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) is joining Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in blocking Al Gore's request to hold a huge music concert on the Capitol grounds in July.

The concert, dubbed "Live Earth," is designed to spread Gore's political views on the global warming issue, and to pressure Congress to adopt legislation limiting energy use by Americans.

The Hill article, by Elana Schor, says, in part:
Inhofe vows to put brakes on Gore’s ‘Live Earth’ concert at the Capitol

Fresh from his face-to-face tussle with former Vice President Al Gore, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) is vowing to stall Gore’s hotly anticipated Capitol concert to draw attention to global warming.

Inhofe’s belief that climate change is “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people” is common knowledge in the capitol, and environmental groups cheered the new prospects for carbon-capping legislation when he ceded the Environment and Public Works Committee gavel this session. But Inhofe’s parliamentary powers can block indefinitely the resolution that would permit Gore to choose the capitol’s West Front for the U.S. leg of his seven-continent Live Earth concert tour -- a collaboration between Gore and promoter Kevin Wall, who masterminded previous blockbuster charity concerts Live Aid and Live 8.

“There has never been a partisan political event at the Capitol, and this is a partisan political event,” Inhofe said yesterday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) attempted late last week to pass the authorizing measure for Live Earth by unanimous consent. But Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) raised an objection on the floor, seeking more time for his side to look at the resolution.

Inhofe appeared to see little room for an accommodation that could allow the concert to go forward. “There’s no compromise. Either we change the rules or we don’t.”

Inhofe added that other members share his concerns, including unnamed Democrats as well as Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah), ranking member of the Rules Committee, which has jurisdiction over the concert resolution.

Democrats “may not be willing to stand up to Al Gore, but many of them found it just as objectionable as Republicans do,” he said...
Read the rest of the Hill article here.

Quoted in the Washington Post, Inhofe spokesman Marc Morano said, "Senator Inhofe objects to having any events on the Capitol grounds that are either highly partisan or politically controversial -- and the proposed Gore concert is both."

Quite right.

Global warming is a political issue. The proposed concert is a lobbying effort.

Let them lobby somewhere else.

The first post in this series is here. Our post commending Senator Mitch McConnell's action on this issue is here.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:35 AM

Project 21's Joe Hicks to Tell Congress: UFW's Cesar Chavez Should Not Be Honored with Public Funds

Joe R. Hicks, a Project 21 member who marched arm-in-arm with Jesse Jackson at Cesar Chavez's funeral in 1993, will testify before Congress Thursday morning in opposition to spending public funds honoring the late United Farm Workers union organizer.

Hicks was asked to testify about Chavez as part of congressional consideration of H.R. 359, "The Cesar Estrada Chavez Study Act," introduced by Representative Hilda Solis (D-CA). The bill would authorize a "special resource study of sites associated with the life of Cesar Estrada Chavez and the farm labor movement" that could lead to inclusion of sites in the American Southwest deemed important in Chavez's life in the National Register of Historic Places or even become honored national landmarks similar to sites related to the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In testimony before the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, Hicks will compare Chavez to Dr. King. Hicks will note that a "consensus that King's life-long commitment to nonviolence and equal opportunity was unassailable" helped lead to the honor that is bestowed on locations such as the Lorraine Motel, the Selma-to-Montgomery National Historic Trail and the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, among other places.

"This," charges Hicks, "must be compared and contrasted with how Cesar Chavez dealt with violence as his UFW organizers often made use of strong-arm tactics against field workers in California's Central and Coachella Valleys. One field organizer said he remembers seeing 'loyal Chavez followers bash the heads of reluctant field laborers.' He said the organizers 'visited the fields, intimidating peasants with threats and violence.' Despite the public persona as a man of peace and nonviolence, Chavez did or said little to reign in the violence, which may explain why it's difficult to find farm workers who have anything good to say about him or the UFW. In fact, labor leaders who lead non-UFW farm worker associations hotly dispute the notion that Chavez or the UFW ever represented their views and challenge what they see as 'mythology' surrounding Chavez."

Hicks will appear before Congress as someone intimately familiar with the organizing work and the tactics of the UFW and its leader, Cesar Chavez. During the 1970s, the height of the UFW's efforts to organize field workers throughout the Southwest, Hicks was left-wing political activist. In 1976, Hicks spent time in the then-Soviet Union and was a member of the Communist Party USA. Hicks was in the company of Chavez on several occasions, interacted with his organizers on a routine basis and trained UFW activists in "revolutionary theory" classes.

Hicks has worked on civil rights issues at the local and national level for over 30 years. In addition to his work with Project 21, Hicks is currently the vice president of Community Advocates, Inc. (CAI) in Los Angeles. CAI "is committed to taking the quest for human and civil rights beyond the fight against intolerance and discrimination" through fostering common ground among races, ethnicities and religions. Prior to CAI, Hicks served as executive director of the Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the California State Bar's Board of Governors.

"It is a great honor for me to be able to address our national lawmakers on this important issue. How best to expend public funds, and on what issues, is something of great concern to the voting public," said Hicks.

The House Natural Resources Committee's Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands will hold the hearing in room 1334 of the Longworth House Office Building at 10:00 am on Thursday, March 29.

Project 21's press release is here.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:04 AM

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Los Angeles Times Runs Kitty Kelley Op-Ed Blasting Bush Family Without Fact-Checking

The Los Angeles Times and Harper's have a bit of egg on their faces.

The Los Angeles Times ran an op-ed by Kitty Kelley last week claiming that no one in George W. Bush's extended family -- daughters, nieces or nephews -- has served in the military since his father's service in World War II.

The Bush family's supposed lack of military service is the entire focus of the op-ed.

Says Kelley: "The president tells us Iraq is a "noble" war, but his wife, his children and his nieces and nephews are not listening. None has enlisted in the armed services, and none seems to be paying attention to the sacrifices of military families."

She also says: "The presidential nieces and nephews also have missed the memo on setting a good public example."

And then there's "[George H.W. Bush] flew 58 missions in two years and returned home a war hero. Since then, no one in his large family has seen fit to follow his sterling example of service and patriotism."

The Harper's magazine blog excerpted the piece, calling it "Kitty Kelley's can't miss op-ed." The blog is written by a former Los Angeles Times reporter, Ken Silverstein, who now is Washington Editor for Harper's.

A couple dozen liberal bloggers approvingly copied parts of the Kelley op-ed as well.

However, at the time the op-ed ran, George P. Bush, the President's nephew, was (and remains) in the U.S. Navy.

Oops.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:08 PM

Mental Health Parity Hearing Is Depressing

David Hogberg writes:
Today I attended the Health Subcommittee hearing in the House of Representatives on "Mental Health and Substance Abuse Parity." Mental health and substance abuse parity means that if a health insurance program covers mental health and substance abuse benefits, it must cover them in the same way it covers benefits for other conditions. Thus, if an insurance company has a $20 co-pay to see a family physician, it cannot charge a higher co-pay to see a psychiatrist.

The bill in the House is sponsored by Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), who was also a witness at the hearing, as was his colleague, Jim Ramstad (D-MN). A similar bill has been introduced in the Senate by Senators Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Pete Domenici (R-NM), and Mike Enzi (R-WY).

Here are some observations about the hearing, in no particular order:
* The hearing was a collegial affair, which is disheartening for those who favor limited government. No member of Congress challenged the witnesses on their testimony. Every one congratulated all the speakers on their courage and dedication to this issue. And it is little wonder. Patrick Kennedy's bill has over 250 cosponsors. The one in the Senate has 42. President Bush has indicated he would sign a mental health parity bill. No point in arguing when it's that close to being a done deal.

* During his remarks, Patrick Kennedy emphasized that substance abuse is a disease, and people are not at fault for having it. I couldn't help but think that was a tad self-serving.

* Jim Ramstad claimed that it is a "myth" that the mental health parity bill is a mandate. It's not a mandate, because "it doesn't force any insurance company to cover mental health benefits." It only requires them to cover such mental health benefits the same way as other benefits if they offer mental health coverage. I came to the realization today that the ability to twist logic is a prerequisite for holding elected office.

* Kennedy was in full social crusader-mode. He noted that there is a 35 percent high school dropout rate in parts of his state of Rhode Island, and a lot of that is due to kids who have parents who are depressed or abuse alcohol and drugs. He noted that 82 percent of those in prison are substance abusers. In addition to solving the problem of high-school dropouts and the prison population, he also argued that passage of mental health parity bill would have a "salutary effect" on the stigma of mental illness. Exactly how that will happen, well, he didn't explain. But who needs trifling details when you are busy saving society?

*Ramstad also claimed that it is a "myth" that this bill would impose any costs on employers and insurers. He pointed to a New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) study that examined the experience of Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) when it adopted mental health parity. (CBO actually said that the Senate version of the bill, which imposes fewer requirements than the House one, would impose some costs. But why bother with contradictory evidence when you are busy saving society?) Anyway, the NEJM did find that six of the seven insurance programs in FEHBP did not see an increase in costs after adopting mental health parity. But here's the rub: those programs used managed-care organizations to act as gatekeepers to receiving mental health benefits. In other words, they kept costs from increasing by restricting access to mental health benefits. As the study noted, "Although spending increases resulting from the implementation of parity did not occur, neither did access to mental health and substance-abuse services increase." And the one insurance program that did see an increase in access? It didn't use a managed-care organization. So, insurance companies will cover mental health benefits equally, but, to control costs, it won't give you access to them. I wonder how long Congress will let that happen?

* Representative Xavier Becerra (D-CA) chimed in that in Los Angeles there are 80-85,000 homeless people, many of whom were suffering from mental illness. Kennedy then claimed that the Latina population had the highest rate of suicide of any ethnic group. Since homeless people don't have health insurance, and Latinas general have low rates of insurance coverage, it's not clear how a mental health parity bill would help them. They would have to get insurance. And, for the likes of Kennedy, Ramstad, Becerra and Subcommittee Chairman Pete Stark (D-CA), that would mean that the taxpayers would have to provide them with it. That leads to me to wonder if providing more government-run health insurance wasn't the real purpose of this hearing.
To contact author David Hogberg directly,
write him at [email protected]

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:17 AM

Good for Pete Domenici

We have recently been critical of Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), for co-sponsoring (with Ted Kennedy, no less) a bill that would force Americans who buy health insurance policies (including through their employer) to pay for mental health coverage equal to their other health care coverage, unless they purchase no mental health care coverage at all.

I expect we'll be critical of him on that issue again any minute now.

Because we've been critical where we believe criticism is due, in the spirit of fairness, I wanted to commend the Senator in a case where credit is due.

As Environment and Energy Daily reported March 27 (in an article excerpted by the minority staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works), Senator Domenici has "vowed... to block global warming legislation if emerging industrial nations do not make similar commitments."

The article says, in part:
A key Senate Republican vowed yesterday to block global warming legislation if emerging industrial nations do not make similar commitments.

"My concerns are long enough that I would kill a bill if we haven't taken some giant stride in the direction of getting China and/or India to join with this," Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) said in an interview yesterday.

China's emissions are on track to surpass the United States as early as this year, according to recent media reports, driving the Senate Energy Committee's ranking member to express concern that a new U.S. program would do little to address climate change while simultaneously harming the domestic economy.

"It's just grown on me in the past month, where I just can't believe and will not support major legislation imposed upon the American economic system and jobs and everything else," Domenici said. "I won't support doing that... unless and until we have brought the Chinese on board, or the Indians, or there is absolute assurance they are coming on."
Good for him.

More on Senator Domenici's perspective on this can be found in a press release issued by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which Domenici serves as ranking member.

I don't agree with everything Senator Domenici has ever said on climate change, but he's right on this.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:11 AM

Monday, March 26, 2007

When Texas Has Rolling Brownouts, We'll Know Who to Blame

Writing on Townhall.com, Senior Fellow Tom Borelli explains how the green activist groups Rainforest Action Network, Environmental Defense and the Natural Resources Defense Council used a letter campaign and protests outside of Citigroup, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley to stop the construction of new power plants for Texans in the cause of preventing a theorized human impact on global climate.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:52 PM

Good for Mitch McConnell

Senate Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has stepped in to prevent global warming activists from using the Capitol grounds as part of their political crusade to make the energy use of Americans subject to limitations created in Washington (if we're "lucky"; they really want the United Nations to do it).

From The Politico.com:
...late Friday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) tried to get Senate Republicans to allow former Vice President Al Gore to stage a global warming concert on Capitol grounds. But Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) objected to Reid's request, and the resolution authorizing the concert, for now, remains stuck in the Rules and Administration Committee.

Specifically, what Reid tried to do was get an unanimous consent agreement approving S. Con. Res. 24, which would permit Live Earth and the Alliance for Climate Protection, which Gore runs, to stage a July 7 concert on Capitol grounds. Live Earth is staging concerts that day on all seven continents...

...Reid and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) have introduced the resolution allowing the concert to take place (see below), and it was referred to the Rules Committee. It's still there, thanks to McConnell's objection, and he apparently wants the panel to look into the matter before he signs off on it.

McConnell, though, said his objection only covered "the time being," so I don't know if that means he and other GOP leaders think it's a good idea or not. I haven't had time to ask him or his staff, but I will and get back to you.

So, for all the wonks out there like me who get off on this stuff, here's a copy of the resolution. Note that the concert won't cost taxpayers anything, since Live Earth and the Alliance for Climate Protection will reimburse the Capitol Police for the cost of security during the concert...
The full article, including a copy of the resolution, is here.

The left uses the draw of a "free concert" to draw people to political rallies they otherwise would never attend. This is a political event. The sponsors presumably want the background of the Capitol in the media shots to enhance the credibility of their cause and the influence of their backers, the most prominent of which may well be running for President. The Capitol building belongs to all Americans, and should not be exploited in this manner.

Addendum, 3/27/07: A correspondent writes to complain, admitting his interest in attending the concert has nothing to do with concern for the planet:
Are you serious? You are praising a senator for stepping in to prevent the worlds largest concert from taking place on the Capitol Grounds? I would love if the concert took place downtown.

I don't know how close you have been following the Live Earth concert or even as a mother-of-three if you ever enjoyed life for a minute during your youth, but this concert is a fantastic idea. Any US city chosen to host this event should be honored and embrace the largest one day international concert since Live 8.

The concert first was looking to take place on the DC lawn but its booked. Next up is Shea stadium in NY (Mets are out of town) and most recently the word is Philadelphia, if the Capitol falls through. You really need to put politics aside for one moment and take in the full scope of this event. Every major recording artist and band in the world will be performing at Live Earth. This event will be attended and viewed by more the 2 billion viewers (most by tv, radio, and internet). It doesn't matter if the backdrop is the Capitol or the Liberty bell. DC should embrace this concert and collect the flood of tourism revenue potentially heading towards the district.

Nick


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:21 PM

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Frank Drebin Does Health Insurance

From David Hogberg:
Today the Census Bureau revised its 2005 estimate of the uninsured downward from 46.5 million to 44.8 million. Well, what is an organization like the Commonwealth Fund that is dedicated to more government involvement in health care supposed to do? First, employ the Frank Drebin approach of All-Right Move-On-Nothing-To-See-Here:
While the new Census Bureau figures on health insurance released today reveal that the 2005 estimates were lower than previously reported, they nevertheless affirm that the number of Americans without insurance has risen rapidly since 2000.
Of course, when Drebin uses that approach, he's usually trying to distract attention away from a nuclear bomb that just went off. Granted, the Census Bureau's revised numbers don't quite fall into the nuclear category, but by looking at this table you can actually see why the new 44.8 million number has the Commonwealth Fund a bit worried. It actually represents a decrease of 500,000 from 2004.

So, could you please just ignore that and only compare today's revised number with that from 2000? That way, this plea from the Commonwealth Fund makes far more sense:
While it is good to have the corrected Census Bureau data, the new figure still reflects an upward trend in the total number of uninsured. It should serve as another reminder that we as a nation should be working toward a health system that is truly high performing-one that provides accessible, high-quality, equitable, patient-centered care for all.
I don't know. Something just doesn't sound right.
To contact author David Hogberg directly,
write him at [email protected]

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:04 AM

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Congressional Leadership Has Failed

Project 21's Kevin Martin says House action on Iraq today "will only secure the disgrace and defeat of the mission our brave troops are pledged to fight."

He adds: "It is the job of those in uniform to fight for and protect America and her interests no matter the cost or time required. It is the job of Congress to see that these brave men and women are well-funded and able to complete their mission. The congressional leadership has failed its mission."

Read it all here.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:47 PM

Fighting Environmentalists to Use DDT to Fight Malaria in Africa

Writing for The Heartland Institute, National Center Senior Fellow Bonner Cohen takes a look at the fight to restore the use of DDT to save lives in Africa:
Concerned about the rising number of deaths mosquito-borne malaria is inflicting on its citizens, the government of Uganda has approved the use of the pesticide DDT to combat the deadly disease.

The decision, handed down in January, marks the end of a protracted conflict that pitted public health officials, who overwhelmingly favor the use of DDT, against environmental activists and corporate agricultural exporters, who oppose it.

Frustrated by the inability of other measures to stem the dreaded disease, which kills an estimated 100,000 Ugandans each year, officials at the country's National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) will permit DDT to be sprayed in residences, where the chemical's unique properties irritate, repel, and poison mosquitoes while doing no harm to humans or animals.

Uganda's decision is contingent on approval from international authorities such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the secretariat of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), and the Rotterdam Convention.

DDT was last used in Uganda 46 years ago by WHO. It successfully controlled the spread of malaria in Kamungu province in the western region of the country. Uganda was one of many malaria-prone countries where the use of DDT brought the killer disease to the brink of eradication.

With the help of DDT, the global malaria death rate -- which had been 1,740 deaths per million in 1930 -- dropped more than 70 percent, to 480 per million in 1950.

Since Uganda stopped using DDT, however, malaria has ravaged the country. Government officials have decided to rebuff environmental activists and once again use it to combat malaria.

Niger Innis, spokesman for the U.S. branch of the Congress of Racial Equality, said, "Environmentalists always claim to be stakeholders. But every day that they succeed in delaying the use of DDT and other insecticides, another 3,000 to 5,000 people die from malaria. Those victims and the half billion who get this disease every year, who lie in bed shaking with convulsions, who can't work or go to school, who end up with permanent brain damage from malaria--they are the real stakeholders. It's their views that count."

"The World Health Organization reviewed decades of scientific studies and concluded that spraying DDT on the inside walls of houses is perfectly safe for people and the environment," added Paul Driessen, senior policy advisor of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation.

"More importantly," Driessen continued, "there is simply no substitute for it, at any price. Sprayed just once or twice a year, it keeps 90 percent of mosquitoes from even entering homes, irritates the ones that do enter, so they don't bite, kills those that land, and reduces malaria rates by 75 percent or more."

Despite the hurdles posed by the need for approval by international organizations, the rehabilitation of DDT as an effective weapon against malaria continues apace...
Read the rest here.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:59 PM

When the Debate is Balanced, Skeptics Win, Alarmists Lose

Senator James Inhofe's opening statement before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee at the March 21, 2007 hearing featuring Al Gore:
Thank you for holding this hearing, Madame Chairman, and to you also, Mr. Vice President, for agreeing to come before our Committee to testify about your perspectives. Your views are already known to many Americans, but today will allow us to engage in a dialogue which should be interesting.

It is my perspective that your global warming alarmist pronouncements are now and have always been filled with inaccuracies and misleading statements. Many of the peer-reviewed studies published in such journals as Nature, Geophysical Research Letters, and Science are radically at odds with your claims. I do not have time to delve into each flaw with your movie, but I do want to touch on just two.

First, you have claimed that there is a “strong, new emerging consensus” linking global warming to an increase in hurricane intensity and duration. Yet last year, the World Meteorological Organization very clearly rejected this assertion, and other scientists agree.

Secondly, you said that East Antarctica might melt and this could raise sea levels by 20 feet, so we’re all going to die. However, according to many scientists, Antarctica is gaining ice mass, not losing it. In a 2005 study published in Science a team of researchers led by Dr. Curt Davis found an overall gain in ice mass in Antarctica over a ten-year period.

And the public is catching on. Even the New York Times last week published an article about scientists, many of them your supporters, who say you have overstated your case on global warming - in fact, they warn that you may be hurting the so-called cause with your "alarmism."

Given that, it is no wonder you have turned down the chance to debate the President of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Klaus. And now I understand a debate challenge has been issued by Lord Monckton of Benchley.

Now there is a reason for this.

When the debate is balanced, skeptics win, alarmists lose. In New York last week, for instance, a major debate took place to examine whether global warming is a crisis. Prior to the debate, the hand-wringers, the alarmists, in the audience outnumbered those who didn’t think it was a crisis 2 to 1. After the debate, the alarmists were outnumbered – a major turnaround in beliefs in a single night.

That shift mirrors a larger one taking place in the scientific community. Claude Allegre, a French geophysicist, Nir Shaviv, an Israeli astrophysicist, and meteorologist Reid Bryson have converted from alarmists to believing that climate variability is largely natural. In short, the ranks of converted scientists are skyrocketing.

Lastly, the cost: Global warming is now big business. Thousands of individuals and even some Fortune 100 companies stand to make tens of billions of dollars.

I was on the floor opposing the ’93 Clinton-Gore tax increase of $32 billion, but the cost of Kyoto and other CO2 reduction schemes are estimated to be over $300 billion, ten times the cost of your ’93 tax increase. And who’s paying for it? Those on fixed incomes and the poor, who as a percent of their monthly budget spend five times more on energy than the average household.

Largest tax increase in history – 10 times Clinton-Gore of ’93 and the poor pay for it… and the science isn’t there. We just can’t do that to America, Mr. Vice President… and we’re not gonna.
Note: I am reprinting excerpts of statements from Congressional hearings on climate change. This is in part to create a permanent Internet archive, as, regrettably, Congress cannot be relied upon to maintain the archives of its committee's websites. The previous post in this series:
The Human Cost of Climate Change Policies - an excerpt of testimony by Robert E. Murray of Murray Energy before the Energy and Mineral Resources Committee of the U.S. House Resources Committee, 3/20/07
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:38 PM

The Human Cost of Climate Change Policies

Do environmental regulations, such as those proposed to fight "global warming," have a human cost?

At Tuesday’s climate change hearing before the Energy and Mineral Resources Committee of the U.S. House Resources Committee, Robert E. Murray of the Murray Energy Corporation pushed aside the usual arguments about climate change to focus on an angle too-little covered: The price Americans will pay in jobs and economic welfare, should the policy recommendations of those who urge us to "fight global warming" with massive new federal regulations be followed.

Some excerpts from his testimony (pdf):
I am Bob Murray, the Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Murray Energy Corporation ("Murray Energy"), which I founded from a mortgaged home about twenty (20) years ago. Today, Murray Energy operates eleven (11) coal mines in the most economically depressed areas of Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Utah, which produce thirty-two million (32,000,000) tons of high quality coal per year for America's electric utilities, with about three thousand (3,000) employees. Current studies show that up to eleven (11) secondary jobs are created to provide the goods and services required by our miners. Thus, I am proud of the fact that we are advised that we have created up to 36,000 high-paying, well-benefited jobs in our Country since our inception in May, 1988…

… [The company’s employees] and I are very threatened and troubled by the so-called "global warming" or carbon emission constraint measures that have been introduced into the Congress that will ration the use of coal, with much worse adverse consequences to our American citizens than those that I have already experienced in my lifetime as a result of enactment of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendment legislation.

You see, so-called "global warming" is a human issue to me, not just an environmental one. The unfolding debate over atmospheric warming in the Congress, the news media, and by the pundits has been skewed and totally one-sided, in that they have been preoccupied with possible, speculative environmental disasters of climate change. However, few are giving adequate attention to the destruction that we will definitely see for American working people from all of the climate change proposals that have been introduced in the House and Senate to date.

Today low cost electricity is a staple of life for all Americans, and fifty-two percent (52%) of this electricity is generated from coal. Further, coal-fired electricity is, by far, the lowest cost -- about one-fourth (1/4) to one-third (1/3) of the cost of natural gas-fired electricity.

Moreover, the Energy Information Agency states that our electricity consumption in America will rise forty-one percent (41%) between now and 2030. It is projected that, over the next twenty (20) years or so, coal must be counted on to generate fifty-seven percent (57%) of America's electricity, which cannot be replaced by any other form of generation -- not natural gas, nuclear, or water, and certainly not renewables.

America is dependent on our coal because it is abundant, with some of our best deposits located on public lands; it is affordable; and it is critical to our energy security to protect all Americans from the hostile and unstable governments from which much of our Country's energy is currently imported.

While we have been losing high-paying manufacturing jobs in America to foreign countries, can you imagine the havoc that will be wrought on our Country as a result of curbing coal's use, or destroying its potential as a vital domestic fuel, which every single piece of legislation introduced in the Congress to date does, by slapping mandatory controls on carbon dioxide emissions and United States coal utilization? Draconian legislation, such as the McCain/Lieberman or Bingaman Bills, would thoughtlessly impose arbitrary caps on the use of coal, despite the destructive implications to our economy.

The West, where public lands dominate, is one of the regions where the twelve (12) Bills introduced to date to limit carbon dioxide emissions will inflict the maximum damage and destruction to human lives. High wage employment and concomitant benefits, local tax revenues, and the standards of living for our people will be brutally wiped out in many of our western communities, notwithstanding the implications against strengthening America's energy independence. All of the so-called "global warming" Bills introduced to date will throw the prospects for our citizens and their economies in a spiraling reverse. It is a human issue to me, as I know by name many of the thousands of persons whose lives will be destroyed from the current deceitful, hysterical, out of control, rampage perpetrated by fear-mongers in our society and some legislators to mandate carbon dioxide emission limits.

While some want us to believe that the science behind so-called "global warming" is certain, to the contrary, the actual environmental risk associated with carbon emissions is highly speculative. It is a fact, however, that every proposal introduced to date will provide a far more certain risk that carbon dioxide emission limits will destroy coal and manufacturing dependent communities and inflict great hardships on America's families…

…Some wealthy elitists in our Country, who cannot tell fact from fiction, can afford an Olympian detachment from the impacts of draconian climate change policy. For them, the jobs and dreams destroyed as a result will be nothing more than statistics and the cares of other people. These consequences are abstractions to them, but they are not to me, as I can name many of the thousands of the American citizens whose lives will be destroyed by these elitists' ill-conceived "global goofiness" campaigns.

Also, there are a number of companies that are promoting constraints on coal use to achieve greater profits and/or competitive advantages, which transparent motivations are not in the best interests of Americans. These, in part, include Excelon, Entergy, British Petroleum, Shell Oil, Caterpillar, Alcoa, Dupont and General Electric.

You see, ladies and gentlemen, I have seen the effect of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, the drastic reductions in coal production, and wrenching impact on hundreds of communities as a result of that legislation. In Ohio alone, from 1990 to 2005, about one hundred eighteen (118) mines were shut down, costing more than thirty-six thousand (36,000) primary and secondary jobs. These impacted areas have spent years recovering, and some never will. Families broke up, many lost homes, some were impoverished, because of legislation that the environmentalists call a "success." Again, I did not learn of this havoc from computer models. I lived it and saw it firsthand.

Now, we are glibly discussing mandatory carbon emission reductions, which will have far more sweeping and far deeper reductions in coal production, and will reek much greater economic carnage and reductions in the quality of life and standard of living of many Americans, than the Clean Air Act Amendments. But, the destruction from limiting coal use will not stop there. Natural gas costs will rise, further damaging the agricultural and chemical industries, and the loss of American manufacturing jobs, which depend on low cost electricity, will be accelerated.

Also, the adverse impacts on the economy's jobs and quality of life will not be equal throughout the Country. Rather, the States that depend on coal-fired electricity will be damaged the greatest. Every State in our Country has a "target" on its back from proposed "global warming" legislation, except those on the West Coast and in New England, where much of the hysteria for draconian legislation is originating, and which States already pay the most for their electricity, many twice as much, as shown in the attachment to my testimony.

What will the world-wide environmental gain be from the pain that will be suffered on millions of American citizens? The answer is, very little…

The so-called Kyoto Treaty commitments by other countries have been a farce. European Union nations, with no population growth, have increased their emissions faster than the United States which has had a one percent (1%) population growth. Canadian emissions have increased twenty-eight percent (28%) since it signed the Kyoto Treaty, and only two (2) of the signatories thereto have achieved their emission reduction commitments….

…We urge all Members of this Committee and their colleagues in the Congress to consider carefully the impact that climate change Bills will have, not only on the environment, but on the American people, too. This is a human issue as well as an environmental one.
Read it all here (pdf).

Note: In coming days, over a series of posts, I intend to reprint excerpts of testimony from a few of the key witnesses at the several Congressional hearings on climate change that took place this week. This is in part to create a permanent Internet archive of some of the more compelling testimonies given. Regrettably, Congress cannot be relied upon to maintain the archives of its committee's websites, including copies of the formal written testimonies it solicited from witnesses and posted online during past Congresses.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:15 AM

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Thank God for Senator Inhofe

A report from Peyton Knight, who attended today’s Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hearing featuring Al Gore:
Al Gore brought his global warming sermon to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works this afternoon, where Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) showed that she wasn't afraid to use her new power as head of the committee quite liberally (pardon the pun).

Mr. Gore was the sole witness, he was given an astonishing 30 minutes for his opening remarks, and, unlike other poor saps called to testify before Congress, Mr. Gore apparently was not required to provide the committee with a copy of his written testimony 48 hours prior to the hearing. In fact, according to Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), just three hours prior to the hearing, Mr. Gore had still not provided his testimony.

The hearing got started with Gore receiving a warm welcome from Chairwoman Boxer. Then, Senator Barbara Mikulski joined Gore at the witness table (this is not customary) and provided a second glowing introduction. Then, finally, it was Al's turn for 30 minutes.

Gore spent very little time discussing the scientific aspects of the global warming debate. Instead, the clear majority of his time (I would estimate 95 percent of it) was spent pleading and preaching and urging the Senate to act now to “stop” global warming. He repeatedly exclaimed that "nature is on the run" from man's emissions, and he laid out the following multi-point plan of attack:
1. Gore said: "We ought to have an immediate freeze on CO2 emissions and start the reductions from there."

2. Gore said: "We ought to use the tax code... we ought to cut taxes on employment and make up the difference with pollution taxes - CO2 taxes."

3. Gore said: "I'm in favor of a cap and trade... and I supported Kyoto... We ought to negotiate and ratify a new, tougher treaty that starts in 2010... We also need to get China and India involved."

4. Gore proposed "a moratorium on all new coal plants that don't have carbon capture and sequestration."

5. Gore said: "We ought to ban incandescent light bulbs and other technologies."

6. Gore cited the power of the Internet (his invention?) and said we ought to create an "electronet" (his newest invention?) where people and businesses can sell and trade electricity and power.

7. Gore said: "We ought to raise CAFE standards."

8. Gore proposed that Congress create a "Connie Mae" - or "carbon neutral mortgage association."

9. Gore proposed that Congress require corporate disclosure of CO2 emissions. According to him, investors are concerned with this issue and "have a right to know."
After Gore completed his speech, Senator Inhofe was given the opportunity to fire off the first round of questions. I have to say, thank God for Senator Inhofe. He stood in the face of a hostile majority, and firmly reported the many "inconvenient truths" surrounding Gore's interpretation of the issue. When Chairwoman Boxer repeatedly attempted to intervene on the behalf of Mr. Gore, Senator Inhofe firmly and effectively stood his ground.

Inhofe asked Gore to sign a "Personal Energy Ethics Pledge" to use no more energy than the average household, and not to count so-called "carbon offsets" (best described as "energy indulgences") in his calculation. Gore had a rambling response to the Inhofe's challenge, but ultimately, refused to take the pledge.

Senator Inhofe did a masterful job of presenting the many, many scientists who specialize in climatology who disagree with Gore. He also noted a recent New York Times article that took Gore to task for over-hyping global warming. Gore never actually countered any of Inhofe's assertions, but only pleaded with him like a religious zealot who pleads with a non-believer to join the faith.

Senator John Warner (not surprisingly) announced that he was "prepared to fight with [Gore and Boxer] on this issue." He then expressed mild concern about whether current technology would enable us to stave off the catastrophe that Gore predicts.

Gore responded to Warner: "We have the technology we need to begin addressing the crisis."

Senator Bernard Sanders (I-VT) asked Gore if he thought global warming was the moral issue of today's younger generation? (Essentially: "Here, Mr. Gore, see if you can hit this ball off of a tee.")

Gore waxed philosophical about racial segregation being the moral issue of his time prior to declaring global warming to be the moral issue of today's youth.

Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) asked Gore if he knew anything about the Bush administration suppressing government employees from speaking the truth about global warming.

Gore spent the next couple of minutes singing the praises of NASA scientist James Hansen, who despite claims to have been muzzled by the Bush Administration, has availed himself to "over 1,400 media opportunities" (as Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) reported earlier this week in a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing).
To contact author Peyton Knight directly,
write him at [email protected]

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 7:02 PM

Al Gore's Climate Class War


Noting that Al Gore's movie, “An Inconvenient Truth," asks viewers, "Are you ready to change the way you live?," Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) asked Al Gore today if he was prepared to take this pledge:
Personal Energy Ethics Pledge

As a believer:

that human-caused global warming is a moral, ethical, and spiritual issue affecting our survival;

that home energy use is a key component of overall energy use;

that reducing my fossil-fuel based home energy usage will lead to lower greenhouse gas emissions; and

that leaders on moral issues should lead by example;

I pledge to consume no more energy for use in my residence than the average American household by March 21, 2008.
The Tennessee Center for Policy Research reported:
[Al] Gore's mansion, located in the posh Belle Meade area of Nashville, consumes more electricity every month than the average American household uses in an entire year, according to the Nashville Electric Service (NES).

In his documentary, the former Vice President calls on Americans to conserve energy by reducing electricity consumption at home.

Last August alone, Gore burned through 22,619 kWh—guzzling more than twice the electricity in one month than an average American family uses in an entire year. As a result of his energy consumption, Gore’s average monthly electric bill topped $1,359. (Read the full Tennessee Center for Policy Research article here.)
“There are hundreds of thousands of people who adore you and would follow your example by reducing their energy usage if you did. Don’t give us the run-around on carbon offsets or the gimmicks the wealthy do,” Inhofe told Gore. “Are you willing to make a commitment here today by taking this pledge to consume no more energy for use in your residence than the average American household by one year from today?”

The answer was no. Gore isn't willing.

Sacrifice is for the poor and middle class. I guess.

Addendum: Additional coverage of this on Newsbusters (Noel Shepard), The Tennessean, Wired, Michelle Malkin, Ed Driscoll, The Conservative Alternative, Free Republic, WorcesterRight, Flopping Aces, Rounds Out (TownHall), and sisu, among others.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:52 PM

Global Warming Scaredy Cats IV

Is Al Gore afraid to hear the views of Republicans on climate change?

Seems that way, as he refused to listen to the opening statements of Republican members before he testified on climate change in the House of Representatives today.

Of course, its possible that he's not scared at all -- that he's simply intolerant of other people's points of view.

But if that's the case, just how likely do you think it is that Al Gore's views on climate change were formed after he carefully and impartially considered all points of view before reaching the conclusions he now preaches to the rest of us?

Yet he expects us to trust him about the science...

Note: Earlier posts in this "Scaredy Cats" series are here, here and here.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:59 PM

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Who'd a-Thunk It?

Looks like Al Gore doesn't think the rules that apply to everyone else apply to him.

Addendum: Robert Bluey covers a meeting at the Senate today in preparation for Al Gore's Wednesday testimony in the Senate.

I fully expect Gore to use a combination of filibustering, question-dodging and falsehoods to avoid being pinned down on anything in the hearings tomorrow, but discriminating viewers will see the questions Gore declines to answer, and draw appropriate conclusions.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:00 PM

Kill the Polar Bear, Say Environmentalists

Environmentalists claim kindness to animals is "inhumane" and should be stopped immediately.

And all this time I thought environmentalists were in favor of kindess to animals.

Hat tip: Drudge Report.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:31 PM

Climate Progress Blog Suggests Gore Duck Questions

The Climate Progress blog claims the questions Matt Drudge has said are being considered for Al Gore's testimonies before Congress Wednesday would be easy for for a fifth grader to answer.

The Climate Progress blog then provides Mr. Gore with suggested answers to the four questions.

Hilariously, three of the four answers the Climate Progress blog suggests duck firm answers to the question being asked.

For instance, consider this suggested exchange:
Hypothetical question to Gore: Joseph Romm, the executive director for the Center for Energy and Climate Solutions, has said we must build 700 large nuclear plants to stave off climate change. Where do you stand on the need for nuclear energy?

Climate Progress blog's suggested answer: If you have read Dr. Romm's book, "Hell and High Water," then you know he writes:
The nation needs to put in place mandatory carbon dioxide controls. If a significant price for carbon makes nuclear attractive to utilities and financiers, and if the plants meet the necessary safety and environmental codes, and if the country can finally agree on a place to put the nuclear waste, then new nuclear plants may well make a significant contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in this country....
That view seems entirely reasonable to me.
If, if, if, and "may well." Why does the suggested answer contain four qualifers? (Five, if you count the fact that Gore is told to say a sentence with HUGE qualifers is merely "reasonable," which leaves room for Gore to claim later that he doesn't agree with it.) Why not simply suggest that Gore say where he stands on nuclear energy? Wouldn't 700 new nuclear plants reduce carbon dioxide emissions even if Congress refused (and wisely so!) to have Washington control the public's carbon dioxide emissions? Why should Gore be reluctant to provide a clear answer?

The leftie Center for American Progress Action Fund declares in its daily newsletter, "Climate Progress's Joseph Romm takes the Drudge challenge and makes quick work of the questions."

Since it is unlikely the Center for American Progress meant "quick work" as in "fast but superficial," the Center for American Progress staff probably didn't even notice that the Climate Progress blog essentially ducked suggeting definitive answers to Gore for 75 percent of the questions.

All this helps explain how Al Gore became an icon of the left on global warming.

Addendum: Husband David attended the House Committee on Resources' Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources hearing on climate change today. He reports that Congressman Stevan Pearce asked every witness on the hearing's second panel if they support the use of nuclear power, "yes or no." No long-winded mealy-mouthed answers for him!

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:16 PM

Sunday, March 18, 2007

London Times: "Nothing Quite Like It Has Been Witnessed Since Lord North Lost the American Colonies"

Britain's Daily Telegraph reports that 12,000 doctors marched through Central London Saturday, protesting their National Health Service's new doctor training system, which is leaving many doctors without work assignments.

As Britons suffer waiting lists few Americans can even imagine, British doctors are increasingly looking to emigrate to practice their chosen profession.

Losing doctors is no way to shorten waiting lists.

Some also believe the National Health Service plan is weakening the training of the doctors Britain manages to keep. An editorial in Lancet says surgeons previously underwent approximately 30,000 hours of training; this will now decrease to 6,000 hours.

Lancet calls the new plan a "debacle."

The Times of London, editorializing March 19 about the matter and British public attitudes toward their National Health Service generally, wrote: "Nothing quite like it has been witnessed since Lord North lost the American colonies. It is crazy."

It also recommented that the National Health Service director be fired, "preferably from a cannon."

(Yes, it actually says that.)

Government-run medicine is working out great in Britain, isn't it?

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:31 PM

Health Care Waiting Lists and the Stockholm Syndrome

The Other Club faces down a Canadian who is proud of a health care system that forced him to wait 11 months for surgery to relieve a painful condition.

There's a label that applies when people defend forces that harm them: The Stockholm Syndrome.

This reminds me of the time my husband wrote a paper demonstrating that the Canadian health care system was not less expensive, per capita, than the U.S. system. Many U.S. journalists and politicians had been claiming it was. David's analysis found that the figures being cited as Canada's total health care expenditures left out many health care expenditures that American figures included.

For instance, the Canadian figures commonly being cited left out private expenditures on health care (items such as prescriptions, dental care, ambulance services, eyeglasses, private hospital rooms, cosmetic surgical procedures, and more), while the U.S. figures included all public and private health care expenditures.

I mention this because, when David had an op-ed version of this paper published by the New York Times, he received a great deal of angry mail from Canadians. (This was before the popularization of the Internet, so these folks had gone to the inconvenience of writing ink-on-paper letters.)

As I recall, the Canadian letter-writers were especially angry because David mentioned Canada's long waiting lines for health care services. I would think people subject to waiting lines for health care would be angry because the lines exist, not because their neighbors noticed they exist.

The Stockholm Syndrome.

(Let us hope the hostages will be freed soon.)

At the risk of angering some of our Canadian neighbors, I'm republishing below the op-ed that got folks so bothered 15 years ago, as some will find it interesting. Obviously, the expenditure figures cited below are no longer current, but it is interesting how timely the op-ed otherwise seems:
Compared to Canada, Health Care in U.S. is a Bargain

by David Ridenour (1992)

The persistent claim by Congressional Democrats that health care is more expensive in the U.S. than in Canada is absolute hogwash. In fact, Congressional Democrats and presidential candidates who advocate modeling U.S. health care reform upon the Canadian system risk imposing a more expensive, less effective health system upon the American people. Here's why:

Canadian government expenditures on health care at both the federal and provincial levels totaled over $45.2 billion Canadian in 1990 or about $40 billion U.S. That's $1,481 for every man, woman and child in Canada. U.S. health care expenditures (including state, local and federal government programs; both government and private insurance programs; out-of-pocket expenses; and other private expenditures) during the same period were $666.2 billion, or $2,659 per capita. Congressional advocates of Canadian-style national health insurance, eager to score political points as elections approach, are quick to conclude from this data that health costs in Canada are less expensive -- about 44% less expensive. But while the U.S. spending figure includes all spending on health care, both public and private, the Canadian figure only includes government expenditures.

Consider the following:
• Expenses for dental care, prescriptions, ambulance service, private hospital rooms, and eyeglasses are not covered by the Canadian government, although these expenses are included in the figure for U.S. health expenditures. To provide such services for Canadians while preserving Canada's "universal," "care-for-all" health care program, Canadians would have had to spend between $30 and $40 per month in 1990 to acquire insurance. This would have added about $420 per year to each Canadian's annual health bill. Interestingly, that figure is remarkably close to the U.S.'s 1990 per capita spending on vision products, prescription drugs and dental services (about $452).

• Canada has a younger population than the U.S., with 11% of its citizen over the age of 65 compared to 12.2% in the U.S., and a much smaller population of inner-city poor (who tend to have higher incidence of drug abuse and teen pregnancy). Both factors add disproportionately to the U.S. health-care bill. The larger number of elderly in the U.S. alone, according to a recent study, could account for one-fifth of the difference in health spending between the U.S. and Canada, or $236 per capita. For those keeping track, I've already accounted for $656 of the $1,178 per capita difference in health care outlays between the U.S. and its northern neighbor (about 56%).

• The cost of Canada's 66,137 abortions each year (1988 figure) are not fully covered under the Canadian health program. Government policy on abortion varies widely throughout the country: Some provincial governments will pay for abortions, but only if they are performed in a government hospital and only if the pregnancies endanger the "life or health" of the mother. Others pay for abortion on demand. Some provincial authorities fund a portion of abortions performed in private clinics or hospitals in the United States, while others don't. In the United States, there are 1.6 million abortions performed each year, over two and one-half times more per capita than in Canada. With rare exceptions, abortions in the U.S. are "elective" rather than
medically-necessary. Nonetheless, they add 1-1.5 billion dollars annually to the U.S. health care bill (5-6 dollars per capita).

• The Canadian health system covers only part of expenses incurred by citizens who, fed-up with either the waiting lists or inadequate service under the government's "rationed" system, seek treatment in the United States or in private Canadian clinics. For instance, U.S. facilities for the treatment of alcohol and drug abuse are accustomed to treating a large number of Canadians. The number of Canadians occupying the chemical dependency wing of BryLin Hospitals in Buffalo, New York, for example, sometimes reaches 30% of the total. The treatment these patients receive is only partially covered by the Canadian government. Similarly, Canada only pays up to 75% of the bill of Canadian patients seeking cardiac surgery in the U.S. With bypasses costing between $35,000 and $75,000, Canadian patients can still be forced to pay tens of thousands of dollars out-of-pocket, none of which is included in Canada's health care cost statistics.

• The figure for U.S. health care outlays inadvertently includes a portion of Canada's health care bill. The expenditures of Canadians undergoing treatment in the United States are sometimes counted as U.S. outlays.

• The Canadian government health system does not cover the costs of many cosmetic surgical procedures, but these expenses are part of the U.S. health expenditure figure. In 1988 alone, some 600,000 Americans had portions of their bodies lifted, tucked, suctioned, sanded, cut or otherwise altered to improve their appearance. These procedures are expensive: Facelifts can run up to $10,000; breast implants (150,000 performed in 1991 alone) up to $5,000; nose jobs $6,000; and liposuction to $4,000.
No wonder health care seems less expensive in Canada -- services that cost Americans hundreds of billions of dollars each year are simply not counted as expenses under the Canadian system.

The truth be known, Americans actually get more bang for their health care buck. Consider these two points:
1. Even though American and Canadian health care expenditures are roughly the same per capita, Americans undergo 40% more surgical procedures than Canadians. To be sure, Americans are under the knife too often: Far too many surgeries are conducted for medically dubious reasons, inflicting needless hardship, pain and worry on patients and their families and adding fuel to health services inflation. But Canadians obviously do not undergo enough surgery -- at least, not enough of the surgery they need the most. In British Columbia, a waiting list of 700 to 800 people for heart surgery is not uncommon. In 1990, 15 people on such a list in British Columbia died before they could get their operations. For elective procedures, like hip replacement, the waiting list can be even longer, 13,000 patients long in some instances. A quarter million Canadians are currently waiting for surgery, by some estimates. Apparently, Canada's much vaunted government system does indeed provide equal access to health care for all Canadians -- equally poor.

2. American doctors, on average, have more training than Canadian doctors. In Canada, 50 percent of all physicians are general practitioners compared to only 10 percent in the United States. This means that 90% of the physicians in the U.S. have pursued specialties, requiring a minimum of two years additional medical training, versus only 50% in Canada.
Americans are receiving better care than Canadians for about the same price. Although health care costs in the U.S. continue to rise precipitously, it is clear that the Canadian system offers no solution. As Michael Walker of Canada's Fraser Institute has concluded, health care outlays in the United States are expanding "...because of those aspects of the U.S. system that are similar to the Canadian system, not because of the differences. Patients who have comprehensive, private or public insurance coverage in the United States... generally regard health care as a free good and they behave accordingly." Until health care providers devise an effective means to discourage frivolous claims by those they insure, the cost of health services will continue to skyrocket.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:20 AM

Friday, March 16, 2007

Sea Levels and Climate Change

Our Dana Gattuso has taken a look at what the new IPCC report summary is predicting about sea levels.

Check out her new paper to see if the IPCC summary agrees with Al Gore's movie's prediction of 20- to 40-foot sea level increases due to global warming.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:32 AM

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Gorillas Can Make Change for a Twenty?

"EnviroKidz Gorilla Munch" sounds more like Soylent Green than a palatable breakfast cereal to me, but the Patrick O'Hannigan family likes it.

And, as Patrick notes in his blog, they've learned a few interesting things from it as well.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:42 PM

RealClimate's Touchy Censors

The RealClimate blog, run by guys who make their money promoting the human-caused climate change theory (and by creating hockey sticks), has a reputation for censoring comments to its posts. It's not uncommon for folks to share with others comments that got censored at RealClimate -- comments that seem quite reasonable, but have one thing in common: They don't argue in favor of human-caused global warming.

I had not supposed, however, that the RealClimate bosses were line-editing even the comments they let through. Apparently, they do.

On Wednesday, a commenter to a RealClimate post about "The Great Global Warming Swindle" documentary tried to quote a nine-year-old National Center paper about the climate's natural variability. (See comment #293.)

Nothing doing! The RealClimate guys wouldn't let it stand (was it our paper's reference to the existence of the Medieval Warm Period that vexed them so?).

RealClimate's touchy webmasters removed the excerpt (though they did leave the link), replacing the excerpt with this note:
[lengthy excerpt eliminated. readers can go to this link if they like. But lets not pretend this is honest information; this is an industry-funded disinformation site]
I'd be willing to bet the RealClimate guys have received more grant money relating to the climate change issue than we have, and I further bet that that's a bet they won't take.

Prove me wrong, fellas.

Addendum, 3/16/07: Russell Seitz writes to ask: "Why ought a posse of bona fide scientists trying to keep discussion to the straight and narrow, which is to say the peer reviewed, all facts checked, and results warranted reproducible, allow anybody to invoke anybody's supposed authority at length?"

In my view the owner of the RealClimate.org blog (just who is that, anyway? A domain lookup shows it is the baby of Environmental Media Services; more about them here) can censor any comment its management chooses to censor. We support property rights here at the National Center.

However, RealClimate's management said the National Center's work is dishonest on March 14 and on March 15, in an effort to explain away a debate loss, claimed: "We are scientists, and we talk about science and we're not going start getting into questions of personal morality - and obviously that put us at a sharp disadvantage..."

The disadvantage under which they labor is not all that sharp.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:46 AM

The Royal Society's Credibility Gap

It may be time to inject truth serum into the water pipes at Britain's Royal Society.

I reach this conclusion after reading an exchange between Dr. Russell Seitz and the president of the Royal Society, Lord Martin Rees, on Dr. Seitz's blog, Adamant.

Dr. Seitz reprints, without comment, his own op-ed in the Wall Street Journal concerning the Royal Society's effort to convince ExxonMobil to change its philanthropic priorities, and Baron Rees's response.

In his response, Baron Rees claims: "The Royal Society has never asked Exxon to stop funding any organizations." He continues: "At a meeting, instigated by Exxon, the Society pointed out that the company was funding a number of groups that have been misinforming the public about the scientific evidence on climate change. The company freely made a pledge to stop this funding, and the letter Mr. Seitz cites in his article followed up that assurance."

Uh huh.

Here's a link to the Guardian article that made the Royal Society's letter famous, with a link to the letter.

Judge for yourself.

Correction: Mr. Seitz informs me that he is a "Mr.," not a "Dr." My apologies for the error.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:46 AM

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Tim Ball, DeSmogBlog & Me


I owe a debt of gratitude to the anti-skeptic environmental attack website DeSmogBlog.

As regular readers of this blog may recall, DeSmogBlog is the website that, in its rush to attack those of us who are not losing sleep over global warming, used a picture I had taken of my husband without first getting permission. I offered to let them off the hook for a buck, which I would donate to charity. DeSmoggian Richard Littlemore responded by sending me a $20 check made out to the left-wing political organization Greenpeace. I didn't forward the check.

DeSmoggians take the position that disagreeing with their cataclysmic views on global warming is a moral failing, and as such, that it is OK for DeSmogBlog to print vile and, amazingly often, false things about those people. (Sort of a "he who is with sin should cast many stones" philosophy.)

So how is it that I owe a debt of gratitude to the DeSmoggians? It's pretty simple. If there is any one person that the DeSmoggians just can't stand, it is Canadian climatologist Dr. Tim Ball. Over and over again they attack him, using the same silly and fallacious arguments and sophomoric insults.

Well, I'd never met or otherwise been in touch with Tim Ball. I'd read his writing many times; I even wrote about him when silly lefties falsely reported that he was employed by the National Center for Public Policy Research, and again when the Long Beach Press-Telegram falsely reported that the National Center was "promoting him." And, of course, I'd see the lefties go absolutely nutty over him, in the deranged meaning of the term.

So when I heard that Dr. Ball was going to be in Washington, I knew I wanted to meet him. Anyone who drives the lefties this nuts, I figured, must be darned effective. I've noticed also that his critics never seem to lay a glove on the actual arguments Dr. Ball makes. Insults appear to be their substitute for argument.

Happily, Dr. Ball was willing to have lunch. We assembled a little gathering of good folks (including a number of other delightful people who also are frequent targets of DeSmogBlog invective) and had a chat about climate change.

Dr. Ball was even more impressive than DeSmogBlog's fear and loathing led me to expect. He was funny, informative, interesting and personable. He answered questions thoroughly and quite reasonably. Where the science is limited; he said it is limited (including, for those of you who are wondering, some of the science supporting the so-called "skeptic" perspective). Where the answer to a question wasn't definitively settled, he gave the various points of view. When the views of those who believe humanity is causing significant climate change were brought up, he addressed those views rationally and factually and with a civility I'm not sure I've ever seen him get from the so-called climate "alarmists" in return.

In short, I see why the environmental left is as frantic about Dr. Ball, and as anxious to discredit him, as it appears to be. Dr. Ball is a very impressive fellow, and he makes a heckuva lot of sense.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:58 PM

How Do You Say 'El Spank-O!' In Swiss?

From David Hogberg:
The ballot initiative that would have brought a single-payer health insurance system to Switzerland lost -- by 71-29%.

Ouch.

And that is why the political left and the mainstream media (but I repeat myself) will completely ignore this story.
To contact author David Hogberg directly,
write him at [email protected]

P.S. Yes, we know there is no language called “Swiss.” David is joking.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:12 AM

Monday, March 12, 2007

Note to GE: When Your Lobbyists are Opposing Each Other, It's a Bad Sign to Shareholders

Senior Fellow Tom Borelli believes: "by allowing social activists to influence business decisions, CEOs are choosing socialism over capitalism and by doing so; they are undermining the very foundations of our free society."

Tom is particularly critical of GE's Jeff Immelt who, he says, wants to reap financial rewards while posing as a Corporate Al Gore. Unfortunately for GE shareholders and the U.S. economy, says Tom, Immelt's plans are backfiring in a number of ways, and leading to Keystone Kops-type situations in which GE lobbyists at the federal and state levels are working against one another.

Immelt is, however, receiving kudos from environmental groups. Priorities are priorities.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:48 PM

More on Ann Coulter - Briefly

Jack Kelly's op-ed on the Ann Coulter CPAC controversy is worth a look, as he takes on not just Ann Coulter, but her many enablers on the right. I agree with what he wrote.

I did several radio interviews after my March 4 post, "Ann Coulter at CPAC," appeared on this blog. If anyone is interested, at least one of the radio outlets archived the interview, but I don't recommend listening if you expect to hear me say anything different than what I already said on this blog. It was a pretty short interview.

Reuters quoted this blog about the Coulter matter over the weekend, as did Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy in Media. Like Kelly, Kincaid questions the judgment of some of Coulter's enablers, and I recommend his essay.

Finally, among other emails, I received one from Jeff Gannon asking why I did not cite his blog's commentary on the Coulter matter among a list of blog posts I recommended to readers of this blog on March 4. Sorry, Jeff, but it's because I don't agree with you on this one.

Jeff wrote, in part:
Why is there a different standard for Ann Coulter? There were no repercussions when liberals produced a film about the assassination of George W. Bush and Cindy Sheehan wrote that she dreamed of traveling back in time to strangle the future president in his cradle. Liberals cheered when Bill Maher expressed disappointment that Vice President Dick Cheney wasn’t killed in the recent terrorist attack against him in Afghanistan.
While at the CPAC podium, Coulter was perceived by many to be acting as a representative of the conservative movement (as were those who applauded her, or laughed). If we do not correct this misperception, it will stand.

When Bill Maher and Cindy Sheehan speak, no one attributes their views to us.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:58 PM

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Sir Humphrey Appleby's Climate Change Pact

With the Europeans and carbon reduction, it's always the planning; never the doing.

The European governments have adopted an even more stringent global warming agreement than the Kyoto Treaty, even as the EU fails to meet its Kyoto targets.

It's like a plot in the BBC's old "Yes Minister" series; one in which super-bureaucrat Sir Humphrey Appleby counsels his government department's minister to cover up a failing plan by announcing a new one that will be even harder to fulfill.

Possibly this new climate pact should be dubbed the "Appleby Agreement."

I almost never quote Wikipedia (due to its outlandish inaccuracies), but at 2:30 AM Eastern on March 10, 2007 AD, it had a perfect description of the European Union relationship with the Kyoto Treaty: "The EU has consistently been one of the major nominal supporters of the Kyoto Protocol..."

That's right, nominal, as in, "being such in name only; so-called; putative: a nominal treaty; the nominal head of the country."

The Washington Post admitted the same thing, but put it more politely:
European governments have been a major promoter [emphasis added] of the Kyoto pact...
The European Union talks up Kyoto, but isn't meeting its Kyoto targets. Its plan was that America would, but we outfoxed them by never ratifying it in the first place. (Never say the Clinton Administration didn't do anything right.)

(The Washington Post continued the sentence in the box quote, saying "...[the Kyoto Treaty] attempts to counter trends that are warming the Earth's climate." Whoa! Care to prove that, Posties? [Pause to imagine the news coverage: Trends, Not Sun or CO2, Warm Climate - Washington Post.] No, seriously, the Post shouldn't write theory as fact in a news story. The Evil Hand of Humanity + Cow Emissions Are Ending the World As We Know It Theory is still a theory.)

But back to Brussels bureaucrats. Sir Humphrey Appleby hit the nail on the head: "Politicians... need activity. It is their substitute for achievement."

Not that European leaders admit that their real motive in crafting a new climate pact is to hide their failure to adhere to the last one.

No, they stick to promotions.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was confident "the plan could save the world."

French President Jacques Chirac was even more self-congratulatory: "This is part of the great moments of European history."

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said: "We have what I think is a historic summit."

Yes, Ministers.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:26 AM

Swiss To Vote On Single-Payer

From David Hogberg:
On Sunday, voters in Switzerland will go to the polls to decide the future of their health care system. The measure, put on the ballot by the political left (of course), would establish a single health insurer. It would replace the private system that they have now, which is arguably more free market than the one we have in the U.S.

I don't know the first thing about Swiss politics, so I have no idea what the chances are of its passage, although the article suggests that its chances are not good. What I do know is that if it does succeed, the political left here will use it as an example numero uno of the superiority of a single-payer health care system.

Here's hoping it loses.
To contact author David Hogberg directly, write him at [email protected]

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:56 AM

Friday, March 09, 2007

Climate Change Protests

Hundreds of angry climate change protesters have demonstrated at government meetings in New Zealand recently.

As New Zealand's Dominion Post describes it:
It is plain many of the hundreds who have turned up are not interested in the proposals. Instead, they have passed resolutions calling for the Government to leave the Kyoto Protocol immediately and dismissed climate change science as "bull----."
Hat tip: Global Warming Hysteria Blog.

P.S. The Global Warming Hysteria Blog also led me to this takedown of Sports Illustrated's silly global warming cover story.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:09 PM

Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area Act Adopted by House Resources Committee Despite Unresolved Problems

A report from Peyton Knight:
After much debate and unresolved conflict, Rep. Frank Wolf's (R-VA) Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area Act squeaked through the House Resources Committee on a mostly party-line voice vote Wednesday.

It was the Democrats who rammed the controversial bill through the committee, as many of Wolf's fellow Republicans voted against the bill after attempts to amend some of the more egregious portions of the legislation failed.

No doubt, this is a blow to those who believe in private property rights and commonsense limited government.

On the brighter side, this was the first time the negative aspects (namely: lost property rights, pork-barrel spending, and federal overreach) of a National Heritage Area proposal were contentiously debated prior to passage.

The Act also passed in spite of the fact that Congressman Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) had introduced a compromise bill designed to better protect the property rights of citizens in the path of Wolf's Heritage Area. Rep. Bartlett's constituents are in this path.

Rather than give Congressman Bartlett's legislation its due consideration, the Democrat majority (at the strong urging of Wolf) opted to ignore the concerns of Congressman Bartlett and many others.

Here are our first-hand notes from yesterday's action in the House Resources Committee:
* Incredibly, the Democrats, with Wolf's blessing, succeeded in stripping out the meager property rights protections present in the Act. Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-NM) offered an amendment to remove the entire "property rights" section of the Wolf bill, announcing to the committee that he had Wolf's support to do so. Grijalva argued that the property rights protections present in the bill might create "management difficulties for the Heritage Area." In other words, removing property rights protections will make it much easier for Wolf's preservation lobbyists and the National Park Service to accomplish their goal of restricting land use without having to be reminded of the Constitutional rights of property owners.

So what does this mean? Was the property rights section of the bill, which was meager to begin with, nothing more than a bait and switch tool for Wolf? Wolf championed the property rights section when campaigning for the bill, but when it came time for a vote, he apparently collaborated with the Democrats to have it stripped out. Republicans on the committee firmly objected to the amendment removing the property rights protections, but it the Democrats adopted it on a party-line voice vote.

* Representative Jeff Flake (R-AZ) offered a good, commonsense amendment to the bill that failed. His amendment would have barred any federal tax dollars received by special interest groups under the Act from being used to lobby state, local or federal government officials. Nothing groundbreaking here. Just common sense good governance. But not to Wolf and the Democrats. Congressman Wolf has consistently resisted this modest improvement, and the Democrats didn't like it, either. The amendment was voted down 22-15 along strict party lines.

Rep. Flake also pointed out that the main group lobbying for Wolf's bill (the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership) received a one million-dollar earmark in the 2005 Transportation Bill - before the group was even incorporated. He pointed out the ethical peculiarity of a group receiving a federal earmark, and then spending that earmark lobbying for more federal earmarks. Flake quipped that perhaps Congress should have been paying more attention to this seemingly illegal situation instead of the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere."

For good measure, Rep. Flake also pointed out the absurdity of bestowing millions of federal tax dollars on an organization that already, according to the group itself, has millions in the bank and is financially solvent.

* Representative Steve Pearce offered an amendment that would have simply required that property owners within the boundaries of Rep. Wolf's proposed National Heritage Area receive written notification, via a letter delivered by U.S. Postal Service, of the pending designation. Rep. Pearce argued that this is a common courtesy. Rather than draw a federal boundary around someone's land without telling them about it, as the Wolf bill would do, the Pearce amendment would have required the so-called Heritage Area "management entity" (which consists of the National Park Service and preservation interest groups) to give folks a head’s up.

Again, this is a common sense improvement that Rep. Wolf has resisted since day one. And the Democrats on the Resources Committee argued against it as well. Specifically, they argued that notifying the people who would be affected by the Wolf bill would be too cumbersome and inconvenient for the management entity. The Pearce amendment was also voted down by the Democrats on a strict party line vote, 22-15.

* Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT) made several excellent points, particularly regarding a bill that was taken up prior to the Wolf Heritage Area that would create the Steel Industry National Historic Site in Pennsylvania. Rep. Bishop pointed out:
At a time when the National Park Service is trying to reduce the maintenance backlog at existing park units, I question the responsibility of further increasing their burden by creating yet another National Park.

The committee should also be aware that this site is within the boundaries of the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area. We are often told that we should support heritage areas because they are preferable to designating National Parks. Today we can clearly see that this is not the case. In fact, it would appear that the designation of a heritage area is now the first step to designating another National Park.
In fact, the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area "management entity" has lobbied not only for this Historic Site, but also the creation of a separate National Park. Thus, here we have a federal agency (the National Park Service) funding a group of activists to lobby for increased programming for the agency.

Rep. Bishop also argued that it "would be an irresponsible precedent" to establish the Wolf Heritage Area "over the objection of a Member of Congress [Rep. Bartlett] whose district is to be included in the heritage area." Committee Chairman Nick Rahall (D-WV) was unmoved.

* Rep. John Duncan (R-TN) asked an excellent question. After pointing out that every square inch of land in the United States can be considered historically significant in some manner or another, he asked: Where does this National Heritage Area craze end?
Indeed, are we going to cover the entire United States of America with National Heritage Areas?
To contact author Peyton Knight directly,
write him at [email protected]

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:19 PM

Thursday, March 08, 2007

One Mississippi Senator Wants to Name a Federal Courthouse After the Other Mississippi Senator

Is this appropriate?

In my view, elected officials should not be naming federal buildings after each other, as it could lead to legislators trading favors to get their names on tax-funded structures. The public interest is not served when legislators trade favors in this manner. We elect legislators to serve the public interest, not their egos.

Furthermore, the practice of naming buildings after living persons reduces the opportunity to name buildings after persons from our nation's past -- persons whose positive contributions have stood the test of time. When a child goes on a fieldtrip to the (to make up a hypothetical example) Austin F. Williams Federal Courthouse and inevitably asks who Austin F. Williams was, he'll have the opportunity to learn about the Underground Railroad and the Amistad affair. If the building is named after a sitting legislator, unless that legislator has done something outstanding outside of his Congressional service, he's likely to learn about cronyism.

Oughtn't we reward excellence or sacrifice or virtue when we name federal buildings?

If the junior senator from Mississippi wants to name a building after the senior senator from Mississippi, he could always name his own house after him. (If that strikes folks as silly, how much more silly is it to do approximately the same thing with tax dollars?)

I note with irony that the federal courthouse Senator Lott wishes to name after Senator Cochran is being built to replace the James O. Eastland Federal Courthouse, so named after a former U.S. Senator from -- you guessed it -- Mississippi. In fact, Senator Cochran replaced him.

Perhaps this particular courthouse is tied to that particular senate seat?

Some might argue that a schoolchild asking who James O. Eastland was could learn a few things about Mississippi's not-so-distant past. I'll conceed that, but what do you say when the kid asks: Why did they name a courthouse after a man who said such horrible things about black people?

The only answer, really, is that the James O. Eastland Federal Courthouse was named before history had been given the proper opportunity to judge James O. Eastland. It's extremely unlikely Congress would vote to name a courthouse after Eastland now.

So let that be the lesson: Except in rare cases (such as Medal of Honor Winners; firemen killed in the line of duty, etc.), Congress shouldn't name buildings after people before they've been judged by history. Twenty years or so at least.

So is it appropriate to name a courthouse after Thad Cochran?

Let's discuss the issue around 2050 or so.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:06 PM

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Property Rights Showdown in House Expected Wednesday

The House Resources Committee is is facing a showdown on property rights Wednesday.

Virginia Republican Rep. Frank Wolf's bill to allow preservation groups to create a federally-funded "management entity" to influence land-use decisions in Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia is scheduled for a vote March 7 in the House Resources Committee.

Wolf's proposal would earmark a minimum of ten million federal taxpayer dollars to the special interest preservation groups' "mamagement entity." The bill recommends that the management entity disburse its taxpayer-subsidized windfall to "states and their political subdivisions" to promote the land use policies the preservation groups favor.

The management entity would have substantial influence over land use decisions in the four states, but citizens of those states would not be permitted to vote on its leadership.

The interest groups slated to receive the funding fought proposals, such as Proposition 7 and Proposition 37 in Oregon, to require that government compensate property owners when it takes the owner's land.

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), whose district would be covered by the legislation, has offered a competing bill for the Committee's consideration. The Bartlett bill includes no provisions for providing taxpayer funds to interest groups. The Bartlett bill would require local governments wishing to participate in the National Heritage Area to provide fair market value compensation to property owners in their jurisdiction if their property is devalued as a result of government action.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:51 PM

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Veterans Administration: Not So 'Lean And Efficient' After All

David Hogberg writes:
When arguing for socialized medicine, the political left loves to point to the Veterans Administration as a government system that gets it right and can be used as a model for a government-run health care system for the entire nation. For example, Paul Krugman once wrote:
The fact is that in health care, the private sector is often bloated and bureaucratic, while some government agencies -- notably the Veterans Administration system -- are lean and efficient.
Well, the recent ruckus over Walter Reed Hospital has resulted in a look at the Veterans Administration by Newsweek. And the resulting article can't be good news for the lefties:
A Newsweek investigation focused not on one facility but on the services of the Department of Veterans Affairs, a 235,000-person bureaucracy that provides medical care to a much larger number of servicemen and women from the time they're released from the military, and doles out their disability payments. Our reporting paints a grim portrait of an overloaded bureaucracy cluttered with red tape; veterans having to wait weeks or months for mental-health care and other appointments; families sliding into debt as VA case managers study disability claims over many months, and the seriously wounded requiring help from outside experts just to understand the VA's arcane system of rights and benefits.
Folks like Krugman should know better than to use the terms "government agencies" and "lean and efficient" in the same sentence, unless that sentence is "Government agencies are not lean and efficient."
-David Hogberg
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:17 PM

Even Labour Party MPs Can't Get Needed Health Services in Britain

A former left-wing Member of the British Parliament and a long-time backer of Britain's government-run National Health Service (NHS) is rethinking her opinion of the NHS – because a decision it is making may cost the former MP her eyesight.

According to the London Daily Mail, former MP Alice Mahon, 69, has wet age-related macular degeneration. The drug Lucentis can stop the vision loss, and may even reverse it, but it's expensive (12,000 British pounds, or nearly $24,000, for a year's treatment), and needs to be taken quickly after diagnosis.

Unhappily for Mahon, at the time of her diagnosis, funding for Lucentis had yet to be approved by the government's rationing body, so the NHS denied her a prescription. Mahon appealed the decision, but appeals take time. Nine weeks after she applied for the drug, she already had lost much of the vision in one eye. Fearing blindness, she has begun paying for her own treatment, which, by the end of January 2007, had cost her over 5,300 pounds.

The Daily Mail adds:
...The former Halifax Labour MP is now taking legal action in a move that could help an estimated 18,000 Britons who go blind each year due to wet AMD, with some denied funding by cash-strapped [primary care trusts].

Mrs. Mahon said: "I have been an ardent supporter of the NHS all my life, and now feel totally let down.

"The excuses that [primary care trusts] are giving for not funding treatment are scandalously lame.

"Everyone has a right to free treatment on the NHS for a condition that results in blindness and devastates lives.

"Supporting people who are blind or partially sighted, who may need home help and suffer injuries from falls, is far more expensive than the treatment.

"The Chancellor must ensure the NHS budget is large enough to fund such a basic health care need.

"I have written personally to Gordon Brown, and not as yet received a reply."
Gordon Brown, a Labour Party MP, is Chancellor of the Exchequer and is widely expected to become Prime Minister of Britain sometime in 2007.

(Ironically, Brown himself has been blind in one eye since the late 1960s. The eyesight in his good eye was nearly lost as well, but it was saved by an operation using what, at the time, was a new medical technique, using a new instrument.)

The Daily Mail says a New England Journal of Medicine study showed "30 per cent of patients receiving monthly injections of [Lucentis] into the affected eye had a 'marked improvement' in vision. It prevented vision loss in nine out of 10 patients."
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:10 AM

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Ann Coulter at CPAC

I'm sorry to see that Ann Coulter once again made certain news coverage of CPAC would be focused upon her instead of upon the conservative movement's goals and principles.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is one of very many co-sponsors of CPAC, and has been for some years. After Ann Coulter's offensive speech last year, we telephoned the organizers and strongly suggested than Ann Coulter’s behavior was harmful to, and unrepresentative of, the conservative movement. We said we were considering pulling out our co-sponsorship because of Ann Coulter’s "raghead" comment, and asked them to not invite Ann Coulter to speak in CPAC 2007, or, at the very least, only invite her if she was told to can the offensive speech, and explicitly agreed to do so. I had 90 percent decided to stop our co-sponsorship for CPAC 2007, but the sponsor seemed to be taking our concerns about Coulter’s 2006 remarks seriously and with what seemed to us to be appropriate sympathy, so the National Center co-sponsored CPAC again this year.

(I am, by the way. under no illusion that CPAC's main sponsors lose sleep over possibly losing the National Center's co-sponsorship. We do pay a fee to co-sponsor, and all the fees paid by all the co-sponsors together do add up to quite a tidy sum, but I'm sure any one co-sponsor is quite expendable.)

As has been widely reported, Ann Coulter not only once again went out of her way to use a nasty epithet, she pushed her offensiveness up a notch, using a word that is even more universally reviled than the derogatory term she hurled last year.

So, CPAC's sponsors either invited Coulter back without first getting her pledge that she would speak without using demeaning epithets, or they obtained her pledge, and she broke her word.

We'll ask.

It would be better, in my opinion, to not have a CPAC at all than to have one that presents conservatism as a hostile, people-hating ideology. We conservatives have enough trouble overcoming the false things that are said about us without paying for a platform upon which we shoot ourselves annually in the foot.

Some of my past commentary on Ann Coulter can be found here and here.

Here's a roundup of other conservative (and moderate) commentary on the Coulter situation:
"With Friends Like These... (re Ann Coulter)," JonQuixote

"CPAC is Shocked--Shocked!--by Ann Coulter's Remarks," Jon Swift

"Coulter Screams for Attention, Again - Losing Whatever Supporters She Still Had," Patterico

"Ann Coulter Doesn't Speak For Me," Wizbang

"Coulter Said What? (Bumped)," Captain's Quarters

"The Shame Of Ann Coulter," The Moderate Voice

"Ann Coulter at CPAC," Betsy's Page

"Ann Coulter calls John Edwards...," Right Thoughts

"Count Me Out," Lone Star Times

"Ann Coulter Calls John Edwards The 'F-word'," Gay Patriot

"Coulter Needs A Rehab," Riehl World View

"Apologizing for Ann Coulter," MyDD

"On Ann Coulter, John Edwards, and Civility," historymike
P.S. A hostile liberal blogger issues a challenge to conservatives:
Reality: [Ann Coulter] is your biggest star. The people you claim to speak for feel she speaks for them much, much more than you do -- and they're right. She is modern conservatism's id -- she's the one who says what the rest of you would say if you didn't feel it would cost you your standing as reasonable, responsible people.

Want to prove me wrong? You cut her off. You boycott the sponsors of TV shows that still invite her on as a guest. You show up at her book signings and campus appearances and hand out flyers quoting her nastiest bon mots. You boycott CPAC next year if she's invited, and demand that others do the same. Or if you have a problem with boycotts as a matter of principle, at the very least urge your fellow conservatives, on college campuses and elsewhere, to stop extending invitations to her, given the profound harm you say she does to your movement.

But you won't do that, will you? In that case, shut the hell up, hypocrites, and acknowledge that while Coulter may be the bad apple in the family, your door is always open to her.
Well?

Addendum, 3/4/07: This post has generated a great deal of comment mail, most of it vile. I can clear up a majority of the issues made by correspondents (who self-identified themselves as liberals and conservatives in roughly equal numbers) with these responses:

1) No, I have never had sex with Ann Coulter. This seems irrelevant, but the question came up more than once.

2) Yes, I do lack male reproductive organs, but I have never considered that a cause for consternation.

3) Those of you who graphically described male-male sexual activities and aggressively claimed I have participated in same should have noted that a blogger named “Amy” is unlikely to be male. I thus consider it probable that these emails are less a comment about my thoughts on Ann Coulter at CPAC than a reflection of their authors' own interests.

4) To AJ, who suggested I add three more links to other commentary about the Coulter-CPAC matter, and also told me that Freepers have been discussing this post (not very favorably), thank you. Here are the three links AJ suggested:
"The CPAC I Saw," Michelle Malkin

"Ann Coulter And Michael Richards," Hugh Hewitt

"Ann Coulter, Republicans and Teh Gay," Dean Barnett, writing on Hugh Hewitt's Blog
To those of you who wrote thoughtful letters (I interpreted that broadly; a person whose closing contained “better luck in your next attempt to destroy our republic” qualifed), thank you. I appreciate the glimmers of civility wherever they appear.

Addendum II, 3/5/07: In "Ann Coulter: The Britney Spears of the Right," which, if its Google News placement is any indication, was drawing a good bit of traffic overnight, Cliff Kincaid reveals that Accuracy in Media has "announced that it will be discontinuing sales of books by or merchandise promoting Ann Coulter. We hope that other conservative groups follow our lead."

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:26 AM

Guardian Blast at America Boomerangs

Merrill Goozner at the leftie Center for Science in the Public Interest (as opposed to the Center for Objective Science, presumably) went to the equally-leftie Guardian in Britain to argue in favor of expanding the insolvent U.S. Medicare system to cover uninsured people.

Goozner's column focused on 12-year-old Deamonte Driver of Prince George's County, MD, who died as a result of an untreated tooth infection. The left has been using the case, not terribly convincingly (given the facts of the case), as an argument-by-acecdote in favor of socialized medicine.

What Goozer should have forseen, had he not been blinded by his liberal ideology, is the type of comments his online commentary in favor of government medicine would receive when published in a nation, Britain, that has suffered under government medicine for decades now.

Read Goozer's column alone and you are left with one impression. Read the public comments underneath, and you wouldn't go near a government-run health care system if it were free (literally free, that is).

One commenter, for instance, points out the story of five-year-old Finn McEwan-Paterson in Wilmslow, England, who was suffering through great pain with a tooth abscess (the same condition that led to the death of Deamonte Driver). Finn's mother was told he would have to wait six months for a simple tooth extraction under Britain's National Health Service. After doing everything possible to get the waiting line shortened, including begging the NHS to ease her son's suffering, she got the wait cut down -- to another 13 weeks.

Another commenter quoted from a letter in the British Dental Journal (2006):
Sir, I am writing to report an alarming increase in the number of patients presenting to oral and maxillofacial surgery services with dental sepsis requiring admission for incision and drainage under general anaesthesia. Anecdotally the numbers appeared to be increasing, therefore the numbers presenting to Hull Royal Infirmary in 1999 and in 2004 were audited.

The number of patients presenting with dental sepsis on an emergency basis increased from 17 in 1999 to 25 in 2004 (patients from Hull postcode area only). Patients treated under local anaesthesia or with cellulitis were excluded from the audit. While the figures may not seem large, in percentage terms this represents a 47% increase...
Another commenter wrote:
The article takes a singular event and extrapolates from it that America's health care system is broken. Tell that to all those Canadians who come to America for operations that they would have no wait for in Canada's vaunted socialized medicine. Tell that to all those Canadian doctors who are emigrating to America to earn a better living...
The Guardian closed comments on Goozner's post after three days. It says that's its standard policy.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:30 AM

Saturday, March 03, 2007

New Orleans is the Cindy Sheehan of Cities

Don Surber nails it when it comes to the $77 billion lawsuit the city of New Orleans has just filed against every American taxpayer.

New Orleans is the Cindy Sheehan of cities: Because it suffered a loss, most people are too kind to say anything about its outrageous behavior. I think maybe it is time to stop being kind.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:22 PM

Friday, March 02, 2007

Getting Dental Care From the Government Can Be Like Pulling Teeth

David Hogberg writes:
The American Prospect's Ezra Klein cites a Washington Post article as another reason we need "universal health care."

The article tells the story of Deamonte Driver, a young boy who apparently died of a brain infection brought on by an untreated abscessed tooth. According to Klein, when he advocates universal health care, he is "implicitly including universal dental care."

The Driver case certainly seems like a compelling anecdote.

But is it really?

The article makes a pretty strong case against government-provided dental care. As described by the Post, here is what happened when the Driver family tried to get dental care through Medicaid for one of their other children:
By September, several of DaShawn's teeth had become abscessed. [Alyce] Driver began making calls about the boy's coverage but grew frustrated. She turned to Norris, who was working with homeless families in Prince George's.

Norris and her staff also ran into barriers: They said they made more than two dozen calls before reaching an official at the Driver family's Medicaid provider and a state supervising nurse who helped them find a dentist.

On Oct. 5, DaShawn saw Arthur Fridley, who cleaned the boy's teeth, took an X-ray and referred him to an oral surgeon. But the surgeon could not see him until Nov. 21, and that would be only for a consultation. Driver said she learned that DaShawn would need six teeth extracted and made an appointment for the earliest date available: Jan. 16.

But she had to cancel after learning Jan. 8 that the children had lost their Medicaid coverage a month earlier. She suspects that the paperwork to confirm their eligibility was mailed to the shelter in Adelphi, where they no longer live.
And here is how the article ends:
Reimbursement rates for dentists remain low nationally, although Maryland, Virginia and the District have increased their rates in recent years.

Dentists also cite administrative frustrations dealing with the Medicaid bureaucracy and the difficulties of serving poor, often transient patients, a study by the state legislatures conference found.
Sounds like government dental care results in underpayment of dentists and bureaucratic hassles for patients.

This comes as no surprise to anyone who examines the experience other nations with government-run health care have had with dental care. There are plenty of anecdotes.

There is this one about one dental office having to quit the British National Health Service (NHS) due to lack of funding and hundreds of people lining up at another dental office that did accept NHS patients.

Here's one where a retiring dentist blasts the NHS. And here's another about NHS dentists being hard to find in Ryedale, England. But there's improvement in Devon - the waiting list for a dentist has dropped from 48,000 to only 11,000.

Then there is this man in Scarborough who got so desperate to find a dentist that he pulled out his own teeth. The officials quoted at the bottom of the story claim he could have gotten same-day treatment if he had called the emergency clinic by 8:30 AM. Fair enough, but then pliers and vodka could have been avoided had he gotten some preventive treatment from a dentist first - something that, by the looks of this story, is pretty hard to do.

It appears that the problem stemmed from a 1990 NHS contract that increased dentists' workload but didn't increase pay. It got so bad that by 2002 close to 40% of British dentists would not accept new patients.

Funny, that sounds a lot like the problems endured by Americans under Medicaid - so maybe we Americans should be a bit skeptical when social do-gooders promise us "universal dental care."
-David Hogberg


Addendum, 3/4/07, also by David Hogberg:
One other thing that struck me about the WaPo article was second line: "A routine, $80 tooth extraction might have saved him."

If it was only $80, why didn't Deamonte's mom, Alyce, just suck it up and find some way to pay for it? Unlike in Britain, dentists are easy to find here and it is easy to get an appointment. Politicians and pundits on the left love to use stories about people who had to pull their own teeth because they couldn't afford dental care. I called dentists in the area in question, found reasonable prices, and most offices willing to offer payment plans. It seems to me that the problem isn't that folks like Alyce Driver can't afford dental care. It's that they expect someone else to pay for it, and they cling to that expectation in the extreme.

I could have written about that in my blog post above. Yet, since my post was about the effect of universal health insurance on dental care, I didn't want to get off on a big tangent speculating about the parenting (or lack thereof) of Alyce Driver. And now, thanks to David Frum's brilliance at reading between the lines, I don't have to.
-David Hogberg


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:17 PM

Mental Health Parity Act Flawed

New Mexico's Rio Grande Foundation has posted a response to the National Center's press release yesterday about the Mental Health Parity Act, which is being introduced by Senators Ted Kennedy, Mike Enzi, and New Mexico's own Pete Domenici.

Our release says:
Senators Domenici, Enzi and Kennedy To Make Health Insurance More Expensive With So-Called Mental Health Parity Act

Legislation advancing through in the U.S. Senate to regulate so-called mental health parity will instead simply make health insurance more expensive or mental health benefits less available.

"This is a surefire way to wreak more havoc on health insurance markets," says David Hogberg, a senior policy analyst with The National Center for Public Policy Research. Hogberg notes that 33 states have already imposed mental health parity mandates on their insurance markets. According to the Council for Affordable Health Insurance, these mandates have increased insurance costs by an estimated five to ten percent.

"The Mental Health Party Act of 2007," sponsored by Senators Pete Domenici (R-NM), Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Ted Kennedy (D-MA), forces the health insurance programs of large businesses that cover mental illnesses to treat mental illness the same way it treats other illnesses. In practice, this means that insurance programs cannot have different co-pays and deductibles for mental health services and procedures than they have for other health services and procedures.

"If you force insurance programs to cover mental health the same way as other illnesses, the result is more expensive health insurance. That means more businesses will increase their insurance premiums or drop their insurance altogether, resulting in an increase in the uninsured," says Hogberg. "The more likely result is that businesses will simply drop their mental illness coverage from their insurance policies, meaning that employees will have less access to mental health benefits."

"For all the hype and worry in Congress about making health insurance more affordable and preventing the unraveling of the employer-based health insurance system, you'd think the senators would have more sense than this," noted Hogberg.

Thus far, the Mental Health Parity Act of 2007 has been approved in the Senate by Senator Kennedy's Health, Welfare, Labor and Pensions Committee. A similar measure is being pushed in the House of Representatives by Senator Kennedy's son, Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), along with Reps. Jim Ramstad (R-MN) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA).

"Congress needs to come to its senses about the Mental Health Parity Act," said Hogberg. "This is exactly the sort of measure that has made health insurance costs rise so precipitously in recent years."

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:28 AM

Is the Gore Effect Expanding?

Is the Gore Effect afflicting more global warming provocateurs than merely America's own Al Gore?

The Canadian website Small Dead Animals notes that David Suzuki, the Canadian Al Gore (minus the sex appeal), may be suffering from the same malady.

Could the Gore Effect be global?

And, speaking of Canadian celebrities, here's one who has an idea he thinks "could be a way to save our planet" from global warming.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:13 AM

Copyright The National Center for Public Policy Research