masthead-highres

Monday, November 30, 2009

Hollywood Hypocrisy (Again)

A column by Jonathan Foreman in Britain's Times excoriates celebrities who tell ordinary folk to do without in the name of environmental protection while living a very wasteful lifestyle themselves.

My favorite hypocrisy example is the famous actress who boasted of brushing her teeth in the shower to help the environment, but who flew her personal hairdresser to Europe rather than make do with the stylists there.

To find out which actress this was, and read other hypocrisy stories, go here.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:04 PM

Canadian Cancer Patient Fights Bureaucracy in Desperate Fight for Life

ShatteredLivesCover100w.jpgTo fight advanced colon cancer, Canadian Suzanne Aucoin needed Erbitux, a powerful anti-cancer drug, but the Canadian health bureaucracy said it wouldn't pay. Aucoin traveled to New York to get the drug and to begin treatment on her own. "I am completely disgusted with our health-care system," Aucoin said.

Suzanne Aucoin of St. Catharines, Ontario never imagined that dealing with the Canadian health care bureaucracy would be as tough as battling terminal cancer.

Aucoin had to go to the U.S. for treatment initially denied to her. While ill, she then engaged in a prolonged and complicated fight to get access to a life-extending anti-cancer drug and to recover the exorbitant amount she was forced to spend out of her own pocket on treatment.

In 1999, Aucoin was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Surgeons removed large portions of her intestine and colon. But about four and a half years later, Aucoin became easily fatigued and felt pain in her side. A follow-up visit with her doctors revealed that the cancer had reappeared and spread to her lungs and liver.

In January 2004, Aucoin began chemotherapy treatment for stage IV colon cancer, the most advanced stage. A CT scan showed that chemotherapy had been ineffective at destroying the tumor in her liver. Aucoin's oncologist recommended that weekly doses of the powerful anti-cancer drug, Erbitux, offered her the best hope for staying alive. The problem was the drug - which can shrink tumors in advanced cancer patients - was not publicly-provided or even available for purchase in Ontario.

Worse yet, Ministry of Health officials denied Aucoin's application for out-of-country funding to permit Aucoin to get the potentially life-extending drug in the U.S. However, Aucoin claimed, the government was paying for three other patients with a similar form of cancer to receive treatment abroad. Reviews are on a case-by-case basis, but the health ministry did confirm it paid for some patients to receive Erbitux in the U.S.

"I just find it ridiculous that I have to go to these lengths when the government is glaringly wrong. They have all these inconsistencies, and I'm the one who suffers because of it," Aucoin said.

Despite the government's refusal to fund her treatment, Aucoin began receiving weekly treatments of Erbitux at a cost of $14,000 (USD) a month at a clinic in West Seneca, NY. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Erbitux in February 2004. Thankfully, friends and supporters raised more than $180,000 (CAD) over several years to help pay for her treatment.

"You can't wait with this cancer," she said. "You can't wait for people to make decisions about your health. You can't wait for forms to be filled out. You have to go where the drug is."

In fall 2005, Health Canada - the Canadian agency responsible for evaluating drugs - approved Erbitux. But health officials refused to cover Erbitux and limited the number of patients who could have access.

Fortunately, a loophole existed. In December 2005, Aucoin was the first patient allowed Erbitux under a Special Access Program set up for seriously ill patients. She would have to pay over $6,000 (CAD) a month for treatment, which she received at a Hamilton, Ontario clinic, while the government paid the administrative costs.

"I just want to take care of myself," Aucoin said. "My job is to get well and I feel like my government's letting me down because they're not doing their job."

Following another appeal for out-of-country funding several months later, the government changed its mind and, without explanation, agreed to cover Aucoin's treatment. The decision meant Aucoin would no longer pay out-of-pocket, but she would again need to travel across the border. Oddly, the government directed her to a Buffalo, NY cancer hospital that charged thousands of dollars more for Erbitux than the West Seneca clinic Aucoin used for out-of-pocket treatment. She began treatment at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in April 2006.

Then the Ontario government stonewalled Aucoin's attempt to be reimbursed. In June 2006, health officials denied her application for reimbursement saying the government would "only approve [reimbursement] if it's in a certain setting, i.e., a hospital," not a private clinic. Moreover, Aucoin was not granted funding approval before she went abroad for treatment.

"I am completely disgusted with our health care system," Aucoin said. "I am very discouraged and frustrated by the lack of professionalism, the lack of consistency and the lack of care for me as an individual patient." She added, "I'm not asking for Botox, I'm asking for life-saving treatment."

After losing on appeal and running out of options, Aucoin appealed to Ontario's ombudsman, Andre Martin. Following his investigation, in January 2007 Ontario's health officials finally agreed to pay over $76,000 (CAD) for Aucoin's out-of-country care and for legal expenses. The ombudsman blasted health officials for their "cruel" treatment and "slavish adherence to rules at the expense of common sense."

"I should never have had to deal with this, it takes all my energy to fight cancer," Aucoin said. "It rights a wrong on some levels but you cannot put a price tag on my mental strain and stress."

Tragically, Aucoin lost her fight against cancer. She passed away in November 2007.

Learn the truth about government-run medicine from the National Center for Public Policy Research's new book, Shattered Lives: 100 Victims of Government Health Care, by Amy Ridenour and Ryan Balis. Complete PDF copies are available free or you can buy a copy now at Amazon.com.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:19 PM

Friday, November 27, 2009

Who is in the Tiara? The President or the Prime Minister?

MSNBC112709.png
From MSNBC.com.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:07 PM

We'll Live

Somebody doesn't like our parody polar bear ad.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:16 AM

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Election Law-Violating Astroturf Group Misleads About Pebble Mine... Now There's a Surprise


Click to enlarge

A group calling itself Alaska Wild Salmon Protection, Inc. recently ran full-page advertisements (see above) in Politico against development of the Pebble Mine in Southwest Alaska. The Pebble deposit is one of the largest finds in America, believed to contain 72 billion pounds of copper and 94 million ounces of gold, among other minerals.

Alaska Wild Salmon Protection's advertisement was filled with distortions, but more on that later.

I wanted to learn more about the group, so I went to check out its website. It didn't have one.* Odd, I thought, for an environmental group leading local opposition to the Pebble Mine.

It turns out that the closest Alaska Wild Salmon Protection, Inc. comes to anything remotely environmental is astroturf.

The group was created by the law firm of Holmes, Weddle & Barcott as a front for a client trying to stop the Pebble Mine project. Corporate clients find anonymity provided by such arrangements quite liberating: They can feel free to say whatever they want without fear of accountability for their actions.

The group was incorporated by William DeVoe, Michael Barcott, and Timothy McKeever, all attorneys with the firm. McKeever is perhaps best known as the former chief of staff to Alaska's ethically-challenged former Senator, Ted Stevens. He was the center of a controversy in last year's elections when he acknowledged lobbying the Senator on behalf of one of his clients while serving as Stevens' campaign treasurer.

Until recently, it wasn't known who was bankrolling Alaska Wild Salmon Protection, Inc. But thanks to a report by the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC), we now know it is Robert Gillam, CEO of McKinley Capital Management (more on him here).

According to a June 2009 APOC report, Alaska Wild Salmon, Inc. was "...set up to be another 501(c)(6), and its purpose was to allow Gillam to spend money on lobbying without disclosing that he was employing lobbyists." The report further found that Gillam and associates had committed 18 violations of Alaska state election law related to an anti-Pebble Mine ballot initiative, including "using the names of others" to conceal the true source of ballot initiative contributions.

A proposal by the defendants to settle the case for $30,000 was rejected by APOC several weeks ago. APOC has now voted to dismiss some related allegations, but is seeking another hearing on campaign finance law violation charges.

More detail comes from a November 23 editorial in the Anchorage Daily News:
...Still at issue is the charge, backed by APOC investigators, that Anchorage businessman Bob Gillam and others sought to hide about $2 million of his contributions to the cause. APOC wisely rejected a proposed $30,000 settlement with Gillam and others in that case.

Their decision was wise because the attempt to hide the backers of initiative campaigns in Alaska is an attempt to withhold information from Alaska voters. In this case, initiative supporters worried that Gillam's bankrolling would underscore his personal stake in stopping the mine -- he owns a lodge near the Pebble prospect -- and draw attention from the environmental and public policy arguments.

So they sought ways -- particularly through the cover of a shell outfit called Americans for Job Security -- to keep Gillam's name from his contributions.

That shell game has no place in Alaska elections.

Alaskans need to know who's bankrolling both sides of an initiative and why. No hiding behind front groups...
Now on to the advertisement distortions...

AWSP's advertisement includes a rendering of the Pebble Mine and the surrounding areas with the caption "No place for an open-pit mine."

If the ad's map was anything close to an accurate representation of the area, they might be right. But it's not.

Though not intended to be drawn to scale (a pictured fisherman, for example, would have to be a Paul Bunyan to Paul Bunyan for that to be the case), the map was clearly designed to mislead readers about the location of the proposed mine and the degree to which it would threaten water and wildlife resources in the area.

The ad suggests...

...the mine would be located where three parks -- the Wood-Tikchik State Park, Katmai National Park and Preserve and Lake Clark National Park and Preserve converge.

The truth: They don't converge at all. The proposed mine, shown as the red dot, is 90+ miles from the Wood-Tikchik State Park (green patch at the left in Google map pictured below), about 14 miles from the nearest part of Lake Clark National Park (green patch in the upper right), and 50+ miles from Katmai National Park (green patch in the lower right).

click to enlarge

The map suggests...

...the mine would be right next to Lake Iliamna.

The truth: The mine would be nearly 20 miles away from Lake Iliamna.

The ad suggests...

...the mine would be very close to the Cook Inlet.

The truth: It would be some 70 miles away from the Cook Inlet.

The ad suggests...

...the mine would be enormous. The rendering shows the Pebble Mine's width at twice the distance between the mine's western edge and Wood-Tikchik State Park, suggesting a mine some 180 miles in length.

The truth: No one knows how wide the mine would be as a site plan has neither been submitted nor approved. However, it is unlikely to exceed two miles wide at any point.

A side-by-side comparison of the ad to a map of Alaska with the three parks shown in green gives a more honest perspective of the size of the mine and the sizes and relationships involved ("A" is the location of the Pebble Mine).

click to enlarge

All these advertising distortions should surprise no one.

If you don't tell the truth in campaign disclosures, why would you do so in your advertisements?

*Note: After this blog post was drafted, but before it was published, the Alaska Wild Salmon Protection, Inc. trade association launched its website. The domain name was reserved on October 30, 2009, two years after the trade association was incorporated and about the same time the group ran the Politico ad. In registering its domain, the trade association opted to keep its registration information private.

Written by David A. Ridenour, vice president of the National Center for Public Policy Research. Write the author at [email protected]. As we occasionally reprint letters on the blog, please note if you prefer that your correspondence be kept private, or only published anonymously.

Posted by David A. Ridenour at 12:41 AM

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

David Obey's War Tax

Here's a Rush Limbaugh partial transcript from today on the subject of House Appropriations Chairman David Obey's call for a "war tax" to fund, as this stirring Congressional leader put it, "whatever we're doing in Afghanistan if we decide to go ahead" (that sound you don't hear is Osama bin Laden quaking in his boots):
RUSH: David Obey wants to raise taxes on everybody to pay for the Afghanistan war. Last night ABC's World News Tonight Jonathan Karl had an interview with him.

OBEY: If we don't pay for it, then the cost of the Afghan war will wipe out every other initiative that we have to try to rebuild our own economy whether it's the president's; whether it's the Democrats in Congress, whether it's the Republicans. Ain't going to be no money for nothing if we pour it all into Afghanistan.

RUSH: That's just not true. It's another fraudulent lie from one of the Four Corners of Deceit: Government. "Ain't gonna be no money for nothing if we pour it all into Afghanistan"? We don't have any money now, you locoweed! We're $1.4 trillion in debt. I'll tell you what we should do, given what he said here. "If we don't pay for it, then the cost of the Afghan war will wipe out every other initiative..." Let's pay for the Afghan war then and wipe out every damned one of these stupid, destructive initiatives. There was more. Karl said, "Talk us through exactly what you're proposing here."

OBEY: We've been told for the last year that we have to pay for every dime that the new health care reform bill will cost, and that's estimated to be about $900 billion over two years.

RUSH: Not true. It's $2 trillion!

OBEY: At the same time we're being told by people who support General McChrystal's approach to expanding the war in Afghanistan that we need to be prepared to hunker down and accept what could be a decade-long commitment in Afghanistan. If we do what has been in the papers about the size of that package, that also is about $900 billion. Except that's not being paid for. So what we're suggesting is that if we're going to pay for health care, we also ought to pay for whatever we're doing in Afghanistan if we decide to go ahead.

RUSH: We're not "paying for" anything. How can you say we're paying for it when we're $1.4 trillion in debt? It's not $900 billion, it's $2.5 trillion. The whole thing is rigged. The tax increases start three years before the payouts. That's how it's made to look like it doesn't cost anything. Deficit neutral? When's the last time anything government did did not cost more than what they projected? When's the last time a government program came in below cost? Well, Medicare Part D did, but that was Bush. And finally, "Let me ask you about your motives. Two years ago you proposed a similar tax on the war in Iraq. It was a nonstarter then. What makes you think your colleagues are going to support it now?"

OBEY: I don't know if they will, but two years ago the economy had not yet collapsed. Two years ago we didn't have a runaway deficit which we have now thanks to the collapse of that economy. And two years ago, we weren't being asked to expand another effort in Afghanistan that we're told might last ten years. We saw the progressive movement in this country back before the twenties wiped out by World War I. We saw Harry Truman's Fair Deal wiped out by Korea. We saw Lyndon Johnson's Great Society wiped out by Vietnam. I don't want to see the restructuring and reforming of our own economy wiped out because we get stuck in a ten-year war, a war that isn't paid for.

RUSH: What in the name of Sam Hill is he talking about? Lyndon Johnson's Great Society wiped out by Vietnam? It was no such thing. That's insane! Spending on the Fair Deal, the New Deal, the Rotten Deal, the Raw Deal, and the Great Society, never stopped. We're still spending on it! It's an entitlement. The Vietnam War didn't wipe out anything except the United States. It didn't wipe out any of these programs. This is what I mean, folks. They live in The Universe of Lies and Fraud. The Four Corners of Deceit are government (who you just heard from) academia, science, and media.

Rush is right (as usual! -- I'm happy to admit I've been a dittohead since being introduced to Rush -- at least, his non-KQV persona -- at the famed Howell Heflin "offshore drilling" CNP meeting circa, I think, 1988 [Rush says it was '92 or '93, but I think he's off by a few years. I believe I went home after that speech and found Rush on the dial for the first time, and had to listen to a Baltimore station if I wanted to catch all three hours of the show, because WMAL in DC only ran two hours.]).

On the war tax itself: National defense is one of the few things the federal government should be paying for, so go ahead, Rep. Obey, make us pay one -- but we'll expect you to drop most of the other taxes.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:30 PM

Sunday, November 22, 2009

David Beamer Op-Ed Recommended

For those who have not already done so, I strongly recommend the Wall Street Journal op-ed of November 20 by David Beamer (father of Flight 93 hero Todd Beamer) on Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to try the -- I suppose I am supposed to say "alleged" -- 9/11 terrorists as if they were domestic criminals.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:58 PM

Friday, November 20, 2009

Criticizing This Administration Is Getting Way Too Easy

Peter Orszag, the director of the Office of Management and Budget at the White House has an op-ed in The Washington Post today entitled, "A Leap Forward to Better Care."

The last great leap forward left more than 30 million Chinese dead.

You'd think this wouldn't be the word association the White House would be wanting to promote.

Written by David A. Ridenour, vice president of the National Center for Public Policy Research. Write the author at [email protected]. Please note if you prefer that your correspondence be kept private.

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Posted by David A. Ridenour at 11:21 AM

Health Care Monsters

"Pelosi and Reid's health care monsters" is the theme of an op-ed in the Baltimore Sun today by National Center Policy Analyst Matt Patterson.

Matt examines the scary goblins in the liberal health care proposals; namely, the Medicare cuts, the economic harm, and the loss of freedom we can expect if the left's proposals win the day.

You can read Matt's piece here.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:48 AM

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Quote of Note: The Core Problem With Government-Run Health Care

"The core problem with government-run health care is that it doesn't make decisions in the best interests of patients, but in the best interests of government."

- Wall Street Journal editorial, "The Health Care Rationing Commission," November 15, 2009


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 7:50 AM

Media Matters on Deneen Borelli (Ever So Briefly)


MediaMatters has posted a clip of Project 21 Fellow Deneen Borelli speaking on Sean Hannity's Fox TV show on Friday the 13th.

MediaMatters headlines its post "Borelli on Hannity: A 'big message' in black community is 'you are owed something... and don't have to work hard.'"

If you watch the complete clip (see above), or follow Deneen's work, it is clear Deneen is concerned that this philosophy of life has been expanding in all American communities.

MediaMatters focuses, though, only on this one comment of Deneen's relating to the black community. Perhaps this is a special concern of theirs.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:00 AM

A Positive Story, For Once

I am often critical of the quality of care offered by government-run health care systems, but the emergency medical care received by this very stoic British truck driver after he was impaled by an eight-foot pole seems almost miraculous.

You have to see the picture. A description wouldn't do it justice.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:00 AM

Monday, November 16, 2009

Report Questions Quality of Care Dementia Patients Receive in British Government Hospitals

A British government report is questioning the quality of care dementia patients receive in hospitals run by the British government-run health system.

Among other things, the report says such patients often are not properly fed.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:52 PM

Canadian Patient Flies to India for Immediate Care

An ailing hip caused Canadian Raghav Shetty so much pain that he could barely walk. Instead of being one of 25,000 patients in Calgary waiting up to two years for surgery or a scan, Shetty traveled to India, his native country, for immediate partial hip replacement surgery.

An ailing hip caused Canadian Raghav Shetty so much pain that he could barely walk. Instead of being one of 25,000 patients in Calgary waiting for surgery or a scan (up to a two-year wait), Shetty traveled to India, his native country, for immediate partial hip replacement surgery.

Flying to a faraway country for medical care did not seem too outrageous an idea for Canadian Raghav Shetty - at least, in comparison to the alternative. The 61-year-old Calgary, Alberta man's bum hip had effectively immobilized him. Yet he faced several years of waiting in distress for surgery in Canada's "universal" Medicare health system.

Shetty had developed severe osteoarthritis in his left hip joint. He was in so much pain that, even with the aid of painkillers, each step was tormenting.

"I'm in extreme pain," he admitted. "I'm stuck at home, I can't work. It is difficult for me to provide financial support to my family and the quality of my life is very bad."

"He can barely walk. He drags his legs everywhere he goes," added daughter, Shilpa Shetty.

Shetty, a 20-year resident of Calgary, discovered the wait for partial hip replacement surgery would be up to two years. At the time, in 2004, some 25,000 patients were on waiting lists for surgery or diagnostic scans in Calgary's hospitals.

Facing a bedridden wait on Medicare, Shetty and his wife, Prema, looked elsewhere for quicker treatment. They discovered a private facility in Chennai, India offering immediate care. The entire out-of-pocket cost for the operation and for both to fly to India would be $15,000 (CAD), but the couple believed waiting up to two years for care locally was not a realistic option.

"I had no choice but to try elsewhere for my surgery due to the long waiting period and severe pain in my hip joint," Shetty said. "I could not walk more than a few meters. Under these conditions, waiting for one to two years was simply not possible for me."

In September 2004, the Shettys traveled to Apollo Specialty Hospital for a successful five-hour surgery. Shetty, an Indian immigrant, said returning to his native country for a medical procedure was not something he would have considered had it not been for the excessive wait.

"Of course, my first choice would have been always Canada," he said. "However, in recent years, the waiting period for major surgeries is too long for patients suffering from severe pain and serious medical conditions."

Daughter Shilpa objected to the tedious wait her father would have endured if he stayed in Canada. "We've given up on our health care system. Why don't they understand that some people are in so much pain that they just can't wait?" she asked. "We don't have any options and can't wait anymore."

Though the long wait forced Shetty to look outside Canada, the health department in the province of Alberta rejected his claim for reimbursement for his care in India. Generally, the government reimburses only such patients who go abroad when treatment is unavailable locally or if the patient's life would be in jeopardy while waiting.

As published in a 2007 Fraser Institute survey, an estimated 5,029 people in Alberta were waiting for hip or knee replacement surgery as of March 31, 2007. According to the same report, nationwide some "estimated 523,600 Canadians had difficulties getting to see a specialist, 200,000 had difficulties getting non-emergency surgeries, and 294,800 had difficulties getting selected diagnostic tests."

Learn the truth about government-run medicine from the National Center for Public Policy Research's new book, Shattered Lives: 100 Victims of Government Health Care, by Amy Ridenour and Ryan Balis. Complete PDF copies are available free or you can buy a copy now at Amazon.com.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 7:01 PM

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Grandma Got Run Over by Her Health Care Music Video


"They say there's no such thing as free health care, and now me and Grandpa, we believe."

This video is a couple of months old, but it's pretty funny, as warnings about the death-dealing potential of government-run health care go.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:42 AM

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A One Way Ticket Away From Healthyville


An illuminating short video about the perils of government-run health care brought to you by The Independence Institute. Email it to a liberal today.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:30 PM

Political Correctness Rules

In reference to terrorists living among us (not that he phrased it that way), President Obama said today during his weekly address, "Our government must be able to act swiftly and surely when it has threatening information."

Notice he didn't say "Our government must act swiftly and surely when it has threatening information."

All he wants is the option.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:20 PM

Friday, November 13, 2009

COP15 and the Shameless Manipulation of Children


The United Nations Climate Summit in Copenhagen is fast approaching, and with cap and trade legislation languishing in Congress, developing nations averse to binding regulations, and the public preoccupied with a faltering economy, hopes by climate treaty advocates that a climate agreement will be reached this December are diminishing. Nevertheless, advocates for a sovereignty-usurping, economically-devastating, wealth-redistributing and environmentally-fraudulent treaty are tirelessly churning out materials meant to sway the public and assert pressure on leaders to reach an enforceable agreement.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) provides an example. Agitating for a "green industrial revolution," the WWF is a vociferous advocate for global warming legislation and environmental activism - regardless of the practical consequences. Last month, for example, the outfit came out with the breathless pronouncement that the world has less than five years to drastically cut carbon emissions or, it claims, climate catastrophe will be inevitable. (To be fair, this was less absurd than British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's October 19 prediction that the global community had only 50 days to avert disaster.)

Several days ago the WWF crossed a line, releasing a propagandistic video of children of WWF staffers parroting the illogical doomsday scenarios the group works to propagate. The WWF explained the video's objective:

"To urge the President to lead us in Copenhagen and outline what we'd like to see in the agreement, we invited children of WWF staffers to tape a personal message to the President asking for his support... We hope you'll be inspired to send an email or write a letter to the White House that tells President Obama that you want him to go to Copenhagen to protect our planet."

The Video:

http://www.worldwildlife.org/climate/international/kidsvideo.html?intcmp=224

Child welfare officials have investigated the now infamous parents of "Balloon Boy" for allegedly coaching him to lie in a publicity scheme. These WWF parents coerced their children for political influence, and, should their efforts succeed, a thoroughly destructive climate treaty.

Which is worse?

Written by Caroline May, policy analyst at the National Center for Public Policy Research. Write the author at [email protected]. Please note if you prefer that your correspondence be kept private.


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Posted by Caroline May at 5:26 PM

Britain's National Health Service Denied Sight-Saving Medicine to Its Own Employee

Despite her 18 years of service to Britain's government-run health system, Sylvie Webb had to fight her employer for sight-saving drugs.

An employee of Britain's government-run National Health Service was denied medication that could save her from going blind in one eye.

Sylvie Webb, a widow from Salisbury, England, worked for 18 years as a secretary at Salisbury District Hospital. Yet, despite her situation, Webb discovered that medical treatment under the public health service is anything but universal.

In February 2007, doctors diagnosed Webb, then 58, with the "wet" type of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) in her left eye. If not treated in a timely manner, wet ARMD "can lead to blindness in as little as three months and people need prompt treatment if they are to minimize the risk of permanent sight loss," according to a statement by the Royal National Institute of Blind People in London.

As such, Webb's medical consultant sought rapid treatment for Webb because her sight was "deteriorating 'day by day,'" as Webb explained, and an infection in one eye can spread to the other good eye.

But to Webb's dismay, for nearly a year her local public health authority, Dorset Primary Care Trusts, refused to provide Webb with the expensive "anti-VEGF" drugs she desperately needed to save her sight. Though two such effective drugs, Macugen and Lucentis, are licensed for general NHS use, the Dorset Trust, which controls funding prescriptions, dragged its feet. Dorset Trust said it has yet to formulate a policy in a "fair and equitable way" to treat Webb's condition and thus it could not provide her with the VEGF drugs.

As Webb explained at the time, "At the time, the PCT [Dorset Primary Care Trusts] said it hadn't got a policy and it would address the situation in April [2007] - but it has now postponed this until June. I'm extremely worried that time is running out for me and other patients."

The prospect of going blind terrified Webb:

"I'm a young woman and want to carry on working, and then I'd like to do all the things I had planned for my retirement. I'm also worried about the health of my other eye. I know I'm at increased risk of getting wet AMD in that eye and this could mean I end up losing my sight. The women in my family live into their 90s; I can't accept the possibility of being blind unnecessarily for the next 35 years."

In May 2007, the Trust agreed to review Webb's case on an urgent basis. But for Tom Bremridge, CEO of the Macular Disease Society in Andover, UK, there is no excuse for Webb being without the available sight-saving drugs she needs. "It is outrageous that in this day and age Mrs. Webb faces losing her sight owing to bureaucratic idleness," he said.

Steve Winyard of RNIB echoed Bremridge's outrage:

"This is disgraceful... It's little comfort for Mrs. Webb that she can't get treatment simply because her PCT has yet to decide a policy. The PCT needs to get its act together and ensure these drugs are available to patients now and without a struggle... There is a moral imperative to save the sight of people where we can."

Finally, in 2008 new health guidelines permitted Dorset Trusts to prescribe Lucentis for Webb. The guidelines published by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, the government's health advisory authority, allow for funding for the first 14 injections of Lucentis once wet ARMD is diagnosed in one eye. If additional injections are necessary, the drug's manufacturer, Novartis, will pay for additional treatment.

Webb was delighted that she would at last receive the sight-saving drug. "I'm so relieved that Dorset PCT has finally realized the long-term benefit to me of this treatment and has agreed funding," she said. "I only hope that all patients are given treatment to help save their sight because while this is good news for me, there may be hundreds of others with wet AMD who cannot get the funding they desperately need."

Learn the truth about government-run medicine by reading true stories, such as the one above, from countries with a government-run health care system in the National Center for Public Policy Research's new book, Shattered Lives: 100 Victims of Government Health Care, by Amy Ridenour and Ryan Balis. Complete PDF copies are available free or you can buy a copy now at Amazon.com.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:00 AM

Six Project 21 Members on Glenn Beck Today

GlennBeckLogoProject 21 Chairman Mychal Massie and Fellow Deneen Borelli and Project 21 members Lisa Fritsch, Rich Holt, Richard Fair and Edmund Peterson are participating in a town hall-style edition of the "Glenn Beck" show airing on the Fox News Channel at 5:00 PM eastern today, Friday, November 13.

Beck is using this special event to highlight the thoughts and feelings of black conservatives.

Check your local listings for Fox News Channel on cable. Fox News is available on channel 118 on Fios, channel 205 on Dish Network and channel 360 on DirecTV.

This post was written by David Almasi, executive director of the National Center for Public Policy Research. Write the author at [email protected].


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Posted by David W. Almasi at 1:40 AM

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Project 21's Deneen Borelli on "Hannity" on Friday Night

HannityLogoProject 21 Fellow Deneen Borelli will appear on the "Great American Panel" on the Fox News Channel's "Hannity" program at 9:30 PM eastern on Friday, November 13.

Deneen will discuss the progress of health care reform in the Senate, the track record of Obama's "stimulus" spending and how Jim Carrey can't seem to say nice things about capitalism despite being one of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood.

Check your local listings for Fox News Channel on cable. Fox News is available on channel 118 on Fios, channel 205 on Dish Network and channel 360 on DirecTV.

This post was written by David Almasi, executive director of the National Center for Public Policy Research. Write the author at [email protected]. Please note if you prefer that your correspondence be kept private.


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Posted by David W. Almasi at 6:54 PM

Hear the Borellis Speak on Cap-and-Trade at Harrisburg Tea Party Event This Saturday

Free Enterprise Project Director Tom Borelli and Project 21 Fellow Deneen Borelli are both featured speakers at a rally to be held in conjunction with the "March on Harrisburg, PA" on Saturday, November 14. The march and rally is sponsored by the Philadelphia Tea Party Patriots.

The rally will be held on the steps of the Pennsylvania State Capitol and is scheduled to begin at 2:30 PM eastern. Prior to the rally, people will gather in the parking lot of nearby City Island for a march across the Susquehanna River that is scheduled to begin at 2:00 PM eastern.

Tom and Deneen will both speak on the economic consequences of the "cap-and-trade" energy tax proposal supported by the Obama Administration and the liberal leadership of the House and Senate in Washington. The keynote speaker will be former House Majority Leader Dick Armey.

For more information about the event, click here.

This post was written by David Almasi, executive director of the National Center for Public Policy Research. Write the author at [email protected]. As we occasionally reprint letters on the blog, please note if you prefer that your correspondence be kept private, or only published anonymously.


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Posted by David W. Almasi at 5:21 PM

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Government Health System Penalized Woman for Supporting Her Own Cancer Treatment

Summary: The British National Health Service refused to provide the advanced cancer drug Avastin to Colette Mills, who was willing to pay for it herself. Mills was told that if she paid for the drug the NHS didn't cover because if its cost, the NHS would stop paying for her cancer treatment altogether.

Colette Mills of North Yorkshire, England was up against a rigid National Health Service policy that at the time would have taken away her taxpayer-provided health care if she purchased a life-extending cancer drug beyond the dosage the government provided for her.

Mills fought breast cancer for over a quarter century. Though the last roughly 20 years were "blissfully" clear of cancer, she says, it returned in 2003 and spread throughout her body. The 58-year-old former NHS nurse was given Taxol, a chemotherapy drug, as part of her publicly-financed health care. But, following the advice of her hospital specialist, Mills decided to spend her own money to boost her treatment with the so-called wonder drug, Avastin.

Drug trials show Taxol is perhaps twice as effective when combined with Avastin, and, when coupled, the drugs could slow advanced breast cancer.

Mills believed that combining the drugs "would probably give me a longer life and a better quality of life." She added, "Avastin may only increase your lifespan by six weeks or six months but, believe me, when it's your life, you're not picky."

The rub at the time was even if Mills paid out-of-pocket to supplement her care, the NHS would begin to bill her for the entire cost of treatment because she would be considered a private patient.

"If a patient chooses to go private for certain drugs they elect to become a private patient for the course of their treatment for that condition. That is trust policy," said a statement by South Tees Hospitals NHS Trust, Mills' local health care provider.

Though Avastin was publicly available elsewhere in the UK, South Tees Hospitals NHS Trust would not fund Avastin because of its high cost. In Britain, the wide disparity of drugs and services made available depending on locality is informally termed the NHS 'postcode lottery.'

Mills was willing to pay the estimated £4,000 a month to get the expensive drug and have it administered - but she did not want to be stuck with the tab for her entire treatment. "The costs would increase from £4,000 a month to about £10,000 to £15,000 for all my care. I would need to pay charges for seeing the consultant, for the nurses' time, for blood tests and scans," Mills explained.

Thus, by doing what she thought necessary to improve her chances of survival, Mills would be responsible for paying some £15,000 (~$24,400) to the government. "The policy of my local NHS trust is that I must be an NHS patient or a private patient," said Mills. "If I want to pay for Avastin, I must pay for everything. It's immoral that the drugs are out there and freely available to certain people, yet they say I cannot have it."

The rationale for the bizarre policy that restricted how citizens spent their own money for health care was rooted in the NHS's belief that care should be equal and not based on a patient's ability to pay. "The Government is committed to a publicly funded NHS, free at the point of use and available to all regardless of income," explained a spokesman for Britain's Department of Health. "Co-payments would risk creating a two-tier health service and be in direct contravention with the principles and values of the NHS."

The health care provider, therefore, rejected Mills' request because it considered her buying an extra drug to be an "add on" to her existing NHS treatment. Mills' pleas to the NHS health trust were rejected, and she and husband, Eric, abandoned their challenge.

"I can't go private..." said Mills. "This decision is totally unjust... this drug would prolong my life."

Mills recognized there naturally may be cost prohibitions for some care. But, she argued, "The whole concept of the NHS is that it's free at the point of need. Why should that stop because I want to pay for something?" She also pointed out the NHS's apparent double standard. "It is already a two-tier NHS," said Mills. "I'd had a scan privately when there was a two-week wait on the NHS... If I go to the dentist I can mix my NHS and private treatment."

Professor Karol Sikora, a medical expert who advises the World Health Organization, sided with Mills. "For health bosses to say Mrs. Mills cannot top up her NHS treatment is ideology gone mad. It is medical communism and utterly immoral," she charged. "This is unfair to taxpayers who are entitled to NHS care. If this patient wishes to pay for another drug, that should be her choice."

After considerable public disapproval and an official Department of Health Review, the NHS reversed its supplemental treatment policy in November 2008. Alan Johnson, the then-Health Secretary, announced new guidelines that purchasing private treatment will not mean that patients forfeit their entitlement to NHS services.

Reacting to the policy change, Mills said, "This move by the Government is exactly what I've been fighting for - but it has been a long time coming."

Although the government's change of policy was welcome news for patients like Mills, it came too late for Mills herself - four months after her unsuccessful effort to purchase Avastin herself, her cancer spread to such an extent that it will no longer respond to the treatment.

Learn the truth about government-run medicine by reading true stories, such as the one above, from countries with a government-run health care system in the National Center for Public Policy Research's new book, Shattered Lives: 100 Victims of Government Health Care, by Amy Ridenour and Ryan Balis. Complete PDF copies are available free or you can buy a copy now at Amazon.com.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:36 PM

A Bush By Any Other Name

President Barack Obama is often likened - and clearly sees himself as spiritual successor - to presidential luminaries like Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt. But he is fast on track to following the footsteps of a less celebrated predecessor - George H.W. Bush.

Candidate Bush accepted his party's nomination at the 1988 Republican National Convention with the immortal, Peggy Noonan-penned promise "Read my lips: no new taxes." When President Bush later agreed to raise taxes as part of the 1990 budget negotiations, he wrecked his re-election chances and became a one-termer.

In September, 2008, candidate Obama promised, "I can make this firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making $250,000 will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes."

Oops. The health care bill the House passed on Saturday, for which Obama personally lobbied members of Congress, contains - new taxes. Lots of them. New taxes that will effect earners of all income levels, but which will especially hurt small-business owners.

Of course this bill, like all of the health care proposals recently debated by Congress, was instigated by, and created at the behest of, Barack Obama, who promised in his February joint address to Congress, "quality, affordable health care for every American." That he could promise such a bauble while simultaneously vowing not to raise our taxes "one dime" betrays either a stunning economic ignorance - or deep mendacity.

Obama has clearly studied the greats, Lincoln and F.D.R. But he should also have made an examination of the less successful presidents, like George H. W. Bush, lest he repeat their mistakes and suffer their fate in political purgatory.

Written by Matt Patterson, policy analyst at the National Center for Public Policy Research. Write the author at [email protected]. As we occasionally reprint letters on the blog, please note if you prefer that your correspondence be kept private, or only published anonymously.

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Posted by Matt Patterson at 1:15 AM

Climate Alarmist Says "Do As I Say, Not As I Do"

Concerned that the increasingly shrill warnings by environmentalists on the dangers of global warming are beginning to undermine the credibility of everyone calling for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, some scientists are calling for them to... um... cool it.

One of these scientists is Vicky Pope, head of the climate change branch at the MET Office (the UK's national weather service), who told the Times of London, "It isn't helpful to anybody to exaggerate the situation. It's scary enough as it is."

But Vicky hasn't been beyond a bit of scare-mongering of her own. Here's part of my report on her presentation at a United Nations Convention on Climate Change 12th Conference of the Parties (COP-12) event in Nairobi Kenya three years ago:
Vicky Pope, head of the Hadley Centre's Climate Prediction Program, offered some very scary scenarios for Africa and the rest of the world. Using the Palmer Drought Severity Index, which uses temperature data (to estimate evaporation) and rainfall data to determine drought severity (as opposed to measuring soil moisture), her Centre has found that incidence of drought has increased sharply since the 1980s. Moderate droughts, says Pope, affected 10-15 percent of the landmass in the 1980s, but today they affect closer to 25 percent of the land. By 2100, the Hadley Centre projects that this figure will double to 50 percent. What's more, Pope says, this climate change-induced drought will result in a "profound injustice" by hitting poor nations the hardest.

To underscore this point, Pope showed a series of color-coded world maps -- one for the period 1950-1969, one for 1970-1989 and one for 1990 to today -- which show significant and increasing drought in Africa, South America and parts of Asia but negligible drought in North America and Western Europe.

The starting point for these maps struck me as peculiar. North America experienced severe drought in the 1930s and, if memory serves (I don't have access to research materials here in Nairobi), 1936 still has the record for being North America's hottest year in the 20th Century. Including this information, of course, would significantly undercut Pope's argument that drought disproportionately harms the developing world. Perhaps it even undermines her assertion that drought and temperature increases coincide.

When I asked her why this information wasn't included, Pope said it wasn't included because their objective was to provide a global drought picture and reliable temperature readings were not uniformly available before 1950. (More here.)
Pope goes on to tell the Times, "People pick up whatever makes their argument, but this works both ways. It's the long-term trend that counts..."

I may have gotten through to her after all.

Written by David A. Ridenour, vice president of the National Center for Public Policy Research. Write the author at [email protected]. As we occasionally reprint letters on the blog, please note if you prefer that your correspondence be kept private, or only published anonymously.

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Posted by David A. Ridenour at 12:08 AM

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Fourteen Hospitals Turn Away Critically-Injured Elderly Man

Summary: Instead of whisking a 69-year-old Japanese bicyclist who collided with a motorcycle to the emergency room, paramedics called 14 hospitals trying to find a facility that at last accepted the critically-injured man. The hospital at which he was taken attempted to transfer him to a better facility, but by this time the man was in such poor condition that he died of hemorrhagic shock.

Rescue workers in Japan called fourteen hospitals before finding one that would take an elderly bicyclist who collided with a motorcycle.

The accident, which occurred at 10:15 pm in the Japanese city of Itami, left the 69-year-old bicyclist, who was not identified, in critical condition with back and head injuries. Paramedics arrived on the scene five minutes after the crash and administered first aid. Yet, for about an hour, they were unsuccessful at locating a hospital to treat the man.

Helpless, the elderly man waited in the ambulance at the accident scene as hospital after hospital rejected treating him, citing unavailable beds, staff shortages and a lack of equipment and specialists. All told, fourteen hospitals in the neighboring prefectures -- i.e., governing districts -- of Hyogo and Osaka refused his entry.

"There were four other emergency calls in the same time frame of that night," explained Mitsuhisa Ikemoto, the fire department spokesman. "[A]s a result, we were unable to find a hospital."

It took a second round of calls for rescue workers to find a hospital. Finally, at 11:30 that night -- 75 minutes after the accident -- they took him to a hospital in Itami, which had initially declined to accept him. Unfortunately, it soon became apparent that the hospital's resources that night were unsatisfactory.

At the time of his arrival at the hospital, the elderly man was already in critical condition from the accident and post-accident delay. When his condition suddenly deteriorated, hospital staff scrambled "to transfer him for better treatment," according to the Associated Press.

Two hospitals rejected that transfer request. By the time a third hospital agreed to take the man, his condition was too poor to permit him to be moved.

He died of hemorrhagic shock at about 1:15 the next morning.

The Associated Press reported that the man "initially showed stable vital signs," and, attributing the assessment to Ikemoto, reported the man "might have survived if a hospital accepted him more quickly." Ikemoto was quoted saying, "I wish hospitals are more willing to take patients..."

Rescue workers also had trouble finding a hospital to treat a 29-year-old motorcyclist who also had been involved in the crash. Despite the motorcyclists' severe injuries, the first two hospitals contacted refused to admit him. The third try succeeded, and the man was taken to a university hospital in Hyogo. Fortunately, two weeks after the accident, he was recovering.

The frustrating, and in one case, tragic experiences of the two accident victims initially denied medical care are not unique in Japan's universal health insurance system.

According to a government survey conducted by the country's Fire and Disaster Management Agency, Japanese hospitals denied admission to some 14,387 emergency patients in 2007. All 14,000-plus patients identified on paramedics' reports were rejected at least three times. Moreover, at least 3.5 percent of these victims had serious conditions, which the survey defined as requiring more than three weeks of hospitalization.

Learn the truth about government-run medicine by reading true stories, such as the one above, from countries with a government-run health care system in the National Center for Public Policy Research's new book, Shattered Lives: 100 Victims of Government Health Care, by Amy Ridenour and Ryan Balis. Complete PDF copies are available free or you can buy a copy now at Amazon.com.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:36 PM

Monday, November 09, 2009

Quote of Note: Government-Run Health Care Results in Fewer Doctors

"Long waits and shortages result from government control of the health sector. There are only so many hospitals, only so many doctors. When government promises that everyone will be treated (ostensibly) gratis, it does not simultaneously conjure more doctors into existence. Instead, doctors face more patients, who are now likely to seek treatment more often because they perceive it to be free. The result is long lines, long waits, substandard care.

But it's worse than that. Not only does the socialization of medicine fail to produce more doctors, it actually shrinks the pool. In our free-market system, being a good doctor can be financially rewarding. This matters, because becoming a good doctor is a long, arduous, expensive proposition. Remove the profit incentive and you are guaranteed to have fewer doctors."

-Matt Patterson, "Government Health Care Adds Insult to Injury," Policy Analyst, The National Center for Public Policy Research, TownHall.com, October 22, 2009

Note: This post was edited after publishing to correct Matt's title. He is a policy analyst at the National Center for Public Policy Research, not a senior fellow.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:30 PM

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Health Care Rally Photos

FreedomWorksPhoto110509RallyB2.jpg

Max Pappas of FreedomWorks sent over some pictures of today's rally at the Capitol in opposition to liberal efforts to have the federal government take over our health care system.

FreedomWorksPhoto110509RallyA2.jpg

I'm posting the pictures because this is a tremendous turnout (especially in mid-week, with little notice, on a dank and intermittently-rainy day), and I have no faith whatsoever that the mainstream media will accurately report the full size of the crowd.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:11 PM

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

In Case You Missed it

Gallup says: "40 percent of Americans describe themselves as politically conservative, 36 percent moderate and 20 percent liberal."


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:22 AM

Monday, November 02, 2009

So Much for That

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

-Presidential oath of office


When asked if there "is any concern at all about whether it is constitutional for Congress to impose a mandate [that individual Americans must obtain health insurance]," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said, "no." He also said he had no reason to believe White House lawyers had ever considered the issue.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:58 PM

Sunday, November 01, 2009

British Government Health Service Locks Man in Ambulance

The British government's National Health Service has apologized to a patient and his family after an NHS ambulance driver drove him to an ambulance station and, as the BBC put it "went home and forgot about him."

The man was found five hours later after a search commenced following his failure to return to his place of residence.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:15 AM

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