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Friday, July 15, 2005

We Want Democracy Too

For you guys who thought that democracy is just not suited for Muslims (and you guys said it and I told you you was racists), Chrenkoff reports the following poll results:

The new poll also found that growing majorities or pluralities of Muslims now say that democracy can work in their countries and is not just a Western ideology. Support for democracy was in the 80 percent range in Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon and Morocco. It was selected by 43 percent in Pakistan and 48 percent in Turkey -- the largest blocks of respondents in both countries because significant numbers were unsure.

Dissatisfaction with terror and despotism is growing.

Enemies Within

Charles Krauthamer makes a great point in his article "Enemies, Foreign and Domestic". Remarking on how many of the recent terrorists were not imported to do these acts but were second and third generation Europeans (more radical than their parents), he writes:

The fact that native-born Muslim Europeans are committing terror acts within their own countries shows that this Islamist malignancy long predates Iraq, long predates Afghanistan and long predates 9/11. What Europe had incubated is an enemy within, a threat that for decades Europe simply refused to face.

My 2-cent psycho analysis of this phenomenon is that the terrorists harbor a romanticization of the Middle East and the conquering history of Islam more than the adoption of a true political philosophy. It is like New Yorkers moving to an Israeli kibbutz. Sounded good in Queens but waking up so early? Had these terrorists lived under the domination of the Middle Eastern despots all of their lives and then emigrated to England, they may have appreciated the lifestyle of a capitalist free society more. But, most of the terrorists world-wide hail from the Middle East so there must be a draw beyond the "exotic".

Krauthammer explains my dilemma:

One of the reasons Westerners were so unprepared for this wave of Islamist terrorism, not just militarily but psychologically, is sheer disbelief. It shockingly contradicts Western notions of progress. The savagery of Bouyeri's act, mirroring the ritual human slaughter by Zarqawi or Daniel Pearl's beheaders, is a return to a primitiveness that we in the West had assumed a progressive history had left behind.

What I should realize is:

It is essentially a civil war within a rival civilization in which the most primitive elements are seeking to gain the upper hand. 9/11 forced us to intervene massively in this civil war, which is why we are in Iraq. There, as in Afghanistan, we have enlisted millions of Muslims on the anti-Islamist side.

But what about the vast majority of European Muslims, the 99 percent who are peace-loving and not engaged in terror? They must also join the fight. They must actively denounce not just -- what is obvious -- the terror attacks, but their source: Islamist ideology and its practitioners.

I agree.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Another Strange Encounter With Krugman's Claims

Bob Doyle wrote a brilliant letter to Donald Luskin of The Conspiracy To Keep You Poor And Stupid.

In reaction to Paul Krugman's suggestion that the government should just take in 28% of GDP as revenue (for what?) to avoid deficits, Doyle looked at the historical data. Providing 2 charts from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, he found that:

total Federal revenues as a percent of GDP have grown very slightly since WWII, but have averaged 17.9% and have largely fluctuated between about 17.5% to just under 20% of GDP. Only ONCE, when they reached 20.6% in 2000, have Federal revenues exceeded 20% of GDP.

Doyle also reports:

Despite quite radical changes in tax rates and other features of the tax code (we have had three entirely different tax codes since 1946 -- the 1936 tax code, the 1954 tax code, and the 1986 tax code), Figure 2 shows that total tax revenues and individual income tax revenues to the government have been almost constant as a percentage of GDP. In other words, there is no relation between tax rates and the amount the government collects in tax revenue as a percentage of GDP!

The NYT star economist apparently cannot get what he wants in this world called Earth.

Stay with the idea of revenue as a percentage of GDP (our countries economic growth). In essence, when the tax rates are high, the GDP does not grow very much and the government's revenue from all of its taxes as a percentage of GDP is the same as when tax rates are low. When tax rates are low, the GDP grows and that low tax rate on higher GDP produces greater revenue. Therefore, since you are stuck basically with 20% of GDP as revenue, if you want the government to increase its revenues, cut taxes. That is the option I choose. How about you?

Oh, and answer to reducing the deficit besides cutting taxes? ...Cut spending. That lesson comes without charts and confusing numbers.

Cuba: A Question Than Needs No Answer

Humberto Fontova of NewsMax.com writes about a Cuban event in "Anniversary of a Massacre". In 1986 Castro caught 72 Cubans fleeing Cuba in a wooden tugboat. The government rammed it and shot water cannon drowning 43 people.

Why do they flee? Need that question be answered?

Writes Fontova:

So what's the alternative if you can't flee Cuba? Well, in 1986 Cuba's suicide rate reached 24 per thousand – making it double Latin America's average, making it triple Cuba's pre-Castro rate, making Cuban women the most suicidal in the world, and making death by suicide the primary cause of death for Cubans aged 15-48.

At that point the Cuban government ceased publishing the statistics on the self-slaughter. The figures became state secrets. The implications horrified even the government.

Need that question be answered?

The Israel Wall Is Working

Allen Gorin has published a rebuttal article to a leftist professor's recent article demanding Israel tear down the "illegal wall to achieve peace".

As Allen advised that Boise State professor Marcy Newman is neither naive or "meshuggah". She is a leftist using her status at the university to espouse her anti-Israel rhetoric. Allen pointed out how Newman never mentioned

1. Context of why the wall (mostly chain-linked fencing material except where high buildings on the Palestinian side provides better access to pedestrians and cars for snipers) exists.

2. The wall's effect in decreasing terror attacks in Israel (some say up to a 90% reduction).

3. Arafat's reneging on the peace agreement that Clinton brokered with Barak.

4. Isreal's Supreme Court change orders that considered any harm to Palestinians.

Writes Allen:

Despite all her omissions, Newman does manage to drive one point home in her article: She has faith in international law and U.N.-type organizations like the International Court of Justice. If only more Americans and Israelis shared her faith, she pleads, the Jewish lion would be able to lie down with the Palestinian lamb.

Never mind that the ICJ has a reputation for dispensing justice according to its political agenda, not unlike the U.N. General Assembly. The latter has passed over 400 anti-Israel resolutions since 1964 — but not one criticizing Arab terrorism.

For us metropolitan types, we should note and be thankful that there are people like Allen Gorin in places outside of the major media locations making sure the anti-Israel/ anti-American Left does not get away with spewing their falsehoods without a fight!

Class Action Fraud

My essay on class action fraud was posted on The American Thinker today.

Here is the essay:

Class action fraud is widespread

A Wall Street Journal editorial (subscription required) entitled “The Silicosis Sheriff” covers the painstaking efforts by Texas federal Judge Janis Graham Jack, a Clinton appointee, to uncover the massive fraud in nationwide silicosis litigation. Lawyers, doctors, plaintiffs and screening companies participated in this fraud. Most judges, lazy and/or plaintiff-oriented, allowed the many claims to pass their bench without question. Judge Jack, a former nurse, wondered why a disease on the decline, that nationally had dwindled to 200 cases a year, had generated over 20,000 claims from Mississippi and a few other states. Ten thousand cases were in front of her court.

Jack embarked on a grand jury investigation that found payola and friendly persuasion throughout the plaintiff diagnostic process. Reports the WSJ, in 9,000 of the cases before her “99% had been diagnosed with silicosis by the same nine doctors”. Some doctors merely signed blank forms for screening companies and let secretaries fill out the forms. Sixty-five percent of the plaintiffs had previous claims in court for asbestos. The WSJ notes that it is “clinically impossible to have both”. A large screening company had no one with medical training in its employ.

Judge Jack has sanctioned one law firm for its under-handed actions, forcing the firm to pay defendants $850,000 for their expenses. Does this pay back any of the anxiety of being a trial defendant? Look behind the scene and you will find destroyed health (physical and emotional) due to the strains of being sued. Jack’s tenacity has led to federal prosecutors beginning criminal investigations into Milberg Weiss, one of the country’s biggest class-action firms.

I have almost 2 decades of first-hand involvement in nationwide litigation of all types from the insurance end. I have managed litigation and negotiated many settlements. The decision to actually try cases is rare. Juries have an affinity for the injured plaintiff, often despite questionable injuries or a lack of connection (the legal term is “causation”) to anything the defendant did. Add in the fact that many judges nationwide were former plaintiff attorneys who skew court rulings on the evidence allowed or in jury instructions.

The decision to go to trial is quite daunting. Guess wrong as a litigation examiner for an insurance company and you will be up-dating your resume at home shortly thereafter.
Now, we see in the open what insiders have always suspected: out and out fraud by the practitioners. However, seeing a judge stand up, publicize and hold liable the corrupters of our legal system, I am heartened by her courage and tenacity. At the same time I remain chagrined that more judges will likely not follow suit.

Many of my friends are defense attorneys. Ironically, they are against tort reform or verdict caps. Why? This will reduce their business as well. While defending people is very difficult and frustrating in a less than level playing field (as illustrated by the silicosis litigation), defense attorneys paid by the hour can make a good living with this legal arrangement. Any cut into the aggregate number of cases, while immeasurably beneficial to the country and our economy, does not improve a defense attorney’s income potential. By the way, these reforms harm the employment prospects of in-house attorneys like me.

But, as Judge Smails said in Caddyshack: “The world needs ditch-diggers, too.”

Neal Phenes 7 14 05

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Reduced Deficit Reported By the NYT- Fire That Reporter!

The NYT has reported today that the deficit has decreased for 2005 due to increased tax revenues of $100 billion. Reporter Edmund Andrews did his NYT best to downplay the effect of the supply-side tax cuts by Bush. He even referred to the “plunge in revenue when the market bubble burst” in 2001. Treating any facet of the recession as due to reasons’ other than GW’s presence in the White House is dangerous for a NYT reporter. That error may mean his job.

However, Andrews was able to report “good news” (for the NYT though not for the country).

He advises:

But many independent analysts cautioned that the improvement, though notable, could prove
ephemeral and that it did little to eliminate much bigger fiscal problems just over the horizon. "Lawmakers who allow themselves to be lulled into thinking that the economy is growing its way out of the deficit," wrote Edward McKelvey, an economist at Goldman Sachs in New York, "are unlikely to support the painful measures needed to reach a more lasting solution."

For one thing, analysts note, federal spending has continued to climb rapidly, about 7 percent this year. Despite cutbacks in many domestic programs, spending has surged for the war in Iraq as well as in certain benefit programs providing health coverage.

Then Andrews made a cardinal sin. He sought a quote from a supply-side ally, Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors. The loquacious Bernanke apparently only told Andrews, “We need to wait for more data”. Thus, it is “too early” to credit supply-side economics. I wonder what caused the increase in revenue besides the tax cuts.

Andrews messed up a second time by citing positive (for the country) data. The deficit is now at 3% of GNP, one half point lower than it has been the past 3 years. The 3% is “less than in many West European countries that have been hobbled by slow growth and the heavy cost of supporting social welfare programs”. That is a second demerit for Mr. Andrews. How could he mention the poor showing of the European economy? Andrews even mentions the “much bigger problem is the impending retirement of baby boomers, with the oldest in that group eligible for Social Security payments starting in 2008.” That is a NYT 3rd strike.

If Andrews remains at the NYT after such a failed (that is, somewhat objective) report, I may have to renew my subscription for weekend delivery.

Liberal Open-mindedness?

In a conversation with a die-hard liberal (no names but I have known her since the moment of my birth quite intimately), I told her how close-minded I found liberals to be. She scoffed at the idea that a liberal could be close-minded. How could they be close-minded, when liberals are tolerant of every form of deviance, do little to criticize aberrant behavior and even take the next step of ratifying such conduct into a right whose free expression can be enforced by the power of the state? How could liberals be close-minded when they profess no boundaries on conduct, speech or thought?

Today, John Stossel writes about this in "Who's Really Open?". He talks about the limited access he received for his new book from liberal media outlets. However, conservatives, who disagree with Stossel's libertarian positions, granted him air time and readily debated the issues.

Stossel refers to John Stuart Mill who argued "that debating people you disagree with was the only way to develop wisdom".

There is little "debate" taking place when liberals replace reasoned arguments with name-calling. The past 40 years have led to a degeneration of discussion from "point-counterpoint" to pejoratives about the other person like "racist" or "Hitler". That is sophomoric. It demeans them.

As a teenaged liberal, I adored the Buckley TV show where a topic would be debated by learned people with civility and humor. Today, many politically aware citizens have never read William Buckley on culture, Milton Friedman on school choice, Thomas Sowell on economics or other noted conservatives to see what alternative to the liberal position may be. I, a reformed liberal, have been reading liberal material for almost 50 years. I have only had access to conservative and libertarian writings for the past decade or so bit it has added to my universe of knowledge. As a liberal, I argued from what I felt the answer should be. Now, I seek to know what the answer should be. (In a relativist view, there is nothing to know because truth is what any person thinks it is).

A liberal once told me that his opinion may be uninformed but "everyone is entitled to his opinion." That is fine but if one seeks to use his vote or access to media to affect public policy, one should seek the best solution with some empirical support. Today, the best solution is irrelevant as scoring points for your side has taken precedence. The Left does not have the empirical data or historic/philosophic context on their side. So what remains is to deny access to the counter argument or employ name-calling. Such is a losing position.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Osama-Saddam Connection Gets Clearer Every Day

Another frontpagemag.com piece worth reading is "The Mother Of All Connections" by Stephen F. Hayes and Thomas Joscelyn . They provide the detailed evidence of the Osama-Saddam joint venture that the liberals readily seek to deny.

This summarizes the massive evidence:

We know about this relationship not from Bush administration assertions but from internal Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) documents recovered in Iraq after the war--documents that have been authenticated by a U.S. intelligence community long hostile to the very idea that any such relationship exists.

We know from these IIS documents that beginning in 1992 the former Iraqi regime regarded bin Laden as an Iraqi Intelligence asset. We know from IIS documents that the former Iraqi regime provided safe haven and financial support to an Iraqi who has admitted to mixing the chemicals for the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. We know from IIS documents that Saddam Hussein agreed to Osama bin Laden's request to broadcast anti-Saudi propaganda on Iraqi state-run television. We know from IIS documents that a "trusted confidante" of bin Laden stayed for more than two weeks at a posh Baghdad hotel as the guest of the Iraqi Intelligence Service.

We have been told by Hudayfa Azzam, the son of bin Laden's longtime mentor Abdullah Azzam, that Saddam Hussein welcomed young al Qaeda members "with open arms" before the war, that they "entered Iraq in large numbers, setting up an organization to confront the occupation," and that the regime "strictly and directly" controlled their activities. We have been told by Jordan's King Abdullah that his government knew Abu Musab al Zarqawi was in Iraq before the war and requested that the former Iraqi regime deport him. We have been told by Time magazine that confidential documents from Zarqawi's group, recovered in recent raids, indicate other jihadists had joined him in Baghdad before the Hussein regime fell. We have been told by one of those jihadists that he was with Zarqawi in Baghdad before the war. We have been told by Ayad Allawi, former Iraqi prime minister and a longtime CIA source, that other Iraqi Intelligence documents indicate bin Laden's top deputy was in Iraq for a jihadist conference in September 1999.

To think there is no connection is the height of wishful thinking, political pandering and ignorance. Clinton supporters have to ignore things his very administration knew and reported upon through-out the 90's. Somehow, none of that ever happened. Read the full article.

The French Do Something Very, Very Right

Allen Gorin reminded me to read Daniel Pipes' "Weak Brits, Tough French" from frontpagemag.com.

I am humbled and happy to say something positive about France. Their strong sense of self has shown them to be steadfast against the multiculturalist tide. They have denied their Muslim's the right to wear hijabs. At the same time, Britain has found it to be a right for Muslims to wear full religious regalia to schools. More important, the French have provided close cooperation with the U.S. in intelligence operations. Writes Pipes:

President Jacques Chirac instructed French intelligence agencies just days after 9/11 to share terrorism data with their U.S. counterparts “as if they were your own service.” This cooperation is working: former acting CIA director John E. McLaughlin calls this bilateral intelligence tie “one of the best in the world.” The British may have a “special relationship” with Washington in Iraq, but the French have one in the war on terror.

France accords terrorist suspects fewer rights than any other Western state, permitting interrogation without a lawyer, lengthy pre-trial incarcerations, and evidence acquired under dubious circumstances.

Meanwhile Britain has been ripe for bombing by its Muslim immigrants for a long time. My apologies to France for some of my bad-mouthing. Now, let's fix your insane economic policies, your Big Brother State and that anti-Semitism you are prone to and we will be getting somewhere.

But I do appreciate the strong tactics taken in self-preservation. Now for Great Britain, which Pipes calls "the Western country most vulnerable to the ravages of radical Islam."

The 1976 Reagan Revolution

Mark Reynolds comments on the book Reagan's Revolution: The Untold Story of the Campaign that Started It All that was reviewed in the Claremont Institute.

The book, Reagan's Revolution: The Untold Story of the Campaign that Started It All is a blow by blow account of the campaign to win the GOP nomination for president in 1976. If this type of history is not your bag or if you are looking for something more in the lines of Reagan’s ideology, this book is not it. Although it doesn’t really vet out politic stances, it is a interesting look at a party which before 1976 was pretty much “controlled” by liberals or moderates who thought the way to win elections was by being Democrat-lite.

It is also interesting to note to me since the author, Craig Shirley, and Reagan’s 1976 campaign manager both hail from Syracuse NY my hometown which was once a bastion of republicans/conservatives in an otherwise Blue state. If you are planning to read the book then stop here. Although in my opinion, my further comments will not hurt your enjoyment of the book.

Ford’s campaign under-estimated Reagan throughout the ’76 campaign (as the Dems did in his campaign for Governor of CA and as the Dems would do in ’80 and ’84). At Kansas City (where the 1976 GOP convention was held) Reagan barely lost to Ford yet they continued to not understand Reagan. After Ford won the nomination, it was the plan of the Ford campaign to bring Reagan down to the stage with Ford, Rocky and Dole (and spouses). They figured they would put Reagan on the spot, he’d say a few things about losing and that would be that. Then they assumed Reagan would be forgotten or maybe even embarrass himself by giving a speech without notes. There was no love lost after this campaign. Ford waved for Ron and Nancy to come down, Reagan waved him off. Ford kept insisting. Finally Reagan comes down steps up to the microphone and electrified the crowd.

Good Self-defense News Item

I got this from that great self-defense website:

From the Denver Post of July 10, 2005

Suspect shot in head by liquor store owner

An armed-robbery suspect was in critical condition at North Colorado Medical Center after being shot in the head Friday afternoon by the Windsor liquor store owner he allegedly attempted to stick up.

According to the Weld County Sheriff's Department, the suspect, identified as 32-year-old Douglas Wies, entered the Corner Liquors store near 6th Street and Ash in Windsor about 5 p.m. Friday with a mask covering his face. He held what appeared to be a weapon wrapped in a scrap of cloth. The suspect forced three people, including store owner Ron Trauernicht, his wife, Norma, and a customer into the narrow cooler that ran the length of the store, the sheriff's office said.

All three escaped through the cooler's back exit. Trauernicht hurried back into his store.

He grabbed a gun he kept behind the counter and told an uncompliant Wies to drop his weapon, according to the sheriff's office. After a short standoff, Trauernicht fired at the startled robber. The bullet went straight into the weapon Wies held - the mouth of an aluminium garden hose nozzle disguised by a T-shirt rag, the sheriff's office said. The bullet pierced the lightweight nozzle and struck Wies in the forehead. Wies was airlifted to North Colorado Medical Center, where he remained in the critical care unit Saturday.

Can you just hear the "civil rights" protectors screaming that the robber was unarmed? But how was the store-owner to know?

O'Connor: Too Little Too Late

Like Clinton's attempt to salvage his presidential legacy by brokering a Middle East peace (that failed), Justice O'Connor ended her tenure as Justice by trying to provide timeless words that belied her jurisprudential record. While Justice O'Connor's late attempt to salvage her reputation provides important quotes about federalism and the Constitution that I feel should be followed in all SCOTUS decisions, professor Henry Mark Holzer provides a historical recap of O'Connor's failure to uphold the Constitution. He reflects on a number of cases where her "swing" vote provided a majority in decisions that upheld unconstitutional statutes or lower court rulings through "narrow, vague decisions".

In "The Con of Another O'Connor", Holzer considers her tenure one of "lost promise".

He uses 4 "paradigmatic cases" as examples of her jurisprudence where she pursued lightly evidenced policy results against constitutional prohibitions on the following subjects: Affirmative Action; Abortion; Sex Offenders and Police Officers.

O'Connor's Kelo dissent "proves the case against her", says Holzer. He writes she was capable of:

interpreting the Constitution consistent with its original intent, instead of drifting off on some ill-defined judicial odyssey of her own making.

No matter what the Left’s spin doctors claim, O’Connor was inconsistent in the extreme when it came to her alleged conservative judicial philosophy. A true conservative jurist would not uphold racist affirmative action schemes. A true conservative jurist would not legitimize abortion or immunize sex offenders. A true conservative jurist would never handcuff and victimize the police or treat terrorists like mere criminals, thereby giving them the benefit of due process.

If President Bush intends to keep the promise he made to the people who elected him twice, he must live up to what he told them in his 2000 debate with Al Gore: that he would appoint judges “who will strictly interpret the Constitution and will not use the bench to write social policy.”

The people through their elected officials analyze and enact laws on policies that benefit the public...what Jefferson called "life, liberty and happiness". The SCOTUS reviews such laws when there is a controversy to decide if such laws fit within the structure of the Constitution. The SCOTUS cannot introduce policy considerations for their decision. That has already been done by a more qualified body, the people of the U.S.

O'Connor and "activist" judges have usurped this structure. The American people have paid dearly for such hubris.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Fix Africa Without Love

From economist Arnold Kling regarding African poverty and failure of well-meaning rock stars, he advises:

Learn to distinguish motives from consequences. A well-meaning policy can backfire. The seemingly cold-hearted impersonal market is enormously beneficial.

Yes, sir.

Need Water? Raise Its Price

I guess water is up there (or higher) in the needs scale than medical insurance. The Commons, a blog that suggests free market solutions to environmental issues had the following on Italy's water crisis:

No Market, No Water Posted by Carlo Stagnaro · 1 July 2005 · Water

As every Summer, Italy is under stress because of water shortages. Irrigation resources are threatened, according to a farmers' association. Luckily, the situation is still under control. The problem is more general. If water problem is felt like a real one -- as all Italian newspapers' frontpages have been suggesting in the last few weeks -- then a long term solution should be considered. In Italy water is mostly managed by formally private companies, that are actually owned by municipalities. Also the price of water is to a certain extent regulated by specific laws. Thus, water shortage is primarily a failure of public management. Prices are kept artificially low, especially in hot seasons, and overuse is consequently incentived.

Of course there is only one way to solve the problem: that is, allowing prices to grow as water gets scarcer, in order to incentive a wise management. For that to be done, however, we need municipalities getting out of the market and, more important, getting rid of the barriers to entry that in fact protect local markets.

Is there an echo in this room?

OBL's Big Mistake

With more historical knowledge than any of the spokemen from the Left, Victor Davis Hanson writes on terror:

Bin Laden has so far only made one mistake: He took down the entire World Trade Center rather than the top floors, and had the misfortune of having George Bush as president. Thus he lost Afghanistan and ended up with democratic reform from Iraq and Lebanon to the Gulf and Egypt. Train bombings in Madrid and bus explosions in London, like the carnage in Iraq, are preferable, since they are enough to terrify and demoralize the Westerner but not quite enough to knock sense into him that only military resistance and victory will save his civilization.

So the attacks will never quite be of such a stature to convince Western voters that one more such explosion will destroy their societies. The trick is instead to wage war insidiously, incrementally, and stealthily to avoid an overwhelming response. A cooling-off period in between 9/11 and 7/7 in which Western apologists, pacifists, and Islamist sympathizers go to work is essential for the terror to continue.

The Left's cursory, superficial public commentary contain failed readings of history including their analogy of the War on Terror to Vietnam, their claim that the U.S. created OBL by our support of the mujhideen or, on national matters, that Founders would agree with their expansive interpretation of the Constitution, makes them unpersuasive to serious thinkers and, more important, the voters.

David Horowitz in "The London Bombings" provides more historical underpinnings of this war on terror:

The United States provided training and arms for the Muslim mujahideen in Afghanistan because its conscience was roused by the Soviet invaders whose scorched earth policies killed a million defenseless Afghan civilians before the resistance, with America’s help, was able to stop them.

In making its argument, the left also ignores the momentous historical fact that the victory of the mujahideen, made possible by America's gift of missiles, not only defeated the Red Army, but triggered the chain of events which led to the fall of the Marxist empire. In other words, U.S. support for the mujahideen eventually liberated a billion people whom the Soviet comrades of American and European leftists had enslaved for fifty and seventy years.

This war has been brewing since the first radical Muslims began their assualt on their religion at least as far back as the 1920s. They developed processes in their active relationship to Hitler. The Ayalollahs radical anti-Americanism revolution of 1979 has culminated to this very day.

The Left combines their anti-historical references with shrill hatred of the one President who, within his own political parameters drawn much more broadly than the Left approves (and that is another discussion worth pages), has waged an offensive campaign against the Islamists. The Left has drawn in the "head in the sand" liberals and pacifists but a majority of Americans see no rational, peaceful way out of this jihad. We are expending blood and wealth. However, in 4 years there are now freer millions of Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon as well as openings in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Syria (if the NYT's interview with Assad this weekend has a shred of credibility). These are positive developments. The status quo would not be as productive.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Go Under The Knife and Get Money!

The NYT reports a new type of fraud in the medical industry: MDs paying patients to actually undergo surgical procedures that are not medically needed in order to bill insurers.

In Sowell's Applied Economics, he has a chapter on national healthcare. We learn the basic economic lesson that third-party payments and government price controls result in reduced production, increased consumption, shortages and quality deterioration. No wonder wealthy Canadians come to the U.S. for needed medical services.

However, many facets of national healthcare are present in America and we see some of the above problems.

Reduced Production: Where were the flu vaccines last year?
Shortages: Pregnant women cannot find available OBGYNs;
Increased Consumption: More prescription eyeglasses are sold in December to get the bill in before the year ends on tax-exempt health accounts;
Quality Deterioration: Shorter visits to the doctors (though more often).

The weighing of costs against benefits that we consider in all other purchases is removed from healthcare purchases. Why not have people decide what they need and pay for it out of personal funds? The price will go down for medical services and the quality and availability would increase.

If not, explain why economic principles do not apply to medicine.

And why was this fraud scheme in Southern California? California has a "speedy payment" law that forced insurers to make payments before they could investigate the claims. When people pay their own bills, they tend to examine their bills a bit closer and delay payments when suspicious. Hmmn...

Stop African Aid? And End The Concerts?

Western philanthropy is killing Africa with their kindness says Kenyan economics expert James Shikwati to Spiegel. He asks the West to "please just stop!".

In a fascinating interview, Shikwati advises the following:

1. AIDS estimates are purposely inflated by as much as 3 times because the disease has marketability with Western charities. Meanwhile, malaria is the biggest killer and it is defeatable.

2. Food aid destroys local farming by under-selling the market price. This makes running local farms unprofitable. Then, without local farm production, more foreign subsidized food is needed. The friends, family and tribes of those in power get most of the food anyway. (Econ lesson: Prices are indicators of scarcity that induce more production.)

3. Clothing sent from Europe gets auctioned back to Europe over EBay at triple the price with local tailors and textile workers losing jobs. ("In 1997, 137,000 workers were employed in Nigeria's textile industry. By 2003, the figure had dropped to 57,000. The results are the same in all other areas where overwhelming helpfulness and fragile African markets collide.").

The growth industry in Africa, besides the Swiss accounts of African leaders, is bureaucracies that administer the foreign aid.

Shikwati's suggestion to Europe?

"If they really want to fight poverty, they should completely halt development aid and give Africa the opportunity to ensure its own survival. Currently, Africa is like a child that immediately cries for its babysitter when something goes wrong. Africa should stand on its own two feet."

Mr. Shikwati, you can tell liberals this over and over but they will never listen. Meddling is their credo. And it would just destroy the opportunity to hold a cranking good world-broadcast (repeated endlessly on MTV) concert. And isn't that the point of it all?

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