Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Healthcare Boondoggle

Every man is, no doubt, by nature, first and principally recommended to his own care; and as he is fitter to take care of himself than of any other person, it is fit and right that it should be so. -- Adam Smith

The Healthcare Boondoggle

A Government that controls health care also decides who lives and who dies by outlawing choice and implementing rationing.  Who wants an overpaid government bureaucrat sitting in front of a computer endowed with autocratic power to make life and death healthcare decisions for you and your family?
Health care is a primary concern of Americans.   Indeed, the issue has become a real hot potato with the  passage of Obamacare, which is nothing more than socialized medicine and a backdoor single payer system at an exorbitant cost that will end in severe rationing. 
The roots of our healthcare nightmare lie in our refusal to implement much needed tort reform (the trial lawyer lobby) and allowing the states to bypass the commerce clause in the Constitution by mandating coverage and mountains of expensive and frequently unnecessary tests that comprise “defensive medicine”.   America spends more on health care than any nation on earth and by a wide margin, and it’s about to get a whole lot more expensive.  Yet, our longevity rates are not commensurate with our healthcare expenditures.   Besides government mandates that drive up healthcare costs and the insatiable trial lawyer lobby, Americans themselves are a huge part of the problem because Americans have more lifestyle diseases than any nation on earth.  Furthermore, Americans do not want to be responsible for their health and demand that somebody else pay for their disastrous lifestyle choices.   Therefore, there is no amount of healthcare intervention that can save folks from themselves or extend their longevity.  Longevity is far more related to lifestyle choices that are by far the most significant factor in living a long life. 
Americans are living longer than ever, but not as long as people in 41 other countries.
For decades, the United States has been slipping in international rankings of life expectancy, as other countries improve health care, nutrition and lifestyles.
Countries that surpass the U.S. include Japan and most of Europe, as well as Jordan, Guam and the Cayman Islands.
“Something’s wrong here when one of the richest countries in the world, the one that spends the most on health care, is not able to keep up with other countries,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, head of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.
Andorra, a tiny country in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain, had the longest life expectancy, at 83.5 years, according to the Census Bureau. It was followed by Japan, Maucau, San Marino and Singapore.
…“it’s not as simple as saying we don’t have national health insurance,” said Sam Harper, an epidemiologist at McGill University in Montreal. “It’s not that easy.”
Among the other factors:
·          Adults in the United States have one of the highest obesity rates in the world. Nearly a third of       U.S. adults 20 years and older are obese, while about two-thirds are overweight, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
·         “The U.S. has the resources that allow people to get fat and lazy,” said Paul Terry, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Emory University in Atlanta. “We have the luxury of choosing a bad lifestyle as opposed to having one imposed on us by hard times.”
Source:  http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20228552
The U.S. healthcare system itself promotes irresponsible personal life style choices by promoting the concept that healthcare should be free and therefore, citizens are entitled to abuse their bodies and expect others to pay for their lifestyle diseases like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and a myriad of other problems directly attributable to lifestyle choices. 
Even more alarming is that America’s kids are quickly adopting eating habits that will guarantee very expensive lifetime health problems.  More disturbing, immigrant kids are exploding into American styled porkers.  Migrationinformation.org tracks tons of data on immigrants and reports: 
Moving to the Land of Milk and Cookies: Obesity among the Children of Immigrants
Many immigrants hope for better lives for themselves and their children. Yet adapting to life in the United States can be risky even among the most economically successful immigrants. Poor nutrition, low levels of physical activity and obesity have reached alarming levels in the United States.

Past studies on obesity among immigrants have focused almost exclusively on adults and adolescents. Much less work has examined young children, and the studies on children have used small, locally drawn samples.

In a new study funded by the Foundation for Child Development, we used a large, nationally representative sample to document the prevalence and patterns of obesity among young children of immigrants.
Many experts blame the US food environment for the growing child obesity epidemic…... In the past 25 years in the United States, the prevalence of obese children quadrupled, increasing from roughly 4 to 16 percent.
The most recent estimates suggest that 36.2 percent of 6- to 11-year-olds are either overweight or obese, and 18.8 percent are obese.

The disturbing increase in obesity has led to its classification as one of the most serious public health problems of the 21st century…
Beyond its impact on physical health, obesity is related to difficulties in social adjustment, poor mental health, and lower academic achievement. Thus, obesity has wide-ranging implications for children's quality of life and productivity as adults.
Source:  http://www.migrationinformation.org/feature/display.cfm?ID=739
Kids are eating high calorie, low nutrition diets that primarily consist of simple carbohydrates, sugar, corn syrup, fats and sodium.  Much of what kids eat in the schools is taxpayer funded garbage.  Even more horrifying is that Migration Information reported that schools actually sell advertising to junk food purveyors by signing “"pouring rights" contracts that permit snack and soft drink companies to advertise to children on school vending machines, scoreboards, book covers, t-shirts, and news programs shown on televisions in the classroom.”
Only in America do we kill our kids for profit and do it with our tax dollars!!  Since most schools in America are nothing more than bureaucratic horrors that spend 50% or less of the “education” budget on classroom instruction, the education mafia loves the power to award contracts to the vendors of “poison” because profit and power trump moral imperatives.  In the end, it’s always about money.  Gone are the days when a mom sent their kid off to school with an apple, a peanut butter sandwich and if the kid got thirsty, he drank from the school water fountain. 
One cannot ignore the cost of avoidable lifestyle diseases which is huge and growing.  The New York Post reported that obesity related spending has doubled in a decade and has reached $147 billion a year and that obesity spending now accounts for 9.1% of all healthcare spending. (http://www.nydailynews.com/lifestyle/health/2009/07/27/2009-07-27_nearly_10_percent_of_health_spending_goes_on_obesity.html). 
A group called Healthyamericans.org reported in June 2009 that “"Today, we spend nearly $800 billion on health problems that are directly linked to lifestyle and poor health habits each year-about one third of our total health care spending…”” and that article was quoting a congress critter. Source:  http://healthyamericans.org/newsroom/releases/?releaseid=179
So how can America rationally and intelligently address our healthcare problems when we are a nation of morons?  There is only one way:  cut off subsidizing the lifestyles that feed the diseases that drive up healthcare costs.  Folks will get the message, adjust their lifestyles and become healthier if they want to live.  What America desperately needs is the “Tough Love” option and certainly not the Public Option or the Private Option that is loaded with so many draconian mandates that make health insurance unaffordable.    Once healthcare becomes a personal responsibility of every American instead of the subsidized lifestyle nightmare that it is, the American healthcare system will be able to spend healthcare resources on curing real diseases that kill folks through no fault of their own.  Meanwhile, America remains the laughing stock of the world for spending the biggest percentage of our GDP on healthcare than any nation on earth and the only thing we have to show for it is a nation of fat people with chronic obesity and lifestyle related diseases.
If a doctor in America told a patient that they were sick because they were fat or they smoked or they drink too much or they ate bad food, the doctor would, in all probability, have his medical license suspended, be hauled before a tribunal for committing a crime against humanity, be sued for a gazillion bucks for telling a bitter truth that offends someone’s self esteem, be forced into bankruptcy and/or be prosecuted for violating somebody’s Civil Rights. 
Now that we’ve highlighted the problems with our healthcare system, we need to focus on how to fix it. 
The only way to get Americans to accept responsibility for their health is through free market reforms.  Moreover, Americans must learn to view health insurance in the context of its original intent of covering major and catastrophic medical issues.   The notion that every test, doctor visit or prescription drug must be 100% “free” or covered is insane.  It just doesn’t work.  Humans do not automatically behave responsibly and they must indeed have strong incentives that will financially reward them for sane behavior.
There are major problems with Obamacare, starting with the fact that it’s a trial lawyer’s dream that accomplishes nothing in the area of much needed tort reform.  The Democrats have always been far more lavishly funded than Republicans by the trial lawyer lobby. 
 Various interventions at the state and federal level have only made the health situation worse and more expensive.  Fixing healthcare is a simple but painful process that will in the long run produce healthier citizens and much lower healthcare costs.  It’s only painful because Americans are spoiled and they don’t want to pay for anything – after all Abbey Hoffman says “America is the land of the free, free means you don’t have to pay”. 
According to the testimony of David Gratzer, M.D., Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, before the United States House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health:
Consider: a non-employer-based family policy for four in Kansas City, Mo., costs about $170 per month while similar coverage in Boston tops more than $750 a month.
Why the price difference? Many states dictate the type of services and providers. New York, for instance, requires that the services of a podiatrist be covered. It’s a commonly quoted statistic that the average person walks about 150,000 miles in a lifetime. Let’s hope the majority of this journey is on healthy, bunion-free feet. But should every insurance policy in the Empire State really be required to include podiatric services? Acupuncturists are mandated in 11 states, massage therapists in 4, osteopaths in 24, and chiropractors in 47, driving up the price of even the most basic insurance plans.  
The federal McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945 empowers states to regulate “the business of insurance.” Nothing prevents Congress, however, from allowing interstate sales. The foundation of such a bill would be the Constitution’s Commerce Clause. Individuals would then be able to shop around and find a low-cost policy - an affirmation of free-market principles since interstate restrictions now leave many Americans at the mercy of a small number of local health insurance carriers.
Healthcare costs are a noose around the necks of businesses because it’s morphed into a mouse built to government specifications – an elephant.  For a while, the practice of giving heath care benefits to employees was appealing because the cost was low and employers deducted the cost as part of their labor expense but the system soon mushroomed into an out of control albatross, largely because of state mandates.
 The impact of state mandates is crippling.   Take Texas.  Texas has the highest percentage of uninsured in America – at a whopping 24-27% of the population depending on whose study you read.   As the second most populous state with over 23 million folks, that’s over 6 million uninsured folks.   So why does Texas lead the nation in having the most uninsured? 
The Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) reported in April 2008 that “With 55 mandated benefits, Texas is one of the five most heavily regulated health insurance markets in the country.”   TPPF really drives home the point with:
Presently, a 25-year-old male in Texas would pay $248.79 for a health insurance plan that he could get in Alabama for only $77.65 a month.  Perhaps these price differences are responsible for the stark contrasts in the uninsured rates in these states. According to the U.S. Census Bureau Survey, in 2006, 23.9 percent of Texans were uninsured compared with only 13.5 percent in Alabama. Not coincidentally Alabama only imposes 19 mandates compared to Texas’ 55…
So now that we know why Texas has such high health insurance costs and so many uninsured, why doesn’t the state of Texas fix it?  It’s a valid question.  Congress isn’t the only body of legislators owned by lobbyists.  Health insurers in Texas fill campaign coffers of state legislators to get those lucrative mandates.  It’s that simple.  The Texas Legislature refuses to fix the problem because it’s corrupt to the core.  But having personally been involved with the Texas Legislature on Transportation issues, this is no shock. 
How does our dysfunctional health care system affect the middle class wage earner?
Take-home pay would be rising even faster if the cost of health benefit plans hadn't climbed by 65% since 2000. Health insurance now costs the average employer $2 an hour per employee--money that could otherwise be paid in wages.
The healthcare system is a nightmare because it’s a lose-lose for employers and employees.  It doesn’t serve the best interest of any of the parties involved.  Imagine a consumer driven healthcare system without mandates, employees assuming responsibility for their health and more competitive businesses that can grow and hire more folks.  Precisely because the American healthcare system is a hazard to economic activity and business growth, it also functions as a core contributor to the outsourcing and offshoring of our jobs.
The nation went nuts when Nancy Pelosi called the health insurance companies “villains”.  She was absolutely right but for the wrong reasons because Pelosi blamed the insurance companies for nuking the public option which is nothing more than a backdoor single payer national healthcare system run the by government – you know, the same government that runs the Post Office, SS, Medicaid, Medicare, Amtrak, energy, the banks and buys toilet seats at a thousand bucks a pop when it’s not renewing visas for the dead 911 terrorists or mailing stimulus checks to folks whose addresses are state and federal prisons . 
The primary reason why the insurance companies are “villains” is because they like having the absolute power to drive up healthcare costs by bribing state legislatures to pass mountains of mandates.  The big fight over healthcare is nothing more than a Congressional power play that attempts to transfer the power to be bribed from state legislatures, who held hold that power before the passage of Obamacare, to Congress.   If mandates are left to the federal government, the healthcare situation will be even worse because at least now we do have some states who don’t legislate draconian mandates.   What we need are ZERO mandates and consumer choice but they won’t work effectively without tort reform.
Besides driving up the cost of medical insurance, our healthcare nightmare has profound financial and social impacts.  Medical expenses are the primary cause of bankruptcies.  Salon.com reported:
the results of a study to be published in the August issue of the American Journal of Medicine show that "medical problems contributed to nearly two-thirds (62.1 percent) of all bankruptcies in 2007." More strikingly -- "between 2001 and 2007, the proportion of all bankruptcies attributable to medical problems rose by 49.6 percent."
So long as greedy politicians lust for campaign dollars from health insurers and so long as politicians can be bought, nothing can ever be resolved.  By making private insurance unaffordable, healthcare costs are dramatically driven up, ordinary middle class families cannot afford health insurance and Americans are driven into bankruptcy.
One of the worst nightmares for an employee losing a job is the loss of health insurance.  Therefore, health insurance must become portable.  If an employee loses a job, he should be allowed to keep the health care policy at the same rate.  Folks don’t lose their auto insurance when they lose their job but they lose their health insurance.    Auto insurance should be the model for healthcare reform.  In the auto insurance world, high risk drivers who crash a car a week are put into insurance pools to spread the risk among insurers. 
Medicare and Medicaid fraud are huge numbers simply because the government encourages fraud and rarely prosecutes the crime.   If anything, the government is fully committed to making the world safe for fraud.  The crimes are not limited to individuals and indeed span pharmaceutical companies and other business interests.   Sen. Tom Coburn (OK) and a physician himself, tracks a lot of government waste and fraud.  On Medicaid/Medicare alone, Sen. Coburn reports:

Medicaid/Medicare Fraud--$53 billion in 2007 alone?
New York had an estimated 42% fraud rate in 2005:
Drug firm fraud may cost Medicaid untold billions
$27.3 million ($15.1 million federal share) in Medicaid overpayments for services claimed to have been provided after beneficiaries' deaths:
Medicaid drivers take D.C. for ride; no background checks on companies that got $22.3 million in 2005:
Medicare fraud costs billions of dollars each year, CMS officials testify
Rolls Royce and $689 air mattress purchased with Medicare money
CMS makes $50 million mistake:
Source:  http://coburn.senate.gov/oversight/?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=31a64cce-ffbb-4375-ace5-75eecf1fbb60
The wildest imaginations couldn’t dream this stuff up for a comic book, sitcom or horror movie.   Yet, this is how our government operates because government is nothing more than a fraud factory.  Anything the government runs is an open invitation to commit crime and get away with it.  In 7/09 USA Today reported that Medicaid prescription drug fraud totaled $65 million from 2006-07 and involved Medicaid funded drug abuse for all kinds of folks, including dead folks. 
There is far less fraud and waste in the private sector.  However, when the public sector becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of the private sector, the worst type of fraud and waste only escalates because at this point, wholesale theft and robbery become legalized. 
Aside from promoting the opportunity for even greater levels of fraud and waste, Obamacare is itself criminally insane because of 2 big reasons.  Congress exempts its elitist selves from the same healthcare schemes they are attempting to force upon 300 million folks.   Why should the American people have a healthcare system forced upon them that Congress rejects for itself?  
Any health insurance reforms should benefit both businesses and consumers without strangling business, taxpayers and consumers.

Fixing healthcare starts with personal responsibility and dispelling the myth that healthcare is 'free' or should be free.  Nothing is free and it's a whole lot more expensive and ineffective when run by the government. 

If the American people decide turn their lives, liberty and health over to government, they are effectively consenting to being put into the great vat of the collective wherein the value of their life is purely utilitarian, arbitrary, subject to bureaucratic whim and on target with the totalitarian master plan that perceives the human hoards as nothing more than a herd of cattle to be managed.    If we consent to such a horror, we forsake the essence of our humanity. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Education Boondoggle

The Education Boondoggle

Teenagers have been warned they are becoming unemployable because they use a vocabulary of just 800 words…. The majority of teenagers should have developed a broad vocabulary of 40,000 words by the time they reach 16.”  Source:  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1242056/Teenspeak-youngsters-unemployable-limited-vocabulary.html#
Most western nations’ deliberately implemented government funded education programs to guarantee that our kids would never acquire essential skills for economic success or promote lifelong learning or even the most basic of communication skills for social and business interaction.  Government views children as nothing more than a herd of cattle than can be controlled and manipulated for the benefit of the plantation owners. 
The American public education system has degenerated to the point where it is nothing more than a propaganda machine for statism and totalitarianism.  Besides guaranteeing that our kids are chronically dumbed down zombies incapable of behaving like anything more than a herd of brainless cattle, the evils inflicted upon a nation that made the conscious decision to sacrifice its kids on the altar of “government is god” is so morally reprehensible that it constitutes the worst forms of human depravity. 
Ever since the federal Department of Education was created by Jimmy Carter in 1979, the quality of education in America has been spiraling downward.  Curriculums  focus on bolstering self esteem, communitarian ideology, rain forest math, social justice, victimology, revisionist history and just about everything else that avoids math, science, literature, biology and all the core subjects that once gave a high school graduate more than adequate skills to function in the workforce and/or enter college.
But these days, America is no longer the great place to build a plant and hire workers and engineers.  A few years ago, Toyota caught some headlines because it made the decision to build a new plant in Canada despite several U.S. states offering huge incentives.  The reason?   Canadians with a high school diploma are far better educated and far more literate than Americans.  Apparently, training factory workers in America was a Herculean task requiring pictorials because folks simply could not read training manuals. 
Although the government is fully committed to dumbing down Americans of all races, nowhere is the disaster more heavily and painfully pronounced than in African American and Hispanic communities.   The dropout rates are horrific according to CNN:
Researchers for the study analyzed the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Surveys, household data from the Current Population Survey, national data on GED certificate awards and other official sources to examine the problem at the national level and in the nation's 12 largest states: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.
Men and blacks and Hispanics of both genders are among those particularly prone to dropping out of high school.
"As these data show, this dropout crisis is disproportionately affecting America's communities of color," said Marc Morial, president and chief executive officer of the National Urban League. "Youth from all communities deserve an equal chance at educational success."
Among the findings in the report, "Left Behind in America: The Nation's Dropout Crisis:"
  Nearly one in five U.S. men between the ages of 16 and 24 (18.9 percent) were dropouts in 2007.
 Nearly three of 10 Latinos, including recent immigrants, were dropouts (27.5 percent).
More than one in five blacks dropped out of school (21 percent). The dropout rate for whites was 12.2 percent.
The education statistics on African American and Hispanics are appalling and if anybody has had an up close and personal glimpse into the education system, the American decline in education is no longer a mystery.  Because our schools are nothing more than statist indoctrination factories the results are entirely predictable.  Still, Caucasians and Asians perform much better than African Americans and Hispanics, even in the worst of the schools and that’s largely attributable to the fact their families are more intact and stable. 
The colossal failures of the U.S. education system are frequently analyzed by an assortment of think tanks, media folks and anybody else who wants to chirp in with a well reasoned, articulate and well thought out opinions. 
John McWhorter, an African American, a Berkeley linguistics professor and author of Winning the Race: Beyond the Crisis in Black America has extensively addressed the agonizing issue of the failure of African Americans to succeed and the total lack of measurable progress.  McWhorter inflamed many when he concluded that the failures of African Americans are directly attributable to its culture of rap and disdain for education.  Education is apparently considered a white man’s endeavor that African Americans should avoid at all costs. 
Larry Elders, an African American Libertarian radio talk show host and attorney has written several best sellers that discuss a variety of race related issues.  His book Showdown “demonstrates how the nation would be better, stronger and safer with less government intervention and how individuals would not only cope but thrive without the so-called social safety net.”
Elders makes an excellent point because building a culture of dependency absolutely creates a totalitarian state wherein “Big Brother” can only operate with legitimacy by forcefully zapping people of their ability to think, to reason, to produce, to flourish, to succeed  and to have a boundless intellectual curiosity.  A nation of independent free thinkers poses the greatest threats to the state, its operatives and its liberty crushing powers.    But despite the best efforts of government to indoctrinate its citizens into accepting perpetual serfdom, there still beats a weak but alive antidote within the human condition because throughout history humans have longed to be free of shackles. 
In the modern world, shackles are far more subtle than the historically visible shackles of ruthless brute force like Stalinist gulags and the slave trade.  These days, totalitarians of all stripes have discovered that brute force isn’t necessary, yet, because validating the voluntary submission of the multitudes to the ruling elites only requires control of the education system and democracy.  Dumbed down citizens are far too intellectually incapacitated to pay any attention to how their congress critters vote.  Nor are they capable of even analyzing issues. 
American kids continue to fall behind other first world nations and even third world nations when it comes to education. 
Fifteen-year-old students from the United States rank 25th out of 30 advanced nations in math and 24th in science, according to The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA).
The longer kids are in school and the more money we spend on them, the further behind they get, says Walter Williams in “Nation needs major reforms in education.”
 Source:  http://www.examiner.com/x-1393-Education-Examiner~y2009m6d11-US-students-rank-behind-other-countries
The glaring failures of the education system significantly impacts our economy and vastly contributes to the reduced ability of Americans to be entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists, doctors, inventors and high achievers  etc.   The impact on our future will be devastating.
The education mafia that rules the failed U.S. education system with an iron fist is also a world class terrorist organization.  Even Rod Paige, a Bush 43 appointed Education Secretary, agrees; he bluntly called the National Education Association (NEA) a “terrorist organization” and Paige is African America.   Meanwhile, the educrats continue to demand more and more money to pour down the education rat hole and they manage to always avoid accountability for the gargantuan sums of money they extort from taxpayers.    Despite spending more on education than any nation on earth, we have nothing to show for it and the results continue to decline at an alarming rate.
According to the Wall Street Journal, teachers in America are the highest paid teachers in the world and the average public school teacher earns on average $34.06 per hour.   
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, public school teachers earned $34.06 per hour in 2005, 36% more than the hourly wage of the average white-collar worker and 11% more than the average professional specialty or technical worker.
In the popular imagination, however, public school teachers are underpaid. "Salaries are too low. We all know that," noted First Lady Laura Bush, expressing the consensus view. "We need to figure out a way to pay teachers more." Indeed, our efforts to hire more teachers and raise their salaries account for the bulk of public school spending increases over the last four decades. During that time per-pupil spending, adjusted for inflation, has more than doubled; overall we now annually spend more than $500 billion on public education…
It would also be beneficial if the debate touched on the correlation between teacher pay and actual results. To wit, higher teacher pay seems to have no effect on raising student achievement. Metropolitan areas with higher teacher pay do not graduate a higher percentage of their students than areas with lower teacher pay.
In fact, the urban areas with the highest teacher pay are famous for their abysmal outcomes. Metro Detroit leads the nation, paying its public school teachers, on average, $47.28 per hour. That's 61% more than the average white-collar worker in the Detroit area and 36% more than the average professional worker. In metro New York, public school teachers make $45.79 per hour, 20% more than the average professional worker in that area. And in Los Angeles teachers earn $44.03 per hour, 23% higher than other professionals in the area.
Source:  http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110009612
   Ednews.org is an organization devoted to education issues and it produced a startling report titled “Special investigation: How a generation of illiterate, feral youths who idolize drug dealers and rappers live lawlessly outside civilized society”.   Although the study focused on youths in Britain, it could easily have focused on American youth and the results would have been the same. 
Our miserable education failures extend into higher education as well.  A Washington Post article states “Literacy experts and educators say they are stunned by the results of a recent adult literacy assessment, which shows that the reading proficiency of college graduates has declined in the past decade, with no obvious explanation”.
"It's appalling -- it's really astounding," said Michael Gorman, president of the American Library Association and a librarian at California State University at Fresno. "Only 31 percent of college graduates can read a complex book and extrapolate from it”. That's not saying much for the remainder.
Dolores Perin, a reading expert at Columbia University Teachers College, said that her work has indicated that the issue may start at the high school level. "There is a tremendous literacy problem among high school graduates that is not talked about," said Perin.."
James Quinn, a financial analyst and social commentator wrote an amazing piece in Financialsense.com and his analysis of the U.S. education disaster is totally laid out in an article that prints out to 13 pages that’s packed with data and keen observations.   It pretty much tells you everything you need to know about American education and how it is a recipe for the proliferation of poverty.   Quinn’s anger and disgust are clearly apparent:
According to the CDC, 66% of adults over the age of 20 are overweight or obese. That is approximately 140 million adults. Somewhere between 15 and 20 million Americans can be classified as alcoholics. As many as 50% of those on welfare are alcoholics. There are 225 million people over 18 years old and 32 million of them do not have a high school degree. There are 32 million adults or 14% who are illiterate (23% in California, 22% in New York, 20% in Florida, 17% in New Jersey). The United States’ spending per pupil in public schools at $9,266 is in the top 5 in the world. New York and New Jersey spend $14,000 per pupil and one-fifth of their adults are illiterate.
Forrest Gump, when asked “Are you stupid or something”, responded “Stupid is as stupid does”.
Educational attainment is the single biggest determinant of lifetime income. As of 2008, 14% of Americans over 18 years old haven’t graduated high school, 31% have achieved a high school degree, 27% have earned a bachelor’s degree, and only 9% have earned an advanced degree. The median household income in the U.S. is $46,326. The median household income of Asian households is 24% higher at $57,518. The median household income of Black households is 35% lower at $30,134. Asian households have a fantastic educational achievement, with 49% of Asians achieving a bachelor’s degree or higher. Black households have a higher percentage with no high school degree (18%) than they do with a bachelor’s degree or higher (17%). Hispanic households have even more dreadful levels of educational attainment with only 12% achieving a bachelor’s degree or higher, while a full 37% of Hispanics have not graduated high school. Even though 69 million Americans have attained a high school degree, many are functionally illiterate as our public school system has just matriculated them through the system.
The dumbing down of America has allowed the intelligentsia to retain power and increase their control over the country. Lack of educational achievement doesn’t automatically mean you are easily manipulated, but it sure increases the odds. If you weren’t motivated enough to do well in school, you are unlikely to take your civic duties of voting, understanding national issues, and getting involved in your community seriously. The saddest part is that an enormous quantity of even the college educated is so intellectually lazy that they choose to trust their leaders without question. With 100 million, ignorant, non-thinking, non-questioning, and intellectually lazy zombies occupying space in this country, continued domination by a few thousand highly educated elite remains quite easy. A highly educated citizenry would endanger their power. By socializing public education, encouraging mediocrity, and not rewarding excellence, government bureaucrats insure that the masses remain ignorant and pliable. Those in power know that by keeping the ignorant masses sedated with socialist goodies like welfare, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, public housing, and easy credit, they can stay in charge. For them it is fabulous, for the country it is a disaster. Winston Churchill summed it up succinctly:
“Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”
Quinn’s conclusions are dead on accurate.  America was once a nation that bred the best and the brightest in everything.  Now we have become just another global cesspool of miserable mediocrity. 
Much of our education decline is directly attributable to the Federal Department of Education, a tax dollar guzzling organization staffed with arrogant and overpaid bureaucrats fully dedicated to the dumbing down of America.  The DOE must be abolished because it’s an albatross that is choking us to death by defining education as social justice indoctrination sprinkled with rain forest math.  An acquaintance described his young child’s math education as “they tell the kids that Johnnie has 5 apples but Sallie only has 1 apple, is that fair?”. 
Equally important as abolishing the Department of Education is breaking up the legal monopoly of the educrats by allowing a voucher system.  Some European nations with highly successful education results use vouchers and this creates tremendous competition in education because parents who have choices will search for the best performing schools for their kids.   In America, there are no choices except expensive private schools and home schooling. 
John Stossel’s outstanding piece on education titled 'Stupid in America' is another not so shocking expose’ of our failed education system.  Stossel directly attributes failed education to a lack of choice and a lack of educational competition.  Education is an issue that is near and dear to Stossel’s heart and he covers it extensively.  He interviewed a principal of an alternative charter school in Oakland, Ben Chavez.  Chavez has had remarkable success with troubled students and spends far less money per pupil.  Stossel writes “Since he took over four years ago, his school has gone from being among the worst in Oakland to being the best. His middle school has the highest test scores in the city.
"It's not about the money," he said.
He's confident that even kids who come from broken families and poor families will do well in his school. "Give me the poor kids, and I will outperform the wealthy kids who live in the hills. And we do it," he said. ”
The courageous and astute Mr. Chavez had a lot of experience in the public school system and his extensive knowledge highly qualifies him as an educator with real solutions to real problems.  Even though Chavez spends less per pupil than public schools, his teachers earn more than public school teachers. 
Until educators like Mr. Chavez are freed from the shackles of the NEA and DOE imposed standards of mediocrity for teachers and students, America is doomed.  We cannot thrive as a nation that marginalizes and disavows inquisitive minds hungry for knowledge.  Like any cesspool, it needs periodic cleansing and cleaning out the worthless bureaucratic parasites and teachers in the composting education cesspool should be a starting point.   
Mr. Chavez in Oakland, CA isn’t the only extraordinary natural resource in America producing education miracles.  In inner city Chicago, a man named Paul J. Adams has been operating a low cost private school called Providence St. Mel for 30 years.  And for the last 30 years, 100% of its students have been accepted into college.  Ronald Reagan raved about the school in the 1980’s and Oprah Winfrey gave the school $1 million gift.  What is the cause of Mr. Adams’ remarkable success?
There's no magic formula to explain why the school is doing so well, Adams tells Scott Simon.
"I think we have very intelligent people teaching [the children]," he says. "We have people that understand our mission. Our mission is to send our children to college. We think those critical analytical skills need to be developed early."
But Adams says a key component of St. Mel's mission — "we believe in the creation of inspired lives" — takes plenty of work.
"You have to earn the right to dream," he says. "You have to pay your dues. That is something that sticks with our youngsters as they go off to college and are now adults. They talk about that mission statement. In times of need and when times are difficult, they can always go back to that mission statement."
Work Not Done
Adams says there's a positive energy at the school.
"We celebrate learning," he says. "We celebrate success. We have honors assemblies that resemble pep rallies, where children are applauding that you're on the honor roll."…
Extended school weeks make a difference, he says.
"I think one of the misnomers is that we have some kind of miracle going on. We spend more time teaching," Adams says. "We're in school six days a week. If I could figure out a way to raise enough money, I'd have it seven days a week. Students are in the building from 7 a.m., sometimes even earlier, to 5 and 6 and 7 o'clock at night."
Source:  http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=113683847&ft=1&f=1013
Of course, the goons and thugs who run the public school system have nothing but utter contempt for Mr. Adams and Mr. Chavez and their highly successful teaching methods.  Such models in education excellence will never be adopted by liberal bureaucrats who are addicted to crushing the potential of a child’s mind.   It’s what government does best. 
 A nation of lobotomized idiots should be unacceptable for Americans and our children are cheated under the weight of a failed education system.  But we’ve accepted it for so long that we scarcely have any memories left of what our education system once produced before the federal government and the educrats destroyed another one of America’s crowning achievements. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Civil Liberties Boondoggle

The jaws of power are always open to devour, and her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking, speaking and writing.  John Adams
Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.  Benjamin Franklin
Nazi, ‘to be free from freedom’.  Eric Hoffer (1902-1983), American author, philosopher

The Civil Liberties Boondoggle
Of all the horrors going on in America that attack liberty and prosperity, and there are many, by far one of the most egregious is that attack on civil liberties.  The very same liberals and Democrats who were so rightfully outraged over Bush and Republican assaults on civil liberties are now quiet.  However, even among liberals, Democrats and their traditional organizations, dissent is rapidly surfacing as they are forced to face the stone cold reality that Obama is worst than Bush on civil liberties and that his administration is just building on Bush era civil liberty infringements. 
The Patriot Act that was passed by Congress within weeks after 911 is a civil liberties slashing horror that effectively negated the 4th amendment by allowing warrantless searches.  The government now has the right to invade our privacy, e-mails, telecommunications, financial records, phone conservations and much more – all without obtaining a valid warrant from a judge and showing probable cause.  As far as the Constitution is concerned, knowledgeable observers understand full well that the Patriot Act violates the 1, 4th, 5th and 6th amendments known as the Bill of Rights. 
While Democrats and civil libertarians objected to the Patriot Act along political lines because it was a perceived as a Republican initiative, few are even willing to admit that the roots of the Patriot Act go all the way back to Bill Clinton’s 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, another civil liberty slashing piece of legislation that followed the Oklahoma City bombing. 
According to the website historycommons.org on April 25, 1996 “President Clinton signs the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, which the New York Times calls “broad legislation that provides new tools and penalties for federal law-enforcement officials to use in fighting terrorism.” The Clinton administration proposed the bill in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City terrorist bombing…. In many ways, the original bill will be mirrored by the USA Patriot Act six years later…. Civil libertarians on both the left and right opposed the legislation. Political analyst Michael Freeman called the proposal one of the “worst assaults on civil liberties in decades,” and the Houston Chronicle called it a “frightening” and “grievous” assault on domestic freedoms…”
Civil libertarians of all political stripes were totally horrified when Obama and the Dems renewed the expiring Bush era Patriot Act without even attempting to cure some of its numerous flaws.  Glenn Greenwald, a constitutional attorney who writes extensively about civil liberties and who is well respected by civil libertarians on the right and left, has been consistently critical of the Patriot Act as well as Obama continuing the policy of Bush to murder US citizens abroad without any evidence and just the mere suggesting that they are “terrorists”.  Greenwald said “Barack Obama, like George Bush before him, has claimed the authority to order American citizens murdered based solely on the unverified, uncharged, unchecked claim that they are associated with Terrorism and pose “a continuing and imminent threat to U.S. persons and interests.”  They’re entitled to no charges, no trial, no ability to contest the accusations.  Amazingly, the Bush administration’s policy of merely imprisoning foreign nationals (along with a couple of American citizens) without charges — based solely on the President’s claim that they were Terrorists — produced intense controversy for years.  That, one will recall, was a grave assault on the Constitution.  Shouldn’t Obama’s policy of ordering American citizens assassinated without any due process or checks of any kind — not imprisoned, but killed — produce at least as much controversy?.... As we well know from the last eight years, the authoritarians among us in both parties will, by definition, reflexively justify this conduct by insisting that the assassination targets are Terrorists and therefore deserve death.  What they actually mean, however, is that the U.S. Government has accused them of being Terrorists, which (except in the mind of an authoritarian) is not the same thing as being a Terrorist…Can anyone remotely reconcile that righteous proclamation with what the Obama administration is doing?  And more generally, what legal basis exists for the President to unilaterally compile hit lists of American citizens he wants to be killed?”
But Glenn Greenwald is far from the only person to chirp in on the government’s civil liberties abuses and advocacy for murder of anybody the government deems a terrorist.  The John Birch Society (JBS), a very conservative organization that advocates for constitutional rule, said “Surveillance, torture and detention without jury trials have long gone hand-in-hand throughout all of human history. The Soviet KGB reputedly had listening devices everywhere they could, brought people for beatings and torture to the infamous Lubyanka prison in Moscow and then “disappeared” its prisoners to the gulag. The Nazi Gestapo also had an all-pervasive intelligence network, engaged in torture, and sent millions of detainees to concentration camps without trial.
That's why constitutionalists have opposed the Patriot Act from the beginning. It is a stepping stone to a far more brutal form of government than Americans have historically known.”
The Washington Post is a notorious statist rag that is typically the cheerleader in chief for all the evil perpetrated by our government, Congress, the military industrial complex and the CIA.  But shockingly, WP’s Dana Priest and William M. Arkin did an outstanding piece of journalism titled “Monitoring America” that exposes the expansive size and scope of our national security state.  The piece states “the United States is assembling a vast domestic intelligence apparatus to collect information about Americans, using the FBI, local police, state homeland security offices and military criminal investigators….The government's goal is to have every state and local law enforcement agency in the country feed information to Washington….This localized intelligence apparatus is part of a larger Top Secret America….Today's story, along with related material on The Post's Web site, examines how Top Secret America plays out at the local level. It describes a web of 4,058 federal, state and local organizations, each with its own counterterrorism responsibilities and jurisdictions. At least 935 of these organizations have been created since the 2001 attacks or became involved in counterterrorism for the first time after 9/11.”
4,058 federal, state and local organizations all creating a centralized command and control police state is very disturbing indeed.  Even more surprising is that this stuff has been going on for years/decades and that only 935 of these organizations were created since 911. 
Folks tend to believe that ideological left and right groups are polar opposites on issues but this is far from true.  Many groups on the left and the right oppose a lot of the same things, especially the assault on civil liberties, the thieving Federal Reserve and the military industrial security complex that keeps us at war.
The John Birch Society has actually praised efforts by the left to question Obama’s civil liberties record “Some leftist civil rights organizations such as the ACLU and People for the American Way have petitioned Congress not to renew these provisions of the Patriot Act. But most of the political left have simply rolled over now that “their man” is in charge.”
And that’s precisely a huge part of the problem.  Everybody rolls over on big issues, issues that politicians campaign on and forget once they are elected. 
Libertarian organizations like Reason, Cato, Lew Rockwell and anti-war.com have been exposing the assaults on civil liberties for years. 
But apparently, Obama and his Gestapo styled goon machine is attempting to out-Bush Bush on civil liberty assaults. 
Obama Demands Access to Internet Records, in Secret, and Without Court Review
The Obama administration is seeking authority from Congress that would compel internet service providers (ISPs) to turn over records of an individual’s internet activity for use in secretive FBI probes….
Under cover of coughing-up information deemed relevant to espionage or terrorism investigations, proposed changes to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) would greatly expand the volume of private records that can be seized through National Security Letters (NSLs).
Constitution-shredding lettres de cachet, NSLs are administrative subpoenas that can be executed by agencies such as the FBI, CIA or Defense Department, solely on the say so of supervisory agents.
The noxious warrants are not subject to court review, nor can a recipient even disclose they have received one. Because of their secretive nature, they are extremely difficult to challenge.
Issued by unaccountable Executive Branch agents hiding behind a fa├žade of top secret classifications and much-ballyhooed “sources and methods,” NSLs clearly violate our constitutional rights.
The fourth amendment unambiguously states: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Source:  http://inteldaily.com/2010/08/obama-demands-access-to-internet-records-in-secret-and-without-court-review/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+inteldaily%2Ffeeds+%28Inteldaily.com%29
So many Fedzilla power grabs are in the process of being legislated and/or implemented by our increasingly Nazified Police State that it’s difficult for Americans to even grasp what is being done to them, their liberty and their privacy. 
Another civil liberty slashing horror is the emergence of “Fusion Centers”, a Fedzilla initiative that merges local police departments with the military and the Feds, all in the name of national security of course.  Civil libertarians have been all over the fusion center issue and grassroots groups have been formed to fight them. 
One civil liberties information group dubbed them an “American Stasi” in an attempt to explain the fusion centers. The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reported on July 25 that "there are 72 fusion centers around the nation, analyzing and disseminating data and information of all kinds. That is one for every state and others for large urban cities."

What is a fusion center?

The answer depends on your perspective. If you work for the Department of Homeland Security, it is a federal, state, local, or regional data-coordination units, designed to improve the sharing of anti-terrorism and anti-crime data in order to make America safer. If you are privacy or civil-rights advocate, it is part of a powerful new domestic surveillance infrastructure that combines data from both the public and private sectors to track innocent people and so makes Americans less safe from their own government. In that respect, the fusion center is reminiscent of the East German
stasi, which used tens of thousands of state police and hundreds of thousands of informers to monitor an estimated one-third of the population.

The history of fusion centers provides insight into which answer is correct.

Fusion centers began in 2003 under the administration of George W. Bush as a joint project between the departments of Justice and Homeland Security. The purposeis to coordinate federal and local law enforcement by using the "800,000 plus law enforcement officers across the country" whose intimate awareness of their own communities makes them "best placed to function as the 'eyes and ears' of an extended national security community." The fusion centers are hubs for the coordination. By April 2008 there were 58.

The growth has continued under the Obama administration. Indeed, Obama has also continued Bush's concealment of domestic intelligence activity by threatening to veto legislation that authorizes broader congressional oversight or review of intelligence agencies by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). As a result of that threat, the GAO provision was removed from the Intelligence Authorization Act..”
The ACLU has expressed seriously valid concerns regarding the fusion centers, especially since they operate without any congressional oversight and/or accountability by an increasingly shadow government that operates in secret.  The ACLU said “New institutions like fusion centers must be planned in a public, open manner, and their implications for privacy and other key values carefully thought out and debated. And like any powerful institution in a democracy, they must be constructed in a carefully bounded and limited manner with sufficient checks and balances to prevent abuse.  Unfortunately, the new fusion centers have not conformed to these vital requirements.”, and went to highlight some specific concerns:
  • “Ambiguous Lines of Authority. The participation of agencies from multiple jurisdictions in fusion centers allows the authorities to manipulate differences in federal, state and local laws to maximize information collection while evading accountability and oversight through the practice of "policy shopping."
  • Private Sector Participation. Fusion centers are incorporating private-sector corporations into the intelligence process, breaking down the arm's length relationship that protects the privacy of innocent Americans who are employees or customers of these companies, and increasing the risk of a data breach.
  • Military Participation. Fusion centers are involving military personnel in law enforcement activities in troubling ways.
  • Data Fusion = Data Mining. Federal fusion center guidelines encourage whole sale data collection and manipulation processes that threaten privacy.
  • Excessive Secrecy. Fusion centers are hobbled by excessive secrecy, which limits public oversight, impairs their ability to acquire essential information and impedes their ability to fulfill their stated mission, bringing their ultimate value into doubt.
 The lack of proper legal limits on the new fusion centers not only threatens to undermine fundamental American values, but also threatens to turn them into wasteful and misdirected bureaucracies that, like our federal security agencies before 9/11, won't succeed in their ultimate mission of stopping terrorism and other crime.”
On a more frightful level, local police departments are beginning to resemble paramilitary organization complete with military grade weapons and equipment.  The use of heavily armed SWAT teams used to be very rare and were only utilized under extreme circumstances such as terrorism and hostage rescue.  But these days, SWAT teams are used as Nazi styled storm troopers for all kinds of police activities and with such regularity that Americans are becoming desensitized to living in a police state.  The federal government has been loading up local police departments with military grade weapons and equipment for decades.
A lot of civil liberty organizations on the left and the right have been documenting the growth and abuse of the emerging paramilitary state.  Cato.org actually keeps a data base on botched police raids and the casualties resulting from such violent incursions into the homes of ordinary American citizens; the data base is available at http://www.cato.org/raidmap/.  From 1985 to 2010, you can scroll through data state by state and year by year on: death of an innocent, raid on a non-violent offender, raid on an innocent suspect, other examples of paramilitary excess and even unnecessary raids on doctors and sick people. 
Radley Balko of Cato.org actually testified in 2007 before a House Subcommittee on Crime and his testimony was titled “Our Militarized Police Departments”. 
Balko said, in part, “I’m here to talk about police militarization, a troubling trend that’s been on the rise in America’s police departments over the last 25 years.  Militarization is a broad term that refers to using military-style weapons, tactics, training, uniforms, and even heavy equipment by civilian police departments.
It’s a troubling trend because the military has a very different and distinct role than our domestic peace officers. The military’s job is to annihilate a foreign enemy. The police are supposed to protect us while upholding our constitutional rights. It’s dangerous to conflate the two.
But that’s exactly what we’re doing. Since the late 1980s, Mr. Chairman, thanks to acts passed by the U.S. Congress, millions of pieces of surplus military equipment have been given to local police departments across the country.
We’re not talking just about computers and office equipment. Military-grade semi-automatic weapons, armored personnel vehicles, tanks, helicopters, airplanes, and all manner of other equipment designed for use on the battlefield is now being used on American streets, against American citizens.
Academic criminologists credit these transfers with the dramatic rise in paramilitary SWAT teams over the last quarter century.
SWAT teams were originally designed to be used in violent, emergency situations like hostage takings, acts of terrorism, or bank robberies….
These violent raids on American homes, when coupled with the imperfect, often ugly methods used in drug policing, have set the stage for disturbingly frequent cases of police raiding the homes not only of recreational, nonviolent drug users, but the homes of people completely innocent of any crime at all….
800 times per week in this country, a SWAT team breaks open an American’s door, and invades his home. Few turn up any weapons at all, much less high-power weapons. Less than half end with felony charges for the suspects. And only a small percentage end up doing significant time in prison.
Mr. Chairman, I ask that the Congress consider ending the federal incentives that are driving this trend, and that the Congress reign in the copious use of SWAT teams and among federal police agencies.”  Source:  http://reason.com/archives/2007/07/02/our-militarized-police-departm/1
Also, among these 800 times a week  SWAT team busts into somebody’s home in America, frequently the police have the wrong address and terrorize and/or kill innocent civilians. 
The 1878 Posse Comitatus Act was passed to ban the use of federal troops as civilian police.  However, Posse Comitatus has been much abused and some of Fedzilla’s brazen abuses of the law are well documented. 
The New American reported in July, 2010 some very disturbing actions by the federal government.    “Within one month of the November midterm elections, a specially tasked unit of the United States Army will be on alert and ready to deploy within the borders of the United States to quell “civil unrest”… The subordination of such an outfit, known as the Consequence Management Response Force (CCMRF), under the command of US Army Northern Command (NORTHCOM) was documented last year by this writer in The New American. Lest any suppose that such an overt act of tyranny be the product of our current President’s fertile fascist imagination, that account related how President Barack Obama was simply carrying out the historic reassignment implemented by President George W. Bush, who in 2008 claimed that as commander-in-chief, the President was authorized by the Constitution to use the armed forces as he saw fit, congressional opposition notwithstanding. 
In response to the Bush administration’s pronouncement, the Cato Institute published a warning of the dangers of using a brigade of the United States Army as a domestic police force. The Cato Institute article reported that the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team would be brought home from Iraq and combined with 15,000–20,000 other soldiers to form the new unit. NORTHCOM’s website claimed the size of the unit composed of servicemen from all branches of the military would not exceed 4,700 personnel.” 
Source:  http://www.thenewamerican.com/index.php/usnews/politics/3415-american-military-unit-set-to-impose-order-in-american-towns-in-time-for-november-elections
Some civil liberties commentators have sarcastically noted that the US military is merely practicing on foreigners on foreign soil to sharpen their skills for implementing a militarized police state in America.
In the arena of civil liberties, America is definitely crossing the Rubicon and taking a flying leap in the direction of an authoritarian police state more reminiscent of the Nazi Gestapo, the East German Stasi and other equally horrifying police states.  The Feds won’t stop and they have plans on the drawing board so extensive, so pervasive and so utterly draconian in their application that only a revolution can halt their power mad dementia and quest for absolute power.
The only thing that can possibly stop what Fedzilla has planned for us is for nullification and 10th amendment movements to become powerful enough in the states to launch a successful challenge to federal powers.  Only the states can take back their constitutional sovereignty that truly holds the roots for the restoration of liberty.