Friday, July 30, 2010

Hodes misses unemployment benefits vote - while criticizing Republicans for not supporting it

Oh, you can't make this stuff up: ["Hodes misses vote on benefits"].
Sigh. Hodes is hamming it up with those clowns who worship Kos but can't find the time to vote on unemployment benefits?

It usually takes me a week but ...

I'm finally getting through the latest edition of TIME Magazine. It's a nice, quick read these days, with some interesting things to consider.
This week though, there was a dynamic column by Zachary Karabell about the economy: ["With Stocks, It's Not the Economy"].
In a nutshell, he basically says that even though nation states are getting creamed, a lot of companies aren't because they are so big and so global at this point that it really doesn't matter what happens in the U.S. or Greece or wherever. There is always some other place to sell Coke or Marlboros and make the markup.
In addition, people should not be looking towards the stock market for any indication about how the economy is doing; that's like seeing how many people are at the blackjack tables at Foxwoods. Wall Street doesn't indicate anything but what's going on there - not here.
When taken all together, the column really gets to the heart of the problem of globalization. As these same companies control Washington, with their lobbyists and influence, the politicians will never truly do what needs to be done to save the economy. As we have been manipulated into watching Wall Street - whether we own stocks or not - and taught to think that this is the economic engine of the country, we're consistently heading in the wrong direction.
It's amazing that so many people, so many educated, so many experts, can be so blindly tricked into believing that this is the economic system we should have.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Santorum for ... ahahahaha, hohoho ... that's funny ...

Santorum is running for president: ["Santorum huddles with former aides to talk 2012"].
This is a joke ... it's nothing but pure ego. He must be going stir crazy, at home with his wife and what, seven kids? It's all about raising tons of money from rich friends, making speeches, gettin' your ya-yas out, and then, getting 3 percent of the vote and whimpering home.
Rick, trust me, it's not going to happen. You're not going to be president. Stay home, continue to appear (blather away) on FoxNews, raise your kids to be productive human beings, but don't waste your friend's money or time.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Children live better in New Hampshire

For all the complaints by my "liberal" - many of them corporate liberal - friends about all the things we don't have in New Hampshire, let's look at some of the good things we have, especially when it comes to kids: ["NH No. 1, Vt. 3, in child health"].
So we don't have new shiny schools. So we don't have full-day K. So what? We have the healthiest kids and the least amount of child poverty in the nation. And we don't have an income or sales tax? Wow, amazing. Are we perfect? No. There's always work to be done. But this says a lot to me about the way the government does business here.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hodes in Vegas ...

According to Politico, Rep. Paul Hodes, a Dem running for U.S. Senate, was in Vegas at the Netroots Nation convention: ["Netroots Nation: Candidate meet market"]. Interesting.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

facebook censors political speech? Account reportedly deleted over historic flag

Read it and weep: ["Facebook Deletes Official Alex Jones Page Over Gadsden Flag"].
Sad, actually. I'm half thinking I should delete my facebook account even though I'm having so much fun with it.

Bad strawberries at BJ's

This is an email I sent to BJ's Wholesale Club and California Giant fruit company of Wastonville, Cal.:
I'm writing today to issue a complaint about strawberries I bought at the BJ's Hooksett, NH, location. I purchased them on 7-17-10. The sku # is 665290001665.
I purchased them around 2:30 p.m. on 7-17-10. Normally, I don't buy fruit at BJs but I knew I wasn't going to make it to the store until Sunday and my two boys like fruit for breakfast. I inspected the containers, they all looked fine, and so I chose one. I took them home - about a 20 minute drive - and put them in the fridge. This morning, when I got up to make breakfast, I was shocked to find about a third of the strawberries were moldy. Another third were bruised, mushy, and beginning to get moldy. This, after less than 24 hours from the purchase date. I cut up what I could to feed the kids and composted the rest.
I don't know what the problem is - maybe they weren't picked right, maybe the temps on your display cases are too low, maybe even 20 minutes in an air-conditioned CRV made them go bad - but I do know that this isn't the best situation. I'm not looking for a refund of the $4.99, but I would like you to do something about this so that other people don't experience pure waste like this.
In the future, I think I will skip buying fruit at BJ's. I'm also emailing the company, California Giant of Wastonville, Cal. and posting this on my blog.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Dem Steve Shurtleff (pot) calls (kettle) GOP's John Stephen (black)

This morning's Concord Monitor has an oped by former Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand and at-large Concord City Councilor/State Rep. Steve Shurtleff, both Democrats, attacking Republican gubernatorial candidate John Stephen, saying he will raise property taxes: ["Stephen will raise your property taxes"].
But, ahem, guess what? Shurtleff has already raised taxes!
No disrespect to you Steve but while we don't know what Stephen will actually do if elected, we do know what you've done. Shurtleff, and other councilors including our mayor, raised property taxes in Concord this year instead of making necessary and overdue cuts and rightsizing line items in the city budget. Instead of living without for a bit longer, they raised property taxes. Instead of sacrificing like every taxpayer and renter in Concord now has to do (or working harder and longer to make up the difference, even if it is a "small" amount), they took the easy way out. Why is it that while all of us have to live with less, government never has to live with less? Why is it that all of us who work in the private sector have to work longer and harder often for less, government never does? Marchand and Shurtleff can complain all they want about Stephen but he hasn't chance to do what Shurtleff has already done.
While on this little tear, let me continue a bit.
Unfortunately, the Democrats who swept into power in 2006, on the wake of voter anger due to wasted government spending on wars, privacy concerns and fiscal mismanagement, have done nothing in four years to fix any of the problems.
On the state level, Democrats increased spending by what, 17 percent in two years? They passed a ridiculous LLC tax that will hit small businesses who are barely getting by as it is (like my wife, for example). The Democrats have squandered four years to be fiscally prudent and now, we're on the verge of a "needing" a broad-base tax in New Hampshire.
On the federal level, the Democrats have joined many Republicans in making problems worse. They've kept us in these fraudulent wars, increased spending and debt, bailed out the banks, refused to cut the military budget, etc. They've sent our children more in debt and only created more government jobs, with expensive pensions we'll never be able to fund and benefits that few private sector employees have. The entire mess is a disgrace.
In no way should my comments be seen as a vote for John Stephen though.
I covered the guy as a radio reporter when he was at HHS. A bit of a lightweight, in my view, and he has not had a lot of non-government work, for all his complaining about the government. In addition, Gov. John Lynch has not done a bad job as governor considering what he has had to deal with. But clearly many people in positions of power simply don't get it.

Nader: Iran and healthcare

Guest perspective by Ralph Nader
An article in the current issue of the AARP Bulletin is likely to get a “What’s this?” reaction from many of its millions of readers. It is titled “Iranian Cure for the Delta’s Blues,” with the eye-opening subtitles: “Mississippi Looks to Iran’s health care system”” “That model has improved health dramatically”; “Will it travel well to Baptist Town?”

The media has painted Iran as a backward third world country of 72 million people, who have little to teach us. Presidents Bush and Obama further a narrow view of Iran by looking at it through a military lens. Iranians do suffer from a lack of freedom of expression and widespread human rights abuses.

But, beware of stereotypes of an entire people as being unable to have functional aspects of their life and, in this case, deeply relevant experiences for Baptist Town, Mississippi—an impoverished community neglected by the rapacious pay-or-die business of health care.

There is much unattended and preventable illness in that town as there is throughout the Mississippi Delta – birthplace of the Blues – and other large poverty pockets in the “land of the free, home of the brave.”

As Bulletin author Joel K. Bourne Jr. writes: The area “now suffers a host of health woes, with some of the highest rates of diabetes, obesity, hypertension and infant mortality in the nation.” Many millions of dollars, reflecting the mis-located, impersonal, after the illness, wasteful medical model we’ve come to know over the last decade, have done too little for the Delta’s population.

It just so happened that a 77 year old pediatrician, Aaron Shirley, who 40 years ago helped start public health care in the Delta, and was despairing of any changes occurring, bumped into a native of Iran, Dr. Mohammad Shahbazi, chair of the Department of Behavioral and Environmental Health at Jackson State University.

Iran has an innovative primary health care system, praised by the World Health Organization (WHO), that Dr. Shahbazi believed was worth visiting. Its simplicity is its genius. Its focus on prevention, diagnosis and proper referral for various illnesses goes through three tiers.

At the ground level, first stop “health houses” were established and staffed by trained villagers called “bhevarzes” who provide basic health services for up to 1500 people. So far there are 17,000 health houses with twice the number of behvarzes—half male and half female—who reach 90 percent of the rural population. These health outposts are now setting up in urban neighborhoods.

Regional health center staff supervise the bhevarzes, and health houses. A regional health center also receives the patients that cannot be helped by the “health houses.” Between them, about 80 percent of the cases are treated.

For the more serious illnesses or traumas, there are the larger hospitals. Iranians can go to any level they choose. The Iranian government got this “health house” system underway as part of a policy, according to the Bulletin, that provides inexpensive health insurance for everyone.

Over the past thirty years, this top-down-bottom-up program has reduced infant mortality in rural areas by 90 percent and sharply reduced other illnesses and infections by the preventive attention of these “health houses,” operated by people in their communities.

There has been an exchange of medical personnel back and forth between Iran and Mississippi to learn about how to adapt this framework to the different culture of the Deep South, where most people can’t afford any health insurance at all.

A poor country, with a GDP the size of Connecticut, can do what the richest country in the world cannot do to organize itself to take on corporate greed and get it done. Presently, over 46 million Americans have no health insurance and 45,000 of them die every year as a result (see

True, the Delta doesn’t have the Mullahs to face down the Aetnas. But its beleaguered public health physicians surely know that similar primary care models work anywhere they have been tried in the world—Costa Rica, Chile, Cuba, Brazil and, until it mutated into crypto-capitalism, China.

Swinging into action, Dr. Shirley and his colleagues, who already have a large community clinic in Jackson, are applying for a $20 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to fund 10 health house pilot programs in Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi. Without waiting, he is renovating a Baptist Town shack into a primary care clinic for free screenings and immunizations by trained people living in their town.

James Miller, a health consultant working with Dr. Shirley, told Joel Bourne that “preventive care keeps people from getting sick in the first place and postoperative care will save billions in readmissions. This really could be an answer for what ails the U.S. health care system. But forget about the dollars, what about the human suffering? The value of taking a healthy, productive human being out of society? We’ve got to change the way we think. If you look at the health disparities for minorities in the U.S. we look like some undeveloped countries in how we treat our citizens.”

Except, apparently for Iran.

Certainly, the concept behind “health houses” and a three-tier system has been known by many health care practitioners and policymakers in the U.S. for many years.

The problem is that such a system is seen as a threat to intransigent corporatized medicine lusting for ever greater profits, no matter the cost to penniless innocents from an economic class recruited to fight the criminal wars of Bush and Obama. Those who serve in the armed forces get full health coverage.

The ironies should shame us into action!

Nader and Napolitano

Ralph Nader recently interviewed Judge Andrew Napolitano about his new book which seems very interesting, although with a very small L libertarian slant. Here are some of the clips, with some blockbuster revelations: ["Bush Should Have Been Indicted"].
After watching these clips, two things become clear: 1) Napolitano should be more blunt and honest when appearing on FoxNews; and 2) Nader should be given a regular slot on C-Span to interview people about their books. He does a good job and should be doing more of them.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Shocking oil spill photos

Check them out here: ["You Are Not Authorized to See These Pictures of the Oil Spill, Citizen ... Do Not Look!"]

Lamontagne wins GOP straw poll

A quick note before getting ready for work: This was the headline above the fold in Sunday's UL: ["GOP straw poll puts Lamontagne, Stephen on top"].
So, maybe the commenter to my other post about the New Hampshire Herald had something there about activists pushing for Ovide.
That said, in New Hampshire, we have open primaries, meaning independents can grab ballots and do what they like. Without a Senate primary on the Democratic side (and no real race for the governor's office either), there is a good chance independents will draw the Republican ballot. In New Hampshire, independents tend to trend more liberal than conservative. So they will probably water down the super conservative activist vote somewhat in the primary.
Does that mean that the more liberal of the conservatives will win? No. But trying to out-conservative each other thinking that the entire state will elect you to the Senate after you win a bloody primary is not the winning strategy, even with a floundering president and neutered Democratically-controlled House and Senate.
Simply put, a super pro-life, cut taxes on business, drill baby drill militarist is not going to beat Paul Hodes in November. A Republican who will support the best public policies of both parties and commits to doing the best thing for Granite Staters could easily be elected. That is the reality that conservatives who blather about the lack of military spending, support free trade when there is no such thing, while supporting policies that limit the liberties of Americans have to get realistic about.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

New political site starting up

Rich Rubino, the co-founder of PoliticsDMZ, has started a new political website called Politi-Geek: ["Politi-Geek"].
Rubino, who is a graduate of Emerson and has done political work and documentaries, is launching the site as a follow-up or expansion of the previous site, with news and information provided by volunteer bloggers. It's just starting out, so there isn't much there. But as it builds, it will be interesting to see what happens with it.
I was invited to participate but, unfortunately, am too busy to do much extra stuff outside of my two blogs and work (I've turned down other invites too; it's much of the reason I didn't contribute to PoliticsDMZ much either).
Here's wishing Rich the best with the new project!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Toyotas are the most American car

File this under, press releases I get at work but I can't use, emailed to me from Toyota of Watertown:
The "Most American" Car Is a Toyota
Toyota Camry Leads all Cars Sold in Massachusetts in American-Made Parts
BOSTON, MASS (07/08/2010)(readMedia)-- Greater Boston Toyota Camry owners can now claim to own the most American-made new car available. The 2010 American Made Index lists the 2010 Toyota Camry as the model with the most American-made parts.
Toyota dominated the annual survey from, with the 2010 Toyota Sienna and Toyota Tundra joining the Camry on the index. compiles its annual listing by surveying the number of domestically made parts in vehicles, the locations where the vehicles are assembled and the number of vehicles sold annually.
"When you buy a Toyota, believe it or not, you are buying an American car," said Carlos Girard, General Sales Manager of Massachusetts Toyota dealer Toyota of Watertown. "In Massachusetts, the birthplace of America, the words 'made in America' have a tremendous meaning. It makes all of us proud to work for a company whose plants provide jobs for so many Americans."
This is the second year that the Toyota Camry has topped the list. The Camry is built in plants in Georgetown, KY and Lafayette, IN. Toyota's other top-10 American-made cars, the Sienna and Tundra, are assembled in Princeton, IN and San Antonio, TX, respectively.
The move to greater domestic production of both cars and components meets two goals for Toyota. In a climate of rapidly changing international currency rates, greater domestic production allows Toyota to control costs and price their vehicles competitively. Furthermore, by putting more Americans to work making parts as well as the vehicles themselves, Toyota is able to show they have a stake in the United States' economic recovery.
Toyota recently promoted two American managers to head their Princeton and San Antonio plants as part of their continuing commitment to increasing American involvement with cars sold in the United States. Toyota believes these moves will allow the company to react quickly to the concerns and desires of American car buyers.
"When Toyota first arrived in Massachusetts, a lot of customers were skeptical; people wondered if these Japanese cars could handle the tough, variable New England climate," Girard said. "However, Toyota has always listened to their customers, and they responded to feedback from American Toyota owners across the country as they designed subsequent models. The result has been consistent improvement and new features that make Toyota cars a reliable choice on tricky Massachusetts roads."

Nader: A summertime reading list

Guest perspective by Ralph Nader
Summer time is reading time. Here are ten suggested new books:

1. "Toxic Talk," (Thomas Dunne Books) by Bill Press, the liberal talk show host, unloads in his words, on “how the radical right has poisoned America’s airwaves.” The five major syndicates are dominated by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage and Bill O’Reilly. Using their own statements, Press applies indignation, satire and humor to demonstrate the bigotry, the falsehoods and the propaganda that sustain the concentrated power of corporate oligarchs who fan far right-wing flames with advertising revenues.

2. "Stop Getting Ripped Off," (Ballantine Books) by Bob Sullivan. MSNBC’s penetrating consumer reporter gets very specific about how you are being fleeced and how you can often get a fair deal. If you have credit cards, mortgages, life insurance, cell phones, cable tv, are shopping for a new car or worried about preserving your retirement, this is the personal budget protector and aggravation-reliever for you.

3. "Unequal Protection," (second edition, expanded, Berrett-Koehler Publishers) by Thom Hartman. The growing debate against corporations having the same constitutional rights as human beings flows in part from this brainy author and talk show host’s documentation of the portentous drive since the notorious 1886 Supreme Court decision to establish corporate supremacy over the sovereignty of the people. He writes with dramatic historical accuracy, using primary sources, to wake Americans up to this incremental judicially-decreed coup d’etat.

4. "Saved by the Sea: A Love Story with Fish," by David Helvarg (Thomas Dunne Books-St. Martin’s) is an enthralling bedtime or beachtime read. Helvarg combines knowing how to write with knowing the ocean, reefs and surfs. His touching, tragic story of the love of his life and of aquatic nature is beyond unique.

5. "In the Shadow of Power," by Kike Arnal. This is a book, with my introduction, of haunting photographs of the “other Washington” which is off the beaten track of the twenty million tourists who visit our nation’s capital every year. Regaled by critics such as Pulitzer Prize-winner Henry Allen, Kike walked the poor and affluent neighborhoods to capture the tale of the “two cities” for months looking for the telling, unposed picture that speaks volumes. A native Venezuelan, he cannot qualify for the Pulitzer Prize in photography, which is reserved for U.S. citizens—the primary obstacle to deserving such an honor.

6. "The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health—and a Vision for Change," by Annie Leonard (Free Press). Can anyone make the pile of production and consumption waste interesting? Try Annie Leonard, who has scoured the world for the stories that tell the cumulative story of where our throwaway economy and unawareness are leading us. Her twenty minute video ( that inspired this book has received over ten million visits. Annie knows how to connect with the reader.

7. “This Time We Went Too Far” by Norman G. Finkelstein (O/R Books) is the author’s report on what he calls “the Gaza massacre” of late to early 2008-2009 by the all-powerful, U.S.-supplied Israeli military. The title comes from an Israeli official, signifying the slaughter of utterly defenseless civilians, including nearly 300 children and the destruction of schools, clinics, homes, public works, mosques, even fields growing crops, UN property and an American school, was off the charts. Finkelstein places this bloodbath in the context of U.S. foreign policy, human rights law and shifts in American and European public opinion.

8. "North Star: A Memoir," by Peter Camejo (Haymarket Books) is a story of radical American and Pan American politics of the latter 20th century as practiced and experienced by this great and wise American. The late Peter Camejo, in the fulsome tradition of Eugene Debs, was a full-spectrum fighter for justice in the political, civic, electoral and international arenas. In this highly personal book, you might find a more perceptive understanding of our times.

9. "Senseless Panic," by William M. Isaac (Wiley) compares the preventable Wall Street collapse of 2008-2009 with how he, as head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and other federal banking regulators handled the smaller but still devastating financial crisis in the early 1980s. Isaac claims the current global financial crisis-managers have not learned the lessons from the earlier meltdown of the S&L industry and other banks, during which interest rates hit 21 percent and there was 11 percent unemployment. When a leading member of the former banking establishment takes on the banking establishment, now in charge in Washington and Wall Street, it makes for jarring, no holds barred reading that is a rare experience in these times of high-level self-censorship and hubris.

10. "The Energy Reader," by Laura Nader, editor (Wiley-Blackwell). From the Seventies to the present, my sister, Laura Nader, professor of Anthropology at U.C. Berkeley, has been observing and teaching about our country’s ossified energy policies and practices and why available technical, social and economic solutions have been kept on the shelf.

From her cohesive introduction to the contributions of many thoughtful and experienced participants in, and scholars of, our nation’s energy power structure and the potential for an efficient and renewable energy future, this forthright, empirical book needs to be read by our members of Congress, executive branch policy-makers and all citizens who are fed up with the vested interests and ideologies that have so damaged our environment, economy and public health.

May your savorings of the above offerings affect your routines!

'Sick, decadent, degenerate society ...'

I don't get to keep track of Alex Jones much. I'm, well, too busy ... but sometimes, he really nails it on the head. Like this little video snippet:

In many ways, he goes a bit overboard on some of this stuff. But the celebrity worship bit is totally dead-on correct. It's getting to the point where it is really pretty frightening. I like the bit about "you'll be homeless talking about Lindsey Lohan ..." funny stuff, if it weren't so true and horrifying at the same time.
And lastly, look at how professional Alex's set is now. It's not he homemade cardboard type things he was using before. A professional set with nice gear ... he must be getting some money from somewhere to make everything look so pro ...

Friday, July 9, 2010

Who says print is dead?

Two new newspaper notes in the Granite State, one I have seen and one I haven't, that prove that print may not be dead after all.
First, let's talk about The New Hampshire Herald, a brand new monthly newspaper (with hopes of becoming a weekly), that is pretty impressive right out of the gate.
The 16-pager is a full color tab with big headlines and real stories inside. Sure, it has a decidedly slanted view of the world, tilting conservative, based on the types of topics written about in the first edition - screaming headlines like "CONDOMS FOR KIDS," New Hampshire becoming an immigrant state (we went from 99% white to what, 97% white?), a Thomas Sowell column, and a slew of Christian/spiritual-themed classifieds and advertising. BTW, there isn't anything wrong with that, especially when looking at the liberal slant in papers like the Concord Monitor. But putting Ovide Lamontagne on the front, with the headline "OVIDE SECOND COMING" when they guy doesn't have a chance in hell of winning? That's a bit much but a good way to break out of the gate. There is a nice restaurant feature inside so there is potential here for not being just another blaring headline tab (although I'm liking that aspect of it).
There is a call-out for freelance writers who "have proven ability to craft fair and balanced news stories," so who knows what the future holds for the Herald.
The print quality is also a bit spotty (fuzzy contact with the newsprint in places) which could either be the quality of the newsprint or the press. However, for a first edition, it looks pretty good.

According to the July 1 edition of The Hippo, another new monthly hit the streets in June.
The Queen City Examiner is described in a short story as "the people's paper," focusing on "the big issues of the day" with "an emphasis on fact-checking and providing in-depth coverage of local affairs" (take that, UL, LOL) in Manchester. The paper is using a nonprofit model for funding, according to the article, and ran 16 pages with the 5,000 press run, with a goal of going to 8,000 (nice!). The Examiner will also move from bi-weekly to weekly in the future. The next edition will come out on Aug. 2, so I'll definitely try and check it out.
Interesting footnote from the Hippo article: Apparently the company closed down their Manchester Express project in January. Since I don't get to Manch much, I didn't know this. Although, I did know they were moving from a daily to a weekly ["Free Manch daily to go weekly"]. I liked the daily the few times I saw it. In many ways, the distribution models don't work for print but communities that have more than one daily newspaper are better served than ones with news monopolies. That has become clear. The key now will be figuring out how to make it work ... and how to find time to actually read the daily newspapers too.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Why I love work kudos ...

Got a big one this week from one of our corporate people: ["This weekly front page pack a PUNCH!"].
What's even better than getting kudos? Knowing it was a team effort and stating as such. While every industry or movement needs "leaders" and "managers," it's the team that more often than not, makes everything come together.

Nader: Hammering the poor and vulnerable

Guest perspective by Ralph Nader
There is a reason why, so many centuries ago, every major religion warned its adherents not to give too much power to the “merchant class.” That reason is still here – the commercial drive knows few self-imposed boundaries, especially when it resides in large corporations.

A cruel manifestation of this singular drive for maximizing profit is how companies treat those who are most powerless, most vulnerable or most preoccupied.

Here are some illustrations that highlight the serious failures of law enforcement:

1. Pre-teen children. The direct marketing to children knows no limits of decency. Undermining parental authority with penetrating marketing schemes and temptations, companies deceptively excite youngsters to buy massive amounts of products that are bad for their safety, health and minds. Think junk food – loaded with fat, salt and sugar, that increases obesity, diabetes and predisposition for high blood pressure. (See

Obesity produces sickness, death, disability and large medical bills.

Marketers are selling ever more violent entertainment, and soft porn with delivery systems that escape parental review or supervision. Television is no longer the only route to children. Our fourteen year-old, then-startling book—Children First: A Parent’s Guide to Corporate Predators—now reads as an understatement.

2. The poor. Whether white, African-American, Hispanic or Native American, merchants make the poor pay more. Loan sharks, shoddy merchandise, sub-standard food products and inadequate medical care have plagued the poor and been the subject of many studies and too few prosecutions.

3. People preoccupied by their bereavement are often preyed upon by the funeral industry. The Federal Trade Commission has an ample file on overcharges and deceptive practices from the unscrupulous merchants in that trade.

4. People with rare diseases often require so called “orphan drugs.” Under a 1983 law, drug companies receive a seven year monopoly with no price restraints on these drugs. Drug companies are also given huge tax credits for research and development costs associated with orphan drugs.

The Wall Street Journal (“How Drugs for Rare Diseases Became Lifeline for Companies”, Nov 15, 2005) called these drugs “lucrative niches.” With no competition, these monopoly drugs come with staggering prices for desperate patients.

Here is one story of how your tax dollars are being used for hyperprofit corporate profits. Henry Blair was working on an experimental enzyme under government contract as a researcher at Tufts University Medical School. Working with scientists at the National Institutes of Health, they and he made the enzyme work as a treatment for Gaucher disease, which swells organs and deteriorates bones.

In 1981, Mr. Blair started the Genzyme company, got the government contract to make the enzyme which he brought to market in 1991. The average price was—get this—$200,000 a year per patient!

In 1992, the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) (banished by Newt Gingrich in 1995) reported that Genzyme spent $29.4 million on the drug, with much of the initial research funded and done by government scientists at the National Institutes of Health.

Two years later, Genzyme found a much cheaper way of making the drug. In 2005, the Wall Street Journal wrote that the Gaucher drug was still priced at $200,000 per patient each year. The company says it gives the drug at no cost to about 10% of the patients. For the rest, either rely on the insurance companies (good luck), or otherwise pay or die.

5. The Health Uninsured are charged by hospitals full price, which The Wall Street Journal reported “is far more than the prices typically paid by insurance companies.” This is the case, the Journal added, in spite of an annual taxpayer subsidy of $22 billion to hospitals “to care for the uninsured.”

6. Amputees who need prosthetic devices find that the devices in the United States are very highly priced (by comparison with other western countries.) Health insurance companies make these products leading candidates for rising co-payments. This can mean tens of thousands of dollars from the patients or they go without. These shocking co-payment requirements are often in the fine print.

Many of these devices also come about with taxpayer funded research and development. Profit margins are large because of the users’ dire necessity to have them for mobility, for work, for human dignity.

7. Low-credit-score credit card holders. The relentless credit card economy requiring plastic to buy more and more things and services. The credit score becomes the hammer. A story recounted by MSNBC’s Bob Sullivan in his engrossing new book Stop Getting Ripped Off describes: “the card promised an attractive 9.9% interest rate. But there was a catch buried in the fine print: account setup fee: $29; program fee: $95; annual fee: $48; monthly servicing fee: $84 annually; additional card fee: $20 annually.” Then this clincher sentence: “If you are assigned the minimum credit limit of $250, your initial available credit will be $71 ($51 if you select the additional-card option).”

No wonder the vendors call them “fee-harvesting” cards. Who needs loan-sharks? These credit card vendors fleece the poor wearing a three-piece suit and sitting in air conditioned skyscrapers.

Such is the fate of the poor or the vulnerable under the boot of commercial avarice.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

'Panic' in Detroit?

Maybe ... this picture was sent out on David Swanson's reporter/anti-war news list ...

Oh so tempted ...

... not by the fruit of another, but to go and see Cheap Trick and Squeeze at Meadowbrook in a couple of weeks. The problem? I went to see them both with my friend Paul a couple of years ago in Boston. Cheap Trick opened, were amazing, and then Squeeze came on and played every song like the record. I like Squeeze and it was fun, but if I never see them again, it won't be such a big deal.
It looks like Cheap Trick are going to be headlining up here, which means they will be playing longer. Drummer extraordinaire Bun E. Carlos is not touring with the band, although he remains a member (he has had health issues in the past, according to press releases).
I received an email from Meadowbrook saying they were running a sale on lawn tickets - four for $40 to any show, plus the fees - if you buy the tickets before the Fourth of July holiday. I'm not quite there yet but who knows. I'd take the kids if it weren't too late into the evening.
I find it funny that I really have no interest in seeing most bands these days, even the ones I love. I guess that's just a part of getting old.

Can someone confirm this for me?

This morning, I saw a poster online who wrote the following:
The National Socialistiche Duetsche Arbeiter Partei (A.K.A The National Socialist German Workers Party), referred to as the Nazi Party had several key party platforms:
Universal Education
Gauranteed Employment
Welfare for the Elderly (Social Security)
Nationalization of Industry
Nationalized Health Care
Abolition of market-based lending

Hitler was:
Pro Gun Control
Pro Euthanasia
Pro Animal Rights
and a vegetarian.

Some memorable Nazi slogans:
"Public need before private greed"
"Everything must be different"
"People's community!"
"We socialize human beings"

If this is true, I now understand why people call the Democrats "Nazis" ... I don't necessarily agree with it, but I understand it. However, then, why would anyone call Republicans, conservatives, and rightwingers Nazis? That doesn't make any sense at all.