Monday, June 30, 2008

Surgery in India=$20 billion/yr savings for US patients

While the docs and hospitals have been concerned about competition from Minute Clinics, they may have missed an even bigger threat....medical tourism. But ain't competition grand if you are a consumer!! These foreign providers know they have to provide top notch service at a substantial savings.

Top-notch care, a fraction of the cost
That’s certainly been the case for Mason, 43, whose $20,000 body lift in Panama last July included about $7,500 for surgery to remove a large flap of skin from her abdomen, a procedure called a panniculectomy. Because the excess flesh led to potentially dangerous skin infections, the surgery was deemed a medically necessary procedure, one that could be covered by her federal Blue Cross health insurance plan.

Mason paid the bill herself for the rest of the surgery, including breast augmentation and thigh lifts. Because her surgeries would have totaled $50,000 to $75,000 back home, she contracted with Planet Hospital, a California-based medical tourism service, to research the alternatives abroad.

Planet Hospital, which also arranged care for Ryerson and Davies, has been offering medical tourism services since 2002. Of the nearly 2,000 patients they've served, nearly three dozen have had some or all of their care covered by insurance, said Rudy Rupak, president and founder.

"A delightfully despicable site" -


Tiger Woods and Barack Obama's Tax Plans

Tiger would not have fared very well under Obama's two major tax proposals. Instead of keeping 57% and paying 43%, he would have kept only 43% and paid 57%. But Hey!...Tiger Woods doesn't really "deserve" to keep any of that money anyway...he didn't really earn it? Did he?

Link HT: Tax Prof
It was fortunate for Tiger that his most-recent U.S. Open win occurred in 2008. Under twin tax proposals from Obama to 1) remove the "cap" from Social Security taxes for individuals earning over $250,000, a plateau Tiger has long since surpassed in 2008, and 2) eliminate the "Bush" tax cuts, thereby raising the top marginal federal income tax rate to 39.6 percent, Tiger's taxes on his winner's check would have increased to approximately $776,000, a boost of almost $190,000. Instead of Tiger keeping 57 percent of his earnings and the government taking 43 percent, under the twin Obama tax proposals, Tiger's federal and California taxes would have amounted to 57 percent of his winnings, leaving Tiger with just 43 percent.

VERY sad commentary on our political process

"A lot of bills are never intended to pass," he added. "They're just to get some bureaucrats' attention because they're jerking one of my constituents around. Sometimes you have to play hard ball when somebody's not doing your constituents right."

Two very positive Cancer Treatment developments

A drug developed using nanotechnology and a fungus that contaminated a lab experiment may be broadly effective against a range of cancers, U.S. researchers reported on Sunday.

The drug, called lodamin, was improved in one of the last experiments overseen by Dr. Judah Folkman, a cancer researcher who died in January. Folkman pioneered the idea of angiogenesis therapy -- starving tumors by preventing them from growing blood supplies.


LIFT clinical trials

Asking for coffee = Gender discrimination? No

says judge.

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Berle M. Schiller couldn't resist punning his way through a decision on the deeper issue - whether Klopfenstein's managers had created a hostile and discriminatory work environment by requiring the receptionist to fetch them coffee.

He wrote that she had no grounds for her complaints of sexual discrimination.

Please pour Judge Schiller decaf before he puns again.

"The act of getting coffee is not, by itself, a gender-specific act," Schiller wrote. The fact that a vice president wrote "looks nice, dresses well," on notes when she was hired also doesn't add up to discrimination, the judge wrote.

"While the behavior of plaintiff's supervisors may have been rude, gauche, or undesirable, their actions do not violate federal or state antidiscrimination laws," Schiller wrote.

UK Commuters get less space than farm animals

The future of mass transit: a vision only Peta could love.

According to the Government's rail White Paper, published in July, commuters should be allocated 0.45 square metres of space – whether they are seated or standing.

With the average human being weighing 73.5 kg this is equivalent to allocating 0.0062 square metres per kg.

This is less than half the space allocated under European Union regulations for transporting farm animals to a chicken weighing up to 1.6 kg, who the EU guarantee 0.02 square metres per kg.

Goats, Brussels insists, should get at least 0.0086 square metres and calves 0.008. The Tories seized on the figures.

"It is appalling that the Government's own guidance forces commuters into levels of overcrowding which would be illegal for chickens, goats and cattle under EU law," said Theresa Villiers, the party's transport spokesman.

Great healthcare in Canada...for your dog

Both vets and doctors have more to offer than they have ever had before, but doctors don't have the resources. Says Michael McKee, "The veterinary industry looks for business and caters to a market that wants to be looked after. Me? I spend most of my time actively deflecting as much as I can." Brian Day diagnoses the problem in part as a symptom of how Canada's ministries of health fund our hospitals. Rather than having hospitals seek new patients with better care, and expanding in response to greater demand, Canadian hospitals are funded with fixed yearly budgets. "The money does not follow the patient the way it does in the animal health system," says Day. "If you go to a veterinary hospital, you're bringing revenue to the hospital. If you go to a hospital in Calgary, you are using up the block funding that it gets each year."


But the point is, they can if they want to. Anyone who has watched a loved one limping for a year before they get a knee operation, or has seen an aging relative languish in hospital, knows what a helpless feeling it is. With pets, people are free to spend their money — and even if the animal can't be cured, they know that everything that could be done was done. Says Goodridge, "At least pet owners get peace of mind." It's hard to accept that when it comes to our human loved ones, Canadians can't always get the same.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Back in MY day gas was REALLY expensive


Despite all of the reports about record-high gas and oil prices, we're still nowhere close to record high gas prices adjusted for the growth in per-capita, disposable income.

The chart above shows the cost of 1,000 gallons of gasoline, as a percent of per-capita disposable income in every month from January 1980 to May 2008. During most of 1980 and 1981, it took between 13.50% and 14.90% of per-capita disposable income ($8,5000 to $10,000 in that period) to purchase 1,000 gallons of gasoline ($1.25 to $1.40 per gallon in that period), which was far greater than the 10.26% that it takes of today's per-capita disposable income of about $37,000 to purchase 1,000 gallons of gas at the May average of $3.76 per gallon.

For gas to reach a record high as a percent of per-capita disposable income, it would have to sell today for $5.47 per gallon to reach 14.90% of per-capita disposable income, like it did in March of 1981, when gas sold for $1.42 per gallon, and per-capita disposable income was only $9,500.

In TN you can Tax Rock but not Dirt-is Clay dirt?

General Shale hopes to harvest clay from northern Rhea County to make bricks. Rhea County hopes to be able to tax General Shale for the clay it removes like it taxes the rock quarries. General Shale would rather not pay the tax. Both positions are understandable. The question is, is clay a form of rock?

The Tennessee General Assembly passed a law in 1984 empowering counties to charge a tax of up to 15 cents per ton on gravel, sand, sandstone, chert and limestone removed for commercial purposes. Rhea County adopted that act in 1995, and since then local quarries have been paying the tax.

Both General Shale and the county have been mature in their discussions over the mineral severance tax, and both parties have indicated they will abide by a state attorney general’s opinion on the matter, which the county will likely request next month

"Can Memphis Schools be fixed?"

The Commercial Appeal asks, in their front page article today: Can Memphis Schools be fixed? The answer of course is YES.

You can fix them by offering different solutions than have been offered in the past.....that much is clear. The solutions tried in the past have resulted in schools that fail most students. So lets review: what has already been tried and has resulted in the current failure?

1- A new superintendent? - CHECK, already tried that

2- Spend lots more money? - CHECK, already tried that

3- New, revolutionary teaching methods? - CHECK, already tried that

4- More computers in the classroom? - CHECK, already tried that

5- Metal Detectors at every entrance? - CHECK, already tried that

What hasn't been tried?

Put the power of CHOICE into the hands of the people most likely to love and care about the future of the students, i.e., the parents. Or, the corollary, take power away from the people who failed the students in the past: the school bureaucrats, the unions that represent school employees, and the local government.

Ok, lets review, the fix is easy: take power away from those who have failed students so completely and give power to the parents.

UK taxpayers funding less hole-ee Saltshakers

The food police for the Democratic Convention in Denver, who are bent on taking away all food choices they deem unwise, could learn a thing or two from the nannies in the UK.

Another local chip shop owner, Carol Ackerman, who runs Carol’s Plaice in the suburb of Acklam, said: ‘People will just put on more salt if they want more.
‘In fact, we have had some people unscrewing the lids to do so.’

Gateshead Council defended its decision. A spokesman said: ‘Research carried out by us discovered customers were often receiving huge quantities of salt with their fish and chips – up to half their daily allowance. The council was so disturbed it decided to commission a manufacturer to produce a salt shaker with fewer holes, which it distributed free to every fish and chip shop and hot food takeaway in Gateshead.

‘We believe the cost to be a small price to pay for potentially saving lives.’

The scheme is being promoted by the Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services, which is responsible for ensuring councils follow food hygiene rules. A spokesman said: ‘Heart disease costs taxpayers £7billion a year so to say that projects such as this are a waste of money is mind-boggling.’

Saturday, June 28, 2008

New information about climate change? Say it ain't so mean to tell me we may have to revise "our" models...again? That seems counter intuitive (he says sarcastically)...since the models we have are so accurate they can predict weather all the way out to the next...oh, say 48 hours if we are lucky.


An important mechanism for sucking ozone and methane out of the atmosphere has been discovered over the tropical Atlantic. The finding reveals how the two greenhouse gasses are kept in check by natural chemical reactions.

Researchers warn, however, that there is a risk the process could be overpowered by rising industrial pollution.

The data collected in Cape Verde, off the western coast of Africa, suggests that 50% more ozone is being destroyed above the tropical Atlantic Ocean than previously thought, because of halogens released by the seawater.

The process also increases the amount of methane pumped out of the lower atmosphere by up to 12% each day. It could occur in tropical oceans worldwide and could considerably improve the forecasts generated by the models used to study climate change.

"At the moment this is a good news story: more ozone and methane being destroyed than we previously thought," says Alastair Lewis of the National Centre for Atmospheric Science in Leeds, UK.

"But the tropical Atlantic cannot be taken for granted as a permanent sink for ozone. The composition of the atmosphere is in fine balance here," he adds.

Yikes..THIS is encouraging!!

Gallup Poll indicates that most Americans believe that:

1- Government should NOT redistribute income to "fix" the economy

2- Government is doing TOO much

Best Friends again Dog cloning auction

The Best Friends Again program, sponsored by BioArts International, is a limited commercial dog cloning program. BioArts is the only entity in the world with both the know-how and the legal right to practice commercial dog and cat cloning. We are auctioning off 5 dog cloning service slots to the general public. We may or may not perform any additional commercial dog cloning services after this auction.

As many people are aware, dogs are arguably the most difficult mammal to clone. Due to the challenges unique to dog cloning, we can only offer a limited number of dog cloning service slots. With a very limited supply and a very large demand for this service, we have decided that an online auction is the fairest way to offer this special opportunity to the public.

Doctors want laws to protect their monopoly

The recent growth of minute clinics staffed by nurse practitioners is causing more so-called state medical associations to propose legislation to kill this threat to the doctor's monopoly.

Economists call this sort of behavior "rent seeking." Basically, it means that docs want to use YOUR govt to limit YOUR healthcare choices by shutting out anyone but doctors.

About 1,000 retail medical clinics have opened their doors at Wal-Mart, Walgreens, CVS/Caremark and elsewhere around the country. Most are open around the clock, don't require appointments and are staffed by nurse practitioners who treat a variety of common ailments. The clinics have been a godsend for patients seeking accessible, affordable and convenient care.

But the powerful Illinois State Medical Society wants to slam clinic doors shut in this state. It has proposed a bill that would regulate these clinics almost to the point of extinction.

The bill would:

•Ban health-care facilities from opening in any store that also sells alcohol or tobacco. Well, there go Wal-Mart, Walgreens and CVS/Caremark as locations for the clinics.

•Require separate restrooms and a "designated receptionist and waiting area." Both would raise the infrastructure costs of many retail clinics to the point that they would no longer make economic sense.

•Ban advertising of fee comparisons and require that no doctor can supervise more than two clinics.

•Set stiffer regulatory requirements for retail clinics than for more traditional health-care operations.

Add it all up and Illinois would be left with a law that pretty much protects the status quo: Traditional doctors' offices would be safe from competition. There would be no chance a retail clinic might actually give health-care consumers useful information about price comparisons.

Quote of the Day

"Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner".

Ok, we've tried Govt Healthcare...time to go back


The government followed his advice, leading to his modern-day moniker: "the father of Quebec medicare." Even this title seems modest; Castonguay's work triggered a domino effect across the country, until eventually his ideas were implemented from coast to coast.

Four decades later, as the chairman of a government committee reviewing Quebec health care this year, Castonguay concluded that the system is in "crisis."

"We thought we could resolve the system's problems by rationing services or injecting massive amounts of new money into it," says Castonguay. But now he prescribes a radical overhaul: "We are proposing to give a greater role to the private sector so that people can exercise freedom of choice."

Castonguay advocates contracting out services to the private sector, going so far as suggesting that public hospitals rent space during off-hours to entrepreneurial doctors. He supports co-pays for patients who want to see physicians. Castonguay, the man who championed public health insurance in Canada, now urges for the legalization of private health insurance.

Aussie dilemma: Go Green or Keep Beer fridge?


The NT Government is recommending Territorians "retire'' their beer fridges in a bid to tackle climate change.

In a list of "practical actions for NT households'', the Government suggests residents "retire the second fridge or freezer''.

But it seems it could be a case of "do as I say, not as I do'', for Chief Minister Paul Henderson.

"I've got a beer fridge -- as many Territorians do -- and I'm keeping it,'' he said.

Vintage Photo of the Day: 1941


Friday, June 27, 2008

What Would Jesus Steal?

An interesting historical perspective on "progressive" Christianity from Gary North. While using the rhetoric of both mainline protestant and evangelical Christians, progressives ultimately depend NOT on voluntary decisions of mind and heart, progressives must ultimately depend on the police power of the State to enforce their brand of "goodness." They must ironically ask "what would Jesus steal"......and, of course, the answer is Jesus would not use the police power of the State to steal.

In many cases, leading progressive intellectuals at the turn of the twentieth century were former pietists who went to college and then transferred to the political arena, their zeal for making over mankind, as a "salvation by science." And then the Social Gospel movement managed to combine political collectivism and pietist Christianity in the same package. All of these were strongly interwoven elements in the progressive movement.
The Social Gospel movement, which began in the United States in the 1880's, shared an ethical principle with the Progressive movement, which began at the same time and in the same social circles. This ethical principle can be summarized as follows: Thou shalt not steal, except by majority vote.

Holding Govt Accountable:

An interesting UK site where citizens report street problems that need to be fixed.

Link HT: Bivens

Obama promoted housing subsidies for key supporters

Great investigative series by the Boston Globe on crumbling subsidized housing promoted by Barack Obama in his district and how many of the developers came to be key campaign supporters and contributors.


Grove Parc has become a symbol for some in Chicago of the broader failures of giving public subsidies to private companies to build and manage affordable housing - an approach strongly backed by Obama as the best replacement for public housing.

As a state senator, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee coauthored an Illinois law creating a new pool of tax credits for developers. As a US senator, he pressed for increased federal subsidies. And as a presidential candidate, he has campaigned on a promise to create an Affordable Housing Trust Fund that could give developers an estimated $500 million a year.

But a Globe review found that thousands of apartments across Chicago that had been built with local, state, and federal subsidies - including several hundred in Obama's former district - deteriorated so completely that they were no longer habitable.

Grove Parc and several other prominent failures were developed and managed by Obama's close friends and political supporters. Those people profited from the subsidies even as many of Obama's constituents suffered. Tenants lost their homes; surrounding neighborhoods were blighted.


Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to Obama's presidential campaign and a member of his finance committee. Jarrett is the chief executive of Habitat Co., which managed Grove Parc Plaza from 2001 until this winter and co-managed an even larger subsidized complex in Chicago that was seized by the federal government in 2006, after city inspectors found widespread problems.

Panda makes a run for it...GO PANDA!

See more funny videos at CollegeHumor

Bank Lobbyists wrote vital part of "Bailout" bill

Credit Suisse, a large investment bank heavily invested in mortgage-backed securities, proposed allowing hundreds of thousands of homeowners to refinance their mortgages with lower-cost government-insured loans, relieving financial institutions of the troubled debt.

After the bank proposed this to Congress in January, it became known as the "Credit Suisse plan" among congressional staffers and lobbyists. It later formed the basis of housing provisions in both the House and Senate.

Bank of America, which is acquiring Countrywide Financial, the country's largest mortgage lender, followed with a similar and more detailed proposal, principal negotiators on the legislation said.

In approaching congressional aides, the lobbyists suggested that banks take less than full payment for the distressed loans on their books. But the measures would allow financial institutions to get cash out of foreclosed properties that would otherwise sit on their books as dead weight.

Can Govt make our Energy problems worse? YES!!

The Federal Government is trying to solve the energy problem, YES? So how to "accomplish" this worthy goal? Why, of course, they impose a 2 year moratorium on solar energy projects on Federal Lands.

Yes, Virginia, the Federal Government wants to help in the same way they normally "help", they create more problems.


“It doesn’t make any sense,” said Holly Gordon, vice president for legislative and regulatory affairs for Ausra, a solar thermal energy company in Palo Alto, Calif. “The Bureau of Land Management land has some of the best solar resources in the world. This could completely stunt the growth of the industry.”

Much of the 119 million surface acres of federally administered land in the West is ideal for solar energy, particularly in Arizona, Nevada and Southern California, where sunlight drenches vast, flat desert tracts.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Hold onto your a*s, Congress is going to "solve"

another problem.

Having "solved" the energy problem with ethanol and driving up the cost of fuel and food to the point where we can't afford them, the idiots in Congress are going to try to "solve" the housing problem (which they created in large part by the Community Reinvestment Act.)

Why won't Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander just leave us alone!!

HERE is a brief summary of food inflation over the last year.




Field Crops





Barley Bu $3.12 $4.76 52.56%
Beans, Dry Edible Cwt $3.08 $5.06 64.29%
Corn Bu $3.49 $5.12 46.70%
Cotton Lb $0.44 $0.61 37.95%
Flaxseed Bu $7.08 $16.60 134.46%
Hay Ton $138.00 $166.00 20.29%
Lentils Cwt $13.20 $32.70 147.73%
Oats Bu $2.49 $3.46 38.96%
Peanuts Lb $0.18 $0.20 12.29%
Peas, Dry Edible Cwt $10.10 $16.40 62.38%
Potatoes Cwt $7.95 $9.21 15.85%
Rice, Rough Cwt $10.00 $15.00 50.00%
Sorghum Cwt $6.49 $9.18 41.45%
Soybeans Bu $7.12 $12.30 72.75%
Sunflower Cwt $16.60 $27.40 65.06%
Wheat Bu $4.88 $8.80 80.33%

Source: USDA/NASS - Ag Prices Received

Translation for "dedicated, reliable funding source."

The Director of the Music City Star commuter railroad is looking for a "dedicated, reliable funding source."

For those of you who don't speak government let me clarify...take out your wallet and open up the compartment that holds your cash. You are now looking at a "dedicated, reliable funding source."

The director doesn't care what YOU want to do with your cash. She is a zealot for "mass transit" and she wants YOUR government to extract the money from YOU so she can see her dream fulfilled in spite of overwhelming evidence that YOU don't want to ride her train. She can't get you to buy tickets so she has to get YOUR cash some other way. You have to give her points for persistence and creative PR.

The Music City Star's money problems can be traced to its first year of operation, when passenger ticket sales came in $800,000 below projections and unanticipated costs, including high insurance premiums, drained its budget.

Now, as its parent agency scrambles to fill a $1.7 million hole in next year's budget, the U.S. government is watching intently.


"The common thread is that everyone is vested in making this work," said Diane Thorne, who has been executive director of the Regional Transportation Authority since August. "We need to realize that unless everyone wants to continue to scramble every year, we need a dedicated, reliable funding source."

Now where did I put that $1.2 billion of taxpayer money?


The deficit was uncovered in a state audit of DOT budgeting practices requested by Gov. Sonny Perdue and the chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations committees.

The audit found that the agency has been committing funds to projects before having the money in hand.

"We're dealing with a significant problem," said John Thornton, director of the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts' State Government Division. "But I think it is fixable."

Driver's License staff rude? Say it aint so!!


NASHVILLE — Employees at Chattanooga’s Bonny Oaks driver license station underwent a crash course in customer relations and a change in top management after persistent complaints about rudeness, Tennessee Department of Safety Commissioner David Mitchell revealed Wednesday.

Among other problems, one state employee repeatedly referred to an American Indian customer as “chief,” officials said.

The department’s moves came to light after Rep. Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, ripped top safety department officials over problems at the Bonny Oaks station during a meeting of the General Assembly’s Fiscal Review Committee.

The watchdog panel was looking at a recent comptroller’s performance audit that found, among other problems, the Department of Safety’s Driver License Issuance Division has yet to fully address lengthy waits for service outlined in 1997 and 2004 audits.

Highway deaths down in 35 of 37 states

Highway deaths across the nation are down sharply so far this year compared with 2007, according to preliminary data tracked by state police and transportation agencies.

Deaths declined in 35 of the 37 states that provided data for January through April, May or June. Fatalities also were down in the District of Columbia. Many of the declines were significant — more than 10% in 30 states, and more than 20% in 14 states and the District of Columbia.

"exercising our privilege" to raise your taxes

in Montgomery County (Clarksville). County Commissions may implement a wheel tax hike by calling for a referendum OR they may simply vote, by two thirds to implement the tax. In Montgomery County they are about to raise the wheel tax by $20 in addition to a property tax bureaucrat says its "our privilege" to raise taxes....oh really?


The committee also unanimously endorsed raising the wheel tax unilaterally by $20, bringing the total tax to $50.

Historically, most increases to the local wheel tax have only been enacted when approved by a public referendum, but the committee endorsed pursuing it strictly at the commission level, where approval requires two consecutive votes with two-thirds approval.

"Are we creating an adversarial relationship with the community by doing this?" Commissioner Lettie Kendall asked.

Ed Davis, director of administration, replied that he sees this issue as "exercising our privilege."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln Debated?

On a very enjoyable trip last week through the Mennonite and Amish areas of Southern Kentucky I was looking through brochures published by the Kentucky Tourism Department at one of our stops.

One brochure was about the 200th birthday of Jefferson Davis, who was born in Kentucky as was Lincoln. In the middle of the brochure one of the lines was very neatly marked over with a magic marker. I held it up to the light so I could read the marked out text and it said,"Davis-Lincoln Debate." I assume someone was thinking about these debates....or maybe not. I suppose KY taxpayers should be pleased that someone took the time to correct several thousand brochures...or maybe not.

Trial Lawyers exploiting 911?


The workers’ lawyers have sharply criticized the city’s review, calling it skewed and largely inaccurate. They have consistently claimed — but have never released a detailed analysis of the claim — that the workers suffer from a broad range of medical problems, mostly respiratory or gastrointestinal sicknesses, but also more serious conditions like cancer, chronic pulmonary disease and sarcoidosis, a lung-scarring disease.

The city’s findings have no immediate impact on the litigation because the court is not ready to rule on the severity of illnesses or make connections between diseases and exposure to ground zero dust. But the review is important despite its obvious limitations. Until now there has been no attempt to categorize the extent of illnesses in these workers, assumed to be the most badly injured of about 40,000 or more who labored at the World Trade Center site.

And the conflict over the review findings is a preview of how difficult it could be to prove that trade center dust — a complex mix of materials created by the collapse of the twin towers — sickened workers.

Environmental Zealotry at the Dem Convention

is a very insightful proxy for our future. Micromanaging control freaks want to regulate every aspect of our lives.

Conspicuous, heavy handed moral and intellectual authoritarianism that will make dictators blush.

No fried food. And, on the theory that nutritious food is more vibrant, each meal should include "at least three of the following colors: red, green, yellow, blue/purple, and white." (Garnishes don't count.) At least 70% of ingredients should be organic or grown locally, to minimize emissions from fuel burned during transportation.

Wow...another Congresslady with initials MB

that I REALLY like.


Depending on Govt to make decisions about

your welfare is a recipe for disaster. This article is from UK but the principle applies to all governments.

The loss of 25 million child benefit records, complete with sensitive personal information, was brought about by a “woefully inadequate system” being used by staff who were working on a “muddle through” ethos, a damning report has found.

The 59-page report found that there were “cultural failures” at HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and practices at the organisation were “far from what they should have been”.

Escalator spinning-potential new Olympic Sport

41 yr old Olympian-Dara Torres


Depending on politicians to solve our problems

is a recipe for disappointment.

- Seven in ten Americans (71%) rate the economic policies of the national government as bad while 13 percent rate them as good. One in five (21%) say the policies are very bad. The economic rebate checks may have hit people’s bank accounts and mailboxes, but that has not done much to change opinions; in March, almost the same number (70%) said the policies were bad;

Yea, you can take my picture


Schools without layers of bureaucracy?

How can it be....schools without bureaucracy?

Charter Schools doing well in NY

Tuesday, June 24, 2008, YouTube for shoe fashion


Capital is very mobile and Labor is catching up

Countries that have Governments which restrict the free flow of capital and labor will suffer the most.


"As the talent shortage becomes more severe, employers are naturally concerned about losing employees -- not just to competitors within their own markets, but to those based overseas, too," said Jeffrey Joerres, chairman and CEO of Milwaukee-based Manpower. "Individuals are now increasingly willing and able to find employment far from their homes."

The most popular destinations that people would want to relocate across borders for work are the United States, the United Kingdom and Spain. This preference changed somewhat based upon the region in which respondents live. The U.S. was the preferred destination in the Americas; China topped the list in Asia Pacific; and the U.K. was preferred by those in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region.

Employees rate Employers via

Whether you're looking for a new job or you're completely satisfied where you are, your work matters, and we want you to have all the information you need to manage your career – real reviews, ratings, and salaries from real employees.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Bredesen: reductions "very healthy for state govt"

Phil Bredesen continues to say, to anyone who will listen, that Tennessee State Government needed to have staffs reduced, that many of the positions were unneeded "fossils", that the review forced by the budget cuts was very beneficial and that the staff reductions will result in a leaner, MORE EFFECTIVE state government. The message is loud and clear...

and the Taxpayers are listening.

“And frankly, from what I’ve seen so far, there are some very good things coming out of this buyout. I mean, there are some middle management structures that are ’way overblown out there, and probably are hurting the ability to provide services, that are going to be cleaned up as a result of doing this. I think it’s, on the whole, going to be very healthy for state government.”

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Will be away from the keyboard for a few days

Here are some other blogs to keep you busy:

Mark Perry
Steve Bartin
Open Markets
Club for Growth

Miss Cellania

Nashville Taxpayers owe $1.96 billion AT LEAST

for pensions and OPEB (other post employment benefits) for Metro employees and teachers. And this doesn't include NES....don't know how much that is....more info as it becomes available.

Recent changes in accounting rules require state and local governments to disclose this GASB 43/45 liability and for the first time taxpayers know how much we owe for this debt and that it is growing to huge amounts.

Although, the debt is noted in financial statements, it is NOT reflected in current budgets. Joe Saino, in Memphis has been doing great work on finding information on this huge liability.

Joe estimates now that the Memphis/Shelby County taxpayers owe $3.125 billion.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Bredesen: "they can keep those positions vacant"

The Governor earlier said they were finding jobs that were "fossils" when they reviewed positions to buyout. Clearly there are many good people in State Government but when the Governor refers to "fossils" and then tells us the positions targeted don't need to be refilled, it certainly appears that the review of State Government Management should continue for the next budget year. The taxpayers need to know how many more "fossil" positions exist.

“What I asked the agencies to do is to, to target the buyout, so we weren’t just, you know, buying out a lot of positions that had to be refilled again. These are ones where the agencies have agreed that they can keep those positions vacant. They don’t need to fill them.”

Newsweek: NV Brothels hit hard times

In Nevada, the world's oldest profession has been very lucrative. In a typical year, legal brothels generate about $50 million in total revenue and have an economic impact of about $400 million on the state. But in the last 18 months the industry's cash flow has taken a dive. Why? Like other businesses around the country, bordellos throughout the state are feeling the pinch of rising gas prices and a weak economy.

Several of the hardest hit are the houses of prostitution in Nevada's rural northern areas, which get roughly 60 percent of their business from truckers. "Some of these brothels are out in the middle of nowhere so fuel prices have an effect, says Dennis Hof, owner of the infamous Moonlite Bunny Ranch. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, diesel on the West Coast now costs $4.87 per gallon. That means truckers could easily spend $1,000 to fill up their tanks, leaving them with little extra cash and less likely to take a detour. For bordello owners, relocating to more central locations is impossible. Under Nevada law, brothels can only operate in counties with fewer than 400,000 residents.

Mass Transit driver talking on cell during crash?

Full video at Link.

According to Muni officials, a one-car, T-Third train going west on King Street between Third and Fourth streets rear-ended a two-car N-Judah train that was stopped at the Fourth Street traffic signal. The back of the N-Judah train was heavily damaged in the crash.

"Based on the investigation so far, it appears as though the T-Third train was traveling at 17 mph," Muni spokesman Judson True said Tuesday. He said that section of roadway is a 3-mph zone for Muni trains.

Muni is also investigating whether the T-Third operator may have been on a cell phone at the time of the crash.

ZipCar-Flexible Rent by the Hour Car Rental


Zipcar would not have been possible ten years ago. That’s because Zipcar utilizes RFID, gas card, and tracking technology to allow their vehicles to be maintained all over the place with relatively little involvement from Zipcar employees. Rapid technological advance has made Zipcar possible. And Zipcar’s popularity has exploded in recent years. With gas prices increasing and the economy slowing, Zipcars (which include gas and insurance in their rates) start looking like a better deal. Zipcars are the free market’s way of adjusting to increasing gas prices, by enabling people to drive when needed but allowing them to forgo the costs of car ownership.

Last year, Zipcar acquired its main car-sharing rival, Flexcar, with benefits for consumers including the ability to drive many more cars in more cities with only one membership fee and the enhanced ability of Zipcar to partner with businesses and universities. But competition has not died in car sharing. Now, U-Haul and Enterprise are getting in the game too. Zipcar’s story in some ways resembles Netflix’s. Netflix’s early dominance of the DVDs-by-mail market did not protect it against major brick-and-mortar retailer Blockbuster from going online and providing competition (and additional services) that drove down prices. Zipcar may not be for everyone, just as Netflix isn’t, but it’s a nice example of market experimentation doing what government mandates never could.

Convention Donors spent $800 million on lobbying

and donations. Hope they don't have buyers remorse. New CFI study:

CFI’s analysis of 107 organizational donors acknowledged by the host committees for the two conventions reveals that their PACs, executives and other employees contributed a total of $98.2 million to federal candidates and parties from January 1, 2005 through April 30, 2008. Nearly three quarters (73%) of this money came from PACs. The average amount of contributions per corporation (all of the organizations were corporations except for a single labor union) was $953,000. During the same period, this group spent a total of $721.3 million lobbying the federal government on legislation and regulations -- an average of $7 million per company. (The data for contributions and lobbying were provided by the Center for Responsive Politics).

Brookings Study: Govt Intervention Does NOT work

Trying to fix problems that affect vast numbers of people has an intuitive appeal that politicians and policymakers find irresistible, but several warehouses of research studies show that intuition is often a poor guide to fixing systemic problems. While it seems like common sense to pump money into an economy that is pulling the bedcovers over its head, the problem with most social interventions is that they target not robots and machines but human beings -- who regularly respond to interventions in contrarian, paradoxical and unpredictable ways.

"How well does government do in helping the market to improve what it does?" asked Clifford Winston, an economist at the Brookings Institution and the author of the 2006 book "Market Failure Versus Government Failure." "The research consistently finds that, in fact, government efforts to correct market failures have little effect, or actually make things worse."

New Hasbro Robot


Huge Tort Law firm convicted of Lawsuit Cons


The firm perfected what's known as a "strike suit," in which a corporation is sued over a dubious claim of "fraud" merely when its stock price falls. Milberg now admits that, over 30 years, seven former partners (three remain unnamed) paid secret kickbacks to plaintiffs in 165 suits. Those suits earned the firm some $240 million in fees.

The plea deal itself reveals how elaborate these strike-suit cons were. In addition to paying plaintiffs, Milberg was also funneling kickbacks to New York-area stockbrokers who referred clients for Milberg suits. One of these was Paul L. Tullman, who received some $9 million in finder's fees over 24 years. Milberg Weiss was also illegally paying at least one class-action expert witness, a man named John Torkelsen, on a contingency-fee basis. Torkelsen, now serving jail time for defrauding the government, was famous for providing the court with estimates of the "damages" owed to shareholders. Since he was getting a cut, he had every incentive to pump up the numbers.

The alarming increase in Google Violence

Not to mention all the other non-violent crimes that are no doubt enabled by Google searches. Its time to stop this epidemic of Google crime. Ban Google NOW!!


Kate Knight, 28, from Wirral, was convicted of attempting to murder Lee Knight by lacing his food with ethylene glycol, had her appeal rejected by the Court of Appeal.

The jury heard Knight used internet search engine Google to find a method of killing, settling on anti-freeze.

Knight served the anti-freeze in red wine and Indian takeout on their wedding anniversary.

In a separate murder trial:

A detective testified in a US court that a laptop computer taken from the home of a British man accused of killing his wife and nine-month-old daughter was used to search online on "how to kill with a knife", four days before the slayings.

Telecoms in Africa offering what Govts can't...

an easy, dependable way to store and exchange money, the foundation for a stable, growing economy.


But the dramatic growth in mobile phone use in Africa - phones now outnumber cash machines by several thousand to one - is paving the way for a new set of services that turn the humble handset into a banking tool with the potential to transform Africa's economy.

Services have sprung up that let people transfer cash by text message to other mobile phone users and give Africa's vast number of "unbanked" their first access to financial products. Instead of using a bank branch, these services rely on local retailers who already sell mobile top-up cards.

"We wanted to offer something that would work," explained Mung Ki Woo, who heads Orange's m-payments division. "Instead of giving people a plastic card, why not use something many people already have: a mobile phone? And instead of doing transactions at a bank branch, why not let people go to their local retailer to deposit and withdraw cash?"

BBC: 50 "Office Speak" terms you love to hate


1. "When I worked for Verizon, I found the phrase going forward to be more sinister than annoying. When used by my boss - sorry, "team leader" - it was understood to mean that the topic of conversation was at an end and not be discussed again."
Nima Nassefat, Vancouver, Canada

2. "My employers (top half of FTSE 100) recently informed staff that we are no longer allowed to use the phrase brain storm because it might have negative connotations associated with fits. We must now take idea showers. I think that says it all really."
Anonymous, England

3. At my old company (a US multinational), anyone involved with a particular product was encouraged to be a product evangelist. And software users these days, so we hear, want to be platform atheists so that their computers will run programs from any manufacturer."
Philip Lattimore, Thailand

4. "Incentivise is the one that does it for me."
Karl Thomas, Perth, Scotland

5. "My favourite which I hear from the managers at the bank I work for is let's touch base about that offline. I think it means have a private chat but I am still not sure."
Gemma, Wolverhampton, England

City of Sacramento wants to tax Text Messages


Fehr said it will treat all communications users equally and not put the largest share of the burden on land-line telephone users.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, however, has a different description of the city's proposal: "baloney."

"They're packaging it as a tax reduction and it's not. It's an increase," said Timothy Bittle, director of legal affairs for the taxpayers group. "They're not only trying to hoodwink voters to ratify a tax on cell phones, but they're adding insult to injury by extending it to all current and future technologies."

Connecticut Gov signs bill canceling Gas Tax Hike

Waterbury (AP) - Gov. M. Jodi Rell appeared at a Waterbury gas station Tuesday to sign legislation repealing a planned July 1 gas tax increase.

The new law, which takes effect immediately, is also intended to make it easier for gas stations to offer discounts to customers who use cash instead of credit cards to fill their tanks.

The state's gross receipts tax on petroleum products, a levy on wholesale earnings from gas sales, had been slated to climb from 7 percent to 7.5 percent on July 1.

Gas station dealers predicted the increase, which would have generated $25 million for the state, would have boosted gas prices by up to 5 cents per gallon.

”Finally, the consumers of Connecticut are getting a bit of a break from the bruising price of gasoline,” Rell said at Tuesday's bill-signing event.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Members of Congress 3-4 times more likely to choose

private schools for their children...what a bunch of hypocrites. They take teacher union campaign contributions by the boatload and sing the praises of public schools and micromanage education policy through NCLB and other ridiculous laws but when it comes time to make one of the most important decision of their lives...where to send their own children to school, they are much more likely to choose private schools.

Notable findings include the following:

Over 37% of Representatives and 45% of Senators responded that they had sent their children to private school;

Over 23% of House Education and Labor Committee members and 33% of Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Com­mittee members exercised private school choice; and

Exactly 52% of Congressional Black Cau­cus members and 38% of Congressional Hispanic Caucus members sent at least one child to private school.

The Obamas send their children to private schools

Will he support school choice?

Probably not.

Even some of Mr. Obama's Democratic colleagues -- e.g., California's Dianne Feinstein -- have said that D.C. should be allowed to give the program a chance. In contrast, Mr. Obama's silence is thundering across the district.

This silence is all the more striking, given that the Ivy League-educated Democrat puts education reform at the top of his agenda. He has decried the "achievement gap" that is leaving African-American children behind. He has also noted -- rightly -- that America's system of public education is producing hundreds of thousands of children who will be condemned to the margins of American prosperity because they do not have the tools they need to succeed.

The question is whether, to paraphrase Hillary Clinton, Mr. Obama offers these children anything more than a good speech. It's true that Mr. Obama has endorsed merit pay, and in the past has suggested that schools should be able to sack bad teachers. But apart from a few feints and jabs around the margins, his proposals would do little to challenge a status quo that today serves teachers unions at the expense of students.

Pay by Mobile phone at MacDonalds


McDonald’s has announced that they will accept mobile phone payments via Felica. That’s not only about payments: customers can also choose the desired combo, however, he or she still needs to choose the drink verbally. Right now, the system is deployed in about 175 McDonald’s restaurants in the Kyushu region. It will be expanded if this trial works as expected. Micro-payments in Japan aren’t really new, but we have yet to see it in the U.S or in most European countries.

TN Board of Regents making "tough" decisions?

Bull Feathers!! The TN Board of Regents makes the "tough" decision to raise tuition at more than double the rate of inflation year after year and call it a tough decision...this is just ludicrous. The TN Board of Regents continues to rip off parents even after they are wallowing in hundreds of millions of lottery money. What a crock, the only tough decision they make is how much to spend on their meetings.


Hollywood actors get rich, Taxpayers get screwed.

A study from Massachusetts indicates that film subsidies go to fund big salaries for Hollywood actors.

Corollary to quote of the year: You are GREEDY if you don't want the politicans to take your money so they can pay off their special interests buddies and film industry shills.

But a new government study suggests much of the money will go to high-paid Hollywood actors, raising questions about the value of the incentives.

The analysis by the Department of Revenue this week estimated that at least half the film-industry payroll spending will go to out-of-town residents, mainly actors, directors, and producers commanding salaries of more than $1 million each. The Revenue Department assumes they will spend only a fraction of their paychecks in Massachusetts, limiting the benefits to the local economy.

Is the Leaf-Chronicle newspaper pro tax hike?

Clearly, today's issue is:

County tax hike not too costly, some say

Grass grows taller as cleanup funds dry up

Major DUH!! Cubans think Democracy would be better


Do you think a democratic government—elected by the people in free elections—would be more adequate than the current government to solve the country’s problems over the next few years?





No reply


Source: International Republican Institute
Methodology: Face-to-face interviews with 587 Cuban adults, conducted from Mar. 14 to Apr. 12, 2008. Margin of error is 4 per cent.

North Dakota sets oil production record

North Dakota has set a monthly oil production record and is on pace to set a record for the year, state and industry officials say.

The state Industrial Commission reports that North Dakota oil wells pumped an average of 150,578 barrels a day in April. The previous high of 147,774 barrels a day was set in August 1984.

North Dakota surpassed Kansas in 2006 to become the eighth-largest oil-producing state in the nation, and soon will surpass Wyoming to become seventh among oil-producing states, said Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council.

The Myth of the Declining Middle Class


Since the late 1970s there has been a substantial decline in the number of adults living in husband-wife couples. At the same time, there was a small rise in the share of single adults with children and a large rise in the number of single adults living alone (primarily adults in their twenties and those over the age of 70). Thus, while GDP per capita was up by 63 percent, personal income per household rose by just 48 percent. This reflects the fact that newer households were small and tended to have relatively low incomes; fewer people per household means that household income is not going to increase as much as per capita income.

After adjusting for demographic changes and for rising employee benefits (counted in GDP accounts but not by the Census Bureau), median household incomes rose by 33 percent rather than 13 percent over these 26 years. If the median (the number where half of households earn more and half earn less) was the same as the mean (the average household), then the median household income would have increased 48 percent. Thus households above the median (the richer half) did rise faster than 48 percent — but it is also clear that not all the growth went to the top decile. A substantial part of the growth dividend was shared by the masses of the middle class.

It is, perhaps, no surprise that for all its popularity with the pundits, the "vanishing middle class" meme doesn't quite have a purchase on the public: According to a 2008 Pew Research Center survey on intergenerational mobility, two out of three Americans who describe themselves as middle class rate their standard of living as better than that of their parents.

Monday, June 16, 2008

TSA'ers get new badges to look more authoritarian

WASHINGTON — Screeners at the nation's airport checkpoints are going to start wearing police-style badges — but real officers aren't too happy about it.

Some sworn officers fear airline passengers will mistake screeners for law-enforcement officials with arrest powers.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is starting to equip its 48,000 screeners with 3-inch-by-2-inch, silver-colored, copper and zinc badges that will be worn on new royal-blue police-style shirts.

The attire aims to convey an image of authority to passengers, who have harassed, pushed and in a few instances punched screeners. "Some of our officers aren't respected," TSA spokeswoman Ellen Howe said.

Quote of the day, perhaps of the Century.

Politicians never accuse you of "greed" for wanting other people's money -- only for wanting to keep your own money.

~Joseph Sobran HT: Mark Perry

This quote embodies so much wisdom about politics that its difficult to know where to start.

Politicians, even so-called conservative politicians, enthusiastically encourage citizens to use government to take money, by force, from the "greedy" so it can be re-distributed to those who will vote for the politician. Anyone who opposes such a redistribution plan is, by definition, "greedy."

Anyone whose need is perceived to be less than average or whose wealth is perceived to be more than average, is a fair target for confiscation by the politicians. A corollary of this principle: If you payoff the politician with a campaign contribution you are less likely to be labeled greedy.

Poll: New Yorkers worried most about TAXES

This is a New York Times commissioned poll. Given a list of issues, New Yorkers (State and City), said Taxes were the greatest problem, even more than gas prices and "the economy". 52% said government corruption was widespread.


More No Tax Increase Pledge Signing Today

Bob Shutt, Candidate for the 26th State Senate District, will sign our two Tennessee Tax Revolt tax pledges this morning in Savannah. Bob will pledge to the taxpayers that, if elected, he will oppose a State Income Tax and will oppose any effort to raise taxes.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Exploring Public Sector Blogging-The Municipalist Blog

My point here is to document that potential, making use of my journalism background to reach out directly to bloggers who serve their communities, states, or nations in elected or appointed positions, and ask them what has worked for them and what they have learned. Federal agencies are getting into blogging too, and I want to write about that as well. And I will ruminate about blogging in general and how it can impact government institutions and organizations. The intended audience here is definitely not new media analysts or "futurists" or any other self-appointed expert. I am aiming at those who are learning about Web 2.0, and/or those who may be public officials themselves, and are curious about new ways to build community around ideas or goals. Municipalist is a non-partisan blog. We have no interest in rooting for any particular political party.

So lets FORCE Clarksville families to CUT

their budgets by raising their taxes. Yea, thats the ticket....that way the city government won't have to suffer.

Lets review:

1- Clarksville taxpaying families face sharply higher gas and food prices and decreasing real incomes.

2- The Clarksville Mayor and City Council are elected by taxpaying citizens to represent taxpaying citizens.

3- The Mayor and Council have two choices. a-Cut the City Government budget or b-force taxpayers to cut their family budgets by raising their taxes?


Piper said he could not rule out a property tax hike, but said he'd do "everything we can to keep there from being a tax increase."

"I'm committed to making our city continue to move forward and progress forward," Piper said. "I believe that we have too often stopped and started, stopped and started, and it has hindered the long-range planning of our city."

Piper said a "perfect storm" of economic conditions will make this budget cycle a difficult hill to climb.

"Unfortunately, we've had a down-turned economy, we've had military leave and we've had a (a decrease in sales-tax revenue)," Piper said. "We've had a very minor increase in revenue versus increasing costs, and there's a significant gap between the two."

City Finance Commissioner Wilbur Berry could not be reached for comment.

Disney rips off TN Taxpayers in return for a little

Hollywood...very little. A well organized and persistent special interest group can work wonders when it comes to taking taxpayer money. Theo Emery does a great job of documenting just how far the film industry shills will go to rip off Tennessee taxpayers. And of course they claim that all of this must be kept secret from the very taxpayers who fund it. This is OUTRAGEOUS and completely unacceptable.

Wouldn't it be nice if OUR government worked as hard for taxpayers as they do for the film industry?

When Gibson returned to Tennessee, discussions quickly accelerated over whether Tennessee could provide enough incentives.

Under state law, Tennessee offers two film incentives. A cash rebate through the film office is for up to 17 percent of what a production spends in Tennessee, from salaries to travel to equipment rentals. The other, through the state Revenue Department, is for companies that establish a headquarters here, for an additional 15 percent.

The Revenue Department incentives had been written to apply to salaries for Tennesseans. But Disney was afraid there wasn't enough qualified crew in Tennessee, and Gibson was under pressure to include non-Tennesseans in the incentives.

It also turned out that the Cyrus family, though closely associated with Tennessee, might not be considered Tennesseans under the statute. Their situation was also complicated by the fact that they were paid through a California "loan out" company.

The question of non-Tennessee crew was central to how big a tax break Disney would get, state records show. Disney eventually told the state it expected to spend $11.3 million in Tennessee.

While state officials refused to disclose the amount of the tax break, saying that information was confidential under state law, the math works out to a $1.9 million rebate if Disney received only the film commission incentive, but about
$3.6 million if the production qualified for both incentives.

(State officials refused to confirm The Tennessean's math, saying it was confidential tax information.)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Ragtime Nightingale played by John Arpin

Legal, advertiser supported Online "Gambling"


Palmer skirts this pesky problem by banking his customers. Three elements have to be present to violate most state gambling laws--namely "prize, chance and consideration," says attorney Chuck Humphrey, a gaming-law specialist and author of the Gambling Law U.S. blog. Because doesn't allow users to bet their own stash, no "consideration" is involved, and thus all is kosher. Quips Palmer: "Congress assumes if you’re dumb enough to give away money, then go for it."

Here's how the site works. Each user starts off with 10 cents in his or her account, provided by Centsports. (You need only register a name and password.) From there, they can bet on any event for which Las Vegas bookmakers set a line.

Once users accumulate $20 in winnings--the equivalent of doubling your money eight times, or striking gold on a 200-to-1 long shot--they can cash out a minimum of $10 and receive an actual check in the mail. (In terms of "consideration," winnings on that initial 10-cent stake don't constitute ownership until actually cashed out.) Losers risk nothing--except perhaps a touch of pride--and get immediately restaked with fresh dimes.

Cashing out is not exactly straight forward. To ensure he can always pay the electric bill, Palmer puts the breaks on payouts (talk about having a house edge). Users compete with each other to snag their winnings from a community pot; big winners get preference.

Users can also earn money by referring friends to The incentive: 5% of any winnings their friends rack up.

Links to all Tennessee Newspapers Online

From the Tennessee Tax Revolt Taxpayer Information Center:


Miss Tennessee Contestants Photo Gallery

The Jackson Sun stamped each picture with their URL to be helpful.


and Here are baby pics of contestants

Father's Day Gifts: The Bad, Good and Really Bad