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THE ANT AND THE GRASSHOPPER

Two Different Versions! …………….. Two Different Morals!

OLD VERSION: The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long,

building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.

The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.

Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed.

The grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold.

MORAL OF THE STORY: Be responsible for yourself!

And now for the MODERN version…

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.

Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving.

CBS, NBC , PBS, CNN, and ABC show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food. America is stunned by the sharp contrast. How can this be, that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?

Kermit the Frog appears on Oprah with the grasshopper and everybody cries when they sing, ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green.’

Acorn stages a demonstration in front of the ant ‘s house where the news stations film the group singing, ‘We shall overcome.’

Rev. Jeremiah Wright then has the group kneel down to pray to God for the grasshopper’s sake.

Nancy Pelosi & Harry Reid exclaim in an interview with Larry King that the ant has gotten rich off the back ofthe grasshopper, and both call for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his fair share.

Finally, the EEOC drafts the Economic Equity & Anti-Grasshopper Act retroactive to the beginning of the summer. The ant is fined for failing to hire a proportionate number of green bugs and, having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the Government Green Czar.

The story ends as we see the grasshopper finishing up the last bits of the ants food while the government house he is in, which just happens to be the ant’s old house, crumbles around him because he doesn’t maintain it. The ant has disappeared in the snow.

The grasshopper is found dead in a drug related incident and the house, now abandoned, is taken over by a gang of spiders who terrorize the once peaceful neighborhood.

MORAL OF THE STORY: Be careful how you vote in 2012.

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Bailouts for terrorists

With Obama in the White House, even terrorists receive a Stimulus!

Just when you thought things couldn’t possibly get any worse (from The Times)…

The Obama administration is considering outbidding the Taliban to persuade Afghan villagers to lay down arms as it struggles to find a new approach to a war that is fast losing public and congressional support.

Didn’t we send troops to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban? Now the Obama administration is wanting to legitimize yet another terrorist group:

Apart from training more Afghan troops, the focus has shifted to accepting a political role for the Taliban, while also trying to weaken them by winning some over.

Once again, it is impossible to win over people who have a religious duty to eliminate our civilization through jihad. There is no middle ground, and they will only use our money against us. The even bigger problem I believe is that the Obama administration has to know this.

Here’s what passes for war strategy when community organizers and revolutionaries run the government:

Paying Taliban foot-soldiers to switch sides could spare US lives and save money, say its advocates. A recent report by the Senate foreign relations committee estimated the Taliban fighting strength at 15,000, of whom only 5% are committed idealogues while 70% fight for money — the so-called $10-a-day Taliban. Doubling this to win them over would cost just $300,000 a day, compared with the $165m a day the United States is spending fighting the war.

These “advocates” are so far off base this isn’t even worth analyzing. But I had been under the impression we sent troops to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban and al Qaeda-associated movements – not to save money! I wonder why we didn’t just pay off the Wermacht in 1944 rather than invade Normandy.

At least someone has a clue:

Some experts disagree. Gilles Dorronsoro from the Carnegie Institute insisted: “You cannot break an insurgency that strong with money. It’s not a mercenary force — it’s a very powerful movement.”

The thing is that the Afghans know that the U.S. is about to cut and run just like every other civilization that has occupied Afghanistan throughout human history. The ones who take the money will be left high and dry when Obama decides enough is enough, but the Taliban are there to stay, and will remember who wasn’t willing to continue the jihad. All this would be is another collosal waste of taxpayer money, which the Taliban will end up appropriating anyways.

This is obviously a UK story because they actually found more than one person who isn’t in lockstep with the administration. Obama is getting caught up in his own words:

Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, argues that the president has only himself to blame. “It was Obama who insisted in March and again last month that this was a ‘war of necessity’ and must be fully resourced rather than looking at what we really have at stake in Afghanistan.”


Originally posted at Unto the Breach

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The “Health Care Debate” is just about the largest national debate I have ever witnessed.  Opinions, facts, figures, lies, misdirection, and propaganda are flying about like trailer parts in a tornado.  Both sides are guilty of spewing mis-information, however, since I check all claims, I would say that the bulk clearly comes from the proponents for a national health care plan.  As an example, I offer 10 Myths About Canadian Health Care, Busted.  This blogpost has been passed around on Twitter by NHC supporters, and it is anything but balanced.  Insults begin by the second sentence and condescension drips through the entire piece.  Let’s take a look at the mythbusting of Sara Robinson.

1. Canada’s health care system is “socialized medicine.”
False. In socialized medical systems, the doctors work directly for the state. In Canada (and many other countries with universal care), doctors run their own private practices, just like they do in the US. The only difference is that every doctor deals with one insurer, instead of 150. And that insurer is the provincial government, which is accountable to the legislature and the voters if the quality of coverage is allowed to slide.

The proper term for this is “single-payer insurance.” In talking to Americans about it, the better phrase is “Medicare for all.”

Ms. Robinson defines socialized medical systems, declares that Canada does not have one, then proves that they do by her own definition. You work for who ever pays you. The doctors in Canada get paid by the insurer, which “is the provincial government”. That they “run their own private practices” is irrelevant. If the government pays the doctors, then the doctors work for the government, therefore her first “myth” is true.

2. Doctors are hurt financially by single-payer health care.
True and False. Doctors in Canada do make less than their US counterparts. But they also have lower overhead, and usually much better working conditions. A few reasons for this:

It cannot be a “busted myth” if the answer is “True and False”. Doctors in Canada either make less or they do not. Since their overhead is included in what they make, what we need to find is the average take home pay for doctors of both countries, something Ms. Robinson fails to include.

From 2003 – 2006, the average income from 59 specialty fields in the U.S. was about $299,850. This is income after expenses, but before taxes (source).  Data on Canadian doctors is tougher to find, but from what I gleaned from this source , here, and here the average appears to be around $185,500.  Of course, there are differences by area in both countries, and salaries vary widely by specialty as well.  But, overall, U.S. doctors receive over $100,000 more per year in compensation than the Canadians.  This explains why so many Canadian doctors move to the U.S. to practice (several sources estimate the number at close to half).

Ms. Robinson’s next three paragraphs are purely subjective, and speculative, and are thus irrelevant banter, though she is correct that Canadian doctors spend far less time in administrative work and that getting paid is fairly painless by American standards.  The next point she makes is about the average debt medical students have by the time they begin working.  Again, she has completely made up, and left off, key figures.

Third: The average American medical student graduates $140,000 in hock. The average Canadian doctor’s debt is roughly half that.

Relevant information can be found again from MedPageToday.com:

A medical education is a costly affair on both sides of the border.

According to the American Medical Association, doctors, on average, leave medical school owing about $140,000.

Canadian figures are similar, according to the physician survey in 2007, although varying exchange rates make comparisons difficult. The year 2007 is particularly hard because the Canadian dollar rose from 85 cents U.S. in January to $1.02 at the end of December. At this writing, the Canadian dollar is worth 93 cents in the U.S.

Of the more than 1,000 third- and fourth-year medical students who took part in the survey, 27% expected debt between $60,000 and $100,000 by the time they finished medical school and an additional 31% expected their debt to be more than $100,000.

While exchange rates have been up and down over the past few years, those figures probably represent a slight advantage for Canadian doctors.

On the other hand, in a separate 2007 survey, the Canadian Association of Interns and Residents found that residents owed an average of $158,728.

So, the debt difference is negligible. Next, Robinson mentions another irrelevant fact to her overall point. Malpractice insurance is lower in Canada, but since our pay is based after expenses, the conclusion is unchanged. Same debt, lower pay, higher taxes, Canadian doctors are definitely worse off. On this point I would like to add that Tort Reform, while necessary, is not even close to the “silver bullet” many opposed to universal health care would like it to be. CBO numbers state that a savings from some sort of national reform might save about 3-4% overall – not even close to what could be saved from simply recovering money wasted through medical insurance fraud, especially in the government programs.

3. Wait times in Canada are horrendous.
True and False again — it depends on which province you live in, and what’s wrong with you. Canada’s health care system runs on federal guidelines that ensure uniform standards of care, but each territory and province administers its own program. Some provinces don’t plan their facilities well enough; in those, you can have waits. Some do better. As a general rule, the farther north you live, the harder it is to get to care, simply because the doctors and hospitals are concentrated in the south. But that’s just as true in any rural county in the U.S.

Robinson really doesn’t seem to be selling herself too well. She also provides no data to support her claim. In 2004-5 the Canadian government thought that wait times were bad enough to dump $4.5 billion into a new program designed to reduce them. The First Minister’s words in 2004:

Foremost on this agenda is the need to make timely access to quality care a reality for all Canadians. First Ministers remain committed to the dual objectives of better management of wait times and the measurable reduction of wait times where they are longer than medically acceptable.

So there is a problem, the Canadians know about it. While I don’t live in a rural area, I also do not live in a very large city either. I have been treated for a variety of ailments and seen multiple specialists from internal medicine to cardiologists and neurologists. Never have I had to wait more than a week for an appointment to see any doctor or have any test done. If I did, most likely it was a self-imposed scheduling conflict. I also have never waited more than 30 minutes for any appointment. In fact, my only long waits have been at a Doc-in-a-box which is walk-ins only. Limited resources, plus high demand will either drive up prices, limit access (longer waits) or both. There is no other possible outcome. In Canada there are fewer doctors per capita than in the U.S. (2005 numbers show 2.4 per 1000 in the U.S., 2.2 per 1000 in Canada). There are fewer high-tech machines such as MRI’s. Since pricing is controlled by the government, wait times in Canada must increase. There is no other possible outcome.

Robinson’s points 4 and 5 are not really problems often debated, not by anyone serious anyway. Moving on to number 6 she states is true, so she misnamed the title of her piece. The interesting thing is that with all of the talk of Canada’s wonderful socialized medical system, and their high taxes, people still must come out of pocket for their care. The employer contribution is still out of pocket, you just never see it, so let’s not let that cloud the debate. Granted, the fee for top-notch coverage is small, about $100/month per person, but it is there. My own insurance is just over twice that, my taxes are significantly lower, and I don’t have to wait. Hmmm…

If anyone ever says that Canadian drugs are not the same as American drugs, they are obviously making stuff up. The average person should know that without being told, so her 7th point is also irrelevant. Her 8th point about rationed care may not be true in Canada – but no one is claiming that. The people designing the health care bills here are on record as stating that the elderly must give way to pay for health care for those with more years ahead of them. So, Robinson is confusing a critique of what our version of UHC would look like.

Her 9th point is also more a critique of Americans than the Canadian system. Americans are no where near as good at taking care of something they did not pay for themselves. Most would eat all of the greasy burgers and fatty foods we could get our hands on if we know that the Lipitor and angioplasty will always be free. We invented the hot dog, pizza, and still have yet to find something we can’t throw bacon on to. Yet, having said that, I have seen a surge in people at least trying to be healthier. This is good news for everyone, but especially their families.

On the other hand, Canadians do get a couple more prescriptions filled each year than we do in America (12 to 10.6), and yet there is no national drug coverage.  About 2/3 of Canadians purchase prescription drug coverage, and one study found that as many as 20% of Canada’s sicker citizens did not fill prescriptions due to the cost (source).  Yes, the prices are lower there, from 1/3 – 1/2 the price of the same drug here.  A large part of that is Mediare/Medicaid being legally prevented from negotiating prices with drug companies, though I’m sure there are other reasons as well, probably due to supply chain costs.

Robinson closes with a “myth” about Canadian taxes, and the financial strength of their system.  The taxes are higher (this blog post has a good explanation), sure, but ours would actually skyrocket if Medicare and Medicaid’s unfunded liabilities (around $50 Trillion) were included in the budget and dealt with properly.  Canada as a country spends about half as much as we do on medical expenses, both as a percentage of GDP and on a per-capita basis.  But this is not a critique of our system.  Spending more is not necessarily a bad thing.  We spend more for houses, cars, TV sets, and popcorn than any other country in the world as well.  Sure, we would all like health care to be cheaper, but we want EVERYTHING to cost less.  If we didn’t, Wal-Mart would never have grown to the superpower it is.

On another note, Americans have a long history of  individualism coupled with a strong sense of “helping our neighbor”.  What we do not have is a sense that our private actions may impact our fellow Americans financially.  If I fall off a ladder cleaning my gutters and break my arm, I, and my insurance company, are responsible for the costs.  I may impact my own insurance rate with risky behavior, but I do not make the costs go up to fellow citizens.  Those who do not pay into the system, such as illegal aliens, they help make my insurance rates go up by taking advantage of our system.  There is no philosophical difference between that and Wal-Mart raising prices of good slightly to make up for items stolen from their shelves each year.  Theft is theft.  Now, granted, there are people who need care and cannot afford it.  We should never be callous enough to deny care to the destitute.  But there also must be reasonable limits to that generosity and one limit must be citizenship unless the patient’s life is in immediate jeopardy.

“10 Myths” has just been busted.

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karageorgevich-a-hrh-arms

...Serbian "logo." Coincidence?

apf

APF's logo...

The logo for the American Police Force, a mysterious security company that may or may not be taking over the town of Hardin, Montana is the same as a Serbian coat of arms.

APF appeared to be claiming jurisdiction over the town yesterday when three Mercedes SUVs belonging to the group arrived bearing Hardin Police markings. Trouble is, Hardin hasn’t had a police department in 30 years and currently have a contract with the Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office.

The mayor told the APF to remove the decals.

Michael Hilton, who might or might not be a spokesman for APF, said in a CBS/AP article that “the vehicles would be handed over to the city if it forms a police force of its own.”

Free police cars sound too good to be true, especially considering that no contract has been signed, and the contract in question only covers the Hardin jail. Which interestingly enough, it was recently revealed that the company’s operating agreement for the facility has yet to be validated – two weeks after city leaders first unveiled what they said was a signed agreement.

What did city leaders and APF agree to?

Hilton also said he planned a helicopter tour of the region in coming days to look at real estate for a planned tactical military training ground. He said 5,000 to 10,000 acres were needed to complement the training center, a $17 million project.

5,000 to 10,000 acres for what kind of training? This company claims the capability of fielding a battalion-sized team of special forces soldiers “within 72 hours,” but who would they be training? Who will be conducting the training, and where would they come from?

APF said that the majority of their 200-plus employees (for a 464-cell jail) would be local hires, but the job fair that APF promised did not happen. They did, however, manage to hire a spokesman.

Becky Shay, a reporter for the Billings Gazette who covered events surrounding the jail since its construction. Shay said she intended to bring new transparency to the process, but declined to directly answer the first question posed to her: Where is American Police Force getting the money to operate the jail and build the training center?

“I know enough about where the money is coming from to be confident signing on with them,” she said.

Hilton said he also had a job discussion with Kerri Smith, wife of Two Rivers Authority Executive Director Greg Smith, who helped craft the deal to bring American Police Force to Hardin. Greg Smith was placed on unpaid leave two weeks ago for reasons that have not been explained.

Kerri Smith just so happens to be running for mayor of Hardin.

I don’t want to sound like some black-helicopter, tinfoil-hat conspiracist, but there is apparently something grievously wrong with the American Police Force. Quite frankly, these unanswered questions and falsehoods surrounding the APF should have disqualified them from operating in Hardin.

A full investigation should be conducted on APF before they can establish a beachhead in the United States.

(H/T Edwin)

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Attorney Mike Young with the Internet Law and Business Blog has dug even further into the American Police Force:

untitledThe server for APF’s website happens to host Defense Product Solutions’ website. This company registered its domain name way back on June 19, 2009. Note that both APF and DPS use the double-headed eagle for their corporate logos. AlliedDefenseSystems.com (registered March 2007) appears to be a related site. This website’s administrative contact is Mohammad Abdalla. Mr. Abdalla is listed as the COO for this company in Anaheim, CA.

Image1Here’s where it gets more strange. The admin e-mail is for a Mr. Edward Angelino, who just happens to be listed as a small business contact for Defense Logistics Services, Inc., a company that appears to be providing foreign military sales support for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Mr. Angelino has an interesting tracking record when it comes to both lawsuits and government contracts.

DPS’ “catalog” includes pictures of Angelino with Chuck Yeager, one of someone standing in front of an old Navy F-4 Phantom, and two of people standing in front of Humvees in the desert. Impressive.

According to the California Secretary of State’s office, Defense Logistics Services, Inc. was formed in 2004 but is dissolved.

There is, however, an American Private Police Force Org Inc. that was incorporated March 2, 2009, and is based in Anaheim too. In addition to being the corporation’s agent for service of process, a Mr. Michael Hilton is the self-designated “Captain” of the APF.

The APF claims it is the subsidiary of a parent company but won’t identify the parent company or where APF is getting its money. The company’s Washington, D.C. address is a virtual office. Its Santa Ana, California office appears to be in an office complex with a Spanish-speaking church, a dental lab, and insurance agency.

I wouldn’t want this group patrolling the streets in my town, and I certainly don’t want to be their prisoner, either!

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aar925.oggThe American Police Force has arrived in Montana. Problem is – they now claim to have police jurisdiction over the town where they seek to operate a jail.

KULR-8 TV in Billings reports:

Two Rivers Authority officials say having APF patrol the streets was never part of their agenda. “I have no idea. I really don’t because that’s not been a part of any of the discussions we’ve had with any of them,” said Two Rivers Authority’s Al Peterson.

As it stands now the Big Horn County Sheriff’s Department is contracted to patrol the city and APF has no jurisdiction. If that was changed Peterson says it would have to go through the city council.

It gets worse: the jail’s bondholders haven’t even reached an agreement with APF. And the group who has yet to provide any information that checks out. They have announced plans to do all kinds of things in Hardin, despite the fact that “Officials say the contract only deals with the detention facility and a police training center.”

It seems that Hardin, Mont. is beyond the Better Business Bureau at this point.

More on the APF here, here and here.

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The American Police Force will be in Montana next week to begin contsruction of a training facility and will begin looking for prisoners to fill the 464-cell prison. The executive quoted in the last post on the prison deal has been placed on administrative leave according to the Associated Press:

The economic development agency behind the private jail in Hardin has put its executive director on leave but claims the move will not interfere with a controversial contract given to a private security company.

The group also said it is still moving ahead quickly with the California company to operate the facility — even though neither group has contracts in place for prisoners, or promises it can get any.

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