Archive for April 16th, 2009

Time to yank some professional licenses . . .

| April 16, 2009 | 7 Replies
Time to yank some professional licenses . . .

Based on the release of additional torture memos of the Bush Administration, Mike Dunford of The Questionable Authority suggests that it’s time to revoke some professional licenses. I agree. Here’s an excerpt:

Reading these memos, it’s very clear that there are quite a few CIA employees who are allegedly medical professionals. Those people need to find new professions. I would strongly suggest that you take a few minutes – particularly if you’re a doctor or a psychologist – to suggest to your colleagues at the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association that it might be good to take some formal steps along those lines.

For additional information on the way the American Psychological Association facilitated the torture, consider this DI post, based on Amy Goodman’s book, Standing Up to the Madness.

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Who needs a tea-bag? – The truth about income, taxes, and the past 30 years

| April 16, 2009 | 17 Replies
Who needs a tea-bag? – The truth about income, taxes, and the past 30 years

I got involved in a discussion on Ed Brayton’s blog earlier today, which referenced yesterday’s Tea-bag ‘protests’. As a result, I ended up doing some research on pre/post tax income from 1979 to 2006. Taxes in this case is defined as ‘effective’ tax rates according to Congressional Budget Office (CBO) guidelines, not some ‘subset’, or arbitrary, or marginal rates. These are the taxes actually paid, and the income actually retained.

Based on the data presented by the CBO, with all dollars equalized to the 2006 value, the richest 1% of Americans saw their incomes after taxes increase by 256% since 1979. By comparison, the poorest 20% of Americans saw their income increase by only 11% after taxes over the same time period.

Putting this another way – in 1979 the wealthiest 1% earned, on average, 22.6 times the poorest 20% ($337,100 -v- $14,900). By 2006, the wealthiest 1% had extended their lead to a staggering multiple of 72.75 times the poorest 20% ($1,200,300 -v- $16,500).

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Paranoia as a permanent state of being – -

| April 16, 2009 | 16 Replies
Paranoia as a permanent state of being – -

This post about a panicked cautionary note was sent to me today, obviously well after the tea-party fact, but I thought it was quite amusing. The ultimate effect being, of course, that their efforts at keeping any sort of grassroots movement going was shot squarely in the foot, as they effectively censored themselves out of communicating with each other. Some of the responses to the post are hilarious. Seems of late I’ve been reading too many rightwing kneejerk responses, barely literate and rarely logical, to eloquent liberal articles and posts, and I was beginning to feel an unease that “they” are going to take over again. I was reminded, reading these responses, that the left side of the general public is still out there, making merry and feeling confident. Whew.

Now, is it just me, or does anyone else find that the further to the right one lands on the political spectrum, the less functional one’s sense of humor seems to become? Not only can they not poke fun at themselves, which all of my friends (read: left-leaning people with brains) do pretty well, but they can’t put words together to CREATE humor, either. Just fear, volume and paranoia. And ranting. Lots and lots of ranting.

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Socialism is Good for your Health

| April 16, 2009 | 32 Replies
Socialism is Good for your Health

A new study from the Cato Institute finds that Portugal’s policy on drug decriminalization is paying health dividends. Portugal decriminalized possession of all drugs on July 1, 2001, including heroin and cocaine. Trafficking in drugs is still a criminal offense.

The study clearly indicates rehab is a major component of the success of the decriminalization policy, and that such rehab needs to be available to all. Successful rehab is thus only possible when health is a public service. Without a public health program, most users (who are poor) would be unable to afford rehab (which tends to be relatively expensive), thus removing any possibility of improved public health outcomes – users will remain as users with increasing incidence of STD & death.

Unfortunately, the US would rather spend untold sums on the War on Drugs, and on the incarceration of users. Apparently it is still un-American (to some) to invest those sums in public health.

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Assisted suicide under the microscope

| April 16, 2009 | 9 Replies
Assisted suicide under the microscope

I’m a lot different than Jerry, a former co-worker. About twelve years ago, Jerry told me that he had a collection of guns and ammunition for when times got bad. He foresaw that all decent society might collapse someday. At that point, large numbers of people would become violent, running around in every neighborhood breaking into each others’ houses and shooting each other in order to steal each others’ stuff. If this ever happened, he assumed that he would be spending considerable time sitting on his front porch defending his family with his guns.

Jerry asked me what I would do if that day happened. I told him that I had already purchased a copy of a book called “Final Exit.” If society got that bad–so bad that I’d need to sit on my front porch shooting my neighbors in order to survive–I’d rather check out. Jerry, a conservative and religious man, had never heard of Final Exit. I explained that it is a book written by the founder of the group formerly known as the Hemlock Society. The book explains a relatively painless method of killing one’s self. The author was largely motivated by the fact that so many people in great and unrelenting physical pain longer wanted to live, yet they had no socially acceptable way of ending their lives.

After I explained this, Jerry was aghast. You’d kill yourself? At that time I had no children. I figured that it was my wife’s choice whether she wanted to sit on the porch and shoot the neighbors. Now that I do have children, the decision of what to do, assuming society-wide pandemonium from which there is no physical escape, would be all the more wrenching. I don’t know what I’d do. It would depend on how bad things actually got. I am utterly repulsed by the thought of shooting my neighbors.

My conversation with Jerry recurred to me as I read “Death Watch: Final Exit’s clandestine ways have put the assisted-suicide network on life support,” by Aimee Levitt, published 4/8/09 by the Riverfront Times, a free alternative newspaper in St. Louis. Levitt dug deeply into the facts, carefully considering the divergent perspectives on the moral/emotional/legal issues generated by the actions of a group that calls itself, “Final Exit,” a group that assist its “clients” to commit suicide.

The right to kill one’s self always seems to be a simple issue in my mind, at least at first glance: My body, my choice.

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