By Nathan Barton
Good morning! Interesting stories from the weekend and last week about messes we find ourselves in.
We told you so: From Colorado, an object lesson in tax evasion. The voters of Colorado approved a referendum two years ago legalizing recreational marijuana (medical was already legal). One of the arguments was that it would create more revenue for state government because of how legal pot would be taxed. They even ran the numbers and projected $33.5 million in revenue during the first half of 2014. And they were right, but way off on the estimate. Actually the figure was almost two-thirds less — $12 million. The taxes are so high — 27% — there’s still a thriving black market in pot. Other people are getting it through the medical marijuana route (where the taxes are supposedly only 2.9%). Others can and do legally grow their own. The Marijuana Policy Group estimates only 60% of people who want pot in Colorado will buy it through legal channels. I find that hard to believe, unless they are counting both MMJ and home-grown. “If the price is too high,” says Ron Kammerzell of the Colorado Department of Revenue, “then we can’t compete with the black market, and that was our ultimate goal with Amendment 64 — we wanted to eliminate the black market.” Whoops… Reports are that Washington State is making even worse choices if one of the goals really is to eliminate the black market: no grow-your-own and even MORE ridiculous rules, regs, requirements, and taxes. Keep in mind that many libertarian and non-anti-drug analysts, think tanks, and activists (myself included) pointed out that this is EXACTLY what would happen, based on stupid tax policies on things like cigarettes, other tobacco products, and liquor. (For what it is worth, full-disclosure: I do NOT toke, drink, smoke, or use drugs in any way for recreation (and as little as possible for medical purposes – and do NOT use MJ for health purposes. And do NOT advocate others to do any of the above.)
Economists – good ones – told you so: Demand for butter is again increasing, even while reduced milk production and reduced fat content in milk are reducing supplies available to market, which has government upset, conspiracy theorists running wild, and farmers enjoying a bit better revenues. So it seems that people are rejecting government propaganda that fat is evil, especially Moochelle’s push for “healthy” food. Gee, what a strange way for people to behave!
Parents and children told you so: In the Fuehrer’s and Moochelle’s “home state” of Illinois, one of the largest school districts has quit her wunnderful lunch program, forfeiting (theoretically) a million bucks in federal subsidies. The comments of the reporter at Political Outcast are worth reflecting on. “Reading about these [Moochell-sponsored govt school lunch program] guidelines gives one the impression they are designed to produce malnourished teens that are constantly distracted by hunger.” And “The real story is that the best and brightest who came up with this plan and got Michelle Obama to push it seemed to have assumed that the students would compliantly put into their mouths whatever the Federal government dictated to them. What does it tell us about the regime that they have so completely misunderstood how the public would respond?” Debby and I have heard a LOT from fellow workers, clients, and friends regarding the insane “guidelines.”
Real medical personnel told you so: The National Center for Policy Analysis reports that “Interoperability” of electronic health data is a unicorn (a fantasy). “Having spent $26 billion of taxpayers’ money since 2009 inducing hospitals and physicians to install electronic health records (EHRs), many champions of the effort are dismayed that the EHRs are not interoperable. That is, they cannot talk to each other — which was the whole point of subsidizing the effort.” Again, talking to my own and other health care providers, and seeing what an incredibly BAD job they are doing of tracking and providing information to each other, to family members, and keeping people (like government agencies) OUT of people’s records, it is NOT just interoperability that is a problem. The concept of EHR/EMR is good, and certainly very advantageous over paper, written records for a mobile population. The implementation sucks, however, in very large part due to government meddling and dictates and companies that cannot and will not do anything except what government tells them to.
Mama’s Note: As a nurse who left the field just as these were coming in, I have to say that there are several serious problems with the electronic records beyond privacy issues. Regardless of how well they are backed up electronically, if the system goes down the doctors and others suddenly have ZERO records to work with. We all know that computer systems can and do cease to function, for many reasons, and they are not always easily restored. The worst problem, as I see it, is that this form of record keeping takes both nurses and doctors farther away from narrative documentation and into a check off type of records that do not reflect nearly as much of actual patient status. This type of documentation is also far, far easier and more likely to be false or deliberately misleading. Simply said, no record is of any more value than the integrity of those who collect and keep it, and we have plenty of reason to question the integrity of the current system.
A LOT of people told you so: Analyst estimates ObummerCare will increase the number of uninsured in the Fifty States. By the end of the decade, the United States’ health system will be in worse shape than it was before the Abominable (Affordable Care) Act, according to an article in the National Journal. (Of course, this assumes that the FedGov still exists in 5.5 years.) Just as the promise that ObummerCare would LOWER medical costs and LOWER insurance costs has already been demonstrated to be an intentional lie.
The new technologies are changing medicine. Economists are expecting a 21 percent increase in information technology jobs in the health care industry by the end of the decade. But too many of those jobs are going to be trying to fix the problems created by government, especially since 2009. Meanwhile, people will DIE prematurely or needlessly because things do not work right. The quality of common workers in the newer generations is a big problem: medical records techs and related fields require knowledge, skills, and responsibility not taught in the public school system or by too many communities today. Someone who cannot and will not bother to distinguish between “their” and “there” or “we’ve” and “weave” is NOT capable of functioning in such jobs. And their errors WILL lead to killing and maiming people.
We told you so: The IRS looks at Employer-Provided Meals for stealing more from taxpayers. In Silicon Valley, it is common for employers to provide complimentary food to their employees. But the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) sees the free meals as a source of revenue. This will, of course, affect military personnel, whose “subsistance allowance” is not taxed (until now), and many other people who are fed by employers for the convenience of the employers. I see this as a way to reintroduce slavery and still collect income taxes from the slaves. Or how about the slave labor in prisons?
How many times do we have to say this? It seems like every other story that comes across my desktop is about some other outrage that cops – some in very unlikely places – commit. It is not enough that they are arrogant hypocrites who have steadily declining intelligence and empathy levels, it is as if they intentionally seek out ways to do MORE evil things. Consider the Minnesota small-town police chief who used a family’s own shovel to kill and behead a pet chicken, to satisfy a neighbor’s complaint. And then justified it because the family was violating an ordinance about having fowls in town. I guess the family should be grateful that the chief didn’t just execute the five year old boy whose pet the chicken was. Canadian cops are just as stupid and arrogant, as a spokesman for the Halifax cops explained that ANYTHING used with intent to defend yourself from an attack will be considered a weapon and you will face charges for using it, and for carrying it concealed: including pepper sprays, air horns (although he suggested using it), can openers, ballpoint pens (he didn’t mention felt-tips, at least), and apparently anything else. The entire story reads like a joke, but it is not. Of course, Halifax cop arrogance is topped enormously by that of NYPD, which has gotten the courts to declare that to criticize the NYPD is a HATE CRIME, based on charges filed against a graffiti artist. Okay, you murdering, torturing, arrogant, hateful, criminal-conspiracy, thieving “law enforcement” thugs, you come out to South Dakota or Colorado and arrest and charge me with a “hate crime” for what I just said about you. Unless you can arrest me for something else, like driving a vehicle that has a “secret” compartment, which “could” be used to smuggle something. That is the law in Ohio already, and they are trying to do that in Pennsylvania, where the courts have decided that arrogant police can search your car at any time without a warrant: surrender your Bill of Rights when you cross the stateline into Pennsylvania, once the site of the Thirteen States’ Declaration of Independence.