Category Archives: Stupidity

The Backward March of Civilization

Disease on those who unresponsively denigrate vaccination. Nothing is risk-free. Even stupid me knows that. I don’t have the time of day for them.

 WSJ  12/7/2019

Our age likes to believe in the inevitability of human progress, but for an example of the opposite consider the Pacific island nation of Samoa. A measles outbreak there has already killed more than 60 people, and authorities declared a two-day curfew on Thursday and Friday.

Businesses were obliged to close and vehicles had to stay off the roads from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mike Cherney of The Journal reports that residents were told to fly red banners from their homes if anyone inside needed vaccinations in the country of roughly 200,000 people. Officials were going door-to-door to vaccinate people. Most of the dead were children under 4 years old, and more than 4,300 have been hit with the disease.

The outbreak is especially tragic because measles can be contained with vaccinations. But misinformation from vaccine opponents has spread around the world in recent years, including in supposedly civilized America.

An outbreak hit New York last year among Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods where parents often block vaccinations. New York State banned nonmedical exemptions for school vaccinations as a result. Some 1,200 measles cases have been recorded across the U.S. so far this year, the most since 1992. Countries like Samoa are more vulnerable because they have less developed health systems and sometimes less efficient governments. Only 31% of Samoans were vaccinated against measles as of 2018.

The outbreak—and death toll—ought to chasten celebrities and others in the U.S. who have spread fears about vaccines, which are remarkably safe and prevent more deaths by far than they cause. It’s also a reminder that the march of civilization isn’t always for the better. Especially in the age of social media and lack of social trust, bad information can drive out good. Avoidable deaths like those in Samoa can be the tragic result.

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Trump has no Ideas??

Oh how I wish Republicans would learn how to sell what they have accomplished? They are absolute _ _ _ _ _ _ _ s.
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WSJ 11/5/2018
Americans say health care is a leading concern in Tuesday’s election, and voters say they trust Democrats over Republicans by double-digit margins. Yet the Trump Administration has put together an impressive suite of reforms that allow consumers more freedom and personal choice, not that you’ll read about it anywhere else.

Last month the Trump Administration rolled out a rule on health-reimbursement arrangements that would allow employers to offer workers tax-exempt dollars to buy insurance in the individual market. The Obama Administration banned this via regulation as part of the Affordable Care Act.

The Administration’s thinking is that these arrangements will be most attractive to small firms that lack the economies of scale that make offering insurance affordable. About 30% of workers at firms with three to 24 employees are covered by employer health benefits, down from 44% in 2010, according to Kaiser Family Foundation data. Eight in 10 companies with fewer than 200 employees offer only one plan.

Health reimbursements would be a cheap and easy option for, say, startups. This is also a way to offer more individuals the tax break on health care that employer insurance receives. Ending this economic distortion for everyone would be preferable, but equal treatment is a step forward.

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The reflexive response from Democrats is that this is another effort to undermine the Affordable Care Act, but they need a new script. The rule will draw more young and healthy workers into the individual market, which currently skews toward the sick or those poor enough to be eligible for tax-credit subsidies. Reimbursements should make the ObamaCare exchanges more stable, which is what Democrats claim to want.

The rule includes guardrails to prevent employers from dumping sick employees onto the exchanges, and to prevent a person from getting both employer contributions and public subsidies. The Administration expects that some 800,000 employers will provide reimbursement arrangements to more than 10 million employees. Some three million will have been buying coverage on the individual market, meaning the rule should save the fisc money on increasingly expensive tax credits.

By failing to repeal ObamaCare, Republicans can’t address all of its dysfunctions. But at the margin by expanding choices they are making the individual market better, not worse, even as Democrats accuse them of sabotaging ObamaCare. Other new Trump options include short-term plans and association health plans. And unlike ObamaCare, the government isn’t coercing you to buy these products.

Speaking of association plans, the returns are coming in on the Democratic claim that allowing The Administration is improving the individual market by expanding insurance choices.

Employers to band together to offer coverage is “junk insurance.” The plans are still nascent, but look at what the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce is offering: nine plan choices; dental, vision and life coverage available; pre-existing conditions covered; and more, with premium rates locked in for two years.

This is no surprise. The selling point of association plans is that businesses can pool risk and cut overhead costs. Businesses want to offer generous coverage that helps to attract workers in a tight labor market.

There may also be more relief ahead with the recent announcement that Health and Human Services rescinded a 2015 guidance for Section 1332 waivers. This is the Affordable Care Act’s waiver process for states to opt out of parts of the law. But Democrats designed the waivers to ensure that only progressive fantasies like single payer in Vermont could win approval. The Obama crowd then restricted the statute further in regulation.

The Trump Administration will interpret this in more rational ways, versus Obama guidance that applied the standards down to how plans would affect subpopulations in the state. The guidance was so prescriptive that most states didn’t bother coming up with ideas. The question now is how many enterprising Governors will decide they can do better than the status quo even within the restrictions.

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You haven’t heard about all this because Democrats want to define the election as a choice between them and Republicans who supposedly want to deny insurance to people with lung cancer. [And because the Republicans are so STUPID that they don’t know how to capitalize on what they have accomplished.] But political control of health insurance is not the only way to care for the sick. The GOP tends to favor block grants for high-risk pools that subsidize those who need help paying for expensive treatments.

ObamaCare set up an interim high-risk pool to cover anyone with pre-existing conditions who had been denied coverage, at least until the exchanges went live. Peak enrollment: 115,000, even as Democrats claim now that 130 million people have pre-existing conditions and are at risk from Republican policy.

The GOP’s incremental progress on healthcare freedom would have been hard to imagine a year ago when it failed to repeal and replace ObamaCare. Repeal is still desirable given the law’s fundamental flaws. But the Administration is working within the law’s limits to allow as much freedom as possible. If these products prove to be popular, Democrats may find it harder to eliminate the choices to stand up single payer.

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Google: No to USA; Yes to China.

A wonderful (?) example of politically correct non-think.  [And when only the money matters.]

WSJ – 8/4/2018

Intent on abiding by its founding motto, “Don’t Be Evil,” Google announced in June that it would not participate in a U.S. military program seeking to apply artificial intelligence to drone technology. This week it has been reported that Google is attempting to reintroduce its flagship search engine into China, albeit with censoring and surveillance filters demanded by the Chinese government. This does not compute.

Eight years ago, Google co-founder Sergey Brin pulled the company out of China, telling The Wall Street Journal that “in some aspects of their policy, particularly with respect to censorship, with respect to surveillance of dissidents, I see some earmarks of totalitarianism.” That was true then and is more so now. China is famously using advanced technology to erect an Orwellian surveillance state.

But like other companies, Google has concluded it cannot sacrifice access to China’s market, which is now dominated by the Chinese search-engine company Baidu. That means conforming itself to China’s rules on social control of the internet. Google hasn’t decided whether to proceed with this search-engine initiative, but clearly no license will be granted unless the company agrees to give Chinese censors access to the site’s vast internal information.

That Google would seek re-entry to a country whose efforts at totalitarian control are increasing while the company ostentatiously separates itself from a U.S. defense program is more than a contradiction. It is naive. What kind of world does Google think we live in?

The June decision to withdraw from the Pentagon’s AI program was accompanied by an 8,000-word statement

of Google’s ethical principles on the use of artificial intelligence. Well, yes, the intersection between AI and human autonomy is complicated. But no one paying attention to China’s ambitions doubts that it is developing artificial intelligence for domestic political control and sophisticated military applications. Its Communist Party leaders are doing so to gain a decisive advantage over China’s military competitors, primarily the United States and its citizens.

A recent Journal article detailing China’s high-tech military programs quoted former People’s Liberation Army Maj. Gen. Xu Guangyu: “China will not ignore or let slip by any dual-use technology, or any technology at all, that might improve the ability of our military to fight, our awareness, or our ability to attack.” In other words, the U.S. finds itself in an intense military competition with China. If American tech companies deny their own country access to advanced knowledge, the U.S. will fall behind.

The good news is that most U.S. technology companies, including in Silicon Valley, understand these realities and are contributing to the U.S. effort to defend itself. Google and its hyper-political employees stand out for seeming to spend a remarkable amount of time navel-gazing and composing codes of conduct.

Sergey Brin had it right in 2010: China’s success at lifting its people out of poverty is remarkable. Its determination to deploy American knowledge to control the Chinese people remains abhorrent. 

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Jihad on the Bike Path – Steyn

I can’t commend this blog post enough. Mark hits the nail SQUARE on the head.
Here is an excerpt:

“Why? Why does every public place have to get uglified up just because politicians don’t want to address the insanity of western immigration policies that day by day advance the interests of an ideology explicitly hostile to our civilization? Instead politicians want to tighten up vehicle rental. Why? Why should you have to lose an extra 15 minutes at an already sclerotic check-in counter because Hertz and Avis and UHaul have to run your name through the No-Rent list? Why should open, free societies become closed, monitored, ugly, cramped and cowering?”

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