Ken's Project Blog

March 27, 2011

Pity the Poor Pool Reporter

Filed under: In The News,Politics — Ken @ 11:59 pm

The Hold Room for Mr. Powell at Alan Ginsberg's House

Over at the ABC News Blog Political Punch Jake Tapper has a report on the way a pool reporter was treated at a Democratic fundraiser attended by Vice President Joe Biden. (more…)

March 17, 2011

But we’re cutting $6 Billion

Filed under: In The News — Ken @ 9:57 am


Over at CNSnews.com they have a story about how, despite plans to cut $6 billion in spending over the next three weeks, our national debt went up $72 billion on one day (March 15th, 2011):

At the close of business on Monday, according to the Treasury Department’s Bureau of the Public Debt, the total national debt stood at $14.166 trillion ($14,166,030,787,779.80). At the close of business Tuesday, the debt stood at $14.237 trillion ($14,237,952,276,898.69), an increase of $71.9 billion ($71,921,489,118.89).

They’ve run the numbers:

If Congress were to cut $6 billion every three weeks for the next 36 weeks, it would manage to save between now and late November as much money as the Treasury added to the nation’s net debt during just the business hours of Tuesday, March 15.

Sounds great, but that would require us to not spend more than we take in for the next 36 weeks, and that would only put our debt level back where it was on March 14, 2011. They ran some more numbers:

Congress would need to cut spending by $6 billion every three weeks for approximately the next six and a half years (338 weeks) just to equal the $676.3 billion the debt has increased thus far this fiscal year.

But again, those $2 billion in savings every week for the next six and a half years would only take our national debt back to where it was on Dec. 31st, 2010. Anyone want to speculate on Washington’s ability to reign in spending to $2 billion a week less than they take in each week, for the next 6 and a half years?

The simple lesson in the above Saturday Night Live clip seems to elude our leaders in Washington.

Watch the entire sketch here: Hulu

Sources:

YouTube video: Don’t Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford – A 1-page book

Hulu: Saturday Night Live sketch Don’t Buy Stuff You CANNOT Afford

CNSnews.com: U.S. Debt Jumped $72 Billion Same Day U.S. House Voted to Cut Spending $6 Billion

Treasury Department, Bureau of the Public Debt: Debt to the Penny

Devious Democrats

Filed under: In The News,Politics — Ken @ 2:02 am


It seems over in Michigan, a couple Democratic Party leaders got it in their head that the best way for their candidates to win in the 2010 elections was to try to “split” their political opponent’s votes by registering “sham” Tea Party candidates on ballots across the state. As many as 23 elections are in question, and the two are facing at least 15 charges.

The issue is that these two fraudulently filed campaign paperwork on behalf of individuals who were not running for office. The fraud was revealed when some of the “candidates” were sent notices about missing campaign paperwork after the election.

Source:

WJBK Fox 2 – Two Charged in Tea Party Election Fraud

March 15, 2011

Al Franken on Net Netruality

Filed under: In The News,Politics,Technology — Ken @ 10:51 pm


Sen. Al Franken, speaking at the SXSW Interactive conference, decided to chime in on the Net Neutrality “debate”:

“He said Comcast is looking to change the basic architecture of the Web by implementing a pricing scheme that allows moneyed interests to pay for faster speeds, leaving everyone else behind. That would be a particularly bad development for the independent musicians and artists gathered here, he said.” [emphasis added]

Let me see if I can explain this in simple terms, instead of “Net Neutrality” let’s consider “Car Neutrality”. Let’s say I go to the local Chevy dealer and buy a new Chevy Cruz, and I really like it – I think it’s really fast and I’m happy with the price. Then, after I get the car home, I find out that “moneyed interests” can pay more for a car than I did and get one that’s even faster. Somehow, because GM offers “faster cars” to “moneyed interests” my Cruz is now slower.

That, in a nutshell, is his Net Neutrality argument, as expressed at SXSW Interactive.

Sources:

Politico.com: Al Franken: ‘They’re coming after the Internet’

For the Kids

Filed under: Education,In The News,Politics,Taxation,Uncategorized — Ken @ 12:03 pm

For a while I sat and tried to think of how to discuss what I saw in the above video, depicting state workers (presumably teachers), repeatedly asking the children “What does Democracy look like?”, then I came across the following Wall Street Journal Op-ed piece from Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin:

Why I’m Fighting in Wisconsin
We can avoid mass teacher layoffs and reward our best performers. But we have to act now.

In 2010, Megan Sampson was named an Outstanding First Year Teacher in Wisconsin. A week later, she got a layoff notice from the Milwaukee Public Schools. Why would one of the best new teachers in the state be one of the first let go? Because her collective-bargaining contract requires staffing decisions to be made based on seniority.

Ms. Sampson got a layoff notice because the union leadership would not accept reasonable changes to their contract. Instead, they hid behind a collective-bargaining agreement that costs the taxpayers $101,091 per year for each teacher, protects a 0% contribution for health-insurance premiums, and forces schools to hire and fire based on seniority and union rules.

My state’s budget-repair bill, which passed the Assembly on Feb. 25 and awaits a vote in the Senate, reforms this union-controlled hiring and firing process by allowing school districts to assign staff based on merit and performance. That keeps great teachers like Ms. Sampson in the classroom.

Most states in the country are facing a major budget deficit. Many are cutting billions of dollars of aid to schools and local governments. These cuts lead to massive layoffs or increases in property taxes—or both.

In Wisconsin, we have a better approach to tackling our $3.6 billion deficit. We are reforming the way government works, as well as balancing our budget. Our reform plan gives state and local governments the tools to balance the budget through reasonable benefit contributions. In total, our budget-repair bill saves local governments almost $1.5 billion, outweighing the reductions in state aid in our budget.

While it might be a bold political move, the changes are modest. We ask government workers to make a 5.8% contribution to their pensions and a 12.6% contribution to their health-insurance premium, both of which are well below what other workers pay for benefits. Our plan calls for Wisconsin state workers to contribute half of what federal employees pay for their health-insurance premiums. (It’s also worth noting that most federal workers don’t have collective bargaining for wages and benefits.)

For example, my brother works as a banquet manager at a hotel and occasionally works as a bartender. My sister-in-law works at a department store. They have two beautiful kids. They are a typical middle-class Wisconsin family. At the start of this debate, David reminded me that he pays nearly $800 per month for his family’s health-insurance premium and a modest 401(k) contribution. He said most workers in Wisconsin would love a deal like the one we are proposing.

The unions say they are ready to accept concessions, yet their actions speak louder than words. Over the past three weeks, local unions across the state have pursued contracts without new pension or health-insurance contributions. Their rhetoric does not match their record on this issue.

Local governments can’t pass budgets on a hope and a prayer. Beyond balancing budgets, our reforms give schools—as well as state and local governments—the tools to reward productive workers and improve their operations. Most crucially, our reforms confront the barriers of collective bargaining that currently block innovation and reform.

When Gov. Mitch Daniels repealed collective bargaining in Indiana six years ago, it helped government become more efficient and responsive. The average pay for Indiana state employees has actually increased, and high-performing employees are rewarded with pay increases or bonuses when they do something exceptional.

Passing our budget-repair bill will help put similar reforms into place in Wisconsin. This will be good for the Badger State’s hard-working taxpayers. It will also be good for state and local government employees who overwhelmingly want to do their jobs well.

In Wisconsin, we can avoid the massive teacher layoffs that schools are facing across America. Our budget-repair bill is a commitment to the future so our children won’t face even more dire consequences than we face today, and teachers like Ms. Sampson are rewarded—not laid off.

Taking on the status quo is no easy task. Each day, there are protesters in and around our state Capitol. They have every right to be heard. But their voices cannot drown out the voices of the countless taxpayers who want us to balance our budgets and, more importantly, to make government work for each of them.

There are those that think that Gov. Walker has “trumped-up” these budget issues to “bust the unions, kill the middle-class and pay off his rich supporters with tax cuts” – well, I’d direct you to the news report last June about Megan Sampson and her layoff, along with 480 other teachers at the end of last school year, and how the teachers now protesting could have spared every one of those teachers, including Megan Sampson, by simply opting for a lower-cost medical plan which would have save the Milwaukee Public Schools $48M, or enough to retain the 480 teachers.

From the report last June:

[Milwaukee School Board President Michael] Bonds said if all teachers switched to the lower-cost plan, about $48 million could be saved, enough to pay for 480 educators.

“I’m not aware of any place in the nation that pays 100% of teachers’ health-care benefits and doesn’t require a contribution from those who choose to take a more expensive plan,” Bonds said.

Pat O’Mahar, the interim executive director for the MTEA, said it was unfortunate the district believed the solution to budget pressures was to lay off hundreds of educators.

Uh, Mr. O’Mahar, the decision was put in the hands of the teachers, and they choose the more expensive health care plans, not the jobs of 480 co-workers… Funny, I don’t remember anyone discussing that “sacrifice” by the teachers during the protests in the state house…

Sources:

YouTube Video: Wisconsin protesters get children to chant

Wall Street Journal: Why I’m Fighting in Wisconsin

Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel: Walker brings unwanted attention to local teacher and Seniority system cuts fresh MPS teachers amid budget crunch

March 13, 2011

Minority Report

Filed under: In The News,Politics — Ken @ 10:51 pm


In the above video clip we see a “Pre Crime Division” using information from a “Pre Cog” about a crime that will happen in the near future. Below is the full Op Ed President Obama wrote to the Arizona Daily Star newspaper. I think the President is trying to create an impression among the readers of his Op Ed that with the right set of regulations (and improved enforcement of existing regulations) we can prevent future crimes.

His Op Ed describes the Tucson shooter thusly:

But one clear and terrible fact remains. A man our Army rejected as unfit for service; a man one of our colleges deemed too unstable for studies; a man apparently bent on violence, was able to walk into a store and buy a gun.

Let’s go through this piece by piece:

A man our Army rejected as unfit for service – the Tucson shooter was rejected by the military for his failure to pass a drug test. Are we going to now suggest that people who want to buy guns must pass a drug test?

A man one of our colleges deemed too unstable for studies – the Tucson shooter was kicked off of campus for disturbing statements and exhibiting abnormal behavior. He was told he couldn’t return to campus without a psychiatric evaluation – the school didn’t want to “judge” him, but they were concerned about him remaining on campus. They weren’t interested in helping him, they were interested in protecting the other students, and ignoring the community outside the campus.

A man apparently bent on violence – “apparently”? The President wants us to believe the shooter’s plans were somehow apparent to others, yet no one acted to stop them. I believe most of the shooters friends and classmates simply “drifted away” from him, opting to take a position of “Live and let live” rather than intervene and try to understand what was going on with their friend.

(He) was able to walk in to a store and buy a gun – And why not? There was no record of any problems that could have been used to prevent him from buying a gun – use of drugs doesn’t prevent one from buying a gun, the college he attended never tried to force a psychiatric evaluation of him (which could have blocked his purchase), and only “the Shadow knows the evil that lurks in souls of men.

The President then goes on and outlines what he thinks is needed, going forward:

I’m willing to bet that responsible, law-abiding gun owners agree that we should be able to keep an irresponsible, law-breaking few – dangerous criminals and fugitives, for example – from getting their hands on a gun in the first place.

I’m willing to bet they don’t think that using a gun and using common sense are incompatible ideas – that we should check someone’s criminal record before he can check out at a gun seller; that an unbalanced man shouldn’t be able to buy a gun so easily; that there’s room for us to have reasonable laws that uphold liberty, ensure citizen safety and are fully compatible with a robust Second Amendment.

That’s why our focus right now should be on sound and effective steps that will actually keep those irresponsible, law-breaking few from getting their hands on a gun in the first place.

The President paints a picture of a broken background check process in need of (I assume) more funding, but no background check imaginable (or possible) under current laws would have prevented the tragic shooting in Tucson – friends, family, and schools that refused to force the shooter to undergo psychiatric evaluation prevented our current background checks from working. What good are increased enforcement efforts if the community doesn’t do it’s part.

The simple truth is, if the shooter had undergone psychiatric evaluation while in public school, or in college, or as a result of the numerous times the police were called on to intervene when he was causing problems, it is very likely that he would have been marked as a person with psychiatric problems severe enough to prevent him from buying a gun in Arizona or any other state.

Finally, the President added this bon mot at the end of his letter:

Most gun owners know that the word “commonsense” isn’t a code word for “confiscation.”

I think the President is assuming that gun rights supporters have forgotten about the “commonsense” gun confiscations in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. We have not, Mr. President.

The President’s entire Op Ed piece:

It’s been more than two months since the tragedy in Tucson stunned the nation. It was a moment when we came together as one people to mourn and to pray for those we lost. And in the attack’s turbulent wake, Americans by and large rightly refrained from finger-pointing, assigning blame or playing politics with other people’s pain.

But one clear and terrible fact remains. A man our Army rejected as unfit for service; a man one of our colleges deemed too unstable for studies; a man apparently bent on violence, was able to walk into a store and buy a gun.

He used it to murder six people and wound 13 others. And if not for the heroism of bystanders and a brilliant surgical team, it would have been far worse.

But since that day, we have lost perhaps another 2,000 members of our American family to gun violence. Thousands more have been wounded. We lose the same number of young people to guns every day and a half as we did at Columbine, and every four days as we did at Virginia Tech.

Every single day, America is robbed of more futures. It has awful consequences for our society. And as a society, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to put a stop to it.

Now, like the majority of Americans, I believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. And the courts have settled that as the law of the land. In this country, we have a strong tradition of gun ownership that’s handed from generation to generation. Hunting and shooting are part of our national heritage. And, in fact, my administration has not curtailed the rights of gun owners – it has expanded them, including allowing people to carry their guns in national parks and wildlife refuges.

The fact is, almost all gun owners in America are highly responsible. They’re our friends and neighbors. They buy their guns legally and use them safely, whether for hunting or target shooting, collection or protection. And that’s something that gun-safety advocates need to accept. Likewise, advocates for gun owners should accept the awful reality that gun violence affects Americans everywhere, whether on the streets of Chicago or at a supermarket in Tucson.

I know that every time we try to talk about guns, it can reinforce stark divides. People shout at one another, which makes it impossible to listen. We mire ourselves in stalemate, which makes it impossible to get to where we need to go as a country.

However, I believe that if common sense prevails, we can get beyond wedge issues and stale political debates to find a sensible, intelligent way to make the United States of America a safer, stronger place.

I’m willing to bet that responsible, law-abiding gun owners agree that we should be able to keep an irresponsible, law-breaking few – dangerous criminals and fugitives, for example – from getting their hands on a gun in the first place.

I’m willing to bet they don’t think that using a gun and using common sense are incompatible ideas – that we should check someone’s criminal record before he can check out at a gun seller; that an unbalanced man shouldn’t be able to buy a gun so easily; that there’s room for us to have reasonable laws that uphold liberty, ensure citizen safety and are fully compatible with a robust Second Amendment.

That’s why our focus right now should be on sound and effective steps that will actually keep those irresponsible, law-breaking few from getting their hands on a gun in the first place.

• First, we should begin by enforcing laws that are already on the books. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System is the filter that’s supposed to stop the wrong people from getting their hands on a gun. Bipartisan legislation four years ago was supposed to strengthen this system, but it hasn’t been properly implemented. It relies on data supplied by states – but that data is often incomplete and inadequate. We must do better.

• Second, we should in fact reward the states that provide the best data – and therefore do the most to protect our citizens.

• Third, we should make the system faster and nimbler. We should provide an instant, accurate, comprehensive and consistent system for background checks to sellers who want to do the right thing, and make sure that criminals can’t escape it.

Porous background checks are bad for police officers, for law-abiding citizens and for the sellers themselves. If we’re serious about keeping guns away from someone who’s made up his mind to kill, then we can’t allow a situation where a responsible seller denies him a weapon at one store, but he effortlessly buys the same gun someplace else.

Clearly, there’s more we can do to prevent gun violence. But I want this to at least be the beginning of a new discussion on how we can keep America safe for all our people.

I know some aren’t interested in participating. Some will say that anything short of the most sweeping anti-gun legislation is a capitulation to the gun lobby. Others will predictably cast any discussion as the opening salvo in a wild-eyed scheme to take away everybody’s guns. And such hyperbole will become the fodder for overheated fundraising letters.

But I have more faith in the American people than that. Most gun-control advocates know that most gun owners are responsible citizens. Most gun owners know that the word “commonsense” isn’t a code word for “confiscation.” And none of us should be willing to remain passive in the face of violence or resigned to watching helplessly as another rampage unfolds on television.

As long as those whose lives are shattered by gun violence don’t get to look away and move on, neither can we.

We owe the victims of the tragedy in Tucson and the countless unheralded tragedies each year nothing less than our best efforts – to seek consensus, to prevent future bloodshed, to forge a nation worthy of our children’s futures.

Sources:

YouTube videos Minority Report – Precrime Intro and The Shadow soundtrack: Track 12: Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?

Arizona Daily Star: We must seek agreement on gun reforms

CNN.com: Giffords stabilizes as suspect appears in court

Washington Post: Others could have sought evaluation for Arizona suspect

New York Times: Police Begin Seizing Guns of Civilians

John Gage and Collective Bargaining

Filed under: In The News,Politics — Ken @ 12:11 pm


In the above video, we see John Gage expressing his organizations views on Collective Bargaining, and over at Federal News Radio we have the same John Gage discussing the right of TSA Transportation Safety Officers to be represented by Organized Labor. What is interesting is that in between these two clips a funny thing happened in Wisconsin.

On February 4th, Federal News Radio posted an on-air conversation with John Gage, President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) he discusses the limited role of collective bargaining being offered to the TSA Transportation Safety Officers (TSOs) which will cover:

  • The performance management process
  • Awards and recognition process
  • Attendance management guidelines process
  • Shift bids

TSA will not negotiate on other issues:

  • Security policies, procedures or the deployment of security personnel or equipment
  • Pay, pensions and any form of compensation
  • Proficiency testing
  • Job qualifications
  • Discipline standards

And in the on-air audio clip, John Gage, President of AFGE says:

“Unions in the federal sector don’t bargain pay anywhere, well, a couple places that have authority, but very small, but in general Congress sets our pay, Congress sets our benefit package, and that’s not bargainable in the unions even though this is a much more restricted collective bargaining scope, even as compared to other security agencies that we represent, for instance like the border patrols, ICE agents, Federal Protective services.”

Source: 2:28 into on-air interview with John Gage on WFED

Then, in the video above, AFGE President John Gage decries the “unprecedented assault on collective bargaining” going on in Wisconsin and claims that public workers are under assault under cover of budget deficit (he then rambles on into a discussion of Federal budget priorities, national deficit, and the Environmental Protection Agency…). What stood out to me was that while he is holding up the rights of the TSA TSOs to collectively bargain as a good thing, and understanding the limitations federal employees are under with regard to what can and can not be collectively bargained, how can President Gage defend his claims of an “unprecedented assault” in Wisconsin when state employees there will have the same (or better) collective bargaining rights as nearly all federal employees?

The Wisconsin statute limits the ability of most state employees to collectively bargain in the same manner federal employees abilities are limited, with one major exception – Gov. Walker’s proposals would limit public-worker negotiations to base salary, but pension benefits and health insurance contributions would be excluded, as they are also excluded for federal employees. The Federal employees AFGE President John Gage represents can’t negotiate base salary, and he’s seemingly OK with that, so how is it an “unprecedented assault” when Wisconsin state workers retain more rights than his union members?

On a related note, the so-called “right to strike” is not an actual right, it was granted through statute to private sector employees, and absent such authorization public sector employees are barred from such work actions (see FLRA PATCO Decision 07-010-3, I. Historical Perspective).

As AFGE President Gage says in the on-air radio interview:

“Federal employees can’t strike, can’t do slowdowns, can’t do job actions – this is not just TSO this is all Federal Employees that are covered under the same statute”

For background information on Federal Employees rights to strike, see Executive Order 11491, Sec. 19, the Federal Labor Relations Board decision in the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization, Affiliated with MEBA and FAA, and UNITED FEDERATION OF POSTAL CLERKS V. BLOUNT decision.

Sources:

YouTube video: AFGE President John Gage on Collective Bargaining, Unions and Public Service

WFED Federal News Radio: TSA workers granted collective bargaining rights

Newsmax.com: Outrage: Government Workers Earn Up to $18,000 More Than Private Sector Counterparts

National Archives: Executive Order 11491 – Labor management relations in the Federal Service

Federal Labor Relations Authority: Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization, Affiliated with MEBA and FAA

United States District Court, District of Columbia UNITED FEDERATION OF POSTAL CLERKS V. BLOUNT decision

March 12, 2011

The Best of The Best of The Best

Filed under: In The News — Ken @ 10:25 pm


Then-Mayor of New York City Ed Koch, when asked about women joining the New York Fire Department, famously responded “I don’t care what sex a firefighter is, as long as they can carry a 200 pound mayor out of a burning building.”

The Dayton, Ohio Civil Service board has agreed, at the direction of the U.S. Justice Department, has lowered the standards to increase the number of minority applicants that pass the written exam to enter the police academy.

The original passing scores determined by Civil Service required candidates to answer 57 of 86 (66 percent) questions correctly on one portion and 73 of 102 (72 percent) on the other. The lowered benchmark requires candidates to answer 50 of 86 (58 percent) questions correctly and 64 of 102 (63 percent) of questions on the other.

Applicants that pass the written exam still have to undergo a background check and an oral exam/interview before being accepted into the police training program. As of this date, we have no word if the U.S. Justice Department will be also be directing Dayton, Ohio to lower their standards for the background check or personal interview…

UPDATE: The Presidents of the Dayton Fraternal Order of Police and of the Dayton Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People have responded to the revised-downward standards:

“It becomes a safety issue for the people of our community,” said Dayton Fraternal Order of Police President, Randy Beane. “It becomes a safety issue to have an incompetent officer next to you in a life and death situation.”

“The NAACP does not support individuals failing a test and then having the opportunity to be gainfully employed,” agreed Dayton NAACP President Derrick Foward.

“If you lower the score for any group of people, you’re not getting the best qualified people for the job,” Foward said.

“We need to work with the youth and make them interested in becoming law enforcement officers and firefighters,” said Beane. “Break down the barriers whether they are real or perceived, so we can move forward in this community.”

Sources:

YouTube video MIB-best of the best

Dayton Daily News: City agrees to lower test scores for police exam

WKEF-TV: Civil Service Board Announces Police Recruit Scores

March 9, 2011

Cowboy Poetry Festival

Filed under: In The News,Politics,Taxation — Ken @ 11:56 am


Apparently, Senator Harry Reid thinks the only way a Cowboy Poetry Festival can happen in Elk, Nevada is if the Federal Government subsidises it. You may be asking yourself “Why do we need the Cowboy Poetry Festival?” Well, it seems it creates jobs (though I doubt it creates many year-round, support a family of four kinda jobs we’d all like to see created).

As Senator Reid concedes in his own comments above, tens of thousands of people attend this festival – I’m sure the organizers of the festival can think of some way of replacing lost government dollars with some private sector funding, you know from the restaurants, hotels, bars, etc. that see increased business when the festival occurs.

Literally hundreds of thousands of “festivals” occur each year without funding from the federal government – why is this festival so special that it deserves (even partial) federal taxpayer funding?

Watch the following video and see if you can think of any way to help these poor cowboy poets fund their festival:

For more information on the annual festival, here’s a nice write-up from The Guardian.
Sources:

YouTube videos: Harry Reid Cowboy Poetry and National Cowboy Poetry Gathering 2011

Western Folklife Center: National Cowboy Poetry Gathering

The Guardian: Nevada’s cult of the cowboy

Yet another reminder…

Filed under: Health Care,In The News,Politics — Ken @ 11:02 am


On the off-chance that anyone still thought the U.K. Healthcare system was worth modeling our own after, I give you this story about Daphne Austin (above), a senior leader of the National Health Service in the U.K. and her thoughts on what should be done with children delivered prematurely in the 22nd or 23rd week – she thinks they should be left to die:

She claimed keeping them alive is only ‘prolonging their agony’, and it would be better to invest the money in care for cancer sufferers or the disabled.

and

‘For me the big issue is that we’re spending an awful lot of money on treatments that have very marginal benefit.’

‘I would prefer to free up that money to spend on providing support to people who have much more lifelong chronic conditions.’

Source: Mail Online

The money she hopes to save and invest “in care for cancer sufferers or the disabled” amounts to around $16 million U.S. (10 million pounds) – that represents a rounding error on a rounding error in the NHS annual budget of 100 billion pounds ($160 Billion U.S.) 0.01% of their annual budget. I’m sure the parents of a 23 week old prematurely delivered baby will understand the importance of making their contribution to the NHS’s attempts to curb out of control healthcare costs… Right?

Think it can’t happen here? The current U.S. Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Director Donald Berwick has admitted he “loves” NHS:

“Dr. Berwick is a huge fan of … the NHS, a system that relies on rationing health care to hold down costs,” Roberts said. “Dr. Berwick has said, ‘I am a romantic about the NHS; I love it,’ and ‘the NHS is not just a national treasure, it is a global treasure.’”

and

“The decision is not whether or not we will ration care — the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open”

Source: The Hill

Fearing a hostile reception by Republicans, President Obama choose to install Dr. Berwick in his post via a recess appointment:

The recess appointment was somewhat unusual because the Senate is in recess for less than two weeks and senators were still waiting for Dr. Berwick to submit responses to some of their requests for information. No confirmation hearing has been held or scheduled.

Source: New York Times

Dr. Berwick may have to vacate the position at the end of 2011 – it seems the Democrats, in light of a letter signed by 42 Republican Senators indicating they would not support Dr. Berwick’s formal nomination to his current post, are now working on a Plan B for life after Dr. Berwick leaves.

Some would argue that one way to measure a society is how they treat the weakest among them – I think our weakest deserve better.

Sources:

Daily Mail: Babies who are born at 23 weeks should be left to die, says NHS chief

March of Dimes: Your Premature Baby

NHS Website: About the NHS: Overview page

The New York Times: Obama to Bypass Senate to Name Health Official

The Hill: GOP senators take aim at CMS nominee

The Weekly Standard: Not NICE

Politico.com: Sources: Democrats giving up on Donald Berwick

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