Friday, February 22, 2013

On Milton Friedman's Barking Cat

Let's start off with some vintage Milton Friedman:
 In a recent column (Newsweek Jan 8, 1973), I pointed out that approval of drugs by the Food and Drug Administration delays and prevents the introduction of useful as well as harmful drugs. After giving reasons why the adverse effects could be expected to be far more serious than the beneficial effects, I summarized a fascinating study by Prof. Sam Peltzman, of UCLA of experience before and after 1962, when standards were stiffened. His study decisively confirmed the expectation that the bad effects would much outweigh the good.    The column evoked letters from a number of persons in pharmaceutical work offering tales of woe to confirm my allegation that the FDA was indeed "Frustrating Drug Advancement," as I titled the column. But most also said something like, "In contrast to your opinion, I do not believe that the FDA should be abolished, but I do believe that its power should be" changed in such and such a way - to quote from a typical letter.    I replied as follows: "What would you think of someone who said, " I would like to have a cat, provided it barked"? Yet your statement that you favor an FDA provided it behaves as you believe desirable is precisely equivalent. The biological laws that specify the characteristics of cats are no more rigid than the political laws that specify the behavior of governmental agencies once they are established. The way the FDA now behaves, and the adverse consequences are not an accident, not a result of some easily corrected human mistake, but a consequence of its constitution in precisely the same way that a meow is related to the constitution of a cat. As a natural scientist, you recognize that you cannot assign characteristics at will to chemical and biological entities, cannot demand that cats bark or water burn. Why do you suppose that the situation is different in the "social sciences?"

In other words, to wish for an efficient, non-corrupt, economical government service is to wish for a "barking cat".  
Now let's go to something more recent, from the UK's Mail Online.  Britain's dreaded National Health Service has killed something like 1,200 people through sheer godawful neglect, and the government flunkies have responded by (pick one) simply 1) firing those responsible 2) privatizing their system 3) vowing to keep government out of citizens' lives, or 4) paying whistleblowers to shut the hell up.  
Hit the link.  Check out the comments.  A good number of the Brits are saying sensible things, but far too many are wishing for a barking cat.  And there's no such thing as a barking cat, no matter how you design it, or what was intended.  Sad.
If these idiots spent the money on 750 nurses, they probably won't need to gag any one !

The original principle was beyond reproach but sadly I believe it has lost it's way, been allowed to get too big, and 'governed/controlled' by self serving idiotsIf the government was serious about tackling this abuse of power, they would declare all these gagging clauses null and void. Also they would take steps to ensure that the authoritarian, bullying managers who are responsible for this state of affairs, are sacked.

Revelation after revelation but what will be done ? NOTHING ! What will change ? NOTHING ! It never does. This would be bad enough if it was confined to the NHS but it isn't ! Every public sector departments are riddled with overpaid, 3rd rate middleweight, incompetent managers who are never held responsible for their failures as they would be in the private sector. They demand to be paid the going rate for a first class manager but none would last 5 minutes in the real world. There needs to be a complete pay and conditions restructuring from the top down in all departments not just the NHS. Without this things will only get worse !

Being open and honest and fully accountable about problems and accepting and recognising there is a problem is the first step to resolving the problem. Preventing legitimate organisational operational concerns and problems being discussed, resolved and publicly available lead to the same problems being repeated and cause serious problems for patient's blighted by hospital blunders and mistakes. Only by learning from previous mistakes and taking real decisive action to prevent repeating mistakes with a genuine will, can the preventable suffering of future patients be avoided. It does not take a consultant to work this out do why does continue to be the case inquiry after inquiry for decades? The culture of secrecy surrounding mistakes needs to stop now and the superiority culture of the medical hierarchy that say they are always right must end.

Sorry boys.  You can fire all the government managers, you can re-structure your government programs, and you can rant and moan and express your outrage in the comment fields of your newspapers all you want.   
You can't make a barking cat.  

Thursday, February 21, 2013

One day, one year, the glass will be half-full

Marvel Variants stopped scamming comic book collectors long enough to send me this helpful chart. 
It shows the "recovery" projections done each year by the Congressional Budget Office. 

If we just keep pulling money out of the productive part of the economy and putting it into the unproductive part, the economy will eventually take off.....


Anybody?  Yes?  Dr. Krugman? 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I think I'm going to "rebuke" Obamacare

The video is only 60 seconds long. Watch it. Then, everybody, on the count of three.... "I REBUKE THEE, I REBUKE THEE, I REBUKE THEE, OBAMACARE!!!"

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Food For The Machine - Anger Management Edition

We worked last Saturday (yesterday) .
One of my temp employees asked if he could leave at 9:30 in the morning.  It seems that he has to go to a series of  court-ordered "Anger Management" sessions on Saturday mornings.

Any time the government mandates that someone do something for his own good, I'm automatically skeptical, so I asked the kid if the meetings were worthwhile.  Here's what he said:
Well, you have to pay this lady $15.00, and then we sit around and smoke for about the first 30 minutes because it never starts on time.  Then this dude comes in and we sit in a circle and bullshit for a while, then somebody tells about how he was in this bar a few days ago and somebody bumped him, and how before the meetings he woulda kicked that dude's ass, but now that he's going to the meetings he didn't.
And we'll all start clappin' and shit, and some other dudes will start crying, and the counselor dude says that's really good and how we all need to keep it up.
You don't have to talk or even be awake.  The main thing is giving that lady $15.00.  
This kid could've spent most of his morning building displays for grocery stores.  Instead, he had to give his time and money to a couple of government lifers.

The more I learn about our government, the greater the likelihood that I'll be going to the Anger-Management sessions.  Sheesh.

The Real Cost Of Shrinking Government

The New York Holy Times is having a conniption fit over the slight chance that government spending will be cut.
Most of this "sequester" spending cut is bullshit.  It's a cut from the rate of increase, not a "cut" in the sense that you use the word.
Here we go....
In less than two weeks, a cleaver known as the sequester will fall on some of the most important functions of the United States government. About $85 billion will be cut from discretionary spending over the next seven months, reducing defense programs by about 8 percent and domestic programs by about 5 percent. Only a few things will be spared, including some basic safety-net benefits like Social Security, as well as pay for enlisted military personnel.

Considering that we need to cut by about 50%, and then go further, this is a good thing.

The sequester will not stop to contemplate whether these are the right programs to cut; it is entirely indiscriminate, slashing programs whether they are bloated or essential. The military budget, for example, should be reduced substantially, but thoughtfully, considering the nation’s needs. Instead, every weapons system, good or bad, will be hurt, as will troop training and maintenance.
I've been through these types of cutbacks before with various companies.  It's fairly easy.  It hurts, but it's easy.  However, John Boehner has been confronted with a 3 billion dollar cut to an aircraft engine program in his district.  Defense Secretary Gates said we didn't need the engines.  Boehner said that the military did indeed need them.
That's why you'll never see "thoughtful" cuts.  We need slash and burn.  Your share of the debt (if you're a taxpayer) is more than 50K.
These cuts, which will cost the economy more than one million jobs over the next two years, are the direct result of the Republican demand in 2011 to shrink the government at any cost, under threat of a default on the nation’s debt. Many Republicans say they would still prefer the sequester to replacing half the cuts with tax revenue increases. But the government spending they disdain is not an abstract concept. In a few days, the cuts will begin affecting American life and security in significant ways.

Horseshit, horseshit, horseshit.  If Washington is putting their Corvette and caviar purchases on maxed-out credit cards over and over again, no sane economist would claim that their stopping would cost the economy more than one million jobs.
If taxpayers don't have to pay for pork projects, they'll use the money for other things - things that they choose, not what Washington and The New York Holy Times choose.  I'd like to buy another Ford F-150 instead of another F-16.  

While some departments may have exaggerated the dire effects of their reductions, Congressional budget experts say they have little doubt that the size and pervasive nature of the sequester will inflict widespread pain. Here are some examples from the government departments most affected:
They go on to list, department by department, the horrific outcomes we should expect from any cutbacks at all.  Most of these departments should've been privatized years ago.
Don't believe what they're selling.  They're partying their butts off on your dollars.
How long are you going to tolerate it?