"I wish they would only take me as I am" - Vincent Van Gogh               "How Can I believe in God when just last week I got my tounge caught in the roller of an electric typewriter?" - Woody Allen              "Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake" - Henry David Thoreau              "I took a speed reading course and read 'War and Peace' in twenty minutes. It involves Russia" - Woody Allen            "When promulgating esoteric cogitations, eschew platitudinous ponderosities" - Mark Rowan, my father            "Up, sluggard, and waste not life, for in the grave there will be sleep enough" - Benjamin Franklin             "What really interests me is whether God had any choice in the creation of the world." - Albert Einstein            "Welfare's purpose should be to eliminate, as far as possible, the need for its own existence" - Ronald Reagan            "It's odd that you can get so anesthetized by your own pain or your own problem that you don't quite fully share the hell of someone close to you." - Lady Bird Johnson              "I still want to be the candidate for guys with confederate flags in their pickup truck" - Howard Dean

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Project (RED): Capitalism meets charity

If you haven't heard about Project (RED), it is a very unique program that allows several of the nation's largest companies to raise money for AIDS assistance in Africa through the Global Fund. Companies like Gap, Motorola, Apple, and American Express are participating, among others. The companies involved are selling products, with a portion of the procedes benefiting the global fund. Companies have to make a profit on their merchandise to be involved. Thus, they have an incentive to sell more and thus there is incentive for growth of the money contributed. In my opinion, this is a very clever way to raise money. That's why I was somewhat surprised to read this site, criticizing Gap and the other participating companies. "Join us in rejecting the ti(red) notion that shopping is a reasonable response to human suffering", their website clearly states.

This holier than thou attitude is undeserved and, frankly, offensive. Gap and the other participating companies have been able to produce a great deal of funds for those who genuinely need it. Praise, complements, admiration may be in order...but disdain certainly is not.

Project (RED) is not intended to be a direct donation charity. This is by designe. It has distinct characteristics from a direct-donation charity that make it an ideal and unique complement to the Global Fund. While you can, of course, donate directly to the Global Fund, Project (RED) fills in a different niche. Trendy suburbanites can buy trendy clothes, jewelry, and phonese and Africans benefit! In this sense, many people who otherwise would never think to donate to the Global Fund are helping to fight AIDS.

Yet, partnership between retailers and charities is not new. It has been highly successful in the recent past following the Tsunami that devastated Indonesia et. al. Amazon.com and others produced copious tsunami relief simply by allowing people to donate during 'checkout'.
The tsunami that devastated millions of people living on the coasts of southern Asia and eastern Africa caused a philanthropic outpouring from people around the world who gave generously to help the survivors of the tragic disaster. It also brought to light a new trend in charitable giving, with Red Cross experiencing record breaking donations through online partners and retailers that raised more than $23 million. Leading the way on this new trend, Amazon.com collected more than $15.7 million
Do those who criticize Project (RED) think this is also useless? I laud Gap and the other participating companies. I will continue to buy their products, and I would encourage others to do so as well.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Newt-ered

I have very little respect for those who are unfaithful during marriage, a philosophy that applies to those who I have supported for public office. As I have previously said, Newt Gingrich has been my candidate of choice for the 2008 presidential bid. Unlike so many candidates, his approach is to provide fresh ideas and unique perspectives to the issues--always within a free-market, conservative framework. Yet, while his political savvy is noteworthy, his personal credentials will make preclude him from pursuing the presidency.

Gingrich was an avid proponent of the impeachment of President Clinton. His stance was not that the President was an adulterer, but rather, that he lied to investigators and lied to the american people. Nonetheless, he is already being referred to as a hypocrite by liberals, moderates, and even some conservatives in the blogosphere. I do not agree with this sentiment.

I can no longer support his as the candidate of choice, since his pursuit would only revisit the impeachment hearings, and would inevitably portray him as a hypocrite. Nonetheless, I think his presence and insight into the race will be of benefit to conservatives. With a man like Newt, clear-thinking and always conservative, in the picture, it will force others in the race to take their conservative constituents seriously, and won't be as willing to represent moderate or liberal positions (Guiliani).

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A New Enemy in the War on Terror

In light of this post over at 'but that's just my opinion', I've decided to repost the following, Originally Posted 3/25/06

The United States has another enemy in the war on terror. It's not Iran, Syria, or even France. It is Russia. A few weeks ago I wrote about some of the evidence about what happened to the WMD's in Iraq (It has more recently become a favorite topic for bloggers), evidence mysteriously missing from the MSM.
What startles me more, however, is the accusations that Russia was implicit in the transportation of WMD's from Iraq to both Syria and Lebanon...Why would Russia be involved in the movement of Iraqi WMD's? These were weapons that were prohibited under 17 UN Resolutions, so why would Russia be involved in hiding them? Because most of the weapons are of Russian origin.
These accusations were made by John A. Shaw, the former undersecretary of defense. However, his accusations went mostly unnoticed or ignored by the MSM.

While moonbats all too often seem to claim that this is a war all about oil, it should be remembered that Russia had lucrative oil contracts with Iraq prior to the war. While this may be one the reasons why they disputed UN Security council 1441, I think protecting the secret that they had illegally supplied Iraq with contraband weapons would be a stronger motive for Russia to lobby against passing the resolution.

Yesterday, new accusations came out from the pentagon that Russia fed US war plans to Iraq. This is a very disturbing accusation. While Russia not only ignored the UN security council in order to arm Iraq and may have been integral in moving these weapons from Iraq into Lebanon and Syria, supplying US war plans to Iraq is a much more serious offense. If true, it would mean that Russia is not an ally of the United States, or the war on terror.

Rightwinged.com chimes in with regard to the recently released Iraqi documents, saying
Many have wondered if the administration's reluctance to release the documents might be over concern of embarassing and alienating our Russian "allies", because we think we're going to need their help with the current Iran situation...Personally I say "screw Russia"
Rightwinged is right. In light of Russia's recent actions regarding Iraq, both before and after the beginning of the war, I do not feel that Russia can be trusted. The US should not allow the plan to allow Russia to supply Iran with fissionable material for use in nuclear power plants. Considering Russia's actions, allowing such a close relationship between the two countries makes me as nervous as allowing North Korea to supply Iran with the same material. The security of Israel, the US, and the entire world may very well rest upon how the current Iran situation can be resolved. I would not feel comfortable knowing that Russia is keeping me safe.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Romney on Immigration

I have not yet come to any final conclusion on whom I shall support in the GOP primaries next year. Gingrich is very high on my list, as I have mentioned before. I recently visited the website of Mitt Romney and was pleasantly surprised to read his stance on immigration. As I have previously posted,
I believe that we do not allow enough legal immigration. The number currently stands around 1 million a year. Sure, a million is a big number, but in a country of nearly 300 million, it's one-third of one percent. Certainly, this number could easily be increased to, say, 3 million. Coupled with a prevention of illegal border crossing, I think this would represent a fair and compassionate program.
Romney seems to take a similar stance--which I have not seen in any other candidate, congressman, or pundit--that our country would benefit by increasing the number of immigrants we allow to enter.
We need to make America more attractive for legal immigrants -- for citizens -- and less attractive for illegal immigrants. I want to see more immigration in our country, but more legal immigration and less illegal immigration.
I have to say, Romney is becoming more and more appealing to me.

Maher Response

Bill Maher was on O'Reilly tonight. I tend not to watch Fox news often, but happened to switch over when I got bored with CNN. In defense of his recent incindiary comments regarding the failed assassination attempt on Veep Cheney, he said (paraphrased)
Now Bill, you're a pro-life guy. Now, if an abortion doctor was killed, you'd probably say "Good, he's dead, that will save the lives of so many unborn". It's the same thing, people should be allowed to express their lament that Cheney was not killed
I consider Maher's original statement absurd and irresponsible. To that end, I would also consider anyone feeling good about the murder of an abortion doctor, despite my pro-life stance. Such support would like spur assassination attempts on other abortion doctors. Likewise, expressing support for the death of the vice president lends credibility to the assasination attempt, and supports any future attempts.

Much like the Dixie Chicks, Maher seems to want to have his cake and eat it too. Free speech does not come without resopnsibility, and without response. His statement was irresponsible, and it is unfortunate that he does not take responsibility for it and apologize.

And, for the sake of it, I would add that Ann Coulter's recent statement concerning Sen. Edwards were almost equally egregious. Untrue, useless, and distracting come to mind.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Five Reasons Why I Oppose the Governor's Health Care Reform

There are many reasons to oppose Gov. Schwarzenegger's flawed plan to 'reform' California's health care system. Below are my top 5. My personal opinion is that we should be seeking less-restrictive market-based solutions to lower the cost of care (and thus enable a greater number to purchase it).

1. "Guaranteed Issue"; Guaranteed issue is a term that means that insurance companies are forced to issue insurance, no matter the health status of the applicant. Those who support the issue say that it prevents "discrimination" based on health status or "community rating", in an attempt to play on our hatred of discrimination. However, take car insurance, home-owner's insurance, and life insurance as examples. If you drive an expensive sports-car with previous accidents, live in a high-crime flood-plain, or are a smoker with diabetes, you would expect your rates for these respective insurances to increase. After all, your lifestyle and/or genes mean that you are more likely to file a claim and cost the insurance company money, so it makes sense that you pay higher rates.

Guaranteed issue does nothing more than spread the blame. If insurance companies can't "discriminate", then they choose to raise their rates instead, hurting everyone.

2. Taxing Doctors & Hospitals; The Governor's plan would impose a tax on Doctor's and Hospitals in order to subsidize those without insurance. This Socialist-mentality makes no sense. Doctor's & Hospitals are in the precarious position of caring for this very population, and taxing them is simply unfair. Should we tax landlords and tenants to subsidize homeless shelters? Tax Restaurants to feed the hungry?

Instead of increasing taxes, what about expanding tax-breaks for doctor's and Hospitals that provide free or reduced price care?

3. Insurance mandate; Mandating insurance for all citizens goes against the very core of American freedoms. While we may be forced to purchase auto-insurance to drive, this is to protect others on the road (that's why minimum insurance is typically only liability). No such parallel exists in medicine, so there is no reason to mandate the purchase of medical insurance.

Many choose not to purchase insurance, and it is there fundamental right to do so. However, they should be held accountable for that decision. Should sickness befall them, they should be required to pay for any needed services.

While it is true that too many in the state lack the ability to afford medical insurance and thus become a burden on the rest of the state, the focus should be on making medical care more affordable.

4. Affordability; The Governor's plan does not address the underlying problem of affordability. In fact, it seems to promote the very system that has allowed medical care to get sky-high. Third party payors (i.e. insurance companies) separate rational choice from medical care. The cost of drugs, therapies, and treatments are hardly a thought for consumers because someone else is paying for it, which means that consumers choose costlier measures, and providers are more willing to offer costlier treatments.

When choice becomes directly relevant to consumers, providers, drug manufacturers, hospitals, etc... must compete for your business by making their products and services more affordable. Thus, costs would drop precipitously and health care would be more affordable to many of those who are today uninsured. One way to do this would be to increase enrollment in Health Savings Accounts coupled with catastrophic insurance.

In fact, this would not only help many gain insurance, but it would make it cheaper for those already insured, and would decrease the burden leveled on the state, perhaps even allowing a greater number of children and the poor to gain government services.

5. Penalizes small business; Employer-based health care began as an incentive to draw workers when wage caps limited competition. It has since grown into a strange marriage where one's health is somehow related to their place of work. In todays world, let's face it...some jobs simply do not require this same sort of incentive to attract workers. Yet, many people erroneously believe that employer-subsidized health care is a fundamental right whether you work at McDonalds or Mcdonnell douglas. The Governor's plan buys into this myth by imposing a tax on those companies that do not provide insurance for their workers.

Labels: