Wednesday, 15 January 2020 21:37

Housing is a human right? Really?

Recently, the Associated Press (AP) published an article the Reno paper ran with the headline, “Judge orders women to leave house.”

Last year, real estate investment group Wedgewood, Inc., bought an Oakland three-bedroom house in foreclosure for $501,000.  In November, before Wedgewood could take legal possession, three homeless women and their children, calling themselves Moms 4 Housing, illegally moved in.

The squatters refuse to leave, so Wedgewood asked a California court to direct the local sheriff to evict them.  The judge did so, giving them five days to leave.

An attorney helping them said, “We understand that the court’s hands are tied because in this country property fights are valued over human rights.”

One of the women, Dominque Walker, 34 and the mother of 1- and 5-year-old daughters, added, “Housing is a human right.  I pay bills there.  I pay water, PG&E, internet.  We live there.”

So, if they claim housing is a human right, they have a right to seize someone’s property.  And their lawyer posits a false distinction between sacred human rights and grubby property rights, and then falsely claims the courts value property rights over human rights.

Walker also said, “We want to purchase the home … it needs to belong back in the hands of the community.”  And, “It was stolen through the foreclosure crisis.”

AP adds, the women say they moved into the house partly to protest the methods of speculators who snap up distressed homes and leave them empty despite the housing crisis.  While Walker says “we” are the community and want to purchase the house, AP clarifies that they want Wedgewood to sell the property to a nonprofit land trust (that presumably would let them continue to live there).

But they moved in before Wedgewood could even take possession of the house.  So, obviously Wedgewood isn’t the party that left the house empty.  Lest one think perhaps the women merely chose the wrong house for their protest, Walker adds the ignorant and malicious lie that Wedgewood stole it.

Moving beyond technicalities, the real points here are the false distinction between human and property rights and the claim that property rights are wrongly favored.  Plus the implication that wrapping oneself in the flag of human rights permits one to do anything and wrong anybody, especially corporations, to secure those human rights.

In this case, all one needs to do to justify seizures or other aggressive actions is claim to be a victim, even of mere misfortune, and allege the other party is culpable, even for doing reasonable and socially beneficial things like buying a house in foreclosure.

Asserting a “human right” to housing confers on someone an obligation to provide housing at that someone’s expense.  That’s so obviously wrong and predatory that the kleptos and their ideologue supporters always demonize the real victims to make the theft or other aggressive action seem justified.  Ergo, the lie that Wedgewood stole the house.

Perhaps the women come from a culture that taught them nothing of how the world really works: via invention, innovation, work, savings and investment, productivity, disruption and competition to get income by delivering value to employers, consumers and the public interest.  And taught them nothing of the essential role of property rights in providing all human wellbeing.

Maybe in their experience things work via the kleptocracy of politics: asserted rights, demands, demonstrations, coercion, legislation, regulation, litigation, etc.

Thus, they wouldn’t know that the real causes of unaffordable housing and so many other California problems are the entitlements, land-use and related regulations, high taxes and transfer payments, green dogma, etc. fostered by the politics of them and their advocates.

But what’s the excuse for AP writers and editors and mainstream media generally?

They should recognize the slimy ethical and vacuous intellectual basis of these claims do not merit coverage.  They should be researching and producing stories that educate more people on how the world really works and the problems caused by progressive policies.

 

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Ron Knecht is a contributing editor to the Penny Press - the conservative weekly "voice of Nevada." His views and opinions are his own. You can subscribe at www.pennypressnv.com. This is an edited version of his column which has been reprinted with permission. 

 

Published in Opinion
Wednesday, 15 January 2020 21:28

One life well lived, another still in progress ...

One of our best friends, Mike Brown, passed from this earth last December 23rd.

 

We didn’t know because he was visiting his kids in Oregon.

 

Mike masqueraded as a Brooklyn tough guy who had a barely hidden heart of gold under that New York attitude.  He was the lead mechanic at the Reno-Tahoe Airport for many years and that was his persona…he fixed things.  He bought and sold old cars, he built houses and, for me, he helped build an AM transmitter site which is the hardest thing in broadcasting to get right.  He got it right.  One of his favorite times was Reno’s annual Hot August Nights classic car festival.

 

The highest praise I ever got from him was when we did a four hour remote broadcast from one of Adam Laxalt’s Basque Frys.  He helped us set up, declined an invitation to stay and then called me when I was on my way home afterwards to tell me he had listened to the whole event and enjoyed every minute of it.

 

The pancreatic cancer started to get to him a few years ago.

 

At first—in his Brooklyn persona—he wouldn’t say the word cancer.

 

Recently, he mostly went to lunch with us as part of the ritual because he couldn’t taste much.  Our favorite place was Red’s 395 Grill in Carson City.

 

As Christmas approached this year, I told him that I was assuming his normal gift—a bottle of Jack Daniels—was out of the question on his doctor’s orders.  He agreed. But not willingly…

 

At the time, he was in a rehab hospital.

 

I called him up one day to see if he wanted lunch and he answered from his daughter’s house in Oregon.  The story I got was that he just checked himself out and drove to Oregon.

 

We never saw him or talked to him again.

 

But we have thousands of memories of a life well lived.  Like all of us, he was an imperfect human being but also a great friend and a whole lot of fun, when he wasn’t busy helping me or someone else.

 

If he could read this and talk with me today, he’s ask me why I was wasting this space on him when I could be going after (expletive deleted) Nancy Pelosi.  We’ll get back to that next week.

 

Mike was a big supporter of the President and a big supporter of his agenda.

 

Rest easy, big guy.  We’ve got it from here.

 

Mike would probably have gotten a good laugh from another drama going on in my life which he didn’t know about.

 

While he wasn’t a serious dog guy, he made exceptions for the two in my family—as long as they didn’t lick him or jump on him.

 

Our 13-year-old cowdog, Major, developed an osteosarcoma on his right front leg.  Our vet suggested we amputate the leg, since a chest x-ray showed that the cancer had not spread and Major is a pretty active dog.

 

So, we got it done last week.

 

Our dog puts the stub in stubborn.  Yes, he knows how to walk on three legs.  We learned that at 5 one morning when we put him outside the back door and he stood up, walked down two stairs into the back yard.  But, no, he’d rather be pulled around the house on a rug and waited on hand and foot.  If I had to make odds, I’d bet on my wife winning that battle of wills.  She’s much tougher than I am.

 

We don’t know how much time we have added to Major’s life but we hope that he’ll finish the third period and maybe get into an overtime shootout.

 

We just can’t bring ourselves to kill a dog for our convenience.

 

If, somehow, Mike’s reading this…please stop laughing.

 

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Fred Weinberg is a guest columnist and the CEO of USA Radio Network. His views and opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of GCN. Fred's weekly column can be read all over the internet. You can subscribe at www.pennypressnv.com. This is an edited version of his column, reprinted with permission. 

 

                                                                                                                                 

Afterword...

As this was being put together, Major stood up, haltingly walked from the living room to the back door, was let out, walked out into the back yard and did his business.  Then, he turned around and walked back, went in the house and took a nap.  Thank you Dr. Kathleen Fisher and your staff at the Washoe Valley Veterinary Clinic.  You all are the best.

Published in News & Information
Wednesday, 08 January 2020 21:15

Iran, War, History and International Relations

I try to be well informed on many public policy matters, but I pretend no great expertise on international relations and conflict.  That said, some thoughts on those subjects in light of the current conflict in the Middle East.

As my daughter is learning in her government class, a fundamental duty of national governments is to protect their people from external threats.  After World War I, some Republicans became isolationist, claiming we had little or no stake in many international affairs, and the Great War showed the costs and risks of getting involved.

They were certainly right about the costs and risks.  If all recorded history had not been sufficient to teach us the horrors of war, the Great War certainly should have done so.   The loss of human lives and damage to many survivors and their families, the destruction of cities and towns, of economies, infrastructure and cultures is on its face insane unless it is the only way to avoid even worse developments.

We did not get the worst of that war, although we got plenty.  But Europeans who fought it from start to finish and on their own grounds should have learned because they did.  Nonetheless, they had little choice but to fight World War II because the aggressive evil of racist German National Socialism and Italian fascism attacked them viciously, leaving no alternative.

The isolationists thought we could stay out of that war because we had oceans between us and it.  Some folks believed then and now that if we’re peaceful, non-interventionist and amicable with other countries, they’ll respond in kind.  These views were definitively shattered by the murderous, racist, aggressive Japanese militarism in Asia and then Pearl Harbor.

Two things were clear after WWII.  First, there are significant numbers of evil people and ideas in the world and they sometimes control the means to wreak great destruction.  So, we must be ready to fight and defeat them.

Second, mountains and oceans are no longer significant barriers behind which to hide.  Moreover, there is a compelling positive reason to actively engage with other nations: the huge economic and cultural benefits we get from trade and international relations.

So, we need to maintain a substantial, ready national defense.

The expansionist, totalitarian and murderous evils of Soviet, Korean, Cuban and Chinese communism proved such malign forces were not wiped out in two world wars.  It seems there’s always another one waiting around the corner.

However, with the end of the world wars and the rise of communism following hard on, engaging in war and preparation for it became normal.  Indeed, as President Eisenhower warned, a military-industrial complex had grown from these circumstances and now had an interest in arms production and fomenting conflict.  The MIC is still as powerful, influential and pernicious as ever.

One important lesson of the fall of the Soviet empire is that evil doctrines, if contained, will fail from their own evil.  Thus, the implosion of the Soviet Union because it could not compete with democratic market liberalism.  (For a while, China took a capitalist road, but returned to ruthless authoritarianism.)

Some academics proclaimed this triumph brought the end of history.  They forgot there are always new evil doctrines.

In the last half century, Islamofascism has metastasized because it originated in the Mideast, where the unearned endowment of oil and gas riches, shared by the Saudis with Islamofascists as a defensive measure, allowed it.  Islamofascism is evil because it is in its essence hostile to individual liberty and markets.  And because it views terrorism as a legitimate element of war.

President Bush 43 erred in embracing nation building as a counter-measure. President Trump got things right in promising to stop the endless wars where we have no real interests at stake.  That means most of the Middle East, not including Israel.  His surgical strike to kill Major General Soleimani was an ideal response to Iran, especially after foregoing drone strikes.

Now he must find a way to end most of our involvement there and bring most troops home while proportionately parrying Iran’s counterstrikes.

 

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Ron Knecht is a contributing editor to the Penny Press - the conservative weekly "voice of Nevada." His views and opinions are his own. You can subscribe at www.pennypressnv.com. This is an edited version of his column which has been reprinted with permission. 

 

Published in World

I am not what you would call an observant Jew.

 

But, being a baby boomer, I received the full Sunday School treatment from my parents and got, in those 10 years, what would probably be today an advanced degree in Judaism and the history of the Jews. 

 

And I got from my late Father, a World War II Navy veteran, a firm connection to one of the darkest periods of our modern world’s history.

 

Additionally, I met a distant cousin who the Allies liberated from Auschwitz and, subsequently, moved to the United States.

 

The impact on a young boy of seeing a serial number tattooed on a forearm cannot be underestimated.

 

For those of you Jews who have no real connection to World War Two and the Holocaust, you are making a huge mistake by merely assuming it could never happen again and certainly not in the United States.

 

Understand this:

 

The Holocaust was NOT played out on a Hollywood sound stage.  If you think it was, you are even dumber than the Germans who allowed it to happen.  It happened.

 

The First Amendment is a beautiful thing.  But what keeps us safe from the excesses of the First Amendment is the Second.  And who wants to take away our guns? Germany didn’t have a Second Amendment and the first thing Hitler did when he came to power is to remove private gun ownership but thankfully, here in America, we are pretty well armed.

 

West of the Hudson River, East of the Los Angeles County line and South of the Cook County line is a whole nation which is totally unwilling to give up our second Amendment rights.

 

And, I’m guessing that most of Israel’s support comes from that same large area.

 

Israel was established with the concept that Jews should have a homeland where another Holocaust could NEVER happen.  They became fierce warriors to insure that.

 

For some reason, the farther people get from an event like the Holocaust the less they are concerned with the consequences.

 

 As for Iranian retaliation, that’s what happens when a Little League team takes on the Yankees.  The truth is that one button levels Tehran.  Another can level the Quds force.

 

And that’s before Israel gets involved.

 

Iran has plenty of American blood on its hands.  It seems only fair to make it pay.

 

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Fred Weinberg is a guest columnist and the CEO of USA Radio Network. His views and opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of GCN. Fred's weekly column can be read all over the internet. You can subscribe at www.pennypressnv.com. This is an edited version of his column, reprinted with permission. 

Published in Opinion

I got a lot of phone calls last week from the many people who have one of my numbers, not about the content but about the word I used to describe the House Democrats.  Retards.

 

Frankly, it was the only printable term I could think of at the time.

 

I certainly mean no disrespect to those who have, what we call today, learning disabilities.  Even the thought of comparing any of those folks to the vast majority of House Democrats—who are just plain stupid and unpatriotic—places an innocent person with a low intelligence quotient in a bad light and I certainly don’t wish for that.  You see, a person with learning disabilities, a low IQ and other issues can usually go on to live a good life and become a productive member of society.  They just have to work at it.  And many—if not most—of them do.

 

Not so much for the House Democrats who participated in the impeachment scam.

 

They and their faux leader are just plain stupid.  As we say in rural America, dumb as a box of rocks.  Also, mean.

 

Want to know how stupid?

 

Let’s take Tom Steyer from the billionaire left wing.

 

Here’s a guy who is real proud of his business experience as long as he doesn’t specifically tell the lefties whose vote he is courting exactly what that experience is.  The truth is he got rich the same way a lot of people do—private equity and hedge fund management.  You know those private prisons which ICE uses.  His funds invested early.

 

Yet he calls President Trump, who got rich building things, a “criminal in the White House”.

 

Seriously?

 

Also, he says that climate change is the biggest problem we’re facing.

 

As Kellyanne Conway would say, that’s a load of crap.  To put it in the words of the late George Carlin, “The planet has been through a lot worse than us. Been through earthquakes, volcanoes, plate tectonics, continental drift, solar flares, sun spots, magnetic storms, the magnetic reversal of the poles … hundreds of thousands of years of bombardment by comets and asteroids and meteors, worldwide floods, tidal waves, worldwide fires, erosion, cosmic rays, recurring ice ages … And we think some plastic bags and some aluminum cans are going to make a difference? The planet isn’t going anywhere. WE are!”

 

But people will get rich on the hysteria.  And guys like Steyer think that’s enough to get them elected President.

 

Then, take Joe Biden.

 

When he was Vice President to Barack Obama, his portfolio included the Ukraine.  Yet he doesn’t understand why his neer’do well son, Hunter, suddenly popping up with a huge paying job with a suspicious Ukrainian gas company raises any red flags at all.

 

What a schumck.

 

Where do these people come from?

 

Well, trust me, it’s NOT like they are inspired by the concept of public service.  Many if not most of them simply look down on their fellow Americans.  They are under the misapprehension that we are too stupid to live our lives without their divine intercession.  They also like the money and the notoriety.

 

That’s where the Adam Schiffs, the Eric Swalwells and, God help us, the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ come from and they will decide they have what it take to be the top dog soon.  (Swalwell already has.)

 

What can America do?

 

 

To quote Nancy Reagan, “just say no” .   These folks may be worse than street drugs.  And the media will drop them like a hot rock if they lose a few elections.  The media may have its favorites, but at the end of the day, it’s a business.  No ratings, no money goodbye AOC and friends.

 

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Fred Weinberg is a guest columnist and the CEO of USA Radio Network. His views and opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of GCN. Fred's weekly column can be read all over the internet. You can subscribe at www.pennypressnv.com. This is an edited version of his column, reprinted with permission. 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in Opinion

Google is universally well known as a search and advertising company. Now Google is tapping into the $3.5 trillion healthcare market. To compete with the Apple Watch, Google acquired FitBit, the wearable exercise, heart rate, and sleep tracking device. Data is king.

Voluntarily worn fitness tracking devices are one thing, but Google has entered the realm of the brave new world.A government inquiry has brought to light Google’s “Nightingale Project” that collected private medical data from Ascension Health’s 2,600 sites of care across 20 states and D.C., unbeknownst to the patients. Dozens of Google employees had access to the data which included lab results, physician diagnoses, hospitalization records, and health histories, complete with patient names and dates of birth. Google claims that the project complies with the Health Insurance Portability And Accountability Act (HIPAA) because it is a qualified business associate of Ascension Health. And unlike the ads for socks that appear on your computer a nanosecond after you purchased some tennis shoes, Google promises that the data won’t be combined with consumer data. Fat chance.

Amazon, which already knows our every thought, was not satisfied with merely creating software that can read medical records. Now they’ve created Transcribe Medical, a system that transcribes confidential patient-doctor conversations and uploads them directly into the electronic health record. Doctors would relinquish all control over “private” patient records. Google also has been working on its own automatic speech recognition “digital scribe” to upload multiple speaker conversations.

Not only is there a problem with inaccuracies that could lead to a patient receiving the wrong treatment, but we all know the ubiquitous problem of hacking—even in the Department of Defense and the federal Office of Personnel Management.

Disturbingly, certain circles oohed and aahed over the revelation that Google, using electronic health records (EHR), created an artificial intelligence program that could predict death better than doctors. Fortunately for humanity, many others found the thought of leaving doctors out of the equation horrifying. The cheerleaders crowed that it would decrease work for the doctors; they wouldn’t have to waste their time going through those pesky medical records to arrive at a conclusion. Using an artificial neural network to predict the death of a human being is a far cry from having a computer interpret an inanimate x-ray who is not a daughter, mother, sister, wife, or grandmother.

 If you put it all together, it adds up to a death panel of one. Google’s software would decide that there is not a high likelihood of walking out of the hospital, no treatment would be given. We are becoming witness to the devolution of humanity.

Moreover, the government is incentivizing workforce development in palliative care through the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act. Perhaps this is why the hospice team seems to greet the patient at the hospital door. Of note, once a person has signed on to the Medicare hospice program, Medicare will not pay for any curative treatment or medications. Medicare will not pay for an emergency room visit unless the hospice team arranged it or someone decides it is not related to the hospice diagnosis.

The number of hospice agencies participating in the Medicare program nearly doubled between 2000 and 2016, for a total of some 4,382 providers. In 2000, about 30 percent of hospice agencies were for-profit, compared to about 67 percent in 2016. In that same period, Medicare payments grew from $3 billion to $16.8 billion.

Hospice care is lucrative. The minimum Medicare payment is $196 per day regardless of the quantity or quality of services provided on that day. A July 2019 report from the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services found that more than 80 percent of end-of-life facilities in the United States had at least one deficiency, and nearly 20 percent were poor performers with serious problems that jeopardized patient health and safety. It seems the compassionate medical service to care for suffering patients has turned into a heartless cash cow.

Is this what we want for our loved ones and eventually, ourselves? Medicare for All promises every type of medical care under the sun, including long-term care. Long-term care is expensive and if done properly, labor intensive. What better way to save money than to promote a computer program that convinces doctors that the patient is going to die no matter what they do. So the hospital tells the family that treatment or home care will drain their finances. For what? I’ll tell you for what. My parents died at home only after they were tired of doctors and ready to go. They strolled into heaven. They were not shoved in with a giant government backhoe.

 

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Dr. Singleton is a board-certified anesthesiologist. She is Immediate Past President of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS). Her opinions are her own. This is an edited column that originally appeared at www.pennypressnv.com, reprinted with permission. 

 

 

Published in Technology
Thursday, 19 December 2019 00:19

Christmas through the years

When I was seven, I got a cowboy hat and dual-holster gun belt, plus twin cap pistols for Christmas.  That’s what little boys were into in the mid-1950s.  My uncle challenged me to quick draw contests and won every one.  There may be a life lesson there, but I’m not sure what it is.

Three years later, my brother and I got matching red bicycles with 26-inch wheels.  That opened up many new experiences to us – whole new worlds, in fact.  Bikes are a blessing to children and adults.

Two years on, in seventh grade I welcomed the modern era, high tech and access to music with a top-end transistor radio the size of a pack of regular cigarettes.  In 1961, the cigarette reference was cool to boy of twelve.  So, it didn’t matter that I got nothing else that Christmas because that item was all we could afford.

As these anecdotes illustrate, to children Christmas is much about receiving gifts.  That’s not a bad thing, for it brings them joy and the gifts sometimes open up great new experiences for them.  As well as showing them the love their parents and others feel for them.

In the next few years, I remember the three TV stations – yes, there were only three then, even in markets like St. Louis – broadcasting keep Christ in Christmas ads and even a program on the subject.  Imagine that!  Today, thanks to snowflakes and progressives, those stations may wish you happy holidays, but dare not utter the word “Christmas” in any approving way.

In the mid-70s, I recall driving my MGB on Christmas Eves from Urbana to Belleville, each time assessing the year passed and what progress I was making professionally and personally.  Some of those years, I took my sister’s horse out for a bracing Christmas morning ride in an inch or two of snow along country roads and across fields.

Also, I sent Christmas poinsettias to my girlfriend in Atlanta.  She said Christmas didn’t really begin until they arrived.  When I flew to visit her, the tradition of traveling at Christmas took root.

In the 1976 movie Nashville, the presidential candidate asked college students offbeat questions like: “Does the smell of oranges remind you of Christmas morning?”  It does for me, because our mother always prepared each of us a stocking with nuts, chocolates, other treats and a large apple and orange.  And she fixed eggnog.  Today, my sainted wife Kathy continues this tradition in our family.

In the 1980s, when I became a yuppie in San Francisco’s Marina District, Christmas was often about ski trips.  The slopes were delightfully uncrowded on Christmas day and we were blessed often with blue skies, bright sun and great snow.

In the 1990s, I secured a center box each year for the San Francisco Ballet’s annual performance of The Nutcracker.  I prepared a feast for eight at my apartment and then we left for the ballet.  Until I left the Bay Area in 2001, that event was the official beginning of Christmas.

By then, Christmas was about a season, experiences with friends and family, and giving – not receiving.  People become difficult to buy for as they get older.  Moreover, the satisfaction of giving and seeing the happiness in the faces of others beats receiving.

After Kathy and I married and moved to Carson City, for a while we had a tradition of Christmas Eve here and Christmas morning flights – Kathy, our Awesome daughter Karyn, Kathy’s mom (the best mom-in-law ever) and I – to Belleville for time with my family.  Both sides of my family always made me the luckiest boy in town.

Because we could no longer attend the SF Ballet, our new start of Christmas became the annual dinner at our home and showing of It’s A Wonderful Life.  That film is quite spiritual, of course.  It’s about salvation and also reminds us that one of the beauties of Christianity is that it’s a religion of forgiveness, not harsh justice.  And about choice, not domination.

 

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Ron Knecht is a contributing editor to the Penny Press - the conservative weekly "voice of Nevada." His views and opinions are his own. You can subscribe at www.pennypressnv.com. This is an edited version of his column which has been reprinted with permission. 

 

Published in Opinion
Wednesday, 18 December 2019 23:57

Disrespect for Nadler and Schiff is NOT impeachable.

Before I get into how I think We the People of America should view the perverted version of the Ed Sullivan (or the Jerry Springer, your choice) show in the House of Representatives, I want to give you an update from my subject of last week, the Kabbage company.

 

After my column appeared, I got a phone call from an executive there and they very graciously acknowledged my point, that as a lender to small business, America’s largest employer, when they make an adverse decision, human beings should be involved.  Ultimately, they were operating on bad artificial intelligence and they fixed it.

 

That is the hallmark of how good business people operate.  Consider that as you see what the Democrat majority in the House is trying to do to our first businessman President.

 

And, on that note, let’s talk about Jerry Nadler’s inquisition against the President.

 

Now, keep in mind, that Nadler’s House Judiciary Committee should have been the committee to pursue the “impeachment” investigation as opposed to Adam Schiff’s House “Intelligence” Committee.

 

Basically, the Democrats have been thwarted at every turn in their jihad against the President—whose only impeachable offense was to actually win the 2016 election and threaten the status quo of the permanent establishment—and this is just a continuation of their effort to get rid of a threat which has put the establishment of both parties on Defcon Two.

 

They think that this…businessman…may be the President but he’s certainly not really the …President…and he can’t really make his own foreign policy.  

 

Folks, what it gets down to is that people like Schiff, Nadler and the diplocrats I mentioned above think we’re stupid.  Just like Hillary Clinton did.

 

They think—and sometimes actually come out and say—that we simply cannot be entrusted with the election of a President.  That’s why they want to get rid of the Electoral College—so our votes would mean nothing.

 

Fortunately, the Republicans control the Senate.  And when this show gets to the Senate, it will be like a little league baseball team taking on the Yankees.

 

Since Watergate, we have always known that the impeachment process is completely political.  But, even in the Clinton mess, at least there was a violation of the law, even though it was a mistake on the part of the Republicans to use it as a political cudgel.  Lying about your sex life is no more an impeachable offense than having no respect for Nadler.  Or Schiff.

 

If, as the President has said, impeachment is simply going to become a part of the tool box for the most vicious of the elements of both parties, then we need to give them the political scare of their lives—kind of like Boris Johnson just gave the Labour party in Britain.  

 

There is a classic example of what happens when you use political tricks to ignore the will of the people.  Three years ago, the people in Great Britain voted to get out of the European Union.  The Parliament screwed around for three years.  Finally, the people had enough and in the recent election gave Prime Minister Boris Johnson a massive majority with instructions to get-r-done as Larry the Cable Guy would say it.

 

If the morons I wrote of above keep it up here, what do you think might happen in November of 2020?

 

Fred Weinberg is a guest columnist and the CEO of USA Radio Network. His views and opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of GCN. Fred's weekly column can be read all over the internet. You can subscribe at www.pennypressnv.com. This is an edited version of his column, reprinted with permission. 

 
Published in Opinion
Thursday, 12 December 2019 19:06

Medicare for all facelift: The ugly is still there

Medicare for All (M4A) retained its prominent place on the stage at the latest Democratic debate. In its purest Bernie Sanders form, concurrent with abolishing private health insurance, U.S. residents would be enrolled in “Medicare.” The program would pay for unlimited “medically necessary” health expenses, including pharmaceuticals, mental health and substance abuse treatment, vision, dental, and hearing services, and long-term care with no out-of-pocket costs. Some supporters were scared off by the $32 trillion over 10 years price tag. Not to be outdone, Elizabeth Warren’s “I’m with Bernie” plan comes with a $52 trillion over 10 years price tag including up to $34 trillion in new government spending. Our country’s entire yearly budget is a mere $3.5 trillion. For perspective, if your salary is $40,000 per year it would take 25 million years to earn 1 trillion dollars. As M4A’s dark side emerged, the candidates distanced themselves from Bernie-care.

Elimination of private insurance? Whoa, Nellie! Over 156 million Americans —half the country—are covered by employer-sponsored health insurance plans and another 23 million have private individual policies. And most of these folks like that arrangement. Then there was pushback from some unions who had excellent health insurance policies for which they had bargained and given up other perks.

In the June debate the candidates raised their hands indicating they would abolish private health insurance. Now Mayor Buttigieg wants to “unify the American people around, creating a version of Medicare, making it available to anybody who wants it, but without the divisive step of ordering people onto it whether they want to or not.” Vice president Biden, noting his desire to keep patient choice stated, “we should build on Obamacare … adding a Medicare option in that plan, and not make people choose.” Of course, Obamacare caused a rise in premiums, a decrease in choice of insurance coverage, and like any large government-run program was prone to mismanagement and waste.

Possible financing mechanisms were screaming for a deep dive. One analysis concluded that most Americans would suffer financially if M4A were implemented as proposed. An analysis by a bipartisan think tank estimated a 32 per cent increase in payroll taxes would be needed to fund M4A. Everyone—even the working poor—would have more payroll taxes extracted from their paycheck. The analysis concluded that most households would pay more in new taxes than they would save by eliminating their current spending on private health insurance and out-of-pocket medical expenses.

Senator Warren tries to hide the ugly truth by railing about the evil rich who would be taxed down to their underwear. Take the deceptively worded “2-cent” annual tax for households with more than $50 million in assets. If you have $51 million in assets, most probably tied up in your business, you’d have to cough up (.02)($1,000,000) or $20,000, not 2 cents. The devil’s spawn, aka our 535 billionaires, would be subject to a 6 percent annual tax on their assets. Who will be the next target when the government has driven the assets to a sunny island in the Caribbean? Finally, raising the corporate income tax back up to 35 percent likely would result in businesses paying lower wages to current employees or cutting back on hiring to compensate for the increased tax burden.

During the latest debate, Senator Warren retreated from her “all-in” approach, asserting she would first provide Medicare at no cost to “everybody under the age of 18, everybody who has a family of four income less than $50,000”—about 135 million people. Second, she would lower the Medicare age to 50 and expand Medicare coverage to include vision, dental, and long-term care. In the third year, “when people have had a chance to feel it and taste it and live with it, we’re going to vote and we’re going to want Medicare for all.”

Senator Sanders owns that payroll taxes would be doubled or tripled and proposes a 4 percent surtax on families earning more than $29,000. So if you earn $60,000, you’d have to pay (.04)($31,000) or $1,240, enough for a whole year’s membership in a private Direct Primary Care plan. Senator Sanders, staying true to his principles, is sticking with unadulterated Medicare for All with its financial warts.

Even those who are numb to government over-spending can see the broader problem of inviting Uncle Sam into their lives in exchange for a Medicare card in their wallet. Any remaining privacy is erased. Our medical records would be furnished to the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. Physicians and patients would be robbed of their autonomy and choice by medical care policies set by the government monopoly. Lack of competition leads to lower quality and fewer services. Coverage becomes an illusion.

Medicare for All’s beauty is only skin deep and its ugly goes to the bone.

 

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Dr. Singleton is a board-certified anesthesiologist. She is Immediate Past President of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS). Her opinions are her own. This is an edited column that originally appeared at www.pennypressnv.com, reprinted with permission. 

 

 

Published in Opinion

For a long time, I have mostly written in this space about the ridiculous Democrats in the House who, tilting at left-wing partisan windmills, are heading in the direction of impeaching President Trump thus almost guaranteeing his re-election in 2020 since there is no chance the Senate will remove him.

 

This week, however, I have stumbled into an equally ridicules situation which has no relationship with what is currently happening in Washington but could have a serious impact on America’s largest employer—small business.

 

You may have seen some TV commercials for a non-bank lender named Kabbage.  It features actor Gary Cole playing a spokesman from 10 minutes in the future talking to some small business people.  After they get the funding they needed, Cole pops in as even further in the future after they got the Gundelfinger Account.

 

My company has used Kabbage for something like three years.

 

It’s not a huge credit line but we have made every payment on a timely basis and they have never had any problem with us.

 

On December 2, we made our normal monthly payment.  A few days later, I checked to make sure it was recorded properly.  It was.  But there was a note on the app screen which said, “You are not currently eligible to take a loan.  Call us at 88xx-xxxx to fix this issue.”

 

So I did.

 

What they told me was that there was a 60 day hold on our account, the computer makes these decisions and there is no appeal because they don’t know the reason that the computer made the decision.

 

I asked to speak to an executive who authorized the computer to make that decision.

 

“Sir,” said the young lady, “That team is not customer facing.”

 

Seriously?

 

Not customer facing?

 

Now I need to make two points here. Nobody is obligated to lend you money any more that anybody is obligated to borrow money.  This is a business transaction.  You lend me money and I pay it back with interest.

 

But good business practice dictates that if you make a decision like that—which, by the way, you have every right to make—you pick up the phone and FACE THE CUSTOMER!  Maybe your precious computer got the wrong—or no—information.

 

Kabbage is part of a new group of financial institutions called fintech.

 

It’s the latest new thing.

 

They have a proprietary algorithm so they can evaluate risk and make loans fast.

 

That’s all well and good.  And, as welcome as that may be to help fund America’s largest employer, a lender you cannot talk to is nobody you want to do business with.

 

Suppose, as an example, you are coming up on a payroll and are just a bit short—something which is not unusual in the wide world of small business.  You know you have that available in your Kabbage line.  Only, when you go to use it, there’s a note, placed there by a computer for a reason nobody knows that you cannot use the money.  That’s the sort of thing that can break a small business.

 

What was point number two that I was going to make?

 

Only that I made it clear that I was not mad at the nice young customer facing lady.  I was mad at her company and then only because information is as important as cash in small business and if Kabbage can’t tell you why, it’s very difficult to want to continue to do business with them—even after the 60 day hold is over.  Resigning the Gundelfinger account is a real possibility.

 

Now, we can get back to politics.  But I’ll bet that Kabbage CEO Rob Frohwein will see the logic in fixing this problem long before the Democrat morons in the House figure out that they are hamsters making the wheel go around.  And I mean no insult to hamsters.

 

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Fred Weinberg is a guest columnist and the CEO of USA Radio Network. His views and opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of GCN. Fred's weekly column can be read all over the internet. You can subscribe at www.pennypressnv.com. This is an edited version of his column, reprinted with permission. 

Published in Opinion
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