Friday, 15 July 2011

08:09 – For the third time in four years, European banks are undergoing a so-called “stress test”, the results of which are to be announced at noon EDT. No one really believes the test results will reassure anyone, although they’re hoping for the best. During the last such test, Irish banks passed with flying colors only to collapse and be taken over by the government shortly thereafter.

This test is supposed to be much more rigorous, but it’s still nowhere near rigorous enough. It assumes, for example, that Greek debt will lose 15% of its nominal value, while in reality it has already lost at least 50% of its value and will soon lose the rest. The test also assumes that none of the Eurozone countries will default, even partially. Despite the ridiculously unrealistic rosy assumptions made by this test, between 10% and 20% of the tested banks–the 91 largest Eurozone banks–are expected to fail the test and essentially go into government receivership. The problem is that if the tests were actually realistic, all or nearly all of Europe’s banks would fail and the entire Eurozone economy would quickly collapse.

The timing of the announcement is no coincidence. It will be released at 4:00 p.m. London time, after markets have closed for the weekend. When the bell rings Monday morning, I expect to see frenetic activity, and not in a good way. Next week may be remembered as the week the Euro died.


Lab day today. I have a couple dozen lab sessions for the biology book in progress, and I need various reagents and stains before I can actually run them. Actually, I already have most of those on hand, but I purchased many of them rather than making them up myself. I don’t want to use purchased reagents and stains to test the lab sessions, because they’re not necessarily the exact solutions that will be in the kit for the book. So, for example, rather than use the purchased 25 mL bottle of Gram’s iodine stain that I have on the shelf next to my microscope, I’ll make up some Gram’s iodine to a known formulation that I can reproduce later for inclusion in the kits. Actually, one lab day probably won’t be enough.


12:14 – Well, the results of the so-called “stress test” are in, and they’re pretty bad. Of the top 91 European banks, eight flunked what should have been a gimme, and another 16 barely squeaked by. That’s pretty damned pathetic, given that the test specifically excluded the stuff that would make the banks look bad. The whole purpose of this dog-and-pony show was to make the banks look as good as possible, to restore investor confidence. The result is going to be exactly the opposite. Even with training wheels, eight of the banks toppled over, and 16 more nearly did so. Investors aren’t stupid. They’ll see this charade for exactly what it is. Wait for the opening bell on Monday.


13:08 – More good sense from Pat Condell.

55 thoughts on “Friday, 15 July 2011”

  1. I think you are being a little too pessimistic in your assessment of the problems in Europe and in the US. I believe a solution will be found to the problems. Countries cannot be allowed to fail. Look at the downfall of Russia where failure or collapse of the country was really not an option. Times may get rough but it will not be the end of the world. Leave end of the world prediction to the religious whackos.

    I also take exception to your feelings about eliminating Medicaid. What other solution would you offer? Specifically I am talking about my aunt. She worked all her life, had money saved for retirement, and in fact lived 10 years on that retirement. Then she was forced into assisted living for 5.5 years. During that time she paid $350K and basically emptied her bank accounts. What is she supposed to do now?

    She needs constant nursing care for daily tasks such as feeding and cleaning. Currently Medicaid is paying the cost as she has not money. If Medicaid does not pay, then how is the care rendered? I cannot afford the $150.00 a day for her care as that would take most of my paycheck. Does the state pay? Why is the state paying any different than the federal government paying? My aunt lived in Oregon and Washington all her life and paid taxes in those states. She is now living in Tennessee. Is it fair for Tennessee to pay for a resident that has never paid a dime in taxes?

    Medicaid is a necessary safety net for people such as my aunt that through circumstances beyond their control have used up all their resources. In spite of their careful planning and saving, in other word responsible, they are put in dire situations.

    Where I think the money should be cut is welfare. I know people who are using welfare (and Medicare) as a lifestyle. Those programs should be used to help people to get back on their feet or for children. For the adults one year maximum payments then tough luck. Get a job or starve.

    Fix welfare and Medicare, but don’t touch Medicaid.

  2. Actually, as far as the economy goes, I think I’m painting an optimistic picture. But again, I’m making falsifiable predictions. Time will tell, and it won’t take much time.

    As to Medicaid, it is welfare. There is no difference whatsoever between your aunt’s bills being paid by the taxpayers and that welfare queen you keep talking about having her bills paid by the taxpayers.

    The fact that she and you can’t afford to pay for her care is immaterial. Your aunt could have purchased long-term care insurance, but she apparently chose not to. Why should I have to pay taxes to support the bad outcome of that decision?

    I wasn’t suggesting that Medicaid should be funded by the states without the federal government. I was suggesting that Medicaid should be abolished entirely.

  3. The problem is that even for the programs that the government collects revenue to fund, the government promises to pay far more than it collects in revenue. Medicare Part A, funded by payroll taxes, is paying hospital bills faster than it’s collecting payroll taxes. This despite the fact that it pays a lower amount on hospital bills than any private insurance. Medicare Part B pays out more to doctors every month than it takes in in premiums. This despite the fact that it pays so little that 38% of primary care physicians in Texas won’t take any new Medicare patients.

  4. Actually, long term care insurance in my aunt’s case would have done no good. The maximum amount of time that long term care insurance will cover is 5 years. She exceeded that time in assisted living, paid for by her own funds. She planned well enough by everyone elses opinion for her care in her old age. It is difficult to plan beyond 5 years.

    Her doctor in Washington said she would not last a year when we moved her to Tennessee. Her doctor here sad she would not last three years with her current dimentia problems. Well, they were all wrong. She has been in Tennessee for nine years. You can’t plan for that. And even if you did long term care insurance would have run out four years ago, supporting her for less time than she spent actually spent in assisted living.

    There is no alternative except to be very wealthy. And even then there are problems. She would have needed an additional half a million to pay for her care. That would have required a retirement nest egg, including property, of over $800,000.

    Do you have have $800,000 to pay for your care for nine years if needed? If not then what is the alternative? Should we just roll your wheelchair out on the street, cover you with blanket so people can ignore the issue as you slowly die and rot? Even long term care insurance will not pay for the length of time that my aunt has required care.

    She had more money available than long term care insurance would have provided. She could not predict requiring nine or more years of care. You should not expect people to save enough money to allow for 10, 15 or 20 years of care. Where do you draw the line as reasonable?

  5. And yeh, there is a difference between the welfare queen and my aunt. My aunt worked her entire life and paid for a substantial part of her care. Her current condition is not by choice like the welfare queen.

  6. Again, your aunt’s needs do not constitute a claim on my wallet. What you’re really saying is that it’s okay to rob me at gunpoint to pay your aunt’s bills, because she really, really needs my money. It’s not okay.

    I’ve never met your aunt. I don’t care about your aunt, any more than you care about my aunt. If you want your aunt to be cared for, I’d say it’s up to you and the rest of her family to do so. It’s certainly not my responsibility.

  7. Well, believe that if it makes you feel better, but that doesn’t change the fact that your aunt is living on money forcibly extracted from taxpayers, just as the welfare queen is.

    Actually, I don’t blame you at all for playing the system. It’s just that the system shouldn’t exist. Your need does not constitute a valid claim on my resources, period.

  8. So what is the alternative? Let people die? How long do you plan for? What are you going to do if you run out of money for your care? Live on money extracted from others? Or die?

  9. Yeah, Ray, if their family/church/whatever won’t or can’t help, ultimately the alternative is to let them die. Better that than force me to pay for their care.

  10. So you would feel the same way if you run out of money. You have no church so it is OK for your family/whatever to bankrupt themselves paying for your care. So we just let you die a miserable, painful and uncomfortable death. Would you do the same for Barbara, watch her die a miserable death when you run out of money?

  11. I believe Bob posted on the old board, he wouldn’t expect Barbara to exhaust her resources on his terminal care. And vice versa.

  12. Exactly. It makes no sense to throw good money after bad, whether you’re talking about bailing out a bank or a company or a nation or an individual. Let them die. And it goes from making no sense to being positively evil to extract that money at gunpoint from others to pay for what you want.

    The real irony is that religious people, who claim to believe in an afterlife, are much, much more likely to demand extreme measures to preserve lives that are no longer worth living than are atheists like me. One would think the religious believers would be in a hurry to get their celestial reward and atheists would strive mightily to avoid the end of their existence, but in fact the reverse is almost always the case. That’s because most atheists are rational.

    Yes, I would be very upset with Barbara if she beggared herself to buy me a week or a month or a year of additional life, particularly if I were suffering. I would use whatever necessary to eliminate pain. When that was no longer effective, I would make the choice to live or die. If I opted for the latter, well I have all kinds of stuff that kills very quickly and painlessly.

  13. Unless your affliction prevents you from using your arms, then what? Do you expect Barbara to pull the trigger?

  14. Unless your affliction prevents you from using your arms, then what? Do you expect Barbara to pull the trigger?

    Actually, I wasn’t thinking about using a firearm. The problem with that is that the cops confiscate the firearm, and I’d hate for Barbara to lose a good pistol. Not that she’d want it afterwards. Also, shooting oneself typically leaves a mess.

    I was thinking more in terms of poison.

  15. I have much more of a problem with the losers that are in prison on a free ride than those on Medicaid. We spend more money on maintaining a prisoner each month than is spent on my aunt. I would wager a goodly sum that my aunt contributed more to her upkeep than the prisoner from the money she sent to the federal government over the years. I would also wager that the medical care in prison is better than the nursing home and is probably more expensive.

    As for RBT, I fully expect him to refuse to take any additional social security funds after he has been paid back the amount he put in, plus a little interest. I also fully expect him to refuse to use Medicare when he has exhausted what he has contributed. I also fully expect him to never use any form of Medicaid at all, regardless of the issues involved. I also expect, if he should ever become incapacitated, to sell his house and all his possessions (including weapons) to pay for his care and once he is penniless to administer his own poison. After all, once you are no longer able to care for yourself you are worthless to society.

  16. Who would mix and administer the poison?

    A better answer in BobWorld (coined by OFD I believe) would be the “Soylent Green” scenario. Remember that classic Chuck Heston movie. You get rolled into a beautiful room at a minor cost (by you or loved one), watch Netflix streaming while you are injected with poison. Then ground into wafers to feed the poor. A win-win scenario.

  17. That’s fine with me, as long as it’s voluntary.

    I just don’t want the government robbing me to feed the poor. Or Ray’s aunt.

  18. Ah, poison requires no pull of an actual trigger, this is true, but at what point does she administer the poison. Do you get to chose the time, or does she? Or will you off yourself at the first hint of medical trouble?

  19. Hmmm, having Pat’s Youtube ravings on this page seems to lock my browser for a few seconds each time I try to move the slider down the page.

  20. I just don’t want the government robbing me to feed the poor. Or Ray’s aunt.
    Too late. You are already doing that. She does not want to live like she is, nor do I. But we have no choice. I can’t kill her, she can’t kill herself. By the time you realize what has happened you are too far gone to be able to kill yourself. Having others kill you is still murder in most of the states I believe (not sure about Oregon).

    The fact is that there was no gaming of the system. We made every attempt to keep her in private care for as long as possible. We thought we had enough funds based on the expert opinion of others. Sometimes things just don’t work out.

    Sorry you don’t like paying. But tough. My aunt made preparations for her care. But her life exceeded the best guess scenario from the experts. I am not about to bankrupt myself by paying for her care so that you will not feel cheated. Those are the rules and you have no choice but to play by the rules. So since I am not willing to pay I guess I am really the one taking money from you, and everyone else. Oh, and by the way, I also receive VA benefits monthly for which you are paying. But unlike you, I put my life on the line to earn those benefits.

  21. I just sent an email to Obama to ask if Bob’s taxes can directly pay for my mil pension. lol!

  22. Ray, I understand perfectly. You feel entitled. That’s one of the fundamental problems with this country. So many people believe they’re entitled to have things that others have to pay for.

    You don’t believe you should have to sacrifice your own standard of living even slightly. Better to have the government tax everyone else and reduce their standards of living.

    As Pournelle frequently quotes Maggie Thatcher, that works until those other people run out of money, which is the stage we’re now approaching. I hope that eventually gets us back to the way things were and should still be: if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it. Period.

  23. This is the question we’ll literally be down to at some point. I don’t like it but we’re headed there sooner or later. If the US Government has a choice of paying one and only one of the following obligations, do we pay the interest on US Debt, or do we pay for Ray’s aunt’s nursing home care? I’d argue there’s no choice, because if we pay for Ray’s aunt’s nursing home care, the US defaults, and the economy gets so much worse we can’t pay for her care the following month.

  24. I get the impression a lot of the argument between Ray and Bob stems from Ray thinking libertarians would leave the elderly to die. While libertarians believe it shouldn’t be compulsory to pay for their care, most would freely donate money to help someone like your aunt — at least, before her mind was devastated.

    I think if Medicaid is to be scrapped, the fairest way to do it would be to give warning. Set a deadline after which no more users will be accepted. This way, people like Ray’s unfortunate aunt will be cared for until death.

  25. I agree with eristicist. Charity is a wonderful thing in this country.

    I don’t agree with Bob that my mil pension is an entitlement. It is a WRITTEN contract I SIGNED and SWORE to that I would get 50% of my base pay in exchange for serving 20 years (currently 40% or less since I signed up). Military pay is about 1/4-1/3 of a comparable civilian job. I would have no problem making my own retirement investments (no “entitlement” pension) if I was making 4 times the pay in the military. SS and Medixx don’t require you to do jack for a minimum payin and huge payout in many cases. You bust your ass in the military. It would be hard to recruit quality in BobWorld, but if the pay was jacked up, maybe not.

  26. No, I was using “entitlement” in the honest sense, something to which you are en-titled. Something you have title to. As I said earlier, things like Social Security and Medicare are true entitlements, in the sense that people paid for them ahead of time.

    I was under the impression that military pay, like all government pay, was very high relative to civilian pay. I understand that even enlisted pay can range as high as $75,000+ per year, and that’s exclusive of allowances and benefits, which, depending on how you figure them, can be as much as 100% of base pay.

    I do know that there’s no way a kid out of high school can earn anything close to what he can as an E1, once you figure in the fact that he’s also getting room and board, top-notch medical, and so on. I guess that’s why there’s about a one-year wait right now for people who want to join the military.

  27. I think if Medicaid is to be scrapped, the fairest way to do it would be to give warning. Set a deadline after which no more users will be accepted. This way, people like Ray’s unfortunate aunt will be cared for until death.

    And how exactly is that fair? You’re creating two classes of people, those who got in early and those who aren’t eligible. Medicaid needs to be eliminated entirely.

    Of course, if the government took all of my other suggestions, including getting rid of all government employees and eliminating unemployment benefits, there’d be plenty of people looking for work, so it shouldn’t be that hard to get live-in help cheaply.

  28. Now that I’ve heard Bob’s voice in his videos, I hear that same intonation in his blog posts and comments. Somehow they seem less contentious…

    Regarding entitlement vs welfare: A very simple test is what did you pay into the system? There’s a detailed record of your “contributions” to Social Security and Medi-Care. Where’s the record of what you pay into welfare? (hint: taxes)

  29. While libertarians believe it shouldn’t be compulsory to pay for their care, most would freely donate money to help someone like your aunt — at least, before her mind was devastated.

    And the do what with the people? Leave them on the curb for the regular trash pickup?

    My aunt was fine before her mind was devastated. She paid her own bills using her retirement and SS (a true entitlement) and was doing fine. She paid her own way for 5.5 years using up all her available funds. Markedly better than most people.

    The question still stands. How many of you have half a million dollars that you could spend on your care or a spouses care? Once that runs out are you willing to watch your spouse die while you both sit on the curb because you are homeless? That is no better than a third world country. If that is what libertarians truly want, wow.

    And for the record my VA benefits are a true entitlement. I earned them putting my life at risk with subsequent injury in that process. Those of you who skirted military service and just sat back and watched have no concept of the sacrifices that are made just to keep your asses free. Until you have walked in those shoes you have no valid comments about the experience as such comments are nothing but guessing.

  30. And how exactly is that fair? You’re creating two classes of people, those who got in early and those who aren’t eligible. Medicaid needs to be eliminated entirely.
    I said fairest, because it allows people some time to transition. And yes, it creates two classes but one of those classes will quickly die, so it’s not much of a problem.

    And the do what with the people? Leave them on the curb for the regular trash pickup?
    No; as I said, I think people would be charitable.

    My aunt was fine before her mind was devastated. She paid her own bills using her retirement and SS (a true entitlement) and was doing fine. She paid her own way for 5.5 years using up all her available funds. Markedly better than most people.
    I don’t challenge that. Out of interest, given what you know of the opinions she held while properly alive, would she even want to live like this?

    The question still stands. How many of you have half a million dollars that you could spend on your care or a spouses care? Once that runs out are you willing to watch your spouse die while you both sit on the curb because you are homeless? That is no better than a third world country. If that is what libertarians truly want, wow.
    Without government interference, most medical costs would decrease. Long-term care is expensive, but as dementia is so debilitating that I’d choose to die, I wouldn’t need to pay for it. That, and employment rates would be better, so I doubt I’d be homeless.

    And for the record my VA benefits are a true entitlement. I earned them putting my life at risk with subsequent injury in that process. Those of you who skirted military service and just sat back and watched have no concept of the sacrifices that are made just to keep your asses free. Until you have walked in those shoes you have no valid comments about the experience as such comments are nothing but guessing.
    I don’t think anyone was challenging your VA entitlements. I know I wasn’t. Regarding sacrifice: you can make a noble sacrifice to a bad cause. The US military has, I believe, done more to enslave than to free; more to kill than to save; more to hurt than to help. Other militaries, too: the US is just the biggest.

  31. Bob,

    I can speak mainly for the Army. This isn’t a rant against you, just some facts after serving 20.

    enlisted pay can range as high as $75,000+…

    For an E-9 (Sergeant Major) with 18+ years, base pay is $62,208 (2011 pay charts). That’s after more schooling and training I can think of. Not to mention combat. I can’t think of an E-9 I know that hasn’t seen combat. There are about 3,165 positions in the army depending on needs. 18+ years is a long time in the military. The Sergeant Major of the Army’s base pay is $89,880 after at least 24 years of service. Not bad. There is one position. Pretty competitive.

    getting room and board…

    Open bay barracks, 4 to a room, tents, current long and repeated deployments, shitty locations, not to mention the Navy where even officers are 6+ to a “room” for 6+ months at a time when on sea duty. The food can be great, though. But it’s not like having a kitchen. Three squares a day at set times. No fridges or microwaves in the barracks. Shared or gang toilets. Better to get married (or gain rank) and move off post as soon as possible.

    top-notch medical…

    There is nothing special about medical care and doctors in the military. The doctors are not the best (many are great). You think the best medical students want to go in the military and earn a fraction of what they could. “Top-notch” care comes when you are wounded in combat and care should be the best. Even after combat injuries, there is no guarantee you can remain. More wounded can stay today due to political pressure. Any serious non-combat medical conditions that make you “non-deployable” and you are booted out and end up with VA care. We all know how that can suck. Plus you better be close to a VA hospital or clinic if you want free care. If you are diagnosed with diabetes, you are gone. Even habitual problems with your teeth gets you the boot. How many civilian jobs do that.

    a kid out of high school can earn anything close…

    This is true. But turnover between E1 and E3 is about 50%. Mostly because life in the Army can be rough. You can’t go whining to your union. You are evaluated at least twice a year. And if you suck, you don’t get to sit in a room and draw pay like teachers in California. Get a DUI and you are gone. Most civilian jobs won’t fire you for a DUI. And you aren’t getting a pension after one tour like our current congress critters. I think a private does more than our average congress critter. You can get money for college, but with our current wars, I wouldn’t bet my life on college money. Most civilian jobs don’t have the risk of getting killed during training.

  32. Dear eristicist:

    The US military has, I believe, done more to enslave than to free…

    Give me a fucking break. You must walk around in some pussy liberal circles to say shit like that. Blame the President or congress. The military doesn’t act unitarily. I challenge you to go to a VFW or AL chapter in whatever fucking country you live in and say that. There are plenty of Gunny Ermey’s out there that would gladly kick your ass.

    Sorry for the language, but you pissed me off.

  33. Bob, what you are saying and doing sounds familiar – similar to what many others are doing. You are living in a society, getting many of the benefits of doing so, but then objecting to others with different needs getting different benefits paid for by the same taxes that pay for the benefits you get. You tacitly get those taxpayer-funded benefits, then say openly, “Aunt Minnie should be kicked to the kerb, left to die there, then not even collected with the trash, rather than spend a cent of my tax-money to replace the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars of tax money she’s paid for my benefits during her life.”

    Well, under those circumstances, many other people feel differently, and perceive what you say differently. A state where welfare is a right rather than non-existent or chancy can work well, provided it’s implemented well and audited scrupulously. That the USA has never been able to make it work (or even could never make it work under current circumstances, if true) says nothing about the validity of tax-funded welfare. The fact that people who have paid taxes for decades are getting back a little of it is not a sin.

  34. I can’t kill her, she can’t kill herself.”

    This is a weirdity of modern times, one that seems particularly driven by the religious types.

    Here in Switzerland, medical suicide is legal, but it is a continuous and hard-fought battle. The institutes that help people carry it out are always having to move – no town likes having a building continuously producing corpses. Add to that the “suicide tourism”, as people from other countries come here to make use of the services. In the abstract, most people are for the idea. It’s just the typical “not in my backyard” syndrome. Death should be hidden, so that we can deny that it happens.

    For what it’s worth, the way it works here requires that the person be in full possession of their faculties, and capable of taking the poison themselves. Typically, we are talking about terminal cancer patients. Someone suffering from dementia would not qualify. That said, DNR and withdrawal of life-support measures on instructions of the family – this is all possible.

    Italy is another case in point: the government has just passed a law prohibiting medically assisted suicide, to the applause of the Vatican. This despite the fact that nearly 70% of the population was against the bill (i.e., thinks euthanasia should be legal).

    Ray’s situation is difficult – it’s one I witnessed with two of my four grandparents. Things would frankly be better if the government had never started Medicaid at all. Before that, people were cared for within their families, and there was a better charity infrastructure. Certainly there were tragic cases of people who fell through the cracks – that is what motivated both Social Security and Medicaid. The problem is that vast quantities of people have become dependent on these programs – people who, without the programs, would have found another solution. It is no longer normal for aged parents to live with their children – Social Security has made this unnecessary, and society has adapted. Going back would be hard, and it would require decades for society to change back.

    As Ray says, his aunt didn’t ask for this, and one cannot blame her or her family for using the government programs. If those programs did not exist, society would be different: extended families would be more normal, better support-structures would exist, etc.. I expect all of us agree that the situation should be different, but it *isn’t* different. You do the best you can with the cards you are dealt…

  35. Give me a fucking break. You must walk around in some pussy liberal circles to say shit like that. Blame the President or congress. The military doesn’t act unitarily. I challenge you to go to a VFW or AL chapter in whatever fucking country you live in and say that. There are plenty of Gunny Ermey’s out there that would gladly kick your ass.
    I walk around in some angry anarchist circles to say shit like that. I live in Britain, and I’ve occasionally volunteered at the Legion. I know soldiers who’ve lost legs, arms, organs and minds. And true, I’m sure I’d be attacked if I explained my views. Does that make them incorrect?

    Why do you relish the idea of kicking my ass? I have the utmost sympathy for soldiers. Soldiers are also victims of the military. Just as policemen need to create crime (not all crime, but a lot of crime) so the military needs to create war (not all war, but a lot of war).

    Sorry for pissing you off, but I speak what I believe.

  36. Out of interest, given what you know of the opinions she held while properly alive, would she even want to live like this?

    Absolutely not. She expressed this multiple times when she was alive. Everyone in my family feels the same way. No one wants to “live” like she is living. Spends 22 hours in the fetal position, gets woke up twice a day to shove baby food in one end and scrap yesterdays food off the other end. It would serve everyone better if she were to die.

    And to add some additional information her care is not entirely free. The state takes all of her money, retirement and SS, except for $50.00 a month. That goes to pay for part of her care with the rest paid by Medicaid.

    When you apply for Medicaid there is a 5 year look back for assets. If they are found the state takes those assets by directly taking them or putting a lein on the property. If a spouse requires Medicaid and you have a house, that house is now encumbered. Applying for Medicaid will totally impoverish you if you are not already there. We followed the rules with my aunt, did everything by the book. We ran out of time and money.

    Yeh, I wish she would die. I wish she would have died 5 years ago before she required a nursing home and Medicaid. But I don’t set those rules.

    you can make a noble sacrifice to a bad cause.

    You don’t know the half of it. To be denied a seat on an aircraft to which you had already been assigned. To be booed as you walk through an airport. To be spit on in a bus station. The cause was OK. The clueless idiotic politicians that ran the conflict were the real issue. LBJ and most of congress should have been tried for treason.

    The US military has, I believe, done more to enslave than to free; more to kill than to save;

    I also say bullshit. Without the military and their efforts you would currently be enslaved under some dictator wondering where you next meal would be coming from while you stirred a fire fueled by cowshit in your mud hut. Yes, all the militaries have done some stupid stuff but without them the world would be much worse than it is today.

    Until you have spent time in the military (I spent 10.5 years) you really have no idea how it works and the caliber of people in the military. The people in the military are well intentioned with honor and integrity. What spoils that are idiot leaders such as congress and commanders in chief that did not serve or ducked their service, trying to make decisions. You have congress critters that have no concept of how to run a war or a country and are mostly concerned about keeping their jobs.

  37. eristicist, since you live in Britain, perhaps it needs to be pointed out that it was the British military that enslaved people, not the US. The US has propped up some stupendously criminal and evil people in its time, all of whom may well be angels compared to what would have been in their place, but the UK put their own stupendously criminal and evil people on the thrones of many countries, solely to rape those countries of their resources.

    Why, there wouldn’t even BE a US military for you to bitch about, but for UK empire building. The US military has solved more problems than they created. Can you say the same for your own country’s politics? And remain honest?

  38. That poor lady. And, to a lesser extent, poor you. To reiterate: I think care is clearly owed to people like your aunt — people who paid in throughout their lives. Of course, in RBT’s ideal world of freedom, I’m sure she could legally be euthanised, which would avoid the argument in her case.

    You don’t know the half of it. To be denied a seat on an aircraft to which you had already been assigned. To be booed as you walk through an airport. To be spit on in a bus station. The cause was OK. The clueless idiotic politicians that ran the conflict were the real issue. LBJ and most of congress should have been tried for treason.
    It’s appalling that people treated soldiers like that. I really don’t think the cause was OK. They shouldn’t have mistreated the soldiers.

    Until you have spent time in the military (I spent 10.5 years) you really have no idea how it works and the caliber of people in the military. The people in the military are well intentioned with honor and integrity. What spoils that are idiot leaders such as congress and commanders in chief that did not serve or ducked their service, trying to make decisions. You have congress critters that have no concept of how to run a war or a country and are mostly concerned about keeping their jobs.
    I believe they’re well-intentioned. But their organisation’s goals are, for the greater part, rotten. And you don’t need to spend time in a thing to know if it’s right or wrong. I don’t have to study unicorns to deny their existence, nor do I have to experience the Holocaust to condemn it. And you’re right about the politicians. They’re largely the people to blame…

  39. As I said, I don’t blame Ray for playing (NOT gaming) the system. It’s the system we have, and he has to work within its rules. But that system needs to be changed back to the way it was before. Basically, the government stays out.

    If I were Ray, I’d seriously consider sneaking something into the baby food. From what he’s said, it sounds like that would be doing his aunt a favor.

    Furthermore, I think the laws should be changed to allow families to declare someone who has profound Alzheimers or who is in PVS to be legally dead. They have no mind, so there is nothing left to kill. Legally, one can’t murder someone who is already dead.

  40. eristicist, since you live in Britain, perhaps it needs to be pointed out that it was the British military that enslaved people, not the US. The US has propped up some stupendously criminal and evil people in its time, all of whom may well be angels compared to what would have been in their place, but the UK put their own stupendously criminal and evil people on the thrones of many countries, solely to rape those countries of their resources.
    Of course the UK military did those things! Why do you think I’d deny it? Practically all governments have done this, to the extent their powers allowed. Hence my aforesaid distaste for them.

    Why, there wouldn’t even BE a US military for you to bitch about, but for UK empire building. The US military has solved more problems than they created. Can you say the same for your own country’s politics? And remain honest?
    I can’t say that for my country’s politics. I can’t say it for your country’s politics. I can’t say it for any country’s politics — because it’s not true for any country’s politics!

  41. Well, I’m certainly an anarchist and an isolationist. If I’d been making the decisions, the US wouldn’t have become involved in any of the wars and police actions of the last couple centuries, most especially WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East.

    As far as I’m concerned, the only legitimate purpose of the military is to defend the homeland against invasion. If it were me deciding, I’d abolish the US military immediately, and pass out existing weapons to any citizen who requested them. And I wouldn’t keep any records at all of who had what. (Just for the record, I’d request an assault rifle and 1,000 rounds for each of us, along with a case of grenades, a couple of Claymores, a few blocks of C4 and a couple of anti-tank missiles.)

    Recent history–starting with the Nazi anti-partisan efforts and confirmed by everything from the French and our experiences in Vietnam, the Soviet experience in Afghanistan, and our own experiences in the Middle East–has shown that traditional military forces are pretty much helpless against an armed citizenry. Tank-versus-tank and F4-versus-Mig19 is all well and good when you have a similar opponent to fight, but all the tanks and fighter jets in the world don’t accomplish much when you’re going up against a guy wearing black pajamas and carrying a AK-47.

    The Swiss have it right and always have had. Remain neutral, avoid any international alliances, and arm your citizenry. That’s exactly what the US should be doing.

  42. If I were Ray, I’d seriously consider sneaking something into the baby food. From what he’s said, it sounds like that would be doing his aunt a favor.

    The thought has crossed my mind more than once. But with my luck I would get the wrong food and nail someone else and in the process get caught. Then you would be paying for me and my aunt while others on this board would make rude comments about “another stupid criminal”.

    Believe me, I am not happy with the situation and my tax dollars are also contributing to her care, probably more so than you as my investments are taxed quite nicely by the state and feds.

    And this next part is really going to piss you off about the system. It also does the same to me. Apparently dental services are allowed and in fact required by the state for someone in a nursing home on Medicaid. Part of the rules. I just got a bill for $1006.00 for dental care. So far this year I have been billed over $2K for dental services for someone who is eating baby food and does not need her teeth.

    And the stupidity of the system is that I pay the bill from her funds that are normally paid to the nursing home. Rather than the state pay it directly, I have to reduce an automatic monthly payment to the nursing home to account for the dental bill. I get a notice from the state informing me of the change. The state then pays the additional amount that I paid to the dental outfit to the nursing. The monthly amount my aunt pays is the same it is just distributed differently. It would be much simpler for the state to simply pay but they would rather make it complicated.

    For older people without someone to help them the system is immensely complicated. My aunt has Medicare for primary insurance, private insurance second, and Medicare third. Medicare nor private pay for nursing home so Medicaid gets that bill. For other services it is nightmare figuring out the bills and who gets what. I gave up and just let them fight it out. I just throw all the stuff away without opening the mail.

    We also tried to get the nursing home to get her prescriptions from her private insurance where the prescriptions would be free. But no, Medicaid will not allow that and you have to use a Medicaid approved pharmacy. Her medicine bill is over $1,000.00 month because of stupid Medicaid rules.

    And your are correct I did not game the system. I really would question playing with the system. I followed the rules, did what I could to keep her off the system. But time ran out. A nursing home was not my first choice but I had no choice. I could not afford the $150.00 a day, plus medical, plus medicines and all the other crap that needs to be paid. It would have bankrupted me. Instead I spent my entire inheritance (her money) on her care.

    To blame me for having to work with the system, deal with their rules is simply wrong. I had no other choice. And providing for her support for 5.5 years is markedly better than most others. Certainly better than the welfare queen who choses such an existance on purpose.

  43. “(Just for the record, I’d request an assault rifle and 1,000 rounds for each of us, along with a case of grenades, a couple of Claymores, a few blocks of C4 and a couple of anti-tank missiles.)”

    Man, you’ve got no ambition. I’d ask for a flight of Minuteman IIIs at Minot.

  44. “(Just for the record, I’d request an assault rifle and 1,000 rounds for each of us, along with a case of grenades, a couple of Claymores, a few blocks of C4 and a couple of anti-tank missiles.)”

    Man, you’ve got no ambition. I’d ask for a flight of Minuteman IIIs at Minot.

    Well, I actually used to have most of that stuff, including a couple of LAWs, but everything I have now is street-legal. Of course, many of my friends own G3’s, M-60’s, and so on, so I figure I’ll just hide behind them.

    As to the Minuteman III’s, you can do almost anything with bayonets, except sit on them.

  45. The problem with Medicaid is that it is the fastest growing system in the federal government. But the federal government is broke, we just don’t have the checks bouncing. yet.

    I have a fix for Medicaid but you wont like. Merge Medicare and Medicaid and raise the medicare payroll tax from 2.9% to 15%, equally split between the employer and employee. And then have EVERYONE covered by the new Medicare system.

    If you want better insurance then you should be allowed to still buy private insurance. But some will still scream that is not fair. After all, Canada does have a private insurance and private providers also.

    As an employer I am so tired of making medical insurance decisions for my employees. And they do not appreciate it either that I am paying $488/month each to buy medical insurance for each of them. And my bill has gone up 40% each of the last two years.

  46. How is that a solution? The solution is to get rid of Medicaid and give poor people only the medical care they can pay for.

  47. Ray, kwitcher whinin.

    If you cut off Medicaid tomorrow christian charity would jump into the breach.
    In India there are hospitals, and then there are Mission hospitals.

    Mission hospitals serve everyone, regardless of ability to pay. The businessmen at such hosptials manage the finances accordingly, and don’t ask me how they do it! The doctors and surgeons who serve at same seem to be the ones who’ve taken the Hippocratic oath to heart. And they are good! Pay, and you’ll get good service. Can’t pay? — you’ll get good service.

    christian charity (that’s small ‘c’ christian) seems a given whether among muslims, hindoos or christians. When big Daddy Obama can’t provide, I have faith that my fellow man will. I’ve seen it, and I’d guarantee it.

    I wish I could digress upon upon what christian charity demands of you in re your aunt, but I’m out of space in this new idiotic forum posting box.

  48. “As an employer I am so tired of making medical insurance decisions for my employees. And they do not appreciate it either that I am paying $488/month each to buy medical insurance for each of them. And my bill has gone up 40% each of the last two years.”

    Crazy. My private health insurance (in Australia) is about 1/4 of that.

    I think *we* should take over health care and funding in the US. We know how to do it properly.

  49. No, Greg. I’ve thought about this before, and done some digging. Economies of scale only work up to a point, then you hit diminishing returns, and eventually end up going backwards. The Australian Medicare system works well for us, and it might work for each individual state of the USA, but it would collapse under the weight of the entire united states.

  50. If you get rid of Medicaid then you need to repeal the law that all visitors to the emergency room must be treated regardless of ability to pay. Although, I was in the ER a couple of weeks ago (bad heart again) and they did a walletectomy on me just after they hit me with 10mg of Lowpressor.

    BTW, when my mother in law had her 10th heart attack back in 1996 and subsequently lost her brain to oxygen starvation, we told the doctors to withhold food and water. I was very proud of father in law for doing that after she survived the removal of the ventilator. I knew that she in no way wanted to be kept alive by artificial means. It took her 3 days to die without food or water but she was gone already. I regard feeding people who are brain dead as cruel and useless and hope that my wife is strong enough to do the same for me when my heart gives out.

    A friend of mine who is 87 has to spoon feed his wife. But she will still chew and swallow her food. Someday maybe soon she will stop and he will have a tough decision to make. I think that he is tough enough to make the decision to let her go at that point.

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