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Everything posted by Antonio

  1. My daughter uses a wheelchair and her speech development is delayed because of a neurological defect that prevents some signals from passing accurately from the brain stem to her muscles. At school, she is in a regular classroom for the non-basic, or subject-based curriculum such as history, science, music, art and field trips. She goes to a special education classroom for core cirriculum, specifically reading and math (though she also does math in the regular classroom because she is at her grade level). Her reading development was also delayed because speech delays (including those that are solely of a physical rather than cognitive nature) delay language development, where that's not the case with numbers or other subjects. She has no problem interacting with other children and has only one friend who is disabled - another girl who uses a wheelchair. She plays tag and tether ball with the other kids, and thanks to her iBot she can be in an upright balance mode for either and she can even do relays and sports during PE. Her speech can be hard to understand, but my daughter knows it's incumbent upon her to slow down and be more understandable. And the kids tend to be patient enough to listen. What the other kids see is someone who is learning to enjoy life in spite of physical disabilities with the help of parents who obtain her innovations that extend her reach into places that, for instance, regular wheelchairs can't. She's so independent that she only needs help if something falls on the floor beyond where she could reach down or to use the lift that helps her use the bathroom. With regard to the kids with mental disabilities, yeah, even my daughter has problems with them when they act outside the mainstream (like the weird boy who always talks about guns but doesn't know what one is or how they work, and yet knows about shooting and pointing). Those kids spend most or even all of their day in the special ed class where they can get individual instruction. I've learned that the key with getting kids to understand disabilities is just to tell them the truth and confront it head on. What I see the problem is the altruistic notion of washing over the fact that these kids are different. Everyone is different. And I remind people there's nothing wrong with that, if nothing else because I sure as hell would rather be me than them. But that's hard to grasp in a collectivist or altruistic leaning society. When I tell kids the truth about my daughter's disability or even what's wrong with the kids who are retarded, autistic or have Down syndrome, and why they are that way, then it all makes sense and they are OK with it. Maybe that's why truth can set one free. But schools are good at lying to kids and that's the problem.
  2. Never mind the vicious nonsense of claiming that an embryo has a "right to life." A piece of protoplasm has no rights—and no life in the human sense of the term. One may argue about the later stages of a pregnancy, but the essential issue concerns only the first three months. To equate a potential with an actual, is vicious; to advocate the sacrifice of the latter to the former, is unspeakable … Observe that by ascribing rights to the unborn, i.e., the nonliving, the anti-abortionists obliterate the rights of the living: the right of young people to set the course of their own lives. The task of raising a child is a tremendous, lifelong responsibility, which no one should undertake unwittingly or unwillingly. Procreation is not a duty: human beings are not stock-farm animals. For conscientious persons, an unwanted pregnancy is a disaster; to oppose its termination is to advocate sacrifice, not for the sake of anyone's benefit, but for the sake of misery qua misery, for the sake of forbidding happiness and fulfillment to living human beings. "A Last Survey," The Ayn Rand Letter, IV, 2, 3
  3. Case in point my own daughter. The internal sensor that triggers the brain to stop putting food in one's mouth because it's too full to chew does not work in my daughter, quite possibly one of the many signals between the brain and nerves that is interrupted - hence her inability to bear weight, delayed speech and other neurological disabilities. It is much easier for her now that she is used to it, but when she was little we literally had to watch how much she put in her mouth. Occasionally she still has to think consciously about it to prevent from overstuffing herself. But most of the time now she knows she has to watch how much she needs to bite and to wait a while between bites. No psych issues there for sure. She's happier and more positive than most kids we know - and she's the one who can't walk! The brain is complex, for sure. But frankly, this is one part of her disability that isn't on the short list of stuff we'd expect. I suspect that there are many people who have that or similar defects and that it contributes to weight gain. For folks like them, it can either be an obsession, or in my daughter's case, she just has to be careful.
  4. You're very welcome! I know it was long, but I guess I am pretty damn serious when people who don't know a damn thing about my daughter's life try to tell me what's good for her. If I weren't averse to initiating force upon someone, I'd probably smack this Sands_PhD person in the face and tell them to catch some reality. But you know, it's like that catch phrase "Whatever floats your boat." I'm all about choices. If people want to poo-poo genius, fine. Go ahead and live in misery. But just get out of my way!
  5. This is a response I put on the Wheelchair Revolution blog. I won't repost the whole original entry because it's long. But the gist of it is that someone lacking serious vision poo-poo'd the need for Dean Kamen's iBot technology. Mediocre people like that critic are part of the reason that so many insurance companies and the government programs such as Medi-Cal (our Medicaid in California) or California Children's Services, Medicare and even Tricare make poor excuses for refusing to pay for iBots. Many of these people who claim to want to help disabled children and adults have never walked a mile in their shoes or the shoes of their parents. So I don't expect them to understand. And nobody here should be surprised. Here is my reply to that blog entry: The comments by Sans_PhD and his claims are without merit because they are not backed up with any evidence to support them. I have found, even before embracing the iBot technology, that comments of those kinds come from people who are mediocre because they cannot get their minds around visionary ideas and innovation. In my experience these folks have been people who prefer the comfort they find in dependency or contentment linked to a victimization or inferiority mentality. Or they are people who are afraid of vision and innovation because they see it, either consciously or subconsciously as a threat to all or part of their way of life. Still others are people who believe that if an innovation or achievement can't be had by everyone, then it should not be had by anyone - one of the weakest arguments for collectivism. People like that don't like what geniuses such as Dean Kamen create because they lack the vision to understand what in economics is called "disruptive technology." If they can't stake a claim to the product of the mind of someone like Kamen, if they can't turn men like him into their slaves, then it should not exist. Here is the truth of our experience with the iBot: My daughter Sophia, age 8, is the youngest owner of an iBot. I have been told by the folks at Independence Technology that she is the first young child to have been tested for it, let alone pass the test drive, clinical evaluation and training with flying colors. She did her test drive soon after turning 7. It has changed my daughter's life in a way that no other innovation, medical treatment, piece of equipment or anything else has. It is as simple as the quiet dignity that she feels as a little girl who can stand, thanks to iBot's balance mode, to say the Pledge of Allegiance or to hear the national anthem. It was an astonishing sight because of its gentle simplicity, which masked the wonder of what ideas it took to conceive that three computers and six gyroscopes would catapult wheelchair technology into the 21st century. My daughter can dance. Granted, she could always dance, even in her manual wheelchair. But now she can <i>really</i> dance. She goes into balance mode, puts the speed to zero and then she can experience what those of us who can walk and stand on two legs only know. The iBot, like the Segway does, senses her body movements and moves with her. She can spin, she can turn and she can move forward just by leaning a little bit. It is liberating. And consider this: many of you who walk or who can stand would not understand what it means to be able to get off a Monorail at Disneyland on your own by rolling out flawlessly in four-wheel mode, with the attractions host looking in astonishment as he walks up with the ramp that Sophia would have had to depend on to get out. And the looks of some of the people in line showed a mix of bafflement and awe. Why? She did it <i>herself.</i> How about being to play on the grass like other kids? Or go to the landfill and to a local farm with her school peers on a field trip? My wife took her to a farm field trip in Sophia's manual chair and it was a disaster. The landfill - no problem thanks to the iBot! How about being able to play on the beach and see her sister surfing, instead of waiting by the pier or in the van? Do you, Sans_PhD, know what that means? Stairs? Well, for four years we had to pull Sophia in her manual chair up five steps to get into the old Victorian house that is now an office building where her speech therapist works. Before you whine about the Americans with Disabilities Act, it's a historic site that is exempt. Pulling her up in the manual chair wasn't easy. It scared her sometimes and it just was plain undignified and a little dangerous. With the iBot? No problem! There are no handrails, so with absolutely no physical effort on my or my wife's part, we use the rear assist bar and Sophia sails up the steps confidently in just seconds. This might also not seem like a big deal to some people, but as Sophia's friend had to sit and wait as the folks at their school tried to figure out what was jamming the lift to get them off the stage after an awards ceremony - and everyone was sitting their waiting and staring at them - Sophia could just make her way down the several steps and get down. Size and maneuverability? The iBot is taller than Sophia's manual chair because of the auto safety headrest and the placement of the computers, batteries and other equipment. But it's actually narrower. The iBot turns on a dime in four-wheel mode, so it's actually easier to get her into our minivan and turn her 90 degrees to have her face forward and tie down the wheelchair. The front-door threshold is no problem, and now it doesn't matter if we park in our driveway next to the grass, and we don't have to move our car so the van can park int he center of the driveway anymore. And inside the house? The iBot's movements are more precise than what she could do with her manual chair, and the tighter turning circle and narrower wheelbase has actually made it much, much easier for her to get around the house. And balance mode does wonders for her being able to get books off the shelf without having to ask us. Oh yeah, she can help us cook now, like kids in other families can do. A government official or legislator who would ban a Segway in a pedestrian environment is just another example of the truth of the inefficiency and lack of originality in government. Many of these politicians, bureaucrats and administrators don't have a creative bone in their body. What passes as vision in government is proof of why most people in the government are in government and not in the private economy, where people actually produce something. If you expect them to come to your rescue or you depend on them for your salvation, you'll die doing so. Like stairs, curbs or a trash can left in the middle of a sidewalk, they're just in the way. We prefer to just go around them. And we can with the iBot. If you want to wait for someone to move my allegorical trash can out of your way, we'll wave as we go past you and move forward. I have no problem leaving you behind because you're welcome to find the future with us. I don't expect everyone to understand all of this. And you can laugh at the tongue-in-cheek quote by the fictional author Jose Chung on the television show "Millenium:" "This is how it will all end. Not with floods, earthquakes, falling comets … or gigantic crabs roaming the Earth. No. Doomsday will start simply out of indifference." Yeah, it was a comedic line delivered by the late great Charles Nelson Reilly, but its true. We're changing the world. And some people just don't get it, or they just don't like it. I leave you with this: What Albert Einstein once said is very true - that "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds."
  6. Antonio


    In this story on rising gasoline prices, here is another example of an angle often missed by the mainstream media in economic and business stories: the fact of inflation and relative value of fiat money over time. Some of this is that the phrase I wrote above would make the head of many mainstream journalists explode. It's simple economics, and most journalists are smart enough to understand it. But too many are too lazy to bother. For one, sensationalism or emotional extremism sells more papers and brings higher ratings. So they think anyway. The result is sometimes inaccuracy or incomplete reports. In this instance, my paper picked up a New York Times story on gas prices because it was focused on a small coastal hamlet not far from our circulation area. I had the good fortune to edit this story to tailor it for our local audience, so I was able to add the context of price inflation in addition to the average gas price for our region - which is historically much higher than the rest of the nation. On the latter, I never understand why local news outlets, particularly here in California, almost never bother to look up what the regional average is for the markets they serve. It's very easy and it's an important context. In our case the average here is even higher than most of the rest of California. The original New York Times story didn't mention inflation or, obviously, any regional context. What's great about this though, above all, is that the Drudge Report (www.drudgereport.com) picked up our version of the story. This is great because when Drudge picks up our links, they go through the roof with hundreds of thousands of readers visiting - and hopefully activating a little spark in the brain with the more useful context I was able to edit into this story for our readers' benefit. http://www.sanluisobispo.com/news/local/story/304197.html
  7. That might actually be very smart advice. If that lobbying group is worth its salt, it woud know the current conditions of California's legal climate quite well enough to know whether there is a strong liklihood that a case could backfire. It would not surprise me if that were the situation. The Legislature is controlled by big-government Democrats whom Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger needs to get along with in order to get his priority proposals approved. Sure, Arnold can issue rhetoric as he has criticizing the 2nd District Court of Appeal ruling, but that's where it would likely end regardles of what he says publicly. This is not a fight worthy of torpedoing other priorities for the sake of a relatively small constituency. My newspaper was given similar advice when we had sought to obtain the 911 call tapes and surveillance recordings from a restaurant where a murder-suicide had taken place a few years ago. The police department was going to give us what we asked for on the advice of the city attorney. But the corporate owner of the restaurant chain sued to block that, arguing under subjective emotional reasoning, and a lower court judge granted an order as such. We sought to appeal that to the 2nd District, citing that it was a public record as defined by the California Public Records Act. However, our attorney and that of the California Newspaper Publishers Association suggested against it. Citing some court cases and opinions released by the attorney general, they advised that it could backfire and actually result in a precedent-setting published opinion against our interests and that of every other media outlet in California. Given that most of the time we get what we want, we backed off in this case. The homeschoolers might be well to do the same.
  8. I think that must have been what I saw during one visit a few years back. I noticed that there were two prices on a box of Picot (an OTC antacid) and some Naprosyn I was buying before it was available off the shelf here. The pharmacist asked us if we had a "receta," which for me (my family is from Spain and Cuba) always meant prescription. I ran into this same scenario in Spain, where my cousin told me after I bought some meds on my own that it woud have been cheaper with a prescription. Presumably, that means either that a private or state-run health plan would then subsidize or control the price. In my own health plan, a medicine that I take ends up costing me less than the minimum copayment because the negotiated price between my Rx plan and the drug store chain is lower than the cash price. If I'd pay cash, this medicine would cost me about $16, where it's just over $10 for me, even though the health plan is paying zero.
  9. This happens to some extent with the Ebola virus. It has not spread into something that is killing us all because it kills so quickly. That is why you see sporadic mass dieoffs dotted around from place to place where, say, a whole village is killed off but then it suddenly stops and all the surrounding villages aren't affected. That's because the virus has killed off its hosts so quickly, it limits its ability to propogate.
  10. Probably because most people are too poor to buy them in most of the countries in question. I know from experience that in Spain and Mexico drugs are cheaper with a prescription than without. For some reason one gets a discount when a drug is dispensed with a prescription from a physician. This goes both for controlled substances that you have to ask the pharmacist for and off-the-shelf stuff like cold meds. It's some kind of price control afforded regardless of income. Why they'd charge someone buying without a doctor's note is puzzling. I'm not clear on the policy or economic purpose of that. Don't know if it's to discourage self-diagnosing or self-medicating. If that's the case, then a poor person (which is most of the population in places like Mexico) can't self medicate because they couldn't afford it. On the other hand, they could go to the doctor at no cost to them, and then get the meds at a huge discount.
  11. That would be the biggest difference - how decisions are made. Hopefully, that could lead incrementally to a freer market and reverse the incremental incursions toward a state-controlled or state-run system that liberals have made in recent decades. This is different from having government compete with McDonalds or other services because health care has become a service that a huge part of the public believes should be guaranteed to people. That doesn't mean that they are right, but that view is shared by a majority of those in control of government. This proposal would at least offer a choice for people who do not want to be a part of that. It is a way for us to coexist with the irrational majority by at least giving us an abiity to break away.
  12. Using refundable tax credits would compensate part of the general taxes that Mutt pays by offsetting the cost of private insurance. I submit that this could be done without modifying the tax laws significantly. For instance, I pay about $5,000 a year for mys hare of my family's health insurance premiums. That mone is pre-tax, so that reduces my tax liability by about $1,200. Elininate the deducatin and my taxes would go up by $1,200. But no, if I were refunded a tax credit fo the same $5,000, tha wold offset my premiums.
  13. The party sub-group is selling it as a workable solution. It's my own commentary that folks would see that the private system is better after the differences between the two come out. From what I have read on the Libertarian Reform Caucus web site, they are not doing this to pander their way into office. They're tired of losing elections and being stuck with labels like "Losertarians," which come mostly because the party is full of anarchists and people who rigidly refuse to work with people of other viewpoints or coexist in the real world. The caucus is running on the premise that if zero Libertarians get into office, then there would be zero Libertarian influences on public policymaking. Whereas if Libertarians could get elected, they could officer policy alternatives that could actually get some serious attention and then promote libertarian and free market ideas from within. The Republican Liberty Caucus functions this way within that party. They're basically Libertarians sans all the conspiracy theory, wishing to end the hold on the party that the blackhats have. It is an improvement if it promotes free-market ideas and actually gets some of them into action. Under the Libertarian Party's current practice, its members would rather be right than be elected. It's pointless to be right and complain if you're purposely putting yourself in a position where you're automatically shut out.
  14. This came in my e-mail, in which as a newspaper editor I am priviledged to receive my fair share of propaganda. Where I get a boatload of sick time as part of my company being competitive about its compensation, this bill would nullify the value that my employer is giving me by voluntarily providing sick pay - something that makes my pay better than someone who make the same salary, but doesn't get sick pay. --- PRESS ADVISORY February 26, 2008 Contact: Anastasia Ordonez, California Labor Federation, (510) 663-4028 Nick Hardeman, Office of Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, (916) 319-2012 Ronald Coleman, ACORN, (916) 475-7156 Press Conference Tomorrow to Announce California Paid Sick Days Bill WHAT: The announcement of a landmark bill that could make California the first state in the nation to guarantee paid sick days for all workers. WHEN: February 27th, 2008 at 10:30 a.m. WHERE: San Francisco City Hall, Polk St. between McAllister and Grove in San Francisco WHO: Featured speakers will include Assemblywoman Fiona Ma (D- San Francisco), sponsor of AB 2716, the paid sick days bill Kathleen Martinez, a single mother of three with two part-time food service jobs and no paid sick days. Several other workers will also share their personal stories about how they would benefit from this legislation Art Pulaski, executive secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation, a co-sponsor of the bill Dr. Mitchell Katz, MD, director of health with the San Francisco Department of Public Health Martha Kuhl, RN, a registered nurse WHY: Six million Californians - 40 percent of all workers in the state - do not get any paid sick days through their employer. Going to work sick creates an unhealthy work place and puts co-workers and customers at risk, but many workers have no choice. Nearly 90 percent of employers report employees coming to work with contagious illnesses. This bill, AB 2716, would allow workers to earn paid sick days that can be used to care for themselves, a sick family member, or to recover from domestic violence or sexual assault. This legislation puts California at the forefront of a national trend, as several other states, including Maine, Ohio, Massachusetts and Washington, DC are considering similar measures. For more information, visit www.paidsickdaysCA.org <http://www.paidsickdaysca.org/> . California Labor Federation • Office of Assemblywoman Fiona Ma • California ACORN • Labor Project for Working Families • Young Workers United • 9to5, National Association of Working Women- Los Angeles and Bay Area Chapters • California Nurses Association • Legal Aid Society- Employment Law Center • California Commission on the Status of Women • Parent Voices- California Child Care Resource & Referral Network • Family Caregiver Alliance/National Center on Caregiving ####
  15. The Libertarian Reform Caucus — a group that is trying to change the Libertarian Party platform and campaign strategy to actually win some elections rather than just "be right" — has an intriguing suggestion for providing universal health care. The caucus proposes a dual system. Everyone would be guaranteed coverage by a state-run single-payer system. And people would be taxed accordingly. However, if you like your individually purchased health insurance or your employer-sponsored plan, you would be free to keep that coverage, and would not be taxed to finance the state-run coverage. Essentially, they are saying "OK, you want state-run single-payer insurance, fine. Go for it. And you'll see it sucks. So then when you want out, you can get out." It is an interesting idea that would, if done right, give people the ultimate power of choice. "Need the safety net or want to be part of the collective? Go ahead, but leave me the hell alone!" It could allow a free market in health care and health insurance to exist so that the choice is there for those who want it, but also throw a bone out to the leftists. One way to fund this would be to maitain the existing structure tax system but give refundable tax credits for the money spent on health insurance premiums as an incentive to have people opt for the free-market system versus the state-run system. This could provide a way to shut up the statists while at the same time giving people who want freedom the freedom to choose (and hopefully prove how much better the private system is than the public one). Currently the only break we get on health insurance premiums is that they become a pre-tax deduction in our paychecks, reducing our taxable income the same way a deduction on the 1040 form would do. They are also deductible if you itemize deductions, which only becomes worthwhile if your deductions exceed the already high personal exemption, because you can only pick one or the other. This system could also work with other services that have popularly been under government control or traditionally run by the state, such as education. Allow any child to attend any publicly run school in any school district anywhere in the state. I have not checked, but I believe Minnesota does this based on what a colleague of mine who grew up there told me. Though she is a flaming liberal, she didn't understand why school choice is rare in California. Then on state taxes, give a refundable tax credit for private-school tuitiion. The difference between a refundable and a nonfredundable tax credit (for our readers who might not have such a system in their states or countries for income taxation), is that a nonrefundable tax credit could only reduce tax liability to zero. A refundable credit could result in a negative integer, essentially a negative income tax. By making it refundable, you could get a payment that makes up for the property taxes paid to support the local school system. This would work well in California in particular because all property taxes are collected by the 58 counties and almost all of it goes to the state government. The state also sets tax rates at a uniform 1 percent, allowing only 2 percent annual increases in assessed valuations under Proposition 13, the voter tax revolt passed in 1978. The state then pays each school district based on a guaranteed-funding formula in the Constitution that is designed to ensure equal funding for all students. However, some school districts are "basic aid," meaning they get only a small payment per pupil from Sacramento, and they actually get the local property taxes. This happens only when the sum total of the share of property taxes that, before Proposition 98's funding guarantees, is greater than the funding that would come from the state. Therefore, a refundable credit could offset that. Even renters would benefit because property taxes are passed through in rents. How about roads? Sure, most here are state, county or city run. But there are private toll roads and public/private joint ventures. If you buy one of those prepaid or debit account transponders, or you have a tally of your year's tolls, (you could do this the same way you would for the charity giving deduction) you'd get a tax credit to offset the fixed per-gallon gasoline taxes. With the tax credits, you get to exercise choice. It is almost like the mantra in the Libertarian Party platform (not sure if they took this one out, but I remember the wording was there for years) of "End taxes. Have user fees instead." Well, this way everyone's covered, but the statists could leave us alone, give us the power of choice and our tax money back too.
  16. Antonio


    Here is another example of what, for the most part, is a well-presented story because it has a catchy photo that ties to the story subject, and it presents both sides of this health issue very well. There is one portion though, where some of the writer's, more likely, or maybe the editor's bias might show. Read the story at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/24/fashion/24virus.html. This is the lead: "HOW cool are those Gardasil Girls? Riding horses, flinging softballs, bashing away on drum sets: on the television commercials, they are pugnacious and utterly winning. They want to be “One Less,” they chant — one less victim of cervical cancer. Get vaccinated with Gardasil, they urge their sisters. Protect yourselves against the human papillomavirus, or H.P.V., which causes cervical cancer. But someone’s missing from this grrlpower tableau. Ah, that would be Gardasil Boy. Gardasil Girl’s cancer-related virus? Sexually transmitted. She almost certainly got it from him. And ther is this exceprt that explains what I wrote above (emphasis in bold added): "Gardasil got off to a rocky start. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2006, for girls and young women, ages 9 to 26, it came under attack for its high cost. Conservative groups feared it would encourage promiscuity. But buoyed by recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Merck has distributed 13 million doses in the United States alone; insurance picked up much of the tab. In 2007, worldwide sales of Gardasil brought in $1.5 billion." Instead of saying that "conservative parents" do not like the practice of vaccinating young girls against HPV, it should instead say that "some parents" or "many parents," because, for instance, I am not conservative, and niether are many of my friends, and none of us will allow our daughters to be vaccinated against HPV. Our reasons are largely that this is a new vaccination whose long-term side effects are unknown, we don't trust the FDA's blessing because it could have rushed this to approval to enforce its collectivist public health agenda and because we frankly do not expect our daughters to be sexually active at ages of 9-to-preteen. And even if they do become sexually active later in their teens, we're teaching them to be safe and to have high standards to be very discriminating about sex partners - in keeping with Objectivist teaching. If you're safe, infection is much less statistically likely. If you are very picky about partners, even less so. And sex is the only way to get HPV. So it's just not necessary. Note: None of that has anything to do with conservatism. It's good parenting. And there are good parents besides conservatives. However, like society in general, those views are associated with the religious right. Most people that I run into say that they didn't realize that someone who can be atheist, favoring drug legalization, accepting of gays and lesbians and have other enlightented views favoring the rights of the individual can be "so conservative." What? That's just the trap that reporters and editors have created out of its general disdain for religion and conservatism. Note also that it counterweighs the conservative criticism with the decisions of a government agency, that, it would infer by using it as a counterweight, that it is doing it for "the public good." Sure, I am reading into that there, but I know this from my own tendencies in writing, and I have to watch myself as an editor. Overall, the story is good because it presents various points of view, including, surprisingly, the view of enlightened self interest and natural human selfishness, in that it is less likely that parents of boys would bother with this vaccine because it has "no direct benefit" to them, as the story words very well. I would suspect that most fellow Objectivists would fall into that camp. However, the bias creeps in. Maybe not on purpose, but it does. This is a tough call for me as an editor. The conservative referrence annoys me and if I were proofing the page in my paper where we picked up this wire story I would have fixed that. But overall, the story is fair and provides a lot of good information.
  17. Antonio


    Lies of omission are absolutely not tools of the trade in journalism. By journalism I refer to news gathering and reporting. The situation you describe of a tree-hugging readership would be beneficial only for a niche publication such as a magazine or an advocacy journal. In good journalism, a judgement is not made as to whether cutting down a forest or a highly efficient factory is good or bad. That is for the reader to decide. It is our job to provide our readers the information they need to make that decision - that is, the information they need to be citizens. It is in my rational self interest to provide the public with the truth and let our readers decide what they think because that is the foundation of our democratic republic. I don't need to tell people what is good or bad. They can decide that for themselves. In deciding to become an Objectivist, that's what I did. I was raised and taught in a religious family, but I decided to be an Objectivist after I decided upon learning of that philosophy that it was good, and that my religious upbringing was bad. When it comes to providing my readers with information, it is my opinion that success, innovation, fiscal conservatism, job creation, free markets, capitalism, courage and other values - including Objectivism - are so good that I don't need to tell people they're good. People who see reason will agree. Others, such as radical environmentalists, Islamo-fascists, statists, victims and others who are not rational are not, as Ayn Rand put it in her 25th anniversary foreward to The Fountainhead, not of my concern. If they read about an innovative business, for example, and decide that they are evil bloodsucking capitalists, that's their problem because they aren't rational enough to know why they are wrong. I can only control what is reported - and strive for that to be the truth - but I cannot control what some other individual is going to perceive. It is my experience that bias comes from the frame of reference of the reporter or editor. Oftentimes, their bias is all that they know. That is why a newsroom should have a diversity of backgrounds, political views, religions and philosophies, ages, races, sexual orientations and other demographics in order to ensure that nobody can create a majority that would dominate minorities - or that a minority dominate what views are reported. As far as being corporate owned, all that it requires is that we make money. But being corporate owned is advantageous because it offers an economy of scale that can reduce the fixed costs of production. Being free of the influence of a domineering indivudual owner is advantageous because it allows for diversity to occur naturally in a newsroom. In a corporate environment, there's no monolithic or megalomaniacal sole owner who could, if he or she chooses, to butt in.
  18. Antonio


    As an assigning editor at a small-to-mid-sized paper that is corporate owned, and having worked at newspapers that were individually held or privately held corporations, as well as a "mom and pop" community paper long ago, this is easy for me to answer. My experience and that of nearly all of my colleagues is that corporate owned - be they publicly traded or privately held - newspapers are the ones that are much least likely to have a corporate agenda, and the wall between advertising and news is the hardest to penetrate. On the other hand, newspapers owned by individuals are more likely to reflect the desires of the owner. This was the case with Investor's Business Daily, where the owner's philosophies are actually a key cornerstone of that newspaper's coverage of the markets. In that case it is the reason to subscribe to the paper because it is decidedly pro-capitalist and promotes investing in the best, most innovative companies. That's a good example of the owner's imprint on a newspaper. For a bad example, do a Google search of "Santa Barbara News-Press." I won't have to say much more than that. What you find will speak for itself. The incentive for journalism to be objective is that it can appeal to the greatest number of readers and provide a credible source for the public to get the information it needs to be citizens. This holds true for advertisers as well. If I were a business owner who advertised, I would not want coverage to reflect my political views or play to my vanity. I would want it to appeal to as many people as possible so that the greatest possible number of people see my advertisements and patronize by business. As a result, it is of absolutely no advantage for an advertiser to push a newspaper's journalism to reflect his political or philosophical views. That is, as long as he wants to make money. Money is a great motivator, so by and large with some extremely limited exceptions, in more than 15 years as a journalist, as a reporter and editor, I have had almost no pressure to placate an advertiser. As far as corporate agendas, my experience has unanimously been that the corporations both privately held and publicly traded that have owned the papers I've worked at had a singular agenda: to make money. And the mantra to achieve this has always been through good journalism and value for advertisers. Good journalism means news that reflects a fair, accurate and complete report and good value for advertiser means growing circulation and readership - more eyeballs on those ads. Typically, corporate owners set financial goals for their newspapers and expect them to know how to meet those goals. In some instances, there could be collaboration on issues such as training or seminars, and corporations use their economies of scale to reduce the costs of commodities such as newsprint, wire services, etc. When a publication promotes an agenda or a niche subject it limits its audience, and therefore commands much lower ad rates than a general-interest publications. That's not to say that they do not have value. For instance, there is a reason that Mercedes-Benz and financial services companies advertise heavily in Investor's Business Daily, but, say, not as heavily in a general newspaper. It's a better investment. None of this addresses bias. That's another topic altogether. And the source of it is reporters and editors, not so much publishers or corporate overseers. Most journalists are of a liberal or leftist bent, largely, I have come to believe, because of their idealism, altruistic mentalities and because people highly inclined to individualism and free markets/capitalism tend to go into more money-making enterprises or careers or publications that play to that (like Investor's Business Daily).
  19. This is the effect of a state law that was approved by California voters, which forever set aside taxpayers' money to make afterschool activities a permanent entitlement program. Limit this kind of thing by constitution you ask? Well, the geniuses that came up with this idea, and many, many others made this a constitutional amendment, because passage of an amendment requires no greater amount of voter approval than a statute. The result is that these things are permanent until voters overrule them - which is highly unlikely. http://www.sanluisobispo.com/breakingnews/story/280939.html State will pay to teach children to juggle and roll sushi, even if it has to cancel calculus courses By Los Angeles Times California is about to pump a half-billion dollars into teaching children to roll sushi, to juggle and to master new dance forms, even as spending cuts threaten instruction in reading, math and other fundamentals. That’s because the sum scheduled to be spent on after-school enrichment classes in 2009 is off-limits for anything else. State law dictates that cooking classes continue even if some calculus courses could be canceled. In good economic times, voters have passed ballot initiatives that devoted billions of dollars to social and recreational programs, such as the after-school initiative championed by Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2002, before he was governor. It is intended to keep youths off the street by offering them extracurricular activity — such as cooking, juggling and dance — as well as tutoring and volunteer opportunities.
  20. Sure it is. You violate someone's right to their property, you pay. If a woman chooses to have a baby and someone causes an action that results in the woman losing the baby, that person must be held accountable for causing that loss. This applies whether both the unborn child and the woman dies, or only the fetus dies. In either case, someone's actions cause the denial of something that someone wanted (be it the carrier of the child or someone who has arranged for it to be adopted). We require this kind of accountability for other damages and violations of people's property. That unborn child is property of the woman carrying it, or of the person who has arranged for its adoption or surrogacy if that were the case, because it is an object that someone has laid a claim to by wanting the child. Another way to look at it is the standards of wrongful death suits. From my point of view being a husband and father, I would suffer a loss certainly if my wife died. If she died while pregnant with my unborn daughter, would have been a greater loss to be deprived not only my wife, but the child we both wanted and were about to have. If someone had done that to me, I would do anything within my power to make sure that they pay for it no differently than I would seek accountability from an arsonist who burns my house down.
  21. Well, I suppose if a contractual obligation is not involved, you can change your mind. Aside from that, what seems to be missing in most debates over abortion is the fact that in most cases the conception at issue is the result of consensual sex. One of the risks of sex is pregnancy. Everyone who isn't stupid knows that. Contraceptives aren't perfect. Everyone who isn't stupid knows that too. Measures to prevent STDs aren't perfect either. There are risks in having sex. Sometimes there are consequences. Individuals are responsible for the consequences that might arise from those risks. For women it might mean pregnancy. For a man it might mean causing a child to be conceived. For both, it might mean an STD. That's the way it goes. When one has sex one accepts the risks. One doesn't get to change his or her mind. That's not to say abortion is wrong. There are times when it is, such as later in pregnancy. Technological and scientific advancements will at some point in an undetermined future lead to an answer on when an unborn child is viable enough to make it morally wrong.
  22. It's hard to tell what the voters here would do. I am still not clear on why voters have to approve some of these provisions, because I haven't looked at that part of it. I would think that an election is required because it involved an amendment to the California Constitution. If so, that's scary because those changes are very hard to undo and involve changing the foundation of our laws. All of the other parts are approved. They passed the state Senate and the Assembly and Gov. Schwarzenegger signed them into law. What's scary also is that they are still crying out that there has been no reform during 2007. My newspaper even ran a story to that effect. Right before California voters recalled Democrat Party Gov. Gray Davis less than a year into his second term and installed Schwarzenegger, he signed into law a universal health care plan that the Democrats - who control both houses of the Legislature - passed. This was after the recall election but before the secretary of state certified the results a week or two later. That plan included a big tax increase in the form of a penalty charged to employers who did not provide a state-specified level of coverage to employees. The idea was that what the employer didn't cover would be picked up by Medi-Cal (what Medicad is called here). If an employer did not offer health insurance, the employer would be taxed the premium and the employee would be covered by Medi-Cal. The plan also forced every health-care provider in the state to accept Medi-Cal and take payments from all insurance companies. It likely would have led to the erosion or elimination of private insurance in California. Well, the California Chamber of Commerce and other business groups fought hard and circulated a citizen petition for a referendum - which the citizenry can do to overturn a law passed by the Legislature. They got enough signatures to put it on the statewide ballot at the next general election (the law is stayed in the meantime) and it was defeated soundly. I can only hope the voters here would be smart enough to do that. Who the hell wants to rely on Medi-Cal? My daughter is covered by it because she is disabled, but few of the best providers like to take it, and it's very hard, if not impossible, to bill secondary. So we just use my private insurance and pay whatever our share is.
  23. OK. Now this is funny. I hadn't even noticed this because I haven't checked by RSS feeds. Then I run into this. I've been off more than on here recently because my daughter is recovering from surgery on both her knees. They had migrated out of their proper position over the years and exacerbated her disability. Now she'll be able to fully straighten her legs and possibly stand. We'll see how that goes. But she has her iBot! And as soon as the leg casts are off later this month we'll be taking her places without having to depend on ADA! Thank you for the birthday wishes. While I'm keeping my masked avatar because V is such a great character, I did finally put my photo on my profile after some coaxing. P.S. And thanks to my father for cooking a full Cuban dinner - pretty much the only present I ever desire for my birthday. Regards, Tony
  24. It just gets better. This is a commentary sent in my e-mail at the paper. For context, Jon Coupal is the premier taxpayer advocacy attorney in California. His organization was founded by Howard Jarvis, the tax reformer who wrote a law passed by California voters in 1978 that rolled back property taxes to 1974 levels and then limited increases in assessed valuations to 2 percent per year. Since then the group has fought against loopholes to Proposition 13 and has been a taxpayers' watchdog. ------------------------------------------------------------------ CALIFORNIA COMMENTARY from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association ------------------------------------------------------------------ Week of December 24, 2007 ------------------------------------------------------------------ Governor's Plan Is Still a Tax Increase By Jon Coupal Taxpayers are feeling like Chevy Chase when years ago he would read the news on Saturday Night Live. Each week Chase would tell viewers that Generalissimo Francisco Franco, the then recently deceased Spanish Dictator, was still dead. When we first reviewed Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's universal healthcare proposal last January, we at the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association declared it was a tax increase. Now, almost twelve months later, we can report that the healthcare plan, after some tweaking by the State Assembly, is still a tax increase, and a dangerous one at that. The one concession being made to taxpayers is that now, instead of calling the costs to implement the program "fees," Speaker Fabian Nunez and the governor, the joint backers of the current healthcare incarnation, are acknowledging that tax increases are involved. During his successful reelection campaign, Schwarzenegger repeatedly promised he would not raise taxes. On several occasions, he expressly stated that, "I campaigned that I will not raise taxes and I say this again: I will not raise taxes." The sad fact is that any trust that taxpayers had in our governor is now wholly evaporated. Whatever one thinks of socialized medicine, the collapse of California's financial house should have put the whole issue on the back burner. But Schwarzenegger has persisted, calling a special session of the Legislature in an effort to muscle through his healthcare plan. Ironically he is now calling for another special session to deal with the state's looming $14 billion deficit that will require ether massive tax increases -- according to Nunez -- or massive spending cuts -- according to the governor -- to bring the budget into balance. The current budget crisis is the result of reckless overspending. State spending is up 44 percent since Schwarzenegger took office. And now he is promoting additional taxes to cover the cost of his ambitious health care plan. This makes no sense at all. And much of the plan would inflict significant harm on California taxpayers. As currently written, the proposal passed by the State Assembly would: - Require that every Californian must have health insurance coverage by July 2010. This "individual mandate" could be waived if the family made less then 250% (under $51,000 for a family of four) of the federal poverty level annually. - Would establish "guarantee issue" coverage, which would mean that insurers must cover those with pre-existing conditions. - Defines a California resident as an "individual who is physically present in the state for at least 6 months." - Hospitals will pay a four percent fee on patient revenues, which of course will be passed onto consumers in the form of higher bills. - Place a 2-6.5% sliding scale payroll tax on business demanding on payroll amount. This could lead to massive job loss, especially if employers find themselves on the bubble between one scale level and another. - A large portion of the funding would depend on a tobacco tax increase of $2 per pack. It should be noted that when a similar plan was tried in Kentucky, 45 health insurance carriers left the state. Not surprising when a person could go without insurance until they took ill but insurance companies would still be compelled to provide coverage. Of course the ultimate costs would be born through higher premiums for all. In the early 1990s Governor Wilson worried that our state had become a welfare magnet. After state and federal welfare reforms, the lure of the Golden State for those interested in being subsidized by taxpayers declined. But that trend is now reversing yet again. Although middle and high income taxpayers are leaving the state according to a just-released study by the Department of Finance, it is being offset by births and more than 200,000 immigrants from other countries. (The political left loves to complain about the shrinking middle class and the widening gap between the rich and poor. But all they need to do is look in the mirror to see the cause of the problem.) Add "free" healthcare to the mix and California's status as the nation's number one welfare magnet will be restored. Feeing ill in Idaho? Why California is the place to go. Planning to enter the United State illegally? Let's see which state is making the best offer. California residents are already among the most highly taxed in the country. This is one of the reason that so many are leaving for greener pastures. Additional taxes will just accelerate the exodus of people with jobs and money who, on their way out, will be passing the inflow of those who need or want public services. The only good news about the Schwarzenegger-Nunez plan is that it faces huge hurdles before it becomes a scary reality. First, Senate President pro Tem Don Pereta, who, although a fan of expanding government mandated health care coverage, is questioning the wisdom of taking on these new costs during a fiscal crisis and he has the power to block Senate passage. Second, having confessed that they are raising taxes, the governor and speaker, thanks to Proposition 13, must place the tax increases on the ballot for approval. After reviewing the facts, voters are not likely to retain the same enthusiasm suggested by a recent Field Poll. The final obstacle is federal law. In 1974, Congress enacted the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which gives the federal government exclusive authority to regulate employee benefit plans, including self-insured plans. The only way that California could implement this healthcare proposal would be to be granted a waver by Congress, and it is unlikely that those in Washington, D.C. really hate us that much. * Jon Coupal is President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association -- California's largest taxpayer organization -- which is dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and promoting taxpayers' rights. 2007-52 -------------------------------------------------------------------- Permission to reproduce this commentary in any format -- print or electronic -- is hereby granted. IF YOU WOULD PREFER TO RECEIVE THESE WEEKLY COMMENTARIES BY FAX, please send an e-mail to [email protected] and give us your your fax number (or fax it to 951-278-3860). Please be sure to include the name of your publication. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE REMOVED FROM THIS E-MAIL DISTRIBUTION LIST, please send an e-mail message to [email protected] and be sure to include the e-mail address at which you received this message along with the name of your publication. -------------------------------------------------------------------- For more information, contact: Kris Vosburgh, Executive Director Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association 621 S. Westmoreland Ave., Suite 202 Los Angeles, CA 90005 213-384-9656
  25. And it gets worse....note the pressure groups involved. This was in my e-mail today. FOR PLANNING PURPOSES ONLY NOT FOR PUBLICATION OR BROADCAST MEDIA ADVISORY Speaker Núñez, Governor Schwarzenegger, and Others to Hold Joint Press Conference in Support of the Comprehensive Democratic Health Care Bill WHAT: Speaker Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles) will join Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and representatives from labor, business, health care, and consumer groups to express their support for the Democratic comprehensive health care bill, Assembly Bill 1X1. The Democratic comprehensive health care bill, AB 1X1, authored by Speaker Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles), was approved by the state Assembly Monday by a 46-31 vote. This historic health care legislation extending coverage to millions of California’s uninsured, including all children, now heads to the California State Senate for consideration. AB 1X1 is the culmination of nearly a year of negotiations between legislative leaders, the Governor, and labor, business, health care, and consumer groups. Dozens of organizations have embraced the bill, including the Service Employees International Union, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AARP, California Hospital Association, Safeway, March of Dimes, Children Now, Mental Health Association of California, American Nurses Association of California, California Association of Nurse Practitioners, Kaiser Permanente, CIGNA, Blue Shield, and Small Business California. WHO: Speaker Fabian Núñez Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger WHERE: California Hospital Medical Center 1401 South Grand Ave Los Angeles, California, 90015 WHEN: Tuesday, December 18 10:00 a.m. ###
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