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Monday Evening News Roundup

Monday Evening News Roundup

My good friend, Blake Butler, announced that he is leaving 880 The Revolution at the end of this year. Blake has been behind the mic for four years. He has been a great progressive voice for Asheville. He will be missed.

Over the last several days, there have been many blog posts and news articles (here, here, here and hereregarding the death of a woman in Ireland. Savita Halappanavar was a 31-year-old dentist who presented to the hospital with abdominal pain. The patient was pregnant. Reportedly, the doctor said that her baby would not live. Now, exactly what happened next is unclear. All that I know is that for some reason the baby was not removed from the uterus. Dr. Savita Halappanavar got sicker and sicker. The exact reason for this is also unclear. Unfortunately, the baby died and shortly thereafter the mother died from sepsis. Some have pointed to the restrictive abortion laws in Ireland as the reason for the mother’s death. In the year 2012, there is no reason to sit around and wait for the inevitable. If the fetus was dead or dying, it is imperative for the physician to save the mother’s life. Now, before I slam the physicians for being a totally unethical, spineless subhumans, I must say we do not have all the facts. I simply hope and pray that this woman was not allowed to die because doctors were afraid to do the right thing. (As a Christian, I feel very comfortable in saying that the right thing to do when there is nothing that you can do for the fetus is to save the mother.)

Continuing on my medical theme, the New York Times had an editorial titled, “Care at the End of Life.” I think the editorial was good. I think it is something that everyone should read. Unfortunately, as a country, we Americans don’t like to talk about death. We hate it. We avoid the subject. It is almost as if by ignoring death we can somehow put off the inevitable. It was not so long ago when we were all familiar with death. 70 or 80 years ago, people didn’t go to hospitals; physicians came to your house. Often, there was nothing the physician could do. The family member would die at home. Now, many of us are shielded from death. Family members die in hospitals. In my opinion, it is actually important that we in the medical profession figure out what it is that patients truly want at the end of life. The only way for us to truly know is for us to open up a dialogue with our patients. As a trauma surgeon, by the time I’m discussing end-of-life issues, things have gone terribly wrong. The patient has been in a terrible car crash and there is nothing more that we can do. In general, it is up to primary care physicians to sit down and chat with their patients. This simple task mistakenly sounds easy, but it is not. Some patients will become offended when approached about end-of-life issues. Some of them believe that their physician has “given up” on them. Some patients will simply go to another physician because they are so upset. We, as a country, have to fix this. Doctors need to become more skilled at discussing end-of-life issues. Patients need to understand that they are in charge of their own medical care. Therefore, the only way that they were in charge is to have this discussion. (more…)

By |2012-11-27T22:27:34-04:00November 26th, 2012|Elections, Healthcare, Medical Ethics/Issues, Supreme court|Comments Off on Monday Evening News Roundup

The craziness of the Republican stance

The Political Animal’s post on this subject is simply too good for me to alter.

From PA:

I can’t help but think the vast majority of the public just doesn’t fully appreciate what’s transpiring here.

We’re dealing, after all, with fairly obscure legal mechanisms. Most Americans don’t know what the federal debt ceiling is, and in fairness, they’ve never had to. It’s a law that was approved more than eight decades ago, and hasn’t been particularly controversial or even relevant since. Policymakers have always realized they have an obligation — legal, economic, moral, and otherwise — to do the right thing.

The United States is like the Lannisters: we always pay our debts. And in the case of the debt ceiling, we’re talking about money we’ve already spent — this is the equivalent of getting a credit card bill for charges we’ve already made. The entirety of the Republican Party — in the House, in the Senate, among its presidential candidates — has said it might pay the bill, but only if Democrats agree to take trillions of dollars out of a fragile economy.

And if Democrats don’t do enough to make Republicans happy, GOP officials will simply refuse to do their duty. They know the consequences would be severe for the nation and the world. They apparently don’t care.

Americans almost certainly can’t appreciate the extent to which they’ve made a tragic mistake. Voters perceived the Republican Party has a conservative governing party, capable of responsible center-right governance, and rewarded the GOP handsomely in 2010. What voters probably didn’t understand are the similarities between today’s Republican Party and a not-terribly-bright organized-crime family, run entirely by petulant children.

The Economist, a conservative publication, had a fascinating editorial this week, explaining that Republicans are creating a crisis, on purpose, for no reason. The United States has a manageable debt, low interest rates, low inflation, and the ability to borrow on the cheap. But because right-wing extremists are chiseling away at our political system, we’re quickly approaching a point of no return.

The sticking-point is not on the spending side. It is because the vast majority of Republicans, driven on by the wilder-eyed members of their party and the cacophony of conservative media, are clinging to the position that not a single cent of deficit reduction must come from a higher tax take. This is economically illiterate and disgracefully cynical.

This newspaper has a strong dislike of big government; we have long argued that the main way to right America’s finances is through spending cuts. But you cannot get there without any tax rises. In Britain, for instance, the coalition government aims to tame its deficit with a 3:1 ratio of cuts to hikes. America’s tax take is at its lowest level for decades: even Ronald Reagan raised taxes when he needed to do so.

And the closer you look, the more unprincipled the Republicans look…. Both parties have in recent months been guilty of fiscal recklessness. Right now, though, the blame falls clearly on the Republicans.

The Economist added that this is “a gamble where you bet your country’s good name.”

I don’t have anything else to add.

By |2011-07-11T07:13:41-04:00July 11th, 2011|Domestic Issues|Comments Off on The craziness of the Republican stance

What happened to the jobs?

The latest jobs numbers have come out. The good news is that we didn’t lose any jobs. The bad news is that we don’t appear to have gained as many as we should have. This is the spending Christmas season.

From EPI:

The labor market remains 7.4 million payroll jobs below where it was at the start of the recession in December 2007, and this number understates the size of the gap in the labor market by failing to take into account the fact that, simply to keep up with the growth in the working-age population, the labor market should have added around 3.6 million jobs in the nearly three years since December 2007. This means the labor market is now roughly 11 million jobs below the level needed to restore the pre-recession unemployment rate (5.0% in December 2007). To achieve the pre-recession unemployment rate in five years, the labor market would have to add nearly 300,000 jobs every month for 60 months in a row. An increase of a mere 39,000, like we saw last month, is just not enough for the 15.1 million unemployed workers of this country.

Earlier this week, the federally funded extended unemployment insurance benefits expired. If they aren’t reinstated, 2 million workers will prematurely lose benefits this month. Importantly, these benefits serve two purposes. First, they provide a lifeline to the unemployed and their families during the deepest and longest downturn since the 1930s. Second, these benefits also boost spending in the economy and therefore generate jobs. The continuation of unemployment insurance extensions through 2011 will create or save around 900,000 full-time-equivalent jobs. With a jobs deficit of 11 million jobs and an unemployment rate of 9.8%, Congress must do the right thing for these workers who lost jobs through no fault of their own and for the health of the overall economy.

MB at DK was very surprised by the numbers. His post solidifies the problems in the jobs numbers. He writes:

Stunned would seem to be the most common reaction to last week’s job report for November. Instead of 160,000 new private-sector jobs that the expert consensus predicted would be announced – with many analysts predicting far more – the Bureau of Labor Statistics said only 50,000 additional private-sector jobs had been created. And, because 11,000 government jobs had been terminated, the net was a paltry 39,000. More than one commentator called that “awful.” And, indeed, it was.

But it was a surprise because there had been a plethora of mostly good news in the run-up to the jobs report, such as here, here, here, here, here, here and here. While many analysts were scratching their heads Friday – even though numerous reports from the Federal Reserve and other sources have been saying ever since the gross domestic product moved into positive territory five quarters ago that job growth could be slow for years with lots of ups and downs month to month – a few took a different approach. (Some people, of course, don’t accept the government’s job tally at all for any month. All those numbers are completely fabricated, they say, starting with the surveys themselves. But that’s another discussion.)

One of the analysts who challenged Friday’s report was Stephen Gandel at Time/CNN’s The Curious Capitalist. Gandel said the BLS missed 350,000 jobs in its November count. Retail jobs made up the bulk of these. The idea that retail hiring was minus 28,000 in November does seem counter-intuitive. This year is the best in the past three years for holiday retail sales, and Black Friday and Cyber-Monday looked encouraging. So how could that sector of the economy be shedding jobs?

By |2010-12-09T13:47:24-04:00December 9th, 2010|Economy|Comments Off on What happened to the jobs?
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