Friday, January 7, 2011

My View

Ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

Do you remember a study that was released in 2004 that tied childhood vaccinations for measles, mumps, and rubella to autism? This "study" was released by Dr. Andrew Wakefield, a British physician, and he claimed a very strong causal link between the vaccine and the onset of autism. The effect of that study was dramatic and expected. MMR vaccinations in Great Britain dropped to less than 80% of children, and the number of cases of measles in both Great Britain and the United States have risen remarkably. Guess what? That study was faked. Why? (You know what I'm going to say here, doncha?) For the money! It has been revealed that Dr. Wakefield was paid 435,000 British pounds ($674,000) to produce a study that definitively showed the link between the MMR vaccination and autism. Who paid him? A law firm in London that was preparing to launch a massive class action suit against all vaccine manufacturers. Dear reader, ALWAYS FOLLOW THE MONEY! The claims of so many in the scientific community have come under intense scrutiny because when you peel away all the junk science, whether it is falsified data about vaccinations or the debunked theory of global warming, what you find are supposedly objective researchers that have sold out for money. This hurts the legitimate researchers in all fields and the advancement of our knowledge in treating disease and improving the quality of life for all. The consequences of this fraud are not just financial; a number of children have unnecessarily contracted the measles because of the greed of this doctor. Remember, always follow the money.

If you smoke after sex, you might be doing it too fast.

During the debate over socialized medicine in this country, the proposal for end of life planning- what came to be known as "death panels"- generated a firestorm of criticism and protest from both the left and the right of the political spectrum. President Obama quickly dropped this provision of the socialized medicine bill in the face of this furor. Well guess what? They're baaack. The end of life planning that the public overwhelmingly rejected is back in place, courtesy of a new Medicare regulation that went into effect January 1. According to the New York Times,  in the new Medicare regulations, doctors will be paid for end of life planning, including advance directives to forgo life sustaining treatment and the supervision of end of life events. The outcry against payment for this service was due to the concern that doctors would unnecessarily terminate life sustaining procedures or medicines for patients that had the possibility of recovery. The end of life planning is something that everyone should undertake- I have done so as part of my estate plan. I have no problems with anyone doing that. The problem I have with this situation is that it is proof that this administration will obfuscate and use back door attempts to change the direction of health care- or other major national policies- because they cannot get it past the electorate. Voters resoundingly responded in the negative to this provision. Never mind, said Obama and his cronies, we will implement this policy through a regulation that cannot be voted upon. Here is  Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) in an e-mail to his staff, "We would ask that you not broadcast this accomplishment out to any of your lists, even if they are supporters...The longer this goes unnoticed, the better our chances of keeping it." Seems to me I vaguely recall somewhere back in 2008 Obama saying his administration would be the most transparent ever. If this is transparency, I do not want to see opaqueness.

I have an inferiority complex, but I don't think it's a very good one.

There was much talk about the housing recovery of 2010, and how that would bode well for our economy and for the recovery of housing prices (great news if you're a seller). I would tend to disagree that we have turned the corner in the housing market. Why? Well, I'm glad you asked. According to the Case-Shiller Home Price Index, prices did rise modestly during the first half of 2010. I attribute that rise to incentive that was provided through the first time homebuyer credit that expired mid year. Prices started to fall nationally shortly after that incentive expired. Here is the reality that we must face when it come to the housing market in this country: we created one of the biggest economic bubbles in history in the middle of this past decade when interest rates were artificially lowered and the Fed printed copious amounts of money. We created a glut of housing. The current inventory of unsold homes in the U.S.  as of the end of November was 3.71 million homes, according to the National Association of Realtors. We are building an additional 197,000 new homes each year. At the current rate of home sales in the U.S., it will take 16 months to deplete the inventory of unsold houses. Add to these numbers the "shadow inventory" homes that are seriously in arrears in payments or are in foreclosure, and the numbers get worse. It is estimated that home prices will have to fall another 10-15% to dissipate most of this unsold inventory. And that is why there is not a real housing recovery going on in the U.S.

We all know the story of the little engine that could. As I have grown older, I am the little engine that couldn't give a rat's ass.

And that, my friends, is my view.

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