Sunday, June 26, 2011

Free house!

This past week has been a busy one. I went to court to continue my fight against my old mortgage bank, and it was a harrowing experience at first, because I was acting as my own attorney against one of the largest banks in the country. This whole affair was a mess.The bank had royally screwed things up, and faked and falsified paperwork to cover their tracks. I caught them at it, and filed a lawsuit. The foreclosure that I have been fighting for two years finally has a conclusion, as we had a hearing just a few days ago.

I am now living in a house that is paid for. The case was dismissed. Now, there is nothing that will stop another case from being filed, but it is highly unlikely that such a case will be successful, as the bank could not produce the note after a two year fight, so it is unlikely that they will be able to do so in any future case.

It has been twenty-two months (as of next week) since I last made a mortgage payment. I will not make another on this house.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


In a recent post, I stated that a corporation was the essence of government intrusion, and that it is hypocritical to claim that you do not want the government intruding in the affairs of your business when you founded the entire business on government intrusion by forming a corporation. A person responded by stating that a corporation is just a contract. This is a mistaken understanding of the law.

The word corporation comes from the latin word corpus, literally meaning "body." To incorporate means to create a body.

A corporation is a legal entity that is created under the laws of a state designed to establish the entity as a separate legal entity having its own privileges and liabilities distinct from those of its members. A corporation can own property, it can be sued, and despite not being a natural person, corporations are recognized by the law to have rights and responsibilities like natural persons ("people").

Although corporate law varies in different jurisdictions, there are four core characteristics of the business corporation:

* Legal personality
* Limited liability
* Transferable shares
* Centralized management

Legal personality is the characteristic of a non-human entity regarded by law to have the status of a person. The concept of a legal person is a fundamental legal fiction. (A legal fiction is a fact assumed or created by courts which is then used in order to apply a legal rule which was not necessarily designed to be used in that way.)

Limited liability is a concept whereby a person's financial liability is limited to a fixed sum, most commonly the value of a person's investment in a company or partnership with limited liability. In other words, if a company with limited liability is sued, then the plaintiffs are suing the company, not its owners or investors. In this way, the investors hide behind the legal person that is the corporation, and are shielded from liability for the actions taken on their behalf. In other words, they use the government as a shield.

A joint stock company divides its capital into units of equal denomination. Each unit is called a share. These units are offered for sale to raise capital. This is termed as issuing shares. A person who buys share/shares of the company is called a shareholder, and by acquiring share or shares in the company becomes one of the owners of the company, and is thus insulated from liability by the corporate person through the concept of limited liability.

So claiming that you do not want the government to interfere in your property rights and control your business has no traction with me when you are supporting the very essence of government interference, the corporation.

Father's Day and parenthood.

I carried my father to his grave 6 years ago. Although the pain of it has dulled somewhat, I still continue to mourn his passing. Of my own children, I have a son who is doing well, and a daughter who I have not had very much contact with in the 3 and a half years since her 18th birthday.

On that day, she told me that she had had enough of my "bullshit rules" and she was moving out to live with her "soulmate," a 20 year old who I had forbidden her from seeing, as he already had a lengthy arrest record that was increasingly violent with each arrest. She broke up with her "soulmate" six months later, and had to get a restraining order to keep him from stalking her. She is still angry with me for that, and for forbidding the previous boyfriend from seeing her, because I didn't think it was appropriate for a married 26 year old man to be sniffing around a 16 year old girl and called the cops.

The joys of parenthood.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Private Fire Departments

Firefighting used to be a private for-profit industry. In the 1800's, the early days of urbanization, in cities like New York and Baltimore, there were private companies who were in charge of putting out fires. The way it functioned was the first company at the scene got money from the insurance company to put out the fire. So, they had an incentive to get there fast. They also had an incentive to sabotage competition. They also often ended up getting into fist fights over territory and many times buildings would burn down while firefighters were busy punching each other in front of it.

Firefighters were hired, not for their prowess in putting out fires, but for their ability to brawl. One tactic that used to be employed was the "plug guard." These were people hired to race to the scene of a fire, place a barrel over the fire plug, and sit on it, thereby securing the water source for his employer's exclusive use.

Rivalry among the volunteers was the cause for the establishment of the country's first paid fire department in Cincinnati in 1853. In 1851, two of the city's volunteer fire companies crossed paths on the way to a fire, and before the fight was over, ten companies were involved. Help was sent from Covington, Kentucky, across the river-not help to put out the fire, but to assist one of the companies in the fist fight. The building burned to the ground.

It wasn't long before insurance companies began taking the position that firefighting was a community responsibility, and stopped paying the fire companies. Coupled with the loss of buildings due to the  aforementioned brawling and the reputation that these departments earned due to those fights, private fire protection in America was doomed.

There are only a few ways to fund a fire department, and we can look at them here:

1. Through user fees. A fee is charged for putting out fires. The problem here is that fire departments get few fires. The department that I work for responds to less than 300 fires a year, yet has a $20 million budget. Except for large commercial buildings, the fees required to make this profitable would be more than the value of the building. A homeowner would probably refuse to pay a $600,000 fee to save a $200,000 house. What if the fire spreads to more than one house? Does each homeowner have to agree to pay before the fire department can act? Or only one? If only one, do they all have to pay a share of the bill, or does the homeowner who made the decision pay the costs of putting out all of the houses?

2. Through membership fees. Charge a small fee for fire departments to respond to members' homes. Anyone who isn't a member, too bad for you. Of course, there will be those who take their chances, and some of them will lose. See here for an example of this plan.

3. Through taxes.

and before you mention volunteers, remember that diesel fuel is $3-4 a gallon, fire engines, hose, protective gear, and all of the other equipment needed costs money. That money still must be provided from somewhere.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Property rights

Other discussions on other blogs and on various forums around the internet frequently center on people who talk about how the government and others should not be allowed to infringe on their property rights. They go on and on about how they have a right to do whatever they wish with their property, and no one should be able to say otherwise. Those topics include:

1. anti-discrimination laws
2. fire codes
3. The Americans with Disabilities Act
4. Guns in parking lots laws, and CCW in business establishments, etc.
5. pick another law that controls the behavior of businesses

Overwhelmingly, these people complain that the government has no business interfering with what they consider to be the free enjoyment of their property. Of course, those same business owners have no problem with forming a corporation to run the business and therefore use the government to interfere with their exposure to liability, because the government interfering in the business transaction is fine with them, as long as the interference is to their benefit.

They likewise would have no problem inviting police to arrest shoplifters, thieves, bad check writers, and other people that the business finds objectionable, but they don't want the government interfering. No sir. They want those government funded roads to transport customers to their business, they want the fire department to put out the fire that is burning down the building, and they probably don't have a problem with the banking regulations that control the bank where they store the day's proceeds.

To them, what is really important is that no one can tell them that they can't chain the fire exits shut, or that they must have a fire alarm, or that they can tell their employees that they cannot have weapons on property. This isn't a principled stand on property rights. It is an attempt to game the system in your own favor, yet another manifestation of the NIMBY philosophy. I want the government to help me, but I want them to stay out of my way instead of helping that other guy.

Until the "property rights" crowd tells me that they are against ALL government intrusion, I just can't take them seriously.

I have been singing this all morning

 Tam's post got me to (slightly) rewrite the lyrics of an old song, and I have been singing it all morning:

SWAT Team Dance

S-s-s-s, W-w-w-w, A-a-a-a, T-t-t-t
SWAT, dance!

We can search if we want to
We can inspect your friends' behind
'Cause your friends don't bow and if they don't scrape,
Well they're no friends of mine
I say, we can go where we want to
A warrant you'll never find
And we can rewrite the Constitution
Leave the real one far behind
And we can dance

We can search if we want to
We can inspect your friends' behind
'Cause your friends don't bow and if they don't scrape
Well they're no friends of mine
I say, we can go where we want to
A warrant you'll never find
And we can rewrite the Constitution
Leave the real one far behind
And we can dance

We can go where we want to
The night is young and so am I
And we can dress real neat from our helmets to our feet
And surprise 'em with the no-knock cry
Say, we can act if want to

Question us, nobody will
And we can shoot some dude, he's totally screwed
And I can act like an imbecile

I say, we can dance, we can dance

Totally out of control
We can dance, we can dance
We're doing it from wall to wall
We can dance, we can dance
Everybody look at your hands
We can dance, we can dance
Everybody takin' the cha-a-a-ance

with the Swat Team dance
It's the SWAT team dance,
It's the SWAT team dance.

S-s-s-s, W-w-w-w, A-a-a-a, T-t-t-t
SWAT, dance!

We can search if we want to
We have auth-or-i-ty
As long as we abuse it, never gonna lose it
Everything'll work out right
I say, we can search if we want to
We can shoot your friends' behinds
'Cause your friends don't bow and if they don't scrape
Well they're no friends of mine

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Know your toolbox

A 69 year old male with an implantable defibrillator calls EMS because it shocked him. A medic who was on the call with me was assuming that the defibrillator was malfunctioning. That is usually not the case. In fact, I cannot think of a single time when an implantable defibrillator shocked a patient unnecessarily. This patient told me that he got lightheaded at about the same time as he was shocked, so I was running off the assumption that the patient had been in Ventricular Tachycardia, and the ICD shocked him. We put the patient on the monitor, and the patient was in a first degree AV block with frequent (15 per minute or so) PVCs.

The best treatment for PVCs is oxygen, so we started the patient on 4 liters, and obtained IV access. By this time, the patient was in ventricular trigeminy, and it wasn't long before we started seeing couplets. Vitals: HR 88, BP 152/88, RR 18, SaO2 100%, EtCO2 34, and he weighs 193 pounds.  Of the five of us on scene, there were three medics, and the other two medics wanted to give him a cordarone drip.

I told them to give 100mg of lidocaine, and follow that with a maintenance drip of 2mg/ minute. The PVCs were almost completely resolved (less than 4 per minute) within 3 minutes, and we took our ride to the hospital.

When we returned to quarters, we had a discussion on the benefits of lidocaine versus cordarone, and turned it into a training session. I must admit that other medics may have different feelings on this, but here are the reasons why I prefer lidocaine over amiodarone for conscious patients:

1. Amiodarone causes too much hypotension for my comfort
2. Amiodarone frequently causes bradycardia
3. Amiodarone has a long half-life, so in the event that 1 or 2 occurs, the patient is going to be screwed for a long time
4. Although lidocaine toxicity is theoretically a worry, I have never seen it on any of my patients.

So that is why I go with lidocaine. Any other readers have different opinions? If so, why?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Stupid humans

Yesterday at work, I was flagged down by a woman who wanted to report an alligator in the middle of the road. Not an unusual occurrence in alligator country, but not as common as it once was. At four or five feet, the alligator was not a large one, but there was a group of about 10 people who were stopped in the middle of the road, out of their cars trying to get pictures of the animal, some of them as close as 10-12 feet away.

The alligator was facing them, mouth open, and hissing at them. For those of you who do not recognize the behavior of an animal that feels threatened, this posture is alligator speak for "Leave me alone, or I will maul your ass with these huge teeth I've got here." When an apex predator such as an alligator, or any animal, takes this sort of an aggressive posture, it behooves you to pay attention to the message and move away slowly without turning your back on it, lest you trigger a pursuit response from the predator. When the nice firefighter tells you to get in your car and leave before you get eaten, you should probably do so.

Of course, that is not the behavior of the people in my area. Instead, they want to argue with you about how they only want a picture, and how you can't order them around. Hey, I am not going to argue with you, go ahead and get your pictures. Once you get bitten, though, don't file a complaint against me when I laugh at you.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Coke or pepsi

Naomi Wolf wrote an article in 2007, titled "Fascist America in 10 easy steps." The subtitle was:

History shows there are certain steps that any would-be dictator must take to destroy constitutional freedoms. Each of these 10 steps has already been initiated today in the United States by the Bush administration.
She then went on to list those steps. I thought that I would revisit this list, and see where we are:

1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy
2. Create a gulag
3. Develop a thug caste
4. Set up an internal surveillance system or even this example. What scares me the most is this executive order.
5. Harass citizens' groups
6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release
7. Target key individuals
8. Control the press
9. Dissent equals treason
10. Suspend the rule of law

Coke or Pepsi. No difference between the Republicans or the Democrats.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Suffering through what passes for education

I am taking a class on EMS injury prevention, and the author of the book spends an entire chapter on how eliminating guns would prevent millions of injuries. He cites the largely discredited studies by Kellerman and Hemenway that state you are 4.8 times more likely to die from suicide if you own a gun, and 43 times more likely to die if you have a gun in the home. A quote from the book:

The ease of access and lack of safety standards has made the United States one of the most "gun violent" countries in the world. It is particularly tragic that suicide has not been a part of the suicide debate despite the fact that 55% of completed suicides are carried out with firearms. The political leadership of the nation has facilitated suicide and homicide even as the public health and medical communities have geared up to reduce intentional violence. Politicians have avoided offending a powerful gun lobby by hiding behind a mythical individual "right" to guns.

They have played out this deceit even though the US Supreme Court has made it clear that the Second Amendment to the US Constitution has no significant limiting impact on efforts by government to control (and even ban) firearms. Two Supreme Court decisions defining the meaning of the Second Amendment have made it clear that there is no Constitutional right to possess firearms.

This is what passes for scholarship in the colleges of this country. I will grant you that this book was written in 2006, two years before Heller, but even using the figures available at the time show that 52% of suicides were by firearm, not 55%. Also, I would like to know which two cases the author speaks of. The only case I know of is Miller, and that case certainly did not say that the Second Amendment does not protect an individual right.

UPDATE 6/6/2011: I contacted the professor and complained about the text. The professor agreed, and told that he would begin looking for another textbook.