Sunday, July 31, 2011

Still going to vote for Democrats or Republicans?

News tonight is that Congress has reached an agreement on the debt:

In a conference call with his rank and file, Boehner said the agreement "isn't the greatest deal in the world, but it shows how much we've changed the terms of the debate in this town."
 Changed? What has changed? The deal makes cuts totaling $1.2 trillion over 10 years

Way to trim that budget, guys! When George W was president, Dems blasted him for the 2008 budget deficit: $485 billion. Obama's latest deficit: $1.4 trillion. With the cuts suggested by today's deal: $1.28 trillion, or more than 2 times the 2008 Bush deficit. Also, consider that since the cuts are to take place over ten years. This Congress and this President will have left office long before, meaning that the cuts will likely never actually happen.

Anyone who believes that either party has any interest in changing anything is rather foolish.

Government complexity

The government makes EVERYTHING more complicated. When it comes to performing maintenance, the US Navy has a complicated system in place (or did when I was in)called the Material Maintenance Management (3M) system, which controls all PMS (Planned Maintenance System). PMS is time consuming and overly complicated. The procedure for each maintenance action is written on an MRC (Maintenance Requirement Card.

 What makes the system so complicated and cumbersome is the fact that government bureaucrats have managed to turn the system into a set of procedures that make doing your taxes seem easy. Failure to follow the procedure exactly can and does end with sailors being courts-martialed. Maintenance is scheduled for each work center, and the work center supervisor schedules each person for his maintenance. Let's take a look at a required daily maintenance activity (D-1R). We are scheduled to perform that activity toady, so we look for the MRC, on the Maintenance Index Page (MIP) and confirm that it is correct MIP by checking it against the LOEP (List Of Effective Pages) after checking the effective date to ensure that the LOEP is the current one. After locating the current MRC, we confirm that it is correct by checking its effective date against the one on the MIP.

So take a look at the card here. Granted, this one is a joke, but looks remarkably like the real ones. There is a section that has the information about the equipment on the card and the frequency of maintenance. Then an area that specifies who may perform the maintenance, and the man hours it will take to complete. There are sections that specify safety regulations that must be followed, along with a list of every tool that is required. If the card calls for a 6 inch screwdriver, you better not get caught using a 4 inch or an 8 inch screwdriver. The procedure is then listed, and it must be followed exactly as per the card. Failure to do so can land you in prison.

These are the numbskulls that are getting ready to run our health care system. How do you think that will work out?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The downgrade is near

From the Wall Street Journal:

Medicare, the program for the elderly, was supposed to cost $12 billion by 1990 but instead spent $110 billion. The costs of Medicaid, the program for the poor, have exploded as politicians like California Democrat Henry Waxman expanded eligibility and coverage. In inflation-adjusted dollars, Medicaid cost $4 billion in 1966, $41 billion in 1986 and $243 billion last year. Rather than bending the cost curve down, the government as third-party payer led to a medical price spiral.

According to the most recent government data, today some 50.5 million Americans are on Medicaid, 46.5 million are on Medicare, 52 million on Social Security, five million on SSI, 7.5 million on unemployment insurance, and 44.6 million on food stamps and other nutrition programs. Some 24 million get the earned-income tax credit, a cash income supplement.

By 2010 such payments to individuals were 66% of the federal budget, up from 28% in 1965. (See the second chart.) We now spend $2.1 trillion a year on these redistribution programs, and the 75 million baby boomers are only starting to retire.

On Monday night Mr. Obama blamed President George W. Bush's "two wars" for the debt buildup. But national defense spending was 7.4% of GDP and 42.8% of outlays in 1965, and only 4.8% of GDP and 20.1% of federal outlays in 2010. Defense has not caused the debt crisis. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Worse Idea

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that Washington, DC was implementing a bad idea when they decided to use firefighters to plug the gaps in their police force. I was proven correct when shootings happened right in front of the firefighters, and there was nothing that they could do.

Now the criminals are breaking into fire stations and stealing. This idea is worse and worse.

Living in the future is cool

An automatic donut machine.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The point of no return

One thing that I have always been interested in is the page in the instructions for your income tax form that tells you where the money comes from and where the money goes. I use the instructions for the 1040EZ here (pdf warning) and all you have to do is look at page 37 to see what I mean.

According to this page, the government, for fiscal year 2009, took in $2.105 trillion in taxes, with personal income taxes equaling 26% (or about $547 billion) of that. We spent $3.518 trillion, meaning that we borrowed $1.413 trillion. We borrowed three times what we collected through income taxes. This tells me that taxes have nothing to do with revenue. After all, if we can borrow $1.4 trillion, why can't we borrow $1.9 trillion and simply eliminate income taxes altogether?

This is irresponsible spending at its worst. The Democrats think that the answer is to tax the income of the rich is the answer. However, according to the IRS (excel file- 2005 numbers) the top five percent of income filers made slightly less than $145 thousand per year. That means that the top 5% of earners make a combined total of $2.6 trillion per year. Even if we established an income cap of  $50,000 a year, and confiscated every dime that everyone in this country made over that amount, we would not be able to pay for the government we have now.

The Republicans think that the way to fix this is to cut spending. The size if the cuts that are needed is incredible. A 40% across the board cut is needed to balance the budget. The problem is that we cannot cut the interest that we pay on our debt. Our elderly will not sit still for any medicare or Social Security cuts, but those programs account for over a third of our spending. If we leave them alone, we need to cut Defense, welfare, prisons, and every other expense by 60%. Any politician who suggests the cuts that are needed will find his or her political career cut short.

We owe more money than currently exists. There is no way that we can pay it back, no way that we can stop borrowing, and no way out, except default. The system is broken, and we lack the will to fix it. We will soon lack the ability. Soon, the decision will be made for us. People will refuse to lend us money, and the people will become restless. The government, and the political masters who run it, will become increasingly desperate to maintain their power, and dictatorship will be the inevitable result. In my opinion, we are past the point of no return. We are witnessing history, the fall of the mightiest empire the world has ever known. I wonder if a thousand years from now if we will be studied like the Roman empires, or largely forgotten like the Achaemenid?


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Civil rights, 1983 lawsuits, liability

After the incident that I last blogged about, where a Canton, OH police officer threatened a pair of citizens with physical force, I listened to the recording of the City Council President, where he gives his opinion on the whole incident:

The Council President states that the police officer's actions were logical because the person involved was legally carrying a concealed weapon in a bad neighborhood at 1:30 in the morning, around prostitutes and drug dealers. Excusing the cop's actions in this manner is a bit of a problem. Let me explain why:

42 USC 1983 provides that, "Every person who under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, Suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress"

Meaning that the citizen involved gets to sue both of the officers who violated his rights by threatening harm to him, and will probably be successful. You can sue cities and counties under 1983 in what is called a Monell claim. Under Monell, to hold a municipality liable you need to show that your constitutional injury was caused by a policy or custom of the municipality. Monell liability can be established where a municipal official with final policy-making authority ratifies a subordinate’s unconstitutional conduct and the basis for it. The theory behind municipal liability in this context is that the acts of persons with final policy-making authority are considered to be the equivalent of government policy.

To establish municipal liability, a claimant must show a persistent and pervasive practice of the police department in failing to respond to police misconduct. While a single act of misconduct is insufficient to establish municipal liability, a person in a policy making position can show that the unconstitutional behavior of the municipality approved of the act, and thus made the act a de facto policy. In police brutality cases, the municipal entity’s liability can be established by showing that the city encourageed or authorized the conduct.

By stating that the incident that took place is to be expected when people carry concealed weapons in compliance with state law, he has authorized the officer's conduct and opened himself and the city to a 1983 lawsuit. Damage awards in civil rights cases can be high. In 2007, a man won over three million dollars for damages he suffered from false arrest and other indignities by Oakland, California police officers. That award included punitive damages.

Officer Harless: background

By now, everyone in the gun community has seen the video where Officer Harless of the Canton, OH police department threatened to put "lumps" on a woman that he suspected of being a prostitute, and threatened to kill a man who was legally carrying a concealed weapon. The law in Ohio states that a permit holder must immediately notify an officer that he is carrying a weapon, if he is approached by that officer. The holder attempted to tell the officer three times, but was told to shut up before he could get the words out. When the officer finally finds out about the weapon, he flips out. See the video below:

I show you this video as background for my next post, where I show you how Canton, OH has officially screwed themselves.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Work ethic, the 100, and the Dilbert philosophy

A friend of mine, a health care educator, has a quote from Heraclitus that he loves to throw around. If you are a gun person, you have probably heard of it, because gun guys love throwing it around as well. I am not sure that many truly understand what the man was trying to say:

Out of every one hundred men, ten shouldn't even be there.  Eighty are just targets.  Nine are real fighters and we are lucky to have them for they make the battle.  Ah, but the one.  One is a warrior, and he will bring the others back.
 --Heraclitus, Greek philosopher, around 500 B.C.
 This is easily applied to all human endeavors, including the medical field. Of every 100, ten of them are worthless to have around and cause more problems than they solve. I am sure that you all know who those ten are in your organization. Most organizations eventually get rid of them, even if it seems to take forever. (Either that, or they promote them to a position where they cause even more heartache.)

Eighty of the 100 are the drones. The people who work or do just enough to get by. They watch the clock intently and blaze a trail for the door as soon as the appointed hour arrives. They have no interest in improvement, advancement, or in any other thing that will cause them to do anything above what is absolutely required. In the paramedic world, they are easily spotted: When you talk to them about a new procedure or a new bit of knowledge, they tell you something like, "Well, how is that going to change what I do? It isn't? Then why do I want to know that?"

Nine of those 100 employees are the ones who strive to be the best that they can be. They attend schools, expand their knowledge, and they always push themselves to achieve more than they did the year before. We are lucky to have coworkers like this, because they are the ones who others turn to when the shit hits the fan.

The one. He is the one that pushes everyone else to improve and to be the best that they can be. The problem is that the first ten hate him because he calls them out when they screw up, and most of the 80 hate him as well, because he is trying to make them do more than the minimum.

Eventually, the one leaves in disgust, six of the nine become burned out and either move one or join the ranks of the 80, and we are left with an organization filled with mediocre people who work just hard enough to get by, and the three workers become disgruntled, cynical, and generally unpleasant to be around.

I told you so

Just ten days ago, I posted that Washington, DC was using firefighters as an unarmed reserve police force. I said at the time that it was a bad idea that would not work. Turns out, I was correct.

At least three people were injured in four shootings in the District over a 24-hour period Sunday and Monday, according to fire and police officials.
Two locations that officials responded to for reports of shootings were just blocks from corners where D.C. firefighters have been stationed as crime deterrents.

Paid administrative leave and the Constituion

Anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis knows that I am not shy about pointing out when cops have overstepped their bounds. I am not a cop basher, I just call em like I see em, bashing them when they screw up and I support them when they deserve to be supported. This is one of those times.

Whenever a cop does something stupid or controversial, he is placed on paid administrative leave pending investigation, and many people are quick to scream "paid vacation" and "cover up" because they feel that the cop is getting away with the act. The truth is actually quite different.

Since a cop is potentially going to be deprived of something (his job) by a government agency, he or she in entitled to the same rights and protections as an other person in this nation, and as many are quick to point out, cops are civilians the same as the rest of us, and need to be treated in the same way. This means that the government agency, his or her employer, cannot deprive him of his liberty or property without due process of law. When I studied for my degree in Public Safety Administration, we had to take classes on Administrative Law. I will excerpt some of my class materials/papers below, and attempt to explain:

The Fifth Amendment to the U. S, Constitution states "no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law." Originally this amendment was construed to be applicable only to the federal government. Later, the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified to provide "nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law." The Fourteenth Amendment clearly applies to municipalities as well. City of Mobile v, Bouldin, 446 U.S. 55 (1950). Further, Section 1983 of Title 42 of the U.S. Code prohibits any person from depriving another of his or her civil rights under color of state law. Section 1983 covers municipal actions as well.

Here we are concerned about a public employee (cop) who is called by the employer to answer for some transgression and punished. The employee appeals, claiming that the public employer violated the employee's rights by depriving him or her of property (in this instance, the job) without extending due process of law, and deprived the employee of liberty (in this instance, his or her good name in the community) without providing due process of law. A public employee with a constitutionally protected property interest in that employment must be afforded the process prior to termination. Cleveland Bd. Of  Educ, v. Loudermill, 470 U.S. 532,105 S.Ct 148 (1985).

Two U.S. Supreme Court decisions address these questions: Board of Regents V. Roth, 408 U.S. 564 (1972); Perry v. Sinderman, 408 U.S. 593 (1972). The decisions in Roth and Sinderman involved tenured teachers who were fired and who subsequently claimed violation of due process as to their property and liberty rights. These decisions were applicable to all public employees, whether tenured or non-tenured. The court held that a public employee has a property interest protected by due process if he or she could show a “legitimate claim of entitlement” to the job – a contract, or tenure, or even oral or implied understandings – creating a reasonable expectation of continued employment.

A recent decision in the third circuit, Schmidt v. Creedon, F.3d (3rd Cir. 2011) (pdf) makes clear that absent extraordinary circumstances, prior to suspending a police officer for any reason, a police department must provide the officer with notice and a hearing. A good explanation can be found here.

So when you hear that a cop has been suspended pending investigation, it isn't a Union that is protecting him, it is the same Constitution that protects everyone.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Mortgages and politicians

More evidence that politicians of all parties are corrupt and lacking in morals. This article shows that the Republicans in general, and attorney general Pam Bondi in particular, were taking bribes campaign contributions from the mortgage industry in exchange for overlooking the fact that the banks were committing fraud and forging legal paperwork, so that they could steal foreclose people's homes.

If you look at campaign contributions to Bondi, a certain address comes up a lot: 601 Riverside Avenue in Jacksonville. It’s the home of Lender Processing Services, its subsidiaries, and the company it recently spun off from, Fidelity National Financial.
Altogether, those companies gave $6,500 to Bondi’s campaign directly. They also gave $78,000 to the Republican Party of Florida – which was itself a major funder of Bondi’s campaign
Finally, Lender Processing Services recently hired a new senior vice president for government affairs – Joe Jacquot, who until recently was an assistant attorney general for Bondi.

In exchange for these "contributions," Bondi fired the attorneys who were investigating claims that the banks were "creating" documents out of thin air and using them as evidence in foreclosure proceedings.

People were signing documents with fake names. They didn’t have the required witnesses. And they weren’t reading the documents they were signing.
Even though they were sworn statements, that the signing party has personal knowledge of the facts. So much for investigating.

It's OK, it was just legal technicalities, anyway:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

End of an era

As I sit here at my computer, I just heard the twin sonic booms of the space shuttle coming in for the last time. Normally, I am not really happy about government spending money on things like this, but I must admit that the little boy in me likes to watch the space program, and I always have. I watched so many launches from the space center with my Dad, and it is a memory from my childhood that I treasure.

I saw a couple of the moonshots when I was a small child. I was there for the launch of Apollo/Soyuz, and I remember that I was upset that it was the last launch of the manned program. I remember being happy when we returned to space in 1981, and now watching that last shuttle is a bit sad. I leave you with a few pictures.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

DUI checkpoints are not really for DUI

I know that the articles that I am posting are a little old, but this one is revealing about the purpose of DUI checkpoints. These checkpoints are nominally put in place to "keep us safe" from drunk drivers. During the 2009 July 4th weekend in Gainseville, there were 1,131 vehicles stopped at the DUI checkpoint. How many DUI arrests were made? None. However, there were:

2 arrests for outstanding warrants
7 arrests for felony charges (6 of those for drugs)
1 arrest for misdemeanor charges
104 traffic tickets
20 warnings were written

In other words, 1% of the people stopped were arrested, and about 10% of them got tickets, and increased the coffers of the state treasury. These checkpoints are not about safety, they are about making an end run around the Constitution.

The police are not there to make us safe, they are there to take our money. I must admit that I have been the victim of a robbery once (when I was 19, the robber got $23) and I have been the victim of burglary twice (the burglars got a total of less than $500 worth of stuff).

The police have gotten far more than that from me, just in tickets, not counting the taxes I must pay to support them. How is an armed man stealing my money at gun point not stealing from me, simply because he wears a badge? Don't tell me that if I wasn't speeding that I wouldn't get a ticket. There are enough laws out there that a cop can write you a ticket for nearly anything, and regardless of what they will have you believe, they DO have quotas, and they win prizes for writing tickets and busting people for DUI. Those prizes are in the form of cash awards and free vacations.

Welcome to the police state

The Florida Highway Patrol, like many other police agencies, uses a system called the Automated License Plate Recognition (ALPR) system. This system consists of cameras that can be mounted on patrol cars, like this:

or they can be mounted in fixed locations, like this:

They are connected to a computer network that automatically alerts authorities when a "plate of interest" passes by the camera. The plates that are captured are displayed on the car's computer screen, and look like this:

According to the website of the manufacturer, each car equipped with this system can scan 5,000 license plates during an average police officer's shift. The reason this is being sold to departments? Read on:

Long Beach police used two ALPR-equipped vehicles to search for parking scofflaws. In 30 days, they located and impounded more than 300 vehicles - collecting over $200,000 in delinquent fines and impound fees. A study done for the City of Seattle showed that parking ticket collection rates across municipalities vary from 71% to 87%, with 80% being the median – that’s a million dollars or more of uncollected revenue in each city. Searching for parking ticket violators isn’t the most productive use of an officer’s time, so locating serial violators has been left to chance: the officer would have to find the car as part of a routine plate check or another traffic stop.
With an ALPR system, the police vehicle only has to pass the violator – whether parked or in traffic – and ALPR will alert the officer. A quick drive through a large parking lot will often locate several serial violators, whose cars can be towed or clamped until the fines are paid. The end result is fewer scofflaws getting away with nonpayment of fines.
Sure, money is the reason they get the system, but there is also the more sinister applications:

Besides alerting the officer when he passes a vehicle of interest, an ALPR system equipped with GPS can quietly note the time and location the vehicle was passed. This data is then loaded into PIPS’ Back Office System Software (BOSS®) and then mined and cross-referenced to keep tabs on known drug dealers, terrorist suspects, organized crime figures, or crime patterns...Areas such as airports, seaports, water treatment facilities, nuclear power plants – even schools – are targets for both criminals and terrorists. ALPR can assist with protecting such facilities by watching for known persons of interest (such as registered sex offenders), unauthorized vehicles, or simply vehicles that show up too frequently.
The founding fathers of this nation would be thrilled.

Monday, July 18, 2011

It's like they are trying to lose

Obama the President is turning out to be unpopular, and he is being torn up in the polls by "unnamed Republican." The presidential race has not even begun yet, and the Republicans are virtually guaranteed a win. Then they go and say stupid, shit that makes people not want to vote for them. Like this:

Asked if his view could lead any community to stand up in opposition to a proposed mosque, Cain replied, "They could say that." He pointed to opposition to the planned mosque in Murfreesboro, Tenn., as an example.
"Let's go back to the fundamental issue that the people are basically saying that they are objecting to," Cain said. "They are objecting to the fact that Islam is both religion and (a) set of laws, Shariah law. That's the difference between any one of our other traditional religions where it's just about religious purposes."
Here in Florida, I can't buy alcohol on Sunday until after noon.

Nationwide, your very own (Republican) party is opposed to gay marriage, because it will hurt the religious sanctity of marriage, what ever that means.

You want to know why many cannot relate to, or vote for, your party? Because you are a bunch of Bible thumping, in your face religious hypocrites who continually like to spout off about the Constitution, but only when it suits your purposes.

(As opposed to Democrats, who quote the parts of the Constitution THEY like, when it is convenient to their purposes, like flag burning and porn, but ignore it when they want to ban guns or redistribute my pay.)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The future of medicine

Just last week, I posted about how Obamacare was forcing health providers to find cheaper ways of treating patients. Well, here is one way. Minnesota is using paramedics, who are being called "mid level practitioners" to perform medical procedures previously reserved for medical professionals with higher levels of education and training, with doctors being available for television consultation and supervision.

This is happening despite the objections of Nursing associations, who have long opposed having paramedics being considered as their equals. Even though a paramedic has undergone the same amount of training (45 credit hours for nursing, versus 50 for Paramedic, both form the core for associate's degrees), many in the nursing community have fought to keep them in the back of the bus. (However, this post is not intended to fight the nurse versus paramedic battle.)

The thing that this drives home is that our health care system is poorly organized and antiquated. There is no way that a doctor can know everything that a patient will need, and they have begun to specialize in fields, leaving general doctors hard to find. The amount of school that a person must attend takes a decade and leaves the new doctor with over a half of a million dollars in student loan debts. Doctors expect to earn large sums of money, so that they can be reimbursed for the decade of work that it took to become a doctor and so that they can repay the student loans.

Physician assistants and Nurse practitioners programs have addressed some of that, and there are many people trying to get into and complete these programs, but there are fewer of them than there are medical schools, and competition is fierce. There are just over 150 physician assistant schools in the United States, and they are producing less than 7400 licensed physician assistants a year. Not nearly enough when you consider that US medical schools produce 18,000 doctors each year, and that doesn't count foreign medical schools, like the ones in the Caribbean or in India. Physician assistant schools are a 24-30 month long Master's degree program, but the schools do not care what your bachelor's degree was in, just that you have one.

So the gaps are being filled in with paramedics, who have a two year associate's degree and likely make less than $15 an hour. I am a paramedic, and I can tell you that there are some good ones out there, and there are some bad ones, but paramedics do not know enough about general medicine, especially when they are right out of school, to do this job effectively. That doesn't mean that they can't be taught, because after all, physician assistants are trained in two years, but I don't think this is the answer.

Now that doesn't mean that our heath system doesn't need an overhaul. I have long felt that it was ridiculous that I need a bachelor's degree (it doesn't matter in what- one doctor I know has a bachelor's in golf) to attend medical school, or physician assistant school. Eliminating that requirement would cut the time and money needed to become a doctor or a physician assistant considerably.

As the shortage of medical professionals continues, pressure will mount for lower level providers (who make less money) to take on an increasing role in your health care, because Obamacare will pressure the medical profession into providing cheaper, but not necessarily better, health care.

Friday, July 15, 2011


After reading this article, I have decided that this will be my new mission: to be a pastafarian priest in the church of the flying spaghetti monster.

It will make as much sense as any other religion, and who are you to discriminate? Maybe John quinones will do a story on me.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A bad idea

The city of Washington, DC is using firefighters as an impromptu unarmed police force, deploying them to patrol high crime areas. So what happens is that the unarmed firefighters are increasingly looked upon as an extension of the police department.

The one thing that allows me to enter high crime areas is the knowledge that I am not a cop, and I am not there to bust anyone or take sides, I am just there to take you to the hospital. Once we as fire and EMS are viewed as the enemy, we will be treated like the enemy. An unarmed, relatively defenseless one. At least I can take comfort knowing that if my agency decides to enact a similar policy, I can legally be armed while doing so (even if it will likely get me fired.)

I would also like to point out that the program employs 14,000 people for six weeks, and was $30 over budget in 2008. That works out to $357 per week per worker that the project was over budget. The youths in this program work 16 hours per week. The full cost of the program is $55 million (including the $30 million overrun). That works out to $40.92 per hour per worker costs the taxpayer.

What are the taxpayers getting for that money? One of the jobs is that the kids are being paid to paint pictures on the sides of buildings using spray paint. We are paying these kids to paint graffiti, and demanding that firefighters then follow them around to make sure that they stay out of trouble.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

People are stupid

In the wake of the Casey Anthony trial, millions of people who decided that she was guilty are incensed enough at the audacity of the jury in actually considering the evidence and acquitting her, that they are now attempting to craft a law that will ensure that she will not get away with this. Well, except that her trial is over, and this law would not apply to her case. Casey Anthony is the one person in this country that would not be affected by this law.

The law, dubbed "Caylee's Law by its supporters, would make it a felony for a mother to fail to report the death of a child within an hour, or fail to report a child missing within 24 hours of the child's disappearance. People who advocate for such a law are either ignorant of the Fifth Amendment's self incrimination clause, or they are deliberately ignoring it. A parent forced to report child's death or disappearance violates the parent's Fifth amendment protection against self incrimination, in that if the parent was responsible for that death or disappearance, they are effectively testifying against him/herself by providing the time of death.One might as well pass a law requiring anyone who commits murder to confess to the crime.

"We cannot require perpetrators to turn themselves in, or incriminate themselves," said Susan Rozelle, who teaches criminal law at Stetson University's College of Law. "And that's what this reporting standard could do."
Richard Lubin, a West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer, agreed the proposal creates constitutional issues.

The law totally ignores common sense. If a parent is willing to kill a child and then lie to investigators to conceal the crime, they are willing to break this new law and fail to report the crime. What this means is that the law is not being crafted, nor is it intended, to do anything except punish the behavior of the one person to whom it does not apply.

Now to validity of “Caylee’s law.”  Ask yourself these questions if “Caylee’s Law” was on the books during this case:
  1. Would it have saved Caylee’s life?   No.
  2. Would it have prevented the prosecution from overcharging and bungling the case?  No.
  3. Would it add another law that more than likely will be used and abused beyond its intended scope?  Yes.
There is a difference between justice and vengeance.  Like it or not, Caylee did get justice.  Her case was heard and decided by a jury.
But what “Caylee’s law” is all about is vengeance.  We hate that Casey Anthony got off on the murder charges even though we "know" that she was involved in Caylee's death in some way.

But our Constitution isn’t about vengeance.  It’s about justice.  And justice means that a few guilty people must go free in order to prevent an innocent person from going to jail.

What this public furor will do is create a law that will hurt us all. Read:

But in the wake of the Anthony case, Lubin said lawmakers could consider toughening penalties for lying to law enforcement -- the misdemeanors Casey Anthony was found guilty of.
"In the federal system, if you lie to law enforcement, that's a felony," Lubin said. "Casey Anthony wouldn't be getting out of jail this month, if lying was a felony."
EDITED: The bill here in Florida makes it a second degree felony to lie to a cop that is investigating any possible felony involving your child punishable by 15 years in prison.

(2) A caregiver, as defined in s. 827.01, who knowingly and willfully gives false information to a law enforcement officer who is conducting a missing person investigation or a felony criminal investigation involving a minor child in his or her care with the intent to mislead the officer or impede the investigation commits a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

If a cop is investigating whether or not your child accessed your neighbor's WiFi (that is a felony in Florida) and tell any lie to the cops, 15 years in the slammer. Do you think the cops will NEVER stretch such a law for use in a way that was not intended?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Dollar weakens further

Gold is up nearly $100 an ounce since the beginning of the month. The dollar is falling, because the government is printing dollars like they are going out of style, and if China is to be believed, they are. Gold was just about at $1275 an ounce in January, and it is now running over $1572.

People keep blaming the oil companies for the high price of gasoline, but everything is getting more expensive because the dollar is tanking. Granted, the Euro is falling at a higher rate than the dollar, but that only means that we suck a little less than they do.

Oil is up, food prices are up, gold is up. Are prices getting higher? No. As Einstein proved, it is all relative. As the dollar weakens, it is worth less. When you are standing there with a pocket full of dollars, it appears as though prices are climbing. When you are standing there with a warehouse full of oil, gold, or food, the value of everything appears steady. That is, 12 barrels of oil is worth about the same as 1 ounce of gold.

Don't blame business for rising prices, blame the government for falling currency. Every time they create money, the money that is already in circulation is worth that much less (supply and demand, anyone?). So every time money is printed, the powers that be have just stolen value from you by making that money worth less.

If you have a lot of assets valued in dollars, like savings and other bank accounts, this is bad for you. If you have a lot of dollar denominated debt, this is good for you, as your debts can be paid more easily by selling physical items for more dollars than you paid for them, and paying off debt. The largest debtor in the world is the US Government. They stand to gain the most from a devalued dollar. I can remember reading about the inevitable devaluing of the dollar as far back as 1990, when daddy Bush was President. People told me I was one of those conspiracy survivalist nutjobs.

It doesn't look nearly as nutty from 2011. Things are going to get worse. Much worse. Bread lines worse. and when people begin going hungry, they become restless. Restless people are hard to keep in line. Then comes the inevitable government crackdown, as the powers that be fight to regain control as people scream for someone to step in and make things right. This is how dictatorships are made: by popular demand.

Monday, July 11, 2011


Four years ago today, I began blogging. There have been so many changes in my life. I wonder what the next four years will bring.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

More Crime

As I said in this morning's other post, I attended ClinCon yesterday. I drove home from the Disney area by taking Osceola Parkway to the Turnpike. I stopped at a convenience store, and saw more central Florida crime. A man shot another man right in front of the store. The victim then crashed his vehicle into a tree while trying to escape. When the paramedics arrived to remove him from the vehicle, a very large stack of currency spilled from the vehicle.

The crime in this area seems to be getting worse and worse. Here are the violent crime stories from just the past 24 hours:

Three arrested in drug investigation, in possession of firearms with filed off serial numbers.
Armed serial robber shoots cop, commits home invasion in second armed robbery.
Police officer arrested for stalking.
Smash and grab robbery steals guns from Bass Pro.
Armed drug dealer arrest.

Obama Care and the future of medicine

I was at Clincon yesterday, and one of the lectures was about trends in medicine. One of the topics was Obamacare. When Obamacare takes effect in eight months or so, some provisions will change the way that medicine is paid for in this country, and  not for the better.

The hospital will be paid a flat rate for a patient with a given problem, no matter how long the patient is in the hospital. For example, all patients who present to the hospital with congestive heart failure (CHF) will earn the hospital a set price, regardless of how many days that the patient stays in the hospital. This means that the hospital has an incentive to get you out of the hospital in a minimum amount of time, whether you are cured or not, and has the added incentive of diagnosing you with every ailment that they can think of, from halitosis to athlete's foot.

To correct this problem, the geniuses in the government have devised a solution: If the patient must be admitted for the same condition within 6 months of discharge, the hospital gets nothing for the subsequent visits. So that CHF patient doesn't follow his discharge instructions, and gets readmitted. The hospital eats it. It is only a matter of time before the hospitals are forced to find ways to keep frequent flyers away.

This is a real mess. I am not sure of everything that is coming, but I do know that it will create real problems in the health care field.

Friday, July 8, 2011

This makes my point about Corporations

 I posted about how Corporations are the essence of government interference in the free market. This article makes my point:

Wyoming Corporate Services will help clients create a company, and more: set up a bank account for it; add a lawyer as a corporate director to invoke attorney-client privilege; even appoint stand-in directors and officers as high as CEO. Among its offerings is a variety of shell known as a "shelf" company, which comes with years of regulatory filings behind it, lending a greater feeling of solidity.
"A corporation is a legal person created by state statute that can be used as a fall guy, a servant, a good friend or a decoy," the company's website boasts. "A person you control... yet cannot be held accountable for its actions. Imagine the possibilities!"
One house in Cheyenne, Wyoming is the headquarters of over 2,000 artificial persons, gaming the system and allowing the true owners of businesses to evade all responsibility and accountability. The free market only works if the customer and the business owner have exposure to market forces. Once you allow one party to avoid their half of the bargain, you ensure that the system is being gamed to their advantage.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Big Business runs the show

This morning, I read the Orlando Sentinel's local news page, even though I don't usually read that anti-gun rag. When I got to the Osceola County page, I found same articles that I wanted to post on, so this is the second post in that thread. This is yet another example of how the big corporations are controlling the access that small businesses have to a level playing field.

Transportation impact fees that a new business must pay are cost prohibitive. [pdf alert] To build a business in Osceola County, that one impact fee can be up to $25,558 PER SQUARE FOOT, to be paid over five years. This fee is in addition to all of the other taxes and fees that must be paid.

For example, if a 24,000-square-foot bowling alley were to be built in St. Cloud, for every 1,000 square feet of building, the transportation impact fee would be $10,178, according to examples the city provided. The total transportation impact fees for the bowling alley would be $249,000.
My brother was going to open a ten lane bowling alley in that town, and he determined that opening this bowling alley would cost him over $1 million in taxes for the first five years of operation, not including payroll taxes, sales taxes, and not to mention the cost of building, operations, and personnel expenses for the 20 people that he would have hired. How can a small family business operate with such a heavy burden?

Of course, large corporations get waivers, like this 65,000 square foot Publix shopping center, where the government waived $1 million in transportation fees and $21,000 in permitting fees to allow this shopping center to be built.

When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion - when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing - when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors - when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you - when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice - you may know that your society is doomed.- Ayn Rand

Head in the sand policy of Osceola County

Florida Law Enforcement agencies have long followed a policy of denying the existence of gangs in the state, even though it is at odds with the opinion of the Florida Attorney General's office [pdf alert] Florida police agencies say gang members use any information released about the crimes they commit to glamorize their lifestyles and attract new members. The Osceola County Sheriff's Office generally follows that policy.

That policy, it seems, is failing.Hardly a day goes by when there is not a reported shooting in the Central Florida area, and many other violent crimes go unreported. Due to the long standing policy of ignoring gang related crimes, it is impossible to get an accurate picture of gang related crime in the area, but I can tell you from personal experience that it is growing.

The frequency of gang related graffiti is growing, as is the frequency of gang member sightings. The Outlaws Motorcycle gang has a clubhouse not far from where I live. A couple of friends of mine were recently riding their motorcycles and were stopped by five Outlaws, who told them that no one is allowed to ride motorcycles in the area as a part of any motorcycle riding club, unless that riding club paid dues to the Outlaws. They then demanded that my friends remove the leather jackets, and pay a fine of $50 cash on the spot. Outnumbered 5-2 by armed gang members, they paid.

The Latin Kings have staked out Poinciana as their territory, as well as parts of Kissimmee. The Bloods own other parts of Kissimmee. Saint Cloud has problems with white gangs like the Aryan Brotherhood. Orlando has similar gang and violent crime problems.

Your odds of being a victim of a violent crime in Osceola County are 1 in 100. In Orange County, the odds double to 1 in 50.Obviously, there are things you can do to reduce those odds. Don't go into bad neighborhoods like Pine Hills (aka Crime Hills), Paramore, McLaren Circle, Waterway Village, and other notoriously unsafe areas. Don't be a gang member, sell drugs, or engage in other highly risky behavior.

It is more likely that you will be a victim of a violent crime than involved in a car crash or a house fire with a fatality.You don't hesitate to wear a seat belt, or own smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and other safety devices, yet the odds favor your using a firearm to defend your life more often than any of those other items.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Another mile post passed

Indulge me in a bit of self serving praise. The end of another phase of my career as a student. Today, I graduate from Saint Petersburg College with Bachelors of Applied Science in Public Safety Administration and a minor in EMS systems. To achieve this, I took 77 semester hours in just 4 semesters, while maintaining a GPA of 3.82, and while working 2 full time jobs. For those of you who do not know, a person is considered to be a full time student if they are taking 12 hours per semester.

I will walk to get my fourth diploma (Emergency Medicine, Liberal Arts, Fire Science, Public Safety Administration) as a Magnum Cum Laude graduate from my third college. So much for gunowners being uneducated idiots.

For my next trick, I am considering going on to graduate school. Maybe Health Science, so I can be a Physician Assistant? I took the GRE (kind of like SATs for graduate students) and scored in the 90th percentile with a 680 verbal, 780 math (top score is 800).

Apparently, this is considered to be a high score, and I was told that this score, coupled with my GPA and 20+ years of health care experience, will qualify me for pretty much any school I want. My "I love me" wall is getting crowded.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Letter of Reprisal

Yesterday at work, we had a conversation on the costs of the GWOT. It seems that the US government blew through $8 trillion in the action, by the time costs of veteran's benefits and claims are factored in. All of this could have been done for a fraction of the cost, and it would still have used a constitutional provision that many are not even aware of.

The US Constitution grants Congress the power to issue letters of marque and reprisal. These basically allow the Congress to contract out military actions, to outfit privateers and mercenaries. This would have been a simple feat: Issue bounties on terrorists. Osame bin Laden had a price on his head, but at $75 million, it was far too low to do any good.

Here is my proposal:

A letter of marque could be issued to all individuals, corporations, or foreign countries, that would pay amounts as listed below to any entity or groups that could verify the death or capture and surrender to US authorities of any terrorist on the list. In addition, American Citizens would be permitted to outfit themselves as needed to carry out this assignment without regard to the NFA or export controls. Need an armed Blackhawk? No problem, just pay for it. Need some missiles? Sold. We even have some warships we are willing to part with, say some older OHP class frigates, or even some old jet fighters that we have just lying around.

Then you issue a list of terrorists, and the bounties to be paid, beginning with bin Laden at $50 billion, and going down to the lower terrorists. you make the amounts large enough that it is worth the money for countries and large corporations to go after him. He would not be able to trust anyone.

This would have saved us trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives.