Who is behind the legalization of smoked pot as a medicine and why? Watch, listen and learn:
Who is behind the legalization of smoked pot as a medicine and why? Watch, listen and learn:
Jay Littlewolf, a 54-year-old man, said inadequate healthcare at the government clinic compounded his problems with a diabetic ulcer on his right foot. He said that at one point he was told the remedy was to cut off his toes. Instead, he sought private medical treatment in Billings, Montana. “I don’t like those comments when the podiatrist says he just wants to cut your toes off,” Littlewolf said. “I know there are alternatives. Common sense says that.” To date, Jay has spent $3,000 out of pocket and expects his total bill to exceed $20,000. He wants to be reimbursed—and pay the balance of the bill—but the government agency has refused.
“We are trained and born not to challenge the system,” he said. “I’m not trying to challenge the system. I just want my bills paid. I wanted to save my toes, my foot, my leg, my life. All I want to do is mow my darn lawn.”
Littlewolf’s story is reminiscent of the stories of neglect and incompetency at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the agency charged with caring for American veterans. Last April, news broke that the VA had serious problems. They came to light in its Phoenix facility, where more than 40 veterans died while waiting for care. An internal audit released June 9, 2014, revealed that more than 120,000 veterans nationwide were left waiting or never got care and that pressures were placed on schedulers to use unofficial lists or engage in inappropriate practices to make waiting times appear more favorable. On June 11, 2014, the Federal Bureau of Investigation opened a criminal investigation of the VA.
Littlewolf, however, isn’t a veteran, and he was not dealing with the VA. Jay is a Native American and a member of the Northern Cheyenne reservation in Montana. He’s talking about the Indian Health Service (IHS), another federal government-operated healthcare system. When the scandal broke about the VA, the media, pundits, and politicians quickly concluded that the remedy for the VA’s ills was reform: more funding, regulation, and accountability. But the occurrence of the same problems at the IHS suggests that these sorts of problems may be endemic to government-run systems. Unfortunately, few are stepping up to recommend a more permanent fix than to enact reforms to the existing systems. What is needed is the privatization of healthcare services for those who suffer under government-controlled programs.
The IHS is familiar to me, as my grandfather was an IHS physician in Arizona. There are 22 tribes in my home state, and growing up there, I saw the issues facing Native Americans up close. The IHS has problems with long waits, inferior care, rationing, and lack of access—just as with the VA and with nationalized healthcare systems abroad. And, like the VA, when healthcare is under government control, it becomes inefficient and ineffective. Just ask Littlewolf.
In 2004, a report of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights unsurprisingly blamed the substandard care in the IHS on the usual culprits: lack of funding, hiring the wrong people, retention and recruiting of qualified healthcare providers, and maintenance of aging facilities. As usual, the report didn’t point to the real problem: the program itself.
As with all government programs, inevitably most of the funding goes to pay bureaucrats and administrators, leaving little money for medical staff salaries and treatment. Low salaries contribute to unfilled vacancies, poor retention, and low morale among staff, causing waiting lists and inferior treatment for patients. The IHS has job vacancy rates for healthcare professionals ranging from 12 percent to 32 percent.
Bureaucrats cover up their mistakes with phony documents, like those found in the VA scandal, showing that patients are being promptly treated. Ultimately, supporters of government control lament that if only the right people could be found to run the program, everything would be fine.
In order to justify their salaries, government administrators promulgate endless regulations, bogging down the treatment process with red tape. Additionally, the IHS has a bloated bureaucracy, with over 14,000 employees, including eight assistant surgeon generals, 439 “Director Grade” bureaucrats, and 601 “Senior Grade” bureaucrats. Yet, in 2005, per capita federal spending on patients by the IHS was only $2,130—half the amount spent on federal prisoners’ care.
In a move in the right direction, in 2008, U.S. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), introduced an amendment to the Indian Health Care Improvement Act that would allow tribal members to choose from various healthcare coverage options, including the ability to purchase private health insurance. According to Senator Coburn, the IHS currently rations services on the basis of whether a particular service will save a “life or limb.” Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, Coburn’s amendment was voted down, 28 to 67.
While Coburn’s attempt at reform was laudable—and would have, at a minimum, provided an option for Native Americans seeking better health care—it didn’t really address the root of the problem. The only lasting solution that would ensure improvements in care and health outcomes would be the privatization of services to Native American tribes. I’m not confident that such a change is likely in the near future—for the IHS or for the VA. And, unfortunately, the problems that have plagued the VA and the IHS are harbingers of a future under our increasingly socialized healthcare system.
Terree P. Summer is an economist and author specializing in healthcare and the federal budget. She is the author of What Has Government Done to Our Health Care? published by the Cato Institute (1992).
EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of FEE and Shutterstock.
Choice is an important concept. There are good choices and bad choices. Women make both kinds of choices daily as they lead their daily lives, plan their careers and deal with friends and family. I believe that it is the uniquely “American woman” who has historically made the difference in what the United States chooses as its course, especially when it comes to social issues. As the women go so to goes the nation.
French historian and political scientist Alexis de Tocqueville in Democracy in America wrote, “I have no hesitation in saying that although the American woman never leaves her domestic sphere and is in some respects very dependent within it, nowhere does she enjoy a higher station. And if anyone asks me what I think the chief cause of the extraordinary prosperity and growing power of this nation, I should answer that it is due to the superiority of their women.” During and after WW II women began leaving the “domestic sphere” and started venturing into other spheres.
Question: Do American woman “enjoy a higher station” today than she did when Tocqueville wrote his observation? If not, why not?
The social battleground today is focused on the family. During de Tocqueville’s travels across America that is what he observed – the American family. This family was made up, by enlarge, of a mother, father and their biological children. That has changed significantly since the 1940s and reached its peak during the 1960s with the growth of the feminist movement in America.
According to Tavaana:
In 1960, the world of American women was limited in almost every respect, from family life to the workplace. A woman was expected to follow one path: to marry in her early 20s, start a family quickly, and devote her life to homemaking. As one woman at the time put it, “The female doesn’t really expect a lot from life. She’s here as someone’s keeper — her husband’s or her children’s.”
As such, wives bore the full load of housekeeping and child care, spending an average of 55 hours a week on domestic chores. They were legally subject to their husbands via “head and master laws,” and they had no legal right to any of their husbands’ earnings or property, aside from a limited right to “proper support”; husbands, however, would control their wives’ property and earnings.
If the marriage deteriorated, divorce was difficult to obtain, as “no-fault” divorce was not an option, forcing women to prove wrongdoing on the part of their husbands in order to get divorced.
[ … ]
In 1962, Betty Friedan’s book The Feminine Mystique captured the frustration and even the despair of a generation of college-educated housewives who felt trapped and unfulfilled. As one said, “I’m desperate. I begin to feel I have no personality. I’m a server of food and a putter-on of pants and a bedmaker, somebody who can be called on when you want something. But who am I?”
Friedan stunned the nation by contradicting the accepted wisdom that housewives were content to serve their families and by calling on women to seek fulfillment in work outside the home.
While Friedan’s writing largely spoke to an audience of educated, upper-middle-class white women, her work had such an impact that it is credited with sparking the “second wave” of the American feminist movement. [Emphasis added]
Today these barriers have been torn down, but what has been torn down with them? As Friedan asked, “Who am I?”
Today’s American woman is, by all available metrics, worse off than she was before the 1960s. If she is a single mother she still is a “server of food and putter-on of pants and a bedmaker.” But today she is alone, without the financial, emotional and physical support of a husband and a father of her children. This is particularly evident in minority communities but is becoming more the rule rather than the exception in the white community.
Today women are faced with choices as never before the feminist movement took control in America. The choices are bad ones. The ideal of income equality has not been fully realized, as we see more unmarried women living in poverty with children. So many choose to become dependent on the government, which does not pay well nor does it give women the freedom they longed for. Abortion is choosing to kill their unborn child. The real choice is whether or not to become pregnant. That has always been the key choice to be made. Another choice is to be married to the father of their child. Even that choice has been taken from them as men have become less receptive to marriage. Marriage, the great societal bastion of safety of women, is being torn down by the gay movement in the name of equality. But who suffers most from the destruction of the traditional family? Why women.
Many argue that women know who they were when Friedan wrote her book. Today they are not who they were. Paradise has been lost for most of America’s women. They have made their beds and now they must sleep in them.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri is helping lead an effort to defeat a proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize medical marijuana. Both a lawman and an attorney, Gualtieri was appointed sheriff by Gov. Rick Scott in 2011. He was elected in his own right the following year.
Gualtieri started his career as a Pinellas deputy in 1982. Promoted to detective, he investigated international drug and money-laundering crimes and became an expert in electronic surveillance. In 1998, he left the sheriff’s office to study law, graduating from the Stetson University College of Law in 2002. After a stint at a private law firm, Gualtieri returned to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office as general counsel in 2006. He was appointed chief deputy by Sheriff Jim Coats in 2008 and performed both functions until Coats retired and Gualtieri became sheriff.
Gualtieri also is well versed in child welfare, since Pinellas is one of the six Florida counties where sheriff’s departments conduct their own child-protection investigations.
The News Service of Florida has five questions for Bob Gualtieri:
Q: Why have you joined the opposition to Amendment 2?
GUALTIERI: Well, I think at the end of the day, it’s bad for Florida because it’s going to create — this is not about medical marijuana. You know, first and foremost, that’s why I’m opposed to it. This is really about legalizing recreational use of marijuana.
What the proponents are really after — and people who need it for medical purposes – is the THC that is in marijuana. And THC is what gives people relief, pain relief, will enhance appetites for people that need their appetite enhanced. And for at least 15 years, there are synthetic forms of THC that are available in pill forms and by prescription from physicians that are FDA approved, in Marinol and these other pills that are out there, that give them that. And so this is not about providing pain relief or any other type of relief for people who are truly, acutely ill and who need this, because it’s available in pill form.
This is really about smoke-able form, recreational-use, social-purpose marijuana use, and legalizing it across the board. So I think this whole advocacy by the proponents is really subterfuge for general recreational legalization. This isn’t about medical purposes.
Q: Would you oppose any medical marijuana proposal on principle? Or is your opposition to Amendment 2 mostly driven by concerns that its wording leaves room for abuse?
GUALTIERI: It’s not on principle. When I talk about this, I say, “Let’s assume, one, that there is medical benefit to, quote, marijuana, to THC, and the other things that are in marijuana. As an example, Charlotte’s Web and the CBD (cannibinoid) to help alleviate or eliminate seizures, especially in kids — I have no problem with that whatsoever. And most especially with CBD or Charlotte’s Web — it’s being administered in oil forms, in non-smoke-able forms. That’s medicine. It has a benefit.
So I have no issue or debate or question about whether the contents can provide and has legitimate medicinal or medical purposes. So it’s not a philosophy, it’s not a categorical opposition to it. It’s … this amendment is not about medicine and being compassionate and recognizing that people have needs. This amendment is — the problem is the wording of the amendment, not just what’s in it but what’s not in it: The lack of regulation, the lack of control, the lack of a scheme that will prevent what we just went through with the prescription drug-abuse epidemic, and having these pot docs that show up next to these dispensaries, and you’ve got just, really, just wholesale abuse.
Which leads to the question that people often ask when I say that, “Okay, so why are you opposed to recreational use?” We as a country, we as a community, have a very serious addiction problem. We see this time and time again. Law enforcement cannot solve this drug-abuse problem across the board, because it’s an addiction problem. So if we tell our kids, “Don’t smoke, don’t engage in recreational use of drugs, why are we then, now, going to legalize just one more thing that — from a social standpoint — will say, “It’s OK, because we as a society have legalized it” — and give people one more thing to be addicted to, to abuse, to cause problems. So it’s not good.
Q: What do you think of the way the new Charlotte’s Web law is being implemented? Any improvements you could suggest?
GUALTIERI: I think that the Department of Health is doing a decent job in how they’re going about the hearings and the rule-making process. I know that we as sheriffs and the Florida Sheriffs Association have had an opportunity to have representatives at the hearings and provide input on the rule; in fact, we had a conference call on it yesterday.
And if there is going to have to be rule-making as a result of Amendment 2 passing, I’m encouraged by how the Department of Health is handling it. So I say, “So far, so good,” from what I see as to how it’s being handled.
Q: The six county sheriff’s departments that do their own child-abuse investigations finally got a boost in funding this year. How would you evaluate their status at this point — are they committed to continuing as child-protective investigators or is the jury still out?
GUALTIERI: Well, what was done by the Legislature and by the governor this year to put in place a framework — other than a political framework of a money grab, so that we actually have measurements in place to determine the appropriate budgets for the sheriffs who are doing child protection — it’s fantastic. It’s a huge step in the right direction. We accomplished a lot by it. It’s going to help us to retain competent child protection investigators, recruit competent child protection investigators, and so I think it’s great. It’s fantastic. The key to it, though, is that it’s sustained and that it’s all sustainable.
I think that we’re — I know I am — again, very encouraged by it. I think it sends the right message to those of us who are providing the services for the protection of kids across Florida. But I think for everybody, since this is the first year of it under this new framework, I think we need to see a couple of years of using that same formula and making sure it is sustained under that formula before anybody is going to have a high level of confidence. Because there’s no assurance it doesn’t go back to some other way in future years.
I think we’ve made great progress with it, I’m very optimistic about, but I think we also need to ensure that it’s sustained.
Q: We’re seeing a lot of news lately about the militarization of local law-enforcement agencies. Is that something that concerns you, or do you think it’s being hyped up?
GUALTIERI: I think it’s a bunch of hype. We’ve had either the same or similar equipment for many, many years. It hasn’t been available in the volume or to the extent that it is (now), so you didn’t see as many agencies in the past having it, but we’ve had it for years.
It’s all about using it in the right way, using it responsibly. We picked up …on a 1033 program, we picked up this year six Humvees and two (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, known as MRAPs). We’ve had similar-type vehicles in the past, we’ve had them for years. There’s been no problem, there’s been no controversy, there’s been certainly no misuse of them. But when the time comes, and you need the resources, you need the assets — you need them now. You don’t need them tomorrow, it isn’t going to do you any good to start thinking about it. And so law enforcement needs rescue vehicles. If you have an officer or a deputy that’s been pinned down by gunfire, or a citizen, you need to be able to go in and get them out without somebody getting hurt. If you’ve got a sheet of water, you need to be able to get through it somehow in a storm.
So I think it’s a bunch of hype. I don’t think that it’s anything to get concerned about, and those of us that have had this equipment for years. Here, in the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, we purchased what’s called a GPV, or general purpose vehicle, which is similar to an MRAP. We purchased it back in, I think 2005, 2006 for $300,000. Served us well. We used it for SWAT situations and high-risk situations and rescues and all kinds of different things without any issues or controversy.
And we’ve got an MRAP — I think it’s a $900,000 vehicle — we paid, like, $2,000 for it. So it could be sitting on some lot out in Texas, collecting dust, or be put to use here and save us a considerable amount of money. We’ve had the equipment, we will have the equipment, regardless of whether it comes from military surplus or we get it straight from a vendor. …So I think this is just a bunch of hype based on recent events.
RELATED ARTICLE: Tallahassee Democrat Laura Yard: Medical groups oppose Amendment 2
Americans are obsessed with fat; either with eating it or being it. We’ve been told that we’re too fat and we’re told that eating fat is bad for you.
Being fat is your own business. You’ll feel better if you lose a few pounds, but you will enjoy your next meal if it has a fat content rather than being a bland cereal…which explains why so many cereals today have some surgery covering or content.
The fact is you can eat almost anything you like and remain a healthy weight if you just don’t eat too much of it. It’s not rocket science.
For politicians, however, controlling what we eat has become an obsession. A demented Democratic Representative, Rosa DeLauro, from Connecticut, has proposed a bill—the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tax Act—SWEET for short, that would penalize people one-cent for every teaspoon of sugar used in their drink of choice. It’s none of her business, let along the government’s, what you want to drink.
This obsession with what we eat has been personified by First Lady Michelle Obama who championed the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kinds Act that overhauled nutrition standards affecting more than thirty million children in schools around the nation.
It authorized the U.S. Department of Agriculture to set standards for all food and beverages sold during the school day. The law includes vending machines, snack cards, and daytime fundraisers. That now means that campus bake sales, the most popular fundraiser, now has to pay heed to a federal law that forbids selling cakes, cupcakes, or cookies.
Laws like this are a perfect example of how intrusive into the ordinary lives of Americans of all ages are laws that are slowly killing the concept of personal choice and personal freedom. They also demonstrate how wrong such laws are when they are written and passed by people who are clueless about nutrition.
A recent Gallup poll on “consumption habits” revealed that “Nearly twice as many Americans say they are actively trying to avoid fat in their diet (56%) as say they are actively avoiding carbohydrates (29%). However, fewer Americans are avoiding fat now more than a decade ago.”
Over the years as a book reviewer and avid reader, I have read “You Must Eat Meat” by Max Ernest Jutte, MD and Frank Murray, and “The Cholesterol Delusion” by Ernest N. Curtis, MD. Both books authoritatively debunk what Americans have repeatedly been told about meat and cholesterol, but my earliest advisor on these and other food related topics was Rebecca Caruba, my Mother, who taught gourmet cooking for three decades in local adult schools and who authored two cookbooks. She was a keen student of nutrition and early on warned students against margarine, telling them to use real butter and to enjoy all manner of meats, cheeses, and other foods we are constantly told are not good for us.
At this point I want to add Nina Teicholz to the list of heroes like my Mother and the authors of the two books mentioned above. A skilled journalist, she has written a 479-page book, “The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat, and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet”. The fact that it includes nearly 140 pages of tiny, single-spaced notes regarding every detail in the book tells you why it took some nine years to write it.
Simply stated, everything Americans think they know about our diets is wrong, the result of a deliberate campaign to convince us that eating fat is bad for us when, in fact, creamy cheeses and sizzling steaks are the key to reversing the obesity, diabetes, and heart disease that affect too many Americans.
As William Davis, M.D., author of “Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight and Find Your Path Back to Health” said, “A page-turner story of science gone wrong…Misstep by misstep, blunder by blunder by blunder, Teicholz recounts the statistical cherry-picking, political finagling, and pseudo-scientific bully that brought us to yet another of the biggest mistakes in health and nutrition, the low-fat and low-saturated fat myth for heart health.”
The myth began in the 1950s with Ancel Benjamin Keys, a biologist and pathologist at the University of Minnesota. He was searching for the causes of heart disease. The nation was extremely fearful about it and the heart attack that President Eisenhower had while in office only added to their fears. Keys concluded that cholesterol was a major factor, but as Teicholz points out “It is a vital component of every cell membrane, controlling what goes in and out of the cell. It is responsible for the metabolism of sex hormones and is found at its highest concentration in the brain.”
Keys and other researchers, however, noting that cholesterol was the primary component of atherosclerotic plaques, assumed it to be “one of the main culprits in the development of coronary disease…This vivid and seemingly intuitive idea,” says Teicholz, “has stayed with us, even as the science has shown this characterization to be a highly simplistic and even inaccurate picture of the problem.” Keys would devote his life to advocating his misinterpretation of cholesterol and fat.
The problem with the word “fat” is that it has two very different meanings. One is the fat we eat and the other is the fat on our bodies. A book worth reading is “Fat: It’s Not What You Think” by Connie Leas, published in 2008 by Prometheus Books. As Ms. Teicholz notes, “A large number of experiments have since confirmed that restricting fat does nothing to slim people down (quite the reverse, actually), yet even so, the idea that there could be such a thing as ‘slimming fat’ will probably always seem to us like an oxymoron.”
I know that few will read Ms. Teicholz book, but you will surely welcome knowing that “saturated fat has not been demonstrated to lead to an increased risk of heart attacks for the great majority of people, and even the narrowing of the arteries has not been shown to predict a heart attack.”
The problem for all of us is that the American Heart Association and the National Institutes of Health both adopted the incorrect analysis of Keys et all, institutionalizing the diet-heart hypothesis and thus are setting the nutrition agenda.
My Mother cooked the most wonderful meals every day and more so on Sundays. She lived to 98 and my Father to 93, eating all manner of meat dishes along with fish and other choices. We all ate cheeses with gusto. And, yes, we loved pasta and Mother’s fabulous home baked breads and desserts. I am coming up soon on age 77 and my diet reflects what kept them alive and disease-free for all of their years.
If you or someone you know is seriously obsessed with their weight and health, recommend “The Big Fat Surprise” to them. I recommend it to you!
© Alan Caruba, 2014
EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of WallpapersPlanet.com.
Obamacare puts employers in a bind, two New York Federal Reserve surveys show. Employers’ health care costs continue to rise, and the health care law is driving them to hire more part-time labor, CNBC reports:
The median respondent to the N.Y. Fed surveys expects health coverage costs to jump by 10 percent next year, after seeing a similar percentage increase last year.
Not all firms surveyed said the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is to blame for those cost increases to date. But a majority did, and the percentage of businesses that predicted the ACA will hike such costs next year is even higher than those that said it did this year.
Obamacare’s higher costs will cascade down to consumers. The surveys found that “36 percent of manufacturers and 25 percent of service firms said they were hiking prices in response” to Obamacare’s effects.
A June Gallup poll found that four in ten Americans are spending more on health care in 2014 than in 2013.
Let’s dig into the numbers.
When asked, “How would you say the ACA has affected the amount your firm is paying in health benefit costs per worker this year?” More than 73% of manufacturers and 58% of service firms said the health care law has increased costs this year.
Companies are also more pessimistic about Obamacare next year. Over 80% of manufacturers and 74% of service firms expect health plan costs to increase in 2015.
Employers were also asked what effects Obamacare is having on their labor forces. Over 21% of manufacturers and nearly 17% of service firms say they reduced the number of employees because of the law, while only about 2% of each have hired more workers. What’s more, nearly 20% of both manufacturers and service firms say that Obamacare has pushed them to increase their proportion of part-time workers, but just under 5% of each type of firm said they have lowered them. Presumably this is due to the perverse incentives from Obamacare’s employer mandate.
This data fits with research from the Atlanta Federal Reserve that found that since the recession, 25% of firms have a greater share of part-time workers, while only 8% have a lower share. This data also fits with anecdotes from around the country of employers saying that they’re hiring more part-time workers because of Obamacare.
The sad truth is the health care law is pushing higher health costs onto employers and incentivizing them to hire more part-time workers. Despite passing a law in 2010 loaded with rules, regulations, mandates, and taxes, health care reform is needed more than ever. For solutions that that will control health care costs, improve quality, and expand access, check out the U.S. Chamber’s Health Care Solutions Council report.
The Democrats are angry that abortionists are being held to standards of cleanliness and professionalism…so guess what they did!
Testifying against a Florida bill that would require abortionists to provide emergency medical care to an infant who survives an abortion, Planned Parenthood lobbyist Alisa LaPolt Snow was asked point blank: “If a baby is born on a table as a result of a botched abortion, what would Planned Parenthood want to have happen to that child that is struggling for life?” She replied: “We believe that any decision that’s made should be left up to the woman, her family, and the physician.”
Jaws in the committee room dropped. Asked again, she repeated her answer.
Dr. Gosnell’s clinic was called the “house of horrors.” It was grimy, smelling of urine, blood splashed around and refrigerators containing baby body parts stored in jars. It is incredible that his clinic was not inspected by the Department of Health for seventeen years. The clinic was also a source of illegal drugs to many “patients.”
Gosnell initially came to the attention of law enforcement not because of his abortions but because he was running a “pill mill.”
The Sustainable Development Solutions Network lists Denmark as having the “highest levels of happiness” in their 2013 World Happiness Report. Author of Manipulism and the Weapon of Guilt, Mikkel Clair Nissen has another view of why the Danes are so happy. They are because they are “medicated to be.”
Nissen notes, “Denmark’s suicide rate—with an average of 20.8 per 100,000 during the last five decades—reached its highest level of 32 in 1980. Compare the Danish suicide rate to the rates for the individualist societies of the United Kingdom and the United States, whose small suicide rates have been nearly perfectly steady. United Kingdom’s suicide rate last published in 2009 of 6.9—with an average of 8.5 during the last five decades—has never exceeded 10.7. The American suicide rate last published in 2005 of 11.0—with an average of 11.1 during the last five decades—has never exceeded 12.7.” They are medicated but committing suicide at an alarming rate.
The Sustainable Development Solutions Network released its World Happiness Report 2013. The report states:
The first World Happiness Report, released in 2012 ahead of the UN high-level meeting on Happiness and Well-being, drew international attention as a landmark first survey of the state of global happiness. This new Report goes further. It delves in more detail into the analysis of the global happiness data, examining trends over time and breaking down each country’s score into its component parts, so that citizens and policy makers can understand their country’s ranking. It also draws connections to other major initiatives to measure well-being, including those conducted by the OECD and UNDP’s Human Development Report; and provides guidance for policy makers on how to effectively incorporate well-being into their decision making processes.
The report identifies the countries with the highest levels of happiness:
Manipulism and the Weapon of Guilt: Collectivism Exposed is the utmost controversial exposé and carefully detailed description of the awful emotional mind game that facilitates communism, socialism, and social-liberalism, known as collectivism.
The book exposes Denmark, the supposed happiest nation on earth, for what it truly is: collectivism’s biggest propaganda hoax. Danish author Mikkel Clair Nissen tells the hidden facts and realities of life in Denmark’s democratic-socialism that they never want you to know.
John Redman, Executive Director of California for Drug Free Youth, Amy Ronshausen, Deputy Director of Save Our Society From Drugs and Dr. Jessica Spencer, Florida Director of VoteNo2.org, will be speaking at a conference titled, “Marijuana – The Absolute Truth” on August 23, 2014 in Tampa, Florida. Dr. Spencer states, “All faiths and all groups are welcome! Let’s get motivated and learn about how marijuana legislation has affected California, Colorado and other states!”
Redman, Ronshausen and Spencer are concerned about the hundreds of potential marijuana laced products sold in other states like Colorado including “pot cookies” and “pot tarts” making their way to Florida should Amendment 2 pass.
According to Dr. Spencer, “Pot cookies and other marijuana edibles contain a super-high concentrated amount of THC, sometimes reaching 16 times or more THC than what a single joint would have. These edible pot products are dangerous and insidious. Imagine if the packaging was removed and you had no idea the cookie you were about to eat was a pot cookie. Pulitzer Prize winning, New York Times columnist, Maureen Dowd describes her experience with a pot cookie as being in a ‘hallucinatory state’ for 8 hours and that she was unable to get up from her hotel bed to get a drink of water. People seem to view pot as a benign drug with no really bad effects – just the munchies they say, but these new and powerful edibles, like cookies, are a threat and everybody should be aware of them.”
Below is the flyer for the event with contact information for those wishing to attend:
Here are sixteen slides depicting the direct and indirect impact of marijuana use on the citizens of the state of Colorado. These pictures tell the story (click on any of the slides for a larger view):
Dr. Julio Gonzalez is running for the Florida House of Representatives in District 74. The cornerstone of his campaign is his opposition, as a physician, to Obamacare. You would expect that Dr. Gonzalez would be against using any federal or state funds to expand Obamacare wouldn’t you? Well you may want to look at what Dr. Gonzalez stated in a Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops candidate questionnaire.
The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops sent Dr. Gonzalez and his primary opponent Richard DeNapoli a candidate survey. One of the questions asked was:
COVERING THE UNINSURED: Using federal and state funds to decrease the percentage of uninsured Floridians by at least 50 percent?
Candidate Comments: Only in situations where there are absolutely no viable alternatives available (a safety net). The state’s efforts should be directed at promoting ample opportunities and resources to our uninsured to obtain coverage for catastrophic conditions if they desire such coverage, and not to propagate the problem by having the federal or state governments artificially mask the problems of joblessness and poverty through patch-work solutions.
Candidate Comments: I am opposed to Obamacare and the current proposal to expand Medicaid because of the costs involved. If we reduce federal regulations and mandates on health insurance policies, the private sector will be able to offer more options for policies to address individual consumer needs.
Gonzalez on his campaign website states, “Repeal Obamacare. Take care of our seniors by making sure Medicare remains vibrant and healthy.” How does this statement and his support for expanding coverage for the uninsured under Medicaid in Florida (a key provision of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act) jive? Florida has opted out of Medicaid expansion.
Perhaps Dr. Gonzalez would like to clarify his comments to the voters of Sarasota/Charlotte County. Perhaps voters need to truly understand where District 74 candidates Gonzalez and DeNapoli stand on Obamacare and expanding Medicaid in the sunshine state.
UPDATE: The Florida Family Association sent out its voter guide for the District 74 race. Dr. Gonzalez did not respond to any of the questions posed by the Florida Family Association. You may view Richard DeNapoli’s responses by clicking here.
EDITORS NOTE: To see how your elected officials responded to the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops candidate questionnaire click here.
“Former Governor Jeb Bush has joined a growing list of GOP and law-enforcement officials lining up against a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow doctors to order marijuana for patients. Bush went public with his concerns about Amendment 2, which will be on the November ballot and is heavily bankrolled by Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan,” report Brandon Larrabee and Dara Kam from the News Service of Florida.
“Florida leaders and citizens have worked for years to make the Sunshine State a world-class location to start or run a business, a family-friendly destination for tourism and a desirable place to raise a family or retire,” Bush said in the statement. “Allowing large-scale, marijuana operations to take root across Florida, under the guise of using it for medicinal purposes, runs counter to all of these efforts. I believe it is the right of states to decide this issue, and I strongly urge Floridians to vote against Amendment 2 this November.”
Use of marijuana for medical purposes has been legal in Florida for 23-years. During the 2014 session the Florida legislature passed Senate Bill 1030, which approves the medication CBD (a derivative of marijuana called cannabadiol), and SB 1700, which protects the identities of the patients who use it. Governor Rick Scott signed the two bills into law on July 16, 2014.
The Office of Compassionate Use has been tasked to create processes and procedures to implement the legislation. The intent is to have only those with a clear and verified medical need receive CBD and the quality of CBD is controlled.
Larrabee and Kam report:
Florida health officials are not bowing to pressure from lobbyists, lawyers and nursery owners interested in growing the non-euphoric type of medical marijuana recently authorized by the Legislature and approved by Gov. Rick Scott. The Department of Health issued the notice for a proposed rule on Thursday after holding two workshops on the issue. The department will have a hearing on the proposed rule Sept. 5.”
Lawmakers gave the state’s “Office of Compassionate Use” until January 1, 2015 to come up with a regulatory framework for getting into the hands of patients a strain of marijuana that is low in euphoria-inducing tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and high in cannabadiol, or CBD.
Parents of children who suffer from rare forms of epilepsy pushed lawmakers to legalize the low-THC cannabis because there is evidence that it can dramatically reduce potentially life-threatening seizures. Florida’s new law will also make the substance, usually administered as an oil or paste, available to other patients with severe spasms or cancer if their doctors order it.
The proposed rule closely mirrors a draft released earlier this month, but includes some more details about a much-griped-about lottery system for awarding five licenses to dispensing organizations, which would also grow the marijuana, process the extract and distribute the product to patients.
In regions where more than one qualified applicant meets other requirements, “the department will provide a computer program method for a double random lottery-type selection by public drawing to designate the approved applicant and the rank order of other applications within each dispensing region.”
Lawyers representing at least one grower threatened to challenge the rule if the lottery selection method isn’t dropped.
Also under the proposed rule, dispensing organizations could deliver the product directly to patients anywhere in the state as long as they have an approved transportation plan, but still would be restricted to selling the product from buildings on the property where the marijuana is grown.
Some growers say that could be a problem because most nurseries are located in rural areas zoned for agricultural and wholesale operations only and are not allowed to conduct retail sales.
On January 30, 2014 the Cape Coral Police arrested Neal Jesse Joiner on charges of marijuana cultivation, possession with intent to sell, and paraphernalia charges. Pot has a growing foot hold in Cape Coral (no pun intended). Fast forward six months after Joiner’s arrest and you find “420 Weed Is Life Legalize It” t-shirts at the Cape Coral “Mango Mania” festival. According to Wikipedia, “420, 4:20, or 4/20 (pronounced four-twenty) is a code-term that refers to the consumption of cannabis and by extension, as a way to identify oneself with [the] cannabis subculture or simply cannabis itself.”
As pot growing becomes the cash crop in Florida on January 1, 2015 perhaps it will displace mangoes at the Cape Coral festival. Will the 2015 festival be renamed the Cape Coral Cannabis Culture Festival or “Weed Mania” for short?
Dr. Jessica Spencer, Director of VoteNoOn2.org, sent us a photo taken by Lori from North Port (right) from this years Cape Coral Mango Mania festival. Lori writes, “…and so it begins. This is the first time I have seen this at a family festival (and not some place like Key West). This was taken in Cape Coral at the Mango Festival. I go every year with my daughter. The shirt up front says ‘legalize it’ on the bottom and they were playing suggestive music. Was extremely disappointed to see this in a family oriented environment…and then had to reiterate to my daughter why it was wrong. It was one of two booths offering this stuff. I know this is just the beginning and our kids will be bombarded with this stuff.”
Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA) released its second report titled The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact in August. The RMHIDTA collects and reports comparative data in Colorado on: Impaired driving, youth marijuana use, adult marijuana use, emergency room admissions, marijuana-related exposure cases and diversion of Colorado marijuana outside the state.
Colorado legalized “medical” marijuana in 2009 and marijuana for recreational use in 2013. Florida legalized “medical” marijuana in 2014.
The following are some of the findings from each category in which RMHIDTA collects data:
Perhaps the most damning finding of the report is that marijuana-related exposures for children ages 0 to 5 on average have increased 268 percent from 2006–2009 to 2010-2013.
It is currently illegal to cultivate marijuana for recreational use in Florida. If marijuana Amendment 2 passes in November all of that will change, as it did in Colorado.
What will Florida be like in five years? Will the sunshine state go to pot?
The Feds attack FedEx on behalf of Big Pharma and expand the police state.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the FedEx Corp. pleaded not guilty in a San Francisco federal court “on 15 charges related to transporting painkillers and other prescription drugs that had been sold illegally.”
The “illegal drugs” do not refer to cocaine or meth but to generic medications people can buy from online pharmacies for far less than brand name ones produced by pharmaceutical corporations (Big Pharma). As part of a crackdown on prescription drug abuse, a number of companies—including competitor UPS—agreed to pay civil fines over claims that they sold or delivered medications they knew were not for legitimate medical use. FedEx refused and the Department of Justice (DOJ) is seeking a massive punitive settlement. Prosecutors claim FedEx earned “at least $820 million, and if the company is found guilty, it faces a potential maximum fine of twice that, or about $1.6 billion.”
People arguably have the right to determine their own medical treatments, including what drugs they use. And one can argue about whether a parcel delivery company should be responsible for what gets delivered. But the criminal case against FedEx raises a separate issue: crony capitalism.
Crony capitalism refers to the political dynamic in which commercial success depends upon the relationship a business has with government. Businesses that support a political faction, perhaps through campaign donations, receive favors such as tax exemptions or laws restricting their competitors.
Pharma contributed nearly $10 million to various political campaigns during the 2011–2012 presidential elections. Hedging their bets, the major manufacturers funded both Democrat incumbent Barack Obama (just over $1 million) and Republican challenger Mitt Romney (approx. $699,000). So far, in 2014, the top two contributors in Big Pharma have made political donations of $1,242,991 and $1,031,695, respectively; there are at least 18 other contributors from the industry. The total expended in lobbying during 2014 is $8,870,000.
Politically speaking, the money is a good investment. On May 5, 2013, a Forbes headline announced, “Obamacare Will Bring Drug Industry $35 Billion In Profits.” The article explained that “the U.S. pharmaceutical industry’s market value will mushroom by 33 percent to $476 billion in 2020 from $359 billion last year.” The increase comes despite “expiring patents on blockbuster drugs” such as Lipitor.
Profits-on-paper (rents) can be secured and increased if Big Pharma drives its competitors out of business. This is particularly important as online and foreign competitors offer dramatically lower prices and the convenience of home delivery.
The federal government began pressuring FedEx in 2012. At about the same time, Big Pharma’s price inflation became public, causing a scandal. ABC News reported on an Arizona woman who received an anti-venom drug for a scorpion sting. “The bill that arrived … came out to $83,046, or $39,652” per vial, or “about 10 times what the hospital paid for each vial.” Even the $4,000 per vial charged to the hospital is outrageous. The article went on to note that the drug “costs about $100 per dose” in Mexico and the woman would have saved “$39,552 a dose if she had ordered the drug from a licensed Mexican pharmacy.” No wonder the federal government moved quickly to protect Big Pharma. Every time someone buys from an online source, they lose their monopoly rents.
The Obama administration excels at imposing agendas on the sly. For example, the DOJ initiative called Operation Choke Point pressures banks to refuse financial transactions from businesses that are allegedly a “high risk” for fraud. They are actually businesses of which the government disapproves. The list includes ammunition and firearms companies as well as online pharmaceutical retailers. Rather than take the controversial step of banning these legal businesses, the federal government makes it ever more difficult for them to function. The lawsuit against FedEx continues this federal strategy, as a bit of background illustrates.
A 2012 article in the Wall Street Journal reported, “The Drug Enforcement Administration has been probing whether the companies [FedEx and UPS] aided and abetted illegal drug sales from online pharmacies for several years, according to company filings, although the investigation has gone largely unnoticed. Both companies were served with subpoenas starting more than four years ago.”
The aiding and abetting consisted of delivering orders to customers; without access to the two giant shipping companies, it is not clear how many online pharmacies could remain in business.
UPS quickly entered into discussions with the DOJ about paying fines and cooperating. Ultimately, in March 2013, UPS paid a $40 million fine for the privilege of signing a non-prosecution agreement with the DOJ. FedEx balked. There were several points of contention:
1. FedEx repeatedly requested a list of online pharmacies that the Drug Enforcement Administration considered illegal. In a written statement, Patrick Fitzgerald, senior vice president for marketing and communications, explained, “Whenever DEA provides us a list … we will turn off shipping for those companies immediately. So far the government has declined to provide such a list.”
2. The DOJ wanted all packages from online pharmacies to be opened and the contents noted, whether or not there was reason to suspect a package contained illegal goods. Fitzgerald countered, “sealed packages … are being sent by, as far as we can tell, licensed pharmacies. These are medicines with legal prescriptions written by licensed physicians.” Moreover, FedEx is “a transportation company that picks up and delivers close to 10 million packages every day. They are sealed packages, so we have no way of knowing specifically what’s inside and we have no interest in violating the privacy rights of our customers.”
3. FedEx refused to be “deputized” as a law enforcement agency and preferred to remain a private business.
Big Pharma obviously benefits if online competitors are choked out, but turning FedEx into an arm of law enforcement has advantages for the federal government as well. If federal agents searched private mail without warrants or probable cause, people would cry “Fourth Amendment!” This is the constitutional guarantee that people will be “secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures” by the federal government.
But private shippers are not bound by constitutional restraints. The “right” to check packages can be written into the business agreement that customers sign. If a customer objects, then he is free to go elsewhere. By controlling FedEx policy, the DOJ would be able to search packages in absentia and make targeted arrests if illegal contents are found.
FedEx is determined to fight the lawsuit. The criminal trial will test how much secondary responsibility shippers must legally assume for the contents of shipments. (You can read the full indictment here.)
In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Larry Cote, a former chief counsel at the DEA, referred to the trial as an “unprecedented escalation of a federal crackdown on organizations and individuals” in order “to combat prescription drug abuse.” Making messengers liable for the messages transmitted has dangerous implications for all communications, including personal ones. As TechDirt observed, “We often talk about secondary liability on the internet, but it’s the same basic principal [sic] here. The company that’s merely acting as the conduit shouldn’t be liable for what’s traversing over its system. The implications of changing that, and holding a company liable are very serious. It’s going to create massive incentives for shipping companies to not just open up and look at what’s in our packages, but to also make on-the-fly determinations of whether or not they think it’s legal.”
If the federal government can order private shippers to open all packages in order to fight “illegal drugs,” how long will it be before all financial mailings are opened in order to fight tax evasion or money laundering? Privacy of email and telephone calls is already nonexistent in America. The criminal case against FedEx is an important step toward destroying what remains of mail privacy and expanding the police powers of the State.
Contributing editor Wendy McElroy is an author and the editor of ifeminists.com.
EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of FEE and Shutterstock.
Americans are facing an Identity Crisis as this government pushes toward a New World Order and control of its subjects with a face of concern for the well-being of all, but a close look reveals Obamacare is everything we don’t want.
Finally, Obamacare is not Biblical. The Bible says that Babylon is fallen and “by her sorceries [the Greek word is pharmakeia] were all nations deceived.” Revelation 18:2, 23. The Bible is about freedom– “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32.
The Bible offers real help here. It shows Daniel in Babylon faced with a “healthcare” program from the king. But the king’s meat, wine and dainties were not the diet that Daniel and his friends were used to. They opted out, asking for a trial to show their healthcare was satisfactory, and it was. Probably the book of Daniel would not have been written if Daniel had gone along with the diet and drugs. Alcohol is the original drug of Babylon. The Bible reveals the society of Babylon fallen because it forces her wine upon all, Revelation 14:8.
For a better understanding of the “Affordable Care Act”, that we really can’t afford to participate in, watch this short video:
One of the fallacies of “medical” marijuana is that it is safe, much like the aspirin or prescription drugs we take based on a doctor’s order. That is not the case according to Bloomberg’s Peter Robinson. Robinson reports:
Months after her biotechnology company sold for $40 million, Jessica Tonani is on Seattle’s Highway 99, where Kurt Cobain in his final days shot heroin in cheap motels. She’s scoring a gram of Blueberry Kush.
Tonani doesn’t plan to smoke the pot. Her typical procedure is to isolate some of its DNA and bank it, sequence its genetic profile, and test it for bacteria. After her stop at Choice Wellness, a medical marijuana store in one of the states where pot is newly legal, she buys the same strain in three more places (often collecting a “new-patient gift” of pot-infused gummi bears or goldfish). The goal for her new company, Verda Bio, is to build a database bringing order to billions of potential DNA combinations and, eventually, create stable strains that people can grow like a Red Delicious apple.
[ … ]
Tonani analyzed more than 20 samples of Harlequin along with Analytical 360, a Seattle testing lab, and found that 22 percent were high in the psychedelic tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and had almost no CBD. Any kids taking it were likely just getting stoned.
Tonani is also looking at contaminants to determine where they’re introduced and how to control for them. The first two samples turned up a long list of nastiness, including the fecal bacteria Enterobacter asburiae and the vaginal bacteriaGardnerella vaginalis. What this means, politely, is that many people handling pot don’t wash their hands.
Others have found pot samples collected contaminated with pot shops rarely testing to insure customers get a safe product. “The whole thing is just so loose and unregulated,” said Dr. Mahmoud ElSohly, Director of the Marijuana Research Project at the University of Mississippi.
Bob Doyle, Chairman of the Colorado Smart Approaches to Marijuana Coalition, Christian Thurstone, M.D., General, child and addiction psychiatrist and A. Eden Evins, M.D., M.P.H., Associate Professor of Psychiatry Harvard Medical School Director, Center for Addiction Medicine Massachusetts General Hospital in a letter to Greg Moore, Editor of The Denver Post, and Ricardo Baca, Editor of The Cannabist, wrote:
We are writing to express serious concerns regarding The Denver Post’s The Cannabist website’s recommendations of various marijuana strains to “treat” mental illnesses, including attention-deficit/
hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We are writing as concerned professionals with extensive experience in mental health treatment, medicine, and/or public health.
The Denver Post’s web site provides information from Leafly.com listing 92 Colorado specific strains of marijuana with 88 claimed to treat depression, 25 to treat PTSD, 23 for bipolar, and 40 for ADHD (see attached document assembled by Bob Doyle, Chair, Colorado SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) Coalition). And a few strains are noted to treat cancer. The improper treatment or delay in effective treatment of mental health issues and major psychiatric illnesses can exacerbate the problem and could lead to additional harm to the patient and/or those around them.
In light of the serious potential impact of your recommendations, including possible delay in medical treatment for serious and potentially life threatening mental illnesses, and the potential for worsening of those illnesses by the marijuana you recommend, we request that you release the data upon which these recommendations for dispensing the specific marijuana strains as a treatment for bipolar disorder, PTSD, ADHD, and depression are based. We are sending a copy of this letter to medical authorities with knowledge of science and regulatory policies and procedures.
The absence of critical information on the web site for those accepting your advice to use the various marijuana strains is alarming and demonstrates a failure to appreciate the potential implications of your protocol. For each of the strains, we request to know the recommended dosage, duration, the THC and CBD content, whether you’re recommending they be used with or without FDA approved medication or behavioral treatment for the condition, what contraindications are known, and whether other physical or mental health issues should preclude certain people from using the strain.
We look forward to your prompt reply given the seriousness of the claims on your web site and their potential negative impact on serious psychiatric conditions your web site claims will be “treated” by particular strains of marijuana.
This is coming to Florida now and will get worse if the Marijuana Amendment 2 passes in November. Gird your loins.
What Marijuana Might Do to Your Brain: The latest research suggests a link between the drug and laziness
‘Pot Trucks’ On Tap In Florida?
Medical Marijuana: Down The Rabbit Hole
The Real Story Behind Marijuana Legalization and Traffic Fatalities
EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of Jessica Tonani, President of Verda Bio testing pot samples in Washington state.