The Corpus Callosum

Humpday News Commentary

Politics: ON NPR today, they were talking about href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=90696947">the
“mistakes” of the Clinton campaign.  I was annoyed
by that.  Framing the issue in that way implies that a) the
race was hers to lose, and b) the outcome is not really up to the
voters.  The discussion implied that if a candidate runs a
perfect campaign, then that candidate will win.  

I’d like to think that the voters will choose the candidate they want,
unless a grievous error is made.  

Another news item caught my attention.  In commemoration of
the anniversary of Cuba’s independence (from href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Cuba#The_first_US_Occupation_.2F_Platt_Amendment">US
military occupation), President Bush took the opportunity to href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=90694402">make
snide comments about the current government.  It
strikes me that this was similar to his use of the 60th anniversary of
Israel’s independence, to take a swipe at href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barack_Obama" rel="tag">Barack
Obama.  

This is akin to making snide comments about the father-in-law at a
wedding.  It shows a lack of respect, a lack of restraint, a
lack of professionalism, and a serious personality flaw.


Health: The LA Times reports that there is evidence
for a href="http://www.latimes.com/technology/la-sci-nano21-2008may21,0,1208315.story">cancer
risk from carbon nanotubes.  

Some carbon nanotubes used in bike parts, bumpers and
other products could act like asbestos if inhaled, scientists report.
Workers making the products are at greatest risk, the study finds…Researchers
found that mice injected with nanotubes quickly developed the same
biological damage associated with early exposure to asbestos fibers, a
known carcinogen.

Industry leasers say that safeguards are in place during the
manufacturing process.  I guess we will see, but the
similarity to asbestos is worrisome.  

International: There is href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=90402097">unrest
in Mexico over the prospect of privatization of oil.
 Mexico may run out of oil in ten years.  Currently,
it accounts for 40% of federal revenue.  Offering incentives
to multinational corporations could give that revenue a boost,
temporarily, but it seems as though that would be a huge mistake.
 Better to use it up more gradually, and keep all the wealth
themselves, as opposed to trading a short-term boost for a slice of the
profit.  

In other news, the UN is href="http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N20342455.htm">calling
for assistance to small-time farmers worldwide.
 This is directly contrary to US business interests, of
course.  In return for aid, countries agreed to open their
markets.  That shut down a lot of small, local farms.
 Now their people are starving, while US business profits.
 Haiti is a good example, as href="http://www.democracynow.org/2008/4/24/the_us_role_in_haitis_food">described
by Amy Goodman and Bill Quigley.  The darndest thing
about this is that US rice producers receive subsidies from the US
government.  So our taxpayers are funding a scheme that
results in starvation in Haiti.  Who wins in this?

BILL QUIGLEY: Absolutely.
And I think in my experience, the people of the United States have no
idea that they are paying taxes, and our government has destroyed not
just Haiti, but the agricultural bases of lots and lots of very poor
countries. And so, our money is going to these huge farmers, mostly in
Arkansas. They’re in about five different states, some of them getting
hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. There’s one that has gotten
over half-a-billion dollars over the last ten years. And so, we are
directly subsidizing these huge agribusinesses which are putting the
small farmers and even the regional farmers out of business and really
creating this hunger problem that the world is seeing right now,
because the people in Haiti, it takes awhile to irrigate, farm and all
this other stuff, and the industry has been broken down.

Did you ever wonder if there are people in the USA who would like to do
the same kind of thing to our own citizens?

Economy: href="http://money.cnn.com/2008/05/21/news/economy/consumer/index.htm?postversion=2008052117">Consumer
Spending can’t save the economy.  

“Consumers just don’t have the cash right now that
they had a few years ago,” said Hoyt, who expects the recovery to begin
in the second half of 2008. “This obviously impacts their ability to
spend, their confidence, their ability to service their debt and it’s
going to continue even as the economy recovers.”

Before the 1980s, consumer spending made up about 63% of the nation’s
gross domestic product, a key measure of the economy. Since then, it
has grown to about 70% as Americans took on more debt to fuel their
buying habits.

Like a sun, radiating warmth upon his people, Reagan was a true
inspiration to the entire population of the USA.  He worked
his magic on Democrat and Republican alike.  They all adopted
Reaganomics for their personal finances.  Deficits didn’t
matter.  We know this is true, because Dick Cheney href="http://www.ontheissues.org/2004/Dick_Cheney_Budget_+_Economy.htm">said
so.

Medicine:  The Treatment for
Adolescents With Depression Study
(TADS) study results are
coming out.  The cost-effectiveness analysis shows that
fluoxetine by itself (that is, without psychotherapy) is the most
cost-effective treatment.  This is true even though it costs
more than placebo
.  From an href="http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/abstract/ajp;165/5/588">abstract
in the Green Journal:

RESULTS: Results ranged from an
incremental cost over placebo of $24,000 per QALY for treatment with
fluoxetine to $123,000 per QALY for combination therapy treatment.

The acronym, QALY, means href="http://www.jr2.ox.ac.uk/bandolier/booth/glossary/QALY.html">quality-adjusted
life year
.  It is a theoretical construct
used in cost-benefit analyses of medical interventions.  In
primary care medicine, $125,000 per QALY gained, is considered to be an
reasonable cost.  

I still find it difficult to think in those terms, but there it is, for
what it is worth.

Comments

  1. #1 DrugMonkey
    May 22, 2008

    Framing the issue in that way implies that … the outcome is not really up to the voters.

    YES!! I hate this when the punditocracy starts talking about how a candidate made mistakes or “blew” the race. It totally disrespects the voters, like they are just there to be played by a slick campaign. oh. wait. That IS what the professional political class thinks, isn’t it?

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