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The “Austere” Future: Death instead of Taxes?

COMMENT: With social safety nets fac­ing deep cuts through­out the devel­oped world (“aus­ter­ity”), the vul­ner­a­ble are going to be dying in ever greater num­bers. Aged, sick, dis­abled and poor peo­ple will be pushed over the edge to an increas­ing extent as the mod­est sums they com­mand are slashed.

In Mis­cel­la­neous Archive Show M12, we exam­ined the Nazi T4 euthana­sia pro­gram and how it grew out of the inter­na­tional eugen­ics move­ment and, in turn, led directly to the death camps and Third Reich’s  exter­mi­na­tion policies.

In FTR #‘s 117, 124, 141, we vis­ited with Wes­ley J. Smith, the author of Forced Exit: the Slip­pery Slope from Assisted Sui­cide to Legal­ized Mur­der. In that vitally impor­tant book, Mr. Smith notes how the physician-assisted sui­cide of “ter­mi­nally ill patients” can lead very quickly to legal­ized mur­der of the infirm.

The loom­ing ques­tion is this: will bud­getary “aus­ter­ity” lead to the elim­i­na­tion of the vul­ner­a­ble instead of spend­ing pub­lic rev­enues on them? Will we see legal­ized mur­der insti­tuted in lieu of the higher taxes that the world’s eco­nomic elite so dearly wish to avoid?

Lis­ten to the inter­views with Smith and read the book.

And be afraid. Be very afraid.

“Dutch Mobile Euthana­sia Units to Make House Calls” by Kate Con­nolly; The Guardian [UK]; 3/1/2012.

EXCERPT: A con­tro­ver­sial sys­tem of mobile euthana­sia units that will travel around the coun­try to respond to the wishes of sick peo­ple who wish to end their lives has been launched in the Netherlands.

The scheme, which started on Thurs­day , will send teams of spe­cially trained doc­tors and nurses to the homes of peo­ple whose own doc­tors have refused to carry out patients’ requests to end their lives.

The launch of the so-called Lev­en­seinde, or “Life End”, house-call units – whose ser­vices are being offered to Dutch cit­i­zens free of charge – coin­cides with the open­ing of a clinic of the same name in The Hague, which will take patients with incur­able ill­nesses as well as oth­ers who do not want to die at home. . . .

Discussion

20 comments for “The “Austere” Future: Death instead of Taxes?”

  1. I do worry about the pos­si­ble mis­use of such and I am con­cerned that per­haps this abuse could be far-reaching in some areas, par­tic­u­larly coun­tries that may come under the con­trol of far-right author­i­tar­i­ans as seems to have hap­pened in Egypt(and what hap­pened in Iran 32 years ago) and may soon be hap­pen­ing in Greece and a few other Euro­pean countries.

    Posted by Steven L. | March 3, 2012, 2:34 am
  2. A Strat­for posi­tion paper is jubi­lant that the youth and edu­ca­tion lev­els of ille­gal His­panic immi­grants are above the Amer­i­can and Mex­i­can norm and will profit the US in pro­duc­tiv­ity and tax remit­tance for years to come, ush­er­ing in China level wages. Kick­ing the can down the road, as far as an aging work­force, is now prac­ti­cal and prof­itable if we can just get those use­less old folks to take the shot.

    Posted by Dwight | March 3, 2012, 6:44 pm
  3. Maybe, if we’re good lit­tle plebs, it will just be prison instead of taxes.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 5, 2012, 9:39 am
  4. There is no doubt that “aus­ter­ity mea­sures” are implic­itly geno­ci­dal in being tar­geted at the most vul­ner­a­ble mem­bers of society.

    The cap­i­tal­ist eco­nomic cri­sis pro­vides the per­fect pre­text for the rul­ing classes to elim­i­nate social ben­e­fits won by the work­ing class over the past cen­tury and impose “col­lat­eral dam­age” tar­geted at “use­less bread eater” pop­u­la­tion groups.

    Posted by stu | March 6, 2012, 10:20 am
  5. @Stu: I think I have a good idea at just who might be tar­geted here in America.........

    Posted by Steven L. | March 6, 2012, 7:56 pm
  6. Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 9, 2012, 7:42 am
  7. Well, on the plus, now Greece can lay off all those PE teach­ers. Just think of the savings!

    Greece on the bread­line: the chil­dren of Athens too hun­gry to do PE

    Jon Hen­ley is in Athens find­ing out how ordi­nary Greeks are pulling together to cope amid the finan­cial meltdown

    Posted by
    Jon Hen­ley in Athens
    Tues­day 13 March 2012 11.35 EDT The Guardian

    Dozens of read­ers have sent me sug­ges­tions about places to go and peo­ple to meet in my search for sto­ries behind the head­lines in Athens, and I’m fol­low­ing up as many as I can. Oth­ers have sent me their own contributions.

    Tales of sol­i­dar­ity come from Vic­to­ria Prekate, an Athens sec­ondary school teacher and psy­chol­o­gist, who relates how her col­leagues in schools in the cap­i­tal have been responding:

    It has been a com­mon secret among PE teach­ers for some time now that they don’t expect pupils to do PE any more, because many of them are under­fed and get dizzy.

    They need to be dis­creet, as these under­priv­i­leged chil­dren don’t wish to be exposed to their peers. In my pre­vi­ous school, the teach­ers arranged among them­selves to give the school can­teen some money, so that the can­teen could give the child a snack, with­out embar­rass­ing the child.

    How­ever, this was not enough. In many schools today, it is the par­ents’ asso­ci­a­tions who come together, gather food and dis­creetly arrange to allo­cate it to those fam­i­lies of the school who are suf­fer­ing. In co-operation with the teach­ers, they know which chil­dren in the school are hun­gry and in need of help. Again, they try to do it as dis­creetly as possible.

    “Many fam­i­lies, sud­denly left with­out work, are in shock and there is nowhere to turn. Social ser­vices are col­laps­ing. They are not pro­fes­sional beg­gars. They are ordi­nary peo­ple like you and me, sud­denly left with noth­ing. I know one area, where schools have spe­cialised in what they gather: 1st pri­mary school gather rice and legumes, 2nd veg­eta­bles, 3rd meat and chicken etc.

    ...

    So is this all seen as the sort of fruit­ful sac­ri­fice that cre­ates a pro­duc­tive future because there are some seri­ous long-term impli­ca­tions to your nation’s econ­omy when you starve your chil­dren.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 13, 2012, 6:49 pm
  8. @Pterrafractyl–Indeed there are long term impli­ca­tions for not feed­ing chil­dren. There are short term and long term results from not feed­ing adults either.

    No calories=no pro­duc­tiv­ity, i.e. no work.

    This falls directly inline with my post about List, von Clause­witz etc.

    When the Nazis occu­pied a coun­try, they raised the price of food sig­nif­i­cantly, while keep­ing the price of beer and alco­hol stable.

    It thus became cheaper to get your calo­ries from liquor, thus ren­der­ing a por­tion of the occu­pied pop­u­la­tion incapacitated.

    The Nazis were also very aware that the forced labor pro­grams (which sep­a­rated men and women), the loot­ing of the wealth of the occu­pied nations and reduc­tion in food rations for the occu­pied pop­u­la­tion all had long term impli­ca­tions for the coun­tries they conquered.

    Long after the occu­pa­tion ended, the beaten nations lagged in pro­duc­tiv­ity, pop­u­la­tion growth, longevity and liq­uid assets.

    This was done with a von Clausewitz-style post­war in mind.

    Posted by Dave Emory | March 13, 2012, 10:35 pm
  9. @Dave: Sad thing is, every­thing you have said here in that com­ment is true and com­pletely verifiable.

    Truth is, many nations in Africa also had some sim­i­lar prob­lems under West­ern colo­nial­ism as well, most notably, their lack of real eco­nomic growth after their for­mer over­lords had left. Might there one day be an ini­tia­tive to per­haps re-colonize Africa, even if per­haps just eco­nom­i­cally so? (I hope not, of course, but one must won­der sometimes).

    Posted by Steven L. | March 14, 2012, 3:28 am
  10. And the global onslaught on the notion that a soci­ety that can take care of its own con­tin­ues...:

    LA Times
    Rep. Paul Ryan’s bud­get plan, with Medicare changes, is back
    A back­lash from seniors buried the Repub­li­can pro­posal last year, but the Wis­con­sin con­gress­man insists his deficit-slashing ideas are on the right track.

    By Lisa Mas­caro, Wash­ing­ton Bureau

    March 16, 2012, 5:37 p.m.
    Report­ing from Wash­ing­ton–
    For a moment last year, Repub­li­can Rep. Paul Ryan’s star shone brightly as he unveiled his party’s bold deficit-whacking bud­get pro­posal –that is, until seniors rebelled over his plan to dra­mat­i­cally change Medicare.

    The back­lash was swift and deci­sive. Democ­rats attacked the GOP, say­ing the plan would destroy the Medicare safety net, and the earnest Wis­con­sin wun­derkind slid from the spot­light. When he walked the halls of the Capi­tol, he popped in his iPod ear­buds, tun­ing out the noise.

    Now Ryan, the House Bud­get Com­mit­tee chair­man, is return­ing to cen­ter stage as the GOP dou­bles down on his con­ser­v­a­tive bud­get pri­or­i­ties — includ­ing tax cuts for the wealthy and a new ver­sion of his plan for major changes in Medicare

    With an edgy new campaign-style video and a flurry of Ryan appear­ances timed with his upcom­ing bud­get release, Repub­li­cans believe theirs is a win­ning strat­egy: one that will show­case the GOP as will­ing to make tough choices to reduce fed­eral deficits and present vot­ers with a con­trast to Pres­i­dent Obama. Democ­rats believe just as strongly that the Ryan strat­egy will be a win­ner for them.

    A Medicare over­haul, in par­tic­u­lar, is a risky move in an elec­tion year when the GOP is try­ing to top­ple Obama, defend its House major­ity and win the Sen­ate. Ryan won plau­dits from some bud­get hawks and think tanks for being will­ing to tackle the dif­fi­cult pol­i­tics of Medicare cuts. But aver­age vot­ers over­whelm­ingly sup­port keep­ing Medicare as is. They also favor Obama’s approach of tax­ing wealthy Amer­i­cans more heav­ily to bring bud­gets into bal­ance, rather than offer more tax cuts, polls show.

    ...

    Ryan’s new bud­get is expected to include a revised pro­vi­sion backed by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) that addresses some of the crit­i­cisms. It would still give future seniors a fixed amount, but it would allow them to use the money to stay in the tra­di­tional Medicare pro­gram. They would have to pay out of pocket if the costs of the pro­gram were higher than the gov­ern­ment sub­sidy — or buy an alter­na­tive plan. Wyden is likely to oppose the Ryan budget’s other pro­vi­sions, lim­it­ing the patina of bipar­ti­san­ship the GOP hoped for.

    ...

    Less par­ti­san bud­get experts say Ryan deserves credit for being will­ing to talk about Medicare spend­ing, but that most seniors under his plan would face con­sid­er­ably higher costs for health­care, in some cases many thou­sands of dol­lars a year. Some also call his pro­pos­als unre­al­is­tic for refus­ing to con­sider any increase in tax rev­enue to rein in the nation’s debt. Of con­cern to some, the bud­get is expected to avoid agreed-upon Pen­ta­gon cuts in favor of deeper reduc­tions to other domes­tic programs.

    Ryan dis­misses such chal­lenges. To him, losses such as the one the GOP suf­fered in last year’s spe­cial elec­tion are merely bumps along a career path try­ing to avert a national debt cri­sis. A pro­tégé of Repub­li­can Jack Kemp, Ryan calls him­self a next-generation supply-sider who matches the ear­lier con­ser­v­a­tives’ zest for lower taxes with a new empha­sis on deficit reduction.

    “To me it’s sort of a moral issue. There is right and there is wrong. There are absolutes in life, and it is wrong to know­ingly do noth­ing to pre­vent a cat­a­stro­phe from hap­pen­ing,” said Ryan, a Roman Catholic who says he prays daily for the coun­try to be on bet­ter fis­cal footing.

    ...

    Paul Ryan, Sup­ply Side Jesus‘s prayer war­rior in chief.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 17, 2012, 6:50 pm
  11. The offer is still on the table? Uh oh

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 19, 2012, 10:13 am
  12. FYI, Robert Mundell, the econ­o­mist known as the “God-father” of the euro, a major fig­ure in the devel­op­ment of supply-side eco­nom­ics, and an advo­cate of a global cur­rency (so we can all become Greece, yay!) wants you to know that there’s just no way we can afford things like like a fis­cal stim­u­lus any­more. Sorry plebs:

    Bloomberg
    Free Lunches Push­ing U.S. to Insol­vency, Columbia’s Mundell Says
    By Alli­son Ben­nett and Tom Keene — Mar 20, 2012 11:39 AM CT

    Polit­i­cal com­pe­ti­tion for votes and lack of fis­cal dis­ci­pline are push­ing the world’s largest econ­omy toward sol­vency issues, accord­ing to the Nobel Prize– win­ning econ­o­mist Robert Mundell.

    “The pub­lic is look­ing for free lunches, and the polit­i­cal com­pe­ti­tion for votes makes the politi­cians offer them free lunches,” Mundell, a pro­fes­sor of eco­nom­ics at Colum­bia Uni­ver­sity, said on Bloomberg Radio inter­view with Tom Keene and Ken Pre­witt. “That’s what gets us in to the dif­fi­cul­ties of insolvency.”

    The U.S. plans to finance a bud­get deficit fore­cast to exceed $1 tril­lion for a fourth year, and out­stand­ing U.S. mar­ketable debt expanded to $10 tril­lion in February.

    Even as the job­less rate has fallen from a high of 10 per­cent in Octo­ber 2009 to 8.3 per­cent in Feb­ru­ary, it remains almost 2 per­cent above the aver­age of the past decade and the cen­tral bank has called unem­ploy­ment “persistent.”

    You could have fis­cal stim­u­lus back in the day of Keynes, when the gov­ern­ment was a small pro­por­tion of gross domes­tic prod­uct and there was no insol­vency prob­lem,” he said, refer­ring to British econ­o­mist John May­nard Keynes. “You can’t just issue more bonds to pay for deficits and expect it to solve the employ­ment prob­lem.

    The euro area is fore­cast to have fis­cal spend­ing of 3.3 per­cent of GDP in 2012, com­pared to 7.1 per­cent in the U.S. this year.

    “The United States is not in as bad a sit­u­a­tion as Europe,” he said, “but it’s get­ting that way.”
    ‘Polit­i­cal Glue’

    As the Inter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund said Greece may require addi­tional fund­ing or a third debt restruc­tur­ing, the odds of the fis­cal union break­ing up by the end of 2013 have reached 36.5 per­cent, based on bets made at Intrade.com. Mundell, often referred to as the father of the com­mon cur­rency, sees a dif­fer­ent outcome.

    “It’s polit­i­cal glue inside Europe to keep it together — the euro is the best thing going for it since the cre­ation of the com­mon mar­ket,” he said. “The end game is going to be deeper inte­gra­tion in Europe and more cen­tral­iza­tion of the fis­cal authority.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 20, 2012, 1:35 pm
  13. Scalia, in his own words:

    ...

    1) Scalia chal­lenges the “right” to healthcare

    Approx­i­mately 20 min­utes into the argu­ments (pages 19–20 in the tran­script), Jus­tice Scalia asked Solic­i­tor Gen­eral Ver­rilli why, if the gov­ern­ment could force peo­ple to enter the mar­ket for health insur­ance, the gov­ern­ment couldn’t also force peo­ple to enter the car mar­ket in order to bring down the cost of cars for every­one. Ver­rilli responded that forc­ing peo­ple to buy cars would be different:

    GENERAL VERRILLI: In the health­care mar­ket, you’re going into the mar­ket with­out the abil­ity to pay for what you get, get­ting the health­care ser­vice any­way as a result of the social norms that allow — that — to which we’ve oblig­ated our­selves so that peo­ple get health­care.

    JUSTICE SCALIA: Well, don’t oblig­ate your­self to that. Why — you know?

    GENERAL VERRILLI: Well, I can’t imag­ine that that — that the Com­merce Clause would — would for­bid Con­gress from tak­ing into account this deeply embed­ded social norm.

    JUSTICE SCALIA: You could do it.

    ...

    Yes, you could indeed reject the social norm that we take care of eachother. It’s eas­ier than you might think!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 30, 2012, 1:15 pm
  14. Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 5, 2012, 2:33 pm
  15. If I didn’t think the cre­ation of a per­ma­nent under­class, low-end wage sup­pres­sion, and the nor­mal­iza­tion of dehu­man­iz­ing atti­tudes weren’t three of the unspo­ken objec­tives of its cham­pi­ons, I’d call the “end wel­fare as we know it” reforms to be a demon­stra­ble fail­ure. But since we’ve been locked in a multi-decade long strug­gle to break gov­ern­ment and ‘starve the beast’, I have to acknowl­edge another Mis­sion Accomplished!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 7, 2012, 6:46 pm
  16. Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 8, 2012, 6:43 pm
  17. AIG’s CEO would like you to know that the euro­zone finan­cial cri­sis is a sig­nal to the rest of the world that retire­ment ages need to be raised to 80. Every­where. I’d be curi­ous to hear his views about exec­u­tive com­pen­sa­tion. Well isn’t that spe­cial.

    Don’t you just love neo-liberal glob­al­iza­tion? Appar­ently retire­ment is no longer affordable....our tech­no­log­i­cally advanced economies are ‘too com­pet­i­tive’ now to allow for retire­ment because all that tech­nol­ogy allows one worker to do so much more than ever before. So the only way to get even more ‘pro­duc­tive’ work­ers in a tech­no­log­i­cally advanced econ­omy is to pay the work­ers less and get rid of retire­ment, I guess. Remem­ber, profit=productivity, for some unex­plained reason...it’s a mys­tery of the cos­mos. Stop ask­ing ques­tions. Just accept the wis­dom of your elders. It’s sup­posed to be for the kid­dies, because noth­ing helps record youth unem­ploy­ment like ensur­ing their grand­par­ents can’t retire. It’s about build­ing ‘con­fi­dence’. Finally, no more lazy 79 yr olds wast­ing their lives on the couch. Especally the retired con­struc­tion work­ers. Get a job you bums! Boy, that felt good to get off my chest. I’m feel­ing more con­fi­dent already.

    Thanks for the tip ass­hole:

    Bloomberg
    AIG Chief Sees Retire­ment Age as High as 80 After Cri­sis
    By Boris Cerni and Zachary Tracer — Jun 4, 2012 6:54 AM CT

    AIG Will Con­tinue to Expand Glob­ally, CEO Says

    Amer­i­can Inter­na­tional Group Inc. (AIG) Chief Exec­u­tive Offi­cer Robert Ben­mosche said Europe’s debt cri­sis shows gov­ern­ments world­wide must accept that peo­ple will have to work more years as life expectan­cies increase.

    “Retire­ment ages will have to move to 70, 80 years old,” Ben­mosche, who turned 68 last week, said dur­ing a week­end inter­view at his sea­side villa in Dubrovnik, Croa­tia. “That would make pen­sions, med­ical ser­vices more afford­able. They will keep peo­ple work­ing longer and will take that bur­den off of the youth.”

    The cri­sis, now in its third year, threat­ens to destroy Europe’s 17-nation cur­rency union as Greece con­tem­plates exit­ing the euro and Spain sees its bond yields rise and bank­ing indus­try fal­ter. Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel hard­ened her oppo­si­tion to joint debt shar­ing in the euro region as U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama sin­gled out Europe’s lead­ers for not doing enough to arrest the crisis.

    Greece aban­don­ing the euro could be a dis­as­ter for the coun­try and Europe must work to keep that from hap­pen­ing, said Ben­mosche, whose com­pany was the world’s biggest insurer before it took a U.S. bailout.

    “Peo­ple in Greece have to see there is no easy way out of this” and the gov­ern­ment must get them to work longer, he said in the June 2 inter­view on the Adri­atic coast. “If not, and if they go to their own cur­rency, I think they will see huge infla­tion and it will be dev­as­tat­ing for peo­ple on fixed incomes.“
    Life Expectancy

    Greece, where the aver­age life expectancy is 81.3 years, has an effec­tive retire­ment age of 59.6, among the low­est in Europe, accord­ing to data com­piled by Bloomberg. French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande, the Social­ist who was sworn in last month, has pledged to cut the retire­ment age to 60 from 62 while increas­ing cor­po­rate and bank taxes and intro­duc­ing a 75 per­cent levy on earn­ings of more than 1 mil­lion euros ($1.2 million).

    Peter Han­cock, CEO of AIG’s Char­tis property-casualty unit, said last week the insurer has assigned staff from Argentina to advise their coun­ter­parts in Athens as the com­pany pre­pares for a pos­si­ble Greek exit from the euro, with the com­mon cur­rency at its low­est against the U.S. dol­lar since June 2010. Argentina defaulted on a record $95 bil­lion of debt in 2001 and later aban­doned a decade-long 1-to-1 peso peg to the greenback.

    “We have gone through the cri­sis in Argentina and other coun­tries over time, so we have expe­ri­ence,” Ben­mosche said.

    ...

    Ben­mosche has sold non-U.S. life insur­ers, a con­sumer lender and other busi­nesses to pay back its tax­payer res­cue, which swelled to $182.3 bil­lion as the U.S. extended more credit and low­ered the inter­est charged. The Trea­sury Depart­ment has cut its stake to 61 per­cent from 92 per­cent through three share sales total­ing about $17.6 bil­lion. In the most recent two, AIG bought back a total of $5 bil­lion in stock.

    ...

    Ben­mosche said peo­ple and busi­nesses in the U.S. lack con­fi­dence and are hes­i­tant to invest as finan­cial reg­u­la­tion and tax poli­cies remain unsettled.

    “I am opti­mistic that we’ll con­tinue to grow, and if we get past this period of uncer­tainty and gain con­fi­dence again in the U.S. eco­nomic sys­tem, that will help lead the world out of the sit­u­a­tion we are in today,” he said.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 4, 2012, 10:36 am
  18. Krug­man has a the­ory on the mad­ness grip­ping the euro­zone and the fix­a­tion of Berlin’s pol­i­cy­mak­ers on aus­ter­ity regard­less of the ever grow­ing oppo­si­tion and evi­dence that the pol­icy just doesn’t work: What we’re see­ing at play is a deep sense that suf­fer­ing is a nec­es­sary com­po­nent of reform. Rule by Calvin­ism. With­out pain, no knowl­edge on how to be a bet­ter per­son can be gained. So if you thought the cri­sis was all about bal­anc­ing finan­cial ledgers you were wrong. There’s an exis­ten­tial pain/pleasure ledger and it wants to be bal­anced too.

    So, with that insight in mind, I hope you’re learn­ing your les­son, Alonso:

    Chil­dren Lose to Bailed-Out Bankers as Cri­sis Forces Cuts
    By Ben Sills and Rod­ney Jef­fer­son — Jun 6, 2012 3:24 AM CT

    Twelve-year-old Alonso Arroyo is wor­ried about his friend Dario.

    Doc­tors in Spain (IBEX), where the gov­ern­ment is cut­ting health spend­ing while pay­ing 23.5 bil­lion euros ($29 bil­lion) to bail out its third-largest bank, stopped Dario’s pre­scrip­tion of the 2,000-euro a month growth hor­mone both boys need to stop their bod­ies degen­er­at­ing because of a genetic con­di­tion. Alonso doesn’t know his treat­ment was pulled too.

    “We’ve devel­oped cap­i­tal­ism to the point where it’s eat­ing us,” said his father, Jose Andres Arroyo, who’s been unem­ployed since his truck­ing firm in Madrid folded three years ago. “How did we do this? We’ve trashed the Euro­pean wel­fare state.”

    The two Span­ish boys, who also have learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties because their ill­ness slowed down brain devel­op­ment, have never heard of gov­ern­ment bonds. They don’t know that their country’s banks plowed 300 bil­lion euros into prop­erty devel­op­ments, many of which are empty, or that Greek politi­cians lied about their debt. With the Euro­pean finan­cial cri­sis now in its third year, spend­ing con­sid­ered sacred in the good times is becom­ing expend­able as gov­ern­ments weigh the needs of their most vul­ner­a­ble against the threat of los­ing access to debt markets.

    Euro­pean Struggle

    Spain is strug­gling to avoid fol­low­ing Ire­land, Por­tu­gal and Greece in requir­ing a bailout from the Euro­pean Union and Inter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund. Greece is fight­ing to stay in the euro. The U.K., whose four biggest banks paid 32 senior exec­u­tives a com­bined 103 mil­lion pounds ($161 mil­lion) last year, is in its sec­ond reces­sion in three years. In all the coun­tries, peo­ple who know lit­tle of the debt cri­sis are being caught up in it as med­ical aid and day care is scaled back.

    “The wel­fare sys­tem was put in place when things were eas­ier and cheaper,” said Ger­ard Lane, an invest­ment strate­gist at Shore Cap­i­tal stock­bro­kers in Liv­er­pool, north­west Eng­land. “It’s dif­fi­cult for a state to tar­get those who need to get off wel­fare, but keep it for all those who need it. The def­i­n­i­tion of ‘need’ may change as liv­ing stan­dards fall.”

    ...

    That’s right Alonso, your petty “needs” are look­ing more and more like “wants”. That money wasted on growth hor­mones could be bet­ter spent else­where. A bank’s gotta grow too you know!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 6, 2012, 12:24 pm
  19. It’s not a sub­stan­tive obser­va­tion regard­ing a pos­si­ble con­flict of inter­est. It’s just a pesky meme:

    U.S. News & World Report
    Meme Alleges Clarence Thomas’s Wife Got $1.5M From Health­care Act Foes

    By Eliz­a­beth Flock

    June 22, 2012

    A new meme is mak­ing its way around the Inter­net, show­ing a photo of Supreme Court Jus­tice Clarence Thomas with the cap­tion: “This [man’s] fam­ily received $1.5 mil­lion from health care oppo­nents... And is about to rule on health care reform.”

    The meme by Frank Chi, a dig­i­tal strate­gist who advises Demo­c­ra­tic cam­paigns and pro­gres­sive orga­ni­za­tions, has rein­tro­duced the alle­ga­tion just as antic­i­pa­tion is peak­ing over the Supreme Court’s com­ing deci­sion on the fate of the Afford­able Care Act of 2010.

    But while there have been a num­ber of ques­tions about Thomas’s pos­si­ble con­flict of inter­est, the $1.5 mil­lion num­ber may be a con­fla­tion of sev­eral dif­fer­ent figures.

    The num­ber seems to have first been cir­cu­lated by Demo­c­ra­tic law­maker Andrei Cherny, a can­di­date for Arizona’s 9th Con­gres­sional Dis­trict and for­mer aide and adviser to pres­i­dents Bill Clin­ton and Barack Obama.

    Cherny told an Ari­zona tele­vi­sion sta­tion in April 2012 that Thomas ought be impeached for receiv­ing $1.5 mil­lion from health­care oppo­nents and then not recus­ing him­self from the Afford­able Care Act case. The state­ment was reported on by pro­gres­sive site Think Progress.

    Cherny was echo­ing con­cerns voiced by 74 mem­bers of Con­gress ear­lier that year, who signed a let­ter to Jus­tice Thomas warn­ing of a con­flict of inter­est if he ruled on health­care reform. (You can read the let­ter at Kaiser Health News.)

    But all of these ques­tions revolve less around Thomas than they do his wife: Vir­ginia “Ginni” Thomas, a con­ser­v­a­tive lob­by­ist and attor­ney in Washington.

    Ginni Thomas has been a vocal critic of the Afford­able Care Act, and she has cer­tainly made money off of that crit­i­cism. In 2009, she founded the Tea Party non­profit lob­by­ing group Lib­erty Cen­tral, which lob­bied against the law. There, she made a salary of $120,000, accord­ing to the group’s 2010 tax filing.

    A startup dona­tion to Lib­erty Cen­tral to the tune of $500,000 came from Har­lan Crow, a Dal­las real estate investor, Repub­li­can donor, and friend of Jus­tice Thomas, Politico reported in 2011. Crow declined to com­ment to the New York Times about whether he was the source of the money.

    Ginni Thomas later stepped down as CEO and pres­i­dent of Lib­erty Cen­tral, but started Lib­erty Con­sult­ing in 2010, which also did anti-healthcare reform lob­by­ing, accord­ing to the lib­eral site Mother Jones.

    And in Jan­u­ary 2011, it came to light that Jus­tice Thomas had “inad­ver­tently” left out infor­ma­tion about his wife’s employ­ment over the last 13 years—where her earn­ings added up to as much as $1.6 mil­lion, the Huff­in­g­ton Post reported.

    One of her for­mer employ­ers: the Her­itage Foun­da­tion, where Ginni Thomas made hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars between 2003 and 2007, accord­ing to a let­ter from Thomas to the Com­mit­tee on Finan­cial Dis­clo­sure. The foun­da­tion has also been a vocal oppo­nent of the health­care reform law.

    Thomas has repeat­edly denied any con­flict of interest.

    ...

    Damn inter­webs!!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 22, 2012, 10:02 pm
  20. Wow, the right to die slope appears to be well greased in Bel­gium too. I didn’t think it was so bad.

    Rus­sel Goldman/ABC News 1/14/13 “Bel­gium Euth­a­nizes Deaf Twins Going Blind”

    Excerpt “Two deaf twin broth­ers in Bel­gium were euth­a­nized by their doc­tor after real­iz­ing they were going blind and would be unable to see each other ever again, their physi­cian says.....Belgian law­mak­ers are con­sid­er­ing a law that would extend euthana­sia to demen­tia patients and chil­dren, whose fam­i­lies and doc­tors consented.”

    http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2013/01/belgium-euthanizes-deaf-twins-going-blind/

    Posted by GK | January 18, 2013, 7:27 pm

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