Daily Archives: April 12, 2012

LUV News on Privatization

THIS MORNING’S SHOCKING ECONOMIC MATTERS


Income inequality is growing faster under President Obama than it was under President Bush [Huffington Post], as the nation continues to privatize public resources with most of the gains going to the wealthy as services are cut in the name of profit. Although Obama employs much better rhetoric, such as pushing the “Buffett rule,” it has no chance of passing Congress, so is an obvious election ploy. Obama’s actions do not support taxing the rich, it was, after all, Obama who extended the Bush tax cuts for the rich, and Obama voted for the Bush bankster bailout when in the Senate, then did one of his own after becoming President.

The privatization has extended deeply into our prison system, as corporations profit from prisons even while they fund our elections, pushing government to keep a steady supply of prisoners going to the world’s largest incarceration system. This morning Charles Davis has an excellent piece on this, centering on Wells Fargo, who appear to be investing some of their government bankster bailout money into prisons for profit.

And, of course, our hospitals have been largely privatized, so no longer work for the American people. This morning Jeffrey Young has a piece on the “health care” industry getting caught stealing from Medicare to enrich private hospitals, as one should expect when capitalists tap into the federal treasury with profit as their only goal. Corporate media keep the masses from understanding why our health care is so expensive and provides so little actual care.

And finally, in this morning’s economic news, Khadeeja Safdar explains that the rich are thinking about letting the masses go under, as they always do, but have grand plans for themselves when the Big One hits, in an illustrated piece titled “Super-Rich Plan To Survive Apocalypse In Underground Luxury Condos.”

Mario Piperni on the Newt

Gingrich Getting Ugly (Uglier?)

April 12, 2012 By

Is there anything more vengeful than a wounded Newt? I think not. Unwilling to accept his inevitable failure to become the Republican nominee, Gingrich abandons any pretense of bowing out with grace and honor and lashes out at Fox, conservative media and the Republican Party.

I think FOX has been for Romney all the way through. In our experience, Callista and I both believe CNN is less biased than FOX this year. We are more likely to get neutral coverage out of CNN than we are of FOX, and we’re more likely to get distortion out of FOX. That’s just a fact.

I assume it’s because Murdoch at some point [who] said, ‘I want Romney,’ and so ‘fair and balanced’ became ‘Romney.’ And there’s no question that Fox had a lot to do with stopping my campaign because such a high percentage of our base watches FOX.

Distortion out of FOX? Really? It took the Republican presidential primaries for Gingrich to realize that FOX is neither fair nor balanced? Funny.

And how pissed is Gingrich over the treatment he’s received from FOX and conservative media in general?

This much.

“They know I don’t care about their opinions,” he said. “I don’t go to their cocktail parties. I don’t go to their Christmas parties. The only press events I go to are interesting dinners when the wife insists on it, so we’re going to go to the White House Correspondents’ dinner because she wants to. And we’re actually going to go to CNN’s table, not FOX.”

Obviously Gingrich has given up any hope of returning to his former gig as a FOX analyst and is instead vying for an Erick Erickson type deal over at CNN. He’ll probably get it too. There can never be too many bullshit pundits on cable news.

Here he is sucking up to teabaggers while dissing his own party.

“The Republican Party is a managerial party that doesn’t like to fight, doesn’t like to read books,” he said. “This is why the Tea Party was so horrifying. Tea Partiers were actually learning about the Declaration of Independence. They wanted to talk about the Federalist Papers. It was weird. They could be golfing.”

So there you go. True to form, Gingrich shows that he holds loyalty to no man, woman, political party or propaganda cable news network.

Side note: I’ve always been suspect of any man who refers to his spouse as “the wife” rather than “my wife.” Given Gingrich’s history with women, though, it’s not surprising that he’d refer to Callista in the same way he’d refer to any other inanimate product he could purchase and later discard. The car. The golf clubs. The underwear. The mistress.

Use them, abuse them and lose them. It’s the Gingrich way.

Paul Krugman’s observation that Gingrich is “the stupid person’s idea of what a smart man sounds like” rings truer each day.

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(The source photograph is Wikimedia Commons licensed image. The Newt Gingrich source photograph is a Creative Commons licensed image from photographer Gage Skidmore. )

Ezra Klein on Animal Antibiotics

I don’t feel like talking about the election today. So let’s talk about something else. On Wednesday, the FDA finalized a plan to ask drug companies to “voluntarily” limit the use of certain antibiotics in animal feed.

This might not seem like a huge deal to you. But it is. And it gets to one of my favorite scary statistics: 70 percent of the antibiotics used in this country — 70 percent! — go into livestock production. And that’s before you even get to the antibiotics that are used on animals who actually fall ill.

The reason is simple enough: If we didn’t pump our livestock full of antibiotics, they would get sick. They are, after all, packed into dim and dirty enclosures. They’re stacked on top of one another. And they’re being fed food they didn’t evolve to eat. All of this makes animals sick. But rather than raise them in a way that doesn’t make them sick, but costs somewhat more, we just keep them on constant does of antibiotics.

And then we eat them. Which means we get constant, low-grade doses of these antibiotics. Which means common bacteria get constant, low-grade doses of these antibiotics. And there’s mounting evidence that this background exposure to antibiotics is contributing to the startling rise in antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Everything from staph to strep to salmonella is exhibiting uncommon resilience in the face of our latest drugs. A 2003 World Health Organization study (PDF) put it pretty starkly: “There is clear evidence of the human health consequences [from agricultural use of antibiotics, including] infections that would not have otherwise occurred, increased frequency of treatment failures (in some cases death) and increased severity of infections.” Even stronger was the title of a 2001 New England Journal of Medicine editorial: “Antimicrobial Use in Animal Feed — Time to Stop.” (Full disclosure: I’m partially quoting from a column I wrote on this subject in 2009.)

As my colleague Dina ElBoghdady notes, these concerns aren’t new. The FDA proposed banning penicillin and two forms of tetracycline for use on livestock in 1977. But industry opposition led to congressional oppositions, and the FDA backed down. Last year, the National Resources Defense Council, alongside a few other health and consumer-advocacy groups, sued to get those regulations back on track. Last month, a federal plaintiff court in Manhattan ruled that the FDA had to restart those proceeding. “The scientific evidence of the risks to human health from the widespread use of antibiotics in livestock has grown, and there is no evidence that the FDA has changed its position that such uses are not shown to be safe,” Judge Theodore H. Katz wrote.

The FDA would prefer a voluntary approach. They’re asking drug makers to reserve 200 antibiotics for humans because it’s the right thing to do. If they fail to comply, they have to say, on their labels, that these drugs are also used for animals. But if you’ve ever read the label on an antibiotic, you know it’s rather long. That’s not much of a sanction.

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, a former microbiologist, has introduced The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act, which takes a more aggressive approach: It simple reserves seven full classes of antibiotics for human use. If her legislation passed, those antibiotics simply couldn’t be used for livestock.

A 2005 study out of Tufts University estimated that antibiotic-resistant infections add $50 billion to the annual cost of American health care. On the other side of the coin, a National Academy of Sciences study found that eliminating non-therapeutic antibiotics from animals would cost about $5 to $10 per person per year. I’d pay that for a lower risk of super-staphylococcus.

This is the sort of issue that doesn’t tend to get much attention in Washington. But it matters. To put it in the simplest terms, a drug-resistant superbug might kill me, or kill you. The budget deficit probably won’t.