Posts Tagged Health Care

CLIMATE CHANGE! WHAT DID EXXON KNOW, AND WHEN DID IT KNOW IT?

I expect to be writing a post tomorrow, which describes a report on Global Warming, which scientists leaked, fearing that it was too important for the Donald Trump Regime to just cover it up.  This re-post cites the fact that, beginning in 1977, Exxon scientists strongly believed that Global Warming is a man-made phenomena, caused by our use of fossil fuels.  The company’s Chief Scientist briefed the Executive Management Committee, in 1977 and again in 1978, and management just ignored it.

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EXXON KNEW THE MAJOR CAUSE OF CLIMATE CHANGE IN 1977, AND IT HAS BEEN SPENDING MILLIONS, MAYBE BILLIONS, EVER SINCE DENYING IT.

Way back in 1977, Laura Shaw, a 12 year-old, won her class science fair, in Cranford, N. J, with an experiment about the so-called “greenhouse effect”.  She filled two identical vessels with water and a thermometer.  Then, Ms. Shaw covered one with plastic wrap, and turned a lamp on them.

After a period of time, the vessel with the plastic wrap registered a higher temperature than the uncovered one.  She surmised that the plastic wrap created the same effect as carbon dioxide, which traps reflected heat from the Sun, thus warming the Earth.

You or I might have thought that our children were young geniuses to have found that relationship, between a plastic cover and global warming; however, Ms. Shaw had some expert assistance. As it turns out, her father is Henry Shaw, and at that time, he was one of the Exxon scientists who were specifically researching the effects of global warming—more specifically, that which was caused by carbon dioxide, created by man-made emissions.

Exxon (now ExxonMobil) was aware of climate change as early as 1977, eleven years before the problem became known by the general public.  In fact, besides formulating various climate models, the oil company also outfitted a tanker to study how much CO2 was absorbed by the oceans.  And, in July of 1977, Exxon’s senior scientist, James Black, delivered a sobering message on the topic.

Mr. Black advised Exxon’s executive management committee that: “… there is general scientific agreement that the most likely manner in which mankind is influencing the global climate is through carbon dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels.”  One year later, he warned the same group that there was general scientific agreement that the “…doubling of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere would influence global warming by two or three degrees.”  Black than suggested—now in 1978, mind you—that mankind had a five to ten year window in which to make hard decisions, since energy strategies might become critical. Exxon needed to act!

Rather than make the hard decisions—developing cleaner-burning fuels, teaming with the coal industry to follow suit, and considering renewable energy–Exxon, Chevron, Mobil, Shell, BP, and Peabody Coal, just stuck their collective heads in the sand.  They formed a the American Petroleum Institute, a non-profit organization to manage the disinformation of declaring that “Climate Change is a Hoax”.  In fact, they hired the same public relations firm that Big Tobacco had hired to deny tobacco’s link to lung cancer, some years before.

To use the old cliche about Nero fiddling while Rome burned would be a very serious understatement.  Considering that five of those energy companies were in the Standard and Poor’s 500, money was of little consequence, especially when it comes to fighting for the Industry’s very survival.

Energy lobbyists convinced Washington not to sign the Kyoto Protocol, from the U. N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (as of 1990 emission levels). As one of world’s two biggest polluters, along with China, it is imperative that the U. S. ratify the Protocol, set meaningful CO2 reduction goals—and stick to them! Will there be more success this week—now 25 years later?

Currently, both Houses of the U. S. Congress, have appointed loyal climate change deniers, from oil-dependent states, to head the various committees that are supposed to oversee science and the environment:

Senator James M. Imhofe (R-OK) is Chairman of the House Committee on the Environment. Last February, Senator Inhofe brought a snowball into the Senate Chamber under the false assumption that that proved that “Climate Change is a Hoax!” (Remember the API Mission Statement?)  On the contrary, however, the snowball merely demonstrated the opposite, as described in a prior blog post.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), and also a GOP candidate for President, heads the Sub-Committee on Space, Science and Competition.  Cruz’ sub-committee delayed the updated NASA satellites, which provide vital weather information worldwide.  Smart move, huh?
And, Congressman Lamar S. Smith (R-TX) is Chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.  When faced with broad testimony by earth scientists that man is definitely accelerating global warming, Smith began investigating the scientists, and thus taking them away from their important research. Attacking the messengers, in other words.

Oddly enough, when those who deny Climate Change wish to provide their own “expert” scientific testimony, they have turned to Wei-Hock Soon. Although Dr. Soon is a respected scientist, he is currently employed by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Over the past decade, Dr. Soon’s research and his funding ($1.2 million) have come largely from fossil fuel interests.  Some of that funding has allegedly been linked to Southern Company (a large utility) and the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation.  (Mr. Koch is a co-owner of Koch Industries, a very large privately-owned energy company.)

Aside from all of the claims and counter-claims, on both sides of the Climate Change issue, there is basic evidence all around us: melting glaciers; rising tides; wildfires and droughts worldwide; erratic weather patterns; etc.  And, the idea that Big Energy interests would seek “expert” opinion from an astrophysicist, on matters pertaining to earth sciences, is simply ludicrous.  So, if the probable cause behind climate change was so obvious to 12 year-old Laura Shaw, way back in 1977, why can’t many in the U. S. Congress, Big Energy and other climate change deniers still realize that today?

NOTE:  For readers who wish more detailed information on Exxon, its Energy Industry co-conspirators and Climate Change, the attached report, from the Union of Concerned Scientists, should prove quite informative.

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CONGRESS NEEDS MORE WOMEN!

Recently, we have seen several female Republican members of the Senate who have had the temerity to voice their opposition to the assumed President as they had voted against his dishonest Health Care Agenda.  Senator Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska, faced-down explicit, and public threats of retribution by Trump against the People of Alaska.  To me, that smacks of Senate-tampering!

Of the 52 Republican members in the Senate, only six (or 11.5%) are female.  The ladies are better-represented within the Democratic Party; however, with 15 (or 34.8%) of the 46 Senators.  But either way, since women represent 52% of our society, even the 21 ladies of the Senate seems hardly proportional.

Since the earliest hominids roamed the earth, several million years ago, there had been a division of responsibility:  Males were the hunters and defenders of the home fires, while the Females gathered edibles, and bore and nurtured the young.  Although times have changed over the millennia, females have largely retained the advantages of the more social and caring gender.

Senators Murkowski and Susan Collins, of Maine, recently spoke-out, after they joined with Senator John McCain, of Arizona, to vote-down their party’s latest iteration of a Bad Deal, the “Skinny” Healthcare Plan.  The ladies specifically cited that many of their constituents would be among the tens of millions of Americans who would lose health care.  Additionally, it would have de-fund the Planned Parenthood Association.

Planned Parenthood is a nationwide non-profit health care provider, which mostly treats females, and it is often one of the few full-service health care facilities that care for the poor, by accepting Medicaid.  The small group of Republicans who had been writing the various health care scams, while meeting in secret, were all men.  When I heard these men pooh-poohing the importance of contraceptives and mammograms, I could only wonder, if we flipped the script, what they would feel if viagra and prostate exams were eliminated. So, what’ll it be, boys?

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DONALD TRUMP’S VINDICTIVENESS SEEMS TO BE BEHIND TWO SENSELESS IDEAS: ELIMINATING AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE AND SLASHING THE STATE DEPARTMENT BUDGET BY 31%!

Donald Trump has said a lot of idiotic things, taken Tweetery to a new lunacy level, and he has accomplished absolutely nothing…in five months.  Remember all of those asinine Legislative “Acts” that he was going to pass “…on Day One!”  Did Mr. Know-it-all forget that Congress takes more time off than he does—including HIS Inauguration Day?

There are two major actions that Mr. Trump should have most definitely avoided:  Repeal and Replace “Obamacare,” and to slash the State Department Budget by 31%.

Just like any comprehensive bill, such as the (real name) Affordable (Health) Care Act, modifications should be made from time to time, just like what was done after Medicare, was first rolled-out!  Deep down inside, the real reason for eliminating ACA—and why Donald has disrupted it’s functioning—is to replace the huge tax cuts, assessed to the Top Two Percent of Taxpayers, which were lost when the Bush Tax Cuts expired.

And slashing the State Department Budget is reprehensible; because, those 170 State Department Embassies, Consulates and other installations, around-the-world, are the face of of the United States to many foreigners.  Those offices are used for many other purposes, besides diplomacy: Trade and Agricultural Officers work out of them, foreigners apply for Visas there, and its where Americans go when they encounter problems in other countries. Besides, USAID and other social agencies provide excellent assistance, from those offices, directly to rural villages and groups that need it.

In the case of both eliminating ACA and slashing the State Budget, there is no responsible reason, whatsoever, for Donald Trump to do so.  But, after analyzing these ideas, I definitely see a relationship.  Let me highlight each:

1.   Mr. Trump resents the fact that Affordable Health Care isn’t focused around him.  Even though Republicans have called for some form of Health Care for All, going all the way back to Richard M. Nixon, and perhaps even earlier, the GOP just never seemed to have followed through in legislating it!  Also, Trump is displaying his racism through his intention to eradicate the signature accomplishment of Barack Obama, our First Black President.

2. Additionally, Donald doesn’t seem capable of letting go of his hatred for former Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton.  When it came to “dirty tricks”, Trumpie was far and away, the all-time champion, and definitely not the victim, during the campaign!  When Secretary of Defense James Mattis heard that State’s budget would be slashed, he said he was “…going to need more bullets!”  Mattis realizes that every dollar spent by State—especially in its various social programs—results in less dollars needed for Defense!

So, when Trump & Friends misrepresent why they needs to Repeal “Obamacare,” and he proposes slashing the State Department budget, the reasons are: his narcissism; racism; sexism; providing huge tax breaks to Mega-Billionaires; and slashing State’s budget to will help pay for the idiotic Wall!

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MAKING AMERICA GREAT AGAIN…BUT, FOR WHOM?

Time and time again, Donald Trump has consistently, and falsely expressed his intentions:  “…to protect the American People”; the ubiquitous “Make America Great Again!”, and let’s not forget the immoral “Just trust me!”  But, when I consider anything that he has actually said or done, there is no correlation whatsoever with: protecting the average American, or benefitting them—or the Country—in any way!

Say what you will about President Obama’s signature legislation, the Affordable (Health) Care Act; but, how do you improve upon it by increasing the premiums, deleting subsidies for the poor, and withdrawing $800 billion from it, to fund Tax-Cuts for the Top Two Percent of taxpayers?  ACA has provided 24 million people with health insurance, for the first time in their lives.  If it’s not broken, why “fix” it?

Trump talks about an Infrastructure Plan, as cited in a previous post,  but where is it?  Two of his key advisors, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, and economist Peter Navarro, had drafted such a Plan, in late October of 2016.  It was which nothing more than a Corporate Welfare Scam.  And, just like many of Donald’s other “I’m gonna do’s!”, where is the latest and greatest version of the Infrastructure Plan?  Will it be real this time, or just another scam on the American Taxpayer?

How will de-regulating American Industry make our nation better?  Consider just some of Donald’s brainless ideas:  Eliminating workplace safety rules will cause more mining disasters, and result in a greater incidence of the “Black Lung” Disease! Repealing Obama’s Dodd-Frank legislation, which reined-in the banks after the 2008 Banking Crisis, will result in the return of horrendous economic risks again! And, Donald and his Trump Republicans really do seem hell-bent on eliminating ALL Social Safety Net Programs!

This brings me to one of Trump’s latest Tweets, suggesting that he would make a decision regarding the Paris Accords, regarding Global Warming, within a few days. Several of his “Special Advisers” have already indicated that he is leaning away from signing them.  At the end of cited Tweet, which suggested a pending decision, Donald quipped: “Making America Great Again!”  Now, how asinine is that: for one of the world’s two biggest polluters, to suggest that not signing-on will “Make America Great”—as the world smokes, and burns?

The extremely dangerous programs, which Donald Trump has been advocating, would do nothing for the Average American, except leave them: unhealthy; poor; less-educated; and alone in a world of potential world turmoil!  So, who are these people that Trump wishes to: Make Great Again?

The People who Donald would Make Great Again are the Mega-Billionaires, who already have more money than God!  They have banded together to fund Donald Trump’s “Self-Financed” (remember that pledge?) Presidential Campaign.  And now, Trumpet surely intends to pay them back—in spades!

NOTE:  Welcome to my readers in Egypt and India.

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DONALD TRUMP PLANS TO EVISCERATE THE STATE DEPARTMENT BUDGET, BY 30%! DOES HE STILL HATE HILLARY CLINTON THAT MUCH?

When Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, heard that the State Department Budget would be slashed by 30%, he said: “I’m going to need a lot more bullets!”   As a retired Marine General, Secretary Mattis understands that the dollars spent by State are worth more than those in the Pentagon’s Budget.  Similarly, 150 retired generals and admirals signed a letter to Mr. Trump, asking him to re-consider this down-sizing; because, they know how State Department programs can partially offset the need for Military action!

Throughout the entire Trump Regime, there are only a handful of key staff positions—Deputy and Assistant Secretaries—that are filled.  Also, since these are political appointments, they would need to go through the often tedious Confirmation Process.
While 200 key positions remain vacant at State, it is expected that the Department might not be up to full-strength, at the key levels, until well into 2018.

Due to the size of the State Department, with some 170 overseas locations, the void at the top is especially debilitating.  Secretary Tillerson must travel quite extensively, mostly out of the country.  Who, then, would be in-charge when the Secretary of State is overseas?  He surely needs several key assistants to keep things functioning properly.

Donald Trump appears to know nothing about Foreign Policy, nor does he seem intent on learning.  Rex Tillerson, his Secretary of State—who should be his Chief Foreign Policy Advisor, was the CEO of Exxon-Mobil Corporation, and is a diplomatic novice, as well.  With both Trump and Tillerson lacking in any form of Foreign Policy experience, who do they call when they need help…NOW?

Secretary Tillerson, in his former career at Exxon, knows that any confident executive would have screamed holy murder at a 30% budget cut.—especially for no apparent reason!  Budget-size reflects relative importance—in government, as well as business. Mr. Tillerson, however, apparently didn’t bat an eye.  What kind of message does that down-sizing send to the world, at large, about how America views Diplomacy?

Besides America’s vast global network of Embassies and Consulates, the State Department provides leadership and financing for numerous vital programs: eradicating illnesses such as malaria and diphtheria; empowering women in combatting rape, incest, honor-killings and sex-trafficking; promoting education and micro-banking; and providing clean water and sewer systems to rural area.  Such programs help enable disadvantaged regions to become more economically aligned with the rest of the world.

Given the Importance of the State Department, as the face of America to the rest of the world, I can only wonder why its Budget was slashed so significantly.  Besides the many geopolitical trouble spots, let’s not forget growing starvation due to Climate Change, and the potential for medical pandemics. Why…WHY is Donald Trump trying to eviscerate the very Department of State?  Does he hate Secretary Hillary R. Clinton that much?

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WHY ARE WE SUBSIDIZING OUR OWN DESTRUCTION?

In 2015, Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, the United Kingdom’s central bank (like our “Fed”), addressed the fabled Lloyd’s of London membership.  Mr. Carney spoke to this consortium of insurers about the future of the financial markets.  Namely, the new threat: Climate Change.   He knew that insurers, much more than other group would understand the risks, and want to be out ahead of what lies beyond the horizon!

As insurers, Lloyd’s members should be aware of the many hidden costs to our society which, either directly or indirectly, they might have to insure.   Economists use the term “Tragedy in the Commons”, which is where any entity uses the communal resources—the air, water, fishing, etc—for their own benefit, while leaving any negative aspects of their actions to society, at large.

Although there are many situations where the Tragedy in Commons may occur, perhaps the best example might be the local electric power utility.  The negative aspects of using fossil fuels—coal, oil and gas—to generate power, are not paid for by the utility that reaps the profits.  Increased health issues, replacing obsolete plant and equipment, and environmental clean-up, are left to the local residents.  And as the air and water flow by, one city’s contagion can spread to other cities—and even continents.

Yesterday, I added a most compelling book to the “Books That I Recommend” tab, on this blog: “Climate of Hope”, by Michael Bloomberg and Carl Pope.  Over the past several decades, the ebb and flow of politics, has caused the commitment of many nations to dissipate, with regard to the various global climate change accords.  Fortunately, many, many cities have stepped-up to fill-in the void!

Michael Bloomberg discusses the fact that much of a city’s needs fall-on the local government.  As the former Mayor of New York City states, when the incidence of asthma spikes, people call City Hall, and not their Congressman.  Besides public health issues, cities assume responsibility for: safe streets; police and fire; functional mass transit; basic utilities; schools; parks and recreation; etc.  And each of these must by budgeted, and paid-for by the taxpayers.

As Bloomberg and Pope point-out, many of these problems are inter-related.  Consider the following: clean air improves health, which provides better attendance at school or work; better-planned cities reduce flooding and expedites the flow of traffic; mass transit improves air quality, and it is cheaper to operate when it is powered by bio- or electric power; updated technology and energy-efficient operations can reduce the business expenses, etc.  And in the end, cities must be vibrant to attract residents and businesses!

In addition to considering many of the concerns we’ve heard for several decades—the air we breathe; over-fishing; auto emissions, etc,—Climate of Hope also describes a number of environmental aspects that we might not even be aware of.  For instance, a chicken dinner has one-sixth the carbon impact as a (similar-sized) beef dinner; there are a number of other toxic gases, besides CO2, that we emit into the atmosphere; and depending on what we import, and from where, we might be encouraging additional climate change.

Working with some 7,000 cities, Bloomberg and Pope have encouraged businesses to join them, rather than as adversaries.  Corporate leaders can better-understand the cause and effect relationship, between up-front investment in plant and equipment, and the long-term stream of lower maintenance costs.  And, once the true costs are included in the analysis, corporate partners want their families, and those of their employees, to live in cleaner, healthier, safer cities, as well.



NOTE:  Welcome to my readers from Panama and Qatar!

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AMERICA IS BEGINNING TO WONDER IF DONALD TRUMP CAN GOVERN—AT ALL!

Following the Presidential Election, there has been an on-again, off-again rally in the stock market, which might have been partially attributed to Donald Trump’s victory, last November.  Generally, the stock market performs best in the first and fourth calendar quarters, most years; however, some investors might have placed too much faith in Trump’s vague promises, raising the seasonal spurt even higher.   Also, some CEO’s seem to have swooned over his proposals:  the corporate tax-rate being halved; escalating depreciation on plant and equipment; eliminating most all regulations; and the “Border-Adjustment Tax”.

As of Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 9.3% since Trump won, and the    S & P 500 was up by 8.3%.  There was little in the way of economic activity to have justified such a surge; however, some investors may have just followed the herd instinct.  They wanted to believe!  But like any other asset, when the price rises for no apparent reason, there might come a time where it cannot sustain that psychological momentum.  Did the markets seem to sense that yesterday?

Ever since he announced his candidacy, in June of 2015, Donald Trump has been harping on two primary goals—the worthless Wall, and his vow to “…replace ‘Obamacare’: with something much better, and at less cost.  Just trust me!”  HA! Donald raised the stakes too high, before his American Health Care Act had to be pulled yesterday—for the second time—due to insufficient support from his own Republican Party!

Always the person to find a scapegoat to blame–rather than blame House Speaker Paul Ryan, or the entire GOP–Donald blamed the Opposition Party.  For a self-proclaimed “Negotiator”, how ludicrous was it to have over-sold the “certain” success of his AHCA, as he had often boasted, and then blame the Democrats…but, for what?  He was trying to tear-down a perfectly good (first-step) of a comprehensive plan that could provide Affordable Health Care for all!

Many Americans, including investors, are beginning to wonder if Trump can actually govern! He boasted, before the election, about how many things he would do, beginning “Day One!”  But so far, he has accomplished very little.  On the negative side, however, the list of his idiotic moves is a mile long!

Consider the following problems that he has been entangled in:  the failed raid in Yemen, which resulted in the death of one Navy DEAL and 24 Yemeni civilians; attacking the American Judiciary for rebuking his two Anti-Muslim Bans; his apparent desire to control the Media; threatening a pre-emptive attack on a nuclear-armed North Korea—in China’s back yard; Trump’s potential collusion with Russia, and so on!

A number of Americans who voted for Trump have been on TV stating that they are having Voter’s Remorse.  It’s times like this when I wish that we had a Parliamentary System.  That way, just one “No Confidence!” vote would place M. P. Donald Trump, in a back-bench seat, where he belongs.  Oh, if only…!

When Trump stated yesterday that the GOP’s AHCA Plan had to be pulled, distancing himself from bad news as always, he proclaimed that the next item of business would be Tax Reform.  But there are two problems with that strategy, which he is overlooking:  a number of deep-pocketed conservative organizations, including the Koch Brothers, have come out again Trump’s Tax Plan; and the money that he was supposed to take from ACA customers was necessary to fund his large tax cuts for the Wealthiest two-percent!

Meanwhile, many institutional and individual investors are, no doubt, using this weekend to review Trump’s record—both positive and negative—and to decide what their next financial moves might be.  Additionally, many overseas investors are also considering whether the recent Trump Rally is real, or just a market bubble!  I sure wouldn’t be surprised it there is a pause, at least, in the rally–or perhaps a reversal.

 

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