Reblog: An Open Letter to Anti-Vaxxers

Yes, it’s been said before, but apparently it needs to be said again. And again. And again!

Uncommon Sense

As background, there has been for over a year now a global pandemic causing a considerable number of “extra deaths” and even more hospitalizations, discomfort, and pain. The number of total COVID-19 deaths is about 3 million or about 7 million depending on whose numbers you are using. Almost a million of those are in the US. (The flu typically kills 60,000 people or so in the US each flu seasons, so this disease has the flu beat all to hell and gone.)

In any case, no matter where this disease came from, it has caused many deaths and apparently also has inflicted long term symptoms upon a large number of people (my brother-in-law being one of them).

Under political pressure and by providing governmental funding, vaccines were developed in record time that have been proved somewhat effective. They significantly reduce the number of people getting the disease at all…

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Life: It Is What It Is

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There’s no denying that there’s both good and bad in this world (Note that I didn’t use the term “evil”).

We know there are people who commit loathsome deeds against other humans that raise the hair on the back of our necks. Yet on the other end of the spectrum, we also know of untold numbers who step in to help a person in need — many times putting their own lives in danger.

We recognize that some people suffer from severe physical maladies and handicaps, while others enjoy almost perfect health and only rarely experience any kind of physical ailment.

We are aware of folks that fight daily battles with mental issues (often as a result of damaged childhoods), yet we also know of others who always have a smile and seem to enjoy a nearly carefree life.

Each of these examples are simply illustrations of life as a human being. NONE of them have ANYTHING to do with whether there is a good or evil force in the world.

Yet there are untold numbers of people who are CERTAIN there are two opposing powers battling for control of our lives.

Within the Christian community (of which I am the most familiar), these powers are known as “God” and “Satan.” All that is “good” is identified with the former and all that is “bad” (evil) is laid at the feet of the latter.

Thing is … no one knows for sure if either of these entities even exist. Believers will swear to and/or voraciously argue for the actuality of either or both, yet NO PROOF of their existence has ever been established by any creditable means. (However, this doesn’t stop them from trying!)

The most common way these folk offer “proof” is by referencing a collection of VERY old (we’re talking ancient!) stories that have been passed down over many CENTURIES. Stories they are convinced (by what source?) are totally true and (verifiably?) accurate.

A second method they use is physical – as in they feeeel a presence in their hearts (?) – and they are certain this feeeeling is connected to some supernatural entity that exists … where?

Nevertheless, all this devotion to and belief in a hypothetical source doesn’t change the undeniable fact that humans (all of us) are going to commit good and bad deeds in life.

It also does not change the fact that some people who are ill are going to get better and some aren’t. Nor does it change the fact that some folk are going to commit unspeakable acts against their fellow humans while others are going to devote their life to helping the sick, the dying, the poor, the mistreated … and any others who need help.

THIS. IS. LIFE.

We live … we die. And all that happens between those two events is OUR responsibility. To lay it on an entity who has never offered evidence/proof/validation that it even exists is, at best, foolish.

At worst, it’s living this life as though you are a participant in a children’s story – one that involves a wondrous force, special beings, and improbable events. All in hopes of experiencing a (very unrealistic) “happy ending.”

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Image by John Hain from Pixabay

A U.S. Economic Perspective

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Heather’s recent newsletter addressed the current funding bill that would both keep the government from shutting down and prevent a default on the U.S. debt. The bill was passed by the House of Representatives — the vote being 220 to 211 (all Democrats voting in favor and all Republicans voting against). 

The following was submitted as a comment to Heather’s commentary and, IMO, needs to be read by anyone who is interested in the current U.S. economic situation. It was written by a CEO (Harbour Bridge Ventures) and, for me, clearly explains what this bill is all about. 

By sharing this person’s remarks, I’m hoping those who are FAR more knowledgeable about this subject than me will offer their thoughts and opinions. Do you agree with his perspective? Or does he have it all wrong? 

Remedial Economics 101 for Republicans

While I do not claim to know as much about Economics as Janet Yellin, I do have at least a moderate academic background in the subject thanks to an education that included studies in Economics and Finance. This does, however, leave me with the view that my knowledge in Economics and Finance far surpasses that of every Congressional Republican who collectively appears to know zip all. Here are a few points that even a relative economic dunce like me gets.

1. A raise in the debt ceiling is to cover spending already approved by Congress in the form of past budgets and already Congressional mandated spending. In fact, it is silly that we even have to go through the charade of approving a raise in the debt ceiling since objections to the spending should be over once budget bills are approved by Congress and the spending is then Congressionally mandated. Refusing to raise the debt ceiling is like denying responsibility for your credit card bill when received after already having incurred charges on the card. The real answer to this is that we should stop taking sham votes on raising the debt ceiling and just suspend it. The time to object to spending is before you actually make it, not when the bill comes due.

2. Let’s briefly discuss the idea that spending $3.5 trillion on human infrastructure and social spending is “too much.” So let’s start with the fact that yes, $3.5 trillion is a lot of money. But … compared to what? Compared to the $8 trillion added to the federal debt during the Tя☭mp administration? Hmmm, less than half of that and that was added in only 4 years, not over the 10 year spending period proposed in the Biden/Democratic proposal. In fact, retrospectively we now understand the Tя☭mp / Republican tax cut will wind up costing the U.S. $10 trillion (in lost revenue) over a similar 10 year period. About three times the amount proposed now by Democrats over 10 years.

OK, let’s put politics aside for a moment and stick to economics. The annual size of the U.S. economy at present is approximately $23 trillion. Over the coming 10 years, the total size of the U.S. economy (remember to account for anticipated growth, just based on trend lines now) is estimated at a total of $300 trillion. This means a 10 year spend of $3.5 trillion is just a little over 1% of the total anticipated size of the U.S. economy. Are we as a country willing to spend an additional 1% of our economy over the coming 10 years on improving conditions for working families, dealing with climate change perils, improving healthcare, and all the other components of the Democratic proposal?

Now let us also remember this is not only spending. The bill also raises revenues by an estimated $2.9 trillion. So the net additional spend is really only about $600 billion. This is even a much smaller proportion of our overall economy.

Now if we account for the fact that investments are expected to generate actual returns and apply the multiplier effect of social spending (by the way, social spending has a higher multiplier effect than any other government spending, unlike tax cuts which actually have a negative multiplier effect), it is possible we may actually see the investments generate more returns than their costs.

By any measure, as a country, we can certainly afford the $3.5 trillion over a 10 year period.

So, when you hear others say $3.5 trillion is too much or try to justify not raising the debt ceiling because we “have to live within our means,” now you will know just how ignorant they are on economics, finance, and government spending. Remember that when you decide who to vote for in 2022 and 2024.

Why Obesity?

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Do you believe that obesity is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended? If you do, then you’re in agreement with the long standing conclusion of obesity science, which revolves around the balance principle, i.e., “People get fat because they take in more calories than they expend. They stay lean when they don’t.”

Or perhaps you might agree with the philosophy that was popular in the decades between the World Wars that … “some people are born predisposed to accumulate excess fat just as some are predestined to grow tall.”

According to this article, you would be mistaken on both counts. 

The article author writes that he would have agreed with the balance principle “if the prevalence of obesity had not risen relentlessly for the past half century — along with type 2 diabetes” to the extent that is has become the dominant non-Covid health crisis of our time. 

That’s why he and 16 other academic researchers put together a report in September 2021 entitled, The carbohydrate-insulin model: a physiological perspective on the obesity pandemic. In the Abstract of the report it is noted thus:

According to a commonly held view, the obesity pandemic is caused by overconsumption of modern, highly palatable, energy-dense processed foods, exacerbated by a sedentary lifestyle. However, obesity rates remain at historic highs, despite a persistent focus on eating less and moving more, as guided by the energy balance model (EBM). Conceptualizing obesity as a disorder of energy balance restates a principle of physics without considering the biological mechanisms that promote weight gain. An alternative paradigm, the carbohydrate-insulin model (CIM), proposes a reversal of causal direction.

(NOTE: At the time of this blog post, only the abstract is available.) 

These researchers argue that the energy-in/energy-out conception of weight regulation is fatally, tragically flawed … that obesity is not an energy balance disorder, but a hormonal or constitutional disorder.

In other words, “people don’t get fat because they eat too much, consuming more calories than they expend, but because the carbohydrates in their diets — both the quantity of carbohydrates and their quality — establish a hormonal milieu that fosters the accumulation of excess fat.”

As many have noted, along with the article’s author, obesity in the U.S. has risen over the past several years. In fact, more than 40% of Americans live with it today as compared to 12% sixty years ago. What has caused this dramatic rise? Is it nature or nurture? Is it behavior or physiology? 

Another website related to this topic asks the question: “Is Obesity a Disease?” and provides some Pro and Con arguments where …

Proponents contend that obesity is a disease because it meets the definition of disease; it decreases life expectancy and impairs the normal functioning of the body; and it can be caused by genetic factors.

Opponents contend that obesity is not a disease because it is a preventable risk factor for other diseases; is the result of eating too much; and is caused by exercising too little.

And finally, this article provides a look at 10 foods that overweight people regularly eat.

If you are one of the fortunate individuals who has never experienced problems with weight gain, then none of this information may be relevant. But since statistics indicate MANY people do have regular battles with the bathroom scales, such information may very well be eye-opening.

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Image by Memed_Nurrohmad from Pixabay