It’s About The Money–Health Concerns Are Being Ignored

Many of our more liberal states are looking for additional sources of revenue. Unfunded liabilities and expanded welfare programs and medical programs have been very expensive to the states that have embraced them. One thing that many states are looking at to increase tax revenue is the legalization of marijuana. On Saturday, Yahoo Finance posted an article about how much income legal marijuana is actually generating in California.

The article reports:

California’s legal cannabis revenue isn’t growing as fast as many state officials anticipated, recent data suggests. And one industry expert believes that taxes and a still thriving black market for marijuana, are partly to blame.

“The legal market is struggling with the set of regulatory rules and tax rates that are pretty onerous and make it fairly uncompetitive versus a thriving black market that’s had the whole industry for 60 years now,” Tom Adams, BDS Analytics managing director, told Yahoo Finance’s YFi PM in an interview this week.

California’s marijuana excise tax produced $74.2 million in revenue for the second quarter of this year, according to the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration.

Yet back in January, Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposed budget predicted the state would generate $355 million in excise tax revenues for the fiscal year. That projection was later revised down again to $288 million back in May.

The shortfall is reminiscent of Michigan, where a nascent medical marijuana market has resulted in lower than expected revenue.

Adams contended the legal market faces additional expenses like the cost of testing, that the illegal market does not.

Meanwhile, there is evidence that marijuana is harmful to the developing brains of young adults. There also may be a link between marijuana and mental illness.

In January 2019 I posted an article which stated:

After an exhaustive review, the National Academy of Medicine found in 2017 that “cannabis use is likely to increase the risk of developing schizophrenia and other psychoses; the higher the use, the greater the risk.” Also that “regular cannabis use is likely to increase the risk for developing social anxiety disorder.”

…These new patterns of use have caused problems with the drug to soar. In 2014, people who had diagnosable cannabis use disorder, the medical term for marijuana abuse or addiction, made up about 1.5 percent of Americans. But they accounted for eleven percent of all the psychosis cases in emergency rooms—90,000 cases, 250 a day, triple the number in 2006. In states like Colorado, emergency room physicians have become experts on dealing with cannabis-induced psychosis.

Cannabis advocates often argue that the drug can’t be as neurotoxic as studies suggest, because otherwise Western countries would have seen population-wide increases in psychosis alongside rising use. In reality, accurately tracking psychosis cases is impossible in the United States. The government carefully tracks diseases like cancer with central registries, but no such registry exists for schizophrenia or other severe mental illnesses.

On the other hand, research from Finland and Denmark, two countries that track mental illness more comprehensively, shows a significant increase in psychosis since 2000, following an increase in cannabis use. And in September of last year, a large federal survey found a rise in serious mental illness in the United States as well, especially among young adults, the heaviest users of cannabis.

Is the extra tax revenue worth it?

Socialism In The Nordic Countries

On Monday The Washington Post posted an article about how the economies of the Nordic countries work.

These are some of the things noted:

Undoubtedly, the Nordic nations, with their high incomes, low inequality, free politics and strong rule of law, represent success stories. What this has to do with socialism, though, is another question.

And the answer, according to a highly clarifying new report from analysts at JPMorgan Chase, is “not much.”

Drawing on data from the World Bank, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development and other reputable sources, the report shows that five nations — Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway and the Netherlands — protect property rights somewhat more aggressively than the United States, on average; exercise less control over private enterprise; permit greater concentration in the banking sector; and distribute a smaller share of their total income to workers.

“Copy the Nordic model if you like, but understand that it entails a lot of capitalism and pro-business policies, a lot of taxation on middle class spending and wages, minimal reliance on corporate taxation and plenty of co-pays and deductibles in its healthcare system,” the report notes.

This really does not sound like the utopia that Bernie Sanders is pushing–particularly the co-pays and deductions.

The article continues:

Sanders and other left-leaning Democrats promise to pay for tuition-free college and Medicare-for-all with higher taxes on the top 1 percent of earners. Most Nordic countries, by contrast, have zero estate tax. They fund generous programs with the help of value-added taxes that heavily affect middle-class consumers.

In Sweden, for example, consumption, social security and payroll taxes total 27 percent of gross domestic product, as compared with 10.6 percent in the United States, according to the JPMorgan Chase report. The Nordic countries tried direct wealth taxes such as the one that figures prominently in the plans of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.); all but Norway abandoned them because of widespread implementation problems.

The Nordic countries’ use of co-pays and deductibles in health care may be especially eye-opening to anyone considering Sanders’s Medicare-for-all plan, which the presidential candidate pitches as an effort to bring the United States into line with European standards.

His plan offers an all-encompassing, government-funded zero-co-pay, zero-deductible suite of benefits, from dental checkups to major surgery — which no Nordic nation provides.

The Netherlands’ health insurance system centers on an Obamacare-like mandate to buy a private plan; individuals face an annual deductible of $465 (as of 2016), according to the Boston-based Commonwealth Fund.

Dutch consumers’ out-of-pocket spending on health care represented 11 percent of total health expenditures in 2016, according to the Peterson-Kaiser Health System Tracker — the same percentage as in the United States. In Sweden, meanwhile, out-of-pocket spending accounted for 15 percent of health expenditures. Who knew?

The article concludes by noting that the burden for these programs falls on the middle class–the rich will always have tax accountants to limit the amount of taxes they pay–the middle class has no such luxury. Bernie Sanders’ proposals will essentially rob the poor to pay the rich. I really don’t think that is what most Americans have in mind.

This Is Not Legislation Without Consequences

In October I posted an article based on an opinion piece from The New York Times. The New York Times article was posted October 6th and told the story of a man who was addicted to marijuana. Yes, despite what you have been told, addiction to marijuana is a real thing. The people pushing for the legalization of marijuana are very similar to the people who for years tried to tell us that smoking tobacco had no negative impact on the smokers’ health. This month Imprimis (the monthly magazine of Hillsdale College) posted a more disturbing article about the effects of marijuana. I strongly suggest that you follow the link and read the entire article. I will try to summarize parts of it here.

The article reports:

Over the last 30 years, psychiatrists and epidemiologists have turned speculation about marijuana’s dangers into science. Yet over the same period, a shrewd and expensive lobbying campaign has pushed public attitudes about marijuana the other way. And the effects are now becoming apparent.

Almost everything you think you know about the health effects of cannabis, almost everything advocates and the media have told you for a generation, is wrong.

They’ve told you marijuana has many different medical uses. In reality marijuana and THC, its active ingredient, have been shown to work only in a few narrow conditions. They are most commonly prescribed for pain relief. But they are rarely tested against other pain relief drugs like ibuprofen—and in July, a large four-year study of patients with chronic pain in Australia showed cannabis use was associated with greater pain over time.

They’ve told you cannabis can stem opioid use—“Two new studies show how marijuana can help fight the opioid epidemic,” according to Wonkblog, a Washington Post website, in April 2018— and that marijuana’s effects as a painkiller make it a potential substitute for opiates. In reality, like alcohol, marijuana is too weak as a painkiller to work for most people who truly need opiates, such as terminal cancer patients. Even cannabis advocates, like Rob Kampia, the co-founder of the Marijuana Policy Project, acknowledge that they have always viewed medical marijuana laws primarily as a way to protect recreational users.

As for the marijuana-reduces-opiate-use theory, it is based largely on a single paper comparing overdose deaths by state before 2010 to the spread of medical marijuana laws— and the paper’s finding is probably a result of simple geographic coincidence. The opiate epidemic began in Appalachia, while the first states to legalize medical marijuana were in the West. Since 2010, as both the epidemic and medical marijuana laws have spread nationally, the finding has vanished. And the United States, the Western country with the most cannabis use, also has by far the worst problem with opioids.

The article also notes:

After an exhaustive review, the National Academy of Medicine found in 2017 that “cannabis use is likely to increase the risk of developing schizophrenia and other psychoses; the higher the use, the greater the risk.” Also that “regular cannabis use is likely to increase the risk for developing social anxiety disorder.”

…These new patterns of use have caused problems with the drug to soar. In 2014, people who had diagnosable cannabis use disorder, the medical term for marijuana abuse or addiction, made up about 1.5 percent of Americans. But they accounted for eleven percent of all the psychosis cases in emergency rooms—90,000 cases, 250 a day, triple the number in 2006. In states like Colorado, emergency room physicians have become experts on dealing with cannabis-induced psychosis.

Cannabis advocates often argue that the drug can’t be as neurotoxic as studies suggest, because otherwise Western countries would have seen population-wide increases in psychosis alongside rising use. In reality, accurately tracking psychosis cases is impossible in the United States. The government carefully tracks diseases like cancer with central registries, but no such registry exists for schizophrenia or other severe mental illnesses.

On the other hand, research from Finland and Denmark, two countries that track mental illness more comprehensively, shows a significant increase in psychosis since 2000, following an increase in cannabis use. And in September of last year, a large federal survey found a rise in serious mental illness in the United States as well, especially among young adults, the heaviest users of cannabis.

According to this latter study, 7.5 percent of adults age 18-25 met the criteria for serious mental illness in 2017, double the rate in 2008. What’s especially striking is that adolescents age 12-17 don’t show these increases in cannabis use and severe mental illness.

A caveat: this federal survey doesn’t count individual cases, and it lumps psychosis with other severe mental illness. So it isn’t as accurate as the Finnish or Danish studies. Nor do any of these studies prove that rising cannabis use has caused population-wide increases in psychosis or other mental illness. The most that can be said is that they offer intriguing evidence of a link.

Please read the entire article. Remember how hard the tobacco lobby worked to keep pushing smoking cigarettes as cool, glamorous, and not hazardous to your health. The marijuana lobby is following the same pattern. You have been warned.

Is The Islamic State Islamic?

From 10 News Denmark:

ComparingQuranIS

I really think we need to wake up and smell the coffee. Reliance of the Traveller is the renowned explication of sharia’s provisions and their undeniable roots in Muslim scripture. It is available in English. It needs to be read by all of the leaders of western countries. It it the source for the rules of Islam. It calls for killing of infidels, killing of people who slander the prophet, etc. That is not Islamaphobia–that is truth. (Even my spell check does not recognize Islamaphobia as a word!)

Repeating The Mistakes Of The Past

Yesterday the Israel National News reported that anti-racism activists in Norway refused to take part in a ceremony remembering Kristallnacht  if members of the Jewish community were invited to it. The ceremony took place earlier this week.

According to the article:

According to blog “Norway, Israel and the Jews,” Norwegian organization New SOS Racisme – which claims to act against racism – demanded that the “Zionist Jews of Bergen” be banned from attending the Kristallnacht memorial event held earlier this week.

It gets worse:

IBT (International Business Times) noted that the incident occurred “a few days after Denmark’s ceremony in Norrebro district, marking the Holocaust, was used to raise money for Gaza, following the 2014 Israel-Gaza war.”

Gaza suffered damaged during the 2014 Israel-Gaza war. However, leading up to that war, Gaza had been attacking Israel daily with rockets and building tunnels to go into Israel and kill civilians. Money given to Gaza to build infrastructure was instead used to build those tunnels and buy weapons. I have no doubt that money currently given to Gaza will also be used to buy arms and plan military attacks on Israel.

My questions here is simple, “Who is the racist?”

The Most Peaceful Country In The World

At the top of this blog is a picture taken in the country designated by the Institute for Economics and Peace (calculated according to the Global Peace Index) as the most peaceful country in the world.

Time News Feed posted an article on Monday stating that Iceland in the most peaceful country in the world–followed by Denmark and New Zealand. In reading the article, I wondered about the politics of the organization rating the peacefulness of countries. It seems as if social welfare states ranked higher than countries whose fiscal policies were more conservative.

At any rate, Iceland is a beautiful, peaceful country. I would like to note that the frequency of alcoholism in Iceland has been estimated to be in the range of 3.5-6.3% (statistics from the Icelandic National Health Plan to the Year 2010). In America it is about 6.6 % (2005 statistics from the drugrehab.org).

I guess my problem with reading this was wondering what the definition and criteria for the concept of peace were. Iceland is beautiful. I also wonder if there is a different temperament in people living in extremely cold climates than people living in very warm climates. There is so much that could influence the choice of ‘the most peaceful country in the world’ that is totally subjective that I question the conclusion drawn.

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He Who Pays The Piper Calls The Tune

As Nancy Pelosi stated, “We need to pass the bill to find out what’s in it.” Well, there is another ‘what’s in it’ that is more than a little troubling. Power LIne posted an article yesterday about a provision in the Obamacare bill that provides prenatal testing. Sounds good, unless you take a closer look.

A website called The Public Discourse posted an article last year on the impact of prenatal testing for Down Syndrome.

The article pointed out:

Discussions of HHS’s new regulation have focused on the required availability of free contraceptive services under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The regulation is the result of HHS’s adopting, in its entirety, the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) report on Clinical Preventive Services for Women. Buried in the IOM report is the recommendation for no-cost well-woman visits; these visits include prenatal care—and thus prenatal testing for “genetic or developmental conditions.” The regulation was issued as part of the PPACA’s coverage of preventive services. This prompts the question, how does prenatal testing prevent Down syndrome?

The IOM report defines preventive services “to be measures . . . shown to improve wellbeing, and/or decrease the likelihood or delay the onset of targeted disease or condition.” Down syndrome occurs at conception. Prenatal testing simply identifies whether a pregnancy is positive for Down syndrome—a prenatal diagnosis after which most women choose to terminate their pregnancy. A prenatal test does not decrease the likelihood of Down syndrome in a person; it does allow for a decreased likelihood of a person with Down syndrome surviving beyond the womb. If this is how HHS is justifying prenatal testing for Down syndrome as preventive care, then HHS has ushered in a program meant to target future children like Juliet.

If you are shaking your head and saying it won’t be a problem, keep reading.

The targeted elimination of people with Down syndrome is, in fact, the goal of other countries that have adopted nationwide prenatal testing programs—a goal some other countries are now realizing. Indeed, according to the Copenhagen Post, Denmark “could be a country without a single citizen with Down’s syndrome in the not too distant future,” due to its nationwide prenatal screening program, in place since 2004.

This is not where we want to be as a nation. Remember that since the government is paying the bill, they will recommend the treatment.

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