Rule #1 in politics-Never invade Afganistan.H McMillan 1963

Obviously Tony Blair either wasn’t aware of this or didn’t believe it. Britain invaded, fought in and retreated beaten from Afganistan 4 times in the last 170 years. 1842, 1880, 1919 and most recently 2014 which was in good PR speak described as a withdrawal. The count, 453 deaths and thousands maimed and injured.
At one stage since their entry in 2006 Britain had 137 bases, mainly in Helmand province. Bastion was the first, the largest and the last to close on 27th Oct 2014. At its peak over 30,000 personnel lived in this Base. It had coffee bars, Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken, 3 gyms, state-of-the-art hospital and its own water bottling plant producing 15,000 gallons a day. They clearly meant to stay there.
At one point it was the UK’s 3rd busiest airport after Healthrow and Manchester.
Bastion was built and dismantled by engineer Lt Colonel Laurence Quinn. “It’s like trying to pack up a town the size of Aldershot (37,000) but with Gatwick airport bolted on to it”.
Fifty aircraft stationed there had to go back plus 3,300 armoured vehicles including a number of “Mastiffs & Wolfhounds”, huge 6 wheeled armour-caged monsters which cost over £1 million each. All in all some 5,500 40ft containers were returned to the UK.
All that remained was a few empty hangers and the rusty barbed wire and watch towers on the 23, yes twenty three mile perimeter of the base. The planning of the departure/retreat was meticulous following severe instructions from Whitehall “We don’t want anything that vaguely looks like helicopters fleeing from the US Embassy in Saigon.”
This coalition of the willing, 48 countries, lost 3,484 troops and spent about $1 trillion, $1,000,000,000. A war Obama called “the good war”!!
Perhaps McMillan got it right? The most advanced countries in the world, with satellites in the sky 24/7, 140,000 troops deployed and bombs the size of family cars raining down on one of the poorest countries in the world failed to defeat a ragtag group of religious students & farmers led by a one-eyed mullah.
Why did they even bother?

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The Free Market, the only way to go??

As we know the USA is the bastion and the major promoter of the Free Market, minimum Gov’t interference, minimum regulation (eg. no maternity leave, no legalised annual vacation), low or no minmum wage, minimum taxes,  every man for himself more or less, you get picture.

For a whole variety of reasons there is an ongoing epidemic of deaths from overdosing on opiates and heroin in this “The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave”. The latest years Govt produced figures are for 2015, current estimates put deaths from overdosing on these two drugs to be close to 1,000 per week!

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One Corporation in particular is doing something about it , Kaleo has been marketing EVZIO, (oloxone HCI injection) basically a self administered injectable antidote. The graphs above display the huge and growing need/demand for such a product. Here’s where the Free Market really comes into its own; when demand is increasing and the supply is limited (because you control it thru patent/intellectual property laws), then economic theory says the price will rise,,,,,, and boy has it risen !

EVZIO cost $690 a unit in 2014, the 2017 price is $4,500! A 650% increase. In fairness many USA companies have learned this basic economic theory; fresh faced MBA graduates from Ivy League colleges get paid small fortunate to explain it to them. Hospira Corp. market a cheap version of a similar item, which has only increased 230% in the last 3 years, from $62.29 to $142.49.

if you are wondering why you haven’t heard about Kaleo’s rip off maybe it’s got something to do with the fact that it’s a product that is only needed by drug users? “They made their bed let them lie in it”. ” Am I my brothers keeper?” .If they want to blow their minds that’s their problem”. “What do they contribute to society anyway” But if your Patent Lawyer has secured your intellectual property rights for the next 17 years then these “no hopers” are hugely important……. To your bottom line!

We all heard the public furore on TV and in the media when Mylan Corp raised it’s Epipen prices by 400% (and its CEO get her salary increased to €18,976,000 pa). But that was different, the users of Epipens are good people, just like you and me and it’s the ugly side of the Free Market when it starts to screw “normal people”, but in the end the System won, she’s still getting her €18 Mil and we’re all paying way over the odds for Epipens.

PS. Don’t ask the obvious question. Why is this epidemic of death from overdosing happening in the richest, most vibrant, militarily mightiest, country in the world?

 

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Objection to Obamacare. Why?

Is it an ideological issue, the withdrawal of the extension of healthcare cover to millions more Americans, or is it something much less complicated?

Follow the money usually gives a fair guide as to folks motivation. Obamacare is/was funded by an increase of 0.9% on the Medicare tax on earned incomes of $200,000 pa (250k for couples) and a 3.8% on net unearned income from investments etc. But again only on the amounts over $200,000.

if Obamacare is abolished as Trump & Reps say it should be there will be some hefty tax savings for those folks who are struggling to make it through the week on a mere $3,846.00

Every decision has winners and losers.

Every decision has winners and losers.

 

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Across the Pond

Odd bits from USA in run up to the Era of Trump.
1). Military spending for the last year, 2015. (International Peace Research Institute. Stockholm)
Of course we know USA is tops with $596 Bil, 2. China $215 Bil, 3. Saudi $87 (pop. 30 million) 4. Russia $ 66 Bil, 5. UK $55 Bil, 6. India $52 , then France, Japan, Germany. The USA spend has risen in 2016 and is greater than the combined total of countries 2 to 10. The Arms Industry is a massive part of the USA economy. Recent comments on UK sales to Saudi highlight the sale of cluster bombs. These bombs contain 147 “bomblets” which scatter in every direction when the cluster bomb is activated. The bomblets then explore when they hit anything. The Only justification for the manufacture and sale of such dreadful yokes Is purely the generation of Profits.
2). A new word has come into use in the field of economics. “Austericide”, it’s a combination of Austerity and Suicide and was used to refer to what’s happened in Brazil when the parliament recently passed an act to put a Limit on how much the Gov’t can spend over the next 20 years! This massive commitment to ongoing Austerity is considered Suicidal for the welfare of the large majority of Brazil’s population.
3). Paid Maternity/Paternity Leave. In the developed world we take for granted that parents have a legal entitlement in this area, Except if you live in the world’s largest economy USA where there is no Legal entitlement. A review of USA’s 60 largest corporations show that 31 do not grant employees any paid leave. Such leave is considered a Benefit, the others grant it with a variety of conditions applied depending on whether you are biological parents, adopting or in the ranks of the lower paid! They get granted less paid time off. For a country which claims such commitment to family values it doesn’t translated into real commitment.
IKEA just hit the headlines in this area, it has granted its 13,000 USA employees 18 weeks of paid leave, no strings attached. Fair play to them; by the way the Legal entitlement in Ikea’s home country is 68 weeks!
4). Trumpism? Republicans are traditionally committed to small Gov’t with minimum regulations and have a strong belief in the Free Hand of the Market. They are the party most supported by business, understandably. Trump is already causing huge confusion in the Rep ranks. He and his Gov’t will interfere with the Free Hand! He’s committed to naming and shaming and by tax legislation punishing USA companies who take jobs out of USA ! The number 1 reason USA companies take jobs out of the country is to Maximise Profits and now by Trump regulations this will be controlled by Big Gov’t.
By other proposed manipulations of the USA tax code he hopes to force corporations to bring jobs back to America. Such a move will definitely increase the price Americans will have to pay for sox, jox, shoes, shirts iPhones etc etc. Companies will naturally (well natural in USA) try to minimise wage rates to limit the extent by which they’ll have to hike their prices, therefore the average worker has little or no chance of higher wages in the Trump Era but will be faced with higher prices. Interesting times ahead.

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What kind of organisation would you like to work in?

What kind of organization would you like to work in?

In 1971 John Rawls, USA political philosopher, asked a very simple question; what kind of society would you like to live in? However, what made this one of the most significant and important questions asked on this subject in the 20th century was the interesting condition which Rawls attached to it.

We  must consider our answer behind “a veil of ignorance”. By that he meant that we will not know our position or condition in the society we are considering. Will we be black, white or coloured; male, female, gay; intelligent or severely challenged; able bodied or handicapped; part of a normal family or a severely dysfunctional one; with or without siblings; rural or urban dweller. In other words, you have no idea whatsoever as to your future position. Rawls came up with a couple of basic principles which have been much debated and written about, but they concerned themselves with political laws and civil institutions.

I believe we should ask a similar question with regard to where we  spend most of our waking hours;, what kind of organization do you want to work in? And of course the same condition as Rawl’s ”veil of ignorance” should be applied. In this instance, we will not know if we will be a highly skilled operator or a janitor; a smart accountant or the office messenger; a company director or a union shop steward; have a full-time contract or a zero hours contract; have paid sick leave and maternity leave or neither.

To address and discuss both of the above questions no special skills or qualifications are needed; just the ability to think and express your opinion and of course a sense of what is fair and just will probably result in you having more supporters for your point of view. Good luck and maybe lets know what you think.

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Electoral Colleges decide next USA President.

The Electoral College is made up of  electors who cast the vote of each state according to which candidate receives the most votes. These electors are usually state official or people deeply involved with the candidates. They cast their vote in accordance with the votes cast by the citizens in that particular state. There is no law in most states which says they must but common sense prevails. In all states except 2 its a winner takes all vote; all the electoral votes for a state goes to whoever gets the highest percentage. In Nebraska and Maine they use a proportional representation system which results candidates sharing the electoral votes.(Seems a fairer approach)

Number of electoral votes is 538 which is the sum of Congress members, 435 Representatives, 100 Senators and 3 given to District of Columbia. They are apportioned according to the number of Congress seats allocated to each state which is adjusted after each census in an attempt to ensure the number of citizens per Congress member is “about the same”.

There are anomalies in the number of electoral votes per state. On average each state is awarded an electoral vote for every 543,668 citizens, but in Wyoming where there are 3 electoral votes giving 177,556 citizens per electoral votes. So if you live in Wyoming your vote has over 3 times the clout of the average.

A more significant difficulty I see with the electoral college is system is that the President & VP are not really elected nationally but state by state. This can mean that many, probably the majority, of states are “spectator states”. Certain states are assured of being won by one party of the other and therefore the candidates do not have to spend much time or money campaigning in these states. All the effort goes into influencing the votes in “swing states”. So if you’re not living in a state with lots of electoral votes or in a swing state you may not see much og the candidates in the run up to the election.

The election, since 1845, takes place on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. In 1845 there were a couple of dozen states, a population of less than 5 million spread over a huge area with limited communication and slow transportation. Sunday was ruled out as a possible date since so many folk attended church then. Monday could be a problem getting to a voting station if you had bible classes late on Sunday. Wednesday was problematic since it was market day in may areas and so on and so on. Also to avoided clashing with All Saints Day (now commonly known as Halloween) it was pushed out to the Tuesday following the first Monday !

The electoral college establishment dates back to about 1786, when there were only 13 states. Those involved I setting it up were very learned men but relatively inexperienced in national politics; they had only managed to get freedom from Britain 10 years earlier after their war of Independence. With all the changes which have taken place in the last 200 years, it seems remarkable that the system of choosing a leader who holds so much power has not been revamped. The entire USA democratic system is now manipulated  largely  by lobbyists, Big Money and Corporations. A revamp of the entire system is long overdue.

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A Picture/Graph can say a lot

 

Ireland,s huge spike,2009/'10/'11 was due to us guaranteeing All the banks' liabilities.

Ireland’s huge spike,2009/’10/’11 was due to us guaranteeing All the banks’ liabilities.

Public services can only be provided from Revenue Gov’t receives !

These are 2011 figures but current situation pretty similar. Loads more outstanding taxes than welfare fraud.

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