Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Mandatory Composting

I was just reading on that San Francisco is mandating composting. While I can applaud their reasoning for this, making use of the compost collected for area farms and vineyards, it's the inevitable fines that will go into effect in 2010 that I don't like.

The city's residents will now have to have 3 separate bins: 1 for trash, 1 for recycling, and now one for compost. I'm sure it will also be at the residents' expense to purchase said bins. While they claim they won't be picking through trash to find who is not composting, the idea is that the trash collectors will just take notice of what they are dumping in the truck and if they find food scraps they will leave a note on the home. Eventually this will lead to a $100 fine starting in 2010.

This is all fine and good, but I don't think fining people is the right thing to do. Not considering the waste of government officials especially. Educating them through mailers and public service announcements on TV makes sense, especially since the goal of this is to eliminate landfill waste by 2020. Get the people used to it, neighbor will talk to neighbor and in time all will automatically be doing their part to make their city, state, country cleaner. But mandating via legislation? That's just bullying and forcing.

Then there are people who live in apartments. I'm sure the building will have the appropriate bins for the right use, but if you've ever lived in an apartment you will realize just how little space a renter has (and that includes condo owners because condos are nothing more than apartments that turned condo). So now apartment dwellers will have to have yet another bag/can in their already crowded kitchen for food scraps and then haul all this down to the garbage/recycling area of the building. If you live in a 5-story or less building, that means hauling it all down the stairs, not an elevator.

So on one hand I applaud San Francisco for it's efforts to cut landfills, but I don't care for their forcing residents to comply by fining them. Force is never a good idea and legislating something and threatening fines is no less forcing them than holding a gun to their heads.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Taxing Cow Farts?

I read an article today in News With Views about the EPA setting new rules about methane output from farm animals. According to the article "Under Title V of the Clean Air Act, farmers would pay a hefty permit fee for animals that emit 100 tons of greenhouse gasses annually". This would apply to any farmer with "more than 25 dairy cows, 50 beef cattle or 200 hogs. The tax is estimated at $175 per dairy cow, $87.50 per head of beef cattle and $20 per hog". That's some pretty hefty permit costs there for any farmer making his living off his land.

Personally, I'm curious about exactly how they go about measuring how much "methane" any farm animal produces that they can actually figure out how to tax it. I'm not I want to know either....LOL

But really, it seems pretty desperate to me to do this, and I consider it yet another TAX without representation on the average person; because you know these costs will recouped, at least in part, by higher prices in the stores. You can't blame the farmer for that as he has to live also. But really, isn't the "no taxation without representation" what helped kick off the American Revolution and our independence from England? Or am I just dreaming?

Seriously though, there are two bills in Congress right now, the House version H.R. 1426 and the Senate version S. 527. Both seem to say the same thing, so I don't know why the different versions: "
(2) CERTAIN EMISSIONS FROM AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION- No permit shall be issued under a permit program under this title for any carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, water vapor, or methane emissions resulting from biological processes associated with livestock production"

I'm actually NOT sure what they really say, as I can't find the specific in the "Clean Air" act that is listed (
Section 502(f) of the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7661a(f); but it looks like no permits can be issued? Or are the above mentioned bills an effort to stop this ridiculous idea from being implemented? Lot's more digging to do on this one, and I'll be sure to update it IF I find anything on it, so far though, an hour and half of searching and reading have gotten me nowhere.

I wonder if they'll ever get around to taxing us humans for our "biological processes" since we emit carbon dioxide by breathing, and definitely emit methane emissions too (ever get stuck in a plane or subway with someone having gas issues? It's not pretty).

Monday, June 15, 2009

Gun Control - Who's Protected?

With the rash of recent shootings the inevitable discussion rears up front again about gun control. Of course the latest shootings also include such words as "lone wolf terrorist", "hate speech", "white supremacist". While the individuals who committed these crimes may indeed hold such beliefs, I don't believe it was the fact that they owned or had guns that made them that way. But that's for another posting.

I find it interesting that areas with the strictest gun control measures in place have the highest firearms crimes committed. Washington DC had actually BANNED handguns (until the Supreme Court Of The United States told them they couldn't outright ban them) and had the highest gun crime in the nation. Chicago also has very strict gun laws and also has very high gun crimes. Apparently the rest of Illinois isn't so strict on guns and must have lower gun crimes because as a state, Illinois isn't in the top 10.

In doing some research last year after the Supreme Court's decision in Heller v D.C., I came across quite a few articles stating that the police have NO duty to actually protect individuals. First, there just aren't enough cops for such a task - that would require at least 2 per block in major cities I would imagine. So it really is up to the individual to protect themselves until the cops get there; and hopefully they do get there before you really have to put up a fight and injure or be injured.

I love how those in favor of gun control deliberately choose to ignore the fact that the Supreme Court never said that reasonable restrictions and requirements for gun ownership couldn't be imposed on the people; they just said that outright BANNING of guns was UNconstitutional. I do feel that potential gun owners should have to take safety classes for the use and care of owning a gun. We do it for driving, so it only makes sense for guns also. Reasonable restrictions always make sense, but making things more difficult or expensive for the average, law-abiding, Joe/Jane on the street is just not right.

So who's really being punished here? Not the criminals, they don't give a ratz behind about rules and regulations. Gun control laws only hamper and inconvenience the law-abiding citizen who isn't about to go out and commit a crime to start with. If we're honest, we'd admit that criminals never use guns that can be tracked to them anyway - meaning they are using stolen or illegally purchased weapons. Take away the people's guns and only the criminals (who don't get them legally to start with) and the cops (not all of them are good either) will have guns along with the military.

Our founders created the 2nd Amendment to guarantee that our God-given right to protect ourselves could not be taken from us; also that we could protect ourselves from a government that was becoming too tyrannical and powerful.

In my opinion, gun control laws only enable and empower criminals as they won't be afraid that their next victim might have a gun; and enable any power hungry government to subjagate the masses of unarmed people. I was born free in a supposedly "free" country (U.S.A.) and I plan on dying FREE!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Birds and Bees Discussions Illegal?

According to a piece of legislation in Mississippi called the "Mississippi Child Protection Act of 2009" (Senate Bill No. 2472), it is quite possible that a parent having the "birds and bees" talk with their own child could in fact be considered "abuse".

The scary part of this bill is right in the first paragraph where it states: "(a) "Abuse" means the involvement of the child in any sexual act with a parent or another person, or the aiding or intentional toleration of a parent or caretaker of the child's sexual involvement with any other person or the child's involvement in pornographic displays, or any other involvement of a child in sexual activity constituting a crime under the laws of this state. "

Before you all jump all over me about "protecting the children" from pedophiles and sexual molestation or any other truly legitimate form of "abuse", re-read what I bolded. Notice how it is worded. There is no specification of "against their will" or with another adult. The way it is worded, also implies consentual sex between same age teens. Some overly-zealous religious fanatic could easily construe that one piece as meaning a parent educating their child about sex and making sure they have the tools to protect themselves properly (since I see no exception to this in the bill anywhere). I think most parents are intelligent enough to understand that teenagers are just one large raging mass of hormones AND that sexual experimentation is a natural part of those years (like it or not - it IS natural). I also believe that most parents are able to suspect when their child might be ready to experiment sexually. NOT to educate them and protect them, in my eyes, would be real abuse.

While I understand the concept of this bill, as usual, the language is vague AND broad and can be easily twisted to suit anyone's agenda. Unfortunately I see this bill as a danger to any parent out there wanting to truly protect their child by discussing sex with them and allowing them the means to protect themselves at the time when their parents will not be there to do so.

You cannot protect children unless you inform and educate them properly (with your values preferably) and allow them the tools with which to protect themselves. According to how this bill is worded, if I lived in Mississippi and had a child now, I'd be charged with sexual child abuse for doing my parental duty by educating and arming my child to protect themselves from STD's and pregnancy while they were being the average normal teenager. Is this really what this country is coming to?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Swine Flu Pandemic?

The World Health Organization today declared the Swine Flu to be a Pandemic. I find myself amazed that the WHO would actually make this declaration given their own stats on yearly flu deaths. But then it seems that keeping the global population in a constant state of fear seems to be the norm these days. While this flu meets the definition of "pandemic" in that it is global, I'm sure the same could be said for seasonal flu's and viruses; not to mention the common cold.

Every year, according the WHO, the annual influenza outbreaks kill between 250,000 and 500,000 people. I never hear yearly flu seasons declared pandemics. So far this swine flu - or H1N1 virus as they like to call it - has 28,774 confirmed cases with 144 deaths as reported by 74 countries. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) in the United States reports on its website that approximately 30,000 people die from the flu every year. So far, in the U.S. there are reported approximately 13,000 cases of swine flu with 27 deaths. Compared to the yearly flu season, so far the numbers aren't measuring up to "pandemic" levels in my eyes.

Granted, there is concern that this virus could mutate into something more serious down the road, viruses are funny that way; and it is only sensible and smart for the health officials to keep a close watch on it just in case. That is their job after all. But is it really necessary to declare these small numbers to be a pandemic and frighten everyone?

It seems we are fed daily doses of things to be afraid of, to the point that I've noticed most people really are scared of every little thing. The way some people react to everything I wonder they aren't hibernating in homes that are hermetically sealed to prevent every conceivable germ from getting near them. Living in fear is not living.

Educate, inform, be aware............YES I'm all for that. But let's not over-react and press those panic buttons less these same officials start sounding like the boy who cried wolf.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

One Size Does NOT Fit All

Health and Wellness are the new buzz words. I don’t mind saying that I gag every time I hear these words, they’ve been used so much.

While I have nothing against being healthy and well, what I have a problem with is this new idea that everyone should fit into the same size of health and wellness. As each of us is individual and unique unto ourselves, I find it disturbing that health and wellness is judged based on weight and lifestyle choices.

Not every overweight person is unhealthy, and not every slim person is healthy. It’s funny that there was no “obesity epidemic” until they lowered the BMI (body mass index) and suddenly overnight 30 million Americans were overweight when just the day before their weight was just fine. BMI is measured by height and weight and the new guidelines made Tom Cruise overweight, even though he has more muscle. Using BMI to measure the “health and wellness” of anyone is not sensible at all.

More and more companies these days are instituting “wellness programs” in the workplace. These programs are of course voluntary, but they also tend to offer incentives, or rewards if you will, for those who do participate and meet the pre-set goals of the program. These goals are not just weight, but lifestyle habits, blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol levels and more. If you participate you will be evaluated and given the numbers in these areas you are to meet within a certain time frame.

It all sounds good, but do we really want our employers now dictating our life outside of the workplace? I know I don’t.

In Japan, they have a mandatory program (Metabo) that all employers have to get all their employees over the age of 40 to be a certain size. They have to actually measure the employees’ waists and those who are over the mandated waist size of 33.5 inches for men and 35.5 inches for women are referred to counseling and monitoring. The employers are also to keep their staff slim or pay more into the national health insurance program.

I can see this happening here. I don’t know about you, but this is not my idea of living free, or healthy for that matter. Can you imagine having a large bone structure and the smallest waistline you can manage is 36 inches?

We are all built differently and one size never fits all, and it never will, contrary to what some people may think.

Health Insurance is not Health Care

A major topic out of Washington these days is “Health Care”. What I find interesting is that it is not actual health care they are talking about – as in quality and accessibility of such – but is in fact about health insurance coverage for all.

And while so many are cheering the government on for “Universal Healthcare” they are forgetting a few simple facts.

Health insurance is not health care. Everyone has accessibility to health care. Those who are uninsured use the emergency rooms. Granted, it makes for long waits when you are not a real emergency, but I’m not sure that having a government issued health insurance card will change these people’s habit of just going to the ER for treatment.

Many people I know moan and groan about the costs to the taxpayers for the Medicaid and Medicare programs. They complain that these people get free health insurance while the rest of us work our butts off to pay for ours, either solely on our own or through our employers. Medicare is not free either as most Social Security recipients have about $100 per month deducted from their monthly payment to pay for it. That $100 per month makes life very hard from some elderly folks.

Our representatives are talking about a government sponsored program that would insure everyone. So who exactly is going to pay for this? That’s right, the working class taxpayer, that’s who. So I’m not sure why they think this Universal Health Care thing will be any different.

Then there is a good chance that once you are on a government insurance program you have just opened the door for the government to start telling you exactly how to live. I’d bet that it wouldn’t be long before the mandates came telling us what we could and could not eat, what activities we could and could not participate in, how much exercise and what kind we were required to do daily.

This also doesn’t take into account the fact that having health insurance of some kind would be mandatory. Unless the government run health insurance program is totally free (no premiums, co-pays or deductibles) there will still be people who can’t afford it. Those making minimum wage can barely support themselves with 2 paychecks making purchasing health insurance still unaffordable for them.

Now if Medicaid and Medicare are so good, as I’ve seen stated lately when these discussions come up, why not just change the income requirements on Medicaid and lower the age requirement for Medicare to allow those without health insurance to enroll? Why create yet another system when we already have two that seem to work?

Health insurance is not health care. They should consider reigning in the insurance companies to make existing insurance more affordable, and to prevent them from turning anyone down because of existing health issues, etc. Then reign in the pharmaceutical companies to make the costs of the drugs doctors prescribe more affordable. At least this would be a real start with a good chance at working. That is IF making sure everyone has health insurance is the real goal.