Robert P.'s blog

House Majority Leader Hugh Holliman looking to shaft state workers.

I just read this over at Isaac Hunter's Tavern, the blog of local NPR reporter Laura Leslie, and was simply astounded. The state health care plan is in a major shortfall, as discussed elsewhere. So, what should we do to fix the problem? Adam Searing and Adam Linker think we should look at the administrator of the health care plan, of course we aren't allowed to look at them because the details are CONFIDENTIAL.

Stimulating Stimulus Will Fund $20 Billion in Health IT Projects - a Good Idea?

These are the kinds of stimulus that we should be funding. Our health care system has a lot of problems but certainly one is the redundant and archaic paper-based records and billings system. Nearly every discussion of how to reform health care, whether from the left or from the right, mentions information technology reform as a means for saving money (see below the fold). Therefore, it is good to see that a full $20 Billion has been approved in the House stimulus bill for Health Infrastructure Projects. From the story at Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:

Approved under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the bill would provide incentive payments to Medicare and Medicaid providers who implement certified electronic health record technology.

Michael Phelps Smokes Pot, Deal With It

Lord forbid that we actually have a real discussion about marijuana, its use and its abuse. No, we have to turn this into a witch-hunt where Michael Phelps is bad, bad, bad becuase AAAAAAH MYYYY GAWWWWD he smokes pot!

Please, everyone who hasn't smoked pot raise your hand? One, two, three, four.

Now, everyone who knows somebody who had their life ruined by pot raise your hand. Okay, no one.

Now everyone who knows somebody who had their life ruined by alcohol raise your hand. One, two, three, four....four million.

Yeah, what a load of crap. If I were Michael Phelps I would man up and talk about pot for what it is, less addictive and less destructive than alcohol. He should know, he's been arrested for DUI back when he was 19!

How to save an easy $140 million in the state budget

This started off as a comment over in James' post about Doug Berger's ideas on the budget. I started to comment that Republican Pete Brunstetter had one crazy idea and one not so crazy idea.

What two things would you cut in the state budget? "I'm not a big fan of the More at Four program," Brunstetter said. "I don't think it has had the impact that justifies the cost."

He added that there needs to be some consideration of merging More at Four with Smart Start, another pre-school program.

Getting rid of early childhood education programs is so stupid I can't even comment, but the idea of merging two pre-school programs into one overhead makes sense.

But, this is where my bullshitometer went off.

Why P.J. O'Rourke doesn't understand science funding.

Yesterday, I was puttering around the office doing some mind-numbing tasks and decided that I would zone out to something on my iPod, which ended up being Wait Wait...don't tell me! There was a question that concerned a research study. The study on auctions showed that if you are able to get a potential customer to hold an object for 30 seconds, in this case a cup, they are likely to bid MORE than the retail value of the object. I believe they said in 4 out of 7 cases the person bid more than the retail value, knowing the retail value. The conclusion was that holding an object for even 30 seconds confers a sense of ownership to that person.

P.J. O'Rourke commented something along the lines of "Please tell me my tax dollars were not used to fund this study."

Which is a funny line, but shows a lack of how science is funded in this country and what is wrong with that system.

Making WIC healthier

I saw an update from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that many states are trying to update their WIC program to better reflect newer nutritional standards and combat obesity.

Under the dietary changes, foods such as whole grain breads and cereals, canned or dried beans, and jarred baby foods will be made available to WIC recipients. In addition, beneficiaries can receive cash-value checks to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables. Another update to the state's WIC program calls for whole milk to be provided only to children between 12 months and 24 months and for all women and children older than age 2 to receive vouchers that cover only the cost of skim or 1 percent milk. In response to reports suggesting that juice consumption contributes to childhood overweight and obesity, New York is also looking to restrict the number of vouchers provided for the purchase of juice and eliminate juice options for children younger than age 2.

Horrible eating habits are responsible for the obesity epidemic in America. The old "food pyramid" is wrong, just wrong. That's why WIC is encouraging the purchase of fresh fruit and vegetables. That's why they are trying to eliminate whole milk and juice, which are unnecessary calories. More after the break. Newer nutritional understanding has, for all intents and purposes, turned the pyramid upside down. This is the old pyramid, you can see that it says you should eat lots of grains.
This is the new pyramid as designed at Harvard.

You can see that the white bread, white pasta group has moved to the top of the pyramid, use sparingly. Even the remainder of the pyramid blocks are better defined, such as "healthy fats" versus just "oils".

This is the "new" pyramid from USDA, which I'm not happy with. The USDA has tried to turn the pyramid into a rainbow logo - I'm not thrilled about it. Either way, I think what the WIC is doing is great. Folks often say you can't regulate good behavior, "What are you going to do, tax fatty foods?" Well, yeah. At least in this case you can, what you can do is limit tax-payer dollars for things that make you fat and unhealthy and expand funding for foods that are healthy. No more Cheetos and Wonder Bread, more apples and oranges.

End of Holiday Open Thread

Here is an eye-opener to start your Monday.

In 2002, four intrepid researchers filed a Freedom of Information Act. But they weren't looking for information on Guantanamo or revelations from Cheney's lair. All they wanted was the FDA's drug analysis data. Taxpayer funded research. They got it. The studies examined were conducted between 1987 and 1999 andcovered Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa, Serzone, and Effexor. They found, on average, that placebos were 80 percent as effective as the drugs.

The Fix Choses "The Best Senate Campaign of 2008"

Chris Cillizza from The Washington Post has chosen his Best Senate Campaign of 2008...I think you see where this is going.

Drumroll please.... And the best Senate campaign of 2008 is:

Kay Hagan of North Carolina -- Hagan, a state senator, got into the race against Sen. Elizabeth Dole after a number of better known candidates including Gov. Mike Easley and Rep. Brad Miller took a pass on the contest.

More after the break.


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