Archive for July, 2019

Teacher’s Union Dues

Posted in uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on July 23, 2019 by andelino

Majority of teachers don’t know about union opt-out rights
By: Bill McMorris

A majority of teachers are “unaware” of their newly won right to “opt out of union dues” according to a new poll.

In June 2018, the Supreme Court declared that government agencies could no longer mandate “union dues or fee payments” as a condition of employment in “Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.”

Despite the landmark ruling, a majority of American teachers remain ignorant of their ability to “decline” such payments and are also “confused” about the consequences of “withdrawing” from the union.

A “YouGov” poll of 1,000 educators found 77 percent had not “heard of the landmark case” and 52 percent were unaware that they could continue to “work without paying dues or fees.”

The poll results reflected the reality on the ground, according to several teachers affiliated with the education reform group “Teacher Freedom Project” which commissioned the poll.

Greg Kuehn, a special-needs teacher at Minnesota’s Park Rapids Area School District, said in a release that many of his colleagues are “not knowledgeable about their legal rights.”

“The vast majority of teachers at my school have no idea that there is another choice when it comes to union membership,” Kuehn said in a statement. “They are shocked and in disbelief that it’s true and they are still unsure and afraid. I think it’s going to take a long time before all teachers know about Janus and feel comfortable making a choice.”

The poll found that nearly half of teachers were concerned about losing “tenure, seniority, or other benefits” if they opt out of the union, only 17 percent of those polled were able to correctly identify how “resigning from a union” would affect their daily teaching lives.

It also found that 22 percent of teachers had “reconsidered” their union status in the past year; 3 percent of respondents had “joined” a union since the Janus case while only 1 percent reported “leaving.” Elementary school science teacher Daniel Elo from North St. Paul said his coworkers are more focused on “teaching than their own rights.”

“I’m not surprised to see many teachers have misconceptions when it comes to knowing their rights. My coworkers want to focus on their students, not their own rights,” he said in the release. “That said, our profession is stronger when we have informed teachers who will advocate for what they believe with their influence and dollars.”

Despite united opposition to the Janus decision from organized labor, the majority of teachers approve of the decision. Only 17 percent said that union membership should be “mandatory” compared with 74 percent saying such associations should be “voluntary”; 84 percent agreed they should be able to “resign” at any time. Respondents had split results about the process of “resigning union membership” with 30 percent agreeing that it was “easy to quit” and 28 percent saying it would be “difficult.”

Colin Sharkey, executive director of the “Association of American Educators”, a union alternative and supporter of the “Teacher Freedom Project”, said he expects union membership levels to be affected as teachers become more aware of the reality of the “Janus” decision.

“Union leaders may claim their members have opted to renew after the Janus decision, but that is very misleading,” Sharkey said in a statement. “In truth most teachers still do not know their rights and aren’t aware they can reconsider their union membership. Even if they do, it is still too difficult to exercise those rights and far too many teachers are misinformed about what happens after they leave the union.”

The fallout from “Janus” continues to play out in the American legal system. Several states and major labor unions are facing class-action suits from employees seeking to recover back “dues and fees” that they say were taken from paychecks.

Other unions have been “sued” for hindering workers from resigning their membership and “recovering” their full wages.

Lolita Express

Posted in uncategorized with tags , , , , , on July 22, 2019 by andelino

The arrest of Jeffrey Epstein for criminal “sexual acts” involving children has gotten the Justice Department interested in reviewing flight logs for Epstein’s private jet known as the “Lolita Express.”

Epstein used his flying “sex-den” to ferry underage girls to his infamous “Pedophile Island” where all sorts of “unspeakable” acts were engaged in by Epstein and his cronies.

The Clintons have gotten in front of this emerging scandal by declaring that they “did not have sex with those underage girls.”

The truth will soon come out on this entire “scandal”, but of course until then, Google and the internet tech “cabal” have been busily “scrubbing” the Internet of all references that include the “Clintons and Epstein” and instead, replacing them with references to “Trump and Epstein.”

YouTube is “hiding” this video and pushing fake news to the top to “protect” Clinton.

Soon, the Internet will be safe again, thanks to Google, Twitter and Reddit.

Six Major Problems with Bill Clinton’s Statement on Jeffrey Epstein
Bill Clinton: Frequent Flyer on Jeffrey Epstein’s ‘Lolita Express’
In Epstein case, Bill Clinton is going to find himself politically expendable
On Epstein case, Barr gives Democrats a new reason to get the willies
The Jeffrey Epstein case is making liberals foam at the mouth with rabid rage

Alien vs. Predator

Posted in uncategorized with tags , , , on July 21, 2019 by andelino

“In politics, everyone can hear you scream!”

In the darkest shadows of the “radical” Democrat party, a challenger arose. AOC is challenging the old, haggard Pelosi, the establishment Democrats to follow AOC’s lead in moving the party so far left that the Democrats will never win an election again.

Pelosi “Predator” has been around the congressional block more than once and plans on making “mince” meat out of these “newcomers” as soon as she finds her “dementia” medications.

This makes for a fun popcorn “munching” distraction as the Democrat factions lock horns and “diss” each other in the quest for control of the Democrat party.

But the real story here is the Democrat’s utter frustration in their “failure” to remove Donald Trump from the Presidency and they are desperately “lashing” out at each other.

Nancy Pelosi and Sandy Ocasio-Cortez are in a “power” struggle with AOC calling Pelosi a “racist”, after Nancy criticized AOC, Omar, Tlaib and Pressley for being in their “tweeter” world.

But this past weekend, a man inspired by radical rhetoric just like hers and that of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — calling ICE detention facilities for illegal immigrants “concentration camps” — was shot and killed by police when he tried to firebomb one such facility in Tacoma, Washington.

Catching up with both Ocasio-Cortez and Omar in the halls of Congress they were asked if they would condemn acts of “domestic terrorism” carried out by a self-described member of “Antifa.”

You wouldn’t think that would be a difficult question to answer by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Peter Welch, Ayanna Pressley.

 Isn’t that astonishing? It’s so incredibly easy to say, “I condemn this act” and neither of them did — in fact, their “silence” speaks volumes for their “true” motives and beliefs.

Not a surprise, “radical” Somali Ilhan Omar (D-MN) refused to condemn the al-Shabaab Muslim “terrorists” in her home country of Somalia.

Not to mention refusing to address a reporter’s question about why her state Minnesota has the largest number of Muslim “recruits” leaving America to join al-Shabaab and the Islamic State (ISIS).

Reporter: “Can you respond to the President’s claims that you’re a communist and that you’re pro-al-Qaeda?”

Ilhan Omar: “We are no longer going to allow the dignification of such a ridiculous, ridiculous statement.” pic.twitter.com/qNYfDZZMDM — Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) July 15, 2019

Radical Somali Ilhan Omar (D-MN) has caused outrage yet again after claiming that Americans treat migrant children “worse than a dog” because they are racist.

Omar made the controversial comments while speaking at the Netroots Nation conference on Saturday. While sitting on a panel Omar declared that she is “ashamed to continue to live” in the United States “because of its hypocrisy” but did not offered to move back to the “hellhole” of Somali where she came from.

“Omar said Americans treat detained illegal aliens worse than dogs because they’re racist: we live in a society and govern in a body that might value the life of a dog more than they value the life of a child who might not look like theirs”pic.twitter.com/Ed2dkLsou8 — Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) July 14, 2019

Hey, Ilhan, you are correct. Americans do “value” the life of a dog more than Muslim people who look like. If you don’t know what I mean by that, click here: DOG JIHAD.

The “Radical Squad” took to the podium to call President Trump a “white” nationalist, demand his “impeachment”, denounce the holding of “illegal” aliens at our border and demand the children be let “out of their Obama cages.” 

Presumptuously speaking for the United States of America the four “women of color” (although only 2 of them technically are), 2 Muslims (one head-wrapped, 1 not), 1 barmaid from Westchester by way of Queens and one angry black Bostonian used the presser to “audition” for the future presidential sweepstakes.

Their credentials? They all harbor a “degree” of anti-Semitism, a hatred for America as it was founded and a fascination with “socialism and communism.”

Aside from that the only thing they have in common is the fact that they all have “big” foul spewing mouths.

And that’s all it takes to be a “radical” in Democrat politics these days, since we’ve leveled the playing field.

To paraphrase Rep. Pressley, “I will always refer to them as occupants…they do not embody the grace, the empathy, the compassion, the integrity that their office requires and that the American people deserve.”

So rock on “Radical Squad” your fame is “fleeting” and your charm has a distinct “expiration” date.

Sword and Scimitar

Posted in uncategorized with tags , , , , on July 20, 2019 by andelino

Raymond Ibrahim spoke before the Christian Rights and Freedom Institute in Naples, Florida. His speech revolved around the topic of his forthcoming book, Sword and Scimitar: “Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West,” and how Americans have been fed a false history that makes the West’s current conflict with Islam incomprehensible, whereas knowledge of true, well-documented history, one that almost exclusively revolved around war, places current events in a much clearer context.

“Sword and Scimitar” chronicles the decisive battles that arose from this ages-old Islamic jihad, beginning with the first major Islamic attack on Christian territory in 636, through the Muslim occupation of nearly three-quarters of Christendom, which prompted the Crusades, followed by renewed Muslim conquests by Turks and Tatars, to the European colonization of the Muslim world in the 1800s, when Islam largely went on the retreat–until its reemergence in recent times.

Using original sources in Arabic and Greek, preeminent historian Raymond Ibrahim describes each battle in vivid detail and explains how these wars and the larger historical currents of the age reflect the cultural fault lines between Islam and the West.


The majority of these landmark encounters–including the battles of Yarmuk, Tours, Manzikert, the sieges at Constantinople and Vienna, and the crusades in Syria and Spain–are now forgotten or considered inconsequential. Yet today, as the West faces a resurgence of this enduring Islamic jihad, “Sword and Scimitar” provides the needed historical context to understand the current relationship between the West and the Islamic world–and why the Islamic State is merely the latest chapter of an old history.

Bill Warner, Ph.D. is a highly respected expert on political Islam. In 2006, he founded the “Center for the Study of Political Islam” (CSPI) to further the study of the politics of the ideology of Islam and its ramifications for Western Civilization.

Warner defines political Islam as that part of Islamic doctrine which concerns the non-Muslim. He is author of fifteen books, including the Amazon bestseller, Sharia Law for Non-Muslims, which is published in 20 languages. He holds a Ph.D. in physics and applied mathematics. His website is www.politicalIslam.com

Jihad Squad Tweets

Posted in uncategorized with tags , on July 19, 2019 by andelino

House Passes Worthless Resolution Scolding Trump For His “Jihad Squad” Tweets

Link H. Res 489 116th Congress Condemning President Trump’s racist comments directed at Members of Congress.

Whereas the Founders conceived America as a haven of refuge for people fleeing from religious and political persecution, and Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison all emphasized that the Nation gained as it attracted new people in search of freedom and livelihood for their families;

Whereas the Declaration of Independence defined America as a covenant based on equality, the unalienable Rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and government by the consent of the people;

Whereas Benjamin Franklin said at the Constitutional convention, “When foreigners after looking about for some other Country in which they can obtain more happiness, give a preference to ours, it is a proof of attachment which ought to excite our confidence and affection”;

Whereas President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists”;

Whereas immigration of people from all over the Earth has defined every stage of American history and propelled our social, economic, political, scientific, cultural, artistic, and technological progress as a people, and all Americans, except for the descendants of Native people and enslaved African Americans, are immigrants or descendants of immigrants;

Whereas the commitment to immigration and asylum has been not a partisan cause but a powerful national value that has infused the work of many Presidents;

Whereas American patriotism is defined not by race or ethnicity but by devotion to the Constitutional ideals of equality, liberty, inclusion, and democracy and by service to our communities and struggle for the common good;

Whereas President John F. Kennedy, whose family came to the United States from Ireland, stated in his 1958 book “A Nation of Immigrants” that “The contribution of immigrants can be seen in every aspect of our national life. We see it in religion, in politics, in business, in the arts, in education, even in athletics and entertainment. There is no part of our nation that has not been touched by our immigrant background. Everywhere immigrants have enriched and strengthened the fabric of American life.”;

Whereas President Ronald Reagan in his last speech as President conveyed “An observation about a country which I love”;

Whereas as President Reagan observed, the torch of Lady Liberty symbolizes our freedom and represents our heritage, the compact with our parents, our grandparents, and our ancestors, and it is the Statue of Liberty and its values that give us our great and special place in the world;

Whereas other countries may seek to compete with us, but in one vital area, as “a beacon of freedom and opportunity that draws the people of the world, no country on Earth comes close”;

Whereas it is the great life force of “each generation of new Americans that guarantees that America’s triumph shall continue unsurpassed” through the 21st century and beyond and is part of the “magical, intoxicating power of America”;

Whereas this is “one of the most important sources of America’s greatness: we lead the world because, unique among nations, we draw our people—our strength—from every country and every corner of the world, and by doing so we continuously renew and enrich our nation”;

Whereas “thanks to each wave of new arrivals to this land of opportunity, we’re a nation forever young, forever bursting with energy and new ideas, and always on the cutting edge”, always leading the world to the next frontier;

Whereas this openness is vital to our future as a Nation, and “if we ever closed the door to new Americans, our leadership in the world would soon be lost”; and

Whereas President Donald Trump’s racist comments have legitimized fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(1) believes that immigrants and their descendants have made America stronger, and that those who take the oath of citizenship are every bit as American as those whose families have lived in the United States for many generations;

(2) is committed to keeping America open to those lawfully seeking refuge and asylum from violence and oppression, and those who are willing to work hard to live the American Dream, no matter their race, ethnicity, faith, or country of origin; and

(3) strongly condemns President Donald Trump’s racist comments that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color by saying that our fellow Americans who are immigrants, and those who may look to the President like immigrants, should “go back” to other countries, by referring to immigrants and asylum seekers as “invaders,” and by saying that Members of Congress who are immigrants (or those of our colleagues who are wrongly assumed to be immigrants) do not belong in Congress or in the United States of America.

Attest:

Link What President Trump actually said:

Take that, you America-hating bitches (Omar, Tlaib, Cortez, Pressley) who are a “disgrace” and an “embarrassment” to this great country. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass when you leave.

House Dems Unload On The Jihad Squad
House Passes Resolution to Condemn Trump’s ‘Racist Tweets, 240-187

Deaths of Despair

Posted in uncategorized with tags , on July 18, 2019 by andelino

What We Talk About When We Talk About Deaths of Despair
By: Charles Fain Lehman

Since the turn of the millennium, the number of Americans dying from non-medical, self-inflicted causes ”drug overdose, suicide, and alcohol-related illness” has exploded.

Per capita rates of death from drug poisoning, suicide, and alcoholic liver disease, a proxy for the long-run effects of heavy drinking, have roughly doubled over the past 20 years. Drug overdose and suicide in particular are responsible for a nearly unprecedented multiyear decline in life expectancy in the United States. Drugs are the leading cause of death for Americans under 50.

This explosion has prompted endless speculation on underlying causes. Because each of these causes of death is “self-inflicted” (i.e., not caused by a disease or the direct fault of another as in homicide or vehicular manslaughter), they have been grouped together. And because each tends to be associated with depressive behavior and poor social circumstances, the media have adopted a single descriptor for them: “deaths of despair.”

This term has its origin in a particular academic context, naming rising death rates among middle-age, low-status whites. But while the term means something empirical and precise to researchers, the media have adopted “deaths of despair” as a causal, rather than descriptive, label, with deaths being linked to some ill-defined “despair” allegedly permeating American society.

Commentators inevitably tie this “despair” to some other large scale trend—inequality, fatherlessness, loneliness, a lack of meaning,” the decline of religion—which they argue must be addressed if we want to stop the dying. Each of these trends is concerning in its own right, and all may indeed increase a person’s risk for suicide, drug overdose, or alcohol death. But it does not follow that these kinds of deaths can be grouped together by cause, or that the cure for one is the cure for another.

In reality, the causes that make up the monolith “deaths of despair” exhibit deep heterogeneity. A set of crises initially concentrated among poorly educated, older whites has spread. As of 2017, they each predominate in different states and exhibit different trends over time.

Precision matters, especially when talking about something as grim as death. “Deaths of despair” has become shorthand for everything that ails America. But the easy stories that people like to tell with that shorthand cannot stand up to close inspection.

The Origins of “Deaths of Despair”

The phrase “deaths of despair” comes from the work of economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton. They explored the basic concepts (although did not yet use the phrase) in a 2015 paper, “Rising morbidity and mortality in midlife among white non-Hispanic Americans in the 21st century.”

For decades, mortality rates had been falling across the developed world. But in the paper, Case and Deaton identified something odd: “Mortality among middle-aged, non-Hispanic whites actually began to rise in the late 1990s, upending the popular assumption rates would decline indefinitely.”

In the original paper, Case and Deaton linked this unexpected reversal to increases in deaths from drug overdoses, suicide, and alcohol-related liver diseases. They also identified declines in physical and mental health and increases in disability, and noted that the mortality increase concentrated among whites without a college degree.

In subsequent research, the pair contended that the decline is the result of “progressively worsening labor market opportunities” across generations, and so may not abate for decades. Other research has reinforced the nexus of causes Case and Deaton identified, including tying prescription Opioid use to labor force drop-out and linking the weakening labor market for low-status whites to declining marriage and civil society.

“Deaths of despair” as originally conceptualized, then, names (a) a reversal of trend for the white mortality rate, which (b) is caused primarily by increases in drug, suicide, and alcohol-associated death rates among (c) middle-aged whites without college degrees, probably caused by (d) collapsing labor market conditions and social capital among that community.

Among other things, this likely helps explain the election of President Donald Trump. But it reflects the social condition of one particular population, and so is not a general diagnosis for society’s present ills. Whereas there is a neat story to be told linking job market decline to “deaths of despair” among Case and Deaton’s original groups of interest, it does not follow either that this is the only group affected by those causes of death or that what explains those causes of death within that group will explain it in other groups.

It may make more sense to understand low-status, middle-aged whites as a sort of canary in the coal mine, among whom rising deaths of despair first manifested, but who now make up just part of the overall population being affected. Because they were experiencing weakening social capital and job opportunities, they were particularly prone to being affected by a change in the drug supply or suicide contagion.

By looking at the data on suicides, drug overdoses, and alcoholic liver disease more closely, we can see what these causes look like outside of Case and Deaton’s population of interest. Whereas they looked related there, they demonstrate some surprising differences elsewhere.

Drugs: The Supply-Side Crisis

Unlike the other deaths of despair, rates of drug overdose death have risen steadily for nearly 40 years across multiple age groups and ethnicities. Low-status, blue-collar whites were just one of many groups hit by this increase.

The standard story about drug deaths is that large pharmaceutical firms pushed hyper-potent prescription Opioid on unsuspecting Americans starting in the late ’90s. But a surprising analysis released late last year suggests that is just part of a longer story, finding that the rate of drug overdose death has risen continuously—and exponentially—since the 1970s.

Actual rates of deadly drug use, as best we can tell, have remained roughly flat since the early 2000s. The share of Americans reporting past-month drug use has risen from 8.3 percent in 2002 to 11.2 percent in 2017, but that trend is mostly attributable to rising marijuana usage following legalization.

Rates of past-month cocaine use have been roughly flat, and past-month heroin use only increased significantly in the past five years—and then only from 0.1 to 0.2 percent of the population. “Despair” is not driving an increased demand for deadly drugs. The drugs are just getting deadlier.

It appears that drug overdose deaths are increasingly unlinked from economic conditions. In a 2018 paper, “Deaths of Despair or Drug Problems?” UVA economist Christopher Ruhm finds that while counties which experience lower levels of medium-term economic growth also saw greater increases in drug overdose death, “the relationship is weak and mostly explained by confounding factors.”

The underlying cause of the drug crisis in 2019 is not labor market conditions—Ruhm notes that if it were, the crisis would have abated with the end of the Great Recession. Rather, Ruhm identifies compelling evidence that drug overdose death is better predicted by “changes in the drug environment,” specifically the introduction of heroin and fentanyl.

The exponential increase in overdose death rates is a function not of increasing demand produced by despair, but of an exponential increase in the cheapness and deadliness of supply. That increase is led by the mass switch to heroin and then to fentanyl.

This supply-side analysis has been confirmed by on-the-ground research. A group of drug researchers found that although fentanyl has become omnipresent, most users lack the resources and wherewithal to identify it. What is more, “because fentanyl is frequently marketed deceptively as other drugs, users lack information and choice to express demand effectively.”

To be sure, “despair” is co-morbid with drug use—as mentioned, men without work are far more likely to be prescription painkiller users. But drug deaths are not just rising among older people, in “burned out” communities, or whites; they are up among young people, among black people, and in places that have not experienced economic decline.

Unlike the other two “deaths of despair,” the story of the drug deaths is simple: “It is about supply, not demand.”

 The Mystery of the Suicide Spike

Trends like those cited above—inequality, the decline of marriage and religiosity, etc.—have all been on-going for decades. But suicide only took a sudden and sharp spike upwards at the turn of the millennium, bucking roughly a decade and a half of decline.

What changed? What would have caused America to suddenly become so much more despairing since the year 2000?

One of the answers to this question is deceptively simple: trade normalization with China—what MIT economist David Autor has labeled China Shock.” The differential effect of off shoring on America’s blue-collar workers helps explain the initial rise. In a 2018 paper, economists Justin Pierce and Peter Schott showed a relationship between exposure to China Shock and increase in suicides (as well as drug overdose deaths). “These results,” they write, “are consistent with [exposed white’s] relatively high employment in manufacturing, the sector most affected by the change in trade policy.”

Today, suicides remain concentrated among whites and Native Americans (who are frequently ignored in conversations about deaths of despair despite their shocking rates of OD, suicide, and alcohol-associated death). But these groups have always had higher rates of suicide compared with other ethnicities—what explains this disparity is debated.

 But whereas—per Pierce, Schott, Case, and Deaton—the suicide rise started among low-status, middle-aged whites, it appears to have spread. The CDC found that while suicide has most increased in rural (“non-core”) areas, it has risen significantly across all levels of urbanization, from large metros on down. Suicide is up even in high-status areas like the high schools of Palo Alto.

And speaking of high schoolers, suicide has spread from middle-aged Americans across age groups. Among 15- to 19-year-olds, the rate rose from 6.7 deaths per 100,000 in 2007 to 11.8 in 2017. Similar increases are apparent across the board for young adults 20 to 24 and 25 to 34.

The recency of these spikes, and their cross-age, cross-urbanization appearance, suggests whatever is causing the inversion in the suicide trend has to have taken effect very recently. There is a clear recent story for middle-aged, rural whites in China Shock, but there is not one for the rest of the population. (There is at least one popular explanation, at least for teens, in the rise of social media; but that account is more controversial and less robust than it at first sounds.)

Any large, long-term trend—rising inequality, falling family formation, etc.—used to explain the suicide spike needs to grapple with its recency. It is not clear what is going on, but “despair” does not cut it as an explanation.

The Odd Drinker Out

“Alcohol” deaths are the odd man out among deaths of despair. Deaths from acute alcohol poisoning have increased slightly over the past 20 years, rising from 0.1 per 100,000 in 1999 to 0.7 in 2017. But Case and Deaton looked at a different measure, alcohol-related liver diseases, rates of which have risen about 50 percent since 1999.

Unlike drug overdose and suicide, both of which are discrete events, alcohol-associated diseases are a product of years of heavy drinking. Although the range of time spent drinking before onset varies widely, patients who use alcohol heavily for five or more years are at risk of liver disease, particularly if they are in their 40s or older.

This last fact suggests rising alcohol-associated deaths may just reflect a graying population. Indeed, adjusting the data to hold the age composition constant shows the increase is less pronounced than it might first seem. (Making the same adjustments to drug and suicide rates do not produce changes nearly as striking.)

Still, the data show an increase in deaths. Some of that may represent an increase in drinking: A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found “substantial increases in alcohol use, high-risk drinking, and DSM-IV alcohol use disorder” between the period 1991-1992 and 2012-2013.

Another explanation is economic. One study published last year noted there was an “inflection point” around 2009 for liver cirrhosis and cancer. “Given that the worsening trends began after 2008, a year marked by the global financial crisis and a subsequent economic recession in the USA, a differential economic impact on specific states may explain some of the results,” the authors wrote of the geographic distribution of deaths.

Other analysis indicates that alcohol-associated diseases are responsive to the price of alcohol. Voxs German Lopez cites a study which concludes that a “10% price increase would cut the death rate from alcohol-caused diseases by 9-25%.”

At the end of the day, the best explanation might just be Case and Deaton’s. Most of the increase of alcohol deaths has been among whites, and it has been predominantly in rural areas (urban rates have actually declined.)

If this is the case, grouping alcohol deaths with suicides and drug overdoses, which have spread through the population and are a product of more than just the present challenges of de-industrializing white America, makes less and less sense from the vantage point of 2019.

Nothing is That Simple

Remember this: Nothing is mono-causal. That is the basic error “deaths of despair” leads so many commentators into—the lure of a neat and tidy picture of social trends, all too often one that confirms our political biases.

In rising drug overdose, suicide, and alcoholic disease deaths, America is facing three distinct but related challenges. In certain populations—especially the low-status whites on whom Case and Deaton focused—these challenges can be tied to a single cluster of causes. But what is true of one group is not true of another, and focusing on each cause reveals different patterns and/or underlying causal mechanisms.

Each of these challenges are real. But until we stop thinking about them as mono-causal, until “deaths of despair” gives way to the interlocking but distinct death crises, we cannot begin to imagine how to solve them.

Food Stamp Fraud

Posted in uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on July 17, 2019 by andelino

Democrats in a House agriculture subcommittee lashed out at a retired “millionaire” who applied for and received “food stamps” in an effort to prove that “eligibility” for the government “benefits” in his home state of Minnesota were “too lax and easily exploited.”

Rob Undersander noticed several years back that “income” was the only criterion for receiving benefits from the “Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program” (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps.

A retired engineer with a seven-figure “nest egg” but no real income, Undersander decided to perform an “experiment” to determine if someone as “well-off” as he and his wife could obtain the “benefits.”

“I’ve got the SNAP form in my hand and I’m thinking of my financial situation, and I said ‘you know, I just can’t believe this. So I went down to the second floor of the Sterns County Courthouse, stood in line a little bit, handed in the application and three weeks later I’m getting food stamps, and a balance on my EBT card.”

Although he was not “invited” to formally testify, Undersander was in attendance at a subcommittee meeting designed to look at “broad-based categorical eligibility” for benefits like SNAP.

Undersander did not “falsify” any portion of his application and everything he did was completely “legal.” He also carefully “tracked and donated” all of the monies he received from the program back into his community tobenefit the needy.”

House Democrats, however, were not happy. “And let me just also say for the record, I think if someone intentionally defrauds the federal government, they ought to go to jail,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, a Democrat from Massachusetts.

“Mr. Undersander did not break the law, he simply abided by the rules that were in place, so he didn’t defraud anybody,” said Rep. Mike Conaway, Republican from Texas.

“He intentionally defrauded the federal government. That is, in my opinion, breaking the law” McGovern shot back.

McGovern’s office did not respond to requests for comments as to how specifically Undersander “broke a law” or questions as to whether he would refer Undersander to the attention of a U.S. attorney for prosecution.

Republicans have long argued that the loose “eligibility” requirements create an environment in which resources are “diverted” away from the truly needy.

“I’m a flat-out 10th Amendment kind of guy as well, but these are federal resources that we’re talking about and the states should have restrictions on how those resources are deployed, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable that those restrictions make sense. Having an asset test ignored on SNAP is regrettable.” Conaway said in his opening statement.

Being threatened with “prosecution” is not new for whistle-blower Undersander.

“You knew this was wrong and you did it anyway,” a Democratic Minnesota state lawmaker said to Undersander in 2018 as tightening the state “eligibility” rules was under debate. “I find it pretty despicable. … I am just sorry there is no way we can prosecute you.”

Republican staffers said Democrats were holding “hearings” in anticipation of rule changes that could be delivered soon from the White House that might “tighten” some eligibility and distribution elements of the program.

Democrats repeatedly referred to what they described as a war on the poor. “You willfully and maliciously gamed the SNAP,” said subcommittee Chairwoman Marcia Fudge, a Democrat from Ohio, addressing Undersander.

“You, an alleged millionaire, used mis-characterizations of your finances to cheat the program. You took benefits meant for the very seniors in Minnesota you served through your volunteer work. And you did this all to continue the right-wing crusade against poor people,” not once mentioning about the “raid” on a Ohio multi-millionaire.

He boasted that his companies developed multi million-dollar properties across the globe, from St. Lucia to Southern California to the Middle East. His sprawling, 8,000-square-foot home in Russell Township, Ohio, complete with horses and in-ground swimming pool, plus multiple expensive sports cars attested to the lifelong success of Ali Pascal Mahvi.

Yet there he was, waiting his turn, a “prince becoming a pauper” asking for food stamps in Geauga County, Ohio. And, he got what he asked for. For himself, his wife, and their three adult children. For two years, the family was handed about $300 a month in government food stamps. They also wanted help to pay their gas and electric bills. And Medicaid. They needed and got Medicaid.

The conservative leaning think tank “Foundation for Government Accountability” produced a video highlighting Undersander’s story. “When I filled out that form, I used an abundance of honesty and caution. I was honestly hoping the application would be denied” Undersander said.

FGA estimates 33 other states are like Minnesota in that they only test “income and not assets” when it comes to SNAP.

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