Coffee Inhibits Prostate Cancer

More good news for coffee drinkers. This article in the New Atlas tells us that drinking coffee has been linked to a reduction in prostate.

The findings come from a study presented at conference in Barcelona. There are two compounds that the researchers linked to the effect of inhibiting prostate cancer in animals.

But, this aligns with observational studies over the years that have appeared to show a connection between coffee consumption and lower growth for prostate cancer in humans.

Coffee may reduce risk of lethal prostate cancer in men

So, drink up coffee lovers. You have one more reason to enjoy your morning brew.

Illinois to be First State to Tax Human Waste By Weight

Illinois legislators are taking up legislation to tax human waste.

The proposed measure will tax households based on the weight of the sewage discharge. Weight and consistency will be analyzed with new “smart waste sensors” installed at the junction where each residence waste discharge pipe joins with the municipal sewer system.

The legislation calls for the sensors to be installed by the fall of 2021. While the installation job will be put out to bid, the estimates range from $2 billion to $6 billion. A special Bond issue is expected to cover the cost of the new system.

When challenged about the effect of additional taxes on Illinois residents, the bill’s sponsors said the tax burden can be reduced quite easily by simply eating less. One legislator went so far as to suggest that taxing human waste will lead to less eating and healthier residents, therefore they are doing residents a great service by taxing their waste.

A satirical article on a fictional tax so close to our experience that people should be forgiven for believing it is real.

The Economy: The best thing the president can do is stay out of the way.

In the image, there are
– 3 ways of looking at unemployment
– The GDP
– Federal Budget Deficit

Since 2010, things have been improving.
The trend line from Obama through Trump term to date is steady.
The only difference so far is the deficit.

While the budget deficit can be, and is, drastically affected by the administration at the time (along with Congress), the economy does not follow nice, neat 4 year increments.

The presidents are neither to blame nor to be credited with the economy in any short period of time.

It is us, the American people who are responsible for the economy.

The best thing the president can do is stay out of the way.

BTW, the stock market is a terrible metric for our economic health. If it were a good metric, we would not see the bubbles or rallies and inexplicable big drops. The market is a speculators world and goes up and down accordingly.


Administration changes formual for drug payments. Its not enough.

The Government, despite being the largest payer for meds, does not negotiate price. We simply agree to pay the average going rate in the U.S.

We passed laws that prevent the Government from negotiating drug prices in Medicare and Medicaid. Guess who pushed that law?

Since the U.S. has the highest drug prices in the world, the Gov pays a lot (we pay a lot).

The Trump administration says it plans to change how Medicare pays for some expensive drugs to bring the costs more in line with the prices paid in Europe. This is a good first step.

But, we are only factoring in their costs, not trying to meet or beat it. For a country that says “we always win”, this sounds like we’re giving up pretty easily.

This has been going on for decades now; Rep and Dem administrations and Legislatures. The drug companies got their law, and “our” representatives seem fine with it. Yes, they complain about drug prices, but they don’t take the very simple step of overturning the 2003 law (or at least part of it) and allow the biggest payer of drug prescriptions to use its power to lower the cost.

“For decades, other countries have rigged the system so that American patients are charged much more,” President Trump said Thursday

While the president says other countries “rigged the system” (in his tendency to play the victim), the reality is that the U.S. removed itself from the equation a long time ago.

The proposed changes are small but more than we’ve done before. I only hope it leads to someone taking up the next step of letting the government negotiate the cost of the drugs for which we all pay.

Firearms and the legislation

In view of the discussion around gun control, I looked back a bit to see what some of the milestones regarding gun control were.  Today we argue about our founding fathers being of the mind to allow anything, we argue about the “new push” for gun control, we argue about what people 50 years ago believed (popular are quotes from Reagan on personal responsibility).


Militia Acts of 1792

The 1792 federal law mandated every eligible man to purchase a military-style gun and ammunition for his service in the citizen militia. The weapon types were explicitly outlined. Such men had to report for frequent musters—where their guns would be inspected and registered on public rolls.

1866 march to the 14th Amendment – the real gun ownership amendment.

Following the civil war, there was a glut of firearms in the north. There also remained an intrinsic threat to black people. President Lincoln pushed for individuals, including and especially black people, to be allowed to retain their weapons from the service. This was seen as necessary for their personal defense in view of the threat still posed by racists.

In the south, blacks were barred from owning guns. Laws were implemented following a concept of the  “Black Code”, which explicitly denied blacks the same rights as whites, and more specifically, with regards to ownership of property; guns were a deniable properly. This left blacks in the south more vulnerable to the continued threats of their white neighbors.

Congress pushed for and passed the 14th amendment, which codified every free person’s rights to equal access to the benefits granted by the Constitution. While guns were not explicitly identified, they were intended to be and in fact covered under the concept of property.

This was the first recognition of the individual’s rights to own a gun. It was not granted under the second amendment but under the 14th. In the view of the leaders of that time, the issue was not access or no access to firearms, but if there was access to firearms, the same access must be granted to all.

 “too much freedom?”


National Firearms Act of 1934, the first federal gun-control law, which levies a restrictive $200 tax on the manufacture or sale of machine guns and sawed-off shotguns. All sales were to be recorded in a national registry


Roosevelt wins approval of the National Firearms Act of 1938, which requires the licensing of interstate gun dealers, who must record their sales. It prohibits sales to individuals under indictment or convicted of crimes of violence.


Governor Reagan told reporters that afternoon that he saw “no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons.” He called guns a “ridiculous way to solve problems that have to be solved among people of good will.” In a later press conference, Reagan said he didn’t “know of any sportsman who leaves his home with a gun to go out into the field to hunt or for target shooting who carries that gun loaded.”

This was in response to the Black Panthers using “civilian patrol” to counter police brutality. The patrollers were armed and openly challenged the police with threats of counter-force should the police use their weapons. The Republicans lead the charge for gun control.

Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 and the Gun Control Act of 1968: federal laws regulating firearms. It prohibits all convicted felons, drug users and the mentally ill from buying guns; raises the age to purchase handguns from a federally licensed dealer to 21; and expands the licensing requirements to more gun dealers and requires more detailed record-keeping.


Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986. Limits ATF inspections of gun dealers. And it banned civilian ownership of machine guns manufactured after May 19, 1986. Guns made before then were allowed.


The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act : The law specifies 19 weapons that have the features of assault rifles, including the AR-15, certain versions of the AK-47, the TEC-9, the MAC-10 and the Uzi, several of which had become the preferred weapon of violent drug gangs. The act also bans large-capacity ammunition magazines, limiting them to 10 rounds. The law does not apply to weapons that were already in legal possession, and there are easy ways to adapt new weapons to avoid the prohibitions.


Congress passes the Tiahrt Amendment to a federal spending bill. The amendment, proposed by Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), prohibits law enforcement from publicly releasing data showing where criminals bought their firearms.


Asault weapons ban lapses and is not renewed by congress.

My issues with the GOP tax plans are twofold

1) we knowingly grow the deficit, even eagerly do so under the two plans.

2) individuals are being sold a lie re individual tax cuts for them. They will phase out.

The cuts for corporations and for pass-through income (S-Corps, one of the income drivers for very wealthy people) remain.

As for lower taxes on companies benefiting people…

They aren’t investing because they have more cash. We’ve seen this with prior cuts as well as with the cash buildup following the crisis.

With these lower corporate tax rates, we need to stop the revenue transfer that takes place. (create a “license” agreement to use a product name in your Ireland division. Then “license” the name and rights to sell related products to the US division for absurd fees that literally shift all profit to Ireland). These are tactics openly discussed during earning calls.

If we say we should simply match the international average tax for corporations, then we also need to look at matching the relative expenditures of these countries’ governments as well.

Military budgets – we spend 8-10 times that of any European country and 4+ times that of China (the next largest military budget).

There are only 3 countries that spend more per capita on the military than us. Israel and Saudi Arabia (for understandable and similar reasons), and Singapore (an outlier that is baffling).

While the US has the highest cost per capita in healthcare, the government’s share of that is not nearly the highest (as a percent and in absolute dollars). We are lower than some and right in line with most developed nations.

Social Spending (basically helping people), we ranked about 20th relative to domestic GDP.

The United States doesn’t even make it into the top 10 for infrastructure expenditure per capita. The overall state of infrastructure didn’t even rank in the top 15 of nations.

I’m not a “tax them till it hurts” guy. I just have an issue with cutting revenue and not cutting expenses at all.

If we can implement a simplified tax code that says everyone pay x% and still afford to run the country, that’d be great.  However, I can handle 15 – 20 % tax, someone making $25k a year may not be able to handle that and still put a roof over their head, get clothing and food. I don’t know what to do about that end of it because you then start getting into deductions again.

The $1T average is a bit misleading.

We ran a surplus at the end of the 90s into the Bush Admin.

Then we had tax cuts and initiated a war in Iraq.

Then we had the financial meltdown.

The 1.3 – 1.4T deficits for a few of those years were widely believed by economists and those on both side of the aisle as necessary to prevent a complete collapse of the economy.


Year    Def     Debt Chg  %GDP   Reason

1998 ($69) $113  (0.8%) LTCM crisis

1999 ($126) $130  (1.3%) Glass-Steagall repealed

2000 ($236) $18  (2.3%) Surplus.

2001 ($128) $133  (1.2%) 9/11 attacks. EGTRRA

2002 $158 $421   1.4% War on Terror.

2003 $378 $555   3.2% JGTRRA

2004 $413 $596   3.3%

2005 $318 $554   2.4% Katrina. Bankruptcy Act.

2006 $248 $574   1.8% Bernanke chairs Fed.

2007 $161 $501   1.1% Iraq War cost

2008 $459 $1,017   3.1% Bank bailout. QE.

2009 $1,413 $1,632   9.8% Stimulus Act

2010 $1,294 $1,905   8.6% Obama tax cuts. ACA. Simpson-Bowles.

2011 $1,300 $1,229   8.3% Debt crisis.

2012 $1,087 $1,276   6.7% Fiscal cliff.

2013 $679 $672   4.1% Sequester. Government shutdown.

2014 $485 $1,086   2.8% Debt ceiling.

2015 $438 $327   2.4% Defense = $736.4 b.

2016  $585 $1,423   3.1% Defense = $767.3 b.

2017 $666 $672   3.4%

It’s one thing to get hit with a crisis. It’s another to plan a deficit.

Rest in Peace GOP

gop in a storm

You welcomed your executioner with open arms.

Inviting him in with a celebration of disrespect, pettiness, and discarded principles,  you walked away from what made you worthy.

Too late, your “leaders” came to realize that their private misgivings should have been voiced as forcefully in public as they now appear to have been in their nightmares.

While packed with voices of dissent, the leadership abdicated too easily. Removing your rudder in exchange for the captaincy, the GOP is now adrift.

As your crew indulged in the political rum found in abundance within the stores, you sped toward the rocks. Sobriety, too late, brings useless sorrow.

Your executioner is now your captain. And like all those who travel rudderless, he is content to go where the winds take him; too late, you realize you will share his political fate.

Rest in Peace GOP.


The Energy Policy is Really Just Money Straight to the Coal CEOs

The Corporate Welfare – A Gift To Executives

Through last year, fossil fuel subsidies in the US amounted to $20B.

About $4B for coal and $16B for oil.

These are direct subsidies from the Federal and State governments.

Direct. This does not include the virtual “give-a-way” of mining and drilling rights on Federal land or other indirect subsidies.

Now the energy department is going to additionally subsidize energy producers to stockpile coal to the tune of about $15/tn. They don’t need it, just store it near their power plants.

Coal Power Is Being Shuttered

Meanwhile, we are taking coal-fired power plants offline at a record pace – or converting some to natural gas. Natural gas and renewables are cheaper and power companies are moving over.

Three plants alone in Texas supplied power to about 4M homes. They don’t need the capacity from coal anymore.

That’s just over half the closures for this year, amounting to 7.8k MW. In 2015 and 2016, 18k MW and 13k MW were taken offline respectively. Next year, another 13k MW of coal power is expected to be removed.

Energy’s Growth Opportunity

So, the coal mines are still closing. As the industry sheds jobs, the renewable power industry is creating new jobs.

Meanwhile, as the administration wants to sink dollars into a dying coal industry, they are seeking to reduce or eliminate subsidies for renewables, which are generating new jobs. If you don’t believe in any subsidies, great. But, you can’t rationalize the President’s energy priorities in any way that makes economic sense no matter your thoughts on subsidies.

Job Training Programs

The proposed budget from President Trump seeks to cut jobs training programs that would prepare people to move from coal to renewables.  The cuts run about $166M for the training programs.

The President’s policies take money from the people who voted for him and gives more money to the executives running companies in dying industries. 



The strength of peace

For every blow you strike against the face of that fascist on the street, you also strike a blow against the cause for which you stand.

There is no moral comparison between the Nazis and those that oppose them.

The ultimate Nazi aim is to destroy others.

Those who oppose them aim to stop that destruction.

But with every act of violence, the opposition digs away at the high ground their position would otherwise hold.

Defend yourself, yes. But, do not incite the acts which will require such defense.

Speak. Yell. Scream. Stand in silent strength in opposition. But, do not strike out.

The violence of the Antifa lends shelter to the fascist. It creates sympathetic ears.

We hate their views, but our country gives them the right to hold their views as steadfastly as it gives us the right to hold our own.

Oppose them vehemently. But oppose them with the strength that can only come from peace.

Communicate. Congregate.  Educate.

Companies Turn Their Backs On Tump. It’s more important than you might think.

Morality or Practicality, either way, CEOs walked

Market forces compel businesses like Merck, Under Armour, Intel, and others to make practical decisions.

The CEOs of these companies walked away from Trump’s Manufacturing Council. Then his entire Strategic and Policy Forum voted to fold the group (shortly after, Trump “fired” them). Many stated that they cannot abide with Trump’s tacit support of Nazi’s and the KKK; they walked on moral grounds.

Whether moral grounds, of fear of market forces, this move by leaders in major companies is important.

Companies didn’t Turn their back on The Nazis

In the early 1920s and 1930s (and into the mid-1940s), the rise of the Nazi party, and later the 3rd Reich, was significantly aided by the participation of companies.

At the time, the companies had leaders that were active with the Nazi party, like Hugo Boss (which made uniforms for Nazis).

There were companies that simply looked to profit, like Coca-Cola which started a new drink brand called Fanta explicitly for the German market(they couldn’t ship the ingredients for Coke to Germany, so they had to create a new drink).

Then there were companies that actively participated in the Holocaust, like the precursor of Bayer ( IG Farben) that made the gas used to kill Jews and others; they worked side by side with Josef Mengele.

These are not the only companies that sought profit and ideological alignment with the Nazis. Unfortunately, the list is not short. You can get an idea of some others on the list here :

From local sh*t talker to National movement

For those who argue that the people we see today are “just talking sh*t” and that companies would not get behind them, think again.

Hitler was one of these “sh*t talkers” in the 1920s. He espoused the very same ideas that people are shouting on our streets today. The purity of the nation (meaning whites only) is their mantra. Read what Hitler pushed for and spoke about, and what the Alt-right (Nazis & the KKK among them), are pushing for now. It is literally the same.

In the 1920s, Hitler was nothing but a mouth. By 1933, he was leading Germany with a platform of anti-Semitism and racism. By the 1940s, he was gassing millions of Jews.

Corporations and the direction of a nation

Companies in Germany stayed with Hitler. Supported him. Financed him. Aided and abetted him.

Without the power and finance of corporations in Germany, Hitler would not have turned the world upside down.

This is why it is important that large and small companies turn their backs on Donald Trump’s acceptance of Alt-Right, fascist, racist, KKK, Nazis and others of their ilk.

Companies are neither inherently evil nor good. They are financial tools.

How the CEOs of companies allow these tools to be used is important in determining the future of our country, and (as we saw with Germany) the world.

We must support companies that oppose extreme nationalist, and hold to account those that do not.