Do we really need a George Washington to figure this out?

I am as much a traditionalist as most Americans. I grew up with pennies and nickels. When I was old enough to ride my bicycle to the local movie theater admission to the Saturday matinee was ten pennies or two nickels. A box of popcorn was ten pennies or two nickels and an all-day sucker was 5 pennies or one nickel – one needed an all-day sucker to last through the 30 cartoons that were shown in addition to a “double feature.” (Today, Bugs Bunny is too violent and young movie-goers have never heard of a “double feature”). In addition to the loss of Bugs Bunny we also should have lost the useless penny and the useless nickel.

The number of pennies in drawers or jars is astronomical. in 2013, the U.S. Mint produced 7,070,000,000 pennies and 1,223,040,000 nickels. While accurate figures do not exist, about half of these fall out of circulation within a year, ultimately finding their way to dresser drawers, jars and car ashtrays. This, together with the “take a penny, leave a penny” trays in retail stores, suggests that there are so many pennies in circulation that no one really cares to make change with them. By the best estimates I have been able to locate, there are somewhere between 200,000,000,000 and 250,000,000,000 pennies in circulation (or between $2 billion and $2.5 billion). Some even guess today that there are 300 billion pennies in circulation today that largely go unused. So, can we agree that they are USELESS!

But that is not why I am writing to you today. Would it take a leader of the caliber of George Washington to realize that it is fiscal madness for the US Mint to mint pennies? OK, Dr. Filly, what are you rambling on about now, ask you. Well, answer I, I am “rambling on” about the fact that it costs the US Mint 1.7 cents to produce a penny and 8 cents to produce a nickel. If every American demanded that we need pennies and nickels, this might be worth the ridiculous costs. BUT NOBODY WANTS THEM!

[Source: It cost 1.7 cents to make a penny this year, and 8 cents to make a nickel, by Christopher Ingrahamh]

It now costs $1.62 to make a dollar’s worth of nickels, and $1.66 to make a dollar’s worth of pennies. By contrast it costs only 36 cents to make a dollar’s worth of quarters, and 40 cents for a dollar’s worth of dimes. Paper dollar bills are even more cost-effective (see graphs below). Last year you and I, as taxpayers, were losing $105 million annually on penny and nickel production.

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So who is against getting rid of pennies and nickels? Well, as you might expect, the metal alloy industries and Coinstar fiercely oppose stopping production. These companies make millions each year by helping people get rid of their unwanted change. In essence, you and I are paying $100 million-a-year to make coins that nobody wants, so that people can take them to a Coinstar kiosk and pay again to get rid of them. I strongly favor capitalism, but among the major beneficial effects of capitalism is “creative destruction” (see footnote). It is long past a time when pennies and nickels need to go the way of the buggy whip.

Roy Filly

Footnote:

DEFINITION OF ‘CREATIVE DESTRUCTION’

A term coined by Joseph Schumpeter in his work entitled “Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy” (1942) to denote a “process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one.”

INVESTOPEDIA EXPLAINS ‘CREATIVE DESTRUCTION’

Creative destruction occurs when something new kills something older. A great example of this is personal computers. The industry, led by Microsoft and Intel, destroyed many mainframe computer companies, but in doing so, entrepreneurs created one of the most important inventions of this century. In the previous century it was the automobile. Livery stables and buggy manufacturers went out of business. Schumpeter goes so far as to say that the “process of creative destruction is the essential fact about capitalism.”

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How about some good news for a change.

Today’s focus is vaccination. Vaccination is without doubt the most important medical miracle of them all. Yet many mothers refuse to have their children vaccinated. Interestingly, fear should motivate them to vaccinate their children, but ironically it is fear that convinces them erroneously not to vaccinate their children. Hopefully their children to do not suffer from their ignorance.

[Source: A global conspiracy of health, by Michael Gerson]

So what is the good news that I promised. Here it is. In 2013 there were 3.6 million fewer children that died compared to the year 2000. That is 3.6 million fewer dead children in a world that produced a billion more children during that interval. Approximately half of these saved lives was a reduction in childhood death from pneumonia, diarrhea and measles. These saved lives are, almost to a child, the result of the miracle of vaccination. As Mr. Gerson writes, “We are seeing the continuation of what is perhaps the greatest scientific contribution to human well-being: the artificial preparation of the immune system to ward off bacteria and viruses.” And it is the truth.

If modern medicine saves a person from a heart attack, the benefit to that individual is great, but the benefit to humanity is small. By contrast, even economists consider vaccines a global public good. Providing the pneumcoccal vaccine to millions of children helps to protect millions of the elderly who are also susceptible to these infections. Fewer children with the disease reduces the circulation of the causative bacterium. “Once this public good is produced, everyone can enjoy it without reducing anyone else’s share.

Here is a name to remember, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. This organization based in Geneva, Switzerland is largely responsible for the 1.6 million children who would have but did not succumb to these potentially fatal illnesses. The organization provides heavy but eventually diminishing subsidies for immunizations in poor countries. It also acts as a sort of purchasing co-op, helping nations get better prices on vaccines. And it amounts to a guaranteed market for vaccines that would not otherwise be profitable to research and produce.

Hurrah for Gavi, and hurrah for those that have researched and discovered these life saving vaccines.

Roy Filly

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The policeman.

Do you remember Paul Harvey? He was the verbal equivalent of the artistry of Norman Rockwell when it came to depicting Americana. As the nation continues to struggle with protests surrounding “police brutality” it is a good time to listen to someone making the counter argument. Enjoy.

And thanks to JP for forwarding this to me.

Roy Filly

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Teddy Roosevelt – The Duties of American Citizenship.

Among our honored Presidents is Theodore Roosevelt. He was an American politician, author, naturalist, soldier, explorer, and historian who served as the 26th President, the 25th Vice President, the 33rd Governor of New York, and the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. He was a man’s man – if anyone reading this still remembers that phrase. He was both a leader of the Republican Party and a leader in the Progressive Movement. So, depending on the point in history that you revere or hate him he has an appeal to both the left and the right. I ran across the following speech he gave on January 26, 1883. Oh how times have changed! I have not reproduced the entire speech – he was verbose – but there is still plenty to mull over as you imbibe you morning coffee. (For my women readers, I apologize that he was, in addition to being a “man’s man,” also a “male chauvinist pig” – if anyone reading this remembers that phrase. Apparently women did not have a duty to be good citizens other than reproduction. His BAD!) You may now judge your “citizenship” by the yardstick of Theodore Roosevelt.

Roy Filly

(If you want to read the entire speech)

The Duties of American Citizenship

Theodore Roosevelt

Of course, in one sense, the first essential for a man’s being a good citizen is his possession of the home virtues of which we think when we call a man by the emphatic adjective of manly. No man can be a good citizen who is not a good husband and a good father, who is not honest in his dealings with other men and women, faithful to his friends and fearless in the presence of his foes, who has not got a sound heart, a sound mind, and a sound body; exactly as no amount of attention to civil duties will save a nation if the domestic life is undermined, or there is lack of the rude military virtues which alone can assure a country’s position in the world. In a free republic the ideal citizen must be one willing and able to take arms for the defense of the flag, exactly as the ideal citizen must be the father of many healthy children. A race must be strong and vigorous; it must be a race of good fighters and good breeders, else its wisdom will come to naught and its virtue be ineffective; and no sweetness and delicacy, no love for and appreciation of beauty in art or literature, no capacity for building up material prosperity can possibly atone for the lack of the great virile virtues.

But this is aside from my subject, for what I wish to talk of is the attitude of the American citizen in civic life. It ought to be axiomatic in this country that every man must devote a reasonable share of his time to doing his duty in the Political life of the community. No man has a right to shirk his political duties under whatever plea of pleasure or business; and while such shirking may be pardoned in those of small means it is entirely unpardonable in those among whom it is most common–in the people whose circumstances give them freedom in the struggle for life. In so far as the community grows to think rightly, it will likewise grow to regard the young man of means who shirks his duty to the State in time of peace as being only one degree worse than the man who thus shirks it in time of war. A great many of our men in business, or of our young men who are bent on enjoying life (as they have a perfect right to do if only they do not sacrifice other things to enjoyment), rather plume themselves upon being good citizens if they even vote; yet voting is the very least of their duties. Nothing worth gaining is ever gained without effort. You can no more have freedom without striving and suffering for it than you can win success as a banker or a lawyer (I guess he didn’t hate Banker’s like modern day progressives – RF) without labor and effort, without self-denial in youth and the display of a ready and alert intelligence in middle age. The people who say that they have not time to attend to politics are simply saying that they are unfit to live in a free community. Their place is under a despotism; or if they are content to do nothing but vote, you can take despotism tempered by an occasional plebiscite (a referendum – RF), like that of the second Napoleon. In one of Lowell’s magnificent stanzas about the Civil War he speaks of the fact which his countrymen were then learning, that freedom is not a gift that tarries long in the hands of cowards: nor yet does it tarry long in the hands of the sluggard and the idler, in the hands of the man so much absorbed in the pursuit of pleasure or in the pursuit of gain, or so much wrapped up in his own easy home life as to be unable to take his part in the rough struggle with his fellow men for political supremacy. If freedom is worth having, if the right of self-government is a valuable right, then the one and the other must be retained exactly as our forefathers acquired them, by labor, and especially by labor in organization…

The first duty of an American citizen, then, is that he shall work in politics; his second duty is that he shall do that work in a practical manner; and his third is that it shall be done in accord with the highest principles of honor and justice…

I think that we ought to be broad-minded enough to recognize the fact that a good citizen, striving with fearlessness, honesty, and common sense to do his best for the nation, can render service to it in many different ways, and by connection with many different organizations…

One seemingly very necessary caution to utter is, that a man who goes into politics should not expect to reform everything right off, with a jump. I know many excellent young men who, when awakened to the fact that they have neglected their political duties, feel an immediate impulse to form themselves into an organization which shall forthwith purify politics everywhere, national, State, and city alike…

When once a band of one hundred and fifty or two hundred honest, intelligent men, who mean business and know their business, is found in any district, whether in one of the regular organizations or outside, you can guarantee that the local politicians of that district will begin to treat it with a combination of fear, hatred, and respect, and that its influence will be felt; and that while sometimes men will be elected to office in direct defiance of its wishes, more often the successful candidates will feel that they have to pay some regard to its demands for public decency and honesty…

In facing the future and in striving, each according to the measure of his individual capacity, to work out the salvation of our land, we should be neither timid pessimists nor foolish optimists. We should recognize the dangers that exist and that threaten us: we should neither overestimate them nor shrink from them, but steadily fronting them should set to work to overcome and beat them down. Grave perils are yet to be encountered in the stormy course of the Republicperils from political corruption, perils from individual laziness, indolence and timidity, perils springing from the greed of the unscrupulous rich, and from the anarchic violence of the thriftless and turbulent poor. There is every reason why we should recognize them, but there is no reason why we should fear them or doubt our capacity to overcome them, if only each will, according to the measure of his ability, do his full duty, and endeavor so to live as to deserve the high praise of being called a good American citizen.

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Corporate taxes – a double-edged sword.

Anyone who reads my posts knows that I oppose big government. The best way to oppose big government is to “starve the beast” – decrease its tax revenue. I am also a laissez faire capitalist. If laissez faire policies help the US economy to flourish – a desire I strongly hold – then tax revenues will go up. It’s a double-edged sword. I would rather that the economy flourishes.

I also oppose tax law manipulation to “induce” Americans to change their habits. Sin taxes are a supreme example. I like user taxes. The gasoline tax is a good example. It is too bad the money from such taxes are so poorly used by our elected representatives. Ah, but that is “democracy.”

Corporate taxes are among the most interesting. The United States of America has the highest corporate tax rates in the developed word (see graph below).

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We must be raking in the cash! Au contraire mon ami! Corporate taxes are a relatively small amount of annual federal revenues (see graph below).

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And 2013 was a pretty good year. Annual revenues from corporate taxation in recent years have been closer to 8% rather than 10%. Clearly the “silver tuna” is income taxes when one is counting up dollars that the IRS collects.

What do multinational corporations want in the nation they choose to open their base of operations. Well, of course, they want a lot of things. They want security. The United States is probably the most secure nation on Earth despite the fact that ISIS wants to attack us. They want a nation governed by the “rule of law” – “rule of law” is a good topic for a latter post. We have some shortcomings in that regard – our current President being a good example. But overall we are as good as any other nation in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). They want a stable currency in the nation with their corporate headquarters. Like all modern currencies, the US dollar is a fiat currency system. Our dollar bounces around a bit, but the US dollar is still the world reserve currency. While our politicians play around with the value of the dollar (like all politicians) we are not nearly so “playful” as the Chinese or Japanese – they are both totally nuts about currency manipulation. Multinational corporations want to see that other nations and corporations are investing in the country which they choose for their national headquarters. The US, at least in the past, has been by far the most heavily invested-into country in the world, with foreign investments made in the US equaling almost $2.4 trillion – more than twice that of any other country.

We should be the “winner.” But, the thing that multinational corporations want more than anything else – low corporate tax rates. Oops! Multinational corporations are moving “out” of the US, not “in.” The latest to garner headlines is Burger King. They are moving to Canada.

[Source: We finally have an idea of how much money Burger King will save by moving to Canada, by Roberto A. Ferdman]

Canada should be a cozy new home for Burger King.

The fast food giant stands to save as much as $1.2 billion in taxes over the next three years by moving its headquarters from the United States to Canada, according to a new report by Americans for Tax Fairness, a tax watchdog often critical of corporate tax maneuvers… The fast food giant has been criticized for what many believe is a maneuver driven primarily by tax benefits. 

Quelle surprise! Of course that’s why their moving! There is a lesson in here somewhere, Mr. President. When you raise corporate taxes, corporations respond BY MOVING OUT. I suggest we lower corporate taxes to near zero and induce EVERY MAJOR MULTINATIONAL CORPORATION TO MOVE IN! Forget your twisted notions of “fairness.” Do something good for the country for a change! If every multinational moves their headquarters to the US our income tax revenue will far exceed the rather meager revenue received from corporate taxation.

Roy Filly

 

 

 

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Wow!

Recently our family has been starting a new small business. It required that we find something called a “fulfillment center.” These businesses operate a process whereby the “fulfillment center” fulfills an obligation to send a person an item or product the person has ordered, purchased, or requested from an organization that has contracted with the “fulfillment center.” Fulfillment typically refers to services provided by a company that offers to store, receive the orders, package, and ship ordered item to end consumers. Amazon, as you might expect, has a doozy! Observe the future – except it’s the present!

And thanks to ALF for sending this to me.

Roy Filly

 

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Is it torture?

The Senate report on “enhanced interrogation techniques” employed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) have been the talk of Washington and both the liberal and conservative press. The “torture” that surprisingly caught the liberal medias’ attention to the greatest degree is so-called rectal feeding. So what’s up with that?

A nutrient enema, also known as rectal alimentation, or rectal feeding, is an enema administered with the intent of providing nutrition when normal oral alimentation is not possible.

This treatment is ancient, dating back at least to Galen! It was commonly used in the Middle Ages, and was still a common technique in 19th century medicine. This technique has been superseded by intravenous hyperalimentation and gastric tubes – both require physician oversight.

A variety of different mixes can been used for nutrient enemas. But here’s the thing. This treatment was administered to an American President. When James Garfield was shot in 1881 he was given rectal feedings. Although he died, the rectal feedings were considered to have prolonged his life. The physicians in attendance were not torturing him!

I will admit that if I were to need augmented alimentation I would prefer intravenous hyperalimentation. But then again, I am not planning on being in a CIA “Black Site” when the need arises and I will not have just killed 3000 innocent Americans. You decide!

Roy Filly

 

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Police harassment.

A reader forwarded this to me recently. Americans have been observing nightly demonstrations against police brutality and harassment. Some of these are peaceful (although highly disruptive) and some are violent. The following tongue-in-cheek email blast gave me quite a chuckle. Hopefully it will do the same for you. However, it points to some statistical realities in the world of police activities. Whether “Sgt. Bennett” actually wrote it or not, whether the statistics are exactly accurate or not seems irrelevant. The piece points to some realities of police work. The closest reference to this piece that I found was on Answers.Com. Enjoy.

Recently, the Chula Vista, California Police Department ran an e-mail forum with the local community (a question and answer exchange) with the topic being, “Community Policing.”

One of the civilian e-mail participants posed the following question: “I would like to know how it is possible for police officers to continually harass people and get away with it.”

From the “other side” (the law enforcement side) Sgt. Bennett, obviously a copper with a sense of humor, replied: “First of all, let me tell you this…it’s not easy.  In Chula Vista, we average one copper for every 600 people.

Only about 60% of those cops are on general duty (or what you might refer to as “patrol”) where we do most of our harassing. The rest are in non-harassing departments that do not allow them contact with the day to day innocents.

At any given moment, only one-fifth of the 60% patrollers are on duty and available for harassing people while the rest are off duty. So roughly, one cop is responsible for harassing about 5,000 residents.

When you toss in the commercial business, and tourist locations that attract people from other areas, sometimes you have a situation where a single cop is responsible for harassing 10,000 or more people a day.

Now, your average ten-hour shift runs 36,000 seconds long. This gives a cop one second to harass a person, and then only three-fourths of a second to eat a donut AND then find a new person to harass.

This is not an easy task. To be honest, most cops are not up to this challenge day in and day out. It is just too tiring. What we do is utilize some tools to help us narrow down those people which we can realistically harass. The tools available to us are:

PHONE:  People will call us up and point out things that cause us to focus on a person for special harassment.

“My neighbor is beating his wife” is a code phrase used often. This means we’ll come out and give somebody some special harassment.

Another popular one: “There’s a guy breaking into a house.” The harassment team is then put into action.

CARS:  We have special cops assigned to harass people who drive. They like to harass the drivers of fast cars, cars with no insurance or no driver’s licenses and the like.

It’s lots of fun when you pick them out of traffic for nothing more obvious than running a red light.

Sometimes you get to really heap the harassment on when you find they have drugs in the car, they are drunk, or have an outstanding warrant on file.

RUNNERS:  Some people take off running just at the sight of a police officer. Nothing is quite as satisfying as running after them like a beagle on the scent of a bunny. When you catch them you can harass them for hours to determine why they didn’t talk to us.

STATUTES:  When we don’t have PHONES or CARS and have nothing better to do, there are actually books that give us ideas for reasons to harass folks. They are called “Statutes”; Criminal Codes, Motor Vehicle Codes, etc… They all spell out all sorts of things for which you can really mess with people.

After you read the statute, you can just drive around for a while until you find someone violating one of these listed offenses and harass them.

Just last week I saw a guy trying to steal a car. Well, there’s this book we have that says that’s not allowed. That meant I got permission to harass this guy. It’s a really cool system that we’ve set up, and it works pretty well.

We seem to have a never-ending supply of folks to harass. And we get away with it. Why? Because for the good citizens who pay the tab, we try to keep the streets safe for them, and they pay us to “harass” some people.

Hopefully sir, this has clarified how we harass the good citizens of Chula Vista.

And thanks to BC for sending this gem to me.

Roy Filly

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Trey Gowdy. He’s my guy!

This is what happens when someone knows how to ask penetrating questions and comment soundly on the answers. By the by, the answer is always the same and was pre-programmed into Professor Gruber by some progressive /statist acolyte. It is pitiable to see the repetitive regurgitation of the word “glib.” It didn’t work!

Glib – an adjective meaning fluent and voluble but insincere. Only a fellow progressive/statist could buy that.

Roy Filly

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A surprise on the Daily Signal.

If you have ever wondered on what I spent my time as a physician/researcher the following video will show you. I was surprised to see this on the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal both yesterday and today. I would never have disclosed this part of my life had it not been posted on this famous website.

You’ll need some background. In 1976 three physicians met at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). We discovered that we all shared a driving interest. We wanted to help fetuses. We wanted fetuses to become patients. The three physicians were Michael Harrison, a pediatric surgeon (and the bravest doctor I have ever met), Mitchell Golbus, an obstetrician/geneticist (possibly the first ever trained in both specialties) and pioneer in prenatal diagnosis and treatment, and yours truly. My interest was (and is) the prenatal diagnosis of fetal congenital anomalies like the one shown in the Daily Signal report. Dr. Scott Adzick, who appears in the Daily Signal video, was Mike Harrison’s trainee. Upon completion of his training he joined the UCSF faculty as Mike Harrison’s right-hand-man. His superb career led to his appointment as Surgeon-in-Chief at the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania, one of the preeminent children’s hospitals in the world, where he developed his own successful fetal surgery program – as you will see in the video.

The original research and the original surgery for this fetal tumor was performed at UCSF. At that surgery a very famous picture was taken that found its way onto the covers of many magazines across the world – a surgeon holding a fetal hand. It was possibly the most awe inspiring thing I have ever beheld. Drs. Harrison, Adzick, Golbus. and myself were all present when the photograph was taken. I apologize that it isn’t clearer. You will note in the video that the videographer focuses on a similar image. It’s hard not to do so.

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The Heritage Foundation focused on a recent example of this life-saving surgery. It is a surgery that is rarely performed, but when it is performed it the last hope for the fetus with the affliction. The story itself is touching because it shows the true bravery of a mother who elects to undergo this procedure. You must understand that she is perfectly healthy and is allowing a surgeon to open her abdomen and her womb for the benefit of her unborn child. It is a remarkable story of heroism.

I invite you to peruse the website for the UCSF Fetal Treatment Center which I cofounded.

Roy Filly

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