Wednesday, January 24, 2007



Ptice Gripe u Dalmaciju

For those of you who do not speak Croatian, the headline is that bird flu is back in Dalmatia.

Croatia Halts Imports from Hungary due to Bird Flu

Ex Prostitutes Create Haute Couture in Rome

This is good news.

and so is this! hat tip to NPR

Some manufacturers are realizing that it's not always wise to out source, there ARE downsides.

"We had a truck hijacked by Mexican bandits before it got to the border," Sapienza recalls. "And we lost an entire shipment of 4,000 suits and disappointed our retailer, who subsequently said he couldn't trust us and moved the production to a different brand."

Suit Maker Goes Lean to Keep Jobs in U.S.

I had to be outside to take the garbage out, I forgot to take care of it last night, so I bundled up to do it, the grass out back was covered in a hard frost, it was so hard it didn't even break under my feet. I had to walk very slow so as not to slip, and was glad I was able to arrange it so that I only needed to make one trip.

NPR has the yearly fact check on the President's State of the Union speech.

Fact Check on Speech

As someone who has known a bit of hardship and who has been an insurance agent, I have to say that the insurance part of the speech doesn't make any sense at all. It's actually a totally inadequate response. It only will work for a very narrow demographic and the solution is needed for basically everyone. Even a rich person can be ruined by health costs, and we are all vulnerable to health problems, because even if you come into life with good health, and take good care of yourself, (remember what that is gets changed all the time with new studies etc), some diseases are contagious some are the result of accident, and those can happen to anyone.
Financially for the whole country I think it makes the most sense to cover basic health care with a national system. There is no reason some private practice can't exist side by side, and there is no reason people can't have extra coverage if they want it, and there's no reason health insurance s houldn't cover foreigners just to name a few opportunities to leave to the private sector, but to have the health of the people of the United States left at the mercy of an industry hasn't worked well. Too many people can't afford any coverage since it is expensive, and too many people cannot get coverage at all due to pre-existing conditions, too many fall between well off enough to be disqualified from the occasionally available state sponsored programs for the working poor, and not well off enough to actually pay for decent coverage. HMOs or health maintenence organizations are not entirely effective or affordable, if someone needs a particular drug or procedure, it might not be covered.
The trouble with insurance companies is that they exist to make a profit. This means to some extent they have to deny some services. It would be more efficient to have one entity negotiate the best price for everyone, on drugs and procedures. The U.S. doesn't necessarily have the best health care in the world. There's a lot of high-tech medicine, a lot of pioneering in medicine and we do have excellent doctors and health care workers in general, but the system of getting care to people is not working well.
In some parts of the country the problem is the system is burdened by the presence of illegal immigration. I don't blame anyone for coming here to better themselves or to escape persecution. That is what America is all about.
I think the immigration system is a mess still and needs work.
The first place to start is with our neighbors in Mexico. I think that we need to re-negotiate the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. As a treaty it's inadequate to modern conditions. It serves neither the United States nor Mexico. There is no foreign aid that is going to build up Mexico if we don't help them deal with the terrible corruption in Mexico, and that can't happen when a lot of their best and brightest are tending crops in the United States because it pays more and miserable as their conditions are, it's often safer than to stay home. Mexico is on the verge of civil war. They have had a way too close election and a huge number of Mexicans contest the legitimacy of the last election.
If there is a civil war, or even widespread unrest short of civil war, then Mexicans will come north in increasing numbers. They will be in time really productive members of our society, but be lost to their home country. I do not favor closing the border as some do, in fact I think we should make LEGAL entry easy enought that the illegal way of coming in will be less attractive, and we should physically tighten the border. I'm not against putting up a fence if that's what it takes. Right now under current passport regulations an American needs a passport to return from a weekend in Tijuana, but a Mexican can walk right across with no questions asked, simply by walking or wading accross in the right place. An American who is OBVIOUSLY an American will need to go to a secondary examination. That is silly.
One thing I experienced in Bosnia Hercegovina was the trip to the police station to register with the police. This is actually not a bad idea to adopt here. This way the police know who is a foreigner in their country, they can if need be send that person back home, or if that person needs help they know where that person is. It's not a fool proof system. BiH has an illegal alien problem. Mostly this is people who bypass the system because they were trafficked. Probably some form of the same problem would persist in the U.S. particularly with people coming here from Mexico, but at least making immigration easier, and having people register where they are would make it easier to get a handle on who is here legally.
In the case of Mexico, we really should look at ways to tie tightening our border with helping Mexico to be more prosperous, and safe. If we did that then maybe a tighter border would be more acceptable. It would have to be done with great sensitivity because 1. a huge part of the American West used to be in Mexico, there is truth in the saying that 'We didn't cross the Border, the Border crossed us!' 2. It might behoove Americans to realize that some sensitivity over Mexican illegal aliens might be the result of guilt. There was a scheme for the settlement of Texas that Mexico had whereby Catholic married men could bring their families to settle and get land very cheaply, guess what, Texas soon became part of the U.S.

This resulted in it being hard for foreigners to own property or have resources in Mexico, and it resulted in resentments of Americans by Mexicans.

Meanwhile a Mexican need not be a citizen to own property here, or a business here,and need not even be legally here to have a job here or get emergency medical care here. A lot of Americans resent that, especially since it's virtually impossible for an American to work legally in Mexico. I don't blame Mexico too much, jobs are short there, but I resent that you can't take their jobs but they can sure take our jobs. I think we ought to be able to take each other's jobs. :)

I think that it stinks that there is such an unequal set-up about such rights. Either Mexico needs to loosen up on these issues or we need to tighten up.

NAFTA hasn't improved that imbalance either, which is the main reason I opposed it and still oppose it. If it had addressed this imbalance I personally would have felt differently.

Another thing, Americans realize on some subconscious level that they crossed into another sovereign nation and made part of it so American that it could not be governed by Mexico. So our fear of foreigners, particularly Mexican foreigners comes from our own deeds.

A lot of Americans think that we should get rid of citizenship by birth. I do NOT agree with that for one moment. Citizenship by birth was part of the 14th Amendment of our Constitution, it's the amendment that got rid of slavery. The 14th Amendment is sacred, and anyone suggesting a change to it is suggesting something utterly un-American. The countries that do not have citizenship by birth can do w hat they like, they didn't have slavery like we did.

There are so many talk show hosts talking about the issue of so-called 'anchor babies'. I notice that the same guys and it is mostly guys are all about how precious babies are and individual rights, but not in the case of these babies.
Actually it's not unusual for parents to be deported while children remain behind, or for entire families to get deported although there is a baby who was born here.

Brazil doesn't allow the father of a Brazilian child to be deported or extradited for criminal prosecution. One of the men involved in the Great Train Robbery was able to live out in the open in Brazil by the simple expedient of having an affair with a Brazilian woman, and fathering an illegitimate child with her, he didn't even have to marry the mother! Now THAT'S an anchor baby!

Back in those days, there wasn't the DNA testing, he could have just SAID some kid was his and stayed! I don't even want to hear that term. Brazil feels that the presence of a child's father is important enough to risk the possible abuse of their law.

Again re-negotiating the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and making aid to Mexico conditional on anti-corruption measures is a better way to go. It would be in the interests of all concerned. It's now not very safe for Americans or Canadians to visit Mexico due to the crime and unrest, and it's not safe for Mexicans to live there for the same reasons.

The other option that I would favor would be to make ownership of property, businesses, and resources in the U.S. conditional on citizenship, and to make employers accountable in real ways if they employ people here illegally. In other words have the same laws about foreign ownership and employment of foreigners that Mexico has.

I think a smart president would set up a Border commission and real talks with Mexico to re-negotiate the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, and that if it takes five years or ten years, fine, it would take that time, but the treaty doesn't work for either side any more, and it needs to change. A lot of what can or cannot be done about our ex tremely porous southern border has to do with that treaty.

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