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Trump Pick For Cabinet, Tom Price, Sponsors Legislation After Buying Stock

2017-01-17

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Here’s a direct quote from CNN; I don’t know how I could say it any better:

Washington (CNN)Rep. Tom Price last year purchased shares in a medical device manufacturer days before introducing legislation that would have directly benefited the company, raising new ethics concerns for President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Health and Human Services secretary.

Price bought between $1,001 to $15,000 worth of shares last March in Zimmer Biomet, according to House records reviewed by CNN.
Less than a week after the transaction, the Georgia Republican congressman introduced the HIP Act, legislation that would have delayed until 2018 a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regulation that industry analysts warned would significantly hurt Zimmer Biomet financially once fully implemented.
Zimmer Biomet, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of knee and hip implants, was one of two companies that would have been hit the hardest by the new CMS regulation that directly impacts the payments for such procedures, according to press reports and congressional sources.
After Price offered his bill to provide Zimmer Biomet and other companies relief from the CMS regulation, the company’s political action committee donated to the congressman’s reelection campaign, records show.
My only comment is why does Mr. Price get to report his stock purchase as “between $1001 and $15000” and where’d he get the money?
Oh, here’s another thought: Mr. Price STINKS OF GRAFT!
(photo by By Dietmar Rabich – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51050947)

Oxfam Report: Eight Have 50% of World’s Wealth

2017-01-16

 

According to a new Oxfam report summarized in the Guardian:

The world’s eight richest billionaires control the same wealth between them as the poorest half of the globe’s population, according to a charity warning of an ever-increasing and dangerous concentration of wealth.

In a report published to coincide with the start of the week-long World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Oxfam said it was “beyond grotesque” that a handful of rich men headed by the Microsoft founder Bill Gates are worth $426bn (£350bn), equivalent to the wealth of 3.6 billion people.

This is not new news, and I have written on this subject repeatedly.  Unfortunately, my audience is limited to a select few, none of whom are among this richest eight people.

The irony of this situation is that virtually all of that $426 billion is unneeded and unused by its owners.  On the other hand, the $118 that each of those 3.6 billion people might receive if that money was distributed evenly would be spent immediately for food and essential items.  The spending of that money would lift the world’s economy dramatically, not to mention the benefits that each of the poorest would obtain from that tiny windfall.

A more “modest” proposal would be to take only half of their money (they’d never miss it unless you pointed it out to them) and give it to the lower half of that 3.6 billion people–still $118 each and even more welcome to the lowest 1.8 billion people in the world.  Just think how that would revive the world’s economy and forestall that depression which is on the way.

 

 

 

If You Want to Read Those 35 Pages About Trump and Putin, Here They Are

2017-01-13

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I had to go to Haaretz to get a clear view of those 35 pages of “unsubstantiated” allegations about Trump.   It’s in the January 11 issue and it unequivocally states that both Trump and Obama were briefed on Russia’s attempts to swing the election. I suggest you do so also but I can tell you that it is just details about why and how Russia interfered in the election.  It alleges that there was two-way communication between Putin’s team and Trump’s team, and that is pretty obvious based on the fact that there was a computer connection between the two through Alfa bank that was suddenly shut down the day it was discovered.

The most salacious story is on the first page: three witnesses confirmed that, in 2013, Trump stayed at a hotel in Russia where the Clintons had stayed, in the same room, and paid prostitutes to urinate on the bed.  He did this because he hated the Clintons so much, especially Hillary.  That’s why the media’s not reporting this story, because it’s too disgusting.

The bottom line: during the election season, Trump was happy to see Russia in the crosshairs because it diverted attention from his vastly greater business activities in China.  He thought his connections to Russia were deniable.  That’s right.  Trump has little or no real business activity in Russia (other than heavy financing, most of it illicit), but he is working (still) on multiple deals with the Chinese, the people he has vilified throughout this election season and afterward.

(picture from Wikimedia Commons: Santa Efigenia stained glass window)

 

Epipen (Adrenaclick) Price War

2017-01-13

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CVS has introduced a generic version of the essential emergency self-injector Epipen (containing epinephrine for acute allergic crises) that is said to cost $109.99, approximately what the Epipen cost before Mylan purchased the rights to the product and increased the price to $600.

This is a good example of the evils of privatization.  A company with a competitive advantage (the exclusive rights to produce a medicine essential to the welfare of many Americans) raises the price repeatedly and without cost justification to benefit their bottom line profits.  There are no upsides to the situation: the company with the advantage does nothing to compensate for the inflated and unjustifiable price, and there are no benefits offered to the general public to use up the profits contemplated:  all profits go the the stockholders.

Here the profit motive, basic to capitalism, has distorted the price of an essential (life-saving) drug and caused difficulties for the public, particularly those who can ill afford to purchase a product that they require to occasionally save their lives.

This is not “privatization” per se because the government never had a hand in producing the product; however, the development of epinephrine (adrenaline), an essential drug that comes in many forms, was done by scientists many years ago who had support from the government in one indirect way or another.

Here is a story in NBC News on the likely motivation for the price hike by Mylan: their CEO’s pay was raised 600 percent afterwards.  The story points out that as Mylan made a succession of price increases for the drug from its purchase in 2007, its stock prices more than tripled and pay for top executives was increased proportionately.  In addition, sales of the drug provided 40 percent of the company’s operating profits in 2014, according to Bloomberg News.  The Bloomberg article also discusses the heavy marketing applied by Mylan to the sales of Epipen.

The reports on this product are available from a number of sources; the earliest appear to be from Ars Technica and Market Watch.  There are also stories in  United Press International,  USA Today and NBC News.   There are stories in the Huffington Post,  Daily Kos (a Democratic organ), and an ad from CVS itself.   If you want Donald’s screed on the subject, try this story in USA Today.  Russia Today (RT) has a story claiming that Mylan will lose $800 million this year due to the introduction of CVS’ generic version.  Norman DeGreve, the chief marketing officer for CVS, posted the story on Twitter at 5:45 AM yesterday.

In other news, last December 23, Mr. DeGreve posted a chart from Nielsen showing that younger Americans have suddenly stopped watching television.

(The image above is the picture of the day from Wikimedia Commons: Block P, Speicherstadt, Germany.)

Privatization is Wrong

2017-01-11

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New York Times:

“There’s a magical thinking among business executives that something about the profit motive makes everything run better,” noted Raymond Fisman, a professor of economics at Boston University. “What is government going to be like when it is run by billionaire C.E.O.s that see the private sector as a solution to all the world’s problems?”

A serious body of economics, not to mention reams of evidence from decades of privatizations around the world, suggests this belief is false.

Many studies show what makes perfect sense: you get worse service and pay more money when you mix the profit motive with essential government services.  Every time.  There’s no room for profit when you are performing an essential service that people don’t want in the first place.  Profit is only useful as a motive when you are dealing with things that people want.  The idea that profit can make things you don’t want better is just perfect for providing graft and that’s what Donald really wants: handles to pass out graft money so he can milk the economy, the same way Vladimir Putin is doing– only Vlad is a much younger, tougher guy and Donald is just a big fat orange narcissistic slob.

Vladimir Putin is Blackmailing Donald

2017-01-11

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CNN’s story says it all: the classified intelligence briefing was reported by multiple people in the know to have said that the Russians have damaging personal and professional (business) knowledge about Donald and they are obviously willing to use it if he doesn’t do things the way they like it– especially if he allows NATO to defend itself against a Russian takeover of the Baltics and maybe even Poland.

This conclusion is so obvious and so logical that it surprises me that it hasn’t come up before.  Donald did some bad things because he thought he could get away with them.  You name the bad things– it doesn’t really matter whether it was wife-beating, dog-beating, or masturbating because we know that if it got out, it would be grounds for impeachment that even the Republicans couldn’t deny.

It’s not emails that he wrote because Donald never wrote any emails.  It is things he did, personally and business-related, and especially business, in which he was in bed with people connected with organized crime.  He took money from criminals to build his hotels and golf courses, and he cashed in on those projects and left other people, innocent naive people holding the bag for the bankruptcies.  The Russians have all the details– Donald tried to keep these things secret, but you can’t keep secrets from the criminals who gave you the money.

The CNN story is here.

For further details, see this Mother Jones story that ran in October but failed to influence anyone.  Apparently a British former spy has been investigating Trump in the pay of Republicans who don’t like Donald and Democrats as well.  He provided his information to the FBI starting in June and more fully in August.  Unfortunately none of this was front page news and everything is, of course, denied by Donald and his friends (what makes anyone think that Donald would admit any of this?  Why bother to ask him unless you think his denials are somehow credible?  You know he’s been shown to lie repeatedly and obviously in the past so why listen to him now?)

What is worst is that the story is so totally credible in terms of who Donald is and who Vladimir Putin is that no one should doubt it for a moment.

Gordo in a Tree

2017-01-09

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