Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Socialism at work in Venezuela
First no toilet paper, now no phones and TV: Cash-strapped Venezuela faces yet more shortages in day-to-day basics. Other countries with little or no oil provide well for their people so blaming Venezuela's problems on the oil price is just an evasion. It is brainless government attempts to keep prices low that have caused the shortages. When you are forced to sell your product or service for less than it cost you to make or provide it, you stop making or providing it!
Venezuela faces yet more shortages in day-to-day basics as the global drop in oil prices causes a cash crisis in the country.
People in the South American nation have already suffered daily, unscheduled water and electricity cuts and now many are going without the use of television and phone-lines.
Venezuela is heavily dependent on the sale of petrol and the negative change in the market has drastically effected its debt-ridden government.
Ministers say oil revenue went from $37.2bn in 2014 to $12.6bn this year, while President Nicolas Maduro owes private telecoms and cable firms $700million.
The mammoth debt means companies cannot pay their international suppliers, resulting in services in certain parts of the country being cut.
To make things worse, Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica has announced it will temporarily suspend its long distance phone service for calls to countries such as the United States, Spain, Mexico, Italy, Brazil, Colombia and Panama, this week.
Mobile phone company Digitel, which is privately owned, has also halted long distance calling services and international roaming since April 9, because it cannot reach an agreement with providers on new payment timetables.
While the idea of not being able to make calls is bad enough, other Venezuelans have also been unable to watch their favourite shows.
State-run television company, Cantv, has stopped broadcasting as it says it must review contracts with providers of both local and international content.
Subscriber Isael Gonzalez, 46, said: 'For two weeks now, I have lost six of my favorite channels.
'They were the ones showing movies and cartoons - so I decided to unplug the whole thing. What use is it if the channels I like are off air?'
Drisley Petaquero, 36, also said several channels had been cut from her father's Directv pay-TV service. She said: 'Especially the ones showing comics - there used to be five and now there are just two' 'He complained to the company and they told him they were performing maintenance work.'
The state regulator, the National Telecommunications Commission, admits there is a problem blames the country's financial crisis.
Phone firms are desperate to raise their rates in order to recoup cash and industry sources say Telefonica's mobile branch Movistar won a 35 percent rise, with inflation at 181 percent, last year.
While phone and TV firms are in chaos, Maduro said that from May 1, he planned to change Venezuela's time scheme in a bid to save the country's energy. In a further effort to save electricity, he also decreed Monday a holiday, on top of a Tuesday national anniversary.
The president had already given public workers Fridays off, and raised eyebrows by urging women to cut usage of hair dryers.
The power problems have added to suffering from the world's highest inflation, shortages of basic goods such as toilet paper, and lengthy lines at shops around the nation.
One opposition leader, Henrique Capriles, said the president was giving holidays not because of the power situation but to delay the formal steps needed to trigger a referendum.
'He will end in the rubbish-bin of political history,' Capriles scoffed on Twitter. 'As he has never liked working, he wants the whole country to be like that.'
Under government medical care it's too bad if your illness requires an expensive drug to treat it
The whole original rationale for Britain's National Health Service was that ill people should not be restricted by cost when they needed treatment. In fact, the NHS practices severe rationing on the basis of cost -- an outcome the opposite of the original intention -- the common fate of Leftist ideas,
A drug hailed as a ‘breakthrough’ that could transform the lives of people suffering from the debilitating lung condition cystic fibrosis has been rejected as too costly by the NHS medicines watchdog.
MPs and charities have condemned the decision by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to reject Orkambi, which has been shown to reduce infection and can cut the number of hospital admissions by more than 60 per cent in those with the lung condition.
The twice-a-day tablet thins mucus build-up in the lungs of cystic fibrosis (CF) sufferers, preventing further damage and allowing the lungs to heal.
But in draft guidance, NICE says that at £104,000 a year, the drug isn’t cost-effective.
It adds that while Orkambi reduces a sudden worsening of symptoms requiring hospitalisation, benefits to lung function – a marker of how CF patients are improving overall – are ‘modest’.
Experts say that while not a cure, Orkambi could allow many to lead near-normal lives without the need for a transplant.
MPs have called for a reform of the way drugs are approved for NHS use. Labour Shadow Health Minister Andrew Gwynne said: ‘It’s no surprise NICE is having to make this type of decision when the NHS is facing financial crisis. Ministers need to give patients the assurance that reform of drugs pricing will finally happen.’
Fellow Labour MP Ian Austin says the ‘massive’ quality-of-life improvement Orkambi offers for sufferers – such as his constituent Carly Jeavons, who is taking the drug – must be considered.
'The Government has to work with NICE to ensure the rules on commissioning new treatments take account of the longer and more productive lives that these drugs offer.’
About 10,000 Britons have CF. A transplant may be necessary if the lungs become extensively damaged, and average life expectancy is 41.
Orkambi is licensed to treat people who have a specific genetic defect known as the F508del mutation. About 2,750 people in England have this genotype.
The drug works to correct a faulty gene which causes a sticky mucus build-up in the lungs, causing infection, breathing difficulties and loss of lung function.
Global trials involving 1,100 CF patients found that lung function improved after 24 weeks in all patients taking Orkambi.
Why Corporations Oppose Religious Liberty
Georgia state Senator William Ligon asks but does not answer a question on today's Wall Street Journal op-ed page: “Why Are Companies Taking Sides Against Religious Liberty?” The question is raised by the ferocious corporate response to attempts in Georgia and other states to reinforce at the state level religious protections already guaranteed by federal law. The New York Times, a former newspaper, has scurrilously and dishonestly labeled these "Anti-Gay Laws," because they would prevent priests and pastors from being forced to perform gay marriages against their faiths and consciences.
Ligon notes that businesses have been quick to bring pressure to defeat such laws:
Disney and Marvel threatened to pull production of the “Avengers” film franchise from the Peach State, and the cable channel AMC vowed to take its “Walking Dead” series elsewhere. The NFL warned that it might drop Atlanta from consideration to host a Super Bowl. Dozens of Georgia companies urged Gov. Nathan Deal to veto the bill, which he did on March 28.
This is, by now, a familiar playbook. Last year the furor was enormous after Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a religious-freedom bill. Indiana employers called for its repeal, and the NCAA threatened to pull the Final Four tournament from the basketball-crazed state. Under intense pressure, the legislature quickly passed a “fix” that undermined standard RFRA [federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act] protections.
North Carolina finds itself targeted over a common-sense new law blocking cities and counties from forcing businesses to give transgender people access to the bathroom of their choice. If a restaurant owner wants to allow transgender people to use their preferred bathroom, that’s no problem. The new law simply prevents local governments from forcing business owners to adopt such a policy.
Yet the Tar Heel State now faces an onslaught. More than 120 corporations have demanded the law’s repeal, and the Obama administration is reviewing federal aid to the state. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has banned travel there by state employees, even as he promotes travel and trade with communist Cuba.
Apparently puzzled by all this, Ligon quotes a study showing "economic competitiveness is stronger in countries with fewer government restrictions on religious liberty." But what on earth makes him think corporations are interested in competition? Corporations and other successful businesses love big government precisely because it stifles competition. The big guys can pay lawyers to cut through government red tape while the little guy with a better idea and a cheaper price is crushed beneath taxes and regulations.
What big corporations hate is freedom of the individual conscience, internally governed families, and churches powerful enough to stand up to the make-believe righteousness of government decrees. All of these things tend to generate independent action and thoughtful morality which can get in the way of profits. People who think for themselves and pray with others tend to be a little less quick to watch the latest soul-degrading film or half-time show or to buy a product simply because it's the going thing.
Freedom is good for business in general, but it is not good for an individual business that has already made it to the top. Where freedom and competition thrive, prices fall and good ideas rise. Where government coerces, where government pays the freight, where government grants you "rights" to the labor and products of others, prices soar and good ideas that threaten the status quo are trampled under and left behind.
Virtually every founding father declared that American-style freedom could not exist without true religion. "It is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand," as John Adams put it. As true religion fades, as families cease to operate as independent governing units, the power of the powerful to coerce grows stronger. And when the powerful can coerce the powerless, big business profits.
Thus the left — which always accomplishes exactly the opposite of what it says it intends — serves big business with its ethos of "inclusion," which is really an ethos of coercion in disguise. Of course corporations will fight to defend that. It's meat and potatoes to them.
Australia: Protect kids from Marxist sexualisation programs
There are few forms of predation that offend our common morality more than child sexual abuse. During the 1970s, pedophile groups capitalising on the sexual liberation movement sought to redefine their exploitation of youth as an expression of children’s sexual rights, self-determination and autonomy. Groups such as the North American Man/Boy Love Association claimed children were sexual beings and sought to repeal age of consent laws to liberate their sexuality. They were welcomed by fringe elements of the neo-Marxist minorities movement that advocated sexual libertarian ideology under Queer and “sex positive” politics.
Today, the discourse on children’s sexual rights and the belief they are sexual beings are invoked to justify school programs that sexualise youth at ever younger ages.
Daniel Andrews’ Labor left government in Victoria invokes neo-Marxist rhetoric to defend highly questionable school programs that encourage the sexualisation of children. The Safe Schools Coalition and Building Respectful Relationships programs were introduced using minority politics as the rationale. In each case, a state-designated minority group and political cause are aligned in a program of social change that uses youth as change agents. Program designers create an urgent health case for government funding without causal evidence to validate a linear relationship between program activities and core objectives.
The Safe Schools program was created for the state-designated minority group LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex) for the cause of anti-bullying with the stated objective to improve health outcomes. The program encourages young people to become change agents for the cause of sexual diversity. When the program was criticised by conservative Senator Cory Bernardi, Labor leader Bill Shorten accused him of homophobia. After community outrage following revelations that program co-founder Roz Ward designed Safe Schools as part of a Marxist social change strategy, the liberal coalition withdrew commonwealth funding beyond 2017. Despite the Marxist objective of the Safe Schools program — or perhaps because of it — Daniel Andrews continues to defend it.
His education minister James Merlino vilified politicians concerned about the hard Left’s indoctrination of children, calling them “bigots”. It is uncertain what pejoratives Merlino, a heterosexual married man, has devised for the lesbians, gay men and bisexuals who oppose Queer politics and the Safe Schools program.
Unfortunately, the SSC debacle is not isolated. Last week, it transpired that the Andrews government had produced another school program that sexualises children. As with the SSC program, Building Respectful Relationships began with a state-designated minority group, women, aligned with the important cause of domestic violence prevention. The case for government funding was again framed as a health imperative, namely, the prevention of violence against women. And once again, the program was introduced in schools without causal evidence linking its exercises to the stated objective.
Like Safe Schools, the BRR program promotes a radical agenda divorced from its stated program objective. It promotes the sexualisation of children by inculcating techniques and beliefs centred on the premise that children are sexual. Instructors are encouraged to sexualise children, and children to sexualise themselves and their peers. They are asked to view highly sexualised personal ads and write their own, discuss transgenderism and anal sex. Program authors acknowledge that one exercise may cause “disassociation” in children.
Sexualising and inducing a dissociative state in children are methods of pedophilic predation. They are not methods of domestic violence prevention.
It is increasingly common to find the sexualisation of very young children promoted as part of sex education in schools. In 2009, the United Nations produced International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education. The first iteration met with controversy after conservatives revealed it sexualised prepubescent children by promoting masturbation. The offending sections were removed only after public outcry.
NGOs have joined the UN in a push for radical sexual programs aimed at youth under the auspices of sexual diversity and sexual health. The International Planned Parenthood Foundation claims that “the taboo on youth sexuality is one of the key forces driving the AIDS epidemic”. In fact, the premature sexualisation of youth, especially the exploitation of girls for prostitution and other harmful cultural practices, have been key drivers of HIV transmission in Southeast Asia and Africa for decades. Despite the fact, the IPPF asserts repeatedly that “young people are sexual beings” and criticises the Catholic Church for imposing barriers on young people, denying “pleasurable and positive aspects of sex”. Its solution is comprehensive sexuality education, which it describes as perhaps “the single most important gift that parents can offer to their children”.
The Netherlands government promotes comprehensive sexuality education in what some call the Dutch model. Under the Dutch CSE model, schoolchildren begin sexual programs at four years of age. Modules for young children include “what feels nice” and “does bare make you blush?” Lessons marketed under the “Spring Fever” package include “being naked”, a module that explores nudity, undressing and being in the bath.
It is unclear why any adult would solicit an account of how a child undresses or why the Dutch state would mandate such discussion in schools. CSE advocates defend their programs with studies that indicate efficacy, but mainly in comparison to abstinence programs. There is a more moderate middle path that provides children requisite knowledge in biology, safety from violence and mutual respect without encouraging their sexualisation in activities that resemble grooming.
The sexualisation of childhood by governments and NGOs should be a source of broad community concern. The state has no business interfering in childhood by conditioning children’s sexual responses. As a whole, parents remain the best arbiters of their children’s morality and guardians of their development. Australian children are ranked 14th in literacy and 19th in mathematics according to OECD reports. Governments should take remedial classes in teaching kids the basics of reading, writing and arithmetical instead of indulging messianic pretensions to parenting by proxy.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.