Comment history

Societal factors

Both Germany and the UK (two countries I'm familiar with) have
pretty strong rules concerning gun ownership.
It's very hard indeed (practically impossible in the UK) to legally own hand weapons.
Both countries have had Columbine type shootings - Hungerford/Dunblane in the UK, Winnendon in Germany.
But these were very unusual.
Hungerford resulted in yet stronger restrictions on shot guns - so I sold my attractive double-barreled Spanish 12-bore.
Having an absolute minimal number of hand guns allowed in the community works well in Europe.
The penalties for having unlicensed firearms are years in jail - rightly so.

January 18, 2011 at 3:57 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Budget shortfalls mean some senior citizens in the state are going hungry

"Senior meal program managers across the state are being forced to make a tough decision: who goes hungry and who doesn’t."

And this in a country that spends more on the military than the rest of world in total!

Maybe the money spent on a few military bases on the other other side of the world
could be spent instead on giving American pensioners enough to eat?

Or maybe the US could just survive with just one fewer aircraft carrier?
The US has all of 11 - no other country has more than 2.

December 4, 2010 at 1:03 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

The Great Middle Class Swindle - The "Bipartisan" Commission

1% of Americans receive 24% of all income.
Or put another way - 99% of Americans receive only 76% of all income.
Pretty scandalous - a level of income inequality unheard of in European and other
"civilised" countries.

December 4, 2010 at 12:48 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Euro vs. dollar spurs weighty analysis

The US spends as much on its military as does the entire rest of the world...
The US media which forms US public opinion is owned and directed by -
either those who support the US military/industrial complex - or parts of
the US military/industrial complex.
Example - the GE-owned NBC, CNBC and MSNBC.
No wonder the networks are whipping up fear of this or that foreign menace!
- it's good for business.
Eisenhower warned about this danger years ago - now it is happening and neither
party seems to be able to prevent it.
But it keeps the majority of US citizens far poorer than they would otherwise be.
Hence the Europeans live better (on the whole) than do Americans.

November 7, 2010 at 4:09 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Is Science Just Another Religion? Part 1

"averages went out with slide rules".
Sorry, not true at all!
"Averages" are one measurement of "central tendency".
There are various kinds - in basic stats. the mean, (= arithmetic mean, average
as understood generally), median and mode are commonly used.
Each has it's own characteristics - medians are (for example) a more sensible
measure of incomes than averages (arithmetic means) - because of "outliers"
- huge incomes of the super rich.
(A median is the middle value when all values are ranked).
Nothing has happened to obsolete averages or any other measurements of central tendency.
All useful in the approriate context.
The author destroys his credibility at a stroke by making such a statement.

April 13, 2010 at 4:08 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Right-wingers rewrite U.S. history

McCarthy was a disgrace to the US.
"McCarthyism" will for ever be a synonym for a Stalinist mindset
displayed by a supposed supporter of democracy.
West Germany lived with a communist state supported by
the Soviet Union and populated by their fellow countrymen
just over the border (the DDR).
And it disappeared - not because West Germany adopted McCarthyite policies,
but because wise socialists like Willi Brandt saw that detente was the best way.
McCarthy was the ugly side of the US, reviled abroad by all right thinking people.

April 5, 2010 at 1:13 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Russia’s troubled past stymies progress

Germany had serfdom until occupied by Napoleon.
Now it is far more democratic than the US.
The Russians are resilient, maybe they'll recover sooner than expected.
Before 1990, my Uni lecturer said - "Russia is a three legged stool -
Communist Party, Armed forces, KGB - that is where the power lies".
The Communist party has gone - now it is an unstable, two legged stool.

April 5, 2010 at 12:59 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Value-added tax may loom for U.S.

We here in Europe pay VAT - not that dissimilar to sales taxes in the US.
It's not a problem. It's a tax on the ultimate consumer and ranges from 0 to 20%,
depending on the country. Most businesses charge it on their outgoings and
reclaim it from their incomings.
It's difficult to avoid for end consumers, who pay zero or low rates of VAT
on "essentials" (normal food, transportation, health, education, children's clothing).
Krauthammer doesn't like it because it means that VAT on a Cadillac would be higher
than that on a Ford Fusion.
It's not an alternative to income tax - but one way, at least, of taking the lower earners
out of the need to pay income tax, should the government wish.
But Krauthammer sheds tears for for the Cadillac buyer - and has no interest in why there is a crisis in US maternal mortality - but, hey, that mostly affects the blacks.

March 26, 2010 at 3:26 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Other nations make universal care work

I'm a Brit, a pensioner.
I've lived in your fair city for a short time.
Now I live in Germany.
The British NHS works fine. It sorted out my teeth and
a broken bone with no problems.
A few right wing newspapers try to attack it - but it is
accepted and highly regarded by 99% of the population.
No political party dare suggest changing It.
My brother-in-law in the UK has a lymphoma - he gets the most up-to-date drugs
and oncological expertise provided as a matter of course.
In Germany it is slightly better, although it is a bit more expensive, and has some admin. costs that could be pruned.
There is also a risk of overtreatment.
Some folk in Germany (9 million) are totally privately insured - not so good when they get older and premiums rocket.
All in all the 70 million Germans who are publicly insured (costs me EUR 200 per month at 66) are very satisfied. The system works fine - and in Europe (500 million people) no-one wants a system(?) like the US has!
Incidentally Tom Showmen - if you go to London on holiday and have a heart attack - you will be expertly treated at St Thomas's or Guys etc. - absolutely fee!
(Emergency treatment is free for foreigners).
And of course the UK, Germany and the rest of Europe is streets ahead of the US as regards peri-natal mortality and many other health indicators (as has been pointed out by other posters).
Nobody in Europe has a fear of long term chronic illness bankrupting them - why so in the US?
Or maybe some of that excessive military expenditure could go in a more productive direction?

March 7, 2010 at 2:14 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Declare war on phone robots

"On March 10, 1891, Almon Brown Strowger, an undertaker in Kansas City, Missouri, patented the stepping switch, a device which led to the automation of telephone circuit switching."
(Quote from Wikipedia)
Not many areas where the Mid-West was first!
But this is one :-
Strowger's wife was a telephone operator and she realized that other operators were supplying competitors to her husband with business - she must have spoken to her husband about this and inspired him to invent the technology that lasted to nearly the year 2000. (The last British Strowger exchange lasted to around 1990).
So we know where this all started - and why callers desperately want to speak to a human operator sharing their cultural background!

January 16, 2010 at 2:35 p.m. ( | suggest removal )