Animal’s Daily Prescription Spectacles News

Like many men of my vintage (mid-to-late middle age) I have for a few years required some vision correction.  In my late forties I began to notice what was determined to be a fairly routine, normal, expected age-related farsightedness, and since then I have been wearing prescription bifocals.

Now, whenever I go to buy new glasses, I have to have an eye exam prior.  Sometimes I’m glad to do so – my last purchase of spectacles, for example, I sought out the eye exam as I was certain my prescription had changed, and indeed it had.  But what if I broke my glasses and just wanted a new pair?  Not so much.  Excerpt:

In every other country in which I’ve lived—Germany and Britain, France and Italy—it is far easier to buy glasses or contact lenses than it is here. In those countries, as in Peru, you can simply walk into an optician’s store and ask an employee to give you an eye test, likely free of charge. If you already know your strength, you can just tell them what you want. You can also buy contact lenses from the closest drugstore without having to talk to a single soul—no doctor’s prescription necessary.

So why does the United States require people who want to purchase something as simple as a curved piece of plastic to get a prescription, preceded by a costly medical exam?

The standard argument in favor of the American status quo is that impaired vision may point to serious health problems that a new pair of glasses will neither treat nor heal. Compelling Americans to see an optometrist helps to ensure that the largest possible number of cases of progressive eye diseases will be caught at an early stage.

As Barbara Horn, O.D., the president of the American Optometric Association (AOA), told me, “Today, at least 2.2 billion people around the world have a vision impairment, of whom at least 1 billion have a vision impairment that could have been prevented or has yet to be addressed … That’s why it’s clear to health experts, policymakers, the media, and the public that increased access to eye exams and eye doctors are needed to safeguard health and vision.”  

But this argument rather begs the question. After all, the added cost of having to see an optometrist presumably stops many Americans from accessing the corrective lenses they need to improve their vision. Is the desirability of an eye exam performed by a medical professional a sufficient reason to prevent Americans who would rather not—or cannot—visit an optometrist from buying glasses and contacts? We can only answer this question by acknowledging a trade-off between competing goods.

On the one hand, some number of Americans who visit an optometrist to get a new prescription will indeed discover that they have a serious condition that requires immediate care. On the other hand, it is likely that a much greater number keep wearing glasses that are too weak—or won’t wear glasses at all—because they want to avoid the cost, time, or stress of a visit to a doctor.

Let’s cut through the bullshit.  This is cronyism, pure and simple.  If the AOA wants to make the argument above, then let them make it – pure and simple – and let the public decide.  They argue that having to see an optometrist protects them from missing the diagnosis of a serious problem; but as the author here points out, the added cost may well prevent them from seeking new vision correction in the first place, so that argument doesn’t hold much water.

Once again:  It’s not the role of government to shield people from the consequences of their own bad decisions.  Get the government out of the business of mandating eye exams, let people make their own decisions, and let the damned AOA make their case directly to the public instead of lobbying pols to force people to do business with them!

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Thanks as always to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links.

Now:  On to the links!

File this under “not even slightly surprised”:  Weak men are more likely to be socialists than strong men.  I’ll leave it to you readers to draw conclusions from that.

Meanwhile, in socialist Venezuela…

Colin Kaepernick is an idiot.

Joe Biden is possibly senile, and an idiot.  And so his is son.

Lisa Page is an idiot.

Some people are supposedly mistaking sex robots for the real thing.  They’re idiots.  I mean, seriously, look at the photos in the article!  They look like poorly sculpted wax statues.

Ballsy.  Stupid, but ballsy.

No shit, Sherlock.  Still, this is an interesting article, worthy of excerpting:

But is “income equality” the best measure of progress or prosperity?

Consider choosing between the following two actual countries. Country A has much more inequality than Country B. On the Gini measure of inequality  where 0 indicates perfect equality and 100 perfect inequality  Country A has a Gini index of 45 (the 103rd least-equal country) and Country B has a Gini index of 26 (among the top-ten most equal countries).

In Country A, the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita is $62,000, while in Country B, the GDP per capita is $5,700. In Country A, income in the highest quintile averages $143,000 and in the lowest quintile $15,500. In Country B, income in the highest quintile averages $10,300 and in the lowest quintile $2,900.

Country A describes the United States, and Country B describes the far more equal former Soviet state of Belarus. While everyone in Belarus is relatively much more equal, they are certainly not better off. In fact, relative to the rest of the world, the citizens of Belarus are for the most part, much poorer.

I don’t see much need to add anything to that, except that next time I hear some annoying little twerp decrying “income inequality,” I’ll advise them to move to Belarus.  I wonder what their answer will be?

But these guys were hot for teacher.

On education, as well as on so many other things, Bernie Sanders, the daffy old Bolshevik from Vermont, is full of shit.

Speaking of daffy people running for President – Kamala Harris is out.  I guess Willie Brown’s penis only got her so far.

Dear Seattle:  Math isn’t racist, and your public schools are apparently run by idiots.

The New York Times is headed down the shitter.  Nothing really new there, but still, it’s kind of sad.

And on that note, we return you to your Wednesday, already in progress.

Animal’s Daily Lotto Winner News

It’s all about the Benjamins.

Before we get going, make sure to check out my latest article over at Glibertarians – especially if you’re a fan of old Colt cap-and-ball revolvers.  And if you like that, you can read the rest of my Glibs articles at the link on the right.

Now then:  I’ve long referred to the various state lotteries as “a tax on stupidity.”  The New York Post’s Howard Husock agrees, but I do take issue with a couple of his points.  Excerpts, with my comments:

The advent of government-organized gambling, in the form of state lotteries, is one of our age’s most unnoticed social transformations. Before 1964, America had no such lotteries. Today, only five states don’t run their own, and most others permit interstate games such as Powerball, which jack up prizes to extravagant levels. Lottery participation has skyrocketed. Overall revenues total some $80 billion; New York is the state leader, with $10 billion in ticket sales. The spread of lotteries has played a leading role in the normalization of gambling, once considered a vice akin to drug use or prostitution — and lottery sales are boosted by publicly funded advertising campaigns that prey on the weakness of gambling addicts while encouraging non-gamblers to get involved, too.

Now, let me tell you where I sit before I tell you where I stand; I think that gambling should be legal.  It’s not the role of government to shield people from the consequences of their own bad decisions.  But with that said, I agree, the various levels of government should not be spending tax dollars to encourage people to play state-sponsored lotteries.  It’s a stupid waste of taxpayer’s money, which is, of course, money confiscated from the citizenry with the implied use of force.

At least the lotteries are voluntary.

It’s common for states to frame lotteries as being for a good cause — for public education, say. The claim is meaningless, though: All state money is fungible. The lottery proceeds go into the state’s general fund; one could just as easily say that they’re used to pay down interest on debt.

In Colorado, the money supposedly goes to parks and open spaces – but as Husock points out, that’s all fungible.  Money is money is money, and once absorbed into the State, it’s impossible to control where it goes.

But here’s where Husock and I part ways:

It’s time for states to ban lottery advertising. Sure, let people play, post the winning numbers — but stop selling the dream.

Let’s be careful with the terminology here.  I think the various state governments should cease wasting taxpayer dollars on advertising the lotteries – and lots of other things.  But a complete ban on advertising?  That would imply a prohibition on a private store owner putting up a sign stating “Lottery tickets sold here!”  That’s not reasonable.

Weaning government from our addiction to promoting lotteries wouldn’t be easy. An adjustment period would be necessary as lottery revenues fell — though perhaps the adjustment would not be dramatic. Massachusetts, among the first states to mount a lottery, later moved to limit advertising — at one point, cutting it from $12 million to just $400,000 a year — but the state has not seen lottery revenues crater.

I doubt many states would see much difference.  Everyone knows the lotteries are there.  Everyone knows where you can get tickets.

On the positive side, tax revenues might even increase as citizens, freed from such dispiriting messages, re-embrace working and saving. In any case, though, getting states out of lottery advertising is the right thing to do.

I doubt that.  If you were to draw a Venn diagram with one side being “people who embrace working and saving” and “people who plan on the lottery as their retirement plan,” you’d have very little overlap.

Most people don’t want to make money. They just want to spend money.

My issue with state lotteries, and the reason I call them “a tax on stupidity,” is primarily this:  The odds are awful.  And why?  The vigorish.  That’s the cut the house takes in any gamble.  If you want to gamble, your odds are much better if you just go to the nearest casino and play slot machines.  In Las Vegas, most slots pay out between 95 and 98 cents on each dollar gambled.  The state lotteries?  Under 50 cents.  The vigorish on state lotteries is awful, which is why the states love them.

So, play the lotteries if you like; it’s a free country, and there’s nothing wrong with paying a couple of bucks for the chance to fantasize about what you’d do if you won.  Just be aware that the odds are astronomically small.  And, yes, be aware that your state may well be wasting taxpayer dollars encouraging you to indulge in a bad deal.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Hard to believe we’re in the last month of the year already – 2019, we hardly knew ye.   Meanwhile, thanks to Pirate’s Cove and Bacon Time for the Rule Five links!

So, speaking of energy – there’s a new kind of fission reactor being developed called a traveling-wave reactor, and if it works as predicted, it could change the face of energy production.  But here’s the catch:  It’s being developed, using American funding, in China.  Why?  Because too many Americans are morons when it comes to nuclear power.  Excerpts, with my comments:

For well over a decade, Bill Gates has funded TerraPower, a startup seeking to design, build, and commercialize a revolutionary nuclear reactor. Their traveling-wave reactor design uses depleted uranium to operate, rather than uranium-235 like in current reactors, and is built so that if left unattended, it will slowly shut down, making a catastrophic meltdown a near impossibility. Optimistic estimates from the company suggest that current American stockpiles of spent nuclear fuel could be used in traveling-wave reactors to electrify the entire country for hundreds of years, and for far cheaper than current nuclear plants. This is carbon-free, baseload electricity that could easily provide the foundation for a next-generation, renewable-focused energy grid.

This would rattle a lot of cages.  Combined with clean natural gas for various purposes (like heating, for example) this would be great for delivering cheap energy.  And cheap energy is like octane-booster for a nation’s economy.  In the case of something like this, there’s really no down side.  So why China?

In partnership with the state-owned China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), TerraPower was preparing to break ground on a prototype 600 MegaWatt reactor in Fujian province, but then political disaster struck. Late in 2018, Department of Energy policy changes stemming from the U.S. – China trade war forced TerraPower to end its agreement with the CNNC, leaving their potentially game-changing reactor without a home.

So bring it home.  Let’s start building this reactor here, in the United States.

We can’t, you say?   Why not?

Science!

This saga brings up a key question: why was an American company, funded by one of America’s most wealthy and respected philanthropists, going to China to build their next-generation nuclear reactor? Why not here? The simple answer is that Americans are notoriously afraid of and unfriendly toward nuclear power. Though nuclear has reliably and safely provided roughly 20% of electricity in the U.S. for the past quarter-century, a majority of Americans oppose it and politicians have repeatedly erected more and more regulatory roadblocks, driving up costs and making new nuclear power plants nearly impossible to build. Even innovative ideas like what Bill Gates and TerraPower are proposing are not welcome.

As I said, too many Americans are morons when it comes to nuclear energy – and too many of those morons are warming chairs in the Imperial City.

Seriously, folks, there are few better examples of how an overbearing government can screw things up for everybody.  Here we have an innovative technology that could deliver cheap, clean, nigh-unlimited energy to millions, and it’s being logjammed because OMG NUKULAR!

The article closes with:

There’s no guarantee that TerraPower’s traveling-wave reactor will work in practice. Its system of liquid sodium cooling has been attempted before with little success. Moreover, power production efficiencies could end up far lower than what their simulations suggest. Other, unforeseen problems could also arise.

But we’ll never know unless government gets out of the way and allows our scientists, entrepreneurs, and engineers to build the nuclear reactor prototypes that could power the future.

The government won’t get out of the way.  Not voluntarily.  The Nuclear Energy Leadership Act mentioned in the article would be a spit into a hurricane.  The only way we’ll know if a traveling-wave reactor will work is to build one, and I’ll be the most amazed guy around if the Imperial government allows it in our country.

I could be wrong.  I’d love to be wrong.  But I don’t think I am.

Rule Five FoMoCo Friday

Thanks again to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

Ford Motors is slowly doing away with their car lineup in favor of SUVs and pickups.  Excerpt:

Although it has been a while since Ford announced the cancellation of nearly all of its passenger-car models, it turns out that the Fusion sedan is set to die a long, slow death. A Ford spokesperson told C/D that there are still “a couple more years” left for the Fusion, meaning that production at its plant in Hermosillo, Mexico, will continue until sometime in 2021. The company has already begun chopping up the Fusion lineup, however, as the Fusion Sport model (pictured) has been dropped for the 2020 model year.

Introduced for 2017, this higher-performance trim level offered a 325-hp twin-turbocharged 2.7-liter V-6 engine and all-wheel drive. It went from zero to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds in our testing. A turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four with 245 horsepower will now be the most powerful engine available in the 2020 Fusion; two less-powerful four-cylinder engines, a hybrid, and a plug-in-hybrid model are also still offered.

What will happen to the Fusion name after production ends in 2021? The current-generation Fusion sedan will certainly reach the end of the road, and the Hermosillo plant will begin building the next-generation Transit Connect van. But Ford has suggested that it may apply existing names to new crossover body styles, and there are rumors that the Fusion nameplate itself may be applied to a Subaru Outback–esque wagon model at some point in the near future.

Full disclosure:  I’ve been a loyal Ford buyer/driver for over forty years.  Mostly trucks, although I’ve had a few cars, including a ’65 Mustang and a 1972 Gran Torino Sport very similar to the one in a certain Clint Eastwood film.  Mrs. Animal and I have only Fords among our three vehicles.  Mrs. A has a 2017 Expedition, I of course have the inestimable Rojito, a 1999 Ranger 4×4, and we have our “company car,” a 2013 Edge.  Most of our kids drive Fords; we’re a Ford family.

That said:  Ford is fucking up here.

It’s not just with the deletion of their coupes/sedans.  Ford is introducing their first all-electric coal-powered car, a small, Escape-sized “crossover” – and calling it a Mustang.  That, friends, is a fuck-up of the first water.  The Mustang has been Ford’s flagship vehicle since the demise of the Thunderbird, and while over the years it has taken many forms, a greenie electric “crossover” has never been one of them, and never should be one of them.  For the love of Pete, Ford, go ahead and introduce your new lettuce-mobile if you want, but call it something else!

I have nothing against crossovers, mind.  I own one; our “company car” that goes on the road for long gigs is the aforementioned 2013 Edge, in the top-shelf Limited trim with the 3.0 liter V-6.  It’s roomy enough for Mrs. A and myself, gives a good view of the road and is peppy enough to be interesting to drive.  I’m normally a truck guy but the Edge works great for this purpose and I’ve grown rather fond of it.

And don’t get me started on the upcoming re-release of the Bronco.  That would be an entire post unto itself.

Ford has always been a truck company, granted.  But eliminating all of their car line is a mistake – a bad one.  The Fusion in particular is a great vehicle.  Three of our four kids have owned them, two still do, and they are big fans.  I’ve had them as rental cars several times in several trims; they are easy to drive, handle well, have decent ergonomics; they’re great.

I hate to see Ford going down this road, especially when they were smart enough to refuse the 2008 Imperial auto-industry bailout.  But going down it they are, and while we’re truck people and so won’t be immediately affected, I’d hate to see Ford lose their market position because of it.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

On to the links!

The once and former head of the Brady Campaign admits that legal gun owners are being unfairly maligned.  I boggled a little.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is (again!) out of the hospital, presumably after a change of embalming fluid.  She is apparently determined to hang on until someone other than President Trump is nominating her replacement, even though she’s arguably incapable of being effective.

Speaking of President Trump, he’s polling well among black voters, which doesn’t bode well for Democrat challengers.

There were just some elections in Hong Kong, and the commies took a shellacking.  That’s always a good thing,

Iguanas are taking over Florida.  Solution:  Pass the word that they’re good to eat.  Seriously, shoot the damn things.  I hear tell they taste like chicken.

South of our border is a real mess, and some folks are concerned it’s not going to stay there.  I’m a little concerned myself.

Hey gun control advocates – you’re wishing for the impossible.  No shit.

Turns out that three-fourths of The Nut Squad are crooks.  Who didn’t see that one coming?

California is raising taxes on legal pot.  Aside from the fact that California is raising taxes on pretty much everything – way to bring back that black market!

Liawatha Warren lies about her kids going to public schools.  Spoiler:  They didn’t.  You can always tell when Princess Spreading Bull is lying – her lips are moving.

Speaking of Liawatha – well, when an opponent is in the process of committing suicide, let them.

Santa Monica has put up a statue of a bum.  Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.

Tulsi Gabbard may well be the Democrat’s strongest 2020 candidate.  Problem:  The Dem party establishment hates her, in large part because of her squabbles with Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I, Dowager Empress of Chappaqua.  She’ll be Bernie-d out of the race.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving, True Believers!  We’re taking tomorrow off, and regular posts will resume on Friday.

Animal’s Daily Trump Coalition News

Be sure to check out my latest installment of my  Allamakee County Chronicles posted yesterday over at Glibertarians!

Moving along:  The Rust Belt still appears to be Trump country.  Excerpt:

Conservative ideology alone did not unite this (Trump-voting) coalition. What did was conservatism fused with a populist distrust of big institutions including the media, DC politicians, Hollywood and corporations, all based in ZIP codes far removed from the people they supposedly serve.

Three years later, all 24 of the people we interviewed for “The Great Revolt” (except two we’ve been unable to reach) told us they have not wavered in their political allegiances.

Polls echo this dynamic. Earlier this month, Cook Political Report election analyst Amy Walter crunched numbers from a recent New York Times/Siena poll to show that Trump’s edge in the Electoral College remains the same or has even grown a bit since 2016 in places like Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and even Minnesota, which he lost by a hair.

“It is 2016 all over again,” wrote Walter, and she’s not wrong. In many ways, our political climate is like the movie “Groundhog Day” — every day. If you woke up after Trump’s election feeling optimistic about the future, you likely still do. And if you didn’t, your hair is probably still on fire and nothing will extinguish it until the president is removed from the White House.

“If you live and work in Washington, New York or the West Coast, you don’t know anyone like me,” said Smith, who was one of many voters my co-writer and I referred to as “Hidden in Plain Sight.”

Look at that last quote, because it’s key to the whole mess we’re in right now.  Look at the current crop of Democrat candidates for the Imperial Mansion; they are running waaaaay to the left, partly because that’s where their party is going, partly because they are gunning for the votes of the coastal elites.

In so doing, of course, they are alienating voters like the Rust Belt folks described in this article.  Most of these folks aren’t interested in Medicare-For-All (in fact, quite a few of them have generous, union-negotiated health plans) and they sure as hell don’t want to hear a lot of finger-wagging over the carbon footprint of their pickups and SUVs.

This, True Believers, is why Trump won in 2016.  This, True Believers, is why, barring any unforeseen shocking revelations (and really, as much as the Never-Trump/Democrat coalition has been digging, one would think that if there were anything they’d have uncovered it by now) Trump will be re-elected in 2020.

The Democrats are in danger of becoming a regional party, catering to coastal elites and government dependents in the major cities.  That’s not a winning strategy.  And the great irony is that they are being driven to this by President Donald J. Trump, who by all standards is a Tip O’Neill-type Democrat on most issues, and who was in fact a Democrat for most of his adult life.

One takes his ironic humor where one finds it, no?

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove and Bacon Time for the Rule Five links!

Complete Colorado’s has a good idea; let’s educate newcomers to Colorado about what makes Colorado Colorado.  Yeah, good luck with that.  Excerpt:

Fortunately, some of us are beginning to recognize the need to educate newcomers about what it means to be a Coloradan. That was one reason I wrote an Independence Institute issue paper on our beautiful state song, “Where the Columbines Grow.” The paper not only discusses the anthem itself but focuses on its deep roots in Colorado history and values.

Similarly, the Care for Colorado campaign is targeted at familiarizing people with Colorado outdoor and environmental values.

Broader in scope is True Colorado. Only recently funded, True Colorado plans a wide public campaign consisting largely, although not solely, of videos explaining Colorado values and what it means to live here.

Wil Lemon, who with Seamas Mulvihill founded True Colorado, is a native Coloradan who has spent time in other states as well. He says he was motivated to work on newcomer education when he saw how out-of-state interests were promoting Denver’s Initiative 300. That measure would have made Denver a sanctuary for street people.

Lemon believes the initiative was a frontal attack on the Colorado values. It obviously would have undermined the value of self-reliance. But because of how it was written, he says, it also would weaken our tradition of neighborly assistance. Although voters trounced 300 by a margin of over 4-1, Lemon saw it as a warning of Colorado’s future: Unless newcomers were educated about Colorado values, we could lose many of the benefits that make this state so attractive.

While I love the idea, I’ve got news for Mr. Natelson – we’re already losing the values that make Colorado so attractive.

The latest crop of pols in the Capitol, along with well-funded – from outside Colorado – ballot initiatives are trying to chip away at TABOR.  One such initiative was only just fended off this very month.

Denver’s Initiative 300 would have turned the Mile High City into a smaller, landlocked replica of San Francisco, complete with feces and discarded needles.

Every year, more people flood into Colorado from failing blue states – and proceed to vote for the kinds of politicians and policies that made their states places they wanted to leave.

There’s no way to reverse it.  Not without a couple of Constitutional amendments that I’d hate to see have happen, as they would be a jackboot on the neck of what’s left of our liberty.  But, even so, Colorado, due to all these things, is rapidly becoming a not-so-free state.

Some folks would tell me to stay, to fight for my state.  My own inclinations, not long ago, would have agreed.  But I’m getting old.  I’ve fought my political fights.  I want to live out the rest of my life in something like peace and quiet.

Alaska, then.

Deep thoughts, news of the day, totty and the Manly Arts.