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More fallout from Obamacare

This story from the Detroit Free Press (excerpted below) will be repeated many times as we approach the time when/if the health care law takes effect. In our own area, this has to be affecting the medical companies in Warsaw.

The plain fact is, the health care law will cost more and more jobs as time goes on, possibly including jobs lost in Elkhart General Hospital in response to “reform.” Obamacare is making life worse for Americans without improving healthcare for anyone.

Stryker, the Kalamazoo-based maker of artificial hips and knees, will cut 5% of its global workforce by the end of next year to reduce costs in the face of new fees on device makers required by the U.S. health care law.

The job cuts will reduce annual pretax operating costs by more than $100 million beginning in 2013, when the medical-device excise tax is scheduled to take effect, Stryker said Thursday in a statement. Stryker had more than 20,000 employees as of Dec. 31, according to Bloomberg News data.

via Stryker to cut 5% of workforce | Detroit Free Press | freep.com.

After a near-miss, Joe Donnelly shoots for the Senate

Congressman Joe Donnelly, Indiana 2nd

Congressman Joe Donnelly, Indiana 2nd

Joe Donnelly won reelection last November by a very narrow margin, and probably won only because Jackie Walorski’s campaign (and candidacy) was fairly unstellar.  Donnelly’s win was not a squeaker, but was much closer than he probably expected.

Taking his drop in popularity as a sign, Donnelly has now decided to run for U.S. Senate, hoping to unseat Richard Lugar in 2012.  We’re not always in agreement with Lugar, but he’s still far better than the phony Blue Dog Donnelly, whose votes for the Obama health care bill,  TARP and so-called “stimulus” packages (also known as union bail-outs) are already taking their toll on our economy and our freedoms.

We’ll talk more about this as the campaigns get closer, but it seems to us that Donnelly is running from his record in our district only to impose it more widely in the US Senate.  We shouldn’t let him.

Donnelly isn’t running on his votes for healthcare and spending

Joe Donnelly’s ominous warnings about Jackie Walorski aiming to privatize Social Security are nothing but nonsensical distortions designed to needlessly terrorize retirees.

Joe’s TV and radio ads say that Walorski wants to “risk your guaranteed benefits in the stock market” where “up to 40 percent” of retirement could be lost. Let’s see, government has essentially stolen 100 percent of your retirement and Joe is talking about guarantees? Even in a down market, it seems like the stock market would have been safer.

In any case, the last time privatization came up in Congress, these same scare tactics were used. In fact, only a small portion of Social Security was to have been privatized and only if the individual wanted to participate. Even a partial privatization would have injected a huge amount of additional capital into the economy, which could only be a good thing. Yet the left disingenuously claims this is risky since their powerbase depends on continued confiscation and mismanagement of our money.

Donnelly isn’t talking too much about his own record, which is why he’s on the attack. After voting for TARP, the so-called “stimulus” bill and the disastrous health care bill, he has no claim to being a fiscal conservative. (So much for being a Blue Dog Democrat). Yet he implies Walorski is reckless and irresponsible? Time to go, Joe.

Published in The Elkhart Truth today as well.

Obamacare’s unintended consequences – or are they?

WSJ commentary points how the IRS’ new role in our health care is likely to cause increased costs and burdens on both small businesses that create jobs, and the agency itself — for no good reason.

. . . starting in 2013 they will also have to report the value ofgoods they buy from a single vendor that total more than $600 annually—including office supplies and the like.

. . . the tracking costs for small businesses will be “disproportionate as compared with any resulting improvement in tax compliance.”

Meanwhile, the IRS will be inundated with useless information, because without a huge upgrade its information systems won’t be able to manage and track the nanodetails.

In a Monday letter, even Democratic Senators Mark Begich (Alaska), Ben Nelson (Nebraska), Jeanne Shaheen (New Hampshire) and Evan Bayh (Indiana) denounce this new “burden” on small businesses and insist that the IRS use its discretion to find “better ways to structure this reporting requirement.” In other words, they want regulators to fix one problem among many that all four Senators created by voting for ObamaCare.

The law that Republicans opposed amid ridicule is now showing us “what’s in it,” as Nancy Pelosi promised.  And the picture isn’t pretty.  Those of us in Elkhart County need to remember who foisted this monstrosity on us come November.

Elkhart not on list of top 20 most stressed counties

The Associated Press reports the most and least “stressed” counties in the United States, and Elkhart County isn’t on either list.

Elkhart County’s current stress index is 17.99, which is down about 3 points from this time last year.

AP’s most stressed county is Imperial County, California, with an index of 31.27. Number 20 on the most stressed list is Boone County, Illinois with an index of 22.59, or about five points higher than Elkhart.

The top 20 list is dominated by California, with three Michigan counties, Cheboygan, Iosco and Lapeer, also making the list.

No Indiana Counties made the “most stressed” list.

See AP’s interactive stress index map.

What was Joe Donnelly thinking?

Deconstructing the Elkhart Truth’s Smoking Stance

We’ve been longtime opponents to anti-smoking laws on a number of levels, while the eTruth (Elkhart Truth) has been reliably in favor of them. Last week, the Elkhart Police Department ran a “crackdown” on bars and smokers who have been flouting Elkhart’s public smoking ban.  Today, the Truth Editorial page swiftly applauded.  With excerpts, here’s our response.

Reaction to a police crackdown on Elkhart’s smoking ban last week was — not surprisingly — mixed. But it needed to happen. This is a public health issue, which is why the Elkhart City Council passed the ban two years ago.

While we realize that laws, even silly ones, have to be enforced, it seems to us that the whole thing could have been avoided by letting adults make their own decisions.  Particularly in bars, where smoking is virtually de rigueur.  Whether it’s a public health issue is pretty debatable, particularly since no one is required to go to a bar (or any venue) that allows smoking.

In order for the public and business owners to see that the city is taking this law seriously, police needed to turn up the heat.

When the ban was first being debated, we referenced the “Basic Instinct” joke in which the leading lady asks the cops, “What are  you going to do, arrest me for smoking?”  It appears we’re getting closer.  As in the movie, the police should feel foolish and abused being asked to enforce this nonsense, especially in private venues where, literally,  no one should be surprised to find a cigarette.

Some critics suggested that the EPD needed to focus on bigger issues instead, but where do you draw the line? What ordinances do you instruct the police to ignore? For how long? Under what circumstances? The law is the law and it needs to be applied fairly and consistently.

Again, the need to apply the law fairly and consistently is something that could have been avoided altogether if the city council had left well enough alone.  There ARE bigger issues, and this is a distraction.

The reasons for the ordinance remain valid. Two recent studies for the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology showed that people living in American, Canadian and European cities where smoking was banned in public places had 17 percent fewer heart attacks in the first year than people in communities without bans.

Perhaps.  We remain somewhat skeptical of much research in this area because, as in other areas of science, it is prone to politicization and cherry-picking of favorable data.  The 1993 EPA study, which virtually kicked off the anti-second-hand smoke movement, was notably flawed, contained no original research and selectively reported the research of others.  Yet it became the false premise for thousands of media reports that followed.

The fact is, most businesses have eliminated smoking on their own, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that the market (customers) demanded it.  Locations that allow it are either risking complaints or have a customer base that enjoys tobacco use.  Many businesses went smoke free before the ban because it was right for them.  Constant Spring in Goshen was smoke-free before that city’s ban took effect and did quite well, partly because of this.

But the businesses that continue to allow smoking are catering to customers whose exposure to smoke is likely to be first-hand rather than second-hand.  And these customers will smoke away from the bars as well.   It’s hard to imagine that these establishments are skewing the health figures much, if at all.  Again, can’t this be the individual businesses’ decision? And can’t the Elkhart Truth use a little common sense critical thinking?  Can’t the paper at least question whether or not some of its sources might be skewed?

Yes, the bars and restaurants who feel they lose business by following the ordinance when others flout it have a very valid complaint.  But the problem is not enforcement, it’s the ordinance itself.  Bars that don’t comply are very likely losing business because of it and a few are fighting back — ignoring it to survive.

Legitimate businesses shouldn’t be subjected to laws that threaten their existence.  A lot of justification for smoking bans comes from research that seems to indicate that bans have little or no effect on business income.  But, as Forbes reports, much of this research is flawed, and well, just plain wrong. Smoking bans very obviously are hurting some businesses, otherwise the police wouldn’t have to run around like hall monitors, writing tickets to people who are capable of making their own health decisions.

We come at the issue from this angle:

  1. Smoking is legal for adults.
  2. The venues in question are private property.
  3. The adults in this venue are voluntarily present.
  4. Adults present in a bar smoke voluntarily and/or expect smokers to be present.
  5. The ordinance is flawed in that it prohibits the use of private property for a legal activity in which consenting adults are voluntarily engaged.

Smoking is a public health issue. Reduce exposure to second-hand smoke and the community becomes a healthier place.

And thus the Elkhart Truth and others justify reduction of freedom a little at a time.  On a larger scale, our federal government has exploited an overblown and manufactured crisis, along with claims of “the common good” to justify a takeover of our health system and destruction of our liberty.  Do we really need a local nanny-state when it’s obvious how dangerous the national one is?

Are we REALLY going to arrest people for smoking?  And is the Elkhart Truth really in favor of restricting the rights of adults who aren’t bothering anybody?

Elco becoming the Lerner little by little

Elco Theater from High Street

Since we’re downtown fairly frequently, it’s interesting to see the slow but sure progress being made on the Elco Theater, which, once refurbished, will be renamed the Lerner Theater (its original name).  A lot of the work on the Elco is being done inside where it can’t be seen, so the biggest attention getter is the construction of the adjacent building which will accomodate meeting/ballroom among other things.  The construction requires blocking off Franklin East of Main for a couple blocks, which makes it slightly problematic for access and parking at the IUSB Elkhart Center right next door.  But it’s not too bad.