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During An Ebola Pandemic All Of Your Rights Would Essentially Be Meaningless

Prison Fence - Public DomainIf there is a major Ebola pandemic in America, all of the liberties and the freedoms that you currently enjoy would be gone.  If government officials believe that you have the virus, federal law allows them to round you up and detain you “for such time and in such manner as may be reasonably necessary.”  In addition, the CDC already has the authority to quarantine healthy Americans if they reasonably believe that they may become sick.  During an outbreak, the government can force you to remain isolated in your own home, or the government may forcibly take you to a treatment facility, a tent city, a sports stadium, an old military base or a camp.  You would not have any choice in the matter.  And you would be forced to endure any medical procedure mandated by the government.  That includes shots, vaccines and the drawing of blood.  During such a scenario, you can scream about your “rights” all that you want, but it won’t do any good.

In case you are tempted to think that I am making this up, I want you to read what federal law actually says.  The following is 42 U.S.C. 264(d).  I have added bold for emphasis…

(1) Regulations prescribed under this section may provide for the apprehension and examination of any individual reasonably believed to be infected with a communicable disease in a qualifying stage and (A) to be moving or about to move from a State to another State; or (B) to be a probable source of infection to individuals who, while infected with such disease in a qualifying stage, will be moving from a State to another State. Such regulations may provide that if upon examination any such individual is found to be infected, he may be detained for such time and in such manner as may be reasonably necessary. For purposes of this subsection, the term “State” includes, in addition to the several States, only the District of Columbia.

(2) For purposes of this subsection, the term “qualifying stage”, with respect to a communicable disease, means that such disease—

(A) is in a communicable stage; or

(B) is in a precommunicable stage, if the disease would be likely to cause a public health emergency if transmitted to other individuals.

In addition, as I discussed above, the CDC already has the authority to isolate people that are not sick to see if they do become sick.  The following is what the CDC website says about this…

Quarantine is used to separate and restrict the movement of well persons who may have been exposed to a communicable disease to see if they become ill. These people may have been exposed to a disease and do not know it, or they may have the disease but do not show symptoms. Quarantine can also help limit the spread of communicable disease.

On a very basic level, we are already starting to see this happen in Texas.  Obviously Thomas Eric Duncan has already been “isolated”, and now his family has been placed under mandatory quarantine and ordered not to leave their home for 21 days

Texas health officials have placed the Dallas family of a Liberian national infected with Ebola under quarantine and ordered them not to leave their home or have any contact with outsiders for 21 days without approval of the local or state health department.

The “control order” also requires the family of Thomas Eric Duncan to be available to provide blood samples and agree to any testing required by public health officials. Officials said Thursday that the four or five family members could face criminal charges for violating the order, which was delivered to them in writing Wednesday evening.

Police have been stationed at the apartment complex to ensure residents’ safety, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told a news briefing Thursday afternoon.

If we could all just stay in our homes during a national Ebola emergency, that wouldn’t be so bad.

But if thousands (or even millions) of cases start popping up it simply will not be possible for law enforcement authorities to monitor so many homes.

This is a point that Mike Adams of Natural News made exceptionally well…

When just one family is suspected of carrying Ebola, they can be easily monitored in a “volunteer home isolation” scenario. But what happens when it’s 100 families? 500? 1,000? At that point, there aren’t enough state or federal workers to keep an eye on these people, and the quarantine effort will almost certainly shift to forced relocation into quarantine camps.

Those camps will, of course, be called something nice-sounding like “Community Health Centers.” No one in government or media will call them camps, even though they are camps. The word “camp” brings up echoes of “concentration camps” and the government definitely wants to avoid that association.

If one particular town or city is hit especially hard with the virus, there is a likelihood of the entire town being quarantined. No one in, no one out. Everybody will be ordered to “shelter in place” in their own homes for at least 21 days while health workers wearing hazmat suits go door to door, identifying Ebola victims and “relocating” them to the “Community Health Centers.”

If that sounds like “martial law” to you, that is because it would essentially be martial law.

For the moment, public health authorities are pledging that nothing like this will ever happen because they have everything completely under control.

Others are not so sure.

For example, on Thursday a doctor from Missouri named Gil Mobley checked in for a flight at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport dressed in a mask, goggles, gloves, boots and a protective white jumpsuit.  On the back of the jumpsuit, he had written the following words:  “CDC is lying!”

Mobley believes that we are not being told the truth about the spread of Ebola.  And he is convinced that as Ebola continues to spread exponentially, that we will eventually “be importing clusters of Ebola on a daily basis”

“Once this disease consumes every third world country, as surely it will, because they lack the same basic infrastructure as Sierra Leone and Liberia, at that point, we will be importing clusters of Ebola on a daily basis,” Mobley predicted. “That will overwhelm any advanced country’s ability to contain the clusters in isolation and quarantine. That spells bad news.”

Mobley, a Medical College of Georgia graduate who had an overnight layover after flying to Atlanta from Guatemala on Wednesday, said that he feels that the CDC is “asleep at the wheel” when it comes to screening passengers arriving in the United States from other countries.

“Yesterday, I came through international customs at the Atlanta airport,” the doctor told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The only question they asked arriving passengers is if they had tobacco or alcohol.”

Earlier on Thursday, there were reports of people being tested for Ebola in Hawaii, Kentucky and Utah.  None of those tests has produced a confirmed case of Ebola as I write this article.

Many Americans are still treating this Ebola crisis as if it was just one big joke.

But Ebola is no joking matter.  This is a very, very serious disease.

Just consider the experience of one British health worker that witnessed a young brother and sister both die one day apart

‘The next morning I came in and saw him lying as I had left him, on the bed.

‘He wasn’t breathing. I remember going up to him and looking at his face, his lips were drawn back in a grimace, and his eyes were vacant, lying in a pool of his own diarrhea.

‘I lifted his hand to try, just to confirm things and his whole body turned rigid and cold.

‘I put him in a body bag as his sister looked on.

‘She seemed more baffled than anything, not really understanding what was happening. I carried his corpse outside with the others.

‘The little girl, she deteriorated the next day. Overnight, the following night she had intravenous fluids and the line came out and she bled.

‘I came in the following morning and she was covered in blood. She still had a very puzzled expression on her face and she wasn’t breathing.

‘So I put her in a bag and left her next to her brother. She was a beautiful little girl.’

Hopefully our medical authorities are correct and this virus will not spread easily in this country.

But at this point even some of our top politicians are wondering if we are truly getting accurate information.  For example, check out what U.S. Senator Rand Paul had to say on the Laura Ingraham Show just recently…

“I really think that it is being dominated by political correctness and I think because of political correctness we’re not really making sound, rational, scientific decisions on this.” Paul said referring to statements issued by the CDC last week that assured there was little risk of an outbreak occurring in the US.

“We should not underestimate the transmissibility of this,” said Paul, a doctor himself, adding that medical workers have been contracting the virus even though they are taking precautions and covering themselves with gowns and masks.

My suspicion is that it’s a lot more transmissible than that if people who are taking every precaution are getting it. There are people getting it who simply helped people get in or out of a taxicab.” Paul said.

Let’s pray that this crisis fizzles out, because if it doesn’t, we could truly be looking at the greatest health crisis that any of us have ever seen.

And along with countless numbers of people getting sick and dying, we would also have to deal with government-imposed medical martial law.

The stakes are extremely high, and so let us hope that this crisis does not escalate any further.

Scam Alert: Hospitals All Over America Are Wildly Inflating Medical Bills

Medical Bills - Public DomainThe next time you visit a hospital, it is your wallet that may end up hurting the most.  All over the United States, it has become common practice for hospitals to wildly inflate medical bills.  For example, it has been reported that some hospitals are charging up to 30 dollars for a single aspirin pill.  And as you will see below, some victims report being billed tens of thousands of dollars for a non-surgical hospital visit that lasts only a few hours.  When something is seriously wrong with us, most of us never stop to ask our health professionals how much it will cost to actually treat us.  In that moment, we are desperate and we just want someone to help us.  Many doctors and hospitals take full advantage of this by billing their “customers” as much as they feel they can possible get away with.  It is a legal scam that is bilking ordinary Americans out of billions of dollars every single year.

Over the weekend, the New York Times reported on one case that is a perfect example of the outrageous medical billing that I am talking about…

Before his three-hour neck surgery for herniated disks in December, Peter Drier, 37, signed a pile of consent forms. A bank technology manager who had researched his insurance coverage, Mr. Drier was prepared when the bills started arriving: $56,000 from Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, $4,300 from the anesthesiologist and even $133,000 from his orthopedist, who he knew would accept a fraction of that fee.

He was blindsided, though, by a bill of about $117,000 from an “assistant surgeon,” a Queens-based neurosurgeon whom Mr. Drier did not recall meeting.

“I thought I understood the risks,” Mr. Drier, who lives in New York City, said later. “But this was just so wrong — I had no choice and no negotiating power.”

The practice known as “drive-by doctoring” has gotten completely and totally out of control.

All over America, doctors are popping into surgeries or are stopping by to talk to another doctor’s patients for a few minutes and are charging thousands of dollars for this “assistance”.

It is a morally reprehensible scam that needs to be stopped.

Another thing that needs to be stopped is the practice that many hospitals have of billing patients for emergency medications at a rate that is thousands of times over cost.

For example, just check out what happened when 52-year-old Marcie Edmonds went in to a hospital in Arizona to get treated for a scorpion sting

With the help of a friend, she called Poison Control and was advised to go to the nearest hospital that had scorpion antivenom, Chandler Regional Medical Center. At the hospital, an emergency room doctor told her about the antivenom, called Anascorp, that could quickly relieve her symptoms. Edmonds said the physician never talked with her about the cost of the drug or treatment alternatives.

Her symptoms subsided after she received two doses of the drug Anascorp through an IV, and she was discharged from the hospital in about three hours.

Weeks later, she received a bill for $83,046 from Chandler Regional Medical Center. The hospital, owned by Dignity Health, charged her $39,652 per dose of Anascorp.

Did that hospital actually need to charge that much?

Of course not.

Hospitals down in Mexico only charge $100 per dose of Anascorp.

And anyone that has ever been in for major surgery knows how outrageous some of these hospital bills can be.

For instance, consider the experience of an NBC News reporter that chose to have neck surgery for degenerative disc disease….

Once I got my itemized bill, the grand total was a little over $66,013.40!   That was for a one night stay and a four level vertebrae fusion surgery.  The charges included $22 for one sleeping pill, $427 for one dissecting tool, and $32,000 for four titanium plates and ten screws.

I brought it to Todd Hill, a fee based patient advocate who helps people decipher their medical bills. “The screws in your procedure were billed at $605 a piece for a total of $6050 dollars. We’ve seen those in our past research for $25 or $30,” he said. “In this case, the markup is tremendous,” he added.

One of the primary reasons why so many Americans die completely broke is because medical bills can run up to astronomical heights if you happen to have a terminal illness.

For example, a while back Time Magazine reported on one cancer patient in California that had run up nearly a million dollars in hospital bills before he died…

By the time Steven D. died at his home in Northern California the following November, he had lived for an additional 11 months. And Alice had collected bills totaling $902,452. The family’s first bill — for $348,000 — which arrived when Steven got home from the Seton Medical Center in Daly City, Calif., was full of all the usual chargemaster profit grabs: $18 each for 88 diabetes-test strips that Amazon sells in boxes of 50 for $27.85; $24 each for 19 niacin pills that are sold in drugstores for about a nickel apiece. There were also four boxes of sterile gauze pads for $77 each. None of that was considered part of what was provided in return for Seton’s facility charge for the intensive-care unit for two days at $13,225 a day, 12 days in the critical unit at $7,315 a day and one day in a standard room (all of which totaled $120,116 over 15 days). There was also $20,886 for CT scans and $24,251 for lab work.

The sad truth is that the U.S. health care system has become a giant money making scam, and all of us are the victims.

Those that work in this industry should be greatly ashamed for what they are doing to us.

Just consider the following numbers…

-It has been estimated that hospitals in the United States overcharge their patients by about 10 billion dollars every single year.

-Medical bills are the number one reason why Americans file for bankruptcy.  One study found that approximately 41 percent of all working age Americans either have medical bill problems or are currently paying off medical debt.

-According to a report published in The American Journal of Medicine, medical bills cause more than 60 percent of the personal bankruptcies in the United States.

-Health insurance is not nearly as much protection as you might think.  According to a report published in the American Journal of Medicine, of all bankruptcies caused by medical debt approximately 75 percent of the time the people actually did have health insurance.

-Hospitals are not shy about sending debt collection agencies after people with unpaid medical bills.  In fact, collection agencies seek to collect unpaid medical bills from approximately 30 million Americans every year.

-Back in 1980, less than 10 percent of U.S. GDP went to health care.  Today, about 18 percent of U.S. GDP goes toward health care.

-If the U.S. health care system was a nation, it would be the 6th largest economy on the entire planet.

Does anyone out there have any doubt that the system is completely broken?

Please share this article with as many people as you can.  Hospitals all over America are brazenly ripping us off, and we need to stand up and say that enough is enough.

10 Signs That Obamacare Is Going To Wreck The U.S. Economy

Obamacare LineIt is hard to find the words to adequately describe how much of a disaster Obamacare is turning out to be.  The debut of Healthcare.gov has been probably the worst launch of a major website in history, millions of Americans are having their current health insurance policies canceled, millions of others are seeing the size of their health insurance premiums absolutely explode, and this new law is going to result in massive numbers of jobs being lost.  It is almost as if Obamacare was specifically designed to wreck the U.S. economy.  Not that what we had before Obamacare was great.  In fact, I have long argued that the U.S. health care system is a complete and total train wreck.  But now Obamacare is making everything that was bad about our system much, much worse.  Americans are going to pay far more for health care, the quality of that care is going to go down, they are going to have to deal with far more medical red tape, and thousands upon thousands of U.S. employers are considering getting rid of the health plans that they offer to employees altogether due to Obamacare.  If the U.S. health care system was a separate nation, it would be the 6th largest economy on the entire planet, and now Obamacare is going to absolutely cripple it.  To say that Obamacare is an “economic catastrophe” would be a massive understatement.

Of course we were assured that it wouldn’t turn out this way.  We were promised over and over that we were going to pay less for health care, get better coverage, and be able to keep our current health plans if we were pleased with them.  The following is what Obama said at a rally in 2009

“First of all, if you’ve got health insurance, you like your doctors, you like your plan, you can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan. Nobody is talking about taking that away from you.”

Oh really?

That was such a dramatic lie that even NBC News is turning on him.  They discovered that Obama has known for three years that most people that rely on individual health insurance policies would not be able to keep them…

Buried in Obamacare regulations from July 2010 is an estimate that because of normal turnover in the individual insurance market, “40 to 67 percent” of customers will not be able to keep their policy. And because many policies will have been changed since the key date, “the percentage of individual market policies losing grandfather status in a given year exceeds the 40 to 67 percent range.”

That means the administration knew that more than 40 to 67 percent of those in the individual market would not be able to keep their plans, even if they liked them.

Pretty much everything that Obama told us when he was selling us on his plan has turned out to be a lie.

So what can we expect from Obamacare moving forward?  The following are 10 signs that Obamacare is going to wreck the U.S. economy…

#1 It is being projected that millions upon millions of Americans are going to lose their current health insurance plans thanks to Obamacare.  Most will be faced with the choice of either purchasing much more expensive health insurance or going uninsured.  This will put even more stress on a middle class that is already disintegrating rapidly.  The following is from the recent NBC News investigation mentioned above…

Four sources deeply involved in the Affordable Care Act tell NBC News that 50 to 75 percent of the 14 million consumers who buy their insurance individually can expect to receive a “cancellation” letter or the equivalent over the next year because their existing policies don’t meet the standards mandated by the new health care law. One expert predicts that number could reach as high as 80 percent. And all say that many of those forced to buy pricier new policies will experience “sticker shock.”

#2 The health insurance premium increases that some families are experiencing are absolutely mind boggling.  According to Mike Adams of Natural News, one family in Texas just got hit with a 539% rate increase…

Obamacare is named the “Affordable Care Act,” after all, and the President promised the rates would be “as low as a phone bill.” But I just received a confirmed letter from a friend in Texas showing a 539% rate increase on an existing policy that’s been in good standing for years.

As the letter reveals (see below), the cost for this couple’s policy under Humana is increasing from $212.10 per month to $1,356.60 per month. This is for a couple in good health whose combined income is less than $70K — a middle-class family, in other words.

According to NBC News, an elderly couple in North Carolina was hit with a similar rate increase…

George Schwab, 62, of North Carolina, said he was “perfectly happy” with his plan from Blue Cross Blue Shield, which also insured his wife for a $228 monthly premium. But this past September, he was surprised to receive a letter saying his policy was no longer available. The “comparable” plan the insurance company offered him carried a $1,208 monthly premium and a $5,500 deductible.

Many Americans that were formerly in favor of Obamacare are now against it after they have seen what it is going to do to their budgets.  The following is one example of this from a recent Los Angeles Times article

Pam Kehaly, president of Anthem Blue Cross in California, said she received a recent letter from a young woman complaining about a 50% rate hike related to the healthcare law.

“She said, ‘I was all for Obamacare until I found out I was paying for it,'” Kehaly said.

#3 Obamacare actually includes incentives for people to work less and make less money.  The following is one example from a recent article by Sean Davis

In California, a couple earning $64,000 a year would not qualify for health care subsidies. A bronze plan for them through Kaiser would cost them about $1,300 each month, or $15,600 a year. But if that same family earned just $2,000 less, it would qualify for over $14,000 in annual health care subsidies, dropping their premiums for that same Kaiser plan to less than $100 per month.

#4 Thankfully the employer mandate in Obamacare was delayed for a little while, but it will ultimately result in widespread job losses all over the country.  In fact, we are already starting to see this happen.  The following is from a recent article in the Economist

BEFORE the recession, Richard Clark’s cleaning company in Florida had 200 employees, about half of them working full time. These days it has about 150, with 80% part-time. The downturn explains some of this. But Mr Clark also blames Barack Obama’s health reform. When it comes into effect in January 2015, Obamacare will require firms with 50 or more full-time employees to offer them affordable health insurance or pay a fine of $2,000-3,000 per worker. That is a daunting prospect for firms that do not already offer coverage. But for many, there is a way round the law.

Mr Clark says he is “very careful with the threshold”. To keep his full-time workforce below the magic number of 50, he is relying more on part-timers. He is not alone. More than one in ten firms surveyed by Mercer, a consultancy—and one in five retail and hospitality companies—say they will cut workers’ hours because of Obamacare. A hundred part-timers can flip as many burgers as 50 full-timers, and the former will soon be much cheaper.

You can find a very long list of some of the employers that have either eliminated jobs or cut hours because of Obamacare right here.

#5 Even if you are able to keep your job, there is no guarantee that your employer will continue to offer health insurance as an employee benefit.  In fact, it is being reported that large numbers of employers have already decided to no longer offer health insurance to their employees because of Obamacare.

#6 According to CBS News, so far the number of people that have had their health insurance policies canceled is more than three times greater than the number of people that have signed up for new policies under Obamacare…

CBS News has learned more than two million Americans have been told they cannot renew their current insurance policies — more than triple the number of people said to be buying insurance under the new Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.

#7 If what is going on in New York is any indication, those that are signing up for health insurance under Obamacare are going to have a really, really hard time finding a doctor

New York doctors are treating ObamaCare like the plague, a new survey reveals.

A poll conducted by the New York State Medical Society finds that 44 percent of MDs said they are not participating in the nation’s new health-care plan.

Another 33 percent say they’re still not sure whether to become ObamaCare providers.

Only 23 percent of the 409 physicians queried said they’re taking patients who signed up through health exchanges.

#8 Obamacare is turning out to be a gold mine for hackers and identity thieves.  The personal information of millions of Americans could potentially end up being compromised.  According to CNN, Healthcare.gov was found to be teeming with security holes…

The Obamacare website has more than annoying bugs. A cybersecurity expert found a way to hack into users’ accounts.

Until the Department of Health fixed the security hole last week, anyone could easily reset your Healthcare.gov password without your knowledge and potentially hijack your account.

And according to the New York Post, Healthcare.gov has been designed so badly from a security standpoint that it might have to be “rebuilt from scratch”…

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said ObamaCare’s website, already a tangled mess, might need to be rebuilt from scratch to to protect against cyber-thieves because he fears it’s not a safe place right now for health-care consumers to deposit their personal information.

“I know that they’ve called in another private entity to try to help with the security of it. The problem is, they may have to redesign the entire system,” Rep. Mike Rogers said on Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” political talk show. “The way the system is designed, it is not secure.”

#9 As I noted in a previous article, approximately 60 percent of all personal bankruptcies in the United States are related to medical bills.  Because millions of Americans are now losing their health insurance policies and millions of others will choose to pay the fine rather than sign up for Obamacare, more Americans than ever will find themselves overwhelmed with medical bills when they get seriously sick.  This will result in even more personal bankruptcies.

#10 In the end, the burden for paying for the subsidies that Obamacare offers is going to overwhelmingly fall on the taxpayers.  This is going to cause our nightmarish national debt to get even worse.  Peter Schiff recently explained why this is going to happen…

It is also ironic that high-deductible, catastrophic plans are precisely what young people should be buying in the first place. They are inexpensive because they provide coverage for unlikely, but expensive, events. Routine care is best paid for out-of-pocket by value conscious consumers. But Obamacare outlaws these plans, in favor of what amounts to prepaid medical treatment that shifts the cost of services to taxpayers. In such a system, patients have no incentive to contain costs. Since the biggest factor driving health care costs higher in the first place has been the over use of insurance that results from government-provided tax incentives, and the lack of cost accountability that results from a third-party payer system, Obamacare will bend the cost curve even higher. The fact that Obamacare does nothing to rein in costs while providing an open-ended insurance subsidy may be good news for hospitals and insurance companies, but it’s bad news for taxpayers, on whom this increased burden will ultimately fall.

So what do you think of Obamacare?

Has it directly affected your life yet?

Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…

Oxford Professors: Robots And Computers Could Take Half Our Jobs Within The Next 20 Years

Robot 2013What are human workers going to do when super-intelligent robots and computers are better than us at doing everything?  That is one of the questions that a new study by Dr. Carl Frey and Dr. Michael Osborne of Oxford University sought to address, and what they concluded was that 47 percent of all U.S. jobs could be automated within the next 20 years.  Considering the fact that the percentage of the U.S. population that is employed is already far lower than it was a decade ago, it is frightening to think that tens of millions more jobs could disappear due to technological advances over the next couple of decades.  I have written extensively about how we are already losing millions of jobs to super cheap labor on the other side of the globe.  What are middle class families going to do as technology also takes away huge numbers of our jobs at an ever increasing pace?  We live during a period of history when knowledge is increasing an an exponential rate.  In the past, when human workers were displaced by technology it also created new kinds of jobs that the world had never seen before.  But what happens when the day arrives when computers and robots can do almost everything more cheaply and more efficiently than humans can?

For employers, there are a whole host of advantages that come with replacing human workers with technology.  Robots and computers never complain, they never get tired, they never need vacation, they never show up late, they never waste time on Facebook, they don’t need any health benefits and there are a vast array of rules, regulations and taxes that you must deal with when you hire a human worker.

If you could get a task done more cheaply and more efficiently by replacing a human worker with technology, why wouldn’t you want to do it?

We are already starting to see this happen on a mass scale, and according to Dr. Frey and Dr. Osborne, close to half of all of our jobs could be automated within the next 20 years.  A recent article posted on smartplanet.com described how this process might play out…

The automation of half the nation’s jobs will occur in two phases, the study says: The first wave will affect (and is affecting) jobs in transportation/logistics, production labor, administrative support, services, sales, and construction. The second wave — propelled by artificial intelligence — will affect jobs in management, science, engineering, and the arts.

Just as interesting as the study is the response provided by Gary Reber, founder and executive director of For Economic Justice, who argues that owners of the means of production will actually thrive as such a shift takes place. Those who rely on 9-to-5 standard employment arrangements for subsistence are likely to  suffer the most in the automation wave. As Reber put it: ‘Full employment is not an objective of businesses. Companies strive to keep labor input and other costs at a minimum.”

This is one of the reasons why the U.S. economy will never produce enough jobs for everyone ever again.

If technology can outperform humans, it is only rational for companies to replace humans with technology.

And this is even starting to happen in fields that require very high levels of education.

Just look at what is happening in the medical field.  Today, millions of people turn to websites such as WebMD for their medical needs, but this is only just the beginning.  Check out this excerpt from a recent Bloomberg article entitled “Doctor Robot Will See You Shortly“…

Johnson & Johnson proposes to replace anesthesiologists during simple procedures such as colonoscopies — not with nurse practitioners, but with machines. Sedasys, which dispenses propofol and monitors a patient automatically, was recently approved for use in healthy adult patients who have no particular risk of complications. Johnson & Johnson will lease the machines to doctor’s offices for $150 per procedure — cleverly set well below the $600 to $2,000 that anesthesiologists usually charge.

Certainly we will always need doctors.

But many of the tasks that doctors once performed will now be performed by technology.

For example, have you heard about “OnStar for the Body” yet?  Some of these new “wearable technologies” are more than a little bit creepy…

Smart, cheaper and point-of-care sensors, such as those being developed for the Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE, will further enable the ‘Digital Checkup’ from anywhere. The world of ‘Quantified Self’ and ‘Quantified Health’ will lead to a new generation of wearable technologies partnered with Artificial Intelligence that will help decipher and make this information actionable.

And this ‘actionability’ is key. We hear the term Big Data used in various contexts; when applied to health information it will likely be the smart integration of massive data sets from the ‘Internet of things’ with the small data about your activity, mood, and other information. When properly filtered, this data set can give insights on a macro level – population health – and micro – ‘OnStar for the Body‘ with a personalized ‘check engine light’ to help identify individual problems before they further develop into expensive, difficult-to-treat or fatal conditions.

We are also seeing humans being replaced in other fields as well.  For instance, DARPA has developed a robot named “Atlas” that it hopes will be used in “disaster-response scenarios”…

DARPA’s Virtual Robotics Challenge entered a new phase in July, when Atlas — a 6-foot-2-inch, 330-pound robot developed by Boston Dynamics — was introduced to seven teams tasked with training it for disaster-response scenarios. The end goal? “Supervised autonomy” so that Atlas and its successors can step into situations too dangerous for humans.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t really want “Terminator” to show up when my family is in the middle of a disaster, but this is where things are headed.

And as technology increases, a lot of good paying middle class jobs are going to be vulnerable.  In fact, one study of employment data that examined statistics from 20 countries found that “almost all the jobs disappearing are in industries that pay middle-class wages, ranging from $38,000 to $68,000.”

Those are exactly the sort of “breadwinner jobs” that middle class families rely upon.

And of course working class jobs are being replaced by technology as well.  According to MIT Technology Review, a $22,000 humanoid robot named Baxter has been developed that can easily be programmed to do jobs that have never been automated before…

Brooks’s company, Rethink Robotics, says the robot will spark a “renaissance” in American manufacturing by helping small companies compete against low-wage offshore labor. Baxter will do that by accelerating a trend of factory efficiency that’s eliminated more jobs in the U.S. than overseas competition has. Of the approximately 5.8 million manufacturing jobs the U.S. lost between 2000 and 2010, according to McKinsey Global Institute, two-thirds were lost because of higher productivity and only 20 percent moved to places like China, Mexico, or Thailand.

The ultimate goal is for robots like Baxter to take over more complex tasks, such as fitting together parts on an electronics assembly line. “A couple more ticks of Moore’s Law and you’ve got automation that works more cheaply than Chinese labor does,” Andrew McAfee, an MIT researcher, predicted last year at a conference in Tucson, Arizona, where Baxter was discussed.

So what are human workers going to do when robots are making all of our products?

That is a very good question.

Incredibly, robots are now even replacing human factory workers in China.  The following comes from a recent TechCrunch article

Foxconn has been planning to buy 1 million robots to replace human workers and it looks like that change, albeit gradual, is about to start.

The company is allegedly paying $25,000 per robot – about three times a worker’s average salary – and they will replace humans in assembly tasks. The plans have been in place for a while – I spoke to Foxconn reps about this a year ago – and it makes perfect sense. Humans are messy, they want more money, and having a half-a-million of them in one factory is a recipe for unrest. But what happens after the halls are clear of careful young men and women and instead full of whirring robots?

So who benefits from all of this?

Those that own the big corporations that dominate our economy certainly benefit.  They aren’t going to need to hire as many of us to work for them, and they are going to make even bigger profits than before.

Meanwhile, the gap between the wealthy and the poor will grow even larger.  The only thing that most people have to offer in the economic marketplace is their labor, and the demand for that labor is decreasing with each passing day.

What do you think will happen to society when most of us are no longer “needed”?

Could we be headed for big trouble as a society?

And if you think that your job could “never be automated”, you might want to think again.

We are rapidly getting to the point where even driving will be automated

Brace yourself. In a few years, your car will be able to drop you off at the door of a shopping center or airport terminal, go park itself and return when summoned with a smartphone app. Audi demonstrated such a system at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show.

At your next dinner party, ask for a show of hands of the people who’d want that.

Everybody?

Anybody want a car that doesn’t crash? At this month’s Frankfurt auto show, mega-auto supplier Continental announced a partnership with IBM to help bring autonomous vehicles to market, with “zero accidents” as a possible result. Volvo has promised to injury-proof its cars by 2020. GM and Carnegie Mellon aim to develop autonomous technology to eliminate car accidents.

So what will happen to the 3.1 million Americans that drive trucks for a living once all driving is automated?

What will happen to the millions of other Americans that drive buses, taxis and limos once all driving is automated?

That is something to think about.

And researchers are even trying to create computers that “seem human” when you have a conversation with them…

On 14 September, researchers will gathered in Derry, Northern Ireland, to demonstrate their latest efforts. If any of them has created a machine that successfully mimics a human, they will leave $100,000 richer.

The money is being put up by Hugh Loebner, a New York based philanthropist. His goal, he says, is total unemployment for all human beings throughout the world. He wants robots to do all the work. And the first step towards that is apparently to develop computers that seem human when you chat to them.

So if your job involves a telephone, you are in danger of being phased out.  In fact, this transition is already starting to happen

IPsoft is a young company started by Chetan Dube, a former mathematics professor at New York University. He reckons that artificial intelligence can take over most of the routine information-technology and business-process tasks currently performed by workers in offshore locations. “The last decade was about replacing labour with cheaper labour,” says Mr Dube. “The coming decade will be about replacing cheaper labour with autonomics.”

IPsoft’s Eliza, a “virtual service-desk employee” that learns on the job and can reply to e-mail, answer phone calls and hold conversations, is being tested by several multinationals. At one American media giant she is answering 62,000 calls a month from the firm’s information-technology staff. She is able to solve two out of three of the problems without human help. At IPsoft’s media-industry customer Eliza has replaced India’s Tata Consulting Services.

We truly are entering an unprecedented time in human history.

Instead of robots violently taking over society like so many movies have portrayed, they are slowly starting to “replace” us instead.  A recent Wired article described what this transition might look like as it picks up steam…

First, machines will consolidate their gains in already-automated industries. After robots finish replacing assembly line workers, they will replace the workers in warehouses. Speedy bots able to lift 150 pounds all day long will retrieve boxes, sort them, and load them onto trucks. Fruit and vegetable picking will continue to be robotized until no humans pick outside of specialty farms. Pharmacies will feature a single pill-dispensing robot in the back while the pharmacists focus on patient consulting. Next, the more dexterous chores of cleaning in offices and schools will be taken over by late-night robots, starting with easy-to-do floors and windows and eventually getting to toilets. The highway legs of long-haul trucking routes will be driven by robots embedded in truck cabs.

All the while, robots will continue their migration into white-collar work. We already have artificial intelligence in many of our machines; we just don’t call it that. Witness one piece of software by Narrative Science (profiled in issue 20.05) that can write newspaper stories about sports games directly from the games’ stats or generate a synopsis of a company’s stock performance each day from bits of text around the web. Any job dealing with reams of paperwork will be taken over by bots, including much of medicine. Even those areas of medicine not defined by paperwork, such as surgery, are becoming increasingly robotic. The rote tasks of any information-intensive job can be automated. It doesn’t matter if you are a doctor, lawyer, architect, reporter, or even programmer: The robot takeover will be epic.

Are you ready for the “robot takeover”?

The world of employment is never going to be the same again.  Technology has already surpassed human workers in a whole host of arenas, and this transition is only going to become more rapid in the years ahead.

So what does this mean for the rest of us?  Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…

50 Signs That The U.S. Health Care System Is A Gigantic Money Making Scam

50 Signs That The U.S. Health Care System Is A Gigantic Money Making Scam That Is About To Collapse - Photo by RagesossThe U.S. health care system is a giant money making scam that is designed to drain as much money as possible out of all of us before we die.  In the United States today, the health care industry is completely dominated by government bureaucrats, health insurance companies and pharmaceutical corporations.  The pharmaceutical corporations spend billions of dollars to convince all of us to become dependent on their legal drugs, the health insurance companies make billions of dollars by providing as little health care as possible, and they both spend millions of dollars to make sure that our politicians in Washington D.C. keep the gravy train rolling.  Meanwhile, large numbers of doctors are going broke and patients are not getting the care that they need.  At this point, our health care system is a complete and total disaster.  Health care costs continue to go up rapidly, the level of care that we are receiving continues to go down, and every move that our politicians make just seems to make all of our health care problems even worse.  In America today, a single trip to the emergency room can easily cost you $100,000, and if you happen to get cancer you could end up with medical bills in excess of a million dollars.  Even if you do have health insurance, there are usually limits on your coverage, and the truth is that just a single major illness is often enough to push most American families into bankruptcy.  At the same time, hospital administrators, pharmaceutical corporations and health insurance company executives are absolutely swimming in huge mountains of cash.  Unfortunately, this gigantic money making scam has become so large that it threatens to collapse both the U.S. health care system and the entire U.S. economy.

The following are 50 signs that the U.S. health care system is a massive money making scam that is about to collapse…

#1 Medical bills have become so ridiculously large that virtually nobody can afford them.  Just check out the following short excerpt from a recent Time Magazine article.  One man in California that had been diagnosed with cancer ran up nearly a million dollars in hospital bills before he died…

By the time Steven D. died at his home in Northern California the following November, he had lived for an additional 11 months. And Alice had collected bills totaling $902,452. The family’s first bill — for $348,000 — which arrived when Steven got home from the Seton Medical Center in Daly City, Calif., was full of all the usual chargemaster profit grabs: $18 each for 88 diabetes-test strips that Amazon sells in boxes of 50 for $27.85; $24 each for 19 niacin pills that are sold in drugstores for about a nickel apiece. There were also four boxes of sterile gauze pads for $77 each. None of that was considered part of what was provided in return for Seton’s facility charge for the intensive-care unit for two days at $13,225 a day, 12 days in the critical unit at $7,315 a day and one day in a standard room (all of which totaled $120,116 over 15 days). There was also $20,886 for CT scans and $24,251 for lab work.

#2 This year the American people will spend approximately 2.8 trillion dollars on health care, and it is being projected that Americans will spend 4.5 trillion dollars on health care in 2019.

#3 The United States spends more on health care than Japan, Germany, France, China, the U.K., Italy, Canada, Brazil, Spain and Australia combined.

#4 If the U.S. health care system was a country, it would be the 6th largest economy on the entire planet.

#5 Back in 1960, an average of $147 was spent per person on health care in the United States. By 2009, that number had skyrocketed to $8,086.

#6 Why does it cost so much to stay in a hospital today?  It just does not make sense.  Just check out these numbers

In 1942, Christ Hospital, NJ charged $7 per day for a maternity room. Today it’s $1,360.

#7 Approximately 60 percent of all personal bankruptcies in the United States are related to medical bills.

#8 One study discovered that approximately 41 percent of all working age Americans either have medical bill problems or are currently paying off medical debt.

#9 The U.S. health care industry has spent more than 5 billion dollars on lobbying our politicians in Washington D.C. since 1998.

#10 According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the U.S. is  currently experiencing a shortage of at least 13,000 doctors.  Unfortunately, that shortage is expected to grow to 130,000 doctors over the next 10 years.

#11 The state of Florida is already dealing with a very serious shortage of doctors

Brace yourself for longer lines at the doctor’s office.

Whether you’re employed and insured, elderly and on Medicare, or poor and covered by Medicaid, the Florida Medical Association says there’s a growing shortage of doctors — especially specialists — available to provide you with medical care.

And if the Florida Legislature goes along with Gov. Rick Scott’s recommendation to offer Medicaid coverage to an additional 1 million Floridians — part of the Affordable Care Act that takes effect next January — the FMA says that shortage will only get worse.

#12 At this point, approximately 40 percent of all doctors in the United States are 55 years of age or older.

#13 In America today, many hospital executives make absolutely ridiculous amounts of money

In December, when the New York Times ran a story about how a deficit deal might threaten hospital payments, Steven Safyer, chief executive of Montefiore Medical Center, a large nonprofit hospital system in the Bronx, complained, “There is no such thing as a cut to a provider that isn’t a cut to a beneficiary … This is not crying wolf.”

Actually, Safyer seems to be crying wolf to the tune of about $196.8 million, according to the hospital’s latest publicly available tax return. That was his hospital’s operating profit, according to its 2010 return. With $2.586 billion in revenue — of which 99.4% came from patient bills and 0.6% from fundraising events and other charitable contributions — Safyer’s business is more than six times as large as that of the Bronx’s most famous enterprise, the New York Yankees. Surely, without cutting services to beneficiaries, Safyer could cut what have to be some of the Bronx’s better non-Yankee salaries: his own, which was $4,065,000, or those of his chief financial officer ($3,243,000), his executive vice president ($2,220,000) or the head of his dental department ($1,798,000).

#14 Health insurance administration expenses account for 8 percent of all health care costs in the United States each year.  In Finland, health insurance administration expenses account for just 2 percent of all health care costs each year.

#15 If you can believe it, the U.S. ambulance industry makes more money each year than the movie industry does.

#16 All over America, people are reporting huge health insurance premium increases thanks to Obamacare.  The following example is from a recent article by Robert Wenzel

A California small businessman tells me that he switched healthcare insurance carriers in 2012.  The monthly premium for him and his wife was about $400, but when he received his first bill in January of this year it was for $1,200.  He hasn’t been to a doctor in years, his wife has only gone for minor care.

Apparently there is some clause in the Affordable Healthcare Act that results in health insurance firms using a new method to calculate premiums. Those who have health insurance plans that have been in effect since at least 2010 are grandfathered under the old calculation method, but insurance carriers are using a new formula for new plans.

#17 Blue Shield of California has announced that it wants to raise health insurance premiums by up to 20 percent this year in an effort to keep up with rising health costs.

#18 Aetna’s CEO says that health insurance premiums for many Americans will double when the major provisions of Obamacare go into effect in 2014.

#19 Close to 10 percent of all U.S. employers plan to drop health coverage completely when the major provisions of Obamacare go into effect in 2014.

#20 According to a survey conducted by the Doctor Patient Medical Association, 83 percent of all doctors in the United States have considered leaving the profession because of Obamacare.

#21 Approximately 16,000 new IRS agents will be hired to help oversee the implementation of Obamacare, and the Obama administration has given the IRS 500 million extra dollars “outside the normal appropriations process” to help the IRS with their new duties.

#22 During 2013, Americans will spend more than 280 billion dollars on prescription drugs.

#23 Prescription drugs cost about 50% more in the United States than they do in other countries.

#24 In the United States today, prescription painkillers kill more Americans than heroin and cocaine combined.

#25 Nearly half of all Americans now use prescription drugs on a regular basis according to the CDC.  Not only that, the CDC also says that approximately one-third of all Americans use two or more pharmaceutical drugs on a regular basis, and more than ten percent of all Americans use five or more pharmaceutical drugs on a regular basis.

#26 The percentage of women taking antidepressants in America is higher than in any other country in the world.

#27 In 2010, the average teen in the U.S. was taking 1.2 central nervous system drugs.  Those are the kinds of drugs which treat conditions such as ADHD and depression.

#28 Children in the United States are three times more likely to be prescribed antidepressants as children in Europe are.

#29 There were more than two dozen pharmaceutical companies that made over a billion dollars in profits during 2008.

#30 According to the CDC, approximately three quarters of a million people a year are rushed to emergency rooms in the United States because of adverse reactions to pharmaceutical drugs.

#31 According to a report by Health Care for America Now, America’s five biggest for-profit health insurance companies ended 2009 with a combined profit of $12.2 billion.

#32 The top executives at the five largest for-profit health insurance companies in the United States combined to bring in nearly $200 million in total compensation for 2009.

#33 The chairman of Aetna, the third largest health insurance company in the United States, brought in a staggering $68.7 million during 2010. Ron Williams exercised stock options that were worth approximately $50.3 million and he raked in an additional $18.4 million in wages and other forms of compensation.  The funny thing is that he left the company and didn’t even work the entire year.

#34 It turns out that the financial assistance that Barack Obama promised would be provided for those with “pre-existing conditions” under Obamacare is already being shut down because of a lack of funding…

Tens of thousands of Americans who cannot get health insurance because of preexisting medical problems will be blocked from a program designed to help them because funding is running low.

Obama administration officials said Friday that the state-based “high-risk pools” set up under the 2010 health-care law will be closed to new applicants as soon as Saturday and no later than March 2, depending on the state.

#35 In America today, you are 64 times more likely to be killed by a doctor than you are by a gun.

#36 People living in the United States are three times more likely to have diabetes than people living in the United Kingdom.

#37 Today, people living in Puerto Rico have a greater life expectancy than people living in the United States do.

#38 According to OECD statistics, Americans are twice as obese as Canadians are.

#39 Greece has twice as many hospital beds per person as the United States does.

#40 The state of California now ranks dead last out of all 50 states in the number of emergency rooms per million people.

#41 According to a doctor interviewed by Fox News, “a gunshot wound to the head, chest or abdomen” will cost $13,000 at his hospital the moment the victim comes in the door, and then there will be significant additional charges depending on how bad the wound is.

#42 It has been estimated that hospitals overcharge Americans by about 10 billion dollars every single year.

#43 One trained medical billing advocate says that over 90 percent of the medical bills that she has audited contain “gross overcharges“.

#44 It is not uncommon for insurance companies to get hospitals to knock their bills down by up to 95 percent, but if you are uninsured or you don’t know how the system works then you are out of luck.

#45 According to a study conducted by Deloitte Consulting, a whopping 875,000 Americans were “medical tourists” in 2010.

#46 Today, there are more than 56 million Americans on Medicaid, and it is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.

#47 Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid.  Today, one out of every 6 Americans is on Medicaid.

#48 Today, there are more than 50 million Americans on Medicare, and that number is projected to grow to 73.2 million in 2025.

#49 When Medicare was first established by Congress, it was estimated that it would cost the federal government $12 billion a year by the time 1990 rolled around.  Instead, it cost the federal government $110 billion in 1990, and it will cost the federal government close to $600 billion this year.

#50 Even if you do have health insurance, that is no guarantee that medical bills will not bankrupt you.  Just check out what a recent Time Magazine article says happened to one unfortunate couple from Ohio that actually did have health insurance…

When Sean Recchi, a 42-year-old from Lancaster, Ohio, was told last March that he had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, his wife Stephanie knew she had to get him to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Stephanie’s father had been treated there 10 years earlier, and she and her family credited the doctors and nurses at MD Anderson with extending his life by at least eight years.

Because Stephanie and her husband had recently started their own small technology business, they were unable to buy comprehensive health insurance. For $469 a month, or about 20% of their income, they had been able to get only a policy that covered just $2,000 per day of any hospital costs. “We don’t take that kind of discount insurance,” said the woman at MD Anderson when Stephanie called to make an appointment for Sean.

Stephanie was then told by a billing clerk that the estimated cost of Sean’s visit — just to be examined for six days so a treatment plan could be devised — would be $48,900, due in advance.

By the way, that hospital down in Houston made a profit of 531 million dollars in one recent year.

So what can be done about all of this?

Well, the truth is that the status quo is a complete and total disaster, and every “solution” being promoted by politicians from both major political parties would only make things worse.

In the end, the U.S. health care system needs to be rebuilt from the ground up, but we all know that is not going to happen.

Instead, our politicians and the health care industry will just find additional ways to extract money from all of us, and the level of care that we all get will continue to decline.

If you don’t believe this, just check out what Paul Krugman of the New York Times had to say recently

We’re going to need more revenue…Surely it will require some sort of middle class taxes as well.. We won’t be able to pay for the kind of government the society will want without some increase in taxes… on the middle class, maybe a value added tax…And we’re also going to have to make decisions about health care, doc pay for health care that has no demonstrated medical benefits . So the snarky version…which I shouldn’t even say because it will get me in trouble is death panels and sales taxes is how we do this.

Others are urging us to become more like Europe.

But do we really want what they have in the UK?…

Sick children are being discharged from NHS hospitals to die at home or in hospices on controversial ‘death pathways’.

Until now, end of life regime the Liverpool Care Pathway was thought to have involved only elderly and terminally-ill adults.

But the Mail can reveal the practice of withdrawing food and fluid by tube is being used on young patients as well as severely disabled newborn babies.

One doctor has admitted starving and dehydrating ten babies to death in the neonatal unit of one hospital alone.

Writing in a leading medical journal, the physician revealed the process can take an average of ten days during which a  baby becomes ‘smaller and shrunken’.

In the end, my philosophy is just to avoid the U.S. health care system as much as possible.  Most doctors are just trained to do two things – prescribe drugs and cut you open.  In an emergency situation where you are about to die, those may be your best options, but otherwise I would just as soon avoid the gigantic money making scam that the U.S. health care industry has become.

But just don’t take my word for it.  The following is some very sound advice from Dr. Robert S. Dotson

Avoid contact with the existing health care system as far as possible. Yes, emergencies arise that require the help of physicians, but by and large one can learn to care for one’s own minor issues. Though it is flawed, the internet has been an information leveler for the masses and permits each person to be his or her own physician to a large degree. Take advantage of it! Educate yourself about your own body and learn to fuel and maintain it as you would an expensive auto or a pet poodle. One does not need a medical degree to:

1. avoid excessive use of tobacco or alcohol or, for that matter, caffeine;
2. avoid poisons like fluoride, aspartame, high fructose corn syrup, and addictive drugs (legal or illicit);
3. avoid unnecessary and potentially lethal imaging studies (TSA’s radiation pornbooths, excessive mammography, repetitive CT scans – exposure to all significantly increases cancer risk);
4. avoid excessive cell phone use and exposure to other forms of EMR pollution where possible (the NSA is recording everything you say and text anyway);
5. avoid daily fast food use and abuse (remember: pink slime and silicone) ;
6. avoid untested GM foods (do you really want to become “Roundup Ready?”):
7. avoid most vaccinations and pharmaceutical agents promoted by the establishment;
8. avoid risky behaviors (and, we do not need a bunch of Nanny State bureaucrats to define and police these);
9. exercise moderately;
10. get plenty of sleep;
11. drink plenty of good quality water (buy a decent water filter to remove fluoride, chloride, and heavy metals);
12. wear protective gear at work and play where appropriate (helmets, eye-shields, knee and elbow pads, etc.):
13. seek out locally-grown, whole, organic foods and support your local food producers;
14. take appropriate nutritional supplements (multi-vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin D3);
15. switch off the TV and the mainstream media it represents;
16. educate yourself while you can;

And, lastly…

17. QUESTION AUTHORITY!

Doing these simple, common-sense things will add healthy years to a person’s life and help one avoid most medical encounters during his or her allotted time on earth.

So what do you think?

Do you believe that the U.S. health care system is a gigantic money making scam that is about to collapse?

Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below…

Money Making Scam

Is The Food We Eat Killing Us?

Are we digging our own graves with our teeth?  Is the food that we eat every day slowly killing us?  When I was growing up, I just assumed that everything in the grocery store was perfectly safe and perfectly healthy.  I just assumed that the government and the big corporations were watching out for us and that they would never allow something harmful to be sold in the stores.  Boy, was I wrong!  Today, the average American diet is extremely unhealthy.  Most of the foods that we all love to eat are absolutely packed with things that will damage our health.  Many of the ingredients that make our foods “taste good” such as fat, salt and sugar can be extremely damaging in large amounts.  On top of that, most processed foods are absolutely loaded with chemicals and preservatives.  The next time you go to the grocery store, just start turning over packages and read the “ingredients” that are being put into our food.  If you have never done this before, you will be absolutely amazed.  In many of our most common foods there are “ingredients” that I cannot even pronounce.  Sadly, most Americans have no idea that eating a steady diet of these processed foods will likely leave them massively overweight, very sick and much closer to death.

Eating healthy takes more time, more effort and more money than eating poorly does.

Unfortunately, most Americans are content to chow down on foods that are quick to make and that taste good.

In particular, Americans are absolutely addicted to foods that are loaded with sugar and high fructose corn syrup.

When you start looking at food product labels, you will find that either sugar or high fructose corn syrup is in almost everything.

For example, I was absolutely amazed when I learned that most bread sold in our grocery stores contains high fructose corn syrup.

Why in the world would they need to put that into our bread?

Today, Americans are consuming far more sugar and high fructose corn syrup than ever before, and this has many health professionals very alarmed.  The following is an excerpt from an article on the website of the Mayo Clinic….

Some research studies have linked consumption of large amounts of any type of added sugar — not just high-fructose corn syrup — to such health problems as weight gain, dental cavities, poor nutrition, and increased triglyceride levels, which can boost your heart attack risk.

But it is not just sweeteners that are a concern.

There are great concerns about much of the meat that we eat as well.

Today, we grow animals much larger than we used to, but it comes at a price.

For example, we pump our cows full of growth hormones and they stand around in piles of their own manure until it is time for them to die.

If many Americans were aware of where the “cheap beef” in their grocery stores really comes from they might just change their eating habits.

Another dramatic change that has happened to our food supply in recent decades has been the rise of genetically modified crops.

In this area, there has been nothing short of a revolution.

In 1996, only about 2% of all soybeans in the United States were genetically modified.  Today, about 90% of all soybeans in the United States are genetically modified.

At this point, approximately 70% of all processed foods in our grocery stores contain at least one ingredient that has been genetically modified.

This is one reason why so many Americans have shifted to an organic diet.  Nobody really knows what the long-term health effects of eating all of this genetically-modified food will be on all of us.

But there are some things that we do know.

For example, if you drink large amounts of soda every day you are going to gain weight and you are likely to damage your health.

Sadly, even though we know this, the average American still consumes over 600 12-ounce servings of soda per year.

Is it any wonder that we have an obesity epidemic in America?

As I wrote about the other day, approximately 36 percent of all Americans are obese.

In fact, the United States has a higher percentage of obese people than any other major industrialized nation does.

All of this obesity helps to explain the dramatic rise that we have seen in diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes in recent years.

Did you know that people living in the United States are three times more likely to have diabetes than people living in the United Kingdom?

It is not a mystery why this is happening.

It is because of our unhealthy diets.

The food we eat is killing us.

We are a nation that is becoming a little less healthy every single day, and this is causing healthcare costs to completely spiral out of control.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, health care costs accounted for just 9.5% of all personal consumption back in 1980.  Today they account for approximately 16.3%.

That is an incredible rise.

And health care costs have been rising much faster than the overall rate of inflation.

For example, health insurance premiums have risen three times faster than wages have in the United States over the past decade.

As Americans get sicker, health care will continue to be a “growth industry”.

When we all get sick, what do the doctors do?

They put us all on prescription drugs.

According to the CDC, the percentage of Americans that report that they have taken at least one prescription drug within the last 30 days has risen to almost 50 percent.

In fact, 31 percent of Americans say that they have taken at least two prescription drugs within the last 30 days and 11 percent have taken at least five prescription drugs within the last 30 days.

But what happens when you take prescription drugs?

Well, most of them have nasty little side effects that cause even more health problems.

You know, there is something to be said for going back to a much more natural approach to health.  For example, a recent study found that Amish children have very low levels of asthma and allergies.  The following is from a recent Reuters article….

Amish children raised on rural farms in northern Indiana suffer from asthma and allergies less often even than Swiss farm kids, a group known to be relatively free from allergies, according to a new study.

“The rates are very, very low,” said Dr. Mark Holbreich, the study’s lead author. “So there’s something that we feel is even more protective in the Amish” than in European farming communities.

What it is about growing up on farms — and Amish farms in particular — that seems to prevent allergies remains unclear.

Could the Amish teach the rest of us a thing or two about staying healthy?

That is something to think about.

Another aspect of all this is the packaging that our food comes in.

Chemicals from the packaging our food comes in can often get into our food and have serious health effects as an article by Emily Barrett recently described….

Increasingly, evidence shows that the plastics and wrappers used for packaging can inadvertently leach unwanted chemicals into food. Several recent studies found high levels of bisphenol A – an environmental chemical that can disrupt hormonal processes – in canned foods and in packaged foods for people and pets.

Now, another study suggests that the problems go far beyond just one culprit or one health effect. Among the many toxic chemicals that can migrate from packaging into food are the endocrine disrupting phthalates and organotins and the carcinogen benzophenone. These compounds are heavily used in food packaging and have known health effects, yet are not routinely tested or regulated in food, according to the paper’s author Jane Muncke.*

Although some regulations exist to guarantee safe food packaging, the current system does not address concerns posed by endocrine disrupting chemicals, Muncke explains.* The associated health effects of exposure to hormone altering compounds are many and varied, including immune disfunction, metabolic disorders (diabetes, thyroid) and reproductive problems.

But our story is still not over.

After we are done with our food we throw the packaging in the garbage and most Americans never even think about where it eventually ends up.

Unfortunately, much of it ends up out in the ocean.

In the Pacific Ocean today, there is a toxic stew of plastic and garbage about twice the size of the continental United States that is known as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch“.

According to a BBC report, there are now 100 times more small plastic fragments in the northeast Pacific Ocean than 40 years ago.

But most of us never even stop and think about how the food we eat is destroying our bodies and the world around us.

Most of us just go through our daily lives assuming that somehow everything is going to be okay.

But the truth is that our food is causing major problems.

Sadly, with each passing year the federal government and the big corporations get even more control over our system of food distribution.

Hopefully more Americans will wake up and will start rejecting the “food” that the system wants to cram down our throats.

We all need to start making better choices.

Growing a garden, eating organic foods and supporting local farmers are some good places to start.

Ben Bernanke Says That His Son Will Graduate With $400,000 Of Student Loan Debt

Who ever imagined that Ben Bernanke would become a poster child for the student loan debt problem in America?  Recently Bernanke told Congress that his son will graduate from medical school with about $400,000 of student loan debt.  For most Americans, such a staggering amount of debt would almost certainly guarantee a lifetime of debt slavery.  Unfortunately, Bernanke’s son is not alone.  According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, approximately 167,000 Americans have more than $200,000 of student loan debt.  The cost of a college education has increased much more rapidly than the rate of inflation over the past several decades, and most students enter the “real world” today with a debt burden that will stay with them for most of their working lives.  In an economy where there are so few good jobs for college graduates, it can be incredibly difficult to get married, buy a house or afford to have children when you are drowning in student loan debt.  It would be hard to overstate the financial pain that student loans are causing many young adults in America today.  The student loan debt problem is a national crisis and it is not going away any time soon.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York says that the total amount of student loan debt in America now exceeds the total of all credit card debt in the country.  It also exceeds the total of all auto loans.

The New York Fed says that there is a total of $870 billion owed on student loans in the United States right now.  Other sources claim that the total amount of student loan debt in the United States will soon exceed one trillion dollars.

Either way, we are talking about an extraordinary amount of money.

Sadly, approximately two-thirds of all U.S. college students graduate with student loan debt these days.  The average amount of student loan debt at graduation is approximately $25,000.

That might not be so bad if the economy was full of good paying jobs for college graduates, but that simply is not the case.

As college tuition continues to soar, the student loan debt problem continues to get even worse.  U.S. college students are borrowing about twice as much money as they did a decade ago after adjusting for inflation.

That is not a good trend.

The truth is that it has simply gotten way too expensive to go to college.

Back in 1952, a full year of tuition at Harvard was only $600.

Today, the price tag is $35,568.

So why is a Harvard education 59 times more expensive than it used to be?

Somebody is getting rich off of all this, and it isn’t the students.

In fact, many students are looking at a life of debt slavery for decades to come.

The following is a quote from one recent graduate from a recent Politico article….

“I pay almost $1,000 a month just in student loan repayment. I will have to do so for the next 30 years. How will I ever afford to buy a house, have children or save for the future?”

After working so hard all the way through school, is that any kind of a “future” to look forward to?

The system is failing our young people.

Many young college graduates have found themselves unable to make their payments or have simply decided to quit making payments.

Officially, the student loan default rate has nearly doubled since 2005.  But a new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York says that things may be even worse than that.  According to the New York Fed, approximately one out of every four student loan balances are past-due at this point.

But it isn’t just young people getting into trouble with student loan debt.

These days, financial institutions are increasingly targeting parents.  Federal student loans often do not cover all of the expenses of college in this day and age, and so increasingly loans are being made to parents to make up the difference.  Student loans made to directly to parents have increased by 75 percent since the 2005-2006 academic year.

Unfortunately, what students and parents are getting in return for all of this money is not that great.

I spent eight years of my life studying at U.S. colleges and universities.  The institutions that I attended were supposed to be better than most.  But most of the classes that I took were a total joke.  A 6-year-old child could have passed most of them.

Almost everyone agrees that the quality of college education in America is in a serious state of decline.  The goal is to get these kids through the system and to keep collecting the big tuition checks.

When I was in school, I could hardly believe how little was being required of me.  But being as lazy as I was, I certainly did not complain.

If only more parents realized what was really going on.

The following are some facts about the quality of college education in the United States from a USA Today article….

-“After two years in college, 45% of students showed no significant gains in learning; after four years, 36% showed little change.”

-“Students also spent 50% less time studying compared with students a few decades ago”

-“35% of students report spending five or fewer hours per week studying alone.”

-“50% said they never took a class in a typical semester where they wrote more than 20 pages”

-“32% never took a course in a typical semester where they read more than 40 pages per week.”

Are you starting to get the picture?

If you are in college right now, enjoy the good times while they last, because when you graduate you will find that there are very few good jobs available for the hordes of new college graduates that are pouring into the labor market.

For a new college graduate, things can be rather depressing.  Just consider the following statistics….

*About a third of all college graduates end up taking jobs that don’t even require college degrees.

*In the United States today, there are more than 100,000 janitors that have college degrees.

*In the United States today, 317,000 waiters and waitresses have college degrees.

There are millions of college graduates that are unemployed in America today.  There are millions of others that have been forced to take very low paying jobs because that is all they can get.

It is no coincidence that incomes for households led by someone between the ages of 25 and 34 have fallen by about 12 percent after you adjust for inflation since the year 2000.

Young people in America are under intense financial pressure right now.

Many are unable to make it at all and have moved back in with Mom and Dad.  As I wrote about recently, approximately 25 million American adults are living with their parents at this point.

The system of higher education in this country is badly broken and it desperately needs to be fixed.

So do you have a solution to these problems or do you have a student loan debt horror story to share?

Please feel free to leave a comment with your opinion below….

GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt, The Head Of Obama’s Jobs Council, Is Moving Jobs And Economic Infrastructure To China At A Blistering Pace

Jeffrey Immelt, the head of Barack Obama’s highly touted “Jobs Council”, is moving even more GE infrastructure to China.  GE makes more medical-imaging machines than anyone else in the world, and now GE has announced that it “is moving the headquarters of its 115-year-old X-ray business to Beijing“.  Apparently, this is all part of a “plan to invest about $2 billion across China” over the next few years.  But moving core pieces of its business overseas is nothing new for GE.  Under Immelt, GE has shipped tens of thousands of good jobs out of the United States.  Perhaps GE should change its slogan to “Imagination At Work (In China)”.  If the very people that have been entrusted with solving the unemployment crisis are shipping jobs out of the country, what hope is there that things are going to turn around any time soon?

Earlier this month, Immelt made the following statement to a jobs summit at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce….

“There’s no excuse today for lack of leadership. The truth is we all need to be part of the solution.”

Apparently Immelt’s idea of being part of the solution is to ship as many jobs overseas as he possibly can.

A recent article on the Huffington Post documented how GE has been sending tens of thousands of good jobs out of the country….

As the administration struggles to prod businesses to create jobs at home, GE has been busy sending them abroad. Since Immelt took over in 2001, GE has shed 34,000 jobs in the U.S., according to its most recent annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. But it’s added 25,000 jobs overseas.

At the end of 2009, GE employed 36,000 more people abroad than it did in the U.S. In 2000, it was nearly the opposite.

GE is supposed to be creating the “jobs of tomorrow”, but it seems that most of the “jobs of tomorrow” will not be located inside the United States.

The last GE factory in the U.S. that made light bulbs closed last September.  The transition to the new CFL light bulbs was supposed to create a whole bunch of those “green jobs” that Barack Obama keeps talking about, but as an article in the Washington Post noted, that simply is not happening….

Rather than setting off a boom in the U.S. manufacture of replacement lights, the leading replacement lights are compact fluorescents, or CFLs, which are made almost entirely overseas, mostly in China.

But GE is far from alone in shipping jobs and economic infrastructure out of the United States.  For example, big automakers such as Ford are being very aggressive in China.  Ford is currently “building three factories in Chongqing as part of $1.6 billion investment that also includes another plant in Nanchang”.

Today, China accounts for approximately one out of every four vehicles sold worldwide.  The big automakers consider the future to be in China.

Just a few decades ago, China was an economic joke and the U.S. economy was absolutely unparalleled.

But disastrous trade policies have opened up the door for a mammoth transfer of jobs, factories and wealth from the United States to China.

China has become an absolute powerhouse and America is rapidly declining.

Beautiful new infrastructure is going up all over China even as U.S. infrastructure rots and decays right in front of our eyes.

You can see some amazing pictures of the stunning economic development that has been going on in China here, here, here and here.

America is being deindustrialized at lightning speed and very few of our politicians seem to care.

Back in 1979, there were 19.5 million manufacturing jobs in the United States.

Today, there are 11.6 million.

That represents a decline of 40 percent during a time period when our overall population experienced tremendous growth.

We used to have the greatest manufacturing cities on the entire globe.  The rest of the world was in awe of us.

Today, most of those formerly great manufacturing cities are decaying, rotting hellholes.

The following is what one reporter from the UK saw during his visit to Detroit….

As you pass the city limits a blanket of gloom, neglect and cheapness descends. The buildings are shabbier, the paint is faded. The businesses, where they exist, are thrift shops and pawn shops or wretched groceries where the goods are old and tired. Finding somewhere to have breakfast, normally easy in any American city, involves a long hunt. ‘God bless Detroit’, says one billboard, just beside another offering the alternative solution: liquor.

You can see some really shocking images of the decline of Detroit right here.

Our politicians insisted that globalism would not result in a “giant sucking sound” as millions of jobs left America.

But that is exactly what has happened.

Sadly, most American families still don’t understand what has happened.  Most of them are still waiting for things to get back to “normal”.

Millions of unemployed Americans are dealing with incredible amounts of stress right now as they wait for jobs to start opening up again.  But the jobs that have been shipped overseas are not coming back.  In a globalized economy, it doesn’t make sense to hire American workers when you can legally pay workers slave labor wages on the other side of the globe.

Millions of good middle class jobs have been replaced by low paying service jobs.  Today there are huge numbers of Americans that are cutting hair or flipping burgers because that is all they can get right now.

Many others are only able to survive because of the safety net.  One reader named David recently left a comment in which he shared his story.  David did everything that the system asked him to do, but the promised rewards never materialized.  Now David is broke, unemployed and he feels deeply frustrated….

A year ago I had a job, we were struggling, but bills were getting paid, and somehow we were getting by. Then I made the mistake of getting sick, one day before my company insurance kicked in. An auto-immune illness almost killed me, if it weren’t for the amazing efforts of my physicians and an emergency spleenectomy, I would not be here.

My wife would have been a single mother,raising two young sons, one of which is autistic. Instead, I pulled through. The disease damaged my liver, leaving me with a chronic condition, and even after a year, it is hard to get up and go some days. My “employer” dumped me as soon as I left the hospital, and I haven’t worked since. It isn’t for lack of looking. There just isn’t anything.

Oh, I get my government cheese money. Here I am college educated, unable to find something that can pay the bills better than the money that we get from the government. It sickens me to be this dependent on the system like this. But the system de-incentivizes work, and makes living on the dole make a perverse economic sense.

I used to have dreams, but I have given up on them. My wife and I have no savings, we have no life raft and if it weren’t for the generosity of her parents and mine, things would have ground to a halt a long time ago.

I believed every thing adults told me. Work hard, I did. Get an education, I did. Find a nice girl and settle down, I did. Two cars, a dog, a cat and couple of kids, a nice townhouse…the american dream. Yep.

I love my country. My heart is broken, broken because I have been betrayed. I did what you asked, I played by the rules. I did what you said to do; I submitted, I conformed, I stopped dreaming. Now what?

I am willing to pay for my faults and transgressions; my failures are my own, I get that. My children should not have to suffer for my failures, they did not do anything wrong. My youngest boy is autistic, we hope he will be able to integrate into society, but the fact is we may have to take care of him for the rest of his life. How do I do this with nothing, and no opportunity in the foreseeable future?

Depression, stress…yep, I’ve got all that. I used to be hopeful and optimistic about the future. Now all I am is afraid.

As the United States continues to bleed good jobs, stories like the one you just read are going to become much more common.

So what are our politicians doing about all of this?

They tell us that we need even more “free trade”!

Barack Obama says that we need more free trade.

The Republicans say that we need more free trade.

In Washington D.C. our politicians do not agree on much, but one thing they do agree on is that we need to keep shipping jobs out of the country.

Until the American people wake up and start demanding an end to the globalization of the U.S. economy, the job losses are just going to continue to get worse.

The United States has lost a staggering 32 percent of its manufacturing jobs since the year 2000.  If this trend continues, millions more Americans will soon be surviving on food stamps or living in tent cities.

The American people are deeply concerned about the economy, but they still have not connected the dots on these issues.  The mainstream media and most of our politicians keep telling them that the globalization of the economy is a wonderful thing.

It is so sad that people just do not understand what is going on right in front of their eyes.

Whether you are a conservative or a liberal or a libertarian, you should be against the deindustrialization of America.

Allowing our industrial base to be raped is not a good thing.

Allowing big corporations and foreign governments to pay slave labor wages to workers on the other side of the globe making things that will be sold inside the United States is not a good thing.

Allowing the destruction of our industrial capacity to threaten our national security is not a good thing.

Allowing millions of precious jobs to leave the country is not a good thing.

The biggest corporations are making some extra profits by exploiting cheap labor on the other side of the globe.  Corporate executives love to shower themselves with larger and larger bonuses.

But our current trade policies are not working for American workers.

We need “fair trade”, not “free trade”.

The United States is being taken advantage of, and the Democrats and the Republicans are both laying down like doormats and letting it happen.

If you want to know where all the good jobs went, it is not a big mystery.

They have been shipped out of the country and they are not coming back.

Unless fundamental changes are made, things are going to get worse and worse and worse for American workers.

So what is going to happen next?

It is up to you America.

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