Death with dignity should be a fundamental human right

April 24, 2016

Lindsey Bever of the Washington Post wrote on Friday,

One gunshot.

Then another.

Within minutes, a prominent death-with-dignity advocate was shot dead along with his ailing wife in an assisted living center in Florida.

Eighty-one-year-old Frank Kavanaugh — who served on the national advisory board for the Final Exit Network, an advocacy organization in the right-to-die debate — was discovered dead in the early morning hours Tuesday alongside his wife, 88-year-old Barbara Kavanaugh.

The couple was found at the Solaris HealthCare Charlotte Harbor center in Port Charlotte, Fla. Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Skip Conroy said the case is being investigated as a murder-suicide.

I support death with dignity via physician assisted suicide. There are any number of ways to design the process for the purpose of excluding a spur-of-the-moment decision based on situational depression. If the woman in this case could have opted for physician assisted suicide, she likely would have, given the information in the article. However, it was not an option.

My English teacher in high school did what Frank Kavanaugh did. She shot to death her terminally-ill-with-cancer lover and then drove to the police station where she committed suicide by shooting herself in the head. She left a note explaining why she did it.

I was shocked, of course, as all of us were, but we respected her decision and the courage it took to do what she did.

Since most people do not want to commit suicide and could not be talked into it, I doubt that physician assisted suicide would unleash a tsunami of suicides.

For more information, please read another story by Lindsey Bever about Brittany Maynard, the 29-year-old woman who was terminally ill with a stage 4 malignant brain tumor. She chose to die with dignity in her own bed at home via physician-assisted suicide surrounded by her loved ones.

I would like to see death with dignity via physician-assisted suicide designated as a fundamental human right.

____________________________________________

PS: Rachel’s father passed peacefully early Saturday morning. Our cat, Byrd, was killed by a vehicle on the street behind our house at approximately the same time. We found his cold body lying in the street when we walked out to our car at dawn. I buried him deep in the woods on a hill overlooking a lake.


What should we do about our end of days?

April 19, 2016

My wife Rachel, whom you know as Crane-Station, just returned from Seattle where she was visiting her dying father. Her mother is in declining heath and unlikely to survive him by more than a year. I’ve been through this end-of-life experience with my parents. They passed in 1999 (father) and 2000 (mother).

She is close to her parents. I was not close to mine. She has siblings to share the experience. I was an only child. Despite different relationships with our parents, both of us have experienced emotional storms that are difficult to describe.

My father succumbed to Alzheimers. I watched him die by inches and that experience damn near killed me. I do not want to die that way. I’m willing to take my life, if I find myself drifting down the river of forgetfulness.

I have been thinking a lot lately about dying and what to do about it. Rachel’s father is in his nineties. He saw it coming. Imprisoned in a dying body, he made sure his affairs were in order and prepared himself to die.

But he didn’t die . . .

He is more aware than my father was.

I do not plan to let death choose when I pass.

What about you?


Innocent Jack McCullough will be released from prison today

April 15, 2016

Jack McCullough will be released from prison in Illinois today after serving four years of a life sentence for kidnapping and murdering 7-year-old Maria Ridulph. The crime was committed on December 3, 1957, but no one was prosecuted until 2012, when DeKalb County State’s Attorney Clay Campbell convicted McCullough.

Campbell’s successor, DeKalb County State’s Attorney Richard Schmack reviewed the case after defeating Campbell in an election. He concluded that McCullough could not have committed the crime because he was 40 miles from the scene of the crime when it was committed. According to Illinois Bell telephone records McCullough called his family collect from an Air Force recruiting office in Rockford, Illinois at 6:57 pm. Maria Ridulph disappeared between 6:45 p.m. and 6:55 p.m.

Schmack also challenged the accuracy and reliability of an eyewitness identification of McCullogh by Maria’s friend with whom she had been playing in the snow when a young man offered to give Maria a ride on his shoulders. First, she identified McCullogh more than 50 years after the incident. Second, the photo was unnecessarily suggestive since McCullough’s photo stood out from the others in a photo array of six photographs because they were professional yearbook photographs and each person was wearing a suit coat.

Yet another example of the unreliability of eyewitness identifications.

Fortunately, an honest and ethical prosecutor corrected the wrongful conviction.

Read more here.


Hillary Clinton cynically uses Sandy Hook shootings for political gain over Bernie Sanders

April 7, 2016

Hillary Clinton is using the tragedy at Sandy Hook for political gain over Bernie Sanders. Yesterday, she tweeted,

@BernieSanders prioritized gun manufacturers’ rights over the parents of the children killed at Sandy Hook.

This is disgusting and it shows how little she cares about the feelings of the people devastated by the shootings. It shows how desperate she is and how low she is willing to go to beat Sanders.

Bernie’s alleged offense is voting against a bill that would have held gun manufacturers liable for murders committed with guns they manufactured. Although I detest guns, I would have voted against the bill because it would hold gun manufacturers strictly liable for producing a product that is legal to sell, possess and use even though they did not sell it to the user or have any knowledge or control regarding the decision to sell it.

Love it or hate it, the Second Amendment is here to stay until such time as it is repealed. That is not going to happen in the foreseeable future, if ever. That means gun manufacturers are going to continue to make and sell guns to gun shops who will sell them to the public for as long as the public is willing and able to buy them.

While we do have laws that hold manufacturers strictly liable for injuries caused by the products they make, the product must be hidden and defective when made. Otherwise, there is no liability.

Hillary is a lawyer and she should know this because it’s taught in every torts class in every law school in the country and torts is a required subject, not an elective.

Voting against a bill that would have been deemed unconstitutional is the right thing to do. Bernie deserves credit, not criticism, for doing the right thing.

Hillary deserves a double helping of criticism, scorn and derision for this cynical and desperate ploy for votes. She is repugnant.

I have said that I will vote for her if she is the democratic nominee because the republican candidates are so repugnant, but I am so disgusted with her that I might have to vote for Dr. Jill Stein.


Panama Papers: A Shot Heard Round The World

April 5, 2016

Standing on Shaky Ground

An anonymous person has leaked more than 11 million documents documenting how the rich and powerful hide their money in offshore tax havens. The documents were published Sunday by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), Süddeutsche Zeitung, the German newspaper, and several news organizations around the world, including the BBC, after a yearlong investigation. The actions described in the documents are not necessarily illegal, but some of the documents reveal a clandestine web of shell companies, their real owners concealed under layers of secrecy, and connections to firms in different tax havens. A coalition of more than 100 news organizations published a review of the documents yesterday. USA Today describes the treasure trove,

The cache exposes assets of everyone from political officials to billionaires to celebrities to sports stars that were previously undisclosed. The documents expose holdings of 12 current and former world leaders and details of the hidden financial dealings of 128 more politicians and public officials worldwide. Included: At least 33 people and companies blacklisted by the U.S. government because of links to wrongdoing, such as doing business with Mexican drug lords, terrorist groups or rogue nations such as North Korea and Iran. According to Sueddeutsche Zeitung, the Munich-based newspaper that obtained the trove of documents more than a year ago from an anonymous source tied to Mossack Fonseca [a law firm in Panama with 40 offices around the world], the “Panama Papers” include approximately 11.5 million documents — more than the combined total of the Wikileaks Cablegate, Offshore Leaks, Lux Leaks and Swiss Leaks.

The leak of documents shows how the rich and famous can exploit offshore tax shelters and reveals an unprecedented pattern of corruption worldwide for 40 years, including maneuvers by major banks who created the hard-to-trace companies. World leaders or associates who have embraced anti-corruption platforms are featured throughout. The papers also allege a billion-dollar money laundering ring run by a Russian bank tied to associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Difficult at this point to determine who violated any laws. Tax avoidance is a lawful standard-operating procedure for the rich. Tax evasion, however, and money laundering are crimes. The use of multiple transactions by shell companies that consist of little more than a name and a P.O. box, together with nominee owners who conceal the real parties in interest is inherently suspicious. Mossack Fonseca, the Panama law firm, specializes in creating opaque financial transactions involving equally opaque offshore banks.

Sorting through it all is going to take some time.


Donald Trump does not comprehend macroeconomics

April 3, 2016

Donald Trump claims he can fix our trade deficit by renegotiating better deals with other countries, principally the Chinese. If he understood trade deficits, he would not say that. Trade surpluses or deficits are based on the net difference between exports and imports with a particular country. They are consumer driven. For example, we run a trade deficit with China, if consumers in our country buy more products made in China than consumers in China buy from us. Therefore, a trade deficit is based on a comparison of business or individual spending by two countries.

Trump does not know what he is talking about when he says he will pay for the $16 million wall that he wants to build along the Mexican border by raiding Mexico’s $58 million surplus in its balance of trade with us because that money has been paid to businesses in Mexico, not the Mexican government.

A government deficit is the difference between government spending, rather than business or individual spending, and government revenues. Our national debt (total of all debt since 1790) at the end of Fiscal Year 2016 is estimated to be $19.4 trillion. The amount is large, but so is our economy. There is no reason to freak out. Investors certainly aren’t freaking out or they would not invest in Treasury bonds. Here is a Wikipedia explanation using Modern Monetary Theory (MMT):

The government sector is considered to include the treasury and the central bank, whereas the non-government sector includes private individuals and firms (including the private banking system) and the external sector – that is, foreign buyers and sellers.

In any given time period, the government’s budget can be either in deficit or in surplus. A deficit occurs when the government spends more than it taxes; and a surplus occurs when a government taxes more than it spends. Sectoral balances analysis states that as a matter of accounting, it follows that government budget deficits add net financial assets to the private sector. This is because a budget deficit means that a government has deposited more money and bonds into private holdings than it has removed in taxes. A budget surplus means the opposite: in total, the government has removed more money and bonds from private holdings via taxes than it has put back in via spending.

Therefore, budget deficits, by definition, are equivalent to adding net financial assets to the private sector, whereas budget surpluses remove financial assets from the private sector.

This is represented by the identity:

(G-T) = (S-I) -NX

where NX is net exports.

The conclusion drawn from this is that private net saving is only possible if the government runs budget deficits; alternately, the private sector is forced to dissave when the government runs a budget surplus.

According to the sectoral balances framework, budget surpluses remove net savings; in a time of high effective demand, this may lead to a private sector reliance on credit to finance consumption patterns. Hence, continual budget deficits are necessary for a growing economy that wants to avoid deflation. Therefore, budget surpluses are required only when the economy has excessive aggregate demand, and is in danger of inflation.Because the government can issue its own currency at will, MMT maintains that the level of taxation relative to government spending (the government’s deficit spending or budget surplus) is in reality a policy tool that regulates inflation and unemployment, and not a means of funding the government’s activities per se.

Our government can afford and should pay a living wage to put people to work fixing our infrastructure. Every dollar spent will be respent 7 times dramatically increasing tax revenues. If we tax the rich, we can pay down the debt as desired.

There is no evidence-based reason to hit the panic button.

Donald Trump is an idiot willfully ignorant and stubborn.

He demonstrates his ignorance and idiotic ideas in this interview:

Transcript: Donald Trump interview with Bob Woodward and Robert Costa


%d bloggers like this: