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GOP’s healthcare “think tank?” It’s owned by an insurance company.

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In this brief video clip, a host of GOP lawmakers rattle off the words “Lewin Group” to substantiate their woeful stories of the Very Bad Things that will happen if there’s any serious health insurance reform.

Newt Gingrich calls the Lewin Group “respected.” Charles Grassley labels it a “think tank.”

Then CNN calls it “owned”—lock, stock, and barrel—by an insurance company.

clipped from www.youtube.com

GOP-Cited Firm Owned By Insurance Company
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Remember how they used to give us tobacco industry “experts” to convince us tobacco was harmless?

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Just nuts?

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Now here’s something to think about from Grist (click for the whole story).

Suppose a government was largely funded by big business. And then suppose a situation arose that was dangerous, but possibly very expensive for big business. Is it possible that business might use its influence to make the situation seem less of a threat than it was?

Nah. Surely no serious challenge could be mounted that would obscure obvious data. Ah – but isn’t that just what the tobacco industry did for so long? Remember all those guys in white coats keeping a straight face while telling us tobacco was nothing to get worked up about?

In that light, ponder the case made here regarding global warming: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

November 14, 2006 at 3:36 pm

Posted in Environment

American Drug War Economics – Vol.1

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Marijuana
Image by warrantedarrest via Flickr

When I was a college kid in the 1970s, buying pot was easier than buying cigarettes (though, to be honest, I don’t remember ever buying either!)

Probably, it hasn’t changed. But here’s what has:  I didn’t know of one single person who’d gone to prison over it.  It’s a whole lot easier to end up in prison today.

Kids,  just like kids of my generation, act like kids.  But “get tough” laws are on the books now.  They rip kids’ futures away, and give them instead a bed in the most violent, gang-dominated, drug-permeated neighborhoods in America:  our prisons.

When they get out, they’re marked. Getting a job is tough.  Getting scholarships is nearly impossible (“get-tough” legislators having pre-wired the FAFSA to identify criminal records), so education is almost out of the question.  Careers that require certifications are mostly closed. The options they had planned for are gone.

Visitors entrance to Utah State Prison's Wasat...
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For all that, what have we, as a society, gained? Nada.

These horrific laws, easily passed and rarely opposed (what politician wants to be labeled “soft on drugs“?), which incarcerate many of our best and brightest and then leave them with few non-poverty options, have utterly failed to reduce drug use. And they have cost us a fortune.

Meanwhile, your legislators are looking for more billions to build more prisons because this juggernaut crushes kids by the thousands every single day.  No other nation imprisons as many of its own as we do in “the land of the free.”

It will continue until we stop it.  And, since lots of people make lots of money keeping things just the way they are, it won’t stop easily.

But here’s one place—of many—to begin.

American Drug War Economics – Volume 1
Ending drug prohibition and focusing on addiction as a sickness, like alcohol and prescription drugs, could save the U.S. economy and millions of lives. Please pass this video on to as many people as you can. We need your help to end the Drug War.http://www.americandrugwar.com, http://www.sacredcow.com, http://www.sacredcowstore.com; Produced by Kevin Booth and Ryan Kaye
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Let’s get started.


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The ethanol effect: When alt fuels go bad

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Iowa grows corn. Miles and miles and miles of it. We don’t eat it, of course—it’s not that kind. We feed it to cattle and hogs, and we send it by the trainload to processing plants that make it into that “high-fructose corn syrup” that’s in everything else we eat. Read the labels in your pantry.

And, this year especially (the angst of the times being as it is), we plant corn in every available corner in order to save the planet (and make pretty good money) by selling it to ethanol plants.

Trouble is, it’s a little like tobacco and Kentucky: government subsidies contribute to the growth of something that we’d probably be better off without. Check out MotherJones excellent explanation:

clipped from www.motherjones.com
EVERYTHING ABOUT ETHANOL IS GOOD, GOOD, GOOD,” crows Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, echoing the conventional wisdom that corn-based ethanol will help us kick the oil habit, line the pockets of farmers, and usher in a new era of guilt-free motoring. But despite the wishes of Iowans (and the candidates courting them) the “dot-corn bubble” is too good to be true.

Click the thumbnail below to see the larger image
The Ethanol Effect
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And it’s impact on soil conservation is not good.

Corn is a hot potato here in Iowa. Though not a lot of us are still farmers, our friends, our industry, and our economy are linked to corn in a big way. But in the long run, it’ll be a bust. We need another scheme for agriculture, and we need pioneers and politicians and professors who’ll help us get there.


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Written by Monte

April 3, 2008 at 10:48 am

Posted in Environment, Iowa, Politics