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Time for your flu shot!

I admit to being an advocate for ethically produced vaccines. I’m also against involuntary vaccination and very much an advocate for parental rights. However, I believe in education and (strong) encouragement to take advantage of vaccines, which are a fantastic tool to prevent disease.

I’m often confronted with objections about the actual seriousness of flu, the lack of effectiveness of the vaccines and fears about the side effects of the shots. So, in my geeky way, I spent some time doing research.
Here’s the CDC data for influenza infection rates and effects in the US over the last year, including deaths. And here’s a review of actual historic vaccine effectiveness.

Even with the variation in effectiveness of vaccines, prevention is always better than any treatment, since treatment effectiveness will also vary according to the health and risks of individual patients. Vaccines are the best prevention we can offer.

Hospitals and medical facilities work to prevent – and to detect – iatrogenic infections: handwashing, gloves, masks, isolation, active infectious disease department surveillance, etc. The trouble with so many diseases, including influenza, is that they are contagious before the symptoms are obvious.
This week, friends are sharing an article about objections from nurses who are required to either be vaccinated or wear a mask during flu season. (I won’t share that article because it’s nearly a year old, points to out dated information from as far back as 1990, and is full of false accusations and inaccuracies.)

The most recent data that I found shows that a requirement for health care workers (HCW) to choose to either wear a mask or be vaccinated reduces infection in those workers by 74%-88%.

However, the studies on effectiveness for prevention of patient infection weren’t as conclusive. The problem is that the studies available were conducted in nursing homes (not in hospitals) where patients were exposed to many more people than simply HCW and only about 12% of the HCW actually got vaccinated.
One thing to remember about reports on side effects: all of them are present in the general population. The important data is whether there’s a higher incidence in the vaccinated population than in the controls.

Here is a study on flu vaccine safety last year, as reported by over 70,000 Australian patients. There were no serious events, and only about 1% sought “Medical Attendance” (saw a doctor) for events, usually fevers.

Thanksgiving is next week, with its travel and visiting – and spreading of germs. Expect cases to increase in time for Christmas and New Year, as usual. Please think about getting your vaccine, this week.

The wrong abstinence lesson

About that private Christian high school that refused to allow a girl to walk at graduation. Okay, I get it: you have rules and worry about the influence on younger students.

Yeah, ’cause if your teaching about sin doesn’t prevent other students from premarital sex, not getting to walk at graduation will! Or at least not to let you know about it.

Well, for one thing, this girl has already proven that actions have consequences!

How about the one without sin casting the first stone? Is there no place in your world view for, “Go, and sin no more?”

You’re not celebrating her pregnancy. You’re celebrating her fulfilment of the requirements for graduation. And demonstrating what it means to follow Christ.

 Why not turn this into a lesson on loving the sinner, on promoting life, on the fact that her life isn’t over and even though it will be harder, she can achieve, even without killing her child by intentional interventional elective abortion?

Comal ISD and New Braunfels Early Voting Places and Times

There’s still 2 more days for early voting in the Comal Independent School District Bond and School Board Election. Regular Election Day is May 9.

 Here’s the times and places for early voting on Monday and Tuesday!
(Thanks to the New Braunfels Republican Women for the information!)

May 4 & 5Early voting

During early voting, you have the opportunity to cast both votes at one place!

You can cast both your votes for New Braunfels City Council (Districts 3 & 4) and Comal ISD School Board (Districts 1, 2, 5, & 6) and school bond locations at:

 

The Comal County Elections Office          May  58am to 5pm

178 E. Mill Street, Suite 10                                    May 47am to 7pm

New Braunfels  78130

Bulverde City Hall                                             May  48am to 5pm

30360 Cougar Bend                                                May 57am to 7pm

Bulverde  78163

 

Garden Ridge City Hall                                      May  58am to 5pm

9400 Municipal Pkwy                                              May 47am to 7pm

Garden Ridge  78266

 

 

Early voting for CISD School Board (Districts 1, 2, 5, & 6) and school bond only:

May 4 & 57am to 7pm

Bill Brown Elementary              Hoffmann Lane Elementary      Rebecca Creek Elementary

20410 Hwy 46 W.                       4600 FM 306                                  125 Quest Ave.

Spring Branch  78070               New Braunfels  78132                 Spring Branch  78070

 

Comal ISD Support Serv.           Indian Spring Elementary          Smithson Valley Middle

Admin. Bldg.                                 25751 Wilderness Oak                6101 FM 311

1404 I-35 N.                                  San Antonio  78261                      Spring Branch  78070

New Braunfels  78130

 

Church Hill Middle                     Kinder Ranch Elementary          Timberwood Park Elementary

1275 N. Business 35                  2035 Kinder Pkwy.                       26715 S. Glenrose

New Braunfels  78130              San Antonio  78260                      San Antonio  78260

 

Clear Spring Elem.                       M.H. Specht Elementary

550 Avery Parkway                    25815 Overlook Parkway

New Braunfels  78130              San Antonio  78260

********************************************************************************************************************    

 

Saturday, May 9 – Election Day – Polls open from 7am – 7pm

 

New Braunfels City Council (Districts 3 & 4)

Election Day polling locations at:

 

**NB City Council District 3 – Seele Elementary School, 540 Howard Street, New Braunfels

**NB City Council District 4 – Faith United Church, 970 N. Loop 337, New Braunfels

 

For City Council District Maphttp://www.nbtexas.org/DocumentCenter/Home/View/1480

(also listed on your Voter Registration Card)

 

Comal ISD School Board (Districts 1, 2, 5, & 6) and school bond only

Election Day polling locations at:

 

Single Member District 1                              Single Member District 2                  Single Member District 3

Clear Spring Elementary                                  Faith United Church                               Rebecca Creed Elementary

550 Avery Parkway                                           970 N. Loop 337                                      125 Quest Ave.

New Braunfels 78130                                       New Braunfels 78130                           Spring Branch  78070

Single Member District 4                              Single Member District 5                  Single Member District 6

Smithson Valley Middle School                      Bulverde City Hall                                   M.H. Specht Elementary

6101 FM 311                                                        30360 Cougar Bend                               25815 Overlook Parkway

Spring Branch 78070                                        Bulverde  78163                                      San Antonio  78260

 

Single Member District 7

Garden Ridge City Hall

9400 Municipal Parkway

Garden Ridge 78266

 

PolitiFact Texas on Barry Smitherman, “guarantee” to escape poverty

“. . . graduate from high school, keep your first job for over 1 year, get married and stay married.”

Common sense, right? Okay, it’s not as easy as 1-2-3, and association doesn’t equal causation, but who would argue, right?

“Politifact Texas” would. The Politifact.com website claims to fact check political news and news makers’ comments, and has a Texas Edition. In my opinion, they tend to hit such comments from the Left of center. In this case, they seem to go out of their way to prove Texas Rail Road Commissioner Barry Smitherman wrong, but – even by stressing the importance of the economy in the equation – they prove him right.

Take a few steps, Barry Smitherman said, and you won’t live in poverty. Smitherman, seeking the 2014 Republican nomination for Texas attorney general, put his point this way in prepared remarks for an Aug. 26, 2013, appearance before the Texas Alliance for Life: “Several years ago, the Economist magazine published a piece which said that you only have to do three things to guarantee that you will live above the poverty line—graduate from high school, keep your first job for over 1 year, get married and stay married.”

via PolitiFact Texas | Smitherman partly captures virtual guarantee to escape poverty, but theory also relies on economy being strong.

 

The rest of the article traces the history of the publications that make the claims to which Commissioner Smitherman refers.

Book Review: The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture

The Secret Knowledge

“Success in life comes not from the ability to choose between the four presented answers, but from the rather more difficult and painfully acquired ability to formulate the questions.”  Mamet, David (2011-06-02). The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture (p. 28). Sentinel Trade. Kindle Edition.

I’m reading “The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture,” by David Mamet. Those of you who follow me on FaceBook or Twitter have probably seen a few quotes that I’ve shared.

I’m afraid that I might be indulging in the same thing Mr. Mamet accuses the Liberal Left of doing: surrounding myself with like-minded thinkers and writers. If so, Mr. Mamet at least expresses himself differently than most of the Conservative writers I read.

As an example, I was struck by his description of the new love story, in which two people who don’t even like each other are thrown together by fate and somehow decide they are meant for each other. This is in contrast to the traditional love story in which a couple first falls in love but are separated by outside forces, finally triumphing by their will to be together. (Compare “Sleepless in Seattle” with the movie it references, “An Affair to Remember.”) The difference is subtle, but one of fatalism vs. making a deliberate, conscious choice.

Mr. Mamet is critical of Liberal Arts education, socialism, “change” and “hope.” He explains why Conservatism is better than Liberalism in phrases that go far beyond sound bites and the bumper sticker he sometimes refers to.

From Amazon’s “Popular Highlights:”

“The Good Causes of the Left may generally be compared to NASCAR; they offer the diversion of watching things go excitingly around in a circle, getting nowhere.”

“The essence of socialism is for Party A to get Party B to give something to Party C.”

“. . . Wrights, Cyrus McCormick, Henry Ford, Tesla, Tom Edison, Meg Whitman, Bill Gates, Burt Rutan, and Steve Jobs. How would they and American Industry have fared had Government gotten its hands upon them at the outset—if it had taxed away the capital necessary to provide a market for their wares; if it had taxed away the wealth, which, existing as gambling money, had taken a chance on these various visionaries? One need not wonder, but merely look around at the various businesses Government has aided.”

“Government itself, where waste is the end product.”

 

Mr. Mamet’s central point is that culture is the unconscious and pre-verbal adaptation of people that creates predictability, allowing us to get along with one another. When we throw out our culture and try to create a new one, the “change” leads us to uncertainty and the necessity to weigh each new stimulus because we don’t know what it means under the new conditions.

“The tool of culture is the capacity to predict the operation of the social environment—a property right little different from a right in land or wealth. This cultural right exists not limitlessly—for any property right is limited, by chance, death, inflation, erosion, theft, laws, confiscation, etc. but, as with a material property right, founded upon an abstract concept: predictability, which differs from omniscience, but is of immeasurably greater worth than ignorance. Culture exists and evolves to relegate to habit categories of interactions the constant conscious reference to which would make human interaction impossible.”

(Mamet, David (2011-06-02). The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture (pp. 12-13). Sentinel Trade. Kindle Edition.)

He compares the new situation to “The First Night in A New Home,” where each creak or thump is unfamiliar, and could mean danger or nothing. No one gets any rest, many will get angry, and far too many will simply stop evaluating those noises for themselves. In societies, those who stop questioning and wish only for peace, end up ceding their will and ability to innovate and create to the herd.

Kindle will let you read the first chapter, free. (I don’t profit from promoting the book.)

“Planned Parenthood web ad blurs distinctions” (DMN Fact Check)

So, after telling us all these years that they don’t spend money from tax funds for their abortion business, Planned Parenthood is now saying that their facilities are often in the same buildings as the “separate” affiliates that don’t do abortions and that meeting the standards of an ambulatory care center will shut down both businesses.

Planned Parenthood operates 10 abortion clinics in the state that would be mandated to raise to the new standards. The abortion clinics, by law, are separate entities and must be separately funded from health centers where cancer screenings take place.

Planned Parenthood officials acknowledged that, but said some abortion clinics and health centers are housed within the same buildings. She suggested that if it were too expensive to upgrade the abortion clinics, then it could also force a shut-down of the health care clinics in the same building.

Officials could not say how many of the 10 abortion clinics are adjacent or within the same building as health care centers.

Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, responded by email and cited 55 health care centers already have been shuttered in Texas.

That assertion is based on legislative funding cuts from two years ago and is not related to the pending legislation.

And the previously closed health centers are not related to the assertion made in the advertisement.

Health centers that do not provide abortions would not be affected by the legislation.

via Fact check: Planned Parenthood web ad blurs distinctions | Trail Blazers Blog.

Why Ethics? | LifeEthics.org

If there’s no such thing as right and wrong or good and evil, why are we arguing in the first place?

If you crack the egg of a bird on the Endangered Species List, it won’t matter that the bird was a fetus or embryo. You’ve still broken Federal law. Why is the species of an (unhatched) animal so clear cut under law, but human embryos have no protection under current law? Legal follies such as this underscore our lack of seriousness and consistency when contemplating our children of tomorrow. My concern is that we are not teaching them why they should treat us kindly, much less giving them a good example.

Bioethics dilemmas and most political disputes may seem to be new problems, but they’re not. Every “new” problem is another facet of the potential to deny the existence of right and wrong or to infringe on the inalienable rights of our fellow humans. Knowledge of the basics can guide decisions and actions.

If there’s no such thing as right and wrong or good and evil, why are we arguing in the first place? These truths transcend relative social considerations and laws, including religious beliefs, ideology, or the wants and wishes of the powerful or majority. They even transcend time and space: if you take a close look at the big debates, the speakers aren’t simply talking to each other: we’re arguing with the great thinkers of the past and trying to convince people who come along after us.

The unique nature of the species Homo sapiens sapiens is the source and the definition of “human dignity,” and the reason that all members of the species and our offspring are human beings who should be valued equally, without discrimination.

And of course, we are unique, since It looks like we’re the only species having this conversation. We’re the only species that, when an individual has safety, food and sex, doesn’t just go to sleep. Our species makes art, records history, and argues about the nature of the universe. Humans seem to naturally “know” “that’s not fair,” even at 3 or 4 years old. We seek Unconditional Justice, Truth, Love, Beauty and Knowledge. And we value Unconditional Love most of all.

The Negative rights to Life, Liberty and Property are owned and endowed upon individuals; they are not the property of or gift of societies or governments. These exist in a necessary order; a hierarchy of importance and power to call on society for protection. The right not to be killed trumps the right not to be enslaved, which precedes the right not to have your property taken from you by force or fraud. If they can kill you, there are no limits on how much they can enslave you or take from you. We must be secure that others won’t take our property against our will, because earning and owning property is how we avoid enslavement to others and how we make plans and lay by the staples of life to support the lives of ourselves and our families, both immediately while we can earn, and later when we are unable to work.

Society and government must protect these “inalienable” rights of individuals, but only as far as to ensure equality of opportunity, not the equality of outcome. These are protections against the actions of others, not against words or thoughts. It is not protection or promotion of someone’s personal tastes and not the right to not be offended. We must be very, very careful when we tax and even more careful if we presume to force the actions of others.

Good politics and science cannot exist in a moral vacuum. The powerful, the majority, the surging mob. the man with the biggest gun or governments cannot do good when their actions infringe on the life, liberty or property of the individual. To claim that people must act or give up property indefinitely for the greater good – Utilitarianism – ends in domination without measurable or objective limits.

And yet, to function in society carries responsibilities. Extraordinary privileges like those given to lawmakers, doctors, and scientists to do good, may also result in extraordinary power to do evil through abuse of unequal power of weapons, tools, numbers or even knowledge and skill. This is where conscience and the first principle of “first do no harm” come in. The right of conscience is a function of the liberty of an individual not to be forced to act against his understanding of good and evil, right and wrong.

Medicine and science have held a unique position to advocate for the protection of human rights, at least since Hippocrates, who formalized the now 2500 year old oath to “heal when possible, but First, do no harm” Non-maleficence, or not acting in order to avoid harm, must precede and be incorporated in the desire to do good or beneficence.

Once again, we come back to that first point: all of our offspring, descendants deserve the same value and protection of their rights to life, liberty and property without discrimination. It’s possible that we already have offspring among us who are not of our species. Science has created human embryos with more than two biological parents and others who have been the subject of genetic manipulation. Also out there are is the Humanity+ or Transhumanism movement in all its permutations, along with more accessible enhancement of the human mind and body through technology, medicine, machines, and manipulation at the nano-level.

We must consider how our children of tomorrow will consider us. It is true that humans aren’t perfect, we will make mistakes, and some humans will purposefully infringe on the rights of others. However, what values and principles will the pattern of our governments and individual action reflect? Will it be our respect and love for one another? Will they respect and love us or will they look back in horror or disgust?

(I want to thank Robert Spitzer, who wrote “Healing the Culture,” one of the best Ethics books in existence.)

This is a March, 2011 post from LifeEthics. org. Why Ethics? | LifeEthics. Edited 5/10/13 to move to top of the list.

Options gang ready to go home

image

We’ve been in Joplin, Missouri, learning how to run an STI (sexually transmitted diseases) clinic. Now, we’re going home!

Statistics and “Peer Review”

Typical of the reportingMedline jpeg on the connection between abortion and breast cancer, a blogger at “RhealityCheck,” only reports half a sentence – the half that she likes.

I don’t know how long my comments will stay up, so here’s my part:

The author only quoted half a sentence. The article clearly states, “Induced abortion had no overall effect on the risk of breast cancer, but we found a statistically significant increase in risk among women with a history of second-trimester abortion.”

and

That 89% increased risk is significant to that “small number” of women who developed cancer. The 23% increased risk after ab at 15-18 weeks might seem significant for some.

The authors admit that they probably missed thousands of abortions because the registry wasn’t computerized before 1973, but they started counting cancer cases in 1968. That fact skews any “overall” conclusions.

And here’s the link to the article in question. Please note that even this research must adjust for the age at first pregnancy and for number of pregnancies.

My testimony begins at 1 hour, 12 minutes in on the video of the hearing. I actually focused on the protective effect of pregnancy, especially early pregnancy, according to the National Cancer Institute. This information is only given to women and girls who are already pregnant, after all.

Interestingly, we learned how little the Committee members understood about scientific research and resources. Follow the hours of testimony on HB 2945 and HB 2365 and Rep.Jessica Farrar’s obsession and apparent slow realization about the meaning and significance of “peer review” and “PubMed” and “Medline.“At one point, 1:26, Ms. Farrar, who admits that she “barely got through biology,” asks whether the research was “peer reviewed” by “the Medline or PubMed.”

As the day went on, it seems that Farrar was educated that peer review is conducted by the Journals themselves, and that PubMed and Medline are merely indexes of scientifc literature.

State Rep Farrar: “Choice” to abort babies with spina bifida after 20 weeks

6:05/8:18 Farrar:  “So, so, this diagnosis is missed, they
have a fetal anomaly, the spine’s outside the body or something, you say you would not have an exception for that situation.”

Watch the video at 6:05 (See below ++) of the April 10, 2013 Texas House State Affairs Committee meeting hearing on HB 2364, by Representative Jodi Laubenberg,  as State Representative Jessica Farrar challenges a practicing OB/Gyn about his belief that abortion should not be performed when babies are found to have non-lethal “anomalies” after 20 weeks post-fertilization (or 22 weeks since last period).

 

I wonder how of you have heard of the trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell* in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania? Most people, whether pro-choice or pro-life, are horrified by the way Dr. Gosnell and his staff treated the babies they delivered both alive and dead.

 

We also squirm at the intentional killing of children who could otherwise live.

 

The limit of viability for the unborn, using current medical technology, is 20 to 23 weeks gestation.  There have been reports of survivors born before this time. Who will be surprised when the limit moves even farther back? What will history say about us?

 

In fact, here in Texas, we have made it clear with our Prenatal Protection Act of 2003, spurred on by the deaths of Lacy and Connor Peterson, that our definition of individual (or person) includes all humans from fertilization to natural death.

++ Download the free Real Player app, open the video and then pull the timeline cursor out to 6:05. More Committee and Session videos are available at the Texas Legislature Online site.

*(Gosnell is accused of killing the babies who survive, of committing abortions after the legal age limit, and of mutilating the bodies of the babies after they were dead. One gruesome account is here.)

“Aid in Dying” promoted in the Journal “Chest”

It’s difficult to write about a respected medical journal which promotes “Aid in Dying” without resorting to emotional words such as “horrifying,” “shocking,” or “murder,” but I’ll try. However, I will not call the practice “physician aided death” or “aid in dying.”  It is, at best “physician assisted suicide,” and at worst, “euthanasia,” or the use of medical technology and procedures to actively end the life – to intentionally kill – a patient. This is not “medicine” as I understand it.

Chest is the journal of the American College of Chest Physicians. These are the Internal Medicine subspecialists who focus on lung disease, cardiac care, and sleep medicine. They are likely to be the doctors who care for the most vulnerable patients, especially in the Intensive Care Unit at your hospital.

Under the heading “Medical Ethics,” in the July, 2012 issue is an article titled, “Aid in Dying: Guidance for an Emerging End-of-Life Practice,” authored by Kathryn L. Tucker, J.D. The article is available online as a web page, here, and as in pdf., here.

Beginning with a principle that virtually all of us can agree with,the right to refuse intentional medical intervention, the article quickly moves to the very controversial opinion that the first principle ensures the “right” to request “treatment” that is intended to end the life of the patient – to kill:

•A patient with decision-making capacity has the legal right to refuse or request the withdrawal of any medical treatment or intervention, regardless of whether he or she is terminally ill and regardless of whether the treatment prolongs life and its withdrawal results in death.

•A patient with decision-making capacity has the legal right to request and receive as much pain medication as necessary for relief, even if it advances the time of death.

•Principles of autonomy that underlie respecting patient rights to refuse or direct withdrawal of life-prolonging interventions or to request pain medication even if it advances time of death support the choice for aid in dying. Aid in dying is increasingly accepted in law and medicine in the United States.

•Provision of aid in dying does not constitute assisting a suicide or euthanasia. Aid in dying is a practice with growing support in the public and medical and health policy communities and is likely to become more widely requested in the future.

•A clinician cannot be compelled to provide treatment that conflicts with his or her personal values. In these circumstances, the clinician cannot abandon the patient but should refer the patient to a colleague who is willing to provide the service.

Four prima facie principles have been used to characterize most ethical concerns in medicine: respect for patient autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence, and justice. Respect for patient autonomy refers to the duty to respect patients and their rights of self-determination; beneficence refers to the duty to promote patient interests; nonmaleficence refers to the duty to prevent harm to patients; and justice refers, in part, to the duty to treat patients and distribute health-care resources fairly.11 When applied to the care of an individual patient, however, these principles may conflict with one another. For example, a patient’s values, preferences, and goals may be at odds with a clinician’s perception of how best to help and not harm the patient. Clinical ethics identify, analyze, and provide guidance on how to resolve these conflicts.

While I believe that there may come a time when it is ethical to stop trying to keep a patient alive – when treatment is only making the dying process longer – I will never assist in an act that can only end in the death of my patient. The way I explain this is that I will assist in removing a ventilator under certain circumstances, but I won’t then put a pillow over the patient’s face to make sure she can’t breathe on her own afterwards. The intent of medicine is to diagnose and treat disease, not to end the life of patients suffering from disease.

Feral Hogs and “Real Budget Solutions” for Texas

While reviewing budget issues with Dr. Donna Campbell, we discovered “Real Texas Budget Solutions” (a pdf) from the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

Besides recommending that Texas’ State agencies begin cutting budgets, now, rather than later, the paper suggests eliminating funding for the following:

Commission on the Arts; Texas Historical Commission; Texas Public Utility Commission: System Benefit Fund, Renewable Portfolio Standard, and Energy Efficiency Program; Fiscal Programs— Comptroller of Public Accounts: Major Events Trust Fund; Trusteed Programs within the Office of the Governor: Texas Music Office, Texas Film Commission, Economic Development and Tourism Division, Texas Enterprise Fund, Emerging Technology Fund, Economic Development Bank, and Texas Tourism program; Texas Workforce Commission: Skills Development Program; Texas Windstorm Insurance Association; Texas Education Agency: Regional Education Service Centers, Student Success Initiative, Steroid Testing, Campus Turnaround Team Support, Best Buddies; Higher Education Coordinating Board: Doctoral Incentive Program, Top Ten Percent Scholarship Program, and Research University Development Fund; Library and Archives Commission: Resource Sharing and Local Aid; Office of Public Insurance Counsel; Office of Public Utility Counsel; Texas Commission on Environmental Quality: Texas Emission Reduction Program; Pollution Prevention Advisory Council; Take Care of Texas Program; Texas Clean School Bus Program; and Recycling Market Development Implementation Program; Texas Department of Agriculture: Seed Quality, Seed Certification, Feral Hog Abatement, Egg Inspection Program, and Agricultural Commodity; Texas Parks and Wildlife Department: Promotion and Outreach Programs; Texas Railroad Commission: Energy Resource Development and Alternative Energy Promotion; Board of Plumbing Examiners; Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists; Funeral Service Commission.

I saw a couple in there that I wonder about (and had to wonder about my own Texas Institute of Health Care Quality and Efficiency) but where *do* we start? Everyone of these agencies and boards is taking money from Texas taxpayers’ own budgets.  Which can be better done privately?

(That photo is one that I took at a macadamia nut farm on  Hawaii, September, 2011).

Go Galt in Place:Unite behind God, Constitution, getting the Government out of the way

God, Constitution, Government out of the way. Can we unite or do we divide over degrees of commitment to these? What are you going to do to rebuild this nation based on God, Constitution and getting the Government out of our lives?

God includes the unalienable rights endowed on us by our Creator.

Constitution includes the current document as it was written and amended, and subject to amendment by its own rules.

Get the Government of the way of ordinary day to day life, out of the way of worshipping our God, out of the way of following the Constitution and forming better local governments. out of the way of building a business and out of the way of taking care of neighbors and educating our kids.

Now, think it out here at the board.

12 Things You Should Know About Facebook Timeline | PCMag.com

Just a “heads up!”

Facebook yesterday officially announced that over the “next few weeks” it will roll out Timeline to all users. This means Timeline, the reverse-chronological display of a user’s history on Facebook and other life events, which replaces and combines a user’s Facebook Wall and Profile, will become non-optional. No specific date was given, and the language used (“roll out”) suggests that the change won’t occur on one single date for all users, but that batches of users will be transitioned on different dates.

via 12 Things You Should Know About Facebook Timeline | PCMag.com.

Update on Texas spending

From the National Review’s Katrina Trinko, September 15, 2011:

“But factor in inflation and Texas’ population boom, and the uptick in spending becomes significantly more reasonable. The same analysis by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that the Romney campaign used as a source for the 17-percent spending growth each budget cycle reported that “once adjusted for population and inflation, that rate falls to 4.2 percent.” But that rate includes federal dollars sent to Texas. Subtract that, and Perry has decreased spending — the first time any Texas governor has done so since World War II. “When you exclude federal dollars, state spending adjusted for population growth and inflation actually has gone down by 6 percent,” FactCheck.org reported on Perry’s record.”

Texas is among the lowest spending per capita compared with other states, with the 4th smallest spending to GDP ratio in the country. In the meantime, our economy is strong, and would be the 15th in the world if we were a nation.

Remember that much of that growth is Federally mandated: the Frew Medicaid settlement, the education mandates, and all the money we spend on border security and housing illegal alien criminals the Feds won’t catch at the border. Then, there were Katrina, Ike, huge floods and other natural disasters like last month’s fires.

Yet, we saved $9 B in our rainy day fund to pay unexpected costs in the next two years. The easy thing would have been for the Governor to release all that money into the budget calculations. And yet, he looked ahead, paid this year’s debts and saved for next year.

Background & Analysis | Federal Education Budget Project

I’m all for feeding children in our schools, but I would rather that we controlled our border better so that we did not have so many who were “migrants.” I’m convinced that it’s not healthy for kids to grow up in shadow families who must always worry about getting caught.

I’m also convinced that the Federal authorities know exactly which of the kids on the free and reduced lunch program are illegal. For one thing, the applications ask whether a child is a “migrant.” They also ask for the last 4 digits of the guardian’s Social Security number, along with a box to check if “I don’t have a Social Security number.”

“The National School Lunch Program is an appropriated entitlement to all eligible children living in the United States regardless of citizenship status.

“Students are entitled to free lunches if their families’ incomes are below 130 percent of the annual income poverty level guideline established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and updated annually by the Census Bureau ($29,055 for a family of four in 2011). Children who are members of households receiving food stamp benefits or cash assistance through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant, as well as homeless, runaway, and migrant children, also qualify for free meals.”

via Background & Analysis | Federal Education Budget Project.

Help Texas fight illegal immigration instead of Rick Perry

Texans spend nearly a billion dollars a year on illegal residents’ K-12 education, under the force of YOUR Federal government. If you are offended by our Governor Rick Perry’s support of our policy on in state tuition, I’d think you would spend at least the same amount of Tweets, CAPS, Exclamation Points! and Italics on that atrocity. What have you done in your State to give us relief?

Here in Texas, we live with the fact that the Federal government is ignoring all the families who put their kids  in our schools in grades K-12. It’s not hard to determine who these families are: the children are the ones without Social Security numbers or Medicaid coverage, yet qualify for free lunches.Your Federal government must be aware of these children, yet forces us to pay for their schooling and absorb their medical costs.

We passed laws to keep them out of our schools, and were knocked down by the Feds, even though we fought the case all the way to the Supreme Court. Did your State pass similar laws, or join us in Plyler v. Doe</U>?

We continue to petition the Feds to increase the security of our National borders, as required by the Constitution. We spend hundreds of millions of our own Texas tax dollars to supplement your National border.  Has your State joined us in asking for more border patrol agents, or are you happy with us getting a quarter of the agents to cover 2/3 of the border?

After a while, it became obvious to us in Texas that we couldn’t get the illegal alien – either the students or their parents – deported. We saw that there is a small number of students who excel and wish to go to college. We decided that the ambitious and achievers would be allowed to go to our State colleges, paying in state tuition under very strict guidelines.

There are qualifications for these exceptions to the in state tuition. One of them is specifically for a narrow set of applicants and requires 3 years in Texas high schools and graduation from one of our schools. In contrast, we have much easier qualifications for legal residents in the US. If you live in a county that borders Texas, in New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, or Louisiana, your children don’t have to establish residency in Texas in order to pay in state tuition rates. If you live outside Texas, your children may become residents in one year or if you are stationed in our State while in the military or qualify as a Texas veteran. We don’t care where they went to high school or where they graduated.

If you only became aware of our border problems because Governor Rick Perry is running for the Republican Party’s nomination President, then he’s done a service for Texas. If you are outraged by the idea of in state tuition for the children of illegal aliens, then I hope you will help us secure our border and demand that the Federal authorities deport all illegal aliens

amednews: Temporary health workers double risk of harmful drug mix-ups :: Sept. 12, 2011 … American Medical News

Several medical school faculty members and I were talking this week at the American Academy of Family Physicians’ national meeting. They confirmed that medical students and residents still do much of the “scut work” in the hospitals where they are trained. Some hospitals have evaluated the cost of training vs. the money saved by (very) cheap labor, and come to the realization that doctors in training save them tons of money over paid staff.

Just another reason to consider or re-consider funding for medical education in State and Federal budgets!

Health professionals working on a temporary basis in emergency departments are twice as likely to make medication errors that harm patients, says a study of nearly 24,000 drug mix-ups at 592 U.S. hospitals.

Most of the temp workers’ mistakes were administration mix-ups made by nursing staff, who accounted for 76% of the errors. Physicians were responsible for 21% of the mix-ups, and other health professionals accounted for the rest.

via amednews: Temporary health workers double risk of harmful drug mix-ups :: Sept. 12, 2011 … American Medical News.

No Time For A Doctor’s Visit? These Apps Can Help | Fox Business

I’m not sure about this “app”

It’s not always feasible to make it to the doctor’s office for every cough and sniffle. Plus heading straight to your doctor can become costly. Here’s a look at apps that will help you maintain your health.

via No Time For A Doctor’s Visit? These Apps Can Help | Fox Business.

Hat tip to Politico’s @benpolitico

Politics at Texas Medical Board

Dr. David Stevens, CEO of the Christian Medical and Dental Association believes that the Texas Medical Board’s review and limitations on adult stem cell treatments is politically motivated.

It does appear that the Board is responding to politics.

“Meanwhile, Stevens believes criticism of Governor Perry’s recent adult stem cell procedure is politically motivated. (Listen to audio report)

The Republican presidential candidate had back surgery July 1, where his own stem cells were removed and injected back into his body. But shortly after, the Associated Press published a story in which several doctors criticized the decision as too “experimental” and “risky.” But Stevens believes those doctors are playing more politics than they are science. He points out that Perry consulted with his orthopedist, Dr. Stanley Jones, who is a well-respected physician.”

The Board heard the proposal on Friday, August 26. The Board would impose Federal regulations and a formal ethics board oversight for “off label” or experimental use of medications or treatments.

We doctors use our judgement at times to treat our patients using medications, procedures and equipment in ways that are considered “off label.” (For instance, the “morning after pill” therapies were at first unofficial use of oral contraceptives, long before Plan B was on the market.)

The Board should adjust their criteria to whether or not the patient gave full, proper informed consent obtained and is the treatment inherently ethical in likely outcome and goal?

Murder and medical ethics – Viewpoint

What do we risk when we give serious consideration to the argument that some humans may not be human enough to be protected by society?

From a Ph.D. student:

Perhaps neither of these situations is particularly plausible. But more plausible, I think, is a third: imagine again that abortion is murder and that my first student avoids pregnancy in medical school. She becomes an obstetrician and spends a career delivering healthy babies to happy parents. Only intermittently do those parents ask her, instead, to abort their children. When they ask this of her, she first remembers the principles that she learned as a child — but she then remembers the many arguments that I taught her. She remembers that she is a doctor, a woman of the world, and that whatever seems to be black and white is always, in the end, many shades of gray. Surely, she thinks, abortion cannot be as bad as they say: it is distasteful, certainly, but hardly evil. It is a thing to be done and forgotten.

And so she kills. Not often, and not gladly. But she kills nonetheless. And the blood that spills is, at least partly, on my hands.

This, then, is my fear. When I voiced it to a fellow graduate student, he reassured me that our students do not listen to us anyway. Which may well be true. But it is better not to take the chance if the stakes are as high as we take them to be — if, for example, abortion really is murder. Consider a parallel case: we teach our children, before we send them off to college, that murder is wrong. We would never allow them to take, much less demand that they take, a course that would seriously question this — that would, so to speak, look at both sides of the murder debate. What would be the point? Even if said course did not manipulate them into the pro-death camp, presenting that camp as though it were a legitimate option — as though intelligent and responsible students sometimes concluded that murder is permissible, or even a human right — could only serve to weaken their resolve: if the best philosophers cannot agree that murder is wrong, they might think in a moment of rage, who can blame them for murdering?

via Murder and medical ethics – Viewpoint – The Observer – University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College.

The Facts on Gardasil and Perry: Right Wing vs. WingRight

Do you really want to frustrate me? Publish an opinion piece online, but restrict comments so that I can’t tell you where you’re wrong. Sure, it’s your site, and you make the rules. Well! Since I have my own blog  . . .

The mainstream media has rediscovered Executive Order RP65 that Governor Perry issued in February, 2007. I wrote a “A Dose of Reason, Perry and Gardasil” to answer some of the gobbledygook in the media.

Unfortunately, some of the pundits we normally consider conservative are just as mixed up and fail just as miserably in their research and conclusions.

Michelle Malkin (michellemalkin.com ) won’t take new subscribers or comments from the public at all. She has written a disorganized rant calling Governor Perry “Obama-like.”  She claimed that the Governor went over the heads of the Legislature, calls the opt-out clause “bogus,” without researching what it was before the Governor’s EO, and is evidently completely unaware of the funding of vaccines in the US.  I was able to comment at the column’s syndication site, Creators.com,   copying and pasting my coverage of these concerns in “A Dose of Reason, Perry and Gardasil.”

RedState’s  Bill Streiff and Erick Ericson have posted their own articles That site won’t take comments from new subscribers. Ericson reposted his 2007 missive that compared the Executive Order to eugenics and focused on the possibility of corruption due to Merck’s lobbying.

Streiff’s two pieces, here , and  here,  cover the de-bunked corruption charges and provide a succinct list of ethical objections that are less subjective and a bit more organized. Here’s my reply:

1. The recommendation did not include males, though males can carry and transmit HPV. This oversight made the creation of “herd immunity” impossible. This, definitionally, means the vaccine could have only a limited effect in combatting HPV.

The vaccine had not been recommended for boys at the time. The reasoning is that the vaccine prevented cancer. Society was not ready to talk about anal sex and males having sex with males, so there was a delay in adding boys. Since that time, the recommendations have changed to include boys.

2. Not all strains of HPV linked to cancer were affected by the vaccine. While doing something is better than doing nothing… generally… no one knows what the impact will be of creating a better evolutionary environment for the others strains by eliminating competing versions of the virus.

We knew at the time that the vaccines covered the viruses that caused 70% of cervical cancers (16 and 18) and 90% of the strains that cause genital warts (6 and 11). The preventive effect for these strains was 96% to 100%. according to the British Journal of Cancer article on the 5 year follow-up, published in December, 2006. (It was on-line November, 2006 and I accessed it for review today, August 18, 2011.)

We already had evidence, since confirmed, that there might be some cross-immunity for other strains.

3.Requiring people to receive a vaccine against diseases which they may very well never encounter is a very queasy ethical area. Unlike diseases like measles, whooping cough, etc., HPV is not spread through casual contact.

True. But 50% of people will be infected at sometime in their lives. The true cost is all of those abnormal pap smears – the cellular changes are all – 99.7% due to HPV.  It’s also true that we vaccinate for tetanus – what we used to call “lock jaw” – even though it’s not contagious, and for Hepatitis B, which is only spread through blood and body fluids.

4. Clinical trials were conducted on women aged 16-26 leaving everyone to presume that Gardasil was safe and efficacious in 10 year-olds even though there was zero data pertaining to that age group.

Completely false. Both the 2007 Gardasil insert (no longer available online, but I saved a copy on my computer) and the current insert contain information about early testing on boys and girls 9-15. 1122 girls ages 9-15 received the vaccine during trials to test the immunogenicity, demonstrating the production of antibodies.
There. I feel better, don’t you?

Debunking the Rick Perry “Pro-Sharia” School Curriculum Myth

Please read the whole column at CounterContempt. Note that the whole fuss began at lefty Salon.com as a (successful) attempt to bring out criticism of Governor Perry and to get inflamed people to make inflammatory remarks about Islam.

Much of the curriculum centers on very dry materials, presented with no editorializing – historical timelines, glossaries, the basic tenets of Islam (presented without either endorsement and praise, or denunciation and criticism), etc. Of interest to us, however, is the lesson plan that deals with Islam and the West, past and present. This is the lesson plan that mentions Sharia, al-Qaeda, Israel, Hamas, etc.

The lesson plan was written by Ronald Wiltse. Mr. Wiltse is a retired history teacher in San Antonio. He graduated from Pepperdine University in 1966, and received his MA from Middlebury College in 1982. For several decades, he taught world history at Edison High School, in San Antonio.

He is a Christian, and an ardent and vocal supporter of Israel.

via CounterContempt Debunking the Rick Perry “Pro-Sharia” School Curriculum Myth.

Doggett layoff author opposes Perry

Big surprise: Lloyd Doggett doesn’t like Perry. I guess he’s given up on winning his primary against one of the Castro twins (I can’t tell them apart), so he’s going to spend time campaigning against the Governor who wouldn’t lie for money.

ABC.news has a blog entry explaining the details, here.

Doggett’s the creator of the Doggett layoff, causing school districts all over the Nation to layoff teachers. Doggett was the author of the amendment to part of a stimulus bill, refusing money to Texas education by setting specific, individual requirements for Texas that no other State must meet and that go against Texas’ Constitution. Doggett repeatedly claimed at the time that claiming the Governor could lie and violate the State Constitution if he wanted the money badly enough.Doggett kept repeating that the requirements weren’t “unConstitutional.”

Last year, I met with this man with a group of doctors about graduate medical education, identifying as a doctor interested in primary care, not as a Republican. He assumed he could talk freely to us and literally shook with fury when he criticized Conservatives and the Tea Party. Claims Republicans don’t think for ourselves and only listen to Fox news and Limbaugh.

And yet, here I am reading ABC.news and there he is spouting his hate for conservatives. Well, he won’t be unopposed this election – and he’ll have a great panel of Conservatives vying to run against him on the Republican ticket, too.

Mona Charen: Gov. Perry right to question skyrocketing cost of college | The Daily News Journal | dnj.com

Governor Perry takes on the Academic elites:

“Between 1978 and 1997, home prices increased annually at about the same rate as general prices, but then appreciated at a faster pace over the next decade. In the ten-year period starting in 1997, home prices increased by 68 percent, or more than twice the 29 percent increase in overall prices, and that home price appreciation caused an unsustainable housing bubble that burst in 2007 and contributed to the financial crisis of 2008-2009.

During that same 1997-2007 decade that home prices increased by 68 percent and created a housing bubble, college tuition and fees rose even higher — by 83 percent. In fact, college tuition and fees have never increased by less than 73 percent in any ten-year period back to the 1980s. And in the decades ending in 2009 and 2010, college tuition increased by more than 90 percent. The still-inflating increases in the price of higher education are starting to make the housing bubble look pretty tame by comparison.”

In addition to suggesting that tuition be reduced, a panel appointed by Governor Perry suggested that professors were “wasting time and money churning out esoteric, unproductive research.” Shocking. The panel suggested dividing the research and teaching budgets to encourage excellence in both, while also introducing merit pay for exceptional classroom teachers.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reports that students are flocking to colleges and universities in flat, freezing North Dakota to take advantage of lower tuition rates. Enrollment at public colleges has jumped 38 percent in the last decade, led by a 56 percent increase in out of state students. Colleges around the nation, the Journal advises, must now compete for a new kind of student: “the out-of-state bargain hunter.”

via Charen: Gov. Perry right to question skyrocketing cost of college | The Daily News Journal | dnj.com.

(Hat Tip to tweet from @TotalProfMove

Dose of Reason: Perry and Gardasil

Bear with me, this isn’t a “sound bite” subject.

(Edit 8/23/11: The opt out is for 2 years, not 1. BBN )

The Human Papilloma Virus is an infection, and should not be a moral issue. In contrast, the vaccine against four strains of the virus, Gardasil, has become a political issue, even though the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now recommends it for all boys and girls.

Governor Rick Perry has been criticized for his February, 2007 Executive Order that made the vaccine mandatory for girls before entering the 6th grade. Very little is said about the part of the EO that affirmed the right of and facilitated parents who wish to “opt out” of not only Gardasil, but other vaccines as well.

We expect the Governor to direct the people that he appoints, right?  The Governor is responsible for management of the Executive Branch, including the Department of State Health Services. He appoints the head of the DSHS, who supervises the people who decide which vaccines will be mandatory. Texas’ Legislature modified Chapter 38.001 of the Texas Education Code over the years to mandate certain vaccines and allow the DSHS to add other mandated vaccines without Legislative oversight.  Just before the Gardasil controversy, the Department had mandated Chicken Pox and Hepatitis A, which are both manufactured using cultures of human fetal tissue obtained at an abortion.

The Governor’s Executive Order (RP 65) that caused all the controversy also ordered the director of DSHS to make it easier for parents to opt out of vaccines. The Legislature had changed the law from “opt in” to a requirement to “opt out” once for all the school years. Next, they changed to a two year limit on the opt out, and then in 2005, the Legislature restricted the period to one year and required a new State form bearing a “seal.” Parents had to go to Austin or start early in the summer. There were bureaucrats who maintained that the only way to get the form with the seal was to go to Austin, find the right office and make the request in person.  Perry used his EO to tell the Director of DSHS to make the request (and the seal) available on-line, making it easier to “opt out.”

In fact, the reason for the Executive Order was to speed up private insurance coverage and to make it easier for parents to exercise their right to opt out.

The Federal government doesn’t have the authority to mandate vaccines in the States.  Not yet, not exactly. However, thirty days after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended the vaccine, Texas was required by Federal law to buy and distribute the vaccine in the “Vaccines for Children” program.  The program provides vaccines without cost to uninsured children up to age 21, those who are insured by Medicaid, and those whose private insurance does not pay for vaccines at all. In effect, the only families who have to pay for Gardasil – for whom the State of Texas will not pay, anyway, under Federal law – are those whose private insurance will only pay for mandated vaccines.

Gardasil is manufactured the same way that insulin for diabetics is made these days: using recombinant DNA. In this case, common bakers’ yeast makes the proteins that cause the immune response. Gardasil had been thoroughly studied even in 2007, and is not only included in the Vaccines for Children program, it is the most-requested vaccine for girls. We are even seeing cross-protection from other strains.  It has recently been recommended for boys. The recommended time to give the HPV vaccine is at 11 or 12 years old, when children are scheduled to receive other shots (tetanus and MMR boosters) and before they were likely to be infected.

The only reason that we do “Pap smears” (the papanicolaou test) is to look for changes in the cell nuclear DNA of the cervix, the opening to the uterus or womb. Over the last 15 years, we have found that 99.7% of these changes are due to HPV infections. In the US, 70% of cervical cancers are caused by HPV 16 and 18. (50% by HPV 16.) These are the two types of HPV that result in the most damage and cost, due to repeat paps and the subsequent biopsies, freezing, “LEEP,” or other treatments in which the surface of the cervix (the opening to the uterus or womb) is burned off to remove cancerous and pre-cancerous cells. These treatments lead to infertility and premature births.

Because 15% of girls begin sex before age 15 and half of girls who have sex before 20 say their first time was involuntary, the first trial of Gardasil involved 1200 girls between the ages of 9 and 15. The girls 15 and under had a better response to the vaccine than the older girls and women 16 and above. The researchers compared blood levels of antibodies. The research ethics committee ensured that no paps or pelvics were done on the young girls. (Every one of the young women under the age of 21 when I sent them for colposcopy for cancerous changes had been raped before they were 15 years old.)

The reports of deaths and injuries from Gardasil are poorly documented. The great majority of the adverse effects in the reports include pain, redness, and tingling at the injection site and fainting and headaches. People often faint and complain of headaches after seeing a needle, even without being stuck. It looks awful sometimes, like a seizure. The FDA has ruled that none of the deaths that have been confirmed were caused by the vaccine. In addition, this article from the Canadian Medical Association Journal contains a table showing the numbers of serious events and the numbers of deaths in several studies on the use of the HPV vaccine.

Remember your statistics classes. With 33 million doses, there are bound to be deaths that coincide with the timing of the vaccine use. The teen death rate from all causes is 62 per 100,000 across the US. Most of those are boys, but still: In 10 million girls, 30 deaths are not outside the rate for the age group. They are tragic, but consistent with life on this Earth.

More likely the girls who had severe reactions or death had other risk factors, due to the population presenting to clinics giving the vaccine: those who present with worries about STD’s, the newly sexually active and those entering college. The records show that many were given new scripts at the same visit for birth control pills and other vaccines and medicines, according to the analyses in the medical literature. (Also, remember the silicon, SSRI, and the general vaccine scares that have been blown out of proportion through the years and later proven to be untrue.)

The reports on the possible vaccine-related deaths are available for viewing at” the “Vaccine Adverse Event Report Site” (VAERS),(drop down to the table at the middle of the Page, option #3) using “HPV4” (This is the Merck vaccine), at Option#4, check “YES” at “life threatening” (or you could check “death”) and (top of page)”Sort by submission date.”

Here’s a few examples:

    Administered by: Unknown  Purchased by: Unknown Symptoms: Adverse reaction Write-up: It was reported from an article, published on 29-JUN-2009 that there were “hundreds” of life-threatening reactions said to be associated with GARDASIL. This is one of several reports received from the same source. Attempts are being made to obtain additional identifying information to distinguish the individual patients mentioned in this report. Additional information will be provided if available.

Another:

FINAL DX: Hodgkins lymphoma, nodular sclerosing, stage IIA. Records reveal patient was pale & had firm left clavicular lymph node. Excisional biopsy done 7/23/09 revealed diagnosis. Tx w/chemotherapy & possibly radiation tx when chemo completed.

And another:

    Write-up: Vaccine was administered, patient became dizzy 30 seconds after shot. Patient was pale, diaphoretic & nauseous. Symptoms lasted about 45 minutes. BP dropped to 90/50 & pulse to 50/min. 8/20/09 PCP note received DOS 8/4/09. After shots pt became naseated, pale, diaphoretic, dizzy and had difficulty breathing. BP dropped to 90/50 and pulse into the 50’s. Sx lasted ~45 minutes with return to baseline. Vax record states pt “passed out.”

Open the Doors and Windows to the Ivory Towers – Big Government

More on that fuss about Texas higher ed from Dr. Trowbridge:

A barn burning study last month from Richard Vedder’s Center for College Affordability and Productivity revealed that of the more than 4,200 faculty members at the University of Texas at Austin, the 840 most productive faculty members teach an extraordinary 57 percent of student credit hours, while the least productive 840 members teach only 2 percent of student credit hours.

But this disparity is not the greatest abuse.

Rather it is the fact that of the faculty members outside the 20 percent most productive teachers, the average teaching load is 63 students a year. That borders on semi-retirement – research and publications notwithstanding.

Former Harvard dean Harry Lewis writes in Excellence Without a Soul that universities have shifted priorities to research first, students second. “The ultimate source of this cultural shift,” he writes, “is the replacement of education by research as the university’s principal function.”

But not all research is valuable. John Silber, former dean at UT-Austin and president of Boston University, recently told the Texas Tribune that many products of research “aren’t worth anything.”

Hofstra University law professor Richard Neumann reported at a conference in April that it costs approximately $100,000 for a tenured law professor to publish one article per year and that 43 percent of law review articles are never cited by anyone. In Neumann’s words, “At least a third of these things have no value.”

World Shakespeare Bibliography reports that from 1980 to mid-2010, there were 39,222 scholarly articles published on Shakespeare. Professors can research and publish anything they wish; it’s a free country. But should they be given reduced teaching loads, at student and taxpayer expense, to publish the 39,223rd article?

Lewis reports that “academic presses now publish books selling fewer than 300 copies,” and he quotes a humanities editor as saying that “the demands of productivity are leading to the production of much more nonsense.”

Yet former Harvard president Derek Bok reports in Our Underachieving Colleges that “fewer than half of all professors publish as much as one article per year.”

A September 2010 issue of The Economist reports that “senior professors in Ivy League universities now get sabbaticals every third year rather than every seventh. This year, 20 of Harvard’s history professors will be on leave.” Perhaps one reason universities may not want regents to peek inside the ivory tower is that it’s somewhat empty—with the exception, of course, of adjuncts and young, inexperienced teaching assistants.

via » Open the Doors and Windows to the Ivory Towers – Big Government.

» Higher Education Reform Meets Professor X – Big Government

Wow, what this man exposes! No wonder our Universities and Colleges are so expensive. And no wonder Governor Perry’s recent recommendation that State institutions spend more on teaching and less on research caused such an uproar.

Professor X pulls down a six-figure salary, plus 25 percent in fringe benefits. He teaches two 15-week courses per semester – for a total of 30 weeks per year – and has 22 weeks off.

He says he “works 60 hours a week.” Maybe so, but many of these hours are extraneous to his teaching and focus on outside matters that he wishes to pursue.

With tenure, he has no accountability to students, administrators, or the public. He can confess, with impunity, that his teaching is beyond reproach.

With tenure, he cannot be forced into retirement at any age, but even in retirement, his benefits will be bountiful.

Is there any wonder why college teaching is one of the most coveted positions in the world?

Now here is the sad part: the above prototype is real. There are countless professors like Professor X. I have discovered a great many of them in my five decades of working in higher education.

To be sure, there are thousands of excellent, conscientious, hard-working professors out there, but the educational system enables indolence and abuse, with impunity.

Now here is the key question: How many professors at our colleges and universities are like Professor X?

I don’t know.

But I can also tell you that regents, chancellors, presidents, faculty, students, parents, and the public don’t know either – at least not yet. Awareness is limited to the respective trenches of compartmentalized universities. The history faculty knows who the slackers are in the history department, but not in the physics department. Nor do regents or presidents know who the slackers are because there is no overall accountability.

And naturally, the status quo defenders want to keep it that way.

As I mentioned at the outset, there are charges and countercharges, both sides seeming to be right at the time to the confused public. There is only one way to resolve this conflict: regents must require thorough examination of compartmental trenches in the university and report the results to the subsidizing students and taxpayers. That is beginning to happen in Texas, with predictable howls of indignation from university faculty, administrators, and the alumni elites.

via » Higher Education Reform Meets Professor X – Big Government.

The Brief: Top Texas News for Aug. 4, 2011 — Texas News | The Texas Tribune

 

Governor Rick Perry is quoted as saying, “You know I don’t mind being the first. I like it.”

The Brief: Top Texas News for Aug. 4, 2011 — Texas News | The Texas Tribune.

Susan Combs: The TT Interview — 2014 Statewide Elections | The Texas Tribune

A change of heart? I certainly hope so,and she says that she and her husband have donated to the Austin Crisis Pregnancy Center. I thank her for this conversation and testimony, but I’d like to hear more. Texas Comptroller Susan Combs on “personal responsibility,” but not on the wrong of abortion itself:

Twenty years ago, I was pro-choice, not pro-abortion. I was pro-choice because I had concerns about the role of government. Here we are, you go to 2004, 5, 6, 7, 8, and I am actually stunned to find, in the 21st century, past the year 2000, that we are seeing abortion — which I really thought was rare — being used as a contraceptive. It’s just birth control. I spent some years that I am very proud of, being a prosecutor, handling child abuse and incest cases. And I saved kids. I really did save kids. I really think that I got them a better life.

I don’t know what you can call it but a lack of personal responsibility. If people are having abortions because they’re not taking personal responsibility, I find that just morally repugnant. It has reached such incredible numbers. I have been looking at studies and data and reading books and it is stunning to me. I say this with all seriousness. It is stunning to me that we are at the point in this country where in 2011, you have incredibly high numbers of women choosing to abort rather than have a baby or to have avoided the problem in the first place.

So I am unequivocal about it. I was wrong and it’s 20 years later, and I feel very strongly about it.

via Susan Combs: The TT Interview — 2014 Statewide Elections | The Texas Tribune.

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