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No, not the drug users -- or even the dealers.

The people who need to go to prison are the politicians and officers who willingly, knowingly and intentionally "enforce" said "laws."

You see, it appears that Prince died as a consequence of accidentally consuming pills containing fentanyl, thinking they were hydrocodone -- which they were marked as.

Fentanyl, however, is some 100 times more powerful than morphine, and the amount found in Prince's system at autopsy was sufficient to kill anyone, irrespective of body size (he was, if you remember, of slight build.)

So why is fentanyl being sold as "heroin" or "hydrocodone"?

Because of our insane "war on drugs."

It is the cops and politicians who are complicit, and in fact accessories before the fact, to Prince's death, along all of us who have tolerated and permitted this system of laws to remain in place and in fact be strengthened.

Yes, Prince took the drugs, and there is no evidence that he did so other than by his own volitional act.  But, he didn't know what they were; they were not labeled as to their true content, and the entire machinery in the black market that led him to purchase those drugs in an intentionally-mismarked fashion is not his responsibility, it is the responsibility of the politicians, so-called "law enforcement" agencies and individual agents.

Addictions are terrible things.  None of them are "clean" and yet virtually all Americans have them.

Carbohydrates are an addiction.  If you don't think so, stop eating them.  You'll feel like crap for a couple of weeks to a month.  You crave them, which is the very definition of an addiction.  Once you break the addiction the craving goes away and so does your rabid desire for them.  Fast carbohydrates kill millions of Americans every year -- slowly -- due to obesity, Type II diabetes and heart disease -- but kill Americans they do.

Caffeine is addictive.  If you think not, stop drinking coffee "cold turkey."  You'll get a nasty headache for a few days.  You will suffer physical withdrawal, which is the very definition of an addiction.  Once you break the addiction the withdrawal will go away.  Caffeine, however, does not kill many people (if any at all), but that does not mean it is not addictive.  It most-certainly is.

Marijuana is both illegal and addictive, at least on a psychological level.  The number of people directly killed by consumption of marijuana, however, is zero; it is virtually impossible to kill yourself by overdosing on it.  (This doesn't mean you can't have a very unpleasant experience however -- you most-certainly can and plenty of people have and do, and it also can obviously potentiate car crashes and other similar events.)

Alcohol is addictive.  If you become hooked on it you're in for a world of hurt when you try to stop drinking.  The symptoms of withdrawal are not only physical and psychological, in severe cases they can be fatal without full-time medical support.  Alcohol abuse kills nearly 90,000 people a year in the United States, with approximately 10,000 of those being booze-related car crashes.  The sad part is that the other 80,000 die slowly and horribly from cirrhosis, liver cancer and other related maladies.

Opiods killed roughly 20,000 people last year from overdoses; from all drugs the CDC claims 47,000 deaths in 2014.  To put this into perspective more people die from overdoses of these drugs than gun homicides; in fact, over 50% more.  (Most gun deaths are in fact suicides, not homicides, and it's hard to argue that someone who is suicidal wouldn't find another way if they didn't have a gun.)

There is obviously nothing good about addiction but treating consensual adult transactions in substances that people are either addicted to or simply enjoy consuming as crimes does nothing but ruin lives and kill people.  Not only does it engender a hell of a lot of violence (see those homicides I referred to?) it directly kills the very people the laws claim to be protecting by making it impossible for them to obtain the drugs they want to consume by other than illicit, unregulated and unsafe means.  We then double down on this by adding outrageously-discriminatory treatment for drug use depending on who you are; Malia Obama was caught on video in apparent weed-smoking in a place where it's a crime (Chicago) yet she has and will face zero punishment. I'm willing to bet on the same day you can easily find a dozen or more people who were arrested for the very same offense in the very same town.  May I remind you that even a simple weed-smoking conviction can and frequently does lead to permanent economic disability (such as inability to get a job in certain fields or enlist in the military.)

Crack cocaine became popular (and deadly) because of a legal crackdown on powder cocaine.  Crack was smaller, easier to hide, transport and divvy up for sale.  It was also more dangerous for the user and killed a lot of people, many by direct overdose-related cause (e.g. overdose-induced heart attacks.)

Our treating the consensual adult consumption of things that get you stoned, irrespective of their addictive qualities, as a criminal act is asinine.  Addiction is a mental and physical disorder; treating someone who is ill and as a consequence of that illness harms nobody but themselves as a criminal, imposing life-long sanction upon them, is an utterly unsupportable outrage.

This practice, now stretching back over 100 years and driven by lies and economic advantage both at the outset and today, has driven the black market to substitute synthetic fentanyl for heroin and other opiod drugs, and since black market producers don't give a good damn about quality control or safety it also leads to ridiculous overdose events that should never happen -- including the one that killed Prince.

Yes, whoever produced that set of pills that was mismarked is certainly responsible and if they can be identified they should be charged with manslaughter.  But equally-culpable is every single law enforcement agent who works on drug interdiction, the politicians, and we the people who not only tolerate these laws we, and they, demand them.

Price would be alive today had his drugs been what he believed them to be, and in fact what they were marked as.

He'd still be a drug-addled junkie, but he'd be alive.

He's dead because of you, I, and every one of our politicians and law enforcement agents.  In our willingness to promote laws that make no sense, criminalize consensual, non-violent conduct and in doing so encourage behavior by everyone up and down the line we tolerate, promote and demand policies that result in addicted people accidentally killing themselves.

We're more than 50 years into ever more-intrusive implementations of this garbage policy and every single time we tighten the screws on some aspect of it we kill more people we claim we're trying to help.  That excuse is far beyond its use-by date and it is incumbent on us to cut it out and face reality.  I find it especially galling to hear people who claim to be "conservative" preach on this topic and support drug laws and the drug war; if you believe in God then you simply can't support or tolerate laws made by man that have as their direct result tens of thousands of disadvantaged people accidentally killing themselves every year, as intentionally creating an environment that preys on the ill and disadvantaged is the pinnacle of outrageous sin, on par with the most-heinous acts of assault against others.

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Over the last few days a number of interesting reports have surfaced with regard to Hillary.

One of them is that Preet Bharara is investigating (along with other branches of the FBI and DOJ) the Clinton Foundation.  It's about damn time, given that some of the "hacked" emails that were released appear to make a facial case that the foundation has been involved in "pay to play" schemes involving foreign nationals, a blatantly corrupt practice that, if true, violates a number of federal statutes.

Then there is the raw "in your face" middle finger Clinton has erected in the direction of James Comey at the FBI.  By repeatedly claiming that she was "truthful" and that Comey said she was she has quite-effectively backed him into a corner.

You see, if she was truthful about classified data being on the server in her FBI interview (remember that Comey said there was such material present) and she admitted it then she (1) admitted the elements of the crime in question since intent is not a factor in that statute and worse (2) she admitted to committing perjury before the US Congress since she claimed no such transmission or reception took place.

If she was not truthful about the data being on the server then she lied to the FBI and that is a (separate and distinct) crime, along with the aforementioned perjury.

This places the FBI in a rather interesting position, all out in public.  Either they formally refer charges to the Department of Justice (which makes for an interesting dark material meets fan blades moment) or the FBI destroys its own credibility as the US Federal Law Enforcement agency by openly refusing to bring a criminal complaint when someone publicly gives them the middle finger on national television.

A failure to act at this point would be a literal public declaration by our Federal Law Enforcement agency that rich and powerful people will not go to prison irrespective of what laws they violate.

Will you start a business or make serious entrepreneurial effort given that legal environment -- since you are almost-certainly not on the "protected" list?

I will not and you damn well should not.

Then there are the health and tax issues.  Hillary has pounded the table on tax returns but let's cut the crap folks -- her and Bill's so-called charitable donations have virtually all been to their "foundation"!  Ex the foundation their charitable donations have been an effective zero.

And where did this "charity" go?

The Clinton family’s mega-charity took in more than $140 million in grants and pledges in 2013 but spent just $9 million on direct aid.

The group spent the bulk of its windfall on administration, travel, and salaries and bonuses, with the fattest payouts going to family friends.

It must be nice to have the ability to take otherwise taxable income and give it to your family friends while at the same time paying no taxes on it!

Now isn't that special?

All the screaming about Trump's tax return is a distraction which the media is more than willing to go along with by not focusing on the fact that Clinton really didn't give anything to charity at all; she and Bill instead abused the tax code to funnel "earnings" tax free to their family friends!

Finally, what's with Hillary's medical condition?

There are rumors swirling around with various disorders, all of which (if true) would be severely disqualifying for someone as President.  Try things like Parkinsons on for size, which if true is sad for her personally but disastrous in terms of her being unfit to serve.

And then the cherry on the top of the cake is the apparent lack of any energy -- or crowds -- at her "campaign functions."  The media has not reported on essentially any of this, despite obvious "in your face" evidence of possibly-severe and chronic, deteriorating illness.

Is that sort of illness, if true, disqualifying for the office of President?  That's not for me to decide; it is for the voters to decide.  But we cannot decide without the information required to do so and intentional, material concealment that leads someone to take an action to their detriment that they would not otherwise do so had the information been disclosed is fraud.

Hillary and the Clintons in general, along with the media, are masters of obfuscation and bee-ess.  They throw crap at the wall such as the phony-baloney "tax returns", which the media laps up without even looking at where the so-called "charity" goes, and then scream at Trump to release his.

I remind you that there is no obligation to do so and further, how someone spends their money is a weak argument at best when it comes to fitness for any office.  Indeed, that someone structures their life to be efficient in a tax fashion is probably good (at least in my view) but it is certainly a foil to throw at people; this is particularly true when the media will refuse to point out that what Clinton actually "gave" to charity was an effective zero; she instead (ab)used the tax code to shunt a large chunk of the family income to friends tax free.

The other question, one of fitness to serve on a medical basis, is real.  Trump has nothing in evidence to suggest he's not a nominally-fit adult male.  He's not a marathon runner by any stretch of the imagination and I suspect I'd smoke him in a 5k, but I bet he wouldn't die trying to run it.

Hillary, quite-clearly, would -- and she might in fact fall over attempting to hike up a couple of flights of stairs without assistance!

Should this factor into one's decision?  I think so, unless your actual vote in November isn't for Hillary, but rather for her VP!

Never mind that by any rational argument she ought to be under federal indictment right here and now.

And that leads to the final question I'll leave you with: Who is actually calling the shots and making policy decisions?  Is it Hillary or is it some group of faceless people thus far unidentified including, quite-possibly, foreign nationals who by any rational evaluation (never mind law) have utterly no business doing any such thing.

After all, if Hillary was willing to sell influence, including apparently to foreigners, and our FBI refuses to indict her for doing so despite that being blatantly illegal then why would you not believe that in fact she has already sold the Oval Office to those very same foreign interests?

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2016-08-23 17:08 by Karl Denninger
in Health Reform , 1414 references

How many times will you hear crap coming out of your Tee Vee and various reps and senators before you drop everything you're doing, get off your ass, show up in DC and refuse to leave until everyone involved in this garbage goes to prison?

The EpiPen isn’t new; it has been in use since 1977. Research and development costs were recouped long ago. Nine years ago, it was bought by the pharmaceutical company Mylan, which then began to sell the device. When Mylan bought it, EpiPens cost about $57 each.

Few competitors existed, and for various reasons, that has remained the case. The device actually worked and saved lives. People needed it. Mylan raised the price. It also began to raise awareness.

"Raise the price" is sure a decent description... if you consider a 500% increase a "raise"...


No competition.

Or is there?

Yes, there is.  You can buy these over the counter virtually anywhere in Europe for about $20 each.  You can buy insulin over the counter in France for about the same price for a month's worth of supply.

And yet if you bring just one of either back over said border with you then you are breaking the law.  Bring a whole suitcase back and you're going to prison.

Yet if you did exactly that, were not put in prison and sold them, how many $600 (for a pack of two) pens would be sold in America?  Zero, because even if you charged $50 each (a $30, or 150% profit) you could make a hell of a business out of flying back and forth between any EU country and the United States doing exactly this.

How long would Mylan sell them for $300 each ($600 for a 2-pack) if you started doing this?  15 seconds, which is how long it would take them to figure out that they'd sell zero of them if they didn't drop the price back to about $50.

Now note very carefully that absent government force it is blatantly illegal under 15 USC, with a ten year per count felony prison term, to attempt to monopolize, restrain trade or price-fix.  Therefore it is only because of the explicit, intentional and outrageous conduct of your own government that you are getting raped like this on a literal daily basis, and this issue, as I've repeatedly pointed out is not limited to EpiPens -- in fact, Mylan has raised prices on dozens of off-patent, generic medications by about the same 500% in the last few years and the only reason they get away with any of it is the above use of government force.

Note that while the law may prohibit you from bringing said things back from Europe under penalty of imprisonment nowhere in that same law does it exempt the makers from 15 United States Code -- in other words, said law and regulation prohibiting your reimportation doesn't grant them an exemption to 15 USC prohibiting restraint of trade or pricing-fixing.  If that law were ever to be enforced those executives would still go to prison and their firms would still be bankrupted by ruinous fines, in short.

That is exactly where they, and all of Congress, damn well ought to be facing right here, right now.

If you want to know why medical care is so expensive and you need the fraud called "insurance", if you want to know why Obamacare was "sold" to people and is now going to collapse, if you want to know why Medicare and Medicaid were sold as "necessary" and yet continue to bankrupt the nation the answer is right here.

You are paying roughly five times what virtually everything ought to cost when it comes to medicine, and the reason you are paying it is because every firm and person in the business either is wantonly violating the law (and nobody ever gets indicted or goes to prison despite doing so) or even worse they've conspired with the government so they can enforce what is an otherwise-illegal act of restraint of trade under penalty of throwing your ass in jail instead of theirs and yet the're still quite-arguably violating the law themselves!

Let me know when you're ready to cut the crap, America, because until you do en-masse and descend on Washington DC to demand and enforce that this garbage stop right here and now, with every one of the co-conspirators drawing 20+ years of hard felony federal time along with each and every one of the involved firms being dismantled from the millions of dollars of fines per count, with each person harmed being a separate count, you deserve to be screwed, blued, tattooed and finally dead as you continue, each and every day, to give your consent to exactly that.

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2016-08-21 15:23 by Karl Denninger
in Small Business , 370 references

If you're wondering why this isn't on the market (note that nice $35 computer it runs on), read here.  After all, why would I do the remaining (relatively minor) work of turning this into a formal product (yes, I have filed a copyright on the code) when any one of the big firms could simply steal it and nobody would go to jail?

BTW, the code is kinda cool.  It not only can lock and unlock and knows whenever the state of the lock changes (and why), it can change the user codes (add or remove them) and, surprisingly, turn on and off the keypad entirely.  The latter is quite cool since it enables capabilities like "we're all home and going to bed; shut off the keypads so even if a jackass has a working code it doesn't do him crap worth of good."

If you're a company looking to pick this up on a "lock, stock and barrel" basis (in other words, despite the above you're still in the game to "make a go of it"), then feel free to contact me.....

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I tire of people who are too damned ignorant to be bothered with 30 seconds of research.

For example, one of the memes going around is how "evil" Aetna is because their CEO gets paid a lot of money.  The meme, of course, is that Aetna the company (and other health "insurers") is screwing Americans out of huge amounts of money because they are refusing to continue selling "health insurance" at a loss through Obamacare exchanges, and told the government in advance that adverse action by them against a merger they wanted to conduct would lead them to not have the economy of scale required to defray those losses.

The government sued anyway, and Aetna kept their promise.  For this they're evil, you see, as opposed to not telling anyone in advance what their calculations said the only logical decision was should they be sued.

Never mind that "health insurance" is a fraud in the first place since insurance is something you buy to cover you against financial ruin should you suffer an unexpected and unlikely calamity.  If you attempt to buy "fire insurance" while your house is on fire (or deliberately set it on fire) you will find that nobody will sell it to you, and if you deceive an insurer about the pre-existence of the fire or your intentions to set one you go to prison.  Ditto if you buy "auto insurance" while intending to deliberately crash your car or have someone steal it.  Therefore, buying "health insurance" to cover either routine, suspected, expected or already-existing medical needs is in fact not insurance; it is simply a scheme to force someone else to pay some of your ordinary and expected expenses, and for this service the "insurance" company is certainly entitled to some percentage of the money, since nobody works for free.

This, of course, belies the truth behind such "insurance"; nobody would ever sell it or buy it voluntarily since by definition it isn't insurance; it's a cost-shifting scheme in which nobody would participate if they were paying more than they were getting since (1) you wouldn't voluntarily do so unless you were deceived or (2) you were forced at gunpoint by some law.  Therefore, by definition the present "health insurance" system is a fraud and since it is arguably organized for the purpose of theft by either deception or force along with being a fraud it is also quite-arguably an organized criminal enterprise -- that is, racketeering.

But leaving that outright scam of so-called "health insurance" (and the fact that everyone in the industry who uses that term with knowledge of its falsehood ought to be under indictment or in prison) aside the criticism would be fine and it might even be defensible, but for one tiny problem.

Aetna is $61 billion company (in revenue.)

The Federal Government alone, which is about one third of health spending in total, has spent just over $1 trillion dollars (that is, $1,000 billion) thus far this fiscal year, and has three months left to go.  It will thus probably spend somewhere north of $1,300 billion this year, and combined health spending in the nation will be about $4,000 billion this fiscal year.

Humana, by the way (the company they proposed to acquire) has $54 billion in annual revenue; in other words, the two combined would be about a $115 billion company.

Their revenue would amount to about three whole percent of the total, and in fact Humana has about a 1.8% (!!) profit margin and a 4.17 operating margin.  Their gross margin is about 19%.

Aetna has a 5% profit margin and a 27% gross profit margin.  In other words Aetna is the more-efficient company; Humana, the one Aetna wishes to take over, is the worse of the two.

But this belies the real issue because if you took all of Aetna's and Humana's gross profit -- that is, you paid nobody in either company anything nor did you spend anything on investment or even the light bill you'd drop the cost of medical care in the United States by...... about 1%.

Did you get that folks?  All of this strum, furor and hatred if you could completely eliminate these firms "profiteering" from the picture (oh, and they do profiteer!) would result in a cost reduction of...... one percent.

In other words, statistically zero.

But heh, it's popular to bash people like this.

Now tell me why you're not instead advocating for jailing all of the medical industry folks from the local hospital administrator to doctors to pharma companies and more?  It's not like there isn't plenty of existing law to jail them with either, because there is.

See, if you went after all of those folks for what facially appear to be rank violations of 15 USC -- Federal Law that has stood for more than 100 years -- you would drop the cost of health care to somewhere between one tenth and one fifth of what it is now.

Instead of a 1% reduction predicated on completely destroying two companies you'd get an 80% reduction which would eliminate the need for Obamacare and most medical "insurance" entirely, premiums would drop to less than your car insurance payment and thus would require no subsidies at all and federal, state and local government budgetary deficits and funding problems would all disappear.

But to do that you have to think.

It's easier to hate the big executive instead of pointing the finger where it belongs -- at the monopolists who have driven EpiPen prices from $100 to $400 while the actual cost of the drug is literal pennies.  In anything approaching an actual market where competition was both protected and those seeking to block it imprisoned as the law directs those pens would cost $20 and available over the counter.  By the way this applies to doctors, hospitals and medical device makers too including so-called "competitive" areas of the market such as dentistry, all of whom resist mightily the most-simple of requirement for a competitive and fair market (not to mention the basic requirements for a lawful and enforceable contract; offer, acceptance and performance): making it easy or even possible to know what the price will be before goods and services are provided.

PS: Socializing medicine will not fix any of this; it will simply shift all of it to the federal government which will be driven into either fiscal insolvency or cut off services to tens of millions of Americans who will then, as a consequence, die.

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