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Monday, June 08, 2009

Those Evil Tobacco Companies Made Me Do It

How old would you say Roanoke times columnist Luanne Traud is? 35? 40?

If she's 40, she was born in 1969.

In 1969, every cigarette pack coming off the assembly line had the following warning:
Caution: Cigarette Smoking May be Hazardous to Your Health
If she started smoking at age 16 - 1985 - the warning on those cigarette packs had been modified to read:
SURGEON GENERAL'S WARNING: Quitting Smoking Now Greatly Reduces Serious Risks to Your Health.

SURGEON GENERAL'S WARNING: Smoking By Pregnant Women May Result in Fetal Injury, Premature Birth, And Low Birth Weight.

SURGEON GENERAL'S WARNING: Smoking Causes Lung Cancer, Heart Disease, Emphysema, And May Complicate Pregnancy.

SURGEON GENERAL'S WARNING: Cigarette Smoke Contains Carbon Monoxide. (source)
Every pack. Sold anywhere in the United States. From 1985 on.

With that fully understood, what is she really telling us here?
A smoking case of collusion
By Luanne Traud

My brand of choice was Marlboro Lights. They weren't as strong as regular Marlboros. I knew this because they didn't stink as much, they didn't burn my throat as badly and the taste was milder. Employing the logic of an addict, I could then reason they were healthier -- wait, that's not correct, I knew even then that there is no such thing as safe smoke. They were, I rationalized, less unhealthy. Maybe it would take longer for disease and death to find me.

Phillip Morris encouraged me to think this way. [link]
Every pack of Marlboro Lights that she purchased (over a period of years?) had the above warning(s) on it. Every one.

But Phillip Morris encouraged her to think otherwise. Despite the clearly delineated warnings on every pack that Phillip Morris handed her, warnings that told her in no uncertain terms that what she was about to shove in her mouth was bad for her, the company encouraged her to think something else.


I get easily annoyed at people who want to blame others for their foolish rationalizations and risky behavior. She wanted to smoke. She knew the dangers. Phillip Morris made them as clear as the company possibly could to her. And she chose to light up anyway.

And it is somehow Phillip Morris's fault.

Says Traud:
The tobacco companies understand it well. The problem is they run a business in which they kill a great number of their customers, though not before taking thousands of their dollars. They have a product with no beneficial use. In order to stay in business, they need always to solicit and hook new customers. They'll always outsmart us.
Yeah, those devious cigarette companies.

Every pack she bought:

Gimme a break.

Say Goodbye To Quality Health Care

The Wall Street Journal lays out the reasons why Obama's plan to provide universal health care to the citizenry is bound to bring the quality of our health care system down (in "Obama's Health Cost Illusion"). In summation:
[T]he entire Obama agenda is about increasing political, rather than individual, control of the health markets. Ted Kennedy's draft health-care bill offers insurance subsidies up to 500% of the poverty line -- for a family of four, that's $110,250. In that kind of world, all costs will climb even higher as people use far more "free" care and federal spending will reach epic levels. Bureaucrats watching the bottom line will try to ration care while simultaneously locked in a death match with interest groups guarding their turf. Congress will join the fray and make things worse, as it always does. Caught in the political crossfire will be patients, as they always are.
Expect the problems with our health care delivery system to grow to disastrous proportions after Obama and Kennedy get through with it.

Government-run Medicare is a mess? You ain't seen nothing yet.

Playing Activist

Ever get the impression that the ecology has nothing to do with it?

"Loggers are cutting down the forests so I'm going to pose sultry, beckoning, nude, to make the point that we need to save our trees."

The connection being?

Click on the image to enlarge it.
Photo courtesy of Rolling Stone magazine.

'Green' Cars? How About Reliable Cars?

Mickey Kaus on that big elephant in the showroom:
Detroit's New 'Green' Delusion

For those three decades of Japanese market surge, much of the talk of Detroit executives has been an attempt to dance around the central issue of reliability and 'build quality,' and the inability of Detroit to provide it.

Environmentalism has become the latest distraction and delusion for Detroit. Chrysler admits that small, fuel efficient FIAT models aren't going to sell in large numbers--but hey, they're going to have a "halo effect" that will "burnish" the entire Chrysler line! Chevrolet will only sell a few thousand Volts--but the bicoastal elite appeal of green will suck media-addled buyers into the "reinvented" GM.

No. Detroit cars will sell when they're bulletproof [reliable], not when they're green ... But only one of the Big Three U.S. car manufacturers has made dramatic progress catching up to Japan on the bulletproof front--and it's not Chrysler or GM. It's the one that hasn't gone broke. [link]
Ford. I think, not counting a couple of tractors, I've owned two in my life. But I will be switching from GM in the future. And not because I want to save (or don't want to save) the planet, or any of that. It's because Ford will satisfy - it appears - my driving needs. Uppermost in my hierarchy of needs being reliability.

Own a pedal car or a gas-powered rickshaw if you wish. And learn to deal with it. I have a life to live and a family to support. I'll therefore be taking my money where it does me the most good.

Obama, GM, & The Decline Of The USA

Mark Steyn:
Obama's message of weakness

As recently as last summer, General Motors filing for bankruptcy would have been the biggest news story of the week. But it's not such a very great step from the unthinkable to the inevitable, and by the time it actually happened the market barely noticed, and the media were focused on the president's "address to the Muslim world." As it happens, these two stories are the same story: snapshots, at home and abroad, of the hyperpower in eclipse. It's a long time since anyone touted GM as the emblematic brand of America – What's good for GM is good for America, etc. In fact, it's more emblematic than ever: Like General Motors, the U.S. government spends more than it makes, and has airily committed itself to ever more unsustainable levels of benefits. GM has about 95,000 workers but provides health benefits to a million people: It's not a business enterprise, but a vast welfare plan with a tiny loss-making commercial sector. As GM goes, so goes America?

And so it goes. Like General Motors, America is "too big to fail." So it won't, not immediately. It will linger on in a twilight existence, sclerotic and ineffectual, declining unto a kind of societal dementia, unable to keep pace with what's happening and with an ever more tenuous grip on its own past, but able on occasion to throw out impressive words albeit strung together without much meaning: empower, peace, justice, prosperity – just to take one windy gust from the president's Cairo speech. [link]
I keep thinking about the Chinese buying Hummer, essentially saying to Al Gore and friends:

Shove it, Nobel Man. We will rule the world. We'll leave you and fools like you to think the globe is warming.

I also think about General Motors betting its entire future on a little electric car that will be priced beyond the reach of the average consumer and will be, at best, a niche product. Oh, and I think too on the fact that GM will lose money on every one it sells. A business model guaranteed to bring disaster.

And then there's the United States government. Living grossly beyond its means, knowing that it lives each day beyond its means, and not caring one whit. Hurtling toward the abyss, happy and carefree. Blissfully stupid. With Obama at the helm, singing his own praises.

I'd ask where all this is going to end, but I think we all know.

Thank God for the Stimulus!

U.S. Loses Most Jobs At Fastest Rate In History Under Obama