February 15, 2008

An Aggie to be Proud of

While serving as a civilian contractor in Iraq Brad Blauser is providing Iraqi children with wheelchairs, read the CNN article here (be prepared to cry). Brad is a guy that I've followed for a while through his posts on texags.com. Brad has given his time in Iraq for a few years and is always drumming up support for not only the troops but the Iraqi citizens. He truly is someone to be proud of and has a heart of gold. Read this post he made about an armed service member he works with and reflect on the people who are truly making a difference in this world. Not many people can give as much as Brad has to his country, those around him, and the institutions associated with him. Take time to think about accomplishments like this and what small things we can do everyday in our lives to live more like neighbors with everyone.

Wheelchairs for Iraqi Kids homepage

Brad's blog: Supporting Troops wheelchair video

DoD: Wheelchair distribution article

Dallas WFAA Report: December 2006

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The Batt Strikes Again...

Following their long tradition of poor taste, today the Battalion tried to be extra sensitive to those who have felt the tragedy in the wake of the Northern Illinois shootings. I'm sure those who have been affected through either family or friends of yesterday's events were awfully happy to open up their home school newspaper and see this.

And then to put a little spice in the day David Morris thought it appropriate to write an article about allowing firearms on campus. Maybe David thinks the fear of being gunned down will stop someone from acting out like this but he obviously didn't read the part of the story where the gunmen from both NIU and Vtech were shot dead. That is obviously not a deterrent and you would think a senior psychology major could tease out that easy detail in all of this, but alas he fails to even think about the motivating factors that cause these types of actions. That is the basis of your whole degree and your plan is to let everyone carry around a firearm, insane. That'll probably turn out good when everyone stumbles home drunk and obnoxious from northgate. Does David not remember the two stabbing deaths at his home campus this past year? Should we give everyone knives to stop that?

Imagine the chaos that ensues when 10 armed officers bust into a building and there are bodies on the floor and 30 people waving guns around in the air, I see little that could go wrong there. This is insanity, I don't trust the people in this town to drive correctly but I'm supposed to expect them to be able to handle a firearm?

Way to go Batt, its not like you publish every day of the school year, maybe the image and article could've waited. Hell, even Fox news was nothing but supportive, and they say Al Gore is gay and call Senator Obama "B. Hussein Obama." So you can judge your journalistic integrity on that.

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Glen Gets FISA Right, Bush is a Moron

Great breakdown of the current FISA debate going on in the US House right now. Greenwald does an excellent job, as usual, of providing a detailed analysis of the argument, and in so doing exposes the unnecessary fear-mongering and false threats Bush and the republican leadership are using in an attempt to force the passage of the deeply flawed Senate version of the bill. Bush claims that immunity from lawsuits for the telecom companies who participated in his illegal warrentless wiretapping program is essential to national security, despite...well...reality, to the contrary.

This idea of liability protection for corporate lawbreaking defies not only common sense and the basic understanding of justice, but the very legal system of our country. If these companies really did comply with legal requests for assistance from the government, let that be proven in the court of law. Courts which have long been vetted as stalwart custodians of state and legal secrets. And if it turns out (surprise!) that they actually broke the law, then legal ramifications are absolutely necessary. But either way, it is completely unacceptable and an affront to our legal system to have Congress simply legislate the issue away. Teleco immunity would mean that no lawsuits could ever be brought in response the administrations illegal behavior, facilitated by that industry. The American Public would be denied forever the ability to discover the extent of Bush's extra-constitutional activities, and legal or even historical accountability for those activities would be impossible.

Every American (that includes you too, Congressperson So-and-so) who claims to support the rule of law in this country should take a long, hard look at the Bush plan for the future of our legal system and surveillance community, and decide where your priorities are.

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Austin Mayor Backs Obama

Just ahead of a huge debate set to take place in Austin this weekend the city mayor, Will Wynn, has pledged his support to Barack Obama. News 8 in Austin broke the story with this article. This is a huge win for Obama but one that wasn't unexpected. Wynn also is the Chair for the Energy Committee of the US Conference of Mayors and praised Obama's energy plan (in all fairness Hillary's is quite similar). In a city that consistently rates among the happiest and most satisfied with their local government this could be a big push as Austin is seated in one of the larger senate districts that could tip the delegate count toward Obama even without the popular vote. Stay tuned for more Obama news and let's get the word out before the March 4th primary!

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Another Sad Day

Thoughts and prayers to the families, friends, and classmates of the victims of the latest school shooting in Dekalb, Ill. Swift recoveries for the wounded, and mourning and remembrance for the passed. Peace for the community.

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4 Things to consider about the Texas Primary

The Texas primary is not tomorrow!
Between now and March 4, eight states (Louisiana, Nebraska, Washington, Maine, Maryland, Virginia, Hawaii, and Wisconsin) one territory (U.S. Virgin Islands), and Washington, D.C. will all vote in Democratic primaries or have Democratic caucuses. The total delegate amount including pledged and unpledged delegates for those races is 599. Four of the states have caucuses, contests in which Obama has performed very well. Virginia, Washington, and Maryland are decent-sized prizes. There hasn't been any recent polling in any of those states, so there are still a great many unknowns to be illuminated between now and March 4.

Turnout has been enormous everywhere
And because of this anyone who tells you they know what's going to happen should be avoided, professionally and socially. With an increased number of participants the predictor value for the science behind polling is highly inaccurate. When the universe you are dealing with expands greatly, what you knew about it before that expansion may no longer apply.

An election season where Texas matters is trouble for both campaigns
Imagine spending all your waking moments preparing for what will be a whirlwind of 24 states voting in primaries on the same day. Your time, effort, and volunteers have marched around these states for upwards of a year to solidify your base. And BAM!, reality hits you in the face when Super Tuesday fails to yield a frontrunner.

Now you have to travel to Texas, which is big enough to be its own free standing continent and has 16 million media markets, and you need to make buys in most of them. You organized Iowa for two years and 227,000 people came out to vote, in 2004 the Texas primary turnout was 839,000, and this year that number could reach 1.5 million people. And you only have a month to prepare and mobilize the ground game.

Obama must do well with Hispanics to take Texas
Hillary has pulled in 6-10 Hispanic voters through this election cycle (7-10 in Ca where she polls very similar to Texas). Obama has taken in 8 of 10 black votes. So truly the headlines about racial voting are playing out, but that doesn't negate a shift.

An overwhelming win in some Senate districts could tip the lead to Obama, but the same is true for Clinton. And the post primary precinct caucuses could hold the key to who walks the victor in the state. Philip Martin breaks down the delegate caucus system and how it works.

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February 14, 2008

Bad Newspaper Decisions

I usually try to be supportive of my alma mater's school newspaper but sometimes they just set themselves up. This was the front page of The Battalion for Valentine's day...sealed with a kiss.

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Rare Animal Sighting

We may have wittnessed a rare occurance today. The first sighting of one of the rarest species of DC wildlife, The Stiff-Backed Democrat, took place on the floor of the House today. The House voted 223-32-1 to pass contempt charges against former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolton.

This breaks a damn long steak of timid arguments and constant buckles by Congressional Democrats. The aroma of pant-peeing and boot-licking is still plenty thick, but sunlight might be breaking through. These subpoenas were ignored last summer as part of the fired US Attornys scandal, and the vote on Contempt of Congress has been postponed innumerable times by the Democrat leadership, if it can be called leadership. But now, with this small exhibition of a spine, especially in the face of such a scawy Republican temper tantrum, and the conference on the FISA reform / RESTORE Act looming, the Defeatocrats have an opportunity to dispel, in part, the image of cowardice which infects the party.

Man, I wish my job would let me get away with ignoring my responsibilities for 85% of the year, but we can't all be Congress Critters.

Way to assert the basic powers of your position guys, keep it up.

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Texas superdelegates and who they've pledged to.

This is a list of superdelegates from Texas who have pledged their support to a candidate.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (TX)
Rep. Henry Cuellar (TX)
DNC Sue Lovell (TX)
DNC Senfronia Thompson (TX)
DNC Denise Johnson (TX)
Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (TX)
Rep. Silvestre Reyes (TX)
Rep. Gene Green (TX)
Rep. Solomon Ortiz (TX)
Former Speaker Jim Wright (TX)
DNC Norma Fisher Flores (TX)
DNC David Holmes (TX)
Bob Slagle

DNC (Rep.) Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX)
Rep. Al Green (TX)

Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (TX)
DNC Moses Mercado (TX)

Boyd Richie - TX Chair
Roy LaVerne Brooks - TX Vice Chair

Hon. Yvonne Davis
Hon. Al Edwards
Jaime Gonzalez Jr.
John Patrick
Betty Richie

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Human Toll on the Oceans

Today in Boston the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) began their annual meeting and a presentation highlighting the effect humans are having on the worlds oceans may cause a lot distress with policy makers.

Although the research hasn't been published yet it is led by a large group of 20 scientists who built a complex model based on 17 human threats. The picture is pretty bleak with only the area around the poles being close to pristine. The sample size was 1 km sq so the study is rather exhaustive in terms of area covered and precise location of a sample. I am looking forward to this paper being published to read over the data and find out exactly how this study was done and the authors conclusions.

Image: BBC news

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Bill Clinton Campaign Chair Goes for Obama

The New York Times political blog has a piece Bill's old campaign chair throwing his support behind Obama.

This is pretty big for two tangible reasons. One, Wilhelm lives in Ohio, a state Hillary is leading in the polls. He's well respected by most democrats as he was once the DNC chair and could pull considerable weight in strengthening Obama's support in the state.

Secondly, he is a superdelegate and can campaign other supers to throw their vote towards Obama.

I think in the next few weeks we'll see the supers start to hand out their votes so this is all done by the convention, a brokered convention is only bad for the democrats (although way more exciting).

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McCain circles the wagons (and the issues)

Senator John McCain has been one of the few Republicans to consistently speak out against the use of waterboarding. Unfortunately those words don't mean a whole lot when you go on the floor and vote against a bill with direct language to outlaw the practice of waterboarding by US officials.

This really is the last step in McCain's transformation from the Maverick Republican with a hot head and strong views to the party mule, remember this when he offers you all this promise of change. The only thing he's changing is how close he draws his line to the party line.

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February 13, 2008

The Limbaugh Loop-de-Loop

Rush Limbaugh is an easy target. I wont go into the volumes of Rush-bashing that could be, and probably have been, written, but this piece perked my interest.

It has been no secret that throughout the Republican presidential nomination process, most conservative media figureheads have avoided praising John McCain, or in most cases, openly deriding him.

Rush Lint-bag: "I’m here to tell you, if either of these two guys get the nomination, it’s going to destroy the Republican Party, it’s going to change it forever, be the end of it.”

James Dobson: "I am convinced Sen. McCain is not a conservative, and in fact, has gone out of his way to stick his thumb in the eyes of those who are."

The American Conservative: "A militarist suffering from acute narcissism and armed with the Justin Raimondo Bush Doctrine is not fit to be commander in chief."

Ann Coulter: "Nominating McCain is the gesture of a desperate party."

Other examples abound. The banshees of Right Blogistan seem to have unanimously declared him a heretic for his liberal stances on several issues including immigration and torture. For his most heinous crimes of COMPASSION and DECENCY, he has been declared unacceptable for the Republican Nomination. Yet despite the venom coming from the major right-wing media outlets, McCain seems to have struck a chord with the republican base, so far winning 827 pledged delegates to Huckabee's 217, all but guaranteeing himself the nomination.

But the Rushbo wont be beaten that easily. His epic failure to destroy the candidacy of John McCain is not, in fact, indicative of the gradual slide into pottering irrelevancy of the Hate-Moguls of the Far-Right. Oh no. It is yet another example of the Solid Gold Mic in action. It is proof that the Voice of Limbaugh is heard and heeded in the far corners of the Conservative Universe (which is, btw, 6,000 yrs young). The accendency of McCain, despite the sweat and swears of Limbaugh, does not at all indicate that ol' Rush is an outdated, intellectually stunted, creatively decrepit, blowhard who hasn't had an original thought in a decade. It instead points to the deft political maneuvers that that wiley MC is still capable of, able to always dance a step ahead of the Conventional Wisdom, and three steps ahead of the Left.

*Rush sees his opportunity, and...*

See ya'll! Ol' boy Rush was right again! Haha, he actually wanted McCain to win, thats why he toiled and ranted for months about McCain's conservative shortfalls and potential to end the Dominance of the Right, because he just knew that if he pretended to NOT like McCain, the "liberal-bias" in the media against the Prophet of Conservatism would overcompensate somehow and project McJohn into the lead. You silly peasants, its no wonder you were seduced and controlled by the steely-strong webs of Rush's Web.

See Mom?!?! I won! I really did win again Mom! I promise...

Or something. Somebody check the medicine cabinet, see if the poor bastard's been in there too much lately, or maybe not enough, hard to tell these days...

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February 12, 2008

Canadian Healthcare myth (Emergency rooms)

On scienceblogs.com, revere has posted another article busting a myth about Canadian Healthcare. This time he tackles the Emergency Room.

Here's my take on the health care debate over managed vs. universal care.

I think there's three big points that should be considered when deciding which would be a more appropriate system.

1. What are countries who are changing or updating their system their system doing? Europe, Asia, Australia, and Canada. These places all practice some form of socialized healthcare. Whether its a mixed system or purely national most countries have consistently moved away from privately managed care. And when these countries update their systems they all turn to the Nordic countries, who have developed the most progressive healthcare policies.

2. What is the cost per annum? In 2005 the US spent the most of any country per person according to John's Hopkins University. This is obviously not a good reflection on our current system.

3. How do we fare against other countries on benchmark health stats? Well on infant mortality we rank just a little below Cuba, meaning for every 1 of our little red blooded baseball playin' boys who dies young there's an extra Cuban commie waving that red flag around cause his healthcare system is better, chew on that math. In life expectancy we're not too bad, in this study by the WHO we're 24th, others say lower. We're also the fattest, most plastic surgery having, second most aborting nation.

So I think its pretty obvious there is a problem and there are a few aspects of a new health care system should address to improve the system.

I'm ok with a mixed or two-tiered system as long as the national enrollment had to be accepted by all doctors, covers all preventative, normal treatments, and emergency care. This is very important because doctors make a lot of money right now because they deserve it. Go to any hospital in the US and follow a doctor around for 14 hours. Then go home and eat and go back to the hospital when he gets called two hours later and hang out with him there for another 6 hours until he gets to leave. And then do it again the next day, 6 days a week, all year.

The point is they do work hard because our large treatment facilities are absolutely loaded with people who could be seen by a family doctor with a thermometer and prescription pad. But instead the guys that know how to cut open chests and sew up blood vessels are filling out paperwork for the 30 prescriptions they give out to see children with the flu! The flu people, something no emergency room can do anything to help you with. But the problem is these families can't afford to walk into a private doctors office. ER care will improve and the system will be far less burdened with clogged institutions.

This in turn offers better overall community health because people don't have to pay to go to the doctor yearly, or don't have to show up to the ER 15 times in a year for a newborn. Consistent screening and preventative care will do a lot to stop late stage diseases, like cancer.

This country is one of the few that has serious doubts about evolution and believes in a great creator that gives everyone the same love but when it comes to healthcare has a pay or die attitude, that doesn't add up.

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Yes We Can!

I really hate doing stuff like this and I've considered posting this for a few days now but its really moving to listen to the power of words set to something that touches me like music. So I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and regardless of who you're voting for I hope your candidate represents this type of movement and that you encourage them in this respect.

Full text of this concession speech (pretty damn powerful concession speech, huh?) can be found here. And I guess with this post I have officially thrown my hat in for a candidate and with our Primary coming up on MARCH 4th all the Obama supporters should get out and contest what is a pretty Pro-Hillary state!

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We've invited the candidates!

Today I received an email to follow up on last week's announcement that a date, time, and location has been set for ScienceDebate2008! Everyone has pledged support including the NIH, CDC, Intel, Google, over 100 Universities including Columbia, Duke, Stanford, etc; except for the candidates. Here's the email I received and if you have contacts within any of the campaigns let them know that you support their participation!

Dear Tye,

On Friday Business Week ran this story on us.

Over the last several days heavy hitters like Intel Chairman Craig Barrett and former HHS Secretary Donna Shalala have signed on, as have numerous universities, including Stanford, Georgia Tech, Cornell, and several others.

Yesterday, Earth & Sky Radio began running this interview with one of our organizers around the nation.

But the big news is we have invited the candidates. And we've issued a press release. The debate is set for April 18 at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. That's four days before the Pennsylvania Primary. The New York Times, MSNBC, and others have picked up the story.

In fact, just about the only people we haven't heard from are the campaigns. If you have contacts at the Clinton, Huckabee, McCain or Obama campaigns, please urge them to accept.

Please tell them this is a mainstream concern about the big policy challenges the next president and our nation are facing. We are doing this for the good of our nation, and we hope those who would lead it take the future of the American economy and job security seriously enough to come to Philadelphia. We hope they take having a discussion with American voters about climate change seriously enough to come to Philadelphia. We hope they realize that we as American innovators, business leaders, scientists and thought leaders, and as over 100 leading American universities and organizations, that we care about our nation's investments in science and math education, that we care about our broken healthcare system and our declining investments in basic research, that we care about scientific integrity, about clean energy, about the future of the oceans and about the biodiversity that secures life on our planet, that these are not arcane, quirky science questions, they are questions about American jobs, about the health of our families and businesses, about our children and the future of the planet, and we hope that those who would lead us them seriously enough to come to Philadelphia.

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February 11, 2008

ScienceDebate2008 is set for April!!!

In a release today, the ScienceDebate2008 website has announced a time and location for this event to happen (official invitation to the candidates). The blogosphere is blazing with the information and this is truly incredible as in Dec 2007 (yes, just 2 short months ago) a scientist and two out of work writers began the campaign for the candidates to appear before the nation's scientific minds and answer as to the policies that will directly affect not only their personal careers, but efforts in their dreams and goals that they so fervently work towards.

There are few careers like researching scientists. Something has to consume you so much that your hobby and personal interests directly reflect your career. And this always sounds like a great way to live and work but eventually the pratfalls and pressures of a career pervert even the most altruistic researchers and the passion turns to performance.

This is also important for the nation's health and environmental policies as there is very little clarification as to the funding and execution of many controverisal research topics.

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Howdy Stifled Minds. This is Dean, your friendly neighborhood Dirty Fucking Hippy. I hate that my introduction to the site is a peice on something as intrinsicly shady and underhanded as internal Republican election events, but this just had to be written.

SO on Feb 9th, this past Saturday, the slimy masses came together in the state of Washington to light their smoky fires, chant their incantations and cast the bone dice to determine whether the next Republican standard bearer would be the Being of Infinite War, or the Being of Infinite Intolerance.

Ok, so did I mention I leaned a little to the left?

But seriously, so the Republican voters turned out in Washinton to vote on their nomine of choice. Nothing out of the ordinary. Percentages were being tallies, votes counted, the usual election ferver infecting campaigns and participants alike. At 11:30 pm, with 87% of precincts reporting, it looked to be a close race. Less than 300 votes seperated John McCain and Mike Huckabee, thats less than 2% of the total votes in the contest. A nail-biter for sure.

Then the bomb hit. State Republican Chairman Luke Esser declared John McCain the winner. Apparently, Esser had some of that BushCo. "secret math" working away and had determined that there was no way Huckabee could win. Mike was obviously surprised, pointing at the 13% of votes still to be counted, and the slim margin between himself and McCain. Now, this could be easily explained by an overzealous or poorly informed party chairperson, and a simple, "Oops, my bad, keep counting." on the part of Esser would have set things aright. But lets be honest, this is the Republican Party, and accountability has never really been in fashion for these folks.

So he attempts to explain his decision to call the primary without counting all the votes. “There's no certainty in this mortal coil. But I am confident these numbers will hold up.”

As if to say Hey, these things happen! There's no way to tell with these "vote" things, so I just made the call that felt right.

I have some news for Washington State Republican Party Chairperson Luke Esser, there is a great deal of certainty in this mortal coil, this reality that the rest of the world lives in. That certainty is call "votes." The idea, if I understand it correctly, is that whoever has the most votes, wins. Now, I know that Republicans are not huge fans of this idea (See Bush v Gore, 2004), but there is a great deal of precedent for this idea going back to, say, Athens, Greece. So if Esser would like to make a career out of "gut feelings," talk to DHS Chairman Michael Chertoff, I'm sure his gut could use some assistance (Subscription only).

But for the rest of the country, those of us who care about reality and the will of the voters, how about we count those ballots, and then decide who won, huh?

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Canadian Healthcare Myths

Being that my area of interest lies within healthcare and medicine I am going to start a regular piece detailing not only the problems with our current healthcare system, but also different models around the world and how they are fairing.

Today the focus will be in Canada and how convenient, as Sara Robinson has written a great article covering ten myths on Canadian healthcare.

I really hope you check out the article as Sarah lived in the Northwest of the US for a while before moving into Canada. She has a good handled on the differences between the two systems and reports from personal experience as well as public polls and opinion. I think its a pretty fair piece and seems to reflect a good amount of the public sentiment in Canada.

Here are my big highlights from the Canadian system which I'd love to see be put in place by the US.
1. Single payer insurance. I was against this model for some time, but the government has shown little want to regulate and demand patient's rights which is crucial if you're going to let private firms play the profits game.
2. Cheap prescriptions. One batch of heart medication is produced in the factory and shipped to Seattle, half of the batch is trucked to Vancouver, making another 200 mile trip and still costs 50% less than the half left in Seattle. Explain that to me?
3. Elimination of the fear of getting help. Numerous studies show that the earlier you catch something the easier, cheaper, and most successful treatment is. Today most people in the US won't head to the doctor unless they have to miss work that day. A constant rumbling in the stomach, the slight twinge in your back, the constant headaches aren't reasons Americans head to the doctor, but they should be as they can be signs of something very preventable down the road. Its sad that many people are scared to walk into the doctors office to begin with because they don't know how much its going to cost. In Canada, even if the treatment isn't covered and is expensive the fear of making the initial doctor visit isn't there because it is guaranteed to be free.

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Fair and Balanced

Look at the bomb Bush dropped on a Fox News interview this weekend.

BUSH: Most Americans feel overtaxed and I promise you the Democrat [sic] party is going to field a candidate who says I’m going to raise your tax.

If they’re going to say, oh, we’re only going to tax the rich people, but most people in America understand that the rich people hire good accountants and figure out how not to necessarily pay all the taxes and the middle class gets stuck.

We’ve had — we’ve been through this drill before. We’re only going to tax the rich and all you have to do is look at the history of that kind of language and see who gets stuck with the bill.

Wow, did he really just say that?!?!? I guess I understand the GOP tax cut plans now which usually benefit these guys who already have a loophole around the tax issue. Maybe its just a way to save heartbreak cause if you can't get them to do it right just let them off the hook and then its not a problem. It may be true that the middle class will end up footing some of the bill, but its not like we don't already have that problem.

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