Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Governor's press conference praises construction of newest great pyramids

Gov. Terry Branstad announced Wednesday that MidAmerican Pyramids will make a $1.9 billion investment in Iowa burial shrine projects that will be the biggest single burial of taxpayer cash ever in the state.

"As wasteful spending goes, so does Iowa's necropolis economy," said Branstad, who spoke enthusiastically about the plans. He added, "Remember, once they make this investment it will be here for the next 4000 or 5000 years."

Mid-American Pyramids project in Wadsworth, IL.  
Flickr image via Chuck.falzone.

MidAmerican officials said no sites have been selected yet, but they hinted that the sites would be in the cities of the dead in northwest Iowa and south of Interstate 80.

Branstad, speaking at a late afternoon news conference, said MidAmerican will add up to 1,050 royal burial spaces, consisting of up to 656 pyramids, in Iowa by year-end 2015.

Greg Anubis, chairman, president and CEO of MidAmerican Embalmed Royalty Holdings Company, thanked the Governor for supporting eternal hospitality to America's pharoanic class, adding "Iowa's congressional delegation created the opportunity for this investment through their willingness to forcibly extract funds from taxpayers to build homes for their mortal remains in Iowa. None of this would ever be possible without lavish federal funding."

Lt. Gov. Kim. Reynolds said in a prepared statement, "In addition to helping boost our state and local economies, the expansion will create approximately 460 pyramid slave overseer jobs over a two-year period and an estimated 48 permanent tomb sentry jobs."

Supporters of the project dismissed objections that the pyramids are a waste of money, diverting resources from more efficient ways to inter dead politicians, saying "you must hate jobs."

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Five years in prison, $50,000 fine

The ban on compensation for human transplants goes back to 1983 legislation, according to the preface of When Altruism Isn't Enough. It was apparently a reaction to a doctor-entrepreneur who planned to bring poor folks to the U.S. for paid kidney donations. Strangely, it didn't really hit home to me before that compensated donation was more than merely frowned on, but is punishable be a stretch in federal prison. If compensated donation will ever occur, Congress will have to act -- if the book makes its case, Congress will be undoing their own damage. They're better at the damaging than the undoing.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

When Altruism Isn't Enough: book review

So the rant blog re-emerges for a slow-motion book review. I am beginning When Altruism Isn't Enough: The Case for Compensating Kidney Donors.

Why? I'm on the Board of Directors of Iowa Donor Network, the agency that collects and distributes donated organs in Iowa. IDN succeeds in obtaining donations about 50 times each year. It's surprising how few deaths yield transplantable organs, and it's disheartening how many of those go to waste because the decedent hasn't registered advance consent with the donor registry, and the family declines donation. Every consent declined creates a second death -- the person who dies while waiting for a transplanted organ.

There are 424 names on the Iowa list for organ transplant. That means at least a four-year average wait for a transplant. Many patients die on the list, and those who make it to transplant do so only after a long spell of expensive and debilitating dialysis. The national numbers are worse.

I'm sympathetic to the idea of compensated organ donation, especially for live kidney donors. If compensating the families of dead folks will improve consent rates, wonderful. But compensation for live kidney donors has the biggest potential to save lives. For obvious reasons (everyone has an extra), kidneys are the only organ where current technology allows folks to donate and live. While there are live donations, they are relatively rare.

There are potential objections to compensated donation. The ones that come to mind:

- It's too dangerous for the live donor.
- It's not the most effective treatment.
- It's not cost effective.
- It's just wrong somehow.

I don't have patience for the fourth one. It's a strange morality that outlaws taking money for saving a life. Nobody (I hope) says its wrong for a surgeon to make a living doing transplants, or the hospital. Why is the donor the only person cut out of the deal?

As I read the book, I'll see how the book addresses the other potential objections. As I will do this in my own time, and I'm in the middle of tax season, I can't promise that I will do this quickly. I hope that blogging my thoughts will help me read the book carefully and critically. If it proves useful to others, even better.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

An Evening at the Caucus

Our caucus was held in our nine-year old's school cafeteria. It was reasonably well-organized. I helped count the votes, and we were out before the neighboring caucus, held in the school gym, had even finished their count.

Mitt Romney was the big winner in my precinct, taking 74 out of 245 votes, or 31.4%. McCain was second with 59 votes, or 24%, and Huckabee was third with 55 votes, for 22.4%. Thompson 25, Paul at 16, and Guiliani with 15 votes rounded out the field. Oh, and Duncan Hunter, with 1.

Still, it's a dumb way to pick a president. But I'm not (next to last place) bitter!

Some pictures...

Inside the Fairmeadows School cafeteria, where West Des Moines Precint 114 Republicans caucused. Another precinct caucused in the gym.

This one was taken at about 7:05, with people still signing up:

Here my wife registers as a Republican so she can participate. She feels guilty. I'll try to help her from straying back to the dark side.

I volunteered to help count, as the "Guiliani representative." Mostly I just wanted to see how it came out. Here's my tally sheet. I Twittered it even before it was announced in the room.

The Caucus Chairman phoned in the results, punching the totals in on his cell phone. Here he listens to it played back before he makes it final:

It sounds like Huckabee and Obama are winning. Fortunately, the rest of the country usually ignores Iowa. Please...
#114 Republican results
HUK 55, ROM 74, MCC 59, THO 25, RUDY15, PAUL 16, HUNTER 1 caucus count
Now they're passing out ballots - I will be a counter.
I don't know why they bother with the speeches. If you are motivated to squander your evening here, you know who you're voting for. 241 people
Now we're listening to speakers from of the candidates. My wife had to register republican to vote here, and it pains her greatly.
Liveblogging my caucus. I'm firing up the long dormant blog to liveblog my caucus. Our precinct, West Des Moines 114, has a big turnout and st

Monday, September 10, 2007

Who says Des Moines Register editorials aren't influential?

The Des Moines Register has declared bottled water an environmental menace. I responded to their stirring cry by immediately making a trip to Sam's Club:

They'll take my bottled water when they peel my cold, dead, well-hydrated fingers from it.

I'm not the only one moved by the Register's eloquence.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

200-1 gets you 15-85

You have to hand it to our local chamber of commerce. The Greater Des Moines Partnership, with the backing of the biggest companies in town and a $770,000 war chest - 200 times that of the opposition - managed to convince about one voter in seven to vote for a sales tax increase in an off-season election specifically timed to maximize their chances for approval. It's hard to think of a way to make their performance any more disastrous, short of having mobs chanting "no!" sack their headquarters building.

What a debacle. Only Kim Jong-Il and Fidel Castro win by greater margins than "No." In some cultures, a loss like that would lead to abject apologies by the Partnership board, perhaps followed by ritual suicides.

After such a resounding vote of no confidence, a parliamentary government would resign and appoint a caretaker government pending new elections. That would also be appropriate for the leadership of the Partnership after such a waste of member and taxpayer dollars. The Partnership has strayed far from it's small-business, low-tax, good government roots and has become a cheerleader for government spending and crony capitalism. Maybe this will help them rethink their direction.

Every local politician who embraced this shameless cash grab should withdraw from the next election, and those who don't should be hounded from office. A new generation would have a chance to remake our dysfunctional local politics. Maybe they could try the old-fashioned approach to economic development - low taxes, good and thrifty government, and good schools. The Central Iowa as Yuppie Theme Park fared poorly yesterday.

None of this is likely, of course. But at least the size of this defeat should frighten our "business leaders" away from trying to stick us with a tax increase for a few years. That's something.

Project Destiny Vote is Today!

Destiny: the trap range, I hope.

UPDATE, 8:50 p.m.: Dust off the Browning!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Project Destiny Viral Marketing #3

Dan Albritton, local labor official, friend of Ramona, and member of the Prairie Meadows board, has been indicted on conspiracy charges related to CIETC. Mr. Albritton is innocent until proven guilty, but just to be safe, he invoked his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent when asked to testify about his role on the CIETC board and as a paid CIETC consultant.

This indictment can only make central Iowans more excited about the one-cent "Project Destiny" sales tax vote slated for July. It will remind the voters how well the Central Iowa political establishment plunders manages their money, inspiring the voters to send them more cash.

To help this process, we introduce our third effort in our Project Destiny Viral Marketing Initiative. Feel free to use this on your website. Of course, Project Destiny is welcome to put this on billboards.

Our prior efforts are here and here.