Becky Fenger Fenger PointingJUNE 9, 2010

Odds and ends

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The New York Times reports that there were 8,074 Metropolitan Transportation Authority (M.T.A.) employees who made $100,000 or more last year. This list includes not only managers, but lower-level workers like conductors, police officers and engineers. Many of those pulled in $100,000 in overtime and retirement benefits alone, separate from their salaries.

According to the payroll data, one Long Island Rail Road conductor who retired in April raked in $239,148. The article points out that around 60 percent of M.T.A.'s current $7 billion budget is used to pay labor costs, including payroll, pensions and overtime. So what is M.T.A. readying to do? Cut service, of course. Don't look for concessions from the union, who claim their workers deserve every penny they get.

Last month we law-and-order types were surprised to learn that executions in Arizona could be halted due to a severe shortage of thiopental sodium. This drug, manufactured by a single company in the U.S., is used in lethal injections. According to an expert, the supply of thiopental is further depleted because of a shortage of the drug propofol, which killed Michael Jackson. (I wish Michael hadn't used all the propofol in existence.)

Let's think about this for a minute. Are we going to let vicious killers escape their punishment for lack of a pharmaceutical? Here's what I would do. Simply put the prisoners to death in the same manner in which they disposed of their victims. That should do it. A man in Yavapai County bludgeoned his wife to death with a golf club. Surely there is no shortage of golf clubs with which to do in the man who killed for financial gain.

Forget the silly argument about "cruel and unusual punishment" against methods of ending a life. If it was good enough for the victim, it should be good enough for the perpetrator. If the hapless victim was smothered, there are, God knows, plenty of plastic bags on the face of the earth. If a gun was used, Remington is working around the clock to produce ammunition. And so on. What could be more fair?

What sort of monster locks his or her animals in a foreclosed house or back yard before fleeing the scene, leaving them to die in pain? The Humane Society could answer that question, since the numbers of dying and dead pets left behind like so much debris are multiplying.

I'm surprised that not one Creeker has called Sonoran News to comment on a Cinco de Mayo attraction at Cody's last month. To add to the celebratory mood, Cody's hired a bunch of Mexican midgets in traditional garb. Placed on top of their sombreros were tortilla chips and bowls of dip. Revelers could reach down and grab free finger food off their heads as the midgets mingled amongst the crowd. What's next?

Then there is this news from the American Council on Science and Health's Dispatch. Last week the Environmental Protection Agency announced a draft document as a response to public fears that formaldehyde levels found in FEMA trailers that housed Hurricane Katrina survivors could cause cancer. The EPA did not find any such causal relationship.
That didn't stop the New Orleans Times Picayune from running a story the following day announcing that "Formaldehyde Causes Cancer." The editors saw fit to print the story despite the order printed on each page of the 1,043-page report that said, "DO NOT CITE OR QUOTE." Damn them.

This should scare the living daylights out of every citizen in the U.S. Those of us who voiced concern over the so-called "death panels" of ObamaCare stemming from rationing now have a real claim to our fears. President Barack Obama's nominee for director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services (which oversees government healthcare programs) is Dr. Donald Berwick. As pointed out by the National Center for Policy Analysis, Dr. Berwick is infatuated by the British National Health Service and its rationing arm, the National Institute for Clinical Effectiveness (NICE).

"I am a romantic about the National Health Service. I love it," Berwick said during a 2008 speech to British physicians. He called it "generous, hopeful, confident, joyous and just." Joyous? And what did he have to say about our U.S. system? "It's trapped in the darkness of private enterprise." We're really in for it, folks.