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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Politics? Is This The Right Blog?

I'm not a very political person -just ask my friends who try to engage me in political debate! However, I am every bit as concerned as the next guy about the state of our country. I don't blame our president for the many messes we are mired in, but I am disappointed by his apparent impotence to get us moving in a positive direction. Having said that, I think we should get behind our leaders (who I truly believe are doing what they think is best for our country) until it's time to replace them, if it comes to that. American citizens whose goal is simply to disrupt our leadership because they are unhappy with that leadership do us all harm. My point is more eloquently made by Blake Ashby (a Republican from St Louis) in the attached article from the St Louis Post-Dispatch:

"It bothers me that the Tea Partiers spend so much time questioning the president's patriotism and love of country. There was a time when Americans, after an election, rallied around their president, hoping that, regardless of party, he would do a good job for the country. That is what used to be called patriotism.

Now the Tea Partiers actively are hoping for President Obama's failure and doing everything within their power to ensure he does fail, even if it means four years of failure for the Unites States. They have convinced themselves that this somehow is patriotic.

The Tea Partiers justify their attacks on the president by claiming that he does not believe in freedom. But they seem to have no understanding of the role of government in creating freedom. One Tea Partier claimed in an editorial that, "When the government grows, individual liberty withers." Nothing could be farther from the truth or more removed from our actual history.

The most basic premise of civilization is that we all give up some of our freedom in nature in exchange for greater freedom to live our lives. Absolute freedom generally was believed to lead to a life that was nasty, brutish and short.

Our Founding Fathers moved from a weak Articles of Confederation to a much stronger central government with the Constitution. Clearly, they did not believe that every extension of government power comes at the expense of individual freedom.

This isn't an abstract argument. Three hundred million Americans have given up the freedom to use half of the roads in this country at any given time by agreeing to drive on the right-hand side of the road. We generally find the trade-off acceptable because doing so gives us more freedom.

The Tea Partiers claim that almost every act of the Obama administration is a step toward socialism, with the recently passed health care reform bill as a primary example. Again, there is little connection between their claims and reality.

Before the health care bill passed, the government paid for 45 percent of health care in the United States and had yards of regulations on how the other 55 percent was spent. When the reform bill is implemented, government might pay an estimated 50 percent of health care and will have another couple of feet of regulations for the rest. Is that really a radical transformation of our system?

The Tea Partiers are furious about the individual mandate to buy insurance. But government already mandates that hospital emergency rooms have to save people who can't afford to pay the cost of being treated. Is it really that much of a stretch for the government to mandate that people must have insurance so the hospital gets paid? Does this justify calling the president a socialist and trying to undermine him?

Former President George W. Bush, by adding the Medicare prescription drug benefit, expanded the government's responsibility for and control of health care far more than President Obama has. To my knowledge, none of the Tea Partiers called President Bush a socialist. Nor did they call him a socialist when he was radically expanding government subsidies for agriculture or creating the Troubled Asset Relief Program legislation or any number of other actions that increased the power of government.

The health care reform bill is not good legislation, and I am not suggesting it is. But Tea Partiers were intent on ensuring that only the worst bill could pass, and they succeeded.

The Tea Partiers are intent on undermining every act and effort of the Obama administration, arguing that it is their patriotic duty to do so.

It didn't used to be this way. It used to be that when a president was elected you supported him and hoped he did a good job for our country. You respected the right of the majority to choose the president and afforded that president the opportunity to lead.

I don't doubt that the Tea Partiers love our country. But I wish they would take a step back from their anger and realize it is not just the president of the United States they are undermining. It is the institution of democracy."

Blake Ashby is a University City entrepreneur and a longtime Republican.

Posted in Opinion, Columns on Thursday, August 12, 2010 12:00 am Updated: 5:52 pm. | Tags: Commentary, Tea Party

Friday, August 27, 2010

And The World Keeps Turning

My loss is the pet community's gain, at least at some point in the future. We just sent one of our brightest young "stars" (ok, she was a vet tech, not a movie star) off to Vet School. I met Casie several years ago when she was a college student with a desire to someday be a DVM. She worked as a volunteer at our practice in order to get some experience and improve her chances of being accepted some day into the U of I veterinary program. After an initial failed attempt to get in last year (hey, there's a lot of competition for those spots), she came back to work for us as a tech. She was outstanding! Fastest learner I've ever met. Clients loved her, staff loved her, doctors loved her. So it was definitely with mixed emotions that we received the news that she'd been accepted to vet school. We're ecstatic for her, but definitely sorry for our loss. She will be a heckuva DVM in four years.

It's not like we haven't been through this before though. Casie's just the latest we've sent on to the University. Lindsay is now in her fourth year of vet school and will be an incredible veterinarian as well. She's actually going to come back to our clinic to do a two-week rotation in December. She's supposed to be learning from us, but I'm excited about what new techniques and information she'll have to share. A few years before Lindsay was Erin, who spent a lot of her pre-vet and intra-vet(?) time at Horseshoe Lake Animal Hospital. She graduated number-one in her vet school class. We all puffed out our chests a little bit over that.

There are now a couple other young guns at our clinic who aspire to become veterinarians, and I hope they make it too. We have promoted a bright young lady (Amy) to take Casie's spot, and have hired a new tech named Theresa who has a resume full of accolades and accomplishments. The world keeps turning, and it's exciting to meet new people who are smart and energetic. It's also bittersweet to watch some of "our own" move on to fulfill their potential. Good luck to all; who knows, maybe someday one or more of you will be OUR doctors!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Human Salmonella From Pet Foods

A research paper has been published which links 79 cases of Salmonella infection in people to pet foods. Scary stuff. I won't get into the boring details of the report (the abstract can be found at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/peds.2009-3273v1), but here are some tips on how this could happen, and how to avoid possible infection at your house.

Because pet foods contain animal-origin products, there is a risk of contamination with Salmonella or some other bacterial organism. In most cases, pet foods and treats are cooked to temperatures which kill these organisms. However, if a contaminated additive (flavoring, etc...) is added after cooking, the food will be contaminated. Also, the food could come in contact with some other contaminated material after cooking. There are many safeguards in place to prevent contamination, but as we have seen, mistakes and accidents do sometimes occur.

Here are some steps you should take to reduce the risk of a Salmonella infection from pet food:
1.Wash your hands after handling pet food or pet treats (including rawhide chews).
2.Do not allow small children, immunocompromised persons (HIV-pos, on dialysis, on chemotherapy, etc...), or very old/infirmed persons handle pet food or treats.
3.Keep pet food and treats away from human food.
4.Do not use the same places or utensils for preparing pet food and human food.
5.Do not let pets onto surfaces where food is prepared.
6.Do not feed your pets in the kitchen or dining areas of your home.
7.Do not feed your pets raw meat diets.

Bon apetit!