Friday, September 29, 2017


The Goat is fed up with deleting spam comments from his blog. All comments will now be moderated, because the Goat is not interested in hosting sleazy adverts for Russian and Indian/Pakistani call girls.

Yes, Arooj Malik. I am looking at you.

Apologies to genuine commenters for the inconvenience.


Monday, September 11, 2017

Emporium of Expensive Epidemiology

There comes a time in a Goat's life when he has to accept that he's no longer young, and really ought to have his body checked in case anything is starting to go wrong with the plumbing.

The Goat's local clinic offers a "Male Executive Health Check", comprising 16 tests plus a consultation, all for the special package deal of a mere one thousand of your American dollars Grand: screening for possible issues with blood, heart, kidneys, liver, thyroid, prostate, bowel...

Except that the Goat's insurance provider will only cover the cheapest five of these. And by paying for the rest 'à la carte' the total cost would be over $1200. Is this price gouging by the clinic? Possible answer below.

One thing that seems certain is that this is an insurance business plan that is nothing to do with healthcare and everything to do with making money. By not covering the test for, say, prostate cancer, which is usually undetectable by its owner, such a cancer would go undetected until later when symptoms appear and "I'm sorry, but it has metastasised and you will be dead in six months."

The insurance company avoids the relatively small cost of dealing with early onset cancer, and is faced with the huge cost of cancer treatment. But the latter is time-limited. A few months following diagnosis they stick the Goat in a box. Win-win for the insurance company.

If the Goat were really worried, he'd pay for the tests. And one of the Goat's diving buddies has indicated where a full commercial diving medical can be had for a fraction of the $1000 quoted above at the Emporium of Expensive Epidemiology. "Believe me," he says, "If there was anything wrong with your body, a commercial diving medical would find it."

Hmmm, $1000 to $1200 versus $400 for a more comprehensive set of tests? We have an answer regarding price gouging. But what of all those who can't afford even that?

Those who are so keen to slag off or even dismantle the NHS or similar government-funded medicine really ought to try living in a country where there isn't one.

They might find themselves dying in a country where there isn't one.

Of treatable conditions.


Tuesday, September 05, 2017

No Fuel like an Old Fuel

Cough, hack, cough, etc.
Ecological Armaggedon is upon us, and it's all our own fault for using energy. Having spent the past several tens of thousands of years eating raw food and freezing to death in the winter, Mankind was given the gift of fire by Prometheus, much to Zeus' disgust.

For several thousand more years there were open fires and candles, and then fossil fuels were discovered and exploited. Coal, oil, gas. Enter the Industrial Revolution, releasing ancient carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in vast quantities, causing either a new Ice Age or Global Warming. Unless that's all due to sunspot activity and Anthrogenic Climate Change (or perhaps Bovogenic if cow farts are to blame) all turns out to be a politically-driven myth.

What are we to do? The petrochemical industry produces a lot of our electricity; our food (tractor fuel, fertiliser, pesticides); our drugs; our plastics; anything that needs energy to be made (so everything, then); and of course transportation.

The obvious political decision is to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. In practical terms, this means discouraging private vehicle use. As banning cars would have a ruinous effect on the world even if it were possible, a first stage is to encourage motorists to buy and run more economical - and thus more ecological - vehicles. Tiny-engined cars such as Nanny Goat's Aygo sips petrol, and she is rewarded by Her Majesty's Exchequer with a vanishingly tiny annual Vehicle Excise Duty ('VED'; it hasn't been 'Road Tax' in decades). Meanwhile, gas-guzzling polar-bear-drowning bourgemobiles get hammered by the taxman when they're imported, sold, and annually taxed. Plus, of course, thirsty cars use more fuel and thus the owner gets to pay more fuel tax.

So far, so good. Loads of people cash in on these tax advantages. They get wads of cash under scrappage schemes, buy titchy cars, and pay less VED and less fuel tax. And the environment is saved: huzzah!

But with all these bribes to the motorists, the total tax revenue heading to the Chancellor of the Exchequer is reduced. "Oh dear, I hadn't thought of that," says the Exchequer. "What are we to do now?"

Simple, really. We will increase tax on everyone, so now everyone gets punished for complying with the government's wishes. Consider the huge U-turn in the UK when diesel, the erstwhile environmental saviour, is now the demonised Fuel From Hell.

And now the second part. A move to totally electric cars. Ignoring the not insignificant environmental impact of digging lithium out of the ground and turning it into batteries, where is all the additional electricity going to come from? There must be massive investment in power generation - without a corresponding increase in carbon emissions otherwise what would be the point? Renewables, yes, and nuclear fission. Fusion would be better, but we're not there yet.

Somebody is going to have to pay for all this additional infrastructure, and it won't just be the motorist. Electricity prices are the obvious target, so if the Goat charges both his cars and his bike overnight while the little old lady next door boils her kettle for a nice cup of tea while watching 'Strictly' on her gogglebox, we're both paying more for our power because of my desire for personal transport.

Is car (or motorbike, come to that) ownership going to go in the direction of "You may only have a car if you have off-street parking"? If not, expect extension leads in enormous numbers being strewn across the footways of cities. Also anticipate late-night revellers unplugging cars for a laugh to make people late for work.

The answer lies in part with electric public mass transportation. Discourage private car use by discouraging ownership. Who has a car in Manhattan? Or in central London? Or Tokyo? But the system must work well for almost everybody almost all of the time. Not everyone is a commuter into and out of the Central Business District. The Goat is reminded of nightmare trips to and from IKEA Budapest, and he's a reasonably strong and able-bodied pack beast...

Electric aircraft currently seem an unlikely proposition, though. However, wind-powered ships could actually work if some boffins put in sufficient R&D.

Or go back to some Arcadian agrarian society where all two billion of us live, work, and die within walking distance of our birthplace. We have been there and done that.


The opinions expressed in this weblog are the works of the Grumpy Goat, and are not necessarily the opinions shared by any person or organisation who may be referenced. Come to that, the opinions may not even be those of the Grumpy Goat, who could just be playing Devil's Advocate. Some posts may be of parody or satyrical [sic] nature. Nothing herein should be taken too seriously. The Grumpy Goat would prefer that offensive language or opinions not be posted in the comments. Offensive comments may be subject to deletion at the Grumpy Goat's sole discretion. The Grumpy Goat is not responsible for the content of other blogs or websites that are linked from this weblog. No goats were harmed in the making of this blog. Any resemblance to individuals or organisations mentioned herein and those that actually exist may or may not be intentional. May contain nuts.