June 14, 2008

Excerpt of the Day: On Locking Up Natural Resources

Filed under: Economy,Quotes, Etc. of the Day,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:35 am

From a Thursday Wall Street Journal editorial:

$4 Gasbags

Anyone wondering why U.S. energy policy is so dysfunctional need only review Congress’s recent antics. Members have debated ideas ranging from suing OPEC to the Senate’s carbon tax-and-regulation monstrosity, to a windfall profits tax on oil companies, to new punishments for “price gouging” – everything except expanding domestic energy supplies.

Amid $135 oil, it ought to be an easy, bipartisan victory to lift the political restrictions on energy exploration and production. Record-high fuel costs are hitting consumers and business like a huge tax increase. Yet the U.S. remains one of the only countries in the world that chooses as a matter of policy to lock up its natural resources. The Chinese think we’re insane and self-destructive, while the Saudis laugh all the way to the bank.

And what do we prove by locking things up?

The oil situation and other matters are leading me to believe that we have a ruling class that, on balance, is no longer serious about our survival as a free, viable country.

Positivity: Couple revel in sweet sound of young daughter’s voice after years of medical travails

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:47 am

From Mundy Township, Michigan (video is also at link):

Saturday June 07, 2008, 5:00 PM

A child’s first word is music to the ears of every new mom and dad.

For Matt and Jennifer Proffitt, daughter Kaydence’s voice sounded more like a medical miracle — but it’s one they might still be waiting to hear, if they hadn’t opted to be the first in the state to try a radical new approach to correct a rare birth defect.

On Aug. 31, 2005, Kaydence was born with Pierre Robin Sequence, a rare combination of several birth defects affecting the face and mouth.

Kaydence’s lower jaw was underdeveloped, causing her unattached tongue to fall back into her throat, blocking her airway. She also had a cleft palate, a hole in the roof of her mouth that made nursing all but impossible.

Today, there’s little sign of the drastic surgery the bright-eyed pre-schooler underwent in her first months of life. The tiny scars along her jaw are all but hidden in the tumble of bright red hair around her smiling face as she shows off her latest “Dora the Explorer” DVD.

She calls herself Ki Ki and likes to ride her toy Jeep and play with 7-month-old brother Matthew Jr. She is shy around strangers but once she gets talking she never stops, said her proud mom.
“She’s a very special little girl,” said Dr. Glenn Green, the pediatric ear, nose and throat specialist who performed the rare jaw surgery on Kaydence at University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor.

The surgery entailed cutting Kaydence’s lower jaw on each side near her ears and slowly moving the jaw forward as new bone filled in over a matter of weeks.

“We’re just extremely pleased. She’s done so well and ended up with such excellent results, we’re now able to offer this to other patients,” Green said.

The Mundy Township couple had been trying to get pregnant since marrying in 2001 and had nearly given up hope when the $6,000 fertility treatments finally paid off in 2005.

All the ultrasounds indicated a normal, healthy baby girl before they went into delivery at Hurley Medical Center on Aug. 31, 2005.

“Typically the first thing you hear is ‘It’s a girl!’ I always had in my mind everything was all right,” said Jennifer Proffitt, 25, an assistant branch manager at a local bank.

“Instead, the first words out of my doctor’s mouth was that she had a cleft palate and was having a hard time breathing.”

Scared and confused, Jennifer only saw her newborn daughter for a moment before she was whisked off to the neonatal intensive care unit.

“It was three hours before I got to see her again, and Matt couldn’t see either one of us. He was totally lost,” she said. “That was one of the worst moments in our life.”

Facial deformities such as a cleft lip can be very traumatic for parents, but are usually correctable at a young age, said Nola Gatlin, a registered nurse at the Hurley Oral Cleft Palate Clinic.

“PRS can be more of a challenge because of the breathing difficulties and feeding problems,” said Gatlin. “It can be a real balancing act to get these babies to the point where they’re growing well enough to have the surgeries they might need.”

At two days old, Kaydence was airlifted to UM Hospital, where specialists tried and failed twice to surgically tie her tongue to her bottom lip to keep her airway open.

Neither parent wanted to accept the experts’ advice for what to do next: surgically cut a breathing hole — a tracheotomy — in Kaydence’s neck.

“The doctors just wanted to give her the trach and send her home for three years to see if her jaw would grow out enough on its own to keep her tongue out of her airway so she could breathe,” said Jennifer Proffitt. “We just knew in our hearts there had to be a better way.”

Her factory worker husband, Matt, 28, agreed.

Green decided to perform the unusual surgery and even more radically said he would do it without a trach.

For the next two months, the family’s world revolved around getting the tiny baby big enough to handle the stress of surgery. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.