Thursday, December 06, 2012
Another interesting case of identical twins reared apart
Such cases are rare in the West these days but the similarities between such people are often eerie -- as we see below. It just shows the enormous reach of genetics into our lives -- far greater than anyone would normally imagine
For three years Bao Lulin found herself continually mistaken for someone else. Lulin, a waitress from Jiuyang in Guizho, southern China, was puzzled by the number of people who approached and spoke to her as if they knew her.
They would ask her about her work in Fujian Province, mistake her for the daughter-in-law of a complete stranger or ask why she did not recognise them. However, Lulin had never before seen any of them in her life.
The 24-year-old vowed to tracked down her mysterious doppelganger and was stunned to find she had an identical twin sister who was separated from her at birth.
Lulin's incredible journey of discovery began in June 2009, when she was helping a relative run his fruit stand when four grannies approached her. 'You have come back from Fujian Province? Why didn't you inform us?,' one commented
When a confused Lulin asked who they were, another scoffed: 'You must earn big money, and don't want to know us.'
Just a few months later a middle-aged man approached Lulin, who worked as a cashier in a restaurant in Jiuyang and told her: 'You look absolutely identical to one of my relatives.'
Not long after a confused teenager dining at the restaurant approached Lulin and said, 'Yanfei, you work here now?'
Lulin decided to search for this mysterious Yanfei but soon after fell pregnant and had to put the plan on hold. The married mother-of-one said: 'The idea to look for her was always in my mind. I wanted to look for her after my son got a bit bigger.'
In the end it was three years before Lulin was able to start her search for her ringer.
In October Lulin was once again mistaken for Yanfei at work but she saw her opportunity and managed to get the woman's address from the diner.
Last month Yang Yanfei, also of Jiuyang, was playing with her son at home when she suddenly heard her mother-in-law shout, 'Yanfei, come here now!' Yanfei was alarmed by her mother-in-law's urgent tone and when she ran out a woman was standing with her back to her and suddenly turned around. Yanfei was shocked - Lulin was almost identical to her.
The married mother-of-one, said: 'I felt I was looking into the mirror.'
It emerged both Yanfei and Lulin were adopted as babies and have realised that they must have been twins who were separated at birth.
There are many uncanny similarities between the sisters beyond their physical likeness. They both got married in 2007, both of their husbands have the same given name, Bin, and their sons also look identical.
They have the same voice, same friendly, out-going personality, share a number of hobbies, a similar style of dressing, and enjoy the same foods.
They even have the same scar on their finger after having similar accidents when they were six.
Baby girls are often given up for adoption in China because of the One Child policy. Boys are more valued in Chinese society because they carry on the ancestral name and inheritance laws pass property on to sons.
Because of this hundreds of thousands of baby girls are abandoned every year in China. Twins, however, are exempt from the policy.
Fiscal Cliff Notes
Amid all the political and media hoopla about the "fiscal cliff" crisis, there are a few facts that are worth noting.
First of all, despite all the melodrama about raising taxes on "the rich," even if that is done it will scarcely make a dent in the government's financial problems. Raising the tax rates on everybody in the top two percent will not get enough additional tax revenue to run the government for ten days.
And what will the government do to pay for the other 355 days in the year?
All the political angst and moral melodrama about getting "the rich" to pay "their fair share" is part of a big charade. This is not about economics, it is about politics. Taxing "the rich" will produce a drop in the bucket when compared to the staggering and unprecedented deficits of the Obama administration.
No previous administration in the entire history of the nation ever finished the year with a trillion dollar deficit. The Obama administration has done so every single year. Yet political and media discussions of the financial crisis have been focused overwhelmingly on how to get more tax revenue to pay for past and future spending.
The very catchwords and phrases used by the Obama administration betray how phony this all is. For example, "We are just asking the rich to pay a little more."
This is an insult to our intelligence. The government doesn't "ask" anybody to pay anything. It orders you to pay the taxes they impose and you can go to prison if you don't.
Then there are all the fancy substitute words for plain old spending-- words like "stimulus" or "investing in the industries of the future."
The theory about "stimulus" is that government spending will stimulate private businesses and financial institutions to put more of their money into the economy, speeding up the recovery. But the fact that you call something a "stimulus" does not make it a stimulus.
Stimulus spending began during the Bush administration and has continued full blast during the Obama administration. But the end result is that both businesses and financial institutions have had record amounts of their own money sitting idle. The rate of circulation of money slowed down. All this is the opposite of stimulus.
What about "investing in the industries of the future"? Does the White House come equipped with a crystal ball? Calling government spending "investment" does not make it investment any more than calling spending "stimulus" makes it stimulate anything.
What in the world would lead anyone to think that politicians have some magic way of knowing what the industries of the future are? Thus far the Obama administration has repeatedly "invested" in the bankruptcies of the present, such as Solyndra.
Using lofty words to obscure tawdry realities extends beyond the White House. Referring to the Federal Reserve System's creation of hundreds of billions of new dollars out of thin air as "quantitative easing" makes it seem as if this is some soothing and esoteric process, rather than amounting essentially to nothing more than printing more money.
Debasing the value of money by creating more of it is nothing new or esoteric. Irresponsible governments have done this, not just for centuries, but for thousands of years.
It is a way to take people's wealth from them without having to openly raise taxes. Inflation is the most universal tax of all.
All the pretty talk about how tax rates will be raised only on "the rich" hides the ugly fact that the poorest people in the country will see the value of their money decline, just like everybody else, and at the same rate as everybody else, when the government creates more money and spends it.
If you have $100 and, after inflation follows from "quantitative easing," that $100 dollars will only buy what $80 bought before, then that is the same economically as if the government had taxed away one-fifth of your money and spent it.
But it is not the same politically, so long as gullible people don't look beyond words to the reality that inflation taxes everybody, the poorest as well as the richest.
Obama Bets He Can Survive Fiscal Cliff, Even If Economy Doesn't
In a column telling the congressional GOP to buck up, Charles Krauthammer argues that President Obama's weakness in the fiscal-cliff negotiations is his concern for his legacy:
"But what about Obama? If we all cliff-dive, he gets to preside over yet another recession. It will wreck his second term. Sure, Republicans will get blamed. But Obama is never running again. He cares about his legacy. You think he wants a second term with a double-dip recession, 9% unemployment and a totally gridlocked Congress? Republicans have to stop playing as if they have no cards."
Maybe. The question is whether that characterizes Obama's thinking.
More likely, Obama believes his "political skills" would enable him to weather a recession and put all of the blame on the GOP.
Exhibit 1 for that is Obama's recent trip to Philadelphia to turn the fiscal cliff into a campaign event where, of course, he could give a speech. Clearly, he thinks rhetoric like this will win the day: "It's not acceptable to me, and I don't think it's acceptable to you, for just a handful of Republicans in Congress to hold middle-class tax cuts hostage simply because they don't want tax rates on upper-income folks to go up."
That's not just rhetoric aimed at getting Republicans to accept a deal. It's also aimed squarely at putting the blame on them if negotiations fail.
Exhibit 2 is the nonserious proposal Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner proposed last week. That suggests an Obama who is confident he will escape blame for going over the fiscal cliff (and, right now, some polling seems to back him up).
Exhibit 3 is the ample regard that Obama has long had for his political skills. Google the term "Obama" with terms like "I won," "You've got me," and "I'm a better speechwriter." Having just won a tough election only fed his ego. Nor does it hurt his confidence to have sympathetic pundits comparing his push for tax hikes to President Lincoln's push for ending slavery. Indeed, the amount of confidence Obama has in his political skills now may be second only to just after his first win in 2008.
Thus, don't expect Obama to come back with a serious offer to the GOP's new proposal. He's confident that his political skills will either get him a deal that does immense damage to the GOP as the party of lower taxes, or put all blame on the GOP and enable him to protect his legacy if we go over the fiscal cliff.
Men Find Careers in Collecting Disability
Americans are very generous to people with disabilities. Since passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act in 1990, millions of public and private dollars have been spent on curb cuts, bus lifts and special elevators.
The idea has been to enable people with disabilities to live and work with the same ease as others, as they make their way forward in life. I feel sure the large majority of Americans are pleased that we are doing this.
But there is another federal program for people with disabilities that has had an unhappier effect. This is the disability insurance (DI) program, which is part of Social Security.
The idea is to provide income for those whose health makes them unable to work. For many years, it was a small and inexpensive program that few people or politicians paid much attention to.
In his recent book, "A Nation of Takers: America's Entitlement Epidemic," my American Enterprise Institute colleague Nicholas Eberstadt has shown how DI has grown in recent years.
In 1960, some 455,000 workers were receiving disability payments. In 2011, the number was 8,600,000. In 1960, the percentage of the economically active 18-to-64 population receiving disability benefits was 0.65 percent. In 2010, it was 5.6 percent.
Some four decades ago, when I was a law clerk to a federal judge, I had occasion to read briefs in cases appealing denial of disability benefits. The Social Security Administration then seemed pretty strict in denying benefits in dubious cases. The courts were not much more openhanded.
Things have changed. Americans have grown healthier, and significantly lower numbers die before 65 than was the case a half-century ago. Nevertheless, the disability rolls have ballooned.
One reason is that the government seems to have gotten more openhanded with those claiming vague ailments. Eberstadt points out that in 1960, only one-fifth of disability benefits went to those with "mood disorders" and "muscoskeletal" problems. In 2011, nearly half of those on disability voiced such complaints.
"It is exceptionally difficult -- for all practical purposes, impossible," writes Eberstadt, "for a medical professional to disprove a patient's claim that he or she is suffering from sad feelings or back pain."
In other words, many people are gaming or defrauding the system. This includes not only disability recipients but health care professionals, lawyers and others who run ads promising to get you disability benefits.
Between 1996 and 2011, the private sector generated 8.8 million new jobs, and 4.1 million people entered the disability rolls.
The ratio of disability cases to new jobs has been even worse during the sluggish recovery from the 2007-09 recession. Between January 2010 and December 2011, there were 1,730,000 new jobs and 790,000 new people collecting disability.
This is not just a matter of laid-off workers in their 50s or early 60s qualifying for disability in the years before they become eligible for Social Security old age benefits.
In 2011, 15 percent of disability recipients were in their 30s or early 40s. Concludes Eberstadt, "Collecting disability is an increasingly important profession in America these says."
Disability insurance is no longer a small program. The government transfers some $130 billion obtained from taxpayers or borrowed from purchasers of Treasury bonds to disability beneficiaries every year.
But there is also a human cost. Consider the plight of someone who at some level knows he can work but decides to collect disability payments instead.
That person is not likely to ever seek work again, especially if the sluggish recovery turns out to be the new normal.
He may be gleeful that he was able to game the system or just grimly determined to get what he can in a tough situation. But he will not be able to get the satisfaction of earned success from honest work that contributes something to society and the economy.
I use the masculine pronoun intentionally, because an increasing number of American men have dropped out of the workforce altogether. In 1948, 89 percent of men age 20 and over were in the workforce.
In 2011, 73 percent were. Only a small amount of that change results from an aging population. Jobs have become physically less grueling and economically more rewarding than they were in 1948.
The Americans With Disabilities Act helped many people move forward and contribute to society. The explosive growth of disability insurance has had an opposite effect.
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)
Posted by JR at 12:06 AM