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You can't take the green with you

Op-Ed Contributor

Stop Coddling the Super-Rich

By WARREN E. BUFFETT
Published: August 14, 2011 – NY Times

Omaha

OUR leaders have asked for “shared sacrifice.” But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched.

While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.

These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It’s nice to have friends in high places.

Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.

If you make money with money, as some of my super-rich friends do, your percentage may be a bit lower than mine. But if you earn money from a job, your percentage will surely exceed mine — most likely by a lot.

To understand why, you need to examine the sources of government revenue. Last year about 80 percent of these revenues came from personal income taxes and payroll taxes. The mega-rich pay income taxes at a rate of 15 percent on most of their earnings but pay practically nothing in payroll taxes. It’s a different story for the middle class: typically, they fall into the 15 percent and 25 percent income tax brackets, and then are hit with heavy payroll taxes to boot.

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, tax rates for the rich were far higher, and my percentage rate was in the middle of the pack. According to a theory I sometimes hear, I should have thrown a fit and refused to invest because of the elevated tax rates on capital gains and dividends.

I didn’t refuse, nor did others. I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone — not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 — shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain. People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off. And to those who argue that higher rates hurt job creation, I would note that a net of nearly 40 million jobs were added between 1980 and 2000. You know what’s happened since then: lower tax rates and far lower job creation.

Since 1992, the I.R.S. has compiled data from the returns of the 400 Americans reporting the largest income. In 1992, the top 400 had aggregate taxable income of $16.9 billion and paid federal taxes of 29.2 percent on that sum. In 2008, the aggregate income of the highest 400 had soared to $90.9 billion — a staggering $227.4 million on average — but the rate paid had fallen to 21.5 percent.

The taxes I refer to here include only federal income tax, but you can be sure that any payroll tax for the 400 was inconsequential compared to income. In fact, 88 of the 400 in 2008 reported no wages at all, though every one of them reported capital gains. Some of my brethren may shun work but they all like to invest. (I can relate to that.)

I know well many of the mega-rich and, by and large, they are very decent people. They love America and appreciate the opportunity this country has given them. Many have joined the Giving Pledge, promising to give most of their wealth to philanthropy. Most wouldn’t mind being told to pay more in taxes as well, particularly when so many of their fellow citizens are truly suffering.

Twelve members of Congress will soon take on the crucial job of rearranging our country’s finances. They’ve been instructed to devise a plan that reduces the 10-year deficit by at least $1.5 trillion. It’s vital, however, that they achieve far more than that. Americans are rapidly losing faith in the ability of Congress to deal with our country’s fiscal problems. Only action that is immediate, real and very substantial will prevent that doubt from morphing into hopelessness. That feeling can create its own reality.

Job one for the 12 is to pare down some future promises that even a rich America can’t fulfill. Big money must be saved here. The 12 should then turn to the issue of revenues. I would leave rates for 99.7 percent of taxpayers unchanged and continue the current 2-percentage-point reduction in the employee contribution to the payroll tax. This cut helps the poor and the middle class, who need every break they can get.

But for those making more than $1 million — there were 236,883 such households in 2009 — I would raise rates immediately on taxable income in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital gains. And for those who make $10 million or more — there were 8,274 in 2009 — I would suggest an additional increase in rate.

My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.

 

– Warren E. Buffett is the chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway.

A version of this op-ed appeared in print on August 15, 2011, on page A21 of the New York edition with the headline: Stop Coddling the Super-Rich.
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I'm a very lucky man

I remember the spot…..I have not been to it since and have no reason to really go back.  It was a shopping mall and twenty-two years ago, Love walked right up to me and said: “Hi….how are you?”…(we had gone to the same school together but had never really met before)

Fate?

Don’t know….but she wasn’t kidding when we got to the “In sickness and in health” part.

Happy Anniversary Julie……twenty years…I love you….am proud of you…blessed that you are with me…..and thank you for the happiest years of my life.

***************

Update:

Well…its been to Long….and you maybe wondering what’s going on?

Am going to: http://www.patientslikeme.com/ tonight and updating my profile w/ all my current meds. (no changes in the last two years).

If your interested in what drugs I take or other MS’rs take….it’s all listed there.  My profile name is “Smallie” in the MS community. Dates, History, Drug/treatment research….it all there.  Log in and learn.

Things have been good.  MS is still a major player in my daily life…but much less of a burden since stem cell (9/2009) and less still since CCSVI (2/2011).

The only reason I have not blogged is because everyday I find myself becoming more and more like my old “Productive” self.

Some of the “Productive” stuff since my last post:

–         Battling health insurance over 18K worth of claims that were owed to me.

–         Working out at PB 6 hours?week

–         Custom staircase handrail and Newel post install

–         Two Baseball teams (21 games + practice my son)

–         Property Tax appeal

–         Home refinance

–         Income tax

–         Working as much OT as I can and want

–         Working all but 2 days in June

–         Futures planning $$ (always)

–         1000 s.f. of basement wiring

–         900 s.f. of basement remodel prep

–         900 s.f. of basement remodel w/ volunteers (60% complete)

–         Exterior deck painting

Still no excuses for not updating.  Sorry. Some people emailed me about my status and I was pretty short in reply.

Things are good.

Busy.

Busy is good.

That’s normal life stuff…right?  Busy…

We are all busy…..but when you have a major disease that your dealing w/….then the MonSter disease can really take over that “Life’s busy” stuff.

Thankfully my MS has been stable and I’ve been back to the “getting stuff done around the house” mode.

I’m very happy with my “MS stability” right now.

So nice to not have the disease own me like it used too

*****************

A quick “shout out” to all the volunteers that helped us with the basement remodel two weekend’s ago. (Staircase too)

Mom, Dad, Val, Mike, Bill, Silvia, Lynn, John, Jay, Niki, Alex, Payton, Lauren, Nate, and Tony.

It’s starting to come together and kids are getting excited to see the walls going up. Fighting over where the T.V. and game room will be.

Thank you so much.  In those three days I would have never imagined we could have got so much done

Be Well

Todd

Say Ahhhh...............

Thanks to Family that saw the “Oprah” show and then People at PLM that did a little digging…….we now know what all the “Montel hoopla” is about.

Looks like some very cool technology……….something to watch closely and if successful……how fast can this technology get to market????

Don’t hold your breath.

Link: 

http://www.montelnetwork.com/#|episode|fs000080000iocr24040000000

Be Well

Todd

Sorry…my longest post yet.

As men......we sometimes want what we can't have..........For me...it's "Legs"

 

 

Hmmm………………

Scrambling to get out the door every night to work…………….

“What do you need?”……..she asks.

“Legs.”…….I reply in frustration.

Sorry Julie……my stupid sence of humor and I’m only kidding myself.

******************

Hopefully that’s what you’re going to get for me,………not a bunch of complaining bout MS and my struggles. I do complain about my issues w/ insurance and their unwillingness to pay valid claims, however.

I’m getting better at dealing w/ insurance and should have a positive report in a few weeks ( maybe months?) on how I got them to cover “Lokomat” training here in Washington.  I think I’ll be the first.  We’ll see? 

 Complaining about MS is a waste of time. “It is what it is.”…..I say.  Nobody wants to listen to you “bellyache” and I’m to busy working, working out, and keeping the “Small financials” in order.  Oh yea…..I’m a husband/dad first though. I have worked a ton of overtime since July 1, and things have been good physically so I’m able to comfortably take on the extra work and still feel I’m working out hard (away from the job) and continue to slowly get stronger.

******************

 Daily MS life for me can be tough still

Training away from work is the foundation for my little success. I’m working hard and I’m pleased with my efforts in the gym.  I’m putting in the time. You know when you’ve tried or not.  I’m OK w/where I’m at mobility/strength wise.

For the last couple of years…..everything takes a little bit longer…..a little more technical….and a whole lot more tactical.

Each little task in my MS day can be a challange…….i.e.

– How long will it take to get up the stair today.

– How long will it take to get dressed for work.

– How fast can I make it to the bathroom.

– How fast can I get downstairs get something to drink and get back upstairs to bed

– If I leave now while the wife and kids are upstairs…..can I beat them to the car and get in so they don’t have to wait for me.

*******************

Each day I try to better myself at these little obstacles. You name it……I can just invent a challenge for myself ….on the fly….anytime…..anywhere……..

…..maybe that’s some of my motivation. Who knows?……I still feel strong to battle all the “crazy little MS life delay’s”. I’ve made the mental adjustments for my mobility issues. Still striving for improvement all the time…though.

*******************************************

Anyhoo…….sorry bout the lack of updates…..things have been good, My energy is good and the fatigue is gone. Spasticity is gone and I hardly ever take Baclofen anymore.  Don’t feel I need it.  As I mentioned before….I’m back on the Lokomat and hopefully to stay if I can get this insurance coverage worked out. (were getting closer).

***************************

I have been at www.patientslikeme.com the last few weeks corresponding w/ another member: “Jezebel”.  She’s really interested with the whole MSC protocol and asked me some pretty tough questions lately.  I assured her that I was no expert but I would do my best to explain how things have worked for me. It may also explain further how I have been feeling of late.

Here is part of those conversations:

***********************************

After a few email exchanges Jezebel writes:

Dear Todd,

Forgive me for overwhelming you. (with a ton of questions) Please in any email take your time even if it takes three weeks to respond back; by no means I expect a reply back right away. 

…………….my emails are overwhelming. I am also a bad writer sometimes. The question marks that were in the body of the email were intended to express my thought process, trying to paint an image of what goes inside my head. They were not intended as actual questions. The only questions that I would like to have answered are the numbered questions that I was asking toward the end. Please do take your time, I appreciate all the perspectives you are making me aware of. Here are those questions again…………………

*************************************************

My responses: (I’ll put my answers in bold below) 

************************************************

Hi Jezebel,

Here you go:

1. You said that Stem Cell therapy did not help you with mobility? What kind of mobility issues do you have? 

A). I’ve walked w/ a cane steadily now since February 2006.  Before that…..I had used the cane only as I tired.  I was building my “Dream House” at the time in 2005/2006. As I was running out of time and money (the house was nowhere near livable yet)…..I had a huge relapse (MS exacerbation) and a nervous breakdown. At that point, I had been Dx’ed w/MS for 12 years. I mistook the exacerbation for “Nerves”, “The stress of it all”and “Overwhelming house remodel”. Never before had I experienced something so debilitating from my MS. Call it Naive” or “Stupidity”…….pressing on to finish the house and all the urgency I felt from it all… was a huge mistake….and looking back….if I would have just dealt w/ me 1st….well????……who knows?. Would I be in the same spot mobility wise?….I often wonder…..things might be a little better now???

The problem that I have w/ mobility is:…..It has been so long since I have walked correctly,…..that my bad habits and walking form have become normal.  I’m trying very hard to break these bad habits.  Stem cell has given me the ability to now tackle this issue. My MS is currently very stable and I am able to focus a lot of my free time… (w/ family I don’t have a lot)…to all my gait and leg strength issues.

I will never give up my quest to walk independently again.  Right now I definitely have the strength to walk…..It’s just the neural communication that I lack.  Damaged nerves definitely. But honestly…..I think stem cell has done a little repair in this department. I have moments of greatness where I will put down my cane and try to take a few steps in the house……but the moons have to be aligned just so (LOL) and I have to be completely rested.  These moments are weeks apart but they are still there.  Consistency in my training regimen is something that will give me better results…..It’s tough w/ the job,  family and money.  The kind of “gait re-education” via Lokomat is not cheap,… ($15,000+ post stem cell and counting)…I’m currently working w/ insurance on this.

I’m hopefull…..I’m also looking into CCSVI….Do I believe CCSVI is the answer to my MS issues???

Of coarse not….but it may just open some new doors with me and help me unlock the “Walking puzzle”.  There are so many pieces and any little help I can get…..”I’m all ears”

So there you go……”Who’s being long-winded now!!!!”

Such a long answer to such a simple question……damn….I’ve looked at these for a week now and I know the questions get a little harder…..but….you asked for it!
 
************************************************************************

2. I am glad that your Stem Cell Therapy helped with fatigue, and strength. I understand your work is very demanding, and that is also something I want to be like: have a job that help others but with the fatigue I have now, I can’t even help a snail! But I guess you would it do it again, because it makes you feel less tired, and stronger physically to handle your own body. Am I correct in saying that?

A). Fatigue has been the “God-send” of the whole stem cell process.  Ask anyone online that has gone through “Slavin’s” protocol and they would attest to some sort of fatigue relief.  As for the longevity of this for them….I do not know….MSC people have stopped updateing….so all I can do is speak for myself…..

One year plus….post stem cell….and my MS fatigue is still a non-issue.  Yesterday was Friday and the 19th working day in a row for me. Since June I have put in a ton of OT. Even a 26 day in a row stretch. Still able to get 5-6 hours of rehab and strength training/week in as well.

I am so happy to have that part of my life back.  It puts me in fighting mode….as was before MSC….I was happy just to have days of “maintain mode” w/ all of the fatigue I was having. I lost a lot of muscle mass back then…..and yes….defiantly a lot of weight lost….but not the kind of pounds you want to be losing.

To some currently…..I may look the same mobility wise….but they cannot deny the muscle mass increase or the fact that I am currently working my ass off. (actually my butt is getting a little stronger….we’re doing weight lifting “squats” at the gym….so techincally…I’m putting a little ass on…..LOL)

Whoops……another long answer…..”what were we talking about again??”

“Oh yea….Fatigue…….YEP….Much better….hopefully done with fatigue for a while.”
  
********************************************************************************* 

3. Aside from the mental issues, if you had the choice to go back with the option of getting stem cell transplant prior to experimenting with Other MS medication, how would you approach it? would you change anything in the way you handled the process of your medication history? do you think you would have decided to get stem cell earlier than you did? if Yes, why? if No, why? 

A) No

Why?……Money

And the fact that…..at the time, my disability was not that great….maybe due to the fact that I had been on a FDA approved DMD for years and was stable.

There’s that word again “Stability”……such a critical MS word!!

Copaxone was a godsend to me and afforded me eight valuable years of Stability. Once I started to falter we tried “Rebif” only to find out after six months my body rejected it. (Developed cellulitis in both arms at injection sites)…So Doc said inteferon’s were not for me…..So on to Novantrone…..Once again: Stability for me for another 2 years.  Then “Tysabri” since Sept 2006 and still on it.

Novatrone had totally wiped me out…..It’s Chemo for “Christ sake” and I never really regained my strength after taking it.  Tysabri has kept me stable since it inception but after Novatrone the MS fatigue had settled in nicely and was with me to stay.
 
Hindsight:

I probably stayed with Novatrone to long….I let the drug wear me down and damage my heart in the process…..I firmly believe….use Novantrone w/ MS people to get stable…then….get the hell off it.  The long-term effects are to costly….again…hindsight 20/20.

So………as you can see…..I sort of was running out of FDA options. I did about six months of research and doled out a ton of cash for a MSC study.  That’s right…..A MSC study!!!

Let’s give you a little bit of stem cell and make sure it doesn’t kill you.  But the research I had done prior said the results had some positives. Possible repair of damaged nerves. Hmmm….what other options did I have last year???? I was very weak and feared losing my job.  If I could  raise the cash, I would go……

I’ll be paying for MSC for a while.

Copaxone, Novantrone, and Tysabri all did what they we’re supposed to do for me. They gave me “Stability”. They worked and I would try them all over again before I shelled out the big bucks.  We don’t hear from the patients that MSC didn’t work on.  I bet they are out there.

There is that word again “Stability”.  I was one of the fortunate one w/ MSC.  Do I plan to return for more?……possibly….gotta come up with the cash first….I gonna have this CCSVI scan first.  That’s gonna be about $2000.00 I think?

********************************************************

4. relating to the question in point 3, I am still a bit struggling with why you feel that stem cell therapy should be exhausted as a last resort? Are you concerned that it is too much money for the benefits you received? are you concerned that patients may be having high expectation from stem cell therapy and it is not really all that, and that the results can be just as well achieved with less expensive treatments such as proper diet, counseling and MS medications?

A) You Say: 

“and that the results can be just as well achieved with less expensive treatments such as proper diet, counseling and MS medications?”

You bet that’s what I’m saying!!!,……..Try a DMD……yes it will be Nerve wracking at first for some…..

But it’s about “stability”…..MSC… I believe in,..The Slavin protocol…I believe in. But I also believe that Stability can be achieved w/ the right DMD and other supplemental medication here in the US and if you can get insurance to pay for it…….why the hell not.

 The mind is first.  Some people freak out over the words “Anti-depresants” or “Anti-anxiety” medication. I’ve taken them. Still do. Wellbutrin works for me. I get angry when I don’t take it.  The wife doesn’t like angry.

Well there it is……..your questions…..Good questionsI’d say.  Makes me think of where I’ve been….and where I‘m going.

I pray that you find MS stability Jezebel. Promise me you will do what ever it takes to get that.

ONCE YOU GET YOUR MIND RIGHT……the rest will follow.

Be Well Jezebel

Todd 

It's good to be back on the "Lokomat"

Gait Re-education is a tricky thing.

People make walking look so easy.

Trust me……It is not.

Continuing with my bad walking habits these last three months only did one thing……it keep me on a consistent path of “Bad Walking”.  

I got on the “Lokomat” this last Friday and it was like my legs were re-learning again.  My time on the Machine was good (40 mins.) but my resistance levels were poor.  Mainly due to the fact that it took me awhile to get acclimated to talking those good steps again.

“Lokomat” Link:

http://www.hocoma.ch/en/

I got off the machine and was pretty tired but after I got home that day….a funny thing happened…..I had my best walking day in the last three months.  I was remembering the proper mechanics and had better balance and confidence.  Those feeling continued Friday and into Saturday.  Then….Saturday night….back to my old bad habits. 

I’m trying to get two days of “Lokomat”/week for the rest of the year and at :40 min/time…..it’s much more than I’m doing at home.  My elliptical sessions at home are usually :25 min.  

My insurance claims are still being reviewed.  It’s been about 2 months now…..I’m just waiting on the denial letter so I can immediately appeal it.  For me…each denial letter is a stepping stone.  The first one will give me a good idea of what was missing or policy guideline not followed.  As more and more time passes…..my confidence continues to grow in the fact that I just may pull this off.  Then, if i do……I’ll need to look seriously at getting into “Pushing Boundaries” three days a week again.  

I’ve still been working a ton.  It a good thing cause my car just died and it took major funds to put that right.  I guess after three years and 45,000 miles (My used car has 130K total miles now) somebody had to take a wrench to it.  Glad to have it back out of the shop and running good.  Hopefully I can get another 45,000 out of her.  

All in all……my strength has been good……nothing major to report except the fact that I’m still grateful to have the lessened fatigue and have drastically cut back on my Baclofen intake.  I’m now taking only 10mg every three to four days.  

Everything else has been the same……stable and grateful.  

Tysabri is tomorrow and it looks as though I will start to stretch these treatments out a bit.  I will now schedule these App. 5 weeks apart instead of just the 4 week regimen I’ve been doing the last 4 years.  

I used to really feel the need for Tysabri about week before my next infusion.  Now…..not so much.  This is just another example of the new-found stability since stem cell.  I still have heard no results from that new JC virus test I had the last month.  There was a problem with the waiver I signed so I had to sign another one, send it back in and I think this is the reason for the delay.   

Hope all is well with everyone and I saw an ad for the christmas holidays this last week……that was scary.  

Same thing on this years christmas list for me:………..”Legs”  

Be Well  

Todd

It is nice to finally be off that bumpy road

Well it’s been one year since transplant in Athens.  I think after I returned home I was saying to myself……”What in the hell did I just do?” 

I was definitely pretty weak and in no shape to immediately return to work. Matter a fact…..It took 4 months of hard rehab and then I was still pretty weak when I returned to work in February 2010.  How these people do it (return to work right away) I do not know.  I guess everybody is different.  

It’s been awhile since my last update and I apologise.  I have been working a ton.  In the last 40 days I have only had 2 days off.  Pretty much worked all of July as well. 

I’ve been feeling very strong. Even w/ all the working I’ve been doing, I always try to get a good hour to 1.5 hour…workout in at home.  Started lifting weights again and then I’ll finish on the elliptical for 20-25 minutes that same day. 

(Yes…….my life is that boring right now…..Work, exercise, sleep, eat…..hang with family………….Goto work…and do it all over again…….day after day……. 

I have not been to “Lokomat” training sine June.  I plan on returning in October providing I can find some funds.  I think I will do alright when I return as I feel with every month that has gone by…….I seem to be getting stronger. 

I know the CCSVI is all the rage right now in the MS community and I’ve been following it a little bit.  Not as much as I could be only because I’m so caught up in my own progress, getting stronger and uping the resistance in my training schedual.  I still feel like things are slowly getting better. Any free time I have right now seems to be on getting my financial house in order and submitting insurance claims.  So sorry bout the boring report. 

I sent an email off to professor Slavin the other day (Aug. 30, 2010) and here is that exchange: 

******************************************* 

Dear Professor Slavin,
 
A little over 11 months since the MSC procedure….all is well….and I could not be happier.
 
This last weekend I did not work. Before that, I had worked 26 days in a row.  I used to work a lot of overtime to make extra money for the family up until the summer of 2008.  Then,…because of the MS fatigue….I was not strong enough to work weekend overtime and used my weekends to rest up for the next work week.  I missed a lot work time to MS fatigue in 2009. The Israel and then Athens trips took a lot out of me as well… last year.
 
Hindsight…I wish I could have seen more of those beautiful countries……But I was there for MSC and didn’t have a lot of energy for sightseeing.
 
Anyway….hopefully those days are behind me as I am much, much stronger now and getting stronger by the month. I’ve gained 15 pounds (muscle mass) and I now work all the weekend overtime I want.  I still have good energy after work to exercise.  I even started to lift weights again.
 
Unfortunately I have had to take a break from my “Lokomat” (gait/re-education) machine due to the cost involved.  Since my return from Athens I have used the “Lokomat” machine 110 times (between 40-50min sessions).  At $160.00/visit, you can see why I had to stop.  I have been fighting w/ my insurance company to help with some of the cost…..but so far I have got nothing out of them.  Once I get some more money…..I hope to get back to “Lokomat” training, but for now……I’m still exercising at home just about everyday and am staying strong.
 
A lot of people who I talk to on the internet, which have gone through your MSC procedure, all comment on the same thing.
 
We are all grateful for the lessened MS fatigue and everyone I talked too is so grateful to have that quality of their life back.
 
I went to a fundraising event this last weekend and ran into Dr. Jerry Nepom. I told him of how happy I was to have had the procedure done.  He again asked about the published work and I assured him that it was out there.  I have read the report but seemed to have misplaced the link on my internet browser.  Could you pass it along to me again?
 
Anything new on the horizon with your work in regards to MSC or something I may be interested in?  I know you have my cells just sitting around…..I wouldn’t mind doing this all again if you think it would be to my benefit. Of course, I would need some time to gather some money together. I think I am still making slow progress…..with the empathise on “slow”. Definitely I am much stronger than last year and I seem to be dealing with the heat better.  I even sweat now when I do my cardio exercise. Haven’t done that in a while.
 
Hope all is well with you and everyone I met at CTCI.  Say Hi to them for me.  Thank them for their hard work.
Thank you Sir as well.
Be Well
Todd Small 

********************************************* 

His response: 

*********************************************** 

Dear Mr. Small, 

Thanks for your kind words. Attached please find some of our publications on the topic. 

As for the future, please note the following:
 
We have gained a lot of experience treating patients with multiple sclerosis with bone marrow derived mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) and now also using adipose tissue derived MSCs which can be prepared from liposuction. Again, some patients benefit a lot while others do not. Rarely, patients claim disease progression but no complications thus far from the procedure itself.  When patients benefit, which seems to be the case in about 60% of cases – we know we have done some good. When patients do not report any obvious benefit, we do not know if this means failure or merely slowing or stopping the disease process. Only future will tell.
 
As you may know, we are constantly pioneering new procedures for patients with MS and other neurological diseases as well. For your information, we are making continuous progress and recently developed new future methods to improve the outcome. 

In the laboratory, we can now trans-differentiate bone marrow and adipose tissue derived mesenchymal stromal stem cells to neural stem cells, motor neurons, dopaminergic neurons, astrocytes and oligodendrocytes that can produce myelin, and therefore we believe it may be possible to use such methods to induce re-myelination in patients with multiple sclerosis and like this improve the outcome using cell therapy.

We need to do animal studies to confirm the efficacy of out new patented procedure before we can get approval to apply our new methods clinically at the patient’s bedside. This is why we always keep frozen cells in our freezers, to be able to come back and possibly provide more effective treatment in the future.

Interestingly, adipose tissue derived mesenchymal stromal stem cells seem to develop much faster and much nicer as compared with bone marrow derived stem cells but we do not yet know which source of MSCs is more effective clinically.
 
In summary, what we can suggest now is one of the following:
 
–      Try treatment with adipose tissue derived mesenchymal stromal stem cells (MSC) which can be prepared from liposuction which in the laboratory seem to be most effective in transforming into neural stem cells and other cell types of the central nervous system although no one knows which MSCs are better, bone marrow or adipose tissue derived, yet getting similar yet different type of MSCs may provide another chance in case such cells are clinically more effective.
–      Do nothing now and wait until we finish investigating our new procedures in animal models and if such experiments will show benefit, get treatment using your own bone marrow cells we keep for future procedures, using MSCs pretreated by our new biotechnology.
________________________________________________________________________ 

Shimon Slavin, M.D.
Professor of Medicine
Scientific & Medical Director
The International Center for Cell Therapy & Cancer Immunotherapy (CTCI) 

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So there you go………..I’m feeling strong and am back to my old ways………cheating sleep,  working out hard and still………ALWAYS………tring to wriggle free from the confines of MS. 

Not cured…….but very stable…….HAPPY……..PRODUCTIVE…….and thankful for family and friends support and progressive science. 

Be Well, 

Todd 

******** Note: I had my 52nd dose of Tysabri on Teusday……I’ve enrolled in a new blood study that pertains to the J.C. virus.  I’ll be updating on that soon as I hear the results from Dr. Kita in about 3 more weeks.

Walter Reuther (second from right) at the March on Washington, August 28, 1963

Happy belated “Labor Day” everyone.  Just as I wish my neighbor to have affordable healthcare………….. 

………I’d also wish him to have a decent paying  Job!!!!!!!!!!!! 

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I came across this article that I found interesting. If you are “Anti-union” as some of my family and friends are….you need not open the link. 

I found it interesting with such a high unemployment rate these days. 

From the article: 

     “Only 12.3 percent of American wage and salary workers belong to unions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, down from a peak of about one-third of the work force in 1955.” 

    “Between 1966 and 1970, as Gerald Seib pointed out last week in The Wall Street Journal, the United States enjoyed an astonishing 48 straight months in which the unemployment rate was at or below 4 percent. No, the unions didn’t do all this by themselves. But they were important co-authors of a social contract that made our country fairer, richer and more productive.” 

The Link:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/opinion/2012804832_dionne06.html

  

    “……….organized labor is increasingly foreign to American culture. The union movement has always been attached to a set of values — solidarity being the most important, the sense that each should look out for the interests of all. This promoted other commitments: to mutual assistance, to a rough-and-ready sense of equality,…… 

….. to a disdain for elitist,……..”

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Unions have a history……and unfortunately, only the bad apples are remembered and so much of the good goes unmentioned.  Let’s hope our new-found “corporate greed rats” (Who plague health insurance and major pharmaceutical) suffer the same fate……..minus the “hit-man antics”.  Jail or public humiliation will do. 

Health and Prosperity All, 

Todd 

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Chicken Tax?

I know that was the first thing on your mind after reading that……LOL

Reuther (pictured above) and the 1964 Chicken Tax

 

U.S. sales of VW vans in pickup and commercial configurations were curtailed by the Chicken Tax. 

Reuther played a role in a historic episode during the early 1960’s, known as the Chicken War. France and West Germany had placed tariffs on imports of U.S. chicken. 

Diplomacy failed and in January 1964, two months after taking office, President Johnson imposed a 25 percent tax (almost 10 times the average U.S. tariff) on potato starch, dextrin, brandy, and light trucks. Officially, the tax targeted items imported from Europe as approximating the value of lost American chicken sales to Europe. 

In retrospect, audio tapes from the Johnson White House, revealed a quid pro quo unrelated to chicken. In January 1964, President Johnson attempted to persuade Reuther not to initiate a strike just prior to the 1964 election and to support the president’s civil rights platform. Reuther in turn wanted Johnson to respond to Volkswagen‘s increased shipments to the United States. 

The Chicken Tax directly curtailed importation of German-built Volkswagen Type 2 vans in configurations that qualified them as light trucks — that is, commercial vans and pickups. “In 1964 U.S. imports of “automobile trucks” from West Germany declined to a value of $5.7 million—about one-third the value imported in the previous year. Soon after, Volkswagen cargo vans and pickup trucks, the intended targets, “practically disappeared from the U.S. market.” As of 2009, the Chicken tax remains in effect. 

“Wikipedia”

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I’ve always wondered when VW would bring a pickup to US market……..NOT!!!!!! 

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