New Civilization News: The US: One Big Drug Store    
 The US: One Big Drug Store36 comments
picture5 Jun 2007 @ 10:03, by Richard Carlson

In a single cry
the pheasant has swallowed
the fields of spring.


The real miracle is not to walk on water or thin air but to walk on the earth!

---Thich Nhat Hanh

Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out your horn.

---Charlie Parker

The family that protests together...: Richard, Dana, Ilona demonstrating against a nuclear dump they want to build down the road apiece. (Photo by Loraine McCosker)

I went to my dentist for the semi-annual checkup yesterday, and noticed a new product in the little bag of stuff they give you afterwards. I wisecracked to the receptionist that Listerine must be sending my doctor and his family on a cruise somewhere. She was quick to reply he never takes anything from companies except the free samples. I was happy to hear that.

Whereupon I gave her an earful about my family doctor's office. I said I hadn't been in there even once in the past 2 years (and I go maybe 3 times a year---they want to get all they can out of my insurance company) when there wasn't a drug salesperson pushing pills. These people are particularly sickening, as they try to get from the reception window into the back area to unload their suitcases full of drugs and bribe the doctors. The payoffs are free dinners, trips, and various toys to be strewn all over the place with big long names of pills on them. Undoubtedly they hope some patients will steal the toys to take home and spread the word. Free advertising. The dinners are gigantic feasts, and receptionists are encouraged to have to doctor invite all their friends if they want to. This is done in brazen broad daylight in front of a room of patients, waiting hour after hour to get that prescription.

I was in there last week, for a sprained foot I wanted X-rayed, and the drug lady was suggesting perhaps the doctors would like a new restaurant this time. Maybe one in Columbus or Parkersburg, a finer one, a richer one. The receptionist said she'd ask. "And oh!" the pusher said, "did you notice my new outfit?" She did a little swirl in front of the window. "It's color coordinated with our featured capsule!" I couldn't believe my ears. "See? The same colors as (she named the drug). Even the waistband is the color of the little separating line." I felt nauseated, and nearly stood up and let her have it. This is our health system in action, and I'm about to go in an office for treatment that will pay for this woman's salary, costume, and a doctor's free vacation courtesy of pharmaceuticals.

Maybe 20 years ago or more doctors started giving us free samples of drugs they were prescribing. I appreciated that because sometimes I was sick with flu or something, and just felt like going back to bed rather than a drug store to get medication. But since then, the practice has become obscene. Is this the free market the people in power tell us is a new religion solving the world's problems? If so, I want out! I'll gather roots and herbs in the woods before I'll take any more of this horror show. Have a look at TruthOut's article on the mess from yesterday afternoon~~~

Prescription Drugs: Where's the Free Market?
By Dean Baker
t r u t h o u t | Columnist
Monday 04 June 2007

For the last several years The New York Times has run articles almost every week exposing abuses by the prescription drug industry. (It had two last weekend Doctor Says Drug Maker Tried to Quash His Criticism of Avandia and After Sanctions, Doctors Get Drug Company Pay.) The stories usually document indirect payoffs to doctors for prescribing drugs, such as exorbitant speaker fees, expense-paid trips to industry-sponsored seminars at resort locations, or excessive fees for participating in clinical trials. In some cases the articles document outright kickbacks, as when the NYT reported that doctors who administer an anemia drug in their office could receive tens of thousands of dollars annually in rebates from the manufacturer.

The abuses also affect the research that is used to establish a drug's safety and effectiveness. There have been many incidents in which drug companies have concealed evidence that their drugs may not be more effective than cheaper alternatives. In some cases, they have concealed evidence of negative side effects from the public and the Food and Drug Administration. And, there is the problem that drug companies often pay researchers to sign their names to articles touting the benefits of their drugs, which the researchers did not write.

Such abuses should not be surprising to anyone who appreciates the value of a competitive market. The root cause of all of these problems is government-granted patent monopolies that allow the pharmaceutical industry to sell drugs at prices that can exceed the cost of production by a factor of a hundred, or more. Last fall, Wal-Mart began selling hundreds of generic drugs for $4 per prescription. The vast majority of brand drugs could also be profitably sold for $4 per prescription, if it were not for the patent monopoly granted by the government.

As a result of patent monopolies, drug companies can sell drugs for hundreds of dollars that cost them a few dollars to manufacture. This situation invites the sort of corruption that NYT documents regularly in its pages.

Drug patents do serve a purpose: they provide an incentive to the industry to develop new drugs. However, there are other ways in which this research can be financed. The federal government already spends nearly $30 billion a year on biomedical research conducted through the National Institutes of Health. By doubling this amount, it could probably replace the research conducted by the pharmaceutical industry, most of which currently goes to develop copycat drugs (another problem of the patent system).

As another possible alternative, Nobel Laureate Joe Stiglitz has suggested a prize system, in which the government would buy out patents at prices determined by their usefulness. The patents would then be placed in the public domain so that all new drugs could be sold as generics.

The United States spends almost $240 billion a year on prescription drugs, which comes to $800 per person. The cost of prescription drugs are a major burden to millions of low and moderate income households as well as to the government itself, which now picks up much of the tab through Medicare and Medicaid. In addition, hundreds of millions of people in the developing world are denied access to prescription drugs because they cannot afford to pay patent-protected drug prices.

The time has long passed when we should be seriously considering alternatives to patent financed research for prescription drugs. However, the power of the pharmaceutical industry has largely kept any such discussion off the political agenda.

A recent article in The Nation triggered a debate in the blogosphere as to whether the methodology of mainstream economics prevents it from considering important issues. In the case of patent financing of prescription drug research, there are no methodological issues at stake. Economists could use the exact same models that show the losses from trade barriers on shoes and shirts to quantify the much larger economic harm from patent monopolies on prescription drugs.

Unfortunately, the political force behind protection for prescription drugs is much greater than the political force behind protection for shoes and shirts. Therefore, we can look forward to reading many more articles in the NYT about abuses in the prescription drug industry.

Dean Baker is the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). He is the author of The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer ( He also has a blog, "Beat the Press," where he discusses the media's coverage of economic issues. You can find it at the American Prospect's web site.


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5 Jun 2007 @ 14:01 by jerryvest : Thanks for addressing the drugging of
America and how corrupt can they get? Richard, do you recall how Senator Kefauver, Tn, fought this cartel in the early 60's? I remember a book called "The Real Voice," that I think was written by him or his aide, that showed how corrupt this industry was then--has only gotten worse now.

Anyway, I doubt that we will be seeing much change in the future as most everyone is hooked on one drug or another. And, most of those who take prescription meds are opposed to those who buy pot. Go figure!

Best wishes,


PS Way to go with the you, I don't feel that I am working for change and improvement if I'm not out demonstrating.  

5 Jun 2007 @ 19:09 by a-d : Guys,
check this out! [ ]  

5 Jun 2007 @ 19:18 by a-d : and yet...
,,, one can ask: "how does this fit in?"

THIS is -after all- the grim reality, no matter how much profit and on what (kinds of)pills or weapons they are made from ! (....whichever it takes in each individual case to kill a few more "Useless Eaters"!....that would be us, Common People.) The Gov DEFECIT is UN-IMAGINABLE!!!  

7 Jun 2007 @ 09:30 by jazzolog : The Worst Brainwashing Of All
Thanks for the comments and the links, friends. You guys are great!

Lots of us here in the States talk about the crap rattled into our brains particularly by all aspects of the Executive Branch these past president-as-spokesperson years. But here's a reminder of the money behind it~~~

"How are we initiated into the universe? To answer we need to reflect on what our children experience over and over again, at night, in a setting similar to those children in the past who gathered in the caves and listened to the chant of the elders. If we think in terms of pure quantities of time the answer is immediate: the cave has been replaced with the television room and the chant with the advertisement. One could say that the chant has been replaced with the television show, but at the core of each show, driving the action, and determining whether or not the show will survive the season, is the advertisement. That is the essential message that will be there night after night and season after season. Television's Bonanzas, Cheers, and Cosby shows all come and go; the advertisement endures through every change.

"What is the effect on our children? Before a child enters first grade science class, and before entering in any real way into our religious ceremonies, a child will have soaked in 30,000 advertisements. The time our teenagers spend absorbing ads is more than their total stay in high school. None of us feels very good about this, but for the most part we just ignore it. It’s background. It’s just there, part of what’s going on. We learned to accept it so long ago we hardly every think about it anymore.

"But imagine how different we would feel if we heard about a country that programmed its citizenry in its religious dogmas in such a manner. In fact, it was just such accounts concerning the leaders of the former Soviet Union that outraged us for decades, the thought that they would take young children and subject them to brainwashing in Soviet lies, removing their natural feelings for their parents or for God or for the truth of history, and replacing these with assumptions necessary for their dictatorship to continue its oppressive domination.

"Immersed in the religion of consumerism, we are unable to take such comparisons seriously. We tell ourselves soothing cliches, such as the obvious fact that television ads are not put on by any political dictatorship. We tell ourselves that ads are simply the efforts of our corporations to get us interested in their various products. But as with any reality that we rarely pay any serious attention to, there may be a lot more going on there than we are aware of. Just the sheer amount of time we spend in the world of the ad suggests we might well devote a moment to examining that world more carefully.

"The advertisers of course are not some bad persons with evil designs. They are just doing their job. On the other hand, we can also say that their primary concern is not explicitly the well-being of our children. Why should it be? Their objective is to create ads that are successful for their company, and this means to get the television viewer interested in their product. But already we can see that this is a less than desirable situation. After all, we parents demand that our children's teachers, to take just one example, should have our children's best interests foremost in mind. Such teachers will shape our children when they are young and vulnerable, so of course we want this shaping to be done only by people who care. So to hand over so much of our children's lives to people who obviously do not have our children's well-being foremost in mind is at the very least questionable.

"But at a deeper level, what we need to confront is the power of the advertiser to promulgate a world-view, a mini-cosmology, that is based upon dissatisfaction and craving.

"One of the cliches for how to construct an ad captures the point succinctly: 'An ad's job is to make them unhappy with what they have.'

"We rarely think of ads as being shaped by explicit worldviews, and that precisely is why they are so effective. The last thing we want to think about as we're lying on the couch relaxing is the philosophy behind the ad. So as we soak it all up, it sinks down deep in our psyche. And if this takes place in the adult soul, imagine how much more damage is done in the psyches of our children, which have none of our protective cynicisms but which draw in the ad's imagery and message as if they were coming from a trusted parent or teacher.

"Advertisers in the corporate world are of course offered lucrative recompense, and, with that financial draw, our corporations attract humans from the highest strata of IQs. And our best artistic talent. And any sports hero or movie star they want to buy. Combining so much brain power and social status with sophisticated electronic graphics and the most penetrating psychological techniques, these teams of highly intelligent adults descend upon all of us, evening upon children not yet in school, with the simple desire to create in us a dissatisfaction for our lives and a craving for yet another consumer product. It's hard to imagine any child having the capacities necessary to survive such a lopsided contest, especially when it's carried out ten thousand times a year, with no cultural condom capable of blocking out the consumerism virus. Could even one child in the whole world endure that onslaught and come out intact? Extremely doubtful. Put it all together and you can see why it's no great mystery that consumerism has become the dominant world faith of every continent of the planet today.

"The point I wish to make is not just that our children are such easy prey. It's not just that the rushing river of advertisements determines the sorts of shoes our children desire, the sorts of clothes and toys and games and sugar cereals that they must have. It's not just the unhappiness that in many cases leads to aggressive violence of the worst kinds in order to obtain by force that their parents will not or cannot give them. All of this is of great concern, but the point I wish to focus on here has to do with the question of how we are initiated into a world.

"Advertisements are where our children receive their cosmology, their basic grasp of the world's meaning, which amounts to their primary religious faith, though unrecognized as such. I use the word 'faith' here to mean cosmology on the personal level. Faith is that which a person holds to be the hard-boiled truth about reality. The advertisement is our culture's primary vehicle for providing our children with their personal cosmologies. As this awful fact sinks into awareness, the first healthy response is one of denial. It is just too horrible to think that we live in a culture that has replaced authentic spiritual development with the advertisement's crass materialism. And yet when one compares the pitiful efforts we employ for moral development with the colossal and frenzied energies we pour into advertising, it is like comparing a high school football game with World War II. Nothing that happens in one hour on the weekend makes the slightest dent in the strategic bombing taking place day and night fifty-two weeks of the year.

"Perhaps the more recalcitrant children will require upward of a hundred thousand ads before they cave in and accept consumerism's basic world-view. But eventually we all get the message. It's a simple cosmology, told with great effect and delivered a billion times each day not only to Americans of course but to nearly everyone in the planetary reach of the ad: humans exist to work at jobs, to earn money, to get stuff. The image of the ideal human is also deeply set in our minds by the unending preachments of the ad. The ideal is not Jesus or Socrates. Forget all about Rachel Carson or Confucius or Martin Luther King, Jr., and all their suffering and love and wisdom. In the propaganda of the ad the ideal people, the fully human humans, are relaxed and carefree -- drinking Pepsis around a pool -- unencumbered by powerful ideas concerning the nature of goodness, undisturbed by visions of suffering that could be alleviated if humans were committed to justice. None of that ever appears. In the religion of the ad the task of civilizations is much simpler. The ultimate meaning for human existence is getting all this stuff. That's paradise. And the meaning of the Earth? Premanufactured consumer stuff.

"I have mentioned only television here, but of course that is simply one part of the program. To wade into a fuller awareness we need bring to mind our roadside billboards, the backs of cereal boxes, the fifty thousand magazines crammed with glossy pitches, the lunch boxes wrapped with toy advertisements, the trillion radio commercials, the come-ons piped into video programs, the seductions pouring into the telephone receiver when we're put on hold, the corporate logos stitched into our clothes and paraded everywhere and so on and so on. Literally everywhere on Earth, the advertising continues its goal of becoming omnipresent, even entering into space on the surfaces of our capsules. None of what I have said here concerning ads and their effects on children will be news to those educators who for decades have been lamenting this oppressive situation in America. But I bring up the issue for two reasons.

"The fact that consumerism has become the dominant world faith is largely invisible to us, so it is helpful to understand clearly that to hand our children over to the consumer culture is to place them in the care of the planet's most sophisticated preachers. If those bizarre cults we read about in the papers used even one-tenth of 1 percent of the dazzling deceit of our advertisers, they would be hounded by the federal justice department and thrown into jail straight-away. But in American and European and Japanese society, and increasingly everywhere else, we are so blinded by the all-encompassing propaganda we never think to confront the advertisers and demand they cease. On the contrary, as if cult members ourselves, we pay them lucrative salaries and hand over our children in the bargain.

"The second reason for bringing up the advertisement's hold on us has to do with my fundamental aim in presenting the new cosmology. If we come to an awareness of the way in which the materialism of the advertisement is our culture's primary way for shaping our children, and if we find this unacceptable, we are left with the task of inventing new ways of introducing our children and our teenagers and our young adults and our middle-aged adults and our older adults to the universe. These notes on the new cosmology are grounded in our contemporary understanding of the universe and nourished by our more ancient spiritual convictions concerning its meaning. These notes then are a first step out of the religion of consumerism and into a way of life based upon the conviction that we live within a sacred universe."

Brian Swimme holds a Ph.D. in mathematical cosmology from the University of Oregon and is Director of the Center for the Story of the Universe. He teaches cosmology at the California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco. Dr. Swimme is author of The Universe is a Green Dragon and co-author with Thomas Berry of The Universe Story. Dr. Swimme's website is

This edited excerpt is reprinted from The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos. Copyright 1996 by Brian Swimme. Published by Orbis Books, Maryknoll, N.Y. 10545. Available in cloth at $15 (plus shipping) by calling 1-800-258-5838.

Thanks and a tip of the jazzolog beret to Dana for the  

7 Jun 2007 @ 13:35 by jerryvest : More on the drug cartel causing
harm to elders:
Antipsychotic Drugs Raise Death Rates in Elderly
Medications often used to treat dementia-linked behavioral problems
By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, June 5 (HealthDay News) -- A new study adds to growing evidence that antipsychotic drugs raise death rates among elderly people, who are sometimes given them when their behavioral problems become too much for doctors or families to handle.


Our teams have been giving our nourishing touch program in nursing homes here in southern NM and it seems to me that the elders are so drugged up that they aren't living a quality life. I believe that these drugs are used as restraints to control them so that the nursing homes can reduce staff and make greater profits. I'm sure that this is not an isolated problem as most of the nursing homes and "care" facilities are owned by national corporations. I am reporting my observations to our state Omsbudsman's program to investigate so hope others will do likewise.

Thanks Richard for bringing these drugging of America concerns to the front lines.

If anyone wants to see our human beings or elders put in a trance state, just visit your local nursing home facilities.


7 Jun 2007 @ 18:46 by quinty : Boost! Don't knock!
I’ll quibble slightly with Swimme’s piece, which otherwise catches the heart and soul of modern advertising: it's pervasiveness in our culture.

"The advertisers of course are not some bad persons with evil designs. They are just doing their job.”

I would say they are completely cynical and corrupt. They even make fun of their own cynicism, making a joke out of advertising’s manipulative nature. They are indeed corrupt when they employ all their energies to create an unreal image to sell something at the expense of reality. Sneering at truth is an expression of corruption. And its effects, as Swimme points out, touches the whole of our world, society. Though Swimme may have had at the back of his mind the thought of evil’s “banality.’

I have always seen advertising as being like some kind of lurid wallpaper covering the insides of a room. The place I live in. This may be a lurid analogy but I think it is that pervasive: like mildew. And so pervasive is this “growth” that it dominates our mass culture. The novel, as a serious cultural bond which truly reflects our world, is virtually dead. There is nothing happening in the arts, in music or the plastic arts, worth mentioning. No new popular arts have grown or flourished in the past few years: not in jazz (as Don likes to point out) or even in popular music. The only hints of originality or something new coming, once again, from the slums.

Television, electronic visual images bind our culture together. When Anna Nicole Smith (sp?) died this became national news. It was nonstop on all the major media outlets. When the lies and deceptions which led to the Iraq War were offered us by our “president as spokesperson” the mass media immediately hopped aboard. After all, no one involved wished to appear unpatriotic. Or out of step. And it was all colored by the character of our national media.

Remember: “Boost! Don’t knock!” How corporate!

Yes, advertising is pervasive, and the image it spreads is powerful enough to convince us of many unreal things: even world threats which don’t exist. Before advertising became electronically pervasive nations sometimes enthusiastically went to war, believing the soldiers would “be home before Christmas.” And their governments lied to their own people in order to create widespread support. But this war arose within the context of a culture which has been greatly defined by corporate advertising. And the media, the press and political establishment, both Republican and Democratic, which hopped aboard reflected this. In that aspect the Iraq War has been unique. Our view of the world outside our borders has been greatly defined by a hi tech state of the art electronic imagination. (Though, yes, many books have been written and published attempting to tell the truth of this war.)

"Perhaps the more recalcitrant children will require upward of a hundred thousand ads before they cave in and accept consumerism's basic world-view. But eventually we all get the message.”

That is if they are all compliant. Artists and poets have always been outsiders. Beatniks and Hippies decades ago fell out of step. Jazz reflected isolation, independence, and rebellion. There will always be those of us who have a “bad attitude.” Thank god.  

7 Jun 2007 @ 21:45 by vaxen : Knock or NOC?
Ancient psycho-spiritual traditions, modern psychology, education research, and the human potential movement have all generated an abundance of approaches and tools for individual development. There's a risk that people in individualistic cultures will believe that cultural transformation involves nothing more than widespread personal transformation. While personal development is absolutely vital, it needs to be integrated with a broader transformation of cultural beliefs, institutions, and stories. A hopeful sign is that, on the leading edge of spirituality, psychology and education, practitioners are finding that our engagement in human and natural communities lies at the heart of our nature. Such engagement provides a powerful means for personal development. In a complementary trend, more people are realizing that personal development enhances the "human resources" available to meet the needs of organizations, communities, and society at large. Both of these trends provide a healthy context for expanding human capacities.

And... M Kult RA:  

10 Jun 2007 @ 22:47 by Quinty @ : But it's all related,
isn't it?

To expand the scope a bit, read this: from Jim Hightower. A Texas muckraker in the school of Molly Ivins: who writes as as if there were a cactus beneath his sadal. And that cactus is.....

The Bushites have outsourced our government to their pals

THE SPRAWLING $43 BILLION HOMELAND SECURITY DEPARTMENT (HSD) is known chiefly for being the agency in charge of America's color-coded terrorist-threat alarm system ("Good morning, Americans. Today is Yellow. Be vigilant. Report all suspicious people.") It's boogeyman nonsense, of course, doing absolutely nothing to make our country safe. But such falderal helps those in charge obscure HSD's real mission: to serve as a giant federal cookie jar for corporate America. T Go to HSD's website, and you'll find a prominent section called "Open For Business." There, on any given day, corporate shoppers can scroll through the hundreds of contracts and grants available to them. Just dip in and grab some cookies, each one worth from $50,000 to more than $80 million......

Click on the link above for the rest of the piece, if interested....  

10 Jun 2007 @ 23:38 by Quinty @ : Oooops
we get the print edition. I didn't see that online it would be required to subscribe. Here's the piece - lengthy - if interested. It's by Jim Hightower.

There may be as many rent-a-troops in Iraq as U.S. military

The Bushites have outsourced our government to their pals

THE SPRAWLING $43 BILLION HOMELAND SECURITY DEPARTMENT (HSD) is known chiefly for being the agency in charge of America's color-coded terrorist-threat alarm system ("Good morning, Americans. Today is Yellow. Be vigilant. Report all suspicious people.") It's boogeyman nonsense, of course, doing absolutely nothing to make our country safe. But such falderal helps those in charge obscure HSD's real mission: to serve as a giant federal cookie jar for corporate America. Go to HSD's website, and you'll find a prominent section called "Open For Business." There, on any given day, corporate shoppers can scroll through the hundreds of contracts and grants available to them. Just dip in and grab some cookies, each one worth from $50,000 to more than $80 million. Like the department's color codes, the vast majority of these projects do nothing to make our country safe. Instead, they are make-work studies, silly technologies, and useless systems that essentially serve as mediums for transferring billions of our tax dollars to a few corporate big shots. Ever helpful to its clients, HSD also maintains a private-sector office, headed by an assistant secretary who is not a security expert but a former banker from JP Morgan Chase. This office provides concierge service for cookie grabbers. For example, it recently held a corporate seminar, entitled "The Business of Homeland Security," offering "tips, hints, and directions" on how to grab the latest contracts and grants. Lest you think that patriotism or even national security might be the motivating force behind these government-industry confabs, a Sikorksy Helicopters executive who attended the session bluntly explained why he was there: "To us contractors, money is always a good thing."

Government by corporation

A monumental shift has quietly and quickly been taking place in the way the public's business is done--and We the People have not even been informed about it, much less been asked to discuss and okay it. Corporations are taking over our government. No longer is it just a matter of big business's lobbyists and campaign donations perverting public policy. Now, politically connected corporations are also seizing day-to-day governmental operations for their own profit.

Since the Carter years, Washington has drifted toward more and more outsourcing of public functions to private contractors, but Bush Incorporated has turned that gradual increase into a fullblown, jet-powered rush to privatization. The shadowy and highly lucrative world of government contracting has boomed under George W, rising 86% since he's been in office and now totaling nearly $400 billion a year. Get this: There are now more people doing federal jobs under corporate contracts than there are people employed directly by the government. In other words, in today's government, corporate servants outnumber civil servants.

Bush likes to claim that he has cut the federal bureaucracy. In fact, he's increased it, but most of the people working in his government wear corporate logos. The New York Times recently reported that contract employees are in practically every agency, not merely doing perfunctory chores, but sitting in on policy sessions and drawing up agency budgets. "Even government's online database for tracking contracts, the Federal Procurement Data System, has been outsourced," says the Times.

This phenomenal change is the product not of managerial rationality, but of nonsensical anti-government ideology. Like the Iraq invasion, which was on the international agenda of the rabid neocons from Day One of Bush's tenure, privatization has long been on the domestic agenda of the laissezfaire ideologues. A January 10, 2001, report from the right-wing Heritage Foundation provided the roadmap. Titled "Taking Charge of Federal Personnel," it showed the Bushites how to storm into office and seize control of every agency. It stressed that they "must make appointment decisions based on loyalty first and expertise second," that "the whole governmental apparatus must be managed from this perspective," and that they should use "contracting out as a management strategy."

The official rationale for this privatization surge is that corporations are inherently more efficient than government and save the taxpayer oodles of money. Nice theory, but they aren't…and they haven't. Start with this ideological assertion's most obvious flaw: By their very nature, corporations are loyal to their own bottom line, not to the country or to the common good. Any "efficiency" that they produce is derived from paying workers less (hardly a morale booster) and by taking shortcuts on the services or products they deliver. These "savings" are more than eaten up by the high profits, extravagant executive salaries, and other compensation that corporations demand-- costs that are not incurred when government does the job.

Another flaw in this privatization push is that Bush & Company are unabashedly running it as a crony program. An analysis by the Times found that more than half of their outsourcing contracts are not open to competition. In essence, the Bushites choose the company and award the money without getting other bids. Prior to Bush, only 21% of federal contracts were awarded on a no-bid basis.

Also, if privatization is so good, why is there no ongoing analysis of the costs and quality of service being delivered? This is an administration that demands a cost-benefit analysis of even the smallest government regulation of business, yet it is throwing trillions of our tax dollars into the coffers of corporate contractors without monitoring whether the outsourcing is costing us more and producing less than if the work were done by government employees.

Meanwhile, as the number of contracts has skyrocketed, the number of contract supervisors in federal agencies has remained the same, which means that the supposed overseers can't keep an eye on the performance of the profiteers. Whenever agencies or members of Congress do try to probe, the corporations simply claim that their financial and performance records are proprietary. While agencies are accountable to the public and subject to the Freedom of Information Act, corporate contractors are not.

Even when it's known in advance that a privatization project will be a rip-off, ideology has trumped integrity. Last fall, for example, Congress rubberstamped a Bush initiative requiring the IRS to outsource the collection of certain taxes to three private debt collectors. The collection agencies will pocket about 24 cents of every dollar they recover. But if the IRS were simply allowed to hire more revenue agents, it could collect these same debts for only 3 cents of every dollar brought in. Over 10 years, the three companies expect to reap $330 million from this deal.

A corporatized war

As we've learned during the last four-plus years, George W's Iraq war is run by a bumbling triumvirate composed of the White House, the Pentagon, and the Department of Halliburton.

This massive military contractor has done awfully well the past few years, thanks to its old CEO, "Buckshot" Cheney. Since the BushCheney regime took office, Halliburton's government contracts have increased by a stunning 600%, including more than $10 billion in Pentagon contracts--many of them awarded without the fuss and muss of competitive bidding.

In return, Halliburton has delivered gas-price gouging, contaminated food and water, and a consis- These are our "savings" from privatization A 2006 federal audit of $1.7 billion in Pentagon purchases found that taxpayers were soaked for excessive fees from contractors and for tens of millions of dollars in waste. One reason was "poor contracting practices." Such as? The audit reports that 92% of the contracts were awarded without verifying that the contractors provided accurate cost estimates, and 96% of the work was inadequately monitored. 2 Hightower Lowdown June 2007 tent pattern of overcharges. It has been caught hiring Third World laborers to do its grunt work in Iraq, paying them as little as $5 a day, and then billing Uncle Sam more than $50 a day for each worker. In a February analysis of $10 billion in waste and overcharges by various contractors in Iraq, federal investigators found Halliburton responsible for $2.7 billion.

The corporation's 2006 profits were $2,348,000,000, and its overall profits have increased over 368% since the Bushites have been in office. Meanwhile, Halliburton has now outsourced itself, announcing this year that its top executives will move from Houston to palatial new corporate headquarters in Dubai. But don't worry--the executives are keeping enough of a corporate presence in the good ol' USA to qualify for more government contracts.

People see Halliburton as the face of the privatized war in Iraq, but that's hardly the whole story. Indeed, there's a dirty little fact that Washington's warmongers don't tout: Bush has put almost as many private contractors in the Iraq war as U.S. troops.

Prior to Bush's "surge," there were about 140,000 American troops in Iraq and about 100,000 contract employees there. Contrast this to only 9,200 privatized troops sent to the Gulf war by George's daddy in 1991. And the 100,000 number doesn't count subcontractors, which would add an estimated 20,000 to 40,000 more private troops (no one knows for sure, since the Pentagon doesn't keep track of them). In addition, while the surge will put another 22,000 military troops in Iraq, it will also increase the private forces by an untold number.

Outfits like Halliburton, DynCorp, Blackwater, L-3, Titan, Custer Battles, Triple Canopy, and Wackenhut are reaping billions of our tax dollars doing military work that the Bush-Cheney Pentagon has outsourced. Not coincidentally, nearly all of these corporations are big-dollar donors to Republicans and/or are run by executives with tight GOP ties.

In part, corporate Iraq assignments provide support services-- laundry, meals, delivery of water and gasoline, etc. But a huge part of the military function itself has been privatized in this war--such things as interrogating prisoners (including in the infamous Abu Ghraib prison), training the Iraqi army, guarding the Green Zone and the Baghdad airport, protecting military convoys, analyzing intelligence, and providing paramilitary security forces.

The personnel performing these tasks are not soldiers but hired hands, most of whom lack the training needed to make proper combat judgments, and they operate independently of the military command. "They shoot people, and someone else has to deal with the aftermath," says a frustrated U.S. officer.

They also get shot, bombed, maimed, and killed. Yet the Bushites, wanting to downplay the negatives, don't count such people in casualty reports. The official number of 3,400 troops killed in Iraq doesn't include any from Bush's contract army. How many of them have died? No one knows the real number, but the Labor Department, which tracks workers compensation claims, has silently recorded 917 contractor deaths. More than 12,000 have been wounded in battle or on the job. These casualties are a hidden toll of this awful war, another measure of its deceit and immorality.

Contractors galore

Washington is under assault by hordes of corporations that are eagerly dicing up our government into digestible segments and then consuming them through either contracts or outright privatization.

Here are some examples:

WALL STREET BANKING conglomerates leer lasciviously at our Social Security Fund, eager to grab the hundreds of billions of dollars in fees they could assess for "managing" our accounts in a privatized system.

BUSH HAS REDUCED FEMA, a onceproud and strong government responder to natural disasters, to a haven for political hacks hurling billions of dollars in no-bid contracts to Halliburton and its ilk for the rescue and rehab of New Orleans-- only to see the money disappear and the wreckage remain.

WHEN THE PENTAGON DECREED a few years ago that the esteemed Walter Reed Army Medical Center was to be substantially privatized, the treatment of wounded vets quickly deteriorated to scandalous levels. The politically connected IAP Worldwide Services company--run by two former Halliburton executives and boasting of having Dan Quayle on its board--was handed a $120 million contract to manage the place (even though IAP had previously botched the delivery of ice to the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina --a job that it was contracted to do by FEMA).

THE CURRENT COLLEGE-LOAN scandal is not merely a matter of some financial-aid offices at universities taking gifts, consulting fees, and stock from big private lenders. Rather, the entire system is scandalous--it's an artificial, privatized lending structure that adds nothing of value to students but greatly increases the cost and complexity of getting student loans that could be made cheaply, simply, honestly, and directly by the Department of Education.

FEDEX, UPS and the giant corporate mailers are trying to privatize the U.S. Postal Service piece by piece by deregulating the entire postal market, outsourcing the most lucrative postal functions, and abandoning America's principle of universal service for everyone.

Lurita's lurid tale

Lurita Doan, who ran a federal contracting company in Virginia and who has been a six-figure donor to Bush and the GOP, was chosen by George last year to head the General Services Administration (GSA). This agency doles out some $56 billion annually in federal contracts and is in charge of policing the contractors. At her confirmation hearing, Doan said she wanted to prove she can run a federal agency like a business--and she has. She's run GSA like Enron.

Just two months after taking office, Doan made a robust attempt to hand a $20,000 no-bid contract to a friend and former business associate, even going so far as to sign the deal personally. Ultimately, GSA's general counsel had to step in and nix this obvious conflict-ofinterest gaffe. '

But Doan kept playing loose with the people's money. Last year, when a technology contract with Sun Microsystems was up for renewal, two GSA contract officers rejected it on the grounds that the corporation was overcharging taxpayers. Doan personally intervened, suggesting that one of the officers was "stressed." She brought in another officer, who promptly approved the renewal--and got a long-coveted transfer to GSA's Denver office.

Then Doan got paranoid, apparently feeling that the agency's independent inspector general (IG) was foiling her enthusiastic efforts to "streamline" the contract-awarding process and to loosen up audits on corporations getting contracts. She chided the IG and, according to notes taken in a staff meeting, compared him and his staff to terrorists! Doan has now proposed cutting $5 million from the IG's audit budget, which is used to detect corporate fraud and waste, and shifting some of his duties to--are you ready for this?--private contractors.

Coalition of greed

Why is this happening? Paul Light, a New York University professor and expert on public service, points to a coalition of the greedy fueling the growth of what he calls "the hidden workforce of contractors." The contractors, of course, love privatization. Many corporations have been formed (often by former officials in the military or government) just to sup at the federal trough and many subsist wholly on government contracts. Pentagon contractors have grown especially fat on our tax dollars, with the largest, Lockheed-Martin, now receiving more federal funds than the Department of Justice.

At the same time, a huge lobbying force has been built to keep the cash flowing. Each corporation has its own lobbyists, and the contracting industry as a whole has an additional lobbying group, the Professional Services Council, which pushes for still more corporatization of government.

Then there are the politicos in both parties who're eager to show that they are reigning in big government. They shove public tasks into corporate hands in order to create what Light calls "the illusion that [government] is smaller than it actually is." And, of course, there are the political ideologues who push privatization simply as a matter of faith and political correctness, even though there's no evidence that it is cheaper--much less better.

It's on this last point that corporatization ultimately founders. For contractors, the concept of "better" applies strictly to their bottom lines--not to the country. They are out to get theirs, no matter what happens to the rest of us. This is why they've kept the size and scope of the corporate takeover hidden from us. It's also why there's no accountability, no public scrutiny, no analysis of public benefits built into the privatization push--the contractors know that corporatization is not better for America.

Our government is not meant to be a marketplace. It is intended as a democratic forum where the needs and aspirations of ALL the people are addressed. The corporations' grab-all-you-can, survival-ofthe- fattest ethos is about serving their interest, not the public's. This is why We the People must expose, challenge, stop, and reverse the corporatization of our public institutions.

Not only are corporations taking over government functions, they are also moving rapidly to take over our essential public assets--from highways to airports. In next month's newsletter, we'll give you the lowdown on who's selling America to whom…and why.  

12 Jun 2007 @ 14:28 by jerryvest : I've been collecting articles related
to drugging America and discovered this article that reports on the research related to psychotropic and other medications prescribed by doctors. {link:} I wonder how they were approved in the first place, but it is clear that FDA has been receiving benefits from the drug industry, so this explains much of what is happening today.

FDA Staff Travels on Drug Industry Dollars
Thursday, 30 March 2006
The Center for Public Integrity reports that FDA officials circumvent the prohibition on accepting trips from drug and medical device manufacturers.
They accept trips from nonprofit associations "that draw their members, their boards and even some of their funding from medical and pharmaceutical-related companies paying for the travel of hundreds of FDA employees."

The major sponsor of FDA staff travel expenditures was the Drug Information Association which paid for more than 600 trips of FDA employees.

Encapsulating the arrogance of power and the disdain for public accountability, Dr. Robert Temple "denied that his policy decisions and those of the agency had been influenced because of the trips he took: "I don't pay attention [to who pays]. We don't get any more money or more attention if somebody else pays."

The agency is as corrupt as the industry it shields, whose financial interests it promotes by sacrificing the safety of the American public.

Millions of children are being pumped with psychosis-inducing drugs whose toxic effects destroy their physical and mental health.

Antipsychotics prescribed off-label for children are damaging their brains and cutting short their lives.

Travel expenses may not be the only percs FDA officials accept from industry-sponsored front organizations.

Contact: Vera Hassner Sharav This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it


Note: Antidepressant research - Everyone should read these studies before giving or taking these drugs.


Please allow this discussion to continue so that we can protect consumers from these dangerous chemicals.

12 Jun 2007 @ 16:35 by vaxen : Well...
I have lots of info on these matters but why add fule to an allready roaring fire? Can you say CIA? Can you say "long before the CIA (Rheinhardt Gehllens boys)" was invented to create terrorism far and wide, the die was cast. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis. 1871 was a remarkable year. But, then, so was 1913. Krupps and Farben, Krupps and Farben, and a whole lot more...

Check out to see how your 'tax dollars' are being 'employed' by your Fedstapo.

Andrew Jackson had it right. But, then, so what? Are you ready for Giuliani 2008? ;) Of course you are.

Now please go back to sleep and enjoy the AMerikan nightmare. It'll be coming to a drive in near you very soon if it hasn't already arrived. Ah, such a Brave New World. Yes, ALdous was in charge of druggy things at Tavistock.

To reiderate, case ya missed it:

Is that Lord Byron I see on that distant horizon?  

12 Jun 2007 @ 17:27 by celestial : Hey Jazz,
Have you counted the drug company commercials on prime time?  

12 Jun 2007 @ 20:02 by quinty : No, I'm not ready for
Giuliani. And am appalled by the lack of any grounding or sense of reality in the American political debate. Our mass corporate media is profit driven and anyone left of John Kerry is a member of the "loony left." And Kerry himself is suspect.

The number of pharmaceutical ads on TV is also appalling. How do doctors deal with desperate and hopeful patients who come into their offices seeking prescriptions for the "wonder" drugs they saw advertised on TV? And the more desperate they are the more likely they are to accept the ads' manipulative claims.

In Canada and in Europe you will see no ads on TV for drugs. Is it possible that in some foreign countries genuine health benefits are put above corporate profit? That the primary motivation for making prescription drugs available is health related rather than Big Pharma's bottom line?

Now we know that President Bush's solution to all this is a plan which offers tax breaks and medical savings accounts. How nice. And what about those who have no money? And what would happen to a savings account if major surgery and a lengthy stay in a hospital is required? Oh, oh, sorry, I forgot, you can deduct the two hundred thousand dollars all this costs from your tax bill and your medical savings account would cover it all anyway. Right?

But we pray to the God Capitalism here. Government is bad: that is the first article of faith. Especially when a gang as corrupt as GWB's cowboys ride into the White House and start dishing out the jobs to their cronies and other corrupt incompetents. Proof positive that government is inefficient and bad and doesn’t work as well as the private sector. And the rightwing actually uses that argument.

But arguing that selecting competent and honest administrators (as opposed to ideologues and cronies) might make government departments work more efficiently and cost effectively is too obvious. And only smacks of something the "loony left" would say anyway.

We need publicly financed elections. Money and politics do not mix. Considering the waste and corruption the current system leads to a billion or two federal dollars every two years sounds like a bargain.  

13 Jun 2007 @ 07:46 by jazzolog : A Pill Bottle Full Of Worms
and I prefer an easy-open cap please. I'm astonished by the length,breadth and depth of how this thread is developing. I confess to a load of self-imposed ignorance on all this. My mother was a registered nurse and the family doctor made house calls. I just surrendered myself in trust to whatever they wanted to do. My mother-in-law is a registered nurse with longtime interest in alternate care, and my wife spends hours every day researching health on the Internet. In other words I have a lifetime history of just handing myself over to others for medical needs. Part of it is I just don't want all that information in my head, and I'm glad others close to me want to do the work. A darker side probably is that I consider the whole topic to be too difficult in terms of mastery...and probably I have a self-destructive side as well that says When something really goes wrong with you it's all just a crapshoot anyway.

At some point I decided that choosing a doctor was like selecting your own assassin. I just want somebody who'll ease me out, when the time comes, with the best drugs my insurance can buy. I think I decided that during a period I fired my physician because he seemed helpless to control his own clerical staff whose errors had become legion. The guy was a DO in the employ of the University system in this town and I really believe he was helpless in the clutches of an incredibly complex bureaucracy. I went for a private MD, but now notice all the dancing around with pill companies that I described in the original entry.

In terms of psychiatric medication and mood alteration, I'm not sure I even want to get started. After an initial training period in an old-time state hospital (I have seen humanity at its most basic level) in which I worked geriatrics, terminal, and maximum security, I took jobs "tutoring" in a couple of private hospitals and smaller units with young people in the midst of adolescent turmoil...or something. I learned during those times that nobody wants to go near that age group in terms of developing treatment...apparently the motto being Time will cure all things. It may be just a phase but we'll lock you up while you go through it. The worst thing that happened was a suicide attempt by a young teenager quite close to me. After a brief initial diagnosis in a state facility, he was subjected to electroshock during which I guess some neurons got hotwired the wrong way...and he has continued hospitalized for the past 20 years. The medicines they used through that time have created side effects by now that render his assimilation back into society a near impossibility. The tragedy of what became of this gifted young man's life and the suffering it has caused all of us who know him is enough for me to shake my head hopelessly at what has become of healthcare in this country during my lifetime.  

13 Jun 2007 @ 14:39 by jerryvest : Thanks for sharing your personal
experiences with us, Richard. I believe that when we address our own experience with medicine, drugs, mental health and the sick care industry, our story is more heart felt and, hopefully, others are encouraged to share theirs as well.

I don't remember if I told you this, but I served as a consultant to the Athens Mental Health Center, in the summer, in the late 70's and it truly was a "Coo Coos Nest." I recall that two of the medical directors for the center had also been committed to this closed/locked in hospital, probably because it was impossible to sustain health in such an environment. It was often hard for me to distinguish the staff from the patients. I was hired for a brief stint here as the hospital was coming up for accreditation and I was the only social worker in the surrounding area who had experience in mental health. (I held a position as assistant professor and director of the social work program at Rio Grande University, just 45 miles or so from Athens.

Anyway, it was an awful place to be as everyone was in locked wards. The nursing staff, while making their rounds, would ring a bell and the patients would come out of their rooms to receive their meds. There was very little interaction as I don't think anyone knew how to help this population and the best they could do was give them their psychotropic drugs.

Every day during that summer experience I met with the staff and encouraged them to maintain a daily health routine and introduced them to some exercises that I taught my social work students. Most of the staff were older and all had a bachelor's degree with little, if any, therapy experience. So, it didn't appear to me that we would be able to improve the situation and I don't remember if the investigators were very concerned as they didn't have any other resources for this population.

Just down the road from Rio Grande and across the river into West Virgina there was even a worse condition as about 175 mental health patients, all Black and older, had lobotomies. They were living their lives out in this facility. During a field trip with our students, three African American students from New Jersey felt such compassion for the plight of these human beings that they decided to do their internship in this setting. Living in Appalachia was a remarkable experience for our family and for me as a social worker who only recently left a community mental health as its founder.

This sick care model still exists today in most cities in America and I do not see anyone wishing to "ring a bell" for change. The bell is still ringing to keep everyone medicated and outside the public view, while there are many alternatives, especially in primary prevention--early childhood education and truly leaving "no child or family left behind." However, it seems to me most of the health resources are continuing to drug their patients; offer very brief micro-therapy (one-on-one) "treatment;" expend volumns of time & energy on diagnosis and labeling; and, continue to imprison youth in mental health or prison facilities with revolving door policies.

Sorry about the length of this response. I am often surprised at how upsetting it still is for me to talk about this mental health movement. I know we can do better with integrative health, alternative or holitic health practices and by investing our resources in health, education and welfare for children, youth and families, rather than for drugs, corporate greed, sick care and war.  

14 Jun 2007 @ 18:00 by quinty : The mentally ill

I can recall the day Governor Ronald Reagan closed the mental hospitals in California. I lived at the time in Chinatown, in San Francisco, just off Kearney Street, a main drag which ran between Chinatown and the Financial District. On that day the mentally ill suddenly appeared on the street, walking aimlessly the way the mentally ill sometimes do out on the street, toward nowhere. And it was quite apparent they were mentally ill. No doubting it.

Some say this reflected a new, more humane attitude toward treatment. That it was better to allow the mentally ill to find help in community centers than to be confined. I'm hardly any kind of expert on the subject, but knowing a little about Ronald Reagan and his Republican enthusiasts I suspect cost cutting was an important factor. Nor was Ronald Reagan all that concerned with the mentally ill.

And that was only the beginning. The homeless soon began to appear. And if homeless persons weren't mentally ill before they became homeless there was a large chance they would be after being out on the streets for a while. And of course there are our vets, too. Suffering from PTSD. Vietnam vets out on the streets were common back then in San Francisco. And visitors there, today, may be shocked by the squalor they find on Market Street, the main drag. And that beneath the balconies of City Hall the homeless camp out on the lawns. Or did: perhaps they have been driven away by now. But the Civic Center is filled with the mentally ill and homeless as well as being a high crime area.

Ronald Reagan was never noted for being a compassionate man. Perhaps that's one reason why Bush chose upon the slogan "compassionate conservative" when he ran in 2000? Though today's 'conservatives" prefer to associate themselves with Reagan than with Bush. What a choice!

I suspect the drugs which are given school kids, of whatever age, are prescribed merely to quiet them down. Not that there is anything necessarily wrong with them. Mentally or otherwise.

That giving a kid a dose is a simple way of dealing with a kid who is noisy or disruptive. If this is true, then this behavior is barbaric. In the fifties, when I was a kid, psychoanalysis was often used as a means of enforcing conformity. And I sometimes wonder if psychiatry at best isn't only a pseudoscience? One whose effectiveness is actually dependent upon the skills, humanity, and wisdom of each individual practitioner? Not so much on “science.” Curious, isn’t it, that homosexuality was once considered a mental disease. With the change in societal attitudes it was taken off the list of mental illnesses.

Then there is Big Pharma. And the spectacle Richard described. One thing I like about John Edwards is that he hasn’t forgotten the poor. I’m sure someday we will return to that subject. But Reagan and Bush conservatives have pretty much defined the national debate. “Tax and spend” is still considered an evil. But "tax and spend" is what we need for a decent healthcare system in this country. Don't worry. I'm only suggesting we tax the rich and close up corporate loopholes and spend less on "defense" and other means. I'm middleclass (aren't we all?) and could afford a few more dollars a year. It really wouldn't hurt me. But think of the benefits! And the poor, the truly poor - (our rich sometimes talk as if they were poor. Taxes?--- Ouch!) would be left off the hook entirely.

I'm sure there a few flies in this utopea, but if we had a will we could work them out.  

15 Jun 2007 @ 17:26 by a-d : Works now -after some Magic... :)
Yeah... no kiddin'!..... those Pills are not the only drugs.... nor is the crack from "private methlabs" in people's homes....!

The headline tp the link article is :
"Confessions Of A Soft
Drink Addict - The Splenda Ruse
By Andrew K.
6-15-7 "

THIS field is the far MOST dangerous and biggest as well... me thinks....THE FOOD INDUSTRY!  

15 Jun 2007 @ 20:09 by quinty : True,
there does appear to be an increase in e coli, listeria, and salmonella.

Has it gotten worse under Bush? Greed and speed? More deregulation? More regulatory corruption? More unsafe products or unhealthy products put on the market?

I like organics. When they pass the taste test that is. If not then they're not worth the manure they came from.

I've had tomatoes (the product of agribusiness) which tasted like tennis balls soaked in drain water. I’ve bought green unripe vegetables which never ripened but merely rotted. I’ve had peaches which tasted like compacted sawdust.

Sometimes organics don’t taste much like anything, but at least you have a running chance. Of course, agribusiness would like to see industrial sludge recognized as an “organic” base for fruit and vegetables with the organic label. Nor are they the least phased by the contradiction. Amazing.

Your link, a-d, doesn't work. Comes upon a blank.  

16 Jun 2007 @ 10:42 by jazzolog : a-d's Link
I changed it a bit: should work now.

Thanks for moving the thread along, folks! Got a conference today on Appalachia . Hoping for some catchup computer time soon.  

16 Jun 2007 @ 15:03 by a-d : Try this one!

[ ]

[ ]

Ohhh, my dear Hero! : ).... your Magic was even more Special than mine: you made a completely NEW article with yours! how did yuah do that!...: )
But THANKS...Great link.... Rural Renewal. I love that!

the article I originally linked here (it works no! ) was about food addiction "made in Laboratory" :
Confessions Of A Soft
Drink Addict - The Splenda Ruse
By Andrew K.

This is as much of Drug Industry as the Pill production ever! and it is killing even more people -and Nature- than the pills!  

16 Jun 2007 @ 20:30 by quinty : Soft drinks....
That’s a tragic tale, alright.

Fortunately I never took to soft drinks: they have always tasted of plastic to me, or like diluted nail polish. Or cotton candy dissolved in a liquid chemical solution. The stuff has a deeply artificial taste. And I’m not surprised that it is poison.

So the manufacturers include addictive additives. That should be no surprise. Cigarette manufacturers have tried to make junkies out of the entire nation, starting in school. Hook ‘em young, hook ‘em for life! Why kids ever start has always been a mystery to me. They must really disrespect adults.

I think I first came upon the wonderworld of *appearances* as reality in high school, where in class a teacher discussed some overcoats for sale which were billed as "genuine artificial leather." This was in an ad which appeared in a newspaper. She was introducing her class to the world of advertising. Or was it politics?

The irony made a deep impression upon me: at least enough so that I still remember it today. And, of course, in the world of unfettered greed and ambition appearances are everything. Look at the Bush administration. (Look, perhaps, at your own office?)

So when it comes to food, that food which appears like food is becoming increasingly common. Apples are waxed, fruit and vegetables made excessively large and picked hard, meat is injected with red die. Soft drinks and gelatinous chain fast food. And pills which are repackaged rabbit pellets but answer a need flood the market. Appearances, not reality, are everything.

The war in Iraq was sold to us completely upon the basis of false appearances. And advertising has conditioned us to accept appearances. As the essay (by Swimme) above described, advertising is woven throughout our society and lives. It is as unavoidable as the weather.

Any number of domestic goods and products are made to appear to fill a vital need. With the help of Madison Avenue Big Pharma not only provides the remedies but catchy names for the ailments and diseases they promise to cure. And unscrupulous doctors hook patients on pills in their offices.

Do we frown on profit in this country? A few do, of course. Many millions, undoubtedly. And the rising organic market is a backlash against food which tastes more like cardboard and may even be unsafe. But the ethos of profit, “greed is good,” which began in the Reagan years has culminated with Bush.

Or has it? Can it even get worse?

Look, when the founders made this country a couple of hundred years ago they didn’t even eliminate slavery from the Constitution. It’s there, in bold black and white: a non white is 3/5s of a human being. Slavery was allowed to flourish. The economy depended upon it. And some say Alexander Hamilton got that fiscal ball rolling which led to the Robber Barons and “Greed is Good.” That that initial spirit is very much alive today. True, true. When LBJ was president I thought his concerns for the poor were normal and natural. Nothing to get excited about. Well, I was wrong. Let’s hope for another anomaly like the “Great Society.”  

17 Jun 2007 @ 01:49 by a-d : Quinty,
at the very bottom of the Human Psych Barrel you find a silt so thick and muddy so even the smallest disturbance of the waters in the Barrel causes it to turn "opaque". what is this silt then, so sensitive to any motion at all? In PLAIN language (any language! : ) ) it is called SELFISHNESS ( -also called: "The Original Sin" (var: "The Fall Out Of Grace"), which doesn't mean 'original' in far distant time, but in each humans/Cosmic Beings own personal growing from 100% pure Cosmic Divine Being at birth and then detereorate in these qualities as we grow from babyhood to >>>!

Selfishness is always an anomaly on our Psyche, caused by a confusion/ the belief, which makes us think that WE don't have enough unless we take from someone else around us.
This belief is indeed easy to create in Humans, by parents not responding efficiently enough to the Baby's needs. The more serious their "shortcomings" are, the more serious the anomaly can grow. This all the Controller Families know -and cultivate intentionally into their children's psyche as to make the child to grow up to carry on the Family tradition of Business/Greed/EMOTIONAL NEED TO STEAL ( together with all other atrocities that are needed in order to steal, -hopefully- as effiently and much as possible!...
The whole Business /Corporate World and social mess, that has grown out of this psychological one, supported by the so called Religious Institutions -as well as the whole monetary system, the way it is structured still to this day, are all just COVER-UPs for this psychological anomali and needs to be exposed simultaneously & paralell.
We need to start by having the guts to call a Spade a spade, whomever happens to hold that spade! We need to start doing this intentionally today -and not only by mistake/ happenstance.

There is no other cure to this illness of the Soul!... but go to the very bottom of our own Psyche, person by person = human by human; politician by politician -plus the rest of social titles/positions; all only means to do the job of stealing more efficiently. NO HIDING BEHIND THIS or THAT can be tolerated ANY LONGER!!!
A spade is a spade is a spade is a spade.... : ) A thief is thief is a thief is a thief.... no matter what corp they've built to cover up their greed, no matter what family they come from -all belong to the Human Family!, which is the Ultimate. No matter what Corp they "work" for/in. No matter what "religion" they call theirs, and whatever they claim entitled to by these so called religions or family names! Or are we going to let the crooks dictate our next day & disaster and the next & the next?... [ } though the money crash CAN and SHOULD be made to our SAVING GRACE!.... Note that the article says: There ARE other BETTER Monetary systems we could replace the faulty, un-just one with. See my blog/article with the Interview of Bernard Lietaer; a great guy with ALL the credentials it takes to get a JOB WELL DONE!

Guys, you "gotta" read this!
[ ]
and this: [ ]  

17 Jun 2007 @ 05:15 by a-d : This might be
of extreme importance to you Jazzo, being there in Ohio, but we all can join and learn something good here as well as contribute ourselves, something that no one else was thinking about! [ ] Thumbs up for the people who started this -and thumbs up for all of who join/ed this "Club"! : )  

17 Jun 2007 @ 11:56 by jazzolog : Rural Action
has served as a model in a number of areas since its conception about 25 years ago. My wife's aunt usually is given credit for getting it going and holding it together until her retirement a few years ago. She said yesterday it really was the constant scrambling after grant money that burned her out. What we did at the well-attended "retreat" was to recharge our batteries, network with new activists in this area of Appalachia, and set up 7 new groups of us to spearhead progress over the next couple years...toward the Presidential election of course. Rural Action has been responsible not only for facilitating help from various social agencies to families suddenly facing economic and/or psychological crises, but also for guiding and providing a financial boost to various folks interested in starting businesses. Here's more on how it all works~~~  

17 Jun 2007 @ 22:28 by a-d : Soooo Cool! : ) , Jazzo!
I still believe that on top of this kind of involvement by as many as possible of a (given) Communities Members, we NEED to start our own LOCAL CURRENCY (Projects) all over the World: in EACH community -even if the value of the currency is the same in ALL communities. But it HAS to be different from the National and have its own look from Comm to Comm, yet it would be easy to exchange from let's say your Local Money to my Local Money when You visit my Community -and of course vice versa!
Did I ever give all these to all of us?
Ever thought of introducing Local Currency?.... Just for starters; to get you guys thinking -and acting from a slightly higher consciousness. ; )....

I would also suggest Everybody to read these two links very carefully and take this into VERY STRONG CONSIDERATION / ACCOUNT!... : ) PROVIDED we want to break the prison walls that today's money system has on us ALL; comm by comm by comm, by comm -GLOBALLY, to put it short! : )
There is no other SMOOTH way to get out of the age old prison of the old BANKSTER GANGSTERS!...


HOW ELSE are we to get out of the corporate reality that is killing us all, including Mother Earth???????????????????????????????????

All these links / ACTIONS are VITAL for y/our Community, for all of Mankind, to not say to ALL LIFE on Earth! If "you" of a better, faster, smoother way, to rescue what still can be rescued, let me know!

Corps, doesn't matter which ones; the Drug, the Food, the "Entertainment" , the (Corporation of ) the United States of America, DC. etc etc, won't give up -any more voluntarily than the SCAM ARTISTS who call themselves the International Money Cartel; the Crown. We Need to GET AROUND THEM, so to speak.

There's one more thing I "need" to bring into everybody's attention:
Not only does the Drug & FOOD Corps intentionally kill us Two-legged, with their Stuff .They also kill just as intentionally our Pets/Four- legged : [ ]


20 Jun 2007 @ 19:35 by a-d : ...and not just USA.....
[ ]  

21 Jun 2007 @ 15:15 by quinty : One would think

doctors had a higher conscience and sense of morality than the rest of us. After all, they have chosen the "healing arts" as their life's profession. They are highly trained and skilled and have great pride in their profession. They should surpass mere entrepreneurs.

But all too often they are interested only in money, their prestige, and in making themselves comfortable. Without taking any true risks. And, yes, they can often vote conservative or rightwing, supporting money and the power interests. How many shortcuts do they take in their lives? Not being a doctor, or at all close to the medical profession, it is hard for me to speculate.

We once had a page in the library I worked in who graduated at the top of his class at UC San Francisco’s Medical School. One of the better and more prestigious med schools in the country. Frankly, I was impressed we had such a celebrity working in our department: and one so mild mannered, hard working, and pleasant to work with. Upon graduating he interned in LA where he concentrated on sports medicine. And not long before he left SF for LA I asked him if he ever read William Carlos Williams, Anton Checkov, and some other famous writers who had been doctors. Much to my complete astonishment he had never heard of any of these writers. He didn't know who they were.

It seems like a deep contradiction to me that doctors, healers, men and women who have taken the Hippocratic Oath and have devoted their lives to lessening pain in the world, prolonging lives, can sometimes be so materialistic and stingy. But they often are. Fortunately, my doctor is not that way at all. Nor has his sense of empathy, which he sometimes has to fight against, overcome him. For his responsibilities weigh heavily on him. And he grieves at his limited powers. He takes the pain of his patients personally.  

22 Jun 2007 @ 05:39 by a-d : I have met and worked
with some really stupid doctors, docents, professors and I have worked with some really Bright ones!... The diff: The Bright ones used all these qualities (even) as Health Practicioners, trained by the Establishment's mind deadening Institutions!: their God-given Cosmic Skillswithout Never letting ANY "learning dull them for them! and thse skills are: Divine
-Instinct (gut feeling/s)
- Inspiration
-Common Sense
All these together makes up what is called Intelligence. ( see my comment on JHS blog to his little grand son. I elaborate there a little more about Cosmic Skills)
These are VITAL to all truly intelligent interaction of any person with their surroundings. be there patients to care for or something else.

Here, guys, is a great Epilogue to this article/thread IMHO... : )
[ ]  

23 Jun 2007 @ 12:39 by jerryvest : Very good list of character traits for
human beings, Astrid. I would add love, respect, compassion, sensitivity, dignity, knowledge, wisdom, self-respect, kindness, openness, curious, healthy, friendly, and generous. These are good human traits for everyone to maintain and support, especially if one wishes to be fully or naturally human.  

23 Jun 2007 @ 19:36 by a-d : Thank you Jerry
for making the list more complete! ( I forgot to write : "add more as they pop up in your mind".... ) we go: Humility and Meakness; as the opposite of arrogance.  

24 Jun 2007 @ 08:55 by jazzolog : Doctor Dilemma
Thank you friends for carrying on this conversation...although we are sorta going all over the place with it. But hey! it's part of the freedom at NCN (which happy state of affairs nonetheless sometimes has brimmed over into licentiousness at this site) but enough Sunday sermon!

I have empathy for doctors who are in the clutches of insurance companies and attorneys and hospital administrators and irate patients like me. It's a tough job, even at 3 or 4 hundred dollars an hour (if you can treat each patient in 10 minutes). Was it tougher when I was a kid...and Dad called the doctor in the middle of the night? And they treated you at bedside in your house? I had scarlet fever when I was little, with a fever of 103. Mom pulled the shades in my room and we duked it out with the doctor visiting me every day. No dragging me to a doctor's office. No ER. No hospitalization. Treatment was cheaper and it was better.

What bugs me is the defensive god stance physicians assume now. We hear public service announcements about having dialogue with your doctor. Ever try that? Ever question what (s)he says...or offer information you researched on the Internet? You may wait an hour past your appointment in the waiting room, then sit in the examination room another half hour. (My Rural Action aunt once billed a doctor $50 for the hour she had to take off work just to wait there.) In comes the doctor, sits down and reads your chart. I'm paying $65 for this 10 minutes, and I've had the appointment for 3 months. Why can't the doctor read my chart on his own time? That should be his homework. Then I may try to get a word in edgewise about how I'm feeling and my concerns. Not all doctors are like this, but more and more are.

I've had a cough for a couple months, sometimes with sore throat accompanying. I live in the fungal/salamander capital of the world, so everybody has bronchitis. But I began to worry if it was throat cancer, so I got a chest X-ray and we made a referral to an ear-throat guy---in a bigger city an hour away of course. Fortunately I got in fast (there's a waiting list of 6 months for a dermatologist around here if you're a new patient) but the clericals at home somewhere hadn't forwarded the radiology report to him (I had a DVD in my pocket of the X-ray but no report) so he prescribed an anti-biotic and made another appointment. I paid my $10 co-pay, but didn't realize until later that he charged $175 for that 15 minutes. That's his fee for the first visit. After that it's the customary $65 per appointment. What would he say if I took out a stopwatch and began doing a little quality control analysis of each minute of that medical treatment? Can you imagine?

We're not supposed to object to these exorbitant fees. "Your insurance pays for it." Uh-huh, and who pays for the insurance? Even with employer help, do you have any idea what we pay for health insurance out of our paychecks each month? And I suppose part of that is to cover somehow treatment for the majority of Americans who have no health coverage at all. A hundred dollars for a urinalysis. A thousand for an X-ray. Fifty dollars for some aide to carry the photo across the hall. Everybody agrees it's become insane! OK Michael Moore, it's up to you.  

24 Jun 2007 @ 15:22 by a-d : ....and as if wasn't 'nough already...
On top of this all, you then have to pay and an exorbitant price for the "treatment" the doc prescribes: THE PILLS!!!.... the most common, fastest to deliver, -easiest on the doc plus all other of the necessary conveniences our modern rush-rush lifestyle demands of us all.... : "hey, pop a PILL and consider (=imagine) yourself cured"  

24 Jun 2007 @ 18:48 by jazzolog : Bless Your Colon, Paul
I was cleaning out, throwing out a bunch of periodicals yesterday (I remain about a year behind in reading such things) and I came upon the July/August 2006 issue of Peotry (sic: it's the "humor issue"). It's got a poem by John Updike in it called Colonoscopy, which I think Harper's picked up, but I can't risk losing it to the recycling bin. I was wondering where I could post it for---ahem---posterity, when suddenly Quinty's ass has made an appearance~~~

Talk about intimacy! I'd almost rather not.
The day before, a tussle with nausea
(DRINK ME: a liter of sickly-sweet liquid)
and diarrhea, so as to present oneself
pristine as a bride to the groom with his tools,
his probe and tiny TV camera
and honeyed words. He has a tan,
just back from a deserved vacation
from his accustomed nether regions.

Begowned, recumbent on one's side,
one views through uprolled eyes the screen whereon
one's big intestine snakes sedately by,
its segments marked by tidy annular
construction-seams as in a prefab tunnel
slapped up by the mayor's son-in-law.
A sudden wash of sparkling liquid shines
in the inserted light, and hairpin turns
loom far ahead and soon are vaulted past
inpalpably; we float, we fall, we veer
in these soft, pliant passages spelunked
by everything one eats.
Then all goes dark,
as God intended it whenever He
sealed shut in Adam's abdomen
life's slimy, twisting, smelly miracle.
The bridegroom's voice, below the edge of sight
like buried treasure, announces,
"Perfect. Not a polyp. See you in
five years." Five years? The funhouse may have folded.  

24 Jun 2007 @ 20:48 by Quinty @ : Thanks
I needed that.

Having graduated from two sigmoids to the big league (in more ways than one) I'm not certain exactly what to expect. Leave it to poetry to clear up one doubts, so beautifully.  

9 Jul 2007 @ 22:16 by jazzolog : Socialism? It's Even Worse!
Health Care Terror
By Paul Krugman
The New York Times
Monday 09 July 2007

These days terrorism is the first refuge of scoundrels. So when British authorities announced that a ring of Muslim doctors working for the National Health Service was behind the recent failed bomb plot, we should have known what was coming.

"National healthcare: Breeding ground for terror?" read the on-screen headline, as the Fox News host Neil Cavuto and the commentator Jerry Bowyer solemnly discussed how universal health care promotes terrorism.

While this was crass even by the standards of Bush-era political discourse, Fox was following in a long tradition. For more than 60 years, the medical-industrial complex and its political allies have used scare tactics to prevent America from following its conscience and making access to health care a right for all its citizens.

I say conscience, because the health care issue is, most of all, about morality.

That's what we learn from the overwhelming response to Michael Moore's "Sicko." Health care reformers should, by all means, address the anxieties of middle-class Americans, their growing and justified fear of finding themselves uninsured or having their insurers deny coverage when they need it most. But reformers shouldn't focus only on self-interest. They should also appeal to Americans' sense of decency and humanity.

What outrages people who see "Sicko" is the sheer cruelty and injustice of the American health care system - sick people who can't pay their hospital bills literally dumped on the sidewalk, a child who dies because an emergency room that isn't a participant in her mother's health plan won't treat her, hard-working Americans driven into humiliating poverty by medical bills.

"Sicko" is a powerful call to action - but don't count the defenders of the status quo out. History shows that they're very good at fending off reform by finding new ways to scare us.

These scare tactics have often included over-the-top claims about the dangers of government insurance. "Sicko" plays part of a recording Ronald Reagan once made for the American Medical Association, warning that a proposed program of health insurance for the elderly - the program now known as Medicare - would lead to totalitarianism.

Right now, by the way, Medicare - which did enormous good, without leading to a dictatorship - is being undermined by privatization.

Mainly, though, the big-money interests with a stake in the present system want you to believe that universal health care would lead to a crushing tax burden and lousy medical care.

Now, every wealthy country except the United States already has some form of universal care. Citizens of these countries pay extra taxes as a result - but they make up for that through savings on insurance premiums and out-of-pocket medical costs. The overall cost of health care in countries with universal coverage is much lower than it is here.

Meanwhile, every available indicator says that in terms of quality, access to needed care and health outcomes, the U.S. health care system does worse, not better, than other advanced countries - even Britain, which spends only about 40 percent as much per person as we do.

Yes, Canadians wait longer than insured Americans for elective surgery. But over all, the average Canadian's access to health care is as good as that of the average insured American - and much better than that of uninsured Americans, many of whom never receive needed care at all.

And the French manage to provide arguably the best health care in the world, without significant waiting lists of any kind. There's a scene in "Sicko" in which expatriate Americans in Paris praise the French system. According to the hard data they're not romanticizing. It really is that good.

All of which raises the question Mr. Moore asks at the beginning of "Sicko": who are we?

"We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics." So declared F.D.R. in 1937, in words that apply perfectly to health care today. This isn't one of those cases where we face painful tradeoffs - here, doing the right thing is also cost-efficient. Universal health care would save thousands of American lives each year, while actually saving money.

So this is a test. The only things standing in the way of universal health care are the fear-mongering and influence-buying of interest groups. If we can't overcome those forces here, there's not much hope for America's future.  

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