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Monday, May 16, 2011

Why Granny Can't Afford Her Medications

Since working in a medical facility and seeing the techniques used by pharmaceutical manufacturers to market their products, I've become curious enough to attempt to follow pro-corporate legislation  - and discourage any legislation that may limit profits - in this huge, for-profit industry. Under the guise of "education", physicians are treated to cruises, trips to places I'd certainly like to go, and other benefits. ALEC, according to their own documents, wants to eliminate any attempt to regulate these marketing techniques to keep prices down (!?!?).
To quote ALEC, in this document:
Prepared Statement
Christie Herrera
Director, Health and Human Services Task Force
American Legislative Exchange Council
to the
Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee
April 30, 2009
they opposed legislation:
"..which would require pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers to disclose "payments or transfers of value" to associated health care entities."
The following quotes are liberated :-) from sites which encourage investment in the pharmaceutical industry. The potential profits for those willing to invest are extraordinary. I leave you to judge the morality behind ALEC's motivations for (given that many of their influential/high-paying members are the huge pharmaceutical manufacturers) and the politicians who (again, receiving huge donations from the same manufacturers) engage in fighting against any legislation intended to control the marketing practices of these ALEC members.
To me, it's clearly immoral.
... there are still great benefits to be reaped however. In the end, how can you beat a business that makes a pill for a few pennies and sells for a few dollars? The economics are just too good to avoid!
Hmmm. Try removing "the growing demand for drugs and medication for" from this quote:

One has to admit that the pharmaceutical industry has a very good position to take great advantage of the growing demand for drugs and medication for the sick and elderly.
This "investment opportunity" document (source below in this section) contains much about the methodology and benefits of building "positive behaviors of loyal physicians" - sales techniques designed to increase prescriptions written for branded medications, and to encourage physician-to-physican marketing.
For this company, the payoff was $14 million per year in GI and $20 million per year in respiratory.And it is important to note that these are conservative estimates: They only include the direct impact of loyalty on sales, not any of the increased sales and profits that result from other positive behaviors of loyal physicians.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Pharisees Among Us

Pharisees. Most of us have heard that term. Many of us are aware that Jesus didn't have many good things to say about the Pharisees.

It struck me, in my early-morning musings, that there are some frightening parallels between the ancient Pharisees and those who lean hard to the right of the political realm.

Yes, those of us who lean left are guilty of some of the same things - please don't think I am unaware of that.

As I tried to compile a list of characteristics, I am most definitely aware that I have been guilty of most, if not all, of them at times. I am human. I need to strive to be more aware of these tendencies in myself and hope that my friends love me enough to point 'em out when they see 'em!

We need, I believe, to "Speak the truth in love" - to one another, to our legislators, to those who oppose us.

Even as I read my words, I recognize that I may be coming off as "preachy", but that is not my intent - my intent is to point out truth, to encourage myself and others to stick to the high road.

I realize that this is somewhat of a sermon. Maybe that's okay.

When I think about it, some of the best sermons I've seen and heard, of late, were wearing parkas and carrying signs.  

Let's get to the traits of the Pharisees of Jesus' time - and of ours.

  • Glorify in connections with the truly Godly, but may have no holiness themselves
  • Wear a mask of external righteousness; consider themselves "holy" because of their external appearances
  • Will not mingle with , and exhibit no real concern for, those whom they see as "sinners"
  • Hypocritical
  • Very critical of others in small matters
  • Live by accusation
  • Motivated by jealousy, hatred
  • Suspicious of others; always looking for the wrong in others
  • Careless and hurtful in their speech. (I think of this as "care-less")
  • Neglect others' needs; justify this in the name of religion
  • Easily offended
  • Follow blindly - undiscerning
  • Make no allowances for others - their way is the only way
  • Seek to "catch" others in their words and repeat half-sentences out of context to make others look bad
  • Hard-hearted
  • Know what is right, but do not DO what is right
  • Put heavy burdens on people, but will not lift a finger to help others without the possibility of personal gain
  • Seek recognition by others; love to be in high positions/places of honor
  • Controlling
  • Willing to corrupt others; lead them astray for personal gain/perpetuation of their agenda
  • Take advantage of the poor; use psychological tactics/deception to get money
  • Pray long prayers in public to appear "righteous"
  • Encourage others to feel that they are being "righteous" in their wrongdoing
  • Add their modifications to the teachings of Jesus... do not see the inconsistency in this 
  • Neglect mercy, grace and faithfulness
  • Focus on minor issues - strains out gnats while swallowing camels
  • Greedy ... want more and more and MORE for themselves, but don't bless others
  •  Say, "*I* would never have done that", while not seeing nor admitting their own corruption
  •  Persecute others - especially those who will not listen to them and do it "their way"
  • Fear the opinions of others - enough to engage in wrongdoing to maintain favor 
  • Love money - "use people, love things" rather than "love people, use things"
  • Express thankfulness that they are "better" than others; exult themselves
  • Pride in their own works/gifts; lack humility; boastful about achievements
  • Look down upon other people; contemptuous toward others
  • Accusatory toward others, while not judging themselves
  • Lie
  • Jealous of/judgemental toward those who do more good for others than they do
  • Value tradition over true righteousness
  • Self-justifying - will not humbly admit their own faults and wrongdoing

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Lies, Hypocrisy, Public Ignorance: The REAL Budget Toolkit

States & Nation Policy Summit in December 2009
Michael Hough, Task Force Director

Information contained in this blog is taken from "Inside ALEC" - a publication of the American Legislative Exchange Council. "Inside ALEC" is available only to its members. (I thought one could find just about anything on eBay, but I've checked and have never been able to find copies of this publication.) I did not cover all of the model legislation that appeared in this magazine - just that which I considered really blatant examples of their agenda. In actuality, in 2009 they proposed over 800 pieces of model legislation. 

This is some of what appeared in the January/February 2010 edition of "Inside ALEC".

1. ALEC says that they support the Constitution of the United States completely. They also want to amend any section of the Constitution of the United States that may result in reducing profits. They want to pass legislation that ensures that members have direct political clout/power - immensely beyond what they now have.

2. ALEC wants to prevent the government (police and other agencies, employers) from creating/accessing databases  on criminal history, forcing them to pay for a private service to create accessible databases.
3. Providing nutritional information is expensive. Providing healthy choices in restaurants is expensive. You, the consumer, don't need to know what you are ordering. 
4. The ALEC definition of "Quality Higher Education" is private colleges - they want to eliminate state-run colleges. Checked into tuition lately? Admission requirements for most private colleges? Can you afford it? Will your "C" student be accepted?

5. You may have good reason to send your child to a private, for-profit in many cases, school. Those for-profit schools, after all, are in many cases ALEC members, too... they will pay teachers less, require minimal education for those teachers. The implications of this are enormous and I cannot begin to enumerate them here.
6. Perhaps you've been fortunate thus far and have not ever needed to rely on Medicaid. Doubtless you know of someone who's been forced to - a child born with a disability, an elderly person whose savings have been decimated by paying for medical care or having to be in a nursing home. It could happen to ANY OF US. You need only to listen to the news to know that millions of people will be affected by the legislation now being proposed to drastically cut the availability of this safety net.
7. The European Union currently bans the sale of snus (smokeless tobacco, "chew", whatever you want to call it). Philip Morris, the tobacco company and an ALEC member, has seen profits drop greatly as people in the US quit smoking. The proposed "Model Legislation" solves this "problem" -  the US will urge the EU to drop their ban.
8. Remember the "Buy American" movement? The one that keeps jobs in the US? Forget it. We will reward countries that allow US corporations to move in and perpetrate the ALEC agenda.
9. Many countries can now be considered "Young Democracies". A resolution is proposed by ALEC that their corporate members take over the governments of these countries, ostensibly to prevent these "immature" governments from sliding back into authoritarianism. It doesn't take a mental giant to realize that this would be extremely profitable, create a dependence upon these corporations, and hey, ALEC is all about its OWN authoritarianism (see any of the other points in this blog).
10. Create a mandate to allow time (AT YOUR EXPENSE) for legislators to be "educated" (indoctrinated is a better term, is it not?) to support ALEC's "Model Legislation" - again, this legislation is all about corporate profits.
11. While we're at it, let's prevent the US government from buying any "alternative or synthetic fuels". We're perfectly fine with our reliance on the oil companies that are ALEC members.
12. Hydraulic Fracking is a process of drilling into the earth, injecting a mixture of chemicals and water, among other things, to extract natural gas. Perfectly safe, according to ALEC and its corporate members involved in fracking. Would you prefer to drink, cook with, bathe with, give your children, water that does NOT contain 17x  the normal level of methane? (Studies have documented that this is common in areas near fracking operations.) Would you prefer that you NOT be able to light your water on fire straight out of the tap? Not to worry, ALEC members will be more than happy to sell you the bottled water they produce!
Studies are also indicating a tendency to more earthquakes in regions where fracking is common... though scientists are still working on whether there is a causal relationship.
13. ALEC dismisses climate change due to human activities as "junk science". Yet there are certainly profits to be made by corporations that will assist, at a profit, companies with studies of their greenhouse gas emissions, and provide the necessary technology to help 'em reduce those emissions. (I have read ALEC documents that also blame developing countries without as many regulations for the lion's share of greenhouse gas emissions). Companies would be punished for not availing themselves of these "services". Hmmm... perhaps a little bit hypocritical? D'ya think?
14. ALEC wants to eliminate any possibility of establishing federal standards for how elections are run in individual states/counties. Not sure how that benefits anyone, but one only needs to look at Waukesha to see the effects of the lack of standardization.
15. Voter ID bills are also part of this particular piece of "Model Legislation"... another ALEC-created, nonexistent crisis. One ALEC document even encourages legislators to essentially lie to their constituents to garner support for these bills by using anecdotal "evidence" to "prove" rampant voter fraud. An uneducated, easily manipulated, conspiracy-theory-hungry public gobbles this up without question.
16. ALEC "Model Legislation" includes a proposal that would never, ever allow national popular vote. It is almost amusing, in a tragic sort of way, to read their contentions... that this would prevent elected legislators from acting "according to the wishes of the majority of their citizens". That it would "render minority groups voiceless". That it would "empower densely populated and ideologically homogeneous regions as well as radical fringe groups".
17. ALEC wants to prohibit any health-related warning labels on electronic products. Not only that, but this proposed legislation would prohibit retailers from informing customers about any health risks of said products. Apparently "freedom of speech" applies only to their members... including the big-name manufacturers of electronic products, naturally.

Model Legislation

Approved at ALEC's