Category Archives: medical ethics

Methanol for the CoV2 Hypodermic Chemical Experiment

“There you have it — At-will, AKA at the beckon call, beckon abuse, beckon exploitation, beckon denigration, beckon injurious behavior and workplace environment. These employers are thugs, and from the top down, with their lawyers and MBAs and institutional misleadership yahoos at the executive level, the worker is doomed by this sick system. Forced vaccinations for schools, colleges, workplaces. The systems need to burn!”

Of course, I am asked not to identify the person who wrote this to me. We all are being surveilled by these Stasi folk, whether we work for a governmental agency, school systems, private college, for-profit business, mom and pop lowbrow joint, nonprofit, you name it.

They (bosses, agencies, pre-employment interviewers) sign up for Google search notifications — any time their company is named in the media or on digital platforms, they get notifications. They track what’s said about their business, corporation, nonprofit, agency, school. That is also for anyone they want to put into the Google-Palantir search engine, for a price, monthly rate, be it a person’s name. Like mine, hmm.

This is what these Stasi Americans want in their lives — complete control. Damage control against the truth-sayers speaking truth to power. Damage the messenger, or kill him or her with constant threats of litigation, fines, subpoenas, more. Imagine one writer, me, getting hooked into the Google Gulag, but then, what about anyone with my name? Hmm, children, siblings, spouses? This is how they play their mole game.

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Below, an example of the blithe and dangerous bullshit fake journalism of the mainstream imbeciles. That the State of Oregon can force vaccinations onto people really is the issue: the state just pushes that onto the overlords running businesses or nonprofits. That’s it, no argument, hands down the policy of the land, man.

The news (sic) story below will not contain push back,  and it will be vacant of civil rights thinkers/libertarians cited, will allude to no one pushing back on these Draconian measures. In fact, the story will not frame these measures as Draconian. The journalist from the Oregon paper of record (Oregonian) is already colonized and co-opted. Then you get some “law” professor (sic) from a for-profit private university pulled into the article, to come on board to yammer on. This is the new normal that’s been pretty old normal — mainstream media faking it, looking like it’s in the hunt for balance, when it’s all false balance, false and manufactured consent. The goal is to question the prevailing party-bureaucratic-company line, and question all governments’ actions. Read here:

“I think ultimately most employers would be able to require it,” said Henry Drummonds, a Lewis & Clark Law School professor specializing in labor and employment law. “But I think most employers probably wouldn’t want to require it. I think employers could first encourage and educate employees about the safety of the vaccine and the desirability of it in terms of protecting yourself and your coworkers.”

Drummonds said that at-will employment standards allow private businesses to dictate and change the terms of employment at any time and fire employees for any reason, as long as they don’t discriminate on the basis of race, gender, age or any other protected category.

In practice, this means that employers probably could require employees to receive the vaccine to remain employed or return to the office. Both the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries have released guidance stating that employers can mandate that employees get vaccinated.

 

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Already, idiocy prevails: just recently, I witnessed a manager of a nonprofit ask her employee in front of another employee in a public place within lots of people’s earshot: “Well, Rick, got his vaccination. So did I. Most everyone in the company has. But John hasn’t.”

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I knew this was a nonprofit this manager was a member of because I was within earshot. I offered an unsolicited response, trying to equate calling someone out in public for not having this experimental and not FDA-approved chemical shot. “How’s your BMI? You looking overweight? How’s your hypertension? You looking pink in the face? How’s your probable lung cancer? You just finished off a cigarette. Come on, shaming people for not agreeing to an untested chemical compound with that jab in the arm is unethical, and in public so I can hear your conversation?” She just clammed up and scooted her two employees away.

Imagine, fewer and fewer tough guys and gals can actually make it in USA (elsewhere too) with the power of what they can and cannot decide upon, that is, what they either want to and do not want to be injected into their bodies. Mind you, the jury is far from out on these chemical shots —

On February 27, 2021, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it had “issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the third vaccine for the prevention of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19),” the Janssen (Johnson&Johnson) Covid-19 vaccine.

This announcement is virtually identical to the EUAs previously issued for Covid-19 vaccines produced by Pfizer-Biontech and Moderna.

In each of the EUAs, the FDA has been careful to avoid any claim that the vaccines provide protection against infection or transmission of the virus. Similarly, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have each publicly stated that the vaccines have NOT been shown to prevent infection or transmission.

All of their regulatory documents and commentary addressing the issue state clearly that there is no evidence that the vaccines affect either infection with or transmission of the virus, nor do they prevent symptoms of Covid-19 from appearing.

— Source:  “Covid Vaccine Nonsense” [US-based human rights lawyer breaks down the contradictory claims of “effectiveness”, the incomplete studies and legal minefield of forced use of experimental vaccines] JP Jerome

 

Let’s shift to some compare and contrast between vaccine makers and cigarette makers. I  just read a short but cogent article on the menthol marketing, how 45,000 black Americans die each year from tobacco related illnesses (mostly throat, tongue, and lung cancer). Talk about cool — mentholated cigarettes’ make the poisons go down easier. Everything goes down smoother with a little bit of throat deadening. And this is legal stuff. No massive “take all the cigarettes’ and Juul’s and pipes and cigars and chew cans away.”  “Menthol Marketing Exposes Institutional Racism” by Michael Schwalbe, Counterpunch.

But forced vaccinations, and then this pact with  the devil — at-will, zero protection: screw up and you get the pink slip bullshit about American capitalism. Sort of buyer beware, user beware, consumer beware, worker beware.

In the long run, the solution to the ongoing global pandemic of tobacco-related disease is to abolish tobacco companies. Short of that, we now have an opportunity to significantly curtail the industry’s ability to profit from the destruction of Black lives. If Black lives matter, we must not let the opportunity pass.

— Michael Schwalbe, professor of sociology at North Carolina State University Source.

Low income, lots of working class people, workers in the developing world. Slick multimillion dollar a year ad campaigns: Slick, and Scientific (sic). Data driven.  Imagine, tobacco kills more than 8 million people each year. Of these deaths, 1.2 million are caused by secondhand smoke exposure. Talk about an epidemic, pandemic. You know that every rotting Southern pol and every single tobacco lobbyist and every grower and CEO, they pooh-pooh these stats. “Prove it. If it’s that deadly, then why’s it legal?”

The internet seems great at scrubbing information, but the reality is that when Ray-Gun left his criminal enterprise throne, he did some hucksterism stuff for the tobacco industry. He and Edwin Meese did a talking tour overseas to push cancer sticks.

Talk about killing people from his cold-ass grave, Reagan and the long arm of his contra mentality, still with us:

But the industry did not launch its campaign for new overseas markets alone. The Reagan and Bush administrations used their economic and political clout to pry open markets in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and China for American cigarettes. At a time when one arm of the government was warning Americans about the dangers of smoking, another was helping the industry recruit a new generation of smokers abroad.

Asia is where tobacco’s search for new horizons began and where the industry came to rely most on Washington’s help. U.S. officials in effect became the industry’s lawyers, agents and collaborators. Prominent politicians such as Robert J. Dole, Jesse Helms, Dan Quayle and Al Gore played a role. “No matter how this process spins itself out,” George Griffin, commercial counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, told Matthew N. Winokur, public affairs manager of Philip Morris Asia, in a “Dear Matt” letter in January 1986, “I want to emphasize that the embassy and the various U.S. government agencies in Washington will keep the interests of Philip Morris and the other American cigarette manufacturers in the forefront of our daily concerns.”  Source.

Why the harangue by yours truly against tobacco in a piece about how rotting the at-will mentality of big, small and loser companies run by bigger losers than anyone following the Peter Principle 2.0 [well, Peter Principle update: the worse you are as a human, with no ethics, no character, well, you go up the ladder, food chain, corporate manure pile!] can imagine forcing vaccines onto workers?

Think hard about an experimental mRNA chemical put into a syringe and then forcefully delivered to the global population. Hmm, would this have been acceptable in 2019? 2001? 1990? The year I was born, 1957?

Of course not, and yet, this is it, with people being shamed or called out for reluctance on an experimental, emergency authorized, untested chemical and DNA morphing drug being forcefully put into one’s body. Not once, but with a booster, and then, now, as the world burns, yearly or bi-yearly boosters for the “new” variants of a corona cold virus.

Here, this is science and capitalism, science/capitalism/politics, like leprosery and it’s host —

One way the tobacco industry has manipulated cigarettes to increase addictiveness is by loading cigarettes with chemical compounds. Bronchodilators were added so that tobacco smoke can more easily enter the lungs. Sugars, flavors and menthol were increased to dull the harshness of smoke and make it easier to inhale. Ammonia was added so that nicotine travels to the brain faster.

Specifically, increasing the amount of nicotine was of paramount importance to tobacco company executives. Experts found that Big Tobacco companies genetically engineered their tobacco crops to contain two times the amount of nicotine and adjusted their cigarette design so that the nicotine delivered to smokers increased by 14.5 percent. As Phillip Morris Principal Scientist W.L. Dunn said in 1972, “No one has ever become a cigarette smoker by smoking cigarettes without nicotine.”  — Source

Bronchodilators and ammonia added? Come on, my students at UTEP were finding more dirt on big tobacco and the collusion with the FDA, keeping secret under governmental lock and key all the ingredients they sprayed on tobacco before becoming the stuff of rolled cigs, cigars, pipe filler and chew. Think of secret doses of anti-convulsant drugs, since the higher nicotine content and the other burning chemicals cause many people to get ticks, minor tremors; i.e., seizures. Best keep the seizures down and the sales up.

Shoot, this is just the minor list of smoke by-products — Nicotine (the addictive drug that produces the effects in the brain that people are looking for), Hydrogen cyanide, Formaldehyde, Lead, Arsenic, Ammonia, Radioactive elements, such as polonium-210, Benzene, Carbon monoxide, Tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs), Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

These Satan’s, these big and little Eichmann types, these Mad Men, these PR spinners, these profiteers and cancer mercenaries, come on, the story is bigger — 600 ingredients can be used in cigarettes, but the actual combustion of the cig produces over 4,000 chemical compounds. And, when burned, these cigarette ingredients mix together and create deadly substances, 69 of which are carcinogenic.

Yeah, how’s that pandemic and pandemic and pandemic on the horizon. SARS-CoV2, 3, 5? Remember, there is no outright statement that declares cigarette smoking causes cancers or any number of other co-occurring diseases or terminal cancers.

So, if Big Tobacco and Gore and Reagan and Clinton and Trump, et al can stump just for this singular felonious Mafia outfit, what do you think might be happening behind closed doors and inside labs and at the top of the heap tied to exactly what this experimental vaccine’s (sic) side effects might do today, next month, a year from now, etc.?

For the good of the world? The economies? For life saving ethos? You got the memo yet? You want life saving? Shit, one product, tobacco, done with, hmm, what’s that life saving factor? Banned from planet earth, more or less. And how much for all the lost labor of huffing and puffing cig smokers . . .  all the flagging physiologies, all the damage, slow and fast, caused by cigs, et al? Ya think there will be a ban tomorrow?

Hmm, NEVER. Now, multiply that a million fold with all the deadly chemicals and toxins and fumigants and fungicides and off-gassing crap in all manner of clothes, combustible materials, food, drinks, drugs. Then multiple one times two, and then factor up. How do these work, hmm, twelve together, the impossibility of really studying the synergistic effects of one chemical interacting with another, or a dozen or 4,000? Hmm, those 4,000 chemicals in one good Marlboro man drag, what’s the toll?

You think there are governmental and private financed studies on that? Think.

According to comments from vaccine scientists in September 2020 (prior to the Covid-19 EUA issuances), no vaccine had ever before been distributed on an EUA basis.

“We don’t do EUAs for vaccines,” [Dr. Peter] Hotez said, “It’s a lesser review, it’s a lower-quality review, and when you’re talking about vaccinating a large chunk of the American population, that’s not acceptable.”

Three months later, the FDA issued EUAs for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, but with explicit guidance that the vaccine “has not undergone the same type of review as an FDA- approved or cleared product.”

The idea is that if there are injuries and deaths because of the experimental and untested drugs-chemicals in these shots, well, who foots the bill? Who is responsible? Hmm, in the USA, it’s the US taxpayer.

I have a friend whose niece would not take “death by any other means” as the last answer. She is pushing for an investigation into her father’s death after the vaccine was given to him. He was 74, healthy, but he did have aging issues, like we all do. Blood clots occurred rapidly, hmm, and, then he checked out in a stroke like manner. This is after, right after, vaccination. The county coroner will not do an autopsy, and alas, there are no watchdog agencies in our corner. A simple autopsy would be $6,000. This is a suspicious vaccine-related death, and she has now gone on-line and gotten more people to email her about similar deaths after vaccination. She can’t put it on Facebook, too long or too detailed like, so she is getting contacted through GoFundMe. She’s doing this surreptitiously.  There will be no Ralph Nader’s or RFK, Jr.’s coming to her family’s aid.

Just like you can’t sue successfully the big tobacco and their technicians and chemists and MD’s and lawyers and CEO’s and the politicians and marketers for selling a dangerous product to a billion people, let alone the second and third hand smoke of these cancer sticks.

The post Methanol for the CoV2 Hypodermic Chemical Experiment first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Washing Away One Trail of Tears After Another

White Washing: According to one Merriam-Webster definition, to whitewash is to “gloss over or cover up,” which, in a sense, is what the racial form of whitewashing does. It creates a White world where sins against people of color, including Blacks, Native Americans, Asians, Latinos, and other minority groups cease to matter because, in revisionist history and reality, those minority groups barely exist.

Here’s one example believe it or not which ties into my neck of the woods on the Central Oregon Coast, and even Portland, OR: ‘Daniel Boone was a man. Yes a big man. With an eye like an eagle and as tall as a mountain was he. Daniel Boone was a man. Yes a big man. He was brave, he was fearless and as tough as a mighty oak tree. The rippin’est roarin’est fightin’est man the frontier ever knew.’

We get to Boone in a moment, and all the mythology and falsified history of his very existence.

There are all sorts of ways to wash away complicity or guilt, and the color wheel is just one way to describe this highly sophisticated form of propaganda-marketing-PR spin-Revisionist history/thinking/mythology. Whitewashing is a form of fabrication.

Part of the fabrication are those scared cows like “we support our men and women in uniform.” I personally have a few hundred examples of going up against many armies of the lie, or battalions of the bullshit.

There are good journalists and good teachers, for sure, but the majority, for the most part, are not sacred or holy or fool-proof agents of democracy. There are many ways I have been hobbled for not supporting the illegal wars of this country, especially Bush’s “declared victory” in the Middle East. Hobbled by fellow journalists and educators.  I was living in El Paso, and Cocaine and Southern Comfort W Bush was the governor of that Tex-ass state. El Paso is a huge arena for military and retired military. The Mexican-Americans (88 percent of the population in El Paso/El Paso County) may have voted straight democrat on their ballots (Bush and other retrograde redneck vicious governors have come to town courting that vote), but many Latinx love their USA flags and military men and women from their ranks. So, going against Reagan’s wars in Central America or Bush I’s against Panama, Malvinas and his Desert Shield, I was up against supposed liberal left fellow teachers and journalists. Even supposedly disenfranchised Latinx.

Once the Prez or Congress or whomever (CIA, NSA) gets us into a war, we all must support the troops, no, tie a yellow ribbon on the chain-link fence sort of thing . . .  support the mission, support whatever the Commander in Chief does with his tin soldiers. How many times have I gone up against college/university presidents and provosts and department chairs and even my own fellow faculty when I questioned the veracity of rationales for bombing other countries. As Kim Peterson illustrates in his recent DV article, “North Korea Steadfastly Resisting US Hegemony,” by illuminating A.B. Abrams “… comprehensive book, Immovable Object: North Korea’s 70 Years at War with American Power, there is a whole lot of rooting for war and destruction by the average North American:

US wars are not only a function of its government and military. It is important to realize that the US carries out it warring and provocations against foreign countries often with overwhelming approval of the American populace. Abrams writes that the majority of American citizens supported using nukes against North Korea. (p 131) American public support for warring was also evident by support for intensified bombing by the US during armistice negotiations. (p 224) That this American public support for militarism was not an anomaly was revealed during the US attacks on Muslim nations following 9-11, with 70% of Americans indicating a belief in Saddam Hussein being connected to Al Qaeda. (p 390)

You can fiddle with terms like illegal alien, positing that no human being is “illegal,” or debating how the term “alien” ascribes more than a negative otherness to the person — it dehumanizes the person.

These are important discussions, especially in politics, in journalism and in educational circles. Yet, these discussions have lingered in academia, and have withered at the root of American enlightenment.

I’ve had to confront people about what it means to be humanistic and abiding by the Earth Charter and Dignity and Rights of All People. You know, that socialistic and humanistic and democratic and communist set of principles of for-by-with-because-of the people:

  • pinko
  • self-loathing white
  • un-American
  • anti-American
  • anti-patriotic
  • traitor
  • love it or leave it
  • bleeding heart liberal

These are terms of vile against me and others for fighting for the simple rights of people — some of the most able, of the land and poor village people and farmers whose lives are torn up, destroyed, disposed of, displaced through the strong arm and long arm of economic-cultural-political-military warfare.

You can be labeled “anti-American/anti-business/anti-poor” for questioning Walmart. You can be called a “traitor” for questioning bombing, chemical spraying, immolating, polluting, imprisoning, permanently displacing people the USA deems enemies, supportive of enemies of the state, or collateral damage.

Proportionality when discussed by the average American is questioning the very fabric of our way of life, our leadership and our own form of enslavement and dictatorship. The military is right, and whatever they need to intervene or overreach, they know the deal.

Proportionality in international law, however,  is not about equality of death or civilian suffering, or even about equality of firepower. Proportionality weighs the necessity of a military action against suffering that the action might cause to enemy civilians in the vicinity.

Under international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute, the death of civilians during an armed conflict, no matter how grave and regrettable does not constitute a war crime…. even when it is known that some civilian deaths or injuries will occur. A crime occurs if there is an intentional attack directed against civilians (principle of distinction) or an attack is launched on a military objective in the knowledge that the incidental civilian injuries would be clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage (principle of proportionality). — Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor, International Criminal Court.

The above Moreno-Ocampo statement is more or less memory-holed, erased largely from discourse, and hardly every cited in educational circles. This form of washing away knowledge is called agnotology – a concerted effort to wash or erase facts, history. The white wash cited above, as in support the troops right or wrong, is well, pretty obvious in the K12 textbooks, or watching those crocodile-teared GOP or Democrats with their metal USA flag lapel pins, shakily saluting while death jets like F-15, 16, 18 models zoom above inebriated football fans. Hourly fuel costs —

Fighters:
F-15C Eagle Fighter — $41,921
F-16C Viper Fighter — $22,514
F-22A Raptor Fighter — $68,362

$1,500 – Predator drone
$11,500 – A-10
$70,000 – V-22
$32,000 – F-35
$44,000 – F22
$135,000 – B-2
$5,000 – F-16
$17,000-$30,000 – F-15C
$19,000-$30,000 – F-22

VIP transport:
C-20B VIP Plane (Senior Pentagon Officials) — $32,212
C-32A VIP Plane (Vice President, Cabinet Officers) — $42,936
VC-25A Air Force One — $161,591
E-4B Flying Headquarters — $163,485

Operating expenses total $206,337 for every hour the president’s plane is in the air.

Which brings us to more than just white washing, or blood money trading. Imagine the US military is the biggest single source of pollution in the world, and imagine creepy politicians and GS-18’s and highflying ex-four star generals and CEOs of the mercenary companies like Raytheon and Aerodynamics, just getting their free air time spewing lie after lie about a more sustainable US military — mean, green, lean fighting machine.

Greenwashing is a whitewash or green sheening by corporations to promote themselves as “environment friendly.” It also encompasses that environmentally and socially responsibility flim-flam, full of the PT Barnum deceptive promotion to lie through their teeth. Key concepts for all washing it marketing and advertising themselves as environment friendly. Spend money on the Mad Men and Mad Women, rather than actual actions, is called greenwashing.

Add to the wash of the green, blue-washing:  a technique deployed by corporations and companies to form collaborations and associations with various United Nations agencies to portray themselves as being compliant of the ten principles of United Nations Global Compact, while not being so in actuality.

Advertising spin of the blue wash variety is supposedly showing congruence with these principles above, to include actions against child labor, slavery and corruption, safeguarding human rights.

Then, well, we get into the latest arena of washing, bullshitting, lying, mind manipulation, closely linked to the fearful majority who would dare speak out against Zionism as a massively inhumane belief and operating system, one counterpoint to the 10 Principles illustrated above. You are, in a nutshell, pigeon-holed as anti-Semitic if you criticize these aspects of Zionism or the country (sic) of “Israel.” Washed out of existence, another form of washing. Akin to being memory-holed  as a non-human, a nobody.

Who would have thought Pink-washing would be tied to “Israel,” but . . . .

[Below: Anarcho-queer collective Mashpritzot hold a “die-in” protest against Israeli pinkwashing and the perceived homonormative priorities of the LGBT support centre in Tel Aviv]

Over a decade ago, activists adopted the term “pink-washing” to describe the Israeli propaganda tactic of washing away the oppression of Palestinians by painting Israel as a gay-friendly and liberal state. Israeli pink-washing tries to win the hearts and minds of international audiences and prevent solidarity with the Palestinian struggle

white paint overlay over a close up of details of a marble column

Reversing back to this screed’s start

We’ll get to Ralph Nader’s Radio Hour in a second. We’ll get to Daniel Boone too, in a second, tied to the white-washing pulled quote above.

First, a little bit of my work again in social services, a field that is for the most part vastly underpaid, with workers who are dedicated at first, highly motivated to help people, and whose lives are in many cases the epitome of sacrifice — student loan debts, master’s degrees for $17 an hour work, and mandatory several thousand hours of unpaid clinical hours.

Think about that for a moment — pre-Covid-19, a society fraught with trauma, fraught with chronic physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual illnesses. People who are left alone, left out to dry, folks who are traumatized by family, by neighborhoods, by circumstances. People who were already damaged in many ways in utero, and after birth, well, the society in general and at large, eating away at the typical American soul. Tape worms of the soul: Capitalism. Pin worms of the heart: Consumerism. The giant proverbial leech sucking people dry in this economic gulag: Market Driven Madness.

Some of the people I serve have head injuries. Traumatic Brain Injuries. That act of “god” or “fate” can alter a person completely for life. In most cases, there is a lot of physical impediment, or some, but the memory is shot-through, many times. Spotty short-term and long-term memory. Swiss cheese of the brain in many cases.

Then a head bash-trauma can also strip away a person’s emotional and empathetic cores. They just can’t feel the normal range of human emotions. No tears when a loved one dies. Little joy. Even brain injured children are considered low on the person’s emotional totem pole.

On the job, a person in this situation needs accommodations, needs personal support workers to help the injured person just do the basic activities of daily living/survival.

It isn’t an easy life — going from a perfectly healthy and active 15-year-old thriving teen, to a paralyzed, comatose and soon recovering brain injured human being.

My job is to support these sorts of people in getting work, and in getting to first base in the first place by coaching interview techniques, by helping contextualize life gaps, such as the years after a brain injury.

The emotional complexities of the human species are many times missing, and so I have to act as the bridge and interpreter as this person attempts to navigate integrated employment.

The problem is that this sort of survival is a growing concern. Emergency Medicine can keep people alive after horrific accidents, accidents which just a few years ago would have been a death sentence.

Now, what do the “recovered” do to survive, to find some niche in society by working and carrying on? When the society in general is still fifty years behind the times?

Many of the people with a TBI live a life surrounded by/surrounding themselves with mythology, sacred cows, propped up belief systems. They many times want to believe in “normal/normalcy” in a world where that — normal — is an ever-moving target.

The “new normal” is no normal.

Which leads us back to the entire white washing of USA, of this country’s past, this country’s under girder and foundations of, well, theft.

Brains and Daniel Boone

I write, participate in revolutionary activism, muckrake, and work in social services, as I have laid out in DV many times in the past 11 years, grappling with many different challenges in those gigs or jobs I’ve had assisting people — people in distress, traumatized, in full-blown crisis, a la PTSD. Brain injured as adults (war time, too), born with Down Syndrome, dementia and Alzheimer’s, mentally retarded (according to various school districts and Special Ed programs), with drug affected conditions leading to all manner of learning and developmental disabilities. Old and young, functional in terms of our “normal” society, or highly impacted by fetal alcohol syndrome or cerebral palsy, and the like.

I’ve worked with folks living with psychological disabilities, like schizophrenia. With full-blown mental breakdown caused by bad families, bad circumstances, bad drugging, bad war experiences, bad people. Everyone of the military women I have worked with were victimized by rape. Brutal. Many women in general I have worked with have been sexually assaulted. And with all of the psychological tears and battering those rapes do, there are also physical issues tied to pounded faces, pounded necks, and, thus, we have bad backs and necks and all the other secondary and tertiary things associated with violent attacks on bodies.

I’m working with what the people who come to me have, helping them enhance the positives and push down some of the barriers. And the barriers are more than just their own, their own families’, their own community’s. The barriers are cultural. Many Americans want “them” to maybe be seen but not heard. Many do not want them to be seen, either.

Another threadbare existence for tens of millions of people. Maybe more. And there will be more on the horizon with more and more people surviving crashes and accidents, left with major mental-psychological-neurological-physical disabilities. The handicapping comes from policies, legislation, lack of housing, lack of real support teams. Just one of a million things lacking in this Corrupt and Criminal Capitalism.

Funny stories arise, though. One fellow I work with read the local paper, Newport News Times. I’ve written for the twice-a-week rag. On homelessness and environmental stuff.

He was excited to know that the Oregon timber town where he lives once had a fellow and his brood there, on an island, whose family line included that fellow, Daniel Boone:

‘The history of McCaffrey Island’ —

Van Daniel first homesteaded the island in 1897 but never owned the property, according to James’ correspondence with Van Daniel’s daughter, Carol Holbrook. The family first moved into an abandoned shed on the island but built a full home there by 1901. Nine of their 10 children were born on the island, and they went to school by rowing to Oysterville.

The family made its living harvesting oysters and raising pigs. On the upper tier of the island was a waterfall and garden. Holbrook said there were no trees on the island when they first moved there, but they later planted many, including an apple and plum tree.

Holbrook said Indigenous people often visited the island, and her father hired them to help the family shuck oysters. One of Van Daniel’s sons also found arrowheads and beads on the island while they lived there.

When Van Daniel’s wife fell ill with tuberculosis in 1917, the family moved from the island to an abandoned house on the mainland. They didn’t sell the island because they didn’t own it. They never learned who owned the abandoned house they moved into on the mainland either.

So, of course, my friend/client got all excited because of that famously present seeding of lies the US school system and Holly-Dirt have perpetuated since that old cherry tree was chopped down, or that first “thanksgiving” with the Puritans and Pokanoket Wampanoag.

We talked about the old TV show the 35-year-old client watches — Fess Parker as Boone in the 1964-1970 TV series. Strange how these racist old series still float around the ether.

“Man, I always wanted to be like Daniel Boone when we watched that show. I watched the show when I was young. What was it, fifteen years or whatever after the show was cancelled.”

So, with his permission, we looked at the Boone myth which was precipitated by an innocuous piece in the local rag on some pioneer (sic) families and others who had that island.

Boone has been portrayed in books and in movies and TV shows as a regular tough guy, all-American, the new Adam paving the way for Manifest Destiny and land claims for a beginning white nation. Here is a decent two paragraphs that put the white washing in the context of Boone and his modern-day worshippers:

In 1992 Native people in KY and allies during the 500th anniversary of Columbus decided to correct local historic monuments to alleged heroes of colonialism in the Ohio Valley. The picture you see above is one example. It was a statue of Daniel Boone at the entrance to? “Cherokee Park”. There are 4 parks in Louisville named after the people driven from this land. Cherokee, Shawnee, Chickasaw, and Iroquois. Of course there are monuments all over this city to Confederate Generals, Indian killers, slave owners, and the like. There are absolutely none to Tecumseh, Blue Jacket, Harriet Tubman, or any native or African-Americans. A couple of streets that is it. So as I was watching Tecumseh’s vision, the PBS special last night, I was reminded of several things that deserve exploring. So once again I am going to poke holes in “American History” and saw the legs off of statues to genocidal murderers. Sorry. — Source.

To begin with let us be clear, the colonial Americans never had any desire to live harmoniously with their Indian hosts and in fact Thomas Jefferson explicitly ordered their removal and extermination, owned slaves, and was aside from his humane policies toward his fellow colonists was a rapist, slaving, ethic cleansing murderer. So was Boone. So let us be exactly and historically honest shall we? Let us start with Daniel Boone as he was the “Indian Fighter” exemplar. Now let us remember Tecumseh was born in 1768. Boone was killing Indians and escorting colonists as Tecumseh drew his first breaths and Boone then became an elected official and presided over the ethnic cleansing of the Delaware, Shawnee, Cherokee, and all the indigenous people in the way of “progress” till his retirement. Many would say he just did what was expected of him in that time. OK? What was expected of him was that he kill Indians and escort colonists to steal lands that belonged to someone else.

The fine line I have to toe is that I am there for my clients on many social services levels — the official duties — but I am also more importantly an advocate, a teacher, a model, a mentor, and someone they can relate to who happens to have years working with “disadvantaged” but who himself thus far has had or currently has none of the disadvantages they have had to bear (yet). Sure, we are all in this predatory, insanity called United Snakes of America together, but unfortunately (and for obvious infantilizing reasons) we do not have the same depth of research, life experiences, multiple perspectives, and worldly views. When I am with the average Biden Boy or Obama Yes We Can Cultist, I know I am with someone who is ultra conservative, ultra pro-money, ultra stupid when it comes to history and facts. That is the very nature of those millions of gears working to “white” wash or “green” wash or “pink” wash the world.

When it comes to sacred cows, well, the discussion turns interesting. And for many people, with or without trauma and disabilities, very uncomfortable.

Weight of Rape, the Weight of Racism

The reality is that the average “dude” or “gal” who may be coming at things with a less severely redneck or reactionary point of view, well, they either can’t fathom the number of people in the USA (no, I am not getting into other societies with just as bad situations) who have been violently raped as adults or sexually assaulted as underage humans. Mostly women, but not exclusively. In 2021, I still get people with or without college degrees, telling me, that “this is not a rape culture.” Telling me “many women are faking it.” Telling me that “Trump is a target because he is famous and has money . . . there is no way he did that . . . he has children, man, and what would his wife say if it was true?”

That white washing is a unique sort of push back against women.

Then, well, many just can’t take the Portland uprising anymore, as if Portland is this huge Fallujah bombed out metropolitan area. They can’t take “black lives matter” anymore. They can’t take the crescendo of news stories of more pigs/cops getting accused and acquitted of murder. The white washing of our murderous men (and women) in uniform is just so complete that the few that want to defund the military and the police, well, they are propagandized into people who are not true Americans, rabble, provocateurs.  “All those statues coming down, what do you think, Haeder? Isn’t that erasing history?” I just got asked this question. Again, people on their duffs, consuming main-line TV as if it’s crack.

So the beat goes on and on, to explain to them, that Andrew Jackson or Daniel Boone or even Honest Abe, coming down, well, isn’t it obvious that the disenfranchised and basically helpless people of this predatory land have to release something symbolic to show their disgust of this country’s white washing? I attempt to explain, yes, a better reaction and process would be to put a mural around each bloody statue, with just the head of the white murderer sticking out as he sits upon his horse. On that mural, well, the real history of this person’s contribution to Indian killing, Slave owning, Black murdering. Of course there are a million teachable moments, but in a country that doesn’t do nuance well, one that is all about flash in the pan, all about spasms of this or that reaction to the zeitgeist, we are not going to see those sorts of responses to the racist monuments. And yes, many of those confederate monuments were put up AFTER the south lost the war. Decades after. Tin monuments for tinhorn racists and rapists. They are not sacred monuments, in the true sense of the word. Sacred Racist Monuments.

Does Anyone Not Get Why a Democrat Would NOT Hire One Nader?

So, I do encourage folks to listen to Black Agenda Report, or to read Mother Jones, In These Times, The Progressive, Mint Press News, Consortium News, Counterpunch, DV, and others, for sure. But for most, I get them to listen to a bastion of powerful knowledge and real on-the-ground activism. Someone who actually ran for president of the US of A. Twice!

Simple stuff, not exactly radical Black Panthers or anarchy —

Ralph welcomes the former head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Richard Cordray, to talk about how this important agency – created in the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown and moribund in the Trump years – needs to start protecting consumers again. Plus, Ralph pays tribute to the late great muckraking journalist, James Ridgeway.

Richard Cordray is the founding director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, where he served from 2011 to 2017. He is the author of Watchdog: How Protecting Consumers Can Save Our Families, Our Economy, and Our Democracy.

“Every aspect of our legal system has been turned around by financial companies to oppress individual consumers. And yet, individual consumers are not permitted (often by these arbitration clauses) to band together to seek collective justice against the company.” [ Richard Cordray].

Cover for Watchdog

So we talk about this issue, with me pointing out that antigovernmental entitlements or antigovernmental this or that is actually anti-public, anti-people thinking. The corporations — all of them, with the unholy facilitation of  banks, credit companies, tech companies — they are the enemy. And each and every politician they have in their back pockets is the enemy, but the public realm, the public potential for true democratic socialism, that is not the enemy. AT& T, Wells Fargo, Safeway, Amazon, Walmart, Walgreens, and a few million other corporations are the true enemy. They have cooked the books, stacked the deck, and conspired to rip-off the public. Listen to just this one episode of Ralph, and when I ask people who are skeptical of my criticism of all corporations, they have a bit more to deal with here: Finances.

Listen to the beginning, where Nader talks about the death (and work of) the great American journalist, James Ridgeway. Note that this man was a muckraker, a man who looked for truth, and never tired of investigative reporting, never jading himself to the people’s needs. He did die, as Ralph states, a poor man.

Here’s a Mother Jones article on Jim when he worked for MoJo

Jim Ridgeway—who leaves MoJo’s staff roster this week to become a contributing reporter—is, though he’d never put it this way, one of the legends of modern muckraking. Back in 1965 he helped establish the nascent field of consumer reporting when he revealed that GM had run a dark-ops campaign against a young Ralph Nader, whose book Unsafe at Any Speed detailed how automakers had knowingly sacrificed safety for sales. He went on to break more stories than we can count, digging into everything from energy politics to national security to the sex industry. MoJo co-founder Adam Hochschild remembers becoming a Ridgeway reader in 1968, when Jim and the late Andrew Kopkind started a newsletter called first Mayday and later Hard Times.

‘I still remember the yellow paper it came on, how eagerly I waited for each issue to arrive, and the pleasure of instantly knowing we shared a view of the world if I found that a new acquaintance was also a reader. It is sobering, in a way, to see how many of the problems Jim wrote about half a century ago are still with us. But it’s inspiring to see someone keep the faith all these years, especially someone who could have very easily had a successful and doubtless much more lucrative career writing unthreatening stories for the mainstream media. That, in fact, is where more than of few of the dissenters of the 1960s ended up.’

Most people I interface with do not know of Jim Ridgeway, and those that know about Nader, still incorrectly and stupidly think “he’s the guy that got Bush into office.” More white wash and agnotology:

It is true that approximately 95,000 Florida ballots were cast for Nader in 2000, and assuming every single one of those votes went instead to then-Vice President Al Gore (which is an incorrect assumption, but we’ll get to that later), Gore would have been easily able to supplant the 537 vote differential in the Sunshine State that gave Bush the presidency.

What that oft-cited factoid leaves out are the inconvenient truths laid out by Jim Hightower in Salon way back when, including the fact that only about 24,000 registered Democrats voted for Nader in Florida, whereas about 308,000 Democrats voted for (wait for it…) Bush! Further, approximately 191,000 self-identified “liberals” voted for Bush, as opposed to the fewer than 34,000 who went with Nader.

The conventional thinking goes like this: Nader voters lean left and Gore is to the left of Bush, therefore votes for Nader would have gone to Gore. But leftist academic Tim Wise pushed back on this summation in 2000, writing that “Exit polls in Florida, conducted by MSNBC show that Nader drew almost equally between Gore, Bush, and ‘None of the above,’ meaning his presence there may have been a total wash.” — Anthony Fisher

Covid-19 Fears, Fools, Fascists 

Hyper paranoia, misinformation, one bad leader leading a bunch of bad leaders. One man’s science, isn’t another 10,000 scientists’ and journalists’ science.

Everyday, a few dozen pleas by clients and their charges and their families about what to do next with lockdown A, B and C done, and more cases (maybe) of Covid-19 (many articles being scrubbed from the WWW about faulty tests for CoV2).

Amazing how many bad mask wearers I run into — literally, 90 percent of the masks out there in la-la land do not stop exhales from hitting the common air locations, whether it’s the grocery store, restaurant, liquor store, or on the beach.

The dichotomy of American thinking is the dangerous thing now, and the retribution, the white washing and green washing and blue washing and vaccine washing and the science washing, all of it, now, we have many new normal’s tied to more scrubbing (agnotology) and banning and outright fascistic attacks on people, like, well, Robert Kennedy Junior.

https://youtu.be/MZz8lUniwHM

Agnotology (formerly agnatology) is the study of culturally induced ignorance or doubt, particularly the publication of inaccurate or misleading scientific data. It was coined in 1995 by Robert N. Proctor, a Stanford University professor, and linguist Iain Boal. The word is based on the Neoclassical Greek word ἄγνωσις, agnōsis, “not knowing” (cf. Attic Greek ἄγνωτος “unknown”), and -λογία, -logia. Proctor cites as a prime example the tobacco industry’s advertising campaign to manufacture doubt about the cancerous and other adverse health effects of tobacco use. More generally, the term also highlights the condition where more knowledge of a subject leaves one more uncertain than before.

David Dunning of Cornell University warns that “the internet is helping propagate ignorance,… which makes [users] prey for powerful interests wishing to deliberately spread ignorance”. Irvin C. Schick refers to unknowledge “to distinguish it from ignorance. He uses the example of “terra incognita” in early maps, noting that “The reconstruction of parts of the globe as uncharted territory is … the production of unknowledge, the transformation of those parts into potential objects of Western political and economic attention. It is the enabling of colonialism. — Source.

Check out Chapter One, Agnotology: The Making and Unmaking of Ignorance. That is, in a nutshell, something I have been battling since day one as a journalist (I was 19) and day one as a college part-time faculty (I was 26).

This is not child’s play, this entire game of narrative framing, myth-making, mind scrubbing, brain washing, collective Stockholm Syndrome, Collective Abused Spouse/Worker/ Student/Consumer/Citizen Syndrome. It infects our culture of words, books, TV, movies, mass education, media, social digital networks, Madison Avenue, history book creation, and the marketing that is the way of Capitalism. Mediums are the Message, but then, how the child is wired in utero, and then right out of the womb. Bombarded by ignorance in the culture and brain washed parents. Bombarded by images and sounds and the smells of consumerism, there to draw in newer and younger and more buyers of the junk, the dangerous products, the more dangerous ideology of the masters in this complex.

Learned helplessness is nothing compared to learned and gloating ignorance. And here we are, even here with the author attempting to be “objective” with a piece in Town and Country Magazine on RFK, Jr. Imagine what this writer says, doubting the veracity and the validity of Kennedy’s research into vaccines over a sordid historical record. Imagine, thousands of journal articles parsed by RFK, Jr., thousands of books annotated, thousands of people interviewed by Kennedy on the many troubling things around pharmaceuticals, drug makers, scientists using people as Guinea pigs and around vaccines. That’s Kennedy, man. Yet, the elite author of the more elitist rag (Town and Country)  has to put in his pretty shallow and sallow two cents.

The room that Kennedy, who is 66, uses as an office is walled with books on shelves stacked six high from floor to ceiling, hundreds and hundreds of books. On top of those: a long line of framed photos like cars on a freight train—old ones, recent ones, black-and-white, color. A sprawling L-shaped sofa with blankets and pillows, a big TV.

On this subject, I think he is dangerously wrong. But that’s not the most interesting thing to talk with him about, nor is it the subject of this story. You can judge his arguments for yourself on your own time. The debate about whether vaccines are safe rages every day, and you can go online and read studies and opinions on every side. You can read almost any story by or about Kennedy and you will encounter the substance of his beliefs in detail. There aren’t many doctors in the world who think it’s a debate at all, of course.

A deeper question than whether he’s right or he’s crazy is why Bobby Kennedy Jr. is doing any of this. There was a time when he was almost universally admired, a fighter for conservation and the environment—perhaps the dominant issue of our time—and a shining figure worthy of his family’s legacy. Now he is shunned by many of his former allies and admirers, ignored by much of the once fawning media, and just tuned out by many who are uncomfortable with his sometimes hectoring obsessiveness.

Look, I am in the process of writing my memoir/anti-memoir (sounds pretentious, but . . . really, does the world need Epstein’s madam’s book, another Trump tell-all, all the creepy stuff from the rich and famous, more crap from actors and musicians?). I have a wheelbarrow’s worth of novels (unpublished but hawked by my deceased NY agent) and plays and a teleplay and other such stuff. I’m 64, and, well, some things in my life have been amazing full circle existential wheels through the magic of ecology and meeting fellow man/woman in fellowship.

Drinking from the spring where Winona LaDuke’s father, Sun Bear, had his gatherings, sure, that was another wheel of life I have written about. I have hundreds of these moments, with a ship-load of connectivity to the circle of life.

For now, though, it’s Kennedy. Our two lives are so different in so many ways, that the circle, the multiple circles of connectivity, well, maybe it takes a working class fool like myself to really drill down on that stuff.

I am not taken by money, and in fact, I am anti-money, anti-rich, anti-famous. Celebrity culture is to me worse than the guys and gals I used to run with who were hooked on lines of coke and drams of Scotch.

However, here’s the interesting thing. Make that a decade ago when I heard RFK, Jr. speak. I got to take him aside, and talked with him, but that is another story. He was in Spokane as President of the international Waterkeeper Alliance. We already got our Spokane Riverkeeper, and Kennedy was in town  helping with fundraising for Spokane Riverkeeper and Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper. Kennedy was at the Fox Theater in downtown Spokane. I also met him afterwards.

Here you go — if you get any sense of Kennedy from the Vanity Fair article cited, you can see a real battler (that’s the epigraph to this essay above). He certainly came from a famous family. Our two lives are diametrically different.

But the circles, man, those five or 10 degrees of separation. I had an aunt who owned– with two other immigrant (Scotland) women — The Whale Inn, in Northampton, Massachusetts. An amazing restaurant and B & B. I had relatives (aunts, uncles, cousins) who lived in Short Hills, NJ. My uncle was a well-known surgeon and did stints for Columbia University as an MD. Now, I was back east a few times, spending time at the Whale Inn, and in Short Hills, in the City, in Boston, and at Cape Code. Poor kid of the military man dad, and I got a taste of East Coast.

So, get this, I also had a mother who worked for an advertising agency in Albuquerque and part of that was some publicity for John and Jackie Kennedy when they came to New Mexico.  When we lived in Germany and France, many people thought my mom looked like Jackie.

Okay, so let’s get real — I have worked around people with developmental disabilities for a long time, officially the past decade. RFK, Jr. also spent time around disabled people —  “When not at school Bobby used to spend a lot of time at the house of his Aunt Eunice—his father’s sister, and Bobby’s godmother. She ran a camp for children with intellectual disabilities, and she founded the Special Olympics in 1968, and Bobby remembers there always being people at her house who had Down syndrome, ‘at every meal, virtually. I was always around people with intellectual disabilities.’”

He also to this day does animal rescuing and wildlife recovery. He drives a mini-van that has the stench of pit bull rescue pets and road kill he finds and takes back to boil and articulate or at least display the skull.

rfk pro celebrity tennis tournament august 26, 1972

[Kennedy in 1972, around age 18, at a tennis tournament named for his father. Even in his late teens, Kennedy was battling drug addiction, which he would eventually beat. — Ron Galell photo]

He was hooked on heroin until he was 30. He was and still is an avid adventurer. Much of that above I related to directly. Not heroin, but other drugs. The road kill? Yep. Animal rescue? Yep. Mini-vans? Yep.

environmental lawyer activist robert f kennedy jr l riverkeeper john cronin out on hudson river, revitalized through efforts of their riverkeeper, inc in legal fight against water polluting industries photo by ted thaithe life picture collection via getty images

[In the early 1980s Kennedy teamed with John Cronin, right, to revitalize the Riverkeeper Association, which routinely sued large polluters. The group spurred the creation of the international Waterkeeper Alliance, of which Kennedy is president. — Ted Thai photo]

Here’s my piece on the second Riverkeeper for our Spokane River, after the first one (Mike Chappell, 44) unexpectedly passed away — “A River for Fish, Kayaks, Swimmers”

nyc screening of trace amounts

[In 2014 Kennedy edited Thimerosol: Let the Science Speak, about mercury and vaccines. Cindy Ord photo]

The point I am trying to make in this essay is that the circles I recognize and write about are as real as anything on planet earth. What RFK, Jr. and I talked about back then, well, I will write about at length later. I did mention to RFK, Jr. how burned out I was getting being with the greenie weenies, the so-called sustainability wonks and their pandering to corporations … and not just through green washing. We are talking about eco-pornography. Kennedy got a kick out of that terminology — eco-porn. You know, Shell Oil or Exxon or Monsanto running multimillion dollar ad/PR/public disservice campaigns to sell their idea of snake oil to the global public. That those companies are the best and the brightest hopes for stewardship of the environment. Now that’s pornography of the utmost degree.

I mentioned how another state eco group was taking money from Proctor Gamble or CocaCola, for what I call blood money from those corporations. Lots of blood money in the game of the Non-Profit Industrial Complex. We also talked about science gone awry, science for-by-because of  the profit motive, science in the name of Imperialism and Corrupt Capitalism. We also talked about vaccinations.

The circle I am drawing it that I was a young guy who did all sorts of adventurous stuff in the Sonora Desert catching rattlesnakes, Gila Monsters, scorpions. Lots of crazy cool stuff scuba diving (roughing it) in the Sea of Cortez. Lots of crazy stuff on my own on Baja, diving and free diving and camping alone.

Another point is, while our lives are so different, there are things that connect us, in my mind. Kennedy was pretty jazzed about my writing, my activism and my ability to go for the underdog over any hubris or placating. He was definitely in favor of my concepts of fighting white washing, green washing and agnotology (he hadn’t heard of that concept).

Here’s the title to that six-month old Town and Country article —

What is Robert Kennedy Jr. Fighting For?

It’s no surprise he gets into battles. Kennedys seem to be born with their chins out. But why does the 66-year-old scion of America’s most prominent political family take his crusades—the environment, vaccines, you name it—to places where very few people want to go?  By Ryan D’Agostino, OCT 19, 2020

Note: Several months after the publication of this story, Instagram deactivated RFK Jr.’s Instagram account. “We removed this account for repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines,” a spokesperson for Facebook, which owns Instagram, said in a statement.

Here he is, now part of the systematic suppression of debate, discourse, ideas counter to the prevailing winds, the current paradigms. He’s questions Fauci, Gates, 5-G, and the motives of Big Tech and Big Pharma. What we all are supposed to do, no?

And yet, those people I support with developmental/intellectual/TBI disabilities, they want to know, they want answers, they want to understand how someone like me, or someone like Kennedy is looking beyond the parables of propaganda and virtue signaling and systemic silencing of countervailing thought and opinions.

I wish I had Bobby Kennedy’s email or physical mailing address to exchange words and ideas. That is another circle that may or may not come to fruition, though circles are really never complete or ending or beginning, now are they? I know he probably saw this documentary, probably saw my review of it in Hormones Matter — “Injecting Aluminum: Documentary Questions Vaccine Safety” 

The piece also appeared in Dissident Voice“The Jury Has Been Out on Vaccines: Harm to the Brain, Immune System, Limbic System, Life”

2016 deer valley celebrity skifest

[In 2014, Kennedy married the actress Cheryl Hines, whom he met through his friendship with Larry David. “I have an amazing wife and amazing kids,” he says. “I have everything.”  — Emma McInty photo]

In that regard, the circles are still being shaped, huge veronicas in the sky, throughout our collective consciousness. At least for those who are willing to fight for the underdog. RFK, Jr., now counted as one of the underdogs. My whole life, while still in a category of white privilege in this racist country, I too have been an underdog. The grace of rebellion and revolutionary thinking has given me more privilege of knowing when the jig is up than I can actually express in a short essay here.

The post Washing Away One Trail of Tears After Another first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Ethics of Healthcare Marketing

Spend an evening watching television on any network in pretty much any town in America and you’d probably think that Big Pharma had already created a pill for anything that might ail ya. And, of course, in some ways, that’s not entirely wrong.

Today we have a world of therapies to extend our lives and help make those lives worth living, even in the face of historically lethal conditions, from diabetes to HIV/AIDS.

But that doesn’t change the fact that medicine is still a business. And, like most any business, healthcare systems, clinics, and practitioners alike often live or die on the power of marketing. Unlike other businesses, though, the healthcare industry is meant to serve a mission far higher than maximizing profits.

And that means striking the appropriate balance between marketing to keep your practice solvent and maintaining the highest ethical standards of patient care.

A Matter of Survival

There’s no question that the world of business is becoming increasingly cutthroat. In the face of globalization, with its falling prices and rising competition, marketing to your target customer is no longer just a luxury, it’s a necessity.

That’s true even for the healing profession, and Big Pharma has taken notice. It’s currently estimated that American pharmaceutical companies spend more than $20 billion annually marketing to doctors, trying to incentivize doctors to prescribe their products, even for “off-label” uses. That’s more than quintuple the amount they spend marketing directly to consumers.

And what doctors get in return are both support and incentives. New and growing practices often rely on the perks offered by Big Pharma to promote their wares, while physicians enjoy the fringe benefits, from free fancy dinners to lucrative speakership deals.

But it’s not only that clinicians are being courted to market the pharmaceutical companies’ preferred products inside the office. Healthcare providers are also turning to the marketing of their practices to stand out in an ever-crowded field.

This is not, in itself, considered a violation of professional ethics. However, ethical boundaries may easily and quickly be breached where there is a lack of transparency, an overt or covert effort to misrepresent the practice or its practitioners, or misappropriation or abuse of private patient data.

This sounds reasonable in theory, but in practice, the gray area is profound. The commercialization of healthcare may all too easily lend itself to the least savory practices of the marketing industry: hyperbolic claims and false promises, the denigration of competitors, the degradation of the profession.

A Human Face

As important as the commercial motivations of healthcare marketing may be, however, these are not the only concerns. There are, in fact, other and more patient-oriented concerns.

The most significant of these, perhaps, is the fact that marketing can, indeed, play a critical role in patient education. Healthcare is a profoundly data-driven industry, and yet Big Data can be inaccessible or incomprehensible to many patients.

Patient stories and testimonials can help humanize all those numbers and statistics. They can speak to the lived experience behind the metrics, reaching target audiences through compassion, empathy, and mutual understanding.

That’s something that, in most cases, cold, hard data just can’t do. And, perhaps most importantly, patient and family stories are often far more than mere marketing tools. They’re educational resources, teaching patients and loved ones about the “on-the-ground” experience of diagnoses and treatments. When you’re managing your healthcare, being so informed about your condition and your options can literally be lifesaving, particularly when it comes to decreasing your likelihood for misdiagnosis or improper care.

The problem, though, is that patient narratives can easily become appropriating and exploitative. Worse, they may easily violate patients’ privacy, their rights to control the use and dissemination of often deeply personal and highly sensitive information. It is for this reason, in particular, that any healthcare marketing strategy must be directed by rigorous adherence to HIPAA regulations. Ideally, this would mean ensuring that any healthcare marketing team be staffed with at least one specialist in HIPAA-compliant marketing.

The Takeaway

There are, perhaps, few professions in which morality and ethics matter as much as in the field of medicine. Patients entrust their healthcare providers, quite literally, with their lives. Loved ones turn the care of the most precious people in the world to them over to professionals. But that does not negate the fact that medicine is also a business. And even the best clinicians must market their services if their practices are to survive. However, while marketing in healthcare is vulnerable to the same ethical dilemmas and risks of traditional marketing, the moral and legal standards that must be met are far higher — as they should be.

The post The Ethics of Healthcare Marketing first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Why Politicians and Doctors Keep Ignoring the Medical Research on Vitamin D and Covid

It is probably not a good idea to write while in the grip of anger. But I am struggling to suppress my emotions about a wasted year, during which politicians and many doctors have ignored a growing body of evidence suggesting that Vitamin D can play a critically important role in the prevention and treatment of Covid-19.

It is time to speak out forcefully now that a new, large-scale Spanish study demonstrates not a just a correlation but a causal relationship between high-dose Vitamin D treatment of hospitalised Covid patients and significantly improved outcomes for their health.

The pre-print paper in the Lancet shows there was an 80 per cent reduction in admission to intensive care units among hospitalised patients who were treated with large doses of Vitamin D, and a 64 per cent reduction in death. The possibility of these being chance findings are infinitesimally small, note the researchers. And to boot, the study found no side-effects even when these mega-doses were given short term to the hospitalised patients.

Those are astounding figures that deserve to be on front pages, especially at a time when politicians and doctors are uncertain whether they can ever find a single magic-bullet vaccine against Covid as new variants pop up like spring daffodils.

If Vitamin D can approximate a cure for many of those hospitalised with Covid, one can infer that it should prove even more effective when used as a prophylactic. Most people in northern latitudes ought to be taking Vitamin D through much of the year in significant doses – well above the current, outdated 400IU recommended by governments like the UK’s.

Knee-jerk dismissals

This new study ought to finally silence the naysayers, though doubtless it won’t. So far it has attracted little media attention. What has been most troubling over the past year is that every time I and others have gently drawn attention to each new study that demonstrated the dramatic benefits of Vitamin D, we were greeted with knee-jerk dismissals that the studies showed only a correlation, not a causal link.

That was a deeply irresponsible response, especially in the midst of a global pandemic for which effective treatments are urgently needed. The never-satisfied have engaged in the worst kind of blame-shifting, implicitly maligning medical researchers for the fact that they could only organise small-scale, improvised studies because governments were not supporting and funding the larger-scale research needed to prove conclusively whether Vitamin D was effective.

Further, the naysayers wilfully ignored the fact that all the separate studies showed very similar correlations, as well as the fact that hospitalised patients were invariably deficient, or very deficient, in Vitamin D. The cumulative effect of those studies should have been persuasive in themselves. And more to the point, they should have led to a concerted campaign pressuring governments to fund the necessary research. Instead much of the medical community has wasted valuable time either ignoring the research or nitpicking it into oblivion.

There should have come a point – especially when a treatment like Vitamin D is very cheap and almost entirely safe – at which the precautionary principle kicked in. It was not only foolhardy but criminally negligent to be demanding 100 per cent proof before approving the use of Vitamin D on seriously ill patients. There was no risk in treating them with Vitamin D, unlike most other proposed drugs, and potentially much to gain.

Stuck in old paradigm

Already the usual voices have dismissed the new Barcelona study, saying it has yet to be peer-reviewed. That ignores the fact that it is an expansion on, and confirmation of, an earlier, much smaller study in Cordoba that has been peer-reviewed and that similarly showed dramatic, beneficial outcomes for patients.

In addition to the earlier studies and the new one showing a causal link, there is plenty of circumstantial evidence to bolster the case for using Vitamin D against Covid.

For many years, limited studies – ones that Big Pharma showed no interest in expanding – had indicated that Vitamin D was useful both in warding off respiratory infections and in treating a wide variety of chronic auto-immune diseases such as diabetes and multiple sclerosis by damping down inflammatory responses of the kind that often overwhelm hospitalised Covid patients.

But many doctors and politicians were stuck in an old paradigm – one rooted in the 1950s that viewed Vitamin D exclusively in terms of bone health.

The role of Vitamin D – produced in the skin by sunlight – should have been at the forefront of medical research for Covid anyway, given that the prevalence of the disease, as with other respiratory infections, appears to slump through the sunny, summer months, and spikes in the winter.

And while the media preferred to focus exclusively on poverty and racism as “correlative” explanations for the disproportionate number of deaths among BAME doctors and members of the public, Vitamin D seemed an equally, if not more plausible, candidate. Dark skins in cloud-covered northern latitudes make production of Vitamin D harder and deficiency more likely.

Magic bullet preferred

We should not be surprised that Big Pharma had no interest in promoting a vitamin freely available through much of the year and one they cannot license. They would, of course, rather patent an expensive magic bullet that offers the hope of enriching company directors and shareholders.

But that is why we have governments, isn’t it? They could have stepped in to pick up the bill for the research after profit-motivated firms had refused to do so – if not to safeguard the health of their populations, at least to keep their health budgets under control. Most developed countries, even those with lots of sunshine, have large sections of their population that are Vitamin D deficient, especially among the elderly and housebound, the very groups most affected by Covid.

But governments shirked their responsibility too. Most have not offered supplements beyond measly and largely useless 400IU tablets to the elderly, and they have failed to fortify foods. Those taking small doses are unlikely to significantly and quickly address any deficiency they have or maximise their resistance to Covid.

To give a sense of what was potentially at stake, consider the findings of one of last year’s correlative studies, done by a team in Heidelberg. Their work implied that, had the UK ensured its population was not widely Vitamin D deficient, many tens of thousands of lives might have been saved.

Science not ‘followed’

There are lessons – ones we seem very reluctant to learn – from the catastrophic failures of the past year. And they aren’t just lessons for the politicians.

If doctors and medical organisations had really been “following the science”, they would have led the clamour both for properly funded Vitamin D research and for its early use, if only on the precautionary principle. The reality is that very few did. In the UK it was left to MP David Davis, who trained as a molecular scientist, to take up the cause of Vitamin D and badger a government that has shown no inclination to listen.

Instead, “follow the science” became a simple-minded mantra that allowed scientists to ignore the medical science when it did not lead them in the direction they had been trained to expect. “The science” told us to stay indoors, to minimise our contact with daylight, to limit our exposure to fresh air and exercise. We were required to abandon all traditional wisdom about our health.

If one wants to understand at least some of the resistance to lockdowns, it might be worth examining that instinct and how deeply – and rightly – ingrained it is in us.

Scientific arrogance

If we learn anything from the past year it should be that the current, dominant, mechanistic view of medical science – one that too often disregards the natural world or even holds it in contempt – is deeply corrupting and dangerous.

This is not intended as a rant against science. After all, the mass production of Vitamin D – in the absence of useful sunshine in northern latitudes for much of the year – depends on scientific procedures.

Rather it is a rant against a blinkered science that has come to dominate western societies. Put simply, most experts – scientists and doctors – have not taken Vitamin D seriously, despite the growing evidence, because it is made in the mystical touch of sun on skin rather than by white-coated technicians in a laboratory.

Just as most army generals are invested in war more than in peace because they would be out of job if we all chose to love one another, most scientists have been successfully trained to see the natural world as something to be interfered with, to be tamed, to be dissected, to be reassembled, to be improved. Like the rest of us, they have a need – a very unscientific one – to feel special, to believe that they are indispensable. But that arrogance comes at a cost.

Unhealthy lifestyles

The default assumption of many medical scientists was that any claim for Vitamin D – sunlight – having curative or protective properties against Covid-19 needed not urgent, further investigation but dismissal as quackery, as snake oil. How could nature possibly offer a Covid solution that scientists could not improve on?

Unpopular as it may be to say it, that arrogance continues with the exclusive focus on vaccines. They will prove part of the way we emerge from the Covid winter. But we will be foolish indeed if we rely on them alone. We need to think about the way our societies are structured and the resulting unhealthy habits cultivated in us: the sedentary lifestyles many of us lead, the lack of exposure to nature and to sunshine, the gratuitous consumption on which our economies depend, and the advertiser-driven urge for instant gratification that has led to a plague of obesity.

There is no vaccine for any of that yet.

Already we are being forced into what are deeply troubling political debates – not scientific ones – around vaccines. Should vaccinations be made compulsory, or the vaccination-hesitant shamed into compliance? Should those who have received the vaccine be given special privileges through an immunity passport?

The reality is that whenever we try to “defeat” nature, as if our scientists were military generals waging war on the natural world, we are forced on to new and difficult ethical terrain. As we seek to “improve on” the natural world, we must also remake our social worlds in ways that invariably move us further from lifestyles that we have evolved to need, both physically and emotionally.

Magic of the stars

This is not a call to ignore science or reject Covid emergency measures. But it is a call to show a lot more humility and caution as we ponder our place in the natural world – as well as our constant urge to “fix” what the rest of the planet does not regard as broken. A year of Covid has shown how disruptive our meddling can be and how fragile the systems of progress we think we have permanently created really are.

When our politicians and regulators agitate for tough new restrictions on the public’s right to free speech, claiming fake news and misinformation about Covid, maybe they should remember that trust has to be earnt, not mandated through laws. A world in which profit and power rule is also one in which the likely response from those who are ruled is doubt, scepticism or cynicism.

Maybe I should not have written this while I was so angry. Or maybe others ought to be angry too – angry about the fact that many, many lives were almost certainly lost unnecessarily, and may continue to be lost, because those who profit from disease have no incentive to protect health.

We ought to be angry too about how in a better-ordered, more caring society, we might have found ways to avoid the worst excesses of lockdowns that have deprived our children of an education, of friendships, of play, of life in all its variety and excitement, and of sunshine. They lost all that while our politicians and their scientist enablers poured huge sums into labs, into test-tubes and into man-made magic bullets while contemptuously ignoring sunlight because it is free and everywhere and because it is a different kind of magic – the magic of the stars.

UPDATE:

There has been the expected social media backlash from some quarters against this post. I even appear to have angered the odd white-coated lab technician! Some doubtless did not actually read beyond the soundbite I offered on social media. But sadly, others seem to be highly invested in deflecting from the central argument I am making. So here it is in a nutshell:

The only sane response to the Vitamin D medical studies showing dramatic benefits for those hospitalised with Covid is to demand urgent government funding of further research to test those findings and to use Vitamin D in hospitals in the meantime on the precautionary principle, given that it is very cheap and has proven to be completely safe.

If you are trying to obscure that point, you should do so only if you are absolutely certain that these medical studies are wrong. Otherwise your behaviour is, on the best interpretation, shamefully irresponsible.

The post Why Politicians and Doctors Keep Ignoring the Medical Research on Vitamin D and Covid first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The American Teaching Hospital: School for Psychopaths

Medicine has changed. We used to be a calling that catered to the public welfare, and our prime consideration was the patient. Now we are a business, and some of us practice as impersonal corporations, with the bottom line the profits, not the well-being of the patient.”

— From The Doctor, by Dr. Edward E. Rosenbaum, 1991

The most shocking thing about the neoliberal health care model is not that it bankrupts and murders hundreds of thousands of Americans each year, but that vast numbers of physicians continue to support it. The insatiable depravity of the anti-single-payer virus has metastasized throughout every organ of the American teaching hospital, an institution which has betrayed its sacrosanct purpose, and which increasingly inculcates residents with the pernicious idea that good health care is a privilege and not a right.

The teaching hospital has become a dangerous place, not only for patients, but also for trainees, who are being forged into physicians without having been inculcated with a respect for basic principles of medical ethics. In this way have American physicians largely been reduced to an army of automatons trained to make money for the medical industrial complex. Indeed, it should come as no surprise that many residents lose themselves in a pitiless sea of soulless careerism, as they are immersed for years in an environment where they are beholden to, and at the mercy of, rapacious interests that place profit-making over all other considerations.

The teaching hospital is to health care what the ballet academy is to ballet and the music conservatory is to the symphony orchestra. All who covet this career must pass through its gates, and the values it imparts to its pupils form the basis of the light — or the inexorable darkness — that will assuredly follow.

Knowing that patients are often confined to extremely narrow networks, it is standard practice for teaching hospitals to arm-twist patients with inferior insurance into being medical models during physician office visits. This underscores the sociopathy of the contemporary teaching hospital, and serves as a metaphor for how these institutions have become inhuman machines that harm patients and sully the souls of their trainees. Cornell Dermatology, a department that could win an award for teaching residents how to coerce patients with inferior insurance into being clinical teaching tools, takes great pride in their villainy, writing on their website:

In addition to basic and clinical dermatology training, we strive to instill ethical behavior, compassion, communication and the recognition that we are here to serve our patients.

Residents that are the most amenable to the dictates of unscrupulous attendings position themselves to become chief resident or to be awarded a prestigious fellowship. In the American teaching hospital, this is the only thing on the mind of most trainees.

It is incontrovertible that the multi-tier system, the spawn of privatized health care, is incompatible with the oath to do no harm. Cornell Oncology, which once assigned me to a fellow due to my unglamorous insurance, writes on their website that “We care for the whole person and put the needs of our patients at the center of everything that we do.” Despite a blatant predilection for medical Jim Crow, Weill Cornell claims in their literature to have “a legacy of putting patients first.” In actuality, American teaching hospitals put profit-making first, research second, the attending’s comfort (vis-à-vis their desire to have a medical scribe or chaperone present in the examination room) third, the teaching of the trainee fourth, and the patient last.

In “I am a physician and I am not your enemy,” by Megan Gray, MD, the author laments the fact that her patients are wary of doctors. “I am asking you to trust that every day I put your needs above my own,” she writes entreatingly. It is possible that Dr. Gray does, in fact, put the needs of her patients above her own. Regrettably, this is often not the case, as evidenced by the fact that American physicians wrote over two hundred million prescriptions for opioids each year from 2006 – 2016, millions of our countrymen have been made addicted to psychotropic drugs, while Vioxx took the lives of roughly the same number of Americans as died in the Vietnam War.

It is clear that the physician-patient bond, regarded as inviolable for millennia, cannot coexist within the mores of privatized health care. Yet many doctors would argue otherwise. In “Being a doctor is not what it used to be,” by Raviraj Patel, MD, the author writes that “in my humble opinion, the patient-physician relationship is sacred, and the entire system is designed to facilitate that relationship.” In “To combat COVID-19, we endanger our doctors in training,” Gali Hashmonay, MD, writes of our uniquely dysfunctional for-profit apparatus, that “This system attracts doctors in training who are eager to put a patient’s well-being in front of their own.” Indeed, accepting gifts from pharmaceutical companies, performing practice pelvic exams on anesthetized patients, not disclosing long-term chemotherapy side effects, getting patients addicted to drugs (formerly benzodiazepines and barbiturates), imposing unwanted observers on patients during their physician office visits, pushing unnecessary surgeries, and ignoring do not resuscitate orders are some of the many things that residents have to look forward to when training at our esteemed teaching hospitals. After the corporate lexicon of “humanism,” “patient-centered care,” and “compassion” are stripped away, blind obedience is the attribute most coveted by teaching hospitals when interviewing prospective residents.

By refusing to acknowledge that corporatization has been a catastrophe, anti-single-payer physicians have sacrificed their autonomy to the devilish whims of the private health insurance companies, which have usurped the medical decision-making process. They have also sold their souls to the pharmaceutical companies, which continue to corrupt medical knowledge and foment quackery; and to hospital executives, who treat doctors as if they were employees at an investment bank.

The successful Cuban response to the pandemic underscores the fact that money and technology are useless when profits are placed over human lives. Vietnam, also a poor country with limited resources, has likewise mustered a stronger defense against the virus than the Beacon of Liberty. Cuba’s health care system is so robust that they have continued to send teams of doctors abroad, even in the midst of the pandemic.

Successfully completing a residency is analogous to being awarded a black belt in karate. Without a sense of compassion and virtue, such an individual is destined to become a danger to themselves, and a danger to others. As profiteering and the multi-tier system have become normalized in the American teaching hospital, this can only result in the commodification of the patient in the mind of the debased trainee.

In “5 things that make U.S. health care great,” by Suneel Dhand, MD, the author posits, without satire, that “A homeless American entering the doors of a hospital with an acute medical issue — be it sepsis, a myocardial infarction, or a stroke — will get better care than a rich person almost anywhere else in the world.” Writing for KevinMD, Kent Holtorf, MD, concedes that “The U.S. far exceeds any nation in expenditures for insurance administration, where the essential means of cost control is denial of service and rationing of care via ever increasing complex treatment approval systems, resulting in spiraling costs.” He then concludes:

A free-market system is shown to be the only reasonable method of reform that addresses the true underlying problems of the U.S. health care system and effectively lowers health care costs, allowing for universal insurance coverage for most everyone so any reasonable person — doctor, patient, Republican or Democrat — could support.

Not to be outdone, Kevin Tolliver, MD, asks In “A framework to understand universal health care:”

At its core, universal health care forces healthy people to pay for others’ medical care. Is this fair? Why should an active, healthy-eating, non-smoker pay for health care for an obese, sedentary diabetic who chain smokes all day?

In “Corporate games have ruined the health care system,” Osmund Agbo, MD, acknowledges that “When an insurance executive is making a seven-figure bonus, it’s very clear his loyalty lies somewhere else outside the interest of regular Americans struggling to pay an infinitely rising monthly premium.”  He then informs us that “I am not a fan of socialist medicine. On the contrary, I am a firm believer in the free market enterprise system.”

Where does all of this irrationality and deranged thinking come from? Surely, the media has played a role. And yet we cannot discount the deleterious influence of the teaching hospital, which far more than medical school, profoundly shapes an impressionable trainee’s sense of right and wrong. Polluted and defiled by the pathogen of amorality, the fallen wallow in the plague wards of neoliberalism, banished from the world of compassion and rationality, and forever condemned to live out their days enveloped by a shroud of blindness.

Let us recall Pope’s haunting words in An Essay on Man: Epistle II:

Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
As, to be hated, needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.

Only by collectively acknowledging that health care cannot be sold as cars, kitchen appliances, and soap are sold; that it is the doctor’s sacred duty to treat all patients equally, regardless of their ability to pay; and that medical ethics can only flourish in a nonprofit socialized system, can we take this desperately needed step in reclaiming our humanity. For too long have American teaching hospitals been bastions for every form of knavery, perfidy, and skulduggery. These institutions must cast off their shackles of corporate thralldom, and join the fight to restore dignity and honor to American health care.

My Experience with Hospice, Inc.

One nurse told Clay, “I’ve given him the highest dosage I can. It’s enough to kill a horse. Most hospice patients die from morphine, but I can only OD him within an acceptable margin of error.”

— From Christopher Bollen,  A Beautiful Crime, 2020

In this age of coronavirus, it has become abundantly clear that Western culture has little respect or reverence for its elders.  Deaths of the elderly seem of no account and only to be taken in stride. Such an attitude has increased the opportunities for the hospice/medical industry as it profits off the expendable bodies of older, vulnerable human beings. For me, that expendability was brought abruptly into focus when my mother, aided and abetted by my siblings, was quickly dispatched by large doses of morphine:  even at 93-years-old, way ahead of her time to die. My brother and sister-in-law had prominently displayed her “Do Not Resuscitate Form” on the front of her refrigerator for months—and Hospice Inc. efficiently obliged them.

The hospice movement had some thought-provoking beginnings, at least the modern version.  Of course, the good offices of monks and nuns had cared for the dying in medieval times and before. In the modern version, Dame Cicely Saunders is credited with beginning the movement with her London hospice in 1967. She was nurse, social worker and doctor, and dedicated her (much-decorated) life to helping the terminally ill. Saunders brought compassionate (“palliative”) care to patients’ last days, advocating they die in their own time, and “naturally.” She did, however, introduce the use of morphine to ease pain. Her philosophy was somewhat different from America’s hospice pioneer, Florence Wald, dean of Yale nursing. Wald, in 1974, brought “assisted suicide” and “euthanasia” to her Connecticut hospice. What has evolved in the American hospice industry seems to be a very successful melding of the image of Dame Saunders’ “compassionate” care with the use and apparent abuse of assisted suicide and what author and former hospice nurse Roger Gantz calls “stealth euthanasia.”

A 2014 Huffington Post study found that once Medicare introduced a hospice benefit in 1983, the hospice industry burgeoned into (by 2014) a $17 billion industry. In that year, one million died under hospice “care,” and nearly half of all Medicare patients died as home or institutional hospice patients. The study reported hospice “marketers, doctors, [and] rehab centers” trolling for ill (enough) patients for their purposes. The now for-profit business is publicly traded and receives little government oversight, regulation, or inspection. The industry is also rarely punished when lawsuits or investigations claiming wrongdoing are brought. Many patients and their families never complain—but a 2017 Kaiser News study analyzing 3200 complaints filed against hospice companies over five years, found that with 75% of companies who did receive complaints, none suffered punishment.

There is definitely a host of problems that could bring complaints. In 2014, a Washington Post report found that hundreds of hospices did not provide promised care; and in 2012, at least one in six had not. In 2019 the Office of the Inspector General found millions of dollars of hospice Medicare fraud, and a “task force” was formed. Also on the federal level, US Health and Human Services did a study showing that between 2012 and 2016, 80% of hospices had “deficiencies,” with 20% having “serious” deficiencies. And in 2018, statnews.com found that in 2006 Medicare had paid out $9.2 billion for one million hospice beneficiaries, and in 2016, that grew to $16.7 billion for 1.4 million beneficiaries. They cited a Texas nurse in their report who gave “high doses of morphine” whether “a patient needed it or not,” to justify getting “higher hospice payments.”  And they reported the case of a woman with dementia being signed up a year before her scheduled demise. For that, in a rare outcome, the head of the hospice got six and a half years in federal prison—for her treatment, and for his $20 million scheme to sign up people who were not dying.  Most complaints made to or about hospice are ignored. That would certainly be my experience:  my complaint was met with denials, lies, and offers of bereavement counselors.

In looking through the hospice patient cases presented on hospicepatients.org, collected by Roger Krantz, it’s clear that there is a definite pattern to how hospice operates in securing and then “treating” their patients. One case I read involved a woman professional whose 60-year-old boyfriend was basically hijacked by his sister and her husband, apparently so they could have access to his money. It began by the man needing rehab, and then changed to his health care providers declaring him “terminal” and placing him in hospice. A health care provider, under today’s protocols, identifies you as terminal if they decide you have six months or fewer to live (a very iffy determination). He had trusted his sister with his power of attorney after he had experienced a “depressive episode” and was placed back in hospice after having been upgraded to rehab for a time. His sister placed him in hospice, where, to his girlfriend’s dismay, he was given zyprexa—a stroke inducer. His girlfriend was kept away from him as his condition worsened, and she was told he had “dementia” (a typical hospice move). When the girlfriend succeeded in getting him back to rehab, he improved, but his sister was furious.

The sister was able to suddenly move her brother to a hospice house, where the girlfriend was told he had eight days to live. The hospice nurses stopped his IV, and told the girlfriend he would now receive only “comfort [palliative] care.” The nurses also had been “warned” by his sister about the girlfriend, and said she “was in denial” (another hospice bullet point).  When she pressed on and was able to get him to eat and drink, his sister was furious, and said the girlfriend got him “agitated”—causing hospice to re-drug him.  The girlfriend’s questions were met by “blank stares.” He was given meds for pain, although he was not in pain.  The girlfriend told the doctor the man should not be there, and the sister “flew out of the room in rage!” At that point, they upped the morphine he was being given.  The girlfriend was told without holding his POA (power of attorney), there was nothing she could do.  She tried reasoning with his sister, and soon thereafter got a “vicious letter” from the sister’s husband which said she was “venomonous” and “in denial.” The sister sent her an email informing her of his death.

The experience of this woman is not at all unique. Time and time again, hospice agencies exploit vulnerable patients and ignores any protest they might get from concerned family and friends. My experience with hospice was a nightmare. It was not an anomaly. After I discovered that was the case, it was a comfort, (“I’m not crazy!”) but also a horror to find a very widespread pattern and problem. My mother was a very independent and feisty lady—in very good health for most of her life. At 91, she fell in her kitchen, breaking a finger and shattering her pelvis. She was hospitalized and then placed in rehab in a nursing home where she successfully recovered her mobility and went home.  I gradually became aware that my brother and sister-in-law, visibly upset when my mother left the nursing home, had developed a long-range plan not atypical of many children of elderly parents, not for control of her money really, but apparently for the convenience of not having to deal with their elderly mother.  My brother had my mother’s POA and was the sole executor of her will, and thus was able to solidify his control over family decisions.  He and his wife, a 22-year volunteer for hospice, also secured the loyalty of my two sisters, who stopped questioning any of his decisions, particularly about my mother’s health care.

The problem was that I had been her primary caregiver for over a year and a half, there every day, taking care of most of her needs—eye drops, pills, errands, meals usually, and also taking her to doctor appointments, etc.  When I questioned my (younger) brother’s decisions, he began a campaign to separate me from my mother’s care.  This was done by not so subtle assertions to my family, and beyond, that she was not “safe” with me at home, that I was “over my head.” My input into my mother’s care was shut off—my brother and sister-in-law refused to speak to me—and it was easy for them to solve any of my mother’s objections by drugging or ignoring her.  This was especially true once my brother and his wife instituted their new, long-term “palliative” medical regime for my mother.  My hospice veteran sister-in-law told the family that “palliative care” would “mean no change in her care,“ and “assure Mom’s remaining days are comfortable.”   When it was apparent she was developing difficulty bathing and cooking for herself, and had to take two trips to the hospital to treat anemia resulting from the blood disorder myelodysplasia, I began to think of ways to get help to improve her home care.  But I was pre-empted.  My sister-in-law had already arranged a hospital-style bed for my mother, something my mother (who was fully coherent and lucid right up until her death—unless heavily drugged) repeatedly and emphatically said she did not want.  The day it was delivered she was heavily dosed with lorazepam and morphine in case she got “agitated.”

The new regime for my mother included hiring numerous home health aides, done without my prior knowledge much less consent. Her doctor, who had spent little time examining my mother, signed onto the new plan. I questioned the need for what they called her new palliative care regime, which had my mother receiving no showers or baths, sitting in unclean clothes, having an unhealthy diet, being drugged into very long periods of sleep, and receiving no treatment for her urinary infections. All the aides were required to sign a letter promising to speak only to my brother and his wife and not to me, about any aspect of her care.  One of the health aides, a woman with 26 years’ experience, told me my mother’s health was not bad enough to require palliative (hospice) care. She also warned me that if hospice came in, she’d be dead within a week. My mother was almost always alert, and her diagnosis of myelodysplasia was not necessarily dire. My observation was that she was still as active as she could be, cheerful and not in much pain. When that experienced aide who objected to her palliative care would not sign my brother’s letter, he fired her.

According to hospice care reformer and author Roger Krantz, for patients under hospice care, the line between so-called palliative care—“pain relief, symptoms management”—and “imposed death” has blurred as hospice and palliative care groups became “heavily funded.”  Palliative care is supposedly a “niche” in medicine for treatment of pain.  But, as with my mother, when every patient is sedated because they’re defined as “agitated,” that’s not what palliative care is supposed to be.  Krantz asks, “Is it ‘palliative’ to refuse to treat treatable medical problems?”  And then just “anaesthetize and kill—?”  In some cases, families are led to expect palliative care, but get no treatment at all.  A woman in New York City who recounted her experience in a 2018 New York Times article, said their family was promised 24/7 oversight by a doctor and 24-hour service by a nurse by hospice, for their father, but were not told it depended on “staffing levels” whether or not her father got “palliative care.”  He slipped into a coma before they could say goodbye.

According to author/reformer Roger Krantz, there are apparently thousands of patients being cheated of competent and humane treatment.  A father of two daughters died under hospice care because his regular lung medication was refused him against his stated wishes.  He was given no food or water—just morphine—killing him in a few days. Another man had heart problems, but not life-threatening.  After being taken to a hospice facility, he gradually diminished, and died in a few days, after being given morphine every 15 minutes. [!]  And in the account referred to earlier, a 60-year-old man in rehab became deathly ill in a hospice institution after being given dangerous amounts of morphine instead of treating his actual medical condition.

It is an all too common experience for families of hospice-bound patients to be misled and given misinformation at all points of the process. It is also common to be treated with coercion, hostility and intimidation. For my mother’s admissions/information visit by Hospice Inc., my sister-in-law announced that a “palliative care nurse” would be coming to my mother’s house (September 19, 2019) to “check over” my mother, answer our questions about hospice and discuss whether or not my mother should become a hospice patient. The hospice nurse began by explaining the Hospice Inc. program, with heavy emphasis—and a handout—on the drugs they administer via visiting nurses: Tylenol, prochoropenzine (for vomiting and psychosis), lorazepam (for anxiety), and most especially, morphine. I learned that day that my mother had already been taking morphine for some time, presumably part of her “palliative” care.  My questions about how things worked, who made the decision to have Hospice Inc. come in, and so on, were answered politely by the admissions nurse, at first, with her stressing that they would work “hand-in-hand” with her doctor to have treatment “pain-free and with dignity.” But she also said there would be no (more) palliative care.  My mother was “with Hospice, when no treatment is done.”

My sister-in-law punctuated my questions with sighs and groans and throwing up her hands, along with comments like, “Oh, she’s just a distraction.” My mother was there at this meeting, heavily drugged with lorazepam (and maybe morphine), and half-dozing, but awake.  She and I exchanged grimaces a few times, because she had made it clear to me on a number of occasions—when she was fully cognizant and coherent—that she didn’t think hospice coming in was necessary.  When I asked who made the decision for her to become a Hospice Inc. patient, the nurse said “the patient—the family—her health proxy.” My older sister held the health proxy, but my brother said he was her advocate. And when I asked what if some of the family disagrees?  At that point, the nurse turned her back on me, and related only to the people who were busy yelling at me that I knew nothing and “lived in my own world.”

The nurse suggested a “family meeting” to work the whole thing out. My sister seemed dazed and kept saying she just wanted information. I told my brother and his wife that I was opposed to Hospice Inc. coming in at that time.  When I told the two of them they do not control everything, my brother said, “Yes, I do,” and moved as if to strike me, putting a fist up to my face. His wife told him “no.” But then she stood up, went behind my chair, and using both hands, shoved me forcibly into it. Beyond disgusted, I told my mother goodbye and left. I encountered the nurse outside, and told her the situation “was not over.” She said nothing. She did not tell me that the Hospice Inc. admittance papers were already prepared, and that within minutes after I left, my confused sister, my mother’s health proxy, had signed them all. The “admissions” procedure, characterized by lies, misrepresentation and coercion, was accomplished.

Hospice agencies have become notorious for misrepresenting what’s to come, to patients, and to family. As noted earlier, in the case of the woman with a boyfriend in rehab, she was totally misled about what would happen with hospice, and more importantly, she was totally helpless to remove him when she saw what was happening. In another case, a daughter thought her father’s heart problems were treatable, but he “diminished” when placed in a hospice facility, a place one doctor had warned her had a “license to kill.” After morphine doses, he died after a few days there. The 2018 Times article cited earlier, writing of “not the good death we were promised,” makes clear that the woman’s father did not receive anywhere near the care hospice promised with a resulting nightmare for her as he went into a coma. And in 2014, the Huffington Post reported on what happened to Evelyn Maples, whose family was horrified to watch her “overmedicated.” She had not given her consent, although capable of doing so—her family was misled about her treatment, and they were unable to get her out of hospice “care.”

After I found out my mother was officially a patient of Hospice, Inc., I checked the medical notations done by the aides, and found my mother was being given 0.25 ml of morphine three times a day, by Friday the 21st. Shortly after that, Nurse “Naomi” was administering 0.5 ml every two hours, with doses of prochloropenzine. (My brother’s home health aides also gave her morphine.) My mother’s condition very quickly deteriorated from being alert and seeming fine, when she was allowed to be awake, to just weeks later, being a vegetable lying with her mouth open—, and given no food, bathing, and little water. Just the morphine. I was alarmed at her rapid downhill slide. She and I had had no time to talk, to say goodbye. On Monday the 24th, I finally convinced my older sister that we should call Hospice Inc. and see if they would ease up on the morphine. (My younger sister refused to believe me when I appealed to her.) We spoke to a nurse on phone duty there, and she was incredibly rude. When I said I’d like to call my mother’s doctor (her original one, back from leave) about it—she became very angry. “They’d tell you the same!” When I went to see my mother after that call, I said, out loud: “It’s way too late.” She looked barely alive.  She died two days later.

It was too late to save her from the “morphine cocktail.” As in the opening quote, as part of popular culture, it is known that morphine is hospice’s weapon of choice. “Most hospice patients die from morphine, but I can only OD him within an acceptable margin of error.”  An RN told the hospice patients organization that when her mother was given over to hospice, both her own and her mother’s wishes were ignored. The RN told the hospice nurses they should not give her mother morphine, but she was ignored. Her mother quickly began to show signs of “poisoning” as a result of the morphine. The hospice nurses told her—as Hospice Inc. told me, using almost the exact same language—that her mother “didn’t want to eat,” “would be sleeping more,” and would begin to “have trouble breathing.” When the RN objected to the morphine, the nurse turned her back on her and yelled at her, and then security took her away. [!] The RN said hospice gave her mother “a death cocktail,” and echoing my sentiments, said she “looked like a euthanized animal” when she died. Evelyn Maples, mentioned above, was over-medicated, including with morphine, even though she was “full code resuscitate.” They ignored that since hospice patients are assumed to have a DNR form.

Case after case reveals the same deadly prescription: a father died when his lung medicine was replaced by morphine; as noted, another father died in a few days after being given morphine every 15 minutes! A woman with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) had a cut left untreated, medicine denied and died, according to her autopsy, of “morphine intoxication.” The study on statnews.com cited earlier found a North Texas nurse giving “high doses of morphine” whether “a patient needed it or not” to get higher payments from Medicare. And Huffington Post reported a former hospice doctor in Atlanta saying hospice nurses gave morphine against a patient’s will and doctor’s orders. The world of hospice continues unabated in the coronavirus pandemic. In a pbs news report, a hospice institutional manager laments that hospice patients were tending to not go to a hospice facility, but to just stay at home. Those patients could go to a hospice facility and “be comfortable with morphine and attentive nurses and sparing community exposure.”  Attentive nurses who will gladly give a death cocktail.

When I sent Hospice & Palliative Care, Inc. my formal complaint in January of this year, the CEO gave me her “deepest condolences” in her reply, and assured me she did a “full investigation.” Of course, that investigation did not include speaking to me, or to the veteran home health aide who voiced grave reservations about their treatment. She also, unsurprisingly, put all the responsibility on my mother’s physician and refused to reveal any medical records.  She also said my brother had my mother’s health care proxy; something easily disproven by the fact it was my older sister who signed the admission forms.  He did not have it, but since according to her he did, she said she therefore considered him the one who was supposedly the “point person” in charge of giving me information.  Unfortunately, he had not been really speaking to me in some time. All the wonderful written information that she told me Hospice provides, I never saw. She also lied about their 24/7 availability for families, although they were available to be hostile to questions.  She was sorry if I “felt the Admissions Nurse did not include me”; she denied that was her intent.  Oh?  Turning her back on me?  Not speaking to me? Lying to me?  And the CEO (so appropriate, a CEO!) insisted “the patient,” my mother, “received a gradual dose change of ‘pain management medication’ based on her physician’s recommendation.” This was a lie—I saw the aides’ notes on the rapid increase of morphine and could also see the results. My response to her response addressed the above, and was, of course, never answered.

She obviously thought I could be fobbed off with her assurance she would use “my concerns” “in staff training … so no one will feel left out.” And the kicker: “I hope you will consider using our bereavement services that are available to family members of all Hospice patients.” Yes, that would do it. “Bereavement” doesn’t begin to touch my feelings towards Hospice Inc. and their part in killing my mother with morphine, with my siblings’ compliance. I knew that my protest would not result in any satisfactory action, but as I said in that complaint, I wanted them to know “that not everyone will simply accept the sort of cruel, callous and incompetent treatment” that my mother received. And, of course, it’s evidence for this article.

Hospice Inc. deals in lies, coercion, manipulation and greed. And they get away with it. As noted, Kaiser News reported in 2017 that a five-year study found 3200 complaints filed against various hospice organizations which were rarely punished. Police, prosecutors, county and state health officials, the DEA—complain all you want, they refuse to go there.  And a wrongful death suit is very difficult to win: you have to show how you suffered a loss of income (!), among other requirements. There are privacy laws. The media is very hospice-positive: “They do much more good than bad.” Most victimized family members just stay silent, and if they do speak up, they get nowhere. In California, in 2019, Steve Lopez’ mother Grace died after neither her medications nor her hospice nurse showed up from the hospice agency.  The California Public Health Department “could not validate his complaints,” nor did they get around to, as promised, investigating further. A Kentucky man who complained about his wife’s death being caused by “suspicious use of a drug [morphine] pump” was told by hospice lawyers that his “trauma had colored his perception.”  In case after case investigated by Roger Krantz, complaining family members are told they are “not able to deal with death.” This is what Hospice Inc. told me in suggesting their bereavement counselors. My younger sister has repeatedly said to me that I obviously have a hard time dealing with death.  Yes, I do.  Especially when, for my mother it was unnecessary, premature and made possible by her own children.

The elderly are not revered in Western society. Oxford economist Jeremy Warner finds the virus beneficial for “culling elderly dependents.” Scotland’s George Galloway writes scathingly of British treatment of old people which, in the midst of the pandemic, is encouraging an increase in “Do Not Resuscitate” orders. “Euthanasia by stealth and contrary to law, has washed up on our shores.” And our own local Hospice Inc. is eagerly seeking new patients. The CEO says her staff “performs like true angels,” providing bedside care, social work and “spiritual care” (bereavement).  She says Hospice Inc. reduces the strain on the healthcare system.  She then tells us it is important people know Hospice is there: “We’re still taking care of people at home so they don’t have to go to the hospital to die.” They can die by morphine overdose in the comfort of their own home. They do not resuscitate.

Orwellian Lockstep and a Loaded Syringe

Some years ago, the then vice-president of Monsanto Robert T Fraley asked, “Why do people doubt science”. He posed the question partly because he had difficulty in believing that some people had valid concerns about the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in agriculture.

Critics were questioning the science behind GM technology and the impacts of GMOs because they could see how science is used, corrupted and manipulated by powerful corporations to serve their own ends. And it was also because they regard these conglomerates as largely unaccountable and unregulated.

We need look no further than the current coronavirus issue to understand how vested interests are set to profit by spinning the crisis a certain way and how questionable science is being used to pursue policies that are essentially illogical or ‘unscientific’. Politicians refer to ‘science’ and expect the public to defer to the authority of science without questioning the legitimacy of scientific modelling or data.

Although this legitimacy is being questioned on various levels, arguments challenging the official line are being sidelined. Governments, the police and the corporate media have become the arbiters of truth even if ‘the truth’ does not correspond with expert opinion or rational thought which challenges the mainstream narrative.

For instance, testing for coronavirus could be flawed (producing a majority of ‘false positives’) and the processes involved in determining death rates could be inflating the numbers: for example, dying ‘with’ coronavirus’ is different to dying ‘due to’ coronavirus: a serious distinction given that up to 98 per cent of people (according to official sources) who may be dying with it have at least one serious life-threatening condition. Moreover, the case-fatality ratio could be so low as to make the lockdown response appear wholly disproportionate. Yet we are asked to accept statistics at face value – and by implication, the policies based on them.

Indeed, documentary maker and author David Cayley addresses this last point by saying that modern society is hyper-scientific but radically unscientific as it has no standard against which it can measure or assess what it has done: that we must at all costs ‘save lives’ is not questioned, but this makes it very easy to start a stampede. Making an entire country go home and stay home has immense, incalculable costs in terms of well-being and livelihoods. Cayley argues that this itself has created a pervasive sense of panic and crisis and is largely a result of the measures taken against the pandemic and not of the pandemic itself.

He argues that the declaration by the World Health Organization that a pandemic (at the time based on a suspected 150 deaths globally) was now officially in progress did not change anyone’s health status, but it dramatically changed the public atmosphere. Moreover, the measures mandated have involved a remarkable curtailing of civil liberty.

One of the hallmarks of the current situation, he stresses, is that some think that ‘science’ knows more than it does and therefore they – especially politicians – know more than they do. Although certain epidemiologists may say frankly that there is very little sturdy evidence to base policies on, this has not prevented politicians from acting as if everything they say or do is based on solid science.

The current paradigm – with its rhetoric of physical distancing, flattening the curve and saving lives – could be difficult to escape from. Cayley says either we call it off soon and face the possibility that it was all misguided (referring to the policies adopted in Sweden to make his point), or we extend it and create harms that may be worse than the casualties we may have averted.

The lockdown may not be merited if we were to genuinely adopt a knowledge-based approach. For instance, if we look at early projections by Neil Ferguson of Imperial College in the UK, he had grossly overstated the number of possible deaths resulting from the coronavirus and has now backtracked substantially. Ferguson has a chequered track record, which led UK newspaper The Telegraph to run a piece entitled ‘How accurate was the science that led to lockdown?’ The article outlines Ferguson’s previous flawed predictions about infectious diseases and a number of experts raise serious questions about the modelling that led to lockdown in the UK.

It is worth noting that the lockdown policies we now see are remarkably similar to the disturbing Orwellian ‘Lock Step’ future scenario that was set out in 2010 by the Rockefeller Foundation report ‘Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development’. The report foresaw a future situation where freedoms are curtailed and draconian high-tech surveillance measures are rolled out under the ongoing pretexts of impending pandemics. Is this the type of technology use we can expect to see as hundreds of millions are marginalized and pushed into joblessness?

Instead of encouraging more diverse, informed and objective opinions in the mainstream, we too often see money and power forcing the issue, not least in the form of Bill Gates who tells the world ‘normality’ may not return for another 18 months – until he and his close associates in the pharmaceuticals industry find a vaccine and we are all vaccinated.

US attorney Robert F Kennedy Jr says that top Trump advisor Stephen Fauci has made the reckless choice to fast track vaccines, partially funded by Gates, without critical animal studies. Gates is so worried about the danger of adverse events that he says vaccines shouldn’t be distributed until governments agree to indemnity against lawsuits.

But this should come as little surprise. Kennedy notes that the Gates Foundation and its global vaccine agenda already has much to answer for. For example, Indian doctors blame the Gates Foundation for paralysing 490,000 children. And in 2009, the Gates Foundation funded tests of experimental vaccines, developed by Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK) and Merck, on 23,000 girls. About 1,200 suffered severe side effects and seven died. Indian government investigations charged that Gates-funded researchers committed pervasive ethical violations.

Kennedy adds that in 2010 the Gates Foundation funded a trial of GSK’s experimental malaria vaccine, killing 151 African infants and causing serious adverse effects to 1,048 of the 5,949 children. In 2002, Gates’ operatives forcibly vaccinated thousands of African children against meningitis. Approximately 50 of the 500 children vaccinated developed paralysis.

Bill Gates committed $10 billion to the WHO in 2010. In 2014, Kenya’s Catholic Doctors Association accused the WHO of chemically sterilising millions of unwilling Kenyan women with a  ‘tetanus’ vaccine campaign. Independent labs found a sterility formula in every vaccine tested.

Instead of prioritising projects that are proven to curb infectious diseases and improve health — clean water, hygiene, nutrition and economic development — the Gates Foundation spends only about $650 million of its $5 billion budget on these areas.

Despite all of this, Gates appears on prime-time TV news shows in the US and the UK pushing his undemocratic and unaccountable pro-big pharma vaccination and surveillance agendas and is afforded deference by presenters who dare not mention any of what Kennedy outlines. Quite the opposite – he is treated like royalty.

In the meantime, an open Letter from Dr. Sucharit Bhakdi, emeritus professor of medical microbiology at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, to Angela Merkel has called for an urgent reassessment of Germany’s lockdown. Dr Ioannidis, a professor of medicine and professor of epidemiology and population health at Stanford University, argues that we have made such decisions on the basis of unreliable data. In addition, numerous articles have recently appeared online which present the views of dozens of experts who question policies and the data being cited about the coronavirus.

While it is not the intention to dismiss the dangers of Covid-19, responses to those dangers must be proportionate to actual risks. And perspective is everything.

Millions die each year due to unnecessary conflicts, malnutrition and hunger, a range of preventative diseases (often far outweighing the apparent impact of Covid-19), environmental pollution and economic plunder which deprives poor countries of their natural wealth. Neoliberal reforms have pushed millions of farmers and poor people in India and elsewhere to the brink of joblessness and despair, while our food is being contaminated with toxic chemicals and the global ecosystem faces an apocalyptic breakdown.

Much of the above is being driven by an inherently predatory economic system and facilitated by those who now say they want to ‘save lives’ by implementing devastating lockdowns. Yet, for the media and the political class, the public’s attention should not be allowed to dwell on such things.

And that has easily been taken care of.

In the UK, the population is constantly subjected via their TV screens to clap for NHS workers, support the NHS and to stay home and save lives on the basis of questionable data and policies. It’s emotive stuff taking place under a ruling Conservative Party that has cut thousands of hospital beds, frozen staff pay and demonised junior doctors.

As people passively accept the stripping of their fundamental rights, Lionel Shriver, writing in The Spectator, says that the supine capitulation to a de facto police state has been one of the most depressing spectacles he has ever witnessed.

It’s a point of view that will resonate with many.

In the meantime, Bill Gates awaits as the saviour of humanity — with a loaded syringe.

Socialism at Its Finest after Fed’s Bazooka Fails

In what is being called the worst financial crisis since 1929, the US stock market has lost a third of its value in the space of a month, wiping out all of its gains of the last three years. When the Federal Reserve tried to ride to the rescue, it only succeeded in making matters worse. The government then pulled out all the stops. To our staunchly capitalist leaders, socialism is suddenly looking good.  

The financial crisis began in late February, when the World Health Organization announced that it was time to prepare for a global pandemic. The Russia-Saudi oil price war added fuel to the flames, causing all three Wall Street indices to fall more than 7 percent on March 9. It was called Black Monday, the worst drop since the Great Recession in 2008; but it would get worse. 

On March 12, the Fed announced new capital injections totaling an unprecedented $1.5 trillion in the repo market, where banks now borrow to stay afloat. The market responded by driving stocks 8% lower.

On Sunday, March 15, the Fed emptied its bazooka by lowering the fed funds rate nearly to zero and announcing that it would be purchasing $700 billion in assets, including federal securities of all maturities, restarting its quantitative easing program. It also eliminated bank reserve requirements and slashed Interest on Excess Reserves (the interest it pays to banks for parking their cash at the Fed) to 0.10%. The result was to cause the stock market to open on Monday nearly 10% lower. Rather than projecting confidence, the Fed’s measures were generating panic.

As financial analyst George Gammon observes, the Fed’s massive $1.5 trillion in expanded repo operations had few takers. Why? He says the shortage in the repo market was not in “liquidity” (money available to lend) but in “pristine collateral” (the securities that must be put up for the loans). Pristine collateral consists mainly of short-term Treasury bills. The Fed can inject as much liquidity as it likes, but it cannot create T-bills, something only the Treasury can do. That means the government (which is already $23 trillion in debt) must add yet more debt to its balance sheet in order to rescue the repo market that now funds the banks.

The Fed’s tools alone are obviously incapable of stemming the bloodletting from the forced shutdown of businesses across the country. Fed chair Jerome Powell admitted as much at his March 15 press conference, stating, “[W]e don’t have the tools to reach individuals and particularly small businesses and other businesses and people who may be out of work …. We do think fiscal response is critical.” “Fiscal policy” means the administration and Congress must step up to the plate.

What about using the Fed’s “nuclear option” – a “helicopter drop” of money to support people directly? A March 16 article in Axios quoted former Fed senior economist Claudia Sahm:

The political ramifications of the Fed essentially printing money and giving it to people – there are ways to do it, but the problem is if the Fed does this and Congress still has not passed anything … that would mean the Fed has stepped in and done something that Congress didn’t want to do. If they did helicopter money without congressional approval, Congress could, and rightly so, end the Fed.

The government must act first, before the Fed can use its money-printing machine to benefit the people and the economy directly.

The Fed, Congress and the Administration Need to Work as a Team 

On March 13, President Trump did act, declaring a national emergency that opened access to as much as $50 billion “for states and territories and localities in our shared fight against this disease.” The Dow Jones Industrial Average responded by ending the day up nearly 2,000 points, or 9.4 percent.

The same day, Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard proposed a universal basic income of $1,000 per month for every American for the duration of the crisis. She said, “Too much attention has been focused here in Washington on bailing out Wall Street banks and corporate industries as people are making the same old tired argument of how trickle-down economics will eventually help the American people.” Meanwhile the American taxpayer “gets left holding the bag, struggling and getting no help during a time of crisis.” H.R. 897, her bill for an emergency UBI, she said was the most simple, direct form of assistance to help weather the storm.

Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who made a universal basic income the basis of his platform, would go further and continue the monthly payments after the coronavirus threat was over.

CNBC financial analyst Jim Cramer also had expansive ideas. He said on March 12:

How about a $500 billion Treasury issue … [at] almost no interest cost, to make sure that when people are sick they don’t have to go to work, and companies that are in trouble because of that can still make their payroll. How about a credit line backstopped by … the Federal Reserve. I know the Federal Reserve is going to say they can’t do that, Congress is going to say they can’t do that, everyone is going to say what they said in 2007, they can’t do that, they can’t do that — until they did it. … [W]e heard all that in 2007 and they ended up doing everything.

And that looks like what will happen this time around. On March 18, as the stock market continued to plummet, the administration released an outline for a $1 trillion stimulus bill, including $500 billion in direct payments to Americans, along with bailouts and loans for the airline industry, small businesses, and other “critical” sectors of the U.S. economy.

But the details needed to be hammered out, and even that whopping package buoyed the markets only briefly. In the bond market, yields shot up and values went down, on fears that the flood of government bonds needed to finance this giant stimulus would cause bond values to plummet and the government’s funding costs to shoot up.

Extraordinary Measures for Extraordinary Times

There is a way around that problem. To avoid driving the federal debt into the stratosphere, the Treasury could borrow directly from the central bank interest-free, with an agreement that the debt would remain on the Fed’s books indefinitely. That approach has been tested in Japan, where it has not generated price inflation as austerity hawks have insisted it would. The Bank of Japan has purchased nearly 50 percent of the government’s debt, yet consumer price inflation remains below the BOJ’s 2 percent target.

Virtually all money today is simply “monetized” debt – debt turned by banks into something that can be spent in the marketplace – and the ultimate backstop for this sleight of hand is the central bank and the government, which means the taxpayers. To equalize our very unequal system, the central bank and the government need to work together. The Fed needs to be “de-privatized” – turned into a public utility that serves the taxpayers and the economy. As Eric Striker observed in The Unz Review on March 13:

The US government’s lack of direct control over the nation’s central bank and the plutocratic nature of our weak state means that common sense solutions are off the table. Why doesn’t the state buy up majority shares in large corporations (or outright nationalize them, as happened with the short successful experiment with General Motors in 2009) and use the $1.5 trillion at low interest to develop American industrial independence?

Interestingly, that too could be on the table in these extraordinary times. Bloomberg reported on March 19 that Larry Kudlow, the White House’s top economic adviser, says the administration may ask for an equity stake (an ownership interest) in corporations that want coronavirus aid from taxpayers. Kudlow noted that when this was done with General Motors in 2008, it turned out to be a good deal for the federal government.

While traditionally considered “anti-capitalist,” the government taking an ownership interest in bailed out companies may be the only way the proposed bailouts will get approval. There is little sentiment today for the sort of no-strings-attached “socialism for the rich” that the taxpayers shouldered in 2008 without reaping the benefits. Bloomberg quotes Jeffrey Gundlach, chief executive officer at DoubleLine Capital:

I don’t think government bailouts of over-leveraged companies that got over-leveraged by share buybacks at all-time highs, enriching executives and hedge fund investors, will sit well with the American people.

The Bloomberg article concludes with a quote from another chief investment officer, Chris Zaccarelli of Independent Advisor Alliance:

I like how [the administration is] thinking a little bit outside of the box. Something big and bold like that could potentially be what turns the market around ….

Long-term Solutions

Rather than just a stake in the profits, the government could think a bit further outside the box and turn insolvent airlines, oil companies, and banks into public utilities. It could require them to serve the people and the economy rather than just maximizing the short-term profits of their shareholders.

Concerning the banks, the Fed could do as the People’s Bank of China is doing in this crisis. The state-run PBoC is giving regional banks $79 billion in stimulus money, but it is on condition that they lend it to small and medium enterprises and forgive late payments, so that economic damage is reversed and production can recover quickly.

Another model worth studying is that of Germany, which also has a strong public banking system. As part of a package for coronavirus aid that the German finance minister calls its “big bazooka,” the government is offering immediate access to loans up to €500,000 for small businesses through its public bank, the KfW (Kreditanstalt fuer Wiederaufbau), administered through the publicly-owned Sparkassen and other local banks. The loans are being made available at an interest rate as low as 1%, with interest only for the first two years.

Contrast that to the aid package President Trump announced last week, which will authorize the Small Business Administration to offer business loans. After a lengthy process of approval by state authorities, the loans can be obtained at an interest rate of 3.75% – nearly 4 times the KfW rate. German and Chinese public banks are able to offer rock-bottom interest rates because they have cut out private middlemen and are not driven by the insatiable demand for shareholder profits. They can lend countercyclically to avoid booms and busts while supporting the economy as a whole.

The U.S., too, could create a network of publicly-owned banks backed by the central bank, which could lend into their communities at below-market rates. And this is the time to do it. Times of crisis are when change happens. When the Covid-19 scare has passed, we will have a different government, a different economy and a different financial system. We need to make sure that what we get is an upgrade that works for everyone.

Drug Dealers, Polluters and Sex Traffickers: Welcome to Oligarch Cloud Cuckoo Land

Men’s evil manners live in brass; their virtues
We write in water.
Henry VIII (IV.ii.)

The notion that American oligarchs amass great wealth due to their extraordinary intelligence has become a deeply engrained tenet of liberal fundamentalist dogma. For in order for neoliberalism to maintain popular support it is necessary that the media relentlessly extol the virtues of the new robber barons. This myth of the meritocracy is sustained with fawning from the presstitutes, but also from the dubious practice of philanthrocapitalism. And yet cracks have appeared in the meritocratic facade which even the mass media has not been able to conceal.

From Andrew Carnegie to Henry Clay Frick, from John D. Rockefeller to Cornelius Vanderbilt, American capitalists have long embraced philanthropy as a means with which to not only deify themselves, but to also glorify and perpetuate a system anchored in authoritarianism, cruelty, and the impoverishment of millions.

Jeffrey Epstein hails from this blood-soaked lineage, as his rise was inextricably linked with a culture in thrall to the lie that those who are the most virtuous acquire the most wealth. A sex trafficker, who for decades managed to maintain a carefully cultivated image of an urbane and munificent New Yorker, Epstein had become a magnet for careerists, opportunists, and fellow con artists alike.

Helaine Olen writes in The Washington Post:

The major lie of the age of wealth inequality is that the moneyed are somehow better than the rest of us day-to-day working schlubs. The aristocracy of prewar Europe had their bloodlines. Our latter-day meritocratic aristocrats, we are told, possess the modern equivalent, which is extraordinary intelligence. The slothful working class are slaves to short-term pleasure. The rich, on the other hand, are disciplined. They wake up early, and they refuse to live beyond their means.

This is a lie. The Epstein scandal proves it.

Epstein preyed not only on destitute American girls from broken homes, but also on foreign girls, some of whom did not speak English, making them even more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Writing in The Miami Herald, Julie K. Brown writes that “after the FBI case was closed in 2008, witnesses and alleged victims testified in civil court that there were hundreds of girls who were brought to Epstein’s homes, including girls from Europe, Latin America and former Soviet Republic countries.”

The suspicious deal worked out a little over a decade ago by Epstein’s high powered legal team allowed their client to get off with incredibly lenient sentencing terms, and served to protect other creatures of dubious repute who may have been involved in a vast criminal network. Brown continues: “The deal, called a federal non-prosecution agreement, was sealed so that no one — not even his victims — could know the full scope of Epstein’s crimes and who else was involved.”

Epstein’s “black book” contained personal phone numbers belonging to such “masters of the universe” as Donald Trump, Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia, Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, Senator Ted Kennedy, Henry Kissinger, David Koch, Ehud Barak, John Kerry, David Rockefeller, Michael Bloomfield, Leslie Wexner, Prince Andrew, Queen Elizabeth, Saudi King Salman and Edward de Rothschild. Irregardless of whether these plutocrats were involved in the abuse of minors, the fact that Epstein was permitted to inhabit this peculiar parallel legal system for so many years signifies the degradation of checks and balances which has opened up the floodgates of the West to barbarism.

Ghislaine Maxwell, who allegedly procured underage girls for Epstein, founded the TerraMar Project in 2012, a nonprofit ostensibly devoted to protecting the world’s oceans. Ghislaine’s father, Robert Maxwell, was a Mossad agent, and some have speculated that she may have introduced her boyfriend to the Israeli intelligence services.

There is a high degree of probability that Epstein was running a blackmail operation in conjunction with an intelligence agency (or agencies), as he had hidden cameras scattered throughout the rooms of his many residences, and appeared to be filming his guests as they were “getting a massage.” Epstein also had an Austrian passport, coveted by spies, due to Austria’s neutrality.

Chicago criminal defense attorney Leonard C. Goodman writes in the Chicago Reader:

A public criminal trial would have made it very hard to cover up Epstein’s relationship to intelligence agencies. These are the agencies that tell our presidents which countries to bomb, what leaders to depose, and which terrorists to assassinate by drone.

Frequently referred to by the presstitutes as a “disgraced financier,” despite the fact that no one has seen a website for the firm which he allegedly operated; and often referred to as “pedophile Jeffrey Epstein,” as if he were a lone villain acting all by himself, Epstein’s life personifies the depravity of contemporary American society. Moreover, this “financial genius” was somehow able to acquire one of the most luxurious residences in Manhattan (21,000-square-feet, and steps from Central Park), a 10,000 acre ranch in New Mexico, an apartment in Paris, a luxury villa in Palm Beach; and two islands in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Little Saint James and Great Saint James.

Epstein’s charitable donations were clearly a smokescreen designed to disguise extremely nefarious activities. The mega-rich in other countries may be crooks (consider Pablo Escobar, described by Wikipedia as a “narcoterrorist”), but not wealthy Americans, who are simply smarter than everyone else. That Epstein came from a working class family, and that his father, Seymour Epstein, worked for the New York Parks Department as a groundskeeper, only deepens the mystery of where this money really came from.

Ever the debonair cool guy of Manhattan’s in-crowd, Epstein donated to the Independent Filmmaker Project, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Interlochen Center for the Arts, Ballet Palm Beach, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the Cancer Research Wellness Institute and the Melanoma Research Alliance. In May of 2012, PR Newswire ran an article titled “The Largest Private Funder of Melanoma Research Receives Vital Support From Activist Jeffrey Epstein.”

One of Epstein’s favorite places to donate was Harvard, as this allowed him to hobnob with a variety of influential academics and scientists. As John Patrick writes in The Washington Examiner:

The disgraced finance mogul donated millions to Harvard endeavors from the late 1990s throughout the 2000s, including a $6.5 million donation to Harvard’s Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, and a $2 million pledged donation for Harvard’s Jewish organization Hillel. Plus, Epstein contributed more than $100,000 to a Harvard performing arts organization, and gave a gift of more than $100,000 to a non-profit run by Elsa New, wife of former Harvard president and Clinton administration member Larry Summers.

Epstein also donated $2.5 million to Ohio State University and $800,000 to MIT. Taking hypocrisy to new heights, he even donated to the Women Global Cancer Initiative, the Mount Sinai Breast Health Resource Program; and to The Hewitt School, a prep school for girls on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Underscoring the netherworld of imaginary morality that our plutocrats inhabit, Epstein told the New York Post that “I’m not a sexual predator, I’m an ‘offender.’ It’s the difference between a murderer and a person who steals a bagel.”

Bernie Madoff, another exhilarating New York success story, was managing – at least according to his computer printouts – the astronomical sum of $50 billion, and was equally fond of donating to charitable causes. Yeshiva University, The Ramaz School, Maimonides School, and the Hadassah Women’s Organization were some of the institutions that suffered serious losses when Madoff’s firm revealed itself to be the biggest Ponzi scheme in history.

Cousins of human traffickers, polluters also need to unwind from time to time, and what better way to bask in the grandeurs of perdition than donate to the arts? The New York State Theater, an important performing arts space within Lincoln Center and home to the New York City Ballet, was renamed the David H. Koch Theater in 2008; while the Metropolitan Museum of Art now offers the David H. Koch Plaza, whose namesake paid $65 million to have the new plaza built in his name. The Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT is another child born of Koch philanthropy.

The Charles Koch Foundation has donated enormous sums of money to hundreds of universities with the aim of inculcating impressionable young minds with their reactionary ethos, which is anchored in the idea that all attempts at corporate regulation and maintaining a public sector should be jettisoned. The Koch brothers donated over $95 million to George Mason University, which is a public university, and this led to the Charles Koch Foundation being granted a significant amount of leverage with regard to the hiring and firing of faculty.

Steven Pearlstein writes in The Washington Post:

When someone gives $10 million to an engineering school rather than the college of humanities, it changes the university’s priorities. When someone endows a center to study the causes and consequences of climate change, it affects who is hired and what is taught and researched. When someone gives enough to name a school after a public figure, it shapes a school’s ideological profile. It would be great if all donations were unrestricted, but they aren’t. Many donors have agendas. The Kochs are just an extreme example.

The Koch brothers have left behind a toxic legacy from Corpus Christi, Texas; to Chicago and Detroit; to Crossett, Arkansas; to New Delhi, India, and beyond. Greenpeace posits that “Koch Industries is a major polluter, with ongoing incidents and violations of environmental laws.” Tim Dickinson writes in Rolling Stone that “Thanks in part to its 2005 purchase of paper-mill giant Georgia-Pacific, Koch Industries dumps more pollutants into the nation’s waterways than General Electric and International Paper combined.” He goes on to point out that “Koch generates 24 million metric tons of greenhouse gases a year.” Together, Charles and David Koch accumulated around $100 billion.

The Sackler Family, which owns Purdue Pharma and made billions off of the opioid crisis, deceived doctors about the highly addictive nature of OxyContin. This particularly dangerous opioid was promoted in part through dishonest advertising, but also though manipulating physicians into believing the drug was safe. Patrick Radden Keefe writes in The New Yorker that “The marketing of OxyContin relied on an empirical circularity: the company convinced doctors of the drug’s safety with literature that had been produced by doctors who were paid, or funded, by the company.” The Sackler family is now attempting to sell the drug abroad through Mundipharma, a Purdue subsidiary, and is marketing OxyContin in Asia, South America and the Middle East.

It is noteworthy that Arthur Sackler aggressively marketed Librium and Valium in the 1960s, which earned tremendous profits for Hoffmann-La Roche, and also led many Americans down a path towards abuse and addiction. Judith Warner writes in Time:

Valium has long served extremely well as a vehicle for proving the perfidy of psychiatrists and the drug companies behind them. It was indeed dispensed in outrageous-seeming numbers in the 1960s and early 1970s. It did indeed lead to tragic levels of abuse and addiction.

The Sacklers are now one of our richest families. Like Epstein, the Sackler family sought to cultivate a worldly image anchored in their patronage of education and the arts, and some of the most prestigious museums in the Western world have galleries and wings named after them.

At the Guggenheim, there is the Sackler Center for Arts Education; at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, there is the Sackler Wing; and at the American Museum of Natural History, there is the Sackler Educational Laboratory. At Harvard, there is the Arthur M. Sackler Museum; in Washington DC, the Sackler Gallery; and at the Brooklyn Museum, the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art. Moreover, there are Sackler wings and educational institutions at renowned British museums such as the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archeology, the British Museum, the Dulwich Picture Gallery, the National Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum and at the Tate Modern. The Sacklers have also donated to the Royal Ballet School, the Royal Botanic Gardens, and the Royal Opera. Perhaps the Whitney Museum of American Art, which has a board run largely by war profiteers, could receive the funds accumulated from the many lawsuits arrayed against Purdue and be renamed the Sackler.

Not content with defiling artistic institutions with their blood money, the Sacklers have donated to educational institutions. At Columbia, there is the Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology; and at Oxford, the Sackler Library; at Yale, there is the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Institute for Biological, Physical and Engineering Sciences.

Particularly egregious conflicts of interest are the Sackler Brain and Spine Institute at NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital, the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Center for Biomedical and Physical Sciences at Weill Cornell, and the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at Tufts. No less disturbing, in the winter of 2010 Thomas J. Lynch Jr., MD, was named Richard Sackler and Jonathan Sackler Professor of Medicine and Director of the Yale Cancer Center. The Sacklers have also donated millions to Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard’s oldest teaching hospital. Andrew Joseph writes in “Purdue Cemented Ties with Universities and Hospitals to Expand Opioid Sales, Documents Contend,” that “At Mass. General, the agreement with Purdue allowed the company to suggest curriculum for pain education.” No less outrageous, in Israel there is the Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University. Emblazoned in its lobby are the words “Dedicated to Mankind for the Health of All People.”

Some arts institutions have disassociated themselves from the Sacklers, such as the Louvre, which took down the Sackler name from its Wing of Oriental Antiquities. A number of prominent museums, such as the Guggenheim, the Met, and the Tate galleries have refused to accept further donations from the Sacklers, although the name continues to sully their august halls.

Teva Pharmaceuticals has likewise played a role in the opioid crisis, and partners with Mount Sinai, a blatant conflict of interest. Ostensibly, they will treat “multiple chronic conditions” together. Teva has donated to a wide variety of health care organizations and gave $2.5 million to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. In an article in The Times of Israel titled “Federal Data Reveals Extent of Teva’s Role in Fueling US Opioid Crisis,” the authors write that between 2006 and 2012 “Teva Pharmaceuticals USA produced 690 million opioid pills.”

When not getting Americans addicted to opioids and psychotropic drugs, Johnson and Johnson delights in donating to Johnson & Johnson Vision and the Himalayan Cataract Project (HCP), both of which make endearing videos replete with cute kids and teary-eyed grandparents.

Indeed, this was how some of the most diabolical drug dealers in America, were, at least for a time, able to convey an image of benevolence, munificence and altruism. Keefe writes that “Over time, the origins of a clan’s largesse are largely forgotten, and we recall only the philanthropic legacy, prompted by the name on the building.”

Where are our heroes, America? Our novelists, labor leaders, artists and intellectuals? What would Thoreau, Frederick Douglass, or Mark Twain say about these soulless creatures who sought to use their lucre to envelop themselves in a halo of veneration and hagiography? A society that prostrates itself at the altar of depravity is a society of death.

Let us disenthrall ourselves from the shackles of materialism and careerism. Let us cast the false idol of avarice from the tallest cliffs, and from its ashes embrace a phoenix reborn, a harbinger of compassion, altruism and justice.

The Doctor-Patient Relationship Can be Found in the Graveyard of Informed Consent

My master that was thrall to Love
Is become thrall to Death.

— “A Ballad of Death,” by Algernon Charles Swinburne, Poems and Ballads, First Series, 1866

The 21st century is only in its infancy, and the United States has revealed itself to be a truly remarkable country. We have imaginary jobs, an imaginary middle class, imaginary checks and balances, and an imaginary society. We even have imaginary bioethics. At the root of this new and exciting phenomenon is the dismantling of informed consent and the disintegration of the doctor-patient relationship that has followed in its wake.

The privatization of health care has contributed to the weakening of the physician-patient bond, as health care has largely been taken over by the gangster capitalists of the pharmaceutical industry, the health insurance companies, device manufacturers, and hospital administrators. In a KevinMD article titled “The Self-Inflicted Death of the Physician,” an anonymous doctor writes, “For certainly we, as a profession, have handed over our authority to others, not all at once, but slowly, inexorably, over decades. We are just a shadow of our former selves.” Mirroring these sentiments, Linda Girgis, MD, writes in Physician’s Weekly, “The doctor is no longer center stage, unless you are watching a puppet show.”

In what will inevitably foment more unscrupulous behavior, MD/MBA programs are teaching doctors to think like businessmen, an irreconcilable contradiction. Hospital administrators are pressuring doctors to see increasing numbers of patients each day, while the health insurance companies continue to play a major role in stripping doctors of their autonomy by regularly countermanding doctor’s orders. This corporate coup d’état, rooted in avarice, callousness, and sociopathy has caused many clinicians to become unmoored from their traditional moral compass.

Physicians are now compelled to use electronic medical records (EMRs), which force them to waste countless hours doing mind-numbing data entry. If an attending physician decides to employ a medical scribe, nurse, or medical student to assume responsibility for this onerous task, it means that a third party will be in the examination room during patients’ office visits, which if done without the patient’s permission, constitutes an egregious violation of informed consent. It is also common for businesses to change the health insurance plans of their employees each year, which invariably results in many patients having to leave doctors that they have established long-standing relationships with, and who may be critically important to their physical and emotional well-being.

In addition to seeking assistance with EMRs, many physicians opt to bring interlopers into patients’ office visits, either because they prioritize teaching trainees to establishing a sound physician-patient rapport, or because they have figured out that it is much harder to be sued if there is a chaperone present in the examination room. Unsurprisingly, the medical institutions that spend the most money on glossy advertisements boasting of their boundless magnanimity and benevolence are frequently the institutions that are the most eager to bully patients into accepting a culture anchored in authoritarianism and absolute contempt for the rights of the patient.

In a KevinMD article titled “Electronic Health Records Cannot Replace a Doctor Who Knows You,” the authors write: “Ensuring the best medical care is not primarily a technical challenge. It is a human challenge, which requires patients and doctors to be able to form deep and long-standing relationships.” And yet American teaching hospitals are churning out delusional and hubristic creatures who have not been inculcated with a respect for patient privacy and informed consent, and who are incognizant of the fact that once these principles have been jettisoned the majority of their patients will neither trust, nor respect, nor confide in them. The deterioration of this vitally important relationship has resulted in a situation where it is increasingly common for patients to fail to disclose pertinent medical information. The deplorable state of the humanities and the rise of subspecialization have undoubtedly  contributed to this scourge of blindness in American health care.

Commenting on the dangers posed by medical scribes, Ami Schattner, MD, of the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, said in an interview with The Medical Bag:

I have serious concerns about the impact of scribes on the tender dynamic and intimacy of the physician-patient encounter. Perhaps the word ‘sanctity’ is not too strong when talking about the physician-patient relationship.

In an article titled “Shining a Light on Shadowing,” by Elizabeth A. Kitsis, MD, the author warns of the ethical ramifications of imposing pre-med students on patients during their doctor visits:

Physician shadowing by college students…may involve subtle coercion of the patient. To maintain his or her rapport with the physician, a patient may feel compelled to allow students into the examination room if his or her physician makes the request. However, the patient may resent the intrusion, and feel uncomfortable during the interaction.

Indeed, Kitsis’ words are also applicable with regard to nurses, medical students, residents, and fellows observing office visits. In an article in Medscape titled “What is Medical Ethics, and Why is it Important?” the authors write: “Ethical decisions cannot be avoided. Whenever doctors make a clinical decision, they are almost always making an ethical decision, consciously or not.” It is not even unusual for attending physicians to inform patients of ominous test results with their entourage in tow. While this may be very exciting for medical students it can be perceived as callous, degrading, and inhuman from the standpoint of the patient.

In “Stop the Anti-Doctor Media Bias,” by Rebekah Bernard, MD, the author writes that “Most physicians are dedicated individuals who hold patient care as sacrosanct.” I saw more doctors from 2016 to 2018 than a person would typically work with if they lived to a hundred, and have yet to see a single doctor’s office present me with a choice regarding the presence of observers during my office visits. In what could form the basis of a Kafka story, I had to voice my objections to the same institution and the same departments over and over again ad infinitum. Is this indicative of holding patient care as sacrosanct?

Jeremy Brown, MD, has proposed that doctors be equipped with body cameras, and Myles Riner, MD, supports the recording of physician-patient encounters, arguing in “Should Physicians Record and Share Conversations with Patients?” that “One thing is certain, this approach is certainly indicative of patient-centered care, and I think many patients would greatly appreciate the effort.” Not to be outdone, The New York Times has waxed glowingly on the subject of group doctor visits. Virtual office visits and doctor visits at work also pose a serious threat to confidentiality. So little value is placed on patient privacy that hospitals have even allowed television crews into emergency rooms, resulting in one New York widow turning on the television one evening, only to watch her husband die before her very eyes. Even if medical students attend a few decent lectures on bioethics, this is frequently negated by what they see their attending doing on a daily basis.

When the time comes for doctors to be patients, they often take for granted having the finest insurance plans which permit them to see any doctor without restrictions. This is in contrast with the majority of patients, who are increasingly restricted to narrow networks.

In a KevinMD article titled “Please, be kind to your doctor. We need it.,” Sara R Ahronheim, MD, writes: “But when I go home, I am alone; no one knows your stories, no one sees the tears you cried when I told you the awful things I had to tell you.” No one, that is, except the nurse, medical student, and resident who also happened to be hanging out in the room at the time.

What will become of the younger generation, being mentored as they so often are, in an environment where degradation is professionalism, indifference is empathy, and the most sordid behavior is hailed as “patient-centered care.” Indeed, this practice embodies everything base, ignoble, and treacherous in contemporary American health care. So relentlessly are patients besieged by these indignities, that there are times when I cannot help but wonder if these are really accidents and misunderstandings or the result of knavery and villainy. Teaching hospitals have a sacred duty to inculcate their trainees with a comprehensive understanding of, and respect for, medical ethics. All too often they are derelict in this duty. That so many attendings and their charges are indifferent to the physical, psychological, and emotional vulnerability of their patients underscores the fact that doctors and patients often speak in completely different languages.

This imposition of interlopers during physician office visits — a depraved reality show euphemistically called “team-based care” — constitutes a violation of every foundational tenet of medical ethics: informed consent, confidentiality, patient privacy, patient dignity, patient trust, and the oath to do no harm. Moreover, once trainees have learned to disregard informed consent with regard to nonconsensual physician shadowing, it is highly probable that they will do so again when the opportunity presents itself.

For instance, it is common for medical students and residents to be instructed to do practice pelvic exams on anesthetized patients, and the practice is legal in 45 states. A 2007 study done in Canada — a country with a comprehensive single-payer system — revealed that over 70 percent of medical students had done practice pelvic exams on anesthetized patients, and women have reported pain and bruising from these unauthorized exams.

Teaching hospitals frequently regard their patients, especially those who lack the best commercial plans, as their property. In an online forum on The Student Doctor Network where the ethics of having trainees perform practice pelvic exams on anesthetized patients is debated, AmoryBlaine writes:

It’s surprising how worked up some people get over the issue. You will be naked on a brightly lit table for all to see. A medical student will put a tube into your bladder. We’re about to flay your belly open and remove your uterus and ovaries. But to do a pelvic exam! What a violation! If you get into this habit of being deathly afraid of the patient’s feelings about an internal exam you will never learn how.

Glorytaker writes:

When I was doing OB/GYN as a med student, the attending would have me do a pelvic right after the patient was under and before we started surgery. Of course, we were doing GYN-related surgery and he wanted me to note the difference before and after a cystocele or rectocele repair. We didn’t exactly get permission but it was for teaching purposes.

Any rational layperson would be able to tell you that this is unethical, and yet many medical students and residents would disagree. What does that say about our education system? Perhaps it is this sort of degenerate thinking that led The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy to nonchalantly point out that “The turn of the 21st century has seen doubts surfacing about informed consent.” The fighter pilot that bombs wedding parties in Afghanistan and the impressionable trainee who is taught that it is acceptable to do practice pelvic exams on anesthetized patients have much in common. For they have both been inculcated with a profound sense of blind obedience.

It is common for doctors to do nonconsensual episiotomies and pelvic exams on women in labor, and women are frequently coerced into having pelvic exams in exchange for birth control prescriptions. This is an example of how, with a medical degree and some mental gymnastics, blackmail and rape can be transformed into cod liver oil and brussel sprouts. Writing about the lack of informed consent with regard to Pap smears and testing for cervical cancer, Joel Sherman, MD, has pointed out that cervical cancer is very rare in the United States. In Finland women are given the option of being tested for cervical cancer once every five years. And in an article that appeared in The Milbank Quarterly titled “Cervical Cancer Screening in the United States and the Netherlands: A Tale of Two Countries,” the authors write, “Even though three to four times more Pap smears per woman were conducted in the United States than in the Netherlands over a period of three decades, the two countries’ mortality trends were quite similar.” Perhaps this egregious lack of ethics in obstetrics and gynecology should come as no surprise, considering the fact that James Marion Sims, who invented the speculum and who is widely regarded as the founder of modern gynecology, performed experiments on black slave girls.

Will a 25-year-old woman continue to trust her oncologist should she go into permanent early menopause following chemotherapy, and her oncologist failed to disclose this as a common side effect associated with her chemotherapy regimen? What is the likelihood that a cancer patient will continue to trust their doctors should they experience long-term chemotherapy-induced cognitive dysfunction, they are unable to continue with their career, and this too was not disclosed? Indeed, failure to disclose common long-term chemotherapy side effects is standard practice in many American cancer centers. It is also common for school districts to force high school students to undergo genital exams as a requirement to play sports, despite the fact that the scientific rationale behind the practice remains murky at best. And there are medical institutions, such as Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, that do not allow patients to change from one doctor to another within any given department, which can leave a patient torn between seeking care at an inferior facility or being the slave of an overbearing scoundrel.

Informed consent is absent in routine mammography screening, as no evidence exists that mammograms provide any benefit, whereas evidence exists that they have caused considerable harm. Obstetrics and gynecology aside, in no other specialty is there greater contempt for informed consent than in psychiatry, where dangerous side effects from psychiatric drugs are regularly withheld from patients and these drugs are even being prescribed for children. Psychiatrist Lawrence Kelmenson writes in “The Three Types of Psychiatric Drugs – A Doctor’s Guide for Consumers:”

Psychiatrists are seen as hard-working, caring, understanding healers, but they’re really snake-oil salesmen, drug-dealers, and master-sedaters. What they do should be illegal. Someday everyone will realize that not only do psychiatrists not heal anything, they’re a major contributor to the recent rise in suicides and overdoses.

Dr. Peter Breggin has echoed these sentiments, and actually specializes in getting people off these drugs.

It is common for patients who are perceived as “anti-authoritarians” to be diagnosed as “mentally ill,” and a number of school shooters were found to be taking powerful psychiatric drugs at the time they unleashed a fusillade of bullets on their classmates and teachers. Informed consent is frequently absent in the treatment of prostate cancer, and tens of thousands of American men have their prostates removed unnecessarily each year, only to fully understand the dire consequences after the damage is irreversible. (Consider the words of Atul Gawande, MD, in “Overkill:” “The forces that have led to a global epidemic of overtesting, overdiagnosis, and overtreatment are easy to grasp. Doctors get paid for doing more, not less.”) These are all examples of how informed consent is routinely disregarded in an unconscionable manner. The Tuskegee Alabama syphilis experiments, as well as medical experiments conducted on the downtrodden of IndiaAmerican prisoners, and on prisoners in Guantanamo are emblematic of the barbarities that can be unleashed when the celestial temple of informed consent lies in ruins.

After undergoing a surgical procedure in the summer of 2016, I was given a prescription for oxycodone, a semisynthetic opioid. Never was the highly addictive nature of this drug disclosed to me. Thankfully, Dr. Google informed me that oxycodone posed a “high risk for addiction and dependence.” Perhaps this might explain why, according to the CDC, “On average, 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.” Many medical blogs delight in reminding us of the fact that the doctor-patient relationship is foundational to sound health care, and yet narcissism, moral bankruptcy, and careerism are endemic to our health care system. The erosion of trust that has followed this satanic cult of medical coercion has led to a situation where it has become harder for physicians to get patients to follow through with their treatment protocols.

The hazing and bullying commonly experienced by many trainees can cause medical students and residents to become jaded, and to lose their sense of empathy. Residents are often so exploited that many suffer from depression and are chronically sleep-deprived, and the brutal military-style training they are forced to endure can lead to many trainees forgetting that “gall bladder in Room 213” is a human being with a name. It is incontrovertible that corporations have undermined the doctor-patient relationship and inflicted catastrophic damage to our health care system. And while doctors must support the fight for single-payer, they must also acknowledge the fact that the cavalier attitude towards informed consent on the part of many American physicians has played a critical role in the dissolution of the public’s trust. Inexperienced patients naively assume that every doctor will have their best interests at heart. All too often, this is sadly not the case. Moreover, once this trust has been violated, it can result in grievous and long-lasting emotional harm. A clinician that is indifferent to the doctor-patient relationship, and who is only interested in scans, pathology reports, and blood tests has been infected with the virus of technocracy and fallen into a morass of charlatanism.

In the Charmides Plato wrote that “The greatest mistake in the treatment of diseases is that there are physicians for the body and physicians for the soul, although the two cannot be separated.” Medical students and residents may learn how to diagnose and treat different diseases, yet are seldom inculcated with an understanding of medical ethics and why it is so indispensable. In “Bringing Hospitality Back to the Hospital: Lessons From a Bartender,” by Cory Michael, MD, the author writes: “People remember how you make them feel. They don’t care how much you know unless they know how much you care.” Medical terrorism and corporatization are the Goneril and Regan of medical sacrilege. Perpetually locked in a deadly embrace, they fuel one another’s nefarious designs. The tragedy is that so many medical students and residents are being seduced, not by the voice of truth, but by the voice of damnation. Let us recall the chilling words of Iago: “When devils will the blackest sins put on / They do suggest at first with heavenly shows / As I do now.” (Othello II.iii.)

Informed consent is a river that separates the consecrated light of morality from the profane and blasphemous abyss of amorality. Once this Rubicon has been crossed, there is no turning back. Those who have strayed from their sacred oath will find absolution not in the ways of the wicked, but in a return to the path of compassion, integrity, and righteousness. Indeed, dignity for the patient and dignity for the physician are mutually interdependent.

The doctor-patient relationship now lies buried in the unhallowed primeval ground; a cemetery where broken tombstones litter the earth with thorns and broken bottles, the land is barren and no flowers grow, and a once-proud beating heart beats no more. Only with a return to this inviolable bedrock of medical ethics can we embrace its resurrection.