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Our Society Is Sick, Our Economy Exploitive and our Politics Corrupt

Scorpio

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#1
Our Society Is Sick, Our Economy Exploitive and our Politics Corrupt
Charles Hugh Smith




Any society that tolerates this systemic exploitation and corruption as "business as usual" is not just sick--it's hopeless.

In noting that our society is sick, our economy exploitive and our politics corrupt, I'm not saying anything you didn't already know. Everyone who isn't being paid to deny the obvious in public (while fuming helplessly about the phony cheerleading in private) knows that our society is a layer-cake of pathologies, our economy little more than institutionalized racketeering and our politics a corrupt auction-house of pay-for-play, influence-peddling, money-grubbing and brazen pandering for votes.

The fantasy promoted by do-gooders and PR hacks alike is that this corrupt system can be reformed with a few minor policy tweaks. If you want a brief but thorough explanation of Why Our Status Quo Failed and Is Beyond Reform, please take a look at my book (link above).

If you want an example of how the status quo has failed and is beyond reform, it's instructive to examine the pharmaceutical industry, which includes biotech corporations, specialty pharmaceutical firms and the global corporate giants known as Big Pharma.

I hope it won't come as too great a surprise that the pharmaceutical industry isn't about cures or helping needy people--it's about profits. As a Big Pharma CEO reported in a brief moment of truthfulness, We’re in Business of Shareholder Profit, Not Helping the Sick

Here's an excerpt from the article:

"Already this year, Valeant has increased the price of 56 of the drugs in its portfolio an average of 66 percent, highlighted by their recent acquisition, Zegerid, which they promptly raised 550 percent. Not only does this have the unfortunate side effect of placing the price of life-saving drugs out of reach for even moderately-insured people, but it has now begun to call into question the sustainability of this rapidly-spreading business model.

Since being named CEO in 2008, Valeant has acquired more than 100 drugs and seen their stock price rise more than 1,000 percent with Pearson at the helm."

Longtime correspondent John F., M.D. has been sending me a steady stream of media accounts of pharma companies jacking up prices by 400% and 500%, even though the medications are off-patent and have been around for years or even decades.

Mylan’s EpiPen price increases are Valeant-like in size, Shkreli-like in approach

John F. explains the context:

"The Epi-Pen (or the generic equivalent) is the only thing that people with severe allergies - including many children - can carry that will save their lives if used at the start of a severe allergic reaction. There is no substitute. The maker, Mylan, has increased the price six-fold over the past few years. Epinephrine is a very old generic drug. It is the packaging that makes it patentable. There is absolutely no reason for the cost to make Epi-Pens to have increased.

People who have had a life-threatening allergic reaction to food or insect stings need these - they are absolutely essential to save their lives. Epinephrine has been generic since I was in medical school in the '70s, yet the FDA have allowed the manufacturer to increase the price 600% in the last few years.

There is a generic substitute for the Epi Pen now, but they jacked the price of it up to around $400 (it's near the end of the article). These kits are cardboard boxes with two plastic syringes with one needle each, with a little medicine in them. I can't imagine they cost more than $10 to make, and they have been around since I was in medical school in the '70s, so it's not like they must recoup extensive research costs."

40+ Drugs to Be Dropped By Insurance (via John F.)

"I wrote to you about the huge increase in price of colchicine, an excellent drug for people with gout, and sometimes the only drug they can use, which is generic, but the FDA allowed a manufacturer to jack the price to the sky in the past 12 months. Now, the two major pharmacy benefit companies are dropping it from coverage. I can't emphasize this enough - this is the only drug some patients can take for a disease that sometimes is life-threatening (can cause kidney failure), and by all rights should be ten cents a pill or less."

Unsurprisingly, pharma sales have been soaring. Take cheap generic drugs and jack up the price by 400%, and it's no surprise that sales have risen from $550 billion annually in 2004 to over $1 trillion in 2014.


Global pharma sales to reach $1.3 trillion by 2018 (from $1 trillion in 2014)

All of the exploitation, deception and corruption has been well documented in dozens of reports and books. Here is a small sampling of recent titles on the sickness of our pharmaceutical/"healthcare" systems, the political system that funds and enforces these pathological systems and the tragic consequences of these pathologies.

The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It (Dr. Marcia Angell, The New England Journal of Medicine)

How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Ranks About Being Sick in America (Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical and scientific officer of The American Cancer Society)

Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients (Dr. Ben Goldacre)

Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health (Dr. H. Gilbert Welch)

Less Medicine, More Health (Dr. H. Gilbert Welch)

Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine (John Abramson, M.D)

Here is a sampling of the reviews posted by readers on Amazon re: Overdosed America:

I have been a physician for 10 years. I have seen my profession gradually being taken over by the pharmaceutical industry. I have seen countless patients harmed - alas even killed - by drug reactions and polypharmacy.

I have sat and listened to countless drug representative presentations that were outright falsehoods and misrepresentations. It has been months - maybe even years that I have had available to me a medical education conference that was not somehow tainted by drug company money and therefore propaganda.

I have repeatedly had patients in my office begging me for medication that they do not need. They want it simply because it was on TV News last night - and came with a promise of metaphysical salvation. I spend much time every day dissuading patients from taking medication they simply do not need - indeed may even cause real medical problems.

The issues that are discussed in this book are very very real - and the scary part is I do not see my fellow physicians doing a single thing to address these huge problems.

* * * * *

Abramson gives specific examples where published drug studies focus on recipients non-representative of typical (target) users - eg. younger, and less prone to adverse reactions. Sometimes the reported data show (if one has the time to read carefully) that the true targets do WORSE with the medication, and this finding is obscured by positive results with the more numerous (atypical) younger selected test patients.

Other medical research reporting ploys utilized by drug companies include: 1)reporting initially positive results, while omitting adverse subsequent outcomes, 2)combining serious (when increased) and minor (when decreased) adverse event numbers to cover up problems, 3)comparing a strong dose of a new medicine with an inappropriate weak dose, comparing a new drug with a placebo, instead of existing efficacious drugs, 4)not reporting negative drug trials, 5)failing to point out that lifestyle changes often provide much better results than drugs, and 6)pulling advertising from medical journals running unfavorable articles.

* * * * *

As a consumer who believed until recently was an "informed consumer," I was shocked to discover that the information I was getting on the National Institute for Health's website "pubmed.org" was less than definitive when it came to clinical trials. With Dr. Abramson's book, I now understand that those clinical trials, which most doctors depend on in helping them treat their patients are wildly distorted.

I applaud Dr. Abramson for writing this book. Just as Rachel Carson's book "Silent Spring" served as a catalyst for supporting changes in how we respect our environment, physicians, consumers and politicians should read this book and take action to protect our nation's health.

The political corruption that enables and enforces this sick, exploitive system society is equally obvious and well-documented. Sir Angus Deaton, recipient of the 2015 Nobel Prize in economics, recently summarized the innate corruption of the American status quo in a Scientific American article (Sept. 2016 issue): How Inequality Threatens Civil Society: A spiral of slow growth and rent-seeking by powerful interests pose a danger to democracy (subscription required; or try to find a print copy at a library)

"In the U.S., we spend enormous sums on health care, much of which has little or no effect. This system is fiercely defended by those whose incomes and power come directly or indirectly from the nearly one-fifth of American GDP that health care absorbs.

The very size of the health care and financial sectors gives them political power that makes them very difficult to control. These sectors then become engines of inequality, generating huge rewards for some while slowing growth and undermining innovation."

Any society that tolerates this systemic exploitation and corruption as "business as usual" is not just sick--it's hopeless. No, you can't fix this layer-cake of pathological deception, exploitation, corruption and racketeering with the usual pathetic "reforms" offered by lobbyists, insiders and think-tank lackeys: the status quo is itself the source of the sickness and the rot.



At readers' request, I've prepared a biography. I am not confident this is the right length or has the desired information; the whole project veers uncomfortably close to PR. On the other hand, who wants to read a boring bio? I am reminded of the "Peanuts" comic character Lucy, who once issued this terse biographical summary: "A man was born, he lived, he died." All undoubtedly true, but somewhat lacking in narrative.

I was raised in southern California as a rootless cosmopolitan: born in Santa Monica, and then towed by an upwardly mobile family to Van Nuys, Tarzana, Los Feliz and San Marino, where the penultimate conclusion of upward mobility, divorce and a shattered family, sent us to Big Bear Lake in the San Bernadino mountains.

The next iteration of family took us to the island of Lanai in Hawaii, where I was honored to join the outstanding basketball team (as benchwarmer), and where we rode the only Matchless 350 cc motorcycle on the island, and most likely in the state, through the red-dirt pineapple fields to the splendidly isolated rocky coastline. In 1969-70, this was the old planation Hawaii, where we picked pine in summer beneath a sweltering sun.

We next moved to Honolulu, where I graduated from Punahou School and earned a degree in Comparative Philosophy (i.e. East and West) at the University of Hawaii-Manoa. The family moved back to California and I stayed on, working my way through college apprenticing in the building/remodeling trades.

I was quite active in the American Friends Service Committee (Quakers) and the People's Party of Hawaii in this era (1970s).

I next moved to the Big Island of Hawaii, where my partner and I built over fifty custom homes and a 43-unit subdivision, as well as several commercial projects.

Nearly going broke was all well and good, but I was driven to pursue my dream-career as a writer, so we moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1987 where I worked in non-profit education while writing free-lance journalism articles on housing, design and urban planning.

Within a few years I returned to self-employment, a genteel poverty interrupted by an 18-month gig re-organizing the back office of a quantitative stock market analyst. I learned how to lose money in the market with efficiency and aplomb, lessons I continue to practice when the temptation to battle the Monster Id strikes.

Somewhere in here my first novel was published by The Permanent Press, but alas it fell still-born from the press--a now monotonous result of writing fiction. (Seven novels and I still can't stop myself.)

I started the Of Two Minds blog in May 2005 as a side project of self-expression, and in an unpredictable twist of evolutionary incaution, that project has ballooned into a website with about 3,500 pages that has drawn almost 20 million page views.

The site's primary asset may well be the extensive global network of friends and correspondents I draw upon for intelligence and analysis.

The blog is #7 in CNBC's top alternative financial sites, and is republished on numerous popular sites such as Zero Hedge, Financial Sense, and David Stockman’s Contra Corner. I am frequently interviewed by alternative media personalities such as Max Keiser, and am a contributing writer on peakprosperity.com.







www.oftwominds.com

http://www.silverbearcafe.com/private/08.16/poloticscorrupt.html
 

BarnacleBob

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@ Scorp.... Just as we spoke about, insurance & big pharma are about the only two industries that price growth can be exploited to perpetuate notional growth of GDP.

When these, as the last standing effective means of producing & inflating GDP expansion are exhausted, we go to the "moar" war card.

Alex I'll take "Moar War" for $1000.....
 

BarnacleBob

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The Quote of the Day comes from Brett Stevens over at Amerika:

"Civilizations fail because they succeed. When they get wealthy and powerful, they start trying to make themselves “safe” and in doing so, breed a bumper crop of idiots. These idiots form an Idiot Defense League which demands democracy, and at that point the deal is sealed: the society will go down and die in the pocket, going to bed as an empire and waking up as a third-world slum."
 

BarnacleBob

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"American primacy, as we know it, is dead. Those who seek its restoration by doubling down in their support of “democrats” in trouble spots around the world are chasing a mirage, as are those who promise to make America great again by . . . whatever America was great. It remains great. But it will never have the authority or power that it enjoyed following the Second World War, and Washington would be wise to husband the power it does have. To borrow a formula from Hans Morgenthau, America’s policymakers must learn to distinguish, first, between what is essential in foreign affairs and what is desirable, and, second, between what is desirable and what is possible." -- Woodpile Report
 

BarnacleBob

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#7
And this just in ...

Martin Shkreli: Australian boys recreate life-saving drug
The man who sparked outrage last year by hiking the price of a life-saving drug may have met his match in some Australian schoolboys.

US executive Martin Shkreli became a symbol of greed when he raised the price of a tablet of Daraprim from $13.50 (£11) to $750.

Now, Sydney school students have recreated the drug's key ingredient for just $20.

Daraprim is an anti-parasitic drug used by malaria and Aids patients.

Martin Shkreli: 'The most hated man in America'

The Sydney Grammar boys, all 17, synthesised the active ingredient, pyrimethamine, in their school science laboratory.

"It wasn't terribly hard but that's really the point, I think, because we're high school students," one boy, Charles Jameson, told the BBC.

The students produced 3.7 grams of pyrimethamine for $20. In the US, the same quantity would cost up to $110,000.

In most countries, including Australia and Britain, the drug retails for less than $1.50 per pill.

The boys said they conducted the year-long experiment to highlight the drug's inflated cost in the US.

"It seems totally unjustified and ethically wrong," student James Wood said. "It's a life-saving drug and so many people can't afford it."

Supervising teacher Dr Malcolm Binns said: "Everyone is very happy and pleased with the result. All the boys think it's the most amazing thing."

Developed in the 1950s, Daraprim is the best treatment for a relatively rare parasitic infection called toxoplasmosis.

Mr Shkreli, also known as "Pharma Bro", was chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals when it acquired exclusive rights to Daraprim.

Its decision to increase the cost by more than 5,000% in August last year drew international condemnation. Mr Shkreli has argued the Daraprim price increase was warranted because the drug is highly specialised.

But the firm eventually agreed to lower the price to something more affordable.

'Real monetary value'
Dr Alice Williamson, a University of Sydney research chemist, supported the boys' project through online platform Open Source Malaria.

"They've transformed starter material that's worth pennies into something that has a real monetary value in the States," she told the BBC.

"If you can obtain it cheaply in schools, then there's no excuse for charging that much money for a drug. Especially from people that really need it and probably can't afford to pay for it."

Dr Williamson called the pricing in the US "ludicrous".

Mr Shkreli was arrested in December on allegations of securities fraud. He subsequently stepped down as the head of Turing. His trial is set for 26 June, 2017.
 

searcher

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#8
The man too despicable for a jury: Nearly 250 potential jurors dismissed from selection for 'Pharma Bro' Martin Shkreli's securities fraud
  • Martin Shkreli, 34, was condemned for increasing the price of a life-saving drug
  • The former pharmaceutical CEO is now on trial for securities fraud in New York
  • But finding jury members for the trial which starts on Monday has been difficult
  • Many people were ruled out for having overtly negative opinions about Shkreli


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4650968/250-jurors-dismissed-selection-Martin-Shkreli-trial.html#ixzz4lPCl5wal
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the_shootist

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#9
The man too despicable for a jury: Nearly 250 potential jurors dismissed from selection for 'Pharma Bro' Martin Shkreli's securities fraud
  • Martin Shkreli, 34, was condemned for increasing the price of a life-saving drug
  • The former pharmaceutical CEO is now on trial for securities fraud in New York
  • But finding jury members for the trial which starts on Monday has been difficult
  • Many people were ruled out for having overtly negative opinions about Shkreli


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4650968/250-jurors-dismissed-selection-Martin-Shkreli-trial.html#ixzz4lPCl5wal
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Why have a trial, just shoot him!
 

solarion

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#10
But finding jury members for the trial which starts on Monday has been difficult
Understandable. I'm only vaguely familiar with the case and I already dislike Marty.
 

GOLDZILLA

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#12
The 3rd world ( no patent agreements) could really take advantage of this by synthesizing these things and selling them cheap to the world.

As scummy as these guys are, I can't blame them for wanting what the market will bear. They are no different than gold diggers who marry rich men just so they can divorce them and take half their shit. You cannot blame human nature.

The real problem is the laws that make the gouging possible by limiting competition that would surely spring up if it weren't illegal.
 

madhu

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#13
Understandable. I'm only vaguely familiar with the case and I already dislike Marty.
I was in India and was in a medical drug store. You just walk in to the store tell the chemist whatever you want. Give cash and carry out. Happened to meet an entrepreneur, a chemist who owns a drug manufacturing company. Out of curiosity I asked him why the prices in India for medications are so low. He told me that There are so many chemists, and professionals, they have no pricing power. You will not have a market if you raise prices.

In the US, there is no lack of expertise. It is racketeering and greed that has taken over the pharma industry. They constantly tell same old lies

 

Buck

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#14
I agree with most of it except our society isn't sick

Most of us haven't rioted, haven't protested, didn't vote for Hillary, don't go around beating each other up, don't get into too many outrageous arguments, etc

Life, in general, is o.k. for most of us and will continue as long as the absurdities, from the last leadership organization, stop

"We've Survived" isn't ready for a T shirt yet but we could be getting close
or
We could be close to a "correction"

I really don't know

Except, where I live, no one seems to be sick or stabbing each other or such on any regular basis
Sanity Persists!

Thank God!

Right?
 

arminius

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^ Very True, but watch as the monitary degeneration continues, and if it accelerates as it keeps threatening to, that will change. The great majority of folks are good people who just want to live and work and enjoy life, it's the 5 some percent of various grades of psychopathy that create problems in a normal society. but when more and more are out of work and prospects and money and food, attitudes and behaviors begin to become desperate and excrement starts happening.

But hey yeah, life right now is a gas. :belly laugh::laughing::meditation:

There is a solution, but it's never societal...
 

Son of Gloin

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#16
Medicine is broken. Law is broken. Both so bloated by vested interest, I doubt reform is possible. We're fucked folks.

I believe we'll all discover what hell truly is some day real soon...
Well, at least hell on Earth.
 

searcher

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#17

Buck

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#18
Hubris, nothing but Hubris

I hope his cell mate's name is Bubba

Once Bubba is done with Martin, Bubba gets a large canteen credit on the books
 

nickndfl

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#19
Tort reform and judgement caps need enacting in the medical industry. That's how we first start to control costs. The medical indistry supplements the legal industry. It's all a big scam like Congress.
 

madhu

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#20
Tort reform and judgement caps need enacting in the medical industry. That's how we first start to control costs. The medical indistry supplements the legal industry. It's all a big scam like Congress.
But you will be cutting off the democrats from their donors, the trial lawyers and the crony capitalism fostered by democrats which raises the market prices to extremes until you are broke and dependant on the system. Sorry preaching to the choir.

It's so bad one of the nurses who is 60 + gets up at 330Am drives 2 hrs to work to keep the health insurance of the husband. The husband had a brain aneurysm , had a cerebral bleed into the frontal lobe, survived after brain surgery, but cannot drive, passes out on the wheel, has severe impulsivity etc etc. but the Social insecurity that he has paid into for 40 years doesn't think he is disabled enough! He doesn't have enough credits in the last 10 years. So she is the bread winner and was confiding as to how the system has failed her.

The worst part is when she has to take care of Sham patients who abuse and demand the system. Come to the hospital by ambulance for a sandwich and quiet rest, so the hospital can bill thousands of dollars to the govt insurance.
 

Uglytruth

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#21
That's right. pharma gouges insurance companys. insurnace co's gouge people. nice scam that is protected by bribes to the swamp dwellers that never seem to die or go away from lawyers, parma, insurnace.
It's the parasite circle of life..... but the host is about dead.
 

latemetal

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#22
And until we go to "Single payer" it will go on. Greed is Good.
 

arminius

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It's the parasite circle of life..... but the host is about dead.
Don't feed the system, ignore it the best you can, shrug the programming, don't watch TV, don't allow em to browbeat you. And do it as gracefully as possible, no hint of evasion, only flowing water, the way you're flowing of course, the no harm life and the truth. That will work, despite all the scare tactics...
 

searcher

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#24
Prosecutors ask to revoke Martin Shkreli's bail after authorities say he's 'escalating threats and harassment' against Hillary Clinton, including offering $5,000 for a lock of her hair
  • Prosecutors are asking a judge to revoke bail for Martin Shkreli
  • Shkreli was found guilty last month of deceiving investors in two failed hedge funds
  • Shkreli recently offered $5,000 to anyone who would 'grab' Clinton's hair
  • Authorities say they have had to stretch resources protecting Clinton
  • Prosecutors also cited several other Twitter and social media postings by Shkreli that they said were harassing to women
  • The 34-year-old defendant faces up to 20 years in prison from his conviction


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4864136/Prosecutors-ask-revoke-Martin-Shkreli-s-bail.html#ixzz4s44kCfwX
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searcher

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#25
BREAKING NEWS: Judge jails Pharma Bro Martin Shkreli because he is a 'danger to society' after Facebook post offering $5,000 for a strand of Hillary Clinton's hair
  • Pharma Bro Martin Shkreli has been jailed because a judge believes he is a danger to society
  • The convicted fraudster had his bail revoked after posting on Facebook that he would pay $5,000 for a strand of Hillary Clinton's hair
  • 'The Clinton Foundation is willing to KILL to protect its secrets. So on HRC's book tour, try to grab a hair from her...Will pay $5,000 per hair obtained,' the post read
  • The September 4 post prompted a call from the Secret Service, which launched an investigation
  • He will now stay behinds bars until his sentencing, where he faces 20 years in prison
  • Shkreli apologized for his actions, writing to the judge that he 'used poor judgment' and 'never intended to cause alarm or promote any act of violence'


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4882098/Judge-jails-Pharma-Bro-Martin-Shkreli.html#ixzz4sdiVPebM
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