Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Features · The New Drug Lords
. . . .

The New Drug Lords

Mark Waggener - January 11th, 2007
What does an 800 lb. gorilla do? Anything it wants. And like
the gorilla, pharmaceutical companies appear to have free rein over consumers by bombarding us with shifty marketing campaigns, draining our pocketbooks, and pilfering insurance companies with ridiculously overpriced prescription drugs.
You can’t turn on the television today without being offered a drug for insomnia, depression, acid reflux, high cholesterol, or a plethora of other so-named diseases. Walk through a doctor’s office or hospital and you might notice that virtually every pen and notepad bears the label of a prescription drug. The lingering presence of pharmaceutical reps is also apparent as drug samples are dished out like candy in order to influence physicians’ choices to use their product.

Approximately 46% of Americans take a prescription drug every day and we are fast becoming a society intoxicated with synthetic molecules which our bodies are not always capable of detoxifying or eliminating.
Prescription drug companies are
shelling out millions of dollars in adver-tising, while an inappropriate consumer demand is being created for products that may be more deadly and less effective than medications already available.
According to the Journal of The American Medical Association, deadly side effects from prescription drugs are the fourth leading cause of death in the industrialized world. Every year in The United States alone, it is reported that at least 100,000 people die from the side effects of prescription drugs, and this is considered a very conservative number. That doesn’t include the estimated 40,000 deaths from over the counter pain medications, or the injuries of two million others from adverse side effects.
Obviously, certain drugs are appropriate in order to save and extend lives; but critics of the industry claim that many drugs are unnecessary, highly expensive and harmful. Critics claim that improving human health is not a priority for the profit-driven drug industry.
Many prescription drugs merely mask symptoms, which is an obvious strategy in the development of pharmaceuticals. While the symptoms are being targeted, the cure and elimination of diseases are being avoided. Since the human body is the marketplace for the pharmaceutical industry, expanding and maintaining diseases can only enhance the growth of such industries.

The profits of the multi-trillion dollar drug industry outstrip every other industry by a long shot. Collectively, 10 drug companies in the Fortune 500 recently topped all three of Fortune magazine’s measures of company profitability in its annual analysis of America’s most recognized companies.
Drug companies claim that huge profits are necessary to further research and development. Aggressive research and development is vital, but that justification loses merit when many of these companies spend twice as much on marketing and advertising as they do for research. Next time you hand over $100 for a prescription drug, you can expect 35% of it to be used for marketing, advertising, and administration; 26% for manufacturing, executive pay, worker costs, etc.; 24% is pure profit; and 15% for research and development.
While families struggle to pay for medicine and face the threat of a bleak economic future, drug companies continue to prosper. In 2004 alone, the combined revenues for 10 of the top pharmaceutical companies exceeded $250 billion.
It’s difficult to create new laws and price control regulations, when these profit-mongering corporations have such a huge presence in Washington, D.C., where they employ over 625 lobbyists.
“Drug companies spent more money in the 1999-2000 election cycle to influence politicians than did insurance companies, telephone companies, electric companies, commercial banks, oil and gas pro-ducers, automakers, tobacco companies,
food processors and manufacturers -- more, in short, than any other industry, writes Katharine Greider, author of The Big Fix.
“Most of that, about $177 million, went to hire lobbyists from 134 firms, including 21 former members of Congress,” she adds. “The industry also gave $20 million in campaign contributions and spent $60 million on issue ads.”
Other nations use price controls to keep the costs of prescription drugs affordable. It’s no wonder people are purchasing drugs from Canada, where you can save up to 50% on prescriptions.

Pharmaceutical revenues continue to increase exponentially with a concerted effort to simply make more and more money. The forceful creation of an artificial international monopoly is gouging Americans by maintaining higher U.S. prices and securing drug patents for up to 20 years. Although some of these corporations have been warned for misleading the public with advertisement, brochures and other materials, it’s apparent that they continue to pay off Washington politicians and F.D.A. bureaucrats to stand by and do nothing about it.

Sources: Reuters News, Journal of the American Medical Association, Fortune 500, Gary Lawson, Ph.D., DPA.

From my own experience, I can share a few thoughts on the exorbitant costs of
prescription drugs.

On a Personal Note

Due to a chronic medical condition, I have reluctantly endured a gamut of medications over the last three years. One of the many drugs I was prescribed is called Zofran. This particular drug is used for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and has other uses as well. The price tag for a 30-day supply is $721. That averages out to $24 per capsule; and if necessary, I could take one a day, for an entire year, at a cost of $8,760.
Once again, this type of medication is to treat symptoms only. The potential side-effects of Zofran include blurred vision or temporary blindness, slow heart rate, trouble breathing, anxiety, agitation, shivering, feeling light-headed, or fainting. It may impair your thinking or reactions, so be careful driving or doing anything that requires you to be awake or alert. Needless to say, I decided to try it and only experienced three of the potential side effects, and a fourth one not mentioned, called sticker shock.

Furthermore, I declined an option for yet another drug called Rebif, which had a monthly
price tag of $3,600. The long-term effectiveness of the aforementioned drug has not been con-firmed and any medicinal benefits may be outweighed by the side-effects and excessive cost.
Throughout the confusing and frustrating quest for some answers to my medical problem, and more than 50 doctor visits, I was fortunate to find a physician with unwavering concern, who was willing to offer some alternative choices without jumping on the prescription bandwagon. Thankfully, some relief is being realized in the way of specific supplements at a cost of $6.25 per month, without designer drugs, without side effects and without emptying the wallet.

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