Posts Tagged With: truth

MEET AGITATOR, JIM HIGHTOWER.

DSC07631 (Copy)Jim Hightower writes the Hightower Lowdown, a national newsletter that exposes injustice in America, only he calls it exposing bushwackers, bullshitters, gooberheads, plasticized morons, moon howling…well, the adjectives, some invented by him, are numerous and humorous. He says he is an agitator…”the center post of the washing machine that gets out all the dirt.” And, right now, he doesn’t like the hucksters running a Democracy where 4 people, all of them hedge fund managers, each earned 10 Billion dollars last year, where 108 Kindergarten teachers split 1 million. The hedge fund managers pay taxes at a rate of 15% and the teachers pay at a rate of 35%. Democracy works best from the bottom up and includes everybody. That’s you and me folks. Its revolution time for people tired of being the fire hydrants for all of those top dogs. And, the chorus sang, Hallelujah.

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They did, but it wasn’t quite in that order. First, the Mother Lode Martin Luther King Jr. Chapter, active in our area for 23 years, drew over 500 people to hear Hightower speak. Amazing because this is a very white, rural community.

The program began with Martin Luther King Jr.’s last speech on a movie screen. I had forgotten what a powerful and passionate speaker he was. It was an emotional moment to turn back the pages of time and remember, the women who died in a baptist church, Rosa Parks refusing to move to the back of the bus, little girls being escorted to all white schools by the National Guard in the fight for equal rights for black Americans;  a fight that is on going to this day, 48 years after his death.  Hightower reminded us that Katie Stanton, and the jailed and punished suffragettes didn’t get the right to vote that they fought for either, but WE got it because of them.

And, that my friends is his point. Money now flows upward and the rich have so much money they can air condition hell while the poor and middle class struggles to make ends meet.

“We don’t want charity, we want economic justice. And Congress, the House and the President is stealing from us with a fountain pen.” He pointed to the current NAFTA agreement where 500 corporations and that included the Koch Brothers, met in secret, and hammered out an agreement and stuffed it down our throats without one member of a Union or anyone from the middle class and small business sitting at the table.

Hightower believes that people like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, who don’t accept money from the big super pacs can overcome the moneyed elites who have corrupted our politics and rigged our economy to squeeze the life out of the middle class.

Bernie’s average donation is $23. Hightower says, you can’t buy a presidency with $23. His campaign is about We The People. Hightower convinced me that, with Bernie, its time to rock the boat.

No one addresses him as Senator Sanders, he is just Bernie, and one of the poorest Senators in the pack. He hasn’t parlayed his position to great wealth like most national office holders have.

He came from a low-income working class family in Brooklyn. He first worked as a carpenter, then film maker, writer and agitator. An agitator in college during the 60’s, he moved to Vermont and began exposing Burlington money boys who ran the town for their own fun and profit. Then he stunned everyone by winning an election for Mayor in Burlington. Bernie has never abandoned his working class roots. I’ve changed my position to clearly stand with the candidate who says: “I can’t do this, but WE can.”

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The program ended with everyone singing the song:  We Shall Overcome. Hightower was available to talk to people at a reception after the program.

wecanpetition.moveon.org.

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HEALTH RESEARCH GROUP

I get a newsletter from The Health Research Group put out by the respected non-profit group, Public Citizen. Their newsletter is called Worst Pills, Best Pills News and you can look them up online at http://www.worstpills.org.

In the most recent issue, Director Dr. Michael Carome talked about the Physician Payments Sunshine Act that is part of the Affordable Care Act commonly referred to as Obamacare. It was done in 2010 but finally went into effect in 2014.

So, we are nearing the end of 2014 and the companies manufacturing drugs and medical devices are mandated to report to the federal government payments and gifts to physicians and teaching hospitals. The law also mandates that the companies, physicians and hospitals involved be made public.

On September 30th, Medicare, which implements the act, released the first batch of data. The payments totaled an astounding 3.5 BILLION dollars. Another 1.1 billion was not disclosed for various reasons permitted under the sunshine act.

The breakdown for payments was $1.5 billion for research. (I have to ask, can research on a new drug be unbiased when paid for by a drug company? We’ve heard some pretty shady stories about that kind of buddy, buddy approach.)

$1 billion for gifts of stock. (That is bribery in my opinion. Same as cash.)

$380 million for speaking and consulting fees; (I Expect the speaker favors the drug company and again, sounds like bribery to me. How cozy.)

$302 million for royalties and licenses; (Don’t know what that entails.)

$167 million for travel, food  and lodging and $128 million for other things.

(I was under the impression that travel and food and lodging stuff was off the table. Nope, that is only for senators and politicians. The Doctors and hospitals are still being sweetened.)

And, another 128 million for other purposes undefined?  (I’m guessing, those little trinkets like advertising carry bags, small, soft ice chests,  packets of golf tees, pens, drug and device samples etc. like those I recently saw at a health fair. They are intended to influence we consumers.)

I’ve never in my life been so cynical. Now I find it is imperative to be cynical in this corporate, greed dominated climate.

Dr. Carome summarizes with these words:

“While some of these payments may seem appropriate-such as those related to the conduct of industry-funded clinical trials-the majority of them have a corrupting influence on the practice of medicine. Financial relationships between physicians and industry influence the opinions and recommendations of health care providers in a variety of settings, including during the delivery of medical care; during Food and Drug Administration advisory committee meetings and deliberations of expert panels that develop clinical practice guidelines. Indeed, that is why so many payments and gifts go to physicians is to influence their prescribing practices.

The bottom line financial interests of these companies are not with the best interests of patients.”

I know for a fact I’ve been over prescribed drugs I didn’t need. For several years I had a holistic Doctor who took me off of everything I was taking. I wish he was still in the area. My current doctor always chooses generic drugs and Worst Pills Best Pills gives you the lowdown on drugs even your doctor does not know the truth about. So, if you are concerned, look them up.

As Jim always says, “Sometimes the truth ain’t pretty.”

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A PIG COLLECTION

I had occasion to visit my Public TV Access Group’s bookkeeper and she is a collector of pigs. I’m not sure what the fascination for pigs is, but, here they are:

Maybe it’s a reminder of the political pigs feeding at the public trough. Oh, that was ugly. It’s just a pig teapot.

Eileen’s pigs are mostly decorative knickknacks. Just cute little critters.

The site is having a problem and providing me with this miniscule font. So, pictures seem better than words. Besides, I was awfully wordy yesterday about the contention, I mean the convention.

This pig is straight forward and sweet. When we arrange our collections, do we make sure they are all turned the same way?  Facing right? Or left? Hmm!

Most of Eileen’s pigs were facing right.

When placed against on a  table with other things, left facing was necessary to see the character.

The room, table  and walls configured  for the one above  to be arranged facing left.

And this bold Harley Rider is multi-dimensional and faces forward.  Not that any of this matters, but if you decorate your office with your collection, they have to look appealing.

They are cute and  most knickknack collections have cute appeal. And, I always appreciate other people’s collections being a collectiholic myself.

My daughter-in-law collects non-political elephants and the form and function elephants can take goes way beyond knickknacks and is fascinating. Always the object turned art.

But, this one was my favorite. It has a message with  just the right touch of truth and humor.  Oh, boy!

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