Prescribed Addiction‏ – March 10, 2008

Do you feel down and sluggish? Are your feet itchy? Do you have second thoughts while standing in a crowd of twenty to fifty? Does sneezing make your eyes twitch, and stiffening the muscles on the tip of our right little finger? There’s probably a pill that can fix you.

Amazing medication advertisements urge us “to ask your doctors today” about the benefits of tomorrow. Thinking we are healthy, we discover that some vague symptom we have is being advertised on an infomercial. With the marketing department’s imagination, these symptoms instantly conjure up a wide market of ‘sufferers’. To the industry’s benefit, more drugs are then prescribed to counter the original drug’s side effects. The prescription numbers grow and the dosages increase.

Canadians spend over $20 billion on prescription drugs each year.[1] This is the pharmaceutical industry, or Big Pharma’s, cut of our health care spending. Not denying the necessity to some lifesaving drugs, but in 2002 the top ten drug companies in the Fortune 500 earned a profit of $35.9 billion. The remaining 490 businesses earned a grand total of $33.7 billion, including banks and petrochemical industries.[2] We may have a drug problem. These numbers indicate that we are overmedicated and must wean off of Big Pharma’s monetary overdose.

The industry pawns its cures upon the masses. As Dr. Marcia Angell writes in The Truth About the Drug Companies, Big Pharma is the chief informant keeping both the public and doctors up-to-date on the latest-and-greatest illnesses. The psychotherapist’s bible is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, presenting a psychological lock for every pharmaceutical key. The first version, published in 1917, was a sixty-five page booklet; the 1994 DSM-IV, was 886 pages[3]. That’s a whole lot of sickness and a whole lot of fixes.

Of course, a cure would be great for the federal health budget, but it prescribes doom for the pharmaceutical industry. Our psychological and physical health are of secondary importance to increased stock returns for their investors. A cure equates lost business for Big Pharma; it doesn’t promote a growing economy. It is equivalent to killing off the customer, which is more profitable when done slowly.

The legal drug dealer runs on an exponential cycle of consumer dependency, not unlike narcotics. We are test beakers to the pharmaceutical marketing department, ingesting chemical concoctions and living out the mixture’s effects. So, where would we be without Big Pharma? Aside from some life-saving products, probably healthier and saner.

[1] Reynolds, John Lawrence, Prognosis: The Current State and Shaky Future of Canada’s Health System (Toronto, Penguin, 2008) 54

[2] Angell, Marcia, M. D., The Truth About the Drug Companies: How they deceive us and what to do about it (New York, Random House, 2005) 11


Misjudgment of Policy – June 20, 2009

Trusting the policies to cure society’s ills is like letting your doctor’s prescription pad heal your ailment. Our leaders would rather blame our shortfalls on the declining economy than accept the responsibility for creating policies that drive society towards a brick wall. The only vehicle that sustains us is getting trash by the joy-riding corporate hooligans. Our planet’s life-providing gifts are being nudged aside for the productive efficiency that feeds our consumptive happiness.

We are filters to the economic flow; a consumer’s identity is a mere cog in the economic machine. Income and debt drive the forces of our lives. Our forefathers fought and died for our credit-driven lives, and, for this, indigenous cultures were assimilated or destroyed. Freedom and choice are more dependent on a person’s economic status than on their rights; the justice system is living proof.

Rather than fight to retain a free society, we let our economic and political systems dictate our life’s purpose. The recent economic meltdown left those with no family or friends left to depend on to sink into lives of further deprivation and struggle. The needy victims lost even more ground in the crash than those with cushioning to fall back on.

This desperation is bred into the lives of impoverished children and, likely falling into homeless drug addiction, contributes to the ongoing underground activity. On the street, the homeless receive feigned smiles and endless excuses for not having spare change. We claim no blame that they chose to be stranded on the streets.  Only when we become the victim to the crimes of the deprived do we get angry at the symptoms of a failing society. This reaction distracts us from seeking out the cause.

Society boils into an uproar to cuts in health care and education, yet remains warily silent to similar cuts in social services and mental health care. We hope these won’t affect us. Our failure to acknowledge each other on the streets breeds the inequalities. Our idleness is partial to blame for society’s ills. We remain comfortable believing that our leaders will repair our society. We are defined by society, when we should be steering the way towards how we wish to live.

How can we lay claim to society’s highlights without accepting blame for its shortfalls? Citizen-driven innovation shifts society. It establishes procedure and realizes a need, as it did with post-World War II production, as well as desegregation, and women’s rights. Once in place, government stepped in and made these shifts into policy. As a community, we must define the priorities, and repair the social rift that is hinders our true progress. It is the action, not the policy, that determines our direction.

Suspicion or Survival – June 12, 2009

activism02A brooding force drains society of security, trust and camaraderie. Apathy destroys our communities; it allows us to take the easy way out. Apathy is apparent in our election turnout, and illustrated on the faces of people living on the streets. The homeless are viewed as faceless social smears, facing chronic desperation that leads to thievery; their social deprivation has evolved into a dependency that we see as leaching the system.

The governing bodies of our institutions are ill-equipped surgeons, bandaging society’s scars rather than fixing them. Though we accept our place within the system, we continue to blame the corporations, government and underground economy for our endangerment. Human habit, namely fear, has developed and maintained our list of global worries.

How our world functions is interdependent on the social, economic and environmental disruptions; nothing we can control. We fail to acknowledge that we perpetuate the erosion of our civilization each time we blindly pay into this faulty economy. We have access to control only what happens within our personal bubbles, although those bubbles can’t fight back the greater authority of society.

Why rely on the brilliant minds of science and economics to bring forth a majestic solution to our social problems? The healing process, independent of the all-consuming Federal budget, begins with our participation. True freedom is not possible if we merely focus on controlling that within our personal space. Our institutions need our guidance and re-definition so they once again will benefit society. Our duty is to open up to the surroundings and poke past those bubbles. Discover the common link existing with our environment, both natural and social.

With mounting suspicion, our attention is occupied on protecting our possessions rather than helping those whom our security relies on. Communication with surrounding neighbours has weakened, yet as members of a community, our world demands our involvement. Our failure is evident in the reflection of our communities’ efforts; our report card reveals a failing grade. We lost eye contact with one another, forgetting the importance of refreshing our social input.

Society thrives in a strong community, necessitating cooperation and understanding from each of its citizens. We rely on our surrounding population for our survival and must start supporting each other. Disconnect the invisible tether of technology and acknowledge the presence of the life around you. Facing one another and communicating eye-to-eye will open the space to live with each other. A unified community will move forward, providing solutions to the greater concerns of our survival and prosperity.

Mute Democracy – October 30, 2008

Chinese citizens face possible prison sentences for challenging the Communist regime, yet they’re demanding changes to their country’s policies. They want to clean up the air, water and energy production; have spoiled their food, misused their land and damaged their health. Most of us cannot imagine living under such a regime.

In the Western free and democratic society, we have no Tiananmen Square, Berlin Wall or Apartheid, though the latter was modeled after our Department of Indian Affairs. Our forebears united to advocate for desegregation and equal rights; they fought wars to keep tyranny at bay and retaining our social freedoms. Our freedom, as vital as shelter and mobility, has lost its value.

Those industries determined to prevent the collapse of our ecosystem need our support. We have failed to fire up the burners, to bring forth a clean energy era. We toothlessly gnaw at the senile environmental and economic policies while lobbyists tear apart the land. The hoarding and quest for the fast buck have skewed our values, viewing necessary long-term projects as being too expensive and unnecessary. This suppresses the sustainable technology from reaching the market, where our demand fails to be made.

These dirty energy manufacturers mesmerize us as we sit upon the couch. They sponsor our favourite shows while sending out their lobbyists to hound the decision makers. The government fights out an energy policy as lobbyists, looking to back their destructive agenda, perpetuate the pessimism and flex their economic might at the dazzled politicians. The longer we, as citizens, remain motionless, the deeper we sink into the rising tide of global erosion.

Our votes are our say in how we want the world to run. It makes us feel worry-free because someone else is taking care of it. When we fail to take action, expect the bare minimum of results. This inaction is common to pessimism, intimidation, and ignorance.

We hope, through our elected few, that we will be directed towards a green and sustainable future. This codependency on our elected officials must end. We have become cynical about our true democratic strength and skeptical of our actions’ staying power. When the system doesn’t support us, we must change that system so that it will.

From a distance, we have watched less-democratic governments bow or succumb to their society’s will. The oppressed are tasting freedom; the voice of a few became the voice of the majority. We can flex our democratic muscles and push towards the crucial clean-energy era, where there at least appears to be a little more glory than grime.