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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Fault is with Capitalism, not the Companies it keeps!

One of the reasons you have not heard from me in a few days is that I have been dealing with a mild case of shingles. Fortunately, I got good care at the Venice Family Clinic [in Santa Monica], so it looks to be of very short duration.

VFC tells me that the so-called shingles vaccine, while a real money maker, isn't all that effective and probably not worth the cost, but quickly getting on an antiviral after an outbreak can make a big difference, including greatly shortening the course of the disease, and most importantly, mitigating the chances of long-term nerve damage.

They gave me an appointment the day after the rash broke out and immediately put me on antibiotics and antivirals. They had me come back the next day and confirmed shingles. That was 16 days ago, now its just about gone.

Funny thing I discovered about shingles. The 'baby-boomer' generation may be its last big hurrah, rid willing. Shingles, may also be called "chicken-pox's revenge" because it is caused by the same virus that gave you chicken pox as a child. To get shingles, you have to have had chickenpox. While, you may have thought you cleared your system of the chickenpox virus long ago, more than fifty years in my case, it has all the while been lurking in the roots of nerves, waiting for an opportunity.
"Moles bury very deep into the fabric of Western society and they are very dear to Moscow Center because it may be ten on even twenty years before they are use."
They don't know exactly what causes the virus to turn on again, although age obviously has something to do with it. Moscow Center has nothing to do with it. I just like John LeCarre. 

Shingles was less prevalent in the past because as children got chickenpox. Exposure to them acted as something of a booster shot to adults that had chickenpox before, making it less likely that they would suffer from shingles later on. Children who now receive the chickenpox vaccine, won't get chickenpox and can therefore never get shingles. I, and maybe you, on the other hand, are in the "got you" generation. Having had chickenpox as a child, I was shingles eligible, but since my children got the chickenpox vaccine, I never got my booster, making me a candidate for the new class of very expensive anti-virals.

Medicine is full of such contradictions. Another, much more serious one is how our very success in treating all kinds of aliments with antibiotics is coming round to haunt us.

Why Capitalism can't kill the Superbug

Frontline is running a story on PBS about the looming danger of gram-negative bacteria "Superbugs" that are proving to be immune to antibiotics and are starting to kill people all over the world at an accelerating rate.

This is a species level problem, and to the extent that other animals share in the benefits of our medical technology, a planet level problem.

There are many aspects to this problem which the show addressed. One struck me as driving home the fact that while many on the Left seem to target the large corporation as the root of the problem, this is not the case. The root of the problem is the system of capitalism.

This was a segment on Pfizer's attempt at a cure, which sounded formidable.

By the time humanity was presented with the challenge of the superbug, Pfizer was one of only three major drug companies still doing new research into antibiotics. Capitalist economics don't favor investment in new drugs designed to be used as little as possible as compare with drugs that will keep you alive as long as you use them.

Nevertheless, Pfizer, which calls itself "the world's largest research-based pharmaceutical company" saw the growing need and felt a social obligation to see to it, according to company representatives interviewed by Frontline. This was, after all, the company that made its bones on penicillin and has always been a leader in antibiotic and anti-fungal medicine.

To make a long story, short, see Frontline for the details, the company spent hundreds of millions on it, built a fantasy new research center for it in Groton, CN, put top people on it for years but eventually they have had to face the fact that this superbug was also proving to be very resistant to private investment dollars being thrown at it. They closed the Groton research center and disassembled what many considered the finest anti-superbug pipline in the world.

To me, all the Pfizer people interviewed, from the corporate officers to the top scientist, sounded very sincere in their desire to beat this bug but in the end, Pfizer operates in a capitalist system where it is hard to justify investing more into an enterprise than is likely to be returned in profit. Hell, thanks to the Dodge brothers, shareholders can even sue you for doing that.

The moral of this story is that if the superbug takes us all down, it probably won't be because we don't possess the collective capabilities to defeat it but because the current organization of these capabilities [forces of production] won't allow us to defeat it.

But then, that's pretty much the way it is with every problem we face.

My next blog will be on Diane Sawyer's reporting on the Roma child case and what that tells us about racism at ABC News and beyond. I'm thinking about calling it "Blonde on Blonde."

Then, back to Syria, in Glendale,Ca I will report back on how the other half of the PSL/WWP split tried to keep revolutionary Syrian's out of their Syria forum.

More, later...

1 comment:

  1. Welcome back, Clay. Beginning to wonder about you.
    B.

    ReplyDelete