Thursday, March 27, 2008

“Lilly Settles Alaska Suit Over Zyprexa”.

This should not be a settlement but should be a jail term. Zyprexa is an anti-psychotic medication for people suffering from major mental illnesses. It helps many, many people, but many people were court ordered to take these medications. They had no choice. We, as a society forced them. Other were forced by the sheer desperation of their illnesses. And now it appears the company withheld information on side effects that would have allowed people to make more informed decisions. We have a responsibility to hold people accountable, to try and set it right. $15 million is nothing. People should be in jail.

Back in the early 90’s when I was a mental health case manager, the medications for schizophrenia that we prescribed were damn well barbaric. Haldol, prolixin etc are the nuclear bombs of anti-psychotics. They would turn an individual suffering from psychosis into a passive, drooling zombie in the course of a few hours.

The delusion and halucinations may subside and the person would appear better, but it was a definite trade off. Good yes, in that a person was no longer in danger, bad in that this person could barely function. It was always tough. When the newer generation of antipsychotic starting coming on the “market” everyone was thrilled. These were more focused on the actual chemical imbalance and had fewer side effects. They seemed to be so much more effective. We thought that these meds would offer an opportunity of a better life for people living with major mental illness. And they did.

Then this crap. The drug companies were holding back information on potential serious side effects. I can see the drug company sales reps coming into the offices with boxes of pizza and a bunch of pens and coffee cups with Zyprexa branded all over. They got their “fact” sheets and corporate training on selling the medications. It is just gross.

We all know the whole healthcare system is broken. It is very very bad. It is killing people. These drug companies along with the insurance companies are going to be part of the solution for Clinton, Obama and I assume McCain's health care plan. They want negotiate a solution to this system built on deception and exploitation.

I miss John Edwards.

What does Nadar say again?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Hippies will be right on this one too

I saw this story on the ADN website and have passively tracking it in the news:

Inlet mining decision brings residents' lawsuit

I love to comment on the ADN website. It is so easy to excite folks. But I don't ever leave comments I don't think are true. I left this one:
The wealth will go to shareholders and probably a bunch of Canadians and Brits if the trends hold. Some Alaskans will have a few jobs, make some money, if it is a Union Mine, before they move to Arizona, or Idaho. We will be left with a hole and a dead watershed.
Search the data on hazardous spills in at Red Dog. Enter Red Dog in the "Facility Name Search" at This is what got reported. There will be spills, ships hitting the bottom in Cook Inlet, broken retaining dams and broken promises.
I would rather rely on a intact eco-system than promises from corporate boards. With the news lately, you and I are bailing out greedy corporations with our taxes. Unchecked capitalism is killing us all. Climate Change? Have you been paying any attention?
Should be fun to watch the comments roll in. Oh and the Coal leases are owned by the Hunts Brothers and Dick Bass, not the Canadians. I like Canadians, but really they don't do natural resources well. More of us Texans in Alaska! They don't do natural resources well either.

I have been a little lax in posting. The summer is getting ready to start and I have to prepare. It could be that playing the kid at Xbox/Halo 3 has been taking up some evening hours. He loves to kill his father. Little Oedipus.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Small Towns or Village

I sent the following letter into the Seldovia Gazette, our small-town electronic newsletter. Let's see if it makes it in.

As a new resident in Seldovia, a mere 13 years, I cannot claim to know the intricacies and origins of long standing rivalries and conflicts that exist within this community. They certainly seem entrenched and poisonous, so I try not to get entangled. But like a drift net of hate and venom, we all run the risk of being swept up eventually.

I am amazed by how, as a community, we can continually undermine and undercut each other while everyone claims the mantle victim. The overlay of universal victimhood and my maintenance of ignorance of the longstanding conflicts, was working well for me as I was thinking about the latest City/Tribe conflict over the Senior Meals Program. The Tribe made a decision, for whatever reason, and the City is once again scrambling to adjust to that decision, for whatever reason. Now we watch as the newest under-resourced city manager tries to adjust, and the end result is that the community suffers. It is once again as lose-lose situation. Same as it ever was. I think, “Why bother, these people seem to be meeting some inner-need.”

Then I heard a story on the Alaska News Nightly that outlined a study by UAA on small businesses in rural Alaska, “Viability of Business Enterprises for Rural Alaska; Community Factors and Entreprenueral Strategies.” Google it. (SVT’s Tribal Cache, Crystal Collier, along with 34 or so other business owners, was interviewed for the study. So I am sure some of her input is in the study.) The study outlined challenges that small business’ face in rural Alaska and how business development can be fostered. I have skimmed the study and it looked pretty familiar, but it just nailed us with the following:

“Community Cohesion. Many owners talked about the business climate being
influenced by the community’s cohesion. If the tribal council, the city council,
and the village corporation work together towards a common vision for the future
of the village, it was good for business. If, by contrast, there was division,
competition and bickering among community institutions, the climate for success
for businesses was eroded. The energy for expansion of entrepreneurial activity was
a reflection of the level of cooperation among community institutions.
Community in-fighting could undermine new entrepreneurial activity.”

We are not alone in this predicament. "....competition and bickering among community institutions, the climate for success for businesses was eroded.” That is us. As I look at the businesses down on Main Street, I don’t think we need any more unfavorable climates.

This is a critical and chronic problem for this community. There are no innocents: everyone has played a role. We will continue to see little progress in developing and growing our town without cooperation and cohesion in a shared vision of this community. No one is going anywhere, we all need each other, the question is how do make it work.
Small towns can be poisonous, but they can also be great places to live. I think the main thing that makes it work for people is the knowledge that you can't get away with anything. You have to be honest, open and willing to work with everyone. Secrets can make you incredibly miserable here.