Corporate psychopathy pharmacy edition

Obama was a restrained, smart, charming, president, and a sell-out, the dictionary definition of a neoliberal [1].   His great legacy is a first, conservative step toward ensuring affordable healthcare (private health insurance, actually) for millions more Americans than had access before his Romneycare revolution took place.   Many millions of Americans are still not covered by Obama’s embattled Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but record profits for the health insurance, hospital and pharmaceutical industries continue to be raked in.  

There’s always a trade-off, in democracy, as President Obama reminded us, between the Good and the Perfect.   The ACA is, we’ll agree, good, if graded on the curve in a nation whose laws are written by corporations, living people just like you and me.

Because my healthcare plan level is chosen for me, based on my fixed income 167% the poverty rate (I have a choice of private insurance company only, not plan), I receive my prescription drugs from a gigantic nationwide corporation called CVS Caremark.   The drugs are mailed to me from out of state, most recently from San Antonio, Texas.   I got an email recently telling me that my blood pressure medication, Irbesartan 75mg, was on its way to me by USPS.   The package arrived a week later.  It contained a ninety day supply of Losartan Potassium 100 mg.

I never heard of the drug.  Never ordered it.  Never received any notification about it.  The bottle of pills appeared to have been sent to me in error.

So I called CVS, the corporate person who sent me the drugs.   There was the ordinary hold time during which I was informed how important my business was and that all of their representatives were busy helping other customers and that my patience was appreciated.  About ten minutes in I got to tell my story to a human rep for the first time.  She offered to file an internal grievance against my insurance company, Healthfirst.  I declined her kind offer, explaining that Healthfirst had nothing to do with this CVS cockup.

She asked me to hold a few times, and each time I heard a loop of schlocky jazz blues in G, about six bars, over and over.   The first receptionist, who, obviously, couldn’t help me, asked if I’d please hold to speak to the pharmacy directly about my pharmaceutical question.   That hold was about fifteen minutes.  The rep checked in with me every two minutes, as she said she was required to do.  We became almost friendly after the first four or five times, she was always a welcome relief from the endless loop of shit muzak.   I eventually got a laugh out of her with a dry comment about groovin’ to the muzak loop.

I eventually get to tell the story a second time to someone named Joe at the pharmacy.   At this point I am about thirty-five minutes into the call and almost done.  Or so I fondly believed.  I tell Joe the story again, ask him why I’d been sent Losartan Potassium 100mg instead of Irbesartran 75mg.  He asks me to please hold for a moment and then gets more information, as the loop plays again, over and over.  

Joe informs me there has been a recall on Irbesartan and they tried to get the pills in a higher dose, which I could have cut in half, but that dosage too was out of stock. He wasn’t sure why the Losartan Potassium 100 mg. got mailed to me, could I please hold?

The muzak loop in G turned out to be impossible to override, so I put the phone on speaker.  On this higher level of customer care there was apparently no rule that the reps had to check in every two minutes.  Ten minutes passed grooving to the idiotic loop.  

Joe eventually came back on to tell me that my doctor, whose name was on the paperwork from CVS, had prescribed Losartan, five days ago.   I asked if the 100 mg. of Losartan was equivalent to 75 mg. of Irbesartan, the dose I have been taking for several years.   He told me my dose of Irbesartan is 150 mg.   I told him I was reading from the label of the current bottle of Irbesartan 75 mg., and the bottle before that one.   He asked me to hold while he got the pharmacist on the line.

“They told me you were the pharmacist,” I said.

“I am the pharmacy tech,” Joe explained.   Any questions related to pharmaceuticals could only be answered by the pharmacist, would I please hold.

Now I was an hour into the call and starting to be affected violently by the loop of muzak, those cliched jazzy licks being played over and over and over.   Ten minutes later the pharmacist, who almost immediately revealed herself to be an actual imbecile, picked up the phone.  Blessedly the muzak loop stopped, but I was entering an even worse loop.

I told the story for the third time, asking why I had not been notified about this new medication.   She asked me to hold, and a few minutes later, when she picked up, told me I should take the new pills my doctor had prescribed.  She claimed to have all the paperwork in front of her, told me she would send me a copy.   She told me, again, that my dose of Irbesartan was 150 mg. (twice what I take) and that the new drug is very similar to the one I was taking and the dose was equivalent.  I explained to her again that my dose is 75 mg.  She told me that she was looking at the paper, that she would send me a copy.   

My phone is smart, if annoying.  It was counting the minutes.  I was now up to 70 minutes.  She told me that she was sorry for my confusion, and how long I’d been on the phone and that if I could hold for just one second, she’d get her “leader”, who’d be able to help me.

That one second hold lasted exactly ten minutes.   Her leader had told her that the problem was my doctor, not CVS.   While on hold I’d read the paperwork, six pages, arranged helter-skelter, the “cover letter” was the last page, tucked behind the Mail Service Invoice/Receipt with the credit card charge, page two of the personalized medical warnings for Losartan, followed by page one, which brought up numerous concerns about Losartan for me individually, followed by a generic sheet about setting up automatic refills and a generic Mail Service Order Form.   The last page was the cover letter which stated:

YOUR MEDICATION ISN’T AVAILABLE AT THIS TIME  

We can’t send your prescription for IRBESARTAN TAB 150MG because it’s not available at this time  

WE CONTACTED YOUR DOCTOR  

Your doctor told us to change your prescription to LOSARTAN TAB 100MG.

The pharmacist argued again about my dosage.  I asked her what 100 MG of Losartan was equivalent to in Irbesartan.   She told me Losartan comes in three strengths, 25 MG (equal to 75 MG Irbesartan)  50 MG (150 MG Irbesartan) and 100 MG (300 MG Irbesartan).   

I was only ninety minutes into this conversation and already starting to lose my patience.  I asked her to explain how a pharmacist can send a patient a pill that is four times the therapeutic dose he is taking.   She seemed insulted by the question, like she felt unfairly blamed for the corporation’s error.    She was oddly noncommittal, barely communicative.  

I began to raise my voice, telling her what would likely happen if I took a quadruple dose of a blood pressure lowering pill.   I would probably pass out, as I had once while briefly taking a double dose of irbesartan as part of my treatment for kidney disease.   She told me to stop yelling at her, she’d already apologized, and besides, it was my doctor’s fault, not CVS’s.  Then she asked me to hold for a second, she would get somebody who could help.

The second one second hold went on for almost fifteen minutes.  Someone named Irina picked up the phone.  I told Irina that CVS had negligently and without notification dispensed me a pill four times the dose of my prescription.   I informed her I’d already been on the phone for an hour and forty-five minutes.  I said I needed to get her assurance that CVS would get the correct prescription from my doctor tomorrow, overnight the pills to me and reverse the charges on my credit card.  We talked about this for a few moments, she told me she understood and then asked me if I wouldn’t mind, please, if she placed me on hold for just a moment while she spoke to her supervisor.

It was going on two hours, the timer on my phone read 1:59.  I told her it was not reasonable to ask me to hold again, when she was the fourth person I’d been forced to hold for in an already two hour phone call to resolve their error.  I gave her the thirty second version of why the corporate personality is psychopathic; interested only in gain to itself and deniability of all responsibility.  I told her I needed her assurance that CVS would honor my reasonable request to have the correct drug expedited to me and that I’d be on my way.  She told me unfortunately that she’d need to get her supervisor on the line, it would only take a few moments.  I convinced her to have this wizard call me back.  She promised I’d have a call within a very short time.  

Naturally, there was no call from anybody.   Good thing I’m getting medication for my slightly elevated blood pressure, eh?

 

[1] a neoliberal is a wealthy politician or donor who supports all socially liberal causes: nondiscrimination, a woman’s right to an abortion, sensible gun control, environmental regulations (within reason), equal pay for women, homosexual and transexual rights, the right to a public education, a social safety net, a merciful immigration policy, particularly for refugees fleeing violence, even affordable health care.   At the same time, neoliberals are financially conservative, corporatist, committed to preserving a lucrative, if unfair, status quo  protective of the financial services industry and the stockmarket-based casino of the “free market” economic structure as it exists.  

The road to hell is paved with the bones of these benevolent motherfuckers, since all of their good intentions are negated by their continual justification of war (very profitable, apparently)  and the brutal poverty that results from an economic order protective, above all else, of the liberties of the super-wealthy, the chosen elite who, in most cases, were the shrewd inheritors of vast fortunes.

Limiting the scope of an investigation

Because people feel so harried all the time these days, pressures mounting, attention spans shrinking, the 24/7 news bombardment as constant as the ever more personalized commercial come-ons, because the demands on our time are so relentless, few inquiries are ever carried out as thoroughly as they need to be, for best results.   We deal with vexations by triage, finding ways to relieve the most immediate and pressing tensions and moving on to other things.   It works to keep things going as they are, though it seldom leads to anything better than that.

During an interview with the New York Times reporters who researched and wrote the massive story of the Trump family’s long history of tax avoidance schemes, including outright fraud, the reporters were asked what the single most important aspect of their investigation was.   “Time,” they both said at once.  

Time is needed to complete any thoughtful research project, to follow where the new information points, to verify, to do more research, find corroboration, interview new witnesses, review new evidence, follow the leads from the new evidence.  Time is needed to refine the final product, eliminate avoidable errors and slapdash conclusions.  In the case of a newspaper, it takes time to run everything you plan to report past the lawyers who then have to review everything prior to publication.

The time and care the Times took in researching and writing that massive article on Trump’s family fortune is what enabled them to print and cheerily brush right past Trump’s lawyer’s empty threat:

20181029_184055 (1).jpg

We learned the other day that the FBI seized a tremendous cache of hard drives, computers, phones, reams of digitally stored information in the raid on Trump political adviser Roger Stone’s home last week.  They also seized bank records.   The raid came shortly after interim Attorney General Matthew Whitaker addressed the nation and sweatily announced that the Mueller probe was reaching its conclusion and would be wrapped up soon.

Clearly, the timeline has now changed for any final report from Mueller, as this trove of potential evidence in the Roger Stone criminal case is reviewed.  I heard a knowledgable talking head say yesterday that while the Roger Stone chapter, which ties many themes together, is likely the last one in the Mueller report, the final chapter could be a long one, comprising maybe a third of the final book.

Once again my mind flashed on the farcical five day limited FBI investigation into credible and specific allegations against then Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.   The FBI, we were told, had already investigated Mr. Kavanaugh numerous times and found nothing, no hint of impropriety of any kind.  That these allegations by Christine Blasey-Ford were being made for the first time in the fall of 2018 did nothing to quiet the indignant Republican chorus about how many times this good family man, this fine Christian jurist, had already been investigated by the FBI and found spotless.   The 51-49 majority finally struck a deal, bravely negotiated by the supremely spineless Jeff Flake, where they allowed a limited week long FBI investigation, for the sake of fairness.  

While the limited investigation was going on, the president entertained supporters at his campaign rallies by mocking Kavanaugh’s accuser about not being able to remember anything about the incident.  Never mind the many specific details she did testify to — according to the Mocker-in-Chief she didn’t know where, when, what, how, who, ha ha!  

Nobody who volunteered to speak to the FBI about the college incident where a drunken Kavanaugh allegedly exposed himself to a fellow student at a party at Yale was interviewed.  Almost nobody was interviewed in connection with the incident Blasey-Ford testified about during that less than week long investigation, no leads were followed, the FBI’s report on its extremely limited inquiry was kept from the public, though it concluded that the few people they spoke to had not corroborated anything, THE END.  Fair is fair, now we vote!

I was thinking at the time how helpful it would have been to the investigation if the floor plan of the house where the alleged attack took place had been verified, the home located.  Skeech, or Stinky, or one of Brett’s other little hard drinking prep-school buddies, may have had a home with the floor plan Blasey-Ford described in some detail in her testimony.   The stairs leading up, the bedroom door right there, on the right, directly across from the bathroom on the left.   Once the house was located, all kinds of other inquiries could have been followed.   Blasey-Ford remembered her attacker because he was not a stranger at the time of the attack she described.  She had met him before, knew his name, his face.  But she was also not interviewed by the FBI.  Shit, they only had a few days and she’d already done enough damage to a great American in her public testimony.  

Not to mention that Kavanaugh’s full defense of himself after Blasey-Ford testified was that he was the victim of a calculated and well-financed left wing smear job,  He even cried a few times to show how unfair this orchestrated partisan attack had been to him, his good name, his fine family, his lifelong dream of a seat on the Supreme Court, his Lord and savior.

I don’t expect Republicans to suddenly develop spines, or Democrats either, for that matter.   The FBI has a checkered past, a lot of it shameful, so I don’t look for high moral standards there either.  It’s up to we the public to make enough noise, to demonstrate the determined public opinion that democracy, no matter what it may have been in the past, is not a few rich twats deciding how much freedom, information and liberty the rest of us get.   Organizing this will take tremendous concerted effort, strategic brilliance, grit and time.  Time, of course, is running out as the clock itself is constantly being run out on so many things in a stressed-out nation with no memory of things that happened two weeks ago, let alone a decade or more in the past.

 

Troika of Tyranny and other thoughts

Somebody, you can be assured, was paid a pantload of money to come up with that snappy John Bolton catchphrase “troika of tyranny”.   Venezuela, we are now being told, is part of a modern-day Axis of Evil.   Axis of Evil was great, because Hitler’s government was the dominant Axis partner back in the day, so the Hitler piece was baked right into the phrase that paved the way for the Iraq war, one of our most glorious and victorious triumphs as a nation.    

Troika of Tyranny is perfect for today, fresh, with a touch of wicked irony, because of that Russian-sounding “troika”.   Plus, we learn that Venezuela has the world’s largest supply of fossil fuel (who knew?).   An American invasion would pay for itself, we’d just seize and privatize the petrol, according to John Bolton’s unimpeachable mustache.    

Anyway.

I was wondering how many billionaires we have in the USA today.  One second later google gave me this answer from Forbes, albeit a two year-old number (like POTUS himself):

There are 540 billionaires in the United States, with a combined net worth of $2.399 trillion, according to our 2016 list of the world’s richest people.    source

Reaching for my calculator, I tapped in $23,900,000,000,000 (it’s more now, two years at even 5% interest — hoo boy) and multiplied it by 1 %, just for giggles.   You wealthiest of Americans, kick in a one time donation of 1% of your fantastic wealth and let’s see what we could buy the American republic and our beleaguered environment.   The total from our 540 billionaires each kicking in 1% of their wealth would be $239,000,000,000.  

Even just the interest on that amount, that 1% of the wealthiest 0.01%’s wealth, would be a significant number.   At a modest 5% interest rate the interest on that sum, at the end of one year, $11,950,000,000 would be added to the public purse. A tidy little sum, boys and girls.  What would happen if we actually ate into the principal $239B to solve our most pressing social problems? [1]

Of course, that would be some kind of fucking commie Troika of Tyranny shit right there, even asking, let alone expecting, the richest among us to voluntarily not also be the greediest and most heedless among us.  It’s not like they have any obligation whatsoever to fucking parasites like us, or even to the earth we all live on.  

These are clearly the kind of thoughts that come of having too much time on one’s hands…

 

[1]  For a future post, break down some of what that $239 B could buy, socially: ensure free, public education and health care for all children, homes for the homeless, medical care without financial anxieties, funding programs for job training, meaningful hopelessness prevention therapy, protecting the environment, creating joyful community events.  

related thought:

Enacting laws to protect the environment, it turns out, is only the first step, funds must also be allocated.  Even then, without enforcement no law is of any consequence.   What do you call a law on the books that the authorities don’t enforce?   I don’t know either.

 

Interesting idea for a 20 trillion dollar economy

I just heard the president’s current chief of staff refer to the US economy as a twenty trillion dollar economy.   That would be $20,000,000,000,000.   I have no reason to doubt that almost unimaginably gigantic number.   Let’s take it as fact.  Divide that number by ten thousand.   You get two billion dollars.   

When you have very large sums of money, a tiny fraction invested at even a moderate interest rate for a ten year term can yield a mountain of money.   Here is a little math to illustrate this:

The stock market, over the years, pays about 10% a year.   When I was a kid savings banks used to pay 4% for what they called passbook savings accounts.  Let us take 1/20,000th of the value of the US economy or $1,000,000,000.   The average billionaire has at least one of these.   What happens if you just leave a billion dollars in a bank account for a year at 4%?

$1,000,000,000 would yield $40,000,000 in interest the first year if in a 4% passbook account at an old fashioned savings and loan bank.   If you let the money ride, that $40,000,000 gets added to the principle, which becomes $1,040,000,000 which the following year is $1,081,000,000.   After three years that number becomes $1,124,264,000.  At five years that account has $1,214,229,120.   The interest in the seventh year would be $52,532,408.   After ten years the account would have $1,477,295,382, some time in the eleventh year you’d have 50% more than you started with.

I read about a fascinating idea for funding solutions to longstanding social problems. It is called a Social Welfare Fund.  If the will is there to solve social problems, this idea would provide the funds.  The model has apparently already been used successfully in several places around the globe.  The article at the link above is very readable and makes a clear and convincing argument for Social Welfare Funds.

A Social Welfare Fund invests a large sum of money and the money it generates can be spent to ensure housing for all, a living wage, environmental protections, health care, job training, elimination of deadly diseases of despair, the elimination of poverty, providing dignity for elderly citizens, etc.  

If you took the first trillion dollars spent overthrowing Saddam Hussein in the lead up to perpetual war and put it into a social welfare fund, managed by a conservative who keeps the money in a 1960s savings bank at 4%, you would generate $40,000,000,000 the first year.   The fund would generate that annually, at the modest return of 4%.

Of course, few investors would be content with a 4% return.  If the trillion dollar Social Welfare Fund, more shrewdly invested, made 10% that’s $100,000,000,000 a year.   You could do a lot with that kind of money.

The president’s $11,000,000,000 temper tantrum

Look, full disclosure, I never liked any bully I’ve ever seen anywhere.  I don’t like braggarts.  I have a reflexive dislike of the extremely privileged, they like things just the way they are and would be fools not to, I suppose, but fuck ’em.   So I never liked our fake president, even when he was just a rich, racist, blustering publicity hog who put exaggerated accounts of his amazing sex life on the pages of the tabloids of NYC for years, questioned the legitimacy of our first mulatto president and called for the death penalty for wrongfully imprisoned black youth (Central Park Boys) even after they were exonerated by DNA evidence, waging a long public relations war to make and market his exclusive brand: winning.

I have nothing good to say about Trump.   That said, the cost of his senseless, history making 35 day government shut down (previously only done by rabid partisans in Congress) is now calculated at $11,000,000,000.   He was holding his breath until Democrats agreed to release $5,700,000,000 to build a border wall only his chanting crowds think is a good idea.    Not for nothing, the total cost of the wall is estimated at several times $5.7B.

The president has no notion of real world consequences, never having lived in the real world.   Being a millionaire by age eight will do that to a twisted little fucker. He doesn’t know how government works, or economics, or compromise or anything else that most people come to grasp at some point.   After the Trump heir apparent, Donald’s charismatic older brother Fred Junior, revealed himself as too decent to be a real estate titan, prior to drinking himself to death, Donald was the only viable heir to the  vast real estate empire of ruthless, grasping, imperious, law-flouting, fraud-hatching Fred Christ Trump.  Fred Christ Trump was the heir of his ruthless, grasping father who had been deported from his native Germany for evading military service and cheating on his taxes.   It’s in the blood.   These motherfuckers are just no good.   You could look it up.

So this president who never had to know the price of anything, because he never paid his own money for anything, finds out he cost the nation $11,000,000,000 by folding his arms and pretending to be a resolute leader.  What does he care?  Not a dime is coming out of his pocket.   Which is the way it usually goes when the super-entitled, hereditary super-wealthy fuck their social inferiors.

Fair is fair, yo.

Eerie Historical Echo

In 1981 Ronald Reagan fired 11,345 air traffic controllers who had been on strike, illegally, for two days, decertified their labor union and banned them from federal employment for life.  In 2019, Donald Trump is forcing 10,000 air traffic controllers to work for free, now for over a month, as he continues to hold the nation hostage over his irrational promise to his angry base, the finest people.

PATCO, Professional Air Traffic Controllers’ Organization, was one of the few unions (possibly the only) that backed the anti-union, free marketeer Ronald Reagan’s presidential bid in 1980.   Reagan supported PATCO’s calls for better working conditions, said he recognized how vital their services were.   Soon after his election as president, Reagan crushed PATCO when the air controllers went on strike in protest of bad working conditions, too many hours, too much stress.  A “sickout” (federal workers are forbidden by law to strike) a decade earlier by PATCO had resulted in some improvements to Air Traffic Control and the lives of the controllers.   Take it, Wikipedia:

The sickout led officials to recognize that the ATC system was operating nearly at capacity. To alleviate some of this, Congress accelerated the installation of automated systems, reopened the air traffic controller training academy in Oklahoma City, began hiring air traffic controllers at an increasing rate, and raised salaries to help attract and retain controllers.[2]   

Reagan, who had supported PATCO while campaigning in 1980, gave a big “fuck you” to the air traffic controllers when PATCO went on strike in 1981.  When striking PATCO members refused to immediately return to work he fired 11,345 of them and banned them from federal service for life.  He also fined PATCO into bankruptcy and made sure to decertify their union.   That should teach you not to ignore your oath not to violate 5 U.S.C. (Supp. III 1956) 118p (now 5 U.S.C. § 7311), which prohibits strikes by federal government employees, no matter how unreasonable or dangerous your conditions of employment.  Private employers were very impressed by Reagan’s swift action against unruly workers, as were Republican front men, who got busy curtailing the power of unionized labor.

The crushing of PATCO was the turning point for Republican anti-unionism (organized labor traditionally votes Democratic), which spread over the next few decades until unions today, whose membership has shrunk from about 25% of the American workforce to about 10%, have a shred of their former influence on working conditions, safety, wages, health benefits, retirement packages etc.

Today, almost forty years later, another conservative president is forcing 10,000 air traffic controllers to work for free while he tries to twist the nation’s arm to build a symbol of his ability to keep even the most irrational of his campaign promises.   He can lie about everything else, and nonchalantly does, but he is not going to lie to adoring crowds of his supporters who chanted “Build That Wall!” and “Lock Her Up!”  

Mitch McConnell, intractable turtle faced motherfucker, sent a unanimous bill to the president keeping the government open, right before the deadline for funding all operations of government.   The president was poised to sign it, but Prime Minister Anne Coulter and Minister of OxyContin Rush Limbaugh vetoed that and the president unilaterally shut down the government, folded his arms, and now blames the Democrats for not budging off their stubborn refusal to give the giant irrational baby his $5,700,000,000 bottle.  

Fucking Mitch McConnell, proud and unrepentant hyper-partisan who wields unethical power for the same reason a dog licks his balls (because he can), is keeping his head in his shell, waiting this one out.   He won’t send any bill to the president, he says, that the president won’t like.  Build that wall, Mitch, Lock HER UP!

What is it with right wing presidents and royally fucking the people who are tasked with making sure planes full of Americans don’t crash?

Good Government

To a person who inherits $300,000,000, like each of the Koch boys and our current president, who actually got more than $400,000,000 from his tough father, good government is one that keeps its hands off their fortunes while protecting them from anybody who wants to rob them.   That government also provides a strong military for general defense, good roads, bridges, electricity, sewage systems, police and fire departments, airports and so forth, the things necessary for all citizens, rich or poor.  The rest: liberty! [1]  

For all other citizens, we expect good government to provide other things.   A free, quality public education, for example.  Affordable health care.  Programs to protect the weak, the disabled, children, the elderly.  Regulations to ensure that the environment is not destroyed and that poison is not piped into our homes.   Laws to protect vulnerable citizens, and enforcement of anti-discrimination and labor laws, among other things.

The long, openly racist rule in the former Confederacy, for example, would never have ended but for federal enforcement of Civil Rights laws (Malcolm X more accurately called these rights Human Rights).   The constitution was amended and laws were made after the Civil War to enforce these new rights for freed slaves (and everybody else), but states and the Supreme Court soon nullified these for a century or so.  During that century of terror and virtual slavery under a new name, lynching was commonly used to enforce Home Rule in states that had rewritten history to make outfits like the Ku Klux Klan heroic protectors of white womanhood in the eyes of angry white citizens who believed in the old ways.

I was amazed to learn, during Constitutional Law class in the first term of law school, that much of the long overdue federal enforcement of Civil Rights in the former Confederacy (and in many other places where racist practices were written into the law) came under the constitution’s Commerce Clause.   The Commerce Clause gives the federal government the right to intervene in state matters when interstate commerce is involved.  The segregated restaurant in Georgia served potatoes from Idaho: commerce clause!

I learned recently that the Commerce Clause had been a compromise with slaveholders, they received a guarantee that slaves could be imported from Africa for at least twenty more years in exchange for the Commerce Clause. Good on you, you murdering racist motherfuckers, sealing your own eventual doom with that sweet deal.

I have an old friend who worked as a corporate lawyer for a few years until his conscience got the better of him.   He became a lead lawyer for the earth, constantly arguing in federal court on behalf of endangered species, poisoned land and water, destructive policies pursued for profit, often in violation of existing regulations.   His job was to convince a federal judge to force the responsible government agency to step in and enforce its own laws.  Ain’t dat some shit?   His organization would bring lawsuits to force the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to enforce its own rules against a massively powerful company like Monsanto, whose chemicals do great damage to the ecosystem.  Monsanto would send an army of the best lawyers money can buy.  My friend fought them toe to toe for years.   He won quite a few cases, though many were also lost.   He is leaving that job after many years pretty exhausted, as you can imagine.

When our current president took office he hired, as head of the EPA, a climate change denier who, as governor, had sued the EPA many times, on behalf of toxic polluters like his good friends and political backers.   His brief as EPA Administrator was to get meddlesome government regulators off the backs of job creators.    Fuck nontoxic drinking water, mercury, arsenic, toxins in the air, destruction of the biosphere… CLEAN COAL!   FOSSIL FUEL!  USA! USA!!!  [2]

I’m reading Juan Gonzalez’s fascinating book on progressive politicians struggling to remake America’s cities.   He concedes that the jury is out on all of them, including Bill de Blasio, the main politician he discusses in Reclaiming Gotham,  but the chapter detailing de Blasio’s first hundred days lays out a lot of admirable moves from the administration that promised an end to the Tale of Two cities that has long been life in New York City, increasingly the playground and safety deposit box for the international rich.

In contrast to Trump’s picks to head agencies (with an eye toward disabling them), de Blasio picked as head of the Human Resources Administration, the organization that provides all services to the city’s poor, the disabled, the elderly, and many services to children, a Legal Aid lawyer who had sued the HRA many times over its many abuses and shoddy practices.   Who better to run the agency, if your intent is to make it serve its public mandate better? 

The argument rages, between those who view fairness and justice as the same thing, who believe the weakest among us deserve society’s protection, as does the earth we all live on, and those who believe only in infinite, unmolested wealth for themselves.   The sides are drawn, between those who consider basic fairness an aim of human society and those who believe justice means preserving existing privileges for the few at all costs, at any cost.  

Untold millions are spent every year by the super-wealthy to advance the idea that liberty means a government that coerces nobody to do anything they don’t want, a government small enough to drown in a bathtub.   These determined fucks are at it around the clock, with dozens of well-funded think tanks, where the only thought is how to change the public dialogue to convince at least 40% of citizens of a philosophy that cares nothing for them, for the earth they live on, for the future of their children’s children.

There is no price too high, for most inheritors of vast fortunes (and most self-made billionaires, for that matter, in my ruthless opinion), to make sure the government keeps its hands off their fortunes.   Pave the goddamned roads, keep the planes running on time, have cops to protect me, a fire department, top notch sewage disposal, all the rest of those basic services of civilization, just keep your fucking hands off my wealth.  In fact, stop fucking looking at it, you entitled, class-war stoking social justice warrior fucks!

 

[1] The “ideology” these oligarch-types have devised, to make themselves appear morally upright, is called “libertarianism” which we can all agree sounds much better than “greedy assholism” or “fuck y’all, I got mine, bitches!”.

[2]  Quick hit on google:

President Trump’s first EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, resigned effective July 6, 2018, amid a series of scandals. Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler, a former coal industry lobbyist, started serving as acting administrator on July 9, 2018.