Community Based Economics
Doctors, Legislators Resist Drugmakers’ Prying Eyes
In the letter, the salesperson wrote that Thakkar was causing his patients to miss more days of school than they would if he put them on Vigamox, a more expensive brand-name medicine made by Alcon Laboratories.
Talk about gall! Telling a physician what he should be subscribing to his patients!
Now the issue is bubbling up in the political arena. Last year, New Hampshire became the first state to try to curtail the practice, but a federal district judge three weeks ago ruled the law unconstitutional.
“In this case commercial interests took precedence over the interests of the private citizens of New Hampshire,” Rosenwald said. “This is like letting a drug rep into an exam room and having them eavesdrop on a private conversation between a physician and a patient.”
The April 30 ruling by U.S. District Judge Paul Barbadoro, nominated to the federal bench in 1992 by President George H. W. Bush, called the state’s pioneering law an unconstitutional restriction on commercial speech.
How typical of a REPUGNican judge! To place the interests of Big Pharma over the interests of the patients! This is an unequal contest — Big Pharma has more resources to lobby physicians than states do.
A drug company might use the database to help determine whether physicians prescribing a particular high-risk drug have undergone required training about the medicine, said Marjorie E. Powell, senior assistant general counsel for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a trade association.
“If you don’t have that information, then you are in a very difficult situation,” Powell said. “There is no way you can implement the risk-management plan that the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] is requiring you to implement in order to allow the drug to be on the market.”
To me, this sounds like a threat; but judge for yourself — here’s the link to the article.
What can be said about Rachel Carson that hasn’t already been said? All I can do is post this article; anything else would be superfluous. Here’s an article listing commemorative events in the area.
Rachel Carson’s Persistence and Pain In Focus 100 Years After Her Birth
Here, in a study that faces the garden, is where Rachel Carson would sit and write on days when she felt well. Here, in a bedroom with a dogwood outside the window, is where she would lie down and write on days when she felt worse.
On her sickest days, as Carson struggled with cancer and radiation therapy, she came back to her brick house on Berwick Road in Silver Spring and couldn’t write at all. Instead, an assistant read her words back to her, allowing her to edit even when she couldn’t sit up.
In 1935, with a master’s degree in zoology from Johns Hopkins University, the Pennsylvania native was hired as a government contractor to write scripts for a radio nature show, “Romance Under the Waters.” She made $6.50 a day. In 1936, Carson became a full-time science writer, and she stayed with the government for 16 more years. Carson also raised a grand-nephew, Roger Christie, whom she adopted as a son.These were less cautious times in wildlife management: Government officials were still handing out recipes for eating the animals they studied. Still, in 1945, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was conducting research on a widely used pesticide.
“DDT may have undesirable and even dangerous effects unless its use is properly controlled,” [my emphasis] said a news release, which Carson helped write.
“It stuck in the back of her mind, apparently,” said Mark Madison, a historian for the Fish and Wildlife Service, Carson’s employer for much of her career.
I must confess that I have something of a love-hate attachment for Steve Pearlstein. Robert Kuttner briefly quotes him in this very interesting American Prospect article…
Last July, at a Hamilton Project public program, The Washington Post’s Steve Pearlstein mischievously asked panelists Rubin, Altman, and Summers why not take a “time out” on further trade deals until Congress passes some of the social buffers that the project keeps endorsing in principle. “To a man, they recoiled at the idea,” Pearlstein reported.
Calling this posture “a perfect example of how the Democrats have lost the instinct for the political jugular and the ability to use policy disputes to political advantage,” Pearlstein added, “The idea here isn’t to kill free trade. It’s to take it hostage.” Lately, many Democrats in Congress have indeed been trying harder to hold the next trade deal hostage to more social protections. If they fail, Rubin’s counsel will have played a key role.
On Saturday, I wrote about Michigan’s economic situation. Today, WaPo writes about various mining proposals in the U.P. Check it out.
Like much of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Marquette was built on mining. Thousands of Irish, German, Polish, Italian and other immigrants arrived here in the late 1800s and early 1900s to forge new lives in the copper and iron mines.As mines closed during the mid-1900s and many residents fled to the auto industry in Detroit, the town and the region struggled.
Now, thanks to rapidly rising metal prices, international mining companies are again interested in the Upper Peninsula. A subsidiary of industry giant Rio Tinto wants to open the country’s largest nickel mine about 25 miles from Marquette, and various companies are prospecting for copper, nickel, uranium and other materials.
One would think they would be welcomed with open arms.
Forests Destroyed in China’s Race to Feed Global Wood-Processing Industry
The Chinese logging boss set his sights on a thickly forested mountain just inside Burma, aiming to harvest one of the last natural stands of teak on Earth.He handed a rice sack stuffed with $8,000 worth of Chinese currency to two agents with connections in the Burmese borderlands, the men said in interviews. They used that stash to bribe everyone standing between the teak and China. In came Chinese logging crews. Out went huge logs, over Chinese-built roads.
About 2,500 miles to the northeast, Chinese and Russian crews hacked into the virgin forests of the Russian Far East and Siberia, hauling away 250-year-old Korean pines in often-illegal deals, according to trading companies and environmentalists. In the highlands of Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Africa and in the forests of the Amazon, loggers working beyond the bounds of the law have sent a ceaseless flow of timber to China.
Some of the largest swaths of natural forest left on the planet are being dismantled at an alarming pace to feed a global wood-processing industry centered in coastal China.
Income inequality grew significantly in 2005, with the top 1 percent of Americans — those with incomes that year of more than $348,000 — receiving their largest share of national income since 1928, analysis of newly released tax data shows.
The top 10 percent, roughly those earning more than $100,000, also reached a level of income share not seen since before the Depression.
While total reported income in the United States increased almost 9 percent in 2005, the most recent year for which such data is available, average incomes for those in the bottom 90 percent dipped slightly compared with the year before, dropping $172, or 0.6 percent.
The gains went largely to the top 1 percent, whose incomes rose to an average of more than $1.1 million each, an increase of more than $139,000, or about 14 percent.
The new data also shows that the top 300,000 Americans collectively enjoyed almost as much income as the bottom 150 million Americans. Per person, the top group received 440 times as much as the average person in the bottom half earned, nearly doubling the gap from 1980.
He noted that the analysis was based on preliminary data and that the highest-income Americans were more likely than others to file their returns late, so his data might understate the growth in inequality.
The disparities may be even greater for another reason. The Internal Revenue Service estimates that it is able to accurately tax 99 percent of wage income but that it captures only about 70 percent of business and investment income, most of which flows to upper-income individuals, because not everybody accurately reports such figures.
Van Jones exemplifies the difference between the Green and environmental movements. Jones promotes environmentally sustainable business practices in Oakland, and hopes to provide jobs for urban youth in the process.
We need to expand and transform our definition of environmentalism. . . . Rather than talking about environmental solutions as business opportunities for the rich or consumer choices for the affluent, we should be talking about them as job-creating, wealth-creating, health-enhancing opportunities for poor people.For example, one solution for global warming is renewable energy. Not only could it save polar bears in the Arctic Circle, it could create jobs for urban youths who are putting up solar panels. It could also offer wealth-building opportunities for middle-class, working-class people who could invest in those companies.
Oakland is building green enterprise zones to bring in eco-friendly business and industry. At they same time they are working with community colleges, labor unions and prison re-entry organizations to create a green job corps where urban youths and workers will be taught to install solar panels, do orbanic gardening or retrofit buildins so they don’t leak energy.
Jones believes that;
The same kids that we are throwing in the garbage can of failed schools and prisons could be the kids who are putting up the solar panels, inventing the new clean-burning diesel fuel or selling organic produce. They are so creative and energetic, but nobody has given them a grand call or a high mission.
This is a message Greens should be bringing to all urban areas.
Provided as a service. Another one from Friedman.
September 20, 2006
São Paulo, Brazil
I asked Dr. José Goldemberg, secretary for the environment for São Paulo State and a pioneer of Brazil’s ethanol industry, the obvious question: Is the fact that the U.S. has imposed a 54-cents-a-gallon tariff to prevent Americans from importing sugar ethanol from Brazil “just stupid or really stupid.”
Thanks to pressure from Midwest farmers and agribusinesses, who want to protect the U.S. corn ethanol industry from competition from Brazilian sugar ethanol, we have imposed a stiff tariff to keep it out. We do this even though Brazilian sugar ethanol provides eight times the energy of the fossil fuel used to make it, while American corn ethanol provides only 1.3 times the energy of the fossil fuel used to make it. We do this even though sugar ethanol reduces greenhouses gases more than corn ethanol. And we do this even though sugar cane ethanol can easily be grown in poor tropical countries in Africa or the Caribbean, and could actually help alleviate their poverty.
Yes, you read all this right. We tax imported sugar ethanol, which could finance our poor friends, but we don’t tax imported crude oil, which definitely finances our rich enemies. We’d rather power anti-Americans with our energy purchases than promote antipoverty.
“It’s really stupid,” answered Dr. Goldemberg.
If I seem upset about this, I am. Development and environmental experts have long searched for environmentally sustainable ways to alleviate rural poverty — especially for people who live in places like Brazil, where there is a constant temptation to log the Amazon. Sure, ecotourism and rain forest soap are nice, but they never really scale. As a result, rural people in Brazil are always tempted go back to logging or farming sensitive areas.
Ethanol from sugar cane could be a scalable, sustainable alternative — if we are smart and get rid of silly tariffs, and if Brazil is smart and starts thinking right now about how to expand its sugar cane biofuel industry without harming the environment.
The good news is that sugar cane doesn’t require irrigation and can’t grow in much of the Amazon, because it is too wet. So if the Brazilian sugar industry does realize its plan to grow from 15 million to 25 million acres over the next few years, it need not threaten the Amazon.
However, sugar cane farms are located mostly in south-central Brazil, around São Paulo, and along the northeast coast, on land that was carved out of drier areas of the Atlantic rain forest, which has more different species of plants and animals per acre than the Amazon. Less than 7 percent of the total Atlantic rain forest remains — thanks to sugar, coffee, orange plantations and cattle grazing.
I flew in a helicopter over the region near São Paulo, and what I saw was not pretty: mansions being carved from forested hillsides near the city, rivers that have silted because of logging right down to the banks, and wide swaths of forest that have been cleared and will never return.
“It makes you weep,” said Gustavo Fonseca, my traveling companion, a Brazilian and the executive vice president of Conservation International. “What I see here is a totally human dominated system in which most of the biodiversity is gone.”
As demand for sugar ethanol rises — and that is a good thing for Brazil and the developing world, said Fonseca, “we have to make sure that the expansion is done in a planned way.”
Over the past five years, the Amazon has lost 7,700 square miles a year, most of it for cattle grazing, soybean farming and palm oil. A similar expansion for sugar ethanol could destroy the cerrado, the Brazilian savannah, another incredibly species-rich area, and the best place in Brazil to grow more sugar.
A proposal is floating around the Brazilian government for a major expansion of the sugar industry, far beyond even the industry’s plans. No wonder environmental activists are holding a conference in Germany this fall about the impact of biofuels. I could see some groups one day calling for an ethanol boycott — à la genetically modified foods — if they feel biofuels are raping the environment.
We have the tools to resolve these conflicts. We can map the lands that need protection for their biodiversity or the environmental benefits they provide rural communities. But sugar farmers, governments and environmentalists need to sit down early — like now — to identify those lands and commit the money needed to protect them. Otherwise, we will have a fight over every acre, and sugar ethanol will never realize its potential. That would be really, really stupid.
Workers at Meatpacking Plant Must First Overcome Distrust
When she finished eating dinner at the party, Lenora Bruce Bailey sat for a spell on a little wood porch facing Main Street. Two years ago, she had one of the best jobs around: boxing scraps of hog meat at the nearby packing plant. Then she got sick. “They terminated me,” she said. “Took away my health insurance.”
In a nearby room, Raphael Abrego held up his purple and swollen right hand and wondered whether the same might happen to him. He was one of the better cutters on the fast-moving butcher line, but he slipped one day and injured his hand. “I can’t close it,” he said in Spanish, trying to clench bloated fingers.
Bailey is a black, native-born American. Abrego is a Latino immigrant. At Smithfield Packing Co., the largest meat-processing facility in the world, the two think of themselves as being in the same boat.
Recently, they attended a potluck to try to do something that is rare for African Americans and Latino immigrants: come together to fight for workers’ rights.
The union’s difficulties are part of a larger story of distrust between black and Latino workers, a vast cultural divide between immigrants who illegally enter the country seeking work and African Americans who worry that immigrants will take over their jobs, communities and local political power.