Doctors Getting Away with Murder

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There is something wrong in America.

Prisons all over this country are filled, mostly with African-American men. The dramatic increase of arrests and incarcerations of African-American men coincided with President Ronald Reagan‘s “war on drugs,” and most of us Americans have smugly assumed that the war was declared in response to the appearance of crack cocaine in urban areas. According to Michelle Alexander, who brilliantly discusses disparities in incarceration between whites and blacks in her book, The New Jim Crow, the Reagan administration declared the war before crack cocaine began to ravage inner city neighborhoods, but used the spread of the drug to secure funds to carry out policies which exacerbated sentencing disparities.

The “war on drugs” led to policies that resulted an explosion in the penal population in this country, accounting for an increase from 300,000 inmates to over 2 million in less than 30 years, Alexander writes. The end-result is that this country incarcerates more people than any other developed country in the world.  Alexander writes that “the United States imprisons a larger percentage of its black population than South Africa did at the height of apartheid.” (p. 6)

But even as more and more attention is paid to those who use crack cocaine, more and more doctors are getting away with murder, prescribing pain and other medications that are no less damaging or dangerous than is crack. While the prison system is allowing legalized discrimination of African-Americans, American society is allowing legalized murder.

It has been said that Whitney Houston used crack; she herself said she used cocaine, but what we all know by now is that she used prescription meds, and was able to get them fairly easily. She apparently had doctors on both the East and West coasts, and in her room was found bottles of  Xanax, lorazepam, and valium – which are all benzodiazepines – as well as Ibuprofen, Midol and Amoxicillin.

I have heard doctors say that there is no way she should have been taking Xanax, lorazepam and valium at the same time. And the danger of her taking those drugs together was exacerbated by alcohol.

It is no secret that there is a double standard when it comes to crime and criminals; street drugs are looked down upon and those who use them are regarded as the dredge of society, while prescription drugs are acceptable. Go into any affluent neighborhood and it’s easy to hear people talk of the anti-anxiety drugs and pain meds they take regularly. It’s almost fashionable to take such drugs, and, contrarily, not fashionable not to take them. The people who are on prescription drugs not as criminals, though some get them illegally and “doctor shop” in order to satisfy their habits, and are socially accepted.

And who is getting away with supplying the drugs? The drug sellers or providers. On the streets, the drug pushers are labeled thugs by society, but in the suburbs, the drug pushers are called …doctors.

If America is going to have a “thing” about drug use, oughtn’t its concern be about all drug use?  I think of Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse, and Keith Ledger, recent stars who died not because they used crack, but because the sophisticated drug pushers called doctors prescribed them the drugs they were demanding.

The rampant use of drugs –  on the streets and in affluent society – makes me wonder why it is so many of us need to self-medicate. Something, somewhere, has failed if so many people in a country where opportunity is so much more available than in other countries are so unable to cope with life. I have no idea about the pressures in the music and entertainment worlds that seem to lead so many people to a state of deep unhappiness, so deep that they cannot cope without medical help. At least, in urban areas, where men cannot get jobs, where poverty is rampant and there seems to be no way out, there appears to be a justifiable reason to want to escape…but what is it when one is “on top?”

Whatever the reason, my point is that since America is so interested in putting “bad” people away, and since we have more money pumped into building new prisons than we do in improving public schools, then room in the cells ought to be made for medical doctors who are violating the Hippocratic oath to “first, do no harm.” These doctors are “doing harm. They are getting away with murder, and they ought to be made to pay for it.

A candid observation …

Wasteful Spending the Mark of American Political Campaigns

Some things just do not make any sense to me.

Like, politicians spending millions of dollars, basically to try to destroy each other, and win an office, while people are hungry, homeless, and sick. It makes no sense for GOP candidates or for President Barack Obama, who reports say will probably spend a billion dollars in his re-election bid, while American people are suffering.

Has America lost her way and her moral compass? How can any individual and any country condone such blatant wasteful spending when not only our nation but countries all over the world are in severe economic distress?

Not only is there wasteful spending going on, the issues that have Americans at bay are basically being ignored. In the recent GOP debates, there was not a lot of substantive conversation or talking about the issues which are breaking America’s back. Instead, there was petty argument and attacks on each other. This, while 46 percent of the nation is living in poverty?What’s wrong with this picture when a candidate would rather rail about same-sex marriage than how to fix an economy where the rich are getting richer on the backs of the poor?

Can a nation sustain itself, being like this?

One of the things I am learning about President Franklin Delano Roosevelt is that he never lost his touch with “the people.” He insisted on making those around him and those who made laws think about “the common man.” He insisted upon people having what he called “The Four Freedoms:” freedom of speech and expression, freedom to worship God in whatever way one wanted, freedom from want, which meant to him, the right of the common man to make a living wage, and freedom from fear.  He wanted these freedoms not only for Americans, but for people all over the world.

Why does it feel like present day politicians are not even close to wanting those freedoms for Americans – or for anyone else?

The middle class of America is about gone, yet the likes of Mitt Romney and the other GOP candidates have said virtually nothing about that. Newt Gingrich and Romney are both being backed up financially by extraordinarily wealthy super PACs…and it’s a sure thing that the “stealthy wealthy” will continue to throw bucks in the campaign buckets of candidates so that their economic positions can be maintained and grown.

What about the masses? Does the common person in America matter to anyone at all?

GOP candidates and Republicans in general lift up the name of Ronald Reagan as though he were the blood brother of Jesus, yet his “trickle down economic” policy never worked; what “trickled down” to the masses wasn’t enough to ensure they had quality lives. And now, with technology changing the way everything is done, the resources for the masses are even less. It used to be that a high school graduate could get at least a decent manufacturing job, but the wealthy – folks who own manufacturing businesses – are outsourcing jobs overseas, leaving their own American brothers and sisters to languish.

No problem, some would say. Just stay in school. Get an education! That’s good except that everyone cannot afford to go to college and some kids are just not college material. For those who do go to college, they are strapped by student loan debt that is so exorbitant it’s frightening.

The wealthy of this country do not seem to care. They are helping to develop the middle class of developing countries,and undermining America’s own.  What is wrong with this picture?

If one has money, one can do about anything; in contrast, if one does not have money, one is enslaved to poverty and debt for his or her lifetime.  Some of the GOP candidates have suggested, and some have stated outright, that those who are poor are poor because they want to be; they have not tried; they are lazy.

Not true. There are scores of Americans who are working their fingers to the bone and still cannot make ends meet. As for the unemployed, there are many who have given into the depression that comes when one is rejected over and over again, and those who are lucky enough to finally find a job also find out that potential employers second-guess hiring them when they realize the applicant has been out of work for so long.

This is America, where life is supposed to be easier than it is in other, “lesser” countries.

That may have been the case a while ago, but sadly, the reality and the legacy of America is changing …and nobody seems to care.

A candid observation…

© Candid Observations 2012