That was a fast one, eh? Seems like the beginning of the second decade of this millennium has whipped by like a scalded hound in Jackson. But a notable year it was. As one looks back, there are some echoes that remind us that 2011 was an eventful year.
Pediatric pill pushers. Already by January, 2011, numbers were pointing to a disappointing reality: We are drugging our children in record numbers. Oh yes, we have a drug problem in the United States. But the problem is that we’re shoving pills down our children’s throats and shooting ‘em up with more vaccines and injections than ever before. Reports cited numbers from 2009, the most recent year available. Over 45 million prescriptions were written for children just for asthma drugs alone. Other drugs we fed our kids included 6.5 million antipsychotics, 9.6 million antidepressants and 5.2 million blood pressure meds. Blood pressure medication for 8 year olds? Really? That doesn’t include the increased number of vaccines we’re giving them. Also in the news in January was that U.S. healthcare spending was up again to 18% of the overall economy. One in five dollars was spent on healthcare.
Another January news item says it all in the headline: “Almost Everything You Hear about Medicine is Wrong.” The story, in Newsweek, goes on to give scientific proof that the headline is correct. That was pretty heady news to begin 2011.
But my favorite good news of January was the report that fidgeting, just moving around in a meeting, say, can burn calories and lead to a lean body.
More good news in February was the USDA report on dietary guidelines. They said everything but directly wording it: Eat less meat and processed foods. Boy, did they get flack from the meat industry. And the President’s Cancer Panel advised to choose organic whenever possible.
Drug Money No wonder that American medicine is so costly and the highest in the world. Massive legal settlements in the millions and billions are just part of the cost of doing business, as far as drug companies are concerned. Big industries operate on a very obvious and (to them) practical premise. It’s just a matter of cost analysis.
In the auto industry, vehicle recalls are based the evaluation of how many people are getting hurt or killed by the malfunction and how much each event is costing the company versus the cost of recalls and repairs. It’s the same with drugs. To a corporate bottom line, it just makes sense.
Big Pharma bets. The technopharmaceutical industrial complex gets sued all the time. But it wagers that it can sell enough drugs (often mandated by their friends in government) to cover the losses. So, when one realizes that the massive legal payouts have to be offset by revenue, it’s evident that the cost of medical care is directly related to its ineptitudes. The more people the industry harms, the more it pays out in lawsuits and the more it must charge to cover its bets. And the more you get to pay for medical care. So in 2011 we saw some whopping fines and court settlements levied on the drug companies.
Remember Vioxx, the famous painkiller that killed so many people? That company settled in court for $950 million. Other settlements in 2011 included GlaxoSmithKline for $2.3 billion, Abbott Labs for $1.4 billion and Eli Lilly for $1.42 billion. You think they may be wanting to make that money back?
Smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em. Okay, that may not be a great idea. But a finding in the spring of 2011 listed 163 environmental chemicals found in the bodies of pregnant women. Here they try to grow healthy fetuses by stopping drinking or smoking and all along, they still have PCBs and DDT in their systems. Good indication to find out more about how one can limit chemical exposure. Drop the dry cleaning and the fire retardant treatment on the sofa?
Local nets $5 billion. Great news in 2011 included the continued rush to buy real food. That means getting it straight from the source when possible or at least knowing your local sourcing. The USDA released numbers saying that small farms brought in nearly $5 billion in revenue for local produce in the previous year. The number of farmers markets nationally has doubled in the past ten years. Much of the revenue increase was seen from selling to grocery chains and restaurants as businesses seek to cash in on the trend by offering their versions of “local.”
Cops crack down on food, not crack. In 2011, government agencies raided food co-ops at gunpoint because they were selling milk fresh from the cow. Government doesn’t like that and foodies across the U.S. found out first hand as raids took place in Los Angeles and on Amish farms. Surveillance video at the Rawesome Foods buying club in Venice, Calif. show agents with guns drawn, rifling through the small grocery store. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5zPhhNUakc) How dangerous can grocers be, anyway? In Minnesota, a dairy farmer was arrested and his cargo confiscated. In Missouri, children were arrested with their parents for dropping off raw milk to “consumers” in a parking lot. The “consumers” were agents in a sting operation.
Glowing concern of March Madness. Arguably, the health news of the year had to be the tsunami disaster and the ensuing nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, Japan following the March 11 earthquake. The immediate toll was tragic enough but the health effects of the global radiation spew are yet to be determined. Three reactors suffered full meltdown, releasing radioactive cesium and other pollutants. The area around the prefecture was rendered a dead zone and food across Japan contains radioactive pollutants. Radiation from Fukushima has been found in vegetables, milk and water from the U.S. to France and beyond. Nuclear energy is clean energy… until it isn’t.
Time to look forward.
Heartland Healing examines various alternative forms of healing. It is provided as a source of information, not as medical advice, and it is not an endorsement of any particular therapy, either by the writer or The Reader. Access past columns at heartlandhealing.com.