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Monday, February 20, 2012

An Epidemic of Stupidity

The US House of Representatives in the movie "Idiocracy"
A while back I wrote about "The 'Risk' of the Cure."  In it I touched on ideas about the cost of risky things.  The other day I came upon this Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article on opiate pain killers.

Basically the article describes a "big university science" industry that takes money from big pharma and promotes various "big pharma" causes.  In the case of this article talks about Purdue Pharma "fraudulently misleading doctors by claiming, with no proof, that its narcotic painkiller OxyContin was less addictive, less likely to cause withdrawal and less subject to abuse than other pain medications."

Really?  Not addicting?

(The folks described in this article were promoting these pain killers for "every day" pain - not their initial focus of post-operative and end-of-life pain reduction.)

These doctors went around promoting this in the context of everyday pain for a decade.

Yet college educated doctors couldn't put two and two together to see that opiates where dangerously addictive.  The FDA did nothing.

Now let's look at this web site: Opioid Abuse Facts.

Here we find that opioid addiction costs the US nearly $500 billion (with a 'B') dollars each year.  Of course, like I wrote in "The Risk..." this includes all sorts of "lost work," justice, and other costs.  But given the current economic state of affairs half a trillion US dollars is a lot of money.

Couple that with the annual cost alcohol problems and you are looking at three quarters of a trillion dollars per year.

I think that we, as a people, really need to start re-examining what's going on here.

For one thing I think that's today's university environment is producing graduates who are not up to the standards of a few decades ago.  This Washington Post article describes how 36% of college graduates, tested at graduation, show that they have not progressed academically during their four years through college.

The cost of this?

Close to a trillion (with a 'T') dollars annually in the US according to this.

Universities turning out students who know nothing and have learned nothing.  Its little wonder that they move into post-graduate jobs and then become involved with "big pharma" promotion based on obvious nonsense.

Yet this education is expensive.

More and more its becoming obvious, at least to me, that here in the USA we spend literally trillions of dollars each year on nothing - on wasted effort: addiction, bogus education, and other similar goose chases.

In each case, at the root, is some sort of basic deception: opioid pain killers aren't addicting or little Johnny has a college degree (when in fact he demonstrably learned nothing).

Then we, as a nation, spend hundreds of billions of dollars covering over these facts.  We employ tens or hundreds of thousands of people in support of the lie.  We build up government bureaus and institutions.  We develop add campaigns to promote the them.  We hire ad agencies to weave these things into our societal fabric.

In the case of opiate pain killer addiction the death rate is around 10,000 per year in the US.  Just ahead of HIV and just behind murder.

Yet there is not campaign to "save the addicts."

No promotion to build upon research to save the lives of these victims.

Even though these addicts our are own family and friends.

The problem here in the US is an epidemic.

An epidemic of stupidity.

People so focused on the "love of money" that they are willing to promote the destruction of others (either their health or their financial health) to benefit themselves.

Clearly universities are of no help because they offer no value in this regard to the student: no ethics, no right versus wrong.  The student doesn't gain a perspective beyond what they started with from high school (where, no doubt, the addictive behavior began...)

Yet we pour good money after bad into these "institutions".

No one says l"et's put on the brakes" so we can examine what we are really buying.

A large percentage of our US economy is made up of things that deal with addiction and the results of addiction.

Probably trillions of US dollars each year.

No one says a word about it.  No one fights it.  Its accepted as a simple "fact of life."

Yet forty years ago, in the ancient past, when things were not so "progressive," things were different.  Sure there was addiction - but far less.  Sure there was bad education - but far less.  People knew better - knew how to tell their money was going for something bad.  A bad education was a waste of money (but today its not their money being spent so no one cares).

Imagine that the government debt for 2012 (some 1.3 trillion US dollars) in the context of these two items alone: addiction and lousy, valueless education.

Each year we are borrowing the full amount to "cover" these costs.

Meanwhile our children's futures are destroyed by addiction and lousy education.

Children who, in the future, will be voting and participating in dealing with these problems.

But will they be equipped?

Certainly not on the educational front.

And likely they will be battling their own addiction problems as well.

So we borrow this money and, instead of building something of value with it for the future, we piss it away on addiction.  On bad education.

And these victims will be leading our country someday soon...

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