My grandfather was a doctor. He’d get up in the middle of the night to tend to a neighbor, even a poor family out in the fields. You didn’t have to pay on time, and you could pay with a chicken. He was not a member of the AMA.
Times have changed. Remember when the AMA lobbied to make it illegal to buy vitamins without a prescription? When they had chiropractors put in jail? And they still don’t let doctors from France—which has much longer longevity (#14) than America (#46)—practice medicine in America.
Their drive for profit instead of, “First, do no harm”, is what opened the floodgates to greedy injury attorneys, excuse-making insurance corporations, pharmaceuticals selling lethal drugs, huge tax-exempt hospitals operating like mafia knee-cappers—they’re where to go if you want to catch a flesh-eating bacteria.
Once I visited a friend in a major hospital who’d been up for days. He took me on his rounds and showed off, applying angioplasty to an old bed-ridden patient. But he could not figure out how to back out the balloon. He called a nurse over, told her to finish the job, then walked out of the room. And doctors even used to prohibit nurses from performing the most mundane tasks!
A few eyeopening critics of the medical establishment include Michael Crighton’s Five Patients and Ivan Illich’s Medical Nemesis. Deborah Blau’s I Never Promised You A Rose Garden noted that the first person to note a mentally ill patient is getting well is another patient. The second person is a nurse. The last is their doctor.
People are flawed, doctors, too. Like the old joke: “What’s the difference between God and a doctor?” “God does not think He’s a doctor.” These self-described experts force their cohorts to work 48 hours without sleep. The CDC used to have an article on their website listing doctors as the third leading cause of death in America after cancer and heart attacks.
After investing their entire adults lives, doctors—as would anyone—enjoy their status and defend their turf. So do epidemiologists. And drug companies. They’re not about to concede an inch to an alternative solution to pandemics, even if it works.
Experts, maybe, but conformists, definitely. In academia and hospitals, they learn only what others learned, which is sometimes wrong. Gee, who knew meditation could supplant medication? While you can learn lots from inside the box, you discover new and better ways of doing things outside the box.
Despite all, they blame us—the ones who don’t mask and distance—for not trusting the “experts” blindly. However, given the history of modern medicine, you’d be less than intellectually diligent to accept at face value all they say.
The media is complicit, never asking any obvious questions. How did “experts” know covid was a pandemic from day one, fresh out of the Chinese gate? Why does the media not give their covid stats in comparison to other pandemics? Keep quiet about enhancing immunity? Doctors, researchers, manufacturers complain that the media ignore their advances that’d amaze you (like a dialysis machine the size of a fanny pack).
The FDA is far more rapid to approve a new drug from Big Pharma than they are to approve a safe device by a small university lab. That fact alone—the politics at the FDA—gives me pause about vaccines. That does not mean I doubt them. It means, take their medicine with a grain of salt.
Besides saying, trust us, we’re experts, what could doctors and epidemiologists do that they are not doing to win trust and make a difference? Most victims of covid suffer vitamin deficiency. Even though doctors lost the earlier prescription battle and so won’t make any money off it, they could still “prescribe”—that is, recommend—that we double down on certain vitamins.
What else? They could treat people not just as a body but a human being (the old West vs East approach to healing). That is, they could prescribe laughter. Remember Norman Cousins, the magazine editor whose doctors told him he had little time before cancer claimed him? So he went home to die and figured he’d enjoy his remaining days by watching old movies. He chose the Marx Brothers and laughed so hard he beat his cancer into submission.
And why is all the responsibility to fight covid dumped on the victim, the ordinary Janes and Joes, and nothing obliged of government? More so than most citizens in a “democracy”, doctors could use their lofty standing in society—however much or little deserved—to join the call for rational solutions.
* Government gives away trillions to the already rich, using covid as an excuse, even though those rich have nothing to do with public health. If government is going to give away anything, give away free vitamins to everybody. Plus free vouchers for Comedy Central.
* Exercise helps hugely. Ban all parking within a tenth of a mile to any business establishment. Give away vouchers for riding mass transit and buying a bike. Create more bike lanes out of lanes now devoted to cars. Turn off all elevators. Put prizes on rooftops that people have to climb stairs to claim.
* Relationships, too, boost the immune system tremendously. Give away vouchers for starting or paying the dues to join any social club. In Roseto Pennsylvania, residents live the longest in America. They don’t give up pasta and dress only in sweats for hours of jogging. The only thing they do differently is belong to dozens of social clubs.
* Testing and isolation of positives is effective. Speed up approval of new tests that actually work. Appraise people of the risk of meeting strangers, but let them go shopping, to the movies, gym, whatever, and station testers there, just as they do at airports. Whisk away any positives to hotels that have lost so much business. It’s expensive but so is corporate welfare. It’s intrusive but so are airports and traffic stops. More importantly, it’d work to control the contagion while letting life go on.
* Victims of virus, besides not taking vitamins, eat junk food—i.e., about anything you can buy in a supermarket or mini-mart. So give vouchers for organic food. And kick agribusiness and factory farms off corporate welfare. Let sprayed and processed “food” compete on a level playing field versus non-packaged food that’s actually nutritional.
* And besides being in poor health, covid patients are poor. Of all the challenges to address in fighting a pandemic, that’s the easiest, technically. Politically, it’s an uphill struggle, but technically, it’s a snap. Just do what’s always worked, wherever tried, whenever tried. Try geonomics:
1, quit subsidies and discretionary spending by politicians;
2, quit taxes on useful effort, like earnings, sales, and buildings;
3, recover the socially generated value of land—mainly downtown locations—of natural resources (mainly oil), and of government granted privileges, such as patents, corporate charters, etc. And …
4, disburse those trillions as dividends to citizens.
That’s a lot of reform to expect from conventional politicians but even baby steps in the right direction would help hugely. When using geonomics, look how New York City developed affordable housing back in the 1920s, how Denmark quadrupled productivity in the 1960s (while eliminating inflation), how Pittsburgh renewed its downtown in the 1980s. Geonomics works, maybe better than any vaccine.
And finally, whatever policies are adopted for covid, adopt them for other viruses, too. If covid is twice as bad as the flu, then adopt half as much countermeasure each flu season. Then you end up with a year-round lockdown—which society can not survive. You have to have food, clothing, shelter, electricity, medicine, and the economy to produce them.
But don’t worry. Worry does not help. Laughter does. Go all out to enjoy life. You won’t even need an excuse to quit the ordinary and do what’s fun. The life you’d save would be your own.
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JEFFERY J. SMITH published The Geonomist, which won a California GreenLight Award, has appeared in both the popular press (e.g.,TruthOut) and academic journals (e.g., USC's “Planning and Markets”), been interviewed on radio and TV, lobbied officials, testified before the Russian Duma, conducted research (e.g., for Portland's mass transit agency), and recruited activists and academics to Progress.org. A member of the International Society for Ecological Economics and of Mensa, he lives in Mexico. Jeffery formerly was Chief Editor at Progress.org.