Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Another political rant - read at your own risk

We went to a ‘meet the politician’ thing at a neighbor’s house last night. Got to eat cheese and talk to somebody running for office. Nothing thrilling there, but some of the comments at the meeting, and in some blogs, leads me to diverge from my normal boring Las Vegas happenings and into the sticky world of politics. Sorry about that, I know you came here to avoid other people’s opinions and rest your eyes on some pictures of another world (yes, Vegas is another world) but now you have to be faced with lots of words and no pictures. I spend some time at work now and then reading blogs on the internet, but after ten hours here and the commute back home I am not usually in the mood to sit at my computer and put in more time doing things too similar to work. Well, bad news for you, my boss is not looking over my shoulder this afternoon so I get to sit here and write this stuff.
But I read the blogs, and enjoy getting an insight into how people think, and feel that maybe once in a while I should write things too. I’ve been modifying my ‘blogs I like’ list to the right, and hopefully have inserted some that are of interest. I like reading about
Dave’s daughter, Miranda’s classes, Keri’s kids, Ann’s household, Jo’s activities, Anna’s ideas, Annie’s subway journeys. These people write interesting stories that I look forward to seeing. It’s nice to find a post popping up after several days of no change, or even several showing up every day.

Back to the political topic – boy, there are sure some people out there that can’t see the obvious.

During the question session last night one woman wanted to discuss medicines. The politician had led into this by commenting on Bush’s direction of leadership, in making importing drugs from Canada illegal, and restricting the Social Security Administration from negotiating drug prices. The assumption was that big business (meaning drug companies and insurance companies in this case) was able to influence our ‘independent’ politicians into passing laws that favored them. What an outrageous thought. But her question was a little off of that topic. She has been using Vioxx, and instead of paying the US rate of $500 a month for her needs she was obtaining the drug illegally from a Canadian pharmacy for $240 a month. Well, admitting right there that she was a criminal, admitting guilt to committing a felony every month kind of restricted my view of her. So what if she couldn’t afford American prices, she has a responsibility to keep the drug companies profitable. Besides, those Canadian drugs could be supporting terrorists and be of inferior quality coming from unknown drug labs overseas. Doesn’t she know that the Canadians don’t now how to regulate their own companies?
Back to her topic. She just received a letter from a law firm asking her to be part of a class action lawsuit against the makers of Vioxx, for creating and selling a drug that was alleviating her pain (why she took it to begin with) but was also damaging her. It doesn’t matter that she suffered no side affects, or that she has been able to function without pain while taking it. As a user it was her duty to sue. Her problem was that she wanted to talk to her doctor about the Vioxx, but the letter from the lawyer told her not to talk to anyone, especially not her doctor. So, feeling guilty about even mentioning it in our group after the letter told her not to, she wondered about whether or not to talk to her doctor before participating in this lawsuit.
I hesitated to call her an idiot, not wanting to offend idiots, but in the group situation I kept quiet. Somebody did suggest that since she did not suffer any side effects she might consider just throwing the lawyer’s letter away. The politician was being a lawyer and a politician and suggested that everybody’s situation was different and she had to consider things herself. Somebody else said that side effects were not always apparent, and she should ask her doctor if she had been affected. But again, the response was that the letter said not to talk to her doctor.
I did restrain myself, and did not hit her over the head and say ‘Idiot, you are the type of person responsible for higher medical costs because of your stupid class action lawsuits’. OK, I know some lawsuits are valid, and do help change things, and do compensate people for wrongs. Without my requesting it I’ve been part of some class action lawsuits – one against Wells Fargo for overcharging on late payments. That one got me (and several thousand other sufferers) a $00.12 refund check, and some law firm a $22,000,000 fee for bringing it. Tell me that wasn’t worth it. But for attorneys to go looking for clients when people don’t even know they are victims – I see ads on TV from attorneys looking for people that might have worked in the asbestos industry, or at Yucca mountain, or just visited someplace where they might have been affected. To me that’s just wrong. There were no condos built in San Diego for the past five years because the odds were 110% that a builder would face a lawsuit for construction defects and so no insurance company would cover construction. First time home buyers did not have the lower cost condo option because of some lawyers that made a living looking for things. OK – there were some condos with problems, but to shut down a whole industry to me was rather a sorry outcome.

Back to political complaints –

Reading last Friday’s edition of the Wall Street Journal brought up an editorial in which they said that the Journal was independent and fair and ‘does not endorse candidates’. Out of the seven other editorial columns, six had some severe anti Kerry sentiments. It might be nice to say that you are ‘fair and impartial’ but it was rather obvious that they were not.
The guy sitting next to me wearing his Bush button – Don’t you see where the country has been the past four years? Yes, 1.6 million jobs the past six months, but they don’t overcome the millions lost in the previous three years. Make the world safer because of Iraq? Ask the Israelis killed in Egypt by the Al Quida bombings last week. Ask the families of the 1,000+ US soldiers killed over there if they feel safer (patriotic maybe, but better off?). Ask that lady mentioned above how she would feel being a convicted felon for drug importation, because she can’t afford to buy here, or why her insurance is so high, or why her doctor gave up his practice because of high malpractice insurance. Ask my neighbor who’s job is being done by somebody in India for $5 a day. I don’t know if Kerry can do any better, but he would have to do quite a lot to make it much worse.
Ok, that’s my political concept for the day. Gallager used to call them ‘mind farts’, but at least they were funny when he said them. I guess that would apply to shorter outbursts, but it still is just a smelly wind that blows away and hopefully only offends a few. Wait – I hope it offends a lot, but makes you think. And no, I will not put that Bush poster in my front yard just to be fair.

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