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Fool Me Twice 

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Last week, I wrote a little piece about my recent neck surgery and my disdain for the methods used by Big Pharma to guarantee that we U.S. citizens have every opportunity to become addicted to their drugs. I got lots of feedback from readers who agree, so I'm just starting off here with an update. For one, I never even got through a quarter of the painkillers I was prescribed. Unlike in prior years and after such surgeries, I didn't dump the excess meds into the toilet—a surefire method to kill downstream fish. My newly educated self reads directions much better than my old self, so those meds are heading to a take-back disposal center. Sorry, illicit opioid supply chain.

Meanwhile, I had a checkup Tuesday morning and, despite my complaints, my surgeon assures me all is well with my neck and spine, given my new set of screws and pins. He even showed me the X-rays to prove it, and they perfectly match previous surgery pin and screw X-rays. When some future archaeologist unearths my remains, he's going to exclaim, "Eureka! I've found Home Depot." He'd be right, despite that Home Depot lacks a pharmacy.

I've long suspected Big Pharma was no friend of American health. I've never understood why it is that the price of something so basic as a lifesaving shot, pill or device is allowed to be measured ever upward to the benefit of CEOs and corporations ahead of the well-being of our citizens. Even counting for the record-setting pace of companies like Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson in creating and manufacturing vaccines to fight the spread of COVID-19, I've not become a fan of Big Pharma. That would be like cheering for Tony "Scarface" Montana—but without the swearing, women, drug haze and violence.

On second thought, maybe it is the same but now dressed as a U.S. Senator handmaiden. I don't know what the dark underbelly of drug use is, nor do I know the whole story of how addictions form (other than cigarettes, of which I was once an expert). Yet, after a career that led me to meet many a scoundrel (some of whom sold drugs) and many a politician (politics is an incubator for scoundrels), I can honestly say I can't tell the behavioral difference between a drug dealer and any of our four Utah congressmen, the leadership of the Utah House and Senate, and one of our U.S. Senators. Only Sen. Mitt Romney passes my non-scoundrel smell test.

If they hadn't died young, I could have traded a couple of drug dealers I've known for Rep. Chris Stewart or Sen. Mike Lee, and I guarantee you that Utah would be the better for it. Conversely, Lee and Stewart wouldn't last five seconds on the street. On the street, if a dealer or schmuck tries to pass off a bag of bad drugs, there's a price to pay, often fatal. In Congress, persons like Lee and Stewart pass off bags of bad information and partisan policy all day long without consequence. They actually get rewarded for being a schmuck. One of the schmucky things they do is dance with Big Pharma while not having to deal with the downstream outcome of bad drug policy, other than to offer thoughts and prayers to families of those who die from illicit drug overdoses. Try that in South Beach. Scarface wouldn't stand for it.

The above COVID-19 drug companies deserve all the credit for creating vaccines that have allowed most Americans to relax and nearly feel normal again. But, give it time. In a few years, the COVID-19 shot will be akin to that of insulin—priced up and out to ridiculous levels. As with diabetes, those who wish to avoid COVID-19 will be pressed with the choice of living and not living. Who wouldn't take a shot that might extend one's life, and what is the price tag of that? That's when you'll see our senators and representatives start to back-scratch each other to make sure they say the right things in public forums ("We are in this together!"—yech), but who will also accept the handouts from Big Pharma that insure they loyally allow the American drug cartel to operate unabated.

As they say, it's always politics, it's just politics. If so, I wish people would actually take politics more seriously than just taking the side come hell or high water of the person they voted for. The COVID-19 vaccine is a clear example of that. Most Americans who have gotten vaccinated and who also were decent enough to wear masks and social distance this past year associate as Biden Democrats. The majority of Americans who believe COVID-19 is a hoax, who scorned masks (and who accidentally socially distanced because no one liked them anyway) and who now refuse the vaccine identify as Trump Republicans. That's just dumb since the disease is an equal-opportunity killer.

Can you imagine what a future historian will write about this? They could open with this: "What caused the great decline of the American dream? It began when Americans quit dreaming, when they began following the craven gods they swore they never would. The dream ended when millions of Americans refused to take a lifesaving vaccine because their president at that time called it a hoax and mocked the scientists who warned him. Millions died and suffered, ever more millions still became enemies of their own brothers and sisters. They did this even though the man who told him it was a hoax secretly took the vaccination himself. Big Pharma smiled. He was the ultimate conman, and his followers were the ultimate fools."

Send comments to john@cityweekly.net.

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About The Author

John Saltas

John Saltas

Bio:
John Saltas is a lamb eating, Bingham Canyon native, City Weekly feller who'd rather be in Greece.

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