Health & Medical Political

How to Positively Change Your World

Talk about your David vs. Goliath!

Just today I learned that the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) spent $8.5 million lobbying Congress and the FDA in the first half of this year as it worked against a House-passed bill (HR 2427) that would allow the reimportation of lower-cost U.S.-made prescription drugs,

And that doesn’t include campaign contributions.

On these legal bribes, Eli Lilly spent $2.9 million, Bristol-Myers Squibb spent $2.6 million, Johnson & Johnson spent $2.2 million, Hoffmann-La Roche spent $2 million and Pfizer spent $1.8 million. According to the Web site Political Money Line, the drug industry has spent $29 million overall in lobbying so far this year, more than any other industry.

Readers ask the basic question of US democracy today: How do we fight that?

How can we do battle with a bought-and-paid-for Congress essentially committing the biggest Medicare fraud of all time – at our expense?

Listen up, folks! Our very lives are at stake. If we are to have affordable drugs, we must act.

Remember Granny D., “You’re never too old to raise a little hell”? This indomitable nonagenarian patriot asserts, “Democracy is not something we have, but something we do. But right now, we cannot do it because we cannot speak. We are shouted down by the bullhorns of big money. It is money with no manners for democracy, and it must be escorted from the room.”

Here are a few suggestions to make that possible. As US democracy is now critically ill, these suggestions will hopefully aid readers in the inevitable future melees to save our country from those who wish to dominate us with dough.

Everyday People Making a Difference

Protest is the first step toward change.

Your first step in protest is to write or call your senators and representative. In this particular case, also call Sen. Bill Frist, Rep. Tom DeLay and the other leaders whose PhARMA-filled coffers block affordable drugs from Canada. Congress’ toll-free number is (877) 331-2000.

(We saw how quickly Congress can move when, overnight, they changed the “Do Not Call” law. Voter’s calls can move mountains, even in Washington.)

What to say? Speak your mind. Straight talk unmasks political cynicism every time. Remember, these folks don’t have a clue. Their drugs are paid for. By you.

Call AARP CEO Bill Novelli, too, at (800) 869-3150. Tell him to actually exercise that “Power to Make it Better” AARP keeps bragging about. With 35 million members, AARP could improve our lives significantly by speaking for us instead of making money off us.)

Next step: Organize. Invite like-minded friends to your home. With just two or three, you’re ready to start something. As word spreads, more will join.

Next election, reader Jim Watson and his friends plan to stand outside every polling place in their congressional district with signs saying, “Rep. Sessions is AGAINST affordable drugs for seniors!”

Another reader, Tom O’Brien, suggests this sign: “STOP DRUG INSURANCE FOR CONGRESS!” Republicans Tom and his wife, Phyllis, now protest by e-mailing over 200 friends and organizations with copies of their letters to Congress.

Other easy ways to protest are flyers, pamphlets, letters to newspapers, petitions, letter-writing and phone-in campaigns, boycotts, demonstrations, picket lines, and sit-ins. Guides are found at Protest.Net.

Need inspiration? Read Soul of a Citizen: Living With Conviction in a Cynical Time (St. Martin’s Griffin, 1999), in which Paul Loeb features stories of activist individuals and communities and their heroic efforts to bring a little more justice into the world.

Here’s a little secret. Courage is the elixir of youth. Want to feel happy, young again? Take risks. I know, it’s out of style, but be courageous. It just feels good.

If you’ve read this far and don’t think these problems relate to you, they certainly affect those less fortunate. Helping others is an American tradition. The Golden Rule admonishes us to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” An underlying tenet of Christianity is that “You are your Brother’s keeper.”

As Granny D. says, “When you fully dedicate yourself to a good mission, the floodgates of heaven open up for you. If you can make a creative cracking in the crust of the world’s deadly abstractions, the divine will rush up, bringing great bounty with it.”

Listen to your Granny. Then, just do it!

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