I Sort of Understand

I often decry the lack of sanity in society and especially in politics, but in a way, I do sort of understand.

I sort of understand why people are so reluctant to trust “Big Pharma” when it comes to anything health-related. Big Pharma has been systematically alienating the American public with widely publicized scandals such as the exorbitant prices for insulin and other drugs that actually cost pennies to manufacture. (Of course, the manufacturing is the least of it. The real costs come from years of R&D, testing, regulation, and getting approvals. Those costs, along with advertising, are passed along to consumers. But I digress.)

Nor are drug prices the only missteps that make Big Pharma seem so untrustworthy. Think of all the drugs that have been recalled because of the side effects, all the way from diet wonder-combo Fen-Phen to whatever the latest faulty blood pressure drug is. Count the number of ads you see on TV for lawyers offering you big settlements for drugs and medical devices that proved to be hazardous. Then ask yourself, how did all these hazards get so far in the approval process?

The problem is that with COVID-19, the medical establishment is all we have. The cure or the vaccine will inevitably come from Big Pharma, be tested by the FDA, and be sold for whatever price recoups the costs to develop it, which will not be small. (That’s if we get a vaccine at all. Forty years into the AIDS crisis and still no vaccine for that.) And the anti-vaxxers and others will refuse to take the vaccine anyway, thus diminishing the possibility of herd immunity.

And I almost understand why people no longer trust the political system. There have been scandals through the ages in America, including Nixon’s Watergate, the oldest scandal that people are likely to remember. It doesn’t even really matter the politician’s name, office, or party. There have been so many screw-ups, dirty tricks, smear campaigns, and outright lies from all sides that by now no one trusts anyone who runs for office, much less anyone who gets elected. (This is not to say that there are no differences among the various players, just that no one group holds the answer to Ultimate Truth.)

The problem we have is that the system we have is the system we have. It’s the old problem of trying to turn a battleship in a harbor. Most people think that our political systems need changing, but such systems are unwieldy and hard to change – and agreeing on what those changes ought to be is becoming further and further from possible.

So I can see why Big Pharma and the government are held in such low repute these days. Unfortunately, there is no one else who can help us out of our latest crises. Pharmaceutical companies will have to solve the mysteries of COVID-19, and the government (at some level) will have to develop a policy (or, as it seems more likely, various policies) for dealing with the crisis.

What I don’t understand are the assorted conspiracy theories that are popping up like unholy dandelions – QAnon, the deep state, the New World Order, etc. Even if he could do it, why would Bill Gates want to microchip everybody? I can’t imagine that he’s the least interested in where I am and what I’m doing – or if he were, he’d be very, very bored.  (Regular vaccination needles can’t be used to microchip anyway, but never mind that. We have a supervillain to contend with.)

I myself would be annoyed by a totally cashless society, especially considering the lovely furniture I just bought from a guy who takes only cash, and the fact that I need quarters to do my laundry. But I just don’t see how no cash equals the Number of the Beast or the Antichrist or whatever. And if you’re worried about Big Brother knowing every time you purchase toilet paper, think about all the info that’s already out there about you, starting with your social security number, driver’s license, and cell phone. Yes, it’s creepy that department stores notice that you’ve bought a home pregnancy test and start sending you ads for diapers, but that’s a long, long way from a One World Government. The United Nations can’t even get along for long enough to decide on much. Who actually thinks they could pull off a coup on every nation on earth?

What’s the bottom line? We’re going to have to trust Big Pharma and the government regulators until a solution is found for COVID. Then we need to put some safeguards in place so that unsafe drugs that cost a fortune don’t get rammed through the approval process. We’re going to have to vote for the choices of candidates put before us until we grow so tired of political gridlock that we actually make some changes and hold our officials accountable for what they do in office and afterward. That will involve massive political and social action and, frankly, a leader I don’t see on the horizon as of yet.

But I think we’ve all watched too many Jerry Bruckheimer movies and read too many Tom Clancy novels. The kinds of conspiracies people fear are simply not possible – not practical, not doable. From the McMartin Preschool scandal to the Jade Helm exercises, there is no way to hide such an involved and byzantine conspiracy. It’s impossible to plot something that big with no leaks or slip-ups or turncoats.

So, let’s settle down and do what we can do to solve the problems that we might be able to solve. Right now the two biggest problems that I can see are COVID and the mess in Washington. Let’s concentrate on those and see if we can’t at least do something to alleviate them, even if the ultimate cures continue to elude us. Then we can move on to something really important, like whether pizza restaurants with no basements can run child sex rings from their basements.

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