Saturday, April 28, 2007

Every Now and Then...

There is good news. I ran across this article the other day and was hopeful. The Thai government has taken on Big Pharma and may be winning. From BBC News:

The Thai government's decision to bypass the patents on two Aids drugs and one heart drug, so it can offer them to all Thai citizens, is a bold move, which has put the country on a collision course with the big pharmaceutical firms.

Affordable ARVs are now available to tens of thousands of Thais - in fact many do not pay anything at all for them, as they are provided by the government's universal healthcare scheme or by HIV/Aids organisations.

This is possible because of Thailand's decision to make cheap, generic copies of ARVs at a fraction of the cost of the branded drugs.

That is fantastic. Healthcare should be seen as a right not as a privilege only the rich can afford. The big Pharmaceutical companies make a huge profit playing games with the lives of people all over the world that cannot afford the overpriced medications. For years the companies have found and exploited loop holes to keep from letting their expired patents onto the market, therefore disallowing cheaper generics to be made. Now, they are at the other end of a legal loophole and they are whining like babies.

Suddenly Thailand, long seen as a loyal trading partner of the US, has seen its image transformed into that of a violator of intellectual property rights.

Its decision has been condemned by the pharmaceutical industry, but applauded by non-governmental organisations campaigning for wider access to affordable medicines.

Actually what Thailand has done is completely legal under international trade regulations.

Way to go Thailand. Also, I think that we here in the states should be ashamed that a little country like Thailand has universal healthcare and we don't. As the only industrialized country that doesn't have universal healthcare of some type or another, America is falling behind other countries in regards to the health and well being of it's citizens. We are no longer number one in any aspect of health care. It really is sad that we have been tricked by the wealthy business class and politicians of this country to give up our health so that they can continue to receive tax breaks and rake in windfall profits every quarter. Meanwhile, it is becoming harder and harder for the average person to even afford insurance and if they can, they can't afford the medications. Good health should be a right.

Embrace the Cat Blogging

Re: Fred's Cat Blog Post

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Another go

Sorry for the frequent disappearances. I feel like an absentee landlord. I can make excuses all day long about why I have been gone, like these: a death in the family, along with my sister visiting for two weeks, followed by nearly two weeks of sickness, but that would only be part of the reason. I could have written something at some point in there, but I didn't. I come here to the blog and stare at it at least twice a day if not more. However, I am always unable to start typing. I usually get frustrated and put it off for another day. I have lost my mojo.

I have been trying for a while to get back into the swing of things but have found it difficult. It seems that since the Democrats took back Congress a lot of people have fallen asleep and I find it frustrating. I have also been doing some depressing reading lately. For example, this from Gore Vidal:

By 1800 there were two political parties, each controlled by a faction of the regnant oligarchy. Today, despite close to two centuries of insurrections and foreign wars, of depressions and the usurpations by this or that branch of powers not accorded, there are still two political parties, each controlled by a faction of the regnant oligarchy. The fact that the country is so much larger than it was makes for an appearance of variety. But the substance of the two-party system or non-system is unchanged. Those with large amounts of property control the parties which control the state which takes through taxes the people's money and gives a certain amount of it back in order to keep docile the populace while reserving a sizable part of tax revenue for the oligarchy's use in the form of "purchases" for the defense department, which is the unnumbered, as it were, bank account of the rulers. (Gore Vidal, The Second American Revolution and Other Essays (1976-1982) pp. 266-267)

It seems that nothing has changed. The essays in this book were written before I was even born, but you can apply most of it to the political environment today. Thirty years later and we have the same complaints, the same problems and nothing has been done to rectify any of them (instead, more problems have been added). Is there any way to fundamentally change what our government has evolved into? Is it even possible? How?

Don't get me wrong, I am not a person that sits back and says, "there's no difference in the parties, so I am not going to vote or get involved because there is no point, blah, blah, blah". I know that this kind of thinking is partly why we are in this mess in the first place. While I am an absentee landlord of this blog most of the time, most of the citizens of this country are absentee landlords of their country (though they are perfectly capable of voting for the next American Idol).

I am going to try to write more often. I may not be analyzing the newest scandals that have come out of the political world very often, but I will be political. Everything these days is political. I am just hoping to go a little deeper than the most recent headlines. I will end this with an excerpt from the Tao Teh Ching:

If I had even the tiniest grain of insight,
I should live in accordance with
the subtle way of the universe;
my only fear would be to stray from it.
The Integral Way of the universe
is very smooth and straight,
yet people's minds prefer devious bypaths.

The courts are polished and decorated.
while the fields are untilled,
and the granaries are empty.
People wear fine clothes
to adorn their external appearance.
They carry sharp swords at their sides
and worship might rather than righteousness.
They know only to make merry
by indulging in food and drink.
They crave to possess more riches
than they could ever use.

This is the committing of robbery
and is not the Universal Integral Way of natural life.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Shameless Product Placement

Borrelli olives are the best olives in the world.

Unless they give you botulism. Then they aren't so great. I long for the days when the biggest problem with our food was rumors of needles in clear Pepsi and arsenic in our Tylenol, the days when we could trust that at least our produce was safe. Learn to grow your own food. It's fulfilling and tasty, and no horrible diseases. And in your own garden, you don't have to take any risky shortcuts by placing profit margins over the safety of your family.

One of the old philosophical questions has been answered by the modern corporation. What is the value of a human life?

Apparently, not much.

On an unrelated note, I'm reading some stuff by Lao Tzu and a book on Vietnam, so hopefully I will be able to provide some deeper insights into how an enlightened man who is in touch with the universal subtlety would never have gotten involved in a land war in Asia. More on that later.