(NaturalNews) As a strong proponent of free market economics, I have long wondered why free markets don’t seem to be operating in the health care industry. Today, it finally hit me with great clarity, and I’ll share that with you here. But first, a primer on free market economics:
As the free market theory says, “greed is good” because innovators can only get rich by figuring out how to deliver more goods, services and life improvements to consumers who purchase those items. The genius who figures out how to build a better car— or a less expensive car of the same quality — earns the business of consumers and is financially rewarded as a result. Greed drives innovation, the theory goes, and innovation benefits consumers even as it fills the pockets of corporate CEOs, too.
This model works under one critical assumption, and it turns out that assumption is not true in health care today (for reasons you’ll see below). Which assumption is it? That consumers will rationally purchase only those things that are in their own self interest (things that benefit them) and, equally importantly, that consumers have access to the information they need to make an informed decision.
So, for example, if a solar panel manufacturer figures out a way to make a new line of solar panels with twice the current efficiency at the same cost as current solar panels, consumers will rationally choose to purchase those solar panels and will experience a benefit as a result (but only if they have access to accurate information about the improved performance of those solar panels). The CEO who runs the company that figured out how to make the new, improved solar panels will also reap the financial rewards at the same time.
This is called free market theory in a nutshell.
How it all fell apart in health care
But all this falls apart when corporations are selling products that harm consumers under an irrational system protected by government intervention. Many pharmaceuticals, vaccines and treatment services (such as chemotherapy) actually harm consumers far more than they help them. Knowing this, no rational consumer would choose to purchase such products. So the health care system must engage in some rather devious marketing distortions to cajole people into buying their faulty products:
#1) People are TRICKED into thinking they need these products that harm them. This is accomplished through disease mongering (pushing fabricated diseases such as ADHD), emotional advertising and bribing physicians in order to influence their drug prescribing behavior.
#2) People are LIED TO about the risks of using such products. Drug companies, in particular, routinely lie to consumers by burying negative clinical trials, bribing researchers to produce positive study results, exaggerating claimed benefits in television advertisements and other similar methods.
#3) People are ISOLATED from information they need to know in order to make a rational decision about conventional medicine’s products. They are not allowed to know the truth about the dangers of drugs as revealed in clinical trials, for example. The FDA even conspires with drug companies to hide this relevant data.
#4) People are FORCED into a monopolistic choice by the government outlawing alternative choices such as natural cancer remedies or certain nutritional supplements. Once again, the FDA plays a key role in discrediting natural alternatives. The health insurance industry also enforces this monopolistic approach by covering conventional sick-care therapies (such as heart bypass surgery) while not covering natural therapies that help prevent degenerative disease.
#5) People are KEPT IGNORANT of the actual costs of health care through Medicare, Medicaid and health insurance coverage. Consumers have no idea what they’re being billed for most medical procedures because they’re not footing the bill! So hospitals, clinics and cancer centers bill whatever amount they can get away with.
Why this recipe works for the sick care industry
Of course, it’s not really a free market to begin with. This market is a protected, monopolistic market that’s propped up through government regulatory action designed to eliminate competition. It only exists under the illusion of a free market, where consumers think they’re making a “free choice” about what drugs to take, not knowing they have another option to avoid taking those drugs altogether and do something completely different to protect their health.
Government intervention harms consumers
One conclusion from all this is that when the government gets involved in protecting one particular industry while allowing “greed” to run its course inside that protected industry, the result quickly becomes harmful to consumers even while corporate CEOs (in Big Pharma) accumulate wealth. We see this in Wall Street as much as we do in health care… notice how the trillion-dollar bailouts all went to the wealthiest money criminals even while debasing the currency held by the working masses?
On the Big Pharma side of things, rather than creating better and more innovative products, these companies are in the business of marketing disease first, followed by introducing a chemical pill designed to treat that disease. This is precisely the story behind restless legs syndrome, for example, or the recent push to use drugs to control your uric acid levels.
When governments interfere with free market economics, they inevitably create an unfair playing field that favors one group of companies over another, and that favoritism will always result in financial exploitation that inevitably harms consumers.
The best way out of this would be to deregulate all health care and end the monopoly on medicine currently granted to Big Pharma (and even doctors at the state level). By allowing all providers of health services and health products to compete on a level playing field, without government favoritism, selection orcensorship, consumers would quickly learn which products or services work best to protect their health, and they would rapidly shift their purchasing behavior in that direction.
This would cause a windfall of profits in the realm of natural health and alternative medicine, by the way, even while sharply reducing the profits of Big Pharma and the sick-care industry (because it produces virtually no positive results). In fact, this is precisely why the government is not pursuing a free-market approach to health care right now: Because to allow consumers a truly free choice about how to treat their own health would spell the end of some of the wealthiest corporations in the world — the drug companies whose very existence depends on ignorance, deception and scientific fraud.
Conventional medicine must force consumers to use it!
This is why the FDA continues to censor the truth about nutritional supplements, by the way. It’s the reason why Medicare won’t cover Traditional Chinese Medicine or homeopathy treatments. This is why the AMA has waged a 100-year war on the chiropractic industry. Conventional medicine works so poorly and is such a total failure in terms of its results that it has to force consumers to use it. Sometimes at gunpoint! (With the forced chemotherapy treatment of teens, for example.)
No other system of medicine in the world is such a total failure that a government has to force its own citizens to use it through a campaign of disinformation, monopolistic controls and active censorship of alternatives.
Today, Americans think they live in a free country. But most do not realize their entire health care system is structured in direct opposition to free markets and free choice. The sick-care industry can’t afford for you to have a free choice, because to do so would destroy their entire business model.
Opting out of sickness and into health
You can, of course, opt out of the entire system as I have done. I spend exactly $0 on health insurance, doctor visits and health care. With all the money I save by not writing checks to a system of failed quack medicine, I instead buy superfoods, nutritional supplements, gym memberships and organic fresh produce that I juice and drink every day. This level of personal health commitment combined with true freedom of choice terrifies both the government and the sick care industry which is precisely why Obamacare mandated that all Americans must buy sick-care insurance or be fined by the IRS.
Think about it: If conventional health care really worked, would they have to send IRS agents after people to force them to buy into it? This is “gunpoint health care” where you get to choose any system of medicine you want as long as it’s the one the IRS says you have to choose. Sounds a bit like Communist China, doesn’t it?
What we really need is a truly free market for health care products and services. …a level playing field where natural remedies can be honestly marketed with accurate health claims and where healers of all kinds can engage in healing services without being arrested or threatened with imprisonment. State medical licensing boards, in particular, should be completely dissolved. They are the monopolistic power hubs that enforce conventional medicine monopolies at the state level while criminalize alternative cancer doctors.
A truly free market in health care would revolutionize health in America while ending the dark age of Big Pharma dominance over the entire industry. One day soon, let us hope we may have an opportunity to invoke truly free market economics that will unleash a new era of freedom and healthy living while giving the natural side of medicine its well-deserved opportunity to compete against the failed system of conventional sick care.
In a fair competition, 4 out of 5 consumers would choose natural medicine over conventional medicine. That is precisely why they cannot allow such a freedom of choice to exist.
The Power by Rhonda Byrne
Rhonda Byrne, author of The Secret and now The Power, is close to people who are close to my husband, so I had the good fortune to meet her. She was lovely, with the contained grace that I associate with people who live from a strong sense of purpose.
Of late I’ve been thinking about karmic entanglement. Maybe it’s because 2008 is drawing to a close; maybe it’s because Ketu, the moon’s south node & the keeper of the book of the past, is transiting the ruler of my chart. The past, and my past actions, are much in my consciousness.
I think it comes down to mutual forgiveness. Meaning, forgive the other person, and forgive yourself. Send forgiveness to neutralize the acid of interaction that’s fraught with hurt, longing, anger, pain, or even with the alkalinity of love and kindness. Peaceful forgiveness, so that the interaction returns to a clear state without the varnish of meaning, without the binding of a bond, any bond. Transparency. Liberation.
As a believer in reincarnation, I have a sense of the occlusive stickiness of the wheel of birth and rebirth, and how action and reaction, cause and effect, desire and fulfillment play out, over and over again. I wish to stop riding this wheel like a caged rodent. I think a lot about how to get off the ride. It’s also scary. What will happen to my precious individuality when I merge with all that is?
But the first step is to release. May all conscious beings be released from their suffering.
I support gay marriage.
It doesn’t matter whether the bodies of the betrothed couple are both male, both female, or one of each. We’re going to discard the bodies anyway, after 80 years or so. And what is left is the journey: gay, straight, or bi, people have an inalienable right to the dignity of a journey that includes marriage.
Any two consenting adults over the age of 18 should be allowed to marry. Moreover, they should be congratulated and supported on this momentous undertaking. Marriage is unfathomably hard. It’s painful in too many ways to articulate. You have to live it to really grok the exquisite mental, emotional, and relational agony that is marriage. Two people committing to it need all the help they can get from their community. They are co-creating a fundamental unit of society, and should be bolstered and praised for that effort.
I suppose some people object to what is perceived as an overly promiscuous lifestyle that can be part of the gay community. I never liked that either–if it was true. But I don’t like excessive promiscuity in straight people, either. There’s a point where healthy sexual exploration becomes soul-numbing, heart-deadening–that’s not good for anyone, whether straight or gay.
But gay people who want to get married are acting, it would seem, to settle down into a life of open-hearted, soul-united monogamy. So how could a promiscuous gay lifestyle be used as an excuse to oppose gay marriage? I just don’t understand.
Are people really that concerned about which body part goes where? Why should it matter?
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Regarding the business of independent publishing: A few months ago, I received a polite email from Professor John Maxwell of Simon Fraser University. Some of his students had come to him. Between the covers of the text he had ordered for his graduate class on publishing, The Content Machine by Michael Bhaskar, was the novel Broken by Traci L. Slatton, in its entirety. He attached a picture to show me, see below.
Here was an opportunity to spread the word about Parvati Press in general and about my novels in particular, I thought. “Are your students interested in the novel? Would you like more copies?” I asked. I am always looking for opportunities to promote the Press.
He accepted with alacrity. Ten copies shipped out to him at SFU.
Sometime later, during an email exchange, he invited me to guest lecture to his class via Skype. I accepted. It was a good experience; his students were bright, polite, inquisitive, and thoughtful. I enjoyed talking to them but finished with a feeling of frustration: there was so much else to say about independent publishing.
Much of it I’ve learned the hard way, too.
It has been an intense journey since the day I decided to expand the Press and take on other authors. I’ve learned some tough lessons. My first time out of the box, I took on a writer who turned out to be certifiably insane. Not, like, a little kookie, but off-her-rockers lunatic demented. I’ve blogged about that elsewhere, including a Huffington Post article about How to Handle eMail Harassment.
The next three writers weren’t crazy, but I still made a big mistake in trusting one of them.
After the debacle with the first writer, I realized I needed a solid contract for dealing with potential Parvati Press authors. I hired an attorney who had helped me on other matters. She wasn’t a publishing attorney, and the contract put off the other writers.
That was my responsibility, I knew. So I went out and found a real publishing attorney, I mean, the guy in publishing law, to create a contract that was clear, simple, fair, and had precedents in publishing. He did a great job.
He also yelled at me about the deal I was giving the writers. He explained that I could not sustain the Press with that deal. He was right, but I felt that I had given my word to the writers, so those first few would still receive the deal I had originally offered them. He called me crazy. But I was going to keep my word.
One writer refused to do a revision that his manuscript urgently required. Line for line, his prose was polished and perfect. Unfortunately, it was a good story badly told. His novel was boring. He had to revise it to bring it to life. He didn’t want to do the work required because he’s had a storied career as an author. But production values matter to me, so I declined to send him a contract.
A second writer saw immediately that I was being scrupulously honorable. She signed the contract and sent it back immediately.
Ah, but the third guy. He had been hemming and hawing, wringing his hands, and dragging his feet about signing a contract from the day I sent him one. Days and weeks would go by. He was always about to talk to his attorney, who was so busy…. When I sent him the second contract, he said, “I’ll sign it right away, I’ll tell my lawyer that I want to get this done unless there’s something major wrong with it.”
As the months went by, with all the foot-dragging and hand-wringing and excuses, I was working on this writer’s manuscript. I stupidly invested a great deal of my own time, thought, and energy into his manuscript. Now, it had a germ of a good idea, and the writer showed flashes of serious, big talent throughout. But it was no where near publishable. It was going to require sustained heavy lifting to get it to the point where the manuscript was professional and polished.
Also, it was tricky to deal with the writer because of the arrogance involved. Taking editorial criticism is a skill that requires learning for most of us.
I paid for the Parvati Press editor to do a thorough manuscript critique. It was still going to be at least three more revisions before the manuscript was ready to be published, two that I could do and one more from the professional editor. Note that this editorial critique is the work product of Parvati Press.
Despite my honorable behavior, there was only continued hand-wringing and hawing and excuses about the second contract.
I woke up.
I realized–finally!–that this writer had no intention of signing a contract with me. One tip-off was when he asked why there was now no “out” in the new contract so he could go to a bigger publisher if one made an offer.
It broke over me that this writer was out to get free editing for his manuscript so he could shop it around to other publishers.
I conferred with several experienced business people close to me. One woman with her own PR company told me that it happens all the time. Clients come to her, get her ideas, and then don’t sign a contract and pay her. They go off and use her ideas either by themselves or with another PR firm.
Essentially, they rip her off, the same way that this writer planned to rip off Parvati Press.
Another businessman said to me, dryly, “Welcome to the business world.”
Another friend said, “These are the early business mistakes.”
My publishing attorney said, “Never work on a project without a signed contract.”
I emailed back to him, “I’m learning.”
This is just writer relations, a tiny slice of the whole juicy pie. There is so much else to independent publishing, especially the way I do it: with integrity. The book has to be high quality in terms of content, and it has to look good, too. It has to be copyedited, proofread, professionally laid out with an appealing, professionally designed book cover, and given an ISBN and accurate categories…And all that is BEFORE the hard work of marketing a book so it stands out from the crowd: so that readers will know about the book and buy it.
Marketing is a big challenge. It deserves its own post, so I’ll pause here. Meantime, here’s Professor Maxwell’s post about finding BROKEN in his textbook, called, cleverly, “My Content Machine is Broken.”
Maxwell is a good writer himself. His post is worth reading, though his characterization of my novel BROKEN is condescending and pejorative. I emailed him to let him know this:
I would like to put out there (please indulge me) that BROKEN is more than a paranormal romance. It is based on a serious philosophical question with which I wrestle every day: How could a good God allow such pain and suffering?In this vein, FOREWORD REVIEWS, which is the Library Journal for independent publishing, is reviewing BROKEN for its forthcoming Sci Fi issue, and wrote, “This is a gorgeous philosophical treaty on right and wrong….”
To his credit, Maxwell agreed with me. He has yet to correct his post to reflect the respect my novel deserves. And this is part of independent publishing, too: Making sure that independently published books are valued and respected.