Day: April 6, 2011

Pharma Monies and Disease Mongering

  Are you someone whose child is struggling to perform everyday tasks due to lack of motivation, low impulse and just plain laziness? Have you ever wondered why? What if there was a drug for laziness or low impulse? I am pretty sure a lot of you might even consider getting a prescription for it. Well, even though there is no drug for laziness, if and when this new drug ever gains medical legitimacy, it will have lots of buyers. Welcome to the modern epidemic of disease mongering. It's a phenomenon that is amplifying our natural desires to apply medical solutions to every anomaly, ache, dysfunction or concern that comes our way, even if the underlying quandary has nothing to do with our body chemistry. The overlap between business and medical ethics through disease mongering represent a moral minefield and is attracting increasing attention. Everyday aspects of ordinary life, such as menopause and migraines, are portrayed as serious illnesses. Informal partnership of pharmaceutical corporations, public relations companies, doctors' groups and patient advocates promote these ideas to the public, often using media to push a mild problem as a serious health crisis. This trend, while still growing, shows that disease mongering is a powerful method being used nowadays to exploit people’s concern about imperfection in them and their faith in scientific advancements. The pharmaceutical industry's practice of using commercials to...

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To Truly Fix U.S. Education, Start Outside the Classroom

  Frustrated by rising costs and stagnant achievement levels on standardized tests, American politicians and media-savvy education reformers have over the past several years pushed for a complete overhaul of this country’s public school system. The ways their frustration has been vented – from demonizing teacher unions to implementing punitive policies that look to evaluate teachers’ competency solely through student test scores – have operated under one main assumption: Something is deeply flawed with the way we educate our children. What is so troubling about this framework is that it completely ignores the totality of experience and other factors that can influence a child’s educational development. To be clear, schooling does have an important role to play, but children are influenced by life outside the classroom as well. Texas public school students are only required to spend 180 days – just over half the year – in the classroom. Why should public schools take 100 percent of the blame, when they can only educate and influence kids 50 percent of the year? What sort of impact does that other 50 percent have? One of the most troubling trends that are making that other 50 percent even more important to look at is the growing income inequality in the U.S. This push toward the extremes of income levels has real consequences. For example, according to Slate magazine’s recent investigation of...

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Targeting the Truly Vulnerable

  When we think of the places that are threatened by climate change, we think of tiny islands on the edge of pulling an Atlantis, coastlines where homes fall into the ocean when the shore erodes or the water levels rise, or the Sahara encroaching on land never meant to be part of a desert. Assessing vulnerability goes so far beyond those few extreme examples, however, and can be quite a complicated process. An area's vulnerability to climate change does, of course, depend in large part on its susceptibility to climate-related disasters. Is the area on a coast or next to a desert? Is it lowland? Has it been historically prone to floods, droughts, hurricanes and the like? If so, these areas are likely to be vulnerable to the new risks created by continued climate change, as we would expect. However, to determine whether an area is truly vulnerable and deserving of focus from governments and foreign aid programs, there are a number of other factors that can be considered. Different development agencies and governments use different combinations of these factors to decide where to target their programs for the greatest impact. In a publication last year, the Robert S. Strauss Center's Climate Change and African Political Stability project created acomprehensive definition of vulnerability using four sets of indicators. The first set focused on "physical exposure to climate-related disasters," the part of...

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