Monday, September 15, 2008
Do Not Bother The Candidates On This One
Oil dropped to under $96 a barrel this morning (96.60 at the moment) even though the local gas stations have gasoline at $3.98 due to the shutting of the refineries due to tropical storm Ike. The price will come down again, but you can see how fast gasoline can move. The next shock could be in heating costs this winter. This is not why my blood pressure is through the roof today.
It's cancer. I loathe cancer. I loathe cancer with a passion.
In 1976, Dr. Paul Bloom wrote an article in the Journal of Marketing posing the speculative question, "What if technology can't care cancer?" He got a host of criticism, not the least of which was that he was blowing smoke up everyone's rear to get a publishing 'hit' in a refereed journal. Since I knew him, and taught in the same business school with him, and had him as a professor during my doctoral program. What he was really doing was assaulting one of the American Sacred Cows, that our technology, our research could solve any problem. How many times have we heard the argument on the TV that, "we put men on the moon, didn't we?" meaning we answered Kennedy's awesome challenge.
In terms of science, putting a man on the moon was a very well-defined problem. Solving the problems of the inner cities are not well defined problems. Please notice that we have not solved them. In retrospect, solving cancer seems ill-defined also. Sure, there are some cancers that are curable, such as prostate cancer, if you catch them early enough.
What should I tell people with pancreatic cancer? Cancer of the spine, which killed my grandmother and uncle? Ovarian cancer, another insidious killer? I haven't even mentioned any other diseases that I loathe with a passion, like Alzheimer's, which I watched destroy my wife's aunt. We were her personal representative. Or diabetes, which I have, and if you live long enough, you will too.
Back in the '60's, Congress bought into a policy of letting the drug companies develop miracle drugs to help 'cure' us because the cost of staying in a hospital was so expensive. It seemed to work, and the insurance companies made money. Periodically drugs run into little glitches where they kill people. Thalidomide, vioxx, to name a few. Lately, some of the promising drugs for diabetes, namely Bayeta; and for Alzheimers, a nameless drug, seemed to be working, except they killed a few people. So the scientists went back to the genetics drawing board to look for a less lethal approach. But now, the scientists want us to know, through the Pharmaceutical Companys who have lawyers who can solemnly say it with class, style and grace, every time you take any drug, you are taking a risk. That includes aspirin, just so you know. At least aspirin seems to work, but it can eat your stomach out. I'll bet you already knew that, didn't you. Please, read drug labels.
It's now 2008. The county wants to raise the property tax rates, again, because so many people have asked for reassessments because of falling property values. And, the county, in its infinite wisdom wants to give the teachers another pay raise, even though the kid's test results, as an aggregate, are dropping. And only a mere 100% of my county property taxes go to the school system, even though I have no children. At the very same time, ads are running on TV explaining to me that our schools are so far behind the rest of the world in math, science and engineering, and that our kids are being left behind. The county is a mastermind at investing in education and its infrastructure evidently. I couldn't get any luckier.
I used to argue with my friend Eddie (PhD in statistics from Wharton in his 20's, the mutha) as to letting kids use a calculator in class to do exams. Particularly when it came to showing they understood logarithmic functions. Go into a Mall today and I dare you to find a kid today who can do arithmetic on a calculator without pictures on it. The concept of a logarithm must be explained in terms of "Predator" or no one will listen. It is not that I have despair. I would be doing well. It is that this is what I see when I hear mothers arguing with me that her child will be the one to cure cancer, and my tax dollars will put him over the top. Potash Corp. and Agrium could use this woman, not that I have become cynical, but I have heard this story so many times before. Where is the damn cure already?
This is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I'm Aware. I want action. And, I want it now. I have friends with cancer, and I can't wait.
P.S. Open Grove Claudia knows more about taking care of yourself, eating healthy, and living right than any four people. Check her out.