Curtain Raiser

Profiteering From Misery, Colltalers

‘Breaking: Hurricane LeBron’s 200 mph winds drove the Atlantic to completely submerge long decaying Palm Beach, Fl, Mar-a-Lago Golf Club, once owed by ex-President Trump, who refused to comment. He’s serving a 5-year reduced term at N.Y. Rikers.’
‘Members of the once billionaire family, the Sacklers, start their prison sentences today, after being found guilty of profiting from the U.S.’s deadliest drug crisis: overdoses from the family-owned, Purdue Pharma-produced, OxyContin, an addictive painkiller.’
Sorry to interrupt almost a decade of fact-based discussion on this space, to sneak in a piece of karmic wishful thinking. Not that neither of the fictitious scenarios laid above could ever happen, if justice was to be served. But realistically, neither is likely to.
Those two opening graphs, though, touch some of the most crucial issues of our age, and to present them as fiction may ease the blunt of facing the nightmare they suggest: unbound government corruption, dead of democracy, and impeding global catastrophe.
The investigation into the president’s possible collusion, conspiring with a foreign power in exchange for personal business favors, has affected, when not already sentenced, virtually every one of his inner circle. Except him, who’s still unscathed and in control of the narrative, while even those not yet indicted may be destroying, or saving, self-incriminating records, as we speak, just in case.
By declaring a non-existent, probably unconstitutional, state of national emergency, Trump took another step towards full tyranny mode: ‘my wall or I’ll start a war,’ have been his terms all along. It’s up to adults left in Washington to challenge this act of power grab, hoping as well that the Supreme Court spares us from witnessing it issuing a shamefully-bias ruling on presidential powers.
Trump will have his way, though. Helped by Republicans – a small group of astonishingly rich and amoral

‘democracy slaying’ enablers, fine with standing on the shadow of a would-be dictator -, he’ll keep inflicting misery on immigrants and asylum seekers.
Racism and immigration foes, however, predate Trump, even as he may claim ownership of it. And so does the lack of smart rules regulating manufacturers of high-demanded prescription drugs, their record profits, and unscrupulous marketing strategies. But it’s no wonder that the president hasn’t shown interest on the many black and brown people being shot and killed daily in the U.S., or empathy to the record number of victims of prescription drug addiction. Neither would get him re-elected. Thus, the Sacklers.
The transatlantic dynasty is under scrutiny over the source of much of its wealth: a painkiller first launched in 1996 to treat severe pain, only. But papers filed in court argue that it’s been pushed by members of the feuding clan to become a doctor’s first choice – under spurious backdoor deals – driving up prices and sales, and, we know now, killing more Americans than any other drug.
Just a while ago, the Sacklers were known only as major patrons of the arts, and many a world class museum has named a wing after Raymond and Mortimer, the two psychiatrist brothers who founded Purdue Pharma. Both are now diseased, as is Arthur, another brother, uninvolved with OxyContin affair. It’s their numerous descendants who’re being called to accountability in the tragic crisis.
Also important for the record: the drug is just part of the larger, systemic failure of the American medical establishment to deal with pain, addiction, and mental health. Even as many overdoses come from the patient resorting to street heroine, unable to afford or fulfill insurance constrains, it’s the painkiller what first hooks the afflicted, opening the gates to despair and much heavier stuff.
Back at those rosy projections of the beginning. Despite their heavy-handed, and misplaced, optimism, they underline recurrent truths: from now on, for instance, Trump is liable for any climate change-triggered ‘natural’ disaster, due to his criminal inaction, and support to and from industries that are destroying the planet, that is, for choosing his own interests over those of mankind.
And after Martin Shkreli, the ‘pharma bro,’ was found guilty of raising the price of a life-saving drug used by millions, so to boost his fortune and company’s value, it was hard to picture a worst offender coming out of the medical-pharmaceutic industry complex.
Instead of breakthrough cures, however, labs often rather trade on patents, and give us all another bitter pill to swallow. Meet the Sacklers, the family accused of profiting while thousands of Americans died, and a taste to remain unnoticed. Well, no longer.
But neither scenario is likely to come to fruition any time soon. Nor should anyone dictate their own life, conduct and struggle, by whether justice is ever fully realized. What happens to Trump, or the Slackers, is not what counts; getting them out of the way is.
In the end, the Shkrelis, the Trumps, and the Sacklers do win often, or for at least some time, but not always. They’ll beat the rap, because as one of the Characters, in Aristotle’s pupil Theophrastus’s 320 BCE work, a ‘shameless man is the sort who, after short-changing someone, goes back to ask him for a loan.’ If not them, others just like them will try to make a buck out of others’ misery.
80 years ago this Wednesday, the German-American Bund filled NYC’s Madison Square Garden, for a Nazi rally. Eerie pictures and footage of the event, full of antisemitic and pro-white supremacy speeches, are coming back to the national conscience, not just to haunt us, but as a reminder: how ease America now, circa 2019, could go back to 1939. Be vigilant but never violent. Cheers WC

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