A couple weeks ago, scanning the police reports, I came across one that didn’t make the final cut. It didn’t really have much of a local angle. A doctor at one of the local hospitals had his prescription pad stolen, and there had been a number of attempts to pass phony scripts since, most of them deep in the inner city, where my guess is pharmacists see this every day.
The report detailed what drugs the perps had tried to get. Most were obvious abuse candidates — the opiate pain meds so popular with Hollywood starlets and the like. But I was struck by the rest of the list, which included cholesterol regulators, asthma meds and even folic acid — iron pills. A day or two later, I came across a story in my news-farming about the difficulty of administering AIDS drugs in desperately poor countries (and neighborhoods, for that matter). Patients who are feeling well find it too tempting to sell their meds on the black market. A full bottle can bring hundreds of dollars on the street — an enormous amount for people living in poverty, especially in Africa, or even New York.
Just connecting dots casually, I wonder if the people trying to pass the fraudulent scripts aren’t trying to get high so much as get by. When your kid is wheezing, an albuterol inhaler is probably worth more than all the Lindsay Lohan fruit salad in the world. Ghetto economies are as complex, in their way, as more aboveboard systems.
Of course, poor people, especially poor children, have other options to get their drugs legally. Maybe you can get high with albuterol. Maybe I’m just talking out my ass here. It has happened before.
Alex once told me about a drag queen of his acquaintance who could wad up a cocktail dress into a mass smaller than a softball and practically palm the thing, all while seeming to look through another rack of dresses. Me, I’ve never been able to steal more than a ballpoint pen from my office without breaking out in hives. Born middle class, and I’ll stay there the rest of my life.
So. I saw this thing yesterday while dropping in and out of Weingarten’s chat. It’s about the upcoming nuptials of Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston, and it’s not nice, and she loses me entirely when she gets into the religion part, but then, the column is called “The Spirited Atheist,” after all. In some ways, the anger Susan Jacoby exhibits here reminds me of that period between Labor Day and Election Day, 2008, in which the world met $.P. for the first time, and a large chunk of the population was left scratching our heads and asking, what the–? And then we got angry, and stayed angry, and have only sublimated it, barely, since. Jacoby:
Although the children of politicians are generally off-limits, Bristol is an exception for two reasons. First, she has made herself into a public figure not only by sharing her personal life with the world but by her loopy performance as a spokesperson against teen pregnancy. (I wonder how it promotes the message that teen pregnancy is a bad idea when a young woman is financially rewarded and glamorized by the media precisely because she was a pregnant teen lucky enough to be the daughter of a famous mom.) Second, Bristol was used by her mother as an asset to placate the religious right-wing base of the Republican Party during the 2008 campaign. She was a living demonstration of Sarah Palin’s opposition to abortion: Look at my teenage daughter, she made a mistake and did the right thing by having the baby. The only more shameless aspect of Sarah’s campaign was her constant exhibition of her Down Syndrome son. Look at me, I didn’t have an abortion like those terrible elitist women who make fun of me for not reading books.
… Sarah Palin pushed her pregnant 17-year-old daughter on stage, displayed her next to her boyfriend, and fed the fantasies of every deluded teenage girl in America by suggesting that the two were “engaged.” Now, since Levi left the Alaskan oil flelds to make an easier living by posing for Playgirl, Sarah has apparently had second thoughts about the high school dropout as her daughter’s knight-in-shining armor. You can be sure of one thing: if Sarah should become the Republican nominee: She’ll have cleaned up the Bristol-Levi-baby trio into something more suitable for middle-class consumption. Because the truth is that Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston are most middle-class American parents’ worst nightmare, but they are a nightmare that arises directly from the daily dream world propagated by politicians like Sarah Palin and her supporters.
Whenever I hear liberal-to-centrist pundits saying that even if Sarah gets the Republican nomination, she will only ensure Obama’s re-election, I shudder. That this representative of pure ignorance, retrograde religion, and class envy is being taken seriously at all speaks volumes about the dumbing down of America. The Bristol-Levi story, promoted by dumbed-down media, is what you get when you put Sarah Palin’s values into action. Will Americans refudiate this stupidity, or will they, in 2012, show that no ignorance is too ignorant if it is cloaked in reflexive anti-elitism and dubious family values? That is a question the pundits should be taking seriously.
I don’t recommend reading the comments on that piece. It’s a beautiful day, and you don’t want to consider sticking your head in the oven just yet.
But since we’ve set a theme here, some angry bloggage. From a posting Jolene made in yesterday’s comments, Ta-Nehesi Coates isn’t interested in having a conversation on race, because you can’t have a conversation with people who won’t listen.
And Thomas Frank has some issues with Newt Gingrich. But don’t we all?
Finally, the good news out of the Gulf of Mexico is balanced by bad news out of …Kalamazoo? An oil spill in Kalamazoo, Michigan? You better believe it. And a very very bad one.
Me, I’m off to spill some color on my gray roots. Have a swell one, all.