Sorry for scarcity.

My week usually starts at a gallop and slows to a trot, but this was pretty much a good brisk canter Monday through Friday. Last night was a Thing, a dinner, and early this morning was another Thing, and now it’s the almost-weekend, and you guys need, if nothing else, a fresh comment thread.

The debate over the health-care bill is still going on, although it appears pretty much dead in the House. Some Republicans think it punishes too many people, and a significant number think it doesn’t punish enough. Now that’s what I call a winning coalition, but hey — whatever works.

And things are not likely to get any better from here on out.

I interviewed this author on another matter, but in the course of poking around his website for a photo I found this piece, about the launch and almost immediate failure of Melania Trump’s skincare line. Of course I was entranced when I realized the story included the Hilberts, the Indianapolis version of the Trumps, if Melania had been an exotic dancer at Eric or Don Jr.’s bachelor party.

So that’s worth a read. A good weekend to all, guys. I have yet more work to do.

Posted at 3:45 pm in Current events | 26 Comments
 

The end of the rope.

I am having a moment of ass-chapping here, in that my ass is feeling rather chapped. Why? Because Princess Ivanka is moving into the West Wing, and I’m cocking my head and holding my hand to my ear to hear the screams of protest from conservatives, and whaddaya know? Nothing. None of the people who howled when Hillary Clinton was occasionally stopping into the Oval for a reason other than to ask the POTUS’ opinion on upholstery swatches are saying a word today.

Many of these same people were all over the media at the time, similarly up in arms at the idea that a mother who wasn’t an actual welfare recipient might want to work for a living. “Cut out those manicures and pantyhose, and you won’t need a second job,” they’d say. “Kids love macaroni and cheese.” Admittedly, the 2008 crash crushed the idea that any person who puts a career on hold isn’t risking a terrible financial setback down the road, or that a one-income family can just float along forever as though they haven’t gotten rid of their safety net, and that more or less crushed the mommy wars, but I’m still pissed. If there’s one person who should feel completely secure in delegating a career to an underling and going home to raise one’s three small children, it ought to be the rich daughter of a rich man, whose husband is also rich and whose fashion empire is basically just Chinese crap and not exactly haute couture.

And now one is going to the White House, but hey, freedom. And it’s 25 years later. We’ve evolved.

I shouldn’t hold a grudge, but I do.

And I can’t even with these people anymore.

David Ignatius on a reality we can only hope to see:

The House Intelligence Committee hearing Monday marked the end of the opening installment of “The President,” the must-watch reality/horror show that has transfixed the nation and the world. Now the plot gets more serious, perhaps darker, with some new characters likely to emerge in key national-security roles.

President Trump should be less of a stage hog going forward, and his Twitter storms less intense. He is often described as a narcissist, but he’s not suicidal. He knows he has been rebuffed in a public hearing that he can’t ridicule as “fake news.” With his approval rating below 40 percent, he needs to broaden his base. Trump wants to disrupt, but he also wants to succeed.

John Hinckley is out of prison, but don’t read anything into the juxtaposition. I just thought it was interesting. Hardly any mental patients get serious inpatient care anymore.

Happy Wednesday, then.

Posted at 9:01 pm in Current events | 81 Comments
 

Stuff happens, some of it big.

What do you call a day with three hours of meetings? (With an extra hour for management, plus driving, plus some of another meeting?) Long, that’s what. So here I am at the keys, thinking: I’m not into this.

On the other hand, so much news today. The big news! More news: Right-wing Barbie suspended for thinking independently. And then, of course, the SCOTUS hearing process began.

Isn’t that enough to discuss for 24 hours? I hope so, because I don’t have much more.

Posted at 8:56 pm in Current events | 45 Comments
 

Two empty chairs.

Two notable deaths this weekend, neither of them tragedies — Chuck Berry and Jimmy Breslin. Of each, I can only say that they were appreciated at this end. I saw approximately one million tweets that mentioned he could play a guitar just like ringing a bell, but for my money, I’m partial to “Nadine.” Not his biggest hits or quite the rave-up, but it has some wonderful rhymes in the lyrics. (I’m a writer, I notice the lyrics.) My two faves:

I saw her from the corner when she turned and doubled back
And started walking toward a coffee colored Cadillac
I was pushing through the crowd to get to where she’s at
And I was campaign shouting like a southern diplomat

and

She move around like a wayward summer breeze,
Go, driver, go go on, catch her for me please
Moving through the traffic like a mounted cavalier
Leaning out the taxi window trying to make her hear

“Campaign shouting like a southern diplomat” — that’s a phrase we should hear more often.

And then there’s “Brown Eyed Handsome Man,” can’t forget this one:

Milo Venus was a beautiful lass
She had the world in the palm of her hand
But she lost both her arms in a wrestling match
To get brown eyed handsome man

That made me laugh on many a bike ride when it came up on the iPod.

Berry was 90. Breslin was 88. Deaths at this age, after long and fruitful careers, aren’t tragedies. The tragedy is the decline in the newspaper business that makes it impossible for another Jimmy Breslin to emerge from its wreckage. Yes, there are wonderful new writers that we never would have found without the internet, but a moment of silence for what we’ve lost. Like this:

Here is how, in one of the columns that won the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, he focused on a single man, David Camacho, to humanize the AIDS epidemic, which was widely misunderstood at the time:

“He had two good weeks in July and then the fever returned and he was back in the hospital for half of last August. He got out again and returned to Eighth Street. The date this time doesn’t count. By now, he measured nothing around him. Week, month, day, night, summer heat, fall chill, the color of the sky, the sound of the street, clothes, music, lights, wealth dwindled in meaning.”

That’s a good obit I linked to, up there. Dan Barry. Can’t go wrong with him, either.

Sorry I’m just noodling around here. Long weekend, good weekend. Finished “The Underground Railroad,” finally. Schvitzed. Hit the Eastern Market for the first time in weeks, where I saw this:

I think it’s a writing center. But not a bad motto. Since we’re talking about writers today.

Happy week ahead, all.

Posted at 9:26 pm in Current events | 43 Comments
 

The tape is broken.

I have to make little sticky notes about this stuff and get it out of the way right up front, so: Sherri, send me your email address, so I can share it with Basset, who wants to know something about your transportation package.

Also, MichaelG? Send up a flare. We’re worried about you.

And now it is Friday, or nearly Friday. Another insane week on the national scene, in which the president unveiled a budget that would make him a literal granny-starver. Of course it won’t go through like that, but here’s what we are in for, for the next four years.

Forcing rictus-like smile here.

At least we’re not one of these people:

In interviews, nearly a dozen White House aides and federal agency staffers described a litany of suspicions: that rival factions in the administration are trying to embarrass them, that civil servants opposed to President Donald Trump are trying to undermine him, and even that a “deep state” of career military and intelligence officials is out to destroy them.

Aides are going to great lengths to protect themselves. They’re turning off work-issued smartphones and putting them in drawers when they arrive home from work out of fear that they could be used to eavesdrop. They’re staying mum in meetings out of concern that their comments could be leaked to the press by foes.

Many are using encrypted apps that automatically delete messages once they’ve been read, or are leaving their personal cellphones at home in case their bosses initiate phone checks of the sort that press secretary Sean Spicer deployed last month to try to identify leakers on his team.

Imagine working like this, day after day. Would it be worth it, because you were in the Oval? Or would it be the sort of soul-sucking hellishness that makes you lie in bed at night and stare at the ceiling with laser-beam eyes?

And here, of course, is another terrible story about our world today, heroin division:

West Virginia officials estimate 150,000 residents — 8 percent of its population — needed substance abuse treatment in 2016. Just a fifth received help from treatment providers belonging to the state’s top behavioral health association. And only 156 detox beds were available across the entire state.

“There are not enough resources available,” said Kim Miller, director of corporate development at the Prestera Center, West Virginia’s largest behavioral health service provider. “There’s a workforce shortage. If we could pay people better, we could have a more robust workforce — more docs, more psychiatrists, more counselors — and more treatment.”

Went big for Trump, who wants to cut drug treatment from health insurance.

I don’t want to leave you with bummer stuff, but it’s almost the weekend, and hey! Happy St. Patrick’s Day. The Irish are a wonderful race. Enjoy it.

Posted at 9:34 pm in Current events | 66 Comments
 

One last story.

I’ve been pretty productive this week, by my recent, diminished standards, so I’m going to leave you with one link, of a piece with the other stuff from this week. It’s about what happened to a town I drove through approximately a million times on my way to and from college — Lancaster, Ohio.

Private equity ruined its major employer, Anchor Hocking:

There were other glass companies in Lancaster, drawn there by cheap natural gas. But following a 1937 merger with the New York-based Anchor Cap and Closure, The Hockin’, now Anchor Hocking, grew into the world’s largest manufacturer of glass tableware and the second-largest maker of glass containers such as beer bottles and peanut-butter jars. It even played a role in the invention of late-night TV, in 1950, by sponsoring the pioneering NBC show Broadway Open House. Anchor Hocking became Lancaster’s largest employer by far, the rare Fortune 500 company based in a small town. At its peak, it employed roughly 5,000 people there, including executives in the headquarters, and many more in plants around the country.

But then came the 1980s. Since the start of the Reagan administration, Anchor Hocking has undergone a series of staggering transformations as a result of the financial manipulation that has come to define the American economy in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Carl Icahn bought up shares and demanded a board seat and other changes, then agreed to leave the company alone after being allowed to sell back his ownership stake at a premium—a practice commonly referred to as “greenmailing.” Then, Anchor Hocking was purchased in a leveraged hostile takeover by Newell Corporation. After Newell’s own near-disastrous merger with Rubbermaid, Anchor Hocking was sold off in a debt-financed buyout to the huge private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management. The company promptly fell into bankruptcy, out of which it was sold in another debt-financed buyout to a much smaller private-equity firm called Monomoy Capital Partners. There was a forced marriage with the silverware company Oneida, then an initial public offering after which the stock soon tanked. In quick succession came a shutdown, a notice (in accordance with the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act) that the place might close for good, a second bankruptcy during which the former creditors became the equity owners, and countless leadership rotations. During the past 15 years, it’s had three different corporate owners. In January the company’s name was changed from EveryWare Global to The Oneida Group.

This is one reason I couldn’t get behind the Mitt-Romney-is-a-good-man line. Imagine making your living like this, buying and selling “assets” for profit, with actual human being shaking out with every deal. What do you tell yourself at 2 a.m. when you’re staring at the ceiling? They’ll retrain and land on their feet, or maybe their knees, from which they will rise, eventually. I remember Lancaster even earlier than my college years; a friend and I used to pester her mom to drive us down on Saturdays, to a horse livery in the hills. On the way home, we’d stop at the glassworks and pick through the scrap piles for interesting pieces to take home. It was a real place, in the Hocking Hills. There was a there there.

And, of course, there is collateral damage:

“Stability has been replaced by chaos,” Shannon Monnat, a sociologist and demographer at Penn State University who researches the interplay between economics and health, says of such situations. The longer the stress lasts, whether it involves family, community, or work, the more disheartened people become and the more faith they lose in the system, until, finally, they disconnect to survive.

Monnat has recently been studying “diseases of despair”—the plague of opioid addiction, alcoholism, and suicide afflicting places like Lancaster. She’s found that instability at work is strongly correlated with the prevalence of these problems as well as with social and family breakdown. Drug abuse is not solely due to the cheap availability of heroin or meth, nor some imagined weakness of the working class. Monnat believes it’s also caused by people’s loss of faith that they each occupy an important place in the American system.

I believe that, too, but no one asked me. And now we have someone in charge who thinks even less of these folks than the private-equity firms that batted the company around like a bored cat with a mouse.

I need to perk up. Maybe I should hit my new marijuana stash! (Same story I posted yesterday, but hit it up if you didn’t already.)

Or maybe I’ll just go to bed. G’night all.

Posted at 9:20 pm in Current events | 70 Comments
 

Trouble out there.

So, if yesterday’s talker was from West Virginia, this one comes from Ohio. I see Sherri, who apparently reads the entire internet every morning before I’ve had my first cup of coffee, referenced it obliquely yesterday.

I can’t keep up with you, Sherri, but I have a one-degree-of-separation connection to this one. Here’s the top:

BLANCHESTER, Ohio — A life of farming taught Roger Winemiller plenty about harsh twists of fate: hailstorms and drought, ragweed infestations and jittery crop prices. He hadn’t bargained on heroin.

Then, in March 2016, Mr. Winemiller’s daughter, Heather Himes, 31, died of an opioid overdose at the family farmhouse, inside a first-floor bathroom overlooking fields of corn and soybeans. Mr. Winemiller was the one who unlocked the bathroom door and found her slumped over, a syringe by her side.

Nine months later, Mr. Winemiller’s older son, Eugene, 37, who once drove trucks and tractors on the family’s 3,400-acre farm, overdosed at his mother’s home. Family members and medics had been able to revive him after earlier overdoses. Not this one.

This native Buckeye had to look up Blanchester on a map. Turns out it’s not far from Mt. Orab, where my best friend Deb grew up. I sent her the story, but she’d already heard about it via her connections there, and of course, this is not a new story in Ohio; her sister’s best friend lost her youngest son to a fatal OD not long ago. The wrinkle on this particular story is that this farmer’s last surviving child is also a heroin addict and while he says he wants to stay clean and take over the family farm someday, he’s only been clean for a couple of months. His father now carries a naloxone dose with him at all times.

So that’s the angle: Heroin in the farm belt, and its implications for the next generation of farmers. I wish I were kidding.

I’ve seen urban poverty and rural poverty, and both are terrible, but there’s something about the rural variety, perhaps because we’ve all been coached to believe the country is where the bedrock virtues are nurtured most tenderly — hard work, faith, family. Of course, these farmers aren’t poor, but it won’t be long now if their kids are sticking needles in their arms.

You know there’s a punchline in all of this, right?

The elder Mr. Winemiller, who was among the 68 percent of voters in the county who supported Donald J. Trump for president, was rankled by scenes of political protest on the news. He saw only disorder and lawlessness.

“There are too many people who are too wrapped up in their lives. All they want to do is go out, bitch and complain,” he said. “My view on Donald Trump, he’s what this country needed years ago: someone that’s hard-core.”

He likes the toughness. After his son and daughter died, he began meeting with sheriffs and politicians at forums dedicated to the opioid crisis, urging harsher penalties, such as manslaughter charges for people who sell fatal hits of opioids.

Mr. Winemiller, with all due respect and sympathy for what you’ve been through, manslaughter charges aren’t going to help. What pulls people into drugs, from both the supply and demand ends, is no respecter of get-tough policies.

Deb’s family was by no means well-off, and staying put in southwest Ohio would have been the easiest thing in the world. Inertia always is. But she enrolled in a little Catholic two-year college, founded by the Ursulines and open to anyone with a high-school diploma or GED. From there, she was able to transfer to Ohio U. and finish with the most transformative credential available in this country — a bachelor’s degree. Her boyfriend went to Berea, a Christian college in Kentucky that charges no tuition and is founded and run strictly for low-income students.

Some people have to be farmers, because we need farmers. But I am tired of this Wendell Berry-worshiping, Rod Dreher claptrap about the saintly virtues of small-town life. Of course it’s nice to live on a street called Main or Elm or Oak, surrounded by people who are all nice and friendly and exactly like you, but there’s also a reason heroin is a growth industry in these places. “Get Out” would be a nice title for a movie about them.

Which brings me to the other story of the day, about a string of break-ins in the neighborhood where we used to have a lake cottage, in Branch County. One of the girls arrested used to play with Kate when we went up there on weekends. She was a bit of a pistol then, and the rumors about her pilfering from boats and other easily accessible places started not long after they spent a summer or two hanging in the summer sun, next to the sparkling lake. Still. I looked up both girls on Facebook, and they’re both pregnant, apparently by the two young men they were arrested with, both of whom have priors. It’s like they’re born under a bad sign, before they even get their neck tattoos.

This is one reason red and blue America keeps pulling apart. Where would you rather look for a job? Columbus or Blanchester? Grand Rapids or Coldwater? Where are the essential virtues more likely to be found? Where can a family have the modicum of stability that comes with a steady paycheck, the better life for one’s children that can only be gained through education?

Tell me again how getting tough is going to solve everything. These are, as they say, “diseases of despair.”

Sorry for being such a downer.

Just a reminder, too: The AHCA won’t cover drug treatment. Get tough!

Speaking of drugs! And not to end on a total bummer note, here’s what I’ve been working on lately — Nance gets her medical marijuana card, and goes looking for her medicine. In Bridge. Click and learn.

Posted at 7:34 am in Current events | 29 Comments
 

They’re down, they’re out, what’s next?

I guess the big talker in the WashPost today had to be this story, another deep dive into the murky pond of Trump’s America. The tl;dr: Seventy-four percent of McDowell County, W.Va. voted for Trump. About that same number needs the various benefits of the Affordable Care Act just to make it to their next birthday. What is the disconnect? Well, it’s pretty cavernous:

Another patient comes in: Carolyn Hodges, 68, who tells Keisha that she’s been feeling dizzy. Carolyn has Medicare, the public health insurance for the elderly. Medicare doesn’t cover all health-care costs, which is why Carolyn is as worried about the price of her medications as the fact that she’s been bumping into walls.

The last time she went to pick up her husband Roger’s insulin, Carolyn tells Keisha, the pharmacist said it would be more than $600, instead of the $100 or so they usually pay. That was when she learned Roger was in the Medicare prescription “donut hole,” which means that the cost of his medications had exceeded his limit for the year, and he would be forced to pay far more for prescriptions until the year ended and the tab started over. One initiative of the ACA has been to close that hole incrementally, but Carolyn, unaware of that, sees the bills piling up and thinks she knows who must be to blame.

“Thank you, Obama!” Carolyn says, throwing her arms in the air.

A week does not go by that I don’t read a story like this, or yet another tweetstorm from some poverty tourist with a laptop and a Medium page, telling the world how rough things are in Trump country, and how much they’re a-gonna suffer, etc. etc. And I’m getting tired of them. They knew precisely what they voted for, and now they’re getting it. How much sympathy are the rest of us required to have for someone like this?

Heartburn is just the latest problem for Clyde, a patient Keisha sees every three months. Like so many in this corner of Appalachia, he used to have a highly paid job at a coal mine. Company insurance covered all of his medical needs. Then he lost the job and ended up here, holding a cane and suffering not only from heartburn but diabetes, arthritis, diverticulitis, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Because of the ACA, Clyde’s visit is covered by Medicaid. Before the law, most West Virginians without children or disabilities could not qualify for Medicaid, no matter how poor they were. The ACA — better known here as Obamacare — expanded the program to cover more people, such as Clyde, who can depend on Keisha to fix his heartburn without having to worry about the cost.

As for the other problems in his life, he has put his hopes in Trump, who came to West Virginia saying he would bring back coal and put miners back to work. When Trump mentioned repealing Obamacare, Clyde wasn’t sure what that might mean for his Medicaid. But if he had a job that provided health insurance, he reasoned, he wouldn’t need Medicaid anyway, so he voted for Trump, along with 74 percent of McDowell County.

Love that word choice: “he reasoned.” He “reasoned” that a blowhard said he could command a river to reverse its course, and then his raft would no longer be drifting toward that waterfall. Good to know.

Clyde! Listen up! The reason you lost your job is, coal is over. Natural gas, produced in abundance through fracking, ran coal off the road. Lots of environmentalists worked hard against fracking, too, but I expect you thought of them as limp-wristed hippies and special snowflakes and all the rest of it.

I take a few deep breaths when I read stuff like this. I am empathetic, really I am. I understand what it means to be ignorant, and stuck in a shithole, and grasping for straws. I blame a lot of people for how things are turning out, including the cable-news executives who shoveled free airtime at Trump like Clyde shoveled coal down in the mine. But my patience is wearing thin.

I don’t think I’m alone, either. David Fahrenthold, a WashPost reporter, posted this story on his Twitter twice, asking people just to try to understand. The replies were pretty brutal. People do understand. They’re just not feeling nice about it.

How was y’all’s weekend? This was mine:

Yes, Patti Smith’s 40th-anniversary “Horses” tour. My young friend Dustin (who took the picture) got a plus-one for his review ticket. Not bad at all. I go back and forth on Patti; at her best she’s a truly interesting art-rock artist — sorry, I reject that she’s ever been “punk” — and at her worst, just a big bunch of pretension. But she’s aged into an interesting senior citizenship (she’s 70), and maybe I’ve mellowed. It was a very nice show, complete with that new wrinkle in rock shows, at least by the Olds: Bringing one’s kids out as part of the backing band.

After that we swung by the Old Miami to hear some friend of Dustin’s spin, as they say. Equally enjoyable, as she was working a fun mashup of ’90s hip-hop and newer stuff. Biggie’s “Hypnotize” never gets old, does it?

The last thing Patti did was slice the strings of her guitar, one by one, and throw them into the crowd. Don’t think Biggie ever did that, though.

I’ll leave you with a shot of Wendy in a pensive pose…

…as we start the week, pensively.

Posted at 6:37 pm in Current events, Detroit life | 59 Comments
 

Some snaps.

The American Health Care Act isn’t even seven days old. If they’d done their homework, it could be seven years old by now, more or less, but let’s not quibble. Not when it appears to be a dumpster fire, and the best Paul Ryan can say about it? Insurance can’t work if the young and healthy have to subsidize the old and sick.

I’ve actually heard others say the same thing. If you live long enough, you’ll hear people say all sorts of stupid things, but that one takes at least a big slice of the cake. Over the years, I’ve spent thousands in insurance premiums, protecting houses that never caught fire or flooded, cars that left my ownership with no more dents than they arrived with, etc. As Charles Pierce points out, that is the literal definition of insurance.

Oh, well. It’s nearly the weekend. How’s about some pictures?

Look who I saw in my back yard on Sunday:

He was back today, although I didn’t get a picture. This makes me think he might be roosting somewhere in the neighborhood, which makes me happy, even though my vet once told me not to be. They crow at first light, and not the cock-a-doodle-doo crowing of roosters, but sort of a harsh, hacking sound. So be it. Pheasants. They’re beautiful birds, and cool to have around. My own little wild chicken.

(Please, no cracks about the state of the yard. Alan doesn’t believe in the traditional, Grosse Pointe “fall cleanup,” in which every single leaf is bagged and toted away the first week of December. He thinks old leaves should lay on the flower beds. So far, the spring bloom hasn’t contradicted him. So it’s an ugly yard for us in the cold months.)

A gift from Basset, found in some old files:

Of course it was the Day Of, because the N-S was an afternoon paper, and in those days, there would have been plenty of time — and reason — to rip up Page One for such catastrophic news. I’m more struck that no other story above the fold was local. Back when your evening paper carried the news from everywhere, dammit.

Finally, a sign I see from time to time at the end of an exit ramp:

Not just any cans and pails, but metal ones. And plastic ones. Sold by the Canbys. In a bold, sans-serif font, too. None of this IniTech-type bullshit. I miss businesses like this. I should stop in and buy one of each.

This is it for me for the week. A good weekend to all.

Posted at 5:36 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 88 Comments
 

To your health.

Tuesdays are usually work-at-home days for me, and Monday night I had an exceptional sleep. (They usually follow terrible ones, which Sunday’s was.) Woke up, worked out, felt strong, came home, breakfasted, showered, dressed and worked all day in lipstick. Didn’t eat any junk food, either. To say rest and fuel have an effect on one’s mood is hardly deep-dive science, but man is it ever true.

The older I get, the less I drink. The less I drink, the better I feel. Goddamnit.

But now we’ve established a theme for the day: One’s good health. And with that…

This is an abstract for an academic paper, and I haven’t read beyond it, but I found it interesting, as I did some reporting on telemedicine a couple years ago (helped by our own Dexter, who was receiving weight loss and nutrition counseling via telemedicine at the time). Here’s the gist of the paper:

The use of direct-to-consumer telehealth, in which a patient has access to a physician via telephone or videoconferencing, is growing rapidly. A key attraction of this type of telehealth for health plans and employers is the potential savings involved in replacing physician office and emergency department visits with less expensive virtual visits. However, increased convenience may tap into unmet demand for health care, and new utilization may increase overall health care spending. …We estimated that 12 percent of direct-to-consumer telehealth visits replaced visits to other providers, and 88 percent represented new utilization. …Direct-to-consumer telehealth may increase access by making care more convenient for certain patients, but it may also increase utilization and health care spending.

This is disappointing. I like telemedicine for a number of reasons — it can allow people who live far from excellent doctors and hospitals to enjoy some of their benefits; it can facilitate one-on-one coaching like that enjoyed by Dexter; it makes sense as an efficiency measure at a time when, as we’re told more or less constantly, we all have to find ways to save. And yet, as this study shows, it doesn’t save. Because people need to see doctors, a lot. The more you see doctors, the more doctors you see.

And we’re going to fix this with health savings accounts! Also, tax credits!

Meanwhile, I’m sure this guy is headed for a bright future in politics:

A long-running battle to establish a database to monitor for prescription drug abuse in Missouri — the only state without one — is about to hit a boiling point.

On one side is Republican state Senator Rob Schaaf, who once said that when people die of overdoses that “just removes them from the gene pool.”

This was something else I did some reporting on this year — prescription drug monitoring programs, or PDMPs. They’re computer databases, with monitors in every doctor’s office and pharmacy, that allows staff to check the prescribing history of individuals seeking opiates. Makes sense, when doctor-shopping is a prime driver of the opiate crisis, don’t you think? Every single state, except for Missouri, has one. Most of the Missouri legislature wants to establish one. One guy doesn’t. So far he’s managed to block every attempt to enact one. His latest gambit is to set up a PDMP-like system, but one that wouldn’t talk to other states’. And why does he feel this way, despite the charming gene-pool comment?

“They don’t work. And it’s an infringement upon people’s privacy,” Schaaf said in an October 2016 interview with local television station KSHB. “Most people don’t want the government to have that information and have it on a database in which many people can get it.”

They don’t work, said the one guy in the one state that doesn’t have a PDMP. This reminds me of a story I did a few years ago, about a bill to allow health-care workers to opt out of private employers’ policies requiring vaccines. The sponsor wasn’t interested in considering what might happen when a nurse in a pediatrician’s office opts out of a flu shot; he was interested in the idea that a person could be required to do anything.

No matter how cynical I get, I can’t keep up.

Maybe I should go yell at a TV for a while, and see who’s listening.

Happy hump day, all.

Posted at 8:47 pm in Current events | 61 Comments