Transcript: 'Profits over Humanity' rant, 09 June 2008
The great wounding of America. Do we trust government or corporations? Health insurance profits. The rise in prescription drugs. Biotech companies patenting life. The government lying us into a war. At what point do we say 'profits over humanity' is not something we're willing to put up with anymore?
Thom Hartmann's 'Profits over Humanity' Rant, 09 June 2008
There has been a huge wounding in this country and sexism and racism are very much alive. And let's take it to the larger picture. To the extent that whites or blacks or men and women may be fighting over the crumbs, essentially, as Charles Dickens would have portrayed it, of an economy that that serves by and large the very, very wealthy and powerful, who by and large are white males in the United States. But even setting aside the racial or sexual aspects of it, or gender aspects of it, what is, at what point are we as Americans willing to stand up and say, "no, we're not going to allow the landed gentry, were not going to allow the super wealthy, we're not going to allow the small number of very powerful corporations and a few thousand families, and make no mistake about it, there's only, there's not even 200,000 families in the United States who are making over ten million dollars a year in income. There, we're just talking about a very small minority of people who are bringing in vast amounts of wealth or who have vast amounts of wealth. And at what point do we say 'profits over humanity', not something we're willing to put up with anymore?
You know, one of the reasons why, David Sirota talks about this in his book The Uprising. One of the reasons why I think this is going to be a really significant election, I was on this panel at Talkers this weekend. Every single person, the last question Alan Colmes asked us all, and I was sitting there with Monica Crowley and Lionel and Lars Larson, a bunch other people. And the last question that Allen Colmes asked was, "who's gonna win the election?" And everybody on the panel except me said John McCain.
And I said I think it's going to be Barack Obama and let me tell you why: because in the thirties, in the 1930 election, the majority of people when they were asked 'do you trust government or do you trust big corporations' because ultimately that's what it boils down to; people say "well you should you have the", John McCain's health care program, right? "You should have the right to choose your health care program". In other words, it's between you and a big corporation as opposed to, for example, Barack Obama's program, who, he says "well yeah, you should be able to choose your provider and the government will pay the bill". It's between you and the government.
Now I'll tell you, if William McGuire who had retired last year with his 1.78 billion dollar compensation package over the last ten years, the head of the second largest health insurance company in the United States, the company that provides most of the health insurance through AARP which is basically an insurance company these days. If I was upset with the quality of the service that I was getting from Bill McGuire's company and I tried to call him, and I called him every single day and said, "listen I've got..." and started sending him letters and stood out in front of his office with a sign saying, you know, "Bill McGuire's company's ripping me off", they would throw my butt in jail. That's called criminal harassment. That's trespass. It's private property, you can't do that.
But if we had a national health care system in this country and I felt like I wasn't being dealt with appropriately, that I wasn't getting the care I needed, that my children weren't getting the care they needed, and I went down to my member of Congress's office and stood out front with a sign, I am constitutionally protected in doing that by the First Amendment. If I call them every single day, if I sent letters every day, it's all part of my first amendment rights. So what are we gonna do, trust government or trust the corporations? At what point is profit versus humanity the big deal?
For example, drugs. Let me just, this really concerns me. Back, you know, most of you who have been listening to this program for years and years know that I've written seven out of the nineteen books I have in print right now, and four Project Censored Award winners, New York Times best seller, of the nineteen books that I have in print, seven of them are about psychiatry, psychology or Attention Deficit Disorder or education. And I used to speak at a lot of conferences on ADHD and I always thought it was interesting as the bottom of the food chain in that industry, I was rostered by the state of Vermont as a psychotherapist, one step up from that is the psychologists who get certified and one step up from that is the psychiatrists who are licensed.
And if I spoke, and speaking at these conferences, and a number of my friends, I've developed good friendships over the years with a number of people who are psychiatrists and psychologists and in the field, the ADD field. And they would tell me how, "oh, yeah, I'm getting 5,000 bucks for this speech or I'm getting 10,000 bucks for this speech" or, you know, I'd give speeches in Europe and they'd talk about how they were flown in first class by the drug companies and I always was just picked up my own, picked it up on my own nickel or else my publisher paid for it or we would do events where we charged ten bucks a head and we'd try to raise enough money for me to show up.
And the name Joe Biederman kept coming up all the time. He did a lot of research that supported the idea that we should giving in particular Ritalin to our kids. Today's Must Read story by Andrew Tilghman. And I've met Joe Biederman and I always thought he was a decent guy. Oh, I still assume he's a decent guy but he was like, that was the name; everybody in the ADD industry knew that name. And I was out there saying, "well, you know, these kids are just, you know, they are hunters in a farmers' world. They think in a way that doesn't necessarily work well in our public school. But if you modified the schools they could be brilliant; they could do very, very well and in fact I've seen that in my own life, in my own family and many, many of the kids and people.
In any case, "The system", Andrew Tilghman writing in Talking Points Memo today, TPM Muckraker, "The system designed to keep corporate cash from secretly slipping into the hands of doctors who do highly influential medical research isn't working ...
well... A front-page story in Sunday's New York Times reports that a Congressional probe...
some top child psychiatrists earning more than $1 million in ...
undisclosed consulting fees from drug firms." And then they added, this "has helped fuel an explosion in the use of powerful antipsychotic medicines in children. Doctor Joseph Biederman is one of the most influential researchers", this from the New York Times, "is one of the most influential researchers in child psychiatry and is widely admired for focusing the field's attention on its most troubled young patients. Although many of his studies are small and often financed by drug makers, his work helped to fuel a controversial 40-fold increase", that's 4,000%, "a 40-fold increase from 1994 to 2003 in the diagnosis of pediatric" [childhood] "bipolar disorder, which is characterized by severe mood swings, and a rapid rise in the use of antipsychotic medicines in children. The Grassley investigation did not address research quality". This guy works at Harvard School of Medicine. He "received 1.6 million bucks from the pharmaceutical companies between 2000 and 2007 but for years did not report much of his income to university officials according to information given congressional investigators." So we've got that, number one.
Number two. Biotech giants demand a high price for saving the planet. "Companies accused of 'profiteering' as they attempt to patent crop genes". Here we have giant Biotech companies privatizing the world's food supply. Why? Well, because the price of food is going up. The population of the planet is going up. Food is the one thing you absolutely must have. At what point do we say "no, you can't patent life forms? You can't go to India and take the oil from the neem tree and say we now own the patent on the neem tree. You can't take taxol from the pine tree out in Southern California and say 'we now on this tree, the genetics of this tree'." This is nuts. Monsanto's business, the ETC group, calls this "opportunistic public relations strategy". "Nine firms have filed at least 532 patents around the world on ...
55 different genes offering protection against heat, drought and floods". In plants. "If granted, the companies would be given control of crucial natural raw material needed to maintain food supplies in an increasingly hungry world... Small farmers in developing countries", this by Geoffrey Lean in the Independent today, "Small farmers in developing countries will be particularly hard hit". Because what's happening? Climate change. Climate change is coming. It's getting drier, the deserts are moving, the droughts are increasing so we need more drought resistant plants, so yeah, let's make them genetically and then own them.
And then on top of that we're finding, we found, from Jay Rockefeller last week and again this is, in my opinion, this falls into the category profits before people, that over and over and over again the Bush Administration lied us into the war in Iraq. Now just looking back on that, who has benefited? The buddies of the Bush Administration. They have made billions, billions with a B. They have made billions of dollars on this so called 'war on terror' on the occupation, 6 year occupation of Iraq. Eight billion dollars missing; physical hundred dollar bills, stacks of hundred dollar bills big enough to see from outer space, missing. Trillions of dollars that we're going to spend. They had bankrupted this country. Why? (a) political power. (b) make money for their buddies.
See, there are absolute limits to the so-called free market, I gotta tell ya, there are just absolute limits to it. And to tie the first hour back into the second hour here, in the second hour we were talking about economics and how here we have giant corporations patenting our food supplies. You've got giant corporations buying the water supplies of communities all over the world and selling it back to people in ways that they can't afford to pay for them themselves. People are dying as a result of privatization. You get the privatization of our roads which were built after, through eminent domain; we took people's property away, completely changed the nature of all of the land and it's been sold to corporations at its current value rather than what it could have been had eminent domain not happened in the first place. And where's the profit going from these toll roads? It's going to Spain, by and large, it's going to France; the French own the largest private water companies in the world, the profits are going to France.
So here we have over and over and over again profits being put before people. And I think that it is time for us to say "No. No more". Are we going to say that the corporations, the giant corporations who run this country, who run this country? Who have always tried to run this country. No more are we going to let them do that.
And for example, this is Jack Kennedy and Richard Nixon, I mean, just emblematic of this whole thing. Nixon and Kennedy were in their first debate in 1960 and the question was, okay Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 was put forward as, you know, it was a law, you had to integrate the schools but the law didn't say you had to integrate the lunch counters. And so Nixon says, so the question was, how are you going to integrate the lunch counters in America? Keep in mind, this was 1960. You know people say, "oh, racism is long by". 1960. So first Richard Nixon had his answer. This was his response.
"I have talked to Negro mothers. I have heard them explain, try to explain how they tell their children how they can go into a store and buy a loaf of bread, but then can't go into that store and sit at the counter and get a Coca Cola."
And Nixon's suggestion, and he lays it right out here, was to go to the corporations and ask them to play nice.
"This is wrong and we have to do something about it. So, under the circumstances, what do we do? Well, what we do is what the Attorney General of the United States did under the direction of the President: Call in the owners of chain stores and get them to take action."
Now keep in mind that Nixon was vice president at the time. And so he was saying' "yeah, our Attorney General, we called in the owners of chain stores and we said, 'please do something'." And they laughed at him. So John Kennedy says, "No, sorry, there is a role for government to play here in protecting people, protecting people where they're being discriminated on the basis of race or on gender or anything else, and by the way, we're gonna put more money into doing that. And this is John Kennedy:
"Well, Mr. Nixon hasn't discussed the two basic questions: What is going to be done and what will be his policy on implementing the Supreme Court decision of 1954? Giving aid to schools technically that are trying to carry out the decision is not the great question. Secondly, what's he going to do to provide fair employment? He's been the head of the Committee on Government Contracts that's carried out two cases, both in the District of Columbia. He has not indicated his support of an attempt to provide fair employment practices around the country."
Now, that was, you know, basically Nixon was in charge of hiring people in Washington DC and they weren't hiring blacks. And Nixon was, that was fine with Nixon. And this is what Kennedy was pointing out."So that everyone can get a job regardless of their race or color. Nor has he indicated that he will support Title III, which would give the Attorney General additional powers to protect Constitutional rights.
These are the great questions. Equality of education in schools. About 2 percent of our population of white people is illiterate; 10 per cent of our colored population. Sixty to seventy percent of our colored children do not finish high school.
These are the questions and these areas that the North and South, East and West are entitled to know what will be the leadership of the President in these areas to provide equality of opportunity for employment, equality of opportunity in the field of housing, which could be done on all Federal supported housing by a stroke of the President's pen.
What will be done to provide equality of education in all sections of the United States? Those are the questions to which the President must establish a moral tone and moral leadership. And I can assure you that if I'm elected President we will do so."
And they did, and they did, and it, you know, it was an era that lasted at all too short, but they did.
Transcribed by Sue Nethercott.