Saturday, July 23, 2005

Billy Tauzin - Poster Child for Political Corruption?

It looks like I'm way behind on the Billy Tauzin story.

Here's an interesting take on it.

Here is the data on pharma lobbying efforts.

And a copy of a New York Times article on corruption in the pharma industry, highlighting Tauzin.

Yeah, I'm really trailing on this story. But it's never too late to jump on the bandwagon, huh??

Public Citizen has published a Website and a book called "Worst Pills." They expose the pharmaceutical drugs that are most dangerous and list them for all to see.

I strongly urge any holistic practitioner to subscribe to their Website ($15/year) or buy the book. Don't buy the book at, the book being sold there is outdated. Buy it instead from their Website here.

Thanks, Public Citizen, for doing what our media is not able to do for us.

The Legend of Billy Tauzin

Somehow, I missed the story last December of Bill Tauzin.

This guy was a cantankerous Republican congressman from Louisiana who headed the House Commerce Committee until he stepped down last year.

This Committee oversaw the pharmaceutical industry as well as other industries. In fact, the pharmaceutical industry gave over $200,000 to Tauzin's campaign.

So what does a congressman do once he's retired? What could he do for employment?

No problem for Tauzin. He is now CEO of the pharmaceutical lobbying group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). This is the largest lobby group for big pharma.

I certainly didn't hear much about this last December, but it's only through my own ignorance. The press did report it, although not enthusiastically. There must have been a shark attack or sex scandal that was more pressing at the time.

The reason I found out about it today was that Tauzin was quoted in an article in Newsweek magazine on the problems with pharmaceutical drugs like Vioxx, Celebrex, etc. The quote came but the magazine only stated that Tauzin was with the lobby group, no mention of his former position in Congress. I thought I had heard that name before, so I looked it up, and WHAM-O, there he was - former Representative Tauzin.

Tauzin said upon taking the job that his first priority was to "restore credibility to the pharmaceutical industry." Huh? You're going to do that by taking a job with their lobbying group immediately after stepping down from the committee that oversaw them??

I must say that Tauzin had a good excuse for why he joined big PhRMA. He said that he had a battle with intestinal cancer himself and that it was pharmaceutical drugs that gave him his life back. Okay, I can understand that.

But I really remember Tauzin as a staunch defender of big PhRMA while he was Chairman of the Committee. And now he's on the payroll officially?

What kind of person would feel good about that? What kind of news media would not be pouncing all over a story like that, questioning his every move and asking why he would want to destroy his own credibility like that?

That is our news media, fellow Americans. That is why blogging has become so popular and so important. Because the news media like Newsweek magazine cannot report on the industries that they are part of. The magazine issued that I mentioned, except for the single story on Vioxx, was a tribute, a beautiful salute to the drug industry. Packed with ads from drug companies, and favorable stories, it was 90% favorable and only 10% questioning.

They simply can't do the job. They are now in that position and they can't get out. So we bloggers need to help. The point is not to blame Newsweek. They're stuck.

The reporters are not happy about this, I'm sure. They have to write this crap, they don't like it. They know they're destroying their own credibility. They hate that.

The magazines have got to keep the ad revenue moving, or they'll die. And you can't publish stories about your advertisers. And big Pharma is the biggest advertiser. Hell, for every full page ad a pharma company pays for, they have to pay for 2 more pages just to write all the fine print about the drug! Do you know how much it costs to run a full page ad (much less 3!) in Newsweek? Probably about $100,000 for one issue.

So, let's get blogging. If you don't blog yet, please start. We need to hear your take on things. We need you as a "citizen journalist." We need you putting the pieces together that Newsweek is not allowed to do.

Blogging is free. This service that I use,, is run by Google and there is no charge. It's a great service. Hell, you might even make a little money by running Google's AdSense ads on your blog. If you don't like writing or typing, start a Podcast instead. There are lots of good Podcast hosting companies like this one.

The only thing I'm asking you to donate is your time.

Please add your voice to the blogosphere.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Talks about Thimerosal on Comedy Central

Robert F. Kennedy was the guest on Jon Stewart's Daily Show last night. What a show! Kennedy, who is usually focused on environmental issues, talked the entire time about how thimerosal is solidly linked to a dramatic rise in autism in kids. He said that most vaccines don't use it anymore, which I was not aware of. I thought it was still everywhere. He said that the flu vaccines still have it.

They also chatted about a missed opportunity on ABC. Kennedy was supposed to appear on a news show there, but the "higher ups" pulled the show at the last minute. Then they got deluged with e-mail from mother's with autistic kids, so they ran a "cut-up version" of the show, which Kennedy said was basically a long ad for the drug companies. He said there were even ads from drug companies right before and after the show.

What a joke. Anyway, we can look to Comedy Central and Jon Stewart (love that guy) to bring out the actual truth that the networks are too afraid to air. Thanks, Jon. And thank you, Rolling Stone magazine, for publishing the original article by Kennedy that started all this. I had forgotten that magazine even existed until news of this article surfaced recently.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Fear is the Sin

I had been thinking for a long time that there is only one true sin, and that is the failure to life up to your own potential. I saw the major reasons that this happened as laziness and fear.

I finally watched the 1991 movie with Albert Brooks called "Defending Your Life" last weekend. It is great! In the afterlife, the movie shows how fear is the one really bad sin that will kick you back down to Earth again to learn through another lifetime. You keep getting smarter, using more of your brain, until you aren't paralyzed with fear anymore.

I see that has it available as a DVD. I'm thinking of buying it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The Holistic Educator

There is a big difference between being a Western medical doctor and being a holistic practitioner.

The doctor says "I'll do that for you. Take this pill."

The holistic practitioner says "You can heal yourself safely and effectively. Let me show you how."

This means that the holistic practitioner is not just in the "medical business" but also in the "education business." The nature of holistic health means that you, as a practitioner, need to understand and excel at both.

Education means just what you think it means. It means talking with your clients in the office, explaining how they can change their lifestyle choices day-to-day. It means encouraging them and coaching them. It also means writing articles, even books. And it means speaking in front of groups.

As it happens, these are incredibly good ways to do marketing too. Speaking and publishing are the top two ways to get trusted by potential clients enough so that they may visit your practice.

As a practitioner, you need to have a constant schedule of speaking and writing, speaking and writing.

Trouble is, many practitioners aren't too crazy about speaking. Or writing. Or both.

Speaking in front of groups is an anxiety-causing activity for many people.

Writing any length of articles (forget books!) is a huge challenge for many others.

What to do?

For speaking, there is one cure. Practice, practice, practice. Practice in non-threatening environments.

My suggestion for speaker-phobics? No matter where you live in the world, there is undoubtedly a Toastmasters chapter near you. Toastmasters is an incredibly wonderful organization that allows you to get practice speaking in front of small groups. It is a great confidence builder. Your self-esteem will rise with your speaking ability. The fees are something less than $50 U.S. per year, very affordable.

For writers? Well, I'd like to practice your own ability to write. But if that is not a possibility, if your heart just isn't in it, I urge you to use other people's material. No, this isn't stealing. Using the Internet, you have access to a wide range of articles on holistic health.

You can't use any articles without getting permission from the author. But there is one exception.

Article marketing Websites publish high-quality articles on many topics. The articles are "there for the taking."

That means you can copy them from the Website and use them in your own publications, e-mails, paper copies in your office --- whatever. You must keep the attribution to the original author, but you can use the article.

This is a reasonable substitute for people who cannot make the effort to write themselves.

The best article marketing Website is

You can see my articles on the Website here.

Monday, July 18, 2005

A Message of Holism From...Who Was That Guy??

Here's a message of "holism" from an unlikely source: the Chairman of GE Health.,,SB112112057892482677,00.html (requires subscription)

In this article, Sir William Castell says our progress of scientific medicine in the past one hundred years has been successful, even stunning in some cases.

But now it's time to do more, and this will mean we have to shake the paradigm of our current medical systems.

Our current model is to allow "ourselves, through lifestyle, environment, and latent genetic predisposition or simple ignorance, to develop serious disease. The more sophisticated the economy, the more you have access to costly resources to optimize your late-stage treatment, when options are narrower and success less likely. We need to challenge whether this narrow focus on "Late Disease" is the best way to help people preserve their greatest asset, their own health."

He goes on to say that we need to focus on "Early Health" rather than "Late Disease." He sees this as a tremendous business opportunity for those who jump on it. If you are a holistic practitioner, or someone who uses holistic services, you've already jumped! Congratulations!

If not, now is the time to switch. When the Chairman of GE Health is making statements like this in the Wall Street Journal, "alternative medicine" ain't alternative no more...

Sunday, July 17, 2005

A Health Machine

Let's say that Janice had created a machine that kept a person healthy and was able to bring a person back to health when they got sick. It took Janice 30 years to develop this machine and get it perfectly right, but now it works great.

Then let's say Marvin came along and said "Oh, fine, that health machine works for you and your patients, Janice, but I can't figure out how your machine works. So I'm going to build my own machine based on 'true science.'"

Then Marvin goes on to develop a machine that works not nearly as well, kills many of his patients (but helps some) and costs a lot more to operate. However, it does match his scientific calculations perfectly.

Now let's unmask the players. Janice is China, and Janice's machine is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Marvin is the U.S., and his machine is Western medicine.

Western medicine kills over 100,000 people every year in the U.S. It is based on scientific principles, yes, but it has developed only over the last 100 years or less.

Chinese medicine has been improved over the past 3,000 years, and it works for billions of people. Why did we have to re-invent the wheel? Why do we continue to re-invent medicine? The Chinese and Indians (and Native Americans) had systems that worked well and that they continue to use.

Is it just the romantic notion that knowing the science behind a solution can solve all our health problems?

For me, I'm going to put my health into the hands of a practitioner with 3,000 years of experience behind him, rather than the newest, latest Vioxx to hit the shelfs.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Great Health Site

I found an excellent health articles Website called I has an astonishing number of articles about holistic healthcare, many of them written by the so-called Health Ranger, Mike Adams. I don't agree with everything said here, but I feel most of the information is sound.

Friday, July 15, 2005

What Did Our Founders Feel?

I'm reading a book by Gore Vidal called "Burr." It's the life of Aaron Burr, vice-president of the United States and well-known as the person who killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel.

The book is utterly excellent. The rich details of the American founders' characters and habits is a delight to read.

As I read what they went through in those years, I actually felt some kinship. Of course, the types of things I'm "founding" are infinitely less in magnitude, but still I feel many of the same feelings that Vidal attributes to them in those early years of America.

Starting my own company, founding a holistic practitioners' networking group, and a lobbying group all give me those feelings. Most of the time, I'm wondering if we're doing the right thing. I think of us as a rag-tag group of nobodies trying to pretend we're important. That's how the founders often felt too!

Vidal's chapter on the inauguration of Thomas Jefferson was illustrative. Nobody knew how to get started. Jefferson told Burr "You go first," and Burr said "I think you should start." (Ha! We've had meetings like that!) Finally, Jefferson made his speech, but no one could hear him. Jefferson hated speaking in front of crowds, so he just mumbled his way through. Only two people (Burr and the judge) heard Jefferson's eloquent inauguration speech, because they sat right beside him. Later, Jefferson flipped his speech notes all over the floor and nervously tried to gather them up again.

It's always the same when people are trying to start something new. You don't know what you're doing, and you feel stupid because you think you should know. But you don't. So you do it anyway.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The China Price

Apparently there is one phrase that is more frightening to Wal-Mart's suppliers than any other. It's called "The China Price." This means that Wal-Mart is comparing prices between the product you sell and what they can get from China. China can produce finished, sellable products for an unbelievably cheap price to American retailers. And Wal-Mart has taken advantage of this. I've heard estimates that 80% of the durable goods in a Wal-Mart store are from China.

I witnessed this firsthand recently. The floor lamp here in my office became a strobe light last week because of an electrical short in the base. It was about twenty years old so I decided to replace it.

I visited several stores to compare styles and prices. Several stores featured a particular lamp that was quite stylish and bright. But I could not believe the price.

This was a six-foot tall floor lamp with six bulbs (not included). It looked excellent. The price? $19.99. I had expected to pay perhaps as much as $100 for a lamp like this. But twenty bucks?

Needless to say, I snapped it up. It was easy to put together, and the quality is top-notch. (So much for assuming lower quality from Chinese products.)

I'm sitting here wondering, "How could they even ship this thing from China for $20?" It's pretty heavy, since the base is weighted to keep it from falling over. I guess I have a lot to learn about the economies of scale in manufacturing and distribution. How much could a factory worker in China be paid to assemble a product like this? The materials must have cost at least $5. That leaves $15 for the worker, factory costs, shipping and the retailer.

This just doesn't add up in my head.

Anyway, China can produce these durable goods in tremendous quantities at good quality at excellent prices. That is an established fact.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Re-orienting to the Customer

Which of these scenarios would you prefer as a customer?

Scenario A
You go to a holistic health practitioner, let's say a nutritionist, from whom you seek help for a skin condition. She tells you to eat lots of this and stop eating that. It doesn't really work, so you decide to visit a chiropractor. He tells you its all due to a kink in your neck and once he fixes that (after a mere seven visits) you won't have the skin problem. It doesn't help. So then you seek an herbalist, who says take this herb and rub this salve on your arms. This works!

Scenario B
You look for someone who can help you with your skin problem. You see an ad in the new age journal that says "Holistic remedies for skin problems - call 999-999-9999."

You call and make an appointment. You find out that this person has trained as a nutritionist, bodyworker, herbalist and yoga teacher. She has found out the best ways to holistically treat skin problems. She sees people with skin problems all day long, and she has a passion for solving skin problems, since she once had a disfiguring skin problem that she healed herself with holistic means. She is able to help you with a set of nine visits.

So, which one would you prefer? Although it is the same number of visits and probably the same cost for both scenarios, the second one is preferable because you have someone who really understands your problem.

The feeling I sometimes get with holistic practitioners who are not customer-oriented (like Scenario B) is that they are always guessing. "I'm going to guess that my bodywork/energy/nutrition/exercise is going to help your condition x." That does not strike confidence in me.

Holistic health practitioners, listen up! Re-orient your practice towards a specific health issue that you can solve for your clients. We'll appreciate it very much!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Distributed Energy Production

I think something that a lot of people don't realize is that as we move toward solar, wind, geothermal, biodiesel and other "green fuels" we are doing a lot more than just saving the environment and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.

As if that wasn't enough!!!!

Don't get me wrong, if that was all we accomplished, it would be plenty for me. But I think there's more to the package.

We are creating a distributed energy economy. By that, I mean that many of these energy-producing devices will be installed on people's homes and business offices, not in a central location. That means that me, sitting here in my home town, will have my own power and can do with it as I please. Just by virtue of installing the solar panels, or the wind turbine, I've made an initial investment, and now I'm "off the power grid." Or, more likely, I'm still connected to the grid as a backup, but when I produce more power than I can use and store, I pump that additional power back into the grid and the power company pays me for that. Basically, my meter begins to run backwards.

So, by distributing this energy production, we have the following benefits:

  1. No big power lines to devalue house prices and ugly-up the neighborhood.
  2. No massive power outages, or outages local to one house or office building.
  3. Power coming from multiple sources (solar and wind and geothermal, etc.), making it difficult for "solar barons" and "wind barons" to arise and create monopolies, because as soon as they raise prices on their energy or devices, the other sources become cheaper by comparison and take over.
  4. Much more difficult for terrorists to disrupt our power supplies.
  5. An additional way to add value to a residential house sale. "This house has solar panels, so you won't have to pay electric bills the whole time you're here."
  6. No fluctuation of energy prices to deal with. Energy production becomes just another function of your house, like insulation, storage, etc.

Maybe this will also lead us towards the community government idea of my previous post. If communities are more involved in producing their own energy, rather than buying it from large companies or government-owned utilities, they might be more likely to desire more autonomy.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Type A versus Type B Personalities

I read an article recently that stated that the evolution of open source computer programming was providing a way for Type B personalities to find creative outlets for their favorite type of work style - collaboration.

Type A personalities are competition-oriented, dog-eat-dog, etc.

Type B personalities are collaboration-oriented, and prefer to duck below the radar when Type A's are fighting it out.

It is very interesting to me that in the cyber-world of today, Type B's are collaborating to produce open source software, some of the finest, best quality software available, while the Type A's of the cyber-world can be found in a very different place - virus-writing. Hackers and crackers are prototypical Type A's, competing with each other to create the "best" virus, etc.

Isn't it interesting to see that the corporate ladder-climber has evolved into a common criminal, while the underachieving Type B thrives in a non-structured, non-corporate future?

Community Government

Everytime I fill out my taxes, I'm reminded how many levels of government we have, and what they want from me, as well as what I want from them.

It's a power struggle between city governments, state, county, federal, etc. They all feel that they have the right to collect the majority of the taxes and then redistribute it to the other levels of government.

Right now, the majority of my tax dollars go to the federal government. Then they redistribute it to the states, and the states give money to counties, cities, etc.

I think this is backwards. I think the major force of government should be at the community level. In a small town, it should be the town council. In a big city, it should be the neighborhood. Maximum of 1,000 people, let's say. The community government should collect all the taxes and then redistribute to the cities, counties, states and federal.

Here's why. Corruption in government always occurs, no matter what level. One look at the Bush administration and you can easily see this. However, it's easier to do corrupt things with people's money if you never have to see them face-to-face. Much, much more difficult.

In order to have a government where the citizens can easily see their government officials face-to-face, we need government at the level of 1,000 to 1 or less.

I also feel this helps with complexity problems. When problems are too big, one person cannot comprehend them in his or her brain. And it doesn't take much for a problem to be "too big to completely comprehend." All environmental problems, poverty, racism - these problems seem to be too complex for us to solve at our current level of thinking.

The Internet could serve as a useful tool to connect these many communities and share information.

Am I saying that we should disband the federal government in favor of community governments? No, I am not. But I think those lower levels should be the tax collectors and that the states and federal governments should be recipients of tax money from the communities, not vice-versa.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Backyard Manufacturing

An emerging technology called "3d fax" caught my eye a few years ago and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it.

A 3d fax machine would allow you to put an item into a box in Santa Fe and then be able to replicate that item into a different box here in Columbus, Ohio, using a normal fax line between the two boxes.

The idea is that you can scan the item from multiple perspectives in the first box, and then transmit those specifications as data to the Columbus fax machine, which casts the item out of plastic resin.

It's a pretty simple idea, as long as you keep the item to one physical piece and do not require assembly.

But soon enough, that will be possible too. Think how automated car assembly plants are getting. What's the next inevitable step there? Miniature the car plant down to something that can fit on a desk, of course. Now you've got a 3d fax machine that can build almost anything (as long as it's plastic).

My projection on top of this is that you could obvious take that datastream of specifications from anywhere, not just another 3d fax machine in Santa Fe. It could come from a computer program instead. So you could design something on your PC and then build it right there, more like a 3d printer.

If this became possible, I think there would be a new type of industry popping up which I'll call "backyard manufacturing." You could buy one of these boxes (different sizes depending on how big the stuff is you want to build) and then begin building whatever you want using computer models.

Think of the creativity that could be unleashed! And it would be cheap too!

Let's start with toys. Obviously, most toys are made entirely of plastic, so you could begin creating a whole range of toys yourself, using your own designs or designs you purchased from other people. I imagine that there will be a set of "open source toy designs" that people create as computer data, and then release to the world for free.

Then, I imagine that new companies would pop up who certify certain toy designs as being safe or unsafe for children.

If all this happened, all the toys that are being made in China today could be made in America again using the backyard manufacturing process. The all-plastic items would be the first to move "on-shore" and then maybe wooden, metal items later on.

Would China be in trouble? Probably not, they could do their own backyard manufacturing, but this inefficient process of sending specifications offshore to be manufacturered and then sending them back here again would slow down.

Something as complex as an internal combustion engine would be the last thing to be created with backyard manufacturing, but then I think about the new types of engines coming down the pike, like hydrogen and solar. These have far fewer moving parts and would be much easier (relatively!) than the ICE to create with manufacturing-in-a-box.

I think it's quite likely that Apollo Alliance will be successful in convincing American politicians to create a new Apollo project that provides us with energy independence from the Middle East. When this happens, we'll get cleaner, simpler engines and cars that are more compatible with backyard manufacturing. Not to mention the other new technologies, like brake-by-wire and steer-by-wire, featured prominently in General Motor's Autonomy concept car. Again, the trend is toward simpler designs, fewer moving parts, more electronics.

Currently, big companies have the advantage over smaller companies because of three things: manufacturing economies of scale, exising distribution networks and marketing.

The backyard manufacturing idea gives small companies a leg up on manufacturing. Distribution becomes a non-issue once you can distribute information-only and do the manufacturing locally. And the Internet obviously helps small company marketing look like big company marketing.