I was inspired by the following profundity in one of the paid ads presented at the bottom of the first page of a recent BC article:
Acai Berry Side Effects
Warning! Want To Try Acai Berry?
Have You Considered Side Effects?
The side effects question had nothing to do with that article but it is a good one, too seldom asked.
There are lots of really great medicines and supplements out there, both prescription and over-the-counter. They are said to cure sexual dysfunction, acne, baldness, heartburn, diarrhea and even constipation. Unfortunately, some medicines may have nasty side effects, also known as unintended consequences. There was once a quite effective medication for arthritis pain, Vioxx, which helped me tremendously for about four years. Then, it was suddenly taken off the market "voluntarily," because it may have caused some folks to die prematurely. It also had another arguably even worse side effect: it caused Merck to agree to pay $4.85 Billion in 2007 to settle Vioxx lawsuits. Warning labels probably wouldn't have done much good, and I would likely have continued taking Vioxx for many years without ill effect. Now I can't. So, I'm still alive but my knees hurt. Oh well.
There are many things other than medicines which may have unfortunate side effects. These things do not have the sorts of warning labels which the FDA requires pharmaceutical companies to print on their medicine containers, nor are there any disclosure statements of the sort which the SEC requires corporations to make when issuing securities. Nobody reads those things anyway, and probably wouldn't even if printed in twelve point bold face type. They aren't meant to be read. If these "lawyer speak" things were readable and actually got read, nobody in his right mind would take the medicines or buy the securities, and the economy would probably be in the tank even worse than it is today.
In some cases, even the makers of these things are kept (or elect to remain) blissfully in the dark. They don't know what they are making, and therefore can't possibly know what it will do. It seems as though they are so enchanted by the claims of wonders to be wrought that they don't even consider the potential side effects. One example is the recent "stimulus package," overwhelmingly approved by the Congress even though it was not available for review or even to be read by the Honorable Members — much less unwashed members of the public — prior to the vote. I doubt that anybody read the thing as a whole, to see whether there were any unfortunate interactions of its components. Side effects? What side effects? We have been assured that this legislation will get the economy moving and we need it right now. There's no time to bother with such trivial matters as reading it. Actually understanding it? Don't be silly. Gotta Rush, no matter what it may have in store for us. So what if General Motors is again on the cusp of bankruptcy? It just needs more money, no big deal; the U.S. Government has lots of that stuff and can easily get lots more where that came from. Just think what we could have done to save the dodo birds from extinction. They couldn't fly, didn't use a teleprompter, and probably weren't very smart, either. Side effects? Nah, it's all perfectly safe.
OK. The Stimulus Legislation passed and now we are stuck with it. As to the roughly four hundred and ten billion dollar "omnibus" budget bill, this too shall pass, even though it is full of those much disparaged, but even more beloved, earmarks. Hell, it has only "2,967 pages of text, teeming with 9,000 earmarks." Or maybe it won't pass. And maybe it is just 1,132 pages long and maybe it has only 7,991 earmarks. Not important. We need it NOW! Who cares about reading it? The important thing is that there won't be any noxious side effects. We believe!
Among the earmarks are $1.9 million for a water-taxi service at a Connecticut beach and $1.8 million for swine odor and manure management research in Iowa. I don't know about the water taxi, but with the stuff coming out of Washington these days, smelly pig and manure management research should be high priorities. But, never mind that sort of chicken
shit feed. The White House is "working on" having lots more transparency in such matters in the future. Someday — there is certainly no urgency. Only one in five mortgagees are frolicking at the seashore underwater now. So?
Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair said the deposit insurance fund could dry up amid a surge in bank failures, as she responded to an industry outcry against new fees approved by the agency. . . . "A large number" of bank failures may occur through 2010 because of "rapidly deteriorating economic conditions," Bair said . . . . "Without substantial amounts of additional assessment revenue in the near future, current projections indicate that the fund balance will approach zero or even become negative."
Don't worry, it'll all be okay:
Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd is moving to allow the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to temporarily borrow as much as $500 billion from the Treasury Department.
That's nice. Plenty of money there, and its only going to be borrowed. This can't have any noxious side effects: Hell, $500,000,000,000 is even less than sixty percent of the Stimulus Package and only one hundred and twenty two percent greater than the Obamnibus Budget bill. "Budget?" "Budget?" Yeah, of course. It's a budget. Even on a really tight budget, We Can Do It! Yes! We Can! Never mind that still more inadequately analyzed financial fixes are in the works; the ride has only just begun. Side effects? Of course not, we're on a roll! Wheeeeee! Nobody gets thrown under this Obamnibus — there's no more room.
More than enough has been written about these things, and no useful purpose would be served by further repetition. That would only increase the sales of Maalox. Let's all just repeat, Yes We Can! Again, with gusto: Yes. We. Can. No side effects. Besides, the chances of a real depression are only about twenty percent, and the economy may yet recover, even despite the efforts of our masters; unless, of course there is a massive asteroid strike. Fortunately, there is not yet an Asteroid Union, so we need not be overly concerned about that — yet.
The problem is, we are in for more — much more — of the same in other arenas. Secretary Clinton, known by some rascals as the Wicked Witch of the West, recently mounted her zero carbon footprint broom and flew east to criticize Israel and to pontificate about the need for a
seven percent solution two state solution to the Israel – Palestine mess. Side effects? Of course not!
Not to be outdone by his former(?) rival, President Obama has appointed a very sophisticated and intelligent guy as his chief reviewer of intelligence information.
Charles Freeman is a career diplomat, a Saudi apologist, and a savage critic of Israel. He also argues that Beijing did not strike down the Tiananmen Square protesters with sufficient swiftness. Barack Obama proposes to make him head of the National Intelligence Council.
The Senate will not have to worry, though, since the appointment does not require its advice and consent. Hence, there will be no need for the Senate to concern itself with stuff like this:
on May 26, 2006, Freeman sent an e-mail "to a confidential listserv called ChinaSec. The subject under discussion was the Tiananmen Square massacre, the 1989 Chinese government crackdown on peaceful democracy demonstrators. Sounding like a hard-line Chinese Communist Party flack, he referred to the young activists as constituting a 'mob scene,' termed their appeals for liberalization 'propaganda,' mocked the 'goddess of democracy' they had erected in honor of the Statue of Liberty and deemed the government’s response — which resulted in over 2,500 deaths — 'overly cautious.'
One can only wonder what Ambassador Freeman will have to say, from an intelligence perspective, if North Korea, a country very much in the pocket of his friends in China, shoots down a South Korean commercial airliner or two.
North Korea warned on Thursday it might shoot down South Korean commercial airliners flying near its territory during annual U.S.-South Korean military drills next week, ratcheting up threats against it capitalist neighbor.
Yes, It Can. Whoops. Lest anyone actually be concerned about those silly side effects, the President's press secretary said not to worry. It's all in good hands, he hopes, because President Obama, although urged to refuse to accept the Presidency of the Boy Scouts of America, an honor traditionally held by U.S. presidents since 1910, is always prepared. That's his job!
"I've not read those. I think anybody can look at what the president has said and what the president's views are, enumerating from the very beginning of this administration the desire to be engaged actively in the Middle East region to ensure a durable and lasting peace. It is something that he's said he would work on each and every day."
There is, perhaps, one last but great hope, which may help us to put aside gloom and doom or at least to join our beloved masters in spirit — even those of us who pay our damn taxes. A virtual reality device is under development which, in a few years, will permit us (at least those with £1,500 or so in spare change) to leave behind the tired, old reality to which we have become accustomed and escape to a far better virtual reality world. All five senses will be titillated. This seems only fair; soon even we mere peasants will have almost the same opportunities for rapture without consequence enjoyed by our masters, who clearly need every bit of the 4.4 billion dollars they are about to appropriate for themselves as well as the approximately five billion dollars spent by Wall Street alone to keep them happy — many happy returns! Since they already enjoy the Rapture, so should we! Soon, we too can aspire to Heaven, or at least Virtual Reality; why bother with any mundane side effects of present policy? Let us instead rejoice and be merry, for great shall be our Rapture in the wonderful by-and-by of Virtual Reality. Yes, We Can! Yes, We Can! Yes. We. Can!