The Healer and the Poisoner
This month the same key planetary combination that ruled September 2003 -- between Saturn in Cancer, across the zodiac wheel from Chiron in Capricorn -- is in effect again.
But the mythic relationship has changed completely. Chiron is still the "wounded healer," but the role of Saturn, under this year's circumstances, has become far more sinister. Last year Saturn represented the entrenched combination of the medical establishment and political interests, aligned in their determination to prevent the "socialized medicine" of a national health insurance program in the United States, and to delay or derail completely the growing momentum toward natural remedies and common-sense, low-tech medical practices.
But this year Saturn is in the pitiless position of Kronos, his Greek name, who overthrew his father Uranus by committing the abhorrent crime of castrating him with a sickle. This symbolic act has ever since embodied the absolute ruthlessness of the one who will do anything to gain power. That is why Saturn has been, last month and into this month, as he opposes Chiron the healer again, the Poisoner, his influence evident in the activities of drug companies and HMO's whose toxicity and greed have now reached unheard-of dimensions.
Drug firms now agree out of court to pay fines of not just millions of dollars, but hundreds of millions, for collusion to fix prices and divide market shares, for concealing test results on unsafe products, for submitting fraudulent Medicaid claims, and for other crimes. As never before, physicians and a few courageous politicians and health officials alike are beginning to tell the horrid truth that has long been known to millions of uninsured Americans: that the United States does not have a "health care system." It has the IMI, an Illness Maintenance Industry that mutilates and poisons the people, and then dares for the favor of its lethal ministrations to impoverish beyond all hope of recovery the people it patiently kills.
The mythic role of the poisoner, in all his malicious artistry, has rarely been well understood. A figure like Harry Lyme, the Orson Welles character in The Third Man, is only out for the money he can score by selling serum that he knows to be bad. He is indifferent to his victims, and has no sense of relationship with them. The same is true of the poisoner who is content to kill his enemy dead at once, and is only an impatient assassin, not an artist. The poisoner at his most vicious, in the manner of Dracula or Roger Chillingworth, the dark physician in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter who does his best to destroy Rev. Dimmesdale under the pretense of healing him, is in fact an enslaver whose aim is to extend the other's illness for as long as possible, while extracting along the way his money, his trust and his freedom, his hopes and his dreams, and in the end his life.
The poisoner's pleasure is easy to understand. There is a thrill of power in dominating another person, especially an intelligent and talented victim who poses a challenge. What is baffling is the slave role, in its subservient self-loathing, and in its blindness to the enslaver's game, no matter how long it goes on, no matter how many clues are dropped along the way. This is why so many people outside the United States are asking the same question that Americans themselves will ask later in this century: How could so many of them accept the zombie scenario for so long? Why did it take them such a long time to create a national health insurance plan, and free themselves from the Poisoner?
Making a Killing at Both Ends
Because a national health insurance program, like the one America's neighbor to the north uses to keep Canadians fit and mellow, would cut into the profits of the IMI's unholy trinity of HMO's, insurance firms and pharmaceutical companies. A national health insurance plan would also reduce the stock dividends of fabulously wealthy master investors like Warren Buffett, who make a killing through investments in both ends of the IMI game: in tobacco and food companies that help make people sick, and in drug companies that don't really want to help the patient get well, but want instead to keep him hooked for decades on "medicines" that are atrociously overpriced, even addictive and harmful. In its hugely profitable success in not only not helping the sick, but impoverishing and killing them, America's IMI has become the polar opposite of the old, common-sense Chinese custom that kept the peasants tough and the land hardy for thousands of years.
In ancient China, the physician's relationship with his patients was as simple and practical as it gets. As long as a family was healthy, it would give the doctor every month some money, or a bolt of silk or a barrel of wine or a chicken or two. When someone in the family got ill, they'd stop paying the doctor until the illness was gone. Imagine trying that now in the United States, where even the finest and most caring physicians struggle to keep both their practices and their integrity alive in the face of soaring medical equipment prices and malpractice insurance premiums, and attempted bribes from drug firms that want the doctor to push their pills and powders.
What's one sure clue that the pharmaceutical companies don't really want to cure you, but want to squeeze you for as long as they can before they kill you? That is, what clue other than the relentless drive of the drug vampires to enact legislation that will protect them from lawsuits brought by the people they poison? Consider this revealing fact: before he became Secretary of Defense in the George W. Bush regime, Donald Rumsfeld was the CEO, President and then Chairman of G. D. Searle & Co., the worldwide pharmaceutical firm. He turned the ailing company around so impressively that he was named the Outstanding Chief Executive Officer in the Pharmaceutical Industry by the Wall Street Transcript (1980) and Financial World (1981).
How did Don pull it off? Not by torturing people from rival companies, as far as we know. By using his powerful Washington contacts and his relentless style, he railroaded the FDA approval process for aspartame, the notorious cancer-causing artificial sweetener that's been a focus for alarm among health care providers for over a decade now, but has proved a terrific moneymaker for Searle.
Rumsfeld's coup was not the first time, nor is it likely to be the last, that the Food and Drug Administration has forsaken its legitimate role as a regulatory body over the pharmaceutical industry, and has been corrupted into a kind of corporate attack dog that stands and roars when effective natural medicines try to gain entry to the U. S. market, but whines and rolls over when a powerful corporate player wants to fill the shelves with a poison like aspartame -- or monosodium glutamate (MSG), another deadly powder that keeps on making people sick, and profits fat.
The message from Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Disease -- oops! I mean Defense -- could not be plainer. I can kill you with sweeteners or blast you with bombs, but one way or another, you will die poor, and I will make money.
It is pointless to go long here about how the actions of the Bush syndicate, or almost any kleptocracy in any country, anytime, can easily be predicted by figuring out what kinds of big companies they served before, and still serve during, their time in office. Bush II, like his father in the Carlyle Group who reaps immense profits from the Iraq War, and his recently- manacled bosom felon Ken Lay, is in the energy business. Condoleezza Rice is an oil executive. Dick Cheney has been Halliburtin' with the Saudis since Reagan ran the trough. Rumsfeld is a death merchant and drug pusher.
Perhaps a book will be written about these things, and can be published for someone's benefit if by 2012 America still has books and has not burned them, or still has people who may not read, but will at least act in their own interest on provocative information that comes from a screen or a hologram, even from the live face and voice of another person, and is not rejected out of hand by denial-addicted opinionaries who will part with their families, their marriages, their money and their lives before they will consider that what they think they know is not working, and may be killing them.
Life Gets Risky Here in the Comic Universe
And even if we did not have so many suicidally closed-minded people, we would still be living in the comic universe, where human beings suffer not because we are wicked but because we are just plain dumb, and we are dumb not just because we are mentally lame, but because like most fools, we are too smart for our own good, or too slow to pick up on clues that are so obvious a flounder could see them, even if they weren't practically served on a plate with music and free gifts.
The author is a prime example of how dumb we can be here in the comic cosmos. I've known for almost 40 years, since not long after my first adult sight of New York, when I missed the IRT express stop at 125th St., and came up out of the next station with wide eyes, a high-decibel jacket and a cardboard suitcase at 11:00pm in Harlem -- where I was perfectly safe -- that the wetter a place is, the more it triggers asthma, so a person like me who has it should probably live in a desert. So where have I lived for the first 38 years of my adult life? In the spring shower and snow bowl of Manhattan, the steam room of Kyoto and the rain forest of Hawaii.
Now I live in Cairo, Egypt, and asthma is no problem at all, and it seems, weirdly enough, that I get along better in a place where the air is filthy but dry than I do in places where it's clean but damp.
Want to Save Money on Health Care? Move to Cairo!
But one never knows, so I wanted to protect myself as my body acclimates to Egypt, and make sure that if an asthma attack does come, I have the rescue medication to stop it. So I went to see Dr. Yousri Akl at the Shaalan Surgical Centre. The first visit to any medical treatment facility almost always costs a little more, of course, so I paid LE80 (80 Egyptian pounds), or just under US $12.95, to see Dr. Akl.
He prescribed the two medications I'd been taking in Hawaii: Seretide (called Advair in the US), a "powder for inhalation" taken to control asthma symptoms; and Combivent, an aerosol inhalator that stops an attack, or at least slows it until one can get to a hospital.
The Seretide/Advair that would have cost me $250.00 at Kaiser Permanente Hospital or $215.00 at Long's Drugs when I was uninsured in Hawaii cost me LE120, or $19.40 in Cairo. The Combivent that had cost me $89.00 at Kaiser or $74.50 at Long's came to LE27, or $4.36. For a doctor visit and medications that would have cost me close to $400 in Hawaii, I paid less than $40 in Cairo -- and I'm not even registered yet with Egypt's national health insurance plan.
Somehow the GlaxoWellcome company of England that makes Seretide, and the Boehringer Ingelheim company that makes Combivent in France, can realize an acceptable profit in Egypt when their products are sold for as little as one-twentieth the price that a hospital or pharmacy charges in the United States. Why is the American overhead so big? What happens to all that money that someone in America gets and someone in Egypt doesn't? That's for experts in the field to find out and report, most likely on the Internet, where the report can't be blocked by the IMI.
Is it any wonder that Americans try to buy their medicines from Canada, from the worldwide web, from anyone besides American drug companies and HMO's? That busloads of seniors travel from the southeastern U. S. into Mexico to buy prescription medicines? That good-hearted customs inspectors on both sides of the the border know that what Grandpa Walt and Grandma Millie are doing is illegal, but like to look the other way and let them through unless someone tries to bring back enough drugs to start his own pharmacy? That the attorneys general of a dozen states have sued, or are getting ready to sue, the FDA to break the IMI's stranglehold on the import of prescription medicines? That one American woman flew repeatedly to France to buy for $1,200 and smuggle back in her suitcase the cancer drug for her father that would have cost $47,000 in the United States -- and then felt guilty for being a smuggler, and breaking the law, until she saw that the law was breaking her Dad?
These stories and others will be in the chapter on Aquarian Medicine in the book that I'm writing about 2012 and the coming of Aquarius, which I intend to publish next year.
These excerpts appear now in the UFC because the struggle between the Healer and the Poisoner is the most important American story of the summer of 2004. The tragedy of immense IMI profits at the price of poverty and misery for untold millions is so monstrous in its cruelty, and so momentous for the near future, that every phony controversy and side show the major players can invent -- the Skull and Bones election theatrics between the gray goose and the black and white terrier, the house of cards economy, the scam war for oil and empire, and all the rest of the eye candy and lies -- cannot cover the stench that arises when the imperatives of compassion are blocked by the intrigues of the few, and ignored from the indifference of the many.
It will all play out as a comedy in the end, years from now, when we have empowered ourselves in healing communities and know again the medicines of the Earth and the sea. But now the play is in its thickest and darkest complications, when escape from the drug vampires looks impossible, the leaders and heroes and rescuers do not appear, and seem not to be there at all. But they are there, in the wings where they've always been, waiting for the cue that the rest of us will give when we see that we can and will lift and free ourselves.
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Copyright 2004 Dan Furst