Brad Miller

Posts Tagged ‘Liberty vs. Coercion’

The War on Chronic Pain Patients

In Freedom, Medicinal Freedom, natural rights, True nature of the State on March 28, 2018 at 5:39 am

“The Law”

The law perverted! And the police powers of the state perverted along with it! The law, I say, not only turned from its proper purpose but made to follow an entirely contrary purpose! The law become the weapon of every kind of greed! Instead of checking crime, the law itself guilty of the evils it is supposed to punish!

If this is true, it is a serious fact, and moral duty requires me to call the attention of my fellow-citizens to it. Frederic Bastiat French Economist 1850

One hundred and sixth eight years since this was written about the French government we are seeing the exact same thing occur here in America. The opioid hysteria has created a barbaric, evil, and insidious regulation and severe restriction of pain medication while at the same time enriching a few who use the force of law to profit from the misery and pain of others.

I’ve been in chronic pain for over thirty years now. It all started with a severe case of Ulcerative Colitis that required a major surgery to save my life. It didn’t go well. That began my horrible and terrifying relationship with physical pain.

My main relationship in my life since I can remember has been pain. It is always with me, demands my attention, and requires me to attend to it day and night. It is persistent and unrelenting.

In the past I’ve been fortunate to have doctors who’ve in the past believed that I shouldn’t suffer needlessly and provided me with pain medicine. This helped me to eke out, somewhat of a life, in between the hospital stays and surgeries. Even with pain meds I still hurt but as long as I know I can take one or two at night to rest and sleep I can endure the pain throughout the day.

That has all changed since the hysteria machine around opioids has been unleashed upon us. My GP was providing chronic pain management with opioids for the last three years. He stopped this year in large part, I believe, because of the fear of attracting unwanted attention from regulators.

What makes this so insidious is that he isn’t even in trouble for anything yet, and he chose to stop for fear of something that may or may not happen in the future. My pain is a certainty. It’s easier for doctors to say no then it is for them to take a risk. You’ll here some say they are afraid of losing their licenses but that to me is an excuse for not wanting to stand up for their patients and their supposed principles.

When good people don’t stand up, tyranny and injustice multiplies. I’m experiencing that myself with my recent attempts to obtain pain medicine. My GP referred me to a pain clinic. I called them and after a week of back and forth phone calls they finally decided they didn’t accept my “limited benefit plan”, didn’t accept new self-pay patients and didn’t treat GI patients.

I did ask them if they knew of any pain clinics that did treat people with GI related pain and they said no. So long story short I called all the doctors I’ve known for about thirty years and they were no help, I called about ten pain clinics and none accepted my insurance, and almost none treated GI related pain and they didn’t have anyone they could recommend me to. One did wish me the best of luck though.

I did find a couple on my own that would consider treating me but they couldn’t guarantee that the doctor would deem me worthy of a prescription for pain killers until he saw me. I’d have to come in for an initial assessment. In order to see the holy doctor I’ll have to shill out $375 – $600 for the first visit depending on which pain clinic I decide to go to. This is insanity.

On top of the initial charge for the “assessment” if they are so “merciful” to grant me one of their precious prescriptions for pain killers, I’ll have to come back for monthly visits like I’m some kind of goddamn parolee. And each monthly visit will run around $200.

I’ve seen this process of demonizing people in pain slowly developing over the course of my thirty plus year odyssey of pain. I remember when doctors were told they could no longer call in pain pill prescriptions, I remember the first time I heard a doctor express concern about the DEA when I asked for pain medicine, and I remember when I was forced to sign a pain contracts and get urine tested every 90 days like I was a convicted criminal. All of these incremental policies did nothing to ease my pain or make me “safer” from myself. Instead they are what has led us to where we are today.

The Law has been perverted to reap profits for the pharmaceutical industries, the doctors and the addiction industry. Their profits are paid for by the misery and pain of millions of Americans who have no lobbyists and have been abandoned by the medical community.

Besides the profits that those who benefit from this type of hysteria are raking in, I belief there is a dark undercurrent at work as well. We are rapidly approaching more and more regimented healthcare.

Chronically ill folks like me are a drain on the system in the eyes of central planners. I do firmly believe there are those who believe in the tenets of centralized medicine who would prefer I was not around soaking up “healthcare resources”.

Pain pills are extremely cheap though. Last year including doctors visits for chronic pain management plus the cost of my pain medicine added up to around $600. Now I’m stuck with a tab, if I’m able to obtain a prescription, of around $3800. That is insane. But my surgeries and hospital stays have cost insurance companies millions. If I stick around I’ll more than likely need more surgeries and hospital stays.

When did it become okay to bully people in pain? When did it become okay to treat people in physical pain like criminals? When did it become okay to rape them with insane costs for doctor visits? When did it become okay to make people in pain ashamed or afraid to ask their doctor for pain medicine? When did it become okay for doctors to refuse to treat people in pain? When did it become okay to deny one of the only truly effective treatments medical doctors have at their disposal?

The options for people in pain today are worse then they’ve been since before the discovery of the effectiveness of the poppy plant to alleviate physical suffering thousands of years ago. Those who are in pain and denied or restricted pain medication are effectively being forced to live in the Stone Age.

I believe that those in chronic pain are being pushed into making some extremely difficult decisions. The choices are to find alternatives on the black market, try to continue in agony or end their life. All three are a death sentence handed down by the uncaring, ignorant and greedy individuals in the government and the medical industry.

Living in pain is like being in hell. The one description of hell I liken it to is not the fire and pitchfork type but the cold and desolate hell, where God is totally absent. If you believe that God represents all that is good in the world then living in physical pain is the absence of all of that.

Being in pain makes life unbearable. The equation that everyone makes each day is, “is the pain of life worth the results of your actions?” For me the answer is many times no.

A few years ago Sarah Palin (I’m not a fan) was lambasted for daring to suggest that Obamacare had provisions for a death panel in order to ration healthcare. Today we are seeing this concept put into action. Chronic pain patients are being denied the very treatment that would save their lives. The new opioid regulations are effectively a form of a “Death Panel” but it’s so diffused throughout the system no one takes responsibility for denying people in pain the relief they need to continue living.

I believe that a part of the medical community, some in the insurance industry and many in the government are all too happy to get rid of the chronic pain patient because they are easy targets, they soak up resources and remind them and others of the failures of modern medicine. Most chronic pain patients have had multiple surgeries or have an intractable disease that modern medicine can’t treat effectively. This is another driver of the propaganda pushing the opioid crisis narrative.

The opioid hysteria is focusing on the wrong target. Pain patients aren’t the problem. Only about 1% or less become addicted. The opioid overdoses we hear so much about are really caused black market drugs laced with illicit fentanyl. Many pain patients are being pushed into this market by the increasing cost, time demands and humiliation required to obtain life saving pain medication.

The very law meant to save lives is killing people while others make a tidy profit.

(I’m not against profit. I’m against individuals and industries using the force of government to obtain it.)

I’m not an addict. I’m just in pain. My abdomen hurts all the time. From adhesions pulling and stretching my insides to a pancreas/gall bladder/bile duct issue that hasn’t been properly diagnosed or treated, I suffer everyday of my life from the time I get up to the time I finally fall asleep.

I wish I was stronger but the pain wins everyday. If I keep busy enough I can keep its shouting down to tolerable levels. But once I stop moving it returns like a bullhorn from hell. Pain medicine simply helps dial down the volume.

The Law is meant to protect individual rights. It has been perverted today, as Bastiat wrote, to enrich a small group of people who use the force of the government to satisfy their greed while violating the rights of individuals.

They are using the Law to violate my natural right to consume what I choose and to bear the responsibility of my choices.

Pain medicine isn’t an evil that should be locked away behind armed government agents and doctors who are either scared or greedy, but should be available at the low cost the market puts on them for those who choose to take them.

Physical pain creates a living hell for millions of Americans. It destroys hope, severs relationships, and poisons the mind. Pain medicine can help ease their physical and emotional suffering.

I do have an appointment to see a pain doctor on April 4th. It will be at his discretion if he prescribes pain pills or not. That’s after I fork over $400 for the initial assessment. Where else do you give someone $400 for a service and don’t have a right or ability to know if the service you are seeking will be provided or not? It is insane how far this opioid hysteria has gone.

On the surface the purpose of all these punitive and restrictive laws are to protect people from themselves.They are said to save lives but all they are doing is ruining the lives of millions of peaceful, productive and suffering fellow Americans whose bodies have already betrayed them.

This further betrayal by the government and the medical system has too many pain patients making the awful but understandable decision to end their suffering the only way they know how. They are being forced into taking their own lives due to the barbaric and unfeeling bureaucratic machine that cut them off from the one thing that allowed them to stay alive on this planet.

Death can seem like the only way out for those suffering from intractable pain if they are denied pain medicine. I’ve contemplated it in the past myself and have struggled with those type of thoughts during this stressful stretch of time while trying to find a doctor who will help me. I won’t go to the black market. I don’t trust it. So I can either suffer another ten days or so and hope that the doctor will find my suffering worthy or I can end my time here on planet Earth.

I’ve tried alternative therapies like Kratom and Cannabis, both of which for me help with withdrawal symptoms, but not so much with the pain. I’m miserable tonight. I know I’ll wake up in pain and I’ll go to bed in pain tomorrow. It’s 4:00am and I have to get up at 6:30am to get ready for work.

I’m so tired of hurting. I know if I kill myself those closest to me will be devastated. They, like me for some reason even though I feel worthless, unreliable and unsociable most of the time. I known if I do end my life the little ones in my life would be most hurt. I read one time that if you have children in your life who love you and you commit suicide, it’s like hitting them in the head with a hammer. I won’t do that tonight.

That’s why I’ll get up in a couple hours. That’s why I’ll continue on another day.

Brad

Brand Differentiation – Red Bull vs. NASA

In Free Market Miracles, Liberty, True nature of the State on October 18, 2012 at 6:14 pm

On Sunday Oct 14th, “Fearless” Felix Baumgartner set world records for skydiving when he leaped from an altitude of 128,000 ft. What makes this even more amazing than him becoming the world’s fastest unassisted human being, traveling at over 884 mph at one point in his free fall, is that the endeavor was a completely private enterprise. It was a Red Bull energy drink publicity stunt to the edge of space. The entire purpose of the event was to further differentiate the brand of Red Bull from the other energy drinks on the market.

Red Bull has a history of these kind of “stunts” but this one by far is the most impressive. It got me to thinking about how NASA and the entire “Space Race”, which was really one big PR stunt The two competing brands for world Market Share were NASA and the Soviet Space Program who were selling their country’s brand of Statism around the world.

NASA and the equivalent Soviet Space program were trying to “Sell” their government’s ideology through “publicity stunts” in Space. When we look at the Space program in this manner it clarifies the difference between what Red Bull accomplished this week and what NASA has done in the past. One of them is a champion of Privately owned capital and profit seeking while the other is an inevitable example of what happens when Government steals from the productive and collectivizes that property.

Red Bull has made its founders Billionaires. NASA has had its budget cut repeatedly and is being relegated to the history books. Red Bull’s founder’s created an entire market for energy drinks that will soon be worth 52 billion dollars. NASA is relying on the Russians to ferry astronauts to the ISS. The founders of Red Bull were told by a research firm that the product would fail, they now sell 4 billion cans a year.  Because of privately held capital and Mateschitz’s vision Red Bull now owns an F1 team, two soccer teams, a NASCAR team and a hangar full of restored vintage planes. While NASA has retired its costly and deadly Space Shuttle and which are now  collecting dust in museums.

That is appropriate if you think about it. That is where Government programs should go, to the dust bin of history. They are inefficient and waste valuable resources. Socialism, as Mises wrote will always fails because it lacks the pricing mechanism, stated differently Socialist systems lack the ability to calculate economically. That is the difference between the success of Red Bull and the failure of NASA and all other government programs.

Today we hear so much about how the Free Market and Profit seeking is destroying the “Economy”. But those love Liberty know that is false. As the United States Federal Government Collectivizes more and more individual wealth in this country it is destroying the Free Market. There are some bright spots still and that is why I love the story of Red Bull and the other private companies that are charting a new Era of Freedom in Space.

A perfect example of this is the LunarX prize. That is a prize offered to the first private non-governmental entity that can successfully launch, land, and operate a robot on the Lunar Surface. When the prize was first conceived NASA was going to be the sponsor. But due to budget cut backs they backed out. Google became the main sponsor and upped the prize money from 20 million to 30 million. It also opened the competion to all individuals regardless of what country they lived in and created bonus challenges. The most intersting bonus challengs awards an extra million dollars to the compnay that whose robot takes pictures of the Apollo 11 site and beams them back to earth. Private Enterprise always trumps State Enterprise.

The private space industry is growing everyday while the Space programs of the world are faltering or completely failed. There will be in the next five years an explosion of private space travel, while Government space programs will have to buy time like anyone else on the privately owned rockets and space stations.  Armadillo Aerospace, Bigelow Aerospace and Virgin Atlantic all see Space as a huge opportunity that government planners could never fathom. In other words some of the richest men in the world are investing billions of dollars into Privately owned Space travel and Space Stations. Why? Because just like Red Bull they are doing so for profit. Now their business models are very different from Red Bull but upshot is the same, going to Space makes economic sense to them. They see Profit in the Stars.

I hope that the amazing feat of Fearless Felix  and Red Bull will spark people to  ponder the difference between Privately owned vs. Collectively owned Capital. We can have more Red Bull,’s amazing Marketing trips to the Edge of Space,  Virgin Galactics Space Tours, Bigeolow Private Space Stations or we can have more mothballed Space Shuttles. The choice is ours. Diffusion of Knowledge within a society as Hayek wrote, can only be efficiently utilized if people are free to trade their knowledge and products and services which it creates, freely with each other.

When the State steps in and its central planners tell you that they know how best to spend your money, think of Red Bull and Fearless Felix. And think about the harmony that the Spontaneous Order of the Free Market facilitates versus the limitations and failures of Government Space Programs.

The Red Bull Stratos jump is a victory for not only Felix Baumgartner and Red Bull but also for the Free Market. It is an amazing story that an energy drink company from Austria can mount a manned mission to the edge of space and land him safely home. That is incredible. In twenty years from now instead of the NASA Logo or any other Government logo on the side of rockets there will be logos of Companies and even individuals. It will be Private Companies like Chevy, Ford, and Toyota do now in NASCAR, with all their associated sponsorships competing to take people and cargo into Space.  And I have a feeling Red Bull will continue to be a key player in getting people to the stars. And it will not be for the reason of  “National Pride” or “Collective Security” but for “Brand Differentiation and Profit”

Capital in the hands of Private individuals is the superior way to live as human beings. Being able to trade and keep the profits from the products and services created by Private Capital Leads to amazing inventions and betters everyone’s life. This is demonstrated by the successful track records of the entrepreneurs who are leading the privatization of space travel. Men like Dietrech Mateschitz co- founder of Red Bull and the Stratos jump , Robert Bigelow a hotel chain owner now designer and manufacturer of Private Space stations with his Bigelow AeroSpace company who currently has two prototypes orbiting earth, Richard Branson Aviation and telecom mogul with his Virgin Galactic and private space tours,  Peter Thiel founder of Pay Pal and investor in Space X which recently delivered cargo to the ISS, Paul Allen co-founder of Microsoft and StratoLaunch which won the Ansari X Prize in 2004, and John Carmack Founder of id Games and Armadillo Aerospace who is building lower cost reusable rockets; all prove that privately Owned Space flight is another example of how Individual Liberty is always superior to Collective Coercion.

Ayn Rand would have been very proud of Felix Baumgartner and Dietrich Mateschitz of Red Bull. This is her summation of her philosophy circa 1936:

” To make my life a reason unto itself. I know what I want up to the age of two hundred. Know what you want in life and go after it. I worship individuals for their highest possibilities as individuals and I loathe humanity, for its failure to live up these possibilities…”

Brad Miller

AdvocateofLiberty and Privately Owned Capital

If you want to learn more about the men and women who are living up the the highest possibilities in private space travel check out these sites.

http://www.redbullstratos.com/

http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/

http://armadilloaerospace.com/n.x/Armadillo/Home

http://www.virgingalactic.com/

http://bigelowaerospace.com/

http://bigelowaerospace.com/genesis-2-tracking.php Track in real-time the position of the Genesis II prototype Private Space Station launched by Bigelow Areospace in 2010.

Freedom in Film Friday: Elite Squad 2- The Enemy Within

In Freedom in Films Friday on April 6, 2012 at 4:58 am

The Motion Picture industry has been a bastion of Collectivist thought for decades. Ayn Rand famously tried to help  stem the “Red Tide” in Hollywood when she wrote her classic “Textbook of Americanism”. I hope to carry on her crusade but to do so in a different way. Instead of focusing on the negative my goal is to bring to light those films from around the globe that exemplify the struggle between Liberty and Coercion.

That is why I am starting a new post on Fridays to rate movies according to if they are  pro-liberty or pr0-tyranny. Each movie will be given a rating of zero to five “Beacons of Liberty”. A film receives a rating based on how well it exemplifies the ideas of Individualism or brings to light the terrible evils of Collectivism. An example of a movie that gets a rating of “5 beacons of liberty out of 5” is the film “1984”. That is the film version of  George Orwell’s classic novel which shows what the logical conclusion of collectivist thought leads to, which is the total annihilation of the individual.   I like all types of movies and I love Liberty so I thought this would be a great way to combine the two together. I’m also working on a Zombie Screenplay, so I will be reviewing tons of Zombie Movies in the future as well.

My first review is Elite Squad 2: The Enemy Within. It is a Brazilian film that deals with corrupt police and politicians and their ties with organized crime in Rio de Janeiro. I give it “4 Beacons of Liberty out of 5” because it shines the light on corrupt politicians  who use the power of government to buy votes, enrich themselves and use dirty cops to kill individuals to protect their interests.  The Main Character Lt. Colonel Roberto Nascimento discovers the corruption and is forced to confront the system when his best friend and son are shot.

Elite Squad Two is a sequel. The first Elite Squad focused on the war between cops and drug dealers. That is how  Elite Squad 2 begins but like Lt. Col. Nascimento says toward the end of the film “the system is much more comprehensive than I expected”. In the film Lt. Col. Nascimento is a member of an elite Para-Military Police Unit. He is a gung-ho hard charger ready to get rid of the drug dealing scum. After a prison riot where a drug cartel leader is shot he is promoted to head the wire tapping division at the Rio de Janeiro’s Department of Public Security. That is where he uncovers how the politicians are really the biggest criminals of all in Rio de Janeiro. At the end he testifies before a congressional hearing and because of his testimony he makes many of those corrupt cops and politicians pay.

He is helped throughout by an unlikely ally, a Diogo Fraga who is married to Nascimento’s ex-wife and is president of Human Rights Aide, a Non-Governmental Organization  that is critical of the brutal tactics of the Rio de Janeiro police.  At the beginning there is a prison riot scene where Fraga goes in to negotiate the release of the hostages where Nascimento  is in charge of the police force trying to end it. Things go wrong and the leader of the prison riot is shot as he is surrendering.  This catapults into the public eye both Fraga who is seen as a hero for risking his life to negotiate the end of the violence and Nascimento because his team killed the leader of the riot who was in the process of surrendering. Fraga pushes for Nascimento to get fired but after  public support for Nascimento becomes apparent the governor relents and instead of firing him promotes him to the Department of Public Security.

From there Nascimento goes to war against the drug dealers in the slums of Rio. As his para-military units  kills and captures the drug dealers the corrupt cops with their militias  backed by vote seeking politicians move in to fill the power vacuum.

Fraga and a Journalist are the only other one’s beside Nascimento who see that the politicians are in league with the militias. It all comes to a head when the journalist is murdered after she finds campaign posters and stolen police weapons in a house being rented by the corrupt cops and their militia, which ties the governor and two other corrupt politicians to the criminal activity of the militas.

The finale occurs at a Congressional hearing headed by Fraga in which Nascimento tesitifies and calls out the guilty politicians who are in league with the dirty cops. It is a great scene and one of my favorite lines from Nascimento’s speech is when he  questions his own brutal behavior in the past “I’ve been in the police force for 21 years. And in that time I can’t say why I’ve killed or in the name of whom I’ve killed for. But a cop doesn’t pull the trigger by himself. Half of your (talking to Fraga) colleagues should be in prison…over half.”

What I love most about this movie is the ending sequence or the resolution of the story. There is a sweeping camera shot of the Brazilian Capital, Brasilia. The Brazilian Capital built back in the 50’s was inspired by Socialist Utopian thinking and it was done on a grand scale.. It is stark and isolated. It is surrounded by the poverty and chaos outside its border. But the politicians live in its protected isolation. And that really sums up how the villains in the movie would have stayed in protected isolation if it had not been for Nascimento and Fraga. At the end Nascimento narrates over the sweeping shots of the Brazilian capital.

“The System is much more comprehensive than I expected. No wonder the drug dealers, cops and militiamen kill so many people in the slums. No wonder there are so many scandals that occur in Brasilia and despite the successive administrations the corruption persists.”

Nascimento continues his narration and asks ” Who do you think pays for all of this?” there is a pause then “Exactly and it’s quite expensive. Very Expensive”

Another excellent aspect of the film was the condemnation of the prison system in Brazil.   Diogo Fraga is introduced at the beginning of the film while  giving a lecture on the exploding Brazilian Prison Population. He is giving statistics and gets a chuckle out of the audience when he tells them that with the current rate of incarceration everyone in Brazil will be in prison by 2087. We shouldn’t be laughing in America though. The United States of America has the highest reported incarceration rate in the world. The prison population has exploded since the 1970’s and the biggest reason for that is the “War on Drugs”.

And that is one of the reasons I didn’t give “Elite Squad 2: Enemy Within a “5 Beacons of Liberty out of 5” because it doesn’t  address the real reason why the corrupt police and politicians have the excuse to expand their power and enrich themselves in the process.  When you destroy individual liberty through the law, the law enforcers must become increasingly totalitarian to keep the population in compliance.

The story is fiction but deals with real issues not only in Brazil but in every Government on Earth.  I also didn’t give it “5 Beacons of Liberty” because while the film does highlight the criminal activities of the police and Politicians, it fails to indict the real “System”, which is Government. That is where the few through legal means enrich themselves and their friends.  Stated differently, the film fails to get down to the bedrock of the problem which is Government itself.

Frederic Bastiat beautifully defined Government  which still applies today.

“Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else”.

That being said, anytime you have a congressional scene at the end of a movie in which Government officials are called to account and are shown being led to jail is an exciting and cathartic experience.  The story is one that anyone who loves liberty can get behind and the movie does illuminate corruption of politicians within the “System”.

But like Nascimento says in the film “the system will give up a hand to save an arm…and it is resilient.”
Overall I really enjoyed the film. It has some great action sequences, the  acting is first-rate and the story has a good pace. There is a subplot between  Nascimento and his son that will definitely pull at your heart-strings and reminds us that the force of government seems fine when it is used far away or against someone else but when it comes close to  home it becomes apparent how deadly it truly is.

Check out “Elite Squad 2: The Enemy Within” and let me know many “Beacons of Liberty” you would give it.

Brad Miller

AdvocateofLiberty and Living a life Free of Coercion

If you’re on Twitter you can follow me @bmill247