Saturday, August 27, 2016


I was, briefly, delighted when the current kerfuffle concerning EpiPens broke out last week.

Red meat for the infotainment industry! Something they would sink their teeth into because EpiPens are ubiquitous, necessary, life-saving devices. They are carried in the backpacks of innocent school children (and the purse of my adult daughter) with certain allergies/conditions to keep them from dying! It's the duty of the infotainment industry to make the public at large aware that yet another greedy, evil, tax dodging corporation run by an evil, greedy, tax dodging CEO is ripping us off!

Because, it's the infotainment industry's (sometimes quaintly called the news media) job, nay duty, to keep the public informed via impartial and professional reportage!

In theory.

Of course, a hot story that affects lots of people means lots of ears and eyeballs. Which means higher ratings. Which is the name of the game. Which is the story behind the story. Which is the story behind many stories.

Because, the more ears and eyeballs, the more money that can be made fueling the 20 or so minutes of advertising in every hour of televised infotainment. Or the more money that can be made by the ever more aggressive methods used to advertise on the web. My current personal favorite shtick is when websites run full blown audio and visual commercials that automatically pop up and that, often as not, require me to go scrolling around to locate, and click to shut down -- if I can find the right place to click. One false move and another tab will open devoted to hyping the product I'm trying to avoid.

[Dana and Marie-Louise have appeared at their assigned shoulders. Dana is bitching about what any of this has to do with EpiPens. Marie-Louise is scratching my back and almost purring. She's proud that although this week's column was already written and ready to go I just got out of a warm comfortable bed and am writing a different one at 3 a.m., Saturday morning. She attributes this to her power as my muse.

Which, is partially true, but the fact that my swollen prostate and aging bladder keep odd hours is a significant factor as well. And now, unable to go back to sleep, well, here we are.]

I was briefly delighted because it was my hope that lots of EpiPen stories might mean a lot less The Donald v. The Hilliam stories. It did  -- for about a half of a New York minute. Before the week was out, The Hilliam attempted to fold it into her campaign by calling for The Gubmint to investigate.

The endless campaign is approaching its current climax, the climax occurs every other year on federal election day and then the cycle starts all over again -- the day after federal election day. Which means, in presidential elections, that one of the two people that have willingly endured at least (usually more) two years of climbing up a steep, jagged mountain, on their knees so they can win one of the most stressful jobs on Earth, will win the ultimate merit badge. Which should, make you think twice about what sort of person would put themselves through such a thing, and then you should vote for Gary Johnson, the real anti-establishment candidate, and supporter of congressional term limits.

Which means, we've reached that point in the process when both candidates spend most of their time playing a spirited game of You suck sweaty socks! No, you suck sweaty socks!

[You suck sweaty socks! exclaims Dana, what's your point! Marie-Louise is smiling, she can see where this is going. Scratch, scratch.]

Where I'm going with all this is that in light of the above, consider the following.

We rely on the infotainment industry to keep us informed. However, many claim the media overall is biased, and oversimplifies, for reasons ranging from laziness to being primarily profit-oriented (less text, more ads) to thinking the public is stupid. How's a person with a life go about finding out whether we can rely on them or not? Well, it's simple actually (you're welcome, GRIN).

Bookmark both the Fox news website and USA Today's website with your browser of choice. Whenever the mood strikes check one, read only the major headlines, and then do the same thing on the other. This will only take a sec'. You'll be amazed.

Obviously important information, particularly important info about The Gubmint, The Hilliam and/or The Donald for example, will turn up on one site, but be completely missing on the other. If you want to go into the weeds a bit more, read an article about the same subject on each site. It doesn't take long, they're deliberately dumbed down so you don't have to think any more than necessary and take up as little of your time as possible. They'd rather you clicked on an ad, or clickbait. Once again, you'll be amazed.

As to EpiPens specifically, consider this. Most coverage, regardless of source, rarely ventures beyond the familiar evil CEO/drug company taking advantage of a monopoly version of events. Even if they do, the headline and the first few paragraphs will probably take that tone. And in this case at least, they're more or less right, although personally I think sleazy is probably a more accurate adjective than evil. The story will probably be made into a movie eventually, one that's very loosely based on reality, stars lots of pretty people with perfect teeth, and the male and female lead will fornicate within the first ten minutes. Why mess with a winning formula?

However, you're much less likely to hear that the incompetence of the FDA, i.e. The Gubmint is the reason one company was able to capture, and continues to maintain, a monopoly. Google that and see what pops up.

In the meantime, various congresspersons, as well as senators and senatorettes (The Gubmint) are vowing to hold hearings to determine how the FDA (The Gubmint) that was established by -- The Gubmint, and is regulated by --The Gubmint, could let this happen. Fear not, The Gubmint will thoroughly investigate The Gubmint and find out how this evil sleazy company has been getting away with this, for years.

A big part of the answer is the screwed up health care system, the one The Gubmint fixed a few years back, the one that's about to launch some significant rate increases. But when it does, The Gubmint will once again investigate itself and straighten everything out.

[Aside: Why do we hate CEOs (saints or sinners) who get paid a ton of money for doing a job most sane people can't/wouldn't want to do but not professional football players (too many sinners, not enough saints) who get paid a ton of money to play a game? Just askin'.]

I gotta' get some sleep.

Have an OK day.

©Mark Mehlmauer 2016

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