The Most Debilitating Disease of Our Time

No, it’s not COVID. It’s not even opiate abuse. Or depression. It is not something we even consider to be a disease per se. But it is pervasive and destructive, and it leaves even the most successful people ultimately empty.

It is the addiction to more. More power, more wealth, more things… just for the sake of having more. You know this monster. It is commonly called “greed”. 

Greed has evolved from something we think of as an individual’s flaw to encompass all of global commerce. It is insidiously destroying humanity.

There are precious few solo doctor practices, they are now almost all corporate entities. And each one strives to become larger and larger, swallowing up multispecialty groups and laboratories and radiology services. They are driven to cover larger regions, cross state lines, and prove themselves the biggest. Presumably, so they can negotiate higher compensations, but what is the ceiling on reimbursement? As they expand, they say it is to “serve the needs of more patients”. This advertisement is designed to suck people in, by pretending to old-style values like compassion and excellence and promising convenience and customer satisfaction. But the marketing is strictly calculated to increase revenue, even if it means demanding unnecessary testing, seeing unprecedented volume, and squeezing the life force out of the healthcare staff by demanding they please the consumers, once known as patients. 

This is not unique to medicine, by any means, but is especially distasteful when dealing in the currency of human life. We see this in book retailers, as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other huge distributors crowd out local bookstores. We see it in privately-owned pharmacies who are drowning in the shadows of CVS and Walgreen’s. Bodegas disappear in the wake of huge and growing supermarkets. The pandemic has only accentuated and accelerated a process that was set in motion years before. 

Have you ever noticed how many advertisements have nothing to do with the product they are selling? They entice you in with sweet, little animals and babies and family scenes while they create an auditory association with whatever they are marketing. Love, compassion, integrity have all become vehicles by which corporate moguls get the average person to buy something. Anything. Our values are being tainted, transmuted, defiled.

The question I’d like to ask the CEOs, the really important question, that needs a really honest answer is: How much is enough? 

How much do you really have to earn in a year for you to feel like your life is a success? That your existence is justified? After you’ve paid for the finest schools for your kids, have several houses on a couple of different continents (or islands), have your own private jet, swimming pools galore… How much more do you need? A trip into space? Do you not realize that your employees will work harder for you and be more productive if you treat them well? Give them a bonus? A gold watch? (Remember those days?) I may sound like a lone wolf howling in the wilderness, but the wilderness is vast and there are a number of wolves baying with the same voice. 

You just can’t hear us. You are not really in this world anymore. 

You are not part of the collective consciousness. 


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