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2012 November

November: Ask Dr. Scott

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Q: My husband and I have enjoyed the previous questions and answers about drugs and health. I wonder if you have any thoughts about the high cost of medications in the United States? 
A: In light of the Supreme Court’s recent deliberations on the strengths and drawbacks of the Obama healthcare plan designed to rescue an ailing American healthcare system, one fact remains indisputable: Healthcare costs as administered by conventional medicine are spiraling out of control with few signs of tapering.

The fact that drugs are not cures but often only take the edge off the pain needs to be emphasized. Besides avoiding the prospect of being doped out on opioids and thus being less than fully functional to society, it doesn’t take a CSU-P professor to imagine what would happen if PREVENTIVE MEASURES and/or ALTERNATIVE TREATMENTS (such as chiropractic, good nutrition and diet, yoga, exercise and life-style changes, Chinese medicine and more) were incorporated into the American health care approach instead.

For example Workers’ Compensation studies have shown that costs per claim for chiropractic care were $7,505 for chiropractors compared to $16,558 for non-chiropractors; the average number of days to maximum medical improvement was 160.6 for chiropractic care and 219.2 days for non-chiropractic care; and the average number of days to return to work was 76.6 for chiropractic care and 130.4 for non-chiropractic care. (Folsom & Holloway, 2002) Of 10,652 back-related injuries occurring while on the job, those who received chiropractic care compared to medical incurred (a) 51.3% shorter total disability durations, (b) lower treatment costs by 58.8% ($558 vs. $1,100 per case) and (c) lower hospitalization rates (20.3% vs. 52.2%). (Wolk, 1988)

This is merely a sampling of these studies, probably merely the tip of the iceberg as to what savings could be achieved with chiropractic care. Particularly worrisome is the cost of pharmaceuticals, having been recently identified in the Journal of the American Medical Association as the chief driver (188% increase, from $7.3 billion to $19.8 billion) of the 65% increase in costs for spinal pain relief in the United States from 1997-2005. (Martin et al., 2008)

Under these circumstances, one wonders whether unlimited access to pharmaceuticals in the treatment of pain without exploring more conservative alternatives will ever solve the cost crisis in American healthcare.

By 2015 America is expected to spend 20% of all it produces on health care!! (Health Affairs, 2006) (And once upon a time we thought that the smart money was in real estate, a fact lamented by all of us in Southern Colorado whose financial situation has been battered by falling real estate values over the past several years.) A study in the Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association (2001) also showed that drug-related problems (overdoses, adverse reactions, etc.) cost the nation more than $177 billion for emergency room visits, nursing home care, hospital stays, and other expenses needed by people hurt or killed by prescription drugs.

Why do pharmaceutical companies have to spend 25% or more of their revenues on advertising? (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 2003) At least one reason is the drugs they market do not work for large numbers of people who take them. The majority of drugs — more than 90% — only work in 30 or 50 percent of the people. (Petersen, 2008) A literature review on the effectiveness of drugs prescribed for fourteen diseases found that the medicines worked in as few as 25% of patients who took them. (Trends in Molecular Medicine, 2001) 30 to 70% of patients get no benefit from taking statins, designed to reduce cholesterol. Drugs prescribed to strengthen bones worked in only 48% of patients taking them for osteoporosis. Pills swallowed to ease migraines succeeded only about 50% of the time. Medicines taken to stop incontinence were even less effective, easing bladder problems for only 40% of patients. As many as 50% of patients are not helped by antidepressants, either.

Prescription drugs can save lives. However they can cause severe, unpredictable and sometimes deadly side-effects even when used correctly (right situation, right amount, etc.) Some drugs can cost between $100,000 and $250,000 a year. Going broke might be acceptable to families if the medicines added years to their loved ones’ lives, but some of the superpriced drugs barely work at all. (Anand, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 16, 2005)

Unless causes of poor health in America are dealt with, drug treatments will fail in the long run – even when used as prescribed.

 

  • Dr. Scott Cuthbert is a chiropractor at Chiropractic Health Center in Pueblo, Colorado, as well as the author of two textbooks and multiple research articles. PuebloChiropracticCenter.com.
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Reconstructing Equilibrium

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n America efficiency is king and the elite speak the language of utility.  But to many of us economics is Thanksgiving and Black Friday; and these two days in November seem to serve as a fruitful analogy for trying to break through the bipolar psyche of American political economics. Thanksgiving Thursday families in Southern Colorado and around the country come together to share a meal, to break bread, and to take care of one another.  Communities sponsor food drives and soup kitchens provide food and shelter for less fortunate families.  This is the intrinsic welfare function in our community, the deeply held American value for equitable distribution of resources among free people.

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In America efficiency is king and the elite speak the language of utility.  But to many of us economics is Thanksgiving and Black Friday; and these two days in November seem to serve as a fruitful analogy for trying to break through the bipolar psyche of American political economics.
Thanksgiving Thursday families in Southern Colorado and around the country come together to share a meal, to break bread, and to take care of one another.  Communities sponsor food drives and soup kitchens provide food and shelter for less fortunate families.  This is the intrinsic welfare function in our community, the deeply held American value for equitable distribution of resources among free people.

Yet when the wee hours of Friday come around the entire consciousness changes and the same people volunteering at the soup kitchen become frenzied consumers, hedonistic utilitarians, unafraid to trample over the same people who the day before they selflessly donated their time to help, all for the chance at a cheap commodity.  This is the intrinsic American will to efficiency and competition, the microeconomic utility function being constructed in front of our eyes.

But when the transition from welfare to efficiency is made in such an unconscious manner with respect to the assumptions and implications of our ideologies, it’s no wonder why we find ourselves so violently entangled in a political discourse where one side paints the other as viral and contagious, or worse as a socialist.

But the reality of the situation is that the cure to an economic breakdown lies in a reconciliation of the sides and a consciousness that while the sides may seem separate, even alien to one another, that they are one, connected, and codependent.  Like a therapist should treat a patient with a split personality, the cure lies in unifying the separate characters in the individual by bringing to conscious the common thread.  Like it about ourselves or not, welfare and efficiency are permanent characters imprinted into the American conscience.

So how do we deal with this structural and ideological complex as bricks in the foundation?  Well, serious economist’s will tell us it is naïve to reduce the economic debate of our time to a battle between capitalism and socialism; and a pragmatic question is – How do we feel about the benefits of redistribution or allocation of resources and opportunity, between the rich and the poor, as well as the strengthening of welfare versus losses in terms of efficiency?

October 15, 2012, The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences decided to award a Nobel Prize in Economics to Alvin E. Roth of Harvard University and Lloyd S. Shapley of University of California, Los Angeles for “The Theory of Stable Allocations and The Practice of Market Design”.

Roth and Shapley’s work in market design and matching theory focuses on finding the most efficient way to match parties in transactions.

In the words of the Royal Swedish Academy of Science’s “Information for the Public”, or in other words, language for the rest of us without PhD’s in economics:

“Economists study how societies allocate resources. Some allocation problems are solved by the price system: high wages attract workers into a particular occupation, and high energy prices induce consumers to conserve energy.  In many instances, however, using the price system would encounter legal and ethical objections. Consider, for instance, the allocation of public-school places to children, or the allocation of human organs to patients who need transplants.  Furthermore, there are many markets where the price system operates but the traditional assumption of perfect competition is not even approximately satisfied. In particular, many goods are indivisible and heterogeneous, whereby the market for each type of good becomes very thin.

How these thin markets allocate resources depends on the institutions that govern transactions.

This year’s prizewinning work encompasses a theoretical framework for analyzing resource allocation, as well as empirical studies and actual redesign of real-world institutions such as labor-market clearinghouses and school admissions procedures.”

Aside from the notion that there could be an algorithm or mathematical formula that could aid in efficient and fair allocation of resources, jobs, education, and even organs to the people who need them the most, what is most striking about this economic theory is how impenetrable the language is.  And herein lies one of the most fundamental problems in economics today, only individuals specialized in economics can interpret economic ideas more nuanced than the blanket concepts of capitalism and socialism.  Because of this, the ruling consciousness in American political economics is derived from partisan rhetoric, rather than science.

Granted, an extraterrestrial that just landed on earth with the prerogative of learning all it could about the Earth’s economic systems would be right to read of Adam Smith and John Locke, but, would it be wrong to learn the economics of John Maynard Keynes and Mahatma Gandhi?

I think most people would agree that our alien intellectual would do well to study Milton Freedman as well as Karl Marx.

However, if you are a human being living in 2012 America you will be as fortunate discussing the benefits of resource or opportunity redistribution in the public sphere as scientists discussing a sun-centered galaxy in the 16th century.  And the effect of this American Political Economic Orthodoxy is that the majority of Americans never learn the language of economics or how to think about the stresses facing our system.  So very real issues like the arrested poverty line and stagflation is not confronted in public discourse.  The concept of expanding leisure at the expense luxury is never discussed politics.  And forward-looking economic models like commodity egalitarianism are dismissed with haste.

Gandhi said, “In well ordered society the securing of one’s livelihood should be, and is, found to be the easiest thing in the world.”  I believe you would have difficulty finding an economist from any school of thought who would disagree with this claim.

Economics is the language of the future and knowledge of it is what will truly set us free and give us back our destiny. 

By Matt Ramirez

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The wallet goes mobile- Passbooks

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As a small business owner, who happens to have a heavy appetite for technology, I’m constantly looking for ways I can use tech to help my business. Whether I’m looking for a better way to interact with customers or a new form of advertising, I turn to technology before anything else.
When Apple revealed a new app in iOS 6 called Passbook, it was billed as a single place for iPhone owners to store loyalty club cards, event tickets, coupons and travel documents. On the surface, it appeared to be for big box retailers and Fortune 500 companies.

Then, as someone who is part of the Apple Developer program, I was able to get my hands on iOS 6 and the tools to make passes early on. I soon realized how powerful the service was going to be for small businesses as well. You don’t need to look far to see how a small business can use Passbook passes to interact with customers — simply look at the PULP Pass. When you install the PULP Pass, you’re able to take advantage of promotions from local small businesses, exclusive to our pass. You’ll be alerted when you’re near a participating business, and all you’ll need to do is show the pass to get your discount. The PULP Pass is always there, but never in the way.

As a small business, you can begin to use Passbook today. You can either partner with us, or you can use one of the many online services available to create Passbook passes with. Some of the better ones are Passk.it, PassDock.com and PassSource.com. Some offer free trials, while others charge a monthly subscription based on your needs.

When you make a pass for your business, iPhone users can install it by scanning a QR Code, having the pass emailed to them, or by visiting a specific URL on their iPhone. Once the pass is installed, you now have a direct path of communication with your customer. You can update the pass as often as you’d like. With each update, regardless if it’s to announce a new promotion or event, those customers who have the pass installed will get an alert. You control how often alerts are sent, and what they say.

If you’re just an individual trying to figure out how Passbook works, start by installing the PULP Pass. It will give you the basic idea of what passes look like, and how you can interact with them. For a big business example, you can add your Starbucks card to Passbook and use it to purchase coffee. Not a fan of Starbucks? Try installing the Valpak app and use Passbook to store your localized coupons.

The first year of a new product, such as Passbook, is always the most interesting. It starts out with a perception of how customers and developers should use it. Then, as time goes on, creative minds start using it in creative ways it may have never been intended for. That’s precisely what’s happening with Passbook right now. By starting to use it now, as a small business, you can mold what Passbook is to become in the coming months and years.

Install the PULP Pass by visiting pueblopulp.com/pass

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November Horoscopes

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Scorpio 10/23–11/21
Empowerment is going to be your personal theme this October dear Scorpio. The sun is having a major influence in your life allowing you to shine just as bright as our nearest star. Once you lasso this energy the real journey of discovery consists not in seeking new vistas, but in having new eyes.

Sagittarius 11/22–12/21

If you want it, get out there and grab it. You’re likely to be in great shape both mentally and physically. Your confidence will also place you where you need to be—a feeling of being in the right place at the right time. Venus is a magnet this month attracting all types of good things and placing them in your path. Remember, that which you seek also seeks you.

Capricorn 12/22–1/19

The Sun is having an interesting effect on your personality this month. It may be making you impatient and thus you formulate hasty decisions. It seems you are making these choices from a bruised ego and not from the heart. Studies prove that if there is an imperative decision, sleeping on it is actually very beneficial.  Remember, if you are feeling irritated and restless regard it as a good thing it means change is coming. 

Aquarius 1/20–2/18

Mercury the messenger is delivering the power of intellect right to your proverbial front door. Knock knock, Aquarius, are you going to open the door? Yes! Never be afraid of making a mistake, for it is in them we will find what we are looking for.  The only thing you need to ask yourself, what is it that you are searching for?

Pisces 2/19–3/20

Your transits this month are on an upward bound ready to take you up, up, and away. Are you ready to fly, Pisces? Venus is highlighting your love life so you’re seemingly more passionate about all the right things. It’s key to remember that you are always in the right place at the right time; the present moment is just that, a present.

Aries 3/21–4/19

A long-lasting Sun square Pluto alignment is going to act as the perfect catalyst to promote transformation and change. Be your own alchemist and create whatever it is that you want to manifest into your life.  Act like it is here now and it will be evident before your very eyes.

 

 

Taurus 4/20—5/20

It’s always darkest before the dawn, dear Taurus. If it’s difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel let your friends, family, and your incredible self worth guide you. You’re transits this month are favorable especially spiritually and in love. The moment we set off to find it, it sets off in search of us–and saves us.

 

Gemini 5/21–6/21

This month the stars are aligning to form an alliance that will bring balance to your professional, social, and romantic life.  Life is not a process of discovery but that of creation, be the change that you wish to see in the world. Mercury is also important this month for the messenger is going to deliver a delicious beverage that will quench your insatiable thirst for knowledge.

 

Cancer 6/22–7/22

Harness the star energy coming at you this month and channel it creatively. There may be a strong pull from Jupiter that is trying to affect you negatively causing anxiety and the feeling of being trapped. You create your own self prison through limiting thoughts, break free.

 

Leo 7/23–8/22

This month it is vital that you follow your heart but do not let your emotions make or break you. You can’t control how you feel but you can control how you react. Certain obstacles will be thrown at you but it is up to you whether you jump over them or fall over them, either way the track is still there and the finish line is waiting.

Virgo 8/23–9/22

If you didn’t feel the change that initially came with autumn’s arrival then you will definitely feel the effects now. Instead of trying to fight the current and drown yourself with worry and doubt ride the current with a blunt feeling of confidence and faith.

Libra 9/23–10/22

If you want to do something you will find a way and if you don’t you will find an excuse. If certain issues arise this month, don’t hesitate to take action. You’re very skilled at weighing the pros and cons of the situation at hand, just don’t let it drive you mad trying to find that perfect balance. Do what you can and then let the universe conspire to get the rest done.

 

By Rebecca Vigil

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