Dispatches From the Culture Wars

Keeping meds scarce; Resistance in Montana; Hole Foods; Jews for war and fascism; Think tank$
May 2, 2017


America’s Other Drug Problem

By Marshall Allen
April 27, 2017

If you want to know why the nation’s health care costs are among the highest in the world, a good place to start is with what we throw away. Across the country, nursing homes routinely toss large quantities of perfectly good prescription medication: tablets for diabetes, syringes of blood thinners, pricey pills for psychosis and seizures.
At a time when anger over soaring drug costs has perhaps never been more intense, redistributing discarded drugs seems like a no-brainer. Yet it’s estimated that American taxpayers, through Medicare, spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year on drugs for nursing home patients — much of which literally go down the tubes.

Resistance Works. Here's How Hundreds of Montanans Rallied to Kill a Bill.

By Kayje Booker
April 28, 2017

Things are bad right now for many progressive causes. But the flip side is that people are mobilizing on a scale I haven’t seen before. There have been several big stories, from the airport protests against Trump’s travel ban to the town hall protests against repealing and replacing Obamacare, that show how effective protest can be in pushing back against bad policies.
Here’s my story of how a rally I helped organize stopped our government from selling off our precious national land. It’s a rare moment of hope in this time when it feels like politics is dark and overwhelming. And it shows how change can happen from the ground up.

Hard Times for Whole Foods: 'People say it's for pretentious people. I can see why'

By Edward Helmore
April 29, 2017
The Guardian

The chain helped make health food and organic food mainstream, and in its boom years shook up the food retail industry. Whole Foods had grand plans for a UK expansion too, opening its first outpost in Kensington in 2004 with plans for 40 more. But Whole Foods has stalled: like much of the retail sector, it faces economic headwinds including razor-thin margins, competition from other retailers offering organic food, and increasingly price-conscious consumers.

In 100 Days, A New Jewish Elite Rises Under Trump

By Nathan Guttman
April 30, 2017

Liberal-leaning Jewish activists, once the backbone of communal advocacy, have been pushed aside in favor of a new elite made up of activists who are more conservative in their politics and more Orthodox in their religious practice. The new leaders representing American Jewish interests in the White House are keen to shape policy on education and religious expression and to ensure a pro-Israel stance more in line with the Netanyahu government.

The Traditional Think Tank is Withering. In Its Place? Bankers and Consultants.

By Daniel W. Drezner
April 6, 2017
Washington Post

Anybody who works in Washington knows that think tanks play an important role in advising the government on policy. One organization in particular has dramatically increased its influence over the past decade. Foreign policy professionals respect its work more than that of the Heritage Foundation or the Center for American Progress. Its reach is so great that it has advised numerous foreign governments on their environmental policies.
The policy shop in question is McKinsey, a global — and highly profitable — consulting firm.

May 2, 2017