Brave New World Disorder
So you think we are living in 1984 and well you are kinda right, but just wait this dystopia is turning to a Brave New World floowed by the Handmaid's Tale.
BRAVE NEW WORLD
BRAVE NEW WORLD ?
A Defence Of Paradise-Engineering
The President's New Freedom Commission On Mental Health: The Plan to Drug American School Children
By: George Stone
In a sweeping move to erase parental rights and hook millions of children on drugs, President Bush created the very mis-named New "Freedom" Commission on Mental Health. Despite the appealing false name and fraudulent compassionate-sounding goals, this is just yet another example of Bush victimizing the people to enrich his friends in big business. This article lays bare the truth of what your government has been up to.
MEDICALIZATION: Convincing Healthy People They Are Sick
This paper outlines the deliberate marketing of harmful drugs to children as a direct result of the drug industry take over of the American mental health system. My point of departure is Ivan Illich's broader assertion that "The medical system has become a major threat to health." (1976) Time has proven Illich to be a prophet: medicine is now the leading cause of death in America. (Null 2005) What is wrong in American medicine is also wrong in psychiatry. Pharma marketeers claim psychiatric drug treatment is a scientific miracle. However, the outcome evidence on psychiatric treatment shows otherwise: the recovery rate for treated schizophrenia has fallen from 70% in the mid-nineteenth century to 11% today, while the death rate for the "new" atypical antipsychotic drugs is double that of the older typical class. These outcomes contrast with 49-51% recovery Third World countries, like India and Nigeria, where these drugs are not used consistently. (Whitaker 2004) The suicide rate for treated schizophrenia in the UK has increased 20 fold since the introduction of antipsychotic drugs in 1954. (Healy et al 2006) Five times as many people are being defined as permanently mentally ill (disabled) today than before the introduction of drug treatment. (Whitaker 2005) Yet, inspite of these ominous facts, millions of American children are routinely being given these dangerous drugs.
How did this happen?
The drugging of American children is not accidental. It is a part of the larger problem of the premeditated medicalization of modern life discussed by Illich (1976), McKnight (1999) and others. However, the issue goes beyond the use of drugs: it is about freedom. The massive pharmaceutical corporations, which barely existed before World War II, are the most profitable legal businesses in human history. They have the money, the plan and the ruthless determination to medicalize our lives to sell us as many drugs as possible. They are a major threat to the basic human rights, as well as the health, of every person on the planet.
By "medicalization" I mean Pharma is deliberately and systematically promoting ideas about illness and disease to explain everyday life. (Summerfield 2002) By blurring the boundaries between sickness and health, Pharma convinces healthy people they are sick (Moynihan & Cassels 2005), and that "lifestyle" drugs, like Viagra, are necessary to happiness as well as health. (Abramson 2004)
Medicalization is an iatrogenic disaster of unbelievable proportions: it is inflicting harm on the lives of tens of millions of people. As our culture becomes a biomedical folktale we are being robbed of our traditional ways of managing illness and meeting death. And, in addition, the high cost of drugs threatens to bankrupt the American health care system, if not the entire American economy.
Pharma has used its economic power to create an effective lobby, which controls U.S. public health policy as well as watchdog agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
More frightening still, as I will show, the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health (NFC) is a creation of pharmaceutical interests. Two of its central policy recommendations are bald-faced drug marketing schemes. The first targets 52 million American school children for mental health screening by a program known as "TeenScreen." While the second irrevocably links the mental health treatment psychiatric drugs - - not coincidentally, the most expensive and dangerous psychiatric drugs - - using the pseudo-scientific Texas Medication Algorithmic Program or TMAP.
Let's begin with a look at the money trail of legal drugs and some Pharma history.
"The US government contributes more money to the development of new drugs in the form of tax breaks and subsidies than any other government. Of the 20 largest pharmaceutical corporations, nine are based in the United States. Yet drugs are more expensive in the United States than in any other part of the world, and the global drug companies make the bulk of their profits in the United States.
"The pharmaceutical and health products industry has spent more than $800 million in federal lobbying and campaign donations at the federal and state levels in the past seven years.No other industry has spent more money to sway public policy in that period.its combined political outlays and lobbying and campaign contributions is topped only by the insurance industry." (Ismail 2005)
Pharma's huge profit margin has allowed it to buy control of the FDA.
"Most of the industry's political spending paid for federal lobbying. Medicine makers hired about 3,000 lobbyists, more than a third of them former federal officials, to advance their interests before the House, the Senate, the FDA, the Department of Health and Human Services, and other executive branch offices." Yet, "The drug industry's huge investments in Washington [are] meager compared to the profits they make [from].a series of favorable laws on Capitol Hill and tens of billions of dollars in additional profits.They have also fended off measures aimed at containing prices, like allowing importation of medicines from countries that cap prescription drug prices, which would have dented their profit margins.In 2003 alone, the industry spent $116 million lobbying the government.Congress passed, and President George W. Bush signed, the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, which created a taxpayer-funded prescription drug benefit for senior citizens.[in] Medicare, the government program that provides health insurance to some 41 million people, the [drug] industry found a reliable purchaser for its products. Thanks to a provision in the law for which the industry lobbied, government programs like Medicare are barred from negotiating with companies for lower prices .Critics charge that the prescription drug benefit will transfer wealth from taxpayers, who provide the funding for Medicare, to pharmaceutical companies." (Ismail 2005)
Pharma's influence saturates every aspect of our lives and culture with harm like DDT once saturated our physical environment. Here's how it began.
THORAZINE: The First Pill to Create Its Own Ill
David Healy (2002), the British psychiatrist and drug researcher, believes that the marketing of Thorazine in the US in 1954 created the modern drug era and ultimately gave us everything from Valium to Viagra. Smith-Kline-French (SKF, now Glaxo-Smith-Kline GSK) was a small, $50 million dollar pharmaceutical house, when it obtained the rights to market Thorazine. The drug was originally used as an anesthetic; however, it was introduced in the U.S. as an antinausea drug, which then made $75 million dollars (in 1954 dollars) as an antipsychotic in its first year on the market. Within five years it had elevated SKF to a $350 million dollar a year house. Thorazine taught the pharmaceutical industry how to market an ill for every new pill it discovers.
I should add that Doctor Healy also sounded the alarm on the danger that Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor antidepressants (SSRI) posed for children. Read as, "Pharma is so powerful in the U.S. it prevented FDA action on SSRI's, so warnings had to come from the outside."
GADSDEN'S GANG: Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun.
Thirty years ago, when the late Henry Gadsden was CEO of Merck pharmaceuticals, he candidly told Fortune magazine how unhappy he was that his company's potential markets were limited to sick people. He wanted Merck to be like "Wrigley's, chewing gum," so that "Merck would be able to 'sell to everyone.'"(Moynihan & Cassels 2005) Gadsden's dream did not die with him: although Americans make up only 5 percent of world population, they consume 50 percent of world pharmaceutical production. This kind of consumption isn't a social accident. The gang Gadsden left behind made this happen through careful planning, hard work and the infusion of obscene amounts of cash. One must admire Pharma's achievements, even while condemning the consequences they have brought down on us.
Pharma marketing has not only convinced Americans their drugs are necessary, but that Americans have the best health care system available. But according to John Abramson, while we have the most expensive health care system it is far from the best. Although we spend twice as much on health per person than any other nation, our healthy life expectancy ranks twenty-second out of twenty-three industrialized countries, better only than the Czech Republic. Two-thirds of American medicine is beneficial. However, one-third is ineffective, unnecessary and even deadly, as well as expensive. This one-third of medicine adds $500 billion dollars annually to the cost of our health care, while shortening our lives and even killing us outright. And, shamefully, America is the only industrialized nation that does not offer universal health coverage to all its citizens, 43 million Americans do not have health insurance benefits. This leads Abramson to conclude, "Putting the pharmaceutical industry in charge of our health is like putting the fast food industry in charge of our diet." (2004)
MEDICINE AS MIRACLE: Modern Alchemy
A recent Glaxo-Smith-Kline (GSK) TV drug ad proudly claimed, "Today's medicines finance tomorrow's miracles." This five-word marketing slogan is a revealing self-portrait of the industry. In fact, drug sales finance three main activities: 1) drug research and medical research, 2) drug marketing and public relations, and 3) drug lobbying. These are Orwellian processes, not miracles, and they are larger, more complex and better coordinated than the invasion of Normandy. Allen Jones, who exposed the illegal influence that drug companies exerted on the state of Pennsylvania (and was fired for it), puts the matter this way:
"This isn't a David verses Goliath battle. There is no stone big enough to whack the pharmaceutical industry in the forehead and knock it over. These guys are operating in the shadows. They are operating in the dark. They are operating by buying off decision-makers in an illegal manner. There needs to be exposure of that. It's like fighting vampires, not fighting giants.It's an industry that is very organized and an industry that is ruthless. It is an industry with a long-term view and a long-term plan." (Whitehead 2005)
Similarly, Moynihan and Cassels say:
The extent of the pharmaceutical industry's influence over the health system is simply Orwellian. The doctors, the drug reps, the medical education, the ads, the patient groups, the guidelines, the celebrities, the conferences, the public awareness campaigns, the thought-leaders, and even the regulatory advisors - - at every level there is money from drug companies lubricating what many believe is an unhealthy flow of influence. Industry does not crudely buy influence with individuals and organizations - - rather its largesse is handed out to those considered to be most commercially helpful. The industry's sponsorship is strategic, systematic, and systemic. It is designed primarily to engender the most favorable view of the latest and most expensive products. But it is also used to maximize the size of the markets for those products, by portraying conditions like [Irritable Bowel Syndrome] IBS as widespread, severe, and above all, treatable with drugs. And, who is supposed to be fearlessly regulating this mess? The public agencies who themselves rely on the very same industry for much of their funding. (2005:171-172)
THE FINGER PRINTS OF PHARMA MARKETING STRATEGIES
Pharma's marketing strategies leave unmistakable fingerprints. For a more complete discussion of these fingerprints see Moynihan and Cassels 2005. The Pharma "miracle" is an alchemy predicated on expanding the definition disease itself, while narrowing the treatment of any given disease to a specific drug or class of drugs. By using these simple strategies, Pharma can redefine a risk factor, like osteoporosis (the natural reduction in bone density that occurs with age) as a dreaded disease that affects millions of women. The transformation of a disease usually takes place under the cover of an "expert consensus process." Pharma convenes a panel of "experts" under the banner of a prestigious university or organization. (Whitehead 2005) The experts reach a "consensus" about a particular disease or drug that favors the drug companies. The consensus then becomes the "standard of treatment" for the disease or drug in question. Moynihan & Cassels outline this process with osteoporosis. (2005) To put a favorable marketing spin on osteoporosis, Merck donated money to the World Health Organization (WHO) to "study" the "disease." In return, WHO allowed Merck to hand-pick a panel of friendly experts, who then created the definition of osteoporosis Merck wanted. That is, the panel concluded that the bone density of a healthy 30-year-old woman should be the diagnostic standard. This means any woman with a bone density less than that of a healthy 30-year-old can be said to be have osteoporosis. By raising the diagnostic standard, Merck was able to increase the number of women who could be "diagnosed" with the treatable "disease" of osteoporosis. The panel's consensus was written into the medical lore as a research project sponsored by WHO and is now the standard of practice for treating osteoporosis. Merck's guiding hand is invisible to the casual observer. (Moynihan & Cassels 2005)
But Merck did not stop there. In Western medicine there can be no treatment without diagnosis: a drug cannot be sold without a diagnosis to justify its use. In addition to expanding the definition of a disease, Merck also insured that the means to diagnose the millions of allegedly afflicted persons would also be available. Merck stacked the deck by promoting diagnostic procedures, which would lead to a dramatic increase in the number people actually diagnosed with a problem. For osteoporosis, x-rays are the means to determine bone density levels for individual diagnoses. Therefore, Merck subsidized the purchase of x-ray machines to conduct screening exams. Radiologists, who would benefit from a boom in business, were natural allies in promoting screening exams. (Moynihan & Cassels 2005, chapter 8)
Two distinctive fingerprints of Pharma marketing are: 1) The ability to redefine a "disease" and 2) the ability to develop the means for "diagnosis" of the newly expanded disease. These provide the rationale for "treatment," in this case, with a drug like Fosamax. Presto! With this alchemy Pharma can spin any disease/drug combination into a winner that insures billions of dollars in bottom line profits - - before the drug is even approved for sale!
The problem is, of course, that to achieve this goal everyday human unhappiness must be deliberately and wrongly transformed into a medical problem, and unnecessary, ineffective and even harmful drugs must be promoted to treat the new problem.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is another example. SAD was a rare problem prior to its treatment by drug marketeers, who spun it into a major disease affecting millions of people and treatable by SSRI's. (Abramson 2004)
As I will show in a moment, these drug marketing strategies have been put to use in creating the NFC itself and in shaping its recommendations for universal mental health screening and making drug algorithms the standard for psychiatric treatment. However, before going on I want to review the Vioxx disaster. Most Americans know very little about this tragedy - - or how close it came to involving American children.
TARGETING CHILDREN: Anyone's Child Will Do
Following Gadsden's logic of selling drugs to "everyone" ultimately means selling unnecessary or dangerous drugs and it means selling them for children as well as adults. The marketing of the painkiller Vioxx by Merck offers a recent example of this ruthlessness pursuit of profit. It also illustrates how ineffective the FDA has become in protecting us from harm as it is mandated to do.
Nobody knows exactly how many people were killed and injured as a direct result of taking Vioxx as prescribed. However, the scale of human damage emerged in August 2004 through the research of FDA drug safety officer, Dr. David Graham. Graham estimated that Vioxx tripled the incidence of heart attack and stroke in high doses; and that it killed somewhere between 39,000 and 61,000 Americans. The lives of as many as 80,000 others were "forever changed" by nonfatal heart attacks and strokes. If Graham's high estimates are correct, more American's died from Vioxx than from combat in Vietnam. (Sherer 2005) Not surprisingly, Graham's work was dismissed by his boss at the FDA, Dr. Steven K. Galson. In fact Galson told him to shut up and tried to discredit his work as junk science. Then, only two weeks after Graham made his report, the FDA approved Vioxx for use with children!!!! Let there be no mistake about this: American children were spared harm only because Merck "voluntarily" removed the drug from the market in September 2004, when its own research showed the drug doubled heart attack and stroke risk - - even in low doses. However, as I will show later, atypical antipsychotic drugs have doubled the death rate of the typical antipsychotics and have not been removed from the market - - in fact, they are widely used with children.
Merck's marketing slogan is, "Merck, where patients come first." The fact that the company "voluntarily" removed the drug seems to support its commitment to the slogan. However, in 2005, wrongful death litigation uncovered evidence that Merck researchers and executives knew as early as 1997 - - two years before Vioxx went on the market - - that the drug increased the risk of heart attack and stroke. They actively hid the facts from the medical community and the American public. (Berenson 2005) For example, in the famous Vigor trial of Vioxx published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2000, Merck deleted data about three heart attacks among trial participants. (Pierson 2005)
Merck removed Vioxx to protect itself from liability, not to protect the American public from heart attack and stroke, and then only after its strenuous efforts to suppress harmful data failed. Meanwhile, the FDA was protecting Merck's marketing interests, not American consumers and their children. FDA officials demonstrated their willingness to put American children on the Vioxx chopping block, even after FDA officials knew how dangerous Vioxx was. Merck's CEO for 11 years, Gilmartin, resigned in May 2005 as a result of this scandal.
This kind of corporate and regulatory misconduct is criminal and demands prosecution, not just resignation. The Vioxx tragedy does not end with it being taken off the market in 2004. Unfortunately, it is a gift that keeps on giving: a clear pattern in the recent deaths of former Vioxx users shows the drug produces lingering and potentially fatal damage to the heart and circulatory system for at least one year after taking it. (KSKA 2006) Meanwhile, other dangerous drugs, such as the entire spectrum of psychiatric drugs, remain on the market. And new drugs are being developed. Will these be safe? How will we know if they are safe? The one thing we can be sure of is that all of us, including our children, remain in the drug marketeers cross hairs.
THE NEW FREEDOM COMMISSION: Sacrificing American Children
Rather than influencing an existing prestigious organization, like WHO, Pharma simply got the President of the United States to create a new, unimpeachable organization, to its exact specifications- - the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health (NFC). Pharma fingerprints are all over the development of the NFC in the familiar strategies of 1) an expert panel 2) broadening the scope of disease, while 3) narrowing treatment to a few drugs and 4) subsidizing screening/diagnosis to identify potential customers. Mr. Bush created and named the NFC and named the panel of experts that sat on it. This means that Pharma has captured control of U S public mental health policy. This scam is one of the biggest hijacking of public tax dollars in history. Since individuals citizens are unable and insurance companies are unwilling to pay for high priced psychiatric drugs, Pharma arranged that Uncle Sam foot the bill with public money.
The NFC recommendations I want to call your attention to are: 1) the universal mental health screening for all Americans, beginning with 52 million American school children, and 2) the use of the Texas Medication Algorithmic Program (TMAP) as the standard of treatment for mental illness.
The school mental health screening is based on a program called "TeenScreen," a computerized, self-administered psychological test. Once identified as mentally ill by the mental health screening, the children would be treated according to the algorithms of TMAP. TMAP is a pseudo-scientific list of the most expensive psychiatric drugs; its purpose is to insure that only the newest, most expensive drugs are used. Once TMAP is adopted by a state it becomes the standard of practice for treating mental illness in that state. Physicians must comply with that standard, which means they must prescribe the most expensive drugs on the market - - these drugs also happen to be the most dangerous and least effective on the market as well, as I will show in a moment.
What a sweetheart deal for Pharma: using TeenScreen insures massive screening to create new customers, while TMAP locks in the most expensive drugs as the standard of "treatment." What ever happened to the "Free Market" here?
I will show that these NFC recommendations are being made despite the fact that there is no scientific evidence to support them. On the contrary, the evidence is against them: there is no known valid and reliable mental health screening test available at this time, psychiatric drugs are ineffective and harmful. Only the power and prestige of the US presidency sustains them.
I find it disturbing (but not surprising) that this corrupt process is taking place in full public view, and is being presented as a scientifically based, cutting edge US Public Mental Health Policy. Furthermore, it is even more disturbing that both TMAP and the NFC were created under the stewardship of George W. Bush. He signed off on TMAP as governor of Texas, and on the NFC as President of the United States. He has been taken in by drug interests, which means he is stupid, or he is a knowing participant in this corrupt process. (Whitehead 2005) In either case, he is culpable; the system that created him must be examined and revised.
Since Michael Moore's film Fahrenheit 911 and the publication of Kevin Phillips Dynasty, many American's are aware of the strong ties between the Saudi Royal family and the Bush family around oil. However, not as many know that there are also strong ties between the Pharmaceutical industry and the Bush family as well. George H.W. Bush sat on Lilly's board of directors. Lilly gave $1.6 million dollars in campaign contributions during the 2000 election. 82 percent of this money went to Republicans and George W. Bush. And, Mr. Bush, or his advisor and brain Karl Rove, appointed one active and one former Lilly employee to important public positions. Sidney Taurel, Lilly's CEO, was appointed to the Homeland Security Council (HSC), while Robert N. Postlehwait was appointed to the NFC. (Whitehead 2005)
Here's how the TMAP scheme works: administrative changes in Texas government made the University of Texas Medical Center (UTMC) a key mental health player in the state. UTMC was placed in charge of all public mental health, including the mental health of all state prisoners. The drug companies recognized this change and began to court the University, as well as mental health and correction personnel. They donated money to create TMAP and "educate" state providers about its benefits. There are also two or three drug lobbyists for every legislator in the state of Texas. So, in addition to influencing the university, mental health and corrections systems, the drug companies influenced the Texas legislature. When TMAP was officially adopted, Texas Medicaid, which insures public mental health patients, picked up the bill. It was nearly driven into bankruptcy by the expensive TMAP drugs.
Again we see a Pharma pattern: relatively modest investments pay high returns: Pfizer contributed $232,000 to TMAP start up and, in return, Texas paid Pfizer $233 million in tax dollars for drugs like Zoloft. Johnson & Johnson (Janssen Pharmaceuticals) contributed $224,000 and collected $272 million for Risperdal. Eli Lilly had the biggest jackpot; it gave only $109,000 and collected $328 million for Zyprexa. As the Governor of Texas, George W. Bush had oversight on this process. (Pringle 2005)
The drugs on the TMAP list are hundreds of times more expensive than the older typical antipsychotics and antidepressants, which are now "generic" drugs because their patents have expired. For example, the typical antipsychotic Haldol, which is off patent, costs around 8 cents per pill, or about $2.40 per month, while the atypical Zyprexa, which is still under patent to Eli Lilly, costs $8 per pill or about $240 per month. (Whitehead 2005)
Texas Medicaid picked up the huge tab for TMAP drugs in that state because the expert consensus process presented itself as "scientific." But it was pseudo-science. In fact, the CATIE studies recently completed by NIMH show that the older drugs are as effective, cheaper, and safer than the new drugs on TMAP. It is interesting to note that every drug on TMAP now bears a "black box' warning label mandated by the FDA.
Hey ho, nobody home! With Governor Bush supporting the TMAP, and with key experts and the legislature in its pocket, there was virtually no oversight for the project. (Whitehead 2005) The scheme worked so well that drug companies began exporting it to other states and even other countries.
Charles Currie's name is not a household word, but it should be. He was in charge of the Pennsylvania mental health system at the time TMAP was brought into that state from Texas. He gave final approval for adoption of TMAP in Pennsylvania, where it is known as PennMap; and he supervised the people who set up illegal "off book" accounts for the drug industry bribes to Pennsylvania officials that lubricated the process. Soon thereafter, President Bush (or Karl Rove) appointed Currie head of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) - - perhaps as a reward for his good work on PennMap. Once at SAMHSA, Currie began vigorously promoting TMAP, TeenScreen, and other NFC recommendations. (Whitehead 2005) For example, in July 2005, a SAMHSA press release announced its sponsorship of the Federal Mental Health Action Agenda (FMHAA). FMHAA is a coalition of six cabinet level departments, including Health and Human Services, Justice, Housing and Urban Development, and represents a major effort to fast track implementation of NFC recommendations, including TeenScreen and TMAP. FMHAA adds the authority and prestige of SAMHSA and six cabinet level departments to the already prestigious NFC. This unprecedented cabinet level coalition was launched in the face of growing evidence that the screening and medicating recommendations are neither safe nor effective.
The creators of TMAP claim they used scientific evidence to establish the safety and effectiveness of the drugs on their list. However, Allen Jones a former investigator for the Pennsylvania Office of the Investigator General (OIG) disputes this claim, "It has been revealed that TMAP personnel may have tampered with the research results through a process known as 'Retrospective Analysis.' Patients who had previously been treated with the new medications were researched, and files showing positive results were selected [out] and reported on. Unsurprisingly, TMAP research 'confirmed' that the new drugs were safer and more effective than the older treatments. Ignoring contrary findings, TMAP employees referred to their algorithm as being 'Evidence-Based Best Practices.' [But] Dr. Peter J. Weiden, a member of the project's expert consensus, stated that the guidelines promoted by the program are based on 'opinions, not data' and that 'most of the guideline's authors have received [financial] support from the pharmaceutical industry." (Whitehead 2005) TMAP drugs were selected by an "expert consensus process;' a process that, as we have already seen, can easily be rigged to promote special interests. "A project management team tied to the [drug] industry selected other doctors whose opinions were then analyzed or accessed by TMAP. They determined from that process that these drugs were safer and more effective, and that became their mantra. But they used pseudo-science. And of the 55 doctors pooled for the first schizophrenia consensus, 27 had [financial] ties to the pharmaceutical industry." (Whitehead 2005) NFC later named TMAP a "model program" despite its lack of scientific rigor. Let's examine the safety and efficacy of the TMAP drugs in more detail.
Robert Whitaker recently published evidence that, at best, antipsychotic drugs temporarily reduce psychiatric symptoms in the short term, but in the long term they shatter the mental and physical health of those persons who take them. Furthermore, he shows that that the death rate of patients on the newer TMAP drugs, the atypical antipsychotics like Eli Lilly's Zyprexa, is double that of patients taking the older, cheaper typical antipsychotics, like Haldol. (Whitaker 2005) The suicide rate for treated schizophrenic persons has increased 20-fold since the introduction of psychiatric drugs. (Healy 2006) Weight gains of 240 pounds or more and a higher incidence of diabetes has been documented with the use of these drugs. (Whitehead 2005) "The uncontrolled movements caused by the older drugs were 'less troubling than the potentially fatal metabolic problems' associated with some of the newer drugs."(Vedantam 2005; emphasis added) David Healy (2002) describes the danger this way, "The rhetoric of modern drug development is powerful enough to blind clinicians to preventable deaths and obscure the fact that the life expectancies of their patients are falling rather than rising." You may remember Healy as the British researcher who blew the whistle on the use of SSRI's in children when the FDA failed to do so.
Let me summarize the situation: 1) the NFC was created as part of Laurie Flynn Pharma agenda. 2) TMAP, created under George W. Bush's tenure as governor of Texas, is a list of expensive, ineffective and dangerous drugs. 3) despite its political/pharmaceutical birth, TMAP is presented as "scientific" and a "model" program and that has the support of President Bush's NFC. 4) TMAP drugs have all been shown to be no more effective than older, cheaper drugs and they are far more dangerous than those older drugs. 5) TeenScreen has no scientific validity (it has high levels of false positives, for example). 6) TeenScreen has a record of flagrantly bypassing parental consent in screening children. 7) Children shown to be at risk by the TeenScreen program would be referred to a standard of treatment that is highly likely to use the dangerous TMAP drugs.
Is this the best US public mental health policy has to offer?
TeenScreen and TMAP represent naked drug company greed. Even before these NFC recommendations were made there were 15 million Americans on Zyprexa (7.4 million) and Risperdal (7.6 million) alone in 2002. Sales of atypical antipsychotic drugs reached $6.4 billion, making them the fourth best selling class of drugs in America. "The combined sales of antidepressants and antipsychotics jumped from around $500 million in 1986 to nearly $20 billion in 2004 - - a 40-fold increase." (Whitaker 2004 & 2005) Yet, apparently this kind of growth is not enough for Pharma. A public mental health policy to screen children and get more of them on atypical antipsychotics is also required.
Gadsden can only be smiling as he looks down from CEO Heaven.
American psychiatry maintains that "schizophrenia" is a chemical imbalance in the brain, despite the fact that there is no scientific evidence to support this theory. It also ignores existing evidence that schizophrenia might have social causes and treatments. For example, WHO research shows that recovery from schizophrenia in industrializing countries, like India and Nigeria, is holding steady at 49-51%, while it is only 11% in industrialized countries, like Denmark and the US. This led WHO researcher Jablensky et al to conclude, "Being in a developed country was a strong predictor of not attaining complete remission." (Richporte-Haley 1998) Furthermore, recovery rates for schizophrenia in Western countries have been falling most sharply since the introduction of antipsychotic drugs fifty years ago. (Richporte-Haley 1998; Whitaker 2002 & 2005a&b)
Allen Jones contends that the TeenScreen program is "designed to diagnose mental illness in teenagers.[but] has been shown to be coercive and unreliable. It serves the same political/pharmaceutical alliance that generated the Texas project [and is] behind the New Freedom Commission." Using TeenScreen, this alliance is "poised to consolidate the TMAP effort into a comprehensive national policy.with expensive, patented medications of questionable benefit and deadly side effects." (Whitehead 2005)
TeenScreen: Introducing Children to Life-Long Use of Psychiatric Drugs
Just as Pharma subsidized bone density tests in osteoporosis, so it is behind the promotion of TeenScreen as the mental health-screening tool of public mental health policy. TeenScreen is a nonprofit organization, housed at Columbia University - - an interesting arrangement that gives TeenScreen an air of academic respectability it does not deserve. Let's follow the money.
Laurie Flynn is CEO of TeenScreen. Before joining Columbia, Laurie Flynn was CEO of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI); for 16 years Pharma paid her salary. NAMI is Pharma's number one grassroots front group and is committed to promoting and selling as many drugs as possible. So, before joining Columbia, "Laurie Flynn was the leading drug pusher in the United States." During Flynn's tenure, in the three-year period from 1996-1999 NAMI received $11.72 million from 18 different drug companies. (Pringle 2005a)
Eli Lilly contributed more than other companies ($2.78 million); most of this money went to NAMI's "Campaign to End Discrimination" against the mentally ill. This is nothing but "a marketing scheme aimed at forcing insurance companies and government health care programs to quit 'discriminating' against [Pharma's] mentally ill customers, and pay for all the pills they want to sell to the steady stream of customers they plan to recruit with mass mental health screening projects like TeenScreen." (Pringle 2005b)
TeenScreen plays on fears of teen suicide, just as Fosamax plays on the fears of broken hip bones; mental health screening is hyped as a prevention program that can reduce teen suicide by identifying and "treating" teens at risk. However, a US Preventive Services Task Force report found no evidence that screening reduces suicide attempts or mortality, and that existing screening tools do not accurately identify suicide risk. In addition, the screenings take place at school, often bypassing parental consent. (Pringle 2005d) The TMAP antidepressant drugs, which have been billed as miraculous treatment for depression, do not live up to their hype. They have been shown to increase suicidal thoughts and behavior in children. Their use with children is banned in the United Kingdom. However in the US they have only an FDA "blackbox warning label," and are not banned with children. Finally, if these drugs were really effective, one would expect to find a significant reduction in suicide rates following their introduction. This is not the case. (Berenson 2005) Which is to say, the SSRI's listed on TMAP offer no benefit over sugar pills; simple physical exercise is as effective, with better long-term results, than the drugs. In sum, the SSRI's provide very little benefit for the very high risks associated with their use. (Abramson 2004).
TeenScreen uses a 52 question, computerized, self-administered test that takes just 10 minutes to complete. This screening tool allegedly identifies at least six mental disorders, including "social phobia, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, major depression, alcohol and drug abuse and suicidality." Here is a sample question:
In the last year, has there been a time:
1) When nothing was fun for you and you just weren't interested in anything?
2) When you couldn't think as clearly or as fast as usual?
3) Have you often felt nervous or uncomfortable when you have been with a group of children or young people - - say, like in the lunchroom at school or a party?
What normal young person has not felt one or all of these things in a given year? Kids who answer yes to even some questions will be referred to a psychiatrist, opened to the diagnosis of mental illness, and "treated" with prescribed drugs. (Pringle 2005b) This process can stigmatize them and change their lives forever. Meanwhile, the message being sent is that anytime you don't like how you feel, think, or act, all you have to do is take a pill. The questions also appear to be carefully crafted to introduce self-doubt about one's normalcy; merely taking the screening exam introduces ideas that can erode normal coping ability. How many American children will begin careers as mental patients through this process?
THE TRUE ORIGIN OF THE NEW FREEDOM COMMISSION
This is a report of a speech given by Laurie Flynn (TeenScreen & NAMI) in 2004:
At the 2004 American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry's (AACAP) annual meeting, Laurie Flynn made an eye-opening statement while giving a presentation on TeenScreen. She admitted her own covert role in creating the NFC by inserting a few words into Bush's campaign speech prior to his election. Once Bush was "on the record" that he would form a commission, Flynn and others coerced President Bush into keeping that "promise." In the same presentation, she said that Hogan's appointment as the chair of the NFC was "not entirely by accident."
Flynn stated: "...one of the things that we did here was to build on President Bush, not a major promoter of these kinds of initiatives, but to build on actually an opportunity that came to me while I was still at NAMI. I had worked for many years with Senator Pete Domenici and Paul Wellstone around the parity issue. And Senator Domenici hosted Candidate Bush, in New Mexico, where Candidate Bush declared his support for parity. This was as far as we could tell the last time that he has supported parity, - [laughter] - but he supported it that day in Albuquerque in front of the media, and I was one of a couple of people invited to add some remarks to his speech. And I was able, with a colleague, whose idea it was, it wasn't even my idea, in fact, I tried to talk him out of it, I'll confess, I said to him, 'What the heck good is a Commission?" He was, at that time, Commissioner of Mental Health in Virginia and said, 'Listen, they have, ya know, beat me up with Commissions in Virginia, this could be good!'. So, we put into this speech, and it survived the edit process, a line that Candidate Bush spoke, 'And if I'm elected, I will convene a Commission, to look at why our public sector and our mental health system are not able to do the job our citizens deserve,' or some such....anyways, he said 'I'm havin' a Commission'. We had him on the record, once he was elected it took awhile, alot of r-e-m-i-n-d-e-r-s had to come to him that he had said this, we had to keep pushing this message and ultimately Senator Dominici had to r-e-m-i-n-d him that he had promised this. But indeed, a Commission was convened..."
PR AND MARKETING ARE HIGHLY EFFECTIVE
In 2002, TeenScreen hired the PR firm Rabin Strategic Partners to make sure that every teen in the US has access to this free mental health check-up. This alliance has been frighteningly effective. Rabin provided TeenScreen with a "ten-year strategy including the marketing, public policy and funding steps.and hired and managed public relations, lobbying and advertising to implement the plan." Rabin added proudly, "now on a daily basis, we track the media and political landscape to make sure the plan meshes with the current environment." (rabinpartners.com website) This kind of work is expensive; who is paying for it?
Rabin's strategy is paying off; a 2004 progress report stated, "[Screening] programs are now established in 100 communities in 34 states. 19 national groups have endorsed.the screening of youth. There is a waiting list of 250 communities interested in screening programs. There are three relevant bills pending in Congress and six state governments are working on plans to spread screening programs statewide." (Pringle 2005b) This is astounding progress after only two years public relations work.
SAMHSA BACKS AWAY FROM TEENSCREEN AND TMAP
On October 17, 2005 a meeting took place between Charles Currie, the head of SAMHSA and several advocacy groups, including the Alliance for Human Research Protection (AHRP) and the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology (ICSPP). Charles Currie backed away from both TeenScreen and TMAP saying, "TeenScreen is not a model program nor is it or any other screening program mentioned anywhere in the Federal Mental Health Action Agenda.[and it] does not support medication algorithms." Currie added, "The New Freedom Commission is not the official position of the Bush Administration."
On one hand Currie's statements are evidence that the voices of watchdog organizations critical of TeenScreen and TMAP are being heard; the Bush administration appears to be backing away from its public support of the NFC itself. However, SAMHSA funding patterns continue to support the NFC recommendations: "Unless SAMHSA actually stops funding grants that include screening and TMAP style treatment and the Bush administration puts out some sort of statement to the states that it does not recommend either of these, Currie's statement is merely symbolic. Congress appropriated $20 million.to implement the NFC recommendations including screening in the current physical year and the US House has passed $26 millions for the same grants this year, so we will definitely be seeing more state legislation and more state plans to do screening. [Meanwhile] SAMHSA, HHS, and the Departments of Education and Justice are still currently funding grants that include mental health screening." (AHRP 2005)
Do we really want to adopt a public mental health policy that exposes anyone, adult or child, to the high risk of harm caused by these drugs for little or no short term health benefits - - and at such a huge cost to American taxpayers? Only the drug companies will benefit from such public policy. Can we really feel safe when our federal and state governments are so strongly influenced by Pharma money?
THE WISDOM OTHER CULTURES: Where profit prevails, ritual fails.
My own work is a synthesis strategic therapy developed by Jay Haley and Cloe Madanes, and symbolic anthropology developed by Victor and Edith Turner. Western cultures specialize in studying things and individuals - - especially the biological interior of individuals. Other cultures specialize in symbolism and social relationships. To paraphrase John McKnight, cultural wisdom is embodied in stories, not studies. We have a lot to learn from these cultures. African cultures offer an especially rich body of knowledge.
The Turner's studied Ndembu ritual in Africa in 1952. (Turner, V. 1967) After Victor's death in 1980 Edie returned to do a 30-year restudy of the Ndembu. (Turner, E. 1995) In 1996 she told me, "Their rituals have gotten better. They cure more people." This surprised me and I asked, "How have they managed that?" "In 1952," she said, "they tried to cure everything with ritual. Now they have learned to send the 'TB cases' to the hospital and cure everything else with ritual." I shook my head and laughed as I replied, "During that same time we began sending everyone to the hospital for everything."
How have the Ndembu managed to emphasize the important distinction between medicine and ritual while we blurred that boundary? Like most Africans, they are poor, so pharmaceutical interests have not medicalized them. In the absence of market pressures the Ndembu developed a balanced approach to healing that recognizes the medical and the social needs of human beings.
Like the Ndembu, we must restore a proper balance between medicine and ritual. The drug companies would like us to believe that "you can't talk to disease." I counter that, "you can't medicate meaning." As human beings we create meaning only in relationship to one another. Rediscovering ritual means rediscovering our capacity to build, maintain and repair strong relationships. There are no short cuts in this process - - not even through the promised land of medical miracles.
Meanwhile, let me leave you with these thoughts: the pharmaceutical corporations have vast resources, which they will surely use to exploit the findings of the genome project. (Healy 2002; Black 2005) Based on the Pharma behavior outlined above, which can only be characterized as ruthless, what do you think we should expect from Gadsden's gang as it develops the first generation of biogenetic pharmaceuticals?
If we can't keep ourselves safe and free, how will we insure these rights for our children?
Abramson, S. Overdo$ed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine, NY: Harper-Collins, 2004.
AHRP "SAMHSA Backs Away From TeenScreen and TMAP." WWW.ahrp.org 10/24/05.
Arlens, M., 30 Seconds, 1975
Berenson, A. "For Merck, The Vioxx Paper Trail Won't Go Away," New York Times, 08/21/05.
Black, E. personal communication, 2005; Edwin Black is the author of IBM and the Holocaust.
Flynn, L. Unpublished speech, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 2004.
Healy, D. The Creation of Psychopharmacology, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002.
Healy, et al "LifeTime Suicide Rates in Treated Schizophrenia: 1875-1924 and 1994-1998 Cohorts," British Journal of Psychiatry, 2006; 188:223-228.
Illich, I. Medical Nemesis, 1976.
Ismail, M. A., "Special Report, The Drug Lobby Second to None: How the Pharmaceutical Industry Gets Its Way in Washington," http://www.publicintegrity.org, 07/14/05.
KSKA Alaska National Public Radio affiliate news report May 12, 2006.
McKnight, J. The Careless Society, 1999.
Jackson, G. Rethinking Psychiatric Drugs: A Guide To Informed Consent, 2005.
Moynihan, R. & Cassels, A., Selling Sickness, 2005
Moore, J., & Slater, W., Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential 2004.
Null, G. et al "Death By Medicine," accessed on LifeExtension website 05/11/06.
Pierson, R., "Merck Deleted Vioxx Dangers," Reuters 12/09/05.
Pringle, E., "TeenScreen - Angel of Mercy or Pill Pusher," email@example.com 04/11/05a.
Pringle, E., "TeenScreen: Who Pays for Drug Treatment?" WWW.independentmedia.org 05/28/05b.
Pringle, E., "Meet Laurie Flynn: TeenScreen's Top Pusher," http://www.counterpunch.org, 06/06/05c.
Pringle, E., "TeenScreen - - Another Gross Distortion.," firstname.lastname@example.org, 07/29/05d.
Richporte-Haley, M., "Approaches to Madness Shared by Cross-Cultural Healing Systems and Strategic Therapy," in Journal of Family Psychotherapy, 9(4:61-75) 1998.
Scherer, M. "The Side Effects of Truth," Mother Jones 05/01/05.
Summerfield, D., "Cross Cultural Perspectives on the Medicalization of Human Suffering," in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: Issues and Controversies, Ed. G. Rosen NY: John Wiley, 2004.
Turner, E. Experiencing Ritual, 1995.
Turner, E., personal communication 1996.
Turner, V. The Ritual Process, 1967.
Vedantam, S.,"New Antipsychotic Drugs Criticized: Federal Study Finds No Benefits Over Older, Cheaper Drugs," Washington Post 09/20/05.
Whitaker, R. Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill, Cambridge: Perseus Publishing, 2002.
Whitaker, R. "Anatomy of an Epidemic: Psychiatric Drugs and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America," Ethical and Human Psychology and Psychiatry, Volume 7, Number 1, spring 2005a.
Whitaker, R. "Psychiatric Drugs: An Assault on the Human Condition; a Street Spirit Interview with Robert Whitaker," http://thestreetspirit.org, 08/24/05b.
Whitehead, J. W., "An Interview with Allen Jones by John W. Whitehead," Oldspeak, 2005.
i. Michael Tauzin, who created this provision, then left Congress to head Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association, PhRMA, at an annual salary of $2 million dollars. He took the position immediately, without waiting the customary one year after leaving Congress.
ii. Lester Crawford, the Bush-appointed head of FDA resigned under the Vioxx cloud in October 2005; before doing so, he named Dr. Steven K. Galson "permanent" head of FDA drug safety research. Daniel Troy, another Bush appointee, was the chief legal counsel for the FDA. Prior to his appointment at FDA, he represented Brown & Williamson in the suit that prevented the FDA from gaining regulatory control over tobacco. This is putting the fox in charge of the hen house; it illustrates regulation by political capture. Karl Rove undoubtedly approved these appointments; one can only admire his cunning precision.
iii. Mr. Bush is asked what he does as president. He replies, "Oh, I make appointments to committees you've never heard of." All appointments noted here seem carefully crafted to further the Pharma sales agenda.
iv. Moore & Slater 2004 assert Karl Rove has final approval on every Bush nominee.
v. See Abramson 2004 for research on Zoloft's effectiveness conducted by Pfizer itself.
vi. Michael Arlens (1976) contends there will never be another Michael Angelo. Individual creative genius has given way a composite being: the PR teams who make 30 second TV commercials.
May 29, 2006 George Stone has a master's degrees in anthropology and social work. He is a licensed clinical social worker with 35 years experience in therapy and supervision specializing in family & brief therapy and has practiced privately and publicly with patients ranging from poor to middle class, with urban and rural families, and with Black, Hispanic, White, Asian American, Native American and Alaska Native families. He is dedicated to keeping families together by helping them solve their own problems without using psychiatric medication or hospitalization, and to returning children home if they are in psychiatric custody.
New Freedom Commission on Mental Health
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The controversial New Freedom Commission on Mental Health was established by U.S. President George W. Bush in April 2002 to conduct a comprehensive study of the U.S. mental health service delivery system and make recommendations based on its findings. The commission has been touted as part of his commitment to eliminate inequality for Americans with disabilities.
The President directed the Commission to identify policies that could be implemented by Federal, State and local governments to maximize the utility of existing resources, improve coordination of treatments and services, and promote successful community integration for adults with a serious mental illness and children with a serious emotional disturbance. The commission, using the Texas Medication Algorithm Project (TMAP) as a blueprint, subsequently recommended screening of American adults for possible mental illnesses, and children for emotional disturbances, thereby identifying those with suspected disabilities who could then be provided with support services and state-of-the-art treatment, often in the form of newer psychoactive drugs that entered the market in recent years.
A broad-based coalition of mental health consumers, families, providers, and adovcates has supported the Commission process and recommendations, using the Commission's findings as a launching point for recommending widespread reform of the nation's mental health system.
Opponents of the plan have questioned the motives of the commission, largely from a civil liberties perspective, asserting the intitiative campaign is little more than a thinly veiled proxy for the pharmaceutical industry, which, in its pursuit of profits, is too eager to foster psychotropic medication interventions. Some opponents contend that its objectives are to foster chemical behavior control of American citizens. However, no commission recommendations specifically call for increased drug use and the commission did call for closer scrutiny of psychiatric drug treatment, months before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) started taking these steps in the wake of reports of increased rates of suicide, especially during the first months of drug use.
1 Commission reports
2 Opposition brewing
2.1 TMAP origin criticism
3 Funds approved for screening
4 See also
5 Official US government links
6 External links
On July 22, 2003, the President's commission returned a report containing nineteen formal recommendations, organized under six proposed national goals for mental health. The report of the commission was viewed favorably by most major consumer, provider and other mental health interest groups. Much of the support for the program has centered on the commission's emphasis on recovery from mental illness, its call for consumer and family-centered care, and its recommendation that states develop a more comprehensive approach to mental health.
The commission reported that "despite their prevalence, mental disorders often go undiagnosed," so it recommended comprehensive mental health screening for "consumers of all ages," including preschool children, because "each year, young children are expelled from preschools and childcare facilities for severely disruptive behaviors and emotional disorders."
According to the Congressional Research Service, the commission did not specifically recommend a nationwide screening program for mental illness, although it did discuss the need to identify mental illness in certain settings (juvenile detention facilities, foster care) where research has shown that very high proportions of youth have these disorders. The commission also recommended deeper study of the safety and effectiveness of medication use, especially among children.
Opponents of the plan see little in the way of potential benefits from the plan, except increased profits for pharmaceutical companies, and have concerns about the potential for unnecessarily causing neurological damage and contributing to increased substance abuse and drug dependence. Critics are also concerned by what they see as the pharmaceutical industry's use of front organizations and the compromise of scientific integrity under color of authority, look askance at the irony of the commission's 'freedom' descriptor, contending the commission is yet another example of the excesses of drug industry marketing,  and that the effects of its recommendations will simply foster drug use rather than the prevention of mental illness and use of alternative treatment modalities.
A coalition of over 100 advocacy organizations, united under the banner of MindFreedom International in representing the psychiatric survivors movement, has been galvanized by their strong opposition to the New Freedom Commission. Using celebrity to advance their opposition, the MindFreedom coalition has again enlisted the support of long time member and Gesundheit Institute founder Patch Adams, a medical doctor made famous by the movie that bears his name. Since 1992, Adams has supported MindFreedom campaigns, and in August, 2004, he kicked off the campaign against the New Freedom Commission by volunteering to screen President Bush himself. "He needs a lot of help. I'll see him for free," said Adams.
TMAP origin criticism
Critics also contend that the strategy behind the commission was developed by the pharmaceutical industry, advancing the theory that the primary purpose of the commission was to recommend implementation of TMAP based algorithms on a nationwide basis. TMAP, which advises the use of newer, more expensive medications, has itself has been the subject of controversy in Texas, Pennsylvania and other states where efforts have been made to implement its use.
TMAP, which was created in 1995 while President Bush was governor of Texas, began as an alliance of individuals from the University of Texas, the pharmaceutical industry, and the mental health and corrections systems of Texas. Through the guise of TMAP, critics contend, the drug industry has methodically influenced the decision making of elected and appointed public officials to gain access to citizens in prisons and State psychiatric hospitals. The person primarily responsible for bringing these issues to the public's attention is Allen Jones, a former investigator in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Office of Inspector General (OIG), Bureau of Special Investigations.
Jones wrote a lengthy report in which he stated that, behind the recommendations of the New Freedom Commission, was the "political/pharmaceutical alliance." It was this alliance, according to Jones, which developed the Texas project, specifically to promote the use of newer, more expensive antipsychotics and antidepressants. He further claimed this alliance was "poised to consolidate the TMAP effort into a comprehensive national policy to treat mental illness with expensive, patented medications of questionable benefit and deadly side effects, and to force private insurers to pick up more of the tab."
A bill, 'The Parental Consent Act of 2005', or HR 181, has been introduced in the US House of Representatives by Dr. Ron Paul, MD, a Republican from Texas. The proposal forbids federal funds from being used for any mental health screening of students without the express, written, voluntary, informed consent of parents.
Opponents of the plan suggest it fosters the use of progressively more stringent and coercive use of chemical interventions, championed by Sally Satel and other pharmaceutical industry backers, rather than basic preventative strategies and alternative medicine modalities. Opponents are gravely concerned about what they see as the skyrocketing use of primitive chemical mind control techniques upon citizens, little different from chemical straitjacketing, which are solely based upon an unproven chemical imbalance theory. Uninformed consent and the incremental evisceration of civil rights, exemplified by legislation allowing outpatient commitment in 42 States now, have contributed to the heightening of their ill will toward the New Freedom Commission.
Funds approved for screening
The New Freedom initiative has received funding from both House and Senate appropriators in the 2005 federal budget. This funding allows States to create a more comprehensive approach to mental health care, recognizing that mental illness is a major challenge in prisons, among the homeless, and in foster care.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Bruce E. Levine, PhD, is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Cincinnati, Ohio. He has been in practise for nearly two decades.
Levine is author of Commonsense Rebellion: Taking Back Your Life from Drugs, Shrinks, Corporations and a World Gone Crazy (New York-London: Continuum, 2003), a protest book. The 26 alphabetically ordered chapters of Commonsense Rebellion detail Levine's contention that the high national rates of mental illness in the United States are really just natural reactions (e.g., discontent and disconnectedness) to the oppression of what he terms an "institutional society," which he argues causes many to break down psychologically. An earlier edition was released in 2001 with the subtitle 'Debunking Psychiatry, Confronting Society — An A to Z Guide to Rehumanizing Our Lives'.
Dr. Levine is a member of MindFreedom International, and on the Advisory Council of the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology (ICSPP).
Allen Jones (whistleblower)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Allen Jones, who worked as an investigator in the Pennsylvania Office of the Inspector General (OIG), gained widespread attention as a 'whistleblower' after voicing concerns about attempts by the pharmaceutical industry to implement a mental health screening plan, based on the controversial Texas Medication Algorithm Project (TMAP), in Pennsylvania. Subsequently, TMAP has been recommended as a model for use throughout the United States by the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, a panel whose members were hand picked by George W. Bush.
In 2002, Jones discovered evidence of payments, primarily from Pfizer and Janssen Pharmaceuticals, into an off-the-books account, earmarked for educational grants to be doled out in Pennsylvania. Jones' investigation revealed Janssen paid government officials who influenced decisions over which drugs were prescribed in prisons and mental hospitals. Pennsylvania is now among about a dozen States using medical algorithm formularies modeled after TMAP.
In May, 2004 the British Medical Journal reported Jones had uncovered evidence major drug companies sought to influence government officials. Jones was escorted out of his workplace on April 28, 2004, after OIG officials accused him of talking to the press. Jones was relieved of his duties because he breached OIG guidelines that no worker may report confidential data. Jones indicates he chose to disclose his findings to the press precisely because of corrupt behavior by OIG officials themselves, alleging the OIG's policy was "unconstitutional."
Jones further alleged, in a wrongful termination suit, OIG officials had sought to "coverup, discourage, and limit any investigations or oversight into the corrupt practices of large drug companies and corrupt public officials who have acted with them."
Texas Medication Algorithm Project
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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The Texas Medication Algorithm Project (TMAP) is a decision-tree medical algorithm, the design of which was based on the expert opinions of mental health specialists. It has provided and rolled out a set of psychiatric management guidelines for doctors treating certain mental disorders within Texas' publicly-funded mental health care system, along with manuals relating to each of them. The algorithms commence after diagnosis and cover pharmacological treatment (hence "Medication Algorithm"). TMAP was initiated in the fall of 1997 and the initial research covered around 500 patients.
In 2004 TMAP was mentioned as an example of a successful project in a paper regarding implementing mental health screening programs throughout the United States, by the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health. The President had previously been Governor of Texas, in the period when TMAP was implemented. Similar programs have been implemented in about a dozen States, according to a 2004 report in the British Medical Journal.
TMAP arose from a collaboration that began in 1995 between the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation (TDMHMR), pharmaceutical companies, and the University of Texas Southwestern. According to the British Medical Journal, "the project (TMAP) was funded by a Robert Wood Johnson grant (along with several drug companies)." The research was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Meadows Foundation, the Lightner-Sams Foundation, the Nanny Hogan Boyd Charitable Trust, TDMHMR, the Center for Mental Health Services, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Health Services Research and Development Research Career Scientist Award, the United States Pharmacopoeia Convention Inc. and Mental Health Connections.
The companies which produce and market the drugs(1) recommended as standard treatments furnished some unrestricted funding for the project but did not participate in the production of the guidelines.
Similar algorithms and prescribing advice have been produced elsewhere, for instance at the Maudsley Hospital, London.
The New Freedom Initiative (US): Ready To Be Tested?
According to a Progress Report, The New Freedom Initiative is a new project announced by the White House to "help Americans with disabilities ...". But apparently, President Bush plans to unveil next month a sweeping mental health initiative that recommends screening for every citizen and promotes the use of expensive antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs. Under the initiative, every citizen of virtually every age, including preschool children, is to be screened for mental illness. Schools will be used as the screening centres for the 52 million kids and 6 million teachers who attend them.
Here is an excerpt from the Mental Health Commission report driving this initiative: "The Commission concluded that the mental health service delivery system in the United States must be substantively transformed. In the transformed system: 1) Americans understand that mental health is essential to overall health; 2) mental health care is consumer and family-driven; 3) disparities in mental health services are eliminated; 4) early mental health screening, assessment, and referral to services are common practice; 5) excellent mental health services are delivered and research is accelerated; and 6) technology is used to access mental health care and information.
The model for the New Freedom initiative is the TMAP, which stands for the Texas Medication Algorithm Project - that's right, the state that George used to govern, a project that first saw the light of day during his time in office there. TMAP promotes the use of the new, and more expensive, antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs, such as Zyprexa (olanzapine), which is Eli Lilly's best selling drug. It grossed $4.28bn in 2003, with 70 per cent of the revenues paid for by government agencies such as Medicare and Medicaid." Critics say the plan protects the profits of drug companies at the expense of the public. b>Will you pass George's mental health test?
Screening programs are already under way. Find out more here:
Screening for Mental Health
Premier provider of mental health screening programs
Screening for Mental Health, Inc., (SMH) first introduced the concept of large-scale mental health screenings with National Depression Screening Day in 1991. SMH programs now include both in-person and online programs for depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, alcohol problems, and suicide prevention.
Programs are implemented by local clinicians at mental health facilities, hospitals, primary care offices, social service agencies, colleges/ universities, workplaces, schools and the military. In 2005 alone, nearly 600,000 screenings were completed at some 12,000 facilities using SMH programs.
Foreword by President George W. Bush
My Administration is committed to tearing down the barriers to equality that face many of the 54 million Americans with disabilities.
Eleven years ago the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) made it a violation of federal law to discriminate against a person with a disability.
But there is much more to do. Though progress has been made in the last decade, too many Americans with disabilities remain trapped in bureaucracies of dependence, denied the tools they need to fully access their communities.
The unemployment rate for Americans with disabilities hovers at 70 percent. Home ownership rates are in the single digits. And Internet access for Americans with disabilities is half that of people without disabilities.
I am committed to tearing down the remaining barriers to equality that face Americans with disabilities today. My New Freedom Initiative will help Americans with disabilities by increasing access to assistive technologies, expanding educational opportunities, increasing the ability of Americans with disabilities to integrate into the workforce, and promoting increased access into daily community life.
I look forward to working with Congress to see these proposals become law.
Remarks by the President in Announcement of New Freedom Initiative
Table of Contents
Foreword by President George W. Bush
Increasing Access to Assistive and Universally Designed Technologies
Expanding Educational Opportunities
Integrating Americans with Disabilities into the Workforce 12
Expanding Transportation Options 18
Promoting Full Access to Community Life 20
Fulfilling America's Promise to Americans with Disabilities
Disability is not the experience of a minority of Americans. Rather, it is an experience that will touch most Americans at some point during their lives.
Today, there are over 54 million Americans with disabilities, a full 20 percent of the U.S. population. Almost half of these individuals have a severe disability, affecting their ability to see, hear, walk, or perform other basic functions of life. In addition, there are over 25 million family caregivers and millions more who provide aid and assistance to people with disabilities.
Eleven years ago, Congress passed and President George Bush signed one of the most significant civil rights laws since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 - the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In doing so, America opened its door to a new age for people with disabilities. Two and a half years ago, amendments to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 were enacted ensuring that the Federal Government would purchase electronic and information technology which is open and accessible for people with disabilities.
Although progress has been made over the years to improve access to employment, public accommodations, commercial facilities, information technology, telecommunications services, housing, schools, and polling places, significant challenges remain for Americans with disabilities in realizing the dream of equal access to full participation in American society. Indeed, the Harris surveys by the National Organization on Disability and numerous other studies have highlighted these persistent obstacles.
Americans with disabilities have a lower level of educational attainment than those without disabilities:
One out of five adults with disabilities has not graduated from high school, compared to less than one of ten adults without disabilities.
National graduation rates for students who receive special education and related services have stagnated at 27 percent for the past three years, while rates are 75 percent for students who do not rely on special education.
Americans with disabilities are poorer and more likely to be unemployed than those without disabilities:
In 1997, over 33% of adults with disabilities lived in a household with an annual income of less than $15,000, compared to only 12 percent of those without disabilities.
Unemployment rates for working-age adults with disabilities have hovered at the 70 percent level for at least the past 12 years, while rates are significantly lower for working-age adults without disabilities.
Too many Americans with disabilities remain outside the economic and social mainstream of American life:
71% of people without disabilities own homes, but fewer than 10% of those with disabilities do.
Computer usage and Internet access for people with disabilities is half that of people without disabilities.
People with disabilities vote at a rate that is 20 percent below voters without disabilities. In local areas, disability issues seldom surface in election campaigns, and inaccessible polling places often discourage citizens with disabilities from voting.
People with disabilities want to be employed, educated, and participating, citizens living in the community. In today's global new economy, America must be able to draw on the talents and creativity of all its citizens.
The Administration will work to ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to learn and develop skills, engage in productive work, choose where to live and participate in community life. The President's "New Freedom Initiative" represents an important step in achieving these goals. It will expand research in and access to assistive and universally designed technologies, further integrate Americans with disabilities into the workforce and help remove barriers to participation in community life.
The "New Freedom Initiative" is composed of the following key components:
Increasing Access to Assistive and Universally Designed Technologies:
Federal Investment in Assistive Technology Research and Development. The Administration will provide a major increase in the Rehabilitative Engineering Research Centers' budget for assistive technologies, create a new fund to help bring assistive technologies to market, and better coordinate the Federal effort in prioritizing immediate assistive and universally designed technology needs in the disability community.
Access to Assistive Technology. Assistive technology is often prohibitively expEnsive. In order to increase access, funding for low-interest loan programs to purchase assistive technologies will increase significantly.
Expanding Educational Opportunities for Americans with Disabilities:
Increase Funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). In return for participating in a new system of flexibility and accountability in the use of Federal education funds, states will receive an increase in IDEA funds for education at the local level and help in meeting the special needs of students with disabilities.
Focus on Reading in Early Grades. States that establish a comprehensive reading program for students, including those with disabilities, from preschool through second grade will be eligible for grants under President Bush's Reading First and Early Reading First Initiatives.
Integrating Americans with Disabilities into the Workforce:
Expanding Telecommuting. The Administration will provide Federal matching funds to states to guarantee low-interest loans for individuals with disabilities to purchase computers and other equipment necessary to telework from home. In addition, legislation will be proposed to make a company's contribution of computer and Internet access for home use by employees with disabilities a tax-free benefit.
Swift Implementation of "Ticket to Work." President Bush has committed to sign an order that directs the federal agency to swiftly implement the law giving Americans with disabilities the ability to choose their own support services and maintain their health benefits when they return to work.
Full Enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Technical assistance will be provided to promote ADA compliance and to help small businesses hire more people with disabilities. The Administration will also promote the Disabled Access Credit, an incentive program created in 1990 to assist small businesses comply with the Act.
Innovative Transportation Solutions. Accessible transportation can be a particularly difficult barrier for Americans with disabilities entering the workforce. Funding will be provided for 10 pilot programs that use innovative approaches to developing transportation plans that serve people with disabilities. The Administration will also establish a competitive matching grant program to promote access to alternative methods of transportation through community-based and other providers.
Promoting Full Access to Community Life:
Promote Homeownership for People with Disabilities. Congress recently passed the "American Homeownership and Economic Opportunity Act of 2000," which will permit recipients with disabilities to use up to a year's worth of vouchers to finance the down payment on a home. The Administration will work to swiftly implement the recently enacted law.
Swift Implementation of the Olmstead Decision. President Bush has committed to sign an order supporting the most integrated community-based settings for individuals with disabilities, in accordance with the Olmstead decision.
National Commission on Mental Health. President Bush has committed to create a National Commission on Mental Health, which will study and make recommendations for improving America's mental health service delivery system, including making recommendations on the availability and delivery of new treatments and technologies for individuals with severe mental illness.
Improving Access. Federal matching funds will be provided annually to increase the accessibility of organizations that are currently exempt from Title III of the ADA, such as churches, mosques, synagogues, and civic organizations. The Administration also supports improving access to polling places and ballot secrecy for people with disabilities.
Increasing Access to Assistive and Universally Designed Technologies
The Administration's commitment to increase access to assistive and universally designed technologies is based upon the principle that every American must have the opportunity to participate fully in society. In the global new economy, America must draw on the talents and creativity of all its citizens.
Assistive and universally designed technologies can be a powerful tool for millions of Americans with disabilities, dramatically improving one's quality of life and ability to engage in productive work. New technologies are opening opportunities for even those with the most severe disabilities. For example, some individuals with quadriplegia can now operate computers by the glance of an eye. As the National Council on Disability (NCD) has stated, "for Americans without disabilities, technology makes things easier. For Americans with disabilities, technology makes things possible."
Unfortunately, assistive and universally designed technologies are often prohibitively expensive. In addition, innovation is being hampered by insufficient Federal funding for and coordination of assistive technology research and development programs.
The New Freedom Initiative will help ensure that Americans with disabilities can access the best technologies of today and that even better technologies will be available in the future. At the core of this effort are proposals that reinvigorate the Federal investment in assistive technologies; improve Federal collaboration and promote private-public partnerships; and increase access to this technology for people with disabilities.
Summary of Proposals
Increases Federal Investment in Assistive Technology Research and Development:
Rehabilitative Engineering Research Centers (RERCs) are recognized as conducting some of the most innovative and high impact assistive technology research in the Federal Government. The 15 RERCs are housed in universities and other non-profit institutions around the country and focus on a specific area of research - for example, information technology access, prosthetics and orthotics, and technology for children with orthopedic disabilities. To advance research specifically targeted to the disabilities community, the Administration will significantly increase funding for the RERCs.
Improves Coordination of the Federal Assistive Technology Research and Development Program:
There is no effective coordinating body for assistive technology research and development within the Federal Government. While the Interagency Committee on Disabilities Research (ICDR) was designed to coordinate the Federal effort, it has no real authority and has no budget. The Administration will provide new funding to the ICDR so that it can prioritize the immediate assistive and universally designed technology needs in the disability community, as well as foster collaborative projects between the Federal laboratories and the private sector.
Promotes Private-Public Partnerships:
There are nearly 2,500 companies working to bring new assistive technologies to market. Many small businesses, however, cannot make the necessary capital investments until they have information concerning the market for a particular assistive technology. To help these businesses bring assistive technologies to market, the Administration will establish an "Assistive Technology Development Fund." Housed under the ICDR, the fund will help underwrite technology demonstration, testing, validation and market assessment to meet specific needs of small businesses so that they can better serve the needs of people with disabilities.
Increases Access to Assistive Technology:
Assistive technology is often prohibitively expensive. For example, personal computers configured with assistive technology can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $20,000. The Administration will significantly increase Federal funding for low-interest loans to purchase assistive technology. These grants will go to a state agency in collaboration with banks or non-profit groups to guarantee loans and lower interest rates.
Expanding Educational Opportunities for Americans with Disabilities
Education is the key to independent living and a high quality of life. Unfortunately, one in five adults with disabilities has not graduated from high school, compared to less than one of ten adults without disabilities. The Administration will expand access to quality education for Americans with disabilities.
Originally passed by Congress in 1975, the Individuals with Disabilities Act, or IDEA, ensures that children with disabilities would have a free public education that would meet their unique needs.
The Administration will increase educational opportunity for children with disabilities by working with Congress to give states increased IDEA funds. This will help meet the needs of students with disabilities and free up additional resources for education at the local level.
Summary of Proposals
Increases Funding for Special Education. In return for participating in a new system of flexibility and accountability in the use of Federal education funds, states will receive an increase in IDEA funds for education at the local level and help in meeting the special needs of students with disabilities.
Establishes the "Reading First" Program. President Bush will increase Federal funding to students, including those with disabilities, by creating an incentive fund for states to teach every child to read by third grade. States that choose to draw from this fund will be required to initiate, among other requirements: a reading diagnostic test for students in K-2 to determine where students need help; a research-based reading curriculum; training for K-2 teachers in reading preparation; and intervention for students who are not reading at grade level in K-2.
Supplements Reading First with an Early Childhood Reading Initiative. States participating in the Reading First program will have the option to receive "Early Reading First" funding to implement research-based reading programs in existing pre-school programs and Head Start programs that feed into participating elementary schools. The purpose of this program is to illustrate on a larger scale recent research findings that children taught pre-reading and math skills in pre-school enter school ready to learn reading and mathematics.
Promoting Homeownership for Americans with Disabilities
Homeownership has always been at the heart of the "American dream." This past year, Congress passed the "American Homeownership and Economic Opportunity Act of 2000," which reforms Federal rental assistance to give individuals who qualify the opportunity to purchase a home.
Rental assistance for low-income Americans, including those with disabilities, is provided by a program known as Section 8 of the Housing Act of 1937, administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Residents are provided Section 8 vouchers so that they can afford rental payments for public housing. And many of those Section 8 vouchers go to individuals with disabilities.
In addition to increasing independence, homeownership also promotes savings. Mortgage payments, unlike rental payments, help build net worth because a portion of the payment goes toward building equity. In turn, as one's home equity increases, it becomes easier to finance other purchases such as a computer or further education.
Summary of Action
Implementation of the Section 8 Program to Allow Recipients to Apply Their Rental Vouchers to Homeownership:
The Administration will implement Public Law 106-569, which allows local Public Housing Authorities to provide recipients of Section 8 vouchers who have disabilities with up to a year's worth of vouchers in a lump-sum payment to finance the down payment on a home.
Integrating Americans with Disabilities into the Workforce
(Part A: Promoting Telework)
Americans with disabilities should have every freedom to pursue careers, integrate into the workforce, and participate as full members in the economic marketplace.
The New Freedom Initiative will help tear down barriers to the workplace, and help promote full access and integration.
Computer technology and the Internet have tremendous potential to broaden the lives and increase the independence of people with disabilities. Nearly half of people with disabilities say the Internet has significantly improved their quality of life, compared to 27 percent of people without disabilities.
The computer and Internet revolution has not reached as many people with disabilities as the population without disabilities. Only 25% of people with disabilities own a computer, compared with 66% of U.S. adults. And only 20% of people with disabilities have access to the Internet, compared to over 40% of U.S. adults.
The primary barrier to wider access is cost. Computers with adaptive technology can cost as much as $20,000, which is prohibitively expensive for many individuals. And the median income of Americans with disabilities is far below the national average.
The New Freedom Initiative will expand the avenue of teleworking, so that individuals with mobility impairments can work from their homes if they choose.
Summary of Proposals
Creates the "Access to Telework" Fund. Federal matching funds will be provided annually to states to guarantee low-income loans for people with disabilities to purchase equipment to telecommute from home.
Makes a Company's Contribution of Computer and Internet Access for Home Use by Employees with Disabilities a Tax-Free Benefit. The Administration will encourage businesses to give computers and Internet access to employees with disabilities by making it explicit that this provision is a tax-free benefit. By making this benefit tax free to employees, the proposal will encourage more employers to provide computer equipment and Internet access, and employees will have greater options to take advantage of this flexibility for teleworking. For individuals with disabilities, this flexibility will expand the universe of potential and accessible employment.
Prohibits OSHA from Regulating "Home Office" Standards. In November 1999, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an 8-page response to an employer inquiry asserting that it had the power to regulate home office standards and hold employers responsible if those standards were not met. This proposal would have had a chilling effect on teleworking, as employers would seek to avoid potential liabilities. Although OSHA has since withdrawn the response, it has not yet foreclosed future action. The proposal will amend the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to prohibit OSHA from being applied to the home worksites of employees who work at home through the use of "telephone, computer or electronic device."
Integrating Americans with Disabilities into the Workforce
(Part B: Ticket-to-Work)
In 1999, Congress passed the "Ticket-to-Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act," which will give Americans with disabilities both the incentive and the means to seek employment.
As part of the New Freedom Initiative, the Administration will ensure the Act's swift implementation.
Today, there are more than 7.5 million Americans with disabilities receiving benefits under Federal disability programs. According to a recent Harris Survey, conducted by the National Organization of Disability, 72 percent of the Americans with disabilities want to work. However, in part because of disincentives in Federal law, less than 1 percent of those receiving disability benefits fully enter the workforce.
Prior to the "Ticket to Work" law, in order to continue to receive disability payments and health coverage, recipients could not engage in any substantial work. The Ticket to Work law, however, provides incentives for people with disabilities to return to work by:
Providing Americans with disabilities with a voucher-like "ticket" that allows them to choose their own support services, including vocational education programs and rehabilitation services.
Extending Medicare coverage for SSDI beneficiaries so they can return to work without the fear of losing health benefits.
Expanding Medicaid eligibility categories for certain working people with severe disabilities so that they can continue to receive benefits after their income or condition improves.
Summary of Action
President Bush Has Committed to Sign an Order to Support Effective and Swift Implementation of "Ticket to Work". The order will direct the federal agency to continue to swiftly implement the law giving Americans with disabilities the ability to choose their own support services and to maintain their health benefits when they return to work.
Integrating Americans with Disabilities into the Workforce
(Part C: Compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act)
When the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990, it was the most far reaching law advancing access of individuals with disabilities, workforce integration, and independence. The law, signed by President George Bush, gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities that are like those provided to individuals on the basis of race, sex, national origin, and religion.
In the eleven years since it was signed, the ADA has worked to guarantee equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in employment, public accommodations, transportation, State and local government services, and telecommunications. The law has been especially helpful in providing access to jobs, especially in the small business sector, which has created two-thirds of all net new jobs since the early 1970s.
To encourage small businesses to comply with the ADA, legislation was signed into law in 1990 to provide a credit for 50 percent of eligible expenses up to $5,000 a year. Such eligible expenses include assistive technologies. Unfortunately, many small businesses are not aware of this credit.
President George W. Bush believes that the Americans with Disabilities Act has been an integral component of the movement toward full integration of individuals with disabilities but recognizes that there is still much more to be done. He also recognizes that to further integrate individuals with disabilities into the workforce, more needs to be done to promote ADA compliance.
Summary of Proposals
Supports the ADA and Provides Technical Assistance to Small Businesses. The President and the Attorney General will ensure full enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act by the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. In addition, the New Freedom Initiative will provide resources annually for technical assistance to help small businesses comply with the Act, serve customers, and hire more people with disabilities.
Promotes the Awareness and Utilization of Disabled Access Credit (DAC). The DAC, created in 1990, is an incentive program to assist small businesses in complying with the ADA. DAC provides a credit for 50 percent of eligible expenses up to $5,000 a year, including expenses associated with making their facilities accessible and with purchasing assistive technologies. Utilization of the credit has been limited because small businesses are often not aware of it.
Expanding Transportation Options
Every American should have the opportunity to participate fully in society and engage in productive work. Unfortunately, millions of Americans with disabilities are locked out of the workplace because they are denied the tools and access necessary for success.
Transportation can be a particularly difficult barrier to work for Americans with disabilities. In 1997, the Director of Project Action stated that "access to transportation is often the critical factor in obtaining employment for the nation's 25 million transit dependent people with disabilities." Today, the lack of adequate transportation remains a primary barrier to work for people with disabilities: one-third of people with disabilities report that inadequate transportation is a significant problem.
Through formula grant programs and the enforcement of the ADA, the Federal Government has helped make our mass transit systems more accessible. More must be done, however, to test new transportation ideas and to increase access to alternate means of transportation, such as vans with specialty lifts, modified automobiles, and ride-share programs for those who cannot get to buses or other forms of mass transit.
On a daily basis, many non-profit groups and businesses are working hard to help people with disabilities live and work independently. These organizations often lack the funds to get people with disabilities to job interviews, to job training, and to work.
The Federal Government should support the development of innovative transportation initiatives and partner with local organizations to promote access to alternate methods of transportation.
Summary of Proposals
Promotes innovative transportation solutions for people with disabilities by funding pilot programs. The proposal provides funding for 10 pilot programs run by state or local governments in regional, urban, and rural areas. Pilot programs will be selected on the basis of the use of innovative approaches to developing transportation plans that serve people with disabilities. The Administration will work with Congress to evaluate the effectiveness of these pilot programs and encourage the expansion of successful initiatives.
Helps create a network of alternate transportation through community-based and other providers. The proposal will establish a competitive matching grant program to promote access to alternative methods of transportation. This dollar-for-dollar matching program will be open to community-based organizations that seek to integrate Americans with disabilities into the workforce. The funds will go toward the purchase and operation of specialty vans, assisting people with down payments or costs associated with accessible vehicles, and extending the use of existing transportation resources.
Promoting Full Access to Community Life
(Part A: Commitment to Community-Based Care)
On June 22, 1999, the Supreme Court decided Olmstead v. L.C., ruling that, in appropriate circumstances, the ADA requires the placement of persons with disabilities in a community-integrated setting whenever possible. The Court concluded that "unjustified isolation," e.g., institutionalization when a doctor deems community treatment equally beneficial, "is properly regarded as discrimination based on disability."
Olmstead has yet to be fully implemented. President Bush believes that community-based care is critically important to promoting maximum independence and to integrating individuals with disabilities into community life.
Summary of Proposals
President Bush has Committed to Sign an Order Supporting Swift Implementation of the Olmstead Decision. The order will support the most integrated community-based settings for individuals with disabilities, in accordance with the Olmstead decision. The Administration will pursue swift implementation in a manner that respects the proper roles of the Federal Government and the several states.
Promoting Full Access to Community Life
(Part B: Better Coordination of Federal Resources to Address Mental Health Problems)
Currently, there are numerous Federal agencies that oversee mental health policies, funding, laws and programs including: the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the Health Care Financing Administration, the Office of Personnel Management, the Social Security Administration, the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Education, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Labor.
These Federal agencies are doing valuable work, but they would be much more effective, efficient, and less duplicative if they were better coordinated.
With coordination, the competitive advantage of each agency could be leveraged to provide the most needed and suitable service in the framework of federal efforts to address mental health.
Summary of Proposals
President Bush Has Committed to Create a National Commission on Mental Health. The National Commission will study and make recommendations for improving America's mental health service delivery system, including making recommendations on the availability and delivery of new treatments and technologies for individuals with severe mental illness.
Promoting Full Access to Community Life
(Part C: Access to the Political Process)
There are over 35 million voting-age persons with disabilities, but currently people with disabilities register to vote at a rate that is 16 percentage points less than the rest of the population and vote at a rate that is 20 percent voters who have no disabilities.
According to the National Organization on Disability, low voter turnout among people who are disabled is due to both accessibility problems at voting locations and the lack of secrecy and independence when voting. The most recent Federal Election Commission (FEC) report states that at least 20,000 of the Nation's more than 120,000 polling places are inaccessible to people with disabilities.
President Bush recognizes that full integration into society must include access to and participation in the political process.
Summary of Proposals
Supports Improving Accessibility to Voting for Americans with Disabilities. President Bush will support improved access to polling places and ballot secrecy. He will work with Congress to address the barriers to voting for Americans with disabilities and to expanding suffrage for all Americans.
Promoting Full Access to Community Life
(Part D: Access to ADA-Exempt Organizations)
Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 opened countless businesses and public accommodations to people with disabilities by mandating that they be made accessible. For constitutional and other concerns, however, Title III exempts many civic organizations (such as Rotary and Lions Clubs) and religious organizations from its requirements of full access.
Americans with disabilities should be fully integrated into their communities, and civic and religious organizations are vital parts of those communities. Too many private clubs, churches, synagogues, and mosques are inaccessible or unwelcoming to people with disabilities. As a result, people with disabilities are often unable to participate as fully in community or religious events.
The National Organization on Disability has led a national effort to make places of worship accessible and welcoming to all Americans. Many organizations and congregations want to be open to all but have limited resources to ensure accessibility.
Every effort should be made to ensure that Americans with disabilities have the opportunity to be integrated into their communities and welcomed into communities of faith.
Summary of Proposals
Establishes a National Fund to Provide Matching Grants for Accessibility Renovations for ADA-Exempt Organizations: To assist private clubs and religious organizations in making sure that their facilities are fully accessible and to expand access for all, the proposal provides annual Federal matching grants to ADA-exempt organizations making renovations or accommodations to improve accessibility. Because all ADA-exempt organizations will be eligible for the grants, irrespective of whether they are religious or secular, they would comport with the Supreme Court's test for constitutional neutrality.
The Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation (TDMHMR), which was created in 1965, ceased operations on Sept. 1, 2004. The department has worked to improve the quality and efficiency of public and private services and supports for Texans with mental illnesses and with mental retardation so that they can increase their opportunities and abilities to lead lives of dignity and independence.
Community Mental Health Services formerly provided by TDMHMR are now provided through:
Mental Retardation Services formerly provided by TDMHMR are now provided through:
Please bookmark these new sites.
For information regarding TDMHMR Legacy web site materials, please contact Tray Ivie in the DSHS Center for Consumer and External Affairs.
Department of State Health Services
DSHS consolidated the:
community mental health services and state hospital programs of the Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation
alcohol and drug abuse services of the Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, and
health programs of the Department of Health.
For more information, please visit the DSHS website: www.dshs.state.tx.us.
Department of Aging and Disability Services
DADS consolidated the:
mental retardation services and state school programs of the Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation
community care, nursing facility, and long-term care regulatory services of the Department of Human Services, and
aging services and programs of the Department on Aging.
For more information, please visit the DADS website: www.dads.state.tx.us.
Background on the transformation
House Bill 2292, 78th Legislature, Regular Session, 2003, consolidated the 12 health and human services (HHS) agencies, including TDMHMR, into the following five agencies:
Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC);
Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS);
Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS);
Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS); and
Department of State Health Services (DSHS).
The transformed enterprise will improve client services, use every public dollar efficiently, and focus on real results and accountability. The new organization will continuously strive to improve services and manage costs by listening to our partners and the people we serve and by putting innovation and new technology into practice.
For more information about the transformation, visit the HHSC transformation site. http://www.hhsc.state.tx.us/Consolidation/Consl_home.html
Collaborations Between Criminal Justice and Mental Health Systems for Prisoner Reentry
Wilson and Draine Psychiatr Serv.2006; 57: 875-878
Full Text at http://psychservices.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/full/57/6/875
The Prison Industrial Complex and the Global Economy
by Eve Goldberg and Linda Evans
Over 1.8 million people are currently behind bars in the United States. This represents the highest per capita incarceration rate in the history of the world. In 1995 alone, 150 new U.S. prisons were built and filled.
This monumental commitment to lock up a sizeable percentage of the population is an integral part of the globalization of capital. Several strands converged at the end of the Cold War, changing relations between labor and capital on an international scale: domestic economic decline, racism, the U.S. role as policeman of the world, and growth of the international drug economy in creating a booming prison/industrial complex. And the prison industrial complex is rapidly becoming an essential component of the U.S. economy.
PRISONS ARE BIG BUSINESS
Like the military/industrial complex, the prison industrial complex is an interweaving of private business and government interests. Its twofold purpose is profit and social control. Its public rationale is the fight against crime.
Not so long ago, communism was "the enemy" and communists were demonized as a way of justifying gargantuan military expenditures. Now, fear of crime and the demonization of criminals serve a similar ideological purpose: to justify the use of tax dollars for the repression and incarceration of a growing percentage of our population. The omnipresent media blitz about serial killers, missing children, and "random violence" feeds our fear. In reality, however, most of the "criminals" we lock up are poor people who commit nonviolent crimes out of economic need. Violence occurs in less than 14% of all reported crime, and injuries occur in just 3%. In California, the top three charges for those entering prison are: possession of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance for sale, and robbery. Violent crimes like murder, rape, manslaughter and kidnaping don't even make the top ten.
Like fear of communism during the Cold War, fear of crime is a great selling tool for a dubious product.
As with the building and maintenance of weapons and armies, the building and maintenance of prisons are big business. Investment houses, construction companies, architects, and support services such as food, medical, transportation and furniture, all stand to profit by prison expansion. A burgeoning "specialty item" industry sells fencing, handcuffs, drug detectors, protective vests, and other security devices to prisons.
As the Cold War winds down and the Crime War heats up, defense industry giants like Westinghouse are re-tooling and lobbying Washington for their share of the domestic law enforcement market. "Night Enforcer" goggles used in the Gulf War, electronic "Hot Wire" fencing ("so hot NATO chose it for high-risk installations"), and other equipment once used by the military, are now being marketed to the criminal justice system.
Communication companies like AT&T,;Sprint, and MCI are getting into the act as well, gouging prisoners with exorbitant phone calling rates, often six times the normal long distance charge. Smaller firms like Correctional Communications Corp., dedicated solely to the prison phone business, provide computerized prison phone systems, fully equipped for systematic surveillance. They win government contracts by offering to "kick back" some of the profits to the government agency awarding the contract. These companies are reaping huge profits at the expense of prisoners and their families; prisoners are often effectively cut off from communication due to the excessive cost of phone calls.
One of the fastest growing sectors of the prison industrial complex is private corrections companies. Investment firm Smith Barney is a part owner of a prison in Florida. American Express and General Electric have invested in private prison construction in Oklahoma and Tennessee. Correctional Corporation Of America, one of the largest private prison owners, already operates internationally, with more than 48 facilities in 11 states, Puerto Rico, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Under contract by government to run jails and prisons, and paid a fixed sum per prisoner, the profit motive mandates that these firms operate as cheaply and efficiently as possible. This means lower wages for staff, no unions, and fewer services for prisoners. Private contracts also mean less public scrutiny. Prison owners are raking in billions by cutting corners which harm prisoners. Substandard diets, extreme overcrowding, and abuses by poorly trained personnel have all been documented and can be expected in these institutions which are unabashedly about making money.
Prisons are also a leading rural growth industry. With traditional agriculture being pushed aside by agribusiness, many rural American communities are facing hard times. Economically depressed areas are falling over each other to secure a prison facility of their own. Prisons are seen as a source of jobs‹in construction, local vendors and prison staff‹as well as a source of tax revenues. An average prison has a staff of several hundred employees and an annual payroll of several million dollars.
Like any industry, the prison economy needs raw materials. In this case the raw materials are prisoners. The prison industrial complex can grow only if more and more people are incarcerated‹even if crime rates drop. "Three Strikes" and mandatory minimums (harsh, fixed sentences without parole) are two examples of the legal superstructure quickly being put in place to guarantee that the prison population will grow and grow and grow.
LABOR AND THE FLIGHT OF CAPITAL
The growth of the prison industrial complex is inextricably tied to the fortunes of labor. Ever since the onset of the Reagan-Bush years in 1980, workers in the United States have been under siege. Aggressive union busting, corporate deregulation, and especially the flight of capital in search of cheaper labor markets, have been crucial factors in the downward plight of American workers.
One wave of capital flight occurred in the 1970s. Manufacturing such as textiles in the Northeast moved south‹to South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama‹non-union states where wages were low. During the 1980s, many more industries (steel, auto, etc.) closed up shop, moving on to the "more competitive atmospheres" of Mexico, Brazil, or Taiwan where wages were a mere fraction of those in the U.S., and environmental, health and safety standards were much lower. Most seriously hurt by these plant closures and layoffs were African-Americans and other semiskilled workers in urban centers who lost their decent paying industrial jobs.
Into the gaping economic hole left by the exodus of jobs from U.S. cities has rushed another economy: the drug economy.
THE WAR ON DRUGS
The "War on Drugs," launched by President Reagan in the mid-eighties, has been fought on interlocking international and domestic fronts.
At the international level, the war on drugs has been both a cynical cover-up of U.S. government involvement in the drug trade, as well as justification for U.S. military intervention and control in the Third World.
Over the last 50 years, the primary goal of U.S. foreign policy (and the military industrial complex) has been to fight communism and protect corporate interests. To this end, the U.S. government has, with regularity, formed strategic alliances with drug dealers throughout the world. At the conclusion of World War II, the OSS (precursor to the CIA) allied itself with heroin traders on the docks of Marseille in an effort to wrest power away from communist dock workers. During the Vietnam war, the CIA aided the heroin producing Hmong tribesmen in the Golden Triangle area. In return for cooperation with the U.S. government's war against the Vietcong and other national liberation forces, the CIA flew local heroin out of Southeast Asia and into America. It's no accident that heroin addiction in the U.S. rose exponentially in the 1960s.
Nor is it an accident that cocaine began to proliferate in the United States during the 1980s. Central America is the strategic halfway point for air travel between Colombia and the United States. The Contra War against Sandinista Nicaragua, as well as the war against the national liberation forces in El Salvador, was largely about control of this critical area. When Congress cut off support for the Contras, Oliver North and friends found other ways to fund the Contra re-supply operations, in part through drug dealing. Planes loaded with arms for the Contras took off from the southern United States, offloaded their weapons on private landing strips in Honduras, then loaded up with cocaine for the return trip.
A 1996 exposé by the San Jose Mercury News documented CIA involvement in a Nicaraguan drug ring which poured thousands of kilos of cocaine into Los Angeles' African-American neighborhoods in the 1980s. Drug boss, Danilo Blandon, now an informant for the DEA, acknowledged under oath the drugs- for-weapons deals with the CIA-sponsored Contras.
U.S. military presence in Central and Latin America has not stopped drug traffic. But it has influenced aspects of the drug trade, and is a powerful force of social control in the region. U.S. military intervention‹whether in propping up dictators or squashing peasant uprisings‹now operates under cover of the righteous war against drugs and "narco-terrorism."
In Mexico, for example, U.S. military aid supposedly earmarked for the drug war is being used to arm Mexican troops in the southern part of the country. The drug trade, however (production, transfer, and distribution points) is all in the north. The "drug war money" is being used primarily to fight against the Zapatista rebels in the southern state of Chiapas who are demanding land reform and economic policy changes which are diametrically opposed to the transnational corporate agenda.
In the Colombian jungles of Cartagena de Chaira, coca has become the only viable commercial crop. In 1996, 30,000 farmers blocked roads and airstrips to prevent crop spraying from aircraft. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) one of the oldest guerrilla organizations in Latin America, held 60 government soldiers hostage for nine months, demanding that the military leave the jungle, that social services be increased, and that alternative crops be made available to farmers. And given the notorious involvement of Colombia's highest officials with the powerful drug cartels, it is not surprising that most U.S. "drug war" military aid actually goes to fighting the guerrillas.
One result of the international war on drugs has been the internationalization of the U.S. prison population. For the most part, it is the low level "mules" carrying drugs into this country who are captured and incarcerated in ever-increasing numbers. At least 25% of inmates in the federal prison system today will be subject to deportation when their sentences are completed.
Here at home, the war on drugs has been a war on poor people. Particularly poor, urban, African American men and women. It's well documented that police enforcement of the new, harsh drug laws have been focused on low- level dealers in communities of color. Arrests of African-Americans have been about five times higher than arrests of whites, although whites and African- Americans use drugs at about the same rate. And, African-Americans have been imprisoned in numbers even more disproportionate than their relative arrest rates. It is estimated that in 1994, on any given day, one out of every 128 U.S. adults was incarcerated, while one out of every 17 African-American adult males was incarcerated.
The differential in sentencing for powder and crack cocaine is one glaring example of institutionalized racism. About 90% of crack arrests are of African-Americans, while 75% of powder cocaine arrests are of whites. Under federal law, it takes only five grams of crack cocaine to trigger a five-year mandatory minimum sentence. But it takes 500 grams of powder cocaine‹100 times as much‹to trigger this same sentence. This flagrant injustice was highlighted by a 1996 nationwide federal prison rebellion when Congress refused to enact changes in sentencing laws that would equalize penalties.
Statistics show that police repression and mass incarceration are not curbing the drug trade. Dealers are forced to move, turf is reshuffled, already vulnerable families are broken up. But the demand for drugs still exists, as do huge profits for high-level dealers in this fifty billion dollar international industry.
From one point of view, the war on drugs can actually be seen as a pre- emptive strike. The state's repressive apparatus working overtime. Put poor people away before they get angry. Incarcerate those at the bottom, the helpless, the hopeless, before they demand change. What drugs don't damage (in terms of intact communities, the ability to take action, to organize) the war on drugs and mass imprisonment will surely destroy.
The crackdown on drugs has not stopped drug use. But it has taken thousands of unemployed (and potentially angry and rebellious) young men and women off the streets. And it has created a mushrooming prison population.
An American worker who once upon a time made $8/hour, loses his job when the company relocates to Thailand where workers are paid only $2/day. Unemployed, and alienated from a society indifferent to his needs, he becomes involved in the drug economy or some other outlawed means of survival. He is arrested, put in prison, and put to work. His new salary: 22 cents/hour.
From worker, to unemployed, to criminal, to convict laborer, the cycle has come full circle. And the only victor is big business.
For private business, prison labor is like a pot of gold. No strikes. No union organizing. No unemployment insurance or workers' compensation to pay. No language problem, as in a foreign country. New leviathan prisons are being built with thousands of eerie acres of factories inside the walls. Prisoners do data entry for Chevron, make telephone reservations for TWA, raise hogs, shovel manure, make circuit boards, limousines, waterbeds, and lingerie for Victoria's Secret. All at a fraction of the cost of "free labor."
Prisoners can be forced to work for pennies because they have no rights. Even the 14th Amendment to the Constitution which abolished slavery, excludes prisoners from its protections.
And, more and more, prisons are charging inmates for basic necessities‹from medical care, to toilet paper, to use of the law library. Many states are now charging "room and board." Berks County jail in Pennsylvania is charging inmates $10 per day to be there. California has similar legislation pending. So, while government cannot (yet) actually require inmates to work at private industry jobs for less than minimum wage, they are forced to by necessity.
Some prison enterprises are state run. Inmates working at UNICOR (the federal prison industry corporation) make recycled furniture and work 40 hours a week for about $40 per month. The Oregon Prison Industries produces a line of "Prison Blues" blue jeans. An ad in their catalogue shows a handsome prison inmate saying, "I say we should make bell-bottoms. They say I've been in here too long." Bizarre, but true. The promotional tags on the clothes themselves actually tout their operation as rehabiliation and job training for prisoners, who of course would never be able to find work in the garment industry upon release.
Prison industries are often directly competing with private industry. Small furniture manufacturers around the country complain that they are being driven out of business by UNICOR which pays 23 cents/hour and has the inside track on government contracts. In another case, U.S. Technologies sold its electronics plant in Austin, Texas, leaving its 150 workers unemployed. Six week later, the electronics plant reopened in a nearby prison.
WELCOME TO THE NEW WORLD ORDER
The proliferation of prisons in the United States is one piece of a puzzle called the globalization of capital.
Since the end of the Cold War, capitalism has gone on an international business offensive. No longer impeded by an alternative socialist economy or the threat of national liberation movements supported by the Soviet Union or China, transnational corporations see the world as their oyster. Agencies such as the World Trade Organization, World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund, bolstered by agreements like NAFTA and GATT are putting more and more power into the hands of transnational corporations by putting the squeeze on national governments. The primary mechanism of control is debt. For decades, developing countries have depended on foreign loans, resulting in increasing vulnerability to the transnational corporate strategy for the global economy. Access to international credit and aid is given only if governments agree to certain conditions known as "structural adjustment."
In a nutshell, structural adjustment requires cuts in social services, privatization of state-run industry, repeal of agreements with labor about working conditions and minimum wage, conversion of multi use farm lands into cash crop agriculture for export, and the dismantling of trade laws which protect local economies. Under structural adjustment, police and military expenditures are the only government spending that is encouraged. The sovereignty of nations is compromised when, as in the case of Vietnam, trade sanctions are threatened unless the government allows Camel cigarettes to litter the countryside with billboards, or promises to spend millions in the U.S.- orchestrated crackdown on drugs.
The basic transnational corporate philosophy is this: the world is a single market; natural resources are to be exploited; people are consumers; anything which hinders profit is to be routed out and destroyed. The results of this philosophy in action are that while economies are growing, so is poverty, so is ecological destruction, so are sweatshops and child labor. Across the globe, wages are plummeting, indigenous people are being forced off their lands, rivers are becoming industrial dumping grounds, and forests are being obliterated. Massive regional starvation and "World Bank riots" are becoming more frequent throughout the Third World.
All over the world, more and more people are being forced into illegal activity for their own survival as traditional cultures and social structures are destroyed. Inevitably, crime and imprisonment rates are on the rise. And the United States law enforcement establishment is in the forefront, domestically and internationally, in providing state-of-the-art repression.
Within the United States, structural adjustment (sometimes known as the Contract With America) takes the form of welfare and social service cuts, continued massive military spending, and skyrocketing prison spending. Walk through any poor urban neighborhood: school systems are crumbling, after school programs, libraries, parks and drug treatment centers are closed. But you will see more police stations and more cops. Often, the only "social service" available to poor young people is jail.
The dismantling of social programs, and the growing dominance of the right- wing agenda in U.S. politics has been made possible, at least in part, by the successful repression of the civil rights and liberation movements of the 1960s and 70s. Many of the leaders‹Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Fred Hampton, and many others‹were assassinated. Others, like Geronimo ji Jaga Pratt, Leonard Peltier, and Mumia Abu-Jamal, have been locked up. Over 150 political leaders from the black liberation struggle, the Puerto Rican independence movement, and other resistence efforts are still in prison. Many are serving sentences ranging from 40 to 90 years. Oppressed communities have been robbed of radical political leadership which might have led an opposition movement. We are reaping the results.
The number of people in U.S. prisons has more than tripled in the past 17 years‹from 500,000 in 1980 to 1.8 million in 1997. Today, more than five million people are behind bars, on parole, probation, or under other supervision by the criminal justice system. The state of California now spends more on prisons than on higher education, and over the past decade has built 19 prisons and only one branch university.
Add to this, the fact that increasing numbers of women are being locked up. Between 1980 and 1994, the number of women in prison increased five-fold, and women now make up the fastest growing segment of the prison population. Most of these women are mothers‹leaving future generations growing up in foster homes or on the streets.
Welcome to the New World Order.
WHAT IS TO BE DONE?
Prisons are not reducing crime. But they are fracturing already vulnerable families and communities.
Poor people of color are being locked up in grossly disproportionate numbers, primarily for non violent crimes. But Americans are not feeling safer.
As "criminals" become scapegoats for our floundering economy and our deteriorating social structure, even the guise of rehabilitation is quickly disappearing from our penal philosophy. After all: rehabilitate for what? To go back into an economy which has no jobs? To go back into a community which has no hope? As education and other prison programs are cut back, or in most cases eliminated altogether, prisons are becoming vast, over-crowded, holding tanks. Or worse: factories behind bars.
And, prison labor is undercutting wages‹something which hurts all working and poor Americans. It's a situation which can only occur because organized labor is divided and weak and has not kept step with organized capital.
While capital has globalized, labor has not. While the transnationals truly are fashioning our planet into a global village, there is still little communication or cooperation between workers around the world. Only an internationally linked labor movement can effectively challenge the power of the transnational corporations.
There have been some wonderful, shining instances of international worker solidarity. In the early 1980s, 3M workers in South Africa walked out in support of striking 3M workers in New Jersey. Recently, longshore workers in Denmark, Spain, Sweden and several other countries closed down ports around the world in solidarity with striking Liverpool dockers. The company was forced to negotiate. When Renault closed its plant in Belgium, 100,000 demonstrated in Brussels, pressuring the French and Belgium governments to condemn the plant closure and compel its reopening.
Here in the U.S., there is a glimmer of hope as the AFL-CIO has voted in some new, more progressive leadership. We'll see how that shapes up, and whether the last 50 years of anti communist, bread-and-butter American unionism is really a thing of the past.
What is certain is that resistance to the transnational corporate agenda is growing around the globe:
In 1996, the people of Bougainville, a small New Guinea island, organized a secessionist rebellion, protesting the dislocations and ecological destruction caused by corporate mining on the island. When the government hired mercenaries from South Africa to train local troops in counterinsurgency warfare, the army rebelled, threw out the mercenaries, and deposed the Prime Minister.
A one day General Strike shut down Haiti in January 1997. Strikers demanded the suspension of negotiations between the Prime Minister and the International Monetary Fund/World Bank. They protested the austerity measures imposed by the IMF and WB which would mean laying off 7,000 government workers and the privatization of the electric and telephone companies.
In Nigeria, the Ogoni people conducted a protracted eight year struggle against Shell Oil. Acid rain, and hundreds of oil spills and gas flares were turning the once fertile countryside into a near wasteland. Their peaceful demonstrations, election boycotts, and pleas for international solidarity were met with violent government repression and the eventual execution of Ogoni writer leader Ken Saro Wiwa.
In France, a month-long General Strike united millions of workers who protested privatization, a government worker pay freeze, and cutbacks in social services. Telephone, airline, power, postal, education, health care and metal workers all joined together, bringing business to a standstill. The right-wing Chirac government was forced to make minor concessions before being voted out for a new "socialist" administration.
At the Oak Park Heights Correctional Facility in Minnesota, 150 prisoners went on strike in March 1997, demanding to be paid the minimum wage. Although they lost a litigation battle to attain this right, their strike gained attention and support from several local labor unions.
Just as the prison industrial complex is becoming increasingly central to the growth of the U.S. economy, prisoners are a crucial part of building effective opposition to the transnational corporate agenda. Because of their enforced invisibility, powerlessness, and isolation, it's far too common for prisoners to be left out of the equation of international solidarity. Yet, opposing the expansion of the prison industrial complex, and supporting the rights and basic humanity of prisoners, may be the only way we can stave off the consolidation of a police state that represses us all‹where you or a friend or family member may yourself end up behind bars.
Clearly, the only alternative that will match the power of global of capital is an internationalization of human solidarity. Because, truly, we are all in this together.
"International solidarity is not an act of charity. It is an act of unity between allies fighting on different terrains toward the same objective. The foremost of these objectives is to aid the development of humanity to the highest level possible."
-- Samora Machel (1933-1986), Leader of FRELIMO, First President of Mozambique
Linda Evans is a north american anti-imperialist political prisoners currently at FCI Dublin in California.
Eve Goldberg is a writer, film maker, and solidarity and prisoners' rights activist.
This pamphlet published by:
Prison Activist Resource Center
PO Box 339 Berkeley CA 94701
This page is part of the JusticeNet Prison Issues Desk. It is maintained by the Prison Activist Resource Center, < email@example.com>. The Prison Issues Desk is a project of JusticeNet.
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Rex 84, short for Readiness Exercise 1984, was a plan by the United States federal government to test their ability to detain large numbers of American citizens in case of massive civil unrest or national emergency. Exercises similar to Rex 84 happen periodically. From 1967 to 1971 the FBI kept a list of persons to be rounded up as subversive, dubbed the "ADEX" list. (Donner, Age p. 166.)
According to scholar Diana Reynolds:
The Rex-84 Alpha Explan (Readiness Exercise 1984, Exercise Plan), indicates that FEMA in association with 34 other federal civil departments and agencies conducted a civil readiness exercise during April 5-13, 1984. It was conducted in coordination and simultaneously with a Joint Chiefs exercise, Night Train 84, a worldwide military command post exercise (including Continental U.S. Forces or CONUS) based on multi-emergency scenarios operating both abroad and at home. In the combined exercise, Rex-84 Bravo, FEMA and DOD led the other federal agencies and departments, including the Central Intelligence Agency, the Secret Service, the Treasury, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Veterans Administration through a gaming exercise to test military assistance in civil defense.
The exercise anticipated civil disturbances, major demonstrations and strikes that would affect continuity of government and/or resource mobilization. To fight subversive activities, there was authorization for the military to implement government ordered movements of civilian populations at state and regional levels, the arrest of certain unidentified segments of the population, and the imposition of martial rule. 
Existence of a master military contingency plan, "Garden Plot" and a similar earlier exercise, "Lantern Spike" were originally revealed by alternative journalist Ron Ridenhour, who summarized his findings in "Garden Plot and the New Action Army", (CounterSpy, 1975).
Rex 84 was mentioned during the Iran-Contra Hearings in 1987, and subsequently reported on by the Miami Herald on July 5, 1987. As news of the exercise spread, it was amplified by networks of people pursuing more elaborate conspiracy theories. 
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