Consumer Reports Shills Unproven Folk Medicine as Opioid Alternative

As part of a series of June 2017 articles vilifying prescription pain pills, popular magazine Consumer Reports is cashing-in on the so-called “opioid crisis” by recommending 8 “alternative pain treatments” are clinically questionable, but “at least not (quite as) addicting” as those dreaded opioids.

The big problem, however, is that -none- of these magazine-endorsed practices actually works as well or consistently as does prescription pain pills. They are -not- evidence-based medicine.

The predominant reason these folk remedies are seeing serious consideration is because the American College of Physicians — in its quiet desperation for a non-opioid pain panacea — has reluctantly affixed its stamp of approval upon formerly-fringe pain therapies.

In roughly the same order in which Consumer Reports presented them (except for a separation of distinct treatments CR had aggregated under a shared heading), I hereby present the eight non-drug pain therapies espoused by Consumer Reports writer Teresa Carr:

1) Yoga

2) Tai Chi

3) Massage

4) Spinal manipulation (inclusive of chiropractice)

5) Physical therapy (inclusive of occupational therapy)

6) Acupuncture

7) Biofeedback (originally lumped-together as an “additional therapy”)

8) Low-level laser therapy (originally lumped-together as an “additional therapy”)

Despite Carr’s claim, “Many of the 3,562 back pain sufferers we surveyed support that strategy [of using non-drug treatment for back pain],” her bias as a “freelance” CR writer is achingly obvious: The footer of her article admits, “This article and related materials [such as the back-pain study of Consumer Reports readers] are made possible by a grant from the state Attorney General Consumer and Prescriber Education Grant Program, which is funded by the multistate settlement of consumer-fraud claims regarding the marketing of the prescription drug Neurontin (gabapentin).”

In other words, a government propaganda program -paid- Consumer Reports to write its hit piece on opioids!

Suspiciously enough, one -cannot- navigate to the website for that “educational” propaganda program — because it doesn’t have a web presence!

Anyone can assiduously search for the name of that program, “Attorney General Consumer and Prescriber Education Grant Program,” but /she will -not- find a federal agency page describing it. (If you somehow -do- find one, then post it in the comment section!)

Higher-education-hawking Oregon State University gladly blabs about the program’s insidious dynamic, however:
“The Attorney General Consumer and Prescriber Education Grant Program (CPGP) was created to educate [or “indoctrinate”] health care professionals about pharmaceutical industry marketing practices and to provide tools for accessing unbiased [According to -whose- standard?] sources of information about prescription drugs. The program is funded through the 2004 Attorneys General settlement resolving allegations that Warner Lambert violated state consumer protection laws when promoting Neurontin, an epilepsy drug, for off-label uses.”

Furthermore, the official “request for applications” by the Attorney General Consumer and Prescriber Education Grant Program (AGCPEGP) reveals, “Eligible applicants include educators at[,] or affiliated with: academic institutions; non-profit organizations; [or] government agencies” (p. 6).

Here’s the corollary to that paragraph: Only individuals promoting institutional interests are eligible for the money-grab. Regular citizens, such as you and I, are unable to receive any of this propaganda-money to further our own views as to the merits or detriments of particular prescription drugs. Only those employed by special-interest groups need apply!

The cash-grant-for-articles bias of the Consumer Reports propaganda piece cannot be more manifest. Besides downplaying the proven utility of opioids, the CR writers admit they are being paid by a government program -designed- to vilify pharmaceutical drug-treatments.

By contrast, I’m writing -without- the benefit of any financial backing. I’m “just a guy” who utilizes his spare time to write about issues he cares deeply about: higher-education reform (easier job acquisition for graduates); access to necessary pain management (opioids and similar); and a few other topics (of less day-to-day significance than my Big Two).

The takeaway from this blog post is thus: If non-drug pain-management therapies -were- somehow comparable to prescription pain pills, then why have insurers refused to cover these treatments?

I’ve already stated the answer: Because non-drug pain therapies are not evidence-based medicine. They’re folk remedies at best, and little-better than “faith healing” at worst.

P.S.

Long-time pharmacist / blogger Steve Ariens has shared my Capital Times op-ed detailing why the so-called “opioid crisis” is over-blown by the “lame-stream” — err, mainstream — media. Check him out!

Advertisements

Permatemp Cheese Packer Hand-Packs 20 Tons of Cheese in 12 Hours

Friday, May 19, 2017 was a personal and professional milestone: 20 tons of cheese* were tallied; and my hands were the ones to pack it all.

(*For those unfamiliar with that measurement: 1 U.S. ton = 2,000 lbs., which means the 20 tons I packed are equivalent to 4,000 pounds.*)

“Oh, but is this -so- unusual?”

Yes, because:

1) The normal amount that anyone packs at that plant is only a -few- tons. Workers normally rotate stations, such that no one is hand-packing cheese for more than 3 hours per shift. (Palletizing, brine-gatekeeping, and guiding the cheese into film are the other workstations in the packaging department.)

2) My fellow temps had other obligations for the week, such that our 10-person crew from Monday had winnowed down to me and fellow temp Daniel Murphy by Friday.

3) D.M. unloaded the cheese for automatic labeling; and I packed it, while various regular employees took turns palletizing during their spare time. (Because we worked the fresh line, we did not need anyone to oversee the brine-soaking room; hence, we achieved our cheese-packing with only 3 people instead of a 4-person crew.)

I say this not so much to brag — albeit, that -is- a minor motivation, to dispel notions about my “work ethic” — but to underscore that when you’re an under-employed college graduate, you’re more likely-than-not to overcome larger obstacles that others will -never- face. If the white-collar world doesn’t want you after you had -spent years- preparing for it, then the blue-collar world sure won’t make it any easier on you, as if by betting your future on a college education, you agree to pay a much greater price for failure to get hired into a professional job.

It boils-down to this melodramatic prose: You say you’re king of the college grads?

Ergo, ecce cassius-laborus! (“Therefore, behold the cheese packer!”)

“You’re parodying the Pontius Pilate statement about Jesus, ‘Ecco homo’ / ‘Behold, the man’ — why?”

Because a bookworm-turned-laborer / under-employed college grad will -tend to feel- crucified for a while; and then he acclimates to the work that his less-formally-educated counterparts have endured since their first summer out of high school.

Also, because that biblical reference is well-known among intellectuals and commoners alike, thereby making it an ideal bridge between the vulgar labor of a packaging department and the more abstruse machinations of upper management. #FuturePromotion to #CorporateRanks, #BasedUpon #CommonInterests!

As of yet, I’ve still not an offer for full-time work, despite having worked a 60-hour week of increasingly-long shifts.

[08-11-2017 Update, necessitating the strike-through of the immediately preceding passage:]
Promoting this feat seems to have helped me persuade management into offering me a full-time work schedule! #Hurrah, #It’sAboutTime

The next step will be to negotiate a transition from being “an agency guy” (temporary employee of the staffing agency) into becoming a “real employee” (on the payroll of the client company, -not- paid by the agency). This is, of course, part-and-parcel of the college-wage PENALTY (as opposed to the “college-wage premium” of modern myth).
[/08-11-2017 Update]

JoeOhlerJr Blog Revises Posting Schedule: Now Monthly, Instead of Semi-Weekly

Some say the hurricanes, tornadoes, and assorted windstorms are “coming earlier” than usual. While there’s no scientific consensus about -that-, I can affirmatively attest: The first 12-hour workday of my permatemp-jobsite dairy plant’s year-2017 “fresh line” peak season occurred the first Tuesday of April, which is more than one month earlier than prior busy period, which had begun the week before Memorial Day 2016.

(This dairy plant’s “fresh line” commenced operations in late summer 2014, a few months before I joined. I’m now the longest-running “fresher,” by a two-year gap over the next-senior worker — although with -all- of us being temps, “There is no seniority.” #OccupationalIrony)

I also finished filing my federal and state income taxes. Because eFile is too delicate and glitch-prone — Anyone else have to fish-around for their last year’s adjusted-gross income to unlock this year’s “Free File” account? — I snail-mailed my tax returns with days to spare.

Long-time readers will realize: What a fortuitous change from my original tax-filing situation!

The grand irony is that what elevated my income was -not- my ultimately banal college degree (in public administration), but the fact I ended-up in a cheese-packing gig and stayed long enough to negotiate myself a 30-percent raise. The lesson here is that persistence with earning progressively more education does not necessarily pay-off; but persistence with working at the same employer for many years often -does- pay a better reward than any college degree you could possibly earn. (And yes, I’m working on the book Higher Education Hucksters: When More Education Is Worse… one sentence at a time!)

The bottom line is that I’ve been consistently busy offline; and have therefore come-to-grips with the reality that I won’t be able to write as often as I’d like. I hereby announce a reduced revised posting schedule: JoeOhlerJr.WordPress.com will now post monthly, instead of semi-weekly. See you in May!

“Higher Education Hucksters” Book Announced

Dissatisfied college graduate Joe Ohler was a cheese packer with a master’s degree. Being under-employed -wasn’t- his choice — instead, it was the cumulative decisions of many hiring managers, who collectively deemed him to be nothing more than an unskilled peon with a piece of paper. (Or few, in Mr. Ohler’s case.)

However, Ohler is fighting back against his market-destined fate: By becoming a thought leader!

And not just a social media star with more “hidden” followers than openly admitted, but a published presence whose insights send chills of uncertainty into the higher-education establishment.

“I wasn’t about to let the opinions of clueless human resources people determine my future,” Ohler said.

“I decided that given how few books there are warning about the dangers of higher education, my main idea makes me a thought leader. And that premise is: More higher education is often worse!”

The lack of constructive feedback from hiring managers has meant there are no guideposts to becoming best-qualified for any role he pursues. Some assume the panacea is to “get more experience,” while no one will hire you to get that first experience.

The dictum, “Get more experience,” seems unevenly applied, when less-experienced peers have been offered jobs better than the one Ohler has and comparable to the ones for which he interviews. So, only people similar to Mr. Ohler must overcome the additional odds of lacking experience, while others different from him are given a “free pass.”

Such differential outcomes motivated Mr. Ohler to write a book about his experiences as an unwanted, under-valued baccalaureate college grad.

He believes that by sharing his insights, he can help the untallied others who earned their credentials but remain cast-off from those opportunities towards which their formal education had been advertised as “advancing one’s career.” (As opposed to being an expensive detour without a so-called “college wage premium” to show for it all.)

Mr. Ohler also aspires to discourage strong-headed “preppies” from their tentative goals of a liberal-arts university.

“Just because you might self-identify as college-bound, doesn’t mean you’re obligated to enroll. Don’t let parents, peers, or teachers pressure you into the toxic investment of a college education! A bachelor’s degree can be the worst waste of your time and money, even if you choose a major that’s allegedly in-demand.”

Mr. Ohler will entitle his book, “Higher Education Hucksters: When More Education Is Worse.”

Some say, “Why not call it, ‘University scam exposed?'”

Joe Ohler says, “Because that title would be more generic, and therefore less memorable, than my title, ‘Higher Education Hucksters.'”

16 Leading Causes of Death in Wisconsin (Pain Pills are Dead-Last)

To directly rebuff the claim of a “prescription-opioid death epidemic,” I demonstrate such deaths are -not- even in the Top 15 causes of death in Wisconsin:

16 Leading Causes of Death in Wisconsin[1]

1st Place – Heart Disease: 11,471 = 22.3% of Total Deaths[2]

2nd Place – Cancer: 11,424 = 22.3% of Total Deaths

3rd Place – Unintentional Injuries: 3,186 = 6.2% of Total Deaths

4th Place – Chronic Lower-Respiratory Disease: 2,841 = 5.5% of Total Deaths

5th Place – Cerebro-Vascular Disease: 2,616 = 5.1% of Total Deaths

6th Place – Alzheimer’s Disease: 2,616 = 5.1% of Total Deaths

7th Place – Diabetes: 1,382 = 2.7% of Total Deaths

8th Place – Pneumonia or Influenza: 1,051 = 2% of Total Deaths

9th Place – Nephritis: 995 = 1.9% of Total Deaths

10th Place – Suicide: 874 = 1.7% of Total Deaths

NOTE: Although the 11th- Through 16th-Ranked Causes of Death were not copied directly (due to being outside the top ten of the WisDHS mortality report), they -were- imputed from official data within that same report.

11th Place – All Drug Overdoses:[3] 873 = 1.7% of Total Deaths

12th Place – Parkinson’s Disease: 587[4] = 1.1% of Total Deaths

13th Place – Prescription Drug Overdoses:[5] 349 = 0.7% of Total Deaths

14th Place – Heroin Overdoses:[6] 299 = 0.6% of Total Deaths

15th Place – Homicide:[7] 183 = 0.3% of Total Deaths

16th Place – Prescription Opioid Overdoses:[8] 174 = 0.3% of Total Deaths

—References—
[1] These totals are taken directly from, “Table 2: Leading causes of death by age groups, 2015, Wisconsin,” on page 6 of, “Annual Wisconsin Death Report, 2015.” Office of Health Informatics, within WisDHS. Released September 2016. https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/publications/p01170-16.pdf
[2] Total deaths in Wisconsin were 51,251 in 2015, taken directly from “Key Findings” on page 2 of, “Annual Wisconsin Death Report, 2015.” Office of Health Informatics, within WisDHS. Released September 2016. https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/publications/p01129.pdf
[3] Calculated from prevalence rates identified within the section, “Other drug-related deaths,” on page 37 of, “Wisconsin Epidemiological Profile on Alcohol and Other Drugs, 2016.” Joint publication of WisDHS and UW-Madison Population Health Institute. Released November 2016. https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/publications/p4/p45718-16.pdf
-Calculation: (5,700,000 population / 100,000 incidence) * 15.3 per 100K = 57 * 15.3 = 872.1 (round down) = 872 Wisconsinites died from drug complications or overdose in 2015.
[4] Sum of the prevalences among age groups. Refer to “Table 2” within Citation 1.
[5] Calculated from respective prevalence rates from, “Figure 16: Distribution of drug overdose by drug type, 2015, Wisconsin,” on page 25 of, “Annual Wisconsin Death Report, 2015.” Office of Health Informatics, within WisDHS. Released September 2016. https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/publications/p01170-16.pdf
-Calculation: 873 drug deaths * (0.2 RX opioids + 0.05 RX benzos + 0.15 combination of RX and other drugs) = 873 * 0.4 = 349 deaths from prescription drugs
[6] “Wisconsin Heroin Brief, 2007-2014.” Office of Health Informatics, within WisDHS. Released March 2016. https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/publications/p01238.pdf
2015 was extrapolated from 2014 data, by using a highly conservative estimate of 12-percent heroin-mortality growth.
-Calculation: 267 base year (2014) * 1.12 change = 299 (2015)
[7] Sum of the prevalences among age groups. Refer to “Table 2” within Citation 1.
[8] Calculated from a 20-percent prevalence rate from, “Figure 16: Distribution of drug overdose by drug type, 2015, Wisconsin,” on page 25 of, “Annual Wisconsin Death Report, 2015.” Office of Health Informatics, within WisDHS. Released September 2016. https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/publications/p01170-16.pdf
-Calculation: 873 drug deaths * 0.2 RX opioids = 174 deaths from prescription opioids

NOTE: It has come to my attention that the website “World Life Expectancy” shows an unranked list of Wisconsin mortality, saying only, “These are the top 15 causes [in no particular order].” [No link shall be provided, due to not wanting to promote a “competitor” in this policy sphere.]

Furthermore, its map-oriented interface is less straightforward than just giving the absolute and relative numbers. By contrast, I rank these causes numerically; show my calculations; and use terms that align with Health Department reports. -JPO

Renee Wachter’s New Year’s Resolution: Find a New Job!

Of the five chancellors at 4-year UW System schools who received a raise last December, UW-Superior Chancellor, Renee Wachter, has clearly been the most despised and least-deserving!

Herein, I examine why those in-the-know are avoiding professional contact with Wachter. (She’s in the market for a new job, you know.)

Remember the WPR article that I referenced in my prior article? (Go back and read it — you’ll add another view to my hit counter!)

Relevant for this piece, that very summary cites this understatement-of-the-century from Wachter underling Daniel Fanning, “Our chancellor [and many rank-and-file] have had to make tough budget decisions in the last couple [of] years.”

Right — such as whether to prioritize the athletic center or the dormitories as the next capital project.

Oh, wait — UW-Superior doesn’t have the money for capital projects! Because it’s “in the red,” i.e. poor-broke!!

And can you guess why -that- is? Because UW-Superior has been bleeding headcount, losing students left, right, and center!!!

Sinking Enrollment = Why Wachter Must Not Settle for a “Wait and See” Approach

To recap: UW-Superior has lost an average 73 students annually, or 12-percent of its headcount, since 2010. That’s the result of -very- poor recruitment and retention!

Students are slower to enroll there, because something is rotten at UW-Superior. (To say nothing of Hamlet‘s Denmark.) One can only speculate why, but I’m fairly confident that a study of graduates’ actual occupational outcomes will bear-out the idea that many among UW-Inferior’s recent alumni have not realized their full economic potential — and not for lack of trying, but for lack of their alma mater’s prestige.

Spin Doctors Wanted: The Greatest Challenge for UW-Superior’s Hangers-On

The most “difficult” question Renee and her cohorts face is: “How are we going to regain student confidence — and more importantly, their money — when they see hard-hitting criticisms of us in the news and on blogs?”

Great question… The answer is: “They won’t!”

Time to find a new job, Renee — preferably, in a different line of work. Ever consider a home bakery?

(Never mind. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos might spoil your fun! As well as limit your exclamation-point quota.)

Bonus Section: Satirically Modified Photos Of Renee Wachter!

Coming soon…

Chancellors at Five UW Schools Receive Raise — But How Did They Earn It?

The inspiration for this post was a Wisconsin Public Radio article describing the raises the UW Board of Regents approved for 5 different chancellors.

The question that immediately jumped to (my) mind was, “How many of those chancellors really deserved their raise?”

Question 1) One metric of sound stewardship is budgetary figures. Logically, a well-deserved raise would be a portion of the increased revenue brought-in by the chancellor — or at least, by his or her lackeys.

(I’ll address those budgets in further detail after enrollment, because typically “student headcount” determines the maximum allowable budget, not vice-versa.)

Question 2) I delved into enrollment figures to see how attracted or repelled students were by the results of the chancellor’s management. Absent any obvious “scandal,” a continual decline in enrollment is the clearest indicator of mismanagement.

Question 3) Also, were there any scandals during any of the chancellors’ tenures? To what extent did this top-down supervision produce more “oversights” than insights?