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Snake Oil Salesmen

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1 Snake Oil Salesmen on Fri Mar 04, 2016 1:22 am



Snake Oil Salesmen

March 3, 2016 Mike Walsh

Many of us recall those old Western movies. A covered wagon rolls into town and the townsfolk gather around. They are interested as to who their visitor is. You didn’t get many newcomers back in those days; maybe two or three each year. The wagon’s canvas would be drawn aside and a well-oiled, not in the inebriated sense, salesman would appear. Very much like a politician at the hustings he would peddle his remedies to his trusting audience.
Naturally, the community would be beset by health ailments as such are part of the human condition. You can assume that if you ask ten people, of whatever age, they each have one ailment or several.
What a stupendous market for the unscrupulous. The salesmen would carry bottles of what became known as snake oil, hence the term snake oil salesmen. It was a potion that would cure anything from varicose veins to galloping pi-aka.
Whatever ailed you this magical elixir would cure; toothache, a splintered femur or broken heart. This was quite some potion. The credulous townsfolk parted with their hard earned cash and the deceitful snake oil salesman soon afterwards parted himself from the community he had just cheated.
This brings me to the pharmaceuticals. Second only to the arms industry in terms of clout big-pharma are self-serving. True, I and countless others owe our lives to dedicated medical personnel aided by their life-saving drugs. But, many modern remedies have their genesis in herbal medicine. There are alternatives to conventional medicines. You can’t beat healthy living as much bad health is self-inflicted.
I was once prone to mouth ulcers. Doctors and dentists agreed that like coughs and colds, suppressants could be purchased but there was no cure, so they said. I kept buying expensive snake oil remedies.
On a hunch I had an herbalist take a blood test. There was, he told me, an excess of acid in my blood. The test was followed by a word of dietary advice, a natural remedy to reduce the acid and the problem was forever fixed. My herbalist is a poor man. He could have made much more money by selling me placebos.
For six weeks, my infant sons were close to death from the effects of whooping cough. The conventional health service was as useless as a walking stick with a wheel on it. Would an herbalist be able to help? A swift diagnosis and herbal remedy provided. It was like the laying on of the hands.
Little wonder the pharmaceuticals are out to kill alternative medicines. During the post-war rise of the pharmaceutical conglomerates the U.S population has become the most diseased of all those countries that compile medical records. One quarter of America’s 330 million populations suffer serious disease and 400,000 die each year from fatty plaque related heart disease. Not much of a big-pharma success story is it?
Big pharma are not charitable concerns. The pharmaceuticals are literally making a killing. Their purpose is to maximise profits. You don’t do this by finding antidotes. The ‘elusive cure’ for cancer is a trillion dollar a year industry.
Work it out for yourself: In the United States the number of advertisements for pharmaceutical cures is equalled by the number of adverts placed by ambulance-chasing lawyers seeking compensation from the pharmaceuticals for getting it wrong. As economist John Maynard Keynes observed,
Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men for the nastiest of motives will somehow work for the benefit of all.

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