Burch: Who are the real drug pushers?

Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 10:05pm
By Michael R. Burch

(Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part column. The second column will run Friday, Sept. 23.)

Like all states, Tennessee has prostitution and drug laws. But does it make any sense whatsoever to go after penny ante streetwalkers and pot smokers, if millionaire kingpins are prostituting themselves to major drug companies, then laughing all the way to the bank?

As reported recently by the Times Free Press, 29 healthcare professionals in the Chattanooga area were listed as receiving anywhere from under $1,000 to well over $100,000 in pay and "perks" from pharmaceutical companies over the past two years. Closer to home, The Tennessean reported that several Nashville-area physicians received more than $100,000. (One local psychiatrist got a staggering $633,181.)

Mind you, I'm not saying that anyone in particular is doing anything wrong, and I have purposely not cited the names of Tennessee healthcare professionals because I don't know who, if anyone, may have stepped over certain ethical lines in the sand. But I think there is quite obviously a potentially huge problem that needs to be addressed.

Nationwide, according to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, prescription drug spending grew 480 percent between 1990 and 2008, from $40.3 billion to $234.1 billion. The money being paid to American doctors by pharmaceuticals looks suspiciously like "seed money" to me. Any industry that can invest a few thousand dollars here and there, then increase its revenues by $200 billion will be likely to do so. But when the products being sold are little-understood by consumers, and sometimes have catastrophic side effects, we as a society must hope (or demand) that doctors do not become "hookers," in both senses of the word.

Daniel Callahan, co-founder of the Hastings Center, a nonprofit research group that focuses on bioethics, points out that if doctors are "paid a lot of money it's in great part because they're probably expected to have a pretty great impact [on drug sales] ... It all begins to look very fishy after a while."

Beth Uselton, executive director of the Tennessee Health Care Campaign, has pointed out that while "the payments themselves are not illegal, the disclosure of such a widespread practice is disturbing for patients because it raises ethical concerns about conflict of interest around the treatments that we are prescribed by the doctors we trust."

And then there is the question of whether we can trust politicians to help protect us. When Tea Party types go into "Tarzan mode," saying in effect, "Business good, government bad," we have to consider what will happen if we end up with the smaller, dumbed-down federal government they so strenuously advocate.

But in any case, the money Americans spend directly on prescription drugs is only the tip of a gigantic iceberg. In my next column, I will discuss the human cost I have seen in my own family, after doctors prescribed powerful, mind-altering drugs for pain and anxiety. We are still trying to recover from the terrible side effects: family members who became addicted, who were unable to work and had to be supported for years, and who became so incapable of dealing with the daily stresses of life that they could only cope by taking more and more pills, until even the tiniest problems became insurmountable. Did those powerful little pills help, or did they do far more damage than good? 

Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary” at www.thehypertexts.com

53 Comments on this post:

By: Mike Burch on 9/15/11 at 10:42

I'd like to thank my friend Ron Story for suggesting the idea of this article to me.

Mike Burch

By: dargent7 on 9/16/11 at 5:57

You don't really have to cite any one Dr. or Co. that's guilty of what you're claiming.
It's ALL OF THEM.
Look at the ads on tv...the splashy ones, sad ones, funny ones, cute ones.
Half the time I don't know the actor's medical condition and what the drug is for.
What is interesting is the disclaimer at the end..."consult your Dr. if you have thoughts of suicide or strange dreams..."
Go to any physician today, anywhere in America, with high blood pressure. Say 135/ 90.
All will recommend 1 or 2 pills to "counteract".
Not a one will ask you about your diet, stress at home or the job, your exercise program.
Every hospital should have a salad/ juice bar on the 1st floor and a gymnasium on the 2nd.

By: govskeptic on 9/16/11 at 6:20

Big Phara is one of Congress's biggest friends/contributors , but the "saintly"
status of these companies to the American and world public is much less than
is deserved! The Bush era prescription drug plan was a disaster to the American
pocketbook in price protection for this group, yet neither party will admit or change
it. We're ask not to buy drugs outside the US, yet these companies are producing
these drugs all over the world with many going to sub-contractors that the Name
Brand won't even disclose to the FDA . The law requires US inspections, so we
have to send inspectors around the world to do their job and often having to go
to Court just to get company names and locations.
Among many outrages we have to live with, these are becoming the worst!

By: gdiafante on 9/16/11 at 6:30

I don't know how many times I would be sitting in my doctor's lobby and having my appointment pushed back because some pharma reps brought donuts for the staff.

On time, upon entering the office, there was nothing but Prevacid posters, products and info all over the place. Three guess what the doctor tried to prescribe...

Another time, a clear umbilical hernia diagnosis was avoided because the doctor though a few pills would somehow cause the hernia to heal itself.

Now this is over a span of years, and obviously not the same physician. My current doctor isn't as bad, but he sometimes does start to push a pill to cure all ills, but I've made it clear that isn't the path I want.

Also, when they began allowing big pharma to advertise directly to the consumer, the downward slide became a giant snowball.

By: dargent7 on 9/16/11 at 6:36

Pick up a copy of JAMA. It's 50% splashy, glossy, pharma drug ads.
I was killing time and picked up a People mag yesterday.
50% of all the ads were for pharma drugs.
For fun, read the "contra-indications" on the back pages of these advertised drugs....2 pages of "Warnings". (Will Robinson!).

By: sidneyames on 9/16/11 at 6:37

Pills, pills, pills, good for the doctor and good for his BANK account. All pills cause side effects which create more sickness and require more pills (or so the doctor says). If the doctor says it, it must be true! Right! I wonder how many of THEM take what THEY want US to take?

By: gdiafante on 9/16/11 at 6:43

Just to play devil's advocate, sid, life expectancy is increasing.

So, you can conclude that (1) all these pills are working, (2) it's too soon to see any long-term adverse effects of these pills, (3) other treatment that deals with the result of years of pill taking trumps any bad effects, probably due to the advancement of medical technology.

Either way, I'm not sure public opinion will change until there's some empirical evidence that these pills are reducing your life expectancy.

And I sure as hell don't think Congress will do anything that isn't in the interest of big pharma.

By: Bellecat on 9/16/11 at 6:44

I used to work in a hospital pharmacy. The first thing I learned is that every pill has a side effect, even aspirin and all the other over the counter pills consumers buy in truckloads. People have to be involved in their health care--speak up if your doctor wants to prescribe pills when you do not want them.

By: i.am.a.taxpayer on 9/16/11 at 6:49

It seems that the most ethical practice would be for doctors to prescribe the medicine that is expected to work most effectively for the patient, while also considering alternatives for those with exhorbitant costs. Doctors have a professional obligation to be aware of existing and emerging medication WITHOUT the propaganda of the pharmaceutical companies. Another example of corporate greed.

By: serr8d on 9/16/11 at 6:56

Mike Burch:

Mind you, I'm not saying that anyone in particular is doing anything wrong, and I have purposely not cited the names of Tennessee healthcare professionals because I don't know who, if anyone, may have stepped over certain ethical lines in the sand.

But Mike, you are jealous, over-the-top envious, and wish that you could name names and point a longer finger at these obviously 'evil' people who make more money than you do, have pants with better creases than you do, probably drive something other than a Yugo enhanced with backup-pedal-power and (because I know poets) you want their lifestyle without their responsibilities.

Let's talk about just one of your targets: Pharma reps, the salesmen for the pharmaceutical industry, seemingly broadly denigrated in your pathetic piece.

A typical Pharmaceutical rep's responsibilities include learning a brand-new drug from the pharmaceutical company, absorving everything there is to know about that drug: it's possible side effects, how to administer the drug for the best results, when not to give that drug to patients likely to suffer side effects; how to communicate that information to medical doctors and professionals, who then rely on the reps to help them understand just how and why this new drug works. A mistake in dosage or administration could bring on grievous lawsuits and government intervention (as if there's not enough of those anchors tied to the healhcare profession already).

Do you, a mere poet, think you could assume these responsibilities? Did you have the mental stamina to have gone to school to learn enough to put in enough hard work, enough to succeed as even a pharma rep?

I know pharma reps, Mike Burch. Personally. You wouldn't have succeeded in that role. They are better looking than you are (another necessary characteristic of the set).

Of that, and their other characteristics, you are spitefully jealous.

By: treehugger7 on 9/16/11 at 7:00

Eat organic foods, grassfed meats,little processed food, and stay the hell away from doctors! It's worked for me for 50 years. Don't buy into the medical horsecrap!

By: nativeson on 9/16/11 at 7:04

Wow, this appears to be the first subject I can recall to which there is no vehement rebuttal!
Prescribing exercise, better eating habits and reduction of stress in one's life simply isn't good for business - having patients return for a new scrip is. Besides, pills are so much more convenient. As my overweight, sedentary, Skoal-dipping, gout & high blood pressure-suffering cousin has said to me on several occasions - "I'm an American dammit! I can eat, smoke, drink and chew anything I want!"

By: sidneyames on 9/16/11 at 7:07

If you tell a doctor that an alternative to DRUGS is working for you, they don't investigate and talk to you about how and what you are doing. They just look at you like you are crazy and grunt or shuffle paper and prescribe a pill. If your meds are working, they say, well let's increase it. My friend went to the doctor and was telling him that her meds were fine regarding the issue she was taking them for. He said "well you are taking a 'baby dose' so let's increase it". She bought the koolaid and increased it this week. She proceeded to get immediate symptoms of the negative side effects so she called the doctor (a SPECIALIST), WHO SAID, DON'T COME TO ME, GO TO YOUR MEDICAL DOCTOR. So let me see if I understand this: The meds increased; new and uglier symptoms appeared; and the DOC says "go to another doctor" who had nothing to do with these meds! Yeah! That works!

Pharmaceutical reps are college graduates and not necessarily equipped with ethics and morals. Sorry. They are drug pushers! Plain and simple. And doctors get rebates based on the numbers of prescriptions that are filled! How awful! So of course they PRESCRIBE PILLS, PILLS AND MORE PILLS.

By: nativeson on 9/16/11 at 7:08

Oops! Obviously, I am incorrect. serr8ted has saved the day.

By: gdiafante on 9/16/11 at 7:35

If it were about the patient, we would defer to those who are sufficiently educated...that would mean the doctor, not the rep. The rep's only responsibility is to meet a quota.

nativeson, are you surprised? lol

By: BenDover on 9/16/11 at 7:47

And then there is the question of whether we can trust politicians to help protect us. When Tea Party types go into "Tarzan mode," saying in effect, "Business good, government bad," we have to consider what will happen if we end up with the smaller, dumbed-down federal government they so strenuously advocate.

Just love these straw-men Burch conjures up. I'm surprised he didn't go down the Tea-Party as the Christianist Snake-Charmer's path; but maybe he's saving it for the 2nd installment.

The truth is that the AMA and the regulatory mechanisms have made Doctors the gate-keepers and with that absolute power comes absolute responsibility. A well programmed Commodore 64 could out diagnose the majority of them but instead the Pharma companies are relegated to paying homage to the elite and protected few who bore through the all of the barriers to entry of time and expense to become a doctor. This is because there's no other way a pharma company, in our perfectly reasonable (in the minds of everyone) yet absolutely ridiculous system of health care, can get their product to their customers.

Is it a racket? Well, of course it is... but Burch's finger is pointed at the wrong culprits... as usual.

By: yogiman on 9/16/11 at 8:07

The pharmaceutical handouts (political donations) to politicians affirms my argument where a candidate should be allowed to accept campaign money... only citizens of the office being sought. After all, we are paying for those donations through the necessary expense of needed medicine.

1) President of the US, only US citizens. No contribution (buyout) money from corporations or foreigners.
2) Senate seat, only citizens from the state they are seeking to represent. Better to repeal the 17th Amendment and place them back under the States' rights.
3) Representative seat, only from the citizens of the district they are seeking to represent. Who else are they representing?

It shouldn't take millions to run for a political office. As this nation was founded we should have common citizens representing their fellow citizens.

By: yogiman on 9/16/11 at 8:26

You might be an American, nativeson, but you can only eat, drink, chew and smoke what 'your' federal government says you can. And you can bet that setting down part of your body it is going to get worse in the not too distant future as we deepen into communism.

The 'guvmunt' has proceeded in their absolute takeover of the general public for several decades now by "passing" the laws of their choice, not the citizens.

Do you remember when you only wore a seat belt only when you wanted to... like when you was in a race? Do you remember when you could smoke anywhere you wished.. before 'guvmunt' said you couldn't? Do you remember when you used an incandescent light bulb before 'guvmunt' said you must use the one made only in China?

By: Loner on 9/16/11 at 9:08

Nice piece of writing, Mike Burch.

Conflicts of interest, or confluence of interests? Both arguments have merit and flaws.

The USSC has ruled that corporations are just people too and therefore corporations have freedom of speech, freedom to participate in elections etc.

Our elected officials are all on the take...lobbyists write the bills, Congressmen merely introduce and sponsor lobbyist-written proposed legislation..it's been this way for many decades....and the problem is only going to get worse.

It's not just the health care delivery system that has been tainted...judges are getting kick backs for every convict they send to private prisons.

The military weapons procurement industry is another area in which the contractors are dictating government policy...by way of campaign donations.

Domestic conflicts are worrisome, conflicts of interest originating from foreign states are even more troubling. The state of Israel, for example, has effectively purchased more Congressional representation than any tax-paying US state is legally entitled to.

Exempli Gratia: The recent Ros-Lehtinen sponsored anti-UN bill was vetted, if not authored by AIPAC; the bill had 57 co-sponsors at last count....New York state has 29 Reps in the US House; Israel has demonstrated control over more than 58 Reps in the US House...and the Israelis pay nothing in US taxation. Any critics of this unnatural relationship are labeled, "anti-Semites".

Capitalism, unrestrained and unregulated, leads to Dickensian exploitation and human suffering. When properly regulated and monitored by an unbiased elected authority, capitalism can generate technological advancements, genuine wealth and relative prosperity for the majority of the citizens.

Finding the right balance is the hard part.

.

By: Loner on 9/16/11 at 9:15

Serr8d is the Don Rickles of the Nashville City paper regulars...Mister Warmth.

Pay no attention to his vicious ad hominem attack, Mike Burch, it is he who is jealous of you and your talents. Serr8d knows jealousy....but he cannot recognize that fault in himself...he's only human...bless his Tea Bagging heart.

By: brrrrk on 9/16/11 at 9:50

A few months a ago I reconnected with an old buddy of mine from junior and high school, Jon. Jon was one of these natural achievers; when we were in junior high, Jon was taking high school level math and science courses; by high school (for me), Jon was taking courses to complete his high school requirements during the morning and his mother drove him to the local PSU campus for college level courses in the afternoon. Jon ended up graduating from high school a year early, then went on to Penn State to complete his BS in Chemical Engineering (no easy feat under normal conditions) the year I graduated from high school. Jon stayed on at Penn State to get his masters one year later, then transferred to CalTech and two years later got his doctorate. The guys on the Bag Bang Theory had nothing on my friend Jon. :-)

So what's my point in all this?

Well, when Jon and I "got to catchin' up" he told me that he had done pretty well over the past 30 odd years as a research Chemical Engineer (no surprise there) and was now at a somewhat management position with a company that allowed him to allocate a portion of his time to other pursuits; time that he decided to allocate to cancer research. It turns out that Jon's dad had passed away from cancer a few years back and apparently the experience was rough on him, and Jon being Jon, he figured that chemistry is chemistry. As usual, Jon jumped in with both feet and studied the field and the environment of cancer research with the same voraciousness that he tackles everything.... in this case, everything from the politics, to the funding, to the state of cancer research itself.

So again, what's my point? It's this.

Jon told me that every significant advancement in the areas of cancer treatments and cures can be directly traced back to state and public funded research programs and that if something like cancer research would have been left up to the private pharmaceutical companies, millions more would be dying. Just something to think about.....

By: dargent7 on 9/16/11 at 10:17

serr8'd continues to top himself every day and every post.
Now Mr. Burch isn't good looking enough to be a pharma rep?
You bet a lot of reps are attractive women.
Theyhave to be for the good Dr. to even see them.
But, his analysis of all their brain-power and advanced degrees in chemistry and bio-chemistry, and physiology falls completely FLAT (as in Flat-Line).
They sell FDA approved garbage that eventually is re-called after causing massive strokes, blood clots, and death.
Drug sales reps are the front line in drug pushing.

By: Loner on 9/16/11 at 10:26

Your testimonial is compelling, Brrrk.

Western civilization relied on Christian charity for thousands of years, to do the humanitarian stuff...we got the Crusades, the Inquisition, the witch-hunts etc.

Nowadays, we rely on governments to do the humanitarian stuff....governments have delivered a great deal along these human services lines in the past two hundred years; whereas Christianity, after two thousand years of practice, has failed to deliver much more than human suffering.

I hate to sound like some sort of Godless atheist, but, as a civilizing influence, organized religion is highly overrated.

By: brrrrk on 9/16/11 at 10:38

Loner said

"Your testimonial is compelling, Brrrk."

I don't know if I'd call it a testimonial.... it is what it is.

"Nowadays, we rely on governments to do the humanitarian stuff....governments have delivered a great deal along these human services lines in the past two hundred years; whereas Christianity, after two thousand years of practice, has failed to deliver much more than human suffering."

I don't know that I'd go that far. I do believe that within most religions there are those "mystics" who truly practice the faith for it's own rewards, much like the monks who live in monasteries or the sisters that live in convents. But the large majority is just business. Frankly, I find it interesting that true believers are referred to as the "lambs of God"... as in lambs to the slaughter. :-)

By: Kosh III on 9/16/11 at 10:46

Ben said
"A well programmed Commodore 64"
C64???? you're showing your age Ben. Update yourself to something new and shiny, say a TRS-80 or an Amiga. :)

Thanks. Have a good day.

By: Loner on 9/16/11 at 10:58

Christianity did result in some nice architecture, artwork, music and such...nice vestments, nice-smelling incense...stained glass wonders etc.

But the smell of heretics, burnt at the stake still lingers in the air....and the religionists are still fighting over who God promised the Promised Land to, rattling nuclear sabers....and pointing to Old Testament land claims.

On balance, I'd say that religion generally sucks.

By: Loner on 9/16/11 at 11:05

Perhaps the word, "testimonial" was not appropriate..."anecdotal evidence" might have been more accurate; but I thought that was too strong a term. I'm not saying that your story is not evidential....please, do not take offense.

As for your defense of organized religion, I respect your rights and beliefs. I accept the idea that religion has done some good. But the side effects have been disabling. There is no correct answer here.

By: gdiafante on 9/16/11 at 11:09

"On balance, I'd say that religion generally sucks."

Inject organized before religion and I would nominate that sentence for statement of the year.

By: gdiafante on 9/16/11 at 11:10

Nevermind, Loner. The summation of your thoughts indicates you meant organized religion. My bad.

By: BenDover on 9/16/11 at 11:22

lol kosh.

By: Loner on 9/16/11 at 11:27

You are right, Gd, the adjective "organized" should have modified the noun "religion"..I was too lazy to type that in, I suppose. Thank you for the accolade..I just wish that those words were not so true.

Spirituality can be a positive force in the life of a sapient being; but superstition can be a very destructive side effect of our ability to imagine things.

The post hoc, ergo propter hoc (after this, therefore because of this) logic fallacy has probably contributed more to the advent of organized religion than any other single factor, IMO.

The oldest profession, in my judgment, was not female prostitute, it was Holy Man.

By: gdiafante on 9/16/11 at 11:47

I've always believed that religion should be private...between that person and their god. I do tend to question the sincerity of those who seem to want to bring attention to their worship. It also makes me highy uncomfortable. I can only guess that I'm not alone, which is why most people would rather that religion/religious speak be left to church.

Also, having been raised Baptist (until the age of reason), I have years of experiencing dealing with the total hypocrisy of the church and complete mutilation of Christ's message.

By: gdiafante on 9/16/11 at 11:48

s/h/b experience

By: brrrrk on 9/16/11 at 11:55

Loner said

"Perhaps the word, 'testimonial' was not appropriate...'anecdotal evidence' might have been more accurate; but I thought that was too strong a term. I'm not saying that your story is not evidential....please, do not take offense."

No offense taken, as far as you know the story could be complete bullshit :-)

"As for your defense of organized religion, I respect your rights and beliefs."

I don't consider the "mystics" to really be part of organized religion.

By: JohnGalt on 9/16/11 at 12:09

What is holocaust poetry?

By: Captain Nemo on 9/16/11 at 12:14

By: sidneyames on 9/16/11 at 8:07
If you tell a doctor that an alternative to DRUGS is working for you, they don't investigate and talk to you about how and what you are doing. They just look at you like you are crazy and grunt or shuffle paper and prescribe a pill
*****************************************************************

Witchcraft is not medicine sid.

By: Captain Nemo on 9/16/11 at 12:15

Loner-
Don Rickles is a better at it and more charming than serr8d.

By: brrrrk on 9/16/11 at 12:22

sidneyames said

"If you tell a doctor that an alternative to DRUGS is working for you, they don't investigate and talk to you about how and what you are doing. They just look at you like you are crazy and grunt or shuffle paper and prescribe a pill"

Hmmm, could be who they're looking at.

-OR-

Could be you need another Dr. there sui-"sid"-al. I had an appointment with mine yesterday and he spent a good 20 minutes talking to me about symptoms.

By: Captain Nemo on 9/16/11 at 12:23

I am so tired of you haters of Christians. You should get on your knees and thank God for giving you alterative drugs.

BuddyBee Itch

By: sidneyames on 9/16/11 at 1:28

said by Brrrrrk: Jon told me that every significant advancement in the areas of cancer treatments and cures can be directly traced back to state and public funded research programs and that if something like cancer research would have been left up to the private pharmaceutical companies, millions more would be dying. Just something to think about.....

We don't agree on much, however, this account of your friend was poignant and refreshing.

And brrrrrk regarding your last comment, I'll ignore that. I think there are very few doctors who are really "talking" to patients, especially since most of them book y ou ever 10 to 15 minutes. Your doc is an exception, not the rule. Trust me, they book every 10 to 15 minutes so they can herd 'em in and out like cattle.

By: Captain Nemo on 9/16/11 at 1:42

sid-

What documented evidence says most doctor book every 10 to 15 minuets? Now days most doctors office has Nurse Practitioner, that do the work of the doctor.

By: judyboodo@yahoo.com on 9/16/11 at 4:45

I used to be married to a doctor, and it's true they overbook, but mostly because of cancellations that don't call ahead. They do it so they don't have empty slots and consequentially have to make them pay anyway. The insurance company's won't let them. In the olden days, maybe 25-30 yrs ago, doctors and pharmaceutical company's weren't allowed to advertise. Lawyer's either. It seems most of the increase in medical expenses occurred after these restrictions were lifted.

By: judyboodo@yahoo.com on 9/16/11 at 4:46

But thats not to say that their aren't some M.D.'s that try to cram 10lbs into a 5lb sack.

By: dargent7 on 9/17/11 at 4:45

Is that the same as some people trying to cram their 210#'s into a 5'9" frame?

By: bfra on 9/17/11 at 8:56

d7 - Or the 210 woman, stuffed into a size 5 jean, with a midriff tank top & a spare tire hanging out all the way around.

By: yogiman on 9/17/11 at 1:48

Have you been looking inthe mirror, bfra?

By: ronboy on 9/18/11 at 9:30

Mike Burch my dear editor friend did one hell of an excellent job with this topic. I am very proud of Mike He is a very talented and gifted writer and editor . I am proud to call Mike my dear friend. We have both written several letters to the editor and comments to the Tennessean Newspaper so both names should ring a bell.Hey they must have liked what we had to say at times to get the honor of 3 star letters. By the way to the one comment about mikes looks would play a part if he were a drug rep well take it take iit from me he is a very attractive person on the inside and outside , and he could easily make a fortune. If that is all that it takes are tooks, but mike has even a greater cause worth fiighting for and that is his heart is on the Holocaust poetry and I truly admire all the time and effort he has involved himself with this great work. You go my very special brother

Ron Story
Charlotte Tn

By: Mike Burch on 9/18/11 at 2:25

I hate to seem picky, but surely "organized religion" is an oxymoron, like "organized madness" ...

While it is true that Christians have from time to time done good deeds in the name of religion, still missionaries and other evangelists have to condemn all the children of the earth to hell, before they can start "saving" them. Just think of the fear small children experience, when they learn that a fearsome God goes around torturing people for all eternity, in order for churches to be able to increase revenues. (If God has the cattle on ten thousand hills, why does he need 10% of his disciples' money?)

What is done with most of the money? Very little of it goes to charity. Most of the money is used to evangelize, which means terrorizing more and more innocent children.

As Mark Twain said, "I found that I was a Christian for revenue only ..."

Twain at least had the good sense to be embarrassed at his former folly. According to the Bible, Jesus died with only the clothes on his back; everything else went to the poor, except for the money that Judas stole. Today things have been reversed. Most Christian churches donate less at 5% of their revenues to charity, and 95% goes to the Judases who accuse Jesus of plotting to send billions of human beings to an "eternal hell" for having the good sense not to believe that he or God could be so petty. If they are going to save the Judases, why wouldn't they save people who didn't blaspheme their names? If they are unable to save, we should call them "salvation helpers," not saviors.

The basic idea of orthodox Christianity is so bizarre, it turns Jesus into the Devil. After all, who could be so petty and arrogant that he would cause or allow other people to go to hell unless they worshiped him?

Ironically, most atheists, agnostics and people of other faiths have much higher opinions of Jesus that his "believers." At least they don't accuse him of being a cherry-picking monster who saves one person by grace, then sends billions of other people to "hell."

By: Mike Burch on 9/18/11 at 2:32

Kosh and Ben,

Believe it or not, I once programmed Commodore 64s, TRS-80s, and other precursors to the IBM PC.

I was one of the first programmers in the Nashville area to do custom programming for businesses on microcomputers. I wrote programs for South Central Bell, auto dealers who wanted to get away from expensive minicomputers and mainframes, and a variety of other small businesses.

It was quite an adventure trying to write functional programs with 64K memory or less, and with all the data having to fit on floppy disks!

Mike

By: Mike Burch on 9/18/11 at 2:33

Ron,

Thanks for your vote of confidence, and it's nice to see you post here!

Mike