The popular Southeast Asian botanical Kratom may be part of the solution to America’s opioid and mental health epidemics, or it may be part of the problem.
By Mark D. Harris
Joe (not his real name) was a veteran and heroin addict in his mid-30s. He presented to the emergency room with a deadly blood infection. So weak that he could barely walk, Joe ended up in the intensive care unit in a major hospital. Heroin followed him there, with drug dealers delivering to him in his room. Slowly he improved. He is off heroin. Today, Joe is in rehabilitation, gaining strength and trying to put his life back together.
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What do we do when crisis comes? What should we do? How can others help?
By Mark D. Harris
Carolyn, a friend in her 90s, approached me at church after the morning worship service a few Sundays ago. She and her husband Alan had had a terrible week. The previous Tuesday she was hit by another car while driving, destroying her vehicle but leaving her mercifully with only a few bumps and bruises. On Friday there had been an electrical fire in her house. She and her husband were safe but their home was badly damaged. They were living in a nearby hotel and needed prayer. The couple, another friend and I prayed together immediately, and my family has lifted them up before the Lord several times in the past few weeks.
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Hard times are inevitable in every life, but their are ways to weather them.
The chattering class in Washington DC and elsewhere is abuzz with concern about the “fiscal cliff”, involving legislation passed in the summer of 2011 requiring tax increases and spending cuts to decrease the exploding US Federal deficit. The Washington Post suggests that this “fiscal cliff” would raise taxes over $2,000 per year on many middle income families, decrease spending, fray the safety net, and push the US economy into another recession. The “fiscal cliff” is simply the latest in a series of financial troubles that have plagued man throughout history, including such the Dutch Tulip Mania of 1720, the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Great Recession of 2008, and countless others. As always, the media is convulsed with worry, ordinary people differ in their responses, with some feeling helpless, others ambivalent, and a few confident.
Though I have not done formal interviews, those who feel helpless seem to believe that they will lose their jobs, their expenses will skyrocket, and there is nothing that they can do about it. These people wring their hands in fear and impotence and find it harder to function in their day to day lives. Those who are ambivalent usually don’t know what is going on. A few have confidence based on their assumption that everything will turn out fine because it always has in the past.
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Power of all types must be diffused throughout society, because no person or entity can be trusted with too much of it.
One of the most troubling realizations during the financial meltdown of 2008 was that some companies were “too big to fail”. Chrysler and General Motors were “too big to fail” because of their strategic importance to American industry and because of the thousands of jobs that would be lost if they collapsed. So they received billions in taxpayer money. Remarkably, Ford Motor Company, just as big, in the same industry, the same environment and also threatening thousands of jobs, did not need government assistance.
Big financial companies, including Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Bear Sterns, Wachovia, American International Group, and others were also considered too big to fail. The fear was that if they failed, so much confidence would be lost in the financial system that markets would implode. As a result the Bush and later Obama administrations did some legal ledgermain to merge companies and sank hundreds of billions of dollars into these entities. Individual taxpayers, home owners and account holders got a shakedown. While the blame for the crisis belongs throughout our society, from greedy lenders to irresponsible borrowers, the pain hit us all, including many who never deserved it.
Continue reading “The Financial Crisis and the Concentration of Financial Power” →