All posts by Rich Winkel

Spin-doctoring obstetrical research

“A funny thing happened on the way to practicing
evidence-based obstetric care. Obstetricians hijacked
some of the research. In the late 1970s and 1980s
advocates for change could say either that the
evidence did not exist to support typical obstetric
management or that it existed and discredited it.
Enough people made this point that governmental
agencies, third-party payers, and consumers began
pressuring obstetricians to mend their ways. To cite
one example, the Healthy People goals set in 1990
mandated a reduction in the cesarean delivery rate to
15 percent by 2000 (1). (It is worth noting that the
National Institutes of Health convened a consensus
conference in 1980to strategize on how to lower a
cesarean rate that had reached the alarming heights of
15 percent [2].)

“Mainstream obstetricians reacted, not by bringing
their practices into line with what the research
showed to be safe and effective care, but by fighting
change. In a variation of the old saw ‘‘If it looks like
a duck and sounds like a duck and walks like a duck,
it’s a duck,’’ they discovered that if a study read like
a well-done study—it was laid out as such, used the
right terminology and concepts, and was published
in a peer-reviewed journal—it would be accepted
into the canon of evidence-based care and could be
used to shape policy, even if it was junk.”

Willie Nelson: Occupy the Food System

“From seed to plate, our food system is now even more concentrated than our banking system. Most economic sectors have concentration ratios hovering around 40 percent, meaning that the top four firms in the industry control 40 percent of the market. Anything beyond this level is considered “highly concentrated,” where experts believe competition is severely threatened and market abuses are likely to occur.

“Many key agricultural markets like soybeans and beef exceed the 40 percent threshold, meaning the seeds and inputs that farmers need to grow our crops come from just a handful of companies. Ninety-three percent of soybeans and 80 percent of corn grown in the United States are under the control of just one company. Four companies control up to 90 percent of the global trade in grain. Today, three companies process more than 70 percent of beef in the U.S.; four companies dominate close to 60 percent of the pork and chicken markets.”

Iceland’s Triumph Over the Banksters

”I was left with the fundamental choice between what was interpreted as the paramount financial interests of the financial market in Europe with respect to Iceland and on the other hand the democratic will of my people. And I came to the conclusion that our society, like Europe or  the Western world, is more about  democracy than it is about the financial market. If we start sacrificing democratic elements of our societies for financial expediencies we have, in my opinion, entered a very dangerous journey.“

— President of Iceland, Olafur Grimmson

(interview starts 9 minutes into audio.  Transcript below.)