If you're anything like over 25 percent of Americans in any given year, you get depressed every now and then, maybe even depressed enough to be counted among the 10 percent of Americans who are on antidepressants. The fact that such a large number of people from the civilization that invented beer hats are blue enough to medicate themselves is sad enough, but the bad news isn't over yet.
For one thing, those cool pills your doctor prescribes for your permanent case of the Mondays might not be the best medication for your symptoms. They might just be the ones he was paid to shill, in a roundabout way.
"Hey, man, do those pills come in heroin flavor?"
While doctors cannot actually take money in exchange for prescribing a certain company's drugs, they can be invited to conferences and put up in expensive five-star hotels. And as people who rarely get to lodge anywhere but the backseat of a Chevette in a Kmart parking lot, we can assure you that five-star hotels can make a man do a lot of things. We'd shiv a three-legged dog for a stay at a Motel 6, so it's not hard to see how luxury digs might persuade a guy to shell out some happy pills.
"Run over a child? Sure, does it have to be my car?"
As for the conferences themselves, doctors are bombarded with information about new drugs and medical equipment, and this exposure makes it worth it for medical companies to pay millions to attend. Or, better yet, to hire the doctors themselves to do the speaking as consultants.
There's a reason Getty has like a thousand of these pictures.
In 2004, the U.S. government sued a company called TAP for providing kickbacks to doctors for prescribing their medications over others. The defense contended that it was "standard practice and not illegal to offer freebies." And they won. There seems to be a fine line though, because in May of 2011, another company lost their court case for doing almost exactly the same thing. These wins are rare though, and are in fact so difficult to obtain that recently the government changed tactics and is now going after the doctors themselves.
"No, you're not under arrest. You just have to wear them during surgery."
When most of us think of the college experience, we think of illegal hazing and roofie avoidance, not the mundane stuff that goes on behind the scenes. Which is why we probably forget that universities aren't just host to ragin' keggers -- they're also often behind medical breakthroughs and new technologies. For every couple of frat boys testing the limits of vodka/energy drink consumption, there's a Dr. Brainiac on the cutting edge of some world-changing something.
If you're one of those saps in the lab, you've got to get the funding for your rabbit-man hybrid experiment from somewhere. Your options are limited: you can apply for a government grant, or you can apply for a private grant. Money doesn't grow on trees, and researchers need money to research.
Dr. Janice McScience discovers the circle, made possible with funding from people like you.
But what if you're, say, a villain company? And universities all over the country are looking for the fastest way to plot your downfall? You know, like how lots of researchers are trying to come up with "green" energy technologies that will drive the oil companies out of business? Do you think they'll be as likely to trigger your demise if you're giving them over $800 million for research? You bet your ass they're not.
Big oil companies like BP, Chevron and Conoco have donated at least that much money to colleges across the country. Not just any colleges -- colleges that were studying alternative energy sources and ways to curb greenhouse emissions.
Birds and Oil: A Study of Their Symbiotic Relationship.
For example, since 2002 ExxonMobil has donated over $225 million to Stanford to fund research to "study technology to curb greenhouse gas emissions." Of course this gift came with a planet-sized catch, the caveat being that the panel that considers research proposals by the faculty be made up of oil industry people, and that each panel member be named "Tex" or "Rusty."
"The cowboy hat tells me your research on why electric cars murder babies needs to be funded."
In 2007, BP funded a $500 million research center for green technology at UC Berkeley. At least one professor went on record as saying he would find his own damn funding rather than be subject to the demands of BP. Today he's making amazing breakthroughs in the squirrel-powered rickshaw industry.
Via Wikimedia Commons
Squirrel not included.
For more corporate jerk-offery, check out 6 Insane Conspiracies Hiding Behind Good Causes and 5 Hollywood Secrets That Explain Why So Many Movies Suck.
And stop by LinkSTORM to cleanse your palette of all this sticking it to the man.
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