I am thinking of a certain industry. See if you can guess what it is.
This industry is huge, constituting a large portion of the nation’s GDP. Millions of people earn their living through it, directly or indirectly. The people at the top of this industry (who operate mostly behind the scenes, of course) are among the super-rich. This industry’s corporations lobby the nation’s government relentlessly, to the tune of billions of dollars per year, both to secure lucrative contracts and to influence national policy in their favor. This investment pays off richly, sometimes reaching trillions of dollars.
The corporations supplying this industry with its materiel conduct advanced, highly technical research that is far beyond the understanding of the average citizen. The citizens fund this research, however, through tax dollars. Unbeknownst to them, many of the profits gained from the products developed using tax dollars are kept by the corporations’ executives and investors.
This industry addresses fundamental, life-or-death issues facing the nation. As such, it relentlessly promotes itself as a global force for good, claiming to protect and save countless lives. However, it kills a lot of people too, and the balance is not always a favorable one.
The operational side of this industry is emphatically top-down in its structure and function. Those who work at the ground level must undergo rigorous training that standardizes their attitudes and behavior. They must follow strict codes of practice, and they are subject to harsh professional discipline if they deviate from accepted policies and procedures, or even if they publicly question them.
Finally, these ground-level personnel are handled in a peculiar manner. Publicly, they are frequently lauded as heroes, particularly under declared periods of crisis. Privately, they are kept completely in the dark regarding high-level industry decisions, and they are often lied to outright by those at higher levels of command. The “grunts” even significantly forfeit some fundamental civil liberties for the privilege of working in the industry.
What industry am I describing?
If you answered, “the military,” of course you would be correct. However, if you answered “the medical industry,” you would be every bit as right.
In President Eisenhower’s farewell speech of January 17, 1961, he stated that “…in the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.” Sixty-three years on, many Americans understand what he was referring to.
They see the endless cycle of undeclared wars and decades-long foreign occupations that are undertaken on nebulous or even outright false pretenses. They see the ever-hungry mega-industry that produces super-expensive, high-tech killing devices of every imaginable form, as well as the steady stream of traumatized soldiers that it spits out. War (or, if you prefer its Orwellian nickname, “defense”) is big business. And as Eisenhower warned, as long as those profiting from it drive the policy and the money stream, it will not only continue, it will continue to grow.
Other mega-industries – the medical industry in particular – have generally fared better in public perception than the military-industrial complex. Then came Covid.
Among its many harsh lessons, Covid has taught us this: if you substitute Pfizer and Moderna for Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, and swap the NIH and CDC for the Pentagon, you get the same result. The “medical-industrial complex” is every bit as real as its military-industrial counterpart, and it is every bit as real a problem.
As a physician, I am embarrassed to admit that until Covid, I possessed only an inkling that this was so – or more accurately, I knew it, but didn’t realize how bad it was, and I didn’t worry about it too much. Sure (I thought), Pharma engaged in dishonest practices, but we’d known that for decades, and after all, they do make some effective drugs. Yes, physicians were increasingly becoming employees, and protocols were dictating care more and more, but the profession still seemed manageable. True, healthcare was far too expensive (gobbling up a reported 18.3 percent of the US GDP in 2021), but healthcare is inherently expensive. And after all, we’re saving lives.
Until we weren’t.
By early-to-mid 2020, it became obvious to those paying attention that the Covid “response,” while promoted as a medical initiative, was in fact a military operation. Martial law had effectively been declared approximately on the Ides of March 2020, after President Trump was mysteriously convinced to cede the Covid response (and practically speaking, control of the nation) to the National Security Council. Civil liberties – freedom of assembly, worship, the right to travel, to earn one’s living, to pursue one’s education, to obtain legal relief – were rendered null and void.
Top-down diktats on how to manage Covid patients were handed down to physicians from high above, and these were enforced with a militaristic rigidity unseen in doctors’ professional lifetimes. The mandated protocols made no sense. They ignored fundamental tenets of both sound medical practice and medical ethics. They shamelessly lied about well-known, tried-and-true medicines that were known to be safe and appeared to work. The protocols killed people.