When you write about science and health, it means you spend a lot of time defending safe food, harmless chemicals, good drugs, etc. And that means there are going to be people out there, like supplement peddlers, journalists who are in bed with sleazy environmental groups, and just plain loonies, who insist that someone must have paid you off because you have the unmitigated gall to say that something is safe when it is, and they say it's not. People and companies make a lot money when you're scared, and don't like anyone defending something you're supposed to be afraid of. Then, they start the name calling. It's almost always the same—corporate shill.
Well, am I? I didn't used to think so until recently, but then I had to stop and wonder. I recently wrote about two issues that really stirred people up. One was about WiFi in The Baltimore Sun newspaper, and how it wasn't hurting our children after all, and the other was about the opioid overdose crisis in the Duluth News-Tribune, an issue that I gave testimony about at an FDA hearing last year. And I'll be damned if some mighty fine people didn't stop by, all providing the same message — that I'm on the take. Here are a few of the comments:
- Alison P. via email: "All you sluts for the corporate are putting people's lives at risk for your own pocket." (Nice!)
- Dr. Nicholas Van Deelen, Duluth News Tribune: "[T]he pharmaceutical industry, through spokesmen like Bloom, obfuscates the issue [of opioid abuse] in an apparent attempt to deflect blame and protect profits." (Van Deelen also claims we're in Washington, D.C. and funded by pharmaceutical companies. Zero for two.)
- "[Josh Bloom] made $106,940 but from what donors? Where is the list? (1,2)
- Wayne, via comments section: "So, did Monsanto fund you too?" (Especially clever. Novel too)
So, all of a sudden, a light bulb went on. These guys must be right! How could I not see what has been so clearly dangling in front of my face this whole time? I AM a corporate shill. This revelation did sting for a while, as did the shame of my lack of self-awareness, but sometimes you just have to suck it up and concede what is evident. I'm dirty as the oil pan in a 1978 Chevy Chevette. My corporate puppeteers have bestowed upon me such a vast fortune that I am able to live a lifestyle that few people can even imagine, let alone encounter. Yep - I'm a shill.
For example, my 2007 Altima has FOUR wheels, often starts, and although it looks like it's been through the Perseid Meteor Shower, still retains some of the blue paint it came with. Or was it green? And never let anyone tell you that the back seat doesn't make one awesome bed. It's not too bad sharing it with two other suckers who did not take corporate money, although their front seat beds aren't great. The driver's side guy, who developed temporary paralysis, is expected to resume walking any day now. Maybe.
My roommate (trying to get out of the Altima)
Lest you think that we shills get no more than than the splendid car-home that I take such pride in, think again. I have hundreds of dollars in the bank. Yessiree- I'm a thousandaire, thanks to Agent Orange, the Koch Brothers, nuclear waste dumps, and most of all, the pharmaceutical industry. You know, those guys who are withholding a cure for cancer so it can sell its poisonous drugs to the public instead (3)? People over profits, baby.
Before you pass judgment, please don't assume that just because I have attained such a lofty status in life that I don't give back to the community. Hell no! With financial security comes free time, and I make the best of it. Do you have any idea how much it costs to rent the helicopter that I use to dump barrels of bleach on areas that lack proper sanitation. And I hardly ever get any of it on people! At least not that many. I also bring joy to thousands with my graffiti art. Sometimes the car owners don't like it all that much, but that's OK, since I'm usually long gone before they discover it.
And, could there be anything more rewarding than having the time to just stroll around and help elderly and disabled people across the treacherous streets of Manhattan—least half way across, anyhow.
Parting words: Say what you want about me, but please don't call me corrupt, because it couldn't be further from the truth (4). But it sure does piss me off. And when I'm pissed off, I fight back. You may not enjoy this.
OK, time for bed. Lights out.... S###t! They already went out. Battery died.
(1) None of us have access to the donor list. We don't talk about it. Our editorial meetings are only about science. Captain Kangaroo could be on the list and I wouldn't know. As to why we don't make our donor list public, no one does. Not even the foundation that launders corporate money for Mother Jones. Our average donation is around $50 and people have a right to privacy. If you don't like it, too bad.
(2) So you think $106,000 is a lot of money for someone who conducted biomedical research for 27 years, got laid off, and (fortunately) got a job with ACSH, making roughly half what I would have been making had I stayed in industry? Try living in New York on that salary. The conductors who run my commuter train make $100,000-150,000. They do not have two advanced degrees.
(3) All you people that thought that this was just another crazy conspiracy theory, well, maybe you need to rethink this. Maybe there really are drugs that cures all forms of cancer, and the companies bought off the 250,000 people who had to keep this secret in order to maintain the conspiracy. Worked pretty well, right? Except, somehow Abe Vigoda found out last year and threatened to go to the press. Now he's dead. Hmmmm. Coincidence? I think not.
(4) I have written many pieces that are harshly critical of actions taken by drug companies. Here are two:
Nexium: The Dark Side Of Pharma (AstraZeneca)