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Medicine and Political Money are an Unhealthy Mixture

Do you believe Big Pharma is responsible for the opioid crisis?  Or do you believe our government ignored warnings resulting in the opioid crisis?  Currently, over 120 people die from an opioid overdose every day actually decreasing the life expectancy of Americans.  There are 700,000 opioid orphans and millions of dollars still being handed over for the “poison pills”. These numbers cannot be the illicit responsibility of just one organization. It’s a slew of organizations, government bureaucracies and people involved to create a crisis.  One issue we haven’t truly discussed is how Big Pharma got all that power over our government and our health. They have used their immense lobbying and political donor status to push our country to the brink of a health crisis.

New York State passed a law that appeared strange for the average person.  The new law states nonprofits cannot be politically involved in backing or obstructing political candidates.  It hails from the Johnson Amendment from 1954.  Why is it so strange?  Nonprofits have very little if any power in politics due to low funding, staff and canvassing power.  Why stop them but let Big Pharma and larger corporations continue their billion-dollar funding campaigns?  

We may have lost the Citizens United case against corporations but we could revise the Johnson Amendment to include large corporations.  Many new organizations hoping to implement their hand in elections create nonprofit political groups from PACS to super PACs and local groups to fight legislation in cities and towns.  If these groups are considered non-profit-whether it’s purely political or not, then they should be held to the same standards as the Johnson Amendment.  

The Johnson Amendment states churches and other non-taxpaying organizations cannot directly contribute to political campaigns monetarily or through direct supportive canvassing.  This includes their inability to use churches for political podiums. A 2016 Pew Research study found two-thirds of churchgoers heard a sermon on a social and political issue. It’s a well-known fact politicians use churches for political functions defying this law every day.  Politicians also lead protests along with clergy for anti-violence, immigration, and human rights issues. Technically, when they are walking together they are in a supportive connection for the people to view.  Politicians and pastors are lobbying each other. Obviously, a violation of the Johnson Amendment. That’s where nonprofits and for-profits must be combined.

If a politician cannot be held in a collaboration, monetary connection or any political influential relationship with the non-tax paying non-profit group and vice versa, we must extend this to the political nonprofits.   A group like Purdue Pharma’s nonprofit Harm Reduction Therapeutics is developing and distributing Narcan an anti-overdose prescription.  Since this nonprofit is tax paying it will be able to lobby the government for prime space in another field of medicine.  But should it be allowed? Probably not since we have already seen the destruction wrought from their greed.

We must revise the Johnson Amendment to include taxpaying nonprofits as well since many of them have become political alliances under new guises.  America has over 1 million nonprofits that have political connections from asking a local leader to fix potholes in the streets to building million-dollar gymnasiums and others selling products to our government or the people.  If a priest cannot sermonize on social and political issues nor donate to their local election why should a corporation? At the end of the day, political empowerment whether through a taxpaying or non-taxpaying nonprofit is freedom of speech but will, directly and indirectly, influence our legislators or We the People, then we must amend their methods of gaining traction and power.  Big Pharma has taught us enough to know those very few organizations that want political power rarely invest in the power of the people.  

*Image by Thomas Breher from Pixabay

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