FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Let’s Call Out Institutional Insanities

by

What are the signs that an institution is clinically insane? For over thirty-five years I have been trying to persuade psychological and psychiatric specialists and their professional associations to take up this serious subject for study and corrective suggestions. Alas, to no avail. They are totally occupied with the mental health of individuals.

One symptom of institutional insanity is when the mass media repeatedly goes wild covering offensive words, while ignoring systemic offensive deeds that reflect those words. In 2009, Donald Sterling, owner of the NBA Los Angeles Clippers, settled for $2.725 million with the Department of Justice for unlawfully excluding prospective African-American and Hispanic tenants from his apartment buildings. In comparison to the coverage of his racist words, this injustice received little news coverage.

This past week, all you heard was the endless replay of his private bigotry with whom many believe to be his girlfriend and all the condemnations by wealthy active and retired ball players and coaches. Where was their outrage in 2009? What about the tens of thousands of serf-laborers in Southeast Asia who slave away manufacturing Michael Jordan’s and LeBron James’ shoes?

In Malaysia, meeting with the head of state, visiting President Obama saw fit to comment on Donald Sterling. Yet, during his week of meetings with East Asian leaders, President Obama did not bring attention to that region’s main health threat to the United States – the deadly viral epidemics that could reach these shores as have other past lethal viruses. The federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) could have benefited from some Presidential backing for greater resource cooperation and early alerts from those nations.

The media coverage of the one year anniversary of the Boston Marathon Bombings (3 fatalities, 264 injuries), was omnipresent while two recent alarming reports by the underfunded World Health Organization (WHO) and the CDC warning of many moremillions of deaths, that could result from over-prescribing of antibiotics leading to resistant superbugs, were given short shrift. WHO warned that our world is on the way back to the pre-antibiotic period, when there was little medical protection against bacteria and viruses.

This is not just a future projection. Every day more than 200 Americans die in the United States from health care-associated infections, such as hospital-induced infections, according to the CDC and other sources. Each day!

The first case of the deadly coronavirus from Saudi Arabia has reached Indiana where a returning visitor from that country came down with a little-researched virus called MERS. Traced to infected camels, this disease has taken the lives of one third or more of its victims, and has already resulted in about 100 deaths. Have you seen coverage in the media equivalent to recent political verbal gaffes or Hollywood celebrity misbehavior? Should this virus, already confirmed in a dozen countries, start moving to human-to-human transmission, “Katy bar the door!”

Mr. Obama’s navy is redundantly completing another aircraft carrier costing $12.5 billion. There are now twelve of these strategic white elephants, apart from their imperial force protection, while there are insufficient funds for countries to discover the genetic makeup of this virus or case-control studies regarding its pattern of spreading.

President Obama has proposed in his fiscal year 2015 budget all of $30 million for facilitates that could identify more resistant bacterial strains and communicate their resultant outbreaks and treatments. Apparently these very perilous, invisible “toxic terrorists” do not command the gravity and resources as do human terrorists or the insatiable demands of the weapons industrial complex.

There truly are no more fitting words to describe this grotesque inversion of priorities than “institutional insanity.” It also comes in the form of mass trivialization of the media’s selectivity. Serious often timely public demonstrations and reports on widely perceived risks and existing harms are ignored. Just look at what fills national afternoon and network weekend television shows, using our public airwaves for free, no less. Look at the many pages of newspapers on sports, styles and celebrity woes, compared to the space devoted to letters to the editor or coverage of local and national civic activities that focus on improving the lot of humanity or solving widespread problems with available solutions. Too much “news” coverage is devoted to debauchery and fluff.

Neuroscientists, such as Antonio Damasio, have speculated that uncontrollable hedonism, which takes down individuals, may, at a societal level, behave in similarly self-destructive or dysfunctional manners.

Someday, I imagine, someone will organize a “national society of serious people” that can put this hedonistic corporatism on the nation’s table so we can examine its destruction of human potential and what we convey to our posterity.

We can start by asking why the corporatists – those most sensually exploitative institutions – can so often get away using, for free, our own commonly owned property (public airwaves, the public lands, the internet, the trillions of dollars of taxpayer research and development given to corporations) against the interests of “we the people” and, most cruelly, our children.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

February 28, 2017
Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi
A Paradigm Shift in the Middle East: Iran as the Solution, Not the Problem
stclair
Big Brother Capitalism Strikes Back
Stephen Cooper
Trump’s Pusillanimous Immigration Policy Imperils the Public and the Police
Vincent Emanuele
The Madness of U.S. Empire
Michael Sainato and Chelsea Skojec
We Need the Endangered Species Act Now More Than Ever
David Underhill
Oops, They Did It Again: Crowd Bowls Over Rep in Beery Alley
John Eskow
Jimmy Kimmel is a Total Dick and Other Reflections on the Oscars
Steve Horn
Trump’s Top Energy Aide, Mike Catanzaro Peddled Climate Change Denial
Jack Random
The Trump Diaries: Week Five
Robert Fisk
The Education of Marine Le Pen
Pauline Murphy
Felicia Browne’s Fight Against Fascism
Mary Lynn Cramer
Fearing the Trump Impeachment
Mel Gurtov
While Our Attention is Elsewhere, Climate Change Worsens
Dan Bacher
Extinction 2017: California Edition
Abel Cohen
The Trojan President: America Never Saw It Coming
February 27, 2017
Anthony DiMaggio
Media Ban! Making Sense of the War Between Trump and the Press
Dave Lindorff
Resume Inflation at the NSC: Lt. General McMaster’s Silver Star Was Essentially Earned for Target Practice
Conn Hallinan
Is Trump Moderating US Foreign Policy? Hardly
Norman Pollack
Political Castration of State: Militarization of Government
Kenneth Surin
Inside Dharavi, a Mumbai Slum
Lawrence Davidson
Truth vs. Trump
Binoy Kampmark
The Extradition Saga of Kim Dotcom
Robert Fisk
Why a Victory Over ISIS in Mosul Might Spell Defeat in Deir Ezzor
David Swanson
Open Guantanamo!
Ted Rall
The Republicans May Impeach Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Why Should Trump―or Anyone―Be Able to Launch a Nuclear War?
Andrew Stewart
Down with Obamacare, Up with Single Payer!
Colin Todhunter
Message to John Beddington and the Oxford Martin Commission
David Macaray
UFOs: The Myth That Won’t Die?
Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism: Transcending the Master’s Tools
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Mike Whitney
McMaster Takes Charge: Trump Relinquishes Control of Foreign Policy 
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Decline of US and UK Power
Louisa Willcox
The Endangered Species Act: a Critical Safety Net Now Threatened by Congress and Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Norman Pollack
Drumbeat of Fascism: Find, Arrest, Deport
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
David Morgan
Trump and the Left: a Case of Mass Hysteria?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail