Monday, February 26, 2018

Buying Stuff Abroad


By early 1969 I was cracking up. My life appeared too be circling the drain. I couldn't stop thinking that my country was bombing the life out of innocent men, women and children in Vietnam, purposefully, in the words of Air Force General Curtis LeMay, bombing them back into the Stone Age. He also said, "There are no innocent civilians. It is their government and you are fighting a people, you are not trying to fight an armed force anymore. So it doesn't bother me so much to be killing the so-called innocent bystanders.." I couldn't sleep at night-- literally; my taxes were buying those bombs. But that wasn't all.

I was in college at the time, in my senior year. Recently, the school gave me a philanthropy award and they sent a car to pick me up in NYC and drive me out to the campus. The friendly driver asked me if I was the Howie Klein. I said I was a Howie Klein and he asked if I was the one from Operation Stony Brook-- at the time to biggest campus drug bust in America. Oh, yeah... I was that Howie Klein. He was one of the cops assigned to arrest me. What a coincidence... almost 50 years later!

Blowhard Donnie Trump talks a lot about how great Suffolk County police are in the battle against Mara Salvatrucha, better known as MS-13. I hope the department is better now than they were in 1969. Then they would come up to be in brand new unwashed bell bottoms with a wig that looked like a mop and their big police shoes and ask to buy $5 worth of pot. One day I was sitting in the cafeteria and watched a police cruiser pull up to my car and disgorge a uniformed cop who took out a hammer and smash my tail light. I didn't have time to get it fixed before I had to drive into the city to pick up a kilo of hash. The cops pulled me over on my way home. The practically took the car apart, even took my wheels off before they gave me a ticket for driving with a broken tail light. The hash was sitting in a brown paper bag on the front seat. The truly were the keystone cops and never arrested me.

But they were stressing me out. And in 1969, while my classmates were finishing their last few months in college and preparing for graduation, I persuaded my professors to let me leave early and took off for parts unknown. 1969 was my first trip to Afghanistan, one of my favorite of the over 100 countries I've visited.

In those days, I had no money-- literally nothing. I got by on my wits-- and sending hash back to my old customers in the U.S. Sometimes I would have some money, other times I starved and waited before I had cash for gas. Credit cards weren't common back then and they hadn't invented cell phones yet. But I managed to scrape together some cash to buy a gorgeous carpet in Afghanistan. I bargained for it for a week. It's next to my bed to this day. Normally though, my travels were for the sake of seeing the world and experiencing other cultures. I loved it.

Eventually I returned to the U.S. and someone wound up as the president of a division of a corporate behemoth. That's another story. But it was an international company and I was happily able to continue my travels-- on steroids. Then when I travelled I was also able to buy things-- furnishings for my house, gifts for friends, clothing... The other day I was admiring a carved wooded mask on a wall I bought in Mali and Roland and I were arguing about which town we get it in.

Now I'm retired but I still travel-- more than ever. But I don't buy things any more. The materialism thing has gone bye-bye. What I do buy abroad, though, are prescription medicines. Our pharmaceutical companies are ripping us off-- and not in a small way. I was in Thailand recently. All I bought was meds. My doctor has me on an inhaler for example. Here in the U.S.-- with Medicare-- it costs between $70 and $80. Not so terrible... but in Thailand the same inhaler costs $6. Does that not seem like that big a deal? One of my medicines is experimental and my doctor thinks it will cure the neuropathy that was a side effect of chemo. Medicare refuses to give my insurance company the OK because it's experimental. So I'm stuck-- $4,000 a month. That's $48,000 a year. And that's just one of several high-priced medicines I have to take. And, no, the pharmaceutical companies won't help, not even in non-financial ways. But the same exact drug in Thailand... $600/month-- $7,200/year.

Didn't Trump say the pharmaceutical companies were "getting away with murder" while he was campaigning? The implication was that he was going to fix that problem. What has he done about that "murder" since he took over? You know the answer to that as well as I do.

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At 5:38 AM, Anonymous Hone said...

Canada is also a good bet for finding less expensive drugs. I bought inhalers for my son for $45 when they were over $200 here. Corruption and greed fill the halls of Congress and it is getting worse every day.

At 7:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And how about the reverse? Abroad buying Stuff? (Citibank, Fox, Congress, . . .)


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