Sunday, March 25, 2018

Is Our Democracy in Crisis?

At first blush, asking whether our democracy is in crisis comes across as negative thinking. But sometimes, there are just those symptoms that grab our attention. For example, if someone sitting next to us started to cough, sneeze, and shiver it would only be natural to ask if that person was feeling well.
When it comes to our democracy, many of us have seen symptoms of something wrong and have questioned its health. Usually, these are just temporary disorders that resolve themselves. After all, our democracy which is protected by our Constitution is a strong one. But to believe it is indestructible may just be a little too much false security.
Many democracies around the world have died or are going in that direction. The reader is encouraged to check out this interesting and informative study done by Freedom House.
Democracy faced its most serious crisis in decades in 2017…
Seventy-one countries suffered net declines in political rights and civil liberties, with only 35 registering gains. This marked the 12th consecutive year of decline in global freedom.
The United States retreated from its traditional role as both a champion and an exemplar of democracy amid an accelerating decline in American political rights and civil liberties.
So what are those symptoms we are seeing that are causing us to question the health of our democracy? Here is an admittedly subjective but by no means exhaustive list.

Especially since the infamous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, big money from often unidentified sources is gaining an ever increasing stranglehold on our electoral process. It has been argued that the ability to give money to candidates is an exercise of free speech. But when candidates accept disproportionally large money donations from various commercial or political interests, it’s not much of a stretch to assume that big donors are calling the shots instead of the voters. Here is just one example. In a recent Quinnipiac Poll an astonishing 97% support background checks for all buyers. With this amount of universal support, it should be a slam dunk for Congress to pass this. But because the National Rifle Association funds so many candidates, the general voters' desires are mostly being ignored.
In a democracy with free and fair elections, a bedrock principle is whoever gets the most votes wins. Not necessarily with the Electoral College which goes back to the original ratifying of the Constitution. Twice in the last 16 years, we have had a president elected with a minority of votes. And it almost happened again in 2004. In essence, some votes count while others don’t. That’s not a real democracy!
There have been many forms of voter suppression over the years. Voter ID laws are the latest. While it all seems legitimate, there is a lot of red tape for people like out of state resident college students and those without driver’s licenses – who by and large tend to vote Democratic. Why do just about all the requests for stricter Voter ID laws come from Republicans? Because it provides them an unfair tactical advantage as openly admitted here.
Gerrymandering has been employed by both Democrats and Republicans through the years. It is about politicians redrawing electoral districts to benefit their own party. In effect, it’s about politicians picking their voters instead of the other way around true to the principles of democracies. The results can be incumbent candidates who are impossible to remove because their parties have unassailable majorities in their redrawn districts. Fortunately, judiciaries are now starting to strike back against this undemocratic practice like recently in Pennsylvania.
Our intelligence community has determined without a doubt that Russia led by President Vladimir Putin made a full assault on our democracy by tampering with our presidential election in favor of Trump and against Hillary Clinton. While we will never know for sure whether this tipped the election in Trump’s favor, with his razor-thin margin of victory, it is entirely possible!  Even worse, we know that Russia intends to tamper with our upcoming 2018 and 2020 elections! The integrity of these elections and our democracy will be greatly in question unless we are able to stop this tampering. Thus far, there has been little effort to do so especially with Trump having been in denial of the tampering.
But perhaps the most egregious sin against our democracy was the stealing of a Supreme Court Justice pick from Democratic President Barack Obama. Although Supreme Court Justices have a lifetime term if they want it, the Constitution as part of its system of checks and balances grants the sitting president the right to choose the Justice subject to the Senate’s approval. When Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly, President Obama's replacement pick was stonewalled by the Republican majority Senate in hopes that the Republicans would win the upcoming presidential election. When Donald Trump scored his upset victory, he got to install his choice with approval of that same Republican majority Senate on a strictly party line vote. This added insult to injury since Trump was elected while losing the popular vote.
It has been asserted by many going back to Thomas Jefferson that an informed electorate is vital to a strong, functional democracy. This is quite intuitive. Elections are about choices. It stands to reason that without informed choices, the freedom to choose is not necessarily beneficial for a democracy. At its worst, really bad choices can lead to the end of democracies. Retired Supreme Court Justice David Souter had dire warnings in this video which I urge the reader to watch.
There were a number of points he made. But the last one made a particular impression on me. In essence, he said that if the electorate is not aware of the causes of problems that have not been addressed, it is all too easy for a demagogue to ask for (and receive) total power to solve these problems. How prescient! It was less than a month after this talk that a demagogue who said that for all the problems he claimed America to have, they could be fixed “only by me” after which he was given the keys to the government to run with it.
Which brings us to the 500 pound gorilla in the room in the way of President Donald Trump who has far more authoritarian tendencies than any president in our nation’s history. I can outline all the reasons why but can I once again refer the reader to this outstanding video lecture by liberal economist and professor, Robert Reich?
Interestingly, this video which had a number of scary warnings about the authoritarian nature of Trump was produced shortly before his inauguration. Now a little over a year later, I think everything he said was spot on! I urge the reader to watch this video to see if you agree.
Of all of his authoritarian tendencies, the one that is perhaps most disturbing is his relentless turning of truth upside down to where it is presented in the form that was labelled as “alternative facts”.  Meanwhile, any questioning the media had of his version of the truth was brushed aside as “fake news”. The notable exception in Trump’s mind is Fox News which caters to him unconditionally. It has been derided by its detractors as being the closest thing to state-run media America has. Here is a rather amusing video of Fox News in action. And just to make things worse, Trump is now filling a number of his positions in his staff with sycophants, many of them former Fox News commentators. The result will be fewer and fewer restrictions on the impulses of this erratic president.
So we finally return to the question posted in the title. Whether we truly are in crisis is a matter of opinion. But it is a fact that Russia is doing everything possible to undermine our democracy by their meddling in our elections. A democracy is truly in crisis if its citizens begin to seriously question whether we have fair and free elections. We must stop Russia at all costs!
In addition, the media has a special duty to call out Trump to hold his feet to the fire as much as possible. Perhaps our best hope lies in Special Counsel Robert Mueller who is investigating Trump and his staff for possible money laundering and/or illegal collusion with the Russians during the recent presidential election. But as his dragnet comes closer to Trump, there is always the fear that he will fire Mueller which if it happens will almost certainly put us in crisis mode.
Our democracy has survived through a number of mortal threats to it, most notably the Civil War and World War II and to a lesser degree, Watergate. If it survived crises like these, surely we have little to worry about, right? Maybe not! I would like to offer this quotation by Robert Hutchins:
The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment.
I think Hutchins nailed it! Overall, Americans have indeed exhibited a lot of apathy and indifference over our political system. We have one of the lowest voter turnout percentages among democracies in the world. All too many people are just indifferent about the vital political issues of the day. Yes, they are understandably more concerned with work and family. Politics is more for political junkies like me but not for them. The result is a democracy that is running on autopilot. While this may be OK for much of the time, we may veer off course and if we aren’t keeping an eye on things, we may at least stray far off course or at worst – crash!
But I’m going to end this decidedly negative essay on a positive note. The shocking upset victory by Donald Trump and the resulting chaos that followed has served as a major wake-up call for many Americans. Many are now taking to the streets to say that they’re mad as hell! But more importantly, they are registering their dissatisfaction at the ballot box, most recently in the special election in Pennsylvania's 18th congressional district where the Democrat Conor Lamb scored an upset victory in an area so heavily gerrymandered that Donald Trump won this district by over 20 points and the Democrats in previous elections here didn’t even bother to field a candidate!
History has shown that the party of an unpopular president (like Trump) suffers major losses in midterm elections like the one coming up this November. Many Republicans in Congress have seen the writing on the wall and have announced their upcoming retirements from office.
Republicans now control all three branches of our federal government. Political prognosticators are predicting with some confidence that the Democrats will at least retake the House in 2018 which will provide some vitally needed balance of power in Washington until the next election in 2020. But November is a ways off and anything can happen in the meantime!
Let’s not delude ourselves into thinking a single election is going to fix all of the considerable problems our democracy is going through. It would be a step in the right direction, though. If enough of us care to make a difference, then the tide will turn to our elected leaders serving the interests of its citizens and not the other way around. Now that’s what a real democracy is all about!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Still the Party of Big Business and Big Money

Back in a March posting, I wrote that if we were given the exercise of trying to describe the Republican Party in only one sentence, this would be my response:
The raison d’être of the Republican Party is to look out for the interests of big business and big money.
I also called them the Party of Cruel and labelled them as sociopaths.  Even as an admitted liberal partisan, I try to step back and look to see whether my rhetoric is hitting home or is simply over the top. The argument can be made by some that the two major parties both want the same things to serve us all but just want to accomplish them in different ways.
But with the Republican tax cut bills that have recently passed the House and Senate, this naïve argument is being blown up to smithereens!
Of course, tax cuts favoring the wealthy have been part of the Republican playbook going back to Ronald Reagan. The claim has always been that this giveaway to the wealthy results in a 'trickle down' effect that benefits those who are lower in the economic food chain. But this promised trickle down effect has always been proven to be an illusion. The rich keep their gains and the government suffers a shortfall in tax receipts. Then to address the resulting deficits, Republicans then demand cuts in social programs such as food stamps, Social Security, and Medicare. Rinse, repeat.
With this present version, they are at it again. To justify a proposal to cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20%, we are told by President Trump and others that the resulting corporate tax savings will result in more hiring and an average wage boost of $4,000.
If you’re going to tell a lie, tell the big lie! Corporations have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders to maximize profits. In the past, they have always taken the money and used it for stock buybacks and/or increasing the dividends they pay out to their stockholders. This is good for the corporations and their wealthy investors, but does nothing for the average worker.
In addition, the different bills propose to either significantly cut or eliminate all estate taxes which benefits only the very richest families in America – like not coincidentally, the Trumps. But Republicans love their rich people and don’t seem to care about anybody else.  For example, we have this tone deaf quote from Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley.
"I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it's on booze or women or movies."
But what makes this round of tax cuts especially egregious is that tax increases on the middle and lower classes are being proposed to help finance this giveaway to corporations and the wealthy! Even so, this is still being peddled as a middle class tax cut – another example of the big lie! The details behind how the House and Senate bills were put together are a bit too involved to include here. But the interested reader can check this link to learn more.
And just as bad, mainstream economists who have crunched the numbers are forecasting an additional $1 trillion will be added to the US national debt over the next 10 years!
All of this is from a party of proclaimed deficit hawks. For example, some of the more extreme members of Congress would not even agree to relief funds for Hurricane Sandy unless an offsetting budget cut was found elsewhere. A more recent example is the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) which is still awaiting funding because according to Republican Senator Orrin Hatch "we don't have any money anymore."
As to the real reason for the proposed tax cuts, some Republicans unafraid of being voted out by people who don’t know any better have actually admitted that this is all about a payback to their donors.
And with confidence that the tax cut bill will soon pass, there is already talk about cutting welfare, Medicare, and Medicaid spending. Told you so!
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said Wednesday that congressional Republicans will aim next year to reduce spending on both federal health care and anti-poverty programs, citing the need to reduce America's deficit. 
“We're going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit,” 
This takes incredible balls. Think about it! Ryan and his fellow Republicans want to give corporations and the wealthy a huge tax cut which will explode the deficit on the backs of the middle and lower classes. And then he wants to cut programs that benefit these middle and lower class people to try and address this same deficit he just created!  For those who are still unconvinced that tax cuts do little more than explode deficits, Kansas served as a “real live experiment” in conservative governance where Republican Gov. Sam Brownback got to cut taxes to his heart’s content just to prove the validity of his right-wing ideology.  The result was little or no growth along with a huge shortfall in tax receipts to the point where Kansas was no longer able to properly fund their public education system. Unlike the federal government, state governments cannot resort to deficit financing so the Republican legislature had no choice but to raise taxes by overriding a veto by Brownback.,
The tax cut legislation still hasn’t made it to the finish line at the President’s desk for signing into law. The House and Senate versions that were passed have some significant differences that are being reconciled so a single bill can be passed again by the House and Senate to be signed into law by the president.
One thing for sure is that the revote in the Senate will again be extremely close. The result may be influenced by the special Senate election on December 12 in Alabama won by Democrat Doug Jones. As is well known, the Republican candidate was Roy Moore, a blatant bigot who has been accused of molesting a number of teenage girls, including a 14 year old while he was in his 30s. While some supporters claim to be unsure of the charges, others who say they believe the charges still supported Moore because his vote in Congress is more important than worrying about sending an accused pedophile to Congress. That’s sociopathic if you ask me!
Recent events have only accelerated Republican efforts to frantically pass this bill. First, with the surprise election win by Jones, the Senate wants to vote on this bill before he is sworn in which would decrease the Republican razor-thin majority there. Secondly, as more details of the tax cut bill are revealed, it is becoming ever more unpopular with the American public, the most recent polls showing only about a 29% approval rating. Earlier this year when Congress was voting on a repeal of Obamacare, many Republicans received a rude reception from angry constituents back home afraid of losing their health insurance. Well, those protests are back! And helping to drive these same protesters is a sneaky provision in the bill to eliminate the individual mandate in Obamacare to recover some of the money given out as part of the tax cuts. Without this requirement for everybody to have health insurance, the stability of the insurance exchanges could be extremely compromised which could have some big effects which may possibly turn out to be a deal breaker for some moderate Republicans.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that repealing the mandate would result in 13 million fewer people being covered by health insurance and would cause insurance companies to raise premiums by 10 percent a year.
You don’t have to believe a liberal like me to see that the Republican Party has become morally bankrupt. Just check out this growing list of Republican politicians and pundits who have either turned on their party and/or President Trump.  
I will close with this recent sample of some of the vitriol coming from many conservative commentators, The G.O.P. is Rotting by David Brooks.
Today’s tax cuts have no bipartisan support. They have no intellectual grounding, no body of supporting evidence. They do not respond to the central crisis of our time. They have no vision of the common good, except that Republican donors should get more money and Democratic donors should have less.
The rot afflicting the G.O.P. is comprehensive — moral, intellectual, political and reputational. More and more former Republicans wake up every day and realize: “I’m homeless. I’m politically homeless.”

Monday, September 25, 2017

Will We Ever All Agree on Climate Change?

It was only a few weeks after Al Gore's An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power debuted at theaters around the country. Since I admired his previous Oscar winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth.  I was interested to see what new things Gore had to say about climate change.
But a check of theaters in the Greater Pittsburgh area only showed one theater offering the movie and that theater only offering one showing per day. I, along with about a dozen other people watched the film that day.
Indeed, I thought the movie to be worthwhile. Instead of his original movie that predicted the results of climate change, this one graphically showed many of the results of climate change around the world. But what was sad to me was that so few people apparently cared enough about climate change to want to see this movie. With all of the crazy goings on in American politics, climate change just wasn’t on anybody’s radar anymore.
But then came the start of the 2017 hurricane season and the horrific damage it caused to places like Houston, parts of Florida, and most recently, Puerto Rico. Climate scientists have warned that the oceans are warming which would result in more powerful storms. And they came in the form of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria with possibly more to come.
Past experiences cannot prepare us for storms that have been called unprecedented. Even deniers had to question whether climate change was indeed contributing to the severity of these storms.
Harvey was declared to be a '500 year storm' which meant that in a particular year, a storm like this should have a 1 in 500 chance of happening. But Houston has now had three 500 year storms in three years.
Theoretically, the odds of a 1-in-500 event occurring three straight times are one in 125 million. 
The inescapable conclusion is that the frequency and strength of these storms are clearly not random occurrences. Something must be affecting the climate for all of this to be happening!
But in spite of it all, the climate change deniers still persist. There is a famous quote by the author, Upton Sinclair:
It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!
There is nobody this quote applies to more than the fossil fuel industry and the politicians they finance. The most notable one in Congress is Sen. Jim Inhofe who is noted for the snowball he brought to the Senate floor as his lame attempt to disprove climate change. But the entire Trump Administration is on board too. And to show how crazy partisan this issue has become, Rush Limbaugh offered these cynical words on the forecasted Florida storms.
There is a desire to advance this climate change agenda, and hurricanes are one of the fastest and best ways to do it...fear and panic help sell batteries, bottled water, and TV advertising.
He evacuated his Palm Beach mansion soon afterward.

So given all of this partisan rancor, will we ever all agree on climate change someday? Surely there will always be some dead-enders who will never give in. But there are some unmistakable trends that will continue to marginalize these holdouts.
First, Hurricane Harvey is bringing up inevitable question of climate change. It is easy to dismiss questions on climate change arguing as an ideologue. But when death and destruction literally come to people’s front doors, these questions can no longer be ignored. And while the storms affecting America were indeed terrible, the suffering in other parts of the world was even more catastrophic resulting in the deaths of many thousands from droughts and typhoons which makes the American climate change deniers look even more pathetic.
Secondly, as an admission that climate change is making these superstorms the new normal, more and more people will sensibly be moving away from the coasts like what has already happened as a result of Hurricane Sandy. To help this along, governments will have to buy lands from these coastal dwellers in addition to modifying the crazy parts of our national flood insurance program that encourage rebuilding in known floodplains.
And finally, renewable energy sources such as solar and wind are becoming more and more price competitive with fossil fuels. Our only hope to mitigate the worst of climate change is to convert from fossil fuels to renewables as quickly as possible. The manufacturing of solar panels has exploded in recent years as costs have dramatically fallen. Unfortunately, in this industry like so many others, the Chinese are eating our lunch.
While President Trump has announced America’s intention to withdraw from The Paris Climate Accord, many cities, states and companies have indicated their intentions to ignore Trump and will proceed to comply with the agreed to guidelines – as they should!
So while some of us can continue to be in denial over climate​ change, Mother Nature always gets the last word. We ignore her stern warnings at our peril!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

What Can America Do About the Opioid Crisis?

The number of deaths due to the opioid crisis in America are rising faster than ever.
Drug overdose deaths in 2016 most likely exceeded 59,000, the largest annual jump ever recorded in the United States, according to preliminary data compiled by The New York Times. 
The death count is the latest consequence of an escalating public health crisis: opioid addiction, now made more deadly by an influx of illicitly manufactured fentanyl and similar drugs. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death among Americans under 50.
Ohio, which many believe to be the epicenter of the crisis has a number of true horror stories like this.
In 2016, Summit County had 312 drug deaths, according to Gary Guenther, the county medical examiner’s chief investigator — a 46 percent increase from 2015 and more than triple the 99 cases that went through the medical examiner’s office just two years before.  
There were so many last year, Mr. Guenther said, that on three separate occasions the county had to request refrigerated trailers to store the bodies because they’d run out of space in the morgue.It’s not unique to Akron. Coroners’ offices throughout the state are being overwhelmed.
These estimated deaths for 2016 alone exceed the total number of American deaths from the entire Vietnam and Iraq Wars.
And unlike previous drug epidemics that affected poor residents of big cities, the carnage has spread to both suburban and rural America, affecting both the rich and poor.
It is fair to say that the magnitude of this crisis has been underreported in favor of other stories like those about the daily exploits of the Tweeter-in-Chief. That’s shameful.
For us to try to come up with solutions to this crisis, we need to have an understanding of how we arrived at this desperate time in our history.
I believe the definitive book on this subject is Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic which I highly recommend to the reader who wants to learn more about this issue. Most interesting is the story the author conveys about a cottage industry based in Xalisco, Mexico which grew to serve many small to mid-sized American cities by selling heroin employing a business model similar to pizza delivery!
But in the meantime, here is an abridged history of how​ this all came about:
A number of years ago back in the 90s, strong opioids were seldom prescribed – even for those with acute pain due to the fear of addiction.
Then the pendulum swung violently the other way when Purdue Pharma started an advertising campaign to convince doctors that their new product, OxyContin was suitable to prescribe for any general pain complaints a patient might have. And best of all, they said the worries about addiction were greatly exaggerated. If you’re going to tell a lie, tell the big lie! Purdue knew these pills were addictive but lied about it. In May 2007 the company pleaded guilty to misleading the public about OxyContin’s risk of addiction and agreed to pay $600 million in fines.  Its president, top lawyer and former chief medical officer also pleaded guilty as individuals.
Doctors with a newfound religion to dutifully treat pain prescribed 'Oxys' to just about anybody who complained about pain. Many became hooked. Others took advantage of the plentiful pills stored in medicine cabinets everywhere to get high. Some doctors started what were known as ‘pill mills’ which served wholesale numbers of patients complaining of pain in order to get a prescription. The opioid epidemic was on!
Then the Law of Unintended Consequences took over. With all of these people addicted to prescription painkillers, the powers that be tried to solve this problem in the only way they knew how – make it much harder and more expensive to get these pills. But just making something illegal doesn’t make the problem go away. Instead, these addicts discovered that a closely related drug, heroin was freely available and relatively cheap. So instead of being hooked on prescription drugs whose content was strictly regulated, users were turning to street heroin with questionable strength and ingredients.
One of those ingredients that crept into the heroin supply was fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is many times more powerful than heroin. This has led to a huge spike in overdose deaths in the last year or two.
Now more desperate, public officials are pledging more money to fight this crisis. But just throwing money at the problem doesn’t solve anything. And the so-called War on Drugs which relies on law enforcement as the solution has done little more than give America the highest incarceration rate in the world.
Based on recent experiences to fight all of this addiction or at least mitigate the harm, it appears that there is good news and bad news. The good news is that while there is no panacea, there are some promising solutions to at least make some headway to help dig us out of the hole we are in. The bad news is that these solutions are being held back due to ingrained attitudes and prejudices along with (surprise) a lack of money to pay for it all.
Of immediate help is a drug called naloxone, aka Narcan that a policeman, firefighter, or paramedic can use to save the life of someone who has overdosed on heroin. Unfortunately, if the overdose is due to the much more powerful fentanyl, the lifesaving drug may be overmatched. And as an example of the above mentioned ingrained attitudes is an Ohio sheriff who incredibly, refuses to have his deputies carry Narcan.
Most promising is what is known as Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT). In conjunction with therapy, a substitute opioid is administered that relieves the withdrawal symptoms but without the addict getting high. This allows the addict to function normally and perhaps even work until someday, hopefully kicking the addiction.
The most well known drug is methadone which has been around since the 1940s. Although it is effective, it must be administered daily at a certified distribution center which often, nobody wants near where they live.
A better alternative is Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone) which has a great advantage in being able to be prescribed and then picked up at the pharmacy. However, Suboxone can be difficult to obtain because it can only be had from a limited number of federally certified doctors who in turn are limited by law to how many patients each can treat. It is ironic that while the addiction treatment is so controlled, OxyContin, the source of much of the addiction has no such controls.
Unfortunately, there is still stubborn cultural resistance to MAT because some still erroneously see it as nothing more than substituting one addictive opioid for another.
To ultimately make headway against the opioid crisis we have to reduce the demand that is driving everything.
To help prevent more accidental addiction as a result of legitimate pain treatment, comprehensive plans for treating the pain need to be used instead of just bringing out the prescription pad to prescribe an opioid. In addition, there is ample anecdotal evidence that medical marijuana may be able to more safely take the place of prescription opioids in many instances.
More importantly, we need to find out why so many Americans feel a need to get high. Many blue collar workers devastated by the loss of jobs and whole industries have suffered "deaths of despair." But why are so many more affluent Americans also falling into the trap of addiction? Is something missing in their lives too? Maybe we need to acknowledge that this opioid crisis in America may not be the disease but is in fact a symptom of underlying social and economic problems that make America not such a happy place to live in for all too many. How else do we explain why America leads the world in drug overdose deaths - by a lot.
There is this observation on Page 330 of Dreamland that all too many Americans may well be suffering due to increasing isolation from one other.
The most selfish drug fed on atomized communities. Isolation was now as endemic to wealthy suburbs as to the Rust Belt, and had been building for years. It was true about much of a country where the streets were barren on summer evenings and kids no longer played Kick the Can as parents watched from porches. That dreamland had been lost and replaced, all too often, finally, by empty streets of bigger, nicer houses hiding addiction that each family kept secret. 
…the antidote to heroin wasn’t so much naloxone; it was community. 
Nobody can do it on their own. But no drug dealer, nor drug cartel, can stand against families, schools, churches, and communities united together.