Month: May 2016

Update on Corrupt Feedback Loops: Justice Dept. Extortion

ACORN Activists

ACORN Activists

Earlier work by Kim Strassel, Overlawyered, and my own post (Corrupt Feedback Loops: Justice Dept. Extortion) looked at how the Justice Department extorted donations to groups favoring the Democratic Party and left-wing activism, effectively diverting to political supporters money that should have been returned to the supposed victims of mortgage banks.

The Volokh Conspiracy blog at WaPo has an entry by Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz today about his testimony on a new bill to block this corrupt practice:

The Justice Department has celebrated its settlements with major banks for their conduct leading up to the subprime mortgage crisis… Investor’s Business Daily has characterized these payments as “political payoffs to Obama constituency groups,” and Congress is now considering banning this practice with the Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act of 2016.

In addition to the obvious potential for cronyism and corruption, this practice also implicates a constitutional question. The Constitution provides: “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.” If the banks had paid this money to the United States — which is, after all, the plaintiff in these cases — then the money would have gone into the Treasury. And if, subsequently, the president or the attorney general favored using this money to subsidize these “community development” organizations, they would have had to request an appropriation from Congress; doling out such money “without an appropriation… violates the Constitution,” as the president was reminded just last week. By providing for payments directly from the banks to the organizations, these settlement provisions circumvent the Appropriations Clause and cut Congress out of the loop.

On Thursday, I testified before the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee on this issue, and I supported legislation along the lines of the Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act of 2016. My written statement is available here…. Video of the hearing and all written statements are available here.

There’s more in the Daily Caller’s story, “Feds Divert MILLIONS To ‘Slush Fund’ That Fuels These Liberal Activist Groups” by Richard Pollock:

Rep. Sean Duffy, a Wisconsin Republican and chairman of the House Financial Services oversight and investigations subcommittee, said Friday the officials “skimmed” off three percent from mortgage-related bank settlements. This created what he called a $500 million “slush fund” that could be steered toward favored groups.

“The first objective of a settlement is to make sure that we have victims who are made whole,” Duffy said, referring to millions of Americans who lost their homes during the meltdown that led to the Great Recession of 2009. “If you’re diverting money away from victims and sending it to third-party activist groups, you have victims who are being harmed not just once, but a second time.”

Justice officials were long able to “skim 3 percent of any settlement money into their own account to for the most part spend it the way they see fit,” Duffy told participants in the media briefing hosted by the Cause of Action Institute, a nonprofit legal watchdog group.

Stay tuned. Recognizing how public money is diverted to to fund armies of activists to tear down our established institutions is only the start of reform; digging through every agency to root out employees and funds used to “educate” and mold the voters to support the administrative state will be a long and difficult struggle.


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples OrganizationsDeath by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations,  available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.

 


More reading on other topics:

Jane Jacobs’ Monstrous Hybrids: Guardians vs Commerce
The Great Progressive Stagnation vs. Dynamism
Death by HR: How Affirmative Action is Crippling America
Death by HR: The End of Merit in Civil Service
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Public Employee Unions
Death by HR: History and Practice of Affirmative Action and the EEOC
Civil Service: Woodrow Wilson’s Progressive Dream
Bootleggers and Baptists
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Justice Dept. Extortion
Corrupt Feedback Loops, Goldman Sachs: More Justice Dept. Extortion
Death by HR: The Birth and Evolution of the HR Department
Death by HR: The Simple Model of Project Labor
Levellers and Redistributionists: The Feudal Underpinnings of Socialism
Sons of Liberty vs. National Front
Trump World: Looking Backward
Minimum Wage: The Parable of the Ladder
Selective Outrage
Culture Wars: Co-Existence Through Limited Government
Social Justice Warriors, Jihadists, and Neo-Nazis: Constructed Identities
Tuitions Inflated, Product Degraded, Student Debts Unsustainable
The Morality of Glamour

On Affirmative Action and Social Policy:

Affirmative Action: Chinese, Indian-Origin Citizens in Malaysia Oppressed
Affirmative Action: Caste Reservation in India
Diversity Hires: Pressure on High Tech<a
Title IX Totalitarianism is Gender-Neutral
Public Schools in Poor Districts: For Control Not Education
Real-Life “Hunger Games”: Soft Oppression Destroys the Poor
The Social Decay of Black Neighborhoods (And Yours!)
Child Welfare Ideas: Every Child Gets a Government Guardian!
“Income Inequality” Propaganda is Just Disguised Materialism

The greatest hits from SubstrateWars.com (Science Fiction topics):

Fear is the Mindkiller
Mirror Neurons and Irene Gallo
YA Dystopias vs Heinlein et al: Social Justice Warriors Strike Again
Selective Outrage
Sons of Liberty vs. National Front
“Tomorrowland”: Tragic Misfire
The Death of “Wired”: Hugo Awards Edition
Hugos, Sad Puppies 3, and Direct Knowledge
Selective Outrage and Angry Tribes
Men of Honor vs Victim Culture
SFF, Hugos, Curating the Best
“Why Aren’t There More Women Futurists?”
Science Fiction Fandom and SJW warfare

More reading on the military:

US Military: From No Standing Armies to Permanent Global Power
US Military: The Desegration Experience
The VA Scandals: Death by Bureaucracy

California Dream Choo-Choo Lives On: Bay Bridge Lessons Ignored

New eastern span of the Bay Bridge - photo SF Chronicle

New eastern span of the Bay Bridge – photo SF Chronicle

See the lovely bridge above? It cost about $13 billion dollars.

To update last week’s post about California’s disastrous high speed rail project, Regulation Strangling Innovation: Planes, Trains, and Hyperloop, the Obama administration has just given the already-failed project another four years to throw taxpayer money at connected consultants and contractors, delaying a halt to the boondoggle and recognition of its failure until long after Jerry Brown and Barack Obama are out of office (and then its waste of $billions will be blamed on “Republican intransigence”– which is rich in a one-party state.) The inept and corrupt process for building any large government project, especially in California, is more to blame.

First we’ll take a look at the mismanaged and endlessly-delayed project to replace the eastern half of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, which had been damaged by the Loma Prieta quake of 1989. After the quake, temporary repairs reopened the old bridge to traffic but it was clear the span needed to be replaced as soon as possible.

The Atlantic’s Citylab summarizes the disastrous Bay Bridge saga:

The first cost estimates, released in 1995, figured both east and west spans of the bridge could be upgraded for a cuddly $250 million. By the time the new east span opened in September 2013 the price tag for that span alone had reached a reported $6.5 billion, with a B. Just your run-of-the-mill rise of 2,500 percent.

Cover: Remaking the Bay Bridge - Amazon

Cover: Remaking the Bay Bridge – Amazon

UC Berkeley planning scholar Karen Trapenberg Frick meticulously chronicles the reconstructed bridge in a new book, Remaking the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. With Frick and her book as guide, CityLab tracked bridge expenses over time to get some sense of how the project that Herbert Hoover once called “the greatest bridge yet constructed in the world” became yet another example of a major public works project in which the cost ended outrageously higher than it began — and some ideas for what to do about it.

$250 million (1995)

Following the earthquake, the California Department of Transportation (which goes by Caltrans) assembled a board to advise on a seismic retrofit of the Bay Bridge. The agency’s initial estimate for fixing both east and west spans came to $250 million…

$1 billion (1996)

In the blink of an eye, the Bay Bridge cost quadrupled. “I remember one day I woke up and it was a $1 billion estimate,” says Frick, who was working at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) at the time. “Here you tell the public in ’95: we can do the whole thing for $250 million. They vote on a bond measure that allows them to fund this plus other retrofits in the state. Then they come back and go, actually it’s $1 billion.”

The cost increase was the result of detailed engineering studies conducted during the year or so after the initial estimate was released. Among other things, soil testing in the Bay had revealed that bridge pilings would need to be anchored “deeper into bedrock than expected,” she writes. The public, of course, wasn’t pleased. In the book, one Caltrans manager recalled the immediate reaction:

“The numbers we put together (on the bridge costs) at lunchtime on Tuesday became the main front-page heading in both the San Francisco Chronicle and the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday morning.”

$1.3 billion (1997)

In 1997, Caltrans offered a range of cost estimates for various retrofit designs to the east span. Ultimately the state legislature agreed to fund the bridge to the tune of $1.285 billion.

There was still the big question of what the bridge would look like. Governor Pete Wilson expressed official preference for a basic “skyway” — a straightforward viaduct unadorned by a tower. He said if Bay Area residents wanted “an aesthetically enhanced bridge,” they should pay for it themselves.

That didn’t sit well. Pulitzer-winning architectural critic Allan Temko blasted the skyway option as “dull” and likened it to “an outsized freeway ramp.” MTC head Mary King said of the skyway: “While we appreciate the governor has offered vanilla ice cream, we want chocolate sauce on top.” One Oakland resident wrote that since the Bay Area was full of such creative types, “I think each of us should draw our own bridge” and send it to MTC for consideration….

$2.6 billion (2001)

When Caltrans released new estimates for the east span in April 2001, the cost had roughly doubled to $2.6 billion. The agency gave two main reasons for the rise. Construction costs were way up with a strong economy — steel and concrete prices, in particular, spiked 18 percent from 1999 to 2000. Caltrans also blamed the two years of delay associated with selecting the final single-tower design.

Despite a cost increase of a couple billion dollars in just six years, Caltrans was confident in its new figure. “We’re pretty comfortable with these numbers,” said its director in 2001. The legislature passed a new law to fund the bridge in October. It included a $448 million rainy day provision that one state senator said “insulates us from what we were worried about—open-ended cost overruns.”

$5.5 billion (2005)

Famous last words. In August 2004, a new cost of $5 billion was announced, with the tower alone expected to cost at least twice the estimated $750 million. Caltrans blamed the rise on three factors: elevated insurance rates in the wake of 9/11, a 50-percent rise in steel costs related to China’s boom, and greater staff needs owing to so many bridge projects going at once. A state auditor added one more to the list — poor cost management.

“People like to blame the tower,” says Frick. “Well, the whole span increased cost, and the other bridges increased cost, too. We really have a problem of cost-estimating in addition to a challenge of doing a design at this magnitude in earthquake country. That’s what gets lost in the story.”

In late 2004, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger tried to terminate some of the costs by suggesting the bridge didn’t need the tower at all. (“Without thinking that there’s a ton of engineering and that this has actually been designed as a whole structure,” says Frick.) The following year he relented and signed a law to cover the new costs — with a provision that any further overruns be the region’s responsibility….

$6.5 billion (Current)

In April 2006, a consortium involving American Bridge and Fluor won the tower contract. It was built in China to save money — a decision that carried its own costs when inspectors later found poor welding and busted bolts at key points that required fixing. [Ed. note: there are still suspect welds and parts of the bridge understructure that may fail in a quake the bridge was designed to survive — investigations are ongoing.] Frick says the current $6.5 billion total is a rough estimate, and that it doesn’t include interest or financing costs.

With those costs included, some expect the total price to double yet again—to

$13 billion.

At least the state got a functioning half-bridge for its $13 billion, though hidden defects may end up causing it to fail or need more expensive repairs. But an entire cross-continent standard 4-lane Interstate highway could have been built for that — the usual figure cited for rural Interstate construction costs is $4 million per mile, so one could have built 3,000 miles of Interstate with enough left over to handle suburban bypasses. Did the state learn any lessons from the bridge fiasco?

Not really. Because of the long drawn-out nature of these boondoggles, voters can find no single politician or legislator to bring to task for failures. Meanwhile, politicians can promise new projects and collect campaign contributions from interested unions and contractors. Voters are inclined to turn down big bond issues for infrastructure as a result, rightly suspecting they are being sold a fantasy budget for projects which will end up costing more and doing less. But they weren’t cynical enough to dodge the bullet train… which voters authorized in 2008 with passage of Proposition 1A.

Eight years have passed, and the goals of the project have been downsized: from the original promise of routine and fast passenger service from downtown LA to downtown San Francisco, to maybe a line from San Jose ending in the Central Valley. Speeds are down, costs are up, and ridership estimates and operating costs are far from the goals promised. Yet California courts have refused to halt the project, and it lives on through a drip of federal funds and California carbon credit subsidies — another tax weighing down state industry. The most recent Republican candidate for governor got some traction by labelling the project the “Crazy Train,” but not enough to overcome California’s preference for Democrats:

An attempt to get enough signatures to put an initiative on the ballot to shift some of the bullet train money to water supply and storage projects has been postponed until 2018.

Now the struggling project has received an extraordinary lifeline from the Obama administration:

The Obama administration threw the California bullet train project another lifeline Wednesday, extending the schedule by four years for construction of 118 miles of rail through the Central Valley, according to congressional officials.

The extension came through modification of a $2.5-billion grant that originally required completion of a segment of rail structures from Madera to Shafter by 2017.

The changes also allow the Department of Transportation to extend a cash advance to the state, which potentially means the California High-Speed Rail Authority can continue spending long after the original deadline that was set in 2009 under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The change brought an immediate attack by Republican critics, who said the Transportation Department and its Federal Railroad Administration awarded the project an unprecedented concession. “This is the oversight agency that is supposed to monitor taxpayer money,” said Rep. Jeff Denham, (R-Turlock) chairman of the House rail subcommittee and a longstanding critic of the project. “For them to give a blank check and authorize a cash advance is a clear conflict of interest.”

…The Obama administration has made five previous modifications of the grant in recent years, including one that allowed the state to provide required matching funds after first using the federal money. Normally, grants require states to match federal funds on a dollar-for-dollar basis as they are spent….

A Federal Railroad Administration spokesman said the agreement will not amend the 2017 deadline for spending the grant, but acknowledged that it would allow the state to make its required match several years later. Denham believes the amendment may also attempt to allow spending the federal dollars after the deadline.

The project was supposed to be “shovel ready” when it received the grant in 2010, but has been hobbled by a series of political, legal, environmental and financial problems. One original purpose of the project was to help the nation recover from the Great Recession, which officially ended long ago.

In addition to the stimulus grant, the California project is receiving about $500 million a year from state greenhouse gas fees and an additional $1 billion federal grant approved in 2010. But it faces an estimated $43.5-billion shortfall to complete the San Francisco to Anaheim system by 2029.

The rail authority has had difficulty acquiring property since early 2013, when it claimed publicly that it was going to start construction by that summer even though it hadn’t bought a single piece of land. Even today, fewer than half of the parcels it needs for the 118 miles are in hand. The Central Valley was supposed to be the easiest section of the 500 miles system to build, but has proven to be a virtual minefield.

The delays have forced contractors leave to equipment idle, which is likely to result in multimillion-dollar claims of losses. Some outside construction experts are projecting the first 29 miles of construction alone could be as much as $400 million over budget.

The Central Valley segment had been running about two years behind schedule, based on the start of construction last summer. But this year, the rail authority said that under its new business plan, that segment would begin service from San Jose to Shafter in 2025, about three years past the previously scheduled start.

…Denham said he is alarmed by the potential for Transportation officials to advance far more than that just before the 2017 deadline, allowing the state to bypass the normal process under which grant recipients submit invoices after spending the money….

Without the cash advance and the grant modification, Denham asserted that the state rail authority would have been unable to spend all $2.5 billion by the 2017 deadline and would have forfeited it back to federal treasury.

The rail authority had spent only $1.1 billion of the $2.5-billion federal grant as of February. If it had not received the grant modification, it appears the rail authority would have had to spend nearly $3 million of the federal money and a similar amount of required state matching funds every calendar day through June 30, 2017. That $6 million per day burn rate would be far higher than any transportation project in U.S. history.

Bridge supports for high speed rail

Bridge supports for high speed rail under construction in the Central Valley – LA Times photo

Starting in the 1970s, California gave veto and delaying power over all development projects to its politically-powerful attorneys and environmental groups, including local NIMBYs who delay or stifle most for-profit development. This litigious atmosphere now extends to all government projects as well, and it is nearly impossible to bring in a project on budget and on time. Rare exceptions to typical multiyear delays occur only when politicians cut the red tape of contracting and environmental assessments, as in the rebuilding of the Santa Monica Freeway in LA after the Northridge quake of 1994:

Less than three months after the Northridge earthquake knocked down two sections of the world’s busiest thoroughfare, Gov. Pete Wilson announced Tuesday that the Santa Monica Freeway will reopen next week, ending frustrating delays and bottlenecks for thousands of commuters.

State officials hope the final cleanup of construction work can be completed early April 12 in time to let rush-hour traffic inaugurate the two new freeway bridges at La Cienega and Washington boulevards.

Spurred by the promise of an extra $200,000 a day for every day work was completed ahead of schedule, the contractor, C. C. Myers Inc., will finish the project 74 days before a June 24 deadline and rack up a $14.5-million bonus for the company.

The high-speed construction was made possible by crews working around the clock, seven days a week, and by state officials cutting through red tape.

So it’s not that infrastructure is inherently complicated and slow to build; when voters demand action, they can get it. But such a quick project timetable doesn’t allow for all the padding and white-collar lawyering and consulting that returns a fraction of contract dollars as campaign contributions.

A high speed rail line through dense urban areas and mountains was always going to be a difficult project. But pie-in-the-sky projects pay off when you can direct money to your political supporters preparing for it, get back some of that as campaign contributions, and retire from public life before the public realizes they got nothing for their tax dollars. As in all these Bootleggers and Baptists stories, the “bootleggers” — politicians, unions, and contractors — pushed the project through fully aware the proposal was a fantasy and sold the dream to idealistic voters. Having foolishly voted for the bonds, the voters will never be allowed another vote to stop the project.

Update: Funding through sale of carbon emission credits has evaporated, and one of the contractors pointed out the system would never be likely to be self-funding (since nowhere in the world is such high speed rail profitable) — Update: California High-Speed Rail Nearly Dead


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples OrganizationsDeath by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations,  available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.

 


More reading on other topics:

Regulation Strangling Innovation: Planes, Trains, and Hyperloop
Who Killed Prince? Restrictions on Buprenorphine
The Great Progressive Stagnation vs. Dynamism
Captain America and Progressive Infantilization
FDA Wants More Lung Cancer
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Public Employee Unions
Jane Jacobs’ Monstrous Hybrids: Guardians vs Commerce
Death by HR: How Affirmative Action is Crippling America
Death by HR: The End of Merit in Civil Service
Death by HR: History and Practice of Affirmative Action and the EEOC
Civil Service: Woodrow Wilson’s Progressive Dream
Bootleggers and Baptists
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Justice Dept. Extortion
Corrupt Feedback Loops, Goldman Sachs: More Justice Dept. Extortion
Death by HR: The Birth and Evolution of the HR Department
Death by HR: The Simple Model of Project Labor
Levellers and Redistributionists: The Feudal Underpinnings of Socialism
Sons of Liberty vs. National Front
Trump World: Looking Backward
Minimum Wage: The Parable of the Ladder
Selective Outrage
Culture Wars: Co-Existence Through Limited Government
Social Justice Warriors, Jihadists, and Neo-Nazis: Constructed Identities
Tuitions Inflated, Product Degraded, Student Debts Unsustainable
The Morality of Glamour

On Affirmative Action and Social Policy:

Affirmative Action: Chinese, Indian-Origin Citizens in Malaysia Oppressed
Affirmative Action: Caste Reservation in India
Diversity Hires: Pressure on High Tech<a
Title IX Totalitarianism is Gender-Neutral
Public Schools in Poor Districts: For Control Not Education
Real-Life “Hunger Games”: Soft Oppression Destroys the Poor
The Social Decay of Black Neighborhoods (And Yours!)
Child Welfare Ideas: Every Child Gets a Government Guardian!
“Income Inequality” Propaganda is Just Disguised Materialism

The greatest hits from SubstrateWars.com (Science Fiction topics):

Fear is the Mindkiller
Mirror Neurons and Irene Gallo
YA Dystopias vs Heinlein et al: Social Justice Warriors Strike Again
Selective Outrage
Sons of Liberty vs. National Front
“Tomorrowland”: Tragic Misfire
The Death of “Wired”: Hugo Awards Edition
Hugos, Sad Puppies 3, and Direct Knowledge
Selective Outrage and Angry Tribes
Men of Honor vs Victim Culture
SFF, Hugos, Curating the Best
“Why Aren’t There More Women Futurists?”
Science Fiction Fandom and SJW warfare

More reading on the military:

US Military: From No Standing Armies to Permanent Global Power
US Military: The Desegration Experience
The VA Scandals: Death by Bureaucracy

Who Killed Prince? Restrictions on Buprenorphine

Prince Memorial - CARLOS GONZALEZ, STAR TRIBUNE

Prince Memorial – CARLOS GONZALEZ, STAR TRIBUNE

Pop music legend Prince likely died of an overdose of opioid pain reliever, which he got hooked on after injuring a hip during a performance. Results of the autopsy are pending, but we know he was seeking treatment from one of the few doctors certified to prescribe a drug that can help addicts get off opioids. The doctor arrived too late — he was just in time to help discover Prince’s body in an elevator.

Who killed Prince? He was partly responsible for his own death. But he could have been saved had Congress, the FDA, and the DEA not restricted access to buprenorphine, the anti-addiction drug the doctor was bringing to help him.

It’s a long and complicated tale, and we’ll get back to Prince after explaining what buprenorphine is and why authorities made it so hard to get.

Opioids are the class of opium-derived and opium-like drugs, from opium itself to derivatives like morphine, codeine, heroin, oxycodone, oxycontin, and methadone. Opioids are commonly prescribed for pain under trade names like Percocet, Vicodin, Darvon, Dilaudid, and Demerol, and they are routinely prescribed for every surgical patient as part of aftercare.[1] Attempts to limit prescribing run up against pain management advocates, who quite reasonably don’t want some to suffer unnecessary and medically-damaging chronic pain.

Street opioids like heroin are illegal and addicts are often jailed, usually for the other unlawful activities they pursue as their ability to work declines and feeding their habit grows expensive. Middle and upper-class addicts can reach a stable state where they manage their addictions for long periods and stay out of the justice system. It’s far from clear that legalization would do any additional harm to poor addicts, who might then be expected to stabilize their lives more easily when their drug is cheap and easy to get.

But prescribed opioids are becoming a public-health epidemic, causing at least half of the 28,000 US overdose deaths in 2014.[2] Many legally-produced pills are diverted to the black market. Screening tests done to detect abuse cost about $2 billion in 2013, and US sales of opioids rose from $3.97 billion in 2001 to $8.34 billion in 2012.[3] Thus legally-prescribed opioids are an enormous business for US drug companies.

President Obama recently hosted pop star Macklemore to raise awareness on the topic. Of course his suggested solution is to spend $1.1 billion more, which would hire more therapists and pay for treatment.[4]

 

But getting people off opioids is a solved problem. Buprenorphine, an opioid itself originally approved by the FDA in 1985 as a scheduled narcotic for pain relief, was discovered to relieve cravings for other opioids in low doses which didn’t produce the highs of typical opioids. Let the The National Alliance of Advocates for Buprenorphine Treatment explain it:

Buprenorphine (BYOO-pre-NOR-feen) (‘bu-pre-‘nor-feen) is an opioid medication used to treat opioid addiction in the privacy of a physician’s office. Buprenorphine can be dispensed for take home use, by prescription. This in addition to buprenorphine’s pharmacological and safety profile makes it an attractive treatment for patients addicted to opioids.

Buprenorphine is different from other opioids in that it is a partial opioid agonist. This property of buprenorphine may allow for;

• less euphoria and physical dependence*
• lower potential for misuse*
• a ceiling on opioid effects*
• relatively mild withdrawal profile*

At the appropriate dose buprenorphine treatment may:

• Suppress symptoms of opioid withdrawal
• Decrease cravings for opioids
• Reduce illicit opioid use
• Block the effects of other opioids
• Help patients stay in treatment

* When compared with full opioid agonists (such as oxycodone and heroin)

Buprenorphine (‘bu-pre-‘nôr-feen) (C29H41NO4) is a semi-synthetic opioid derived from thebaine, an alkaloid of the poppy Papaver somniferum. Buprenorphine is an opioid partial agonist. This means that, although Buprenorphine is an opioid, and thus can produce typical opioid effects and side effects such as euphoria and respiratory depression, its maximal effects are less than those of full agonists like heroin and methadone. At low doses Buprenorphine produces sufficient agonist effect to enable opioid-addicted individuals to discontinue the misuse of opioids without experiencing withdrawal symptoms. The agonist effects of Buprenorphine increase linearly with increasing doses of the drug until it reaches a plateau and no longer continues to increase with further increases in dosage. This is called the “ceiling effect.” Thus, Buprenorphine carries a lower risk of abuse, addiction, and side effects compared to full opioid agonists. In fact, Buprenorphine can actually block the effects of full opioid agonists and can precipitate withdrawal symptoms if administered to an opioid-addicted individual while a full agonist is in the bloodstream. This is the result of the high affinity Buprenorphine has to the opioid receptors. The affinity refers to the strength of attraction and likelihood of a substance to bind with the opioid receptors. Buprenorphine has a higher affinity than other opioids and as such will compete for the receptor and win. It will “knock off” other opioids and occupy that receptor blocking other opioids from attaching to it. If there is enough Buprenorphine to knock the opioids off the receptors but not enough to occupy and satisfy the receptors, withdrawal symptoms can occur; in which case the treatment is more Buprenorphine until withdrawal symptoms disappear.[5]

For motivated and conscientious patients, doctor-supervised treatment with buprenorphine is very effective, and prescriptions for the drug have risen into the millions yearly despite restrictions on the doctors allowed to prescribe it and the number of patients they can treat with it. Why the restrictions? After all, the more dangerous opioids are prescribed to much larger numbers of patients, and no special training of doctors is required….

The answer: Congress wrote the law to allow opioids to be prescribed for addiction treatment in 2000, but included special licensing and training requirements for doctors and limited the number of patients each doctor could treat, imagining that this would reduce the already-known problem of “pill mills” where doctors abuse their licenses to prescribe to addicted patients. This turned out to make it difficult to find a doctor to treat addiction since it would only be a small part of any doctor’s practice and the hassle of getting certified, and the association with addiction, made it a losing proposition for most doctors. So while large numbers did get treated, the problem continued to grow far beyond the treatment slots available.

Abuse did turn out to be a problem. Many patients are undergoing treatment involuntarily after being charged with drug possession or other crimes related to their addiction, and this population is quite capable of grinding up the pills and snorting or injecting them, or selling them to feed their original addiction. In an effort to block this, naloxone (an opioid antagonist which eliminates the high) was added to the pills. This didn’t solve the problem, and compliance by patients who are “justice system involved” continued to be poor, with only 8% of those treated staying clean.

The New York Times and the DEA spun these problems as fatal to use of the drug in treatment of addiction. Here’s the DEA in July 2013:

Like other opioids commonly abused, buprenorphine is capable of producing significant euphoria. Data from other countries indicate that buprenorphine has been abused by various routes of administration (sublingual, intranasal and injection) and has gained popularity as a heroin substitute and as a primary drug of abuse. Large percentages of the drug abusing populations in some areas of France, Ireland, Scotland, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and New Zealand have reported abusing buprenorphine by injection and in combination with a benzodiazepine.

The National Forensic Laboratory Information System (NFLIS) is a DEA database that collects scientifically verified data on drug items and cases submitted to and analyzed by state and local forensic laboratories. The System to Retrieve Information from Drug Evidence (STRIDE) provides information on drug seizures reported to and analyzed by DEA laboratories. In 2012, federal, state and local forensic laboratories identified 10,804. In the first quarter of 2013, 1,905 buprenorphine exhibits were identified.

According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN ED), an estimated 21,483 emergency department visits were associated with nonmedical use of buprenorphine in 2011, nearly five times the 4,440 estimated number of buprenorphine ED visits in 2006. The American Association of Poison Control Centers Annual Report indicates that U.S. poison centers recorded 3,625 case mentions and three deaths involving toxic exposure from buprenorphine in 2011.[6]

Crisis! Three deaths! As compared to the 28,000 dead from other opioids. This can’t be allowed.

The New York Times spun their 2013 story to emphasize buprenorphine abuse:

Mr. Schneider was staying in his parents’ basement when he washed down 40 sleeping pills with NyQuil and beer. His father heard him gasping and intervened, a reprieve that led Mr. Schneider into rehab, not his first program, but the one where he discovered buprenorphine, a substitute opioid used to treat opioid addiction.

In the two years since, by taking his “bupe” twice daily and meeting periodically with the prescribing psychiatrist, Mr. Schneider, 38, has rebounded. He is sober, remarried, employed building houses, half of a new acoustic duo and one of the many addicts who credit buprenorphine, sold mostly in a compound called Suboxone, with saving their lives.

Suboxone did not save Miles Malone, 20; it killed him. In 2010, a friend texted Mr. Malone an invitation to use the drug recreationally — “we can do the suboxins as soon as I give them to u, right, dude?” — and he died that night in South Berwick, Me., of buprenorphine poisoning. The friend, Shawn Verrill, was sentenced this summer to 71 months in prison.

“I didn’t know you could overdose on Suboxone,” Mr. Verrill said in an interview at a federal prison in Otisville, N.Y. “We were just a bunch of friends getting high and hanging out, doing what 20-year-olds do. Then we went to sleep, and Miles never woke up.”

Suboxone is the blockbuster drug most people have never heard of. Surpassing well-known medications like Viagra and Adderall, it generated $1.55 billion in United States sales last year, its success fueled by an exploding opioid abuse epidemic and the embrace of federal officials who helped finance its development and promoted it as a safer, less stigmatized alternative to methadone.

But more than a decade after Suboxone went on the market, and with the Affordable Care Act poised to bring many more addicts into treatment, the high hopes have been tempered by a messy reality. Buprenorphine has become both medication and dope: a treatment with considerable successes and also failures, as well as a street and prison drug bedeviling local authorities. It has attracted unscrupulous doctors and caused more health complications and deaths than its advocates acknowledge.

It has also become a lucrative commodity, creating moneymaking opportunities — for manufacturers, doctors, drug dealers and even patients — that have undermined a public health innovation meant for social good. And the drug’s problems have emboldened some insurers to limit coverage of the medication, which cost state Medicaid agencies at least $857 million over a three-year period through 2012, a New York Times survey found.[7]

Thus the need for a drug delivery system that didn’t allow for easy diversion or abuse, and delivered a constant dose of the medication without requiring the patient to remember to take it. Titan Pharmaceutical’s Probuphine, an implantable form of buprenorphine, started development in 2000, was rejected by the FDA in April 2013 for what appear to be murky reasons, and is up for approval again in 2016 after a three-year delay to gather more data to answer FDA questions. The episode looks like an instance of Bootleggers and Baptists overregulation, with vested interests blocking a much-needed new drug implant to protect their interests while throwing up a cloud of “concerns” to justify their actions.

Titan began development of the drug implant in 2000 after licensing the patent from MIT in 1996. At the beginning of development, buprenorphine was approved and in use for anti-addiction treatment in France and Australia, but was awaiting more studies and FDA approval in the US. When the FDA approved buprenorphine tablets in 2002 under the then-new law allowing opioids to be prescribed for addiction treatment, Titan appeared to have a winning idea on its hands after the DEA and FDA soured on the bright early hopes for tablet-delivered buprenorphine — Titan’s implantable form would address all of the issues that so concerned the DEA and improve success rates among addict populations.

But the FDA rejected Titan’s application in April of 2013 despite the positive recommendation of their panel of outside medical experts, a rare event. The company’s stock dropped by 80%, typical when a small drug company’s key development project is rejected. One biotech publication outlined the FDA’s position:

In the end, a vote by an outside panel of FDA experts favoring approval of Titan Pharmaceuticals’ Probuphine didn’t influence the outcome at all. Agency staffers stuck with the opinions outlined in a harsh internal review and rejected the opioid addiction drug, outlining some extensive demands for new clinical data that would be needed for an approval.

In a statement, Titan ($TTNP) outlined three key requirements on new efficacy data. Titan will have to offer clear evidence of:

• The ability of Probuphine to provide opioid blockade of relevant doses of agonists.
• The effect of higher doses of Probuphine, ideally doses more closely approximating the blood plasma levels associated with sublingual doses of buprenorphine of 12 to 16 mg/day.
• Human factors testing of the training associated with Probuphine’s insertion and removal.

The FDA’s panel had voted 10 to four in favor of an approval, but the agency had no problem overlooking the majority support along with Titan’s claim that Phase III data demonstrated that Probuphine, an implant that releases buprenorphine over a period of 6 months, was better than a placebo at preventing addicts from using illicit opioids. Investigators also said it was noninferior to the approved therapy. But staffers picked apart that argument in the internal review.[8]

The outside panel recognized that while results were not perfect, Titan’s product was needed immediately and offered enough advantages over alternatives to merit approval. FDA staff decided to reject the drug and require several more years of studies and delays before looking at it again.

Remember, this is a widely-used drug since 2002, and the company had been at work on the required studies for many years before bringing it to the FDA for approval in 2013. The delay nearly killed the company and the implant product, and Titan was forced to sell rights to the drug to another company, Braeburn Pharmaceuticals, to get enough money to continue.

Because the FDA is an unelected, unaccountable bureaucracy, no one knows how often their decisions are swayed by politics and under-the-table influence-peddling. Doctors can be stubborn and view themselves as protecting the public, or require even more proof of efficacy, or perhaps can be influenced by communications from Big Pharma interests who might see opioid revenues decline if better treatments for opioid addiction became available. No one knows or can know whether improper influence occurred in this case — it’s best to assume erroneous belief, rather than corruption, causes this kind of damaging mistake.

Titan came back to the FDA with the requested new studies, and a hearing was held January 13, 2016. The Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Committee again has recommended approval, this time by a vote of 12-5. But again, some panelists were against approval, working hard to come up with reasons to deny a new treatment to people with life-threatening addictions:

Probuphine works like a contraceptive implant, such as Norplant. Four implanted rods, each smaller than a matchstick, provide a steady amount of medication for up to 6 months. The FDA is considering approving it for a specific population: “stable” patients who are already taking the dissolvable buprenorphine film at a low dose. The committee voted 12-5 in favor of probuphine.

“I think this will save some folks’ lives,” said advisory committee member David Pickar, an adjunct professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore.

Doctors who want to prescribe probuphine would have to refer patients to providers trained to implant medical devices, or undergo training to learn how to safely implant and remove it, said Behshad Sheldon, president and CEO of Braeburn Pharmaceuticals, who spoke at Tuesday’s advisory committee hearing.

Implanting probuphine takes 10 to 15 minutes and removing it takes about 20 minutes, said Steven Chavoustie, a physician involved in a clinical trial of the device.

Pharmacist Tracy Rupp urged the committee to reject probuphine, noting that its manufacturer presented only one clinical study showing the drug was effective.

In the study, doctors compared the use of probuphine implants and buprenorphine film, Sheldon said. Patients in the study were considered “stable” because they had been safely using the films. After 6 months, 85% of those given probuphine tested negative for illegal drugs, compared to 72% of those given the film.

The study had multiple flaws, said Rupp, director of public health policy initiatives at the National Center for Health Research, a nonpartisan group that analyzes health data.

Some missing urine tests were counted as negative, as if the patient had no drugs in their system. But Rupp noted that people addicted to opiates “often skip tests to avoid a positive test.” That could skew the results, Rupp said.

“It is disappointing that the advisory committee set such a low bar for safety and effectiveness,” Rupp said after the vote. “Is probuphine effective? We still don’t know because the study was poorly designed and missing data.”

Judith Kramer, the committee’s acting chairwoman, said she voted against recommending probuphine’s approval because doctors don’t yet know if it’s effective for more than 6 months. Many people who are addicted to opiates need to take medication for years, she added.[9]

Notice the proposed use is now restricted to patients already on the film form of the drug, and the advantages—six months guaranteed compliance, for example—are ignored in favor of nitpicking, as if the efficacy of the drug itself has to be proven all over again. The goalposts have been moved. The FDA will rule soon, and may well reject the drug again despite the positive panel recommendation.

Meanwhile, the magnitude of the opioid addiction crisis has only grown, with recent headlines about flat life expectancy among older white women which some blame on epidemic opioid addictions among the poorer folk of the depressed parts of the US. The New York Times weighed in again as Congress and the White House prepared to try again to address the crisis:

Methadone, a liquid opioid that patients must drink every day under supervision at a methadone clinic, has been in use since the Vietnam War; it was approved to help the many soldiers coming back with heroin addiction. Before that, “treatment” usually consisted of a) jail and b) nothing else…

Waiting lists for these therapies are enormous. According to research by the RAND Corporation, 90 percent of the counties in the United States have no methadone clinic or fall very far short of the need, even though having a local clinic is crucial, because patients must visit daily. The shortage is especially acute in rural areas, where opioid and heroin addiction are spreading fast.

As for Suboxone, 43 percent of counties don’t have doctors who can prescribe it, or have far fewer than needed. According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, while 900,000 doctors across the United States are licensed to write prescriptions for opioid painkillers, only 32,000 are allowed to prescribe Suboxone….

Just as a contraceptive implant in a patient’s arm releases a steady dose over time, the new Probuphine implant releases a consistent, low dose of buprenorphine for six months. Three studies — this one, this one and a not-yet peer-reviewed study — found that Probuphine was better than a placebo implant and better than Suboxone pills at reducing illicit drug use, measured by urine tests…. Probuphine was designed to solve three problems with Suboxone. One was the chance of resale or accidental exposure to the pills. “Also, there’s the opportunity for non-adherence — people forget, or don’t take their dose, which leaves them vulnerable again,” [Richard Rosenthal, medical director of addiction psychiatry at Mount Sinai Behavioral Health System in New York] said. The other issue is that medicines have peaks and troughs. “People on various medications may have increased cravings during those troughs.”

…I spoke with a man named David, a firefighter in a Boston suburb who wanted to be identified only by his first name. After doing well on Suboxone, he participated in the latest trial of Probuphine. When he was taking the pill, he said, he could feel it kick in every morning, “like drinking a good cup of coffee,” he said. “With the implant there was a much more consistent feeling of normalcy. I just felt perfectly normal all the time.”[10]

On May 11th, Congress passed a new package of bills aimed at fighting the epidemic — and the White House asked for $1.1 billion in new money to fund the effort:

House members are expected to overwhelmingly approve a total of 18 bills this week focused on opioid addiction, treatment and prevention.

On Wednesday, the House easily passed 10 of those bills, including legislation by Rep. Susan Brooks, R-Ind., and Joe Kennedy, D-Mass., to create an inter-agency task force to update standards for doctors to manage their patients’ pain and prescribe painkillers. Lawmakers also approved a bill requiring states that receive federal grants for child protective services to have laws or programs in place to ensure that infants born to opioid-addicted mothers will be cared for safely when they leave the hospital.

More bills will be taken up Thursday.

“This historic package of anti-drug bills will deliver critical funds to address the abuse of heroin and opiates, support our loved ones on their path towards recovery, and slow the flow of drugs into our country,” said Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla.

Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., praised the bipartisan action but said it must be fully funded to do any good. Democrats offered an amendment Wednesday to provide $600 million in emergency funding, but it was blocked by Republicans who said the money will come later when Congress passes its 2017 spending bills for federal agencies.[11]

Eighteen bills! That will surely fix the problem, and $1.1 billion will fund thousands more social workers and functionaries to administer new programs.

Simple folk may wonder why all doctors can’t prescribe buprenorphine as they do Oxycontin and Percocet, which are more dangerous to life and health. Or why Titan’s implant form has been so long delayed by the FDA. More dead people is apparently preferred to letting the doctors and suffering patients start treating the addictions.

And now let’s get back to Prince, who died alone on the floor of an elevator because he — despite his wealth and intelligence — didn’t seek out a local doctor to prescribe buprenorphine:

Prince was found dead one day before he was scheduled to meet with a California doctor in an attempt to kick an addiction to painkillers, an attorney with knowledge of the death investigation said Tuesday.

Dr. Howard Kornfeld, a national authority on opioid addiction treatment, was called by Prince representatives the night of April 20 because Prince “was dealing with a grave medical emergency,” said William Mauzy, a prominent Minneapolis attorney working with the Kornfeld family.

Kornfeld, who runs Recovery Without Walls in Mill Valley, Calif., could not clear his schedule to meet with Prince the next day, April 21, but he planned to fly out the following day.

So he sent his son, Andrew Kornfeld, who works with him, to Minnesota, with plans for him to go to Paisley Park to explain how the confidential treatment would work, Mauzy said.

“The plan was to quickly evaluate his health and devise a treatment plan,” Mauzy said, speaking on behalf of the Kornfelds. “… The doctor was planning on a lifesaving mission.”

…When Andrew Kornfeld arrived at Paisley Park at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Prince’s representatives could not find him, Mauzy said. Andrew Kornfeld was one of three people at Paisley Park when the musician’s body was found in an elevator a few minutes later — and it was Andrew Kornfeld who called 911.[12]

Too late by a day. Meanwhile, some Minneapolis doctors are darkly critical of Kornfeld for not getting in touch with one of them.[13] It’s not known why Prince or his staff chose to seek treatment from Kornfeld’s California clinic instead of local doctors, but presumably the local doctors Prince had seen weren’t proactive in getting him off opioids, for whatever reason.

Prince had been treated at an ER six days before his death, apparently for an overdose. This is probably what started the search for a private clinic that could treat him for opioid addiction.[14] He may also have had the flu, and the immune system involvement may have turned his customary dose deadly.[15]

78 people a day die from opioid overdose[16]. 28,000 people a year, more than all non-suicide deaths from guns. Yet life-saving treatments are being bottled up by regulatory delay and a strange if-you-can’t-kick-the-addiction-you-deserve-to-die attitude. Congress and the FDA need to give doctors the freedom to help patients, and give patients the freedom to get treatment free of bureaucratic delays and costly requirements.

The FDA was founded to assure consumers that the foods and drugs they were purchasing were pure and as labelled, unadulterated, and useful for the ailments they claimed to treat — remember that the FDA was originated in 1906 by passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act.[17] Mission creep and continued expansion of safety and efficacy-proving study requirements led to the current morass, where new drugs take a decade and hundreds of millions of dollars to win approval. This is the underlying reason for high drug prices and reduced competition, as small companies like Titan are crushed by vested interests. Many life-saving drugs are available overseas for many years before they are approved in the US.

Prince — and hundreds of thousands of other overdose victims — might still be alive and creating music today if it were not for the commissars at the FDA and the drug warriors of the DEA, aided by a Congress easily pressured into limiting the people’s freedom to decide what they want to put into their own bodies. Having well-paid bureaucratic busybodies decide every aspect of your life for you is what brought us to this learned helplessness that is slowing growth and leading to lives of unemployed and aimless despair and addiction.

UPDATED 2 JUNE 2016:

The preliminary autopsy report has been released showing cause of death as an overdose of Fentanyl, an opioid stronger than morphine or heroin. The report is minimal and gives no hint of what investigators might have found or what legal actions Prince’s doctors may face.

For further reading:

– A deep dive story: “Suboxone Saves Lives. Could It Have Saved Prince?” by Zachary Siegel, Daily Beast, 5-13-2016[18]
– Website of The National Alliance of Advocates for Buprenorphine Treatment.[19] If you or a loved one are addicted to opioids, seek out an authorized doctor.

Postscript: Others are reporting further speculation about the two doctors on scene when Prince’s body was discovered. TMZ has spun up a conspiracy theory based on leaked police reports — we’ll soon know more when the autopsy report is made public, but they suggest (contrary to Dr. Kornfeld’s son’s statements) that buprenorphine might have been given to Prince before his death. If that were true, it’s well-known that incautious addition of buprenorphine to an existing high level of opiates can precipitate a withdrawal crisis. While I doubt this version of events is what happened, if it turns out to be true we will have another celebrity doctor trial fiasco a la Michael Jackson’s. Kornfeld’s son is on shaky legal ground and Prince’s local doctor could reasonably be accused of malpractice.

Here’s a bit from TMZ’s latest story:

As we reported, Prince’s doctor, Michael Schulenberg, told authorities he went to Prince’s home to personally deliver test results. Andrew Kornfeld, the son of California rehab Dr. Howard Kornfeld, was also present and had Buprenorphine pills in his backpack. The pills are used to treat opiate addiction.

Andrew’s lawyer held a news conference saying Andrew was not there to personally administer the drug, but he was there to deliver the pills to a local doctor. That’s why cops think it might be more than coincidental Kornfeld and Dr. Schulenberg were there at the same time … when Prince died.

As for the drugs … medical experts say a combination of Percocet and Buprenorphine can be fatal because both drugs suppress breathing, and the combination creates a dangerous synergistic effect.
If the toxicology results show both drugs were in Prince’s system and contributed to his death, Dr. Schulenberg and Andrew Kornfeld would be questioned again to determine if either of them gave Prince the Buprenorphine and what tests were done to determine the level of Percocet in his system.

Stay tuned — much of this speculation may evaporate when the autopsy report is released.

PPS: More news on the Prince death investigation here: Update on: Who Killed Prince? Restrictions on Buprenorphine

Footnotes:

[1] Many people get no more pain relief from oral opioids than they do from non-addictive painkillers like ibuprofen, and opioids have serious side-effects like constipation. But others do get relief they need, and very few get addicted under typical short-term use.
[2] http://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/
[3] http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/06/23/sunday-review/the-soaring-cost-of-the-opioid-economy.html
[4] “Why We Need More Resources for the Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic,” White House Blog, Michael Botticelli, May 12, 2016
https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2016/05/12/why-we-need-more-resources-prescription-opioid-and-heroin-epidemic
[5] “What exactly is Buprenorphine?” The National Alliance of Advocates for Buprenorphine Treatment
http://www.naabt.org/faq_answers.cfm?ID=2
[6] “BUPRENORPHINE: (Trade Names: Buprenex®, Suboxone®, Subutex®)” July 2013 Drug Enforcement Administration, Office of Diversion Control, Drug & Chemical Evaluation Section
http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_chem_info/buprenorphine.pdf
[7] “Addiction Treatment With a Dark Side,”
by Deborah Sontagnov. New York Times, Nov 16, 2013

[8] “FDA steamrolls over panel vote, spurns Titan’s addiction drug Probuphine,” by John Carroll, FierceBiotech, May 1, 2013. http://www.fiercebiotech.com/regulatory/updated-fda-steamrolls-over-panel-vote-spurns-titan-s-addiction-drug-probuphine
[9] “Panel recommends FDA approve implant to treat opiate addiction,” Liz Szabo, USA TODAY January 12, 2016.
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/01/12/implant-aims-help-addicts-stop-using-heroin-prescription-painkillers/78677618/
Also, the Titan press release: https://braeburnpharmaceuticals.com/titan-pharmaceuticals-and-braeburn-pharmaceuticals-announce-fda-advisory-committee-recommends-approval-of-probuphine-first-6-month-implant-to-treat-opioid-addiction/
[10] “Medicines to Keep Addiction Away,”
By Tina Rosenberg, New York Times, February 16, 2016

[11] “House passes package of bills to fight opioid addiction,” by Erin Kelly, USA TODAY, May 11, 2016
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2016/05/11/house-begins-passing-package-bills-fight-epidemic-opioid-addiction/84203944/
[12] “Prince died amid frantic plans for drug addiction treatment,” by David Chanen, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, May 4, 2016
http://www.startribune.com/addiction-doctor-was-to-have-seen-prince-just-before-his-death/378051471/
[13] “Questions: Did Prince’s call for help get right response?” by Carla K. Johnson, AP Medical Writer, SFGate May 7, 2016
http://www.sfgate.com/news/medical/article/Death-raises-questions-Did-Prince-die-of-an-7392407.php
[14] “Prince Treated for Overdose Days Before Death,” TMZ, 4/21/2016
http://www.tmz.com/2016/04/21/prince-treated-drug-overdose-dead/
[15] “Experts say flu, opioid use can be deadly combination,” Melinda Carsten, Foxnews, 4-22-2016
http://www.foxnews.com/health/2016/04/22/awaiting-prince-s-autopsy-results-experts-say-flu-opioid-use-can-be-deadly-combination.html
[16] “End the 30/100 Patient limits on Care,” National Alliance of Advocates for Buprenorphine Treatment, accessed 5-16-2016.
http://www.naabt.org/reasons.cfm
[17] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pure_Food_and_Drug_Act
[18] Suboxone Saves Lives. Could It Have Saved Prince?
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/05/14/suboxone-saves-lives-could-it-have-saved-prince.html
[19] http://www.naabt.org/


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples OrganizationsDeath by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations,  available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.

 


More reading on other topics:

Regulation Strangling Innovation: Planes, Trains, and Hyperloop
Captain America and Progressive Infantilization
The Great Progressive Stagnation vs. Dynamism
FDA Wants More Lung Cancer
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Public Employee Unions
Jane Jacobs’ Monstrous Hybrids: Guardians vs Commerce
Death by HR: How Affirmative Action is Crippling America
Death by HR: The End of Merit in Civil Service
Death by HR: History and Practice of Affirmative Action and the EEOC
Civil Service: Woodrow Wilson’s Progressive Dream
Bootleggers and Baptists
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Justice Dept. Extortion
Corrupt Feedback Loops, Goldman Sachs: More Justice Dept. Extortion
Death by HR: The Birth and Evolution of the HR Department
Death by HR: The Simple Model of Project Labor
Levellers and Redistributionists: The Feudal Underpinnings of Socialism
Sons of Liberty vs. National Front
Trump World: Looking Backward
Minimum Wage: The Parable of the Ladder
Selective Outrage
Culture Wars: Co-Existence Through Limited Government
Social Justice Warriors, Jihadists, and Neo-Nazis: Constructed Identities
Tuitions Inflated, Product Degraded, Student Debts Unsustainable
The Morality of Glamour

On Affirmative Action and Social Policy:

Affirmative Action: Chinese, Indian-Origin Citizens in Malaysia Oppressed
Affirmative Action: Caste Reservation in India
Diversity Hires: Pressure on High Tech<a
Title IX Totalitarianism is Gender-Neutral
Public Schools in Poor Districts: For Control Not Education
Real-Life “Hunger Games”: Soft Oppression Destroys the Poor
The Social Decay of Black Neighborhoods (And Yours!)
Child Welfare Ideas: Every Child Gets a Government Guardian!
“Income Inequality” Propaganda is Just Disguised Materialism

The greatest hits from SubstrateWars.com (Science Fiction topics):

Fear is the Mindkiller
Mirror Neurons and Irene Gallo
YA Dystopias vs Heinlein et al: Social Justice Warriors Strike Again
Selective Outrage
Sons of Liberty vs. National Front
“Tomorrowland”: Tragic Misfire
The Death of “Wired”: Hugo Awards Edition
Hugos, Sad Puppies 3, and Direct Knowledge
Selective Outrage and Angry Tribes
Men of Honor vs Victim Culture
SFF, Hugos, Curating the Best
“Why Aren’t There More Women Futurists?”
Science Fiction Fandom and SJW warfare

More reading on the military:

US Military: From No Standing Armies to Permanent Global Power
US Military: The Desegration Experience
The VA Scandals: Death by Bureaucracy

“Avoidant” and “Bad Boyfriends” to be Available in China

Beijing Ark Reading Technology - Douban Seal

Beijing Ark Reading Technology – Douban Seal

About a year ago I got an email from a Chinese company I’d never heard of, Douban, which turns out to be a media platform selling primarily on phones. Reading on phones is big in China, and they were wanting to have some of my books translated into Simplified Chinese by running a translation contest, then they’d sell the books and give a cut to the winning translator as well as me.

They seemed legit and it’s a cool idea, so I said yes. Long long wait and a financing later, I signed a contract with Beijing Ark Reading Technology in January. Still no sign of the contest, so I have no idea when readers in China will get to read my books, but I’m hoping Real Soon Now.

Of course, Amazon readers in English can buy Avoidant and Bad Boyfriends right now!