Posted tagged ‘grift’

Annals Of Grift, Chapter [n]: “Pastoral Medicine”

April 26, 2016

This story is a perfect example of a truly elegant con.  On one side, the marks:  suffering, credulous, and primed to both reject and crave authority.  On the other, the grifters, offering valiant rebellion against the establishment, all the comfort of faith, and the knowledge that the truly dedicated marks will become repeat customers.

Ladles and jellyspoons, I give you pastoral medicine!

You’ve probably heard of the credentials M.D. and R.N., and maybe N.P. The people using those letters are doctors, registered nurses and nurse practitioners. But what about PSC.D or D.PSc? Those letters refer to someone who practices pastoral medicine — or “Bible-based” health care.

It’s a relatively new title being used by some alternative health practitioners. The Texas-based Pastoral Medical Association gives out “pastoral provider licenses” in all 50 states and 30 countries. Some providers call themselves doctors of pastoral medicine.

V0011224 Doctor and Mrs Syntax, with a party of friends, experimentin Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Doctor and Mrs Syntax, with a party of friends, experimenting with laughing gas. Coloured aquatint by T. Rowlandson after W. Combe. By: William Combeafter: Thomas RowlandsonPublished: - Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

And how do these fine practitioners roll?

[Stephen] Barrett [a retired psychiatrist and founder of the consumer protection siteQuackwatch.org] says the Pastoral Medical Association functions like a private club. Patients sign confidentiality agreements, pay out of pocket and are prohibited from suing if they’re unhappy with the care they receive. Any disputes are handled by an ecclesiastical tribunal.

“They’re claiming that ‘Any advice we give you is pastoral in nature,’ ” Barrett says. “In other words, ‘If I give you health advice that’s not health advice, that’s pastoral advice.’

The article goes on to dig up one person who felt helped by her pastoral “advisor” — a woman who believed “heavy metal detox, special diet and herbal supplements helped her lose weight and gain energy.”  And good for her! I’d hope she’d derive some comfort from her ~$5,000 donation to what the Pastoral Medical Association calls “the Almighty’s Health Care workers.”

A closing thought.  In the deregulated paradise sought by the Republican party and its Koch and Koch-esque paymasters, there’s no problem with such charlatanism.  Let people put their money where they like, regulatory oversight be damned, and let the market (and morbidity/mortality outcomes) decide the matter.  That sick people might not be fully at liberty to exercise their function as a homo economicus is somebody else’s problem.

Which is to say — this particular grift takes the form of the familiar American religious confidence game that has taken in its suckers since before the birth of the Republic.  At the same time, it’s a pretty good proxy for the same long con being run on too many Americans by the folks who have come to use the Republican Party as its front.

Image:T. Rowlandson after W. Combe, Doctor and Mrs. Syntax and a Party of Friends Making an Experiment in Pneumatics, 19th c.

Annals Of The Military Industrial Complex

February 4, 2014

Via exceptionally sharp young journalist Taylor Dobbs, this story of the efficiency and national security value of military procurement:

The Dayton Daily News reports that the Air Force has spent some $567 million to acquire 21 new Spartans since 2007, but has found that the Air Force does not have missions for many of the aircraft.

The planes had originally been acquired because of their ability to operate from unimproved runways. But sequestration forced the Air Force to re-think the airplane’s mission, and it determined that they were not a necessity, according to an analyst with the Project for Government Oversight.

…An Air Force spokesman said the program was “too near completion” to be able to terminate the program in a way that does not cost the taxpayers more than building the airplanes and sending them immediately to the boneyard.

Jan_van_Kessel_(I)_-_Birds_on_a_Riverbank_-_WGA12131

An alternate headline would  — should, in fact — go something like this: “Legislators Find Alternatives To Food Stamp Cuts”

Yeah…I’m dreaming.

One more thought: the fetishization of (genuinely brave and self-sacrificing) members of the military is cover for sh*t like this.

Image: Jan van Kessel, Birds on a Riverbank,  1655.