A New Twist for a Billionaire Addicted to Silence

Sam Pizzigati

Sam Pizzigati Editor, Too Much online magazine

The billionaire Richard Sackler doesn’t much like talking to the press, especially since in-depth media analyses have labeled Purdue Pharma, the privately held firm that’s made his family rich, a key profiteer behind the opioid crisis that last year cost nearly 50,000 Americans their lives. But Sackler’s low-profile may be fading. A Kentucky court last week ruled that depositions in a 2015 lawsuit against Purdue, including one from Sackler himself, must now be unsealed. The Sacklers are currently facing “mass litigation” for the overprescribing and deceptive marketing of the addictive painkiller OxyContin. That hasn’t stopped Richard from moving to profit from this mass addiction. He has patented, news reports have revealed, a “reformulation of a drug used to wean addicts off opioids.” The addict advocacy group PAIN has condemned this new patent for Sackler and his associates as morally “reprehensible.” Adds the group: “Maybe they can patent a funeral parlor next.”

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Sam Pizzigati edits Too Much, the online weekly on excess and inequality. He is an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. Last year, he played an active role on the team that generated The Nation magazine special issue on extreme inequality. That issue recently won the 2009 Hillman Prize for magazine journalism. Pizzigati’s latest book, Greed and Good: Understanding and Overcoming the Inequality that Limits Our Lives (Apex Press, 2004), won an “outstanding title” of the year ranking from the American Library Association’s Choice book review journal.

Posted In: Union Matters

Union Matters

Failing Bridges Hold Public Hostage

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities.

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) gave the public just a few hours’ notice before closing a major bridge in March, citing significant safety concerns.

The West Seattle Bridge functioned as an essential component of  the city’s local and regional transportation network, carrying 125,000 travelers a day while serving Seattle’s critical maritime and freight industries. Closing it was a huge blow to the city and its citizens. 

Yet neither Seattle’s struggle with bridge maintenance nor the inconvenience now facing the city’s motorists is unusual. Decades of neglect left bridges across the country crumbling or near collapse, requiring a massive investment to keep traffic flowing safely.

When they opened it in 1984, officials predicted the West Seattle Bridge would last 75 years.

But in 2013, cracks started appearing in the center span’s box girders, the main horizontal support beams below the roadway. These cracks spread 2 feet in a little more than two weeks, prompting the bridge’s closure.

And it’s still at risk of falling.  

The city set up an emergency alert system so those in the “fall zone” could be quickly evacuated if the bridge deteriorates to the point of collapse.

More than one-third of U.S. bridges similarly need repair work or replacement, a reminder of America’s urgent need to invest in long-ignored infrastructure.

Fixing or replacing America’s bridges wouldn’t just keep Americans moving. It would also provide millions of family-supporting jobs for steel and cement workers, while also boosting the building trades and other industries.

With bridges across the country close to failure and millions unemployed, America needs a major infrastructure campaign now more than ever.

 

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work