Money Changes Everything

By

Leonard Zwelling

         There’s a new book in town. I have not read it yet, but its
author is everywhere on media outlets. No, it’s not my book. I have a new book
but all I have is a limited number of radio interviews so far.  Hoping for more.  Happy to work for food.

         This book is by Steve Inskeep, the host of Morning Edition on NPR. It is called Jacksonland. Its subtitle is President Andrew Jackson, Cherokee Chief
John Ross and the Great American Land Grab
. I have now heard several
interviews with Inskeep on both radio and TV and the book sounds fascinating.
He returns to source documents to illustrate how President Jackson displaced
American Indians from the land that would become the Deep South.

         Jackson, it seems, has been portrayed many ways by many
historians, but some things are clear. He owned slaves. He was cruel,
duplicitous, and unfair to the Indians while implementing the Indian Removal
Act that moved the native peoples west of the Mississippi River. He was a great
general in the War of 1812. He was the originator of the Democratic Party. He
is a very significant figure in American history and doesn’t sound like a nice
man at all.

         Inskeep made the point on an interview during the Diane Rehm Show on May 21 with Susan Page of USA Today that Jackson was a champion of
human rights (equal pay for the Indians who fought with him in the Battle of
New Orleans), but not when his money was involved (e.g., the slaves on his
Hermitage plantation).

         See how little has changed!

         Bill and Hillary will do anything for money and then deny
they did it and serve themselves up as champions of the underprivileged (many
of whom Bill locked up).

The
previous President of MD Anderson was willing to suspend intelligence, civility
and good taste in accepting $150M from an Arabian despot for a new molecular
markers building let alone getting himself caught up with a bunch of really bad
people who were in positions to increase his personal wealth at Enron and
ImClone. (Enron was small potatoes for the board members but the past President
made $6M on October 29, 2001 selling ImClone stock.)

(http://irbforum.org/read.php?2,8689)

The
problem with the $150M is knowing what the real price tag was. My last blog
discussed the increasing absence of Jewish leaders at MD Anderson. Unlike women
or other minorities for whom the absence of their inclusion is attributable to
a lack of mindfulness on the part of the white, male bastion of narcissistic
leadership in Pickens who never hired them, the Jews had many positions of
authority at Anderson. The key operative word is had and it all seemed to go
down hill after the Zayed gift.

And,
of  course, there’s Dr. DePinho who will
go on national investment television (CNBC) putatively to discuss the newest
developments in cancer research before an ASCO meeting and somehow wind up
touting the accomplishments and value of his own drug and company. Then the
drug turns out to be a loser. I wonder how many CNBC watchers on that day went
down with the ship. I wonder if Ron sold short. Don’t you? Even if he was
unaware of the lousy drug study results, his wife on the Aveo board had to have
known the drug would never gain FDA approval. Maybe she sold the family
investment in Aveo short. Inquiring minds want to know.

However,
the company did think it could hoodwink the FDA into approving the drug.
Perhaps that says more than any amount of nasty behavior ever could about the
DePinhos’ naiveté mixed with arrogance.

Indeed,
the fact that money can alter people minds goes back long before Andrew Jackson
and one would have thought we would have evolved out of that. In fact, we have.
Many places have conflict of interest laws to prevent conflicting fiduciary
responsibilities from hurting innocent bystanders (patients, grad students,
faculty, etc). Of course if you are going to suspend the rules written to
protect the innocent, everyone might get hurt.

(http://www.nytimes.com/2002/01/19/business/enron-s-collapse-directors-one-enron-inquiry-suggests-board-played-important.html)

Cyndi
Lauper is still correct. Money does change everything. That’s why we have rules
against its influence in fiduciary relationships. Suspend the rules and don’t
be surprised if it comes back to bite you, unless you are the one who gets to
keep the money.

Leonard Zwelling