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Archive for the month “July, 2009”

Contents vs Package

I suspect when the birth control pill was first introduced to the public, the male doctors behind the scenes were having intense discussions about how it would be packaged.

“You know, Joe, the girls will need a way to remind them to take the pill once a day. They can’t possibly keep track of it themselves.”

“You’re right, Jim. We’ll find a way to package the pills individually. Maybe in a cute, discrete, pink dispenser that she can carry in her purse.”

“And what about that week off the pill? You know she won’t remember to stop after three weeks and restart on the fifth week.”

“Good point.”

“Oh, this should work. We’ll add a week of sugar pills. Tell them the church made us do it.”

Joe pulls open the bottom drawer by the lab table and opens the bottle of scotch. They toast to their new world of sex without consequences.

Now, 40+ years later, women still suffer the condescension that is the packaging for birth control pills. Every three months I buy a box that holds three smaller boxes each of which hold thick pamphlets printed on thin paper, a faux suede case for the bubble pack of pills, and said bubble pack of pills. Each pill is surrounded by impenetrable plastic on the top side and foil that will not be separated from the plastic on the bottom side.

Three rows of little yellow pills and one row of fake little white pills. I puncture each bubble with some amount of aggravation and put the yellow pills into a nice, easy to open bottle. It’s not labeled either!

As the cost of the birth control pill has risen at an outrageous rate over the last ten years, I have become more irritated by this packaging. I asked the pharmacist if my prescription could be ordered in a bottle with only active pills. Not an option. I know that some of the price increase is due to the deficit reduction act (seriously). That increase could have been off-set by reducing the amount of packaging.

It would bring me so much joy to not have to face a 1960’s attitude toward birth control every time I filled my prescription. Beyond my selfish attitude about being inconvenienced, lower costs for the pill equates to wider use which in turn means fewer unwanted pregnancies which reduces the number of women and children living in poverty.

Please, dear pharmaceutical companies, consider the impact you could have by changing the packaging of your birth control pills. Reduce waste. Reduce poverty. Change the world.


Ethics with Teeth

There have been 17 separate ethics complaints lodged against soon-to-be-former Governor Palin. She is calling for a new ethics policy for Alaska. And she’s right.

But her reasoning is so very wrong.

Palin sees ethics complaints as a nuisance that have cost the state “millions” of dollars. Both the press and Palin are guilty of inflating the actual costs associated with the ethics investigations. This article outlines the truth about the money:

Cost of ethics investigations

For a brief moment I will defend Palin. She is probably somewhat a victim of a state that has been historically lax in its observation of ethics. Fallout clouds from the investigations into dealings by both Senator Ted Stevens and Congressman Don Young probably contaminated the playing field for Palin. But her lack of dignity and desire to blame others for any challenge she faces lends credibility to questions about her behavior. She comes off alternately as someone who is hiding something and someone who is unwilling to take responsibility for her own behavior.

And then there is the matter of the need for a new ethics policy. She claims that most of the complaints against her have proven “baseless.” That is simply false. Here is an example of one complaint that was thrown out:

Spending Complaint

This complaint was thrown out because the state’s ethics policy has no teeth. Why is it acceptable for a holder of a state office to use state resources to produce news about themselves and their interest in a national office? Up until now it has been a non-issue in Alaska. Instead of expecting a lax state ethics policy to police her behavior, Palin should have recognized that such spending of state money was questionable.

Instead she spends her time, and ours, complaining that ethics investigations are wasting state resources. Whether determined to be accurate or unfounded, an ethics investigation is never a waste of money. In fact, a state such as Alaska where money has flowed freely for years, where the state capital is physically inaccessible to the majority of state citizens, and where there is a culture of lawlessness, there should be a multitude of investigations.

Moreover, there should be vast state resources dedicated to rewriting a new state ethics policy that directly guides state leaders who are unable to think for themselves.

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