The antibiotic myth

 

medication

There’s a programme on the radio this morning about the history of antibiotics. It was quite interesting while they were talking about the discovery of penicillin, but I’ve just had to turn it off.

Because, as I knew they would, they’ve got to the bit about antibiotic resistance all being our fault. “People became addicted to antibiotics” is how they phrased it.

By which they mean the following dialogue, which I know you recognise because you’ve played the part of the villain many many times:

Patient: Doctor, I have a cold and I really need antibiotics to cure it.

Doctor: I’m very sorry, but antibiotics don’t work against colds so they’re really not appropriate. I suggest you take an over the counter painkiller, drink plenty of liquid and rest.

Patient (threateningly): But I insist on having antibiotics! If you don’t give me antibiotics now, I’m going to get very very angry!

Doctor (cringing): No, no, please don’t hurt me! Here! (scribbles prescription and hurls it across the desk at the ravening patient)

 

I don’t know what the point of this myth is – although my cynical side tells me that it’s to distract us from the agricultural use of antibiotics which mean that most of us are being subject to constant low-level doses whether we want to or not – but isn’t it about time that the media stopped blaming antibiotic resistance on ordinary people? If there’s ever been over-prescribing of antibiotics for inappropriate uses, surely that’s down to the people doing the prescription, not the poor bloody patients?

The problem with capitalism, in one easy lesson

“Capitalism affords economic freedom, consumer choice, and economic growth”, apparently.

Let me prove that this is wrong.

For several months now I’ve been trying to buy a white shirt, to replace one that I bought in 2009 and which has now seen much better days.

It has to fit the following criteria:

  • White
  • Long-sleeved
  • Longer than waist length, and with a curved hem
  • Buttons all down the front
  • Cotton or linen
  • Thinnish (this is to wear over a vest top or something in the summer, largely)
  • With a collar

In other words, a very simple plain white thin long shirt.

“Easy!” I hear you cry. “I could get you a handful from one trip to the shops.”

Oh yeah? Just try it. At least in Sweden, what is on offer are shirts with the following features:

  • Patterned/coloured
  • Short sleeves
  • Short and/or with a straight hem
  • Only three or four buttons
  • Nasty artificial fabrics
  • Material so thick you could use it as a duvet
  • No collar, a plunge neckline, or a bow (a bow! Who am I, Thatcher?)

And to respond to your other suggestions,

  1. No, I’ve not looked at men’s shirts as my days of wearing blokes’ clothing because I can afford nothing else are over. I want something that complements my shape, not something that drowns it in a tent.
  2. Buy clothes off the Internet? Not likely. I’m not a particularly standard size, and given the price charged by the Swedish Post Office for the inevitable returns, it would be cheaper to clothe myself in material made from diamonds.

So my point is this – if I can’t even buy a really simple basic garment like this, despite several months of looking, then what of consumer choice? This consumer wants something slightly different to the latest fashions. It’s not like I’m asking for an adult sized pink bustier with My Little Pony on it.

my_little_pony_corset_by_kellyeden-d5qc5fu

Why are we continuing with the capitalist system, using up the world’s resources, forcing people to work – and in some cases die – in sweat shops, filling our roads with lorries and our seas with oil and plastic… if we aren’t actually fulfilling the promise of capitalism?