Write on: Letters to the editor


Capitalism and depression

Jim Tran (Write On, GLW #639) correctly rebukes me for carelessly lumping lithium, used to treat manic-depression, in with anti-depressant drugs such as Prozac and Zoloft in my article on capitalism and health (GLW #637). My actual point was that economic factors have contributed to an over-prescription of anti-depressants, however necessary they are in some cases.

In response to large increases in anti-depressant prescriptions and concerns over links to suicide in the UK, Graham Archard, vice chair of the Royal College of GPs, stated last year "with a chronic shortage of counselling and psychotherapy available on the NHS [National health Service], GPs often feel they have little choice but to prescribe anti-depressants in mild to moderate cases".

Apart from funding cuts encouraging drug use, whether appropriate or not, there's also the attempts by pharmaceutical corporations to increase their rates of profit by using the hard sell on GPs (e.g., "Selling Sickness", British Medical Journal, April 13, 2002).

More generally, the exploitative and alienating nature of capitalism, manifested for example in recent drives to increase productivity and lengthen the working day, undoubtedly contributes to stress, anxiety and depression.

Nick Fredman
Lismore, NSW

Keep GLW alive!

Green Left Weekly is so important in the Australia of today where freedom of speech is under threat and where attempts are made to drown dissenting voices. It also gives great coverage of South American issues that the mainstream media ignore. I also applaud the very high level of journalism that the GLW team maintain. I appeal to all readers to pitch in to keep GLW alive and lively. Just think what a blow it would be if it were to die.

Gavin Mooney
Professor of health economics;
director of the Social and Public Health Economics Research Group (SPHERe)
Curtin University
Perth, WA


Yes to John Pilger's praise of GLW and grateful thanks for cover to cover reading with not a word of food fetish or sport!

Lyn Ariel
Terrigal, NSW


The Sydney City Council might be asked to study (or perhaps follow) the Melbourne policy regarding the distribution of street newspapers. We have had the free five-day-a-week MX for a few years now and as far as I can see it has not affected the sellers of Green Left Weekly or the Big Issue. (Your Melbourne distributors may advise whether this is so, and I think sales of Big Issue have increased.)

At about 3pm, MX is placed on specifically constructed bins on Melbourne proper footpaths where pedestrian traffic is at a minimum, and also inside railway stations, where this is also some manual distribution. Admittedly Sydney has a different street layout and perhaps more congested footpaths, and this should be taken into consideration. But that is for Sydney to determine.

In passing, the Age put out a free morning five-day-a-week newspaper about the same time as MX commenced publication. It did not last long as Fairfax in Sydney ordered that it be discontinued, although the Age wanted to keep on with it.

Ray Jacobs
Kew, Victoria [Abridged]


Having just returned from Venezuela I am not surprised at the demands from America's Godly Right for Chavez's assassination. They must be very worried indeed following the presidential referendum which Chavez won with a 60% majority and now last week's municipal elections in which pro-Chavez parties won 80% of the vote.

This is hardly surprising when you witness first hand the miracle of Chavez's social missions which have brought literacy, free health care and education right through to the tertiary Bolivarian universities to the previously 80% poor, using taxes and oil money from the 10% who controlled 80% of the nation's wealth.

Having failed to depose Chavez in the CIA-backed coup in April 2002, they are perhaps really frightened that Chavez's offer to extend Mission Miracle — a program which funds 60,000 operations for Venezuelans and 100,000 operations for central Americans in Cuban hospitals to the poor children in the ghettos of the US — will expose the failings of a capitalist USA.

The staunchly Christian Chavez's god of compassion for the poor, the homeless and the sick is a very different one from the crusading warmongering god of the US Right. May God save Chavez, because nothing will save Bush.

Dr Colin Hughes
Glen Forrest, WA

Howard and Australian Muslims

If our stainless-steel leader, John Howard, thinks the chosen few from the Muslim community he met with, and who agreed with his assessment of the meeting, are not in danger of being seen as "enemy" collaborators by the people he excluded, he is fooling himself. The excluded groups and Australian-born young Muslims know the truth — they have to bear the brunt of Howard's racism every day, fuelled by the worldwide propaganda of Rupert Murdoch's "Fourth Estate" — which might be more appropriately called the Fourth Reich!

If Howard thinks Australian Muslims, like his "Australians", will tolerate illegal pre-emptive strikes of death and destruction on their ancestral homelands, the trashing of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the cruel treatment of refugees from the wars we are fighting half-way around the world; and if he is deluded enough to think he will convince the Muslim community to believe the same pack of lies that his "Australians" do, he might have another think coming; because he is seen by them as the man he really is — a man of putrid and hypocritical morality, a common problem with so-called Christians these days.

Both political and religious leaders of the Western world, in the name of their one true god, speak of freedom and peace, but practice plunder, oppression and tyranny. Yet we tolerate it — because we are the greedy and mean beneficiaries of it. Right or wrong, we don't care — 'cos we're alright Jack!

David Huggett
Tamborine, Qld [Abridged]

From Green Left Weekly, August 31, 2005.
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