Category Archives: gambling

NY elections: Gambling, propaganda and empty skulls. (Updated: Empty skulls applies to the people of Washington State.)


casinos

Yeap. This is going to be one of those testy posts.

NYorkers voted 57% in favor of making the state a casino mecca.

How did they make that decision?

The same way that the Washingtonians voted against their own interest and defeated a bill that would have required the labeling of genetically altered foods: they listen to the mermaids singing. In NY- politicians like Gov. Cuomo and state legislators who themselves got millions in campaign donation from foreign fat casino moguls.  In Washington, Monsanto and other corporations spent 0ver 11 millions in the campaign. We the people have NOTHING to win in these bets, only the moguls and our ‘misleadership’ (as the  guys from Black Agenda Report call politicians) win.

There will be homegrown compulsive gamblers, billions of dollars will be sucked out of the state to the foreign homelands of the moguls… Money spent in  casinos is money that does NOT circulate in the community. Don’t expect your misleadership to tell you that.

No significant $$ goes to mental health services to treat the compulsive gamblers because, hey, we want you to gamble, why cure you? That would cut into the profits.

There’s a reason why OMH in NYS, as in many other states, compulsive gambling is NOT considered a mental illness.  Your compulsion doesn’t qualify you for any services because, well, the government took you by the hand to the doors of perdition (with advertizing and ‘regulating’ casinos’ comps) knowing that casino gambling creates addiction and destroy lives. Admitting that gambling is addictive and a disorder that requires services would be admitting that it is the government who is causing this problem.

scammed

Good luck. You are going to need it.

But what do you expect? These are the same politicians (Cuomo) who told you they were creating an Ethics Board to keep our bureaucrats honest, but then decided, after you were not paying attention, that it was not such a great idea after all and ‘sabotaged’ themselves. See Cuomo’s Office is said to rein in Ethics Board he created.

Oh well.

With marijuana, at least you can claim it is ‘medicinal’. What positive effects on your body can you claim about gambling on machines fixed to suck your money out of your pockets with their hypnotizing visual ‘themes’ and repeated-at-nauseum ringtone-like excerpts  of famous TV shows songs? With loaded dice and roulette balls? Jobs? Really? Have you studied the stats of job creations by casinos in NJ? I mean REAL stats, not the ones cooked for you by the misleadership. And don’t ask me for the data now, it’s too late for that. Go look it up yourselves if you want to know.

What’s the point of digging the right data and the right interpretation of the data for you  if you are going to listen only to the magic words of your elected misleadership ‘come, trust me, it’s good for you’?

Propaganda is like  the flakes we sprinkle over the water in the fish tank for the captive, starved fishes: they look up and say ‘yum’ and go in an eating frenzy an eat and eat a lot of nothing mixed with water and start pooping all over the tank. Well, something like that, sort of. Ok, bad metaphor.

Look, the point is that propaganda is like a solvent that melts your brain and leaves your skull empty ready to receive  anything that the politicians and the corporations want you to do. People don’t think, they follow instructions.

cop

People, YOU MUST THINK.  WAKE UP.

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About Privatization, fracking and Lucy the psychiatrist. 5


This post will close the ‘series’ on privatization of the NYS public health and mental health system. It’s difficult to make these posts short; the topics are too big. I will try to be economical. So, please, don’t give up on reading. 🙂

The roadmap leading to privatization

You can’t claim that the NYS government is not ‘transparent’. I have discovered since I started this blog that almost every piece of government policy that takes our collective property and rights have been announced beforehand to the public, like Garcìa Màrquez’ “Chronicle of a Death Foretold”. This applies to the latest big report: governor Cuomo’ SAGE Report published last month, February, a roadmap showing the steps  to PRIVATIZE the STATE: public land, public transportation, agencies transformed to ‘efficiently’ serve Wall Street, mental health programs run, literally, by Wall Street.  How many of you have heard about it or have bother to read it?

These ‘steps’ are hidden behind fancy names like “government efficiency“, “right-sizing” (to hide down-sizing), “initiatives” like the “centers of excellence” and “collaborative approach with private and public sector“, “pay for success”…They all relate to privatization, transferring our infrastructure and government functions to you know whom. Worried about fracking? Don’t;  Cuomo will put the responsibility of protecting our environment on the polluters themselves.

Let’s see some of those steps towards privatization, and don’t forget: the recommendations given are usually adopted, at least in part if not in totality. Also, the heads of all these commissions are your typical Wall Street friends. These are the reports mentioned here:

The Commission on Health Care in the 21st Century

OMH/DOMH licensing scheme

Workforce Report

The MRT report

The SAGE report

Step #1: “The Commission on Health Care in the 21st Century”: privatization ‘by all means possible’ and fast, please.

This one is appalling. It (over 200 pages) was commissioned by our legislature and governor in April 2005 to, basically, privatize hospitals and facilitate mergers and cut the competition. The title is misleading, a slap in the face of New Yorkers: You can’t change a health care system in ONE year, which was the length of this ‘plan’; plus, it was all about merging hospitals.

These recommendations were then to be transmitted to the Governor and the Legislature on or prior to December 1, 2006. The binding recommendations were to go into effect on January 1, 2007,” and not later than June 30, 2008.  (All quotes are from the DOH’s report on the Implementation of the Report of the Commission.)

They were in a rush to do this, wonder why?

At the head of the Commission was, guess who, someone with huge ties to Wall Street’s companies gambling on hospitals and health care:

Stephen Berger is Chairman of Odyssey Investment Partners, a private New York investment firm that specializes in private corporate transactions.” [ There’s more to that guy than that.]

This commission’s recommendations accelerated and facilitated a hospitals-merging feeding-frenzy that had started in 2003 and which continues even today after the ‘recommendations’ expired. The cost of this “reconfiguration of the health-care system” (assault on New Yorkers), of closing and paying the debts of the private entities closed, of facilitating mergers, of transferring state property to private hands, of filing for bankruptcies to save themselves, cost tax payers (as they reported, which is always an underestimation) over ONE BILLION dollars in one year.

dr-evil

Included was the cost of defending this atrocity in court:

“numerous lawsuits [more than 20] were filed seeking to prevent implementation” and “the State Attorney General’s office, …created a special group of attorneys to defend the cases…” “The Department substantially prevailed in litigation challenging the constitutionality of the legislation establishing the Commission.”

The recommendations included

“recommendations that municipal and state-operated facilities join together with not-for-profit corporations, in which the plaintiffs argued that such arrangements would be illegal. As described later in this report, however, the Department determined that the facilities could legally join together in a contract merger, in which the efficiencies contemplated by the report were realized, while the legal barriers were avoided.”

The funny thing is that our media didn’t report this hospitals-merger feeding-frenzy was actually designed by the state. On the contrary, the same wolves implementing this assault on us, the state and the Department of Health (DOH), cried innocence. These are all fascinating articles about this:  New York Hospitals Look to Combine, Forming a Giant;  Goal of the NYU-Continuum Hospital Mega-Merger: Raising Prices; this one just announced in March 2013: Mt. Sinai & Continuum announce merger plans, and this one is excellent: As Hospitals Face Pressure, Six in Brooklyn Could Close.

One of the appalling things about this report is that it showed that the state behaved as a Mafioso in order to do the damage quickly:

“Forced hospital mergers [were implemented]”,

“The Department Engaged in Unilateral Enforcement Efforts as Appropriate”

“…it could not easily require a facility to provide unwanted services, or to provide services in a configuration that was not financially or clinically feasible.”

“Nevertheless, the Department at all times insisted on…compliance”

“effectively foreclose the pursuit of constitutional claims, at least in State court.”

“preserve and protect the public health and safety only when the Department determined a safety issue could exist or when updated data made a clear and convincing case that a safety issue existed, [you had to REALLY make your case]”

“the Department [of Health] did not re-evaluate the Commission’s conclusions, or attempt to replace the Commission’s judgment with its own.” [it complied with the Wall Street guy’s recommendations as ordered].

I have to say that the ONE thing that threw me off my seat was the recommendation that OMH’s unlicensed facilities be made licensed again. The cause of the Citywide Mental Health Project was validated years ago. I knew we are right on our claims! Of course, that was the ONE recommendation ignored.

Step #2: OMH/DOMH licensing scheme

OMH was created in 1977 (per President Carter’s Commission on mental health) right after the 1972 Willowbrook case. Since THEN they have been acting like a corrosive acid on our system. Not only did OMH engaged and sanctioned (up to 2010) the same crimes that led to its own creation, human medical experimentation (previous posts), but they turned the back at the mandates given to them, as I described in my previous posts. OMH has been decertifying programs since the early 1990s; at least that’s what I have found.

By de-certifying most of our mental health system, these two agencies have de-facto privatized it without the people’s knowledge. You can’t reverse that without a major public movement, which requires the awareness they don’t have about what these agencies are doing. Most people are unaware that the programs they use are unlicensed. The people trust these agencies blindly because, otherwise, they would have to perennially keep an eye on them.

OMH has ‘rules’ to attract businesses by paying between 50 and 100% of the loans they take to run their businesses (PART 521. FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FOR CAPITAL ACQUISITION AND CONSTRUCTION). This is done under the excuse of creating the facilities where services will supposedly be provided. But, despite all that public money, OMH refuses to license most of these businesses and, instead, gives them the ‘freedom’ to act unaccountable to anybody. This is how I understood that rule. I hope to be corrected by someone up there if I’m wrong.

Step #3: On the Workforce Report and Lucy the psychiatrist

This one is la creme de la creme. Not only OMH argued there  that we don’t need a licensed system, it said that we don’t need licensed professionals. It seems to insinuate that a case manager acting as a psychologist is as ‘safe’ and ‘efficient’ as a licensed psychologist. I’m not kidding. This is the background:

State’s legislators required in 2010 that a workforce study be conducted to determine what would be required for mental health agencies and non-for-profits to come into compliance with licensing by 2013. The issue is whether the state should enforce the requirement that these entities hire licensed professionals (which some legislators want to do) or that, on the other hand, they be granted a ‘waiver’ to allow them to hire unlicensed professionals to provide the same services as licensed do. It all has to do with the ‘corporate practice doctrine’, which I will not discuss here, but you can read a good history of the corporate practice doctrine here. It’s a fascinating controversy about corporations running health services businesses when they are not physicians.

The point is that OMH made the following conclusions in its report, basically saying that we don’t need the protections that come with a licensed system because, well, they have such a great history of protecting us and a great structure to provide the oversight they know is indispensable anywhere you hire people to do things. Take a look at how to downgrade quality of services:

They said that despite the fact that

“…15% of case managers were performing psychotherapy

and that

“…more than half of the agencies [“licensed”, imagine the case for the unlicensed] responded they employed titles that can be “licensed or certified” however were reportedly filled with unlicensed staff… including psychologists and social workers positions.”

…they concluded that:

lucy“OMH does not find a material difference in the quality of services provided in programs which also employ unlicensed staff.” [Meaning, perhaps, that the 15% case managers mentioned before with two or four years of college are as good psychotherapists as a real one who must have a doctorate degree to practice.]…

and that

[licensure]…would not provide any meaningful measure of increased safety or quality to our citizens as reflected by the survey results.”

We are also unaware of any evidence that would support better client outcomes with increased licensed staff, given the multiple layers of protections that exist in OMH licensed and funded programs.”

So much for the ‘best practices’ philosophy. OMH concluded that more unlicensed programs and unlicensed staff [performing as licensed] are better because they save money and, well, who needs a psychologist or social worker when a case manager can do ‘the same work’ for less? For those reasons, OMH concluded that the State ought to make permanent the exemption of requiring licensure for the professions and services discussed:

“OMH recommends to make permanent the exceptions…”

Credit to the DOMH: they argued in favor of licensing in their own report; goes to show that the ‘system’ is not monolithic.

Step #4: The MRT report

Many of you are familiar with this 2011 Medicaid Redesign Team. Same crap. Cheapening the system, facilitating involuntary commitment by allowing RN to do it without psychiatric authorization, re-working the work force (changing titles responsibilities in mental health services to push them down to less skilled workers), putting programs in private Wall Street corporations hands…Head is Wall Street guy.

Step #5: The SAGE report or ‘wake up! you are being robbed blind’

I don’t even know how to start with this one. It is difficult to unmask this initiative because of its exquisite double-speak language. Take for example the “pay for success program”. Sounds good, inoffensive:

“…the performance based approach known as “Pay for Success” contracts. These contracts, also known as “social impact bonds,” are an innovative financing mechanism that uses private and philanthropic funding sources. Provided at no risk to taxpayers, funding from these external sources is used to fund initiatives and improve programmatic outcomes in key areas such as human services, public safety, juvenile justice, public health, and others.”

Hmmm. Let’s see: “no risk to tax payers”, as if in this corporationist system the “private funding sources” are willing to bear the ‘risk’ instead of the government. This ‘pay for success’ initiative should be called ‘the government pays either way: for success and for failure’. Nothing new there.

Billionaire mayor Bloomberg is credited with opening the door to this shark attack from Wall St called “pay for success”: Goldman to Invest in City Jail Program, Profiting if Recidivism Falls Sharply

In New York City, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg plans to announce on Thursday that Goldman Sachs will provide a $9.6 million loan to pay for a new four-year program intended to reduce the rate at which adolescent men incarcerated at Rikers Island reoffend after their release.

Right from the outset the shark shows its teeth: IT’S A WALL STREET LOAN, people! Somebody has to pay it. Hello! Anybody there!? 🙂

How sweet is that? Goldman gives HIMSELF a loan to gamble on your kids’ minds, loan which YOU will have to pay, and Bloomberg expects ME to believe this in the caption about this “pay for success” deal:

wall

“If the program reduces recidivism by 10 percent, Goldman would be repaid the full $9.6 million; if recidivism drops more, Goldman could make as much as $2.1 million in profit; if recidivism does not drop by at least 10 percent, Goldman would lose as much as $2.4 million.”

I’ll let you to figure that one out. I’m laughing so hard I can’t deal with it. Pay for Goldman’s success!! BUT WAIT!! It gets BETTER for Goldman.

Why put his own money, after all? This is what the SAGE report has in mind. It’s already working.

“The Governor’s 2013-14 Executive Budget advances this innovative, performance-based public-private sector partnership by authorizing up to $100 million in Pay for Success initiatives over the next five years.”

Did you catch that?

Look, among the other goodies for corporations are:-

– letting them license themselves – no need for the government to do it, plus it gives jobs to lawyers:

“Through this program, applicants have an attorney certify the accuracy of their application [for license], which allows SLA to expedite the review process”

– worried about fracking? No need no more:

“Reform of the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQRA) Process.This permitting process includes reviews by multiple agencies and support from environmental consultants, is extremely technical and can cause delay in some instances. As part of its efforts to reform SEQRA, DEC solicited feedback from stakeholders with diverse interests to identify how the process could be streamlined and delays avoided, without sacrificing meaningful environmental review and protection.

– workers, be worried. Civil Servants system is protected by our state’s constitution. Not for too long anymore.

“The Commission has identified as an option for future consideration certain changes [hmm] in the law governing the State’s civil service system that would facilitate workforce modernization.” 

“workforce modernization” as in going-back-to-the-middle-ages. That’s double speak.

“Controlling Wage Increases. In addition to controlling the cost of the State workforce by exercising discipline in new hiring, Governor Cuomo arrested the growth in per capita employee spending by entering into new four and five-year collective bargaining agreements that included no salary increases for the first three years of the agreements[now, THAT’s modernization.]

LIPA will be privatized together with other ‘assessts’, meaning transportation and public buildings.

There are a few good things there, but the bad things are the one they are not telling you about. It’s all in the works. We are ‘screwed’, excused my English. They will use the language that makes you say ‘hmm, that sounds good’ and you will consent to this attack.

Well, that’s my long speech about privatization. I hope this made sense. Please, feel free to post your comments.

By Lourdes

Re: Gambling Group Gave $2 Million to a Cuomo Ally


I posted this comment in the NYT’s comments section.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/05/nyregion/gambling-interests-gave-cuomo-ally-millions.html?pagewanted=all

June 4, 2012

I have commented about this before. It’s definitely appalling that our leaders are willing to accept money from this gambling industry that only chains our people to more addiction. This Gentry has spent almost a billion dollars in lobbying our leaders. How can we, the people, possible have a chance at monitoring these casinos when evidently the industry owns the whole casino system, including monitoring and oversight? We don’t need to give our land for peanuts to this industry. Nor enslave our people for the sake of a measly supposedly 10K jobs, must of which will be filled with non-New Yorkers.

My only hope is that New Yorkers will see through the veil of corruption and lies and vote against this so-called Constitutional amendment.

The gaming-industry’s birds of prey


The gaming-industry vultures seem to be tripping over each other in NY; they may end up eating each other while still alive. Wouldn’t that be cool?!

Re: NY Times article Cuomo’s $4 Billion Plan for Project in Queens Falls Apart

The interesting thing about the info in that article is that the source of the  ‘threat’ to Cuomo’s plan to milk his constituents is not the people’s opposition to the gambling plan. We never read in the article about those who will be terribly impacted by this ill-advised have-fun-while-we-tax-you-into-homelessness plan. Nope.

The threat comes from the in-fight between the gambling industry moguls  and the convention business’ we-are-about-to-lose-our-corner CEOs. As you start to read the article, you expect to read that the people in Queens are organizing to stop the plan. Instead, you read these are the reasons the plan is in danger:

a) “…the company’s  desire for the exclusive right to operate in New York City hampered the talks. “

Greed, greed and more greed. ‘I want them suckers all for me, Cuomo’, is really what  Genting is saying.  But then, do you blame them for that expectation? After all,  “Genting spent nearly $900,000 on lobbying and campaign donations in New York last year,…” For almost a billion dollars you can bet your derriere I would want to have exclusive rights to ‘operate’ on god.

b) “Skeptics had questioned the wisdom of the location, noting that it is a long subway ride to Midtown… ”

The “skeptics” turned out to be two non-relevant Manhattanites. They are not relevant because they are two of the vultures’ future victims. They don’t get  to decide on how many chunks the gaming-vultures ought to cut the two of them. They are just drawing the path to get faster and easier to the gaming-birds of prey’s beaks.

c) “The governor had also argued that the project would free up the site of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on the West Side of Manhattan for new development;…”

As expected “criticism grew louder”, meaning that the convention business CEOs screamed at the sight of the gaming-birds of prey hovering over them. Somebody, please, tell them that resistance is futile. Surrender and spare yourselves the suffering; a quick death is better than a slow torment, figuratively speaking, of course.

d) “…he [the arguing governor] viewed the center as too cramped for major trade shows.”

And THAT’S what caused the criticism to grow louder. How dare you, Cuomo, call their beloved place “cramped”! Cramped is what I call my apartment, but the fancy Jacob Javits “cramped”? Thoroughly offensive (not). The way the sentence was phrased in the article made me visualize Cuomo saying “it’s too cramped” with a whiny voice and gesture. Ha! The point is that “too cramp” is too much of a lame excuse to kick out the current tenants in order to put them as bait next to the casino in Queens.

But that’s the way casinos change everything including the scenery arrangement. In Atlantic City, there’s a convention center at the entrance of the city. The two (convention center and casinos) HAVE to go hand in hand if the casinos are to be fed like whales in a tank.

e) “the state is now entering into discussions with other gambling companies.”

That’s Cuomo pressing his bet. The psychology behind that ‘bet’ is that Cuomo was probably letting Genting break the public opinion ground to see how much the people would have opposed the plan. Now that he sees that the people, as usual, is not a threat, Cuomo feels that he can squeeze more lobbyists’ money by putting the different birds of prey in competition with each other. Either way, YOU, dear reader, will be feasted upon.

Our politicians, who tender and cater to these ‘gaming’ industry’s birds of prey have already prepare the pablum for you to vote on: they have already scripted the Constitutional amendment necessary for you to vote in favor of yourself being served as steak to the industry. It’s not peanuts for our politicians to get over a BILLION dollars (including what is NOT reported by Genting and the politicians)  in lobbying by this industry.  Especially when, in exchange for buying our ‘leaders’,  the industry will get our land and mental health for peanuts.

Pretending that creating 10k jobs (which is doubtful) justifies chaining to compulsive gambling over 5 million human beings is simply…appalling. I can’t find another word for this atrocity.

Don’t expect NY State to support an amendment to the DSMR V or whatever to include compulsive gambling as an Axis 1 diagnosis any time soon. The government cannot promote an addictive behavior and then officially declare it an addiction without providing the funding to ‘cure’ it. For a government, it’s not that it is not logical to do that; with power you can make anything illogical seem logical.

You just can’t make it morally acceptable for those who still can differentiate between good and evil despite our society sinking deeper into the mire.

My hope is that the public will see through this typical cast of characters (our political ‘leaders’ and an industry feeding off each other) and vote against the Constitutional amendment.

Compulsive gambling and the DSMR


Article in today’s NY Times: Addiction Diagnoses May Rise Under Guideline Changes

Among other things the article states that “In addition, the manual for the first time would include gambling as an addiction, and it might introduce a catchall category — “behavioral addiction — not otherwise specified” — that some public health experts warn would be too readily used by doctors, despite a dearth of research, to diagnose addictions to shopping, sex, using the Internet or playing video games.”

Does it make sense to include gambling as an addiction? Common sense logic says yes, “evidence based” logic says no. “Evidence based” (in mental health)  is based on the economical needs of the political system, not on the health realities on the ground. Our states promote openly and shamelessly gambling to squeeze billions of dollars from their citizens despite the “evidence” that shows that the majority of gamblers are recurrent addicted compulsive gamblers. That “evidence” can’t be used to justify our lotto and casino economy. Consequently, the states will refuse to accept compulsive gambling or gambling addiction as a major psychiatric illness. It is not because the behavior is not ‘debilitating’, it is. It’s because  the states would have to admit that they are the cause of the problem.

The terms addiction and compulsion can’t be logically segregated to alcoholism. We choose where to put the labels.I’m not debating here the changes to the DSMR, I’m just calling the attention to the relation between compulsive gambling and our states’ promotion of it. Whether it should be classified as a psychiatric illness is not my point now. If alcoholism can be retained as an illness, logic says that compulsive gambling should be included too.  The definition of the terms ‘compulsion’ and ‘addiction’ applies to that behavior.

It’s time we look at the reality of compulsive gambling, and why more casinos are not the solution to our economical woes. Mr. Cuomo succumbed to the casino corporations and want to change our state’s Constitution to allow casinos here. That’s a bad move. We ought to vote against it.

Feel free to post your comments about this post or about the NY Times article.

Lourdes Cintron (founder of The City-wide Mental Health Project)