Tales of an academic prole

Patrick D Hahn

Patrick D Hahn
Baltimore, Maryland, USA
June 07
I used to wash trucks for a living.


Patrick D Hahn's Links

The Gold Coast
The Holy Ark of the Covenant in Ethiopia
The Land of Burnt Faces
The Medical-Industrial Complex
The Psycho-Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex
Anatomy of an epidemic
Big fat lies
Is screening for cancer a giant con job?
The War On Drugs
The Nutritional-Industrial Complex
Personal Reminiscences
Personal Essays
Scientific Articles
Books of Interest
SEPTEMBER 27, 2009 9:19AM

Goodbye to all that

Rate: 35 Flag


Well, I’m outta here. It’s been fun. They say every academic’s secret desire is to write freelance magazine articles, and I figured this blog would be a good place to start. I don’t imagine J.K. Rowling is losing any sleep over me, but I’m gratified that every one of my posts has garnered hundreds of hits.

I chose overmedicalization as my main topic. It’s a huge issue. I teach biology, and so many of my students want to become physicians or other health professionals, and of course I want to see them do well, but I started looking into these matters a couple of years ago, and it’s been like finding out the emperor has no clothes. I think most people would be astounded if they knew how little good and how much harm is done by the medical profession.

Our Medical-Industrial Complex has swollen to engulf one sixth-of our entire economy, while killing 200,000-plus people a year. I say “200,000-plus” because nobody knows the true number, and nobody seems very interested in finding out.

It’s also an area in which so many big questions come into focus – questions about what kind of society we want to live in, and what it means to be a human being. My work here has even led to a gig as a medical journalist for another online publication. I do everything real reporters do, except get paid.

But, it’s time to move on.

I’m an adjunct professor, which means I do the work of two professors, for half the salary of one. I can handle that. I’ve handled that for my entire career. But I can no longer handle that and maintain a family on the other side of the planet.

I got married in Ghana on December 31, 2007, and after dicking us around for a year and a half, USCIS finally sent me a letter telling me they might not grant my wife’s visa for years. In shock, I called up the NGO that sponsored me in Ghana and asked me if I could have my old job back. They told me they didn’t have anything in Ghana for me, then asked me, “How would you like to go to Ethiopia?” I called my wife and asked her what she thought.

She said, “Let’s go.”

Remember, you heard it here first: this country is on the verge of a massive third-world style brain drain.

May I be permitted a personal anecdote? When I was in graduate school at the University of Arizona, we had several Chinese students in our department, who were funded by their government, not ours. I had a drinking chum who worked part-time in the department office, and he peeked at the disbursements, and he told me that the Chinese government was paying their students two-and-a-half times what we were getting paid.

Imagine that: while this country was mining its intellectual capital, they were investing in theirs.

And now we’re reaping the rewards. The days when we could cherry-pick the rest of the world’s best and brightest are rapidly drawing to a close. A story in the New York Times reported that growing numbers of educated Indian and Chinese professionals living in this country are returning to their home countries, because they can live better there. That would have been unthinkable thirty years ago.

If you’re anywhere near my age (I’m 48), then most likely your father, like mine, was born during the Great Depression, and came of age during the post-war economic boom, a time of wealth creation unparalleled in human history. I get the impression our fathers thought this was the natural order of things, something that would continue without any further intervention on anyone’s behalf. And while a generation of Rip van Winkles snoozed in front of their television sets, their elected representatives were busy shredding the social contract that made it possible for them to go from hardscrabble beginnings to comfortable affluence in half a generation.

The American Century is over. Almost exactly one hundred years after my mother’s father came to this country in search of a job, I’m leaving – for the exact same reason.

So, I’m off. I can’t say for sure I’ll never post here again, but if I do, I’m sure it will be less frequently. I don’t know what I’ll find, but don’t worry about me. At least I have somewhere to go. (I’ll even have health insurance!) I don’t know what the rest of you are going to do. Good luck to you all.

youth and age

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Patrick, Goodbye and God Speed. I wish you only the best and I hope you find a moment sometime in the future, to sit down and make an entry from the other side of the globe and tell us how things are going with you.
Good luck to you! I hope it is a great adventure for you and yours.
Good Luck, Patrick. Many of us will be following you out of the country if the craziness continues here.
I'm happy for you, but sad for us. OpenSalon is losing an incredible writer and an incredible human being. Good luck and God bless you.
What a lovely, heartfelt, achingly true post. I wish you well. Keep up the good work.
Best of luck to you and may our loss be Ethiopia's gain.
Your words of wisdom have been more than a gift, Patrick. They have been lessons that we all need to learn. Thank you for consistently staying on message and for being one of the few who is brave enough to take on the role of a being a much needed teacher by telling the truth. I hope your words continue to bore through the half empty brains that need to read them. Best to you and your family.
Happy trails - I know Ethiopia will be blessed to have your talent and passion, but it will be missed here.
I wish you the best in Ethiopa and am glad you will be with your wife. You are entirely correct. If working conditions are better in Ethiopa that is saying something strong.
Much luck! Stay safe!
We agree on The Medical Industry. I added it to Eisenhower's comment thusly, sometime ago, as in the "The Military Medical Industrial Complex." adding the LEGALIZED ADDICTIVE DRUG DEALERS OF AMERICA AND THEIR PIMPS AND PUSHERS, THE PHYSICIANS.

GOD SPEED, YOU AND I CAME TO THE SAME CONCLUSION. I SELDOM WRITE HERE ANY MORE AND RARELY COMMENT. Don't have the time plus I seem to get 10-25 times the readership elsewhere and many more headlines.
The sad truth is the US Citizenship and Immigration Service decision making process is a manifestation of the racist tendencies, impulses and reflexes that are extant in the policies of this country regarding the citizens of African nations....Does anyone doubt that the posture of the agency would have been different if your wife was a citizen of a Western European country? That being said, their decision is a blessing in disguise....You are now free to pursue your career and engage in the pursuit of happiness in a manner that most of us can only envy....She will leave Ghana and you will leave here to follow your hearts and pursue your dreams as guests in another land but you will be doing so together...Thanks for your thoughtful, insightful and instrucional posts and your supportive comments....
Even in parting you do us a service by giving us insight and information that we might not have otherwise received....You have a true gift and a sharing heart you are already missed....Be well and Be Happy.....

Rated, I hope not for the last time......
You've touched on any number of comments near and dear to my heart, and you have reached many of the same conclusions I have. We live in a time when people have been to believe they can lead lives with no physical discomfort -- including the pain delivered by the body as warning signals. But whether legalized or otherwise, there's a reason they call it dope, and Lenin's "opiate of the masses" has literally become a very profitable opiating of the masses. This will not end well for us.
Like Torman says, Goodbye and Godspeed. Welcome to the new world. It might be a little hard to get used to in the beginning but with your family with you you would be happy am sure. It is sad that they could not get her in. So all these stories about immigrant VISA rules being slcakened are stories as I hda rightly guessed. Good luck to you and family Ptricck. Woud miss your voice. So write about Ethiopia in your inimitable style.
I understand your pain. My prayers with you.
Patrick: Adios. Your bracing and fact-based posts have been a great resource to me. You'll be missed hereabouts, but I'll not get out my mucus removal system just yet - will keep an eager on on examiner.com and hope you can one day stop giving it away free. Be assured that however it comes, it's useful and valuable and always welcome. Jeremiah
Ah, Patrick – may this next act in the play of your life be simply extraordinary! My heartiest best wishes to you and your wife. I too would be most happy to hear of some of your upcoming adventures in Ethiopia. Be sure to visit lake Tana.

Bon voyage.
Patrick, Good luck to you and yours! Be careful wherever you tread, "the times they are a- changin'"
A perfect post!! Really enjoyed your work. All the best!
I wish you nothing but the best, Patrick. And I know that just being with your wife will make life all the better. You will be in my prayers.

God speed,

Patrick--good luck! I've appreciated your thoughts and your comments on mine. I will miss you,

Good luck in Ethiopia! Doctors Without Borders maybe? My daughter lived in Togo for over 2.5 yrs and is very familiar with Ghana! Take care.... write soon! Tells us of your travels!
Very good news. Be well and stay in touch.
You go, you live your life. You are a blessing. Peace.
You go, you live your life. You are a blessing. Peace.
And a new adventure begins! Good luck and Godspeed to you and your wife in your new life.

I wish you well and of course, you are right about everything.
ah, Patrick, I hardly knew ye! Ethiopia sounds interesting. I HOPE you'll find time to post here, I'd like to hear all about it.
Thank you, Patrick, for this post and your many others.

"I think most people would be astounded if they knew how little good and how much harm is done by the medical profession."

Congrats on being able to rejoin your family, and so very sorry to see you go.

Maybe one day in the not-too-distant future this country of ours will give you a reason and a way to return. One can only hope. In the interim, may the ground you walk on be soft beneath your feet.
Good luck Patrick, I've enjoyed your writing.
Thanks to one and all of you for your kind words.

If this Baucus bill passes, and I have to hand over thousands of dollars a year to the health insurance companies for the privilege of living in the United States, that could tip the balance -- I may just decide to stay in Africa for good. I'm not kidding.

My ride to the airport is coming shortly. It's time to pull the plug. Good luck to you all.
God Bless you and your family, and the best of Luck to you in your Endeavor in Ethiopia!
I hope you enjoy your new adventure and being with your family. I'll miss your right-on-target observations. This is so well said:

"And while a generation of Rip van Winkles snoozed in front of their television sets, their elected representatives were busy shredding the social contract that made it possible for them to go from hardscrabble beginnings to comfortable affluence in half a generation."

Bless you and best of luck.
Wish I had found this sooner. My own drama means that I haven't been on OS much lately.

Whether or not you ever read this, please know I admire and support your decisions and wish you the best of luck. This was an excellent article.
Luck to you... and may you be bless until we meet again.. Thanks for sharing your life with us. Totzaon
Please send me a message if you post again. I'd like to know how your story continues. Meanwhile, all the best to you and your family, wherever life takes you. I agree with you about the demise of US supremacy. Losing you is a symtom of that.
I wish I had seen this when you first posted. (I'm a UofA graduate too!)

I have been considering moving to another country precisely because I see this one as my great grandparents saw Europe when they left to come here. It is a feudal society we live in. Corporations have become the landlords and the tax system is set up like a third world country - the majority of the wealth at the top, the middle class struggling while poverty grows.

I remember when I was in high school and I was told by a teacher that what businesses are looking for are good workers, they don't care how smart you are, and they certainly didn't want critical thinkers, they just want you to be able to get along, so the schools were going to start changing the way they taught. The arts were going out, emphasis was going to be on math because what they really needed were people to manage the cash registers.

Meanwhile, in Europe, they decided that becoming United was good. They've been modeling their tax structures on what we had in the 1950s and realized that the only reason anyone ever went to the US was for a better quality of life, so they improved theirs and now their societies are growing and are strong.

Back in the US, we've decided that our biggest competitors are India and China because they only pay their workers 30 cents a day and that's really what Americans should get paid. In the UK minimum wage is $9.429, here it's 7.25 and it's considered a strain, yet in the UK, it's not only working out fine but small business can thrive there. The corporate structure and tax breaks are destroying small businesses and the middle class.

I do hope you continue to blog from Ethiopia. I'd like to hear how it goes. I've told my mom that I wouldn't mind living in some place like Botswana.
Just a big, fat, "amen". This country is unrecognizable and the politicians are completely out of touch.

My father-in-law, who passed in 2007, was an anatomy and physiology professor. He taught most of the Texas panhandle over the last 35 years on their way to being nurses and doctors. There were over 400 people at his memorial he was so well loved.

Thank you for what you are doing across the world from me. With more people crumbling under the weight of this defunct American social and political system, I hope a revolution will come.
This was worth the find. You're right--you do know what my expatriate friend is talking about. Take Care.