You Can, and You Must Take Charge of Your Own Destiny

The damn country is going to hell and I’m screwed! Mike exclaimed. He then began to list the things that were wrong and how they impacted him:

  • The government is into week three of a partial shutdown. 800,000 federal employees are going without pay. One of them is Mike’s son, who is living paycheck to paycheck.

  • Big Pharma just raised prices on more than 1,000 drugs. Several of Mike’s medications are on the list.

  • It’s the start of a new year so he’s facing annual out-of-pocket deductibles … a big chunk of change in January alone.

  • His family overspent on Christmas gifts. All this on credit cards and the debt is now payable.

OK. That was Mike’s rant. When he got over feeling sorry for himself, we talked about what he could do to fix the situation. Some of it he could work on immediately, some of it would take time and some of it would require a co-operative effort. Let’s review the problems and what Mike needs to do instead of just ranting.

The Government

I don’t care what your political affiliation is, those charlatans are an embarrassment. If they worked in the private sector, they’d be fired for incompetence. They’re playing politics where real people are hurting.

Notice their actions, or inactions, don’t cause them any personal inconvenience. They continue to get paid and feed very well off the public trough while their constituents suffer.

What can Mike do?

  1. Short term not much. He can’t depend on them to bail him out. They won’t. They have no immediate skin in the game. He’s got to figure out how to take care of himself and his family.

  2. Long term he can do a whole lot. Begin by agitating for term limits. They should get in to office, do what they promised to do and go home. Why does it take several terms to deliver on their promises? Self-serving and greed come to mind. Let’s stop the BS.

  3. Make his voice heard about the immorality of the special perks they vote themselves. Our elected representatives should have to live by the same rules the rest of us do. Do you think our health care system or social security would be in jeopardy if our congressmen or senators were impacted by them? Do you think we would have ever increasing national debt if they were held individually accountable for fiscal responsibility?

  4. Campaign and vote for reform. Sure, it’s a hassle, but look at the pickle we’re in by our inactivity.

Big Pharma and Drug Prices

This is arrogance and greed at work in the wrong way. Big Pharma and its lobby have figured out how to play our representatives like a fiddle. They have figured out how to make obscene profits at your expense. Look, I have no problem with companies making money. It’s the American way. But gouging and taking advantage of a captive audience is a whole other deal.

Last year, there were all kinds of commitments and promises about controlling drug prices. Lots of bluster, empty promises and back-patting.

In January Big Pharma raised the prices on more than 1,000 drugs.
The drugs in question have been on the market for years. There is no additional expense incurred by the manufacturers. The average price increase is 6% … three times the rate of inflation. Patients will pay the price because they have no choice.

Insulin, a life saver for people with type 1 diabetics, has almost doubled in price since 2010. This medication has been around for 100 years, but the three big pharmaceutical companies retain the patents by making small tweaks and shutting out competition. Those patents, by the way, were given to them for practically nothing so that injectable insulin would be available to those who needed it. 

What can Mike do?

  1. Demand Congress take a good hard look at their business practices. I’m not suggesting regulation because I’m a capitalist and I believe in people getting a fair return on their investments. But how is it I can buy a particular medicine over the counter from a small drug store in Loja, Ecuador, for about one tenth of what it costs me in the United States? Same medicine, same manufacturer, same packaging. And, oh yeah, my cash price overseas is one tenth of my insurance co-pay in the US. My uninsured cost in the US would be twenty times as much!

  2. In addition to buying drugs overseas, there are other steps he can take to lower the cost of medications:

  • Buy generics where possible.

  • Contact the drug companies for free or low cost supplies. He may have to jump through some hoops, but it’s worth the effort.

  • Search for Patient Assistance Programs. There are many of them and are mostly funded by Big Pharma. Examples are Good Days  and the PAN Foundation 

  • Ask his physician for some of the free samples the drug company representatives provide.

  • Make some lifestyle changes. This may not work for everyone, but often switching to a healthier lifestyle can reduce the need for the same quantity of medicine.

Debt and Overspending

Mike, like many people, lives beyond his means. He spends more than he earns. He doesn’t have a budget … he just buys stuff with abandon. He’s got all the gadgets, including a brand new $60,000 SUV with a seven-year auto loan. He does not have a fund set aside for emergencies. His retirement account is woefully underfunded. 

What can Mike do?

Because I know Mike well, there are many things he can do to improve his money situation. This may not work for everyone … I’m not a financial planner.

  • Create a budget and stick to it.

  • Make shrinking his debt a priority.

  • Learn to live within his means.

  • Increase his income. In Mike’s case this is very doable. He’s an outside commissioned salesperson with lots of opportunities to earn more. Yeah, he’s going to have to work harder. So what?

Look, the world’s not fair. Some people get a raw deal and have to struggle. Most people, like my friend Mike, contribute to their own problems.

When you’re in a hole, stop digging.

It’s a brand new year. New challenges and new opportunities. Don’t wait for someone else to determine your future. Take charge of your own future and go out there and make it happen.

I’m Oliver Connolly and I help companies create a sales force that makes quota. No nonsense, no ivory tower BS, just results. Contact me at 

Oliver Connolly