Death of a Cure

ABOUT Steven H Jackson

Steven H Jackson
For more than twenty-five years Steve Jackson has worked as a management and technology consultant assisting organizations of all sizes with the evaluation and assimilation of new technology and the outsourcing of non-core competencies. As an internationally recognized expert in several ar More...



Dr. Tom Briggs finds answers in short supply and violence in large doses. Searching for his brother's killer, he uncovers the truth about a charity beloved by those suffering from a terrible disease - the trusted keepers of their hope. Briggs is confronted by evil he could have never imagined. Evil working to prevent a cure while protecting the lifestyles of its privileged and diabolical leaders. 

This book began with a surprising answer to a simple rhetorical question. I was at a business dinner trying to get close to an executive at a non-for-profit. This particular organization, D.C.-based, large, very well funded and nationally know to most, was divisive; its stated mission a patriotic cause for some, an unholy and evil monster whose mission left children dead each year, for others -- many others. For me, just another dinner, just another job. "So, who do you want to see in the White House next year?" I asked. His bourbon stopped in mid-air as he paused and looked over at me. "It's a life or death issue for us. Every man on our team will close the curtain and vote for Hillary, of course." "What?" My question asked with surprise before I could stop myself, before I could keep from exposing some base-level ignorance on my part. The man across the white linen was a senior executive with a major lobby supporting the rights of gun owners. What did he know that I didn't? What part of the Clinton platform provided comfort to those wanting automatic weapons to go duck hunting? "You don't get it, do you?" his surprise a sad, small discourse on how little I knew about advocacy." We need an enemy. You don't need an advocate if you don't have an enemy. For the last twenty years, between strong Republican administrations and when there was one, a strong and support Congress, we've had it easy. We've gotten everything we wanted. Joe Six-Pack in Arkansas or Oklahoma, or wherever the Hell he lives, I don't know because I never met him, isn't worried that the Fed's are going to take away his gun. The effect of that is just plain simple -- fundraising has declined and fundraising followed by fund-spending is why we exist. The official line is that we need to end gun owner complacency about their 2nd amendment rights. The reality is that we're running out of money. There is no better way for that to turn around than for a strong, liberal, female democrat to become president. If we're lucky, for two terms. She is the answer to our dreams. She will provide the fear that will drive our constituents, and more importantly, their money back to us." He was the master of the obvious and I was an idiot; his one paragraph the economic reality for any advocacy organization, and in turn, the support system for his vaunted position, his personal income, his way of life. A fundamental truth for all advocates fighting for any cause juxtaposed against the stated mission of the organization. On a larger scale, it questioned my beliefs about all good causes, all rightful missions. In defense of what is right, we build business, an industry, around the fight. When the fight ends, even in victory, the economy upon which it subsided crumbles. This will affect many on a very personal level. It made me think about other clients of ours, healthcare advocacy organizations known almost as well to the American people as the AARP and even more successful at raising money -- much more successful. I ignored my dinner guest and relived little questions that had always been in the back of my mind when I worked for these other clients. Why did our meetings have to be at the Four Seasons, the J.W. Marriott or the Trump International and not the Hampton Inn? Why had they worked so hard to hide small financial and operational mistakes instead of being transparent about them to their constituents? What would happen if donors ever truly understood how much of their money fed the machine and not the efforts to cure the disease? How devastated would they be to discover the ineffective nature of advocacy-drive scientific discovery? Who would someday object to the salaries and perks bestowed upon the leaders? How the true believers in the cause were in the lower ranks, the politicians and over indulged at the top? What would the parents of the children who had died in traffic accidents while raising money on bike and walk events say or do if they knew where their money went? What was it that their child had actually died for? Of even greater concern than the answers to my questions was how far would the organization go to protect itself and those who benefited from its existence. Had the disease, the enemy, become the benefactor for the privileged and overly compensated? Was it something to be protected? How far would they go? Would they kill?

Dr. Thomas Briggs exposes both the unfortunate and fortunate truth of human nature using Jack Ryan style. For every greedy, self-serving character, the author balances it with one equally generous and altruistic. The book is filled with so much detail, that I imagine more than a few Non-Profits executives are deleting files and packing bags. A great read for those that like strong characters, adventure, and don't mind re-thinking.