Big things

December 20, 2010

Interesting article here asking why can’t we do big things anymore.  First, lets look at the list:

The recent quick fade of the Deficit Commission was the latest reminder that America no longer seems to have the stomach for big challenges.  There was a time – was it just a generation ago? – when Americans were legendary for doing vast, seemingly superhuman, projects:  the Interstate Highway System, the Apollo Missions, Hoover Dam, the Manhattan Project, the Normandy invasion, the Empire State Building, Social Security.

All of the above, with the exception of the Empire State building, are all creations of massive government.  If he’s going to praise war and socialism then, why does he not champion it now?

I have an answer as to why we cannot accomplish even simple things anymore.  There’s simply no room left given the size and scope of the federal government, its wealth confiscation, its overbearing regulations, its economic plannings.

I do love how he includes the Manhattan Project: government financing of the means of total annihilation.

Part of the reason he surmises is how technology has made everything smaller.  Ah yes, the beauty of the free market, capitalism, entrepreneurs taking risks, and we all are winners.

He only finally gets around to the real problem in passing:

Everybody’s a winner: The recruiting ad for the Pony Express said:  “Orphans Preferred.”  The ugly fact is that the building of America cost a lot of lives by putting men (and sometimes women) in dangerous, high-risk situations.  We don’t seem to have the intestinal fortitude for that kind of sacrifice anymore – and even if we did, our robust system of torts laws would make it too expensive to pursue anyway.  You probably can’t conquer outer space with a society that doesn’t keep score in youth soccer games, hands out participation trophies, and sues for every cut and bruise.  After all, the virtual bullets in a Halo gunfight don’t hurt.

Well of course.  Make government big enough, have ti do big enough things, and pretty soon it gets around to running, and ruining, everyone’s lives.  Sad, he doesn’t see the connection between the first paragraph and this one. In fact, he misses the picture entirely.  We do big things extremely well.  The big thing IS government.


Government kills women

December 16, 2010

In another example of how government kills…

On Dec. 17 the Food and Drug Administration is expected to take the radical step of revoking approval for an advanced drug in the treatment of one of the country’s most deadly diseases.

Avastin, an advanced treatment for late-stage breast cancer, made it through the FDA approval process back in 2008. But over the summer, an advisory commission at the agency determined that the drug wasn’t providing sufficient benefits to patients and recommended that the full FDA board retroactively rescind that stamp of approval.

The FDA has until Dec. 17 to make that recommendation official. If it does, the effects on breast cancer patients will be devastating. Some 17,500 American women are prescribed Avastin every year. Many will face shorter, more painful lives because of the FDA’s decisions.

And this is how the government protects us?  I’m sorry, but the state’s apologists love to say how worse off we’d be without such wonderful agencies as the FDA.  They love to claim how unsafe food and drugs are kept off the market, how evil drug companies would otherwise kill us for the sake of profit.

The only evil I see is the government, the only killing I see is the government’s.  These “evil” drug companies are actually saving lives.

Is the drug really unsafe?  Who’s to say?  But here’s the real problem:

Despite all evidence to the contrary, the advisory committee claims its recommendation had nothing to do with Avastin’s cost. The FDA’s top brass will doubtlessly take the same line and claim that its decision to ratify that recommendation was based solely on the drug’s medical efficiency.

The truth is that Avastin is expensive. A year-long supply for breast cancer treatment costs upwards of $80,000.

However, if the FDA revokes Avastin’s approval, public insurance programs like Medicaid and Medicare could decide to refuse coverage of the treatment. Many private insurers would likely do the same.

Both the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance have sent letters to the FDA urging it not to revoke approval. They rightly believe that treatment decisions should remain exclusively in the hands of individual patients and their doctors.

And this much is certain as well:

Government drug rationing isn’t going to stop at Avastin.

Neither will government killing.

Government kills #2

December 9, 2010

New category – “Government kills”.

Children’s Hospitals Lose Some Drug Discounts

In an unintended consequence of the new health care law, drug companies have begun notifying children’s hospitals around the country that they no longer qualify for large discounts on drugs used to treat rare medical conditions.

As a result, prices are going up for these specialized “orphan drugs,” some of which are also used to treat more common conditions.

Once again, we must ALWAYS remember Bastiat’s broken window.

Joshua D. Greenberg, vice president of Children’s Hospital Boston, said that loss of the discounts “jeopardizes our ability to care for some of the sickest children with the most complex health care needs.”

Government kills.  Now, this might not be the “best” example, as in reality, these were distorted market prices to begin with.  Why?

Over the last 18 years, Congress has required drug manufacturers to provide discounts to a variety of health care providers, including community health centers, AIDS clinics and hospitals that care for large numbers of low-income people.

Several years ago, Congress broadened the program to include children’s hospitals. But this year Congress, in revising the drug discount program as part of the new health care law, blocked these hospitals from continuing to receive price cuts on orphan drugs intended for treatment of diseases affecting fewer than 200,000 people in the United States.

In other words, as I already detailed, pooling is theft.  In this case, the companies were forced (isn’t all government simply force?) to provide the drugs at a discount.  And, this “discount” was in fact paid for by higher prices on all other drugs and on other consumers.  The problem is that they didn’t know it was figured into the price.

In all fairness however, one might very well assume that if, IF, drug consumers were asked to pick up some of the tab so that needy children might have access to these drugs, most would have wholeheartedly agreed.  I certainly would have.  But, that is not coercion nor force.  We would in fact be knowingly paying for, and receiving satisfaction (utility) from, the purchase.

Christina M. Barnes, the pharmacy director at Galion Community Hospital in rural Galion, Ohio, said she was excited when her hospital qualified for the discount program earlier his year. But, she said, she was dismayed to learn that many drugs would be excluded.

“We were given an advantage with one hand, and it was taken away with the other hand,” Ms. Barnes said.

William A. Sarraille, a lawyer at Sidley Austin in Washington who represents drug makers, said, “The discounts are huge and can have a very significant, very negative impact on the ability of manufacturers to develop new, better products that meet patients’ needs.”

The Food and Drug Administration classifies more than 350 medicines as orphan drug products. Manufacturers said they could not recover the costs of developing such drugs if they were required to sell them at deeply discounted prices.

Sorry to burst Ms. Barnes’ bubble, but nothing was “taken away”.  What was actually taken away was other people’s property without their consent.  And the long term effect?  Fewer new drugs will make it to market.  Another broken window.

I loved how this administration was going to “bend the cost curve down”.  As if they had the magical powers to do any such thing.  Apparently they never bothered (well, I’m restating the obvious here!!) to heed Hayek’s wisdom.  They simply haven’t the knowledge to do so.  They will simply harm many and help none.

Policy driven economics simply breaks windows.  And to that we can now confidently add, kills.

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