Re: capitalist religion (was: NANO: _Forbes_ cover story)

From: Technotranscendence (
Date: Mon Jul 16 2001 - 20:27:59 MDT

On Monday, July 16, 2001 3:11 PM Mike Lorrey wrote:
> I wouldn't say that. I would say that they only focus on health problems
> for which there is a significant market, generally, and when they find a
> drug treats a rather rare disease, with lets say only a few hundred
> cases in the entire world, they have to not only divide the cost of
> tooling up, producing, and distributing the few doses of the drug to
> such a small market, that market has to absorb the huge amounts of
> research that went into discovering that drug. If, say, one dose costs
> many thousands of dollars, the drug company generally won't even put it
> through FDA trials (which is necessary to make it coverable by
> insurance),

FDA trials are not "necessary" to get the drug covered by insurance, they
are legally mandated to sell drugs in the US at all.

> You are improperly assuming that no capitalist would engage in
> philanthropic activities, which is actually how much of the non-profit
> research is funded.

I think philanthropy is beside the point, but you still make a good point
here. The rich generally fund their own critics just like in _Atlas

> > Did you know that many people who travel to USA worry about getting ill
> > while over there and accruing massive and crippling medical bills for
> > treatment that in Australia or UK or Europe would be relatively
> > inconsequential? Your medical system is heavily privatised and the most
> > expensive on the planet.

On Miriam English's point above: the US system is NOT privatized. It's
heavily regulated. In fact, I bet it's the most regulated part of the
economy -- unless banking is more regulated than it. The level of
government regulation and government subsidy in healthcare has been rising
since the 19th century. The latter took a huge upswing after the creation
of the Medicare and Medicaid programs during the 1960s. Before those
programs, a weeks stay in the hospital was affordable to middle class
Americans. Today, this is not the case. I don't think that's a coincidence
and there have been economic analyses done showing how government
intervention in healthcare is the main cause here. (See, e.g., Sanford
Ikeda's _The Dynamics of the Mixed Economy: Toward a Theory of
Intervetionism_, pp134-6 and the references therein.)

Blaming the free market for the failures of the welfare state here is

> Part of the reason it is so expensive is because socialist health
> systems externalize their highest costs onto our market, which drives up
> demand and therefore prices. How is this done? By purposely rationing
> expensive treatements such that the waiting lines for these treatments
> are longer than the life expectancy of the patients, so they instead
> come here to the US, pay out of their own pocket to get treated, and
> their buying that treatment here drives up the price here for our sick
> people to get the same treatment.

I think this isn't that big a factor. I think US government intervention in
healthcare and subsidies to it are the main culprit. Foreigners coming here
for treatments is, IMHO, just noise in terms of the costs.

> > Don't get me wrong. I am not saying the US medical system is crap. It
> > its uses -- its advantages and disadvantages... but that doesn't make it
> > better than other systems. In fact American medicine is becoming
> > to large parts of its own society thru its inability to attend to the
> > of the great numbers of poor.
> Because the health market is being distorted by the externalities of
> socialized medicine in other countries.

Try regulated medicine here. The US does not have a free market in
healthcare and it's certainly becoming less free each year.


Daniel Ust

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