Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What's yours is mine...

I have a few friends who still believe what the far ends of the spectrum tell them about how life should be. On the one hand, I have those who fear for my immortal soul, mostly because I've yet to decide in the absolute that there is a supreme deity and/or an earthly representative. On the other hand, I have those who are convinced I need proper education in order to understand why, for example, I need a labor union to protect me from myself, if I ever go back to work at a day job.

Today, the faithful on the Right are pretty much leaving me alone. Must be residual effects of a high holy season, or something.

OTOH, I've been asked by somebody on the Left why I'm not up in arms over the high price of medicines, etc., and why I'm not "hating on big pharma" thing or some other such. Granted, I can't afford to take drugs to keep me on an even keel. Also granted, I'm not a big fan of drugging oneself in order to fit into society. But if I could, I would. Being crazy is not something to celebrate, any more than being born with no legs is. If they were giving away something which could make me less sick, I'd take it.

But I'm not interested in taking something from somebody else's mouth. And that's basically what some folks are demanding of the pharmaceutical companies.

How so? I hear someone cry...

Let's just pretend the big pharma guy is not a big pharma guy but a gardener. For the past ten years, he's been working in his back yard, in a little greenhouse and a half-acre beside it, weeding and hand-pollinating and obsessing over the perfect onion -- not too hot, high in vitamins, and with a shelf-life nearly triple that of any other onion. Every spare minute, every spare penny he has had, he has invested in his research, and then, one day, he has it. The onion is his, at last. The darned thing tastes great raw, bitten into like folks eat apples, is brilliant in every recipe, and is complete once sauteed and piled high on a nice steak (I'd better stop, before I make myself too hungry). So, anyway, this gardener files for a patent for his perfect onion, and tries to take it to the market.

Suddenly, everybody else wants this onion, and they tell him he has to not only share the secret of how to grow it, but, in order to show how humanitarian he is, he's expected to donate any and all of what he grows to the poor and hungry throughout the world.

Or, shall we pretend the big pharma guys are clothing designers and manufacturers. Is there a great hue and cry because Calvin Klein is not giving two-thirds of his net plus half his product to the great unwashed?

Why is it that, when somebody develops something in the medical or related industries, the rules suddenly fly out the window? Decades and fortunes spent on research and development count for nothing -- you're supposed to be in this strictly for humanitarian reasons, and any money recovered in the process is to be considered contaminated, evil. Millions invested in research to cure breast cancer or AIDS, and if you don't give the whole of your work away, you're not merely in league with the devil, you actually are Old Nick himself. Breaking even is a sin, earning even the faintest profit warrants consignment to the darkest pits of the netherworld for all eternity... and heaven forfend your profits should actually come up above what the average cashier at the corner dollar store earns in a given year!

Let's face it. We need incentive for people to buy into pharmaceutical companies. Without the promise of some small profit, nobody would invest in curing some of the rarest diseases. So, the big programs rake in a profit for treating something which, in and of itself, is not fatal, such as AIDS.

To my lefty friends, I ask, if it's so important for you to see everybody get this property from the companies which produce it, why don't you convince more of your friends to take up a collection to buy it from them, at a fair price? Otherwise, it's plain and simple theft, either direct or via extortion. And, you wouldn't like it if they stole from you, would you?

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