Sunday, April 04, 2004

Economy vs. the Individual

One of the predominant beliefs of so-called Republican/Conservatives is that the mythical Law of Supply & Demand will take care of everything. Unfortunately, from common sense and also a systems theory point of view, this is not the case. Oh sure, it will take care of everything for someone but it does not necessarily mean the whole system is healthy or balanced, nor does it mean that any particular individual will end up getting treated beneficially.

Take for example, a woman's father is dying of cancer. They've tried many options but nothing has worked. Finally, there's one option left, a drug manufactured by an American pharmaceutical company. The problem: it costs $47,000. They don't have that much money. The woman does some research and discovers she can get the same drug overseas for $1200, but this practice is illegal because the FDA has not put its seal of approval on drugs manufactured elsewhere. So she goes overseas and manages to get a 3 month's supply, which works, but it runs out. So she ends up having to lie to the actual manufacturer of the drug to qualify for their "low earner" program.

I can imagine some conservatives having no sympathy. "It's his own fault he got cancer -- he made choices that led to this. He gets what he deserves."
Maybe... but he has a right to live, one would hope. Or "The company invested millions of dollars to create that drug, and deserves compensation." True, but that point is really "we need to earn more money than we did last quarter, and charging more for an obscure drug is within our rights and necessary to meet our numbers." And is that really more important than a person's life?

I get frustrated, being a moderate, watching people stick steadfast to a single principle and expect it to work in all cases.

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posted by Brian at 8:05 AM

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