November 16, 2004

No vaccine....The curse of Capitalism

I am rather surprised that there has not been more commentary about the reasons why so many people are now more vulnerable to the influenza virus, due to lack of vaccines. Most certainly thousands of more people will likely die this year in the nation, than needed to be, for one simple reason. That reason being the fact that producing the vaccine did not prove monetarily profitable for US companies, so many abdicated the production of the vaccine for more lucrative drugs.

The moral or lesson in this is that having a profit driven free market society has detriments that are part and parcel to the benefits. In the case of the flu vaccine, public health was put at risk because capitalism could not find a profit in helping protect its citizens against illness and death, so they did not...and people will die. The reason being is that capitalism is in the business of monetary profit, not moral, ethical or social profit and good. The bottom line is always dollars when we have a system that is and has become so dependant on the private sector in order to shrink the size of government and reduce tax burdens.

It is not only an issue of what the private sector will not do that can be dangerous, it is also an issue of what it does make profit from, which can also be dangerous. Whenever profit is earned and livings are made from social dilemmas and problems, it becomes a conflict of interest of those profiting to ever see the problem corrected or cured. The same thing is true in regards to the profiting that pharmaceuticals do for treating symptoms of illness to the degree that the drugs keep people alive or create dependence. There is less long term monetary benefit from researching cures than researching products to treat symptoms.

There was once a time when street cars were in every major city in the USA. Public transportation was widely available to the degree that it got poor people to where they needed to go. However, there was not profit in public transit systems and the birth of the automobile resulted in efforts by the powerful Auto Industry Barons to lobby the ripping up of the street car system so that people would be more dependent upon cars to get around. The result is that today transportation gridlock is a major problem, born from the automobile dependency, and the urban sprawl in most major cities. Now, poor people without jobs or transpiration have a hard time getting to areas where the job growth is.

There is also the phenomenon of privatizing of prisons and consumer goods being produced by low cost prison labor. With so many people in prisons in the USA, disproportionately black people, prisons, prison workers, courts, lawyers, judges, police officers have all become part of the prison industrial complex employing hundreds of thousands workers to deal with the social ramifications of poverty and crime born mostly from poverty. Not that it is a realistic hypothetical, but if they ever got rid of poverty and crime, so many people would be put out of work and lose their means of earnings that poverty and crime would return, but with new faces of the poor.

I do not think that it is health when a considerable portion or our GDP is money and profit exchanged from the treatment of the symptoms of social ills and problems. The nations well being is measured most profoundly by the metrics of GDP numbers. However, GDP numbers do not reflect what people are entering into monetary transactions for. I think that there is a profound difference between GDP generated from producing widgets for sale than GDP generated from building prisons or from paying for daycare, which was once a service performed for free.

In conclusion, I think having a society driven by the monetary profit motive can a does create a callous, morally eroded and problem enabling society that will spiral downward socially and morally, while spiraling upwards in profit and GDP growth.


At 11:47 AM, Blogger Scott said...

We don't have Flu Vaccine because of price controls. We have price controls on Flu Vaccine because those who most need it are old people who are coverned by medicare.

So its actually socialism that has failed to produce the vaccine not capitalism.

In fact capitalist have made a profitable version
But since socialist control so much of the market they only produced as much as they expected to be able to sell.

Don't worry. They will produce more next year. Now that people are willing to pay.

At 11:57 AM, Blogger Noah TA said...

If there were not price controls....many people would not be able to afford the vaccine due to lack of health insurance...which would result in even more deaths, assuming that you are correct about price controls. That is because in order to make the drug profitable to companies, prices would be jacked up tremendously, thus reducing the supply of people who can now afford it.

At 2:14 PM, Blogger Scott said...

Do they need price controls on televisions ? Sneakers, underwear or food ? Or does the market provide them to the vast majority of America citizens without intervention.

At 2:17 PM, Blogger Noah TA said...

Those things are social necessities and do not promote the general health and well being of society. Your attempt to obfuscate by false comparision is expected Scott...I have lost all respect for your intellectual integrity.

At 5:14 AM, Blogger Scott said...

So food is not a necessity. You are a fool. Do you know how many million starved to death in the 20th century in non capitalist countries.

You need a history lesson.

At 6:07 AM, Blogger Noah TA said...

Yes food is a necessity, but there are no price controls needed due to competition keeping prices low.

I may be a fool...but at least I am not a black conservative.

At 3:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Noah - please read your last post! You are arguing IN favor of capitalism!

"there are no price controls needed due to competition keeping prices low."


When you have competition, people have choices - and producers and suppliers have to have better and cheaper products - or else people have somewhere else to go to get them.

If companies were able to make a decent profit by producing vaccines, we'd see multiple drug companies making all the vaccine we require.

Why do you seem to think that making a profit is evil or wrong? Would YOU show up for work if they told you that they weren't going to give you any sort of compensation for doing so? Probably not. Thus, why should anyone else work for little or nothing? Or risk their capital for little or nothing?

Scott may be a black conservative. But he realizes that trying to argue against free markets is like thinking that gravity shouldn't cause objects to have pull on one another. IT JUST DOES.

Peg K

At 8:57 PM, Blogger Noah TA said...

pointing out competition and its effect is simply that. The pool of competitors is due to the FACT that there is PROFIT potential. People do not go into business unless there is PROFIT POTENTIAL.

In truth, the fact that there is not government price controls does not mean that there are not price control part of industry collusion. Collusion is the biggest price control today. Why do you think Gasoline stations are always matching each others prices. It is because they are in collusion not to go belowe a certain price and thus force their competitors to follow suit, hence depriving them all of their profit margins.

At 3:33 PM, Blogger Constructive Feedback said...


You are from the Detroit area I beleive. I find it interesting that YOU above all people would talk about what the "Auto Barrons" did.

What about the healthcare benefits that the people working at these plants have received during the 100 year run of the auto industry.

If I am not mistaken you have a large medical complex up there named after Henry Ford. Just a coincidence.

It is also a coincidence that when the auto makers began to shift production into other domestic locations and moved their corporate headquarters outside of the city limits, so went the city of Detroit.

If the flu vaccine is of primary importance, irrespective of "profits" where are all of the wealthy human rights groups when you need them for something?

If you think "capitalism" is a bytch, try considering the places around the world that don't have an organized economic system. They deal with issues greater than flu. It is also just a coincidence that the US because of our medical standards don't have to deal with the issues that they do because we have irradicated them.


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