One Remedy to save the Capitalists Global Health Care Market
By Melvin J. Howard
The world has more then enough resources to provide global health care and education to everyone. In the year 2000 for example a Human Development report sited for just 80 billion a year, the entire world could have basic health and nutrition, basic education, reproductive health and family planning services, and water sanitation. Now 80 billion might seem like a lot but that figure is equivalent to roughly 15% of the annual Pentagon budget and totals less the 1/5 of 1% of the world’s income. According to the United Nations, Americans spent more on cosmetics ($8 billion) in the year of 1998 than it would have cost to provide basic education for all the people in the world who did not have it. Extending access to basic health care and nutrition to those who don’t have it would cost $13 billion annually that’s $4 billion less than the U.S. and European pet owners spend on pet food. For starters I would like to ask the branded drug industry for help. But will they budge without a monopoly and a profit stream, neither of which is a suitable incentive model for this global crisis. But compared to the many tens of billions spent by the pharmaceutical giants on advertising nonsense pills to us daily and suing the generics at every turn and developing medicines that aren't really necessary. We end up footing the bill for all this, be it in the form of taxes, higher health premiums or direct prescription purchases. If global capitalism wants to save itself from its own worst enemy - which is itself - it better act quick and smart. Here is an idea and a prescription for us capitalists to save our global markets just follow along with me please:
1. Since the branded drug industry is wasting our time and money on advertising instead of helping to solve the really big and important health problems, we can conclude they are a big inefficient sector of the markets due to too many years of monopolies and taxpayer subsidies. To borrow a line from Donald Trump they are fired! That should make the markets more efficient. We will keep the generics, though.
2. The generics can keep producing all existing FDA approved drugs in a patent free environment. This should lower our total annual drug costs to about $80 billion a year.
3. We will use about $15 billion of this for a prescription drug benefit for seniors (whose costs are now much lower because all drugs are generics) and put some $15 billion towards insuring the uninsured.
4. We will set aside $30 billion for drug research and development in the public sector, to replace what the private sector used to do, except with a more needs oriented approach. All the scientists, researchers and administrative workers from the now fired brand name companies get new jobs at the new publicly funded research centers. Realizing that the biggest needs are in the developing world and that our own economy is intimately tied to their well being in this globalized world, we set the first $15 billion aside exclusively for HIV/AIDS vaccines and treatments. The next $5 billion goes on tropical diseases, tuberculosis and so forth. Then the other $10 billion will go into the most important things at home.
5. We still have $20 billion left. Of the people that used to work for the branded drug companies, we still have the marketing people and lawyers sitting around idle, we can’t have that can we? Since the marketing people are always telling us that they are not annoying and that they are instead providing the social service of distributing important information, i.e.advertisements we have just the job for them! First they will be put in decompression chambers and then some training will take place to retool them for a more wholesome career. They will each be provided with 10,000 packets of condoms and sent all over the world from India to the Congo to Russia to China to Brazil. Their job will be to sell the use and advantages of condoms and safe sex to as many people in the developing world as possible. This should be right up their ally. For years they have been walking into doctors offices with free samples to give away and stories to tell. They will get compensated based on the preventative practices adopted in their region. The total cost of the global prevention plan will be about $10 billion.
6. The lawyers will be fine. They are inventive enough to find other ways to occupy their time.
7. Well, there's lots that can be done with the remaining $10 billion and I'll just leave that up to your creative imaginations e-mail me when you do!