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Saturday, October 22, 2005

Signs of Atlas Shrugging

Who is John Galt? You might see a shadow of him here:
The feds have also done their best to remove any financial incentive--i.e., profit--for developing new vaccines. The Vaccines For Children program, a pet project of Hillary Clinton back in her First Lady days, has been especially destructive. The program now buys more than 50% of all private vaccines, and it uses this monopsony clout to drive prices down to commodity levels.

When one pharmaceutical company offered to sell a new pneumococcal vaccine to the government for $58 a dose, the Centers for Disease Control demanded a $10-a-dose discount. Politicians want companies to take all the risk of developing new vaccines, but they don't want the companies to make any money from taking those risks. Then the politicians profess surprise and dismay that there's a vaccine shortage.

Vaccine makers are also a favorite target of tort lawyers, who've spent 20 years trying to get around the 1986 Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP)--which was specifically designed to protect vaccine makers from liability abuse. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has been trying to update the VICP for several years, and Republicans did pass a liability provision as a rider to a homeland security bill in 2002. But three GOP Senators--Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe and Lincoln Chafee--created a media ruckus and demanded that it be killed. The Senators promised more debate on the subject, yet once the headlines vanished so did their interest.

The larger point is that if politicians want private industry to develop new cures and vaccines, they can't steal their patents or confiscate their hope of making money. Private companies developed the AIDS drugs that have extended millions of lives, but countries like Brazil want to force those companies to give the drugs away at cost.

Remember -
"If you ask me to name the proudest distinction of Americans, I would choose—because it contains all the others—the fact that they were the people who created the phrase 'to make money.' No other language or nation had ever used these words before; men had always thought of wealth as a static quantity—to be seized, begged, inherited, shared, looted of obtained as a favor. Americans were the first to understand that wealth has to be created. The words 'to make money' hold the essence of human morality.

"Yet these were the words for which Americans were denounced by the rotted cultures of the looters' continents. Now the looters' credo has brought you to regard your proudest achievements as a hallmark of shame, your prosperity as guilt, your greatest men, the industrialists, as blackguards, and your magnificent factories as the product and property of muscular labor, the labor of whip-driven slaves, like the pyramids of Egypt. The rotter who simpers that he sees no difference between the power of the dollar and the power of the whip, ought to learn the difference on his own hide— as, I think, he will.
Atlas Shrugged

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