If you've been following my attempts to unsubscribe from Bernie Sanders' mailing list, you should know that it was a nail-biting 48 hours as I waited to hear back from his team after my last missive on Thursday. So many thoughts went through my mind: Maybe they were tired of hearing from me; Maybe they weren't interested in what I had to say at all, maybe they had just been pretending all along; Maybe they were busy - we all get busy, right?; Or maybe they were all lying in a ditch somewhere!
So it was with great relief that I opened my inbox this morning to find a message from the folks at TB - a message that appeared to have been crafted especially with me in mind!
My response follows:
Hi Team Bernie,
I have to say, I was a little anxious when I didn’t hear anything from you in over 48 hours (just over 48 hours.) So I was relieved to see your message to me this morning, informing me of Bernie’s plan to take on Big Pharma and its outrageous pricing of prescription drugs.
Of course Bernie’s not taking on Big Pharma at all. If he were doing that he’d be calling for the abolition of the FDA: the agency that makes bringing drugs to market so prohibitively expensive that only the big established companies can manage to do it. Combined with their cozy relationships with the “regulatory” agency, and their ability to patent the medicines they create, this virtually guarantees them a monopoly position in the marketplace. So of course they set whatever prices they want to - they’re not facing any real competition.
And if you think the FDA is necessary to ensure the safety of drugs and medical devices, you might want to think again. It is estimated that FDA restrictions have caused hundreds of thousands of deaths, while at best preventing only a fraction of that number. (http://www.fdareview.org/) Here’s a little something I wrote on the topic, if you’re interested (and you seem to be): http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2014/04/dallas-buyers-club-nails-fda.html
Astronomical prices for prescription drugs - indeed, ridiculous healthcare costs across the board - are the product of government intervention in the marketplace. But rather than look to the source of the problem, you’re just reacting to its effects with the only tool you seem to have at your disposal: even more intervention in the marketplace.
You speak of forcing drug companies to disclose more information about their pricing, “banning” the practice of paying competitors to restrict generic drugs from the marketplace and imposing “severe penalties” on drug companies. All of this involves more government force, and none of it addresses the source of the problem - which of course IS government force.
You even advocate a national health care system that “puts people ahead of profits”. Maybe you didn’t read the article I sent earlier (no worries - I know you're busy) where I explained the role of profits in getting markets to produce what people actually want and at prices they can afford. Removing products from markets means removing peoples’ voices from determining what gets produced and how. I kind of thought we all learned this lesson back in the 20th Century but I guess not. Maybe I could have some of my friends who live in countries with nationalized health care write to you about how they can’t even get treatments that are readily available here (you know, for the little things like cancer, ongoing seizures, or getting an autism diagnosis before the age of five). It’s all “free” though and I guess that’s what matters.
It occurs to me that your hearts are in the right place, but you’re just not thinking very clearly. You’re reacting to situations without taking the time to understand how they came to be. At the risk of overstepping the boundaries in our relationship, I’d like to recommend something for all of you: meditation. It just might help you to think more clearly, to look deeper into the roots of problems and maybe to come up with some more thoughtful solutions - more peaceful ones too. I’m even going to recommend an app for you all to make it all a little easier. It’s called Headspace, and you can sign up for free here: https://www.headspace.com/
Again, I hope I haven’t been presumptuous here. I am enjoying our little dialogue and look forward to our continued correspondence.
Please do unsubscribe me from your list.