The fact that more people die from FDA-approved drugs than illegal drugs should be enough of a reason to send the FDA into the dustbin of history with the Soviet Politburo. This week's EpiPen pricing scandal adds fuel to the fire as the FDA has barred and made it virtually impossible to compete with Mylan's product. It's time to abolish the crony FDA and breathe some new life into America. Ron Paul's Myth-Busters makes the case.
By Chris Rossini
Today marks 100 years of the U.S. National Park Service. In other words it's long past the time to get rid of another bad idea: the belief that government should block off large tracts of land because they think that land is important. How do they know what the best use of the land should be? Answer: They don't.
Preserving and conserving nature should be done by private property owners. It should never be done arbitrarily and through government force. Let's say a private property owner has acres that have a superabundance of beautiful trees. Should those trees be used for firewood, to manufacture paper, to build homes, or are they most desired as a tourist attraction?
Private property, market prices and consumer desires act as a guide to answer that question.
Government does not have market signals to guide them. It's all politics. In fact, government land has been used by the mega-rich as a way to shelter themselves from the hoi polloi.
Gary North has describes how it has worked:
The national parks are not America's greatest idea. They are the super-rich's greatest idea . . . for themselves.
You see, when you don't have private property and market signals to guide you, there's no other choice but to make arbitrary political decisions. We all know that the mega-rich have monopolized that game and that's not going to change. Politicians respond to cash, and the mega-rich have the cash.
Those without the cash run the risk of the feds stealing their land via eminent domain. They've surely done that over the years while creating their "National Parks".
The only way these arbitrary power plays can change is by getting rid of the political scenarios. The lands should be privatized so that they can be put to the best and most urgently desired uses.
But what about all those family vacations? How dare anyone suggest taking that away from middle class Americans? Well, if there's one thing we know about the market, it's that if demand (for anything) is great enough you can bet your last ounce of gold that entrepreneurs will rush to satisfy that demand. Vacationing and tourism are huge industries. They're not going away.
Entrepreneurs will also take much better care of the land since it will be their own property. Governments, as we've seen over the ages, are the biggest polluters on the planet. The U.S. government itself ranks as one of the top polluters on Earth. If government owns something, it's the same as saying "no one specifically owns it." And if no one specifically owns it, no one has any incentive to take care of it.
But don't "The People" own the national parks?
Well, if you believe that, perhaps you should give the government a call and (assuming you get through) you can tell them, "Yes, Hi. I'm an American citizen and I'd like to sell my portion of The Yellowstone National Park. Who should I speak to about selling my share? And what exactly is my share? Can you give me the coordinates on a map? I no longer wish to be an owner of Yellowstone."
See if you're able to say the whole thing without being hung up on.
"The People" don't own anything because there is no such thing as "The People". It's an abstraction, and a very powerful one for politicians to use.
With private property, you can be sure that the owners won't look to punish you out of spite either. For example, when government "shuts down" or goes through its "sequestration" charade, it doesn't cut (or even threaten to cut) its trillion dollar wars that ruin the world. No, they instead threaten to shut down the national parks and monuments that government has built in honor of itself.
Entrepreneurs will always want your business, and will want you to frequent their lands as much as possible.
Many Americans know that socialism is a complete disaster. It's evident even today in countries like Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea. It's evident here at home with government's horrendous schools, pot-hole laden roads, and health care (which they're close to controlling completely).
Meanwhile, private property and voluntary exchange provide us with comforts, conveniences, and services than can't be listed on this page due to sheer volume.
100 years of the National Park Service is enough.
Get government out of land monopolization.
Secretary of State John Kerry was in Africa recently, promising US aid to help get "clean" elections, spreading foreign aid to help fight Boko Haram (which got a big boost from the Libya intervention), and pushing for UN troops in South Sudan (a disastrous country midwifed by US intervention a few years ago).
Today the Turkish military together with the US invaded a section of northern Syria. Billed as an anti-ISIS operation, it is more about establishing long-wished-for "no-fly" zones in Syria. Major escalation. How will Russia respond?
By Jonathan Newman
There’s a new bout of outrage over an expensive medicine or medical treatment. While the good in question changes each time, the blame always seems to fall on greedy corporations who just aren’t regulated enough. Free markets and capitalism are the scapegoat, even when nothing remotely resembling unhampered markets in health care is in place in the United States.
This time, it’s the EpiPen, a device that easily and safely injects epinephrine to quickly open up airways for people undergoing severe anaphylaxis because of an extreme allergy. It has saved the lives of countless people who are allergic to bee stings, certain foods, or other drugs because it can be administered on the spot by somebody without any medical training.
EpiPen is sold by Mylan, and the price for a pack of two has increased from about $100 in 2007 to over $600 as of May 2016. Mylan has tried to quell the storm by pointing out that many of their customers pay nothing for the drug because of insurance. Their deflection has been unsuccessful.
The economist looks for competitors in cases like this. A firm cannot just willy-nilly raise their prices without a competing firm leaping in to give consumers what they want at a lower price. As it turns out, Mylan has a great friend who keeps would-be competitors out of the market, or at least makes it so difficult for them that they eventually go out of business. That friend is the FDA.
With the FDA, patents, and cozy insurance relationships, Mylan has been able to steadily increase the price of EpiPens without significant market repercussions. Though, the current backlash may push many patients and doctors to look for alternatives. The only problem is that alternatives are few and far between because of government interventions.
Epinephrine is extremely cheap—just a few cents per dose. The complications come from producing the easy auto-injecting devices. Mylan “owns” their auto-injector device design, so competitors must find work-arounds in their devices to deliver the epinephrine into the patient’s body. This task, coupled with the tangled mess of FDA red tape, has proven to be difficult for would-be EpiPen competitors. It’s like expecting somebody to come up with a new way to play baseball without bases, balls, gloves, or bats, but still getting the game approved by the MLB as a baseball game substitute.
A French pharmaceutical company offered an electronic device that actually talks people through the steps of administering the drug, but it was recalled because of concerns about it delivering the required dose. Just this year, Teva Pharmaceutical’s attempt at bringing a generic epinephrine injector to market in the US was blocked by the FDA. Adrenaclick and Twinject were unable to get insurance companies on board and so discontinued their injectors in 2012.
Adrenaclick has since come back, but it is still not covered by many insurance plans, and the FDA has made it illegal for pharmacies to substitute Adrenaclick as a generic alternative to EpiPen. Another company tried to sidestep the whole auto-injector patent barrier by offering prefilled syringes, but the FDA has stalled them, too.
Mylan has been repeatedly protected from competition, and it has repeatedly (and predictably) increased the price of EpiPens in response. Allowing all of these companies to compete in producing epinephrine auto-injectors would be the best course for all of the many patients who want a cheaper solution for severe allergic reactions.
One thing is for sure: capitalism is not to blame. Government regulations have choked this market and many others. What we need is a big dose of freedom.
This article was originally published at The Mises Institute.
By Chris Rossini
Every day we hear complaints about "money in politics" and how the American government is corrupt to the core. It's very true, but the proper solutions are nowhere to be found in mainstream America. If government strictly operated to punish the aggressive use of force and fraudulent activity, there would be very little incentive to bribe politicians. However, when government is viewed as an avenue to get something for nothing and to get special economic privileges, the floodgates must open in order to buy political influence. Under such a system, those with the deepest pockets must win.
Sadly, it has been accepted in America that government should intrude into every aspect of our lives. Politicians, of course, love the idea. Control freaks love to control. The more control they're given, the more money must flow into their pockets to dictate which way to tilt the tables.
No one likes to have government force used against themselves. Let the other guy suffer. So money acts as a form of protection. "Leave me alone Mr. Politician, and here's enough money to buy your family a new yacht."
Can a person with modest means offer politicians the same deal? Of course not! A person with modest means has nothing to offer the politician.
Not only is money used as protection, but it's also used to gain special legal privileges. The more powerful and intrusive the government, the more privileges it's able to bestow. Who do you think gets those privileges? The guy with moths flying out of his wallet? Or the guy that can send the politician's kid to Harvard?
The problem that Americans are having is that they seem to want a big and intrusive government, but they don't want the government to do the rich guy's bidding.
You can't have your government cake and eat it too.
If you really want "money out of politics" you must advocate a government that has about 99% less power than it has today. Billionaires would have no use for a government that only protects liberty and enforces laws against aggressive force and fraud. There would be nothing to bribe!
Ron Paul is a living example. While in Congress, lobbyists would walk right past his office. There was nothing to bribe and they knew it.
Americans have a hard time accepting this very simple concept. There has to be something other than liberty, right? This is America. You can't have liberty here of all places.
What if politicians banned "money in politics"?
Sorry, no good.
First of all, that's asking politicians to get rid of their gravy train. Good luck with that one.
Second, there are an infinite number of workarounds that would spring forward for the bribers. For example, a billionaire could say: "Ok Mr. Politician, I can't transfer cash directly to you, but do this thing for me and I'll make you CEO of XYZ Corp when your congressional term comes to an end. Annual salary is $300,000. How does that sound?"
The number of ways to bribe politicians is limited by human creativity, and human creativity is limitless. Banning "money in politics" would accomplish nothing.
The more powerful the politicians, the more the incentive to bribe them.
Remove their powers.
Doubleheader today -- what to make of the off-again, on-again Russian use of an Iranian base to bomb ISIS in Syria and Ron Paul's reaction to reports that the Federal Reserve is drawing up plans for another $4 trillion injection of cash via quantitative easing.
By Chris Rossini
If only government were filled with the "right" people, or "the best" people, we wouldn't have the problems that we have today. You've heard that line, haven't you?
Far too many people cling to such a false hope, even after a solid century of the U.S. government leading us through its long downward spiral. There have been many elections over the last century that could have installed "the best" people. Why doesn't it ever happen? Would it even matter if it did?
Well, it doesn't happen because the strong tendency of people wanting something for nothing doesn't go away. And it wouldn't matter because the nature of government necessarily turns "the best" people into "the worst" while they're in office.
Take Thomas Jefferson as a great example: he was a giant figure while outside of government, yet a disaster as president. With political power at his disposal, he acted as a different man than the one who penned the Declaration of Independence.
Jefferson most likely knew it too. On his headstone, he had the following engraved: "Author of The Declaration of Independence of The Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom and Father of The University of Virginia."
Notice no mention of being the third President of The United States. Power corrupts even "the best" people.
With very few exceptions, "the best" people do not go into government for this reason. They are instead working hard in the real world solving real problems. Their focus is on voluntary service and creating wealth, not wielding force.
Since government holds a monopoly on force, the tendency will be to attract all the misfits of society that have a desire to wield it.
Government is a playground for narcissists who seek undeserved praise from individuals & corporations that are looking for the easy way in life.
Welfare recipients and corporate cronies want handouts and special privileges. Providing value and serving a customer requires tremendous effort and care. Why worry about customers when you can just grease a greedy politician's palms? Politicians love to feel loved. Why not make a buck while they're at it?
"The best" people are not interested in hollow praise or corruption. They're very often humble and interested in actually doing something of value. Their work gets put on a pedestal, not their petty egos.
A government filled with "the best" people is a complete illusion. Like attracts like in this world. Birds of a feather really do flock together. Government, by its very nature, attracts muggers who have higher aspirations than just the street corner. Imagine the ability to mug 300+ million Americans. Some people actually get a charge out of the idea. They go into government in order to make that fantasy a reality.
Let's pretend (and you really do have to pretend) that the government was filled with "the best" people. Well, even if an individual makes billions and billions of dollars in the marketplace, they're effectively neutered when they step foot in those government corridors. The incentives are completely different than they are in the marketplace.
In the marketplace, customers voluntarily hand over their money for a good or service. But with government, taxes are taken from everyone by force. In the marketplace, customers are welcomed and "customer service" is provided. There's an incentive to treat people kindly, lest they go down the street to a competitor.
Does that mean that everyone in the marketplace is perfect at providing customer service? Of course not! But the incentives are there. Those who are sloppy and who don't take care of their patrons soon find that the patrons stop dealing with them.
With government, taxpayers are considered a nuisance. There's no choice in paying a tax, so there's no incentive for government to care.
There surely is no such thing as "taxpayer service." Quite the opposite. Whenever you have to deal with government (in any capacity) you want to get out of there as fast as you can! There are no incentives for government to do a good job, to treat people with respect, or to even fix a problem.
Government is not subject to market conditions. There are no profits and losses to guide their decisions. In the marketplace, if people don't buy, monetary losses accrue and resources are shifted into areas where people do buy. Products are discontinued. Businesses close down. New products are introduced and new start-ups arise.
Government just piles waste upon previously accumulated waste. Politicians always promise to cut this or that (because it gets a lot of votes) but it never happens. Power never shrinks itself voluntarily. It always seeks to expand its scope.
So it's time to let go of the idea that "if only the best people were in government, we'd all be fine".
It's not going to happen, and even if it did, those "best people" would necessarily morph into "the worst".
Faced with the prospect that its proxy armies in Syria will never be able to overthrow the government and rule the country, the US seems to be shifting toward more direct confrontation with the Syrian government and the Russians. Are they going for broke? Also, should we worry about the six or so trillion dollars the Pentagon cannot account for?
By Ron Paul
Is Crimea about to explode? The mainstream media reports that Russia has amassed troops on the border with Ukraine and may be spoiling for a fight. The Russians claim to have stopped a Ukrainian sabotage team that snuck into Crimea to attack key infrastructure. The Russian military is holding exercises in Crimea and Russian President Vladimir Putin made a visit to the peninsula at the end of the week.
The Ukrainians have complained to their western supporters that a full-scale Russian invasion is coming, and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he may have to rule by martial law due to the Russian threat.
Though the US media pins the blame exclusively on Russia for these tensions, in reality there is plenty of blame to go around. We do know that the US government has been involved with “regime change” in Ukraine repeatedly since the break up of the Soviet Union. The US was deeply involved with the “Orange Revolution” that overthrew elected president Viktor Yanukovych in 2005. And we know that the US government was heavily involved in another coup that overthrew the same elected Yanukovych again in 2014.
How do we know that the US was behind the 2014 coup? For one, we have the intercepted telephone call between US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt. In the recording, the two US officials are plotting to remove the elected government and discussing which US puppet they will put in place.
You would think such undiplomatic behavior could get diplomats fired, but sadly in today’s State Department it can actually get you promoted! Nuland is widely expected to get a big promotion – perhaps to even Secretary of State – in a Hillary Clinton administration, and Geoffrey Pyatt has just moved up to an Ambassadorship in Athens.
Ambassador Pyatt can’t seem to control himself: Just as tensions were peaking between Russia and Ukraine over Crimea this month, he published a series of Tweets urging Ukraine to take back Crimea. Is this how our diplomats overseas should be acting? Should they be promoting actions they know will lead to war?
When the mainstream media discusses Crimea they are all lock-step: that’s the peninsula Putin annexed. Never do they mention that there was a referendum in which the vast majority of the population (who are mostly ethnic Russians) voted to join Russia. The US media never reports on this referendum because it produced results that Washington doesn’t like. How arrogant it must sound to the rest of the world that Washington reserves the right to approve or disapprove elections thousands of miles away – meanwhile we find out from the DNC hacked files that we don’t have a lot of room to criticize elections overseas.
What should we do about Ukraine and Russia? We should stop egging Ukraine on, we should stop subsidizing the government in Kiev, we should stop NATO exercises on the Russian border, we should end sanctions, we should return to diplomacy, we should send the policy of “regime change” to the dustbin of history. The idea that we would be facing the prospect of World War III over which flag flies above a tiny finger of land that most US politicians couldn’t find on a map is utterly ridiculous. When are we going to come to our senses?