Monday, September 8, 2008

The economy, more Lipstick on a pig

One thing I have never understood is how giving relief to corporations translates into relief for the middle class without regulation from the government. This is a belief usually toted by the right and supported by Senator McCain

One concept I don't understand is why people feel giving corporations tax breaks and benefits will stimulate the economy. This is nothing new that McCain is pushing. It was called "Reaganomics" by Reagan and "Trickle Down Economics" by Bush senior, Bush Junior would have called his tax policy something trendy had he been clever enough. But anyway the basic premise is this: You give big companies more money they will in turn create more jobs and the economy will grow. Now each administration of the three examples that I just mentioned: Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II all had recessions during their terms. Why is that? If easing the load on the top was better for society shouldn't each of these administrations have been the most profitable periods in history?

The answer is simple trickle down economics as a theory maybe sound, but so is communism as a theory. The problem is it is never implemented in its theoretical form.

To put it simple for those of us who have siblings lets say mommy gave oldest brother $100 and said give your younger brothers some without saying how much you had to give them what would happen? In theory you would split your good fortune equally, but in reality what would probably happen, if you didn't pocket the whole thing, is that you would give your sibling the smallest amount you could without them telling mommy. Now if they never knew you got any money they would be happy for whatever you gave them.

Same thing happens when you give industry breaks with the expectations it will improve society. Companies get to increase their profits, the shareholders get more profits and what do we get? We get to watch companies and shareholders increase their profits. Companies have already figured out in times of economic hardships they can increase productivity with out increasing work force (i.e production cost) by just making you work harder. They know when times are rough people are too scared of losing their jobs to complain. What's more is they don't have time to complain thanks to the extra work they have to do. Jobs still get shifted over seas because they can. Why would they reduce their profits by paying you minimal wage when they can go where there is no such thing? More money in big brother's pocket (and you thought big brother was the government.)

Now on the other hand if you strengthen the middle class you create more consumers, thereby increasing demand for products and services which in turns increases the need for companies to expand to meet this demand by creating jobs. Simple huh, makes common sense to me.

I started writing this post obviously before the big news of the markets crashing. Now McCain is all for governmental regulation of the market. I wonder if I would have never published this at all would he have changed his mind on Top down economics

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Why school vouchers wont work

The following is my response to a debate that me and a friend have been having on school vouchers he states states he is the product of public schools and goes on to say:

"I believe make efforts to educate our children. I also however believe that there are students that are comfortable with the current enviroment and don't have a desire to gain more than athletic and social interaction within school."

My reply:

Well, I too am the product of public education. One thing I would like to point out is you cant make the assumption that kids who dont take advantage of voucher arent "academiclly" focused as those who do. The problem is a lack of education. It is not a simple matter of lack of motivation.This is one fundamental problem I have with the right. Its the assumption that people dont succeed because they dont wont too. Trust me nobody who knows better wants to be ignorant. That is the definition of ignorance "the persitant lack of knowledge" People arent ghetto, hood, redneck white trash or whatever derogatory label that they might even assciate themselves with, because they like it. They are that way because they dont know any better. If you give a person a pig intestines their whole life they will love the taste and will teach their children to love its taste as well. And this would be acceptable unless by some chance they get to taste steak, then they would know there was something better. I know it seems as though I digress, but the point I am trying to make is that it is an incumbent responsibility of those of us who have made it to teach people who have fallen in love with the taste of chitlin that they too can have a steak dinner. And how can we do that if we take money from public school systems and from afterschool programs and the arts in poor so called "under performing schools".

We cant solve a problem of the masses by giving opportunities to the few. Parent should have the rights to have their child educated. But they shouldnt have to bus their child cross city. Every school in America should be a good performing school. That is the only was the country can remain competive globally with foreign countries who consitently out perform us in education. Makes sense to me

Drug Wars (legal ones)

There has been a debate going on in the country for the last couple of decades about the relationship between doctors and the pharmaceutic industry.

My problem isnt that pharm companies "exert to much control" over my prescribing habits (by the way I am a psychiatrist.) It's that the common thought is I dont know how to handle commercials.

The argument has been made that drug reps should be limited in their exposure to doctors because of the amount of influence they exert over the prescribing habits of doctors. This has been supported by many studies in the medical literature for a couple of decades. And while statistically this is true I have yet to be impressed by any debate as to why this is a problem.

It is true that drug companies expend a large amount of money in marketing drugs, and they would not be doing this if this didnt work--a given. But this is a capitalistic society so how else are drugs to be brought to market?

Let me simplify. Now lets suppose Toyota came out with a new car next year, and lets supposed it had a new feature that allowed it to miraculously sense when drivers were sleep at the wheel and automatically pull over. Now this sounds like something that could potentially save lives and property. Now lets say that Toyota never made a commercial for this car. Further more lets say the makers of this new feature couldn't even tell other car makers they had invented this life saving feature. Could you picture this spectacular new car with this wonderful new feature sitting on a lot with no one aware of its existence. Would sound kinda silly wouldn't it? How would we tell people about this amazing discovery? Oh yeah commercials.

The medicine industry is an industry, and just like every other industry in a capitalistic society the bottom line is profit driven. And while I am no big fan of pure capitalism managed health and pharmaceutics operate more on these principles without much regulation. While I do believe there should be some governmental regulation of these two jauggernaut industries, I dont believe we will see that change anytime soon given the sheer amount of money they can throw around Washington

As a blog I read from The Last Psychiatrist explains. The pharmecuetics industry and the field of medicine are inextricably linked. Aside from giving out pens and note pads, drug companies sponsor education conferences for doctors, buy text books for residents, and give lectures on new drugs. If they go who is going to fill the void? Academia?They get most of their funding from the government. Is the government going to pick up the tab? Expecting the government to do the research, and teach the doctors about the drugs is a big leap of faith. Our government wont even spend money to educate the masses in the public educational system do you really think they are going to spend money to educate the so-called educated?

If we are going to talk ideals, let's assume the government was willing to impose regulations on these companies. With all the money it would take to lobby politicians do you really want to waste your fifteen minutes with a senator griping about a $0.25 ink pen or $15 lunch a doctor got to hear a talk about something that could potentially save your life? Or we should lobby decreasing restrictions on patent laws to get cheaper drugs to market quicker and increasing stringency on generics to make sure they are up to par with trade brands. If you could only hold patents but so long and generics were better this whole debate would be moot. If all medicines cost the same and worked just as well then it would decrease the motivation to create new ones that did the samething as the old ones.

Now we are in this debate in the first place because in the past there were serious abuses of this relationship between pharm and physicians. Paying docs to enroll patients in studies, kick backs for prescribing etc. But now we have over corrected the problem by saying NO commercials. Seriously a pen is not a roundtrip ticket to Hawaii. A dinner talk on HOW THE DRUG WORKS is not a payment for prescribing it. We need to focus on the real problems between the pharmecuetics industry in the practice of medicine. We should focus less on "Did my doctor give me this medicine because he got a ink pen" and more on "Why doesnt my medicine cost the same as this pen"

Makes common sense to me

I have to give a shout out to The Last Psychiatrist. check it out, i put some of this post all throughout that blog.(in my comments, I'm no thief)