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No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

It is the common wisdom today that “Big Pharma” is making massive profits by exploiting both the taxpayers and the consumers of medicine. Think about how odd this animosity is. An industry that has been a major contributor to the incredible health advances of the last thirty years is being demonized. Life expectancy has been extended by ten years and we are angry that the pharmaceutical industry is making a lot of money that we are willingly giving them. They have given us something we wanted for which we willingly give them money and then we get angry that they are extremely profitable.

This is not an uncommon occurrence. In the 1870’s John D Rockefeller made lamp oil so cheap that everyday people could afford, for the first time, to read after sunset. He gave people longer productive days they liked the idea so much they made him the richest man on the planet and yet at the same time he was reviled for being a monopolist even as he lowered the price of kerosene every year.

In the mid eighteen-hundred’s the railroads lowered the cost of transportation by a factor of ten. They made it possible to farm a thousand miles from the city. It is not an exaggeration to say that the railroads made the cities possible. And while they were performing this incredible feat and made a lot of money doing it they were pictured as ripping off their customers, the government and the consumers who benefited so much from their enterprises. The same thing has happened to the auto and steel industries.

People are happy to personally benefit from these advances but as a group they resent the success of others. It is not apparent why this occurs but we can predict that other industries will go through the same contradiction. Apple and Google come to mind. They both changed the world for the better and we will punish them for it.

 

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