19
Feb
08

Dems Cracking Down on Pharmaceutical Companies – Commentary on Republican Aiding of Big Corporations

While this just might be political payback – after all, Edwards kept accusing Obama and Clinton of taking contributions from big drug companies – but, either way, Democrats in Congress have launched investigations into pharmaceutical corporation’s behaviors regarding Medicare, television advertising and the drug approval process. I for one, am thrilled. The pharmaceutical companies committed many transgressions under the approval of the Republican Congress.

Political philosophy has long held the belief that a vote for a Democrat means a vote for bigger, more powerful government. And this may be true (though not under Bush, who has expanded governmental powers above and beyond what any democrat could have ever gotten away with). The philosophy that a vote for a Republican will result in smaller government. Hmmm. That might be so, but instead of the powerful government you get with Democrats, you get powerful corporations with Republicans. And that is not good for the everyday American.

The pharmaceutical industry is simply one example of the havoc unregulated companies and industries can wreak on Joe Schmo. Just this past Sunday, 60 Minutes offered a report on the deaths caused by Bayer’s Trasylol each month due to the FDA’s unwilling to pull the drug that is 200 times more expensive than other drugs that are just as effective and don’t lead to renal failure and death.

Drug companies have armies of lobbyists who push the approval of drugs onto the public without effective clinical trials, who push for the approval of the use of adult cold medicines and antibiotics for children with no testing on children, who lobby doctors incessantly to prescribe chemicals for people for the slightest ailment and questionable diagnosis. Has anyone ever considered depression to be a developed-world condition and perhaps a visit to Sierra Leone or a labor camp in China or regular exercise might help to alleviate the symptoms rather than a myriad of tablets and pills? Just wondering…

Furthermore, and this is a comment on the free-market ideals of all the Ron Paulies out there, pharmaceutical companies control the patents on their drugs for years and can assign any cost they choose to life-saving medication. Customers simply cannot wander over to another drug company if they are unhappy with the services provided by the makers of Drug X.

Corporations collude, they merge, they control prices when unregulated. The free-market ideals introduced by Adam Smith and others that came during the Industrial Age in their purity do not apply in today’s setting. Pure theories, such as Communism, Capitalism and Socialism fail when taking into account the human psyche and cognitive dissonance. A balance must be struck. And the Republicans certainly are not willing to attempt such an endeavor. And so, we have unregulated industries.

The oil industry, with its record profits soaring – along with the prices of consumer goods; the airline industry, with its delays, overcrowding, and mass consumer disapproval; out-of-control lenders with their adjustable-rate-mortgages preying on subprime borrowers; dangerous toys from China making their way to kids’ mouths; CEOs with bonuses in the tens of millions while bottom-level employees can’t afford healthcare; monolithic corporate mergers; insurance companies that won’t pay their customers’ claims; the list goes on an on.

Personally, I’d rather a vote for bigger government. With a vote, I still have the power over who has the power. With a corporatocracy, I have no control over board-room deals that dictate my expenditures and consumer choices.

I do not prefer the idea of government regulation of our life, such as media censorship, but I choose react to the political reality of today, rather than the political ideal of what is supposed to be. The result of a Republican vote no longer means limited government, if it ever did. Republicans limit government when it comes to corporate behavior, not citizen behavior.

If it were up to Republicans, government would have greater control over what we do and don’t teach our kids in schools (creationism, abstinence) with very detrimental consequences. If it were up to Republicans, the government would control our decision to have an abortion. If it were up to Republicans, we would be much more concerned with NFL coaches destroying tapes of opposing teams’ play signals than the destroying of the CIA tapes and much more concerned with a boob shown during the Superbowl than genocide in Darfur. If it were up to Republicans, the concentration of executive powers acquired under Bush would remain, thwarting the effort of checks and balances intended by the founding fathers. If it were up to Republicans, government would launch a massive effort to criminalize undocumented workers in this country, going against the very foundations of our country’s greatness. Small government? Whatever!

We have a reality that must be recognized. Political party philosophies no longer apply to political party behavior. It is a shame we do not have a greater choice in the political parties to whom we may assign our votes. Given the two we got, however, I’m going with the Democrat. Because, in reality, with the Democrats, I stand a much better chance at determining the situations which affect my life rather than ceding them to Republican power whores and their corporate pimps.

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