Thursday, December 31, 2015
Tuesday, December 29, 2015
The december 2015 Paris agreement by nearly 200 countries to “fight climate change” launched, in theory, a major War on Fossil Fuels, the world’s largest and best energy source. You’d think that there must be some incredibly important, life or death reason to restrict the use of and ultimately outlaw the energy that supports the well-being of seven billion people.
But you’d be wrong. The attack on coal, oil, and natural gas is real, but the rationalization is hollow. The rhetoric of the champions of the Paris agreement proves it. Here are the comments I posted to a New Jersey Star-Ledger editorial that gushes, The battle turns in global climate war:
You know you’re dealing with a fearful idiologue when you encounter statements like those that permeate this editorial.
For example; “The science is no longer debated by serious nations.” Statements like this are intended not to inform but to confuse and stymie. First of all, nations don’t debate. People do. And exactly what science are we talking about? That climate changes? So what? It always does. That humans may be contributing? So what? The change has been mild, and includes natural causes, too. And consider the human benefits of that contribution, compared with life before fossil fuels. Or are we talking about catastrophic anthropogenic climate change caused by fossil fuels, of which there is little agreement outside of certain Leftist political circles, and no empirical evidence?
How does one answer a statement like “this accord will go down as a breakthrough, one that will be reinforced as climate change continues its undeniable march?” Who ever denied climate change? Climate Change ideology is like a religion, with “Climate Change” replacing God. The Climate Catastrophists see catastrophic climate change in every weather extreme the way religionists claim to see God in their surroundings as whim dictates. What’s the difference between “I . . . believe, when I hike the Grand Canyon and see it at sunset, that the hand of God is there also,” as John McCain once said, and “I believe, when I think of Superstorm Sandy, that climate change is at work?” The Climate Catastrophists can always point to any flood, drought, hurricane, blizzard, heat wave, cold wave, a rising sea level somewhere—you name it—as “evidence” of the undeniable march of climate change. This is just irrational subjectivism no different from saying that the aids epidemic is “evidence” of God’s wrath against homosexuality.
“[T]he science more sturdy than ever?” Sturdy, in what way? That models projecting catastrophe continue to be spectacularly wrong, even as increased use of fossil fuels correlates with more people rising from poverty? “[T]he scientific consensus?” You mean the 97% that climate is changing and that humans may be contributing to it, or the 0.5% “consensus” that catastrophe is coming and humans are to blame? Science should not be treated as an unchallengeable authority to be blindly obeyed, like God. Rather, it should be treated as a source of information and insight to aid in forming one’s own rational independent conclusions. Those who treat science as a god are intending to deceive.
“Debating” a climate ideologue is like “debating” a religious person’s belief in God: There’s no debate. How can you debunk someone’s assertion that Sandy, or any natural extreme that’s always plagued man, is evidence of climate change, when no evidence was even presented that it is? You can’t, because you’re dealing with feelings, not facts. Shutting off debate: That’s the intent of this editorial. The terminology is dishonest, and only serves to convince me further that the skeptics have a case and the climate catastrophists have something to hide.
The Paris agreement represents an intensification of the War on Fossil Fuels. It is an energy poverty plan for any nation that takes it seriously, because it seeks to strangle and ultimately outlaw the world’s most economical and reliable energy source despite the fact of there being no viable replacement (other than nuclear for electricity generation, which is also taboo to consistent environmentalists). A hope and a prayer for technological miracles is not a replacement. A man-made energy privation catastrophe, not a climate catastrophe, is the real threat to so-called “public health.” Let’s hope that rational people, Republican or otherwise, do get elected and unravel not only the Paris agreement but Obama’s sacrificial climate legacy policies. America the “global delinquent?” Bring it on. America has been a delinquent since the Revolution—and the world is a freer, more prosperous, and monumentally better place because of it.
The Star-Ledger, at least, managed to exhibit a bit of common sense, which is more than you can say for fossil’s more committed enemies:
But the battles that lay ahead are daunting. To reach even the more modest goals spelled out in Paris, industrial emissions of greenhouse gases would have to end by 2050. That's impossible without major scientific breakthroughs.
The political challenges will be just as daunting. This accord punted the question of how poor nations can cope with this threat. And while China and India are aboard today, it's not certain their commitment will last, given the vast poverty in both nations.
My emphasis. The Star-Ledger acknowledges that fossil fuels are vital at lifting people from poverty to prosperity, and that “green, clean,” energy is far from being in a position, based on current technology, of carrying the load in terms of reliability and affordability. The drawbacks of solar and wind, the leading “green” candidates, are huge. To say that “major scientific breakthroughs” are required to overcome the economic, diluteness, and intermittency problems that will allow solar and wind to become anything more than a supplement to fossil, nuclear, and hydro power could be an understatement.
In the end, our future well-being hinges, inversely, on the success or failure of the climate accord. The success or failure of the accord hinges on which moral standard wins out in the hearts and minds of the people; unaltered nature (naturalism) or man’s life (humanism).
The Energy Liberation Plan—Alex Epstein
What They Haven’t Told You About Climate Change—Patrick Moore
Sunday, December 27, 2015
Is Donald Trump’s controversial new policy announcement to ban all Muslims from entering the United States until ironclad screening processes can be implemented by our government a good idea?
The New Jersey Star-Ledger doesn’t think so. And neither does just about anybody else. Trump's open bigotry is a challenge to mainstream Republicans, said the Star-Ledger in an editorial. The Star-Ledger brushed off Trump as a bigot, labeled his rhetoric “hate speech,” and basically viewed Trump’s popularity as evidence of something fundamentally wrong with the Republican Party.
There’s also something wrong with the Left, though. From President Obama on down, the Left seems more outraged by real or imagined prejudice against Muslims than the murderous Islamist Jihadists themselves. Perhaps it’s because of the Left’s blind spot blocking its realization that we are at war with an Islamic enemy.
The Star-Ledger does have a point, though:
The mistreatment of Muslims is, in fact, a national security threat. It plays right into the hands of the Islamic State, whose leaders openly admit their goal is to make Muslims in the West feel isolated and turn against their own communities.
I left these comments, edited for clarity:
The covert smearing of the entire Republican Party is just as bigoted as Trump’s call to ban Muslims—only less honest. That aside, Trump is dangerous. Bigotry has no place in the fight against Islamic Imperialism. It is not just evil. It is practically counterproductive.
We are not at war with Islam. But we cannot ignore the fact that we are at war with a malignant manifestation of Islam that combines faith-based belief with aggressive action; specifically, an ultra-conservative, fundamentalist merger of Islamic religion and political power. In my view, the best way to understand what we are up against is to look back at the Empire of Japan.
Japanese militarism was forged out of a merger of Shintoism and state. Shintoism, the official state religion, was the ideological driving force behind the Japanese government’s hold on the people and thus of Japanese imperialism, spawning such tactics as the Kamikaze—the Japanese equivalent of Jihad suicide bombers—and the banzai charge, the call to die for the Emperor rather than surrender, no matter how hopeless the chance of victory. State Shintoism enabled the Japanese government to orient an entire culture around war and regional hegemony. The Emperor under state Shintoism was held up as God’s representative on Earth.
After the Japanese surrender that ended W.W. II, the allied occupying force of General MacArthur was given these instructions from the State Department:
Shintoism, insofar as it is a religion of individual Japanese, is not to be interfered with. Shintoism, however, insofar as it is directed by the Japanese government, and as a measure enforced from above by the government, is to be done away with. . . . [T]here will be no place for Shintoism in the schools. Shintoism as a state religion—National Shinto, that is—will go . . . Our policy on this goes beyond Shinto . . . The dissemination of Japanese militaristic and ultra-nationalistic ideology in any form will be completely suppressed. [Quoted from “Gifts from Heaven”: The Meaning of the American Victory over Japan, 1945 by John David Lewis for The Objective Standard.]
Our leaders recognized the ideological source of the Imperial Japanese government’s power—state Shintoism—and took steps to make a resurgence of that threat impossible by imposing a separation of Shintoism and state. The emperor was stripped of political authority, and reduced to a figurehead, like the Queen of England.
The lesson: Peaceful Muslims—those who want to observe Islam in private while respecting others’ right to their freedom of conscience—are our allies. Though his ban-all-Muslims policy is bigoted, I don’t believe Trump himself is a bigot. But he is a dangerous fool. The enemy is not private, peaceful Muslims. Since the fight is largely ideological, we need Islamic reformationists—a faction led by leaders such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Muhammad Syed—who are fighting the ideological battle from within Islam. A ban-all-Muslims policy undermines Enlightenment principles and thus those Muslims and ex-Muslims fighting to drag Islam into enlightenment. Fundamentally, the enemy is political Islam. Private Jihadists can be deadly but are not an existential threat to society or civilization. Ex political power, Jihadists are marginal criminal organizations like the Italian or Russian mafias, the drug cartels, etc. Political Islam—i.e., ISIS, Iran, the former Taliban, the Sharia regime in Egypt before it was ousted by the military—is an existential threat. Just think of Imperial Japan. As long as political Islam is tolerated in any form anywhere in the world, the recruiting of private Jihadists will continue and expand, and so will the long-term threat of Islamic Imperialism. Islamic statism is the inspiration for all Jihadists.
Any effort to justify or respect religious control of political institutions is to support Islamic Jihad. In this regard, we in the West must re-examine our worship of “democracy”—the absolutism of the vote. It doesn’t matter if a Sharian caliphate is elected by popular vote. Religious enslavement should never be a voting option. In this regard, Bush 43’s “Forward Strategy for Freedom” was a dismal failure. The right to vote is not freedom. The right to vote is a derivative of freedom. Bush’s strategy didn’t bring freedom. It brought the vote divorced from the principles of individual liberty—and a series of elected Sharia regimes. Many bemoaned the overthrow of the elected Sharia government of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in Egypt. But a Morsi regime is exactly what we should never tolerate, even at the price of a military dictatorship. Egypt’s military regime is not a threat to the West. The Morsi regime, regardless of it’s intentions, was.
We must recognize that political Islam is the enemy, no matter its manifestation. America would never tolerate the imposition of Christian law, no matter how large a voting majority Christians have. If we are to eradicate the Islamic imperialist threat, we must insist with the same moral vigor on the separation of mosque and state everywhere, no matter how large a majority Muslims may have in any given country.
The separation of religion and state is a must, lest we face some future Islamic equivalent of the Empire of Japan, this time armed with modern weaponry. The way we handled Japan should be the model for how we approach the Islamic threat today. We must insist on the strict separation of mosque and state, in the same way as America has the separation of church and state, while simultaneously protecting the right of individual Muslims’ freedom to the peaceful observance of Islam. Our guiding principle in the War against Islamic Jihad should be the First Amendment, which guarantees both freedom of religion and freedom from religion.
I suspect that many, many Muslims are just as horrified as we are. And just as frightened. Or maybe more so. Westernized Muslims are as much ISIS’s enemy as we are. The Star-Ledger is right that “The mistreatment of Muslims [in the West] plays right into the hands of the Islamic State.
We need to encourage peaceful Muslims to speak up within their families and communities, despite their fear. Islamic reformationists need to know they have friends in the West who have their backs. Trump’s solution to the militant Islamist would constitute a major strategic blunder.
The War Between Western Enlightenment and Fundamentalist Political Islam—and the Choice All Muslims Must Make
Thursday, December 24, 2015
Can non-Christians celebrate Christmas? Many do, and why not? I’m an atheist and I have no problem celebrating Christmas, even though it has no religious significance for me.
What’s great about Christmas is that it is both a religious holiday, being based upon the birth of the Christian icon Jesus, and a secular holiday as well. That makes it a holiday for everyone.
How can I say that? I am indebted to philosopher Ayn Rand for resolving that seemingly contradictory proposition. In answer to the question of whether it is appropriate for an atheist to celebrate Christmas, Rand observed:
Yes, of course. A national holiday, in this country, cannot have an exclusively religious meaning. The secular meaning of the Christmas holiday is wider than the tenets of any particular religion: it is good will toward men—a frame of mind which is not the exclusive property… of the Christian religion.
This makes perfect sense. A national religious holiday in a secular nation founded on the principle of separation of church and state (religious/conscientious freedom) is a logical impossibility. Since to have a secular government means to have one that is neutral with regards to the fundamental beliefs of all of its citizens, an American national holiday by definition cannot be religious. As the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."
In fact, what we today call Christmas originally didn't have any connection to Jesus at all, writes Onkar Ghate in U.S.News & World Report:
Before Christians co-opted the holiday in the fourth century (there is no reason to believe Jesus was born in December), it was a pagan celebration of the winter solstice, of the days beginning to grow longer. The Northern European tradition of bringing evergreens indoors, for instance, was a reminder that life and production were soon to return to the now frozen earth.
The Romans celebrated the Winter Solstice with the holiday Saturnalia. In Northern Europe, the holiday was called Yule.
Indeed, as philosopher Leonard Peikoff observes over at Capitalism Magazine, the leading secular Christmas symbol - Santa Claus - actually contradicts some standard Christian tenets:
Santa Claus is a thoroughly American invention. ... In 1822, an American named Clement Clarke Moore wrote a poem about a visit from St. Nick. It was Moore (and a few other New Yorkers) who invented St. Nick's physical appearance and personality, came up with the idea that Santa travels on Christmas Eve in a sleigh pulled by reindeer, comes down the chimney, stuffs toys in the kids' stockings, then goes back to the North Pole.
...Santa implicitly rejected the whole Christian ethics. He did not denounce the rich and demand that they give everything to the poor; on the contrary, he gave gifts to rich and poor children alike. Nor is Santa a champion of Christian mercy or unconditional love. On the contrary, he is for justice -- Santa gives only to good children, not to bad ones.
When Congress declared Christmas a National Holiday, Christmas ceased being a religious observance and became a secular holiday. So, regardless of your beliefs, go ahead and enjoy Christmas on your own terms.
On that note, let me extend to everyone a hearty wish for a joyous, safe, and thoroughly non-contradictory…
How the Welfare State Stole Christmas, by Yaron Brook and Don Watkins
Was Jesus Really Born on Dec. 25?, by Andrew Santella.
Why Christmas Should be More Commercial—Leonard Peikoff
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
It’s becoming an annual ritual. Some Christian plants a Christmas display on government property. Some atheist or agnostic threatens to sue under the First Amendment’s “Establishment Clause.” The display is taken down amidst a flurry of charges by Christian political activists of a “War on Christmas.”
The New Jersey Star-Ledger ridiculed this War on Christmas idea. In Yes, New Jersey, there's no war on Christmas, the paper wrote:
It happens every year. The mall Santas, the Christmas trees and the nativity scenes come out, then one atheist complains, or one public official decides to make a point, and we have an outpouring of paranoia that there is a War on Christmas.
No — a war on Christ himself.
We're already seeing outbreaks of aggression from the dark, evil cabal of Merry-Christmas-haters right here in New Jersey. They've descended on the good people of Roselle Park and Rutherford, rumor has it, and begun to inch their precious holiday closer and closer to extinction.
There’s another way to look at this issue: The Christmas tree as a secular symbol, like the peace sign, based on the fact that Christmas is an American secular holiday.
In my view, the point that both Christian and Atheist activists miss is that, in America, Christmas long ago ceased being a strictly Christian holiday. On June 28, 1870, President Ulysses S. Grant signed the first federal holiday law. That law established New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day as national holidays. Undoubtedly, the inclusion of Christmas had something to do with the fact that, culturally, America is super-majority Christian.
In America—the land of the First Amendment—Christmas can not be considered a Christian holiday, or even a religious one. Why? America is a secular nation based on the separation of church and state. America has no state religion. The First Amendment reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. . .” This, by definition, makes any national, legally recognized holiday a secular holiday, to be observed and celebrated—or not—according to the personal convictions of each individual. A legally recognized religious holiday in a nation based on religious freedom—which means, more broadly, freedom of conscience—is a fundamental contradiction. To claim otherwise is to repudiate one of America’s foundational principles.
There’s an old saying, “Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.” The minute Christians got Christmas codified into a federal holiday, they lost any right to call Christmas “their” holiday. Christians could, of course, campaign to have Christmas removed from the list of national holidays. But, at this point, why bother? Christmas has become so integral to American culture as to make “Merry Christmas” as much a generic term as “Happy Holidays.”
But this should not offend reasonable Christians. Secular does not mean atheist or agnostic. Secular means strict governmental neutrality regarding matters of individual belief and conscience. Christians are of course free to privately celebrate Christmas according to their own beliefs and principles. Likewise, non-Christians, whether adherents of other religions or no religion, theist, atheist, or agnostic, have the same right to celebrate Christmas in their way. But no one has the right to express their religious beliefs at taxpayer expense.
Christmas is first and foremost an American holiday. A Christmas tree on public property is fine, so long as its decorative ornaments don’t endorse any religious beliefs. What we can all agree on is that Christmas is a season of personal joy and goodwill toward each other. Goodwill is not a monopoly of Christianity. So, let’s just enjoy the holiday, each in our own way.
The question is, why do some Christians keep trying to ram their religion down everyone else’s throats? What don’t these political activists get about the Separation of Church and State? If anything, there’s a War on non-Christians going on.
America Was Not Founded as a Christian Nation
Sunday, December 20, 2015
One of the most obnoxious responses to the San Bernardino massacre, which at this writing appears to be a Jihadist Islam-generated attack, is the Left’s virtually uniform outcry for more gun control laws. After ridiculing Republicans’ calls for prayers for the victims (Terror or not, let's get the assault weapons), the New Jersey Star-Ledger writes:
There's nothing wrong with thoughts and prayers, and people say anything when submerged in the dark of self-loathing. But many of them should pray for forgiveness for doing nothing, or at least re-read James 2:17: "Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."
In other words, prayer should be accompanied by good works – such as removing .223 caliber assault rifles from the streets, because AR-15s become especially troublesome when they are used by "possible" terrorists.
Until then, these platitudes are something you say after being emasculated by NRA money and neutered by political cowardice.
You may note that these are the same people who clutch their pearls as they speak of the dangers they feel from foreign terrorism.
Yet here's the official body count: Before Wednesday, only 24 Americans have been killed by terrorism in the last decade, but more than 280,000 have been killed by guns.
But we don't hear our so-called leaders sounding any alarms about preventing lunatics from shooting up churches, college campuses, elementary schools, movie theaters, and medical facilities. We hear thoughts and prayers.
I left these comments:
Just the fact that the Left can raise the issue of domestic crime and gun control in the context of Islamic terrorism proves that, from President Obama down to the Star-Ledger, the Left simply doesn’t take national security seriously.
America and the West is faced with an imperialist Islamic movement that aims to subjugate the world under totalitarian theocracy by means of a militant merger of political power and religion and based upon an ultra-conservative, fundamentalist understanding of the Quran. This movement has many faces; ISIS, Al Qaeda, Iran and its terrorist proxies, factions in Saudi Arabia, and others. But it is one movement. One force.
Currently, Jihadist Islam is militarily weak. That’s why its main weapon against the West is terrorism. But Jihadist Islam is brimming with confidence, ideologically. It’s confident, faithfully sure in its beliefs, has no doubt about the historic inevitability of ultimate victory, knows what it is doing, and relentlessly carries out its mission. They know exactly what they are doing and why. Jihadist Islam can project its power around the world without aircraft carriers or bombers. Their primary ability to project power is their ideology.
These are not “crazies.” These are not mentally ill loners that gun control laws can stop. Jihadist Islam’s soldiers are not domestic criminals. This is not a criminal law issue. This is a military matter. Only a determined and overwhelming military defeat of not just ISIS but Jihadist imperialist Islam and its state sponsors, in conjunction with an explicit olive branch to reformation-minded Muslims, can end the growing carnage. Short of this, the carnage will grow. A single WMD attack on a major American city will dwarf that meaningless 280,000 domestic gun death statistic.
It’s true that conservatives’ faith and prayer won’t cut it in the fight to prevent future San Bernardinos or stem the increasing domestic security threat from murderous Jihadist Islam. But neither will the Left’s small-minded, quasi-religious belief and hope in gun control. Only reason, courage to face facts, moral certainty, intellectual confidence in the superiority of liberal Western values over primitive, oppressive Islam, and willingness to use our military as necessary can kill the confident momentum and inspiration that feeds recruitment to the Jihadist cause and ultimately defeat the growing threat from imperialist, totalitarian, Jihadist Islam.
Let’s separate domestic crime and civil law from national security, and get serious.
The War Between Western Enlightenment and Fundamentalist Political Islam—and the Choice All Muslims Must Make
Ten Steps to End Jihad Against the West—Craig Biddle for The Objective Standard
Winning the Unwinnable War: America's Self-Crippled Response to Islamic Totalitarianism, by Elan Journo
Friday, December 18, 2015
In 2014, Gilead Sciences, a leading company in the revolutionary medical biotechnology industry, launched Sovaldi. Sovaldi is the first-ever cure for Hepatitis C, a chronic disease that can be debilitating, deadly, and life-long. But the price Gilead set for Sovaldi, though much cheaper long term than standard treatments, are—at $1,000 a pill, or $84,000 for a typical 12-week course, according to BloombergBusiness—controversial. The result: Congress launched an investigation into Gilead’s Sovaldi pricing and marketing strategy. The results were released on December 1, 2015.
The Wyden-Grassley Sovaldi Investigation was not supportive of Gilead, to say the least. Senator Ron Wyden said “Gilead pursued a calculated scheme for pricing and marketing its Hepatitis C drug based on one primary goal, maximizing revenue, regardless of the human consequences.”—reports StreetInsider.com. Ron Wyden is a Democrat, Chuck Grassley a Republican—both members of the Senate Finance Committee. By “human consequences,” the report means “Concern for Access or Affordability.”
This is an accusation that only a moral cannibal would make. Gilead is being demonized for daring to profit from its heroic advance that cures up to 90% of cases of the often tortuous, previously incurable disease, Hepatitis C. These “investigators” are essentially calling for the ancient evil of human sacrifice in expecting Gilead to subordinate its own interests and the interests of its employees and investors to the interests of those who did not create this valuable drug. This, despite the fact that the cost of the drug is far, far less than the previous way of treating Hep-C—interminable, lifelong treatments for a chronic condition often requiring a liver transplant, which is not a cure and itself can cost up to $300,000.
What’s fundamentally behind this congressional attack on what should be hailed as a great and heroic company whose product offers human consequences of tremendous value? As Senator Wyden said, in typical politicians’ short-term thinking:
If Gilead’s approach to pricing is the future of how blockbuster drugs are launched, it will cost billions and billions of dollars to treat just a fraction of patients. America needs cures for cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and HIV. If those cures are unaffordable and out of reach to millions who need them, Congress will not have met its responsibilities to the American people. [Emphasis added.]
Senator Grassley, demonstrating once again that “He who pays the piper calls the tune”—i.e., When government pays, the government will eventually commandeer control—concurs:
“The Finance Committee has tremendous responsibility in overseeing the federal programs paying for prescription drug coverage. With that responsibility, the committee should know how the costs to the public programs and private insurance companies of a single innovative drug entering the market without competition can have major effects on which patients get the new drug and when.
In other words, Gilead, which produced the life-saving drug, must justify its “approach to pricing” to politicians, who produced nothing. Politicians, not the voluntary consent of free individuals, should decide “which patients get the new drug and when.”
What justifies putting non-producers in charge of dictating to producers? This moral inversion is made possible by the morality of altruism. Altruism holds that self-sacrifice for the needs of others is the essence of being moral. Its corollary is that need supersedes justice. All you have to do is need something, and you automatically become the master of those who have achieved the capabilities to satisfy your needs. In effect, need makes you the master, and your benefactors your slaves. Altruism is the anti-morality that essentially embodies the Law of the Jungle—if you need it, you are automatically entitled to it by any means—by hook, crook, or force. The producers become slaves, because of their achievements, and the needy become the producers’ masters, by virtue of the fact that they didn’t achieve.
To an altruist, nothing—not even logic or facts—warrants consideration. Need, and only need, matters, regardless of consequences or victimization forced on the needy’s productive benefactors. One Hep-C sufferer who was told that his insurer would not cover the drug at this stage of his illness, said “Pricing obviously is the problem at the heart of all this. Money seems to be trumping the moral aspects.” What about Gilead’s financial interests? Gilead’s investors? That it takes almost $3 billion in high-risk investment to bring drugs like Sovaldi to market? That without that investment, this man would not even have the hope for, and eventual access to, a cure? Don’t these deserve any moral consideration? Not by altruism’s standards. Morality means self-sacrificially serving the needs of others, and nothing else—not justice, not fairness, not the interests of the benefactors. Altruism does not embody good will. It does not embody justice or fairness. It does not tolerate balanced evaluation. Altruism, properly understood, is evil. Altruism is a cannibalistic, inverted morality whose sole purpose is to enslave virtue and achievement to others’ needs.
Gilead is a hero for developing a drug so valuable that it can cure 90% of a previously lifelong disease, Hepatitis C, in only a few months! Patients win and Gilead wins. True, not everyone has access to Sovaldi or its faster acting, slightly more pricey Harvoni. But these folks aren’t hurt by the fact that others do have access. What they do have is something they didn’t have before—hope. Gilead offers cures and hope at a profit to itself and its investors. Only the slave morality of altruism—the worship of the God of Need—can turn heroes into villains. (Full disclosure: I’m a long-time investor in the biotech industry, including Gilead. I’m proud to be profiting from Biotech’s burgeoning success and its even more burgeoning promise for the future. Profiting by doing good is the ultimate in win-win, which is people getting better together.)
The economics of drug development back up the moral virtue of Gilead’s pricing. High priced innovative drugs, patent-protected for a limited time, eventually become cheap generics when the patent expires, spreading their accessibility to all people. Even before patent expiration, new drugs tend to become cheaper as developers look to expand their markets or competition enters the market (as has already started happening regarding Sovaldi). In a free market, where producers can price their cutting-edge innovations for maximum profit, the consumers who can afford the high price get early access. These early consumers, by paying the high initial cutting edge prices rather than wait for lower prices, end up covering the enormous cost of development and regulatory approval, feed the profits that fund and incentivize the development of still newer drugs, and ultimately make it possible for less wealthy and poorer consumers to get access to treatments and cures that would otherwise have never become available. Put another way, free markets naturally and non-coercively pave the way for the wealthy to subsidize the healthcare of the non-wealthy, in a moral way—i.e., without forced government redistribution of wealth. No high-priced innovations, no cheap, widely affordable generics. Only an altruist would want to stifle this progressive process.
Imagine if drug pioneers like Gilead were forced to price their drugs not based on maximizing revenues but based on making them immediately available to the neediest, poorest consumer? America is the only country that doesn’t control drug prices, which forces Americans to subsidize drug development for the entire world. That should make every American angry. But if America joined other countries in tailoring drug prices based on need, no one who needs the drug would have it, because it wouldn’t exist. (If investigators really wanted to address high drug prices, which are probably higher than they would be in a fully free market, it shouldn’t be demonizing the creators like Gilead. It should investigate the FDA, which makes drugs super-expensive to develop and stifles competition; the patent system, which protects innovators’ property rights but leaves little time for drug companies to recoup investment costs; and the freeloading countries around the world, which forcibly depress drug prices for the benefit of their socialized healthcare systems, thus avoiding their fair share of the responsibility for financing research and development.)
Why shouldn’t Gilead seek to price its Sovaldi—a human-created miracle—to maximize revenues and profits (which, by definition, involves making the drug as widely available as possible)? It’s properly pursuing its own interests, just like everybody else does (or should do). Why shouldn't it? According to altruism, because Gilead offers tremendous value. Gilead is being punished for doing good, not bad. That’s altruism, which fosters inverted moral priorities.
The moral is the practical, and altruism isn’t practical. An altruistic Gilead could not have produced Sovaldi. The Hep-C sufferer quoted above has it wrong. There is no dichotomy between the pursuit of money and the moral aspects. If not for Gilead's pursuit of money by productive means, he would not now face a future with a cure.
Morally, Gilead is doing what it should do. Gilead invested the money. Gilead took the risks. Kudos to profit-seeking Gilead Sciences for its drug Sovaldi—a medicine that has cured many and ultimately will cure almost all Hep-C sufferers—and ultimately contribute mightily to a lower cost of healthcare in America. Reject the demonizers on the Left. Don’t fall into their trap. They’re not concerned with patients. They’re concerned with power. Altruism is the tool of the power-luster, not the person of good will. The statists hate the selfish profit motive. But without it, progress stops.
This battle between Gilead and the politicians will have ramifications far beyond Sovaldi. As Wyden says, Gilead’s pricing of Sovaldi has ramifications for “the future of how blockbuster drugs are launched.” If the statists win on their bid to control drug pricing, we will no longer be “victimized” by the great medicines offered by greedy drug companies. Instead, we’ll be at the mercy of non-productive, power-mad government officials, without the future Sovaldi miracle drugs.
Huber on the Personalized Medicine Revolution—and the Government Roadblocks—My review of Peter W. Huber‘s book The Cure in the Code: How 20th Century Law is Undermining 21st Century Medicine.
Radical Capitalist Episode 20: The Moral Defense for High Drug Prices—Rituparna Basu