I recently sent a letter to the US Senator from Florida, Bill Nelson, expressing my concerns about a national health insurance plan. You know, I just kind of think that completely re-making the whole health care system to cover 5% of the population makes no sense. Especially when we cannot afford it. I think there has to be a better way. In fact I know there is.
In his reply to me the senator did not have the time or the space to outline all his plans, but one sentence stood out above all the standard political-speak we’ve become accustomed to hearing. Those of you who have had dealings with Washington will know that political-speak is the politically correct term for BS; and that doesn’t stand for Bachelor of Science.
OK, here we go, it’s showtime! I quote the good senator: “Further, by eliminating the tax break drugmakers get for TV and other advertising, we would see another $37 billion to pay for health care.”
Now I’m not the brightest bulb in the socket, but I did take Economics 101 in college, so let’s see if I can make any sense of this.
Companies advertise for one reason and one reason alone; to sell product so that they can realize a profit. The upside of that profit is the creation of good paying jobs for people who will then spend money in the economy and pay taxes to the government so it can spend those taxes on all sorts of crazy programs; like: $650 million to buy everyone a digital TV converter box. But I digress.
So think about it. I know it’s difficult and it may make your head hurt, but it will be worth it. I promise. Now If the pharmaceutical companies (I prefer the term pharmaceutical; drugmakers sounds like the companies are involved in some nefarious activity. Gee, do you think that’s intentional? Maybe a kind of Freudian slip?) stop getting a tax break and have to pay $37 billion in taxes to the federal government, are they going to advertise as extensively; and if they don’t, what will happen to sales? The more far-reaching question is: What happens to their bottom line (dare we use the word profit?)
Figured it out yet? No, well you’re obviously spending too much time watching Dancing With The Stars, so I’ll make it easy for you. The answer is profits take a dive. When that happens, those little pillmakers reduce their workforce. You know, FIRE PEOPLE! The reduced workforce who recently had a job and have a mortgage and car payments and credit card debt and spent money at other businesses that employed other people who have a mortgage and car payments and credit card debt and spent money at other businesses…….phew, I’m running out of breath. But I think you get the idea. Profit is NOT an ugly word. Profit is why we don’t live in caves anymore. Profit is why we have cell phones and pcs; $200 sneakers and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.
Now I know for the past nine months, all we’ve heard is how rich people and evil corporations are reaping gargantuan profits. But when was the last time a company that was losing money hired people to help it keep losing money? When was the last time a poor person gave anyone a job? I guess I must have slept through that lecture?
By the way, a good portion of the $37 billion the pharmaceutical companies don’t give to the federal government goes to research new drugs to save lives. Our lives. Yes even the lives of congressmen and senators.
At last count it takes roughly $1 billion to bring a new drug to market. Without a profit incentive, what company is going to invest $1 billion? Would you if you owned the company?
I think Forrest Gump said it best: “Stupid is as stupid does.”
Hmm, come to think of it, that might make a nice motto hanging in the Capitol Building!