Tribute to the Military

Friday, January 06, 2006

I'd Rather Go Phishing

What do you do if you’re a former president, besides making millions writing your memoirs? If you’re Jimmy Carter, you help cure river blindness in Africa and build habitats for humanity. And if you’re George Bush and Bill Clinton, you raise money for hurricane and tsunami victims.

Or you try to accomplish something you admit you weren’t able to do in office as well as your successor, and in Mr. Clinton’s case, that’s fighting the worldwide AIDS epidemic.

-CBS lead-in to the piece

I love watching 60 Minutes. I love watching it for pieces that they do well, when it doesn't involve politics; and I love it for pieces they do horribly wrong, when it does involve liberal agenda-driven political slant.

Last Sunday, Dan Rather interviewed Former President Bill Clinton, regarding his trip to China in order to push for more AIDS awareness and AIDS relief in that part of the world.

Now I'm not a Clinton-hater; not to the degree that many of my fellow Republicans are, who suffer from Cinton-derangement syndrome. It is bizarro to me that Clinton-lovers think that the only thing to be angry at Clinton over, and the reason for his impeachment, is because he had "sexual relations" with an intern. And of course liberals think that's no big deal, ignoring the fact that he wasn't impeached for sex. His lying before a grand jury is the least of Clinton wrong-doings, in my opinion.

In spite of what I consider, a certain superficiality, selfishness, and lack of character, I don't think of Former President Clinton as completely devoid of substance, empathy, and character either. I think he does mean well, and If I met him out in the street, I would treat him with respect as my Former President; and yes, I would feel priveleged and honored to meet him.

It's great that Clinton engages in humanitarian causes, and I'm sure his intentions to try and help people are genuine. That he does care.

Now what I want to take issue with, is his politics and his spin.

Here's part of what I take issue with:

Are the drug companies price-gouging for AIDS medicines?

"Their view is they're protecting their intellectual property," Clinton says. "Well, in my mind, I think they could sell them for a lot less without losing money. I do think that."

With all due respect to Clinton, because I too, wish more affordable medicine for those in dire need of it, methinks he does not really take into account what the actual consequences have been in countries where governmental price control has taken place. The problem with liberals, is that they have "feel good" policies that sell to the public, because they sound nice and all (think universal health-care, feeding and sheltering the homeless, affordable medicine, save the environment, spend more on education, affirmative action, etc), but their policies don't take into account what the realities are in economic ramifications. They don't deal in the consequences of what actually occurs; they deal in what they wish to have magically happen.

Thomas Sowell analogizes it this way, when comparing the "obscene" profits that pharmaceutical drug companies are supposedly making:

A tourist in New York's Greenwich Village had his portrait sketched by a sidewalk artist, who charged him $100.

"That's expensive," the tourist said. "But it's a great sketch, so I'll pay it. But, really, it took you just five minutes."

"Twenty years and five minutes," the artist replied.

-Drugs and Politics
by Thomas Sowell (November 27, 2001)


The same misconception of costs runs through the much more serious issue of the prices of medicine and government regulation of those prices. When a pill whose ingredients cost a quarter is sold for two dollars, that is an open invitation to demagogues to begin loudly denouncing the pharmaceutical drug company's "obscene" and "unconscionable" profits at the expense of the sick. But the people who are doing this are counting only the five minutes and ignoring the 20 years.

The physical ingredients of the medicine are its cheapest ingredients. The ingredient that costs millions of dollars -- sometimes hundreds of millions -- is the knowledge gained from years of research, and trial and error, which finally results in the creation of a new medicine. That is what the price of the pills has to cover, if we expect investors to continue to pour vast sums of money into drug companies that are trying to discover new cures for such diseases as cancer, AIDS and Alzheimer's.

Other companies, manufacturing generic equivalents, pay only the costs of the physical ingredients, having copied the enormously expensive formula free of charge -- legitimately after the patent has expired and not so legitimately in other countries, where patent laws are not taken as seriously as in the United States. The company that simply uses someone else's formula free of charge can sell the same pill for 35 cents and still make a profit.

Somebody has to pay the high costs of discovery or the development of new drugs will be slower and therefore more people will needlessly suffer and die. While allowing patent laws to be over-ridden by politicians allows some people to buy the drug at low prices, based on the low current costs of manufacturing the medicine, that just leaves the far greater overhead costs of creating these medicines to be paid by others.

Worst of all, it leaves the even higher costs of needless pain, suffering and premature death to be paid by those whose relief is delayed by policies like these, which slow down the development of new medicines to cure their afflictions.

Read the rest. I also have Thomas Sowell's Applied Economics, which devotes many more pages to the topic of price control and pharmaceutical drugs than any single article has room for.

Back to the 60 Minutes segment, this I agree with:

Mr. Clinton says that foundations like his and the one run by Bill Gates can be more efficient and cost-effective fighting AIDS than some government programs.

In so many things, private enterprise does it so much better; which is why so much of the bureaucractic mess that is big government should be cut back.

The other part of the 60 Minutes interview I question is this exchange:

But he also acknowledges that AIDS worldwide spread dramatically while he was president and that President Bush has poured much more money than his administration did into the fight against the disease.

Does he wish he had done more during his presidency?

"Well, I don’t think I could have done more. It was like pulling teeth to get any foreign money out of Congress when I was there. And when they had a president of their own party and they had their core Christian conservative constituents saying, 'Okay, we want to fight this,' then it became much easier. I wish I could have gotten more, but I don’t believe I could have," says Clinton.

Excuse me...but does anyone know if Clinton is just spinning this? I don't really remember any AIDS appropriation bills trying to get passed through Congress, and pushed by Former President Clinton.

I did find this:

In late May, Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) attempted to attach an amendment to a disaster relief bill which would have secured supplemental funding for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP). Congressional leaders stated that they would agree to the amendment if the Clinton Administration indicated its support for the increased funding. However, the Administration failed to make a formal request for the increase, stating that there is no concrete data indicating an ADAP emergency.

As far as foreign aid, personally, I think we give way too much as it is, to thankless countries who want us dead.

You can view the video of the segment at CBS, or go download it at The Political Teen.

Read more on our illustrious Former President at Freedom Eden: Clinton domestic spyjob.

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