Naked Capitalism is always a good source of information about the “real economy”. You know, the one where all is not so rosy and hopeful. Its a place where reality sets in and shines a light on why the economy remains so crappy for so many five years into a so-called “recovery”.
In the world of Game of Thrones where the sword is mightier than the pen, it comes as no surprise that geeks, dweebs, intellectuals of any stripe, get almost no respect.
Tales of the two biggest (and smallest) GOT geeks….
Samwell Tarly, though high-born and bookish was neither brave nor athletic so his farther abandoned him to the Night’s Watch which was generally a dumping ground for bastards, rapists and murderers. Actually Samwell was given a (cough…) choice, he could die in an “accident” in a hunt or he could take a life oath to serve in the night’s watch. Ok that’s not a choice, but you get the picture.
Its official, I am starting to be concerned about the spread of Ebola to the developed world. Now, let me make this clear, I doubt we would have a major epidemic in a country like the US. But with the sheer number of cases reported and the fact that the epidemic is gaining steam makes the possibility of cases developing in the developed world more likely. The WHO just released a very grim prognosis regarding the course of the epidemic in Africa and given the way things are going, I see why they are concerned.
Ebola outbreak spreading and showing no signs of peaking…
Yesterday, I read an article in The Washington Post article about Ebola spreading to Senegal the following points were particularly worrying:
It was with a tremendous wave of dèjá vu that I watched NY Senator Chuck Schumer calling for the FDA to investigate a supposed shortage and massive price spikes seen for the common antibiotic doxycycline.
History of a doxycycline shortage…
Wasn’t this problem solved last year? This issue hits close to home because I have a dog that requires intermittent courses of doxycycline for severe Lyme disease. Last year the price spiked to ridiculous levels over the summer and the pharmacist looked at me with sympathy when she gave me the bill for my dog. Suddenly, what used to be about $40 tab skyrocketed to well north of $350. She told me there was a temporary “shortage” of the drug and that had caused the price spikes. Seriously? SERIOUSLY?
In my previous blog I discussed the business of science and why science itself is not, and should never be, considered a business. Today, as we see the widening Ebola epidemic spreading throughout West Africa I find myself thinking the same thing about medicine.
Medicine is not a business…
As in science, there are businesses surrounding medicine. Big pharma and biotech being far from the least among them. As I pointed out before, the science of pharma and biotech must not mix with the business unless you want to be buying hi-tech snake oil when you go to the pharmacy.
But there is another component here, often overlooked and currently underfunded even in developed nations: the role of a strong public health program and the public funding for basic research.
This blog is going to begin with a premise that I know will raise some eyebrows. It is quite simply this:
Science is not a business…
To a scientist, this is obvious, but to business people I would expect howls of protest. On the surface the statement is counter-intuitive. After all, entire industries are based on what science has discovered. We have massive numbers of industrial laboratories that would indicate otherwise. According to the WHO, the pharmaceutical industry is a $300 billion/year industry and growing rapidly. So what do I mean by such a provocative statement?
I’ve taken a brief break from Thomas Piketty and have picked up a book I started reading last year but never finished. Jaron Lanier’s book “Who Owns the Future?” is a very compelling read while it paints frightening indictment of “big data” and “siren servers”. Indeed, the New York Times review of this book boasts the title “Fighting Words Against Big Data”.
In my previous blog on income inequality I quoted Bill Gross, the founder and chief investment officer of PIMCO who in a USA Today article eschewed present-day excesses in the market place and called for a return to “normalcy”. Not surprisingly, conservatives who dominated the comment thread implied that Gross presumed a great deal when he attempted to define “normalcy”.
Just because slavery or indentured servitude are historically “normal” – doesn’t make it right…
Few would probably disagree with the heading above. However, many commenters questioned Gross’s definition of normalcy. “Who’s to say what is normal anyway?” asked one commenter. To his credit, Gross defined what was NOT “normal” with our current system and his criteria seemed spot-on to me:
Its a rare thing when within one week I run across two articles written by two very different members of the financial elite (the 0.1-0.015%) ringing alarm bells about the rising tide of income inequality. But it happened this week. Both addressed their fellow plutocrats directly and had the audacity to speak out strongly against the rising tide income inequality.
Nick Hanauer and the Tedtalk that wasn’t…
NIck Hanauer, a very successful entrepreneur, CEO and philanthropist is decidedly a part of the exclusive financial elite. He is also no stranger to controversy. In 2012 Mr Hanauer gave a TEDtalk that TED declined to post. Why? Well as it turns out that instead of invoking his own personal success story, Mr. Hanauer had the chutzpah to focus his talk on the emerging oligarchy , income inequality and its impact on business, society and the economy. OOPSIE! TEDtalks are all about rugged individualism and empowerment – that’s a no-no!
In the very first episode of a Game of Thrones, 10-year-old Branden Stark had an unfortunate “accident”. He was pushed from a high window and nearly died. Although he survived, he was paralyzed from the waist down. A few episodes later, the decidedly book-smart and wealthy Lord Tyrion Lannister offered Bran a gift. He designed a special saddle so Bran could ride horseback once again.
Invention often happens that way. Someone with the technological know-how and the money, sees a need and acts to fill that need. This is but one of the more minor routes to discovery and invention. It is simple, direct, but far from the most likely. For the most part, big gains and earth changing discoveries are generally not sprints; they are marathons.