The solution for a non-problem: High prescription drug prices Sunday, Jun 16 2019 

High prescription drug prices are indeed a problem for many people, but they could be a non-problem. Unfortunately, the proposed “solutions” don’t solve the real problem.

AARP repeatedly runs articles devoted to the idea that prescription drug prices are too high, with the primary culprits being the “greedy pharmaceutical companies.”

AARP even publishes this logo, to help you remember why we must end excessive drug prices.Stop Rx Greed Cut Drug Prices Now

Among the solutions proposed by AARP are:

1. Let Medicare negotiate drug prices
Using the clout of the program’s 57 million beneficiaries to bargain with pharmaceutical companies could certainly lower prescription drug prices.

Such a move could produce as much as $16 billion in annual savings. The Veteran’s Administration already does this.

2. Allow more drugs to be imported
The prices of brand-name prescription drugs are typically much higher in the United States than in other developed countries, but there are strict limits on when and how consumers can buy drugs from other countries.

Setting up a system to ensure the safe and legal importation of less expensive prescription drugs could help put pressure on drug prices and allow consumers to save on medications.

3. Create transparency in drug pricing
There is no way now to verify the claim by drug companies that high prices are linked to the costs associated with research and development.

The public has very little information about how drug companies set the initial price of a drug or decide on subsequent price increases.

4. Provide for easier drug comparisons
The public has no means of knowing whether a newly approved medicine is better than those already on the market.

Increasing the availability of research that compares the safety and effectiveness of drugs treating the same conditions would help create price competition and reduce spending on unnecessary or ineffective treatments.

5. Implement “value-based pricing”
Shift the United States to a system in which drug pricing is based on how well drugs work (“value”) rather than what the market will bear.

For example, a drug that cures a disease would be priced higher than a drug that doesn’t improve on existing treatments.

AARP suggests other approaches, too: The Barriers Blocking Cheaper Prescription Drugs. This article describes the actions pharmaceutical companies take to slow or prevent the sale of generic drugs.

And then there are the patent-related tricks pharmaceutical companies use to extend the already generous patents on successful drugs — tricks that involve meaningless chemical changes that restart patents.

Finally, AARP lets us in on such tidbits as the fact that most actual research is not done by the big pharmaceutical companies.

It is done mostly by federally-funded and charity-funded groups such as universities and other non-profits, and by small companies that are purchased by the major pharmaceuticals.

The Fiscal Times published a “Chart of the Day: Big Pharma’s Big Profits
By The Fiscal Times Staff, November 12, 2018

Virtually all of the revelations and suggestions focus on this one theme: Drug prices are too high because the big pharmaceuticals make too much money.

The idea is that if we can find ways to cut “big pharma’s” high prices and exorbitant profits, Americans would benefit.

But pharmaceutical company “greed” is not the real problem

The real problem with high drug prices is not that the drug companies make too much money. The problem is that consumers pay too much money, often unaffordable amounts.

In our capitalist economy, profits are beneficial. Even “exorbitant”  profits stimulate the economy. It is profits that pay for economic growth and employment.

The solution for high drug costs is not to lower drug prices, and thereby cut drug profits, but rather to reduce the amount that consumers pay.

This can be accomplished with a comprehensive, no-deductible, Medicare for All, that includes Part D, the part that pays for drugs.

The federal government, being Monetarily Sovereign, can afford to pay for any benefits in any amount, without collecting a dime in taxes.

Unlike state and local governments, the federal government has the unlimited power to create dollars and the unlimited power to prevent inflation.

We have to forget about the fear or envy that the pharmaceutical companies “make too much.” The more money the federal government pays the pharmaceuticals, the more growth dollars are pumped into the economy.

(If it goes against our moral grain to see big pharma pocketing so many dollars, the government can do what Medicare already does with regard to hospitals, doctors, and medical procedures. It can set the maximum amount it will pay, and determine that any company accepting any Medicare payments will have to abide by those terms for all the drugs it sells, or not be able to receive any federal dollars.)

But why limit the federal spending that is necessary for economic growth? It costs us nothing and it puts dollar into all our pockets.

Bottom line: The real problem is not how much profit pharmaceutical companies make. The more federal dollars they receive, the more growth dollars enter the economy.

The real problem is not drug pricing.

The real problem is how much consumers pay. 

Comprehensive, no-deductible, Medicare for All could eliminate that problem.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Monetary Sovereignty
Twitter: @rodgermitchell
Search #monetarysovereigntyFacebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

The most important problems in economics involve the excessive income/wealth/power Gaps between the richer and the poorer.

Wide Gaps negatively affect poverty, health and longevity, education, housing, law and crime, war, leadership, ownership, bigotry, supply and demand, taxation, GDP, international relations, scientific advancement, the environment, human motivation and well-being, and virtually every other issue in economics.

Implementation of The Ten Steps To Prosperity can narrow the Gaps:

Ten Steps To Prosperity:

1. Eliminate FICA

2. Federally funded Medicare — parts a, b & d, plus long-term care — for everyone

3. Provide a monthly economic bonus to every man, woman and child in America (similar to social security for all)

4. Free education (including post-grad) for everyone

5. Salary for attending school

6. Eliminate federal taxes on business

7. Increase the standard income tax deduction, annually. 

8. Tax the very rich (the “.1%”) more, with higher progressive tax rates on all forms of income.

9. Federal ownership of all banks

10. Increase federal spending on the myriad initiatives that benefit America’s 99.9% 

The Ten Steps will grow the economy, and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and you.

MONETARY SOVEREIGNTY

 

An excellent article about Social Security, except for one small detail Friday, Jun 14 2019 

The Week Magazine published an excellent article titled, “Social Security’s looming crisis is political, not economic,” by Jeff Spross.

It begins by agreeing with much of what we have been saying for the past 20 years.

Here are excerpts:

There are few traditions in American politics as cherished as the semi-regular panic over Social Security. There are equally few that are such utter balderdash on the economic merits.

The latest example of this time-honored practice comes to us courtesy of The New York Times. “Social Security’s so-called trust funds are expected to be depleted within about 15 years,” the outlet warned this week.

“Benefit checks for retirees would be cut by about 20 percent across the board.” The cuts could potentially rise to 25 percent in later years.

The question is whether the cuts, at the basic structural level, are actually necessary at all.

It’s widely assumed the federal government is just like a private household or business; it can run out of money if it doesn’t manage its spending and revenue properly.

Indeed, Social Security’s trust funds are designed on this premise.

But that’s actually not how it works at all. The federal government can never “run out” of money, nor can it ever suffer an involuntary debt crisis. 

The implications for Social Security should be obvious.

As far as the federal government’s ability to procure dollars is concerned, the depletion of the trust funds is a meaningless event.

It can keep right on paying every last Social Security benefit it has promised in perpetuity.

Absolutely correct. So far, so good.

Image result for politician lying

If you don’t pay more taxes, we’ll have to cut your Social Security. Believe me.

Unlike state and local governments, and unlike businesses, you and me, the federal government uniquely is Monetarily Sovereign.

It created the very first dollars at will –from thin air — and arbitrarily gave them a value.

Today continues to create dollars at will, from thin air, and still controls the value.

Even if the federal government didn’t collect a single dollar in taxes, it could continue spending, forever. 

[There are two why the federal government levies taxes, and neither reason has anything to do with funding federal spending:

Reason 1. To control the economy be encouraging certain kinds of private spending and discouraging other kinds. (Tax breaks for home ownership are an example of the former. “Sin” taxes are examples of the latter.)

Reason 2. To create the illusion that the federal government’s spending ability is limited without sufficient taxes. (This is the method used by the government’s leaders — i.e. the rich — to justify cuts to benefits for the poor and middle classes and to increase their taxes.)] 

The very first Social Security beneficiary, Ida May Fuller, got her initial benefits check in 1939, after paying into the system for just three years — hardly enough time to build up the necessary “savings” to fund her retirement.

The very fact that benefit cuts would reduce Social Security to a cashflow basis demonstrates that current workers finance the benefits for current retirees, as opposed to payroll taxes being stored up for the future retirement of the citizens who payed them.

Oops! Now, Mr. Spross begins to slide off the rails, a bit.

Current workers pay FICA, but FICA does not finance benefits. Federal taxes do not fund federal spending.

Remember, Spross said it himself:

“As far as the federal government’s ability to procure dollars is concerned, the depletion of the trust funds is a meaningless event.

It can keep right on paying every last Social Security benefit it has promised in perpetuity.”

The actual function of the payroll taxes is to remove demand from the economy, thus making room for the demand that Social Security’s spending injects into the economy.

Which is what keeps inflation on an even keel.

The above is the old, “federal money printing causes inflation” myth.

Think about why the price of, say apples, would go up. Because people have too much money?

No, the price of apples or of any other products or services is caused by one thing: Shortages. 

The price of apples goes up when there is an apple tree disease, or a drought, not because your salary went up and you have more money to spend.

The notion that money creation (erroneously called, “money printing”) causes inflation, may stem from a misreading of hyperinflation.

Governments often respond to hyperinflation by printing currency.

But all hyperinflations begin and continue with shortages — usually, shortages of food — and they end only when the shortages are alleviated.

In short: the system is fine.

Of course, Congress still faces the fact that it made a rule for itself that benefits must be cut when the trust funds run dry.

If it wants to maintain the fiction, Congress could do what previous reforms have done, and bring spending and revenue back into line through some combination of benefit cuts and payroll tax hikes.

The above is exactly what the rich want you to believe: The benefits for the poor and middle classes must be cut, while their taxes are increased.

At some point, however, you’d think the better move would be to acknowledge the trust funds are a political gimmick, and just spend whatever benefits our elected representatives deem appropriate.

Social Security may face a very interesting political crisis in the coming decade or two. But in hard economic terms, there is no crisis at all.

Amen, brother Spross. The invented danger that Social Security (and Medicare and all other federal programs) could run short of dollars is a myth.

Now, while we’re at it, let’s get rid of that inflation myth, too.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Monetary Sovereignty
Twitter: @rodgermitchell
Search #monetarysovereigntyFacebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

The most important problems in economics involve the excessive income/wealth/power Gaps between the richer and the poorer.

Wide Gaps negatively affect poverty, health and longevity, education, housing, law and crime, war, leadership, ownership, bigotry, supply and demand, taxation, GDP, international relations, scientific advancement, the environment, human motivation and well-being, and virtually every other issue in economics.

Implementation of The Ten Steps To Prosperity can narrow the Gaps:

Ten Steps To Prosperity:

1. Eliminate FICA

2. Federally funded Medicare — parts a, b & d, plus long-term care — for everyone

3. Provide a monthly economic bonus to every man, woman and child in America (similar to social security for all)

4. Free education (including post-grad) for everyone

5. Salary for attending school

6. Eliminate federal taxes on business

7. Increase the standard income tax deduction, annually. 

8. Tax the very rich (the “.1%”) more, with higher progressive tax rates on all forms of income.

9. Federal ownership of all banks

10. Increase federal spending on the myriad initiatives that benefit America’s 99.9% 

The Ten Steps will grow the economy, and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and you.

MONETARY SOVEREIGNTY

 

“Whataboutisms”: The perfect defense for the indefensible Friday, Jun 14 2019 

“Whataboutisms” are the perfect, all-purpose defense for all wrongdoings.

Yesterday, Donald Trump said he gladly would accept help from Russia in the 2020 election.

That is illegal. From an article in the 6/14/19 issue of the Chicago Tribune:

Federal Election Commission Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub released a statement Thursday making clear that candidates for public office may not receive help from a foreign government.

Tweeting her statement, Weintraub wrote, “I would not have thought I needed to say this.”

“Let me make something 100% clear to the American public and anyone running for public office,” Weintraub wrote.

“It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a U.S. election. This is not a novel concept.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a staunch Trump ally, said “I think it’s a mistake of law. I don’t want to send a signal to encourage this.”

Then we come to the “whataboutism,” also quoted in the Tribune article:

But Graham likened Trump’s stance to Democratic support for a research firm run by British ex-spy Christopher Steele that explored Trump’s ties to Russia in the last campaign. (Steele was hired as a private citizen and used his contacts to gather information.)

It’s perfect. The idea is, if you break the law, you need only to find one other entity that has done anything questionable, and that immediately exonerates you.

Just find something — anything, really — that in some vague way approximates, or almost approximates, the illegal or immoral act and bingo, you’re home free.

Let me give you some other examples:

The claim: “Hitler was evil. He sent innocent people to die in concentration camps.”

The “whataboutism” that exonerates Hitler: What about Roosevelt? He sent innocent Japanese to concentration camps.

Hitler is cleared.

Here’s another:

Trump is an immoral, sex-crazed mysogneist. He cheated on all three wives, paid prostitutes to stay silent, walked in to watch naked women dressing for beauty contests, and boasted about groping women.

Whataboutism: What about Bill Clinton? He had affairs, too.

Therefore, Trump is innocent.

Or another: According to the Washington Post:

“It took President Trump 601 days to top 5,000 false and misleading claims in The Fact Checker’s database, an average of eight claims a day.

“But on April 26, just 226 days later, the president crossed the 10,000 mark — an average of nearly 23 claims a day in this seven-month period, which included the many rallies he held before the midterm elections, the partial government shutdown over his promised border wall and the release of the special counsel’s report on Russian interference in the presidential election.

“This milestone appeared unlikely when The Fact Checker first started this project during his first 100 days.

“In the first 100 days, Trump averaged less than five claims a day, which would have added up to about 7,000 claims in a four-year presidential term. But the tsunami of untruths just keeps looming larger and larger.”

And now for the “whataboutism”:

Whatabout Obama. He said, “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.”

Therefore, either Trump is not a liar, or if he is, it doesn’t matter, because Obama was a liar.

You’ll see Trump’s defenders using whataboutisms every day, simply because Trump’s acts are so egregious, there are no true defenses.

Whataboutisms seem to say, “You can’t say anything negative about my guy, no matter how bad he may be, so long as your guy isn’t absolutely pure.”

It’s the perfect, all-purpose defense for the scoundrel.

Trump tried to explain his willingness to accept illegal election help from a foreign government as “opposition research.” They are not the same, and given that he is surrounded by lawyers, he knows it.

(In fact, he actually disputes it with FBI Director Christopher Wray

“Whataboutisms” appeal to the shallow thinkers — i.e Trump followers — who cannot see the inherent illogic.

Watch for “whataboutisms” in tomorrow’s newspapers, TV, and tweets.  “Whataboutisms” are everywhere, perhaps because shallow thinkers and evil-doers are everywhere.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Monetary Sovereignty
Twitter: @rodgermitchell
Search #monetarysovereigntyFacebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

The most important problems in economics involve the excessive income/wealth/power Gaps between the richer and the poorer.

Wide Gaps negatively affect poverty, health and longevity, education, housing, law and crime, war, leadership, ownership, bigotry, supply and demand, taxation, GDP, international relations, scientific advancement, the environment, human motivation and well-being, and virtually every other issue in economics.

Implementation of The Ten Steps To Prosperity can narrow the Gaps:

Ten Steps To Prosperity:

1. Eliminate FICA

2. Federally funded Medicare — parts a, b & d, plus long-term care — for everyone

3. Provide a monthly economic bonus to every man, woman and child in America (similar to social security for all)

4. Free education (including post-grad) for everyone

5. Salary for attending school

6. Eliminate federal taxes on business

7. Increase the standard income tax deduction, annually. 

8. Tax the very rich (the “.1%”) more, with higher progressive tax rates on all forms of income.

9. Federal ownership of all banks

10. Increase federal spending on the myriad initiatives that benefit America’s 99.9% 

The Ten Steps will grow the economy, and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and you.

MONETARY SOVEREIGNTY

It’s just another day in Trumpland Friday, Jun 14 2019 

Each day I receive an Email from dailybriefing@theweek.com.  It contains ten paragraphs, each summarizing  key world events from the previous day.

I was struck by the commonality of items in today’s edition. Here are excerpts:

(I’ve given the excerpts my own title:)

I call this one. “Gee Donald, what did you expect?”

Pompeo blames Iran for apparent tanker attacks

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday blamed Iran for attacks on two oil tankers carrying petrochemicals in the Gulf of Oman near the Strait of Hormuz, a key waterway for oil shipments. Iran’s United Nations mission said it “categorically rejects” this “unfounded” claim.

Tensions have escalated in the Mideast as Iran appears poised to break the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, an accord that President Donald Trump repudiated last year.

In the deal, Tehran agreed to limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of crippling sanction. Already, Iran says it quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium.

Meanwhile, U.S. sanctions have cut off opportunities for Iran to trade its excess uranium and heavy water abroad, putting Tehran on course to violate terms of the nuclear deal regardless.

I call this next one, “Remind me again, what is the job of a press secretary?”

Trump says Sarah Huckabee Sanders leaving as press secretary

President Trump announced Thursday that White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders would leave her post next month. Trump called Sanders “a warrior,” and said she should run for governor back home in Arkansas.

Sanders is one of the few close Trump aides remaining from his campaign. Sanders said serving in the job was “the honor of a lifetime,” and that she would remain an “outspoken and loyal” Trump supporter.

Since Sanders succeeded Sean Spicer in the job in mid-2017, she has done away with regular White House press briefings and faced questions about her credibility.

[Her credibility took a serious blow after she admitted to special counsel Robert Mueller’s office that her public assertions that many FBI workers had expressed support for Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey were fabricated.]

This next one is, “What? A Trump appointee broke the law? Who could have predicted that?”

Watchdog recommends firing Kellyanne Conway

The Office of Special Counsel, a government watchdog, said Thursday that President Trump should fire senior adviser Kellyanne Conway for violating a federal ethics law against partisan comments by federal employees.

The office, which is unrelated to former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office, said in a letter accompanying a report that Conway was a “repeat offender” of the Hatch Act’s prohibition against campaign politics in the federal workplace.

The letter, signed by agency head Henry Kerner, said Conway’s flouting of the law, “if left unpunished,” sends the message that other federal employees can do the same. “Her actions erode the principal foundation of our democratic system — the rule of law,” the letter said.

The White House rejected the assessment and demanded that Kerner withdraw the report.

[White House social media director Dan Scavino, former US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, Melania Trump’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, and at least another half dozen Trump White House staffers have also been reprimanded or warned by the special counsel’s office for Hatch Act violations.]

And this last one is, “Nothing wrong with my pals, despots like Putin, Kim, Salman, and Duterte, helping me win elections. Anyway, I’m the law.”

FEC chair stresses that accepting foreign election help is illegal

After President Trump said he would accept political dirt on opponents offered by foreign governments, Federal Election Commission Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub tweeted a statement Thursday clarifying that it is illegal to “solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a U.S. election.”

She added: “This is not a novel concept. Electoral intervention from foreign governments has been considered unacceptable since the beginnings of our nation.”

She added that anyone failing to tell the FBI about any “prohibited donation” or who “accepts foreign assistance risks being on the wrong end of a federal investigation.”

Trump earlier defended his remarks, tweeting that it would be “ridiculous” for him to report every conversation he has with a world leader to the FBI.

Ah yes, it’s just another day in Trumpland, where the law is only what Trump says it is, and America slides further into corruption and disgrace.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Monetary Sovereignty
Twitter: @rodgermitchell
Search #monetarysovereigntyFacebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

« Previous PageNext Page »

%d bloggers like this: