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Capitalism vs. healthcare Tue, Apr 05, 2016
I've felt for a while now that capitalism is inherently harmful to healthcare.  Right from the get-go, I think it's morally wrong to profit from sickness and death.  That seems pretty clear to me.  I don't think everything should simply be free; doctors and medicine cost money.  But profitability, especially for publicly-traded companies, shouldn't be the thing that prevents people from affording medicine. 

Pharmaceutical companies are harmed (in a sense) by capitalism in two key ways:  (1) In seeking a profit, a company will only develop drugs that have the largest market and/or the lowest development costs, and (2) due to the arguably deleterious patent and trademark system, a company can and will charge as much as they want regardless of the actual cost to develop and produce a drug.  The standard rationale is that the company needs to recoup research and development costs.  But a simple web search shows a number of pharmaceutical companies perform quite well for their investors, which we like to separate from the idea of profiting from sickness and death. 

Health insurance companies are a necessary evil because they allow large groups of people to afford unexpected, large expenses.  But when an insurance company is publicly traded, which many are, their mission changes from providing a necessary service for humans to providing a profit for investors.  This, again, is an idea we like to think of as free market capitalism producing profits, instead of corporations profiting from people dying. 

I think capitalism is largely a good economic system, capable of incentivizing great ideas and allowing class mobility.  But unregulated free market capitalism, especially with regards to the healthcare industry, directly profits from disease and death.  This is a bad thing. #money #health

Debating climate change Mon, Apr 04, 2016
I had a nice little discussion about climate change this morning with some coworkers.  When I say "nice little" I mean "big stupid".  It didn't go well, and I got a little angry.  Not punch-a-coworker angry, but take-a-cigar-break angry. 

First, it annoys me when people are wrong about scientifically verifiable facts.  The thing with facts, and the thing with the scientific method, is that it's open-access.  Anyone can look at evidence, test a theory, and come to a conclusion.  A bunch of climate scientists already did that.  This is the closest thing to a fact that science produces. 

Let me take a brief moment to point out why the "argument from authority" counter-argument doesn't make sense in this instance.  The argument from authority comes from the period of time when a king or a priest could say something and claim that because of their authority, the thing they said was true.  The difference with science, I'll say again, is that science and data and observation are available to anyone with a brain and opposable thumbs.  Scientists can be authorities in their respective fields, but the things they say can be very easily tested and disproved if so desired. 

Second, it bothers me when otherwise thoughtful, intelligent people demonstrate such a ridiculously flawed logic in their viewpoint.  If the person was an idiot, or a presidential candidate, I could at least sort of understand.  But when I respect your brainpower and you believe dumb things, it causes me pain.  Should I now doubt other things you say, things regarding the job that you and I do side by side?  If I can't trust you to accept facts regarding one topic, why should I accept your facts on a different topic? 

You may ask why this matters, and that's a fair question.  Honestly, whether you believe it or not, the climate is changing.  So I can take heart that I'll be proven right in the end.  But it's not about being right; it's about the flawed logic people use to determine what they think and believe.  If this was an opinion about a debatable topic, I wouldn't feel the need to prove a person wrong.  When your life is dictated by shitty logic, how am I supposed to know that you'll apply proper logic to which pedal is the gas and which is the brake? 

Finally, it pisses me off when issues get politicized.  As soon as an issue gets even a hint of political attention, a line is drawn; you're either on the right or the left, conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat.  There's no middle ground.  Also, if you didn't have an opinion beforehand, your political affiliation will tell you how to think.  It's surprising to me that more people don't see how their beliefs are essentially handed to them by the ideology to which they subscribe.  I guess I'm guilty of this as well, but I like to keep referencing the idea that I'VE CHANGED MY MIND BEFORE, which I feel establishes the fact that I can occasionally form an opinion apart from the hive mind. #science