Saturday, September 18, 2010

Leftist scientists want to have their cake and eat it too

Researchers raise concerns over the "commercialization" of medical innovation but ignore its huge costs. Without patent protection NO new drugs could be brought to market -- as it costs around half a billion dollars to get FDA approval for a new drug.

The article below does not concern drugs but the same principle applies. Most medical innovations are expensive and without cost recovery they would not happen

The original article is from the BMJ, which is a Leftist rag

The increasing commercialisation of science is restricting access to vital scientific knowledge and delaying the progress of science, claim researchers in the British Medical Journal today.

Varuni de Silva and Raveen Hanwella from the University of Colombo in Sri Lanka argue that copyrighting or patenting medical scales, tests, techniques and genetic material, limits the level of public benefit from scientific discovery.

For example, they found that many commonly used rating scales are under copyright and researchers have to pay for their use.

Some genetic tests also carry patents, which prevent other laboratories from doing the test for a lesser cost. Earlier this year, a New York court ruled that patents held by Myriad Genetics for the diagnosis of mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes (linked to breast and ovarian cancer) were unconstitutional and invalid.

Extreme commercialisation of science can also lead to patents on medical procedures and techniques, say the authors. However, the American Medical Association recently concluded that it is unethical for physicians to seek, secure or enforce patents on medical procedures.

The scientific community is reacting to the increasing commercialisation of science, they add. For example, all genome sequences generated by the human genome project have been deposited into a public database freely accessible by anyone, while organisations such as the National Institute of Health and Wellcome Trust insist on open access to publication resulting from research funded by them.

The fundamental philosophy of Western science is sharing knowledge and, while patenting is a useful tool for protecting investments in industry, "we need to rethink its role in science," they write.

They conclude: "Although those who consider science as a commodity are willing to invest in research and development, much medical research is still carried out by non-profit organisations using public money. It is only right that such knowledge is freely shared. This is possible because academic scientists still consider the prestige of discovery more important than monetary reward."



Religious Freedom a bellwether for other freedoms

All constitutional protections are eroded if the plain intent of the 1st amendment can be so widely ignored

In America, the sunrise on tomorrow is only as sure as the state of our Constitution… and today, that state is shakier than it’s been in a long, long time.

Perhaps no element of that Constitution is more endangered than the First Amendment protections of religious liberty. That cornerstone of our nation’s freedom—the dream that brought the Pilgrims and so many of the other early settlers to our Atlantic shores—is now under direct, daily assault coast to coast.

From California courtrooms to the legislative halls of Massachusetts, our First Freedom is denounced as an impediment to those who would reinvent marriage into something it’s never been, and never can be. On university campuses, it’s all but outlawed as administrative officials segregate Christian students and their activities.

In public schools, religious freedom is ignored as educators work diligently to immerse our children in an aggressively secular world view. In hospitals and clinics and pharmacies across the country, it’s a freedom often denied to those whose religious faith prohibits their participation in abortion.

For far too many Americans, their awareness of the danger is as flimsy as their knowledge of the Constitution. For most, that understanding is limited to muddled memories from high school civics classes and a carefully orchestrated falsehood fabricated years ago by the American Civil Liberties Union and pummeled relentlessly into the public consciousness ever since: “separation of church and state.”

That so-called separation, and the growing legal assault it foments against people of faith, are both so far, far removed from any intention of those who hammered out our extraordinary, unprecedented Constitution that hot Philadelphia summer of so long ago.

Religious freedom is the thread by which hangs not only the document we commemorate today, Constitution Day, but the future of the nation to which that document gave birth. In our willingness to defend that freedom—through our decisions, through our votes, through our prayers—lies the answer to the ever-new mystery of that image carved on Washington’s chair.

Is it morning in America? Or is a great darkness descending?



The Money of Fools

By Thomas Sowell

Seventeenth century philosopher Thomas Hobbes said that words are wise men's counters, but they are the money of fools. That is as painfully true today as it was four centuries ago. Using words as vehicles to try to convey your meaning is very different from taking words so literally that the words use you and confuse you.

Take the simple phrase "rent control." If you take these words literally-- as if they were money in the bank-- you get a complete distortion of reality.

New York is the city with the oldest and strongest rent control laws in the nation. San Francisco is second. But if you look at cities with the highest average rents, New York is first and San Francisco is second. Obviously, "rent control" laws do not control rent.

If you check out the facts, instead of relying on words, you will discover that "gun control" laws do not control guns, the government's "stimulus" spending does not stimulate the economy and that many "compassionate" policies inflict cruel results, such as the destruction of the black family.

Do you know how many millions of people died in the war "to make the world safe for democracy"-- a war that led to autocratic dynasties being replaced by totalitarian dictatorships that slaughtered far more of their own people than the dynasties had?

Warm, fuzzy words and phrases have an enormous advantage in politics. None has had such a long run of political success as "social justice." The idea cannot be refuted because it has no specific meaning. Fighting it would be like trying to punch the fog. No wonder "social justice" has been such a political success for more than a century-- and counting.

While the term has no defined meaning, it has emotionally powerful connotations. There is a strong sense that it is simply not right-- that it is unjust-- that some people are so much better off than others.

Justification, even as the term is used in printing and carpentry, means aligning one thing with another. But what is the standard to which we think incomes or other benefits should be aligned?

Is the person who has spent years in school goofing off, acting up or fighting-- squandering the tens of thousands of dollars that the taxpayers have spent on his education-- supposed to end up with his income aligned with that of the person who spent those same years studying to acquire knowledge and skills that would later be valuable to himself and to society at large?

Some advocates of "social justice" would argue that what is fundamentally unjust is that one person is born into circumstances that make that person's chances in life radically different from the chances that others have-- through no fault of one and through no merit of the others. Maybe the person who wasted educational opportunities and developed self-destructive behavior would have turned out differently if born into a different home or a different community.

That would of course be more just. But now we are no longer talking about "social" justice, unless we believe that it is all society's fault that different families and communities have different values and priorities-- and that society can "solve" that "problem."

Nor can poverty or poor education explain such differences. There are individuals who were raised by parents who were both poor and poorly educated, but who pushed their children to get the education that the parents themselves never had. Many individuals and groups would not be where they are today without that.

All kinds of chance encounters-- with particular people, information or circumstances-- have marked turning points in many individual's lives, whether toward fulfillment or ruin. None of these things is equal or can be made equal. If this is an injustice, it is not a "social" injustice because it is beyond the power of society.

You can talk or act as if society is both omniscient and omnipotent. But, to do so would be to let words become what Thomas Hobbes called them, "the money of fools."



Public Sector Workers Are the New Privileged Elite Class

Outrageous public pay, pensions, and inherent corruption are enraging private sector America

We really are two Americas, but not those captured in the stereotypical populist class warfare speeches that dramatize the gulf between the rich and the poor. Instead there is a new division in America that affronts a sense of fairness. That division is between the workers in the private sector and the workers in the public sectors. No guesses which is the more protected. A new study by the Mayo Research Institute, based in Louisiana, demonstrates that there is a striking differential in the impact of the recession. In 2009, the study found, "private-sector workers were nearly three times more likely to be jobless than public-sector workers."

Political tension is bound to grow when private sector jobs disappear faster but at the same time private sector compensation is being squeezed much more than that of the public sector. The rate of compensation for a generation of public service employees has gone up much faster than the personal income of the people who pay for these workers. The gap has widened dramatically between private sector workers at all levels of remuneration as compared to employees in federal, state, and local governments.

Once there was a time when government work offered lower salaries than comparable jobs in the private sector, a difference for which the public sector compensated by providing more security and somewhat better benefits. No longer. These days, government employees are better off in almost every area: pay, benefits, time off, and security, on top of working fewer hours. They can thrive even in a down economy. It is tantamount to a wealth transfer from the citizens to the people who serve in government. Millions of public workers have become a kind of privileged new class—a new elite, who live better than their private sector counterparts. Public servants have become the public's masters. No wonder the public is upset.

Of course public service workers should receive a fair level of pay and decent retirement and other benefits. What is galling, though, is when they routinely find ways to beef up their superior pay so as to turbocharge their pensions (typically based on a percentage of salary), while many of those in the private sector lack viable pension programs at all. This will stick future generations of Americans with higher taxes to meet these public service pension obligations and bring about reduced public services. Nice work if you can get it!

More troubling still is the inherent political corruption. Elected officials tend to be accommodating when confronted by powerful constituencies like the public service unions that agitate for plush benefits and often provide (or deny) a steady flow of cash to election campaign funds. You have a dynamic conflict of interest when the self-interest of the legislators is to appease the public service unions with pledges that won't come due until the lawmakers have left office.

Their successors will have to cope with the inherited debt burden—and ultimately the nation's taxpayers are stuck with the bill at the federal, state, and local levels.

Behold the consequences: less money for social services, libraries, road improvements, education, and other public service programs, i.e., the whole basis of the initial arguments for more public sector pay! States and localities don't have the federal government's ability to print money, and they have a much more limited capacity to borrow. The result, according to the Pew Center on the States, is that they face underfunded benefit and pension obligations that exceed $1 trillion.

That estimate was before the stock market drop in the last couple of years. Liabilities for debts for these entities have increased from an estimated 12 percent of GDP in 1980 to an estimated 22 percent this year, approaching $2.5 trillion.




The rise of lil’ Kim in N. Korea: "The best way to understand North Korea is to think of it not as a traditional nation-state, but as a nuclear-armed organized crime family, albeit one that will soon find itself in need of a new boss.”

Two L.A. agencies get $111 million in stimulus funds but have created only 55 jobs: "Two Los Angeles departments have received $111 million in federal stimulus funds yet have created only 55 jobs so far, according to a pair of reports issued Thursday by City Controller Wendy Greuel. The reports conclude that the agencies, Public Works and Transportation, moved too slowly in spending the federal money, in part because of the time it takes to secure approval of government contracts. The two agencies plan to create or retain a combined 264 jobs once all the money is spent, according to the reports. With unemployment above 12%, city officials should move more urgently to cut red tape and spend the money, Greuel said."

A spectre is haunting Britain: "The corpse of Brownism still haunts the political debate. The 50p tax rate will stay, not because of any tangible benefit it brings, but because of ‘fairness’. Taxes will have to rise to plug the deficit, not cut to ensure growth and greater tax takes in time. Free school milk is to remain despite having no discernable health benefits because of the long shadow that Thatcher has cast over the Conservative party.”


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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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