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wednesday: sugar, antibiotics and chemotherapy


So, the other day, there was a story from another insider about the nature of the discussions between Christine Romer and Tim Geithner on the size of the stimulus package. Romer made the case that size does matter (she’s one of the few women who will say that out loud). Geithner compared money spent by the government on stimulus projects as “sugar”, while irresponsibly helping his diabetic friends in the financial industry mainline. Romer disagreed that government money was “sugar”, she said it was more like an antibiotic to prevent infection.

I wish these two would stop acting like doctors. The correct answer is that more stimulus money could have been like a shot of vitamin B12 to a patient suffering from pernicious anemia .  The B12 is not a cure for the disease but will keep the patient functioning until a cure can be found.

But anyway, we now know that Romer was right, as is the case of many women who make a good case based on knowledge, insight, research and experience but are hobbled by idiots like Larry Summers who long ago decided he wasn’t above denigrating their expertise and so may have inadvertently sent our economy into a lost decade….
Where was I?

Oh, yes. Then I saw the partial transcript of an interview between Fareed Zakaria and Ann Coulter and immediately thought that Geithner and Ann have been sucking down pigs-in-a-blanket at the same cocktail party. Courtesy of Digby, we get this snippet:

ZAKARIA: OK, let me ask – let me ask – we’ve got to go, but I have to ask Ann this, which is there’s – there is a strong case that he has made – Obama has made, which is about Medicare. And, on that issue, I want to know whether you think it will work. Not – I know that you wish that he didn’t say it and that the Democrats’ took entitlement reform more seriously, and I happen to agree with you there.

But, when you ask the American people, should – are you willing to deal with the budget deficit by cutting Medicare, 78 percent say no. I mean, I don’t think you can get 78 percent of Americans to agree on the time of day.


ZAKARIA: Where do (ph) –

COULTER: It’s the utter irresponsibility of former Democrats. It’s hard to take treats away from people, and that’s what we’ve done. And Democrats set up a Ponzi scheme with social security and Medicare, and it’s running out now. And, yes, it’s very hard to take the treats away once you start giving them away, which is why it was utterly irresponsible for Democrats long dead and gone to set up these systems that could never last.

But, you know, it would be very helpful –

Whoa, Ann, treats?  The government already took those treats away when it increased my payroll taxes in 1986, the year I started working full time as a chemist.  I could have used that yummy treat to buy a car that had an automatic transmission and power steering.  I could have sent my kid to a better summer daycare center.  I could have stuffed that money in a bank account and bought a CD with it.  But some Republican told me, no, *assured* me, that if I did the responsible thing and put that money away in the Social Security Surplus fund, there would be plenty of money for me to live on when I got to be too old to run around  the lab to move heavy gas tanks and sniff solvents all day.  Wasn’t that what was promised?

Ann, was your party lying to us?  Was it a “treat” back then or was it just a clever ploy to soak young workers out of thousands and millions and BILLIONS of dollars that were then given to the rich in the form of tax cuts?  Because, Ann, I call that fraud.  Do we look stupid to you?  Ok, the people who read your books look stupid to you, but the rest of us are not stupid Ann.

Tim Geithner, do you agree with what Ann, the Dishonest and Fraudulent Republican, is saying?  Is our taxpayer money only “sugar” and a “treat” to those of us who gave it to you in the first place?  It’s one thing to lose your looks, Ann, it’s quite a bit more devastating to lose your integrity.   I thought Republicans were all about “we should spend our money on the things we choose”.  So, if the majority of Americans want to spend that money on Social Security and Medicare and more stimulus, that seems pretty much in keeping with the Republican creed.  It’s OUR money because WE are the government and WE choose to spend it on fiscal stimulus and social safety net insurance programs.

I paid my premiums, I want my insurance, Ann.  It’s not a treat.  If MetLife pulled this shit, they’d be out of business.  As for Geithner, he’d better snap out of it.  People who were once employed and relatively prosperous get very angry and restless when their hard work is vanished and have to listen to some idiot who thinks having a steady paycheck is “sugar”.  FDR wanted to avoid that but Obama and Geithner are oblivious.  You guys need to get out more and meet new people.  I know a lot of very bright PhDs who are cooling their jets right now because they can’t find jobs. Why don’t you go talk to THEM?  Want their LinkedIn IDs?  They could be working on cures for schizophrenia and cancer but they’re at home, wasting their research time looking for jobs that never materialize and losing access to the scientific journals that will keep them on top of their game.

Meanwhile, Derek Lowe at In the Pipeline, points to a disturbing convergence of outsourcing, plant failures, counterintuitve GMP and FDA regulations and corporate cost-benefit analyses that are leading to a shortage of chemotherapy agents.  That problem is just getting started.  It’s only going to get worse.  And we on the left have to ask how we might have contributed to the problem.  The drug industry needs regulation, no doubt about that.  But have we regulated recklessly?  Have we not studied the consequences of regulation?  Don’t we want regulations that avoid this kind of thing where cancer patients are now hanging on for dear life hoping and praying the shortages are temporary?  That’s not to say that regulations are the only source of the problem here.  There are others.  There are fewer and fewer incentives for companies to operate in a socially responsible manner.  Profits are, well, profitable.  No one has told the shareholders what this is going to cost us as a society.

This is a shameful and sad legacy of our inability to deal with the drug industry in a rational manner.  I’m disgusted by all of us.  I’d wish a plague on all of our houses but in that eventuality, we’re all screwed.  There’s probably a shortage of tetracycline too.

17 Responses

  1. I paid my premiums, I want my insurance, Ann. It’s not a treat. If MetLife pulled this shit, they’d be out of business.

    I don’t get why this is so difficult for people to understand… I really don’t.

    They DOUBLED our Social Security tax for our entire working lives …. and they have the nerve to ignore that simple fact.

    It’s theft pure (!!) and simple.

    • The Mighty Wurlitzer of the MCM (Mainstream Corporate Media) is thunderously filling the airwaves and print with exactly what the Big Corporations want heard. There is no time, nor inclination, to speak the truth, to report actual history and its effects.

      We’re living in an Oligarchical Kleptocracy.

  2. “Obama and Geithner are oblivious.” I think they are entirely “blivious.” DISemployment is the preferred policy choice of both parties, including Obama.

    Take a look at the trend line on this chart of worker’s share of national income from 2000 – 2011. Then compare the trendline before 2000. Is there a difference? You betcha.


  3. Looks like the “infection” is creeping across our northern borders:

    The Harper Conservatives and the gutting of Canadian sciences:

  4. What that chart reaffirms is that the left was STUPID as all get out for anointing an utter novice to run the country right after the most disastrous 8 years since the Great Depression.

    I’m not angry with Republicans. We *know* what they’re up to. It’s the left that is responsible for this situation. They got us into this mess.

    Complete idiots, especially Armando, Kos, Yglesias, Chris Bowers and all the other “creative class” progressive nitwits.

    • So, get out the brain bleach and have it ready before reading possibly the greatest “creative class” post EVAH!

      • Summary: “we finally got rid of our base and now we can run the party. Yay! Wait, wher is everybody going? Hey, Sarah Palin is a ditz, you cretins,”

    • Here, too, the MCM was not telling the public what it needed to know to make the most informed decision. Wall Street saw Obama as their way to keep a Republican adminstration in power in a year when no Republican candidate could have won. They had to do everything in their power to keep Hillary Clinton out of the Oval Office. She had shown, in arguments made to her husband about financial and economic matters that she was not going to be as careful to please banksters as Bill had been.

      We lost a huge opportunity fo make life better for most of the people in this nation when Obama won the primary.

      But you know that….

      BTW, I’m not sure where the MCM has decided to land on who to support in the 2012 election. I think it will depend on which Republican gets the nomination. If Mittens get it, I think they will find he fits their idea of the next president more than Obama does….

  5. RD, I was thinking about you when I saw a piece on the evening news last night, that a big chemical company had to go to India to find enigneers and chemical engineers in order to find people to meet its requirements.

    Lack of skills, the executive told the reporter. Hah, thought I, more like lack of income requirements….

    • They just lie all the time, openly. It’s exhausting.

    • My ex is a chemical engineer. He can only get contract work, no benefits and has to travel half way around the world to do his work. Presumably, the location he travels to can’t find competent engineers in their country. It boggles the mind and is out of control.
      It’s not going to get better for the companies that are trying to cut corners. Chemical engineering is hard, especially if you are required to meet strict GMP standards. All they are doing is discouraging a whole generation of kids from going into science. My own kid asks what’s the point? Two parents with degrees in the hard sciences and plenty of experience, out of work or working for peanuts. The ex worries about paying the rent every month. It’s not a good way to treat your best and brightest. Pretty soon, the financial industry will be flooded with newly minted MBAs. The question is, will the normal laws of supply and demand hold for them? Because there will be a lot fewer engineers and probably a lot more shortages of chemo drugs.

    • The record isn’t so good. Union Carbide’s facility in India was a disaster, literally. Bhopal. And now we are breaking up something that had worked for decades to have our own Bhopals.

      Pay the workers. Henry Ford, who was no sweet heart knew that. Otherwise, who will buy the stuff.

      Pay the workers or pay the damage suits.

  6. The bad guy in all of this is the print and broadcast media.
    Notice how you don’t hear about government contractor cost overruns and shoddy performance now that a certain large company bought a certain media outlet?

  7. NPR this evening mentioned the two million jobs available but there are no skills matches. Seems those jobs require…vocational education. It was covered last night, but a listener wrote in to say that Boston has at least two vocational high schools and other schools offer some vocational training.

    Now, I happen to know a master tool and die maker right on this block. He was pushed out of his company so they could get the work done overseas. He’s checked a few times, but the business is still not hiring in this country.

    Another problem with my neighbor: He’s old enough to know the value of his skill and won’t take a really low wage. And he’s old enough to possibly need more medical care or his wife might need it.

    Somehow, I don’t think there are no Americans availabe for all those two millions jobs….

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