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OccupyPharma and other cures

We are also the 99% Meeeeneeeemeeep!

Reader bemused_leftist pointed me to a defense of the control network that I posted about yesterday from a guy who works in one of those companies on the network.  Here are the money quotes from the defense from Andrew Drucker at Made from Truth and Lies: I’m annoyed at the sensationalist financial reporting:

I happen to work for one of those 50 companies, which gives me a little bit of perspective (even if I am very far down its hierarchy). And I can tell you that most of those companies aren’t in that position because of a conspiracy of control – but because you have a pension. AXA, Legal and General, Aviva, Sun Life, and many many more of the companies on there are there because ordinary people put their cash into life insurance or pensions, and that cash is then invested in the stock market so that it can make payouts in the event of either problems (for the insurance) or retirement (for the pensions). And because many of these companies provide pensions either for millions of people, thousands of large companies, or both, they are managing massive piles of cash.

Which doesn’t mean that they’re actually running the companies they own lots of shares in. Most pensions/insurance/life companies are terrified of telling the companies they own shares in how to behave – they want to own shares in something successful so that they make profits, but they don’t have the time to micro-manage them, and they really don’t want to get involved in anything that smells even slightly political.

This actually leads, sometimes, to insufficient control over the directors of large corporations – because if you’re in the FTSE 100, you’re going to find your shares are owned by a lot of investment companies, who just want you to churn out profits, without paying too much attention to, say, board-level renumeration. So you can get away with paying your high level people a lot without a share-holder rebellion. If they were owned by a few ordinary people then they’d find themselves subjected to a lot more scrutiny, and a lot more control.

Well, Andrew, speaking as a former employee of one of those companies that the network node companies are terrified to micro manage, I call bullshit.  The pharma industry has been micromanaged to death by the node network guys.  When they’re not totally onboard some gutwrenching merger or acquisition, they’re telling the CEO to cut more from research.  Yeah, that’s the ticket to a successful, money making pharmaceutical company!  Dismantle the research apparatus.  Do it quickly, like before the next quarter.  Andrew, please do not tell anyone in the pharma industry who has either lost their job or about to lose their job (those are the only two categories at the present time), that the pension fund managers and big banks and other financial sector players have not had a profound effect on the way pharmaceuticals run their businesses.  We have been at the Town Hall meetings when the head honchos have told us directly and to our faces that you guys have been leaning on them- heavily.  It’s not bad enough that pharma has been shooting it’s own image in the foot with lobbyists and high drug prices, that you financial types skim from, or that it is constantly under attack from the left for being less than perfect (as if there is such a thing as a perfect drug, there isn’t).  No, what really pisses the labrats off is yet another boneheaded restructuring plan brought on by some nitwit Wharton School graduate who just has to take the latest management trend out for a spin to teach those damn researchers that research costs money, by golly!  How dare they consume so many pipettes, order so many tests and break so many instruments.  Don’t they know that those costs go into the debit column??  Well, they’re going to have to learn a thing or two or we’re not going to make our quarterly estimate.

It’s been done to every one of the companies I’ve ever heard of.  If the companies aren’t shedding research jobs to hire cheap contractors, they’re shedding research jobs to just get out of unprofitable therapeutic areas.  Well, who needs antibiotics anyway?  The latest news is that Abbott is spinning off the pharma unit altogether.  Oh sure, they’ve got a blockbuster that will keep them afloat for awhile but most likely, they’ll get swallowed up by a bigger shark and where will the cost savings come from?  That’s right, the research unit.  These days, companies buy products, not the group that actually discovered the product.

More joy is on the horizon for 380 Amgen employees who learned just last week that they are going to lose their jobs.  (pharmas are either tricklers or gushers when it comes to cutting jobs.  Amgen is a trickler; Pfizer is a gusher.  But it’s all the same in the end)  Really, guys, do the rest of us unemployed labrats need more competition?  And Merck, the beacon of stability, that has been holding off the financial analysts bravely for the past couple of years while the rest of the pharmas have done what their masters ordered, seems to have finally thrown in the towel.  They are going to be making an announcement next week about reorganizing. Derek Lowe’s blog, In the Pipeline, has some of the details and this complaint from Derek:

And on a similar topic, here’s a post from John LaMattina asking what many people have at one point or another: how come Wall Street analysts get so much influence over how much a drug organization spends on R&D? His examples are Merck, Lilly, and Amgen, and his take is:

“Now, I am all for monitoring R&D budgets to maximize the returns from these investments. And I am all for accountability – asking the R&D organization to deliver new candidates to the pipeline, having formal goals with rigorous deadlines, and for running clinical trials as expeditiously as possible while keeping a close eye on costs. But for Wall Street to reward a company for lowering R&D spending and attack those that want to commit to R&D is absurd. Like it or not, R&D IS the engine that powers a pharmaceutical company. It is also a high-risk endeavor. Furthermore, given all of the hurdles that now exist especially with regard to ensuring safety and having sufficient novelty to justify pricing, R&D is more expensive than ever. But, if you want to succeed, you have to invest – substantially. There are no short cuts.”

Wall Street’s answer, which may be hard to refute, is that if you want the access to capital that the stock market provides, then you have to accept the backseat driving as part of the deal. But do we get the same degree of it as other industries, or more?

That is the rule, Andrew, not the exception.

Now, I know that a lot of people at OccupyWallStreet don’t much care for pharma.   I know it takes a lot of milk of human kindness to love us but try, people, try.  It’s really important that you try to understand this problem.  Because if there was ever an industry that needed to be liberated from Wall Street it would have to be pharmaceutical research.  Wall Street and pharmaceutical research are about as incompatible as two entities can get.  Wall Street is all about short term profits and paying the shareholder.  Pharma research “used” to be about developing cures through science and long term committments.  The Wall Street crew does not care if there is a research industry left in this country.  It is not interested in your excuses that research takes time and human organisms and their cells are very complex.  They are deaf to the pleas that we are being squeezed by the FDA to make our imperfect drugs perfect and need to carry out more and more expensive clinical trials that will cause some drugs to fail to advance.  All Wall Street cares about is whether the quarterly estimate will be hit or not.  And the MBAs who populate pharma’s corporate office suites are there to see that it is done.  That’s why they make the big bucks.

This is an opportunity, occupywallst, to take pharma back and make it work for the public.  Don’t pass this one up.

Moving on to cures of a different kind:

The people at ApartmentTherapy are starting the 20/20 Home Cure on Monday.  It’s 20 minutes a day for 20 days.  Each day features a different project to get your house back in shape.  You can sign up at ApartmentTherapy on Monday.  Here’s Maxwell’s introduction video to explain what it’s about.  If you are a bit more ambitious and need more structure in your home clean up routine, check out the 20 minutes for 30 days plan.  You can add these tasks to your favorite productivity tool (I’m testing out Home Routines for the iPad) and they can come up on a regular basis.  I have heard that if you do something for 21 days, you’re more likely to make it a lasting habit.  So, if you’re like me and you spend  a bit too much time hunched behind your computer, join ApartmentTherapy on Monday for the Home Cure.

Apartmenttherapy is just a great site to add to your daily routine anyway.  If you’re looking for a way to change your home environment in some way, they have the answers, ideas, DIY projects and plenty of design inspirations from people on budgets, updated frequently throughout the day.  They have several sibling sites too that cover everything from renesting, food, and parenting to planning your next high tech gadgets.  Another blog of visual relief for the home is Design*Sponge by Grace Bonney and her crew.  Highly recommended.

On the menu for a cool fall evening, Roast Pumpkin with Cheese Fondue.  I made this last year.  Dead simple to assemble, delicious.  Should be served in front of a toasty fire with salad and a crisp white wine.  Yummm.

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51 Responses

  1. Is the pumpkin picture one of your Roast Pumpkin with Cheese fondue? Interesting fondue pot!

    Hey – can everyone here at The Confluence help out Occupy Tucson by going to this petition and signing – you don’t have to live in Tucson or Arizona to sign it. Thank you!!!!

    http://signon.org/sign/allow-occupy-tucson-to

    • Done! Good luck.
      A friend of mine and I are contemplating camping out in Zuccotti Park some night, just to keep an eye on things. Will let you know if that happens. Maybe next weekend.

  2. It looks like the shit is about to hit the fan in Europe. Krugman has a couple of posts on the sovereign debt crisis in Greece. In Michael Lewis’s new book Boomerang, he says the problem in Greece is that taxes are not collected with any regularity. The only people who pay taxes are the ones who work for corporations or the government. Not the corporations per se. The employees who work for them. But small buisness owners, doctors, lawyers and other professionals who are self employed? They don’t pay taxes. Not that they’re not supposed to. They just choose not to do the paperwork and send in the money. And no one makes them do it. So all that money is uncollected.
    They are also incredibly inefficient. Their railroad personnel get paid some of the highest salaries in the country. In school, they have 4-5 teachers per class but their test scores are abysmal. They borrowed a lot of money and paid themselves lavishly. It sounds like what they need is a good tax collector, not more austerity. But yeah, it looks like some people need to find different jobs where they’re needed and not so much where they’re not.
    Iceland is a completely different story. They really are the bad boys of Europe. Well, what can you expect from a country settled by a bunch of marauding vikings?

    • The story on the “whys” of Greece are all over the map, depending on where you read and who’s telling the tail. The only thing everyone seems to agree on is that the shit is gonna indeed hit the fan or has already.

      Iceland did what was best for it’s own society and seems to have came out the other side in a pretty good position. It seems the IMF and World Bank is giving them a pass so good for Iceland. Argentina also did a strategic default earlier and seems to have largely rebounded, something which is escaping the US. There is a post at Yve’s about that now.

      In the meantime, this kind of behavior by US insurers just drives me up the wall. What a bunch of asshats.

      ‘Miracle’ tornado survivor denied workers’ comp

      A true hero of the Joplin tornado gets totally screwed over.

  3. Off topic: I can’t seem to post on the Crawdad Hole, either at home or from work.

    I wonder if I’ve been banned. 😕

    If yes, I would take perverse pride in that. It’d be like being banned from 4chan. 😛

    • Ya, but look who you’d be in the can with: me. I’ve begun wondering if I was deliberately banned from Crawdad too. Seems odd they’d skip a chance for public insult. 😉

      Actually I suspect it’s something to do with the ‘comment blacklist’ or the ‘user blacklist’ or something. For like a week or more at a time, my posts don’t even get an ‘in moderation’ message: they just never appear at all, which I call ‘Gulag’. (Which is what WordPress does with something labeled ‘spam’. But mine can be just stuff like ‘Honk’, not even a link.)

      Then after a week or so I try again and it shows ‘in moderation’, and after it’s approved, all my next posts will go straight up. Then suddenly they are all back to Gulag. May be in the ‘moderation’ phase of the cycle now.

      • I would reckon that the more of us who can’t post, the less chance that it’s deliberate.

        “Seems odd they’d skip a chance for a public insult.”

        Yeah, it’s hard to imagine Teh Klown passing that up. :mrgreen:

        • I figured it was accidental too, but Crawdad’s “Blogging is my Hobby” describes just that pattern as being deliberate. So I’m unsubbing from Crawdad.

          RD, sorry to clutter your blog with this. I thought maybe it was a WordPress bug.

      • “Seems odd they’d skip a chance for a public insult.”

        Yeah, I can hardly imagine Teh Klown passing that up. :mrgreen:

      • I post there only sometimes, not often. Crawdad Hole and The Confluence run on the same kind of hosting platform or whatever you call this thing. I had a couple of my comments not appear on The Confluence while all my others have. That looks like random mechanical error to me. And if random mechanical error can strike here, it can strike there. An interesting experiment might be to go to a computer far removed from your normal computer and log in as “guest” or something and say some trite little harmless thing. Then a day later, go back to your usual computer and see if “guest’s” trite little harmless comment has shown up. Also, try posting as “guest” from your normal computer. I have tried posting as “guest” from my normal computer onto Hullabaloo and I am satisfied that I have definitely been banned by Digby. The thing about Digby is that her bannings of me and of Sarah B.(?) and possibly others have been stab in the back sneak attacks from the shadows, with never a word of admission or anything else. That is why I don’t read Hullabaloo anymore and will not unless I find the time to go to a faraway computer
        and log in as “guest”, to try that side of the experiment.
        Whereas Crawdad Hole says right in the instructions right at the top that they reserve the right to mock us or disappear comments or ban us for any reason or no reason at all any old time they feel like it.
        They are quite honest about that. So If I end up banned there I won’t complain on another blog about it. I know the risks, even if I don’t know the triggers. Digby, on the other hand, shows no such sense of honor on this matter. In fact, she shows no honor at all whatsoever in this matter. So I imagine I will complain about it from time to time before I “get over it”.

        Monster from the Id, why don’t you try recruiting more Hullabalouies to come over here and read the Confluence? You can tell them that a kinder and gentler r u reddy posts here (unless he gets hisself banned). Maybe some of the good folks over there miss me . . . ya think?

        • r u reddy, I absolutely love your comments and you are welcome here anytime. Same with monster, who used to be something else (was it Ivorybill Woodpecker?)
          As I wrote below, there is probably something else going on that has you thrown into the spam and moderation bins. It is absolutely not intentional.

          • Yes, RD, I used to be IBW. I decided I wanted to be the same thing on all the political blogs I comment on. On all the anime/manga/comics forums I comment on, I’m “Kid Charlemagne”.

            RUR–Maybe, but I make no promises.

          • Thank you. I’ll try and behave myself as best I can . . . for the most part.

    • Yes, indeed being banned from 4chan would be quite the badge of honor. I don’t know how I got there one day but, it burned a hole in my brain even just seeing that place once.

  4. Test post.

  5. OK, now the Confluence is getting weird on me. I tried twice to reply to Bemused Leftist and failed, but the test post worked. Perhaps only “reply” posts are failing? 😕

    • Test post

      • My reply to myself worked, but my attempt to reply to BL on a “Comment” rather than a “Reply” option failed. WTF? 😕

        • My working email is 1950democrat at gmail.

          More weirdness at Crawdad. I tried several posts and they all got ‘in moderation.’ Then I went back and reloaded and they had disappeared. Tried another, got ‘in moderation’.

          • It wasn’t important. I merely agree with you that stealth banning would not be the style of Teh Klown, and so the accidental explanation is more likely to be true.

    • Mechanical error. Gremlins.

      Oooh! Oooh! I just had a brainsplort! If anyone could tell whether Graham Firchlis is full of shit or shinola when he talks about matters medical, Riverdaughter could. Should we invite that screeching loop-tape babble-monger over here? Or would getting banned be too light a punishment for causing that to happen?

      • Invite Grim Feckless?

        To quote the Son of Odin, “I SAY THEE NAY!”

        ‘Nuff said, true believers! Excelsior! :mrgreen:

        • Well, how about Jill Bains then?

          • 😆

          • Jill hasn’t posted at the Hullabazoo in quite a while, but the double-posting dude seems to fill her role well enough. Since he won’t choose a consistent name, I call him “Cosmo” from “cosmopolitan”.

  6. Reply to BL at 11:57–

    “Seems odd they’d skip a chance for a public insult.”

    Yeah, I can scarcely imagine Teh Klown passing that up. :mrgreen:

  7. What I meant to say to BL is that I agree that stealth banning would not fit the style of the CH regulars, so I also suspect the accidental explanation to be more likely to be true.

    • That’s probably a good assumption. A lot of comments, including yours, have ended up in my moderation and spam bin recently. I didn’t flag your ID at all and you didn’t hit a trigger word so this is a mystery to me.
      BTW, I notice that myiq is telling people that I banned him. This is not true. When he left here in January (note: HE left, no one pushed him out) it was because I took away his admin privileges. I didn’t want certain conservative religious commenters hanging around anymore challenging my authority to run my blog they way I chose. Myiq wanted to keep those people here. In particular, they seemed to be part of Mrs. Mavericky’s personal cheering section. So, I banned them. Myiq attempted to unban them. I took his admin privileges away but allowed him to keep his editing privileges. He had a tantrum and went off. This was the same week I was laid off so his timing was terrible and he was unapologetic about adding one more layer of stress to what was already a very bad week.
      Lately, he seems to be unable to concede an argument. I suspect this has been a lifelong issue with myiq. I have a kid who is also like this. They are probably the same kind of people, highly intelligent and do not suffer fools lightly. Unfortunately, they don’t know when to stop, even with their friends. Sometimes, he just won’t take no for an answer and insists on hearing the same explanation over and over again in various permutations. It’s a power struggle thing. If they can’t get the answer they want, they figure they can wear you down until you give in. I get really sick of that shit. I don’t take it from my 15 year old and I certainly won’t take it from myiq. So, his comments have been directed to moderation. If it’s repetitive, pointless argumentative stuff for the sake of being argumentative, and adds no new information, it gets chucked. Otherwise, he can post here as much as he likes. For a long time, we didn’t remove his editor privileges. He could have posted at any time. He chose not to.
      Since myiq split, I have had to be very careful about who I co-blog with. So many people seem to think they change the direction of the blog without my permission. And let’s make one thing clear, I was a very lax editor. Frontpagers had pretty free reign. There is a range of views on the left that this blog can accommodate very well, everything from Kat’s skydancing red tent feminism, lefty tribal crap to myiq’s redneck country boy stuff. I don’t have an issue as long as they stay in the liberal side of the spectrum but don’t have their minds so wide open their brains have fallen out or so out of control that they start veering into the conservative side. You’d think that would be a pretty wide range and something for everyone. Alas, it is not.
      So, for now it is just me and Katiebird. I’ve considered adding a few more but once bitten, twice shy and I have been entirely too trusting in the past. From now on, they will need to take an MMPI and go through a lengthy interview process.

      • Well, when it comes to blogs, “let a thousand flowers bloom.” I am just as content to read all three as separate blogs with distinct identities. But easy with the ‘crap’ word, eh? I find that pretty harsh applied to Dak.

        Speaking of front pagers, whatever became of Rico the bartender?

        • Sorry, ugsome, but I find her stuff tilted more and more towards lefty tribal identity blogging. I’m not into it. But if you like it…

  8. Matt Taibbi has done some good reporting since he woke from his kool-aid coma.

    Occupy Wall Street: Washington Still Doesn’t Get It

    I’ll have more coming out about this in a few days, but there have been two disgusting developments in the realm of plutocratic intervention on behalf of Wall Street that everyone protesting should take note of.

    The fact that both of the following things took place in the middle of the full fever of OWS, when everyone is supposedly trying to placate anti-banker sentiment and Obama and the DCCC are supposedly pledging support of the protesters, shows how completely bankrupt this system is and how necessary street-level protests have become. Popular uprising is probably the only move left to stop developments like the following:

    • Oh, jeez, have you ever had to work under the Sarbanes-Oxley act?? It is THE BIGGEST PAIN IN THE ASS. It wouldn’t be so bad if the CEOs had to sign off on their financial statements and take personal responsibility for them. The problem is that it ties the hands of everyone below the CEO and I do mean everyone, down to the last labrat and glass washer. To make things easy for the company and not engage in too much paperwork, they “bless” certain vendors and primary contractors. Everything has to go through the new middlemen to get anything done. You want service on your atypical linux server environment? Sorry, the contracting company doesn’t do that. You need an exception? Ok, fill out all of this additional paperwork and the primary contractor will find you a subcontractor after all of the layers of approval. You have a particular subcontractor in mind that you used before the stupid compliance thingy went into effect? Hmmm, special order. We don’t do special orders. This will take awhile. Then you get reprimanded for trying to go around the system.
      In fact, I think Sarbanes-Oxley may be one of the reasons that companies have decided to jettison their staff for contractors. They let the blessed middleman do all of the hiring.
      And let’s not forget all of the online training programs and quizzes on scenarios that do not apply to you but if you buy even one little thing, it has to be done through the intermediaries so every penny is accounted for in minute detail. That gives the arrogant assholes in the purchasing department godlike powers over your work. It is supremely irritating.
      Of course, the people who are screaming for Sarbanes-Oxley’s repeal are not the ones who will still have to work under the structure that has been erected since its passage. You’ll still have to jum through hoops but the guy at the top will no longer have to sign off on the final tally. That’s the way it will go.

      • Yes, S-O brought on huge pains in the area of computer security and the constant inventorying of “just crap”. The people who actually did the implementation hosed it up seven ways from Sunday.

        • My IT department is now constantly doing firewall upgrades that take down the network. They don’t know how to operate some of the servers that reside in their computer room. They won’t create “generic” accounts for networked file servers which makes it difficult to set up equipment.

          At the same time, they have the laziest network. People are sucking up bandwidth downloading movies, they let anyone with the wireless key log into the network and yet because of S-O we have to change all of our passwords every 90s days, even on the multi-user accounts. 90% of people forced to change their password that often end up writing it next to their computer anyway.

          • Yeah, implementation is pathetic. Heck of it is the law itself isn’t bad but the bureaucracy is insane.

          • I forgot to mention that I know some of the management who control how this is actually done internal to my company. I’m certain that some of the weirder things are those dipwads making a little extra spreadsheet fiefdom for themselves. It only effects some people who work for them downstream and they have a handy metric to report.

  9. OWS picks up another ally in the fight. Those DFHs in the Vatican.

    Vatican calls for global authority on economy, raps “idolatry of the market”

    “If no solutions are found to the various forms of injustice, the negative effects that will follow on the social, political and economic level will be destined to create a climate of growing hostility and even violence, and ultimately undermine the very foundations of democratic institutions, even the ones considered most solid,” it said.

    It called for the establishment of “a supranational authority” with worldwide scope and “universal jurisdiction” to guide economic policies and decisions.

    Asked at a news conference if the document could become a manifesto for the movement of the “indignant ones”, who have criticised global economic policies, Cardinal Peter Turkson, head of the Vatican’s Justice and Peace department, said: “The people on Wall Street need to sit down and go through a process of discernment and see whether their role managing the finances of the world is actually serving the interests of humanity and the common good. “We are calling for all these bodies and organisations to sit down and do a little bit of re-thinking.”

  10. Hello All,

    Interesting article on OWS in the NYRB.
    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/nov/10/zuccotti-park/?page=1

    To me the “money” quote is at the end of the article

    “…The protesters in Zuccotti Park seem to have heralded the membership of a significant portion of our population in a new form of Third World, a development that our media and government appear to have been the last to absorb.”

  11. Amazing article! (still reading). It answers the Klown’s perpetual question:”Who are these People”? Although probably not in the way he would have liked it.

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