Profiting from the Suffering of Others

Dear Friends,

It seems to me, the idea that companies shouldn’t make a profit from curing diseases, if implemented, would insure no disease would ever be cured. Often what sounds good and human hearted, when considered pragmatically, is very bad. The good of the human race is improved when there is a means for one to profit personally from solving the problems of another. As in all things we are self interested… you as much as I. To deny that is to deny human nature. Some would argue that government would step in and provide the funding for new drugs and cures, that however, forgets the pernicious incentives of government programs. If the profit motive were removed from the pharmaceutical industry, why would shareholders keep their hard earned money in investments that can only loose money, why would people study years taking on tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt, to get into an industry that is not profitable, so you see, if the high minded ever managed to remove the profit motive from curing disease, the lot of Mankind would be drastically lowered.

I think we can all agree that one of the primary goods our modern society and civilization provide, is healthcare. We enjoy longer healthier lives than at any time in human history. Today, a heart attack gets a stent or two, a broken leg no longer requires amputation, a burst appendix is no longer a death sentence and blood letting is a thing of the past. We have drugs to normalize our blood pressure and drugs to lower our LDL. These, along with all the advancements in our understanding of human health, come from scientists following their own self interest. All of the advancements we enjoy are as a result of capitalism making it profitable to cure disease and treat ailments.

Some will pretend government can take over from here, heck, some will even claim government is the source of our good fortune in health care today. Such foolishness is Pollianish at best disingenuous at worse. It is not in the self interests of a scientist working for government to solve the problem he or she is working on, it is not in the self interest of anyone in government to solve any problems they are tasked with solving. In fact, it goes directly against their self interest to solve them, because if they do, they will be immediately rewarded… by loosing their job! If a program were to solve the problem that created it, that program would no longer need to exist and so it would be eliminated. That is why no government program ever solved anything. To do so would be antithetical to the interests of every man and woman in that agency. People are nothing if not self interested, and so the incentives for government to actually solve anything doesn’t exist, put government in charge of solving a problem and you have given that problem immortality.

It sounds good though doesn’t it, no one should make a profit from someone else suffering, how can you disagree with that, are you heartless? Well, it sounds great if you don’t think about it, and most people don’t. Once you actually burn a calorie or two thinking about it however, the logic falls flat, showing it to be a purely emotional argument. Even if someone were so inclined to help others, first they must feed themselves, else they will die and cannot help others. It is obvious then, that time taken to feed , clothe and find shelter for oneself, outside helping others, will take away time and ability to help others. In the real world this means people will not be able to cure disease, help accident victims or invent new drugs as a full time job but only as a part time hobby. Moreover, the individual inclined to cure disease, unless absurdly rich, (which the progressive and socialists hate as well), will not have the capital to engage in the laborious and expensive testing and experimentation it takes to bring a drug to the people. Then there is the issue of liability, who would spend their personal fortune to develop, test and distribute a new drug to solve an age old problem, if they are subject to a lawsuit if someone is damaged by it?

We are bombarded every day by propaganda that only makes sense in an emotional way but when considered in the cold stark light of logic, is absurd, and will lead to the exact reverse of what the speaker and the listener believe and want. In the case of health care, if the socialist ideas, ideas that sound great but once you think about it, aren’t, those nice sounding phrases will lead to the exact opposite of what we want and have grown accustomed to. The legal system in every country, being egoistically self interested, is only too happy to enrich itself because someone took a blood thinning drug to stave off a coronary, and had a bleeding episode, or destroy and entire industry over a fictitious ailment leading to a much more dangerous procedure taking it’s place. The interests of humanity are only served when people are allowed, indeed encouraged, to profit from the suffering of others, or to put it more accurately, when people are allowed to profit from curing the suffering of others.


John Pepin

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