Skip to main content

Until capitalism is viewed as only a tool to efficiently serve humanity when applicable, the American society will ultimately fail. Many Americans are indoctrinated into believing that capitalism is the America religion not far removed from “Christianity”. Anyone professing any ills about it is admonished.

Here is the fact; capitalism has no soul or morals. Societies must decide what their morals and objectives are, and fit its economic constructs, capitalism, socialism, etc. to achieve those.

Last week I wrote the article “Supreme Court Will Decide If Corporations Have The Right To Own Your Genome”. It is a must read about Myriad Genetics patenting our genes, specifically BARC1 and BARC2, having to do with a mutation that leave certain women susceptible to certain types of cancers. If they win the case they will have the right to stymie anyone interested in researching that sequence and implicitly will have a monopoly on all having to do with those genes.

Sadly, this problem occurs because as a society that attempts to fit capitalism to every function or construct, we are blinded to its very own perils. The article “Gene wars: the last-ditch battle over who owns the rights to our DNA” in The Raw Story, has three short paragraphs that illustrates this.

“It is certainly true that people will not invest in medicine unless there is some return on that investment,” said Justin Hitchcock, a UK expert on patent law and medicine. “That is why Myriad has sought these patents.”

In Britain, women such as Tracey Barraclough have been given BRCA tests for free on the NHS. In the US, where Myriad holds patents, those seeking such tests have to pay the company $4,000. It might therefore seem to be a peculiarly American debate based on the nation’s insistence on having a completely privatised health service. Professor Alan Ashworth, director of the Institute for Cancer Research, disagreed, however.

“I think that, if Myriad win this case, the impact will be retrograde for the whole of genetic research across the globe,” he said. “The idea that you can take a piece of DNA and claim that only you are allowed to test for its existence is wrong. It stinks, morally and intellectually. People are becoming easier about using and exchanging genetic information at present. Any move to back Myriad would take us back decades.”

[source]

The first of the three paragraphs illustrates the lack of morality or soul of capitalism. This is not a derision of capitalism per se, it is a statement of fact. Capital is only invested where profits are likely to be made. It is not there to solve problems or to do a good. It is for this reason that diseases that are not found in many people or diseases in a subset of people that cannot afford said drugs if invented, will be ignored.

The second of the three paragraphs illustrates the economic disaster on the healthcare economics of a nation when a company that has a monopoly on a drug or for that matter decides it must make a large profit on said drug. These are the reasons why our healthcare system is so much more expensive than all other industrialized nations even though our outcomes are worse.

The third of the three paragraphs illustrates most importantly the stifling of innovation that occurs with a system that allows the patenting of genes (and seeds, and animals, etc). Contrary to those who claim it would prevent research, the actual outcome is the opposite.

It is true that a pure capitalist market will efficiently allocate resources. Bad ideas, bad products, bad designs, unwanted products will all wither away because the profit motive will make it a disincentive to invest in them. Warehouses will not be all filled ever mounting bad products etc.

Many attempt to define every aspect of exchange in our society as a product in order to capitalize it; that is an immoral flaw. Compared to cancer, there are few people who suffer from lupus. As such there is no incentive for much research on lupus. The very limited drugs that have been developed specifically for this disease then cost so much that many will simply have to choose to die.

America’s middle class is being decimated from all sides, healthcare, taxes, property rights, corporate rights, & patents policies. It is time that the masses pay attention not only to this case but many other cases that slowly strip power from the masses. 

The Myriad case should be enough of a warning to those who scream against “socialized” medicine. They should use it as a warning to socialize the portions of our healthcare system that would best work without a profit motive and a portion where a profit a motive is justified. Much is resting on the outcome of this case.



LIKE My Facebook PageVisit My Blog: EgbertoWillies.com

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Fantastic diary, important issue (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IowaBiologist, Joieau

    People need to understand that corporations are quickly becoming the enemy of free acadmic research.  Isaac Newton, Darwin, Watson, Crick & Franklin, Einstein and the rest did not investigate the natural world to have their knowledge swiped by corporations.  Frankly, Myriad needs to reimburse the rest of human society for the cost of the all the basic advances upon which their patent stands.  

    I will quibble with one statement here:

    It is true that a pure capitalist market will efficiently allocate resources. Bad ideas, bad products, bad designs, unwanted products will all wither away because the profit motive will make it a disincentive to invest in them. Warehouses will not be all filled ever mounting bad products etc.
    This is not acutally true.  Capitalism by necessity creates inequality of wealth, which means that the price signals will disporportionately incorporate teh needs of the wealthy over the rest of society.  Once that happens, capitalism ceases to allocate resources to meet society's needs effectively because price signals get distorted by inequality.  Thus, a perfect market allocates resources efficiently under a set of conditions that the mechanism of capitalism undermines.  Thus, the market mechnism is inherently an unstable equilibrium that eliminates the conditions required to make it function properly.

    Touch all that arises with a spirit of compassion

    by Mindful Nature on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 09:57:30 AM PDT

  •  cited article full of errors (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ScienceMom, FG

    To start with, it's the BRCA gene. This article better: http://cen.acs.org/...

    Although several justices raised concerns about protecting the financial incentives for companies to innovate, most seemed reluctant to consider isolated DNA a human invention. “You haven’t created a type of gene that does not exist in the body,” Justice Antonin Scalia told Castanias.

    “The justices seemed to favor the solicitor general’s compromise position that would permit patents on synthetically made complementary DNA but not on isolated DNA,” says Paul M. Rivard, a patent lawyer at Banner & Witcoff. If the Court reaches that conclusion, some but not all of Myriad’s patents would be allowed to stand, likely opening the door for others to offer BRCA tests outside the reach of Myriad’s claims, Rivard says.

    Representing the Justice Department, Donald B. Verrilli Jr. told the justices that Myriad isn’t entitled to a patent on isolated DNA “because it is simply native DNA extracted from the body.” But Verrilli added that Myriad’s lab-created synthetic molecules might be patent-eligible, noting that they “don’t correspond to anything in the body.”

  •  I don't understand how (0+ / 0-)

    a patent can be granted to anyone based on the fact that they discovered it.  Were that the case then if I discovered a new species of plant (a friend of my wife has discovered 3) I could patent the plant.  They may be able to patent the process by which the naturally occurring living material was discovered but NOT the living material itself.
    My fear is that the current SCOTUS being the corporate lap dogs they have demonstrated to be will allow this corporate chicanery to stand.  It will be another step to a corporatist state , also known as Fascism

    "If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them. Isaac Asimov (8.25 / -5.64}

    by carver on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 10:10:57 AM PDT

    •  It can't. Utility is a key aspect of any patent. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Roadbed Guy

      To patent something it need to be novel (can't have been patented before or just be public domain); a use must be described and it must be reduced to practice, all things Myriad has done. They discovered the mutation (I guess) that predicted high risk for breast cancer. They devised a test for presence of the mutation. They reduced it to practice. They have 17 years of exclusive right to practice the invention, after which it becomes free for anyone to practice. So patents expire. They aren't forever. The purpose is to incentivize discovery and development of new products, in this case a test that has probably saved thousands of lives and probably thousands of mastectomies or ovariectomies.

      For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

      by Anne Elk on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 10:57:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hmm, the meaning here is unclear (0+ / 0-)
        in this case a test that has probably saved thousands of lives and probably thousands of mastectomies or ovariectomies
        do you mean the test has saved lives by guiding women to have mastectomies or ovariectomies?  Somehow reading through that sentence I got the opposite impression . . .
        •  That is partially what I meant. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Roadbed Guy

          In cases where the test identifies a predisposing mutation, a combined mastectomy/ovariectomy eliminates the risk, and I know at least one person who took that route. On the other hand, in the case of women with a family history, the test could demonstrate that they did not inherit the mutation and that there is no reason for an operation. My apologies for the mangled text. I hope my meaning is now clear.

          For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

          by Anne Elk on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 01:05:26 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks for the response (0+ / 0-)

            to me, this seems like quite a serious issue, but rather minor as compared to others who opt to have important body parts removed based on the results of tests like this, for example from CNN:  Christina Applegate: Why I had a double mastectomy

            To me, as a male, I of course don't have any good perspective on this - but I suspect that paying $3,000 (or having an insurance company that paid that amount out) would be a rather minor expense compared to the consequences of going through with the procedure .. . .

            •  Right. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Roadbed Guy

              Both the physical and psychological consequences are profound. So, a test like this could save someone a lot of suffering.

              For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

              by Anne Elk on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 02:47:06 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  nothing novel (0+ / 0-)

        about a gene that already exists in nature

        •  Without seeing the (0+ / 0-)

          patent I would imagine it was technique, test kits, instruments etc, that was patented not the actual gene.

          "If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them. Isaac Asimov (8.25 / -5.64}

          by carver on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 02:19:17 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I would make the point (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Roadbed Guy

    that DNA patents do not claim to own anyone's genome. They do claim the time-limited right to commercially exploit aspects of the knowledge of what a specific DNA tells us or what it can be used to do. To that extent, the oft-repeated claim that Companies are trying to "own" the human genome is simply untrue, and it is due perhaps to a misunderstanding of what patents actually do.

    For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

    by Anne Elk on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 10:49:13 AM PDT

  •  this is incredibly silly framing (0+ / 0-)

    corporations WILL NOT own your genes.

    This patent dispute is over a diagnostic biomedical test that has long since become somewhat to quite obsolete.

  •  You are too timid. (0+ / 0-)

    "They should use it as a warning to socialize the portions of our healthcare system that would best work without a profit motive and a portion where a profit a motive is justified."

    It's time for us as nation to socialize the portions of our entire SOCIETY that would work better without a profit motive.  Healthcare is just one of a long string of items that works poorly when subjected to the terms of a "market" that is inherently asymmetric in both power and information.  There are many others, and together they are pulling us down into barbarism.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site