The US has been taken over by zombies. The half-dead, flesh-eating monsters dominate our major industries — finance, health, education and defense. The health care system is supposed to be run by private enterprise. It’s supposed to be free and dynamic, responding to market pressures and adapting to consumer demand. Our colleague, Porter Stansberry, says it has been corrupted. As you can see for yourself, it is degenerate…and zombified:
Think about the new prescription drug benefit — 2003’s Medicare Modernization Act. The law provided public funding for both public and private prescription drug benefits. (IBM, for example, estimated it would save $400 million over 10 years on retiree benefits thanks to the law.) At the same time, the law banned the federal government from negotiating with pharmaceutical companies. In summary, the law basically requires the federal government to pay for the prescription drugs of just about anyone over the age of 65 and requires the government to pay full retail prices.
There are now around 25 million beneficiaries of this law (not including the pharmaceutical companies). The average annual benefit is currently about $1,500. The total cost of the legislation over the next decade is expected to be around $1 trillion. This represents the largest expansion of Medicare in the history of the US.
The benefit was approved by a Republican-dominated Congress, in a midnight vote. Louisiana Republican Billy Tauzin, then chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, which oversees the pharmaceutical industry, organized the vote. Two months later, Tauzin resigned his seat and took a job paying $2.5 million per year as a lobbyist for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. The pharmaceutical industry continues to spend $100 million per year on campaign contributions and lobbying.
Americans are left paying the world’s highest prices for drugs. Worse, we have extended the entitlement sentiment into the one area of the economy where personal responsibility is crucial. For most people, good health can be achieved by maintaining a disciplined diet and simple exercise. Offering free pills in lieu of such steps will only further the serious problem of diabetes and obesity we face.
And remember… this law was passed by Republicans and signed into law by a Republican president.
Porter has more in today’s guest essay, below…
“Feliz Navidad!” they said, driving off in their pick-up.
This part of the nation is being taken over by Spanish-speaking immigrants from Latin America.
Last weekend, we needed help putting up a fence. So we called Francisco…a friend of a friend.
“How many people do you want?” he asked.
We settled on three. They arrived at 8 AM. They declined our offer of coffee and donuts. Instead, they set to work and kept at it all day, except for a very brief break for lunch. It was cold. But they also declined our offer of a chair in front of the fire in the kitchen. They preferred to sit on a log outside and eat their sandwiches in the open air.
They worked Saturday and Sunday. Rarely pausing. Rarely talking.
“Where are you from?” they asked us.
“From right here…” we replied.
They looked puzzled.
“But how come you speak Spanish?” they wanted to know.
What is odd about these immigrants is that they keep to themselves. Francisco has been in the US for 10 years. Yet he barely speaks any English. The others spoke little English too. They have their own churches. Their own shops. Their own communities.
When the sun went down on Sunday, we settled up. We paid $817 in cash. About $15 an hour/hombre.
for Markets and Money