Let’s say you were a fiscal conservative and discovered that another gigantic program not only couldn’t get enough private support to fulfill its popular mission but was engaging in waste, fraud and abuse and getting a new taxpayer subsidy, to boot? You’d probably call your representative in Washington to complain about public broadcasting, Head Start or some other liberal/socialist debacle.
But what if the failed and bailed-out program takes some of its ill-gotten subsidies and uses them to elect your member of Congress to perpetuate the boondoggle?
Welcome to Big Pharma, which is in line to get $1 billion in federal handouts to develop vaccines against potential bioterrorism agents. Why? Because it is not profitable for the companies to do good on their own; just like it isn’t profitable for public broadcasting to put on quality programming.
And why don’t the big drug companies have enough to do it on their own? Because, according to the Government Accountability Office, they are spending billions of dollars to develop and market only a few drugs they hope will be blockbuster knockoffs of existing medications instead of investing in real innovation that will help more people with wide varieties of illness. In fact, GAO reports, drug companies are spending more money each year and producing less for consumers, except high prices. Therefore, they must get taxpayer bailouts, just like liberal social welfare programs.
The McClatchy Newspapers article explaining the new Treasury handouts to fight bioterrorism likens the proposed system of drug development to the way the Pentagon gives money to defense contractors to build weapons. That should tell you something about how likely this new program is to actually do anybody any good, especially since the new law keeps the publicly funded science secret and unaccountable.