For years, I’ve heard people say, “The reason we don’t have a cure for the common cold/flu are the drug companies. They prevent cures so they can keep making money selling medicines to treat the cold’s symptoms.”
This reasoning ignores two points.
One, drug companies cannot stop anyone from discovering and manufacturing a cure for the common cold other than through the FDA. If we didn’t have an FDA, the government would not be able to control when various items would come to market.
The FDA makes research so expensive that only a big company can afford it, while it’s often smaller and unknown individuals and companies who make new discoveries. I’m not saying the FDA has actually prevented a cure for the common cold to come to market. I am saying only the FDA could do so, either deliberately or through unaccountable bureaucratic inertia.
In a totally free market, with no government intervention and controls whatsoever, there would be absolutely nothing to stop any party from bringing a revolutionary, highly important and highly profitable product to market.
The other point ignored is the fact that these same companies have everything to gain by getting a cure for the common cold to market. Sure, their profits for present cold medications would evaporate. But the loss in profits would pale in comparison to the gains made by getting the common cold cure to market.
People fantasize that large corporations have power they do not have, particularly in a free, unregulated market. Likewise, people fantasize that government has unlimited power with no motive other than benevolence. It’s beyond absurd.
Freud once wrote a book called “The Future of an Illusion”. The “illusion” he referred to was God, because Freud was an atheist. The title could even more compellingly refer to the illusion of Government as Real World Caretaker, an illusion live and well in our time.
The reason people make these statements — not just about the common cold, but all kinds of things — is they’ve been led to believe that self-interest and profit are evil. But they’re not. If it weren’t for the self-interested motives of profit and achievement in science and business, the world would be exactly where it started: In the Stone Age.
When we condemn loved ones, spouses, children or others for pursuing their own happiness and interests, it’s just as wrong as when we moralistically condemn business. We’re crushing the best within people, the happiness they’re entitled to seek in their lives that we almost certainly are insistent about pursuing in our own lives. It’s hypocritical, dishonest and destructive.
It’s one of the reasons I’m constantly saying: Grow up, America.
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