Big Pharma offers ideas to lower drug costs – except cutting prices

❝ Executives from seven drugmakers laid out their ideas for lowering drug prices to the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday. One idea was noticeably absent: lowering drug prices.

❝ The companies — AbbVie, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Pfizer and Sanofi — threw their support behind a number of Trump administration proposals and pitched some of their own ideas in written testimony submitted ahead of the hearing. Executives championed the investments their companies make and the lives they save, while acknowledging patients cannot benefit if they can’t afford medication…

❝ But none of the seven drugmakers committed to, or even suggested, lowering the price of their drugs…

RTFA if you feel the need to read the sort of specious rationales you would expect from corporate royalty. You might wish to send a message to your Congress-critter to take the side of working families, ordinary Americans, instead of these high-priced pimps.

L.A. County politicians didn’t get the drought memo – I guess

Despite a devastating four-year drought that has forced strict water conservation measures across California, most Los Angeles County supervisors still have their cars washed two or three times a week…

The multiple weekly car washes carry on despite Governor Jerry Brown’s admonitions to Californians to take shorter showers and stop watering their lawns and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s own “Save the Drop” campaign, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.

The five supervisors can either collect a car allowance or have the county buy them a vehicle, which is washed, maintained and kept fueled at taxpayer expense.

The Daily News determined through public service records that two of the supervisors, Don Knabe and Michael Antonovich, have their SUVs washed by county workers an average of twice a week and that a third, Mark Ridley-Thomas, has his car cleaned three times a week.

The remaining two, Sheila Kuehl and Hilda Solis, wash their cars about once a week…Ridley-Thomas, Knabe and Antonovich actually increased the frequency of their car washes after the governor ordered the first statewide mandatory water restrictions in April, directing cities and communities to reduce their water usage by 25 percent…

Unlike many commercial car washes, the county’s facilities do not use recirculated water, the Daily News said.

The supervisors declined to answer questions from the Daily News about the car washing.

How about admitting they’re foolish, self-serving jerks? How about stopping the silliness immediately?

How about adopting practices already part of the daily lives of sensible Californians?

Mitt and the half of America he calls moochers

The Republican Party has some potentially winning themes for America’s presidential and congressional elections in November. Americans have long been skeptical of government, with a tradition of resistance to perceived government overreach that extends back to their country’s founding years. This tradition has bequeathed to today’s Americans a related rejection of public subsidies and a cultural aversion to “dependence” on state support.

But Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and other leading members of his party have played these cards completely wrong in this election cycle. Romney is apparently taken with the idea that many Americans, the so-called 47%, do not pay federal income tax. He believes that they view themselves as “victims” and have become “dependent” on the government.

But this misses two obvious points. First, most of the 47% pay a great deal of tax on their earnings, property, and goods purchased. They also work hard to make a living in a country where median household income has declined to a level last seen in the mid-1990’s.

Second, the really big subsidies in modern America flow to a part of its financial elite – the privileged few who are in charge of the biggest firms on Wall Street…

No one has succeeded in the modern American political game like the biggest banks on Wall Street, which lobbied for deregulation during the three decades prior to the crisis of 2008, and then pushed back effectively against almost all dimensions of financial reform.

Their success has paid off handsomely. The top executives at 14 leading financial firms received cash compensation (as salary, bonus, and/or stock options exercised) totaling roughly $2.5 billion in 2000-2008 – with five individuals alone receiving $2 billion.

But these masters of the universe did not earn that money without massive government assistance. By being perceived as “too big to fail,” their banks benefit from a government backstop or downside guarantee. They can take on more risk – running a more highly leveraged business with less shareholder capital. They get bigger returns when things go well and receive state support when fortune turns against them: heads they win, tails we lose

RTFA for the history and analysis behind Simon Johnson’s conclusion. Project Syndicate once again rolls out a solid article on complex political economy.

Notes on the Decline of the West

Dating and social network site BeautifulPeople.com has axed some 5,000 members following complaints that they had gained weight.

The members were singled out after posting pictures of themselves that reportedly showed they had put on pounds over the holiday period.

The site allows entry to new members only if existing members vote them as sufficiently attractive to warrant it.

The US, the UK, and Canada topped the list of excluded members.

The site has always been unrepentant about its selection process, calling itself “the largest network of attractive people in the world”.

A culture requiring a sense of being elite is one of the best indicators of a failing society.

Purity Test for Republicans

A group of conservative Republican leaders is proposing a solution to the internecine warfare over what the party should stand for: a 10-point checklist gauging proper adherence to core principles like opposing government financing for abortion and, more generally, President Obama’s “socialist agenda.”

In what was being dubbed a purity test when it leaked out to reporters, the proposal would require the party to withhold campaign money and endorsements from candidates who do not adhere to at least seven principles on the checklist…

Its introduction increases pressure on the party chairman, Michael Steele, as he tries to maintain a balance between those in his party who have been saying the road to a Republican comeback is to include divergent views and appeal to the political center, and those who say the party needs to more fully embrace conservative principles.

But it was also likely to inflame moderate party members who have been urging the party to resist pressure from activists — spurred by commentators like Glenn Beck on the Fox News Channel and leaders of the diffuse Tea Party movement — to move against those deemed insufficiently conservative or lose their grass-roots support altogether.

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