Patterico's Pontifications

9/24/2015

Donald Trump: Rich Lowry and Fox News Insulted Me and the FCC Should Fine Them!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:51 am

So Rich Lowry says on Fox News that Carly Fiorina “cut his [Donald Trump’s] balls off with the precision of a surgeon” at the second Republican debate. The Tough Guy’s reaction? An immediate resort to thuggery:

I want this guy in charge of the FCC. He will make sure it treats all critics of Dear Leader with the governmental retribution they deserve.

I thought we dispensed with the mentality of the Sedition Act once Jefferson pardoned the people convicted under that absurd law. Put Donald Trump in the White House and that thuggish mindset will be back, with a vengeance.

Why the Free Market Is Not Responsible for the Guy Who Hiked the Price of the Anti-AIDS Drug

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:41 am

If you have a Facebook account, or even if you don’t, you no doubt have seen the story about the guy who bought the AIDS drug and jacked up the price 5000%, to $750 a tablet.

Judging by social media, Martin Shkreli, the 32-year-old chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals, may be the most hated man in America right now.

He’s been called a “morally bankrupt sociopath”, a “scumbag” a “garbage monster” and “everything that is wrong with capitalism.” And those are some of the tamer comments.
So how did a rap music-loving, former hedge fund manager suddenly become the target of online ridicule and even death threats?

His company recently acquired the rights to Daraprim. Developed in the 1950s, the drug is the best treatment for a relatively rare parasitic infection called toxoplasmosis. People with weakened immune systems, such as Aids patients, have come to rely on the drug, which until recently cost about $13.50 (£8.80) a dose.

But Mr Shkreli announced he was raising the price to $750 a pill. The more than 5,000% increase and his brash defence of the decision has made him a pariah among patients-rights groups, politicians and hundreds of Twitter users.

The evil of capitalism shows its ugly face yet again! Except, as Joe Carter explains, not so much:

Some people believe this incident is an example of the failures of free market capitalism, and claim this is why we need more government intervention. But the exact opposite is true: This is an example of government failure which the free market could solve.

The price system is one of God’s most under-appreciated creational norms. Prices provide an ingenious way for humans to distribute both knowledge and resources in a way that, on the whole, tends to increase human flourishing. This is why, generally speaking, we want to avoid distortions in the price system that come with government intervention. In a free market that is free of distortions, the prices of products and services will shift as people clarify what values and priorities should take precedence in distributing resources.

But Daraprim is not sold in a free market. The pharmaceutical industry is largely a non-contestable market where a few large firms exist because of high barriers to entry, such as onerous government regulation. Added to this is the fact that Shkreli has a coercive monopoly on Daraprim, not because of patents (the patent on Daraprim expired long ago) but because few other firms want to make the drug since the government-imposed costs make it less than profitable.

What this means is that the prices of pharmaceuticals like Daraprim are not set by the free market. The free market isn’t the reason Shkreli was able to raise the price. In fact, if he had to sell his product in a truly free market environment the price would likely remain low. And even now, if he continued to keep the price high, some enterprising pharmaceutical company would start making Daraprim themselves, increasing the supply and lowering the cost.

(Ever wonder why LASIK prices keep going down and quality keeps going up? Lack of government intervention. The same health care system that gives us skyrocketing prices can do better, when government gets out of the way.)

Government will no doubt cite the episode of the super-expensive AIDS pill as an example of why we need government control over health care. This is what they do: cause problems and then offer you solutions to the problems they created — solutions that involve putting them in charge.

Transgender Passenger Claims TSA Screening Process Humiliation

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:17 am

[guest post by Dana]

With a recent report released by Homeland Security revealing that TSA agents failed 67 out of 70 tests, thus allowing agents posing as passengers to walk through checkpoints with potential weapons, it’s surprising that TSA employees were able to spot an anomaly on a transgender passenger. But they did:

A transgender woman said she was detained and harassed at an Orlando, Fla., airport security checkpoint Monday by Transportation Safety Administration agents after a body scanner detected an “anomaly” on her.

Shadi Petosky, who runs a Los Angeles interactive entertainment studio, said she was trying to fly out of Orlando International Airport but was stopped after entering the scanner.

In her tweets about the situation, Petosky said that TSA agents calibrated the scanner for a woman, and the machine flagged an anomaly — “my penis.”

In her tweets about the situation, Petosky said that TSA agents calibrated the scanner for a woman, and the machine flagged an anomaly — “my penis.”

She said she “disclosed [her] reality immediately,” but the situation quickly escalated: Over the course of 40 minutes, Petosky said, officials patted her down twice, “fully disassembled” her luggage and put her in an empty room with an officer holding the door.

At one point, she said, an agent told her to “get back in the machine as a man or it was going to be a problem.”

TSA officials defended their agents, saying that they followed protocol for the situation. Further, according to the Transportation Security Administration website, there are accommodations provided for transgendered persons going through security screenings:

Transgender persons should use the name and gender that appears on their government-issued ID when making flight reservations and at the security checkpoint. You may ask that carry-on bags be screened in private if a bag must be opened by a TSA officer to resolve an alarm. Screening can be conducted in a private screening area with a witness or companion. You may request private screening or to speak with a supervisor at any time during the screening process.

Petosky did not request a private screening.

And then there is this:

Petosky said on Twitter that she hopes her story is used to change how transgender people are treated — regardless of their appearance.

For example, she said a TSA officer who helped smooth over the situation “told me I looked like a woman to him. Which I am sure he meant as a compliment, but what if I didn’t?”

And so it goes…

–Dana


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