Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Canada

Martin Shkreli is the Product of a Broken Healthcare System

A lot of people are very angry with Martin Shkreli. Shkreli is CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals. Turing recently purchased the rights to Daraprim, a drug that treats toxoplasmosis, a condition that poses the greatest threat to people with weakened immune systems, such as AIDS patients. 4,400 people are hospitalized with the condition each year in the US, and about 327 people die on average each year. Once Turing acquired Daraprim, it promptly raised the price from $13.50 per pill to $750. Turing and Shkreli claimed that the price increase was necessary to make a profit and to pay for research and development into new toxoplasmosis drugs, but the medical establishment and the public strongly disagree. Dr. David Relman, chief of infectious diseases at VA Palo Alto Healthcare System, told Fortune:

We are not in dire need of new drugs for toxoplasmosis right now. There is no significant drug resistance problem with toxoplasmosis. We do not need them to be undertaking some self-serving marketing campaign. There is no public health need for such. This is simply about greed.

The HIV Medicine Association and the Infectious Diseases Society of America concurred, writing a joint letter condemning the move. But in going after Shkreli and Turing individually, we’re collectively missing the point–they are a symptom of a much larger prescription drug problem in America.

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Stephen Harper’s Austerity and Weak Oil Prices are Sinking Canada’s Economy

Canada has a federal election coming up on October 19, 2015. The election could not have come at a worse time for Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party. Canada’s economy has ground to a halt, and the voters are furious with Harper. His net approval rating has dropped to a disastrous -32:

What has he done wrong? Let’s take a closer look.

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Who is Right about Free Trade? Barack Obama vs. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren

In recent weeks, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is back in the news. TPP aims to lower barriers to trade among the United States and a variety of other nations including rich countries like Japan, Canada, and Australia and developing countries like Chile, Peru, Vietnam, and Malaysia. US Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has come out strongly against TPP, as has senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (D-VT). President Barack Obama continues to support TPP–he recently succeeded in having the agreement fast-tracked by the senate and will likely replicate that success in the house. Once TPP is fast-tracked, congress cannot debate the treaty’s contents or make amendments to it. Is TPP good for the United States? Who is right?

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The Great Gatsby Curve

Today, Paul Krugman drew to my attention some interesting work by economist Miles Corak on what is called “the Great Gatsby curve”, the tendency for economic inequality to lead to decreased social mobility. The curve is fascinating, because it illustrates a genuine negative empirical consequence from the present distribution of wealth in the United States. This negative consequence is no more negative if you’re on the right or if you’re on the left. The most committed right-winger still thinks that we should have a high degree of social mobility–capable children born to poor parents should be successful, while incapable children born to rich parents should fail. The Great Gatsby curve indicates that this does not happen–our outcomes directly influence the next generation’s opportunities. This connects equality of outcome with equality of opportunity in a way that should be disturbing to the right.

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Keystone Pipeline: To Build or Not to Build

An interesting new report is out from the US state department about the Keystone XL pipeline, a proposed oil pipeline running from Canada’s tar sands to the United States. Key to the report is this line in particular:

Project is unlikely to have a substantial impact on the rate of development of the tar sands, or on the amount of heavy crude oil refined in the Gulf Coast area.

This may have some interesting implications for the question of whether or not the pipeline ought to be built. Let’s discuss them.

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