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Saturday, June 15, 2013

On corporate profits, human greed and why we need government

The Supreme Court's ruling yesterday -- that human genes cannot be patented, but that patents can be had on scientific discoveries altering genes' natural states and on new processes to carry out genetic tests, such as cancer screenings -- will alter the future of the biotech industry and, in many ways, medical research. It will reduce the price of many new drugs and alter investment incentives.

But it also illustrates a more basic point.

At least since economist Milton Friedman first advanced the view (popularized by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher) that the basic choice is whether to rely on the market or on government to decide who gets what -- and that the market is more compatible with freedom -- we have been locked into an ideological debate that has little or no bearing on the real world.

The fact is, markets don't exist in a state of nature. All we have there is survival of the fittest. Civilized societies create markets. They decide on the rules of the game, such as whether genes can be private property. Markets can be organized in many different ways, some more equitable than others. The fundamental choice isn't between the so-called "free" market and government. It is between static efficiency or equal opportunity and access, between growing apart or growing together.

--Robert Reich, American political economist, professor, author, and political and economic commentator

It's regulation. It's why we need government to regulate business, clearly. Someone, some organization must oversee the human tendency for greed and the corporate propensity to cut costs at all costs, to maximize profit.  It's why there were 2 blasts yesterday in Louisiana at the oil processing plant--cost-cutting corporations for profit above all else.

Like it or not, ladies and gentlemen, we need government. We need strong government and we need government regulation of business. We don't need huge government but we do need strong government and we keep getting reminded of exactly why, too, with catastrophe after catastrophe.

Links:  Robert Reich

Robert Reich - Wikipedia

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