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Socialist Bernie Sanders Lauds Socialist Healthcare

Posted on July 7 2009 10:17 pm
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Self-identified socialist (and U.S. Senator from Vermont) Bernie Sanders joined MSNBC host Ed Schultz yesterday to discuss what each of them views as Barack Obama‘s noble quest to transform the American healthcare system into a government-run, taxpayer-funded enterprise.

Sanders, who founded the Congressional Progressive Caucus — which features a host of far-left luminaries like Barney Frank, Dennis Kucinich, Barbara Lee, Nancy Pelosi, and Maxine Waters — told Schultz: “The real solution of course is a single-payer national health-care program, which is the only way … that you’re going to provide universal, comprehensive, cost effective health care to all of our people.”

“The drug companies and the insurance companies,” Sanders asserted for good measure, “have historically spent hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars to make sure we remain the only country in the industrialized world without a natonal health-care program, and that we continue to pay the highest prices for prescription drugs.”

By making the foregoing statements, Sanders demonstrated that, as a socialist, he is entirely ignorant of basic economics — an ignorance he attempts to mask behind a well-rehearsed litany of lamentations condemning the greed that purportedly motivates all manner of capitalist ventures, most notably the drug-manufacturing industry. Meanwhile, he entirely missed the obvious. 

For instance, Sanders didn’t mention that prescription drugs are sometimes expensive because they cost a great deal to develop. Only one in every 5,000 to 10,000 compounds that are tested ultimately make it through the 15-year, $1.3 billion process of research & development, clinical trials, and FDA approval before ending up on the pharmacy shelf. The senator never evinced the barest shred of awareness that when a company produces a successful drug, it needs to recoup not only the money that was spent developing it, but also the money that was spent developing the failures.  Indeed, only 20 percent of FDA-approved drugs generate enough profit to cover the cost of research and development.

From listening to Sanders, one would never realize that drug prices in fact have not skyrocketed in recent years, but rather have barely risen at all. In September 2007 the annual inflation rate for drug prices was a mere 1 percent — a thirty-year low. This was chiefly the result of the ever-increasing use of generic drugs, whose prices have fallen because of free-market competition–the very antithesis of what Sanders, the socialist, proposes.

And of course, Sanders was silent on the fact that the very health-care system which he routinely savages has been responsible for fully 90 percent of the lifesaving drugs produced worldwide.

Nor did Sanders see fit to mention that countries with government-run health care invariably keep prescription-drug prices down by imposing price controls and rationing. As a result, many of the cutting-edge medications from which Americans benefit are not even available in places like Canada, Britain, France, Italy, and virtually every other country where price controls are in force.

Senator Sanders, who understands nothing about the financial risks that entrepreneurs like drug manufacturers take on a regular basis, is quite content to sit back and accuse the evil capitalists of being excessively greedy — in stark contrast, presumably, to himself and all the other selfless altruists who populate the United States Congress.

Though Ed Schultz presented Sanders as some sort of expert who “tells it like it is” on the subject of healthcare, it would have been virtually impossible for the talk-show host to have unearthed anyone less knowledgeable, less capable of counseling a wise course of action, or more certain to waste every moment of his viewers’ time, than Sanders.

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