Sharing is under siege. It is the sworn enemy of the global market – which is why so much of international trade law is designed to criminalize sharing.

Naomi Klein
Quoted in UTNE July-August 2005

I am a capitalist. But lately I’ve been reading a lot of books and articles that consider capitalism to be the root of all evil. In Starhawk’s novel The Fifth Sacred Thing, San Francisco in the future is a utopia of socialist peace surrounded by the evil forces of corporations and Christians. Pay attention to the news and there are frequent stories about the evilness of drug companies charging for AIDS medications in Africa. The list of examples goes on and on.

The ideal of a perfect utopian society where everyone gives freely of their talents is nice but unfortunately unrealistic. Anyone who has tried to get people to volunteer has found that out. I am treated as an eccentric freak with way too much time on my hands where I work because I volunteer my time with a youth organization and I make most of my quilts for charity.

The vitriol towards drug companies particularly bothers me. They are in a no win situation. This was best summed up in an episode of The West Wing. The fact is given that each AIDS fighting pill costs $0.04 to make. The response is, “That’s the second pill. The first cost $4 billion.” There needs to be financial incentives to get people to put up that kind of money for a drug that might not ever make it to market. Even if it does make it to market it doesn’t guarantee success. Look at vioxx. They spent lots of money to develop it, it is hailed as a savior drug, and now they are facing millions in lawsuits. What person in their right mind would sign up for that possible scenario out of the goodness of their heart?

Don’t even get me started on people jumping onto class action suits. I think it should next to impossible to bring a medical malpractice suit. Most suits are brought because people are unhappy and need someone to blame. (That gets us back to taking responsibility and realizing that life isn’t fair.) Get to the root of the facts on most suits and you don’t find willful malpractice. Doctors aren’t out to hurt people. People need to realize that medicine isn’t an exact science.

Just yesterday I had people in my office with a puppy. They were in for a second opinion because the puppy was sick and the vet they were seeing “refused” to tell them what was wrong with it. An honest answer from me would have been, “Your puppy is totally @#$@#$ up and I don’t know why either. So for right now we are going to keep treating her symptoms until we find something that works and from that we’ll try to figure out the underlying cause.” I’m guessing they didn’t want that answer either but that’s what I gave them in more tactful terminology. But I see people all the time who are absolutely amazed that I can’t always give an exact name to their pet’s problem. (Sometimes they want a name without examining the animal – they put the animal on the table and say “What’s wrong with her” in the same breath. Or they want an answer over the phone for an animal I’ve never seen. My instinctual responses (which I don’t say) are “My psychic powers say she’s sick” and “I don’t know. Put her up to the phone and let me ask her”, respectively.)

Newsweek this week as an article about internet sites that use sharing as a basis such as Flickr and Wikipedia. I think it is a good thing to move to a shared knowledge and bartering society but again I’m not holding my breath. I just don’t have enough faith in the goodness of humanity.