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Sharing

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.

3 Comments

  • Leslie

    Bigger is better frightens me, too. I’m more disturbed by the growing trends toward monopoly, though, because of the lack of diversity encouraged. Factory farming in particular may be needed because of our large population, but more and more the corporations involved in large farming seem bent on abolishing the small farm. Laws and restrictions cripple the small farmer, causing his costs to skyrocket and finally putting him out of business. When the small farmer dies so do flocks of genetically diverse animals and heritage vegetables.

    In my area tourism is our best chance of making a living, and when the farms are abandoned and developers move in, tourism moves out and only rich people will be able to live here. Check out http://nonais.org for a look at one government program that may finish off a lot of stressed family farms.

  • stacey

    as a non-doctor, i have to admit that it IS surprising that doctors can’t figure out what’s wrong sometimes. or that sometimes it takes a while. i had to go to the ER in december for what turned out to be a peptic ulcer caused by an antibiotic the dermatologist gave me. my PCP, although also told about the Rx, never put that cause/effect together and, had i not gone to the ER out of horrible pain, i would’ve continued suffering through it for the two-week duration of my medication. it occured to me then that, yes, medicine involves a lot of guesswork. and sometimes y’all guess wrong.

    anyway, our country’s capitalism is only improving if things are getting bigger, better, and more expensive.. just as i read a report the other day from a realtor in florida that shared the population booms (“we add 300 people each day!”) here as a good thing instead of as the very scary thing it may become. but that’s because, for them, things have to be getting bigger, more crowded, more expensive.. or our capital stop growing. that’s a pretty scary idea.

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