End Government Funding of Science?

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Kit.
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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Kit. » Mon Aug 12, 2013 11:49 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
Kit. wrote:
Arariel wrote:Any developments that benefited the public (even if such effects in the long term) should have been reflected in long-run economic growth. Economic growth isn't some silly measure of how much money people make. It's a measure of standard of living.

Not entirely correct. It could be a measure of the volume of the consumption. But it's not by itself a measure of the quality of life.


Quality of life is somewhat subjective, because each of us value things differently. However, whatever your goals, it generally takes resources to pursue them. So, all other things being equal, a more productive society is more able to produce a better quality of life.

Unfortunately, "able" doesn't mean "willing". Returning to my (and others' in this thread) example: does society more productive in smoking have a better quality of life?

nitePhyyre
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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby nitePhyyre » Tue Aug 13, 2013 1:03 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
Kit. wrote:
Arariel wrote:Any developments that benefited the public (even if such effects in the long term) should have been reflected in long-run economic growth. Economic growth isn't some silly measure of how much money people make. It's a measure of standard of living.
Not entirely correct. It could be a measure of the volume of the consumption. But it's not by itself a measure of the quality of life.
Quality of life is somewhat subjective, because each of us value things differently. However, whatever your goals, it generally takes resources to pursue them. So, all other things being equal, a more productive society is more able to produce a better quality of life.
Arariel says that production is all that matters to quality of life, Kit points out that this isn't true and that there are many other factors that effect quality of life, and the response to that is "all other things being equal"? Someone points out that there are factors that complicate the issue that can vary from place to place, and you say 'well yes, but we should just assume that they are all equal'?

Guess what? All other things are not equal.
sourmìlk wrote:Monopolies are not when a single company controls the market for a single product.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby addams » Tue Aug 13, 2013 3:16 am UTC

nitePhyyre wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:
Kit. wrote:
Arariel wrote:Any developments that benefited the public (even if such effects in the long term) should have been reflected in long-run economic growth. Economic growth isn't some silly measure of how much money people make. It's a measure of standard of living.
Not entirely correct. It could be a measure of the volume of the consumption. But it's not by itself a measure of the quality of life.
Quality of life is somewhat subjective, because each of us value things differently. However, whatever your goals, it generally takes resources to pursue them. So, all other things being equal, a more productive society is more able to produce a better quality of life.
Arariel says that production is all that matters to quality of life, Kit points out that this isn't true and that there are many other factors that effect quality of life, and the response to that is "all other things being equal"? Someone points out that there are factors that complicate the issue that can vary from place to place, and you say 'well yes, but we should just assume that they are all equal'?

Guess what? All other things are not equal.

Bastards? Spherical Bastards?
Equal from all sides?

Could we get a Government Grant for that?
The Bastards seem to have no problem with their grant proposals.

All things might not be equal. What do you think?
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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Kit. » Tue Aug 13, 2013 7:56 am UTC

addams wrote:Bastards? Spherical Bastards?
Equal from all sides?

Could we get a Government Grant for that?
The Bastards seem to have no problem with their grant proposals.

All things might not be equal. What do you think?

I think that "spherical bastards" are scientific (they are the first-order approximation of a converging spherical decomposition of real bastards), while "all other things being equal" are pseudoscience at best.

I mean, you can make a hypothesis about "spherical bastards" falsifiable by a real world test (i.e. it can be possible to distinguish between the errors in the prediction of the hypothesis itself and the errors introduced by the higher-order harmonics of a real bastard). You cannot do it for "all other things being equal" hypothesis, because "all other things" are never equal in real life.

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addams
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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby addams » Tue Aug 13, 2013 8:05 am UTC

Kit. wrote:
addams wrote:Bastards? Spherical Bastards?
Equal from all sides?

Could we get a Government Grant for that?
The Bastards seem to have no problem with their grant proposals.

All things might not be equal. What do you think?

I think that "spherical bastards" are scientific (they are the first-order approximation of a converging spherical decomposition of real bastards), while "all other things being equal" are pseudoscience at best.

I mean, you can make a hypothesis about "spherical bastards" falsifiable by a real world test (i.e. it can be possible to distinguish between the errors in the prediction of the hypothesis itself and the errors introduced by the higher-order harmonics of a real bastard). You cannot do it for "all other things being equal" hypothesis, because "all other things" are never equal in real life.

You are correct.
But; I can't sleep.

The word Never , Always leaves an opening a tractor can drive through.

At the most fundamental level All things are equal.
All stuff is Star stuff.
Life is, just, an exchange of electrons; It is up to us to give it meaning.

We are all in The Gutter.
Some of us see The Gutter.
Some of us see The Stars.
by mr. Oscar Wilde.

Those that want to Know; Know.
Those that do not Know; Don't tell them.
They do terrible things to people that Tell Them.

Kit.
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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Kit. » Tue Aug 13, 2013 8:16 am UTC

addams wrote:At the most fundamental level All things are equal.
All stuff is Star stuff.

If all things are equal, they are the same thing.
It's that simple.
So, you have the same thing in a mixed state.
It's OK, it happens.
But you have no observer to determine if the cat is dead.
Because if you have an observer, you have an interference, and the things become not equal.

Arariel
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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Arariel » Tue Aug 13, 2013 9:04 am UTC

Angua wrote:There would have been legal barriers to use of that drug because the drug was currently under patent for another use entirely.

So this barrier is created by the government, then? Who'd've known.

Yes, some drugs are found with other research but it's neither common (there are many, many drugs out there, most of which were found with people trying to find something that will work for there intended use), not reliable. If you want a cure for x disease, you don't just sit around and hope that someone else find something useful. You research the disease to try and find ways to stop it.

What, so socialise research to fund every single disease? I mean, sure, diseases like say, Ebola might be terrible and have no cure, but there's not even a hundred cases a year (or if there are more, not much more). For the diseases that are widespread and lethal, there is high incentive to provide treatments for them, and they'll come through without a body arbitrarily forcing people to direct resources to such and such research (HIV/AIDS no doubt had considerable government funding, but would anyone honestly believe there would be no treatment without it?). It's cost and benefit. Why research treatments for diseases that don't even afflict very many?

KnightExemplar wrote:Why should I imagine? It has already happened. Have you not seen the complete ineffectiveness of Vitamin Supplements that has been discovered recently?

http://junksciencecom.files.wordpress.c ... tality.pdf

Survey Says: Multivitamin use has led to (slightly, but statistically proven) increased mortality. How many years has the general public used multivitamin supplements for the hell of it? And now we don't even know if they do anything (or women over the age of 60 to 85).

Lets see, who discovered this fact? Funding came from:
* National Cancer Institute (US Government)
* The Academy of Finland (Finnish Government)
* The Finnish Cultural Foundation (Finnish)
* Fulbright program (Wait... what? State Department? They fund this stuff ? I guess its because its an international study, so the State Department has their fingers in this )

Why did this happen? Because health policy is a classic market failure. No one is TRYING to screw you over, we've just identified a situation where important work fails to get done. Understanding where the free market fails is extremely important for policy makers to understand. Again though, I emphasize, I feel this is not the typical case. I've brought up the internet before, where the Free Market innovates very very strongly. But for whatever reason, in the area of Health Policy, research is almost always driven by government entities. Do you really expect Multivitamin companies to publish research that would destroy their own business segment? Hell no, and who can blame them?

--> Another study (by the same doctors) also discovered that Vitamin D supplements remain useful in Finland. It could be the case that US is sunnier than Finland Vitamin D, so Vitamin D supplements don't help you out. Interesting research...

Sorry, I meant 'wholly ineffective at what they claimed to do'. Vitamin supplements claim that vitamins are essential for your body, which is true, and that they contain vitamins, which is also true. So really, they didn't say anything that was untrue.

Could have, would have, should have. Stop using wishy-washy words and start bringing up historical examples. The reason why we have NIH, FDA, and all of those big agencies... is because the research DOESN'T happen without government intervention. You're arguing against historical fact without understanding context.

Break free of the chains of your idealism and look at the facts for what they are.

Well, honestly, that argument could apply to all technological progress from 1930 on, from computers and the Internet to Velcro.

At any rate, as a proper historical example, alcohol was known to cover liver disease since the turn of the 20th century, probably related to the Temperance movement, so it's not as if these things couldn't be figured out without government and/or private businesses would suppress the information.

There are public concerns over the use and effectiveness of Flu Vaccinations. "Public Concern" is white noise that attacks everything.

Flu vaccines were not commonly referred to 'coffin nails', and no one talked of a 'vaccinated person's cough/hack'. The fact that the ads from the period only claimed their brand of cigarettes were 'less bad' indicate popular conception was that smoking was probably bad.

What matters is where and when the SCIENCE!! gets done. And historically speaking, in the field of Health Policy, the Free Market does not lead to groundbreaking research that affects millions of people. Anti-smoking facts, and more recently anti-vitamin facts (~2010) are thanks to government sponsored research. Its a solid pattern that has made its way through history.[/quote]
The Free Market has never lead to anything groundbreaking in Anything Policy, because the free market has nothing to do with creating policy, nor should it be.

The Great Hippo wrote:What happens when health insurance companies receive a payoff by cigarette companies not to pursue that research?

Same situation as what would occur if companies from Industry A try to pay off companies from Industry B to not produce a competing good. On the side from Industry A side, it's a Prisoner's Dilemma since the companies have incentive to defect (experience all the benefits of no tobacco research without paying) and on the Industry B side you have what's in effect a subsidy, encouraging more firms to enter the market, all of which will have to be paid off by the firms in Industry A. The cigarette companies could form a cartel, but seeing as they never had any success with that anyway regarding advertising (to defect is to advertise, to cooperate is to not advertise; advertising would draw consumers from one firm to another, but not many more to the industry overall. If everyone advertised, they'd all be out of a lot of money and not many more consumers to show for it. As a result, they lobbied to have their advertising banned.), that would probably be ineffective.

Or what happens when health insurance companies concentrate on denying health coverage for smokers and/or smoke-related illnesses?

Then people become aware that they'll receive higher premiums/get denied if they smoke, discouraging smoking and making people at least aware of its dangers. Problem solved. Hit someone in the wallet and they tend to feel it.

I think the presumption that health insurance companies would fill the gap that the government did in this case is a very dangerous one; there are plenty of better methods to pursue profit besides launching a costly anti-smoking campaign that will make an enemy out of Big Tobacco.

And so what? A rational insurance company would need to do or fund the research on tobacco for actuarial statistics. Some do-gooder nonprofit might use that research in their anti-smoking campaign. But I don't see why a publicly funded anti-smoking campaign was ever necessary.

johnny_7713 wrote:So here is the current dogma: scientific research is fundamentally a public good because new ideas, unlike private goods, cannot be monopolized for long,
No, scientific research is a public good because the potential returns on investment in pure scientific research are way beyond the horizon for most companies. GPS wouldn't work without knowledge of the theory of relativity, but in 1904 no one would have hired Einstein to develop a theory of relativity, because a) you wouldn't know in advance that you would be getting that, and b) it would take another 50-80 years before you could earn money off it.

Someone doesn't know what the definition of a public good is.
Also, you do realise Einstein's research wasn't funded by any government, right?

The contemporary economic evidence, moreover, confirms that the government funding of R&D has no economic benefit.
Are we talking about industrial R&D, or are we talking about pure science. The article seems to confuse the two a lot, and they are definitely not the same thing.

Presumably all scientific research. Besides, companies fund pure science too.

Nathan Rosenberg of Stanford University showed that the down payment that a potential copier has to make before he or she can even begin to copy an innovation is their own prior contribution to the field: only when your own research is credible can you understand the field. And what do credible researchers do? They publish papers and patents that others can read, and they produce goods that others can strip down.
You don't need to be credible, you need to be competent. Sure, you might need to go through the research steps yourself to really understand some new technology, but you certainly don't have to publish anything yourself.

So you're saying you expect them to develop competent researchers without having them do any research? That'll work out just dandy.

indeed, if it was ever real, the distinction between pure and applied science is now largely defunct
Indeed? So what's the application of string theory, or the Higgs' Boson, or Fermat's last theorem, or a survey of French medieval poetry?

I wouldn't know, but are those science?
String theory: Debatable. Testable hypotheses? Not really.
Fermat's last theorem: Mathematics is not science. (I can hazard a guess towards applications, though, since it's related to elliptic curves it probably has some purpose in cryptography)
Survey of French medieval poetry: lolwut.

CorruptUser wrote:Common Good: Non-excludable, rivalrous. A good that no one can be prevented from using, but use prevents others from enjoying. E.g., fisheries, wild deer, unowned grazing fields.

Free Market fails utterly here. Government is absolutely needed to use these at all.

Absolutely untrue. When a Tragedy of the Commons occurs, it doesn't occur because it's impossible to exclude, it's because people are not allowed to exclude. The establishment of private property rights solves the problem. For instance, a crowded road can be dealt with by making it private property, allowing for tolls to be collected, etc.

Kit. wrote:
Arariel wrote:Any developments that benefited the public (even if such effects in the long term) should have been reflected in long-run economic growth. Economic growth isn't some silly measure of how much money people make. It's a measure of standard of living.

Not entirely correct. It could be a measure of the volume of the consumption. But it's not by itself a measure of the quality of life.

If people's desires are fulfilled with less consumption, they'll consume less. So maximal utility can be achieved by increasing the amount and variety of goods able to be consumed, and in a system where all purchases are voluntary, the increased consumption reflects increased utility and thus standard of life.

So, if, say, the increasing sales of junk consumables together with the increasing sales of the medical services fighting with the effects of junk consumables contribute 2% to the annual economy grow, does it mean that this increase makes living 2% better annually?

If junk consumables make them happier, I'd say they'd be getting a higher standard of living, yes.

Producer-funded research is supposed to increase the well-being of the producer. The well-being of a producer is determined by their ability to make profits from sales.

Consumer-funded research is supposed to increase the well-being of the consumer. The well-being of a consumer is determined by their ability to spend their funds efficiently.

In a voluntary transaction, both producer and consumer are made better off.

I won't be surprised to find out that the medical research funded by the medical insurance funds (even privately owned ones) actually decreases the growth in the medical service sales. Is it a bad thing for the producers of medical services? Definitely. Is it a bad thing for the consumers of medical services? I'm not convinced.

Unless consumers take their savings from the medical service sales and shove them under a mattress, I'm hazarding that the money re-enters the economy in another industry.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue Aug 13, 2013 10:42 am UTC

Arariel wrote:Same situation as what would occur if companies from Industry A try to pay off companies from Industry B to not produce a competing good. On the side from Industry A side, it's a Prisoner's Dilemma since the companies have incentive to defect (experience all the benefits of no tobacco research without paying) and on the Industry B side you have what's in effect a subsidy, encouraging more firms to enter the market, all of which will have to be paid off by the firms in Industry A. The cigarette companies could form a cartel, but seeing as they never had any success with that anyway regarding advertising (to defect is to advertise, to cooperate is to not advertise; advertising would draw consumers from one firm to another, but not many more to the industry overall. If everyone advertised, they'd all be out of a lot of money and not many more consumers to show for it. As a result, they lobbied to have their advertising banned.), that would probably be ineffective.
Cigarettes and health-coverage are not actually competing goods. See the conversation re: Zamfir/Heisenberg (cigarettes actually may potentially reduce health costs!). Even barring that (presume they did increase health costs), they're still not competing goods; your explanation here is just a wishy-washy economics 101 handwave.

But here's an interesting thought experiment: Presuming cigarettes do reduce health care costs (by killing sick people faster), what incentive does anyone have to research the detrimental effects of tobacco smoke? Cigarette companies are happy because you're buying smokes; insurance companies are happy because when you get sick, you die quicker (instead of clinging on and costing them money with end-of-life care).

Tell me: Who else besides the government would bother to research this? Presuming we relied on market solutions, what compelling reason would anyone have had to discover that cigarette smoking is bad for you?
Arariel wrote:Then people become aware that they'll receive higher premiums/get denied if they smoke, discouraging smoking and making people at least aware of its dangers. Problem solved. Hit someone in the wallet and they tend to feel it.
That's not how economics work. Price-hiking does not make consumers more aware; it just makes things more costly for consumers.

Note the difference between 'feel' and 'understand'. If you raise my cost of living, I certainly feel it -- but I don't necessarily understand it.
Arariel wrote:And so what? A rational insurance company would need to do or fund the research on tobacco for actuarial statistics. Some do-gooder nonprofit might use that research in their anti-smoking campaign. But I don't see why a publicly funded anti-smoking campaign was ever necessary.
That's not how actuarial statistics work. Do you know what an actuary table is? You don't need to research the reason why something has an impact; you just need to know the degree of impact it has.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Angua » Tue Aug 13, 2013 11:48 am UTC

Arariel wrote:
Angua wrote:There would have been legal barriers to use of that drug because the drug was currently under patent for another use entirely.

So this barrier is created by the government, then? Who'd've


Not sure what barrier you're talking about here, patent law? Are you saying that private medical funding is being hindered by patents in general, our just trying to blame the government because in this case where making another version of their drug wasn't profitable enough that the government should disregard the patent and let someone else steal their product (while I think that patents on medicines probably last too long in done cases, I acknowledge they are useful in offsetting the costs of drug development)

Yes, some drugs are found with other research but it's neither common (there are many, many drugs out there, most of which were found with people trying to find something that will work for there intended use), not reliable. If you want a cure for x disease, you don't just sit around and hope that someone else find something useful. You research the disease to try and find ways to stop it.

What, so socialise research to fund every single disease? I mean, sure, diseases like say, Ebola might be terrible and have no cure, but there's not even a hundred cases a year (or if there are more, not much more). For the diseases that are widespread and lethal, there is high incentive to provide treatments for them, and they'll come through without a body arbitrarily forcing people to direct resources to such and such research (HIV/AIDS no doubt had considerable government funding, but would anyone honestly believe there would be no treatment without it?). It's cost and benefit. Why research treatments for diseases that don't even afflict very many? [/quote]
People are researching treatments to ebola (the main setbacks are the fact that it's hard to carry out trials on something that's so rare, and too lethal to infect volunteers with). They are doing so with public funds (mainly military if I'm not mistaken)

I'm not saying that everything needs to be publicly funded, and that there is no place for the private sector. I'm saying that you can't rely solely on the private sector because you don't get research into things that aren't profitable. Sleeping sickness kills thousands of people every year, and we've only got one new drug in the past 50 odd years for it.

We should research treatments for diseases because saves lives. How many people need to be affected by a disease before you decide it's worth it? If it affects 1 000 000 000 poor people who wouldn't be able to pay for treatment, would you go for a disease that only affects 10 billionaires.
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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Aug 13, 2013 11:49 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Arariel wrote:Same situation as what would occur if companies from Industry A try to pay off companies from Industry B to not produce a competing good. On the side from Industry A side, it's a Prisoner's Dilemma since the companies have incentive to defect (experience all the benefits of no tobacco research without paying) and on the Industry B side you have what's in effect a subsidy, encouraging more firms to enter the market, all of which will have to be paid off by the firms in Industry A. The cigarette companies could form a cartel, but seeing as they never had any success with that anyway regarding advertising (to defect is to advertise, to cooperate is to not advertise; advertising would draw consumers from one firm to another, but not many more to the industry overall. If everyone advertised, they'd all be out of a lot of money and not many more consumers to show for it. As a result, they lobbied to have their advertising banned.), that would probably be ineffective.
Cigarettes and health-coverage are not actually competing goods. See the conversation re: Zamfir/Heisenberg (cigarettes actually may potentially reduce health costs!). Even barring that (presume they did increase health costs), they're still not competing goods; your explanation here is just a wishy-washy economics 101 handwave.

But here's an interesting thought experiment: Presuming cigarettes do reduce health care costs (by killing sick people faster), what incentive does anyone have to research the detrimental effects of tobacco smoke? Cigarette companies are happy because you're buying smokes; insurance companies are happy because when you get sick, you die quicker (instead of clinging on and costing them money with end-of-life care).

Tell me: Who else besides the government would bother to research this? Presuming we relied on market solutions, what compelling reason would anyone have had to discover that cigarette smoking is bad for you?


Technically, to rationally justify study, you don't need to actually have it be unprofitable, all you need is for someone to think it might be unprofitable, and worth finding out for sure.

The practical issue is if it gets studied and smoking turns out to boost profits by increasing deaths, there's little motivation to distribute that study for anyone but the scientists.

nitePhyyre wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:
Kit. wrote:
Arariel wrote:Any developments that benefited the public (even if such effects in the long term) should have been reflected in long-run economic growth. Economic growth isn't some silly measure of how much money people make. It's a measure of standard of living.
Not entirely correct. It could be a measure of the volume of the consumption. But it's not by itself a measure of the quality of life.
Quality of life is somewhat subjective, because each of us value things differently. However, whatever your goals, it generally takes resources to pursue them. So, all other things being equal, a more productive society is more able to produce a better quality of life.
Arariel says that production is all that matters to quality of life, Kit points out that this isn't true and that there are many other factors that effect quality of life, and the response to that is "all other things being equal"? Someone points out that there are factors that complicate the issue that can vary from place to place, and you say 'well yes, but we should just assume that they are all equal'?

Guess what? All other things are not equal.


The existence of many factors does not negate the existence of one. We can compare countries by the existence of that single factor, and look at immigration patterns, and lo and behold, people strive to get into the productive economies.

Therefore, while there are other factors, we can determine that in actual practice, productivity dominates the hell out of them.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby leady » Tue Aug 13, 2013 12:12 pm UTC

One pretty obvious reason for why smoking research would exist and be distributed in an open market is because enough consumers would ask the question "are these smelly death sticks bad for me?" and if your insurer can't or won't answer, but bob's health insurance company does you go with Bob (and with the information in the wild the cost is the same, just you have faith in Bobs insurance)

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue Aug 13, 2013 12:33 pm UTC

leady wrote:One pretty obvious reason for why smoking research would exist and be distributed in an open market is because enough consumers would ask the question "are these smelly death sticks bad for me?" and if your insurer can't or won't answer, but bob's health insurance company does you go with Bob (and with the information in the wild the cost is the same, just you have faith in Bobs insurance)
1) You're presuming enough consumers would ask that question.

2) You're presuming enough consumers would seek the answer to that question from their health coverage providers (do you ask your insurance provider if certain things are bad for you? Or do you ask your doctor?).

3) You're presuming a health insurance provider would bother to find the answer in the first place (why would Bob's insurance company research cigarette smoking? Just to convince potential customers they were concerned about cigarette smoke? Do insurance companies research things just to convince customers that they care?).

4) You're presuming consumers will select health insurance providers based on the company's research rather than the company's price rates -- or customer service. When you're selecting your insurance provider, which concerns you more: That they've funded research into cancer, or that they're going to charge you half what Bob's company charges and won't deny your non-frivolous medical claims?

In short: Nope, nope, nope, and nope.

EDIT: Actually, one place I can see the pressure for coverage providers to research this coming from -- not consumers, but doctors themselves. If doctors suspect cigarette smoke kills (and if they're any good at their job, they should have reasons to suspect this!), they can exert pressure on insurance companies to do the research so they can better inform their patients. That being said, I don't know how much pressure doctors can exert on insurance companies.

EDIT-EDIT: leady, reading your posts here -- I don't mean to come off as insulting, but I get the strong vibe you probably come from a country where you've got socialized health care. I suspect this is leading you to not quite understand the position a lot of Americans are in -- for example, your presumption that we'd be more concerned with whether or not an insurance company tells us cigarettes are bad for us versus whether that insurance company is just willing to cover us. Nevermind offer us affordable rates!

Again, I don't mean that as an insult, but just an observation: People who don't know what it's like to have to hunt down medical insurance are more likely to presume that we have more leverage than we do re: our own health care. In America, if you aren't rich or employed with excellent benefits -- you're basically a hostage of the health system. You take whatever the hell you can get.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby leady » Tue Aug 13, 2013 1:10 pm UTC

I am, although I hate it (costs me a fortune and gets in the way of me resolving simple things like getting antibotics for an obvious abcess)

The US system and its ties into employers though is absolutely insane. Its like someone went out of their way from economic principles to build the most expensive system possilbe with the most patchy coverage.

and yes I do make all those assumptions :)

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby CorruptUser » Tue Aug 13, 2013 2:01 pm UTC

Actually it all started as a result of price controls in WWII.

With a huge chunk of the labor force drafted and military contracts issued like candy, there was a massive labor shortage, to the point where non traditional sources of labor (women) were being used. Companies needed to attract the best workers, and the price of labor was skyrocketing. The keep labor costs low (and thus the price the US government paid low), price controls on wages were issued. As anyone knows, price controls always lead to problems. To get around this, companies began adding benefits instead if pay. Health insurance, dental plans, pensions, and so forth. After the war, the US government saw this as a pretty good thing, and a few tax breaks later the idea that you get insurance through your employer was enshrined.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Kit. » Tue Aug 13, 2013 2:44 pm UTC

Arariel wrote:
Angua wrote:There would have been legal barriers to use of that drug because the drug was currently under patent for another use entirely.

So this barrier is created by the government, then? Who'd've known.

Any property barrier is created by some form of government. No government => no property.

But I digress.

Arariel wrote:
Kit. wrote:
Arariel wrote:Any developments that benefited the public (even if such effects in the long term) should have been reflected in long-run economic growth. Economic growth isn't some silly measure of how much money people make. It's a measure of standard of living.

Not entirely correct. It could be a measure of the volume of the consumption. But it's not by itself a measure of the quality of life.

If people's desires are fulfilled with less consumption, they'll consume less. So maximal utility can be achieved by increasing the amount and variety of goods able to be consumed, and in a system where all purchases are voluntary, the increased consumption reflects increased utility and thus standard of life.

Not that fast. First, you would need to prove the existence of the object you are speaking of: the real-world utility function, i.e. a transitive and complete measure of real-world desires.

Then there will be something to discuss here. But not before.

Arariel wrote:
So, if, say, the increasing sales of junk consumables together with the increasing sales of the medical services fighting with the effects of junk consumables contribute 2% to the annual economy grow, does it mean that this increase makes living 2% better annually?

If junk consumables make them happier, I'd say they'd be getting a higher standard of living, yes.

Consuming the junk consumables makes them happier... for a while. That's if we disregard the advertising of the matching medical services, which is intended to make them unhappier with the result of such consumption.

Does it make them happier compared to people from a macroeconomy without such increase? Not necessarily. What if those junk consumables are:
Spoiler:
Nicotine
Spoiler:
Heroin
Spoiler:
Home-made desomorphine

Arariel wrote:
Producer-funded research is supposed to increase the well-being of the producer. The well-being of a producer is determined by their ability to make profits from sales.

Consumer-funded research is supposed to increase the well-being of the consumer. The well-being of a consumer is determined by their ability to spend their funds efficiently.

In a voluntary transaction, both producer and consumer are made better off.

As a general rule? Only if they are omniscient and acting for their own benefit. But then it becomes a tautology.

Edit: besides, if they are omniscient, they don't need to fund any research in the first place.

Arariel wrote:
I won't be surprised to find out that the medical research funded by the medical insurance funds (even privately owned ones) actually decreases the growth in the medical service sales. Is it a bad thing for the producers of medical services? Definitely. Is it a bad thing for the consumers of medical services? I'm not convinced.

Unless consumers take their savings from the medical service sales and shove them under a mattress, I'm hazarding that the money re-enters the economy in another industry.

For the money to enter anything, it needs to exist in the first place. Currently, the money is printed by the Feds to prevent deflation when the amount of supply on the market grows in the "natural units", as deflation is believed to be harmful for the economy. If the medical service sales are not growing, the money to cover them is not printed, and is not going under a mattress, into a speculative bubble or straight onto the consumer market causing inflation.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Angua » Tue Aug 13, 2013 4:09 pm UTC

leady wrote:I am, although I hate it (costs me a fortune and gets in the way of me resolving simple things like getting antibotics for an obvious abcess)

The US system and its ties into employers though is absolutely insane. Its like someone went out of their way from economic principles to build the most expensive system possilbe with the most patchy coverage.

and yes I do make all those assumptions :)

Antibiotics are controlled to stop people from misusing them. Do you know which type of antibiotic you should use for your abscess, and how long for? Abscesses also generally don't respond solely to antibiotics (they need to be drained as well), so just prescribing yourself antibiotics would lead to resistance bacteria in the abscess and you'd probably still have it.
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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby addams » Tue Aug 13, 2013 4:13 pm UTC

Kit. wrote:
addams wrote:At the most fundamental level All things are equal.
All stuff is Star stuff.

If all things are equal, they are the same thing.
It's that simple.
So, you have the same thing in a mixed state.
It's OK, it happens.
But you have no observer to determine if the cat is dead.
Because if you have an observer, you have an interference, and the things become not equal.

Exactly. It is impossible for an observer to observe without having an effect.
What is your point?

Government funding Science?
I think it is a good idea.
I thing Secrets are a bad idea.

What the Hell?
Why do Science? If not to share?

The spoilers are me wandering all over the back forty, by myself.
You nor you nor you are here. Here, I am alone. I seem to have life without a life.


Spoiler:
The people at the Large Haldron don't keep Secrets.
We could argue all day about where The Money came from.

Science.....Honey; I was a believer...I believed in mankind.
Mankind may be, just, fine. I have found an ugly little backwater in Paradise.

Remember, Alphabet soup? NSA?
I thought it meant National Science Administration.
It does not mean that at all.

NSA means National Security Administration.
The internet is nice. It allows science conversations to happen, Fast.

The first time I saw it used was in the development of blood tests for HIV.
That was the early 1980's. I did not get my hands dirty. I did not see any of that blood.

Not that summer. That summer I did as I was told to do and everything worked out, just fine.
It did not work out Just Fine for everybody. Having a blood test and protocols on its use were important. The blood test did not stop people from getting HIV nor from getting AIDS. The protocols did help reduce the number of AIDS patients. We were able to test blood before it was used; That helped, too. All of that did help some innocent victims.

The Government was paying for all of us to do what we were doing. No one person did it all. I hardly did anything.

Government was the same, then? Has Government changed? The people that will argue are the same kind of people?
Government funding Science? Who would work for The Government? Who would want the Government to Get The Hell Out of peoples's lives?

Did you know there were people that saw AIDS as a good thing? It was God's way of Culling the Herd.
These people were advocating, "No Draining the National Coffers for a bunch of people that had Sex."

Not all people that get AIDS get it by having sex. That is a silly place to go in an argument.
Who wants War Research done? That seems like a good place to get funding.

Not from the US. From what I understand the nation is in Debt. I suppose it is ok to work for someone that is in debt.
The debt of the employer does not become the debt of the employed. Not if you are from somewhere else.

The people of Europe are not some strange number in debt. They are peddling, from what I understand.
The Politicians think they know? Honey; I don't do Internationals Politics. Have you met those people?

Of all the things my Nation gave me. And to be fair, my nation gave me a lot.
Out of all of that, the Best thing was The People.

Not The People, The Washed Arrogant Mean and Mean Spirited Masses.

The People. My bosses. It did not take much to be My boss. I did what nearly everyone said to do.
i suppose when I did not want to do something and I had to do it anyway; The person that said, "Here are you Orders." was my boss.

I argued, sometimes. Don't you?
I like having a good boss. Funny people.



Spoiler:
Some of the Masses have gone back to being Unwashed. (shrug)
We could do some science. That science has been done.
The people of the US could use a little Humanitarian Aid.

I met two young men, yesterday. Rough.
They are having fun. To the best of their ability.

They were released from Jail in California.
That is what they said. They are each headed, "Home."
That is what they said. Who is tracking those guys? NSA?

They do not exist digitally. Does it take some great mind to question some of our policies?

Is the following statement true?
Young men and women and old men and women are released from jail with a swat on the ass and a hearty, "Go! We will hurt you more, next time."

The truth could be anything.
Those guys may have been given tickets to "Home".
Those guys may have been given money enough to get home and begin a life all over again.

Those guys may not have been in jail.
I do not know one thing about those guys.

They are blocked from any Government job?
dear god. What are the pieces of this puzzle doing in my head?

The people that gain monetarily from the people being in Jail are who?
Not The People? jeeze. Everybody knows the Good Guys lost?

(fuck) How does that happen. never mind. people.
Life is, just, an exchange of electrons; It is up to us to give it meaning.

We are all in The Gutter.
Some of us see The Gutter.
Some of us see The Stars.
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Those that do not Know; Don't tell them.
They do terrible things to people that Tell Them.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby qetzal » Tue Aug 13, 2013 5:49 pm UTC

Getting back to the Cato essay cited in the OP, I think it's very poorly argued. For example, it claims:

For the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries, the empirical evidence is clear: the industrial nations whose governments invested least in science did best economically—and they didn’t do so badly in science either.


The essay cites the UK (19th century) and US (early 20th) as the high economic performers with little public science support, versus France and Germany with high public science support and substantially lower economic growth. But focusing on public R&D funding as a key economic driver for these countries over this period is incredibly naïve, if not outright disingenuous. There are so many other ways that these two pairs of countries differed that are much more reasonable economic drivers. Particularly for the US, given its enormous land area, untapped resources, very low starting population, etc.

Later, the essay argues:

The long-term rates of economic growth since 1830 for the UK or the United States show no deflections coinciding with the inauguration of significant government money for research.


This is cited as evidence that dramatic increases in publicly funded science, beginning in the early-mid 1900s in both countries, didn't alter economic growth. But to whatever extent we accept that argument, it similarly indicates that publicly funded science didn't impede growth either. Contra the author's main thesis.

Later, he argues that the supposed 65% cost to copy inventions doesn't account for the additional input needed to sustain the skilled workforce capable of doing that copying. Then he just declares, with no justification, that the added cost is exactly the additional 35% (on average) to make the copying cost equal 100% of the innovation cost.

The only decent evidence he cites, IMO, is a 2003 OECD report, Sources of Economic Growth in OECD Countries. Based on a comparison of 15 countries, this did find a statistically significant negative correlation between publicly funded research and economic growth. This was based on economic modeling of multiple factors simultaneously, & I'm not competent to judge the validity of such modeling. But even if we grant that, it only shows a correlation between faster economic growth and less public R&D funding. That does not imply that less public funding causes faster growth. Maybe faster growth causes less public funding (perhaps because companies in fast-growing economies have more incentive to invest in R&D, increasing their share of the total R&D investment, and decreasing the public share)? I don't know, but the author doesn't even mention the possibility.

And of course, all of this assumes that faster economic growth is the only thing we should care about here, a point that other posters have already disputed.

My bottom line: I don't know if the author is correct that public R&D funding is an economic drain, but his essay does a terrible job making that case.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Kit. » Tue Aug 13, 2013 6:53 pm UTC

qetzal wrote:The only decent evidence he cites, IMO, is a 2003 OECD report, Sources of Economic Growth in OECD Countries. Based on a comparison of 15 countries, this did find a statistically significant negative correlation between publicly funded research and economic growth. This was based on economic modeling of multiple factors simultaneously, & I'm not competent to judge the validity of such modeling. But even if we grant that, it only shows a correlation between faster economic growth and less public R&D funding. That does not imply that less public funding causes faster growth. Maybe faster growth causes less public funding (perhaps because companies in fast-growing economies have more incentive to invest in R&D, increasing their share of the total R&D investment, and decreasing the public share)? I don't know, but the author doesn't even mention the possibility.

The authors of the report vaguely touch another possibility: it's not bad to have public R&D per se, but it's much better to have it made on someone else's money.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Aug 13, 2013 9:16 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Actually it all started as a result of price controls in WWII.

With a huge chunk of the labor force drafted and military contracts issued like candy, there was a massive labor shortage, to the point where non traditional sources of labor (women) were being used. Companies needed to attract the best workers, and the price of labor was skyrocketing. The keep labor costs low (and thus the price the US government paid low), price controls on wages were issued. As anyone knows, price controls always lead to problems. To get around this, companies began adding benefits instead if pay. Health insurance, dental plans, pensions, and so forth. After the war, the US government saw this as a pretty good thing, and a few tax breaks later the idea that you get insurance through your employer was enshrined.


If you look at inflation adjusted minimum wage, yeah...WW2 really was an odd period. Had to be, really. Everyone was focused on winning the war, and details like "this could lead to non optimum wages in a decade" or whatever just wasn't a priority. On top of that...fascism really wasn't the dirty word pre-WW2 that it is now. There was a bit of fascism in the US and England too...the idea of blatant corporate/government partnerships as bad wasn't nearly so universal then as it is now. This led to a lot of economic decisions in that era that certainly wouldn't even be considered in the present time. We've learned from that. I'm sure sixty years from now, people will look back at this era with amusement.

Additionally, yes, there are good reasons for controlling antibiotics entirely apart from economic reasons. Improper antibiotic use is a HUGE problem. If antibiotics were available like cough drops are, the potential for abuse rises quite a lot...and that does not simply hurt the person using them wrong. There ARE medicines that probably should be controlled less, but antibiotics are not among them.

As for smoking...I'm not as worried about the specific case of smoking as the general argument. Is it possible for there to be something that is both bad for you AND good for the insurance company? If so, you've got a case where you cannot rely on market incentives via the insurance company to fix it. Now, this might not be the majority of cases, but if it exists at all, you have a market segment where there is a reasonable expectation of benefit from government funding of research. Maybe not as much as for private research in other sectors, but not zero, either.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Kit. » Tue Aug 13, 2013 10:38 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:As for smoking...I'm not as worried about the specific case of smoking as the general argument. Is it possible for there to be something that is both bad for you AND good for the insurance company?

Do suicides count?

And there is another problem. You assume that private health insurance companies exist. However, they exist only because they can be profitable. And in an economy where the government doesn't stimulate employers to provide health insurance benefits and doesn't take the burden of funding the research beneficial to the health insurers, private health insurance companies may as well not exist.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Aug 14, 2013 12:14 am UTC

Kit. wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:As for smoking...I'm not as worried about the specific case of smoking as the general argument. Is it possible for there to be something that is both bad for you AND good for the insurance company?

Do suicides count?

And there is another problem. You assume that private health insurance companies exist. However, they exist only because they can be profitable. And in an economy where the government doesn't stimulate employers to provide health insurance benefits and doesn't take the burden of funding the research beneficial to the health insurers, private health insurance companies may as well not exist.


Oh, suicides count...but they might be a bit obvious. People see immediate death, and stay the hell away from a thing.....at least, sometimes. There's probably all manner of more subtle effects that are more or less the same thing, but less overtly obvious.

Private health insurance can exist without being subsidized or tied to business. In fact, they have. It just looks somewhat different...in fact, tying jobs to health insurance is probably a negative overall. Your companies incentives are not exactly the same as your incentives, so their decisions w/regard to switching providers or what not may not be the same you would make. Plus, there's that whole issue of losing health insurance if you quit.

Still, even if you fix that issue, it won't magically make health insurers research everything.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby addams » Wed Aug 14, 2013 2:05 am UTC

Private Health Insurance is not Fair.
It is Expensive!

It was FOR PROFIT.
People pay for Protection.
People pay for the right to receive care.

What Really Happens?
For some it works out fine.

For people that work for the government it works out better than for those that don't.
It is a Great Profit producing model.

Pay while you are Healthy.
Pay while you are Strong.

When you are not Health and Strong;
You have thirty days of health coverage.

There are many that have things work out just fine.
There are enough that do not have things work out just fine to produce sets of Huge Profits.

The People? The Poor People.
Old people, People that became ill, People....

After years of paying and paying and paying The Insurance company says, "Who are you? No. You are not a member in good standing."

The advertisements and the billing statements are so Cuddly.
"We love you." They say.
"We are Like Family." They say.
"We've got you covered." They say.

Then the bills and refusal of service and the bills start coming and keep coming.
They don't know you anymore, Honey. People turn to the state.

It would be nice to cut out the middle guy.
The guy that is taking money every month for years and years while people are doing Well.
Then does not know or care when they need help.

Yes. The government has a place in this area of people's lives.
The company folds? The company changes names? The company changes policies?
All while the people believe in the company.

If the individual has the strength to fight, the individual turns to the state in the form of Courts and Commissions that are both over burdened and underfunded.

The insurance companies have some very high profile cases and a great many puppy feel good, full color photos of healthy people being cared for.
It is like the Lottery. Pay and Pay and Pay you are Paying to Play. It will all turn out great for You! The insurance company said so.

Buy that Lottery Ticket. Now, buy another one.
Lung Cancer? oh. Kidney failure? oh.

The relationship gets distant and strained.
We all know how it is.

A happy friendship goes along well for a while.
Then when someone becomes needy and a little creepy and does not want to do fun things and well...dead beat...doesn't pay for anything anymore.....

That is hard on a relationship. The insurance company must do self care.
You can't stay friends with Losers. It will drag you down. Sad, but true.

Some will have everything go, just fine.
Others will have someone like me go to Bat for them.
Some have no one to turn to.

Those people that have no one to turn to?
Honey; It breaks my heart.

Some of those people wait too long to ask for help from The State.
Often the state has nothing to offer. It is Broke.
No funding for losers and welfare and cheep government subsidized medical care.

The Model is Good. It is a Profit Making son-of-a-gun.
The People? This is not about People. This is about Money.

People come and People go. Money is an important constant.
It is big money. Big money is controlled by people.

Big money is controlled by people.
sometimes in the form of The State.
sometimes it is Private money. shhhh. That means it is none of your business.
Life is, just, an exchange of electrons; It is up to us to give it meaning.

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Some of us see The Gutter.
Some of us see The Stars.
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Those that do not Know; Don't tell them.
They do terrible things to people that Tell Them.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby leady » Wed Aug 14, 2013 8:44 am UTC

Angua wrote:Antibiotics are controlled to stop people from misusing them. Do you know which type of antibiotic you should use for your abscess, and how long for? Abscesses also generally don't respond solely to antibiotics (they need to be drained as well), so just prescribing yourself antibiotics would lead to resistance bacteria in the abscess and you'd probably still have it.


I wish I could believe that but I don't, particularly given they are openly sold in the rest of the world. To me its about creating artificial demand and keeping medical costs high coupled with the enjoyment of power. Not that I think BMA (AMA in the US) is ruled by people with white cats, they just act to the benefit of their members, which as usual is in direct opposition to whats best for me :)

(it was a minor absess behind a tooth thats been dead for years, I had to suffer in pain for 4 days and pay £20 to a dentist for them to do what I could work out and do myself immediately)

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Kit. » Wed Aug 14, 2013 9:25 am UTC

leady wrote:
Angua wrote:Antibiotics are controlled to stop people from misusing them. Do you know which type of antibiotic you should use for your abscess, and how long for? Abscesses also generally don't respond solely to antibiotics (they need to be drained as well), so just prescribing yourself antibiotics would lead to resistance bacteria in the abscess and you'd probably still have it.

I wish I could believe that but I don't, particularly given they are openly sold in the rest of the world.

Frankly, no one was saying that you were the only problem with antibiotics.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Angua » Wed Aug 14, 2013 9:56 am UTC

Yes, there are no organisations that are invested in trying to reduce such sales of antibiotics in the rest of the world where they aren't regulated as well, and multi-resistant diseases aren't more common in such countries. :roll:
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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Kit. » Wed Aug 14, 2013 10:11 am UTC

addams wrote:What is your point?

addams wrote:
Kit. wrote:If all things are equal, they are the same thing.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Angua » Wed Aug 14, 2013 10:13 am UTC

I guess I should have requoted leady in my response as well. Didn't think it was necessary.
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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby leady » Wed Aug 14, 2013 10:22 am UTC

I look at it more as "why make my life more annoying for zero practical gain"

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Angua » Wed Aug 14, 2013 10:36 am UTC

There is practical gain, you are just refusing to accept it.
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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Red Hal » Wed Aug 14, 2013 11:09 am UTC

If we truly wanted to act to maximise profit without regard to health then we should completely deregulate antibiotics. Sell them openly, in any quantity, to anyone who wants them. Of course there'd be misuse, a few deaths from overdose or side-effects with other drugs, a few more because the antibiotics chosen weren't effective against the infection, maybe a few more because the purchaser chose correctly from the different ones available, but didn't take enough. With all that, though, enough people should survive for significant numbers to not finish the course and speed the development of multi-drug-resistant bacteria.

Once we have a healthy population of microbes like MRSA or CRE and the antibiotics we have stop being effective, the drug companies who have been investing huge sums of money in new classes of antibiotics will be able to rake in a fortune and name their price.

On the other hand, if we want to slow the microbial arms race, stop things like antibiotic-resistant bacteria floating around in the Hudson River and put health in front of profit then having some form of trained staff who know about the different types of infection and the different drugs which work best against them would be quite useful. This would maximise the useful life of each drug, giving us more time to develop better drugs for when the inevitable resistance evolves.

Hang on! What if we also trained those staff to recognise when it's a viral infection instead of a bacterial one? That'd be useful too. Actually, we could train them to do stuff like recognising when it's neither and may instead be something that needs more examination. I suppose it might be an idea to make sure that if you drop down unconscious or your heart stops from the illness while you're there then they could help you out and do something to make you less likely to die.
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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby leady » Wed Aug 14, 2013 11:41 am UTC

the impact of the UKs tighter prescribing on superbugs (already hospital generated) and resistent diseases (India + china = argh! ) is zero. The immediate impact on my personal convienence = medium :)

anyway I'm not vaccinated for TB so I'm in the at risk group so I get to make the call.... hmmmm yes lets go with that....

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Red Hal » Wed Aug 14, 2013 12:28 pm UTC

Superbugs are not "hospital generated", they arise through a process of mutation and selection pressure, an example of which is over-prescription. Oh and I'm going to slap a big old "Citation Needed" on your assertion that the impact of tighter regulation has had zero effect. There is also a logical fallacy in your leap from "being in the at risk group" to "making the call"; the principle of informed consent means that you should always get to "make the call" from the options available whether you are in the at-risk group or not, unless you are unable to do so. Let's get that sorted out before we move on, shall we?
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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Aug 14, 2013 5:13 pm UTC

leady wrote:
Angua wrote:Antibiotics are controlled to stop people from misusing them. Do you know which type of antibiotic you should use for your abscess, and how long for? Abscesses also generally don't respond solely to antibiotics (they need to be drained as well), so just prescribing yourself antibiotics would lead to resistance bacteria in the abscess and you'd probably still have it.


I wish I could believe that but I don't, particularly given they are openly sold in the rest of the world. To me its about creating artificial demand and keeping medical costs high coupled with the enjoyment of power. Not that I think BMA (AMA in the US) is ruled by people with white cats, they just act to the benefit of their members, which as usual is in direct opposition to whats best for me :)

(it was a minor absess behind a tooth thats been dead for years, I had to suffer in pain for 4 days and pay £20 to a dentist for them to do what I could work out and do myself immediately)


That's the breaks on all regulation. They make things tougher for some...but in this particular case, if you let people just buy antibiotics whenever, misuse would be vastly higher, and the value goes down for everybody.

As for the countries with poor antibiotic use, well...they DO have superbug issues in many cases, some of which trickle here...but getting rid of the restriction on use will only worsen the problem.

It'd be different if misuse only worsened your disease...then, well, you get what you deserve, to some degree. But when everyone pays the cost of misuse, we have to mitigate that.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Angua » Wed Aug 14, 2013 5:14 pm UTC

I've got evidence on my side that tighter regulations of how and why antibiotics are used helps prevent resistance. Of course, you have to remember that a lot of these weren't developed until after resistance started becoming a problem, so it's not surprising that we still have superbugs around.

http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=394628

http://www.atsjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1164/ajrccm.156.4.9701046

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1113826/

By the way, the TB 'vaccine' isn't all that effective at preventing TB (though it's good for preventing cerebral TB in children).
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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby nitePhyyre » Wed Aug 14, 2013 8:48 pm UTC

ok off topic but, why can't we just evolve better antibiotics at same rate (of faster) as bacteria evolves? Is it that superbugs you grow in a lab to use to strengthen your antibiotics aren't the same as superbugs that are out in the wild? So if your lab superbug becomes resistant by adaption 'A' your superantibiotic will evolve to defeat adaption 'A' but superbugs in nature might develop adaption 'B'.

Why can't we stay ahead of the superbugs?
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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby LaserGuy » Wed Aug 14, 2013 8:52 pm UTC

nitePhyyre wrote:ok off topic but, why can't we just evolve better antibiotics at same rate (of faster) as bacteria evolves? Is it that superbugs you grow in a lab to use to strengthen your antibiotics aren't the same as superbugs that are out in the wild? So if your lab superbug becomes resistant by adaption 'A' your superantibiotic will evolve to defeat adaption 'A' but superbugs in nature might develop adaption 'B'.

Why can't we stay ahead of the superbugs?


Antibiotics aren't microbes. They don't evolve. They're chemicals.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby jseah » Wed Aug 14, 2013 9:52 pm UTC

nitePhyyre wrote:ok off topic but, why can't we just evolve better antibiotics at same rate (of faster) as bacteria evolves? Is it that superbugs you grow in a lab to use to strengthen your antibiotics aren't the same as superbugs that are out in the wild? So if your lab superbug becomes resistant by adaption 'A' your superantibiotic will evolve to defeat adaption 'A' but superbugs in nature might develop adaption 'B'.

Why can't we stay ahead of the superbugs?

There are a number of directed evolution research projects, its one of those new things we haven't quite mastered.
I could explain a bit, but it can get a bit involved.

Safe to say, evolution is 'easy' to understand, but hard to harness. Where the problem is roughly similar to trying to make an uncorruptible wish on an unreliable genie.
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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby elasto » Wed Aug 14, 2013 11:15 pm UTC

nitePhyyre wrote:ok off topic but, why can't we just evolve better antibiotics at same rate (of faster) as bacteria evolves? Is it that superbugs you grow in a lab to use to strengthen your antibiotics aren't the same as superbugs that are out in the wild? So if your lab superbug becomes resistant by adaption 'A' your superantibiotic will evolve to defeat adaption 'A' but superbugs in nature might develop adaption 'B'.

Why can't we stay ahead of the superbugs?

It's easy to kill bugs. It's easy to kill superbugs. What's hard is killing bugs and superbugs without also hurting you...

There's very very few things that are lethal to bacteria that aren't also harmful to us. And every time a bug develops resistance there's one fewer way to safely kill it.

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---

leady: I'm out in China and, contrary to popular opinion, in many ways its the libertarian wet-dream many on boards like this speak of. You could walk into any pharmacy out here and buy ridiculously strong antibiotics over the counter. Unfortunately it doesn't work out in practice as well as one would hope.

Ok, so there's very little government regulation on antibiotic use. Add in that hospitals here compete for customers. Add in to the mix the natural human response to being sick or your child being sick that you want to take no chances, and everything pushes towards rampant overprescribing of strong antibiotics. Whereas back in the UK my doctor would tell me 'don't worry, your kid will get over it in a few days all by itself', in China my child gets a course of IV antibiotics even for a viral infection.

And my protests don't have any impact on my wife: Her reasoning will go: "The medicine won't do any harm to your child, and perhaps it might help, so why not give it? Don't you care about giving your child the best possible chance of getting well?" Likewise, the doctor privately uses similar reasoning: "If I send the mother away without giving any antibiotics, she'll think I don't care about her child, and will go to another hospital next time, and my boss will complain about falling numbers. So I should just shut up and give the drugs."

It's actually even worse than that, because if the doctor sends the mother away without a prescription, the hospital makes very little money. If he prescribes an IV drip, the mother is much more reassured plus the hospital makes a load of money. It's 'win-win' (except of course it's not).

With this self-reinforcing feedback loop (mothers think antibiotics should be given because all doctors prescribe them for everything, and all doctors prescribe them for everything because mothers expect them to be given) it takes outside intervention to break the cycle. Government intervention. Rampant, unrestrained free markets are not capable of thinking long term, or big picture. Governments needs to take the best scientific advice and then issue strict guidelines to hospitals for the long-term good of everyone, because when antibiotics are gone, they're gone.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Kit. » Thu Aug 15, 2013 12:51 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
Kit. wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:As for smoking...I'm not as worried about the specific case of smoking as the general argument. Is it possible for there to be something that is both bad for you AND good for the insurance company?

Do suicides count?

And there is another problem. You assume that private health insurance companies exist. However, they exist only because they can be profitable. And in an economy where the government doesn't stimulate employers to provide health insurance benefits and doesn't take the burden of funding the research beneficial to the health insurers, private health insurance companies may as well not exist.


Oh, suicides count...but they might be a bit obvious. People see immediate death, and stay the hell away from a thing.....at least, sometimes.

Well, you could keep prescribing them stuff like Acomplia. It's good for their weight, it's good for them if they want to quit smoking, and no website that still sells it (assuming that they sell the real thing) tells you about its real side effects.

Tyndmyr wrote:Private health insurance can exist without being subsidized or tied to business. In fact, they have. It just looks somewhat different...in fact, tying jobs to health insurance is probably a negative overall. Your companies incentives are not exactly the same as your incentives, so their decisions w/regard to switching providers or what not may not be the same you would make. Plus, there's that whole issue of losing health insurance if you quit.

Let me start with saying that "health insurance" is an oxymoron. There is medical insurance, which insures against medical expenses, and disability insurance, which insures against loss of income due to a disability. And there is social medicine, which provides some basic guarantees of service to anyone, whenever the one is able to pay or not.

The main problem of the medicine as a business is that the more the buyer is interested in their services the less he is able to pay. Personal medical insurance doesn't really solve the problem: people with poor health need to pay higher premiums, but earn less money. To solve the problem through using insurance, you need to find a way to force insurance companies into making mixed pools of people with different known medical risks. That's where the group policies for independently (from the wishes of insurance companies) formed groups can be used.

The ultimate form of such group policy is social medicine. But it has commie connotations... besides, it makes a monopoly, and suffers from typical problems related to monopolies.

Employer-provided employee group coverage can be a surrogate for social medicine without the monopoly-related problems... a damn good surrogate if an employer is big enough. But it means that there should be some kind of employer's interest in providing such coverage. Besides, once you are disabled, you are out.


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