Today my family lost a dear friend to cancer–something that most of us have had experience with. How many years have we been researching a way to cure this disease? If one combines all of the diseases that our medical researchers are attempting to cure over the all the years, we could probably account for tens of thousands of years.
Looking at the prospect of curing disease from a capitalistic perspective, one has to question the effective motives driving medical progress. Friedman often stated that the only job of businesses and corporations was to maximize profit returns to shareholders. He also advocated for a purely private market health care system operating in the absence of government intervention citing the successes of the private sector health systems of the 19th century (which, for the record, were largely non-profit). That is certainly not the market environment existing within the health care sector currently. We are supplied with medical research and services that are largely provided by profit driven companies. Many, of course, would argue that is the optimal environment and that the Affordable Care Act along with all other governmental regulatory actions within the industry should be repealed and eliminated.
So let us examine the motivations for “cures” under the system of profit maximization. Our pharmaceutical companies have had researchers working to develop treatments to “cure” disease but do they really have the motive to succeed in this endeavor? Developing treatments is of course different from developing cures and herein lies the rub. If researchers actually found cures for all of our aliments, those very companies would be out of business. I will concede that researchers are working to the best of their abilities to develop treatments that are decreasingly invasive, but working towards a cure—I am in serious doubt.
I know that this post is quite cynical…and it is meant to be. When we live in a society that largely cares more about themselves, their property, and preserving their standard of living than they do about the fact that in this land of plenty, there are those who do not have what they need. We are more concerned about their worthiness than their suffering. No one wants their hard earned tax dollars going to help those who are not deserving. With this mindset, why would any profitable medical company give up even a portion of that profitability to save the lives of those who may or may not “be worthy”. The very nature of their business is to prolong your life not cure your illness. You could be the most wealthy and “worthy” person in the country and they would rather milk your fortune than cure your disease.
So, my advice is to eat your vegetables, get plenty of rest, and drink lots of water just in case society deems you unworthy of assistance.