Thank Bernie, You Owe Him
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This story has a happy ending starting, as they most often do, with Bernie Sanders.
Americans are killed each day by greed. If you, or someone you know, just died, chances are it was at the hands of greedy for profit corporate executives working for weapons, drug and oil companies.
Where there are profits, death is sure to follow.
Take America’s growing gun industry.
According to the CDC, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Tennessee have the most lax gun laws and highest gun mortality rates in America.
Guns get you killed.
But guns also get you incredibly rich.
Sturm, Ruger & Company earned more than $280 million in profits for 2021. Smith & Wesson Brands had profits north of $450 million that same year.
Those are the REAL numbers in America, profits. Profits dictate public health policy.
And so, more guns continue to get sold while more Americans continue to die from them. It doesn’t matter that Gun violence costs America $557 billion a year in healthcare and lost productivity. We, The People, eat those costs in the name of our fictional free market.
Then there are fossil fuels which have destroyed our planet, costing us trillions of dollars in lost infrastructure, crops, property and jobs.
But the five largest oil and gas producers earned $200 billion in record profits last year. So, We, The People agree to eat those costs once again in the name of our fictional free market.
This week, however, Bernie proved it doesn’t have to be this way.
Bernie is now chairman of The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. On Wednesday he announced plans to call the CEO of Moderna to testify before a hearing entitled "Taxpayers Paid Billions For It: So Why Would Moderna Consider Quadrupling the Price of the COVID Vaccine?"
In a speech that received no mention in a mainstream media sponsored primarily by Big Pharma, Bernie pointed out that America’s National Institutes of Health spent billions alongside Moderna to develop their Covid vaccine.
Bernie said that despite American taxpayers funding the development of that vaccine, Moderna earned $19 billion since the start of the pandemic off a shot that costs only $2.85 to manufacture.
Bernie warned that Moderna is planning to charge $130 per shot once the government’s stockpile runs out. Again, the vaccine costs $2.85 to manufacture and we gave Moderna billions to develop it.
After pointing out that the CEO of Moderna, Stéphane Bancel became a billionaire overnight from the vaccine and is now worth $5.7 billion, Bernie promised to drag him before his committee and explain himself.
As promised, this story has a happy ending starting, as most happy endings do, with Bernie Sanders.
Within hours of Bernie’s speech, Moderna issued the following statement:
Moderna's COVID-19 vaccines will continue to be available at no cost for insured people whether they receive them at their doctors' offices or local pharmacies. For uninsured, or underinsured people, Moderna's patient assistance program will provide COVID-19 vaccines at no cost.
And so, Bernie has a lot to do with this happy ending. Next, he needs to tackle the oil and gun industry. I am certain that he will with great success.
Anyone who thinks Bernie shouldn’t be president is an idiot.
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I have a high level of respect for Sen. Sanders bringing this important issue up on the floor of the Senate. Sen. Sanders makes many excellent points, but there is one serious flaw in his statement where he makes a rather conservative-leaning assertion rather than a progressive-leaning one. The flaw relates to the notion of the taxpayers funding the research and development of pharmaceuticals. Economics professor Stephanie Kelton, Sen. Sanders’ former economic advisor and author of a NY Times bestseller ‘The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory and the Birth of the People's Economy,’ makes the empirical point that federal government spending in the US is not financed with taxpayer money. I’m not sure why Sanders is deviating from what Prof. Kelton and many others, including some in the Fed, have posited.
What is the importance of this flaw? It comes down to the question of what is the purpose for the Covid-19 vaccines and any other pharmaceutical. Is the purpose solely for the public benefit in terms of public health? Is the purpose to benefit private businesses?
If we say that pharmaceuticals are solely for the benefit for the public, then there is no reason to even have private corporations involved in the creation of pharmaceuticals other than perhaps for some very downstream functions such as delivery of medications at private pharmacies and perhaps some contract manufacturing at fixed costs to fulfill demand. Even the need for that is debatable. Much of the R&D work is already funded by the federal government, as Sanders accurately points out, but there is no reason why the government cannot fund the complete development and manufacturing process for pharmaceuticals. The federal government can, and should, offer healthcare coverage for all citizens which includes prescription drug coverage. Since federal government spending does not come from taxpayer’s recycled money (there are a reason to have taxes, but it is not for funding spending), the ability to pay for public R&D, manufacturing, distribution, and so forth is not a hurdle.
Unfortunately, Sen. Sanders’ rhetoric is falsely making it seem that the federal government, and thus the public, is reliant on a rather limited supply of recycled taxpayer money to fund everything which needs to be funded to ensure the public benefit of pharmaceuticals and other healthcare needs. This right-wing Milton Friedman-esque stance leads to reliance on corporations for public health needs and everything that goes with that. Even in the foreign countries Sen. Sanders mentions in his speech, people are increasingly finding it difficult to pay for their medications. There is no need for that.
Sen. Sanders should be pointing out to the Senate that there is no need for the privatized intermediary for the development and manufacturing of pharmaceuticals if the purpose of them is for the public benefit. Now, if the reason for privatized pharmaceuticals is to ensure the success of private businesses, I believe there are serious corruption issues which then must be investigated. Besides that, I think the public will not be enthused about that justification for pharmaceuticals.
Sen. Sanders is doing good work, but even he can do better and we must demand that from him.
I Love Bernie ! He has tirelessly for years and years worked for helping people. Corporate America stepped in and stopped him from becoming President putting Biden in, instead. I would Love ❤️ to see Bernie run for President again. However, he is up against Corporate Media which tells the public only half truths and wiii do everything they can to stop him.