An email has been making the rounds for some time regarding the obscene profits enjoyed by drug companies... it is useful to go over the economics raised in the email one more time.
The email casts the authors as intrepid investigators in the mold of Mike Wallace:Did you ever wonder how much it costs a drug company for the active ingredient in prescription medications? Some people think it must cost a lot, since many drugs sell for more than $2.00 per tablet ... In our independent investigation of how much profit drug companies really make, we obtained the actual price of active ingredients used in some of the most popular drugs sold in America.
There follows a list of 16 drugs. For example, we are told that 100 tabs of Prozac retail for $247.47, while the cost of the raw ingredients is only 11 cents, a markup of 224,973%! Gasp! Where's my pitchfork, Ma?
...Let's assume that the numbers in the email are correct (I have no idea if they are). If you paid 11 cents for the precursors of your Prozac, could you make the drug? I couldn't either. If you scooped up some sand on the beach, could you fabricate the CPU in your computer? Intel did-and charged you a couple hundred dollars for it. How can they get away with that?
When there's little value-add to raw ingredients-say, turning Bessie Moocow into a Happy Meal-the markup is relatively low. But in high-tech industries the intellectual property is far more important than the cost of the precursors. Heck, even in an established industry there's a healthy markup. The spot price for iron ore is about $90 per ton. What? Infiniti charges $35,000 for a G37 when the main ingredient is worth $150? That's over 23,000% markup, man! Ripoff!
If you had a ton and a half of ore dumped in your driveway, could you transform it into your Infiniti?
This question taps into a fundamental economic reality that the political left just doesn't seem capable of understanding: THE ENGINE OF CAPITALISM IS THE HUMAN MIND.
Not a day goes by that the political left in this country doesn't rage against capitalism and business; against the profit motive and the pursuit of money. They routinely scapegoat capitalists and businessmen-- just because they are capitalists and businessmen. They show utter contempt for materialism and wealth; and yet somehow , by some mysterious, magical method, they expect that human poverty and misery will be miraculously "cured" by the unrealistic economic fantasies inherent in Marxism, socialism, and communism.
Oh, the left always masks the underlying psychological objectives of their rage by couching all the anti-capitalist rhetoric in terms of "helping the 'oppressed' or the 'little people'"; or with vague terms like "celebrating diversity" and seeking "social justice"; but make no mistake, their ultimate goal is power over others--which translates in the real world to enslaving the human mind.
The left have little or no desire to use human ingenuity or achievement to find innovative solutions to problems in health care; or to create new pharmaceuticals that might mitigate human suffering. They aren't capable of understanding or appreciating the political and economic freedom necessary to facilitate the creative process.
They are not really interesting in keeping the planet healthy (except insofar as they can also control human enterprise and the markets). Nor are they truly concerned about human misery and poverty except to the extent that it can be manipulated to achieve power. They aren't capable of understanding human nature.
In their frenzied attempts to remake humankind into some sort of monstrous ideal; and the underlying fierce denial of basic human nature that defines their ideology, they betray themselves: They are motivated by a hatred of all that makes us human in the first place.
Everything about the left these days is rather infantile. Like children who never question where their toys come from (Santa? Obama?), they believe wealth is created out of mere nothingness. This is easy for them to believe since they haven't a clue how to create it themselves. They only know how to steal it from others.
The creation of weath requires a human mind. Stealing it only requires brute force.