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Deregulate!
#31
This is why we have regulation, to diminish people and companies deceiving:

Quote:Penny Kim, a marketing professional with a one-month career at a Silicon Valley startup, shared a detailed account of one of the ugliest startup stories we've ever heard. Her tale started with a job offer in July of $135,000 a year plus equity and a $10,000 signing bonus for relocation expenses. (She was moving from Dallas for the job.) It ended with her dismissal in August after she filed a complaint with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement over failure to properly pay her, and an account of her month at the startup — which she did not name — on Startup Grind, entitled, "I Got Scammed By A Silicon Valley Startup." Her story has been a big topic of discussion on Hacker News for the last couple of days.
WrkRiot burned through $700,000 and allegedly lied to employees - Business Insider
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#32
Quote:The ubiquitous antiallergy shot can be lifesaving, and many children are required to purchase a two-pen pack every year. One pack costs $608. In 2007, before Mylan bought the drug, it cost $100. The cost to make the EpiPen still sits at around $3. Bresch, meanwhile, took home about $18 million in compensation last year and stands to make a lot more if she can substantially increase hercompany's earnings per share by 2018.

So on Tuesday, Warren sent an eight-page letter to Bresch signed by 20 senators, including former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), demanding to know more about Mylan's patient assistance programs. Last week, Bresch said the company would expand these programs to give more people access to the drug — something you see across the drug industry these days.

Warren, however, doesn't buy that.

"These changes will help some customers who are struggling to afford EpiPens. Your discount programs, however, represent a well-defined industry tactic to keep costs high through a complex shell game," Warren wrote.

"When patients receive short-term co-pay assistance for expensive drugs, they may be insulated from price hikes, but insurance companies, the government, and employers still bear the burden of these excessive prices. In turn, those costs are eventually passed on to consumers in the form of higher premiums."
Warren asks Mylan for information on patient assistance programs - Business Insider

It sounds good, these "patient assistance programs" but people shouldn't be fooled.
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#33
Are high drug prices the result of over or under-regulation? 

At first sight, it's clearly underregulation. Despite drugs having a captive buy side, the US stands almost alone in not regulating drug prices, which leads to terrible abuse. 

But the market fundamentalist argue the opposite. We should abolish regulations that hamper competition for generic medicine. There are indeed two sets of regulations, but both favor the pharmaceutical companies:
  • The lack of regulation to set prices (which exists in basically all other advanced nations)
  • Regulation that makes it more difficult for competition, for instance for generic drugs
However, 90% of the drug prescriptions already use generic drugs. Brand name drugs make up just 10% of prescriptions, but account for 72% of drug spending!

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Red tape at the FDA doesn’t explain America’s high drug prices
Updated by Sarah Kliff  @sarahkliff  sarah@vox.com Aug 31, 2016, 4:00p

Earlier this week I wrote about how a lack of drug price regulation in the United States allows pharmaceutical companies — including EpiPen’s manufacturer, Mylan — to charge exceptionally high prices for their products.

Scott Alexander at the blog Slate Star Codex argues that I’ve got it all wrong: The problem isn’t a lack of price regulation. Instead, its too much regulation, which has prevented generic competitors from entering the market and has left EpiPen’s price so high. Here’s a bit from his piece:

Quote:If a chair company decided to charge $300 for their chairs, somebody else would set up a woodshop, sell their chairs for $250, and make a killing — and so on until chairs cost normal-chair-prices again. When Mylan decided to sell EpiPens for $300, in any normal system somebody would have made their own EpiPens and sold them for less. It wouldn’t have been hard. Its active ingredient, epinephrine, is off-patent, was being synthesized as early as 1906, and costs about ten cents per EpiPen-load.

Why don’t they? They keep trying, and the FDA keeps refusing to approve them for human use.

Alexander’s piece (which you can read in full here) makes the case that more generic competition would lower EpiPen’s price, and that is near certainly true! The Food and Drug Administration has found that the more generic competitors enter the market, the more the cost of a given drug declines. And it is undoubtedly true that there are obstacles to bringing generic drugs into market in the United States right now. The FDA has reported a three to four year back-log for generic drugs to even get to the review process.

Alexander sets up the difference between our arguments as a split in views of regulations: I favor more regulation of drug companies, and he favors less. He says that it’s absurd to argue for more regulation when the problem is too much regulation to begin with.

But it doesn’t really make sense to put all regulation on the same playing field hereSome regulations, after all, are really good for pharmaceutical companies — and some are quite bad for their business.

Alexander and I are both essentially pointing out two examples of how the United States has created a regulatory system that is incredibly favorable to pharmaceutical companies. We’ve set up a system that makes it incredibly easy for drug companies to score high profits and charge exceptionally high prices for their products.

One way it’s favorable is that we let drug companies pick their own prices — in this way the United States is exceptional, as the vast majority of developed companies regulate their drug prices.

Another way we’ve created a favorable regulatory environment, as Alexander writes, is by allowing roadblocks to stand in the way of generic drug makers who want to enter.

More generics can help America’s drug spending problem. But they can’t solve it.

Greater use of generic drugs is widely accepted as a way to drive down drug spending. The FDA has found that drug prices decline to 55 percent of the brand-name price when two generic manufacturers begin making a product.

Right now, the United States already uses a lot of generic drugs. In fact, about 90 percent of drugs prescribed in the country right now are generic.

Brand name drugs are the reason that America has higher per-capita drug spending than other countries. Brand-name drugs make up just 10 percent of prescriptions filled in the United States, but account for 72 percent of drug spending.

Drugs that are under patent are the true source of high American drug costs. EpiPen is, in a way, a bit of a red herring. It is harder for other manufacturers to create generic epinephrine injectors than it would be to create other generics because the actual injector pen remains under patent — although as Alexander points out, the FDA certainly hasn’t made the process any easier.

Our brand-name drugs are much more expensive than other countries’. As Harvard health economist Aaron Kesselheim writes in his recent review of drug spending in the United States, “Drug prices are higher in the United States than in the rest of the industrialized world because, unlike that in nearly every other advanced nation, the US health care system allows manufacturers to set their own price for a given product.”

Humira, a medication used to treat multiple autoimmune diseases, costs $2,699 in the United States — compared to $822 in Switzerland and $1,253 in Spain. Harvoni, a pill that cures Hepatitis C, costs $32,114 here — and $22,554 in the United Kingdom.

Less red tape around generic drug competition wouldn’t really change that fact. As long as we’re going to have patented drugs, letting drug manufacturers set their own prices will remain a key driver of America’s higher drug spending.
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#34
Deregulate finance, never mind the evidence..

Argue that the FDIC is obstructing the formation of new banks, despite hard evidence that the yield curve is too flat for them to make much money, and getting unpleasant when confronted by the facts..

From Simon Johnson, former head economist of the IMF:

Quote:The Republican establishment, deeply divided over Trump’s candidacy, certainly hopes for such a shift. But, if it comes about, no one should mistake it for a move toward more “moderate” positions. In any other year, the House Republicans would be regarded as irresponsible extremists.

To see this, consider the record from a recent hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, chaired by Representative Jason Chaffetz. The ostensible focus of the hearing was the policies of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), particularly with regard to the creation of new banks. As the hearing unfolded, however, it became clear that most Republican members were intent on broad-ranging deregulation of finance – rolling back all of the reforms put in place after the 2008 financial crisis. (I testified at the hearing at the invitation of House Democrats.)

In effect, most of the senior Republicans who spoke wanted to return to the pre-crisis world – or even to less financial regulation than existed under President George W. Bush. This is a recipe for repeating the boom-and-bust cycle that created the worst crisis since the 1930s and caused at least a decade of damage to the US economy.

Moreover, while sitting officials are typically treated with respect, the Republicans on the committee were extraordinarily uncivil toward Martin Gruenberg, the FDIC chairman. Worse, in addition to their rudeness and confrontational manner, the Republican members displayed a striking lack of interest in even the most basic facts.

For example, some of them claimed that low interest rates should make it attractive for new banks to be created – so, in their view, the lack of banking start-ups is an indication that the FDIC is doing something profoundly wrong. But researchers at the Federal Reserve have examined this closely and established, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the achievable interest-rate spread (the difference between deposit rates and loan rates) for potential start-up banks is extremely low. This lack of expected profitability – a side effect of monetary policy – is the primary reason people do not want to start new banks.

Unfortunately, the House Republicans simply do not want to be confronted with the findings of social science (on banking) – or apparently of science (for example, on climate change). If you put the facts before them, as happened in that hearing, they become aggressive and unpleasant – sounding rather like smaller versions of Trump. A civilized exchange of ideas and information is impossible.

The House Republicans have another big economic idea on their agenda about which we will likely hear more from Trump: a massive tax cut. If enacted, a few people at the top of the income distribution would do well; everyone else, not so much. Meanwhile, the deficit and government debt would soar, just like they did during the pre-2008 period.

Any growth that resulted would prove illusory, with the inevitable hard landing leading to austerity, which would be imposed disproportionately on less well-off Americans. Good luck having a sensible discussion about those issues with House Republicans.

Anyone wishing for Trump to “move to the middle” in today’s Republican Party is really just asking for a more dangerous version of George W. Bush, at home and abroad. Bush pushed through a big tax cut, along with other major increases in government spending – including for two disastrous foreign wars – and funded it all with debt. He also presided over a more complete form of financial deregulation than the US had ever seen, resulting in the largest economic contraction in almost 80 years.

With Trump in the White House, the United States might get the white-supremacist agenda of his “alt-right” allies: massive discrimination against minorities and other groups, and probably some form of police state to detain and expel millions of residents. Or it might get complete financial deregulation and a return to the most irresponsible fiscal policies the US ever experienced. The most likely scenario is that it would get both.
The Many Extremes of Donald Trump by Simon Johnson - Project Syndicate
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#35
Lead in paint and gasoline is likely to have been responsible for a host of developmental problems in children. It's removal correlates with a marked decline in violent crime..

Quote:But I’ve just been reading a new study by a team of economists and health experts confirming the growing consensus that even low levels of lead in children’s bloodstreams have significant adverse effects on cognitive performance. And lead exposure is still strongly correlated with growing up in a disadvantaged household. 

But how can this be going on in a country that claims to believe in equality of opportunity? Just in case it’s not obvious: Children who are being poisoned by their environment don’t have the same opportunities as children who aren’t. 

For a longer perspective I’ve been reading the 2013 book “Lead Wars: The Politics of Science and Fate of America’s Children.” The tale the book tells is not, to be honest, all that surprising. But it’s still depressing. For we’ve known about the harm lead does for generations; yet action came slowly, and remains highly incomplete even today.

You can guess how it went. The lead industry didn’t want to see its business cramped by pesky regulations, so it belittled the science while vastly exaggerating the cost of protecting the public — a strategy all too familiar to anyone who has followed debates from acid rain to ozone to climate change. 

In the case of lead, however, there was an additional element of blaming the victims: asserting that lead poisoning was only a problem among ignorant “Negro and Puerto Rican families” who didn’t fix up their dwellings and take care of their children. 

This strategy succeeded in delaying action for decades — decades that left a literally toxic legacy in the form of millions of homes and apartments slathered in lead paint

Lead paint was finally taken off the market in 1978, but then ideology stepped in. The Reagan administration insisted that government was always the problem, never the solution — and if science pointed to problems that needed a government solution, it was time to deny the science and bully the scientists, or at least make sure that panels helping set official policy were stuffed with industry-friendly flacks. The administration of George W. Bush did the same thing.
Black Lead Matters - The New York Times
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#36
From the wonderful world of the deregulate everything

Quote:New analysis from the Clean Air Task Force shows that by 2025 America’s children will experience 750,000 asthma attacks each summer that will be directly attributable to the oil and gas industry. The report, Gasping for Breath, is the first to quantify the effects of smog caused by oil and gas production and distribution. The authors used industry data submitted to the EPA’s National Emissions Inventory, particularly looking at methane and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can interact to create smog. This chemical reaction is facilitated by ultraviolet rays and heat — which is why smog is a bigger problem in the summer than the winter.

While the report looks specifically at the year 2025, when most currently proposed regulation is expected to be fully in effect, the level of impact is roughly the same today, according to Lesley Fleischman, the report’s lead author. That’s because most of the facilities expected to be in production in nine years are already being used.

Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania are the most-impacted states, according to the report. And, frankly, not much is being done about it. “Except in the state of Colorado, there are virtually no regulations [for] methane and volatile organic compound emissions that cover existing facilities,” Fleischman said.
Report Shows Exactly How Many Asthma Attacks Are Caused By The Oil And Gas Industry – ThinkProgress
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#37
And this stuff doesn't need regulation either..

Quote:Iron is known to be toxic to brain cells, and tiny magnetic iron particles (magnetite) are thought to be involved in the development of neurological disorders. Now, for the first time, we have identified the abundant presence of these highly reactive particles in human brains.

Previous studies have suggested that there are increased amounts of magnetite in Alzheimer’s-affected brains, and that these particles may be linked with the development of the disease. We wondered if this increased brain magnetite might come from inhaling polluted air.

Very small, round particles made out of magnetite (called magnetite nanospheres) are abundant in city air pollution. They are formed at high temperatures and condense as iron-rich droplets as they cool. These particles range in diameter from less than 5nm (nanometres) to more than 100nm (for comparison an HIV is 120nm in diameter) and are often found together with pollution particles made out of other metals.

Vehicles are a major source of these magnetite nanospheres. They are created by fuel combustion (especially diesel), iron wear from the engine block and frictional heating from brake pads. In addition to some occupational settings, high concentrations of magnetite pollution nanoparticles may be produced indoors by open fires or poorly-sealed stoves used for cooking or heating.

Since less than 5% of cases of Alzheimer’s disease are directly inherited, it is likely that the environment plays a major role in the disease.
There is a possible link between car exhausts and Alzheimer's - Business Insider
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#38
This stuff is still everywhere, like Colgate toothpaste and a million of other products..

Quote:Last week, after years of deliberation, the Food and Drug Administration announced that it will finally ban most antimicrobial chemicals—including the widely used triclosan—in soaps and body washes. The agency found that not only are these agents no more effective than plain soap and water at preventing illness, but they could actually be dangerous: Mounting evidence suggests chemicals like triclosan can mess with our hormones and may cause muscle weakness. What's more, chilling research has shown that antimicrobials get rid of beneficial bacteria, creating an environment where really dangerous bugs can thrive

All of which makes you wonder why they're allowed in anything. But they're actually in many things—the market for antimicrobials is worth upward of $1 billion. And thanks to gaping holes in the FDA's new rule, they're not going away anytime soon, says Mae Wu, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, whose suit against the FDA prompted the agency's decision on antimicrobials. "If the FDA doesn't have enough data to show that it's safe or effective," Wu says, "there shouldn't be a scenario under which it's okay to use these products." Here are five places you'll still find antimicrobials
This Creepy Banned Chemical Is Still in Absolutely Everything | Mother Jones
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#39
Yes, we don't need no consumer financial protection bureau..

Quote:The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is fining Wells Fargo $100 million over the banking giant’s longstanding habit of opening unauthorized accounts and credit cards for customers.

Wells Fargo staffers opened more than 1.5 million deposit accounts and nearly 600,000 credit card accounts for customers who’d never asked for them or signed papers authorizing them. The bank will pay another $85 million in penalties to Los Angeles and the federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. It must also deliver $2.5 million in direct restitution to the customers it cheated.

The bank has fired roughly 5,300 people over the unauthorized product sales, the CFPB order says. The people fired don’t fit the cultural image of bankers. These aren’t pinstriped limo-riders who light cigars with hundred dollar bills. Like most American megabanks,

Wells Fargo relies on poorly paid retail banking employees to staff its branches. The bank’s sales incentives and high-pressure work culture left these workers with an ugly choice: do the job correctly and get fired, or lie and maintain a steady income.
Caught Cheating Clients For Years, Wells Fargo Takes It Out On Low Level Workers
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#40
Surprise surprise..

Industry Sneakily Influenced Dietary Guidelines
SEPTEMBER 12, 2016, 7:01 PM EDT


The studies conducted in the late 60s that suggested fat intake was a greater risk factor for heart disease than sugar consumption were actually funded by the Sugar Research Foundation, according to a new analysis published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine. This suggests the Foundation downplayed the adverse effects of sugar consumption all those years ago, and shifted the blame to fat.


After conducting their own analysis and cross-checking it with recent sugar industry-related documents, the study authors found that the Foundation conflated research efforts in a variety of ways: It set the researchers’ objective, contributed articles to be included in the results, and it failed to disclose its role and funding for the studies.

One document in particular asked the researchers to write “a review article of the several papers which find some special metabolic peril in sucrose and, in particular, fructose.” Various studies at the time suspected sugar was bad for the heart, and the latestJAMA suggests the Foundation paid the researchers to counter those arguments and “downplay early warning signs that sucrose consumption was a risk factor in [coronary heart disease].”

With fat considered the culprit in heart disease, it’s no surprise the Dietary Guidelines for Americans in the 1980s suggested reducing total fat, saturated fat, and dietary cholesterol intake to prevent coronary heart disease.

The fat-focused research also inspired the fat-free food trend, wherein manufacturers ramp up sugar content in order to compensate for lower fat levels. Today, too much sugar has been linked to an increase for heart disease, as well as diabetes and obesity. There’s also a persistent anti-sugar narrative as various governments work to implement sugar taxes to deter consumers from drinking sweetened beverages. (Coca-Cola, for one, was under fire last year for paying over half a million dollars to the head of an anti-obesity group.)

In a statement, the Foundation said it should have been more transparent, but added that it can’t “comment on events that allegedly occurred 60 years ago, and on documents we have never seen.”
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