two signs that the world is making more sense

1)

Public Schools Have Higher Test Scores Than Private Schools

For some of you this may be a bombshell, but for all of you who went through the Catholic High School System this should be no surprise: Charter Schools have lower test scores than similar Public Schools. The report was put together by the American Federation of Teachers using the government's own numbers, and is reprinted here. Evidently the government delayed released the charter school's scores until the last possible moment.

Everyone I know who went through a public high school, no matter where they stand on the No Child act or school vouchers, will generally accept the argument that private schools are better than public ones. I went to a (Catholic) private school, and never accepted that for a second. Nevermind the idea that you can mandate religion classes instead of, say, writing or reading classes. Whenever you run something for a profit you are bound to cut corners and get creative in improving your bottom line in ways that do nothing to help with education (was anyone else subject to the daily 30 minutes of commerical watching that was the Channel One experience?).

2)

Governor Blagojevich to Pharmaceutical Industry: Fuck You.

Sometimes I'm damn proud to live in Illinois. Yup, our Governor is starting a (perhaps illegal) program to import drugs from Canada and European countries at a cheaper rate. "The federal government has failed to act," Gov. Blagojevich said in a statement. "So it's time that we do."

Don't even get me started on the nonsense of this debate. I absolutely hate that the Pharmaceutical Industry wraps itself in the Free Market rhetoric while they remain the most protected industry this side of New Deal agriculture. Bush moves to change tariffs a point to help protect U.S. steel and everyone shits themselves. An army of lobbyists push the President to make it illegal to import a product at a cheaper price from a foreign source (imagine him doing that to semiconductors from China!?!?!?!?) and sign a bill that prevents Medicare from negotiating lower drug prices and nobody blinks. Granted, I'm not a big city economist, but the idea that the government should be working very hard to artificially keep prices high seems a bit off.

And don't give me the "they need the money for research" scare tactic either. If anyone produces the cure for cancer or AIDS I'll post a mea culpa immediately. But the extra funds for research line is such a canard. Nevermind that the NIH, through taxpayer dollars, does a significant amount of the research that is then bought out by the industry. Some estimates say that a third of drugs marketed by the major drug companies are now licensed from universities or small biotech companies. What's more important is that so much of the research goes to changing existing drugs just enough to re-patent them. Quote Dr. Sharon Levine, associate executive director of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Group:

If I'm a manufacturer and I can change one molecule and get another twenty years of patent rights, and convince physicians to prescribe and consumers to demand the next form of Prilosec, or weekly Prozac instead of daily Prozac, just as my patent expires, then why would I be spending money on a lot less certain endeavor, which is looking for brand-new drugs?

Which is why millions and millions of dollars is spent R&Ding Clarinex, so that it can get out the same year as Claritin loses it's patent; nevermind that it's virtually the same drug that produces the same effects (the same can be said about Prilosec/Nexium and a million other combos). I'm sure somewhere the AIDS vaccine is in its final test stages.

But perhaps I'm being mean. Years of ripping off Americans with inflated rates for drugs has finally cultimated in one scientific breakthrough: we now have the means to keep Mike Ditka's cock rock hard throughout the night.

And you gotta love that.

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17 Responses to “two signs that the world is making more sense”

  1. Erik Says:

    First of all, I went to a public school and had to watch Channel one. I am pretty sure it had something to do with getting free TVs in all the classrooms, as soon as that obligation was filled promptly no teacher was espousing the educational benifits of said channel.

    Second, one of the problems with importing drugs is not the company's copyright ect. But the fact that it costs far, far more to get a drug approved in the united states than anywhere else…the same drug. This is not because our FDA is just that much more stringent with standards like it is always portrayed. The more accurate asessment is that the FDA requires testing that is decades out of date. This has, and I am not kidding about this, caused the existence of some labs around the country that specialize in outdated scientific techniques.

  2. mike Says:

    1) Do public schools get Channel One as well? I believe my school (indeed all school on it) got free TVs as well. I'm not implying that anyone is saying Channel One is educational besides Channel One – indeed I'm saying the opposite.

    I just find it odd how everyone assumes private schools have an edge because you have to pay to get in – and I'm glad to find a study that begins to quantify the counter-argument.

    2) I'll look into this second thing further. Do you have any relevant webpages for this? As to flesh out what I was trying to say.

    My quick lookaround is showing "For the top ten companies, [R&D] amounted to only 11 percent of sales in 1990, rising slightly to 14 percent in 2000…'marketing and administration'

  3. K Says:

    Yay investigative editorializing, and generally putting numbers behind the bitching. Love that.

    I was forced to watch Channel One in my public high as well–we did get free TVs, and homeroom (which I never understood–is it just another prep hour for teachers?) was devoted entirely to watching Lisa Liu, or whatever her name is.

  4. mike Says:

    Wait the actual thing I wanted to say just came to me…if the FDA is overhauled to be more in sync with Europe's (which, if needed, I support) testing standards, will drug prices then go back down?

    *crickets chirping*

    Did anyone NOT watch Channel One?

  5. Ambrosini Says:

    We didn't watch channel 1… but then again, I come from a rural town and we didn't even have TVs in the classroom :)

  6. Ambrosini Says:

    We didn't watch channel 1… but then again, I come from a rural town and we didn't even have TVs in the classroom :)

  7. erik Says:

    I think that channel 1 was a brief phenomenon in the mid 90's that anyone younger or older than us probably never experienced.

    As for FDA overhaul, the question is not whether or not changing the FDA will make drugs in the United States cheaper. It no doubt will not. The issue is the absurdity of the FDA making the claim that drugs approved for use in Canada or Europe are tested to less of a degree than those here… which to the best of knowledge is why they claim it is illegal to buy drugs from these countries.

  8. Liz Says:

    Public schools in Indiana have to whore themselves out just as much as private ones.

    We watched Channel 1- they still do, at my old hs and jr. high- and all the teachers REQUIRED us to watch.

    We had at least 20 Coke/ Powerade/ Fruitopia (it's HEALTHIER) vending machines in my HS.

    They sold Little Debbie/ Hostess/ Doritos/ Chex Mix etc. in the cafeteria.

    We had mini-billboards in our cafeteria.

    I remember once we got free folders and pencils with some soft drink company all over them.

    And this was when the economy wasn't in the shitter. I'd hate to see what my sister has to deal with now.

  9. mike Says:

    eep -> one doesn't have to look further than the male menopause blitz of the past two years:

    http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/?020729fa_fact

    gives a nice roundup. Male testosterone was very difficult to get artificially into the body – it required shots. About 8 months after big pharma finds a way to get it in easily into the bloodstream with a patch, suddenly doctors are talking about how testosterone deprived middle-aged men are. "a silent epedemic."

    Liz -> Wow. Excellent. For a variety of reasons (some legal) I don't want to go into ways I think private schools (and not just my own) shortchange on the education to increase the bottom line. I think that everyone, when they think private school, think of some sort of Salingeresque Boarding Acedemy full of sport coats and wood paneling – when often they are just normal crappy high schools.

    When is Ed back in the country?

  10. Liz Says:

    I agree with you on the private school myth- I BEGGED my parents to send me somewhere private. But just like all schools, it depends on where it is and what economic range the families of the kids who attend fall into- the one I was dying for was on the chichi northeast side of Indianapolis. The only private school in my home suburb taught creationism.

    Ed is back tomorrow, I believe.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    I think there are a couple of factors at play here re: Big Pharma.

    First of all, the pharma industry has somehow been cornered into coming up with a solution to funding healthcare for all citizens of not only the United States, but also the world. Think about it: drugs in other countries are not subsidized by the manufacturers. On the contrary: they pay higher taxes and their governments pay for their healthcare. Unfortunately, because some people want it both ways (lower taxes AND socialized medicine), this model is implausible in the current US economy. So instead we turn to cutting innovation. I challenge one person to tell me how many new drugs came out of Brazil last year.

    Additionally, has anyone considered what will happen to drug prices in other countries once the US is no longer subsidizing their costs? I highly doubt that they will stay level. That should win the US big bonus points with the rest of the world.

    Also the last time I checked, "marketing and administration" expenses can cover things such as salaries, electricity, etc., so don't be fooled by the term "marketing." It is a catch-all for everyday expenses.

    Finally, I want to address the point re: government funded research. It is true – the government funds some research – about 5% of all new drugs come from govt funded programs. And just to clarify: universities may be public institutions, but last time I checked, bio-tech firms – even small ones – are still corporations (ie – businesses!).

    To paraphrase Al Gore, these problems cannot be fixed overnight. They take years to solve, and no one without experiences in all areas of the problem can provide a quick fix. These dilemmas may take 15 years to solve, but we don't have the patience. Politics isn't about patience; it is about quick-fixes. Just a point to ponder as you head to the voting booth this fall.

  12. mike Says:

    Hey No Author! Thanks to the power of our aaahosting.com hosting software I know who you are…the martini you spilt on my Handsome Boy shirt came out in the wash :)

    I agree with Al Gore; however nothing is being done to stop these problems. At all. In the meantime Big Pharma's pipeline is going to dry up and it will become even more aggressive with lobbying to extend patents and R&Ding "me-too" patent-extending drug clones.

    I'm missing what you mean in the first paragraph. Not many people want BOTH lower taxes or universal health care – in fact a person is likely to want one or the other only. You have a point with Brazil, but it doesn't apply for Europe. You should know that 5 of the 10 largest Pharma companies are incorporated in Europe: GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca (England); Novartis and Roche (Swiss); and Aventis (France). So the idea that this is the US being taken advantage of by those lowly socialists is not true – it's corporations using lobbying power to smash and grab from the U.S.

    Two quick responses to your thoughts: "What will happen to drug prices…doubt that they will stay level." So what? The market gets to decide drug prices, not Congress. Picture the CEO of GM making that argument. The rest of the world is going to hate us no matter what regardless of drug prices.

    "..cut innovation." Why? My company (let's leave both of ours nameless) had to cut a 1/3 of it's massive workforce when the market went sour. My company still is doing R&D, still producing new products, and is now 100x more efficient for it. I really wish that the government could force higher prices and kept many friends with their jobs, but sadly that's not our situation. Why not force Big Pharma to do the same?

    You are implying that the government needs to keep prices high in order to keep innovation going at these companies, which implies that even if the company was too large for it's own good the government should force prices to keep it that size (socialism anyone?) – I'm saying we should let globalization run it's course, let the market determine the prices, and let the company grow or shrink accordingly via the market. Worse comes to worse, we end up with one less me-too patent.

    Ever think we'd each be taking these sides of an argument? good to hear from you….

  13. mike Says:

    sadly ed's not here, but this is grabbed from an email exchange we had; he is referencing the finicial statement for one of the 5 largest Big Pharma companies:
    "The market is clearly bearing their 82.8% profit margin on each dollar of sales. With a paltry 69 Billion dollars in market cap, this sort of mom-and-pop is in need of additional federal tax incentives to allay their excessive R&D costs."

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