Sunday, October 12, 2008

Civics Lessons: Race For The Prize

Flaming Lips: Race For The Prize


The opening line to the first song on the Flaming Lips' brilliant album, Soft Bulletin is:

Two scientists were racing
For the good of all mankind
Both of them side by side
So determined
Locked in heated battle
For the cure that is their prize
But it's so dangerous
But they're determined
In the United States we are currently caught in a vibrant debate about the best way to provide health care for the citizens of our country.  Many believe that a laissez-faire approach is appropriate.  They argue that without competition in the market place, prices will rise and quality will be reduced.  Adam Smith, pictured above, argued that when markets are unfettered, an "invisible hand" corrects problems of supply and demand and keeps prices low at the same time.  It is true that the for-profit drug companies in the US produce a hugely disproportionate number of life-saving and life-improving drugs, and this is largely due to the fact that scientist are fighting for patents because patents equate to profits.

The other side argues that health care is a right and that the government can and should direct tax dollars to providing it for the people.  They argue that the whole notion of profit should be removed from the health care system because it is unacceptable for anyone to be left uncared for in a nation as wealthy as ours.

I have no idea what Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips thinks about this subject, but I do know that the sad Nature of Man is that we are generally more likely to be "locked in heated battle" over profits than over "the good of all mankind".  Here's hoping we can all work together to find a solution that works for everyone.  In the meantime, enjoy one of the best opening tracks of the decade of the 90's.

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