Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it.

According to Paul Krugman, the prices of pharmaceutical shares plunged after the election. I haven’t taken the time to confirm this, because Paul Krugman’s word is good enough for me.

He attributes the decline in equity values to the fact that the Party of Bush passed a Medicare bill which was intended not so much to provide medical coverage to people who have worked a lifetime to earn it. Rather it was intended to protect Big Pharma from the possibility that the Government of the United States might use its considerable economic leverage to obtain fair prices from the gatekeepers of health.

While I was busy not looking up the performance of equity shares of Big Pharma, I was also not looking up the profitability of these companies. Just for fun, I’m willing to bet that they are doing okay. Any takers?

If I am wrong, I am going to want to go double or nothing that regardless of how the companies are doing profit-wise, the CEOs have done a pretty good job of taking care of themselves. And their children. And their grandchildren. And the next 40 generations, assuming that they don’t choose to keep warm by burning crumpled up $100 bills. Should they indeed make such an obscenely profligate choice, maybe only 10 generations.

Such is the wealth they have extracted from a people whose founding document proclaims that it is self-evidently true that our Creator has bestowed on all of us an inalienable right to life, and that governments are instituted among men and women to secure that right.

In the defense of the stewards of capitalism who earn the big bucks, it must be observed that their job is difficult and not everyone can do it. I leave it to others to consider how this differs from doing backbreaking labor like digging ditches, which makes men too weak and tired to enjoy what life has to offer. (Big Mitch is a very healthy, strong 250-pound guy, and they haven’t yet printed enough money to tempt me into that kind of labor.) I guess it makes sense that a guy who works that hard with his back has no need for a Leer Jet, because he would be too worn out to go anywhere on the little time off he earns.

Now, we all know that a CEO's work is mostly indoors and involves no heavy lifting, to borrow Bob Dole’s famous description of the job of vice-president. It is assumed that in their domain, the Big Pharma’s CEOs are uniquely qualified on account of their brainpower, which is just as exceptional as the physical prowess of a world-class athlete. It’s a supply and demand thing. They must be geniuses.

And that’s what has me so confused.

If they are so smart, how could they not have seen the election results coming? How could they have figured that the gift of No Drug Company Left Behind would last for long past the election?

This was the mistake that Karl Rove made, too. And even though I am a bear of very little brain, I was able to call every Senate race and predict the Democratic takeover of the House, by the simple expedient of paying attention to the polls. This was the Lawrence O’Donnell technique, and it worked for me, too.

The inability of Big Pharma’s capitalists and other assorted Rovians to foresee the election outcome speaks volumes. What it says is that these people are totally out of touch with the reality of millions and millions or Americans. And when that happens, to borrow a phrase from one of the most astute of political observers, “a hard rain’s a-goin’ to fall.”

I give credit to John Edwards for his “Two Americas” stump speech, and for suiting his actions to his rhetoric in the years since the election. Now it seems that the message is beginning to resonate.

For example, consider Senator-elect James Webb, whom the media have dubbed a “conservative Democrat.” Here’s his take:
The most important--and unfortunately the least debated--issue in politics today is our society's steady drift toward a class-based system, the likes of which we have not seen since the 19th century. America's top tier has grown infinitely richer and more removed over the past 25 years. It is not unfair to say that they are literally living in a different country.
To read more of what Jim Webb has to say, (with The Daily Kos’s snarky debunking of the “conservative Democrat” meme interspersed) visit Webb, conservative

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

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