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Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.





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Obama Transition Team Member on "Optimizing" the Patent System

As noted here here, one of Obama's transition "team members is Reed Hundt, who was Bill Clinton's FCC Chair from 1993 through 1997. Hundt is slated to work on the agency review team in charge of international trade and economics agencies." In a 2006 Forbes op-ed, Hundt had various suggestions for patent reform. They are not all terrible, but they continue to miss the point by struggling to find some way to make the system work better. Part of his proposal is to reduce the number of patents granted, increase fees, and increase funding of the USPTO. Writes Hundt: "First, we should slash the number of patents granted each year by 90%. In 2004 the U.S. Patent &Trademark Office issued 165,000 patents. Sixteen thousand is more like an optimal number." He proposes a $500k fee companies can pay for a "fast-track" one-year patent application review.

Typical bureaucratic hubris to think he knows the "optimal" number of patents--though technically he is right that 16,000 is "more like" an optimal number than is 165,000, since the optimal number is zero. This is not dissimilar to another recent proposal to improve patent quality and reduce the number of patents granted by radically increasing filing fees from the $1000 level to about $50,000. As Manuel Lora noted to me, this is like the Laffer Curve of Patents (see Rothbard's evisceration of the Laffer Curve). Such high fees would of course reduce the number of patents, but would also tend to benefit large corporations.

These guys ought to give up trying to fine-tune an inherently unjust system and just admit it ought to be scrapped. Hundt writes, "We have a horribly expensive system, with huge backlogs and a daunting litigation risk. No wonder the Chinese don't want to adopt it. Let's get rid of it and start from scratch." Well, he's half-right.

***

A few more responses to selected comments by Hundt:

Second, we need to spend more money on the system. The budget of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office is $1.5 billion. That ought to be tripled to $4.5 billion . . .

Who do you mean, "we," kemosabe? Not if it requires taxpayer funding.

We don't want grossly overworked professionals trying to figure out whether specific algorithms used to refresh the pixels on a computer monitor screen ought to be patented.

No, we want bright young Clintonite master bureaucrats!

Fourth, all patent case awards should be forward looking and linked to lost sales. In other words, plaintiffs who win patent-infringement challenges should be able to enjoin only future competition.

I thought he was onto something with his first sentence, but then he shys away from radical reform by not urging the abolution of all patent injunctions.


Comments

There should be a system for taxpayers to opt out of programs that they don't want to pay for. No, let ABOLISH the taxation system so they can't pull BS like this.

While we're at abolishing the system of taxation, let abolish the patent system like Kinsella said.

Intellectual property, frankly, create conflicts where none would exists. I also hate paying for programs that I don't get any perceivable benefits.

Kiba:

Your comment:

I also hate paying for programs that I don't get any perceivable benefits.

I offer the following quotes that clearly show that patents can be beneficial. I point out that all of these quotes are from papers and articles of people whose primary point was that patents are not beneficial.

Bessen and Meurer: "…the patent system provides positive incentives in some industries like pharmaceuticals…"

Bessen and Meurer: "…patents do provide profits for their owners, so it makes sense for firms to get them…"

Bessen and Meurer: "…we find that small publicly traded firms get small positive R&D incentives from patents. This is also very likely to be true for small, non-publicly traded firms and non-profit inventors."

Ruth Suehle in Redhat Magazine: "I have to admit, it's easy for me, and I suspect others, to forget that patents can work quite well outside of software."

Roberto Mazzoleni and Richard R. Nelson: "The collection of small and medium sized firms in the American biotechnology industry is, of course, a striking example of enterprises that would not have come into existence without the prospect of a patent, and which depend on patent protection to make their profits, and to attract capital, through one or another of these strategies."

Roberto Mazzoleni and Richard R. Nelson: "In some areas, patent rights certainly are economically and socially productive in generating invention, spreading technological knowledge, inducing innovation and commercialization, and providing some degree of order in the development of broad technological prospects."

Lonnie E. Holder:

Even if there are benefit to the patent system(As a skeptic of all government regulation, I seriously doubt), I prefer to called for abolishment of the system outright. Because, frankly, to trust the state to provide such benefit for any length of time will eventually lead to market collusion. Special interest groups are much more focused and stronger than the publics ability to fend off. Eventually the reformed patent system will no longer be beneficial and the cycle of corruption starts again.

In any case, no inventors or innovators get no special sympathy from me whether that inventors spend decade of his life working on an invention or have a single "AH-HA!" moment. If he fail in the marketplace, he shall fail. If he succeed, than great! If his ideas got "stolen", so what?

I am not prepared to boot the cost for somebody's inability to compete in the marketplace. I am also not prepared to concede my freedom to a monopolist who can't be brother to come up with a viable business plan.

If there are anybody to weep for, it is for entrepreneurs who never asked or voluntarily gave away their state privileges. They never asked for government handout from anybody and concentrates on running a business that compete for customers.

We, as consumers of their tireless labors will never care about these brave entrepreneurs. Indeed, why should we care? No sympathy will be given. Whatever profit they took from us is our reward for being such beneficial mules to society.

Perhaps hatred will be given for those who asked for our tax dollars and government protection...

Kiba:

I have read and read since I first found this web site, trying to understand how people could dislike patents, and their proof (if any) of the ineffectiveness of patents.

What I found on my personal journey was quite interesting. As with all things, there are exceptions, but here is my general conclusions:

o Software patents are the least effective patents and in fact may be detrimental to the development of software.

o Pharmaceutical companies absolutely require patents (or some equivalent) in order to repay the substantial cost of developing new drugs. This contention has been supported by numerous studies of anti-patent researchers, though the substitute for patent protection is unsure.

o Patents appear to be a neutral for many companies. In other words, the net benefit of patents for most companies seems to be approximately zero, or slightly positive. This effect is most pronounced for large companies.

o Small to medium companies and innovative startups not only benefit from patents, but may well not succeed without patents. The reason for this at first appears obscure, but I finally encountered a study that aligned all the information of all other researchers.

The problem with new companies, particularly those that are innovative with breakthrough products, and small to medium-sized companies, is that even if they are the inventor of a product, they are not the first mover in terms of the market. They may be first mover in terms of the product, but apparently that counts for little without patent protection. A larger company with substantial resources can readily take a product from a smaller company and penetrate the market faster and more thoroughly than the smaller company, and the first mover advantage effectively moves to the larger company. Further, the larger company can then apply greater resources to innovating the product faster than the smaller company and the smaller company dies, reducing competition and ultimately raising prices.

Highly innovative companies with a hitherto unknown product rely on patents to provide a protected period to permit the product to be established as a first mover product.

Here was where I was previously puzzled as to why Kanzaki and Hydro-Gear needed patents to become successful. Both companies introduced previously unknown products, low-cost hydrostatic transmissions that challenged the paradigms of the established hydraulics companies. However, without patent protection, the products of both companies would quickly have been taken by the established hydraulics companies, who, with their established distributor and sales networks and customers, would quickly have become the first movers in marketing terms, and Hydro-Gear and Kanzaki would quickly have been pushed out of the market they were attempting to develop. Patents permitted both companies to develop the tools they needed to compete. Otherwise, competition would have been restricted to the established hydraulics companies instead of expanded and consumers would have suffered as a result.

Products that are completely new, such as novel biotechnology products, also need a period of time to establish their product and market and the stability patents provide reassure venture capitalists that at least for a time the technology is exclusive to one company.

I came to this site with an open mind. After reading dozens of papers and a couple of books, I agree with the findings that patents do not provide a uniform benefit for all industries. I even believe that patents have been abused by some companies and individuals. However, companies and individuals will abuse whatever system we have. Without patents, bigger manufacturing companies will drive smaller, innovative manufacturing companies out of business. I do not believe this will happen to software companies, which are far less capital intensive.

I disagree with the deliberate bias placed against the results that show patents are beneficial for certain industries. The only industry that everyone agrees needs some kind of protection is pharmaceuticals, but there was substantial evidence that other industries used patents effectively to increase competition and innovation, and that evidence was ignored or downplayed.

I have enjoyed the conversations I have had on this site. The people who inhabit this particular cave are zealous and enthusiastic, but they are also generally close-minded. It is that very close-mindedness that will keep the elimination of IP or even the reduction of IP as a pipe dream rather than a real goal. In order to go where you want to be, you have to show everyone the benefits of the end result and provide a plan to get there. Because the people here are generally slavishly devoted to the elimination of IP without regard for the consequences (sort of like invading Iraq without explaining what you are going to do once you conquered the country), their following will be limited. This consequence is unfortunate because I have seen many valid points on this site.

Lonnie E. Holder:

You also show closed-minded when you refuse to accept that copyright infringement is not stealing and that intellectual property are not really property rights. This is of course, based on possibly faulty memory of past debate I have with you.

I can't really speak if other abolitionists are really closed minded that you say they are. I would have to read all the long rants to find out if that's really true.

I also wonder why would ask anarchists(Which seem to be the political viewpoints of many abolitionists here) to think of a plan for transition to a world without copyright and patent. It would be like asking army ants to plan their battle.

Kiba:

You also show closed-minded when you refuse to accept that copyright infringement is not stealing and that intellectual property are not really property rights.

Copyright infringement is not stealing, it is making copies of a released copyrighted work. The only time stealing comes into play with respect to copyright is if someone takes a confidential work (unreleased book, unreleased music, unreleased video, etc.). There is no qualifier to this. Even if you make a copy only of the unreleased work, it is still theft and numerous courts have called the taking of confidential data, regardless of what the data is, to be "data theft" or "information theft." Indeed, 34 states and several European countries have laws against data theft. The United States does not, to the best of my knowledge, have any law against data theft. For this reason, prosecution for the theft of data in the United States has been prosecuted under a patchwork of other laws.

We have had the discussion of property rights before. Property rights are a legal fiction established about 400 years ago. Those people who argue we had property rights for millenia are referring to "I am bigger than you and possession is 100% of my law." That is not property rights, because that person only has a "right" as long as they have the strength to hold their property.

Legal property rights as we know them today came about at the same time intellectual property rights did. Both are legal fictions. The only thing that grants anyone any kind of property right is a piece of paper.

Your definition and mine do not coincide. My definition is the internationally accepted definition of property rights. I believe yours is somewhat Libertarian or anarchist?

I can't really speak if other abolitionists are really closed minded that you say they are. I would have to read all the long rants to find out if that's really true.

I think in general this is true. I have found very few people on this site who have any tolerance for patents, and very little tolerance for government in general (Bill Stepp may be the extreme viewpoint in that respect - though I admire his conviction and fervor I am glad I do not live next door to him).

I also wonder why would ask anarchists(Which seem to be the political viewpoints of many abolitionists here) to think of a plan for transition to a world without copyright and patent. It would be like asking army ants to plan their battle.

lol...On the other hand, anarchists are essentially for the abolition of all government, so their true state is rassling with grizzlies and defending their little plot of land from the pagan hordes. In the political history of the world anarchy had its shot and politics rapidly evolved away from anarchy. We are extremely unlikely to go back.

Army ants do plan their battle. They have scouts, supply chains, bivouacs, and order of battle. Army ants may be the most sophisticated social insect on planet Earth.

I am curious Kiba. What do you do for a living?

Lonnie:

Pharmaceutical companies absolutely require patents (or some equivalent) in order to repay the substantial cost of developing new drugs. This contention has been supported by numerous studies of anti-patent researchers, though the substitute for patent protection is unsure.

Well, if the fundamental issue is that pharmaceutical research is expensive, then the substitute is any alternative method of funding that research. How about government research grants?

Jesse:

Which government grants would those be?

(1) The government already takes away enough of the money I earn.

(2) The government is already in debt for trillions of dollars. At what point do our taxes go for debt servicing as opposed to programs that the government is already committed to support?

(3) I have heard this suggestion before. If the government decides which programs get funded, then how politicized will that decision be?

(4) Will the government then take responsibility when they backed the wrong drug?

(5) Do we not already have enough government interference in the market place? Effectively, suggesting that the government decide which drugs get their support adds even more interference to the drug market than we already have. While the system we have may be imperfect, at least the market still decides whether a new drug is worth the price paid in research. There are losers, and always will be.

(6) Government subsidy of drug research becomes just another inefficient welfare program. Another sad end for us all.

Lonnie:

(1) The government already takes away enough of the money I earn.

They'd take less if they didn't have to bother examining, issuing, and enforcing patents. But in any case, the money could be raised by taxing pharmaceutical manufacturers, so that the research is ultimately funded by the same people who fund it today - the people who buy these drugs.

(3) I have heard this suggestion before. If the government decides which programs get funded, then how politicized will that decision be?

As politicized as we let it be.

Today, those decisions are made by companies looking to maximize their own profits. Is that really any better? Wouldn't public health be improved if we diverted some of the money from, say, researching the next Viagra knockoff (men in midlife-crisis mode are quite profitable) and put it toward something a little more serious?

(4) Will the government then take responsibility when they backed the wrong drug?

Not sure what you mean here. We don't know whether it's "the wrong drug" until it's been researched. Pharmaceutical companies aren't any better at predicting the future.

(5) Do we not already have enough government interference in the market place? Effectively, suggesting that the government decide which drugs get their support adds even more interference to the drug market than we already have.

Eliminating the patent system would reduce government interference, not only in the drug market but in all markets.

(6) Government subsidy of drug research becomes just another inefficient welfare program. Another sad end for us all.

Well, I'd call it an investment in public health, and there's nothing sad about that. But if you'd rather call it welfare, then surely you'll admit the patent system has the same problem: not only does it cost money to keep that system operating, but we also pay in lost freedom and higher drug costs (monopoly pricing).

Jeese: Pharmaceutical research are expensive partly because of government regulation. Get rid of government regulation and the cost goes down.

Also it is problematic for the government to decide research because of the Calculation Problem. Central planning never work. At least with pharmaceutical companies, you can get many more guesses even if individual pharmaceutical companies doesn't really know what's valuable and what's not.

Lonnie: As far as I know, ants don't have generals. Individual ants follow simple rules that eventually emerges as spontaneous order. I am not a biologist, however..

Also, I think it is wrong to reject a political philosophy based on mere practical consideration. Otherwise miniarchists and libertarians would just give up their philosophy. Anarchists may know that anarchy is impossible but they will fight for anarchy to the end. They do it because they believe it is the right thing to do.

As for a job.. I am just a high school student. ^_^

I do operate a website for a profit. I am seemly unaffected by the many horrors that copyright defenders contend that I will supposedly experience though.

Lonnie wrote:

"…the patent system provides positive incentives in some industries like pharmaceuticals…"

Nobody has argued that the benefits are zero. The important question is do the benefits outweigh the costs? The costs are positive, and quite high.

"…patents do provide profits for their owners, so it makes sense for firms to get them…"

Not a justification. Giving big corporations the right to simply steal anything they wanted to would provide profits for their owners, but would be bad public policy. Any argument for patents that works equally well as an argument for legalizing theft by certain parties clearly doesn't wash.

"…we find that small publicly traded firms get small positive R&D incentives from patents. This is also very likely to be true for small, non-publicly traded firms and non-profit inventors."

Non-zero benefits does not prove costs don't exceed benefits. See above.

"I have to admit, it's easy for me, and I suspect others, to forget that patents can work quite well outside of software."

Define "work quite well". Most likely, either there are benefits (but the costs might outweigh them) or they are profitable for big business (but so would letting big business ignore the laws against normal property crime).

"The collection of small and medium sized firms in the American biotechnology industry is, of course, a striking example of enterprises that would not have come into existence without the prospect of a patent"

That's a rather bold statement to be making without any evidence whatsoever. Yet short of a quantum mirror to peek into alternate versions of history, we certainly seem to lack that evidence!

"In some areas, patent rights certainly are economically and socially productive in generating invention, spreading technological knowledge, inducing innovation and commercialization, and providing some degree of order in the development of broad technological prospects."

They seem to be easily outmatched by other institutions, and with greatly reduced downsides. For example, a time-honored way to spread technological knowledge is via universities and via apprenticeships. Silicon Valley's lack of effective non-compete clauses had the effect of creating apprenticeship in the burgeoning field of electronics and infotech back in the day. These days, also, we have the Internet, and search-findability is to some extent meritocratic, with a much leveller playing field than in many other areas, save parts of academia, and a vastly lower barrier to entry than academia.

"I have read and read since I first found this web site, trying to understand how people could dislike patents"

I think you'll find that most people, when asked, will say they dislike: a) Having to pay a higher price for the same object; b) Not having as much ownership right in their own tools and widgets, despite having paid as much or more for them.

"o Software patents are the least effective patents and in fact may be detrimental to the development of software."

No "may be" about it.

"Pharmaceutical companies absolutely require patents (or some equivalent)"

Patents OR SOME ALTERNATIVE means of funding R&D. You're showing some signs of coming around if you now recognize that it is, indeed, possible that there's a better way.

"though the substitute for patent protection is unsure."

But well worth searching for, given the known costs of the patent system. Ask any dying person in Africa and you'll find that in this instance it is definitely not preferable to stick with "the devil we know".

"Patents appear to be a neutral for many companies."

No benefit, nonzero costs = throw them out. No baby, all bathwater.

No net benefit for the company, but a net cost to consumers (reduced freedoms, increased price tags), equals a net loss to society. Bad public policy to preserve patents then.

"The problem with new companies, particularly those that are innovative with breakthrough products, and small to medium-sized companies, is that even if they are the inventor of a product, they are not the first mover in terms of the market. They may be first mover in terms of the product, but apparently that counts for little without patent protection. A larger company with substantial resources can readily take a product from a smaller company and penetrate the market faster and more thoroughly than the smaller company, and the first mover advantage effectively moves to the larger company. Further, the larger company can then apply greater resources to innovating the product faster than the smaller company."

The strategy for small companies obviously changes when patents are eliminated. Small companies are then advised to use trade secrecy during R&D, then demo a working prototype and entertain bids, selling the technology to the highest bidder from among those same big corporations. The small company may try to be acquired, or just sell "the first copy" and proceed to do more.

The small company could also just develop and give away a new technology, then act as a consultancy. For quite a while they will have more expertise with the technology than the bigger companies, and if they keep doing R&D to improve it, they may stay ahead of the curve and remain valuable as consultants indefinitely.

The large companies do what they do best: marketing and efficient scaled-up manufacturing.

The need for competition is served by the large companies in the space. There will generally be three or four, and as the technologies involved in manufacture improve (robots, nanotech, etc.) this will further increase in the near to mid-term future.

Patents create a seemingly more competitive market with a larger number of smaller players, but the patent rents, plus the overhead associated with patent filing, patent lawyers, and so forth, and the reduced efficiency from not letting the big manufacturing companies do the parts of the job they're good at (large-scale marketing and production and distribution of the product), will take their toll. Consumer choice may even be reduced, since the reach of the smaller companies will be more limited, and a given consumer might live in an area where only two, one, or even zero such companies are supplying a particular type of product.

"However, companies and individuals will abuse whatever system we have."

Hence the anarchists' desire to get rid of the entire system, and many conservatives' and libertarians' desire to shrink it substantially.

"Without patents,"

the system will be smaller.

"bigger manufacturing companies will drive smaller, innovative manufacturing companies out of business. I do not believe this will happen to software companies, which are far less capital intensive."

Innovative manufacturing companies might well cease to exist, but only because a separation would develop between innovation/consultancy companies and manufacturing companies, each specializing as its category's description implies.

Manufacturing of some types of electronic will get "far less capital intensive" real soon now. Fabbers that can cheaply produce circuit boards with components are coming soon. So are nanotechnologies that might result in self-assembling "OLED display paint" or similar things. Before long, a variety of presently-expensive electronic products will get dirt cheap to produce -- a garage fab shop will be able to crank out ten-cent computer mice and keyboards, and anyone will be able to apply a can of "pixel paint" to a wall, slap a cheap frame around it with some cheap embedded microchips, plug into their satellite decoder and a set of inexpensive but high quality speakers, and have a $150 big-screen TV.

For other sorts of items, the price curve will tilt steeply downward a bit less quickly. Cars for a few hundred bucks await big improvements in robotics that are just around the corner; expect to wait a decade or so there. Expect cheap, fairly automated house construction on a similar timetable. Cheap energy may be crucial; a good system for moving power over continent-scale distances will make a huge difference as big solar farms in deserts and far-offshore wind farms will suddenly become price-competitive with coal, then get even cheaper. (And if they finally have a major fusion breakthrough, perhaps with polywell, it's Katie bar the door.)

For that matter, one of the barriers to entry that can give large companies an advantage over small companies is IP and the associated climate of potential legal liability. Get rid of IP and being big enough to have a high-powered law firm on retainer stops being as beneficial.

"I disagree with the deliberate bias placed against the results that show patents are beneficial for certain industries."

They can be, and still the costs to society can outweigh the benefits to society, making patents bad public policy.

"The only industry that everyone agrees needs some kind of protection is pharmaceuticals"

Not everyone. I, for one, don't agree to that.

"there was substantial evidence that other industries used patents effectively to increase competition and innovation"

Patents are always used to stifle competition. Whenever competition increases, it is despite, rather than because of, patents. Innovation is disincentivized if you have no competition; you might as well just sell your existing product line at a ridiculously inflated price, spend zilch on customer service, do nothing but manufacturing and marketing, and pocket your 3000% margins. Only once competition appears is further innovation spurred. So even if patents increase the incentives for an initial burst of innovation by a company, they decrease the incentive to continue innovating once they come up with a "hit" of some sort. The self-maximizing strategy then becomes to fire all the R&D staff and just manufacture the "hit" until the patent expires or someone engineers an equivalent product around it, then start up R&D again briefly until you get another "hit" or a compelling, patented upgrade to your first, and so it goes.

"I have enjoyed the conversations I have had on this site."

Does that mean you're leaving?

"The people who inhabit this particular cave are zealous and enthusiastic, but they are also generally close-minded."

I most certainly am not. I just am not convinced by BS, and require strong evidence of substantial net social benefit before I'll accept any policy that imposes on my freedoms or raises prices or my taxes.

"you have to show everyone the benefits of the end result and provide a plan to get there."

That much is true. Hence my previous suggestion of a ten-year (or whatever) phaseout of IP, by setting all (pre-existing and not-yet-granted) copyrights and patents to expire at the end of that period.

"Because the people here are generally slavishly devoted to the elimination of IP without regard for the consequences"

I think you will find that everyone here tends to be a highly independent thinker, not a "slavish" anything. The "slavish" sort tend to all be pro-IP, because that's the only "conventional" thinking in the area.

"(sort of like invading Iraq without explaining what you are going to do once you conquered the country)"

That comparison is insulting.

"I have seen many valid points on this site."

An interesting admission.

Kiba wrote:

"You also show closed-minded when you refuse to accept that copyright infringement is not stealing and that intellectual property are not really property rights. This is of course, based on possibly faulty memory of past debate I have with you."

I doubt it was faulty. I have similar recollections of Lonnie's positions on such matters. And my memory is nigh-perfect in accuracy, if limited of course to what I have actually read or learned.

Lonnie wrote:

"Copyright infringement is not stealing"

That's a change of tune from earlier.

"it is making copies of a released copyrighted work."

Nope, sorry, try again. You see, there's this thing called "fair use", and there's private copying, too.

"The only time stealing comes into play with respect to copyright is if someone takes a confidential work (unreleased book, unreleased music, unreleased video, etc.)."

And it's one, two, three strikes you're out. There's still no "theft" here: nobody is missing an object, some money, or whatever that they once had.

The closest things to "theft" that exist with information are vandalism (I delete your file without asking you first; if I also make a copy, that actually approximates my taking an object of yours, depriving you of it while adding it to my own) and plagiarism (I claim credit for something you originated).

Both are orthogonal to copyright infringement. (I can delete a file without making myself a copy, or make a copy without deleting; I can distribute a copy over p2p with your name still in the file name as author, or I can take your work after it's in the public domain and misattribute it to myself.)

"We have had the discussion of property rights before. Property rights are a legal fiction established about 400 years ago."

Nonsense. Notions of private ownership of property (and associated concepts, like inheritance) irrefutably go back several thousand years.

"My definition is the internationally accepted definition of property rights."

Leaving aside my doubts as to the accuracy of that claim, I should not need to remind people that just because something is internationally accepted doesn't mean that it isn't wrong. Geocentrism and the notion of a flat earth both were internationally accepted at one time.

"I think in general this is true. I have found very few people on this site who have any tolerance for patents"

Hardly evidence of closed-mindedness. Would you accuse people of closed-mindedness that exhibited very little tolerance for bullying? Or typhus, or smallpox? Or terrorism?

"(1) The government already takes away enough of the money I earn."

You'd need less if you weren't paying the hidden patent-induced "taxes" on all sorts of products and services. The product itself needn't be patented for patents to inflate its price, either. Patents can put multiple price increases into something, in myriad ways:

* Directly -- the thing's patented and the company charges a premium for it

* A patented process or part is used in the thing, and the company has to pay extra for it, or license the patent. The cost is passed on to the consumer.

* A workaround for a patented process or part is used, and that workaround is less efficient, or more costly than the marginal cost (uninflated by monopoly rents) of the patented alternative, or whatever.

* The manufacturer's legal costs, including being prepared for or actually defending against or settling patent infringement suits, as well as doing patent searches and otherwise trying to see into the murky minefield of potential future lawsuits to avoid them, get amortized and distributed over the prices of their products.

* The manufacturer likely also has IP lobbying costs from their efforts to alter IP law to favor them.

I'm probably missing other ways for IP to throw additional sand into the gears and further boost the prices of things.

"(2) The government is already in debt for trillions of dollars. At what point do our taxes go for debt servicing as opposed to programs that the government is already committed to support?"

This seems entirely unrelated to patents, or even IP in general. It's a general public policy/spending issue.

"(3) I have heard this suggestion before. If the government decides which programs get funded, then how politicized will that decision be?"

They already decide which drugs get approved. How much worse can it possibly get if they approve drugs at more points in the process?

"(4) Will the government then take responsibility when they backed the wrong drug?"

At gunpoint. So, we keep the status quo there.

"(5) Do we not already have enough government interference in the market place?"

Way too much, in fact. I'd recommend we reduce it, starting by abolishing the whole IP apparatus, which creates huge market distortions.

"While the system we have may be imperfect, at least the market still decides whether a new drug is worth the price paid in research."

That won't change so long as drugs continue to be purchased by "the market" from the manufacturers.

"Government subsidy of drug research becomes just another inefficient welfare program."

If the net effect (of that plus removing pharma patents) is to make drugs available to the poor that previously could not afford them, then it's pretty decent welfare if you ask me.

Kiba wrote:

"Pharmaceutical research are expensive partly because of government regulation. Get rid of government regulation and the cost goes down."

Get rid of government regulation and we'll have people dying daile from the "Vioxx-of-the-week". Safety regulation seems to be essential in a few areas, and drugs is one of them.

"Also it is problematic for the government to decide research because of the Calculation Problem. Central planning never work. At least with pharmaceutical companies, you can get many more guesses even if individual pharmaceutical companies doesn't really know what's valuable and what's not."

The reasonable proposals all call for individual pharmaceutical companies to still make the guesses and do the earliest and cheapest types of trial. The government then subsidizes, or simply does, the later-stage trials for the drug candidates that emerge as sufficiently-promising.

"As far as I know, ants don't have generals. Individual ants follow simple rules that eventually emerges as spontaneous order. I am not a biologist, however."

Perhaps you should become one; you are essentially correct here.

P.S. Comment posting is sometimes silently failing again.

Jesse:

(1) The government already takes away enough of the money I earn.

They'd take less if they didn't have to bother examining, issuing, and enforcing patents. But in any case, the money could be raised by taxing pharmaceutical manufacturers, so that the research is ultimately funded by the same people who fund it today - the people who buy these drugs.

Actually, they would not take one penny less, because the USPTO is funded entirely by fees from the people who apply for patents.

As for taxing pharmaceuticals to raise the money to provide funding for research in the absence of patents, I suggest you read the multitude of posts by those worthy individuals that typically post on this site. In the absence of patents the price of drugs would drop precipitously so that they would reach their marginal cost of production, and profits would thus be a fraction of their present amount. That level of profit would not support the research needed to develop new drugs.

(3) I have heard this suggestion before. If the government decides which programs get funded, then how politicized will that decision be?

As politicized as we let it be.

lol...We are unable to control politically related decisions by the government anyway. We will be just as unsuccessful in keeping the Federal Agency to Research and Test Drugs (FARTD) from being politically motivated, especially considering the incredible amounts of money this agency would need to replace private research funding.

Today, those decisions are made by companies looking to maximize their own profits. Is that really any better?

I thought we called this capitalism and free market. Since I prefer capitalism, the answer is yes.

Wouldn't public health be improved if we diverted some of the money from, say, researching the next Viagra knockoff (men in midlife-crisis mode are quite profitable) and put it toward something a little more serious?

You should ask this question after you hit age 50 and Mr. Johnson struggles to wake up when you want him to.

Regardless, who gets the authority to decide what is "a little more serious"? Let us not research another asthma drug, let us focus on this disease. Oh no, no more cardiac medications, we are focusing on cancer drugs. As you ponder my comment, I refer to my other comment above regarding politicizing these decisions.

(4) Will the government then take responsibility when they backed the wrong drug?

Not sure what you mean here. We don't know whether it's "the wrong drug" until it's been researched. Pharmaceutical companies aren't any better at predicting the future.

When a pharmaceutical company backs the wrong drug (and according to some sources it can take 5000 research misses to get a hit) no one knows or cares. Of course, the public hears above the drugs that hit the market that turn out to have side effects, but fortunately there have been few enough of those. Now, pretend these drug companies have to reveal all their misses because they are funded by public money. People would then be blaming each other for expending $100 million for a failure. The government will blame the pharm. The pharm will blame the government. The public will feel ripped off. The opposition party will blame politics. It will go on and on. Do we really need to make drug research yet another opportunity for the media to tear the government apart?

(5) Do we not already have enough government interference in the market place? Effectively, suggesting that the government decide which drugs get their support adds even more interference to the drug market than we already have.

Eliminating the patent system would reduce government interference, not only in the drug market but in all markets.

I see. Eliminating markets is better than having interference in those markets. Good idea. Who needs pesky new drugs anyway?

(6) Government subsidy of drug research becomes just another inefficient welfare program. Another sad end for us all.

Well, I'd call it an investment in public health, and there's nothing sad about that. But if you'd rather call it welfare, then surely you'll admit the patent system has the same problem: not only does it cost money to keep that system operating, but we also pay in lost freedom and higher drug costs (monopoly pricing).

I call it a welfare system for drug companies, because that is what it will turn out to be.

Yes, it costs money to keep the system running. However, the amount is negligible. Considering the cost of patenting, running the system, and the cost of litigation added together in comparison to GDP, patents add about .07 cents to every dollar you spend. So, patents add about 70 cents to every thousand dollars you spend. I can see the vast savings you will have when patents are eliminated.

We pay in lost freedom? Multiple studies have shown that without patents, capital intensive activities and any activity requiring substantial research, especially those where reverse engineering is relatively easy, will suffer and advancement may be dramatically slowed or even stopped. Where is our freedom when we get no new choices? Freedom may be increased in some places, but it will be reduced in others.

As for higher drug costs, either we will pay through higher taxes or we will pay through higher prices (as I noted earlier). Eliminating patents will merely transfer costs to people who currently do not pay for high priced drugs. I can see those people being all for that.

Kiba:

Also it is problematic for the government to decide research because of the Calculation Problem. Central planning never work. At least with pharmaceutical companies, you can get many more guesses even if individual pharmaceutical companies doesn't really know what's valuable and what's not.
I suggest you take a look at the system of grants that already exists, e.g. for military technologies. Government funding doesn't have to mean fewer "guesses".

Lonnie:

In the absence of patents the price of drugs would drop precipitously so that they would reach their marginal cost of production, and profits would thus be a fraction of their present amount. That level of profit would not support the research needed to develop new drugs.
If the manufacturers were taxed to pay for research, that would be part of their expenses, and they'd pass that cost onto consumers in the form of higher drug prices. Profits would be lower (i.e. the market would be more efficient) but the funding for research would still be there.

Note, however, that these "higher" prices would likely still be lower than what we pay today, since manufacturers could compete against each other to produce the same drugs.

["Today, those decisions are made by companies looking to maximize their own profits. Is that really any better?"] I thought we called this capitalism and free market. Since I prefer capitalism, the answer is yes.
So "politicized" decisions are cause for concern, but decisions that put profits ahead of health are fine. Voters bad, yachts good. Gotcha.

Regardless, who gets the authority to decide what is "a little more serious"?
A panel of 12 randomly selected doctors couldn't do any worse than a handful of pharmaceutical executives, right?

Of course, the public hears above the drugs that hit the market that turn out to have side effects, but fortunately there have been few enough of those. Now, pretend these drug companies have to reveal all their misses because they are funded by public money. People would then be blaming each other for expending $100 million for a failure.
That's funny. What makes you think these would be treated differently from any other research grant that doesn't pan out?

The point of research grants is to study something that may or may not turn out to be useful. Most of them don't go anywhere. This happens all the time, and no one cares, because people generally understand the process.

I see. Eliminating markets is better than having interference in those markets.
"Eliminating markets"? You seem to be confused.

Multiple studies have shown that without patents, capital intensive activities and any activity requiring substantial research, especially those where reverse engineering is relatively easy, will suffer and advancement may be dramatically slowed or even stopped.
It's a shame that whoever ran those studies thought patents were the only way to pay for research. Apparently it's a common misconception.

As for higher drug costs, either we will pay through higher taxes or we will pay through higher prices (as I noted earlier). Eliminating patents will merely transfer costs to people who currently do not pay for high priced drugs.
Nope, try again. Eliminating patents would lower drug costs by allowing competition in manufacturing, and if the research is funded by a tax on pharmaceutical manufacturers (effectively adding it into the price of the drugs), the costs wouldn't be transferred to anyone else.
Jesse:

If the manufacturers were taxed to pay for research, that would be part of their expenses, and they'd pass that cost onto consumers in the form of higher drug prices. Profits would be lower (i.e. the market would be more efficient) but the funding for research would still be there.

Note, however, that these "higher" prices would likely still be lower than what we pay today, since manufacturers could compete against each other to produce the same drugs.

Actually, this tax would be weird because it would require generic manufacturers to charge more for drugs than they otherwise would have. Ergo, while the price of new drugs would be less than what we would otherwise pay, the price for generics would go up. The market for generics would not be any more efficient, but would be more expensive.

Rather than have a limited monopoly on drugs, we would have a permanent tax on drugs to support the development of new drugs. Thus, the "patent tax" would be replaced by a permanent "research tax."

Since the government is completely divorced from the checks and balances that a business has, the government has no need to restrain the amount of "research tax" it imposes on pharmaceutical companies. Indeed, the "research tax" may continually increase as constituents press for drug solutions for various special needs, from cancer to dandruff. The price of drugs with the "research tax" could ultimately exceed the price of drugs with the patent tax. I just love your solution, it is so much of an improvement over the current system.

So "politicized" decisions are cause for concern, but decisions that put profits ahead of health are fine. Voters bad, yachts good. Gotcha.

Politicized decisions from the government are always a cause for concern because the government spends my money to support those decisions. When you characterize that companies are putting profits ahead of health, that is a significant distortion that others subscribe to and that remains erroneous. Where does profit ahead of health come in? Do you mean that companies should be prevented from having the resources to develop new drugs, so that the question never arises? Or do you mean that companies should be benevolent associations and give their drugs away in a socialist fashion because it is evil to make profits? I abhor any solution that turns the United States any more socialist than it already is.

Regardless, who gets the authority to decide what is "a little more serious"?

A panel of 12 randomly selected doctors couldn't do any worse than a handful of pharmaceutical executives, right?

Oh please. As with any decision where $400 million dollars is to be spent (there is a survey that indicates that this is the average amount to bring a new drug to market), a fair amount of research and analysis is conducted before a decision to proceed. If you are going to pick 12 randomly selected doctors, why not just go all the way and use a Magic Eight Ball?

Of course, the public hears above the drugs that hit the market that turn out to have side effects, but fortunately there have been few enough of those. Now, pretend these drug companies have to reveal all their misses because they are funded by public money. People would then be blaming each other for expending $100 million for a failure.

That's funny. What makes you think these would be treated differently from any other research grant that doesn't pan out?

The point of research grants is to study something that may or may not turn out to be useful. Most of them don't go anywhere. This happens all the time, and no one cares, because people generally understand the process.

People may understand the process, but there have been several huge research projects with overruns and unknown payoffs that have been the source of GAO investigations and public outcry, principally because the dollars have been huge. I strongly believe that a $400 million government price tag to bring drugs to market will cause a lot of concern, abuse, and suggestions that there should be a better system.

Incidentally, I would vote against further government interference in the pharmaceutical company, especially government payment for drug research.

I see. Eliminating markets is better than having interference in those markets.

"Eliminating markets"? You seem to be confused.

I am not confused at all. As I have noted previously, studies by ANTI-PATENT researchers (whom have less reason than most to make such statements), indicate that certain businesses have benefited from patents and may have survived only because of patents. So, if an ANTI-PATENT researcher makes this statement, then I am inclined to believe it. Thus, eliminate patents, eliminate the support to make the product that makes that market. I have previously mentioned two markets that exist only because of patents, and I will not repeat them again.

Multiple studies have shown that without patents, capital intensive activities and any activity requiring substantial research, especially those where reverse engineering is relatively easy, will suffer and advancement may be dramatically slowed or even stopped.

It's a shame that whoever ran those studies thought patents were the only way to pay for research. Apparently it's a common misconception.

I know it is a common misconception. Darn those anti-patent researchers anyway. I keep saying they are wrong, but no one believes me. Apparently you do. On the other hand, your solution to pay for research with government tax money through a transer of wealth is completely unpalatable to me.

As for higher drug costs, either we will pay through higher taxes or we will pay through higher prices (as I noted earlier). Eliminating patents will merely transfer costs to people who currently do not pay for high priced drugs.

Nope, try again. Eliminating patents would lower drug costs by allowing competition in manufacturing, and if the research is funded by a tax on pharmaceutical manufacturers (effectively adding it into the price of the drugs), the costs wouldn't be transferred to anyone else.

Nope, try again. As I noted earlier, your tax would increase the price of generics. You would transfer wealth from people using generics to pay for new drugs. That is clearly a transfer of wealth. Until recently, I used only low cost generics as opposed to new drugs. Wal-Mart's $4 drugs would have this significant new tax added to it to pay for research. I wonder how much tax would have to be added to pay for the $30 billion in drug research each year?

I also wonder whether this trend will ever stop. Next, we do not like it that people do not have the ability to get a stove, so we develop an appliance tax to pay for appliance research. Then we hate it that people are unable to buy plasma televisions because of patents, so all televisions get a research tax to pay for new television research. All of this is administered by new government agencies. Government gets ever bigger, dwarfing the size of the patent office as we add people to oversee the process and people to control and authorize spending.

Look at the pure dollars. The USPTO takes in about $1.5 billion per year (from the people who file applications as opposed to taxpayers), which includes patents and trademarks. We eliminate patents, reducing the 5,000 members of the USPTO by perhaps 4,000, because trademarks will still exist. We then create a whole new agency to administrate the $30 billion plus in pharmaceutical research taxes.

Given the government's typical cost of overhead, this new agency will cost about $6 billion to run, creating thousands of new jobs and thousands of new pages of regulations. Oh, in order to keep research dollars the same, the new taxes would have to raise about $36 billion. All this will surely reduce the cost of drugs, surely. I am surely glad you are not running this nation, because the cost of drugs would probably go UP under this system (remembering we already have similar taxes on cigarettes, and their cost has exploded 600% in the last 30 years).

Lonnie:

The market for generics would not be any more efficient, but would be more expensive.
It would also be much larger, since today there can be no generic version of a drug for the first couple decades of its existence. Sounds like a fair tradeoff to me. I'd gladly pay $25 for a generic today instead of choosing between a $250 original today and a $5 generic twenty years in the future.

Indeed, the "research tax" may continually increase as constituents press for drug solutions for various special needs, from cancer to dandruff. The price of drugs with the "research tax" could ultimately exceed the price of drugs with the patent tax.
In other words, if more research were being done, we'd spend more on research. So patents limit the amount of drug research being done? And that's a good thing in your view?

I just love your solution, it is so much of an improvement over the current system.
Thanks, I knew you'd come around!

Where does profit ahead of health come in? Do you mean that companies should be prevented from having the resources to develop new drugs, so that the question never arises? Or do you mean that companies should be benevolent associations and give their drugs away in a socialist fashion because it is evil to make profits?
No, and in fact neither of those statements bears any resemblance to anything I've written.

What I mean is that today the decision of which research to perform is based on the potential for profit. If you can make more money treating a mild inconvenience in wealthy, insecure men than curing a life-threatening disease in poor children, you'll invest in the former at the expense of the latter. That's an undesirable outcome from any human perspective. How could "politicizing" this decision-making process possibly come up with worse outcomes?

Thus, eliminate patents, eliminate the support to make the product that makes that market.
But as we both know, that's only true if you don't fund the research some other way. And as we both know, there's another way to fund it -- we've been discussing it right here. You might not like it for ideological reasons, but it would undeniably provide "the support to make the product that makes that maret".

As I noted earlier, your tax would increase the price of generics. You would transfer wealth from people using generics to pay for new drugs. That is clearly a transfer of wealth.
Meanwhile, the patent system transfers wealth from people who buy a drug when it's new to people who can wait a couple decades. But that's all right because your prescriptions are already available in generic form, right?

I also wonder whether this trend will ever stop. Next, we do not like it that people do not have the ability to get a stove, so we develop an appliance tax to pay for appliance research. Then we hate it that people are unable to buy plasma televisions because of patents, so all televisions get a research tax to pay for new television research. All of this is administered by new government agencies.
You'd have to be pretty detached from reality to not see a distinction between health care and plasma TVs.
Jesse:

The market for generics would not be any more efficient, but would be more expensive.

It would also be much larger, since today there can be no generic version of a drug for the first couple decades of its existence. Sounds like a fair tradeoff to me. I'd gladly pay $25 for a generic today instead of choosing between a $250 original today and a $5 generic twenty years in the future.

I read an interesting article that described the difference in price between generics and drugs with patents. The article noted that depending on a variety of factors, generics can be anywhere from 20% to 80% cheaper. So, let us arbitrarily say that the average price of a generic is 60% chaper. That would mean a $250 patented drug would cost (without the onerous research tax) $100.

Now, we already know that the inefficient Federal Administration for Research and Testing of Drugs (FARTD) will require billions to operate. We also know that constituents will press Congress to research many more drugs that are currently researched by pharmaceuticals (more on that below), so the FARTD budget could easily climb to $60 billion or more. We know there are approximately 3 billion prescriptions written annually. So the government mandated "research tax" will be approximately $20 per prescription drug. Thus, you will forever pay $20 per prescription (including those currently very cheap Wal-Mart prescriptions of $4) in research tax. Nothing like a transfer of wealth.

Bad idea. Bad implementation. Bad program. Socialistic and inefficient.

Indeed, the "research tax" may continually increase as constituents press for drug solutions for various special needs, from cancer to dandruff. The price of drugs with the "research tax" could ultimately exceed the price of drugs with the patent tax.

In other words, if more research were being done, we'd spend more on research. So patents limit the amount of drug research being done? And that's a good thing in your view?

How did you go from funding for research to patents? The two are absolutely unrelated. The current limitation is based on limited resources and ROI at pharmaceuticals. Let us try an example.

Let us say there is a drug that would be used by 100,000 people. Let us say that because the condition is poorly understood that the cost of finding a drug, which will only be a first attempt at treating this condition, is near the upper end of cost for research. We know the average is $400 million, so this first drug with limited effectiveness could cost $600 million or more to find.

Now, for a variety of reasons, perhaps 25,000 people use this drug. That means we spent $600 million, or $24,000 per person, to develop this first drug, which is likely to have only limited effectiveness, as the history of drug development tells us. In the current scenario, pharmaceuticals tend to focus on drugs that affect more people. But constituents can be a highly vocal bunch, so the complainers will show pictures of children suffering from this condition, and it will get added to the list because the government has unlimited taxing ability.

Of course, the demand for drug researchers will go up, so the salaries of those same researchers will increase, and the cost of developing drugs will go up. The dollars will keep pouring in, but the pace of drug development will slow as the system uses more and more marginal resources and the costs continue to spiral upward as inefficiencies increase. Eventually, the FARTD budget will go beyond $100 billion as Congress is convinced that throwing more money at the problem will solve the problem, and drug development will become ever slower in the face of Congressionally mandated oversight and reports.

The pharmaceutical industry ultimately becomes another huge government boondoggle. Here is the best part of all. Under the new system a pharmaceutical never has to actually develop a new drug! They keep saying that they have yet to find a safe product and keep taking public money. What a great system. The pharmaceuticals will undoubtedly love it.

I just love your solution, it is so much of an improvement over the current system.

Thanks, I knew you'd come around!

I am absolutely opposed to the huge welfare program for pharmaceuticals that you propose.

What I mean is that today the decision of which research to perform is based on the potential for profit. If you can make more money treating a mild inconvenience in wealthy, insecure men than curing a life-threatening disease in poor children, you'll invest in the former at the expense of the latter. That's an undesirable outcome from any human perspective. How could "politicizing" this decision-making process possibly come up with worse outcomes?

I doubt that the program you propose will actually put an end to the problem you state. Pharmaceutical companies will recognize that drugs to treat incontinence in wealthy, insecure men will always provide greater revenue that drugs to treat poor children, regardless of inefficient Congressional welfare. Pharmaceuticals will do their best to either divert money from the primary mission or create research to treat one that is dual purpose, with the goal of going after the more profitable market.

As for how "politicizing" the decision comes up with a worse outcome, I have already detailed that above. More drugs will be supported. Resources will be exceeded. Costs will spiral out of control. Drug development will grind to a halt. Pharmaceutical companies will still show a profit. The public will be outraged. Heads will roll.

Thus, eliminate patents, eliminate the support to make the product that makes that market.

But as we both know, that's only true if you don't fund the research some other way. And as we both know, there's another way to fund it -- we've been discussing it right here. You might not like it for ideological reasons, but it would undeniably provide "the support to make the product that makes that maret".

Your way dramatically increases the size of government and absolutely throttles an industry, as well as creating corporate welfare. The number of problems that your solution causes far outweighs the marginal benefits that you get from that improvement.

As I noted earlier, your tax would increase the price of generics. You would transfer wealth from people using generics to pay for new drugs. That is clearly a transfer of wealth.

Meanwhile, the patent system transfers wealth from people who buy a drug when it's new to people who can wait a couple decades. But that's all right because your prescriptions are already available in generic form, right?

What? How is wealth transferred from people who buy a drug when it is new to people who can a wait a couple of decades? The transfer is from people who buy the drug when it is new to the pharmaceutical companies. The people who purchase generics do not benefit from the patent system. Indeed, they benefit from when the patent expires. You logic here is unclear to me.

I also wonder whether this trend will ever stop. Next, we do not like it that people do not have the ability to get a stove, so we develop an appliance tax to pay for appliance research. Then we hate it that people are unable to buy plasma televisions because of patents, so all televisions get a research tax to pay for new television research. All of this is administered by new government agencies.

You'd have to be pretty detached from reality to not see a distinction between health care and plasma TVs.

What I see is that corporate welfare is abhorrent, an abomination that is fraught with inefficiencies and higher prices. The more the government controls an activity, the more it costs. We already see the government interfering with financial markets, housing lenders, airlines, and now the automotive industry is in line with their hand out. Why not plasma televisions? When will the government leave the market the heck alone and let it do what it does best?

Lonnie:

So, let us arbitrarily say that the average price of a generic is 60% chaper. That would mean a $250 patented drug would cost (without the onerous research tax) $100. [...] So the government mandated "research tax" will be approximately $20 per prescription drug. Thus, you will forever pay $20 per prescription (including those currently very cheap Wal-Mart prescriptions of $4) in research tax.
So, that drug would cost $120 instead of $250 (52% less) for the first twenty years, then $120 instead of $100 (20% more) thereafter. This tradeoff sounds even better now that we've run the numbers on it. Thanks!

Bad idea. Bad implementation. Bad program. Socialistic and inefficient.
If "socialistic and inefficient" is the worst you can say about it, then it sounds pretty good. No one cares about the socialist bogeyman anymore, and in such fields as health care, the important metric is not efficiency but accessibility.

Pharmaceuticals will do their best to either divert money from the primary mission or create research to treat one that is dual purpose, with the goal of going after the more profitable market.
In other words, attempting to solve this problem might only be partially successful, so we shouldn't bother?

As for how "politicizing" the decision comes up with a worse outcome, I have already detailed that above. More drugs will be supported.
So the big scary problem is that too much research will be done? More money will be spent on drug research than you'd like? And somehow this is worse than making research decisions based on which drugs will bring in the most profit?

Your way dramatically increases the size of government and absolutely throttles an industry, as well as creating corporate welfare.
Tossing around right-wing catchphrases is no substitute for an argument. Socialism, welfare, big government... excuse me while I yawn. Like it or not, most people believe that some problems are best solved by government, even when that involves the dreaded "transfer of wealth".

How is wealth transferred from people who buy a drug when it is new to people who can a wait a couple of decades? The transfer is from people who buy the drug when it is new to the pharmaceutical companies. The people who purchase generics do not benefit from the patent system. Indeed, they benefit from when the patent expires. You logic here is unclear to me.
We're comparing two alternatives here: your preferred system, where drug companies are granted decades-long monopolies on manufacturing to pay for their private research, and mine, where research is publicly funded and the cost shared among all drug manufacturers.

Under your preferred system, the people who purchase new drugs pay more than they would under mine, and the people who can wait 20 years pay less. Therefore, when comparing the two systems, we can say that yours transfers wealth from people buying new drugs to people buying generics (since the first group pays for the research that makes the drug available to the second group), and mine does the opposite.

Why not plasma televisions?
Because the rest of us see a clear difference between health care and plasma televisions. If you don't see it, I'll give you a hint: no one ever died from not being able to afford a plasma TV.

This is like John Cornyn's supposed slippery slope from gay marriage to interspecies marriage. That slope only appears slippery to people who are deluded or ignorant of their opponents' reasoning and motivation. To everyone else, there's a bright and obvious boundary between the two situations.

When will the government leave the market the heck alone and let it do what it does best?
Let me guess: defend the borders, run just enough courts to handle contract disputes, and nothing else?
Jesse:

So, that drug would cost $120 instead of $250 (52% less) for the first twenty years, then $120 instead of $100 (20% more) thereafter. This tradeoff sounds even better now that we've run the numbers on it. Thanks!

And the low cost drugs that previously cost $4 would be 500% more forever. You are welcome. Also consider this. Huge numbers of drugs are about to become generic. Almost half of all prescriptions written are for generics. Within the next several years, the number of generics will increase to the point where they outnumber, and then significantly outnumber patented drugs. There have been several articles written about the impending boon to generic pharmaceutical manufacturers as the number of generics rapid expands. So, when generics outnumber patented drugs by two or three to one, you will be dooming all generic drug users to paying anywhere from 20% more to 500% more for their prescription, just so you can reduce the cost of an ever decreasing percentage of patented drugs. Sounds like bad economics to me.

If "socialistic and inefficient" is the worst you can say about it, then it sounds pretty good. No one cares about the socialist bogeyman anymore, and in such fields as health care, the important metric is not efficiency but accessibility.

Under your plan, we will have improved accessibility for some drugs, eventually to become a few drugs, and decreased accessibility for the vast majority of drugs. I prefer the plan where we maximize savings for the consumer, and your plan is not it.

Pharmaceuticals will do their best to either divert money from the primary mission or create research to treat one that is dual purpose, with the goal of going after the more profitable market.

In other words, attempting to solve this problem might only be partially successful, so we shouldn't bother?

A cheaper, more successful solution would be for the government to buy the drugs and give them away. That would cost less than $30 billion and more perr year. As the number of patented drugs decreases, the expenditure decreases, and eventually the problem becomes minimalized. Because the rate of new drug development has slowed substantially, we will eventually get to the point where patented drugs will make up 10% to 20% of the total drug market or less. The best benefit in the long term (as opposed to a short term gain for long term pain) is to reduce the cost of the majority of drugs rather than a few drugs.

As for how "politicizing" the decision comes up with a worse outcome, I have already detailed that above. More drugs will be supported.

So the big scary problem is that too much research will be done? More money will be spent on drug research than you'd like? And somehow this is worse than making research decisions based on which drugs will bring in the most profit?

Are you insulting me? The "big scary problem," in your condescending terms, is that you are setting up a situation where more TAX dollars will go to drug research, INCREASING the federal deficit or increasing TAXES on people who do not need more TAXES. Yes, increasing corporate welfare for a marginal, short term benefit is a horrible solution. Incidentally, do you work for a drug company? Your comments sure make it sound like you do.

Your way dramatically increases the size of government and absolutely throttles an industry, as well as creating corporate welfare.

Tossing around right-wing catchphrases is no substitute for an argument. Socialism, welfare, big government... excuse me while I yawn. Like it or not, most people believe that some problems are best solved by government, even when that involves the dreaded "transfer of wealth".

While you yawn, consider that there are numerous economic papers that show that government interference in any market always causes unintended consequences that are almost always negative. I speak not of the bogeyman, but known consequences from a known act. Federal socialism has proven the worst possible solution for health care, retirement, electrical power, oil refineries, interstate transport, farming, and dozens of other industries. How do we think that federal takeover of drug research will be any better? Your yawning is no substitute for an argument.

How is wealth transferred from people who buy a drug when it is new to people who can a wait a couple of decades? The transfer is from people who buy the drug when it is new to the pharmaceutical companies. The people who purchase generics do not benefit from the patent system. Indeed, they benefit from when the patent expires. You logic here is unclear to me.

We're comparing two alternatives here: your preferred system, where drug companies are granted decades-long monopolies on manufacturing to pay for their private research, and mine, where research is publicly funded and the cost shared among all drug manufacturers.

Decades long monopoly? Okay, let us do a calculation. A drug patent takes about five years or so to issue. A patent runs 20 years from the date of filing of a non-provisional application. With clinical trials and approval, the actual effective length of the patent is somewhere around 10 to 14 years. Where is decades?

Let us review. Within a decade, the vast majority of prescription drugs will be generic drugs. In 2004, according to Pharmacy Times, the average cost of a generic prescription, which made up 56% of all prescriptions in 2005, was $28.87. So, if the average research tax is $20, you are proposing a whopping 69%. What about the hundreds of drugs that many stores now offer for $4? Your welfare system would call for a 500% penalty to those prescription drugs. I call that a horrible solution, you call it a great solution. I have to believe you work for a pharmaceutical company. Why else would you propose such a huge welfare program for pharmaceutical companies?

Under your preferred system, the people who purchase new drugs pay more than they would under mine, and the people who can wait 20 years pay less.

Except there is no waiting for 20 years, because ever decreasing numbers of new drugs are typically not available to anyone for five years or more. In some cases, it could be as few as 10 years. Cease your exaggerations.

Therefore, when comparing the two systems, we can say that yours transfers wealth from people buying new drugs to people buying generics (since the first group pays for the research that makes the drug available to the second group), and mine does the opposite.

In about a decade or so, your plan will transfer VAST amounts of wealth from the huge majority of people, many of them poor people who frequently use generics, to wealthy people and chronically ill people who tend to use newer drugs. Take from the poor to give to the rich, in addition to the huge welfare program for pharmaceutical companies. I have to believe you work for a pharmaceutical company.

Why not plasma televisions?

Because the rest of us see a clear difference between health care and plasma televisions. If you don't see it, I'll give you a hint: no one ever died from not being able to afford a plasma TV.

You missed my point, and you fail to see another point that you raised. My point was that the government is currently in the bad habit of giving money out to a variety of industries. The pharmaceutical industry welfare system would be a permanent leech on the productivity of society as it pays ever greater amounts for ever decreasing output, permanently. Yes, my example of other industries was a bit of hyperbole, but apparently you were too dense to see that.

Note that your inefficient government welfare will risk millions of lives of people on generics so that you can support an ever decreasing number of formerly patented drugs. Stay out of horse trading, you will go out of business quickly.

This is like John Cornyn's supposed slippery slope from gay marriage to interspecies marriage. That slope only appears slippery to people who are deluded or ignorant of their opponents' reasoning and motivation. To everyone else, there's a bright and obvious boundary between the two situations.

Yes, people who understand the pharmaceutical situation, including Stephan Kinsella, recognize that subsidizing the pharmaceutical industry with social welfare may seem attractive for another decade or so, but after that, generics will rule the market place and a plan that neglected the long-term consequences will cause tens of millions to be unable to afford drugs because of the average 69% drug tax that could go up to 500% that you propose. There is clearly a bright and obvious boundary between the plan you propose and the current situation. As bad as some people think the current situation is, the slippery slope you propose leads us on a road to hell.

When will the government leave the market the heck alone and let it do what it does best?

Let me guess: defend the borders, run just enough courts to handle contract disputes, and nothing else?

The federal government should handle interstate matters. Our founding fathers limited the power of the federal government to certain issues. Our friendly federal government has managed to usurp the power and authority of states and individuals. Proposing a permanent federal welfare system for pharmaceuticals puts hundreds of millions who rely on generic drugs at risk.

Lonnie:

So, when generics outnumber patented drugs by two or three to one, you will be dooming all generic drug users to paying anywhere from 20% more to 500% more for their prescription, just so you can reduce the cost of an ever decreasing percentage of patented drugs. Sounds like bad economics to me.
I think you're forgetting that the price increase on those generics goes toward research. As more types of drugs are produced, either the price of those generic drugs will fall (as the same research cost is spread out over more products) or more research will be done, producing more new drugs which will be available at lower prices than they would otherwise (if the research budget increases to keep the same per-product research cost).

As for whether it's "bad economics", I'll note that the goal here isn't to provide an example of good economics, but rather good monopoly policy and good health care policy. A system that makes innovative drugs available to more people is good health care policy, whether or not it lowers prices across the board or maximizes the utility of every dollar, and a system that allows manufacturers to compete has its own inherent value.

Under your plan, we will have improved accessibility for some drugs, eventually to become a few drugs, and decreased accessibility for the vast majority of drugs. I prefer the plan where we maximize savings for the consumer, and your plan is not it.
Something tells me adding $20 to the price of a $4 drug has less impact on its accessibility than subtracting $130 from the price of a $250 drug.

In any case, what you're talking about is maximizing savings on average - if a person bought one unit of each drug, every day, forever, he would likely spend less under your preferred plan. But that doesn't give the entire picture.

Suppose you snapped your fingers and suddenly every drug was free, except for one drug which now cost $1 million per pill. This would surely be an overall savings... but try telling that to the people who depend on that one drug.

A cheaper, more successful solution would be for the government to buy the drugs and give them away.
What makes you think that would be cheaper when the pharmaceutical companies can demand whatever price they want, thanks to their monopolies? Today, if the price is too high, then people can't afford the drug - they may suffer or die without it, but they still won't be able to pay, which acts as a check on monopoly pricing. But if we're going to have the government buy the drug with its virtually limitless purchasing power, there's no check: expect to see drug prices skyrocket.

The "big scary problem," in your condescending terms, is that you are setting up a situation where more TAX dollars will go to drug research, INCREASING the federal deficit or increasing TAXES on people who do not need more TAXES.
Writing "TAXES" in all caps might seem scary to anarcho-libertarians, but I'm afraid it doesn't do much for me. I'm less worried about paying TAXES to BIG GOVERNMENT, over which I have at least some degree of control through my elected representatives, than I am about paying ROYALTIES to BIG PHARMA, over which I have zero control other than the "choice" to buy or not buy some lifesaving drug.

As for increasing taxes on people who don't need more taxes, recall that the cost is ultimately borne by the same group of people either way: the people who buy prescription drugs. This plan just shifts the cost from some members of that group to others. Surely you aren't suggesting that the people who buy new drugs somehow "need" to spend more than the people who buy old generic drugs.

Yes, increasing corporate welfare for a marginal, short term benefit is a horrible solution.
As I pointed out above, the benefit isn't short term. The benefit of having lower prices for new drugs is a long term one, although any particular drug is only new for a short time (if twenty years can be called short).

Federal socialism has proven the worst possible solution for health care
Try telling that to the millions of people who are better off because of national health care systems. It doesn't matter whether the system is "efficient" if you aren't covered - although there's convincing evidence that national health care systems are more efficient as well.

I have to believe you work for a pharmaceutical company. Why else would you propose such a huge welfare program for pharmaceutical companies?
You can't really be this paranoid. I don't believe it.

As I've said, my reasons for proposing this system are twofold: (1) to eliminate monopolies, (2) to lower the cost of new drugs. If you have a better solution, I'd like to hear it.

Except there is no waiting for 20 years, because ever decreasing numbers of new drugs are typically not available to anyone for five years or more.
Fair enough: under your preferred system, the people who purchase new drugs pay more than they would under mine, and the people who can wait 20 10-15 years pay less. Hmm, doesn't sound any better.

In about a decade or so, your plan will transfer VAST amounts of wealth from the huge majority of people, many of them poor people who frequently use generics, to wealthy people and chronically ill people who tend to use newer drugs.
Er... why do you think wealthy people tend to use newer drugs and poor people tend to use generics, anyway? It's because new drugs are prohibitively expensive.

I have to believe you work for a pharmaceutical company.
Methinks thou dost protest too much. You're the one arguing in favor of a system that lets pharmaceutical companies charge a profit-maximizing monopoly price instead of competing against other manufacturers, remember?

Yes, people who understand the pharmaceutical situation, including Stephan Kinsella, recognize that subsidizing the pharmaceutical industry with social welfare may seem attractive for another decade or so, but after that, generics will rule the market place
What an odd statement. "Generics will rule the market place" because, what, we will have already invented all the possible drugs by then? (In that case, we may as well do away with the patent system, since there's no need for an incentive to do research if there's no more research to be done.)

Generics rule a portion of the marketplace, and they'll continue to do so, but it's foolish to pretend that lowering the cost of new drugs is only a short-term benefit, because the concept of "new drugs" isn't going away. In another decade or so, there will be a new set of new drugs, and the people of the future will benefit from lower prices on the new drugs of the future.

Perhaps your point is that generics will rule an increasing portion of the marketplace, since the number of generic drugs is only increasing over time. But as the number of drugs on the market increases, each drug's share of the research cost decreases. So either we keep the research budget the same, and drugs get cheaper over time, or we increase the research budget over time, and the pace of innovation increases.

Jesse:

I think you're forgetting that the price increase on those generics goes toward research. As more types of drugs are produced, either the price of those generic drugs will fall (as the same research cost is spread out over more products) or more research will be done, producing more new drugs which will be available at lower prices than they would otherwise (if the research budget increases to keep the same per-product research cost).

Slightly more than one out of every two prescriptions is currently generic. Yes, that means that more than 50% of all prescriptions are close to the marginal cost of production. In roughly a decade, that number will be closer to 75% or 80%. Thus, at least 3 out of 4 drugs will be generic in a decade, possibly sooner. In two decades, 4 out of 5 drugs will be generic, possibly more. When the number of generic prescriptions becomes 9 out of 10, which it will eventually, what happens to the price of drugs?

Well, the total cost of the 9 generics will be $180 more than they would have been without the pharmaceutical welfare tax. What would be the affect on non-generic drugs? Well, according to a June 2006 Kaiser Family Foundation report, the average cost of a prescription was $64.86, which included generic and non-generic drugs. We know that 56% of all drugs are generic, and we know the average cost of a generic prescription is $28.87. Therefore, the average price of a non-generic prescription must be $110.68. Assuming that non-generics will ultimately achieve the same price as generics, let us calculate the net benefit based on the ratio of generic to non-generic drugs:

Generic Cost Adjusted Non-Generic Cost Each Adjusted Savings (100 Scrip)

56% $28.87 $48.87 44% $110.68 $48.87 $1,599.64

60% $28.87 $48.87 40% $110.68 $48.87 $1,272.40

70% $28.87 $48.87 30% $110.68 $48.87 $454.30

80% $28.87 $48.87 20% $110.68 $48.87 -$363.80

90% $28.87 $48.87 10% $110.68 $48.87 -$1,181.90

So, when 80% of all drugs are generic, consumers will begin losing money with the pharmaceutical welfare plan based on known current expenditures. We know for a fact that generic drugs are increasing as a percentage of the total, rapidly (more on that in a moment). I repeat my original assertion, as the ratio of generics to non-generics increases, consumers will ultimately lose money.

As for whether it's "bad economics", I'll note that the goal here isn't to provide an example of good economics, but rather good monopoly policy and good health care policy. A system that makes innovative drugs available to more people is good health care policy, whether or not it lowers prices across the board or maximizes the utility of every dollar, and a system that allows manufacturers to compete has its own inherent value.

So, under your program, we will weight the system so that we focus on new drugs rather than lowering the cost of existing drugs. In fact, your program proposes to keep the prices of generics high. How is this a good plan?

Something tells me adding $20 to the price of a $4 drug has less impact on its accessibility than subtracting $130 from the price of a $250 drug. In any case, what you're talking about is maximizing savings on average - if a person bought one unit of each drug, every day, forever, he would likely spend less under your preferred plan. But that doesn't give the entire picture.

To hell with your "something." Do the math. Consumers may win today, and next year, and several years into the future, but eventually the returns go the other way. When generics eventually become 90% of all prescriptions consumers will be better off and have better access to drugs without the onerous research tax.

Suppose you snapped your fingers and suddenly every drug was free, except for one drug which now cost $1 million per pill. This would surely be an overall savings... but try telling that to the people who depend on that one drug.

So, if we have 100 million people on drugs, with 90 million people on generics and 10 million on non-generics, we pay $11.8 billion more for medication, but with 25% of those 100 million below the poverty line, we tell those 25 million, sorry, but we have a system that supports 10 million people with cheaper drugs, so you have to pay more. I will let you tell those people that could have had cheaper drugs that your program screwed them over.

A cheaper, more successful solution would be for the government to buy the drugs and give them away.

What makes you think that would be cheaper when the pharmaceutical companies can demand whatever price they want, thanks to their monopolies? Today, if the price is too high, then people can't afford the drug - they may suffer or die without it, but they still won't be able to pay, which acts as a check on monopoly pricing. But if we're going to have the government buy the drug with its virtually limitless purchasing power, there's no check: expect to see drug prices skyrocket.

First, drug prices are already skyrocketing, so that is old news. However, you are also forgetting that the government (the VA Administration) negotiates substantially reduced prices for prescription drugs by bulk buying. According to psychiatryonline.org, the negotiated price is about 1/3 lower than other purchasers of the same drug. Why would this welfare system work any differently? The government could easily leverage their $30 billion investment into $45 billion worth of drugs.

As for increasing taxes on people who don't need more taxes, recall that the cost is ultimately borne by the same group of people either way: the people who buy prescription drugs. This plan just shifts the cost from some members of that group to others. Surely you aren't suggesting that the people who buy new drugs somehow "need" to spend more than the people who buy old generic drugs.

However, you are suggesting that the majority of people who buy old generic drugs somehow "need" to spend more than necessary to make newer drugs cheaper for the minority who need them. Why is your system any better? Welfare is welfare, no matter how you disguise it.

Yes, increasing corporate welfare for a marginal, short term benefit is a horrible solution.

As I pointed out above, the benefit isn't short term. The benefit of having lower prices for new drugs is a long term one, although any particular drug is only new for a short time (if twenty years can be called short).

Why do you keep saying "20 years."? There is no possible way that a drug is a monopoly for 20 years, which you should surely realize. Average lifetime for any patent after ISSUANCE, which is when the patent actually exists, is 17 years. Drugs face more hurdles that shorten the lifetime even more. 20 years is some sort of weird urban myth.

Federal socialism has proven the worst possible solution for health care Try telling that to the millions of people who are better off because of national health care systems. It doesn't matter whether the system is "efficient" if you aren't covered - although there's convincing evidence that national health care systems are more efficient as well.

Okay, I tire of providing support for my statements. I take this statement as unsupported drivel until you provide factual evidence.

As I've said, my reasons for proposing this system are twofold: (1) to eliminate monopolies, (2) to lower the cost of new drugs. If you have a better solution, I'd like to hear it.

Well, your programs does the first and the second. So, we eliminate monopolies, have cheaper (though not cheap) new drugs, but the vast majority of existing generic drugs will be forced to pay a penalty forever more. So, your plan takes from the poor (users of generic drugs) to give to the rich (developers and manufacturers of new drugs), sor of a reverse Robin Hood effect. I have provided proof that your welfare system over time costs more than keeping things as they are. The balance of benefits becomes worse and worse with time, until support for the welfare system you propose become unconscionable.

Yes, people who understand the pharmaceutical situation, including Stephan Kinsella, recognize that subsidizing the pharmaceutical industry with social welfare may seem attractive for another decade or so, but after that, generics will rule the market place.

What an odd statement. "Generics will rule the market place" because, what, we will have already invented all the possible drugs by then? (In that case, we may as well do away with the patent system, since there's no need for an incentive to do research if there's no more research to be done.)

I am unable to change facts. I quote Dr. Stephen G. Morgan of the University of British Columbia in his paper "The Determinants of Prescription Drug Expenditure...and What to Do about Them,"

"As had happened following the first therapeutic revolution, the pharmaceutical industry experienced a decline in innovation in the 1990s following the breakthroughs generated by the era of rational drug design. This lull in innovation has persisted despite increased investment in research and development activities, resulting in what analysts refer to as an innovation deficit: firms appear to be spending more on R&D yet generating fewer breakthroughs as a result."

Summarize the growth of generics: I believe my number for 2004 or 2005 was 56% of all prescription drugs were generic. Seekingalpha.com states that "According to IMS Health statistics, generic medications accounted for 63% of all medications dispensed in the United States in 2006..." Whoa, the growth of generics is huge. The same article lists 10 huge drugs on which patents will expire between now and 2012. Then, factor in the comment from Dr. Morgan and you have a recipe for an explosion of generics and fewer patented drugs. Will more patented drugs exist? Of course, but the rate of development has remained constant with increasing dollars, which mathematically means that generics as a percentage of the total has to increase.

Generics rule a portion of the marketplace, and they'll continue to do so, but it's foolish to pretend that lowering the cost of new drugs is only a short-term benefit, because the concept of "new drugs" isn't going away. In another decade or so, there will be a new set of new drugs, and the people of the future will benefit from lower prices on the new drugs of the future.

Yes, generics will rule an ever-increasing portion of the market place. The rate of development will likely continue to decrease. There will be new drugs, but they will have a decreased share of the market for new prescriptions. As my calculations above clearly show, the benefit from shifting the cost burden to lower cost drugs is in fact a BAD, BAD, BAD idea. I make these statements based on FACTS. Stop making assertions and start giving FACTS.

Perhaps your point is that generics will rule an increasing portion of the marketplace, since the number of generic drugs is only increasing over time. But as the number of drugs on the market increases, each drug's share of the research cost decreases. So either we keep the research budget the same, and drugs get cheaper over time, or we increase the research budget over time, and the pace of innovation increases.

You are a frustrating person. One more time. We are spending ever LARGER amounts of money to research new drugs. This statement is FACT. We are getting about the same number of new drugs for the LARGER amount of money we are spending. This statement is FACT. INNOVATION is NOT INCREASING with these greater expenditures. This statement is FACT.

You may have some wishful thinking about new drugs, but all developments hit plateaus, and drug development has hit a significant one. It is possible that the plateau could be as long as the last one, which was more than a decade (though the current plateau is pushing two decades with no end currently in sight - which is a huge part of the reason why generics are growing so quickly as a percentage of all drugs), or it could be decades in length until some new breakthrough stimulates another round of rapid drug development. IF that happens, then your welfare system might work. If development continues at its current pace, then your welfare system will cost consumers billions that they otherwise would not have had to pay, limiting access for tens of millions of consumers more than under the current system.

Consider that government programs, once established, are incredibly difficult to undo. The pharmaceutical welfare program that you propose might provide a net benefit, or it might not, depending on your assumptions. Current FACTS indicate your proposal will lead to ultimate harm for society, more than the harm patents currently have.

Lonnie:

When the number of generic prescriptions becomes 9 out of 10, which it will eventually, what happens to the price of drugs?
As I already explained, it'll be some combination of these:

1. Drug prices will fall because the same total research funding is being spread out over more products.

2. Drug prices will stay the same because total research funding is increasing at the same pace, which means more drugs will be available in the future at lower prices than they would otherwise.

Your analysis seems to be based on the assumption that we've already invented all the drugs there are to invent, and so all we have left to do is wait for the currently patented drugs to become generics. It ignores the likelihood that new drugs will continue to be invented -- which is the whole point of funding research! -- and the benefit of making those new drugs available to a wider audience.

Again, if you're satisfied with the drugs we already have, then why not just eliminate patents right now? No need to fund any more research, right?

When generics eventually become 90% of all prescriptions consumers will be better off and have better access to drugs without the onerous research tax.
Let me remind you that people are already paying for research. The only way consumers would be paying more overall is if more research is being done. It's not true that consumers can simply stick to generic drugs and avoid paying a "research tax": your preferred system falls apart if people don't buy new drugs, because that's how the research is funded. Someone has to pay for it.

I will let you tell those people that could have had cheaper drugs that your program screwed them over.
I'll take the people who are grumpy about having to cough up another $20, if you take the people who are miserable or dead because they can't cough up another $130. Deal?

However, you are suggesting that the majority of people who buy old generic drugs somehow "need" to spend more than necessary to make newer drugs cheaper for the minority who need them. Why is your system any better?
Because it makes those new drugs available to more people.

Why do you keep saying "20 years."? There is no possible way that a drug is a monopoly for 20 years, which you should surely realize. Average lifetime for any patent after ISSUANCE, which is when the patent actually exists, is 17 years. Drugs face more hurdles that shorten the lifetime even more. 20 years is some sort of weird urban myth.
Well, the Hatch-Waxman Act allows patent extensions for drugs to compensate for the regulatory hurdles. But in any case, it's amusing that you think this makes a difference, as if someone who needs the drug today will be any better off waiting 17 or even 10 years rather than 20.

I take this statement as unsupported drivel until you provide factual evidence.
Look up what other countries spend on health care as a portion of GDP, and then compare their health statistics to ours: they spend less to cover more people and achieve comparable outcomes.

Or compare the overhead of Medicare to that of private insurers. Or compare the VA to private care. Or just think about what incentive a private insurer would have to approve preventive care for someone who might have switched insurers by the time it pays off. Smarter people than myself have explained in detail why single-payer systems can be more efficient; I don't have them bookmarked, and surely you could Google them as quickly as I could. But here's a quote from the Canadian paper you just cited:

"It is perhaps ironic that the component of health care in which private payment plays the most significant role is also the component in which costs are rising most rapidly without assurance that value for money is being attained. This may be because a "free market" in health care can result in sub-optimal outcomes. Public payers for health services whether they be medical, hospital, or pharmaceutical care can serve as an intermediary for patients. They can act as an "agent" for the patient, responsible for monitoring quality and managing prices and utilization."

If you think "Federal socialism has proven the worst possible solution for health care", try telling that to the people who benefit from national health care in other countries, or to the majority of Americans who are sick of our ineffective private system.

But this is beside the point.

So, your plan takes from the poor (users of generic drugs) to give to the rich (developers and manufacturers of new drugs), sor of a reverse Robin Hood effect.
You seem to have written "developers and manufacturers" instead of "users". What an odd typo.

My plan benefits users of new drugs at the expense of users of old drugs. Users of new drugs do tend to be rich today, because new drugs are prohibitively expensive, thanks to the built-in costs of research and monopoly price gouging. I aim to change that, making new drugs available to more than just the rich.

I have provided proof that your welfare system over time costs more than keeping things as they are.
Sir, you've done no such thing. Research costs what it costs. If people want more research, then they'll spend more, but if they want the same level of research we have now, then they'll spend what we spend now. The difference is simply in who pays for it: users of new drugs or users of all drugs.

I quote Dr. Stephen G. Morgan of the University of British Columbia in his paper "The Determinants of Prescription Drug Expenditure...and What to Do about Them," [regarding a "lull in innovation"]
The paper also mentions a similar lull in the past. It ended. It's a mistake to think that this means new drugs will stop being produced, but again, if you do think that's what's going to happen, then you ought to be on the anti-patent side here. You can't have it both ways: either research is worth paying for, or it isn't.

If development continues at its current pace, then your welfare system will cost consumers billions that they otherwise would not have had to pay, limiting access for tens of millions of consumers more than under the current system.
Again, someone has to pay it no matter what. The difference is who. Your welfare system for pharmaceutical companies costs users of new drugs billions that they otherwise would not have had to pay, much of which goes directly into pharmaceutical companies' coffers (the difference between the profit-maximizing price and what a competitive price would be in a free market). My preferred system spreads the cost across all drugs, which means generics cost as much as a night at the movies instead of a value meal, but it also puts those new drugs within reach for many consumers who simply couldn't afford them otherwise.
Jesse:

When the number of generic prescriptions becomes 9 out of 10, which it will eventually, what happens to the price of drugs?

As I already explained, it'll be some combination of these:

1. Drug prices will fall because the same total research funding is being spread out over more products.

2. Drug prices will stay the same because total research funding is increasing at the same pace, which means more drugs will be available in the future at lower prices than they would otherwise.

Your analysis seems to be based on the assumption that we've already invented all the drugs there are to invent, and so all we have left to do is wait for the currently patented drugs to become generics. It ignores the likelihood that new drugs will continue to be invented -- which is the whole point of funding research! -- and the benefit of making those new drugs available to a wider audience.

You have either not read a word I wrote, or you are deliberately ignoring me. Let me repeat step-by-step for the cognitively challenged:

The rate of development for new drugs has remained fairly constant for a significant length of time.

Approximately 33 new drugs are approved per year, a number that has remained constant for some time. (fact).

More than 3,000 drugs exist.

Given the history of prescription drug development, approximately 500 prescription drugs remain patented, but account for less than 37% of all prescriptions.

Assuming the current situation remains the same in the future, generic drugs will continue to make a bigger portion of the total number of drugs. If you know how to do math (highly doubtful given your statements), then you realize that the number of patented drugs continues to remain constant, but the number of generics increases with time. If the number of generics continues to increase, and the total continues to increase, and the number of patented drugs remains constant (which they are because each year the patents on about 30 to 50 drugs expire, and only about 33 new drugs are patented per year), the generics continue to make up a larger percentage of all drugs. Now, plot this curve. You will note that as time goes on, the percentage of drugs that are non-generic becomes asymptotic (which means gets closer to without touching)zero.

If you wish to make a valid counter point, do so with facts and not vague hand waving about my assumptions. I only assume that the situation in the future will be the same as it is now, which is currently predicted by medical professionals and industry analysts. Disagree, but disagree with facts.

Let me remind you that people are already paying for research. The only way consumers would be paying more overall is if more research is being done. It's not true that consumers can simply stick to generic drugs and avoid paying a "research tax": your preferred system falls apart if people don't buy new drugs, because that's how the research is funded. Someone has to pay for it.

Why do people "have" to pay for drug research? You make it sound as though we owe researchers a job. Wrong. The market will determine whether new drugs have value. If the development of new drugs is not market driven and someone decides there is a social need, then the government may be directed by the people of the United States to develop new drugs without a market. However, research is never a societal requirement.

My system does not fall apart at all. Companies continue to develop new drugs because the pharmaceuticals with huge research departments have one of two choices: either start making generics and use a different cost structure, or develop new drugs.

And you are absolutely wrong about people sticking to generics. If no knew drugs were invented, in 15 years or so there would only be generics. If the rate of drug development drops just a little bit, in 15 years only about 5% of all drugs in existence will be patented. Ergo, the vast majority of prescriptions and people will be using generics by necessity, because that will be the bulk of the drugs in existence.

I will let you tell those people that could have had cheaper drugs that your program screwed them over.

I'll take the people who are grumpy about having to cough up another $20, if you take the people who are miserable or dead because they can't cough up another $130. Deal?

Again you are ignoring my point. When 90% to 95% of all drugs, which include hundreds of life-saving drugs, are generic, as they will be in a short period of time, then YOU will be denying the vast majority of people the ability to obtain low cost life-saving drugs just so a minority of people can get life-saving drugs. So, do you want to explain to 100 million people why they are unable to afford life saving drugs because of your tax, or 5 or 10 million people why they can not get life saving drugs? I think your math skills suck.

However, you are suggesting that the majority of people who buy old generic drugs somehow "need" to spend more than necessary to make newer drugs cheaper for the minority who need them. Why is your system any better?

Because it makes those new drugs available to more people.

Prove it. Where is your evidence that your system will provide new drugs? Show me the proof. You are focused on the decreasing number of new drugs with unknown effectiveness versus the existing drugs with known effectiveness. Show me the value in your plan.

Well, the Hatch-Waxman Act allows patent extensions for drugs to compensate for the regulatory hurdles. But in any case, it's amusing that you think this makes a difference, as if someone who needs the drug today will be any better off waiting 17 or even 10 years rather than 20.

Yes, the Hatch-Waxman Act does allow an extension, but the total length of patent protection with extensions is limited to a maximum of 14 years. Again, you are balancing interests. The interests of tens of millions versus the interest of millions. To prove your case you need to show the math. Otherwise, all your comments are merely rhetoric.

Look up what other countries spend on health care as a portion of GDP, and then compare their health statistics to ours: they spend less to cover more people and achieve comparable outcomes.

Or do they? I find it interesting that thousands of people covered by those other countries come to the United States for treatment. In fact, the United States is the most sought-after country for medical treatment in the world (the last time I looked).

If you think "Federal socialism has proven the worst possible solution for health care", try telling that to the people who benefit from national health care in other countries, or to the majority of Americans who are sick of our ineffective private system.

But this is beside the point.

Actually, I have read a lot about the months that it takes to see a doctor in both England and Canada. I was recently talking with a compatriot from England who was complaining about the difficulty of seeing a DENTIST. I was flabbergasted that such routine health care was so difficult to obtain in England. He said that the English are fed up with their ineffective public system.

So, your plan takes from the poor (users of generic drugs) to give to the rich (developers and manufacturers of new drugs), sor of a reverse Robin Hood effect.

You seem to have written "developers and manufacturers" instead of "users". What an odd typo.

It was not a typo at all. The welfare tax you propose will be born by the people who use generic drugs, which includes a substantial portion of the poor and elderly (AARP has several articles about the boon that generics have been to keeping health care costs down for the elderly). That money will go directly into the pockets of pharmaceutical companies. Yes, the price of formerly patented drugs would go down, but the welfare tax on these drugs would also go directly into the pockets of pharmaceutical companies. Under either system, the pharmaceutical companies that have chosen to have R&D departments are the beneficiaries.

Users of new drugs do tend to be rich today, because new drugs are prohibitively expensive, thanks to the built-in costs of research and monopoly price gouging. I aim to change that, making new drugs available to more than just the rich.

Yes, by making older drugs less accessible to everyone. Prove that making generics less accessible and making new drugs more accessible is beneficial versus allowing generic drugs to be as inexpensive as possible. SHOW ME THE MATH.

I have provided proof that your welfare system over time costs more than keeping things as they are.

Sir, you've done no such thing. Research costs what it costs. If people want more research, then they'll spend more, but if they want the same level of research we have now, then they'll spend what we spend now. The difference is simply in who pays for it: users of new drugs or users of all drugs.

What in the hell are your talking about? What I PROVED to you is that purchasers of drugs will pay more under the system you propose than they would pay the way things are now. If you have alternative facts, SHOW ME THE MATH.

I quote Dr. Stephen G. Morgan of the University of British Columbia in his paper "The Determinants of Prescription Drug Expenditure...and What to Do about Them," [regarding a "lull in innovation"]

The paper also mentions a similar lull in the past.

You have provided no proof. You been checking the Magic Eight Ball again?

It ended.

You have provided no proof.

If development continues at its current pace, then your welfare system will cost consumers billions that they otherwise would not have had to pay, limiting access for tens of millions of consumers more than under the current system.

Again, someone has to pay it no matter what.

Why? WHY? Explain WHY!!! If people no longer want cars, do we have to keep paying for research on cars? Wake UP!!! People DO NOT HAVE TO PAY. What if the pharmaceutical industry never creates another drug starting next year? WHAT ARE WE PAYING FOR? We are giving the pharmaceutical industry welfare for doing NOTHING. It is this inherent inefficiency in your system (I previously gave you a series of examples of where the government intervened in the market and caused the market to be more inefficient or even to fail, and you conveniently ignored me) that is the problem with the system. The pharmaceutical industry can be the beneficiary of your largesse and they NEVER HAVE TO ACTUALLY MAKE A DRUG! What a great system for them.

The difference is who. Your welfare system for pharmaceutical companies costs users of new drugs billions that they otherwise would not have had to pay, much of which goes directly into pharmaceutical companies' coffers (the difference between the profit-maximizing price and what a competitive price would be in a free market). My preferred system spreads the cost across all drugs, which means generics cost as much as a night at the movies instead of a value meal, but it also puts those new drugs within reach for many consumers who simply couldn't afford them otherwise.

You must go to expensive movies. Your system is EVIL. You deny millions of people low cost drugs just to eliminate patents. I suggest you ask the American people, Do you want hundreds of low cost drugs or do you want all drugs to cost $60 or more per prescription? I can tell you the answer to that. There are drugs I would forego if they cost $60.

Here is the deal. You have massive amounts of rhetoric, but you have NO PROOF OF ANYTHING. Cease the rhetoric and SHOW THE MATH!!!

Then...remember that you are dooming millions of poor people, elderly people, children and unemployed people life-saving drugs because they are unable to afford what you call "a night at the movies." Those people are not going to the movies because they are unable to afford them. So, kill off millions just so a small portion of the population can be better access to a limited number of drugs. I consider that an inhumane tradeoff.

Below, I tackle some specific remarks and assertions (I hesitate to call them "points") of Lonnie's. Most of what Lonnie has said, Jesse has torpedoed, though I think Jesse's proposals have some problems of their own, which are also addressed below. All of the direct quotes below are from Lonnie; Lonnie's nested quotes are from Jesse.

"Actually, they would not take one penny less, because the USPTO is funded entirely by fees from the people who apply for patents."

The costs of defensive patent filing (to build up a "nuclear deterrent" against infringement suits from others) are passed on to consumers, of course.

"You should ask this question after you hit age 50 and Mr. Johnson struggles to wake up when you want him to."

You should get some perspective. People are dying out there, and you think letting them die in the name of getting your rocks off is the right thing to do?

"Regardless, who gets the authority to decide what is "a little more serious"? Let us not research another asthma drug, let us focus on this disease. Oh no, no more cardiac medications, we are focusing on cancer drugs. As you ponder my comment, I refer to my other comment above regarding politicizing these decisions."

A key point being missed here is that when drug prices start actually reflecting marginal cost, drug companies won't be able to arbitrarily set prices. Right now, they can, and so they can squeeze certain wealthy demographics for huge amounts of money with their "lifestyle drugs". When that stops, there is no longer a distorted financial incentive to research lifestyle drugs to the exclusion of lifesaving ones. They will be researched in a balanced manner.

"Do we really need to make drug research yet another opportunity for the media to tear the government apart?"

Why do you care? It's not like it wouldn't just be a drop in the bucket, opportunities-for-the-media-to-tear-the-government wise.

""Eliminating the patent system would reduce government interference, not only in the drug market but in all markets."

I see. Eliminating markets is better than having interference in those markets. Good idea. Who needs pesky new drugs anyway?"

He said eliminating the patent system, not eliminating markets, idiot.

"I call it a welfare system for drug companies, because that is what it will turn out to be."

We already have one of those. It's called pharma patents. At least an up-front welfare system could be funded through progressive taxation, instead of a regressive user-fee that disproportionately burdens the poor and denies the poorest of the poor access to essential products and services.

A solution that does NOT involve ANY sort of pharma-welfare would be best, of course.

"Considering the cost of patenting, running the system, and the cost of litigation added together in comparison to GDP, patents add about .07 cents to every dollar you spend."

You make the glaring omission of considering the effect of patents on prices, and on our freedoms and property rights.

"Multiple studies have shown that without patents, capital intensive activities and any activity requiring substantial research, especially those where reverse engineering is relatively easy, will suffer and advancement may be dramatically slowed or even stopped."

Bullshit. Unsubstantiated, hyperbolic bullshit.

"As for higher drug costs, either we will pay through higher taxes or we will pay through higher prices (as I noted earlier). Eliminating patents will merely transfer costs to people who currently do not pay for high priced drugs."

You mean, transfer costs from the poor to the rich, and put you out of a job, right?

Drug research is a public good. Public goods, along with essential services, should be paid for by progressive taxation that does not overly burden those that can't afford to pay. That is why an enlightened society has "free" trash pickup paid for out of municipal taxes, which in turn are paid primarily by the city's major land-owners. That is why national defense is paid for out of federal tax money, which comes from income taxes -- taxes the income-less don't have to pay and the low-income pay little of.

Get rid of patents. Get rid of copyrights. Reform trademarks. Get rid of sales taxes, aside from those on true luxuries and bad-for-you items like cigarettes.

"Rather than have a limited monopoly on drugs, we would have a permanent tax on drugs to support the development of new drugs. Thus, the "patent tax" would be replaced by a permanent "research tax.""

I oppose Jesse's suggestion for the reasons outlined above. A (defacto or dejure) drug sales tax would be as regressive as the current patent-based system.

"Indeed, the "research tax" may continually increase as constituents press for drug solutions for various special needs, from cancer to dandruff."

Somehow, I don't see voters and taxpayers ever agitating politically for higher taxes to fight a War on Dandruff.

Say, anyone else noticing Lonnie's heavy reliance on slippery-slope arguments? It makes a nice change from ad hominem, doesn't it!

"When you characterize that companies are putting profits ahead of health, that is a significant distortion that others subscribe to and that remains erroneous. Where does profit ahead of health come in?"

When anything essential to life is priced above marginal cost in a world that contains at least one poor person.

"do you mean that companies should be benevolent associations and give their drugs away in a socialist fashion because it is evil to make profits?"

No, I mean that companies should have to compete in the marketplace on a fair and level playing field against anyone who might be able to manufacture the product more cheaply, in an American fashion, rather than there being state-granted monopolies and artificial pricing in a Soviet fashion.

"If you are going to pick 12 randomly selected doctors, why not just go all the way and use a Magic Eight Ball?"

There is reason to believe that doctors will know a bit more about public health and disease-research priorities than a Magic Eight Ball.

Besides, we pick 12 randomly selected people from the shallow end of the IQ pool to decide who's guilty or innocent. I suppose you'd replace them with a Magic Eight Ball too?

"Incidentally, I would vote against further government interference in the pharmaceutical company"

OK, so no more pharma patents granted here on in? Good. You've seen the light at last, Lonnie.

"'Eliminating markets'? You seem to be confused."

I am not confused at all. As I have noted previously, studies by ANTI-PATENT researchers (whom have less reason than most to make such statements), indicate that certain businesses have benefited from patents and may have survived only because of patents."

This gets the Big Pile of Errors of the Week Award.

Error #1: equating "certain businesses" with entire markets.

Error #2: some studies say that X "may have" survived only because of Y -> you conclude that X DEFINITELY survived only because of Y. Unwarranted conclusion.

Error #3: These studies you keep mentioning, but not citing, probably exist only inside your own feverish head anyway.

Error #4: You assume an "anti-patent" researcher is actually anti-patent, and not possibly a cleverly-placed shill or "mole" of sorts deliberately sabotaging the efforts of true anti-patent researchers while posing as one. This is especially odd when one notes that you yourself are a shill. The idea that you might not be the world's only shill never occurred to you?

Error #5: You assert that you are not confused, yet what follows is so error-ridden that it's hard to believe there's any truth to that claim. Ergo, that assertion appears to be yet another error.

Vague appeals to authority, slippery-slope arguments, a variation of ad hominem, false dichotomy (it's patents or nothing) -- the list of fallacies goes on and on.

"I have previously mentioned two markets that exist only because of patents"

No, you have previously made the unproven assertion that two markets exist only because of patents.

"On the other hand, your solution to pay for research with government tax money through a transer of wealth is completely unpalatable to me."

Because you're wealthy and you'd lose your patent-related job, rather than because it would be bad public policy.

"I also wonder whether this trend will ever stop. Next, we do not like it that people do not have the ability to get a stove, so we develop an appliance tax to pay for appliance research."

And the acknowledged master of slippery-slope arguments strikes again!

Nevermind that stoves don't tend to have their prices inflated 30000% or more (I'm not kidding) over marginal cost by "IP" monopoly rents, unlike drugs, and stoves don't tend to be life-saving either. Thus, there's no need to find alternative funding models for appliance research to save lives.

"The USPTO takes in about $1.5 billion per year (from the people who file applications as opposed to taxpayers)"

Both, actually, since the businesses that file applications pass the costs on to the consumer.

"I prefer the plan where we maximize savings for the consumer, and your plan is not it."

Neither is yours. A plan where drugs are priced close to marginal cost (because the research is paid for in other ways, such as income tax or prizes or almost anything BUT patents or a drug sales tax) is.

"While you yawn, consider that there are numerous economic papers that show that government interference in any market always causes unintended consequences that are almost always negative."

Patents sure did!

"Federal socialism has proven the worst possible solution for health care"

Funny, I hear Canada's standard of health care is higher than America's. I hear it has troubles, mind you, but none of this "poor people dying of easily-treated conditions and middle-class people going bankrupt because they got sick while lacking insurance" crap.

How many of those defaulting sub-prime mortgages are because someone suddenly had to choose between their house and their health and chose their health?

I wonder.

I do know that Canada hasn't had a high rate of mortgages defaulting lately, either, unlike the US.

Health care is a classic example of a public good -- health problems can strike anyone, at any time, and sickness can spread and therefore be "ambient" in an environment, much like air pollution. If clean air is a public good, then so is community health, and therefore, health care.

Public goods are precisely the ones the production of which is generally better off nationalized.

Of course, how good or bad federalizing something will be may depend on how that particular federal government operates. The US one appears to auction lawmaking and policymaking to the highest bidder, while Canada's uses the time-honored method of putting governance to a vote by the people. Perhaps that makes a big difference.

"In 2004, according to Pharmacy Times,"

A trusted source if ever there was one.

"Except there is no waiting for 20 years, because ever decreasing numbers of new drugs are typically not available to anyone for five years or more."

You are confused.

"poor people who frequently use generics, to wealthy people and chronically ill people who tend to use newer drugs"

The reason for this being that newer drugs are presently priced out of reach of poor people.

"permanently"

"forever more"

Policies can be changed as priorities shift.

"As bad as some people think the current situation is, the slippery slope you propose leads us on a road to hell."

The only slippery slopes around here are in your fallacious arguments.

"Proposing a permanent federal welfare system for pharmaceuticals puts hundreds of millions who rely on generic drugs at risk."

Nonsense, since there are other ways to fund such a thing than by adding a sales tax on all drugs.

"Welfare is welfare, no matter how you disguise it."

This applies to the existing, patent-based system too, of course.

"20 years is some sort of weird urban myth."

20 years is written right there in the statute books. I suppose the rest of the contents of the law books is also an "urban myth"?

"I tire of providing support for my statements."

In much the way a fat man "tires of all that walking" after his third trip of the day from the couch to the refrigerator and back again.

I suggest you train those "providing support" muscles until you can actually support most of your assertions in a post as long as yours tend to be and still not be "too tired". Like that fat guy losing the spare tire and building up the endurance to actually walk the quarter-mile to the corner store and then back home again without being "too tired".

"So, your plan takes from the poor (users of generic drugs) to give to the rich (developers and manufacturers of new drugs), sor [sic] of a reverse Robin Hood effect."

Just like patents. Hence my own preference for a proper, not-reverse, Robin-Hood income tax funded solution.

"Stop making assertions and start giving FACTS."

You should practise what you preach, Lonnie.

"You are a frustrating person."

Pot, kettle, ah, hell, you know the rest.

"INNOVATION is NOT INCREASING with these greater expenditures."

If true, another justification for scrapping the patent system. Under it, we're spending more money but not getting anything more for it.

"Consider that government programs, once established, are incredibly difficult to undo."

But not impossible.

(Unfortunately, the patent system is one of those things that's proven difficult to undo.)

"You have either not read a word I wrote, or you are deliberately ignoring me. Let me repeat step-by-step for the cognitively challenged"

You're one to talk. YOU are the one who doesn't read or deliberately ignores things, and needs things repeated to you.

"the number of patented drugs continues to remain constant, but the number of generics increases with time"

But prescriptions might be disproportionately written for the drugs at the leading edge. Some of those might be improvements upon older drugs.

Also, if they find drugs to treat a formerly untreatable condition, new prescriptions are written that never were before, and they are for new drugs, not generics.

"Why do people "have" to pay for drug research? You make it sound as though we owe researchers a job. Wrong. The market will determine whether new drugs have value."

It would if the patent system were abolished. (Remember: it's patents, copyrights, and similar instruments that seem to be supported a lot with assertions equivalent to "we owe segment X of the workforce a guaranteed income".)

"My system does not fall apart at all."

Tell that to an African kid dying of something treatable with a patented drug.

It certainly seems to be falling apart for him.

"So, do you want to explain to 100 million people why they are unable to afford life saving drugs because of your tax, or 5 or 10 million people why they can not get life saving drugs?"

I don't know about you two, but my own preference is for that number to be zero.

"Again, you are balancing interests. The interests of tens of millions versus the interest of millions."

There is no "IP balance" needed. That is the biggest myth perpetuated by you IP shills. When really it's just you and a few hundred of your golfing buddies that are at risk of not being as rich anymore if the system is changed. Millions, pah! If there were millions of you parasites, civilization would have already collapsed under the weight of providing for you all.

And if expressing that sentiment brands me a socialist, well so be it. Better that than a pig wallowing at the trough like yourself.

"Or do they? I find it interesting that thousands of people covered by those other countries come to the United States for treatment. In fact, the United States is the most sought-after country for medical treatment in the world (the last time I looked)."

For the rich, perhaps; so they can get extra-cushy five-star service, and also when they want their umpteenth tummy-tuck, boob job, or whatever.

But not for the masses.

""The paper also mentions a similar lull in the past."

You have provided no proof. You been checking the Magic Eight Ball again?

"It ended."

You have provided no proof."

YOU mentioned that past lull in one of your own damn posts, you hypocrite!

"I previously gave you a series of examples of where the government intervened in the market and caused the market to be more inefficient or even to fail, and you conveniently ignored me"

YOU have conveniently ignored the patent system (and copyrights) as premier examples of such interventions.

"There are drugs I would forego if they cost $60."

Presumably not lifesaving drugs.

"remember that you are dooming millions of poor people, elderly people, children and unemployed people life-saving drugs"

So are you.

Meanwhile, I suggested a third (and a fourth) alternative.

"kill off millions just so a small portion of the population can be better access to a limited number of drugs. I consider that an inhumane tradeoff."

Then you should turn yourself in at the nearest police station, Lonnie, as an advocate of inhumane mass murder yourself. And possibly a racist, since you don't seem to mind when the majority of those unable to afford lifesaving drugs are Africans, which you know tend to have dark skin.

I have shown you (and Jesse) a better path. It is up to you, though, to follow it.

n spite of my desire to get out of these pointless exchanges with None of Your Beeswax, I am unable to let his hyberbolic nonsense go.

"Actually, they would not take one penny less, because the USPTO is funded entirely by fees from the people who apply for patents."

The costs of defensive patent filing (to build up a "nuclear deterrent" against infringement suits from others) are passed on to consumers, of course.

The costs of patents is a relatively negligible amount for most companies. Why not question why the cost of toilet paper and company business lunches? How about the corporate jet? Business spend huge sums of money on advertising and marketing, along with numerous other expenditures. You single out a relatively small line item of the hundreds of items that go into the price of a product and you trumpet that somehow that item deserves to be singled out as something consumers should not pay for. How about studies that show the amount of time employees spend on the internet on non-business activities? That amount exceeds the amount spent for all these other items together. To spend in inordinate amount of time on something that has an almost trivial affect on price shows great ignorance. And if you want to treat that as an insult, so be it. Educate yourself and then you will not fall into these traps.

"You should ask this question after you hit age 50 and Mr. Johnson struggles to wake up when you want him to."

You should get some perspective. People are dying out there, and you think letting them die in the name of getting your rocks off is the right thing to do?

Oh my, finally you throw out the "patents kill kittens" argument. I love it. Well, people spend hundreds of millions on Nintendo Wii video games. Allowing people to die so someone can play video games is the right thing to do? What about smoking and drinking alchohol? How about on-line gambling? You make is sound as though companies will spend money on life-saving drugs if they are not researching other drugs. You have not presented a single FACT to corroborate your UNSUBSTANTIATED ASSERTION.

A key point being missed here is that when drug prices start actually reflecting marginal cost, drug companies won't be able to arbitrarily set prices. Right now, they can, and so they can squeeze certain wealthy demographics for huge amounts of money with their "lifestyle drugs". When that stops, there is no longer a distorted financial incentive to research lifestyle drugs to the exclusion of lifesaving ones. They will be researched in a balanced manner.

Where is your evidence to support this UNSUBSTANTIATED ASSERTION? You have a study that provides evidence that shows this will be the case? I could make another similar assertion that if these drug companies recognize that they will be able to make the profits they have made in the past that they will invest in other opportunities and exit the drug market all together.

I see. Eliminating markets is better than having interference in those markets. Good idea. Who needs pesky new drugs anyway?"

He said eliminating the patent system, not eliminating markets, [INSULT DELETED].

I know exactly what I said. If you had a modicum of ability to use logic, you would have seen my point. So, for the logic challenged, I will lay it out...

If patents are eliminated...

the ability to copy items that require minimal reverse engineering expense will substantially increase, which...

leads to the inability to recover costs in markets where the upfront costs exceed the return on investment prior to copying.

Therefore, these markets will be eliminated.

"I call it a welfare system for drug companies, because that is what it will turn out to be."

We already have one of those. It's called pharma patents. At least an up-front welfare system could be funded through progressive taxation, instead of a regressive user-fee that disproportionately burdens the poor and denies the poorest of the poor access to essential products and services.

I actually grant that you might have a point here. However, this progressive taxation will have to expand significantly because pharmaceutical companies are only one of the companies that have shown benefits from patents. While your proposal has merit, it is an incomplete proposal that needs much more detail. For example, how would such a progressive tax work? Would people at the poverty level pay $20 per prescription while wealthy people pay up to $300 per prescription? What kind of bureacracy would be need to implement this system?

"Considering the cost of patenting, running the system, and the cost of litigation added together in comparison to GDP, patents add about .07 cents to every dollar you spend."

You make the glaring omission of considering the effect of patents on prices, and on our freedoms and property rights.

That amount DOES consider the effect of patents on prices. My calculation was based on the amount spent on litigation, acquiring patents and settlements, divided by the GDP.

As for our freedoms, our freedoms were established by the Constitution. One of those freedoms was a protection for inventors to have absolute control over their inventions for a limited period of time. And, even though your religious beliefs do not encompass intellectual property rights as property rights, my beliefs, based on the laws of 181 countries, including the United States, consider intellectual property as property.

"Multiple studies have shown that without patents, capital intensive activities and any activity requiring substantial research, especially those where reverse engineering is relatively easy, will suffer and advancement may be dramatically slowed or even stopped."

[UNNECESSARY EXPLETIVE DELETED]. Unsubstantiated, hyperbolic [UNNECESSARY EXPLETIVE DELETED].

My information was taken from several studies by individuals such as Bessen and Meurer and others. It is quite substantiated. Neither was this hyperbole, but documented facts by an array of researchers who, rather than picking and choosing the industries they examined, looked at the effect of patents on industries by segment. Even Mr. Levine admits that he has never said that patents have no value, only that there should be a different system.

"As for higher drug costs, either we will pay through higher taxes or we will pay through higher prices (as I noted earlier). Eliminating patents will merely transfer costs to people who currently do not pay for high priced drugs."

You mean, transfer costs from the poor to the rich, and put you out of a job, right?

First, I do not work in the pharmaceutical industry. Second, I was an engineer long before I moved into intellectual property. I have been given the opportunity to move back into engineering several times. If I am out of one, I am into the other. So, your comment was unnecessary, irrelevant and pointless.

Drug research is a public good. Public goods, along with essential services, should be paid for by progressive taxation that does not overly burden those that can't afford to pay.

Oh, you mean welfare.

Indeed, the "research tax" may continually increase as constituents press for drug solutions for various special needs, from cancer to dandruff.

Somehow, I don't see voters and taxpayers ever agitating politically for higher taxes to fight a War on Dandruff.

Surely you pay attention to the behavior of people? People WILL be agitating for drugs to treat their special interest. Yes, dandruff was hyperbole (I figure that I need a little hyperbole to match your substantial hyperbole), but you get the point. People will always be focused on ME, rather than US or YOU. Their life-saving or life-improving drug will always be more important than yours. So, there will be special interest groups promoting one drug or the other and no one drug will ever get enough support to be developed.

Say, anyone else noticing Lonnie's heavy reliance on slippery-slope arguments? It makes a nice change from ad hominem, doesn't it!

Anyone else notice None of Your Beeswax's reliance on unsubstantiated assertions and allegations? I guess it is easier to counte fact with religion.

"If you are going to pick 12 randomly selected doctors, why not just go all the way and use a Magic Eight Ball?"

There is reason to believe that doctors will know a bit more about public health and disease-research priorities than a Magic Eight Ball.

You have made an assertion without support by any facts. Quite frankly, I have seen some doctors who I would choose a Magic Eight Ball over.

Besides, we pick 12 randomly selected people from the shallow end of the IQ pool to decide who's guilty or innocent. I suppose you'd replace them with a Magic Eight Ball too?

Good heavens no, they are your peers, as provided by our legal system.

I am not confused at all. As I have noted previously, studies by ANTI-PATENT researchers (whom have less reason than most to make such statements), indicate that certain businesses have benefited from patents and may have survived only because of patents."

This gets the Big Pile of Errors of the Week Award.

Error #1: equating "certain businesses" with entire markets.

Oh my, you actually caught me in an ERROR. Good for you. On the other hand, your track record has not been good. Yes, I said certain businesses, the studies in fact said certain markets, and I equated businesses with markets. I regret the error.

Error #2: some studies say that X "may have" survived only because of Y -> you conclude that X DEFINITELY survived only because of Y. Unwarranted conclusion.

I fail to see "DEFINITELY" in my words anywhere. I think the studies phrased their words carefully. It is difficult to prove (and certainly you have stated no supportable case) that patents are definitely helpful or definitely not helpful. Researchers have said this time and again.

Error #3: These studies you keep mentioning, but not citing, probably exist only inside your own feverish head anyway.

Bessen and Meurer, Boldrin & Levine, and others. The studies are there. I have previously provided detailed lists. Most of the studies were by anti-IP people, yet they grudgingly admit that there findings indicate that some industries are helped by patents and that a substitute needs found.

Error #4: You assume an "anti-patent" researcher is actually anti-patent, and not possibly a cleverly-placed shill or "mole" of sorts deliberately sabotaging the efforts of true anti-patent researchers while posing as one. This is especially odd when one notes that you yourself are a shill. The idea that you might not be the world's only shill never occurred to you?

A. I am not a shill. Everyone here is well aware of who I am, what I do, and my position on intellectual property. I am only a shill if you are deliberately ignorant.

B. It is possible that people like David Levine, Bessen and Meurer and others are cleverly-placed shills. Seems highly unlikely given their frequently virulent anti-patent rhetoric.

C. I think it is clever when you replace logic with insults.

"I have previously mentioned two markets that exist only because of patents"

No, you have previously made the unproven assertion that two markets exist only because of patents.

No, I provided studies that shows that markets were served by patents. To say otherwise is a deliberate insult to your intelligence and does not serve your arguments at all.

"In 2004, according to Pharmacy Times,"

A trusted source if ever there was one.

Sarcasm in the place of facts...I was wondering when you would make another attempt to overcome facts without providing any of your own, as is your usual custom.

Nonsense, since there are other ways to fund such a thing than by adding a sales tax on all drugs.

I have read your detailed proposals with great interest. Wait, YOU HAVE NEVER PROVIDED A PROPOSAL, MERELY UNSUPPORTED NONSENSE.

"20 years is some sort of weird urban myth."

20 years is written right there in the statute books. I suppose the rest of the contents of the law books is also an "urban myth"?

I tire of educating you. Your ignorance is overwhelming. As has been discussed by Jesse and myself, regulatory issues substantially delay the entry of drugs into the market place. Furthermore, the 20 years that is in the statutes is from the DATE OF FILING, NOT THE DATE OF ISSUE. Issuance can take years. In fact, because the date of issuance and regulatory approval was frequently leaving drug companies with less than a decade of patent coverage (NOT 20 YEARS), the law was changed to permit drug companies to request extensions of their patents, but the maximum term was limited to 14 YEARS. WHERE IS 20 YEARS OF PATENT LIFE? LEARN TO READ AND COMPREHEND.

[I deleted an entire section of insults that added nothing to the discussion and once again attempted to derail facts and logic with overlapping non sequiturs]

But prescriptions might be disproportionately written for the drugs at the leading edge. Some of those might be improvements upon older drugs.

Your first point may be valid, though unproven. Your second point has now been decided. Improvements on an older drug is not patentable.

There is no "IP balance" needed. That is the biggest myth perpetuated by you IP shills. When really it's just you and a few hundred of your golfing buddies that are at risk of not being as rich anymore if the system is changed. Millions, pah! If there were millions of you parasites, civilization would have already collapsed under the weight of providing for you all.

A. I do not golf.

B. I am not wealthy.

C. Again your present an unsubstantiated assertion. If it was up to you, society would have collapsed under absolute anarchy.

"It ended."

You have provided no proof."

YOU mentioned that past lull in one of your own damn posts, you hypocrite!

I also mentioned a current lull that is ongoing. I guess you can always ignore anything that you have a hard time rebutting and focussing on an error. Of course, I admit my errors. You do your best to ignore yours. Is a person is ignores stuff an ignorant?

"I previously gave you a series of examples of where the government intervened in the market and caused the market to be more inefficient or even to fail, and you conveniently ignored me"

YOU have conveniently ignored the patent system (and copyrights) as premier examples of such interventions.

You have provided no such evidence. In fact, the patent system (and I did not address copyright, YOU brought that into this argument) only delays entry of competitors for a specific product, not a market (and you accused me of mixing businesses and markets?). All this is in accordance with the Constitution. If you do not like the Constitution, then work to get it amended. Otherwise, I believe the patent system does exactly what it is supposed to do for certain markets, and pharmaceuticals is one of those markets - and I am waiting for your proof that it does otherwise.

"remember that you are dooming millions of poor people, elderly people, children and unemployed people life-saving drugs"

So are you.

What a clever, child-like argument. I have not seen an argument like this since I was about eight years old.

[I deleted inappropriate accusations of racism. Not that it is relevant, but I have a number of good friends of various races, and I am married to a non-Caucasian. I suspect that None of Your Beeswax is trying further to bolster his non-arguments with the sort of yellow journalism remarks that inflame emotions and do nothing to actually support a position.]

I have shown you (and Jesse) a better path. It is up to you, though, to follow it.

You have made vague allusions to a path, but you never actually detailed one. Perhaps if you had, we could actually have a reasoned discussion of the comparisons of paths. Instead, we just have your emotional rhetoric that does nothing to clarify or further this discussion.

If you do not have any actual facts, please leave me alone.

Lonnie:

You make it sound as though we owe researchers a job. Wrong. The market will determine whether new drugs have value. If the development of new drugs is not market driven and someone decides there is a social need, then the government may be directed by the people of the United States to develop new drugs without a market.
Indeed, and if you look carefully, you'll see that this is exactly what I'm proposing. I contend there is a social need for new drug research, and I don't think this is a controversial proposition. I don't care about keeping researchers employed; I care about making new treatments available to society, and funding their development in a way that isn't driven by profit or dependent on government-enforced monopolies.

So, do you want to explain to 100 million people why they are unable to afford life saving drugs because of your tax, or 5 or 10 million people why they can not get life saving drugs? I think your math skills suck.
And I think you're ignorant of how money works in the real world. Cutting the price of a drug from $250 to $120 puts it within reach of many people. On the other hand, I believe that increasing the price of a drug from $5 to $25 doesn't put it out of reach of many people, for the simple reason that coming up with $20 is easier than coming up with $130.

I find it interesting that thousands of people covered by those other countries come to the United States for treatment.
Yes, wealthy foreigners sometimes come to the United States for some treatments. But that's the exception, not the rule: most people are happy with their national health care systems, and most treatments are just as well done in their home countries. And as long as we're talking about medical travel, we might as well mention the Americans who go to other countries to buy prescrption drugs.

Actually, I have read a lot about the months that it takes to see a doctor in both England and Canada.
I have some shocking news for you. Are you sitting down?

England and Canada aren't the only countries with national health care systems. There are others. Even so, dissatisfaction with those particular health care systems is usually exaggerated: see below.

He said that the English are fed up with their ineffective public system.
The English themselves say otherwise: "82% say they feel proud of the NHS, and a narrow majority (51%) still consider the UK health service the envy of the world."

What in the hell are your talking about? What I PROVED to you is that purchasers of drugs will pay more under the system you propose than they would pay the way things are now. If you have alternative facts, SHOW ME THE MATH.
Again, you "PROVED" no such thing.

Here's all the math you need: let X be the amount that is currently spent per year on drug research. Let Y be the total research budget under my proposed system (which is set by the public through their elected representatives). If Y equals X, then the same amount is being spent overall, and the system doesn't "cost more over time than keeping things as they are": it costs the same amount.

You have provided no proof. You been checking the Magic Eight Ball again?
You want me to provide "proof" that a paper you cited says what it says? Come on, you're a big boy. You don't need my help to read what's on your screen.

People DO NOT HAVE TO PAY. What if the pharmaceutical industry never creates another drug starting next year? WHAT ARE WE PAYING FOR?
If they never create another drug, then we can stop paying for their fruitless research. We can even call that part of the law the Lonnie Holder Clause in recognition of your remarkable foresight.

But again, if you expect them to stop creating new drugs, then why not abolish the patent system right now? It's funny how you keep refusing to answer this question.

It is this inherent inefficiency in your system [...] that is the problem with the system. The pharmaceutical industry can be the beneficiary of your largesse and they NEVER HAVE TO ACTUALLY MAKE A DRUG!
Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical industry is the beneficiary of your largesse every time they sell a pill, since patents allow them to price drugs higher than they could in a competitive market. But somehow that kind of inherent inefficiency is OK with you. You must own a lot of pharmaceutical stock.

You must go to expensive movies. Your system is EVIL. You deny millions of people low cost drugs just to eliminate patents. I suggest you ask the American people, Do you want hundreds of low cost drugs or do you want all drugs to cost $60 or more per prescription? I can tell you the answer to that. There are drugs I would forego if they cost $60.
$60? Are you second-guessing your own numbers now? Earlier, you said it would come out to $20 per drug, and that's the number I've been going by. (A movie ticket, popcorn, and a soda comes out to about $20 around here.)

Anyway, you keep using the weaselly phrasing "deny people low cost drugs". Your preferred system denies people access to many drugs entirely; mine only denies them the chance to get those drugs at single-digit prices. I've seen no evidence that mass suffering will result from raising the price of a prescription from $5 to $25. I realize these are hard economic times, but I have trouble believing that so many people really can't come up with another $20 -- certainly not anywhere the number who can't come up with another $130.

Then...remember that you are dooming millions of poor people, elderly people, children and unemployed people life-saving drugs because they are unable to afford what you call "a night at the movies."
I'm sorry, weren't you just arguing against national health care? Those people are screwed under your preferred system anyway; they won't have to worry about prescription drug costs, because they won't be able to afford to a see a doctor in the first place to get the prescription.
Lonnie:

While your proposal has merit, it is an incomplete proposal that needs much more detail. For example, how would such a progressive tax work? Would people at the poverty level pay $20 per prescription while wealthy people pay up to $300 per prescription? What kind of bureacracy would be need to implement this system?
No additional bureaucracy would be needed: we already have a progressive income tax, and I assume Beeswax was referring to that rather than a tax assessed at the point of sale, since he contrasted it with a user fee.

That amount DOES consider the effect of patents on prices. My calculation was based on the amount spent on litigation, acquiring patents and settlements, divided by the GDP.
Those aren't the only effects of patents on prices. You're still leaving out the monopoly tax, the additional amount that a drug manufacturer is able to charge because it doesn't face any competition.

That is, say I spend $10 million to research a new drug, and then I sell one million pills. The research cost comes out to $10 per pill, and let's say my marginal manufacturing cost is $1, so I can make $1 profit per pill if I sell them at $12 each. But since I'm the only one who's allowed to sell this drug, I don't have to settle for $1. My price is limited only by what people are willing to pay, not by competition from other drug manufacturers. If I determine that my profit-maximizing price is $24 per pill, then patents are responsible for the $12 difference.

The American healthcare system is still the best in the world...in term of quality.(We Americans have higher chance of surviving cancer and such) It just that we sucks in other metrics. I think it is quite unfair to claim that universal health care is the best system in the world, no?

Anyway, the rising cost of our medical care system is due to the rise of government intervention such as Medicaid and Medicare, health care cartels, market collusion and finally, government regulation. The patent system only add more insult to injury.

I have heard of the rise of health clinics for uninsured, due to the entrepreneurial efforts of doctors who decided to escape the system.(Which are affordable and cash based) So uninsured do not necessary goes without healthcare.

In any case, our health care system is highly regulated and heavily socialized that it would be hard to figure out what a true free market health care system would look like. My bet it would be like other industry that enjoy such freedom. It would be cheaper, faster, and safer.(Because of my belief that all industries operate on the same economic laws and work basically the same way)

The GPL(The GPL is practically essentially a guarantee of no nastyware in software) in the software industry would be the equivalent of a medical accreditation in the healthcare industry. There would be several voluntary accreditation organizations that fought much for our respect, rating agencies, and so on.

At any rate, I am quite amused as an anarchist to listen to both side arguing for different kind of regulations that hamper the free market process and incentive in different, arguably harmful ways.

If we have no faith in the market process, why should indeed we have faith in the humans that regulate our economy? Humans are humans. They have the same basic nature no matter they are government official constrained by popular votes or an entrepreneur constrained by the discipline of the free market.

Kiba:

While you and I may disagree regarding solutions and even perhaps problems, I absolutely agree with your comments regarding U.S. health care and the problems of that healthcare system. I had yet to look up facts regarding government interference via Medicare and Medicaid and the role that interference has in the cost of our health care (which has also been a substantial part of the reason our drugs cost as much as they do - I think there may be a universal axiom with respect to government interference and health care costs: Any government interference in health care increases the costs of health care), but there is indeed a powerful relationship. That was why I was so vehemently opposed to Jesse's plan. I suspect the end result would be even higher drug costs for everyone, with only marginal benefits to a select, probably wealthier, few.

Jesse:

You make it sound as though we owe researchers a job. Wrong. The market will determine whether new drugs have value. If the development of new drugs is not market driven and someone decides there is a social need, then the government may be directed by the people of the United States to develop new drugs without a market.

Indeed, and if you look carefully, you'll see that this is exactly what I'm proposing. I contend there is a social need for new drug research, and I don't think this is a controversial proposition. I don't care about keeping researchers employed; I care about making new treatments available to society, and funding their development in a way that isn't driven by profit or dependent on government-enforced monopolies.

Phrased the way you did, it is difficult to disagree. However, I partially disagree for several reasons:

(1) Regardless of how much funding we provide, there will always be a conflict over which research to fund.

(2) As has been taught to us be a number of researchers, both in the pharmaceutical industry and outside the pharmaceutical industry, the amount of money required to develop one new drug that will pass FDA's requirements continues to increase. Anyone familiar with research and development would be unsurprised that this is the case. There are dozens of examples in history where development hits a plateau (sometimes permanent) and the rate of advancement slows dramatically. The question is: When the public sees the cost of drug development continue to go up, funded by public money, and the drugs developed do not seem to be targeting their particular problem, when will the public have a huge outcry against what will be at that point an entitlement?

(3) If government takes over all funding of pharmaceutical research, that will be a government enforced monopoly, which, in your own words, is undesirable.

(4) I contend that if drug research is a public good (which I agree in general it is), then why not let the public fund that research through public means, such as the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the Aids Alliance, and others? I personally give generously to the American Cancer Society in the hope that they will continue to develop new drugs and treatments for cancer.

(5) As I have noted previously, and as Kiba summarized so nicely, part of the reason our health care system is so expensive and in such a mess is our federal government. I point to an excellent article by Hans F. Sennholz that describes in a much better way the problem that ensue when the federal government meddles in health care. I have to believe that additional interference by the federal government by taking over pharmaceutical research will even more disastrous.

Hans F. Sennholz's article at the Mises Institute:

http://mises.org/story/2285

Of course, others blame other factors. Here is an MIT economist who believes that insurance is to blame for high cost in the U.S. Actually, I believe she is partially right, as long as insurance includes government insurance.

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_33/b3997089.htm

Here is a wonderful little YouTube video that spells out where health care costs come from nicely. I love the part about personal responsibility, i.e., eat healthier, get more exercise, and stop smoking. Of course, why would we want to take personal responsibility for our health care costs when we can conveniently blame it on patents?

http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2008/11/why-is-health-care-so-expensive.html

Jesse:

I find it interesting that thousands of people covered by those other countries come to the United States for treatment.

Yes, wealthy foreigners sometimes come to the United States for some treatments. But that's the exception, not the rule: most people are happy with their national health care systems, and most treatments are just as well done in their home countries. And as long as we're talking about medical travel, we might as well mention the Americans who go to other countries to buy prescrption drugs.

The Burton Report begs to differ with you regarding the happiness of people in Britain and Canada with their health care system. They noted that 1.2 million British citizens were awaiting health care at the end of the 20th century. The problem had become so acute that the British government began paying for citizens to go to Europe for health care.

Interestingly, among insured Americans, satisfaction with the health care system is a phenomenal 82%, higher than any country except for Austria. I believe Sweden has a national health care system. Satisfaction in 2002 was 37%. If you want a complete list for Europe, here it is:

http://74.125.95.132/search?q=cache:cEKL-UXyor4J:www.eurofound.europa.eu/areas/qualityoflife/eurlife/index.php%3Ftemplate%3D3%26radioindic%3D14%26idDomain%3D1+satisfaction+national+health+care+britain&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us

Currently, 47% of all Americans are satisfied with their health care system, but this number is heavily weighted by uninsured people. Note that satisfaction with some health care systems is as low as 8% (Portugal). Europeans think our health care is too expensive, but they also think we should do something different to avoid making the mistakes they have.

He said that the English are fed up with their ineffective public system. The English themselves say otherwise: "82% say they feel proud of the NHS, and a narrow majority (51%) still consider the UK health service the envy of the world."

Apparently some English are not so happy with their health care system...

http://nhsblogdoc.blogspot.com/2008/10/healthcare-excellence-more-good-news.html

However, the question is not really whether someone is happy with their system or not, because expectations differ between countries, and just because you feel your system is not a good one does not make someone else's any better. I believe the Barton Report referenced in an earlier post somewhat alluded to this comment.

Jesse:

What in the hell are your talking about? What I PROVED to you is that purchasers of drugs will pay more under the system you propose than they would pay the way things are now. If you have alternative facts, SHOW ME THE MATH. Again, you "PROVED" no such thing.

Here's all the math you need: let X be the amount that is currently spent per year on drug research. Let Y be the total research budget under my proposed system (which is set by the public through their elected representatives). If Y equals X, then the same amount is being spent overall, and the system doesn't "cost more over time than keeping things as they are": it costs the same amount.

You are in error because you are making the assumption that nothing changes. Let us go back to basic math.

If all drugs are generic, your tax will cost $30 billion more than the public would have spent without your tax. That is simple, basic math. Yes, this basic math does look at the asymptotic limit, which is where the line tends today (fewer drugs as a percentage are covered by patents with time). Yes, I ignore the public "good" (which is debatable, but I am keeping that separate to keep the posts shorter). Now, you can take this $30 billion savings backward to see where the line divides between cost and saving. The fact remains that the public will spend less money on pharmaceuticals in the long run than they would under the present system.

In addition, I make the following comments/speculation:

I know today that the total amount of drug research is about $30 billion dollars. I divide the total number of prescriptions into $30 billion dollars. There are about 3 billion prescriptions written per year today, to that means there is a $10 tax per prescription to yield $30 billion. We also have statistics that tell us that the number of prescriptions per person per year in the United States is rising about 15%.

Now, we have approximately 300 million people in the U.S. Your tax is equal to about $100 per person per year at the outset, or approximately $400 per family per year (given our average family size)

Since the primary reason that the rate of prescription increases is our aging population, and since we are at the leading edge of the baby boomers, this rate is likely to either remain constant or increase. Let us assume that the increase is constant.

2008 3 billions scrips $30 billion research tax

2009 3.21 billion scrips $32.1 billion research tax

2010 3.42 billion scrips $34.2 billion research tax

2011 3.68 billion scrips $36.8 billion research tax

2012 3.93 billion scrips $39.3 billion research tax

2013 4.21 billion scrips $42.1 billion research tax

2014 4.50 billion scrips $45.0 billion research tax

2015 4.82 billion scrips $48.2 billion research tax

2016 5.15 billion scrips $51.5 billion research tax

2017 5.52 billion scrips $55.2 billion research tax

So, under your proposal the American public continues increase the money that goes into pharmaceutical research departements each year by an amount greater than all patentees, foreign and domestic, spend on patents per year. In the process, the research tax will increase to nearly $750 per family per year in a decade.

I contend that several things will happen with your plan.

(1) The cost of pharmaceuticals will increase more than they would have under the current scenario. The article I noted from Mises lends support to this contention.

(2) The rate of new drug development will decrease. I support this contention with corollaries to other industries that were heavily "regulated" by the government, including truck transportation, airlines, and health care via Medicare and Medicaid, again supported by the Mises article and other similar articles.

(3) Health care will become more affordable to the wealthy. My logic for this is that more affluent people tend to go to the doctor regularly versus people at or below the poverty line. Since less affluent people use health care less regularly, particularly the drugs still having some of their roughly 14 year patent life remaining, these drugs will get cheaper for the affluent, while poor people will have approximately the same access or less because they will be paying more for their drugs. As we know, any increase in price for an item will cause less use of that item among all populations. Given that the poor have less ability to handle an increase in price, they will be affected much more greatly by the affluent.

People DO NOT HAVE TO PAY. What if the pharmaceutical industry never creates another drug starting next year? WHAT ARE WE PAYING FOR?

If they never create another drug, then we can stop paying for their fruitless research. We can even call that part of the law the Lonnie Holder Clause in recognition of your remarkable foresight.

Ah yes. The government has done a remarkable job of preventing these kinds of expenditures. I am sure you could name a dozen cases where the government has prevented unncessary expenditures. However, there will be a huge outcry because you never can tell, the "big breakthrough" might just happen next year...or the next...or the next. In the meantime, our support for pharmaceuticals climbs through $40 billion, then $50 billion, until we realize that we are spending as much on pharmaceutical research as we spend on national defense, and far more than we are spending on many other worthwhile things, such as energy research.

You will forgive me if I doubt the efficacy of your plan to limit expenditures to actual performance of research. All companies know that research involves risk, and pharmaceutical research is particularly risky and increasingly unrewarding.

again, if you expect them to stop creating new drugs, then why not abolish the patent system right now? It's funny how you keep refusing to answer this question.

First, abolishing the patent system affects other industries that have a known benefit from the patent system. Second, why bother to abolish something that will not be used? If there are no new drugs, then there will be no new drug patents and the system is immediately and automatically self-limiting with respect to drugs. I have not previously answered this question because it is foolish. Your question is akin to why we have electricity if no one ever turns on the light switch. Well, because someone might...

It is this inherent inefficiency in your system [...] that is the problem with the system. The pharmaceutical industry can be the beneficiary of your largesse and they NEVER HAVE TO ACTUALLY MAKE A DRUG!

Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical industry is the beneficiary of your largesse every time they sell a pill, since patents allow them to price drugs higher than they could in a competitive market. But somehow that kind of inherent inefficiency is OK with you. You must own a lot of pharmaceutical stock.

Wait a second, I think you missed something huge. Let us examine your statement carefull. Every time the pharmaceutical industry sells a pill, patents allow them to price drugs higher... Okay, but wait, 63% of all prescriptions (as I noted in an earlier post) are for generic drugs. So, your statement is false at the outset. Your statement should begin, "One out of about every three times the pharmaceutical industry sells a pill..." In a few years, that statement will be "One out of every ten times the pharmaceutical industry sells a pill..." The line continues to go asymptotic to zero.

Incidentally, I own no pharmaceutical stock. While pharms with patents are making a lot of money, that will change dramatically in a few years. I think pharms are a crappy investment for the long term.

You must go to expensive movies. Your system is EVIL. You deny millions of people low cost drugs just to eliminate patents. I suggest you ask the American people, Do you want hundreds of low cost drugs or do you want all drugs to cost $60 or more per prescription? I can tell you the answer to that. There are drugs I would forego if they cost $60.

$60? Are you second-guessing your own numbers now? Earlier, you said it would come out to $20 per drug, and that's the number I've been going by. (A movie ticket, popcorn, and a soda comes out to about $20 around here.) Anyway, you keep using the weaselly phrasing "deny people low cost drugs". Your preferred system denies people access to many drugs entirely; mine only denies them the chance to get those drugs at single-digit prices. I've seen no evidence that mass suffering will result from raising the price of a prescription from $5 to $25. I realize these are hard economic times, but I have trouble believing that so many people really can't come up with another $20 -- certainly not anywhere the number who can't come up with another $130.

After answering all your silly comments I got tired. Getting back to the original point (though my calculations today indicates the actual amount of increase is probably closer to $10 per prescription filled, or $120 per year if you are on a maintenance drug), the average cost of a generic would go up from about $29 to $39, given all the assumptions I made previously.

Now, you have a bit of a fallacy in your argument. You state that "I've seen no evidence that mass suffering will result from raising the price of a prescription..." I turn that around. How do you know that mass suffering will not result from increasing the average price of generics from $29 to $39? Prove it. I contend that due to the nature of price and expenditures by people at the poverty level, drugs will become less affordable with your regressive tax. Furthermore, I also contend that government support for pharmaceutical research (referring again to the Mises article I noted earlier) will raise pharmaceutical prices more than your research tax, not even counting the administration organization that will be needed to administer this funding.

I suspect you have never been poor. I have. I have been so poor that I had to borrow money to eat on to get to the next pay check. It is amazing the things you have to forego because you do not have the money. $10 or $20 puts medicine just that much farther out of reach. Routine health care is among the first things to go when you are poor, as heat, light and food take priority. Research Maslow's hierarchy of needs for more information.

Then...remember that you are dooming millions of poor people, elderly people, children and unemployed people life-saving drugs because they are unable to afford what you call "a night at the movies."

I'm sorry, weren't you just arguing against national health care? Those people are screwed under your preferred system anyway; they won't have to worry about prescription drug costs, because they won't be able to afford to a see a doctor in the first place to get the prescription

Actually, many communities have health care available for people in certain income categories. The county I live in has a free clinic for anyone meeting certain income needs. Indeed, pharmaceuticals are provided at this clinic for free to a certain limit to those people, including many patented pharmaceuticals. In fact, many of the big drug companies support the clinic. The vast majority of prescriptions that the clinic is unable to fill are for life-saving pharmaceuticals. It is nice to know that many live saving drugs are available at extremely modest cost for people with the need. I wish a clinic like this had been available when I was younger and in dire need. Your regressive taxation would limit this option for people going to this clinic and others like it around the country.

I like the community support for providing people with medical care. When the federal government does it, they seem to screw it up worse than they make it better.

Jesse:

While your proposal has merit, it is an incomplete proposal that needs much more detail. For example, how would such a progressive tax work? Would people at the poverty level pay $20 per prescription while wealthy people pay up to $300 per prescription? What kind of bureacracy would be need to implement this system?

No additional bureaucracy would be needed: we already have a progressive income tax, and I assume Beeswax was referring to that rather than a tax assessed at the point of sale, since he contrasted it with a user fee.

I also am asking what kind of bureacracy would be needed to determine who gets the funding from this system, along with providing oversight, etc. I suggest that the system would be incredibly complex and expensive...typical federal program.

That amount DOES consider the effect of patents on prices. My calculation was based on the amount spent on litigation, acquiring patents and settlements, divided by the GDP.

Those aren't the only effects of patents on prices. You're still leaving out the monopoly tax, the additional amount that a drug manufacturer is able to charge because it doesn't face any competition.

You are correct, I did not include the price a company may be able to charge because of a patent. However, that amount is impossible to determine a priori with any accuracy. You can take the initial price of a generic drug as a rough estimate. I have guesstimates (from various sources on the internet) that the difference between a generic and a patented drug ranges from 20% to 80%, which should give you a rough idea of the extra price of patented drugs.

Lonnie:

Regardless of how much funding we provide, there will always be a conflict over which research to fund.
Certainly. Today, that conflict is resolved by pharmaceutical executives looking for the most profitable drugs to invest in. In a publicly funded system, it might be resolved by an appointed official, or a panel of doctors, or a separate entity set up for this purpose, but in any case, it's hard to imagine how they could possibly do a worse job.

If government takes over all funding of pharmaceutical research, that will be a government enforced monopoly, which, in your own words, is undesirable.
If private parties were forbidden to fund research on their own, then I suppose that would be a monopoly, but that's not what I've proposed.

If you disagree with the public research funding department's choice to fund cancer drugs, and you'd rather research yet another dick stiffener or heartburn reliever instead, I have no problem with you spending your own money on it. Just don't expect to have exclusive manufacturing rights for the next decade-plus.

I contend that if drug research is a public good (which I agree in general it is), then why not let the public fund that research through public means, such as the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the Aids Alliance, and others?
You tell me. Why aren't we already doing that? Why do we need patents if we can just fund drug research through voluntary donations?

I think it's because most people don't really like donating. There just isn't that much money to be obtained by asking people to give it away.

Currently, 47% of all Americans are satisfied with their health care system, but this number is heavily weighted by uninsured people.
As it should be. Uninsured people have medical needs too, and those needs are not met by our private health care system.

If all drugs are generic, your tax will cost $30 billion more than the public would have spent without your tax.
If all drugs are generic, then no drug research is being performed or paid for. So you're right, if we pay for $30 billion of drug research, we're spending $30 billion more than we would've if we paid for none at all. But since we both agree that drug research is a public good and ought to be funded somehow, this is moot.

I know today that the total amount of drug research is about $30 billion dollars. I divide the total number of prescriptions into $30 billion dollars. [...] 2008 3 billions scrips $30 billion research tax

2009 3.21 billion scrips $32.1 billion research tax [etc.]

Whoa! You just made a huge error. You calculated the per-prescription research cost and then assumed that would stay constant, increasing the total funding as more prescriptions were written, rather than keeping the total funding constant and adjusting the per-prescription cost.

If we simply leave the total research funding as a constant in real dollars (adjusting for 3% inflation), and use your estimates of the number of prescriptions written every year, then the figures look more like this:

2008 - 3 billion scrips - $30 billion total - $10 per scrip

2009 - 3.21 billion scrips - $30.9 billion total - $9.63 per scrip

2010 - 3.42 billion scrips - $31.83 billion total - $9.31 per scrip

2011 - 3.68 billion scrips - $32.78 billion total - $8.91 per scrip

2012 - 3.93 billion scrips - $33.77 billion total - $8.59 per scrip

2013 - 4.21 billion scrips - $34.78 billion total - $8.26 per scrip

2014 - 4.5 billion scrips - $35.82 billion total - $7.96 per scrip

2015 - 4.82 billion scrips - $36.9 billion total - $7.65 per scrip

2016 - 5.15 billion scrips - $38 billion total - $7.38 per scrip

2017 - 5.52 billion scrips - $39.14 billion total - $7.09 per scrip

I suspect you have never been poor.
Ha.

Ha ha.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

I have. I have been so poor that I had to borrow money to eat on to get to the next pay check. It is amazing the things you have to forego because you do not have the money. $10 or $20 puts medicine just that much farther out of reach.
But somehow the $130 you're asking them to pay doesn't?

Your regressive taxation would limit this option for people going to this clinic and others like it around the country.
You know, I'm starting to think you and Beeswax are right on this point. All else being equal, I would prefer to fund research through progressive rather than regressive means.

I thought there was some benefit to a system where drug research is only paid for by people who consume drugs (namely, appeasing critics who cry about "welfare" when they have to pay for something they don't personally use), but now I'm not sure that matters after all.

I suggest that the system would be incredibly complex and expensive...typical federal program.
Of course you do...typical right-wing boogeyman.
Jesse:

Regardless of how much funding we provide, there will always be a conflict over which research to fund.

Certainly. Today, that conflict is resolved by pharmaceutical executives looking for the most profitable drugs to invest in. In a publicly funded system, it might be resolved by an appointed official, or a panel of doctors, or a separate entity set up for this purpose, but in any case, it's hard to imagine how they could possibly do a worse job.

Jesse, it would not be resolved by an appointed official (at least, I hope it would not be, because that person would likely be trying to curry favor with someone). I can easily imagine they will do a worse job. I believe (correct me if I am wrong) that your goal is to provide the maximum benefit to the most people. Drug companies inherently do that because there is always a profit motivation. Divorce maximum benefit from the equation, then we may be focused on a drug for a condition that afflicts 1,000 people rather than 100,000 people. There is plenty of precedent for government mismanagement of systems like this (the bridge to nowhere is but one of dozens of examples). There is no government system so well set up that the government will be unable to figure out a way to mess it up.

If government takes over all funding of pharmaceutical research, that will be a government enforced monopoly, which, in your own words, is undesirable. If private parties were forbidden to fund research on their own, then I suppose that would be a monopoly, but that's not what I've proposed.

If you disagree with the public research funding department's choice to fund cancer drugs, and you'd rather research yet another dick stiffener or heartburn reliever instead, I have no problem with you spending your own money on it. Just don't expect to have exclusive manufacturing rights for the next decade-plus.

I have no idea what you just said. I spend my money on the American Cancer Society, in the hope that they will come up with new treatments for cancer. I have no idea what that has to do with your dick stiffener. On the other hand, heartburn relievers have been a boon to people with acid reflux, which is not only a quality of life issue, but also kills people. However, you may be unaware of that.

Jesse:

I contend that if drug research is a public good (which I agree in general it is), then why not let the public fund that research through public means, such as the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the Aids Alliance, and others?

You tell me. Why aren't we already doing that? Why do we need patents if we can just fund drug research through voluntary donations?

I am confused by your mixture of issues. Research of drugs by non-profit organizations seems independent of patent related issues. You will have to explain to me how they interrelate. Would you somehow also be able to relate patents to Kevin Bacon?

I think it's because most people don't really like donating. There just isn't that much money to be obtained by asking people to give it away.

Americans donated $307 billion to charities in 2007 (which includes organizations such as the American Cancer Society and other medical non-profits). That amount is ten times greater than the amount that pharmaceutical companies spend on drug research. The money for drug research can be had if people consider it important.

Currently, 47% of all Americans are satisfied with their health care system, but this number is heavily weighted by uninsured people.

As it should be. Uninsured people have medical needs too, and those needs are not met by our private health care system.

lol...Uninsured people...have needs...not met by our private health care system. Sorry, but that seems like one of those things that is obvious.

Yes, that is true, but that has virtually nothing to do with pharmaceutical patents. Drugs only make up about 15% of all medical spending (far less than people affect by poor lifestyle choices). Elimination of patents might decrease that 15% by 7% or 8% in the short term. Eating better, getting more exercise, quitting smoking, getting a sufficient amount of sleep and other life style changes affect 26% of every medical dollar spent. It would take significantly less effort and tens of billions fewer dollars to take better care of ourselves than to focus on pharmaceutical patents. Figure out a better way of keeping doctors from being sued and you will save 10% of every medical dollar spent.

If all drugs are generic, your tax will cost $30 billion more than the public would have spent without your tax.

If all drugs are generic, then no drug research is being performed or paid for. So you're right, if we pay for $30 billion of drug research, we're spending $30 billion more than we would've if we paid for none at all. But since we both agree that drug research is a public good and ought to be funded somehow, this is moot.

Just a moment, this point is not quite moot. One concern I have with the entitlement system that you propose is that it is not self-limiting. With private funding, the amount of research dollars matches the potential for beneficial drugs (though you may not agree with the benefit provided). The fewer the potential beneficial drugs, the less money in research; the more potential beneficial drugs, the more money in research. With your system, the amount remains tied to the number of prescriptions, regardless of whether research and development is increasing or decreasing.

I do have a secondary concern. If the drug research fund has some amount, say, $30 billion dollars, and drug research is declining and only $20 billion is spent, I see some clever congressman diverting the other $10 billion to pork barrel projects that have nothing to do with medical research.

I know today that the total amount of drug research is about $30 billion dollars. I divide the total number of prescriptions into $30 billion dollars. [...] 2008 3 billions scrips $30 billion research tax 2009 3.21 billion scrips $32.1 billion research tax [etc.]

Whoa! You just made a huge error. You calculated the per-prescription research cost and then assumed that would stay constant, increasing the total funding as more prescriptions were written, rather than keeping the total funding constant and adjusting the per-prescription cost.

If we simply leave the total research funding as a constant in real dollars (adjusting for 3% inflation), and use your estimates of the number of prescriptions written every year, then the figures look more like this:

What happened to your previous argument that more prescriptions would generate more revenue for research?

I suspect you have never been poor.

Ha. Ha ha.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

If you have been poor, then you know how serious $10 or $20 can be to the cost of a prescription.

I have. I have been so poor that I had to borrow money to eat on to get to the next pay check. It is amazing the things you have to forego because you do not have the money. $10 or $20 puts medicine just that much farther out of reach.

But somehow the $130 you're asking them to pay doesn't?

Yes, that is a problem too. However, I am looking at maximum benefit. Making currently affordable drugs unaffordable is not an optimal solution to $130 drugs. Reducing the price of a $130 drug by $20 or even $50 may make it affordable to a few more people, but taking an average priced generic at $29 and making them $39 will put those drugs out of the reach of a lot more people.

Your regressive taxation would limit this option for people going to this clinic and others like it around the country.

You know, I'm starting to think you and Beeswax are right on this point. All else being equal, I would prefer to fund research through progressive rather than regressive means.

I thought there was some benefit to a system where drug research is only paid for by people who consume drugs (namely, appeasing critics who cry about "welfare" when they have to pay for something they don't personally use), but now I'm not sure that matters after all.

I look forward to your new, improved, and hopefully more enlightened plan.

I suggest that the system would be incredibly complex and expensive...typical federal program.

Of course you do...typical right-wing boogeyman.

Boogeyman, eh? How about this for a boogeyman. When I was born, the national debt was about $500 billion dollars. The national debt is now over $10 trillion, and the interest to service that debt is over $400 billion, which is more than we spend on most programs, including drug research. In fact, servicing the national debt is the third largest item in the federal budget. You call this abuse of fiscal responsibility a "boogeyman"? Just remember that some day you will inherit this debt.

I leave you with some quotes:

"For society as a whole, nothing comes as a 'right' to which we are 'entitled'. Even bare subsistence has to be produced.... The only way anyone can have a right to something that has to be produced is to force someone else to produce it... The more things are provided as rights, the less the recipients have to work and the more the providers have to carry the load." Thomas Sowell, quoted in Forbes and Reader's Digest.

"A politician cannot spend one dime on any spending project without first taking that dime from the person who earned it. So, when a politician votes for a spending bill he is saying that he believes the government should spend that particular dollar rather than the individual who worked for it." Neal Boortz.

"There is no such thing as government money - only taxpayer money." William Weld, quoted in Readers Digest.

Lonnie:

I believe (correct me if I am wrong) that your goal is to provide the maximum benefit to the most people. Drug companies inherently do that because there is always a profit motivation.
No, that's only true in a free-market-fundamentalist sense where "benefit" is defined by the number of dollars that change hands.

From a human perspective, there is more benefit in saving the life of a man who only has $2 to his name than in allowing a wealthy man to have more sex or eat more spicy foods -- but that's not how the profit-minded pharma exec sees it.

There is no government system so well set up that the government will be unable to figure out a way to mess it up.
Well then, we'll just have to keep it from being staffed by people who are determined to mess it up.

I have no idea what you just said. I spend my money on the American Cancer Society, in the hope that they will come up with new treatments for cancer.
I guess I wasn't clear. I was referring to the general "you" in a world where drug research is publicly funded as I've proposed. If anyone wants to do some research that isn't being funded publicly, then he can feel free to fund it himself. Public research funding does not result in any "monopoly".

I am confused by your mixture of issues. Research of drugs by non-profit organizations seems independent of patent related issues. You will have to explain to me how they interrelate.
Sigh. Even if your memory is really this bad, can't you just scroll up instead of asking me to walk you through the thread again?

You suggested that voluntary donations were a viable alternative to public research funding. My response is that if that were true, then voluntary donations would also be a viable alternative to patents, since the purpose of pharmaceutical patents is to fund that same research.

What happened to your previous argument that more prescriptions would generate more revenue for research?
I guess your memory really is that bad. Scroll up again: I said that was one possibility.

We The People control the amount of total research funding, so if we want to increase it every year, we can do that. Or we can keep it constant, and pay less for each prescription as the total research cost is spread out over more prescription. Having that choice isn't a drawback.

Reducing the price of a $130 drug by $20 or even $50 may make it affordable to a few more people
That's funny. You were such a stickler for exact figures when it came to the length of the patent term, but now you've apparently forgotten that we were talking about reducing the price of a $250 drug to $120, for a savings of $130. It seems to me that the difference between $20 and $130 is a lot more important than the difference between a 14 and 20 year patent.

How about this for a boogeyman. When I was born, the national debt was about $500 billion dollars. The national debt is now over $10 trillion
Yes, and whose fault is that? The administrations that chanted the mantra of smaller government, lower taxes, reduced entitlements and reduced social programs are the ones who ran up that debt. Funny how that works! Elect someone who says the government makes everything worse, and what do you know, their government makes things worse. Perhaps we should stop listening to people who push that failed ideology.

I leave you with some quotes
I'm shocked -- SHOCKED, I tell you -- by the revelation that right-wingers hate taxes and government programs.
Jesse:

No, that's only true in a free-market-fundamentalist sense where "benefit" is defined by the number of dollars that change hands.

From a human perspective, there is more benefit in saving the life of a man who only has $2 to his name than in allowing a wealthy man to have more sex or eat more spicy foods -- but that's not how the profit-minded pharma exec sees it.

So, you believe saving the life of one poor man is better than saving the lives of ten wealthy men. You have a strange sense of ethics, a sort of reverse paradigm. I prefer to believe that the best option is saving the lives of the most people, preferably independent of income.

Incidentally, acid reflux may be influenced by the foods you eat, but you can eat all bland foods and still have the condition. I only pray you never have to learn how serious the condition can be, which can lead to cancer and respiratory failure, life threatening I believe. Just because something appears to be treating a relatively benign condition (acid reflux) could also mean that a more serious condition is being prevented.

There is no government system so well set up that the government will be unable to figure out a way to mess it up.

Well then, we'll just have to keep it from being staffed by people who are determined to mess it up.

I have an idea for you. Start with the government we have. Once you figure out how to undo the mess we are in, then you can go on to new programs.

I have no idea what you just said. I spend my money on the American Cancer Society, in the hope that they will come up with new treatments for cancer.

I guess I wasn't clear. I was referring to the general "you" in a world where drug research is publicly funded as I've proposed. If anyone wants to do some research that isn't being funded publicly, then he can feel free to fund it himself. Public research funding does not result in any "monopoly".

Okay. I am still unsure of your point. I doubt that the American Cancer Society would appreciate it if they funded development of a drug and the drug was patented by a pharmaceutical and was unavailable except to those with the capability of paying. Public research funding does not result in any "monopoly."

I am confused by your mixture of issues. Research of drugs by non-profit organizations seems independent of patent related issues. You will have to explain to me how they interrelate.

Sigh. Even if your memory is really this bad, can't you just scroll up instead of asking me to walk you through the thread again?

You suggested that voluntary donations were a viable alternative to public research funding. My response is that if that were true, then voluntary donations would also be a viable alternative to patents, since the purpose of pharmaceutical patents is to fund that same research.

I prefer maximum options. Private funding resulting in patents is just as viable as public funding not resulting in patents. Since those paths are different, the potential exists for even more research and more new drugs. Why be limited to only one system with one set of motivations?

What happened to your previous argument that more prescriptions would generate more revenue for research?

I guess your memory really is that bad. Scroll up again: I said that was one possibility.

We The People control the amount of total research funding, so if we want to increase it every year, we can do that. Or we can keep it constant, and pay less for each prescription as the total research cost is spread out over more prescription. Having that choice isn't a drawback.

Oh, back to your entitlement program. Actually, the changes you propose are relatively complicated to implement. There is cost in making changes to funding (just ask any property taxing agency - which is what this would effectively be). Who makes the approvals? The people? Then we would need at least a year for changes to be in effect, which will always be out of sync with opportunities. I see lots of complexity and cost in the bureacracy for your program. The patent system employs about 5,000 people and costs about $1.4 billion. If we are dealing with $30 billion, I suspect it will take no fewer people to oversee the program. The federal government needs another 5,000 employees.

Reducing the price of a $130 drug by $20 or even $50 may make it affordable to a few more people

That's funny. You were such a stickler for exact figures when it came to the length of the patent term, but now you've apparently forgotten that we were talking about reducing the price of a $250 drug to $120, for a savings of $130. It seems to me that the difference between $20 and $130 is a lot more important than the difference between a 14 and 20 year patent.

You and I are focused on different parts of the program. Let me be absolutely crystal clear.

Drugs that are $4 to $30 are relatively affordable to poor people - they still take up a significant portion of their budget, but dozens of life-saving drugs are in this price range, including numerous antibiotics, asthma and allergy medications.

For every dollar that you increase the price of these drugs, tens of thousands of people become unable to afford these drugs.

Drugs that are in the $100 plus range are unobtainable by people at the poverty level unless they have some kind of assistance. Reducing the price of a $200 drug to $100 dollars may help people in the middle class, but the poor person unable to afford the drug at $200 will be just about as unable to afford the drug at $100.

How about this for a boogeyman. When I was born, the national debt was about $500 billion dollars. The national debt is now over $10 trillion.

Yes, and whose fault is that? The administrations that chanted the mantra of smaller government, lower taxes, reduced entitlements and reduced social programs are the ones who ran up that debt. Funny how that works! Elect someone who says the government makes everything worse, and what do you know, their government makes things worse. Perhaps we should stop listening to people who push that failed ideology.

If you are claiming the Republicans, well alert the fricking media. I voted against Bush two times in a row and look what happened. While the last two democrats who ran were no prizes, I doubt they could have gotten us as messed up as Bush has.

Unfortunately, the ideology of the democrats has already failed several times over, so I hope they learned something while Bush was in office. Someone better do something different.

I leave you with some quotes I'm shocked -- SHOCKED, I tell you -- by the revelation that right-wingers hate taxes and government programs.

lol...Does that make you a right-winger? You hate (dislike?) at least one government program.

Guess what? I do not "hate" taxes or government programs. I hate MISMANAGED taxes and government programs, which we currently seem to have too many of. Bush somehow managed to think that was his money he was spending, so now we are going to leave our children (you) and our grandchildren trillions in debt and interest payments. I thought we were learning something during the Reagan and Clinton years. How far we have managed to regress.

Lonnie:

So, you believe saving the life of one poor man is better than saving the lives of ten wealthy men.
That's not what I said, nor what I believe.

Saving ten lives is better than saving one. But saving one man's life is better than preventing ten men's inconvenience or embarrassment.

To the extent that acid reflux is genuinely life-threatening, and is not adequately treatable by existing drugs, then further research on acid reflux drugs is justified. But profit-minded pharmaceutical executives don't care about saving lives; they'll concentrate their resources on whatever sells the most pills at the most profit, regardless of how serious the condition is that those pills treat.

I prefer to believe that the best option is saving the lives of the most people, preferably independent of income.
Good, then we agree on the goal. What I don't understand is how you think researching the most profitable drugs is going to achieve that goal. Surely you realize that a man with a mild inconvenience and lots of disposable income is a juicier source of profit than a man with a life-threatening condition but no disposable income.

Okay. I am still unsure of your point. I doubt that the American Cancer Society would appreciate it if they funded development of a drug and the drug was patented by a pharmaceutical and was unavailable except to those with the capability of paying.
OK, once again. Earlier, you wrote: "If government takes over all funding of pharmaceutical research, that will be a government enforced monopoly, which, in your own words, is undesirable."

My point is that no, what I've proposed is not a monopoly, because no one is prevented from funding other research. You can give your money to the ACS and let them spend it on research, or you can use it to build a lab in your garage and look for new drugs in your spare time.

Private funding resulting in patents is just as viable as public funding not resulting in patents. Since those paths are different, the potential exists for even more research and more new drugs. Why be limited to only one system with one set of motivations?
Because the other system requires government-enforced monopolies, which are undesirable, both on principle and because they result in higher drug prices than if competition were allowed (the monopoly tax).

The patent system employs about 5,000 people and costs about $1.4 billion. If we are dealing with $30 billion, I suspect it will take no fewer people to oversee the program. The federal government needs another 5,000 employees.
"Another"? Why would we keep employing 5000 people at the patent office? Just axe the patent system and give those folks new jobs down the street. Let them contribute to public health instead of handing out monopolies on performing certain chemical reactions, or clicking to place an order, or splitting a restaurant tab, or making a sandwich.

For every dollar that you increase the price of these drugs, tens of thousands of people become unable to afford these drugs.
Perhaps you're right. I still think you're exaggerating the impact, but adding the cost of research into the price of drugs is undeniably regressive. So, fund it through the progressive income tax, then?

If you are claiming the Republicans, well alert the fricking media. I voted against Bush two times in a row and look what happened.
Not just GW Bush: Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and GHW Bush all increased the deficit. A lot. This isn't a problem with one man, it's a problem with an ideology -- so when someone argues against a proposal simply because it'll increase the size of government, or raise taxes, or increase spending, all we need to do is look at the long record of failure on the part of those who've led the charge for smaller government, lower taxes, and less spending.
Jesse:

So, you believe saving the life of one poor man is better than saving the lives of ten wealthy men.

That's not what I said, nor what I believe. Saving ten lives is better than saving one. But saving one man's life is better than preventing ten men's inconvenience or embarrassment.

I see. You have clarified your point. Okay then, why do we permit people to purchase video games, DVD's, and expensive meals at fine restaurants? Would it not be better to take all that wasted money and solve both problems? Then there is all the money we spend on unncessary items like pets and toys. Surely all that money would be better to go into development of life-saving drugs? I think we should also limit people on how large their house can be. People should be permitted no more than 500 square feet per person. Anything larger is unjustifiable because it takes money away from life-saving drugs.

In fact, maybe we should just vote in a communist government and then we can force people to spend money for what someone deems "the public good."

You somehow seem to think that there is a causation between research for non-life saving drugs and life saving drugs. That is not necessarily true at all. See my comment on your next statement for more.

To the extent that acid reflux is genuinely life-threatening, and is not adequately treatable by existing drugs, then further research on acid reflux drugs is justified. But profit-minded pharmaceutical executives don't care about saving lives; they'll concentrate their resources on whatever sells the most pills at the most profit, regardless of how serious the condition is that those pills treat.

Ah, but as far as I can tell, prescription Prevacid (which is horribly expensive and for which I am going to be thrilled when the patent expires so that generics will be permitted), is a fine drug. I am unaware of any side effects (hopefully none), so unless there is another, more serious reflux condition (probably, I just am unaware of it, and I hope I never personally become aware), then further research on drugs to reduce excessive digestive acids may well be unnecessary.

Regarding your second statement, let us back away from pharmaceutical executives and speak of business executives. The primary goal of any business is to provide the maximum return to its share holders. Some companies also have additional goals, approved by the shareholders, to be a postive force in the community, to help the environment, etc., but the first goal has to be to bring maximum return to shareholders.

Every business with cash has several options. First, they can provide that money to shareholders (which they frequently do). Second, they can plow the money back into the business (companies with large research and development activities typically do this). Third, they can invest their money elsewhere. The question for any business will always be what seems to be in the best interests of the shareholders. If a company with money to invest determines that plowing that money back into R&D is going to bring less return than investing in, for example, bonds or real estate, that is where the money is going.

Pharmaceuticals are private companies who are like any other private company. They have a duty to their shareholders (many of whom take the drugs developed by the private company) to obtain the best return possible. Obviously, their first choice is to see whether there is a need for a new pharmaceutical drug that would bring a reasonable return on investment. If such a reasonable return is not available, the money goes back to shareholders or into another investment, not into a life saving drug that will not bring sufficient return on investment.

Currently, there are an array of private organizations that fill the gap left by profit making pharmaceuticals and the desire for unprofitable life-saving or life-improving drugs. There are many specialized organizations that raise money for that purpose. The American Cancer Society has plow $3 billion into drug research, obviously without profit in mind. Other specialty organizations such as the March of Dimes, the American Heart Association, a foundation devoted to Tourette's whose name I am unable to immediately recall, and others similarly are focused on unprofitable drugs to treat people with various conditions. Such activities should be encouraged as people see the need for these drugs.

When you take this funding activity, which plows billions of dollars out of the $307 billion collected each year into drug research and place that in the hands of the government, we lose control over the priority of research. The government will be deciding where funding goes because they will effectively take over most or all capacity for drug research with their quasi-unlimited resources. While I may want a new drug to treat heart disease for people who were unable to give up video game playing to help support life saving drug development, the government may decide that the focus in on AIDS drugs, which for technical reasons may be inappropriate, instead of continuing to research cancer drugs (my own personal favorite cause).

I prefer to believe that the best option is saving the lives of the most people, preferably independent of income.

Good, then we agree on the goal.

I think this goal is a worthy goal.

What I don't understand is how you think researching the most profitable drugs is going to achieve that goal. Surely you realize that a man with a mild inconvenience and lots of disposable income is a juicier source of profit than a man with a life-threatening condition but no disposable income.

First, I see opportunity in the drug that solves the problem with a mild inconvenience and lots of disposable income. The high profits he generates for pharmaceutical companies permits them to do two things. First, it gives them the financial resources to develop orphan drugs, of which 136 have been approved since 1983. I see these 136 drugs, that typically affect 200,000 or fewer people in the United States, as important benefits from drug company profits.

Second, even if pharmaceutical companies in the United States were not developing these drugs, they would be developed by a foreign pharmaceutical company, and they would reap the same profits instead without the meddling interference of the U.S. government.

Third, given that many pharmaceuticals, if not most or all, are multinational, if a pharmaceutical is restricted in how it can protect its investment in drugs in the United States, it would just stop selling in the United States and do its development in other countries.

Okay. I am still unsure of your point. I doubt that the American Cancer Society would appreciate it if they funded development of a drug and the drug was patented by a pharmaceutical and was unavailable except to those with the capability of paying.

OK, once again. Earlier, you wrote: "If government takes over all funding of pharmaceutical research, that will be a government enforced monopoly, which, in your own words, is undesirable."

My point is that no, what I've proposed is not a monopoly, because no one is prevented from funding other research. You can give your money to the ACS and let them spend it on research, or you can use it to build a lab in your garage and look for new drugs in your spare time.

lol...Except you will be removing the single largest source of private funding for new drugs and putting that in the hands of the government. Yes, private funding will continue, but there will be side effects to government control of pharmaceutical research.

Perhaps the biggest effect will be the down sizing of pharmaceutical research departments. Since pharmaceuticals will not want to be subject to the mood swings of government, they will reduce research to a level where they think they will get sustainable funding rather than going through the huge hiring and firing swings that government funded business typically go through. Over the decades the best people have avoided companies that go through these swings, so if the government is going to fund pharmaceuticals as erratically as they have their other endeavors, these people will either work for foreign companies or move into another business altogether (that is what happened in the aerospace industry in the 1970's and 1980's - the boom/bust cycle finally upset enough engineers that they abandoned the industry in droves, and it took Boeing a long time to recover from their bad reputation and to get back good engineering talent).

Pharmaceutical research is getting harder and harder because the "easy" drugs appear to have been found. The difficulty of identifying effective new drugs is part of the reason that the cost of research has been going up for each new drug. We also do not want a repeat of the thalidomide catastrophe (unfortunately, 10,000 children with severe birth defects were born in Europe and Africa because of inadequate testing of thalidomide - we only averted disaster because one FDA approver refused to permit the drug to be used in the United States). As an aside, people who say we should eliminate clinical trials and let the market figure out what a good drug is obviously have forgotten about the medical disasters of the past.

Getting back on point, when the government enters the market as the biggest approver of pharmaceutical research, it will distort the market in currently undefinable ways. If we reference other areas where the government has affected the market (health care, care for the elderly, airlines industry, truck transportation, etc.), and we assume that the same thing will happen that has always happened in the past when the government becomes the single largest force in that industry, prices will go up. Competition will go down. Businesses will make decisions based on the government's participation in that market. Yes, funding by private sources will continue, but perhaps not in the ways it has in the past, using other industries as a guide. All the effects generated by the government fit the definition of monopoly, even if third parties could theoretically participate in drug research.

Private funding resulting in patents is just as viable as public funding not resulting in patents. Since those paths are different, the potential exists for even more research and more new drugs. Why be limited to only one system with one set of motivations?

Because the other system requires government-enforced monopolies, which are undesirable, both on principle and because they result in higher drug prices than if competition were allowed (the monopoly tax).

Let me see, we can either have government enforce monopolies in research, which is effectively what we will have when the vast majority of drug research dollars is in the hands of the government, or we can have companies that compete with each other to develop alternative drugs, many of which compete with each other that help reduce prices because competition is allowed.

The government enforced research monopoly will be less likely to develop several options to treat a specific condition, and thus we will be unable to determine whether the only option developed is anywhere close to optimal. I keep hearing people say we should stop development of "me too" drugs. Wrong.

If we develop three drugs that treat breast cancer, over time studies will tell us which of the three is the best. Without comparison, we will never know. Furthermore, we may discover that depending on the specific health and conditions of a particular individual, drug A may better for one person, and drug C may be better for another. Or, different drugs may be more efficacious for different kinds of breast cancer. With government enforced drug research monopoly, one drug may be developed and we will never have the option to try the other two.

The patent system employs about 5,000 people and costs about $1.4 billion. If we are dealing with $30 billion, I suspect it will take no fewer people to oversee the program. The federal government needs another 5,000 employees.

"Another"? Why would we keep employing 5000 people at the patent office? Just axe the patent system and give those folks new jobs down the street. Let them contribute to public health instead of handing out monopolies on performing certain chemical reactions, or clicking to place an order, or splitting a restaurant tab, or making a sandwich.

Please, surely you realize what you just said? The majority of the people employed in the patent office are mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, physicists, etc., and have talents unsuitable for the new organization. So, those people will be on the street while the new Federal Drug Research Monopoly Department looks for chemists and biologists to round out its roster. Perhaps 500 or 1000 USPTO employees might be suitable for the new government monopoly department. Instead of protecting valuable inventions on transmissions, engines, new quantum electronic devices, this new government department will have godlike powers over the future of treatments for illnesses. You make me very nervous with this suggestion.

For every dollar that you increase the price of these drugs, tens of thousands of people become unable to afford these drugs.

Perhaps you're right. I still think you're exaggerating the impact, but adding the cost of research into the price of drugs is undeniably regressive. So, fund it through the progressive income tax, then?

I believe you are transferring wealth no matter how you look at it, but that is a possibility. I was trying to mentally do the math this morning. If we have roughly 138 million tax payers, and we are trying to fund 30 billion in research, we need to add in about 6 billion in government overhead, so the total is about $36 billion. That is about $261 per taxpayer.

Now, if we say that anyone making below $20,000 per year pays nothing, we take out 37 million taxpayers, leaving leaving about 101 million tax payers, which would be about $356 per tax payer.

Now, if the amount of taxes begins at zero, and increases gradually to some level, and if we use the same theory we have for other taxes (a maximum amount for any one taxpayer), then we can do some more guesstimation.

The average income in 2006 was 58,000 per individual. So, keeping with easy math, each person at that level would pay an additional $356 in taxes to support the federal drug research entitlement, at the beginning. That amount would rise at the higher income brackets to perhaps about 1% of total income to offset the lower amounts paid by lower income brackets. Of course, this additional tax will be additive to the other taxes that will soon be necessary to pay for government bailouts and debt servicing, but that measly $356 will soon be lost in these new taxes.

Fortunate that this new tax is a public "good," because taxpayers who purchase no prescription drugs at all, even those who avoid doing so for reasons of personal belief or religion, will now have the responsibility to support those who do. That will teach them to try to avoid their public duty.

If you are claiming the Republicans, well alert the fricking media. I voted against Bush two times in a row and look what happened.

Not just GW Bush: Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and GHW Bush all increased the deficit. A lot. This isn't a problem with one man, it's a problem with an ideology -- so when someone argues against a proposal simply because it'll increase the size of government, or raise taxes, or increase spending, all we need to do is look at the long record of failure on the part of those who've led the charge for smaller government, lower taxes, and less spending.

Historically, up until the time of the Bush's, Republicans have generally had the smaller government agenda, and their actions have matched the agenda. Bush, Jr., has led the largest expansion of government in modern times. However, in fairness to Bush, he never said he was for smaller government (or I do not recall him saying he was while running for president), so I suspect a lot of people kind of assumed he was.

I am still for the line item veto, smaller government (like that is going to happen any time soon), and less spending (that ship seems to have sailed too). If we were not spending billions on unnecessary government programs, or funding those programs in better ways, thing of the trillions (yes, I said trillions) we would have to spend on drug research. Your government research quasi-monopoly would no longer be necessary because money would be overflowing the coffers just looking for good investments.

Lonnie:

Okay then, why do we permit people to purchase video games, DVD's, and expensive meals at fine restaurants?
Because the alternative would to prevent them from engaging in a consensual exchange. We'd have to step into that transaction and say "no, you can't trade your dollar bills for his filet mignon", which I think you'd agree is undesirable.

I'm not suggesting interfering with any voluntary transactions. My proposal permits people to spend their money researching frivolous luxury drugs if they so choose: they just can't expect to be rewarded with monopolies on manufacturing those drugs.

In fact, maybe we should just vote in a communist government and then we can force people to spend money for what someone deems "the public good."
We don't need a communist government for that; the government we have already does a fine job of raising money through taxation and then spending it on someone's idea of the public good. That's what governments are for.

When you take this funding activity, which plows billions of dollars out of the $307 billion collected each year into drug research and place that in the hands of the government, we lose control over the priority of research.
Quite the opposite: we gain control over the priority of research! We wrest control away from a few executives, accountable to no one except their shareholders, and put it in the hands of millions of voters (via their elected representatives).

While I may want a new drug to treat heart disease for people who were unable to give up video game playing to help support life saving drug development, the government may decide that the focus in on AIDS drugs, which for technical reasons may be inappropriate, instead of continuing to research cancer drugs (my own personal favorite cause).
Remember, "the government" is us. If you and enough other voters want to change what the money is spent on, you can make it happen.

Today, you don't have that choice. The money goes where pharmaceutical executives want it to go: maybe into researching drugs for impotence or restless leg syndrome or musical spine disorder, maybe into building a shiny new fountain in the lobby, maybe into the CEO's pocket as a year-end bonus, maybe into the shareholders' pockets as a dividend.

The high profits he generates for pharmaceutical companies permits them to do two things. First, it gives them the financial resources to develop orphan drugs, of which 136 have been approved since 1983. I see these 136 drugs, that typically affect 200,000 or fewer people in the United States, as important benefits from drug company profits.
What incentive does a pharmaceutical company have to put those profits into orphan drugs, when they could instead roll the profits from this year's dick stiffener into next year's dick stiffener? There's more profit in that than in orphan drugs, right? It seems to me you're relying on the ongoing altruism of entities that are anything but altruistic.

All the effects generated by the government fit the definition of monopoly, even if third parties could theoretically participate in drug research.
You've got a pretty funny definition of "monopoly", then. There's nothing stopping private funding, nothing to stop new players from entering the scene, and even publicly funded research is subject to competition (bidding). All you have here is the same old boogeyman, "government intervention = bad", with a site-specific twist, "bad = monopoly", and you can't even get that far without ignoring facts that contradict your bias (e.g. the effect of national health care systems on health care costs).

The government enforced research monopoly will be [...]
I'm sorry, I can't take you seriously if you're going to keep pretending that a situation where anyone can freely perform or fund any sort of research they like is a "government enforced research monopoly", and I won't bother responding to an argument that insults the intelligence of every reader by invoking this surreal joke.

I believe you are transferring wealth no matter how you look at it, but that is a possibility.
"Transferring wealth" is what governments do. They raise money through taxes and then they spend it on stuff, transferring that wealth from one group of people to another.

The average income in 2006 was 58,000 per individual. So, keeping with easy math, each person at that level would pay an additional $356 in taxes to support the federal drug research entitlement, at the beginning.
Mean income is kind of a useless measure; more useful is median income, which in 2007 was $32,140 for an individual (age 25+).

Using the 2009 tax rates, an individual earning $32,140, taking the standard deduction and one personal exemption, would owe about $3039 in federal income tax. Total income tax revenue is around $1.1 trillion. If the $30 billion drug research tax were allocated in the same proportions, that individual's share would be about $83. (By the same calculations, your individual earning $58,000 a year would pay about $229.)

Fortunate that this new tax is a public "good," because taxpayers who purchase no prescription drugs at all, even those who avoid doing so for reasons of personal belief or religion, will now have the responsibility to support those who do.
Just like I have the responsibility of paying for wars I don't agree with, highways and disaster relief in states I have no desire to visit, the enforcement of copyright and patent laws that restrict my freedom, and plenty more that goes against my personal beliefs. It's still better than anarchy.
Jesse:

Okay then, why do we permit people to purchase video games, DVD's, and expensive meals at fine restaurants?

Because the alternative would to prevent them from engaging in a consensual exchange. We'd have to step into that transaction and say "no, you can't trade your dollar bills for his filet mignon", which I think you'd agree is undesirable.

I'm not suggesting interfering with any voluntary transactions.

Well, actually are you suggesting interfering with voluntary transactions. You have proposed a mandatory reduction in the income of most people to pay for a purpose that you have deemed more important than all other purposes to which that money could be used. Essentially, you are transferring wealth from one activity to another.

...the government we have already does a fine job of raising money through taxation and then spending it on someone's idea of the public good. That's what governments are for.

Yes, the government does a fine job of taking money through taxes. After that, the government's record is iffy. The government stifled truck competition with railroads for decades. The government stifled competition in the airline industry for decades (with the resultant catastrophe when they finally did what they should have done in the first place). The government's interference in health care via Medicare and Medicaid (I have provided previous references for this assertion, so I will not provide them again) has raised the cost of health care substantially. Given the government's track record for interference in the market place, I suggest that government interference will not have the consequences you think it will. Unfortunately, we have proven that once the government starts screwing something up, it can take years and billions or trillions more to undo the damage. However, screwing up pharmaceutical research is not something that we can afford to permit. Even while invention of new drugs is slowing, there is still invention, and those new drugs have more value than no drugs at all.

When you take this funding activity, which plows billions of dollars out of the $307 billion collected each year into drug research and place that in the hands of the government, we lose control over the priority of research.

Quite the opposite: we gain control over the priority of research! We wrest control away from a few executives, accountable to no one except their shareholders, and put it in the hands of millions of voters (via their elected representatives).

Do you understand how our government works? Millions of voters will have virtually no influence on the priority of research. Priority of research will be handled by a group of people either hired or appointed by the executive branch of government, accountable to no one except for the President. Congress passes laws, they do not administer the government.

So whatever the Committee for Reasarch and Assignment of Prioritization (CRAP) decides is the next priority will be what is worked on. Funny thing is, there will be nothing to prevent this committee of 9 or 12 people, who may or may not be doctors, from focusing on drugs that handle issues that are moderate inconveniences for women (or men). Remember this, you may complain to your representative, but all the representative can do is complain to the executive branch, or better yet, get yet another law passed that will once again have an unintended consequence (because Congress passed a law that prevented research on drugs to control ED, we suddenly find that we are unable to research drugs to treat a virulent new STD because of the language of the law - these kinds of errors will happen, because it has already happened again and again, and continues to happen).

While I may want a new drug to treat heart disease for people who were unable to give up video game playing to help support life saving drug development, the government may decide that the focus in on AIDS drugs, which for technical reasons may be inappropriate, instead of continuing to research cancer drugs (my own personal favorite cause).

Remember, "the government" is us. If you and enough other voters want to change what the money is spent on, you can make it happen.

Of course, what you neglect to mention is reality. More than half of all Americans have been opposed to the war in Iraq for at least five years. Yes, we will make it the war end, but we are already committed for at least another year and a half. Part of the problem is that the executive branch of the government will be in control of this money. The executive branch is somewhat insulated from our elected representatives. Of course, the President is not, but he or she is elected for four years at a pop, and if the President's personal goal is drugs to enhance the male experience, guess what will happen over the course of his or her's next couple of terms? Sure, the next President may change the direction of research (and probably will), and then all those hundreds of millions in research will be flushed down the toilet. Nothing like a little government waste of my money.

Today, you don't have that choice. The money goes where pharmaceutical executives want it to go: maybe into researching drugs for impotence or restless leg syndrome or musical spine disorder, maybe into building a shiny new fountain in the lobby, maybe into the CEO's pocket as a year-end bonus, maybe into the shareholders' pockets as a dividend.

Tomorrow it might be where a group of people selected by the executive branch decides it will go. It might go for impotence or restless leg syndrome or building a shiny new office building to handle the administrative functions of the CRAP organization (probably will, actually). I guess the head of this organization will be called the Drug Research Czar. He will probably get Secret Service protection too. Hw will need it. So, after this new group of people are empowered by Congress and selected by the executive branch, they will do whatever they deem is important to them, and YOU WILL NOT HAVE A CHOICE.

The high profits he generates for pharmaceutical companies permits them to do two things. First, it gives them the financial resources to develop orphan drugs, of which 136 have been approved since 1983. I see these 136 drugs, that typically affect 200,000 or fewer people in the United States, as important benefits from drug company profits.

What incentive does a pharmaceutical company have to put those profits into orphan drugs, when they could instead roll the profits from this year's dick stiffener into next year's dick stiffener? There's more profit in that than in orphan drugs, right? It seems to me you're relying on the ongoing altruism of entities that are anything but altruistic.

What incentive did the drug companies have to develop 136 orphan drugs since 1983? Why are they any less likely to develop such drugs in the future? One thing to consider is that the optional drugs (such as male "enhancement" drugs) are self-limiting. The base cause and effect is well known and understood. Since there are several versions of these drugs, with various advantages and disadvantages because they achieve the same effect in different ways, it is unlikely that another breakthrough will occur in this area, so pharmaceutical companies will need to focus on other problems.

I am not relying on altruism at all. Pharmaceutical companies are not altruistic, and I do not expect them to be. I expect them to make a profit, because they are profit-making organizations. I expect them to put their money where it generates a return.

If you want pharmaceutical companies to create a life-saving toenail fungus drug, and they are currently not working on a solution for fatal toenail fungus, than the easy solution is to talk to your representative and have Congress fund the research for fatal toenail fungus through pharmaceutical companies, with the stipulation that any patents derived from the research will be accessible to any pharmaceutical company.

I'm sorry, I can't take you seriously if you're going to keep pretending that a situation where anyone can freely perform or fund any sort of research they like is a "government enforced research monopoly", and I won't bother responding to an argument that insults the intelligence of every reader by invoking this surreal joke.

The joke here is your proposal. Back up just a little. You are going to take away drug company profits so that their profits are slightly higher than marginal cost of production (i.e., generic profits). Drug companies will no longer have the capability of engaging in significant research. Drug companies are the single largest source of funding for drug research. Yes, other entities can still freely perform or fund any sort of research, but those dollars are focused on specific issues, and they are frequently disperse among dozens of universities and hospitals, where development of drugs is typically quite slow. Furthermore, if we go with your original plan, research money will increase with the number of prescriptions, and government funding of drug research, which would be around 85% to 90% of the money put into research at the beginning of your program, would rise over time to an even greater percentage. True, 90% or more control of something is not an absolute monopoly, but it may as well be, and it will be government enforced because they will control the money. If this is a joke, it is a pretty sad one.

Just like I have the responsibility of paying for wars I don't agree with, highways and disaster relief in states I have no desire to visit, the enforcement of copyright and patent laws that restrict my freedom, and plenty more that goes against my personal beliefs. It's still better than anarchy.

I believe that most of these activities are provided for by the Constitution of the United States of America. I have yet to find government control of drug research in the Constitution anywhere.

I still maintain, and you have not yet proven, that government control of 90% of all money devoted to drug research will yield the benefits that you claim. I base my skepticism on our government's past success, or more appropriately, lack of success in interfering in the market place. The government does its best when it sets up a framework, and allows private businesses to work within that framework. Controlling research money the way you have proposed is not a framework, it is an entire system.

Furthermore, while drug research may be valuable for society as a whole, since most research is conducted within a single state (prior to clinical trials), the system you propose may also be unconstitutional since it potentially violates states' rights and is unrelated to interstate commerce (since a huge chunk of research is locating viable alternatives, and all the rejecting variations never enter interstate commerce, the federal government has no reasonable argument that it has control over drug research). Even disaster relief by the federal government has to be formally requested by the affected state (states' rights).

Lonnie:

Well, actually are you suggesting interfering with voluntary transactions. You have proposed a mandatory reduction in the income of most people to pay for a purpose that you have deemed more important than all other purposes to which that money could be used.
I see: since raising taxes will reduce the ability of some people to buy video games and DVDs, it's no different from outlawing the purchase of those items, eh?

That's the stupidest "argument" I've heard all month. I can only conclude that your purpose here is no longer to discuss, but merely to troll. I'm done feeding you.

Jesse:

Well, actually are you suggesting interfering with voluntary transactions. You have proposed a mandatory reduction in the income of most people to pay for a purpose that you have deemed more important than all other purposes to which that money could be used.

I see: since raising taxes will reduce the ability of some people to buy video games and DVDs, it's no different from outlawing the purchase of those items, eh?

That's the stupidest "argument" I've heard all month. I can only conclude that your purpose here is no longer to discuss, but merely to troll. I'm done feeding you.

My argument states that you are shifting income from discretionary income, which could be used to purchase whatever the earner desires, to non-discretionary income. You inference is neither logical nor appropriate.

Your response, since it was neither on point nor helpful to advance the argument, is the behavior of a troll. Clearly you have extended your "arguments" as far as they will go and insults are the only way to extricate yourself.

I think communicating with your further is a waste of my time.

Lonnie wrote:

"In spite of my desire to get out of these pointless exchanges with None of Your Beeswax, I am unable to let his hyberbolic nonsense go."

NO. None of what I have written is "nonsense". Stop lying about me!

"The costs of patents is a relatively negligible amount for most companies."

That's patent nonsense, if you'll pardon the pun.

"Educate yourself and then you will not fall into these traps."

You're the stupid one. And I will point that out every subsequent time you insult my intelligence in public!

"Oh my, finally you throw out the "patents kill kittens" argument."

No, it's the "patents kill Africans" argument and we've had it before. You lost.

"You have not presented a single FACT to corroborate your UNSUBSTANTIATED ASSERTION."

No, YOU'RE the liar. And I will point that out every subsequent time you call me a liar in public!

"Where is your evidence to support this UNSUBSTANTIATED ASSERTION?"

No, you're the liar here.

"If you had a modicum of ability to use logic"

No, you're the stupid one here.

"If patents are eliminated...the ability to copy items that require minimal reverse engineering expense will substantially increase, which...leads to the inability to recover costs in markets where the upfront costs exceed the return on investment prior to copying. Therefore, these markets will be eliminated."

Ridiculous nonsense. You are trapped in linear thinking. First of all, half those "upfront costs" typically involve "license clearance", patent negotiations, or other "intellectual property" toll-booth paying. Those would disappear instantly were "IP" to be abolished. Second, the market would find alternative means to fund R&D. Look at how Nine Inch Nails and some other forward-looking musical acts are adapting to the defacto end of effective copyright protection of music to continue to fund the creation of new music.

"I actually grant that you might have a point here."

I do have a point here.

"Would people at the poverty level pay $20 per prescription while wealthy people pay up to $300 per prescription?"

You misunderstand (as usual). People would pay marginal cost for a prescription. The R&D money would come from the income tax they paid. Wealthy people pay higher income tax. Unemployed people don't pay any at all.

"That amount DOES consider the effect of patents on prices."

No, it doesn't.

"My calculation was based on the amount spent on litigation, acquiring patents and settlements, divided by the GDP."

Which only includes the amount spent on litigation, acquiring patents, and settlements. Not the amount extra spend on stuff because that stuff is patented.

When a company buys pens for the office, it may be paying extra because of patents. When it buys anything to use for anything, there's a likelihood that an "IP"-induced monopoly rent snuck in there somewhere along the supply chain. And that cost is passed on to the consumer. Also, then the company's own product is patented, they often get to charge monopoly rents to the consumer directly.

"One of those freedoms was a protection for inventors to have absolute control over their inventions for a limited period of time."

That's utter and complete hogwash. Any sane person should quickly realize that what you're describing is not a "freedom" at all. More like an "anti-freedom".

Moreover, "absolute control" is not and never has been a part of either copyright or patent law. There's fair use. First sale. The doctrine of patent exhaustion. The important fact, often ignored these days, that "IP" does not grant a privilege of regulating the use of something, only one of regulating its distribution. And so on, and so forth.

"And, even though your religious beliefs"

My religious beliefs have nothing whatsoever to say about "intellectual property". In fact, I can't find any religion that does, with quite a bit of Google searching. Copyrights and patents appear to be 100% secular and religion-free.

Therefore, my religious beliefs are 100% off-topic here. We were discussing copyrights and, especially, patents, not religion.

Don't try to change the subject!

"My information was taken from several studies by individuals such as Bessen and Meurer and others."

Your information was twisted from several studies, you mean.

"Even Mr. Levine admits that he has never said that patents have no value"

Hogwash. What he probably said was that they have value for the entities that hold them. Once upon a time, kings had a legal right to have their way with any woman in the kingdom -- I'm sure these ... shall we call them "rape-rights"? ... were quite valuable to the kings. That does not make them good, or even remotely-acceptable, public policy however.

"First, I do not work in the pharmaceutical industry."

I never claimed you did. YOU DID claim you worked in a patent related area, with a job that would disappear if the patent system were abolished.

"So, your comment was unnecessary, irrelevant and pointless."

NO! You will stop saying insulting things about me or about anything that I write, or else. Do I make myself clear?

""Drug research is a public good. Public goods, along with essential services, should be paid for by progressive taxation that does not overly burden those that can't afford to pay."

Oh, you mean welfare."

No, I mean taxation. Please consult a dictionary and be sure you thoroughly understand what the two terms mean, and why they are not interchangeable, before you post another word to this blog.

"Surely you pay attention to the behavior of people?"

Stop being gratuitously insulting. Remember, you're the stupid one here. You WILL learn your place!

"Anyone else notice None of Your Beeswax's reliance on unsubstantiated assertions and allegations?"

You're the liar here.

"religion"

Religion is irrelevant. See above.

""There is reason to believe that doctors will know a bit more about public health and disease-research priorities than a Magic Eight Ball."

You have made an assertion without support by any facts."

You're the liar here.

Besides, no reasonable person would object to the claim I made that doctors will be more reliable when asked a question about health than a Magic Eight Ball.

""Besides, we pick 12 randomly selected people from the shallow end of the IQ pool to decide who's guilty or innocent. I suppose you'd replace them with a Magic Eight Ball too?"

Good heavens no"

Double standards, Lonnie?

"On the other hand, your track record has not been good."

My track record has been just fine. You're the stupid one here, remember?

"I fail to see "DEFINITELY" in my words anywhere."

You fail at lots of things, so this does not surprise me. The facts remain: you have asserted repeatedly that patents are absolutely NECESSARY, when this cannot be farther from the truth!

"you have stated no supportable case"

You're the liar here.

"Bessen and Meurer, Boldrin & Levine, and others."

First of all, dropping names is not the same thing as citing something. Second of all, half those names seem to be arguing the OTHER SIDE from what you seem here to think they support!

"some industries are helped by patents and that a substitute needs found."

Are you starting to see the light at last? "A substitute needs found[sic]" certainly suggests that you might be. Good for you!

"I am not a shill."

Oh, but you are, Lonnie, you are, and you have even admitted to it in the past. Even earlier in the same comment you said you were employed in an IP-law-related job that will disappear if IP disappears, giving you a clear, career-based vested interest in attacking viciously anyone who opposes IP.

"you are deliberately ignorant"

NO. You're the stupid one here.

"It is possible that people like David Levine, Bessen and Meurer and others are cleverly-placed shills."

What have you been smoking?

"I think it is clever when you replace logic with insults."

Yes, I've noticed that you think it's clever to replace logic with insults, Lonnie. It is rather unfortunate. I would much prefer it if you would stop with the insults. Are you going to stop, Lonnie?

"No, I provided studies that shows that markets were served by patents."

No, you asserted that such studies existed, which is a different thing entirely. Furthermore you asserted that those markets wouldn't exist if not for patents, which is a far stronger statement (and indeed, a ludicrous one).

"a deliberate insult to your intelligence"

I've had quite enough of your deliberate insults to my intelligence. My intelligence is just fine, thank you. Unlike yours.

"Sarcasm in the place of facts..."

No, you're the liar here.

"I have read your detailed proposals with great interest. Wait, YOU HAVE NEVER PROVIDED A PROPOSAL, MERELY UNSUPPORTED NONSENSE."

No, you're the stupid one here.

I have indeed provided a proposal: pay for pharma R&D out of general income taxes. Have you not been paying attention?

"I tire of educating you. Your ignorance is overwhelming."

No, you're the stupid one here.

I tire of your vicious and unfounded personal attacks. You will stop that at once!

"WHERE IS 20 YEARS OF PATENT LIFE?"

In the law books, idiot. It used to be 14, was extended to 17, and was again extended to 20. That last extension within the last few decades.

"LEARN TO READ AND COMPREHEND."

No, you're the stupid one here.

"I deleted an entire section of insults"

You should have deleted ALL of the insults. Unfortunately, you left some in, and as a result I have had to turn them around on you and remind everyone that you are the liar around here, and the stupid one.

If you had remained civil, that would not have been regretfully necessary.

"Your first point may be valid"

It is valid.

"unproven"

You're the liar here.

"Improvements on an older drug is not patentable."

I suggest you educate yourself. Pharma companies often tweak a drug (even *dis*improving it slightly, if necessary) and then use this as the basis to get a "continuation" of their existing patent. This is even worse than patenting an improvement, because the extended patent continues to cover the *original, unimproved* form as well.

"Again your present an unsubstantiated assertion."

No. You're the liar here.

"If it was up to you, society would have collapsed under absolute anarchy."

This claim is frankly ludicrous.

If it was up to Stephan Kinsella, society would have collapsed under absolute anarchy, perhaps. :)

"Of course, I admit my errors. You do your best to ignore yours."

That's because I don't have any to NOT ignore.

""YOU have conveniently ignored the patent system (and copyrights) as premier examples of such interventions."

You have provided no such evidence."

Ridiculous. It's obvious to a child that "IP" constitutes government intervention in the marketplace.

"your proof that it does otherwise."

My proof is that it does evil, and is not sound public policy. It probably does more or less exactly what the current, bought-and-paid-for politicos intend it to do. But that is not what is best for we, the people.

"What a clever, child-like argument."

The only person whose reasoning skills are juvenile here is you.

"I deleted inappropriate accusations of racism."

Oh, good, if you'd posted any I'd have had to kill you.

Just kidding. :)

"I suspect that None of Your Beeswax is trying further to bolster his non-arguments with the sort of yellow journalism remarks"

Then you suspect wrongly. I am impeccable. Everything I do is above reproach. Unlike the case with you, who disrupts blogs in an effort to preserve some shreds of job security in a world that is increasingly repudiating "IP".

"You have made vague allusions to a path, but you never actually detailed one."

Not true. I specifically suggested paying for R&D research, to the extent that a truly free market ends up undersupplying such, with income taxes.

"we just have your emotional rhetoric that does nothing to clarify or further this discussion."

This is a bald-faced lie. I have no "emotional rhetoric", just logic and cold, hard facts.

"If you do not have any actual facts, please leave me alone."

No, you're the liar here.

And you're the one who came here and started trash-talking. Now you have the nerve to demand that we leave?

In fact, what most of us want is to be left alone, with no more government interference in what we are permitted to do behind closed doors, with consenting adults, and with the widgets and drive platters and cables that we own.

Somehow, you find this threatening, and you fear you will lose your job if we gain the right to be left alone in the circumstances described.

Oh, how I weep.

"I contend that if drug research is a public good (which I agree in general it is), then why not let the public fund that research through public means, such as the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the Aids Alliance, and others? I personally give generously to the American Cancer Society in the hope that they will continue to develop new drugs and treatments for cancer."

That certainly sounds preferable to paying for R&D through patent monopoly rents.

"Of course, why would we want to take personal responsibility for our health care costs when we can conveniently blame it on patents?"

But much of the cost does come from patents. A similar argument gets raised against single-payer insurance: moral hazard, the bane of the insurance industry in general.

That's why when I suggested abolishing almost all sales taxes, I specifically left exemptions for true luxuries and for "unhealthy product" taxes. Tax non-diet soda, tax products that mess up the ozone layer, tax cigarettes, etc.; and perhaps have government rebate programs (an anti-sales tax the way welfare is an anti-income tax for the lowest income brackets) for things like treadmills, weights, and moving and stationary bikes.

"Interestingly, among insured Americans, satisfaction with the health care system is a phenomenal 82%"

And among uninsured Americans?

The rich/poor divide is showing again, isn't it?

"Currently, 47% of all Americans are satisfied with their health care system, but this number is heavily weighted by uninsured people."

That's what I thought. In other words, the American health care system sucks. That it's great for the wealthiest 10% or so of the population and terrible for everyone else means it's terrible.

"In the meantime, our support for pharmaceuticals climbs through $40 billion, then $50 billion, until we realize that we are spending as much on pharmaceutical research as we spend on national defense..."

Not only is this another typical, ludicrous Lonnie slippery-slope argument, it's also flat wrong. The amounts spent on national defense are an order of magnitude larger than 40 or 50 billion.

"First, abolishing the patent system affects other industries that have a known benefit from the patent system."

Yes, all zero of them.

"Your question is akin to why we have electricity if no one ever turns on the light switch."

Analogy does not hold, sorry. Electricity is a useful thing. Patents are an evil, monopolistic thing. Apples and oranges.

"I contend that due to the nature of price and expenditures by people at the poverty level, drugs will become less affordable with your regressive tax."

This is rich, coming from someone who also advocates a "regressive tax" inasmuch as the extra R&D costs are again passed on to the consumer as an up-front price increase in his preferred system.

Pot, kettle, black.

"I suspect you have never been poor. I have. I have been so poor that I had to borrow money to eat on to get to the next pay check."

If you have been poor, then you should certainly not be supporting patents, copyrights, or anything else regressive that raises prices up front. The only reason you are doing so is because your current job is dependent on that system and you'd have to re-train and generally undergo an upheaval and maybe a period of unemployment if we got our way. Nevermind that your own costs would drop so much you might not have as much trouble during that upheaval as you think you might, and nevermind that your job is evil and the only job losses that would occur would be similarly evil jobs.

"Actually, many communities have health care available for people in certain income categories."

And many do not.

"The vast majority of prescriptions that the clinic is unable to fill are for life-saving pharmaceuticals. It is nice to know that many live saving drugs are available at extremely modest cost for people with the need."

These two statements contradict each other. But then, logic never was Lonnie's strong suit...

"I have guesstimates (in other words, this is complete bullsh!t) that the difference between a generic and a patented drug ranges from 20% to 80%, which should give you a rough idea of the extra price of patented drugs."

Bull!

The price difference over marginal cost is often in the thousands of percent.

"your goal is to provide the maximum benefit to the most people. Drug companies inherently do that because there is always a profit motivation."

Unbelievable bull!

Profit motivation means they try to charge as much per tiny bit of benefit as they can get away with, and address the minor inconveniences of the rich before the life-threatening problems of the poor. Hardly "the maximum benefit to the most people", Lonnie.

"The fewer the potential beneficial drugs, the less money in research; the more potential beneficial drugs, the more money in research."

This is another problem with your system. Funding for current pharma research is tied to having made out like bandits selling previous drugs. In particular, a "lull" such as you describe occurring, happening for whatever reason, could shut off future pharma R&D forever. Well, except that in the real world there ARE other ways than patents to fund pharma R&D, but in your world where patents are somehow magically necessary patents are also insufficient, and will eventually fail.

"However, I am looking at maximum benefit."

Ahahahahahaha! Hahahahaha! Hahaha ....

See above.

Maximum benefit for the rich, maybe.

"taking an average priced generic at $29 and making them $39"

What happened to an average priced generic being only $5, Lonnie?

It's funny how the price of a generic seems to change depending on what value would be most convenient for your argument du jour instead of being a fixed and reliable number, Lonnie.

(criticizing Jesse's plan) "Then we would need at least a year for changes to be in effect, which will always be out of sync with opportunities."

And your preferred system doesn't have the funding and research needs "out of sync"? Sure it does, since the funding for tomorrow's drugs comes from the patent monopoly rents on yesterday's blockbusters.

"The patent system employs about 5,000 people and costs about $1.4 billion. If we are dealing with $30 billion, I suspect it will take no fewer people to oversee the program. The federal government needs another 5,000 employees."

No, it just needs 5000. Their job description changes, and maybe they won't be the same 5000 specific people, but the number won't change, because the 5000 jobs dealing with patents will be gone.

"Unfortunately, the ideology of the democrats has already failed several times over"

You're joking. Under Clinton: * The US went into budget surplus, and began actually paying down its national debt. * Prosperity and the economy in general improved. * With US help, Europe became peaceful for the first time in about 4000 years, with the resolving of the Yugoslavian mess. * The Middle East was starting to get a bit stabler; Iran was on the verge of possibly having moderate and progressive elements at the reins of government for the first time in literally forever.

Meanwhile, under the most recent Republican administration: * The US deficit and debt spiraled, leaving things worse than when Clinton took office. * The economy is in a shambles now as that administration leaves office. * The US military has been weakened severely. Its alliances abroad have been demolished. Two wars were started by a US invasion of foreign soil, one with arguable justification and one without. Both wars have become long, slow, dragging-on wars of attrition reminiscent of Vietnam. * The Middle East is as unstable as it's ever been, war-torn and wrecked. Iran is once again firmly in the control of extremists.

The previous Republican administration didn't do very well either. And the Reagan administration: * Left a big deficit and debt. * Had a sizable recession occur during/just after its watch. * "Star Wars", and the closest the world has yet come to a nuclear war (closer than during the Cuban Missile Crisis). * The Middle East was pretty volatile then, too. It seems to always be somewhat volatile, but more so when the US has a Republican prez than when it has a Democratic one. I wonder why?

"Guess what? I do not "hate" taxes or government programs. I hate MISMANAGED taxes and government programs"

But you also offer as received wisdom that all taxes and government programs are automatically and unavoidably doomed to mismanagement. Jesse simply noticed this, put two and two together, and got four.

"I thought we were learning something during the Reagan and Clinton years."

Well, the Clinton years, anyway.

"Pharmaceutical research is getting harder and harder because the "easy" drugs appear to have been found. The difficulty of identifying effective new drugs is part of the reason that the cost of research has been going up for each new drug."

Maybe this means we need new research methods, rather than to just throw more and more money at the problem.

"when the government enters the market as the biggest approver of pharmaceutical research"

But it already is, in a round-about fashion, because only what gets FDA approval ever ends up being wildly profitable.

If you don't like government being an approver of pharmaceutical research, then you should not be arguing in favor of the status quo.

"I keep hearing people say we should stop development of "me too" drugs. Wrong."

No, you're the stupid one here. And I never said they should stop development of them. I said patents created a perverse incentive to investigate potential "me too" drugs that would be useless (i.e., no better than existing options) if developed. A truly free market would reward "me too" drugs that were actual improvements, or useful alternatives (such as antibiotics or anticancer drugs that act through distinct mechanisms, and can be combined to cut down on things evolving resistance), but not the useless ones. The patent system rewards the useless ones.

"The majority of the people employed in the patent office are mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, physicists, etc., and have talents unsuitable for the new organization. So, those people will be on the street"

You're joking. People with those kinds of credentials could surely find gainful employment again very quickly, and doing something much more worthwhile than helping to create and perpetuate evil monopolies, to boot.

"protecting valuable inventions"

Inventions (and "content") need "protecting" from one thing and one thing only: obscurity. Oh, and being strangled to death by excessive control wielded by a single party -- that too.

"Well, actually are you suggesting interfering with voluntary transactions."

Nonsense. But YOU are doing so by promoting the perpetuation of the patent system!

"Given the government's track record for interference in the market place, I suggest that government interference will not have the consequences you think it will."

Or you. So let us end the interference in the market place that is also known as "intellectual property".

"Unfortunately, we have proven that once the government starts screwing something up, it can take years and billions or trillions more to undo the damage."

Especially when people like you dig in their heels and fight the efforts to undo the damage.

"However, screwing up pharmaceutical research is not something that we can afford to permit."

So the government intervention of pharma patents had better go right away, before it causes a complete catastrophe.

"The base cause and effect is well known and understood. Since there are several versions of these drugs, with various advantages and disadvantages because they achieve the same effect in different ways, it is unlikely that another breakthrough will occur in this area, so pharmaceutical companies will need to focus on other problems."

Except that the patent system creates an incentive for drug companies to continue to research this because it won't let them all just copy the existing ones, and they all want a piece of that market.

"with the stipulation that any patents derived from the research will be accessible to any pharmaceutical company"

Why not with the stipulation that it go into the public domain? If you ask me, anything government-funded should, since charging extra for it via "IP" monopoly rents to fund its development after already funding that development out of tax money is double-dipping.

"The joke here is your proposal."

No, the joke here is you, Lonnie. Haven't you noticed? You're the Against Monopoly site's foil, its comic relief, its court jester.

"You are going to take away drug company profits so that their profits are slightly higher than marginal cost of production (i.e., generic profits). Drug companies will no longer have the capability of engaging in significant research."

Sorry, no connection. It's a big leap from the former to the latter, even ignoring the fact that Jesse (and I, and others) have suggested multiple alternative ways for that research to get funded.

"Drug companies are the single largest source of funding for drug research."

That's not what you said earlier. Earlier, you quoted a figure of $30 billion for the drug research money that comes from patent monopoly rents, and larger figures for the amount coming from sources like government and university funding programs and even charities. At least for "bigger" diseases like AIDS and cancer, the research money already comes primarily from non-patent-rent sources, making patents patently unnecessary. (No pun unintended.)

"universities and hospitals, where development of drugs is typically quite slow"

That's because the patent thickets they have to navigate are like swimming across a lake of treacle, of course.

"If this is a joke, it is a pretty sad one."

Yes, Lonnie. Yes, you are.

"I still maintain ... that government control of 90% of all money devoted to drug research will yield the benefits that you claim."

It will? Then why are you still arguing with us? It looks like this debate is settled, then.

"I base my skepticism on our government's past success, or more appropriately, lack of success in interfering in the market place."

Strangely enough, so do I. My skepticism of "intellectual property"'s public-policy value, that is.

"The government does its best when it sets up a framework, and allows private businesses to work within that framework."

You mean, like a free market, say? Where it adjudicates contract disputes, but does not intervene to stop transactions among consenting adults? In particular, lets me make and sell any widget or any disc with any pattern of bits that I see fit, at whatever price is mutually agreeable to me and my customers? Then you must be firmly opposed to the current system of copyrights and patents.

"the system you propose may also be unconstitutional since it potentially violates states' rights"

A procedural red-tape issue more than a substantive argument against.

"Even disaster relief by the federal government has to be formally requested by the affected state"

As could be drug-research money.

"Clearly you have extended your "arguments" as far as they will go and insults are the only way to extricate yourself."

This statement is true -- for values of "you" that are contained in the single-element set whose member is "Lonnie E. Holder".

None of Your Beeswax:

Your responses have fallen into complete incoherence and total nonsense. Your paranoia has gotten the best of you. You imagine insults where none exist. You have no facts in response to mine. In fact, your comments are all equivalent to "nuh uh." Very sad.

"Your responses have fallen into complete incoherence and total nonsense"

No, they have not.

If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times: stop publicly lying about me!

"You imagine insults where none exist."

That's a laugh. Calling me "incoherent" isn't an insult? Falsely accusing me of stupidity and even outright lying isn't an insult?

"You have no facts in response to mine."

And there you go, falsely accusing me of lying yet again? But in fact you're the liar.

"In fact, your comments are all equivalent to "nuh uh.""

That's the only sensible response to ad hominems from the likes of you.

Oh, wait, it's only my responses to your personal attacks that are equivalent to "nuh uh". My responses to your remarks on the actual topic of patents are anything but, though you may be too blind to see that.

And by the way, lying in wait for me to post to ambush me with a pure-personal-attacks comment within a few tens of minutes of my doing so is a sign of an obsessed, paranoid, and seriously disturbed mind. A normal person wouldn't have gotten around to encountering my comment for a couple of days on average.

Beeswax:

Bessen and Meurer: "…the patent system provides positive incentives in some industries like pharmaceuticals…"

Bessen and Meurer: "…patents do provide profits for their owners, so it makes sense for firms to get them…"

Bessen and Meurer: "…we find that small publicly traded firms get small positive R&D incentives from patents. This is also very likely to be true for small, non-publicly traded firms and non-profit inventors."

Ruth Suehle in Redhat Magazine: "I have to admit, it's easy for me, and I suspect others, to forget that patents can work quite well outside of software."

Roberto Mazzoleni and Richard R. Nelson: "The collection of small and medium sized firms in the American biotechnology industry is, of course, a striking example of enterprises that would not have come into existence without the prospect of a patent, and which depend on patent protection to make their profits, and to attract capital, through one or another of these strategies."

None of Your Beeswax:

Okay, if you really wish a dissection of your statements, then so be it.

NO. None of what I have written is "nonsense". Stop lying about me!

You continue to make statements regarding the valuelessness of patents, I have provided references multiple times from an array of anti-patent researchers (which I find ironic) that indicate there is value in patents. Even Mike Masnick over at TechDirt has said that while he is against patents, he has never said that patents do not have value or purpose.

Your response to these facts has been...well, "stop lying about me." Now, to me that is nonsense.

"The costs of patents is a relatively negligible amount for most companies."

That's patent nonsense, if you'll pardon the pun.

Not only are you very punny, but you have not provided one iota of proof otherwise. On the other hand, in repeated posts I have provided specific and referenced mathematical evidence that the cost of patents for most companies is relatively negligible. Waiting for your evidence.

"Educate yourself and then you will not fall into these traps."

You're the stupid one. And I will point that out every subsequent time you insult my intelligence in public!

First, I never said you were stupid. So you returned a well-supported position with a childish and immature remark. You insult yourself by these statements.

In order to address your nonsensical comments more carefully, I will break them up into separate portions.

Beeswax:

"Oh my, finally you throw out the "patents kill kittens" argument."

No, it's the "patents kill Africans" argument and we've had it before. You lost.

I love this argument. Okay, let us verify your logic...

Scenario 1 - Research a new life-saving drug with patents.

The ability to protect a pharmaceutical with patents attracts investment money.

Investment money pours into research for drugs that may help cure a disease (I presume that some Africans may also suffer from this disease).

A drug is found that treats or cures the disease, within 3 to 10 years, including pharmaceutical sponsored clinical trials.

The drug is patented, attaining approximately 8 to 14 years of protection after regulatory delays.

The drug is made available on the market, at first under the constraints of a patent, and 8 to 14 years later (17 to 24 years after the research began) as a generic with a 20% to 80% cost reduction.

Patients who previously did not have the opportunity to receive treatment from the drug now at least have an option available to them for treatment, thus permitting people who have access to the drug to improve their quality of life and perhaps save their life.

Scenario 2 - Researching a life-saving drug without patents.

Because a return on investment is uncertain or impossible, money to fund life-saving drugs is routed to universities and research hospitals.

In 20 or 30 years, or perhaps never, a pharmaceutical drug is found that treats or cures a disease is found. Because clinical trials are expensive and time consuming, and because universities and research hospitals are very risk averse because of liability, clinical trials take another 20 years.

The drug is made available on the market approximately 50 years after research begins on the drug, at generic prices.

All patients alive 50 years from now will have access to the treatment at whatever marginal cost is. Unless, of course, the drug is never found because the funding is shifted to other activities, in which case the drug is not found for a couple of centuries, leaving patients with the condition to die at ever-increasing rates.

Beeswax:

"You have not presented a single FACT to corroborate your UNSUBSTANTIATED ASSERTION."

No, YOU'RE the liar. And I will point that out every subsequent time you call me a liar in public!

My comment was in regards to research on various types of drugs. You appeared to say that patents essentially made companies focus on drugs that you did not prefer over drugs that you prefered. However, you did not present a fact to support this statement. I continue to wait a fact rather than "you're a liar" as a response.

A key point being missed here is that when drug prices start actually reflecting marginal cost, drug companies won't be able to arbitrarily set prices. Right now, they can, and so they can squeeze certain wealthy demographics for huge amounts of money with their "lifestyle drugs". When that stops, there is no longer a distorted financial incentive to research lifestyle drugs to the exclusion of lifesaving ones. They will be researched in a balanced manner.

"Where is your evidence to support this UNSUBSTANTIATED ASSERTION?"

No, you're the liar here.

Your last response was to my comment regarding your comment that if drug companies would research life-saving drugs if they could not research "lifestyle drugs." However, you have yet to show that if patents did not exist that pharmaceutical companies would even research any drugs at all. Ergo, no patents, potentially fewer new drugs.

I remind you of the quotes from various anti-patent researchers I quoted above:

Bessen and Meurer: "…the patent system provides positive incentives in some industries like pharmaceuticals…"

Bessen and Meurer: "…patents do provide profits for their owners, so it makes sense for firms to get them…"

Bessen and Meurer: "…we find that small publicly traded firms get small positive R&D incentives from patents. This is also very likely to be true for small, non-publicly traded firms and non-profit inventors."

Ruth Suehle in Redhat Magazine: "I have to admit, it's easy for me, and I suspect others, to forget that patents can work quite well outside of software."

Roberto Mazzoleni and Richard R. Nelson: "The collection of small and medium sized firms in the American biotechnology industry is, of course, a striking example of enterprises that would not have come into existence without the prospect of a patent, and which depend on patent protection to make their profits, and to attract capital, through one or another of these strategies."

Beeswax:

"If you had a modicum of ability to use logic"

No, you're the stupid one here.

Why do you insist on calling yourself stupid? I merely said that I provided facts and evidence and logic, and you reply that I am a liar or some such nonsense.

Beeswax:

If patents are eliminated...the ability to copy items that require minimal reverse engineering expense will substantially increase, which...leads to the inability to recover costs in markets where the upfront costs exceed the return on investment prior to copying. Therefore, these markets will be eliminated.

Ridiculous nonsense. You are trapped in linear thinking. First of all, half those "upfront costs" typically involve "license clearance", patent negotiations, or other "intellectual property" toll-booth paying. Those would disappear instantly were "IP" to be abolished. Second, the market would find alternative means to fund R&D. Look at how Nine Inch Nails and some other forward-looking musical acts are adapting to the defacto end of effective copyright protection of music to continue to fund the creation of new music.

Okay, let us look at your statements...

First of all, half those "upfront costs" typically involve "license clearance", patent negotiations, or other "intellectual property" toll-booth paying.

Cite studies. Cite actual facts. 96% of all facts are made up on the spot, and yours look suspiciously like they fall into this category.

"License clearance," as you call it, is essentially zero when you are dealing with a never before seen drug. You have no evidence that all the categories that you list have even a modicum of effect on the price of a new pharmaceutical. However, if you have such evidence, I would appreciate seeing it.

Second, the market would find alternative means to fund R&D.

Not necessarily. The market supports only what there is a return in investment on. No return, no investment. Your religious-like belief that "the market would find alternative means to fund R&D" is charming, but I deal with facts. There is currently an alternative to pharmaceutical company research and that is research at universities and research hospitals. Of course, their speed of development is substantially less than that of pharmaceuticals, so drug development would slow dramatically.

"Would people at the poverty level pay $20 per prescription while wealthy people pay up to $300 per prescription?"

You misunderstand (as usual). People would pay marginal cost for a prescription. The R&D money would come from the income tax they paid. Wealthy people pay higher income tax. Unemployed people don't pay any at all.

No, you misunderstand as usual. Jesse's proposal was to fund drug research with a tax on the drugs themselves. If you are unable to follow the conversation, you should stay out of the conversation.

That amount DOES consider the effect of patents on prices.

No, it doesn't.

Nice, factual comeback there. My logic was carefully laid out so that someone with superior facts could, if they could, counter my arguments. Your comeback was about what I expected from you.

"My calculation was based on the amount spent on litigation, acquiring patents and settlements, divided by the GDP."

Which only includes the amount spent on litigation, acquiring patents, and settlements. Not the amount extra spend on stuff because that stuff is patented.

When a company buys pens for the office, it may be paying extra because of patents. When it buys anything to use for anything, there's a likelihood that an "IP"-induced monopoly rent snuck in there somewhere along the supply chain. And that cost is passed on to the consumer. Also, then the company's own product is patented, they often get to charge monopoly rents to the consumer directly.

My goodness, here is an opportunity for you to present proof. You use the words "may," "likelihood," and "often." We await the facts that support your contentions.

One of those freedoms was a protection for inventors to have absolute control over their inventions for a limited period of time.

That's utter and complete hogwash. Any sane person should quickly realize that what you're describing is not a "freedom" at all. More like an "anti-freedom".

Okay, you claim coming up with inventions and having an incentive to do so is anti-freedom. Once again, I remind you of these quotes, that, in spite of presenting them to you again and again, you neglect to refute with any sort of facts.

Benefits of patents:

Bessen and Meurer: "…the patent system provides positive incentives in some industries like pharmaceuticals…"

Bessen and Meurer: "…patents do provide profits for their owners, so it makes sense for firms to get them…"

Bessen and Meurer: "…we find that small publicly traded firms get small positive R&D incentives from patents. This is also very likely to be true for small, non-publicly traded firms and non-profit inventors."

Ruth Suehle in Redhat Magazine: "I have to admit, it's easy for me, and I suspect others, to forget that patents can work quite well outside of software."

Roberto Mazzoleni and Richard R. Nelson: "The collection of small and medium sized firms in the American biotechnology industry is, of course, a striking example of enterprises that would not have come into existence without the prospect of a patent, and which depend on patent protection to make their profits, and to attract capital, through one or another of these strategies."

Beeswax:

Moreover, "absolute control" is not and never has been a part of either copyright or patent law. There's fair use. First sale. The doctrine of patent exhaustion. The important fact, often ignored these days, that "IP" does not grant a privilege of regulating the use of something, only one of regulating its distribution. And so on, and so forth.

Fair use has never been a part of patent law. I have no idea what "first sale" has to do with patent law. Yes, the doctrine of patent exhaustion is "sort of" a limitation on patents, but not really, recalling that patent exhaustion merely says that once the device is sold, it is sold with a license for use and you cannot obtain another royalty on a product sold with that royalty.

I have no idea what your "so on, and so forth" means, so let us remember what patents provide...

the ability to prevent someone from making, using or selling, subject, of course, to patent exhaustion.

Beeswax:

"And, even though your religious beliefs"

My religious beliefs have nothing whatsoever to say about "intellectual property". In fact, I can't find any religion that does, with quite a bit of Google searching. Copyrights and patents appear to be 100% secular and religion-free.

Therefore, my religious beliefs are 100% off-topic here. We were discussing copyrights and, especially, patents, not religion.

Don't try to change the subject!

I have no idea what you are talking about. So, let me clarify my point.

The definition of religion: something one believes in and follows devotedly.

You repeatedly respond to my factual comments with faith-based comments, such as "markets will find a way," which is a statement of belief. Ergo, elimination of patents in your case is faith-based rather than factually based.

Beeswax:

My information was taken from several studies by individuals such as Bessen and Meurer and others.

Your information was twisted from several studies, you mean.

I guess your definition of twisted is quoting statements from studies by these learned people. I repeat those comments again for your benefit.

Bessen and Meurer: "…the patent system provides positive incentives in some industries like pharmaceuticals…"

Bessen and Meurer: "…patents do provide profits for their owners, so it makes sense for firms to get them…"

Bessen and Meurer: "…we find that small publicly traded firms get small positive R&D incentives from patents. This is also very likely to be true for small, non-publicly traded firms and non-profit inventors."

Ruth Suehle in Redhat Magazine: "I have to admit, it's easy for me, and I suspect others, to forget that patents can work quite well outside of software."

Roberto Mazzoleni and Richard R. Nelson: "The collection of small and medium sized firms in the American biotechnology industry is, of course, a striking example of enterprises that would not have come into existence without the prospect of a patent, and which depend on patent protection to make their profits, and to attract capital, through one or another of these strategies."

Beeswax:

Even Mr. Levine admits that he has never said that patents have no value.

Hogwash. What he probably said was that they have value for the entities that hold them. Once upon a time, kings had a legal right to have their way with any woman in the kingdom -- I'm sure these ... shall we call them "rape-rights"? ... were quite valuable to the kings. That does not make them good, or even remotely-acceptable, public policy however.

lol...You mix all sorts of stuff into this conversation. I appreciate your desire to interpret Mr. Levine's statements, however, they are misplaced. Mr. Levine (though I am reluctant to speak for him since he has his own voice) realizes that patents for pharmaceuticals cannot be eliminated without replacing them with an alternative system because, as has been pointed out by many researchers, patents do provide inventive to develop new drugs.

Beeswax:

"First, I do not work in the pharmaceutical industry."

I never claimed you did. YOU DID claim you worked in a patent related area, with a job that would disappear if the patent system were abolished.

I do not "claim," I tell you I do work in a patent related area. More broadly, I work in an intellectual property related area. However, my job will not disappear if the patent system were abolished because I would then focus on trade secrets and how to minimize or prevent transfer of new technology to competitors for as long as possible.

Beeswax:

Comment by Jesse:

Drug research is a public good. Public goods, along with essential services, should be paid for by progressive taxation that does not overly burden those that can't afford to pay.

My response:

Oh, you mean welfare.

No, I mean taxation. Please consult a dictionary and be sure you thoroughly understand what the two terms mean, and why they are not interchangeable, before you post another word to this blog.

The definition of welfare: financial or other assistance to an individual or family from a city, state, or national government.

Okay, if the government is taxing people in order to provide that money to an entity, i.e., financial or other assistance, then that is, by definition, welfare.

Beeswax:

Surely you pay attention to the behavior of people?

Stop being gratuitously insulting. Remember, you're the stupid one here. You WILL learn your place!

lol...I merely asked a question. Why would you assume from my question that I was calling you stupid? You are overly sensitive to legitimate questions.

And as far as "I WILL [roflmao] learn my place," well, massa, I guess I will continue to speak from a factual position, and you will continue to speak from your faith-based system, and I am not converting to your blind faith that "patents are unncessary."

Anyone else notice None of Your Beeswax's reliance on unsubstantiated assertions and allegations?

You're the liar here.

Once again, I merely pointed out that you have not provided a single (as far as I can tell) fact regarding the topic that you eliminated. If you have provided a fact, please repeat your supported fact here so that we can review it once again.

religion

Religion is irrelevant. See above.

Beeswax took a word out of context, but as noted in a previous post, religion is about non-factually supported beliefs. Beeswax insists on making unsupported claims for his position rather than facts, which appears to be belief to me, which is the basis of any religion.

Beeswax:

There is reason to believe that doctors will know a bit more about public health and disease-research priorities than a Magic Eight Ball.

You have made an assertion without support by any facts.

You're the liar here.

Besides, no reasonable person would object to the claim I made that doctors will be more reliable when asked a question about health than a Magic Eight Ball.

First, you called me a liar when I never called you any such thing. All I said was that you had made an unsupported assertion. That is a statement of fact, not an insult.

Second, yes, my statement was a bit of hyperbole. However, the reason I made this statement was that any dozen people will have biases based on their area of specialty and the needs of their patients. It could well end up that this team of doctors decides that the focus should be on a lifestyle drug. It is always hard to get into the minds of any dozen people. How often have you seen decisions by juries and courts that you were unable to understand and that seemed "wrong" to you? Why would we suspect a dozen doctors would be any different?

Besides, we pick 12 randomly selected people from the shallow end of the IQ pool to decide who's guilty or innocent. I suppose you'd replace them with a Magic Eight Ball too?

Good heavens no

Double standards, Lonnie?

No, I just thought you deserved a jury of your peers rather than a Magic Eight Ball.

Beeswax:

"On the other hand, your track record has not been good.

My track record has been just fine. You're the stupid one here, remember?

Do you really feel it is appropriate to call someone "stupid" when they have pointed out that you have neglected to support your position appropriately with facts? I guess if you have no argument, calling your opponent "stupid" is surely a good way to win.

Beeswax:

I fail to see "DEFINITELY" in my words anywhere.

[Unsupported insult deleted.] The facts remain: you have asserted repeatedly that patents are absolutely NECESSARY, when this cannot be farther from the truth!

Bessen and Meurer: "…the patent system provides positive incentives in some industries like pharmaceuticals…"

Bessen and Meurer: "…patents do provide profits for their owners, so it makes sense for firms to get them…"

Bessen and Meurer: "…we find that small publicly traded firms get small positive R&D incentives from patents. This is also very likely to be true for small, non-publicly traded firms and non-profit inventors."

Ruth Suehle in Redhat Magazine: "I have to admit, it's easy for me, and I suspect others, to forget that patents can work quite well outside of software."

Roberto Mazzoleni and Richard R. Nelson: "The collection of small and medium sized firms in the American biotechnology industry is, of course, a striking example of enterprises that would not have come into existence without the prospect of a patent, and which depend on patent protection to make their profits, and to attract capital, through one or another of these strategies."

Beeswax:

"you have stated no supportable case"

You're the liar here.

Snappy come back and excellent support for your position. First, you infer I called you a liar when I did not (paranoia). Secondly, why not stop imagining insults and support your position?

Bessen and Meurer, Boldrin & Levine, and others.

First of all, dropping names is not the same thing as citing something. Second of all, half those names seem to be arguing the OTHER SIDE from what you seem here to think they support!

Wow! You actually read what I wrote. Yes, they do argue from THE OTHER SIDE. Why do you think I find their words have more weight than pro-patent researchers and commenters?

Bessen and Meurer: "…the patent system provides positive incentives in some industries like pharmaceuticals…"

Bessen and Meurer: "…patents do provide profits for their owners, so it makes sense for firms to get them…"

Bessen and Meurer: "…we find that small publicly traded firms get small positive R&D incentives from patents. This is also very likely to be true for small, non-publicly traded firms and non-profit inventors."

Ruth Suehle in Redhat Magazine: "I have to admit, it's easy for me, and I suspect others, to forget that patents can work quite well outside of software."

Roberto Mazzoleni and Richard R. Nelson: "The collection of small and medium sized firms in the American biotechnology industry is, of course, a striking example of enterprises that would not have come into existence without the prospect of a patent, and which depend on patent protection to make their profits, and to attract capital, through one or another of these strategies."

Beeswax:

some industries are helped by patents and that a substitute needs found.

Are you starting to see the light at last? "A substitute needs found[sic]" certainly suggests that you might be. Good for you!

Other than taking my words out of context, yes, I strongly believe, supported by anti-patent researchers, that some industries are helped by patents. However, I also believe that if you are going to eliminate patents, then you need to find a suitable replacement that will maintain development at its current level, or even better, will increase development. I have yet to see a reasonable proposal.

Beeswax:

I am not a shill.

Oh, but you are, Lonnie, you are, and you have even admitted to it in the past. Even earlier in the same comment you said you were employed in an IP-law-related job that will disappear if IP disappears, giving you a clear, career-based vested interest in attacking viciously anyone who opposes IP.

I have no career-based interest. As I have told you before, I have done many jobs in the past (programmer, electro-optical engineer, mechanical engineer, test engineer, etc.). If patents disappear, I would prefer to be a member of the trade secrets group and spend my time on keeping my technology from getting in the hands of competitors. I think they would be quite an interesting job.

Beeswax:

you are deliberately ignorant

NO. You're the stupid one here.

Why do you insist on believing through your paranoia that I am calling you stupid? I said what I said, and nothing more. You imagined you were being called stupid.

It is possible that people like David Levine, Bessen and Meurer and others are cleverly-placed shills.

What have you been smoking?

I was wondering what you have been smoking. Let us refresh our memory again with what they have said...

Bessen and Meurer: "…the patent system provides positive incentives in some industries like pharmaceuticals…"

Bessen and Meurer: "…patents do provide profits for their owners, so it makes sense for firms to get them…"

Bessen and Meurer: "…we find that small publicly traded firms get small positive R&D incentives from patents. This is also very likely to be true for small, non-publicly traded firms and non-profit inventors."

Ruth Suehle in Redhat Magazine: "I have to admit, it's easy for me, and I suspect others, to forget that patents can work quite well outside of software."

Roberto Mazzoleni and Richard R. Nelson: "The collection of small and medium sized firms in the American biotechnology industry is, of course, a striking example of enterprises that would not have come into existence without the prospect of a patent, and which depend on patent protection to make their profits, and to attract capital, through one or another of these strategies."

I think it is clever when you replace logic with insults.

Yes, I've noticed that you think it's clever to replace logic with insults, Lonnie. It is rather unfortunate. I would much prefer it if you would stop with the insults. Are you going to stop, Lonnie?

I have to start to stop. When are you going to start using facts rather than your faith based belief that patents should be eliminated?

No, I provided studies that shows that markets were served by patents.

No, you asserted that such studies existed, which is a different thing entirely. Furthermore you asserted that those markets wouldn't exist if not for patents, which is a far stronger statement (and indeed, a ludicrous one).

I offer, once again, these comments...

Bessen and Meurer: "…the patent system provides positive incentives in some industries like pharmaceuticals…"

Bessen and Meurer: "…patents do provide profits for their owners, so it makes sense for firms to get them…"

Bessen and Meurer: "…we find that small publicly traded firms get small positive R&D incentives from patents. This is also very likely to be true for small, non-publicly traded firms and non-profit inventors."

Ruth Suehle in Redhat Magazine: "I have to admit, it's easy for me, and I suspect others, to forget that patents can work quite well outside of software."

Roberto Mazzoleni and Richard R. Nelson: "The collection of small and medium sized firms in the American biotechnology industry is, of course, a striking example of enterprises that would not have come into existence without the prospect of a patent, and which depend on patent protection to make their profits, and to attract capital, through one or another of these strategies."

Beeswax:

Sarcasm in the place of facts...

[Paranoid statement deleted.]

"I have read your detailed proposals with great interest. Wait, YOU HAVE NEVER PROVIDED A PROPOSAL, MERELY UNSUPPORTED NONSENSE."

[Paranoid statement deleted.]

Beeswax Said:

I have indeed provided a proposal: pay for pharma R&D out of general income taxes. Have you not been paying attention?

My response:

Whoa, an actual proposal. Okay, so you replace pharmaceutical R&D out of general income tax. Since you are eliminating patents, then you also need to replace other medical R&D from income taxes.

The federal government supposedly spent $37.7 billion on medical R&D in 2006, while private industry spent $64.7 billion on medical R&D in 2006. So, triple the budget for medical research, raise taxes accordingly, and life will be good.

However, that assumes that the American people are in the mood to increase taxes by another $64.7 billion to put into the pockets of organizations researching medical related issues. That also assumes that Congress will not divert that money. That also does not include the administration required to implement the program, which will be somewhere about 40 times bigger than the current patent system, including the CAFC.

How will you solve these issues?

Beeswax:

I tire of educating you. Your ignorance is overwhelming.

No, you're the stupid one here.

Where did I say you were "stupid"? Why do you insist on referring to yourself in this manner? Further, I tire of your vicious and unfounded personal attacks.

WHERE IS 20 YEARS OF PATENT LIFE?

In the law books, idiot. It used to be 14, was extended to 17, and was again extended to 20. That last extension within the last few decades.

As I have pointed out previously, 20 years is from the date of filing. As a number of researchers have pointed out, even with extensions granted in the law, the maximum number of years a patent for pharmaceutical drugs may remain in effect is 14 years, and the actual effective life runs from 8 to 12 years. I would be thrilled to provide you with references for these facts if you are interested.

LEARN TO READ AND COMPREHEND.

No, you're the stupid one here.

Let me see, I point out the law, and the actual life of patents, and you claim I am stupid. Well, you have been known to replace substantive arguments with insults in the past, so I am unsurprised.

[Unnecessary insults and paranoid remarks deleted.]

Beeswax:

Improvements on an older drug is not patentable.

I suggest you educate yourself. Pharma companies often tweak a drug (even *dis*improving it slightly, if necessary) and then use this as the basis to get a "continuation" of their existing patent. This is even worse than patenting an improvement, because the extended patent continues to cover the *original, unimproved* form as well.

A continuation, as you call it, has a life limited to the life of the original patent. The original patent expires, so does the continuation. Reference MPEP 2701.

Beeswax:

Lonnie Said:

Of course, I admit my errors. You do your best to ignore yours.

Beeswax Responds:

That's because I don't have any to NOT ignore.

Lonnie Responds:

You are perfect? HALLELUJAH, THE MESSIAH HAS COME!!! ALL HAIL TO BEESWAX, THE EMBODIMENT OF PERFECTION!!!

Pretty full of yourself, it seems.

Beeswax:

I suspect that None of Your Beeswax is trying further to bolster his non-arguments with the sort of yellow journalism remarks.

Then you suspect wrongly. I am impeccable. Everything I do is above reproach. Unlike the case with you, who disrupts blogs in an effort to preserve some shreds of job security in a world that is increasingly repudiating "IP".

First, my job is quite secure, with or without IP. No IP and I will be busily helping my company prevent others from stealing our designs by more stringent uses of secrets.

Second, you stated that we live in a "world that is increasingly repudiating 'IP'." Is this the same world where the Chinese are setting up special courts to specifically deal with IP issues? Is this also the same world where Barack Obama has proposed what he calls a "gold-plated patent"? Is this also the same world where the Europeans are recognizing software patents?

Beeswax:

You have made vague allusions to a path, but you never actually detailed one.

Not true. I specifically suggested paying for R&D research, to the extent that a truly free market ends up undersupplying such, with income taxes.

I saw that statement earlier in your lengthy post. I am strongly opposed to a government sponsored system that takes money from taxpayers and provides that money to pharmaceutical companies for a host of reasons, not the least of which is that such powerful government intervention in trucking, airlines, healthcare and more have almost always caused higher prices without truly making anything better.

Further, virtually anything the government pays for happens slower. Then, of course, since virtually all pharmaceutical research involves significant upfront cost, the tax increase will be significant. I suspect the vast majority of taxpayers would rather the system remain as it is rather than voting themselves a significant tax increase, particularly one with uncertain benefit, and particularly since increased taxes will likely be necessary to get our current government debt back under control.

Beeswax:

...we just have your emotional rhetoric that does nothing to clarify or further this discussion.

This is a bald-faced lie. I have no "emotional rhetoric", just logic and cold, hard facts.

Well, when thee dost protest too much about "stupidity" and being called a "liar," and calling me a "liar," I consider those immature outbursts emotion. They are certainly not "logic," and most certainly not cold, hard facts.

Beeswax:

If you do not have any actual facts, please leave me alone.

No, you're the liar here.

Your response to my comment makes no sense at all. I did not call you anything, and yet in your paranoia you seem to think I did. You need professional help.

Beeswax:

And you're the one who came here and started trash-talking. Now you have the nerve to demand that we leave?

I have made no such demands. I only ask that you cease your stalking of me.

In fact, what most of us want is to be left alone, with no more government interference in what we are permitted to do behind closed doors, with consenting adults...

Me too. In fact, I thought we had this protection in our constitution.

...and with the widgets and drive platters and cables that we own.

To the extent that the Constitution of the United States and the laws that derive therefrom permits you to do so, knock yourself out.

Somehow, you find this threatening, and you fear you will lose your job if we gain the right to be left alone in the circumstances described.

The only thing I find threatening is that you want to raise my taxes for a program for which the goals will be forever undefined and for which the outcome is uncertain. I also weep for the American people when this monopolistic slush fund is quietly diverted to all sorts of bizarre purposes, because that is what our government tends to do.

Beeswax:

Of course, why would we want to take personal responsibility for our health care costs when we can conveniently blame it on patents?

But much of the cost does come from patents. A similar argument gets raised against single-payer insurance: moral hazard, the bane of the insurance industry in general.

I have no idea about single-payer insurance. I do not know what that is. However, I do know that patents affects about 7 cents of every medical dollar we spend (approximately). That hardly seems to meet the definition of "significant." In fact, the percentage that is influenced by our own poor choices (lack of exercise, eating at McDonalds, failure to see a doctor regularly) is about 26%. Now, should we focus on the 7%, which continues to decrease with time, or do we focus on the 26%, which is far easier and more effective to do?

Beeswax:

Currently, 47% of all Americans are satisfied with their health care system, but this number is heavily weighted by uninsured people.

That's what I thought. In other words, the American health care system sucks. That it's great for the wealthiest 10% or so of the population and terrible for everyone else means it's terrible.

I guess that puts us in the same boat as most of the rest of the other nations considered "western nations" then. So we are no better, and no worse, than any other health system, including the so-called "national" health systems. Our system may be inadequate for many people, but there does not appear to be many systems that are better.

Beeswax:

In the meantime, our support for pharmaceuticals climbs through $40 billion, then $50 billion, until we realize that we are spending as much on pharmaceutical research as we spend on national defense...

Not only is this another typical, ludicrous Lonnie slippery-slope argument, it's also flat wrong. The amounts spent on national defense are an order of magnitude larger than 40 or 50 billion.

I guess I have to spell everything out for you in detail. Our defense budget was around $300 billion or so before we decided to go beat up on the Iraqis. Once we get our butts out of countries where we do not belong, I suspect that our budget will decrease to historical lows.

At the same time, while we spend about $36 billion (I was a little low in my number of $30, but these numbers fluctuate) on pharmaceutical research, that is an area of declining interest as we get more into genetic treatments and more biotechnology, along with other expensive medical research that absorbs about $66 billion per year, supported by the drive for patents. Since we will want to continue to drive money into these areas, we will be spending about $102 billion per year at the outset to replace money from corporations and venture capitalists that will be unavailable with the elimination of patents. Since there will always be a drive to support more medical research, and since the cost will continue to go up, I can easily see a point where the money for medical research becomes as large as the defense budget, or larger.

However, do we really care? After all, it is all coming from taxpayers anyway. It is not as though companies were leeching us through patents.

Beeswax:

First, abolishing the patent system affects other industries that have a known benefit from the patent system.

Yes, all zero of them.

Bessen and Meurer: "…we find that small publicly traded firms get small positive R&D incentives from patents. This is also very likely to be true for small, non-publicly traded firms and non-profit inventors."

Ruth Suehle in Redhat Magazine: "I have to admit, it's easy for me, and I suspect others, to forget that patents can work quite well outside of software."

Roberto Mazzoleni and Richard R. Nelson: "The collection of small and medium sized firms in the American biotechnology industry is, of course, a striking example of enterprises that would not have come into existence without the prospect of a patent, and which depend on patent protection to make their profits, and to attract capital, through one or another of these strategies."

Roberto Mazzoleni and Richard R. Nelson: "In some areas, patent rights certainly are economically and socially productive in generating invention, spreading technological knowledge, inducing innovation and commercialization, and providing some degree of order in the development of broad technological prospects."

You doing some of that "new" math again to get zero?

Beeswax:

I contend that due to the nature of price and expenditures by people at the poverty level, drugs will become less affordable with your regressive tax.

This is rich, coming from someone who also advocates a "regressive tax" inasmuch as the extra R&D costs are again passed on to the consumer as an up-front price increase in his preferred system.

First, your response has nothing to do with my question, and merely sidesteps a valide issue with the system your propose. Second, R&D costs are always passed on to the consumer. How else is R&D paid for? It is certainly not free.

Beeswax:

I suspect you have never been poor. I have. I have been so poor that I had to borrow money to eat on to get to the next pay check.

If you have been poor...

I just said I have been very poor. I qualified for food stamps. However, I never took them. I prefered to solve my problems myself.

...then you should certainly not be supporting patents, copyrights, or anything else regressive that raises prices up front.

First, my discussion has been limited to patents, though trademarks are certainly valuable and important as well. Second, as I have noted many times, patents have also been responsible for reducing prices in a competitive market. Third, how are these things always regressive? They only apply if you purchase something, and since we have been surviving quite nicely with products for which the patents have expired for a long time, then anything patented today cannot be a necessity.

The only reason you are doing so is because your current job is dependent on that system and you'd have to re-train and generally undergo an upheaval and maybe a period of unemployment if we got our way.

lol...My job is not dependent on the system. I enjoy secrecy as well. Eliminate patents and I will immediately move into the trade secret department and spend my efforts on designing ways of preventing competitors from copying our designs.

Nevermind that your own costs would drop so much you might not have as much trouble during that upheaval as you think you might, and nevermind that your job is evil and the only job losses that would occur would be similarly evil jobs.

Given the minimal effect prices have on the necessities of life (food, shelter, clothing, and energy), my own costs would drop a negligible amount, as your would likely as well. However, the job losses in industries that have significant investment costs would be tremendous, throwing the United States (and of course, the other 181 or so countries with a patent system - which fundamentally can never be eliminated anyway) into a recession that would last for years, if not decades.

Beeswax:

The vast majority of prescriptions that the clinic is unable to fill are for life-saving pharmaceuticals. It is nice to know that many live saving drugs are available at extremely modest cost for people with the need.

These two statements contradict each other. But then, logic never was Lonnie's strong suit...

I was getting tired. Your extensive posts require a lot of researching for facts.

What I meant to say was that the vast majority of prescriptions that the clinic is unable to fill are for generic life-saving pharmaceuticals. It is nice to know that many life saving generic drugs are available at extremely modest cost for people with the need.

Beeswax:

I have guesstimates that the difference between a generic and a patented drug ranges from 20% to 80%, which should give you a rough idea of the extra price of patented drugs.

Bull!

The degree to which you provided factual evidence to refute my statement is phenomenal.

Beeswax:

...taking an average priced generic at $29 and making them $39...

What happened to an average priced generic being only $5, Lonnie?

Beats me. The average price of generic drugs is $28.86. The minimum price for a one month supply, to the best of my knowledge, is $4.

Beeswax:

The patent system employs about 5,000 people and costs about $1.4 billion. If we are dealing with $30 billion, I suspect it will take no fewer people to oversee the program. The federal government needs another 5,000 employees.

No, it just needs 5000. Their job description changes, and maybe they won't be the same 5000 specific people, but the number won't change, because the 5000 jobs dealing with patents will be gone.

Where are your facts to support it will take just 5,000 people? The government has been unable to support a program that will spend more than $30 billion per year with a number of people this small. The GAO employs 3,100 people and spends a half billion per year, and all they do is investigate spending. How big of a government organization will it take to spend $36 billion dollars, or more?

Beeswax:

Unfortunately, the ideology of the democrats has already failed several times over.

You're joking. Under Clinton: * The US went into budget surplus, and began actually paying down its national debt. * Prosperity and the economy in general improved. *

I know, thanks to policies started by Ronald Reagan. The deficit decreased each year in Bush's presidency to the point the budget was about balanced with Clinton got into office. Clinton managed to keep his mind on lifestyle issues and let the government do what Reagan started. Now, if George, Jr., had not mucked it up...

On the other hand, the Democrats began the entitlement programs that continue to spiral budgets out of control, and will need action or we will all be in debt permanently. Perhaps Barack will have better luck dealing with this issue than the last president to address it.

Beeswax:

As much as I would love responding to the rest of your pages and pages of comments, I am out of time. I have other issues to address, and your crusade against patents, as humorous as it is, gains no traction and inspires no converts. You will gain no converts until you come up with a realistic plan that considers what has been researched and how to resolve the issues uncovered by that research. Certainly you will not make any headway in a world that is increasingly committed to supporting patents.

Beesknees:

If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times: stop publicly lying about me!

It is impossible to "publicly" lie about you, because you hide behind a pseudonym. Once you use your real name, then my comments will be in public.

However, I have yet to see a lie about you.

That's a laugh. Calling me "incoherent" isn't an insult?

When something is factual, is it an insult? Should I have been more tactful? Your comments appear to be confused in light of previously posted facts on this web site? Something like that?

Falsely accusing me of stupidity and even outright lying isn't an insult?

I neglect to recall an incident of accusing you of stupidity. In fact, I think you are quite clever at making statements that avoid the issue being discussed. I could almost wonder whether you are some sort of computer program that takes a previous statement, and makes a non-commital insulting remark about the statement that appears to address the issue, but in reality does not.

Having your facts in error (or having no facts at all), is not calling your a liar, only mistaken.

My Comment: You have no facts in response to mine.

Wax's Comment: And there you go, falsely accusing me of lying yet again? But in fact you're the liar.

Let me see, noting that you have no facts to back up your statements is accusing you of lying? Would you like me to rephrase my statement? How about this: I present facts, you present opinions and belief in response.

My Comment: In fact, your comments are all equivalent to "nuh uh.

Wax's Comment; That's the only sensible response to ad hominems from the likes of you.

Yes, I thought if I waited long enough you would admit that your arguments were essentially a lot of hot air.

And by the way, lying in wait for me to post to ambush me with a pure-personal-attacks comment within a few tens of minutes of my doing so is a sign of an obsessed, paranoid, and seriously disturbed mind. A normal person wouldn't have gotten around to encountering my comment for a couple of days on average.

Actually, it was pure coincidence. I check the internet a couple of times a day, and I just happened upon your comment within a few "tens of minutes" (does that mean hours? days?). I am a seeker of facts, but have yet to find many in your posts; i.e., you are a waste of my time.

MODERATOR! Please ban this spammer from the site. Dozens of messages in a row to a single thread is crossing the g.d. line!

"Your responses [insults deleted]"

No, that is not true.

"You imagine insults where none exist."

Neither is that, as you prove every time you insult me.

Not only are you a spammer and a flamer, you are also a liar; you had promised to stop replying to me here and now it is quite clear that you are systematically breaking your word.

"You have no facts in response to mine."

Actually, YOU have no facts in response to MINE.

"In fact, your comments are all equivalent to "nuh uh.""

My responses to your personal attacks are, because I needn't dignify them with a detailed and logical rebuttal, for the most part. Nobody is going to see them in a positive light, or believe them, anyway.

"Bessen and Meurer: "…the patent system provides positive incentives in some industries like pharmaceuticals…""

Even if true, and it's debatable, that does not equate to their being good public policy. Mandating summary execution for all crimes would provide strong incentives against theft, vandalism, and the like, but few would recommend it as sound public policy.

"Bessen and Meurer: "…patents do provide profits for their owners, so it makes sense for firms to get them…""

This is, if anything, an indictment of patents. Any market intervention by government that produces profits for a particular party must be restraining the invisible hand from correcting prices, generally by restraining competition, and invariably is costly to consumers.

"Bessen and Meurer: "…we find that small publicly traded firms get small positive R&D incentives from patents. This is also very likely to be true for small, non-publicly traded firms and non-profit inventors.""

See above: small, positive incentives don't prove that they are good public policy, even if we grant the debatable claim that those incentives actually do exist.

"Ruth Suehle in Redhat Magazine: "I have to admit, it's easy for me, and I suspect others, to forget that patents can work quite well outside of software.""

Obviously she's ignorant of the issues.

I've seen far dumber letters-to-the-editor in my time, believe you me. This one, at least, is just repeating a popular myth.

"Roberto Mazzoleni and Richard R. Nelson: "The collection of small and medium sized firms in the American biotechnology industry is, of course, a striking example of enterprises that would not have come into existence without the prospect of a patent, and which depend on patent protection to make their profits, and to attract capital, through one or another of these strategies.""

My guess is they could all find different business models, and in the absence of patents, would.

"You continue to make statements regarding the valuelessness of patents"

That is a flat-out lie. I never claimed that they were "valueless". I claimed that they are, on the whole, bad public policy. That isn't exactly the same thing.

This is much as if you argued against an assault-weapon ban, I claimed that allowing civilians to possess the weapons was bad public policy, and your response was to assert that lots of people (particularly criminals!) would find the weapons valuable.

No doubt they would, but it would not equate to the ban being bad public policy.

"I have provided references multiple times from an array of anti-patent researchers (which I find ironic) that indicate there is value in patents."

Value to the holders.

"Even Mike Masnick over at TechDirt has said that while he is against patents, he has never said that patents do not have value or purpose."

This puts the lie to your whole avenue of attack here. Obviously patents can be bad without being either valueless or purposeless. (Much like, arguably, assault weapons in the hands of non-military.)

"Your response to these facts has been...well, "stop lying about me.""

No, my response to your personal attacks has been "stop lying about me". My response to your pro-patent rhetoric has been to logically debunk your statements.

"Not only are you very punny, but you have not provided one iota of proof otherwise."

Why should I have to prove that I'm not very punny, especially if it isn't even true?

You're really not making sense, Lonnie.

"On the other hand, in repeated posts I have provided specific and referenced mathematical evidence that the cost of patents for most companies is relatively negligible."

You have not. Your figures have failed to include major factors, including the costs of patent litigation (how much has RIM forked over to NTP again? More than half a billion?) when attacked by a troll wielding a submarine patent (like NTP), and the costs in the patent-inflation of the prices of everything they buy, from business-specific tools and technology to office pens and desktop calculators.

"First, I never said you were stupid."

You've certainly implied it, and you also misquoted me. I actually said "insult deleted" rather than quoting your nasty insinuation verbatim. It is very dishonest of you to alter my quoting in such a manner.

"So you returned a well-supported position with [insults deleted]"

No, I did not. I responded in kind to a personal attack. There is a difference.

"In order to address your [insults deleted]"

No. None of your insults has any truth in it whatsoever.

"Scenario 1 - Research a new life-saving drug with patents.

The ability to protect a pharmaceutical with patents attracts investment money."

False assumption #1: that there is no other way to attract investment money.

"[rest deleted since it hinges on a false premise and can therefore be ignored.]"

"Scenario 2 - Researching a life-saving drug without patents.

Because a return on investment is uncertain or impossible"

False assumption #2.

"[rest deleted since it hinges on a false premise and can therefore be ignored.]"

"My comment was in regards to research on various types of drugs."

Your comment was an implication that something I'd previously said wasn't true. That makes it a personal attack. Moreover, I see you misquoted me again, quoting me supposedly quoting your personal attack verbatim when I actually did nothing of the sort.

Why are you stooping to such dishonest tactics?

Oh, of course.

Because you are losing.

"You appeared to say that patents essentially made companies focus on drugs that you did not prefer over drugs that you prefered."

No. I said that it changed research incentives in a manner that would not be optimal from a public policy perspective. That isn't the same thing.

"However, you did not present a fact to support this statement."

It really ought to be self-evident. The ability to leverage a monopoly to gouge a demographic creates an incentive to focus more heavily on "lifestyle drugs", and the existence of others' monopolies creates an incentive to sometimes spend research money making an inferior "me-too" drug to attack an already well-covered problem.

No reasonable person could fail to understand the logical support for those statements. (But you, Lonnie, are clearly not a reasonable person.)

"A key point being missed here"

No. I do not miss points.

Personal attacks will convince no-one of your claims regarding patents.

"when drug prices start actually reflecting marginal cost, drug companies won't be able to arbitrarily set prices. Right now, they can, and so they can squeeze certain wealthy demographics for huge amounts of money with their "lifestyle drugs". When that stops, there is no longer a distorted financial incentive to research lifestyle drugs to the exclusion of lifesaving ones. They will be researched in a balanced manner."

Nonsense. Drug prices will not start actually reflecting marginal cost, for non-generic drugs, until patents are wiped from the face of the earth. Until then, drug companies will be able to arbitrarily set prices for new drugs, and the research incentives favoring "lifestyle" drugs will remain intact so long as there is a) a rich demographic, b) a patent system, and c) another lifestyle issue to try tackling with a drug.

The first really effective and safe weight-loss pill will be another one. And it will inspire some inferior me-toos from some of the competing companies. I'm sure they'll keep thinking of more right up until widespread nanotechnology enables the Napsterization of drugs. Then their little racket comes crashing down the way the music labels' is now.

"Your last response was to my comment"

My response was to a personal attack that implied I'd been dishonest. But you are the dishonest one here, as you just evidenced by misquoting me for a third time.

"However, you have yet to show that if patents did not exist that pharmaceutical companies would even research any drugs at all."

You have yet to show that they wouldn't.

"Bessen and Meurer: "…the patent system provides positive incentives in some industries like pharmaceuticals…""

Even if true, and it's debatable, that does not equate to their being good public policy. Mandating summary execution for all crimes would provide strong incentives against theft, vandalism, and the like, but few would recommend it as sound public policy.

"Bessen and Meurer: "…patents do provide profits for their owners, so it makes sense for firms to get them…""

This is, if anything, an indictment of patents. Any market intervention by government that produces profits for a particular party must be restraining the invisible hand from correcting prices, generally by restraining competition, and invariably is costly to consumers.

"Bessen and Meurer: "…we find that small publicly traded firms get small positive R&D incentives from patents. This is also very likely to be true for small, non-publicly traded firms and non-profit inventors.""

See above: small, positive incentives don't prove that they are good public policy, even if we grant the debatable claim that those incentives actually do exist.

"Ruth Suehle in Redhat Magazine: "I have to admit, it's easy for me, and I suspect others, to forget that patents can work quite well outside of software.""

Obviously she's ignorant of the issues.

I've seen far dumber letters-to-the-editor in my time, believe you me. This one, at least, is just repeating a popular myth.

"Roberto Mazzoleni and Richard R. Nelson: "The collection of small and medium sized firms in the American biotechnology industry is, of course, a striking example of enterprises that would not have come into existence without the prospect of a patent, and which depend on patent protection to make their profits, and to attract capital, through one or another of these strategies.""

My guess is they could all find different business models, and in the absence of patents, would.

"Why do you insist on calling yourself stupid?"

LIAR. I have done nothing of the sort. Stop misquoting me and stop making erroneous statements about me in public!

"I merely said that I provided facts and evidence and logic"

You did not. You wrote a personal attack aimed at me. Then you dishonestly misquoted me, quoting me as quoting your personal attack when I actually hadn't quoted it. What is the matter with you??? Personal attacks only make you look bad. They certainly don't help you to convince anyone that patents are to be embraced and cherished. Nor does the notable fact that your own job apparently depends on them, so their abolition would have you looking for new work. You're clearly acting out of pure self-interest, and clearly you're getting emotional, to judge from your penchant for insulting me instead of reasoning with me. Apparently you find strong anti-patent arguments personally threatening, and it's clear why: the potential loss of your job. Well, to put it bluntly, your job is doomed. Just like a buggy-whip maker in 1908 or thereabouts, doomed (if not instantly) by the appearance on the scene of the Model T Ford.

If I were you, I'd stop posting useless personal attacks and outright spamming web forums and start looking through want ads.

"Cite studies. Cite actual facts. 96% of all facts are made up on the spot, and yours look suspiciously like they fall into this category."

No, yours do.

""License clearance," as you call it, is essentially zero when you are dealing with a never before seen drug."

Who said anything about drugs? We had been discussing patents in general in this bit.

"You have no evidence"

Neither do you. But I have common sense on my side. What do you have? Personal attacks in your quiver and ready for launch? :P

""Second, the market would find alternative means to fund R&D."

Not necessarily."

Yes necessarily.

"The market supports only what there is a return in investment on. No return, no investment."

If a drug is invented at a cost of $10 million and sold at a profit of 1 cent per pill, it takes a billion pills to recoup the costs. A billion more pills later, the profits are $10 million. That's a lot of pills, but the math is unassailable: there will be a return on investment if the pills in question succeed in the marketplace. It's only a matter of time.

Since there is a return on investment, the market will support it.

"Your religious-like belief"

No. I have no religious beliefs. You obviously have me confused with somebody else.

"There is currently an alternative to pharmaceutical company research and that is research at universities and research hospitals."

Of course, this is not the only conceivable alternative.

""Would people at the poverty level pay $20 per prescription while wealthy people pay up to $300 per prescription?"

[insult deleted] as usual."

NO. None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

"Jesse's proposal was to fund drug research with a tax on the drugs themselves."

My proposal was to fund drug research from income tax, though, and my proposal is what is at issue here, because it completely demolishes all of your arguments in favor of keeping the crawling horror that is the patent system.

"""That amount DOES consider the effect of patents on prices."

No, it doesn't."

Nice, factual comeback there."

Indeed. Your very own post listed only two factors contributing to that amount, and neither of those was the effect of patents on prices.

"My logic was carefully laid out"

Obviously not.

"[insults deleted]"

NO. None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

""When a company buys pens for the office, it may be paying extra because of patents. When it buys anything to use for anything, there's a likelihood that an "IP"-induced monopoly rent snuck in there somewhere along the supply chain. And that cost is passed on to the consumer. Also, then the company's own product is patented, they often get to charge monopoly rents to the consumer directly."

My goodness, here is an opportunity for you to present proof. You use the words "may," "likelihood," and "often." We await the facts that support your contentions."

Are you seriously implying that the above DOES NOT happen? In particular, that I pay no more for anything than I would without the patent system?

You're ludicrous, Lonnie! Your sophistry is stultifyingly stupid and your stubbornness is seriously silly given that the facts ARE NOT ON YOUR SIDE.

"""One of those freedoms was a protection for inventors to have absolute control over their inventions for a limited period of time."

That's utter and complete hogwash. Any sane person should quickly realize that what you're describing is not a "freedom" at all. More like an "anti-freedom"."

Okay, you claim coming up with inventions and having an incentive to do so is anti-freedom."

NO. I DO NOT. Stop putting words in my mouth, liar.

I claim that infringing on my right to do with my personally-owned bits and widgets as I see fit is anti-freedom. Coming up with inventions clearly is not, but has nothing to do with what I said. As for creating incentives for inventors, there are other ways that don't involve infringing on my rights.

Your straw-man arguments and intentional distortions of my position are the last, desperate gasps of a man who is losing badly.

Just give up already. Struggling only makes it hurt more.

"Bessen and Meurer: "…the patent system provides positive incentives in some industries like pharmaceuticals…""

Even if true, and it's debatable, that does not equate to their being good public policy. Mandating summary execution for all crimes would provide strong incentives against theft, vandalism, and the like, but few would recommend it as sound public policy.

"Bessen and Meurer: "…patents do provide profits for their owners, so it makes sense for firms to get them…""

This is, if anything, an indictment of patents. Any market intervention by government that produces profits for a particular party must be restraining the invisible hand from correcting prices, generally by restraining competition, and invariably is costly to consumers.

"Bessen and Meurer: "…we find that small publicly traded firms get small positive R&D incentives from patents. This is also very likely to be true for small, non-publicly traded firms and non-profit inventors.""

See above: small, positive incentives don't prove that they are good public policy, even if we grant the debatable claim that those incentives actually do exist.

"Ruth Suehle in Redhat Magazine: "I have to admit, it's easy for me, and I suspect others, to forget that patents can work quite well outside of software.""

Obviously she's ignorant of the issues.

I've seen far dumber letters-to-the-editor in my time, believe you me. This one, at least, is just repeating a popular myth.

"Roberto Mazzoleni and Richard R. Nelson: "The collection of small and medium sized firms in the American biotechnology industry is, of course, a striking example of enterprises that would not have come into existence without the prospect of a patent, and which depend on patent protection to make their profits, and to attract capital, through one or another of these strategies.""

My guess is they could all find different business models, and in the absence of patents, would.

(Why am I getting a distinct feeling of deja vu?)

""Moreover, "absolute control" is not and never has been a part of either copyright or patent law. There's fair use. First sale. The doctrine of patent exhaustion. The important fact, often ignored these days, that "IP" does not grant a privilege of regulating the use of something, only one of regulating its distribution. And so on, and so forth."

Fair use has never been a part of patent law."

Straw-men again, Lonnie? I never said it had. I said it had been a part of "either copyright or patent law". It is, more specifically, of the former. On the other hand, patent exhaustion is not.

"Yes, the doctrine of patent exhaustion is "sort of" a limitation on patents"

Well, there you go, then.

The patent holder can charge extra for the patented thing, but cannot control downstream uses.

"let us remember what patents provide...

the ability to prevent someone from making, using or selling, subject, of course, to patent exhaustion."

In other words, a monopoly. But not a legal right to forbid certain uses. With a monopoly, you can make it hard for certain users to get, but they could always buy one secondhand. Otherwise, the makers of Valium would have been able to effectively forbid recreational use of the stuff. In the real world, the DEA does so instead, using laws unrelated to patent laws, and even they have a tough time enforcing that very effectively!

""my religious beliefs are 100% off-topic here. We were discussing copyrights and, especially, patents, not religion."

Don't try to change the subject!"

What are you talking about? You tried to change the subject to my religious beliefs, when we had been discussing patents. Now you have the gall to accuse me of doing so???

This one takes the cake. You do have chutzpah, I'll grant you that. It's a shame you misuse it so horribly.

"The definition of religion: something one believes in and follows devotedly."

Off-topic. Rest deleted unread.

"Bessen and Meurer: "…the patent system provides positive incentives in some industries like pharmaceuticals…""

Even if true, and it's debatable, that does not equate to their being good public policy. Mandating summary execution for all crimes would provide strong incentives against theft, vandalism, and the like, but few would recommend it as sound public policy.

"Bessen and Meurer: "…patents do provide profits for their owners, so it makes sense for firms to get them…""

This is, if anything, an indictment of patents. Any market intervention by government that produces profits for a particular party must be restraining the invisible hand from correcting prices, generally by restraining competition, and invariably is costly to consumers.

"Bessen and Meurer: "…we find that small publicly traded firms get small positive R&D incentives from patents. This is also very likely to be true for small, non-publicly traded firms and non-profit inventors.""

See above: small, positive incentives don't prove that they are good public policy, even if we grant the debatable claim that those incentives actually do exist.

"Ruth Suehle in Redhat Magazine: "I have to admit, it's easy for me, and I suspect others, to forget that patents can work quite well outside of software.""

Obviously she's ignorant of the issues.

I've seen far dumber letters-to-the-editor in my time, believe you me. This one, at least, is just repeating a popular myth.

"Roberto Mazzoleni and Richard R. Nelson: "The collection of small and medium sized firms in the American biotechnology industry is, of course, a striking example of enterprises that would not have come into existence without the prospect of a patent, and which depend on patent protection to make their profits, and to attract capital, through one or another of these strategies.""

My guess is they could all find different business models, and in the absence of patents, would.

"Even Mr. Levine admits that he has never said that patents have no value."

See above: patents having value to their holders does not equate to the patent system as a whole being a net positive benefit to society. Any more than assault weapons having value to their holders equates to their being a net positive influence on society.

"lol...You mix all sorts of stuff into this conversation."

Yes, it's called reasoning by analogy. I'm hoping to find an indirect route past that thick skull of yours and into your brain, because the direct route is evidently completely walled off. Now I start to suspect that you are a particularly impenetrable variety of "Ferrous Cranus" (http://redwing.hutman.net/~mreed/warriorshtm/ferouscranus.htm).

"I appreciate your desire to interpret Mr. Levine's statements, however, [insult deleted]."

No, they are not.

I grow weary of your frequent and gratuitous personal attacks.

"patents for pharmaceuticals cannot be eliminated without replacing them with an alternative system"

Not cannot be eliminated. Cannot be eliminated without replacing them with an alternative system.

So, we make progress at last. Patents can be eliminated. Now all that remains is to convince you that they should be.

""I never claimed you did. YOU DID claim you worked in a patent related area, with a job that would disappear if the patent system were abolished."

I do not "claim," I tell you I do work in a patent related area."

So, you do claim to work in a patent related area.

Which makes the first part of your sentence above into a lie.

You are very strange.

And, by your own admission, biased.

"More broadly, I work in an intellectual property related area. However, my job will not disappear if the patent system were abolished"

You wish.

""No, I mean taxation. Please consult a dictionary and be sure you thoroughly understand what the two terms mean, and why they are not interchangeable, before you post another word to this blog."

The definition of welfare: financial or other assistance to an individual or family from a city, state, or national government.

Okay, if the government is taxing people in order to provide that money to an entity, i.e., financial or other assistance, then that is, by definition, welfare."

But we were discussing the government hypothetically taxing people to pay for drug research. If that's welfare, then the government taxing people to pay for national defense is welfare, as is the government taxing people to pay for road construction, as is the government taxing people to provide police, fire, and ambulance service. Indeed, by that stretched definition, any action at all by government is a form of welfare, which means your implication "welfare = bad" in turn implies "government = bad". That then logically requires you to be a complete anarchist, like Stephan Kinsella appears to be, and therefore in particular you must oppose the patent system, and copyright, and all other similar government interventions in the marketplace. After all, they're all "welfare" and "welfare" is bad!

""Stop being gratuitously insulting."

lol...I merely asked a question."

You implied a personal attack. Moreover, you have once again been dishonest by misquoting me. Stop doing that!

"You are [insult deleted]"

No.

"I will continue to speak from a factual position"

Your position is counterfactual.

"and you will continue to speak from your faith-based system"

No, my system is reason and evidence based. Yours is the faith-based system, a blind belief in the unquestioning goodness of patents, and (even worse) an unshakable faith that no alternatives exist to patents to achieve the stated goals of the system. Even when multiple such alternatives are pointed out to you, you pretend they don't exist or vaguely handwave some purported reason why they could never be made to work in practise.

"Anyone else notice None of Your Beeswax's reliance on unsubstantiated assertions and allegations?"

No, yours are the unsubstantiated ones.

"Once again, I merely pointed out that [insults deleted]"

No, no, a thousand times, no! Not true at all.

""Religion is irrelevant. See above."

Beeswax took [rest of false accusation of dishonesty deleted]"

NO. None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

"Beeswax insists on making unsupported claims for his position"

No. You do.

""There is reason to believe that doctors will know a bit more about public health and disease-research priorities than a Magic Eight Ball."

You have made an assertion without support by any facts."

Ludicrous. Lonnie actually thinks a Magic Eight Ball is as reliable a guide to public health policy as a panel of trained physicians with expertise in the subject of human health?

I wonder what his job actually entails. Somehow I suspect that it might involve some of those collateralized debt obligations. Maybe he even invented the fucking things. If so, he would have saved us all a lot of grief if he'd patented them and refused to license or use the patent. :P

"First, you called me a liar when I never called you any such thing."

You have, several times, insinuated that I've not been telling the truth.

Furthermore, you are dishonest. I've caught you several times quoting me "creatively" and stuffing words in my mouth, not to mention making counterfactual statements of various sorts, including your insinuations that I'm stupid (my IQ is above-average, thank you very much) and dishonest (I am not).

"Second, yes, my statement was a bit of hyperbole."

It wasn't hyperbole, it was just plain wrong. Stupidly wrong, at that. Only an idiot would actually believe anything resembling that statement.

"However, the reason I made this statement was that any dozen people will have biases based on their area of specialty and the needs of their patients."

Idiot. Do you think these panelists would have patients of their own? The panel would probably become their full-time job.

Besides, if you don't like the idea of the government consulting a panel of a dozen doctors on health issues, then you must REALLY hate their currently having a SINGLE MAN, the Surgeon General, in another similar role! At least a dozen peoples' biases will tend to cancel one another out; whatever they all agree on is probably pretty much true. A single man is far more likely to produce a biased output than a group of twelve, particularly if you ignore anything from the latter that isn't supported by, say, at least 2/3 of them.

"It could well end up that this team of doctors decides that the focus should be on a lifestyle drug. It is always hard to get into the minds of any dozen people. How often have you seen decisions by juries and courts that you were unable to understand and that seemed "wrong" to you? Why would we suspect a dozen doctors would be any different?"

If you think that that type of decision-making doesn't work, tell me what you'd like to replace juries with in criminal trials? If you come up with a good answer, I'll consider your claim that a panel of doctors advising the government on health issues might be a bad idea.

"No, I just thought you deserved a jury of your peers rather than a Magic Eight Ball."

Is this a veiled accusation of criminality on my part?

It better not be.

"Do you really feel it is appropriate to call someone "stupid" when they have pointed out that [false accusation deleted]"?

Yes; only an idiot makes false accusations that are easily disproven by the public record.

"calling your opponent "stupid" is surely a good way to win."

You certainly seem to think so, since you impugn my intelligence on a weekly basis.

""[Unsupported insult deleted.] The facts remain: you have asserted repeatedly that patents are absolutely NECESSARY, when this cannot be farther from the truth!"

Bessen and Meurer: "…the patent system provides positive incentives in some industries like pharmaceuticals…""

Even if true, and it's debatable, that does not equate to their being NECESSARY. Mandating summary execution for all crimes would provide strong incentives against theft, vandalism, and the like, but few would claim it was NECESSARY.

"Bessen and Meurer: "…patents do provide profits for their owners, so it makes sense for firms to get them…""

This is, if anything, an indictment of patents. Any market intervention by government that produces profits for a particular party must be restraining the invisible hand from correcting prices, generally by restraining competition, and invariably is costly to consumers.

"Bessen and Meurer: "…we find that small publicly traded firms get small positive R&D incentives from patents. This is also very likely to be true for small, non-publicly traded firms and non-profit inventors.""

See above: small, positive incentives don't prove that they are NECESSARY, even if we grant the debatable claim that those incentives actually do exist.

"Ruth Suehle in Redhat Magazine: "I have to admit, it's easy for me, and I suspect others, to forget that patents can work quite well outside of software.""

Obviously she's ignorant of the issues.

I've seen far dumber letters-to-the-editor in my time, believe you me. This one, at least, is just repeating a popular myth.

"Roberto Mazzoleni and Richard R. Nelson: "The collection of small and medium sized firms in the American biotechnology industry is, of course, a striking example of enterprises that would not have come into existence without the prospect of a patent, and which depend on patent protection to make their profits, and to attract capital, through one or another of these strategies.""

My guess is they could all find different business models, and in the absence of patents, would.

""You're the liar here."

Snappy come back and excellent support for your position."

I wasn't trying to support my position. I was countering your latest veiled personal attack, and yes, responding with one of my own, but one that's much more substantiated in your actions. For example, you misquoted me again here, deliberately I am sure. That is certainly a dishonest act. You told everyone I'd quoted your previous personal attack verbatim, when in fact I had done nothing of the sort. That is an out-and-out lie. Yet in the same breath you object to being called a liar!

"First, you infer I called you a liar when I did not"

You insinuated it. If anything, that's even worse than just saying it outright.

"([insult deleted]). Secondly, why not stop [insult deleted]?"

No. If anyone is crazy here, it is you.

""half those names seem to be arguing the OTHER SIDE from what you seem here to think they support!"

Wow! [implied insult deleted]"

None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

Bessen and Meurer: "…the patent system provides positive incentives in some industries like pharmaceuticals…""

Even if true, and it's debatable, that does not equate to their being good public policy. Mandating summary execution for all crimes would provide strong incentives against theft, vandalism, and the like, but few would recommend it as sound public policy.

"Bessen and Meurer: "…patents do provide profits for their owners, so it makes sense for firms to get them…""

This is, if anything, an indictment of patents. Any market intervention by government that produces profits for a particular party must be restraining the invisible hand from correcting prices, generally by restraining competition, and invariably is costly to consumers.

"Bessen and Meurer: "…we find that small publicly traded firms get small positive R&D incentives from patents. This is also very likely to be true for small, non-publicly traded firms and non-profit inventors.""

See above: small, positive incentives don't prove that they are good public policy, even if we grant the debatable claim that those incentives actually do exist.

"Ruth Suehle in Redhat Magazine: "I have to admit, it's easy for me, and I suspect others, to forget that patents can work quite well outside of software.""

Obviously she's ignorant of the issues.

I've seen far dumber letters-to-the-editor in my time, believe you me. This one, at least, is just repeating a popular myth.

"Roberto Mazzoleni and Richard R. Nelson: "The collection of small and medium sized firms in the American biotechnology industry is, of course, a striking example of enterprises that would not have come into existence without the prospect of a patent, and which depend on patent protection to make their profits, and to attract capital, through one or another of these strategies.""

My guess is they could all find different business models, and in the absence of patents, would.

""Are you starting to see the light at last? "A substitute needs found[sic]" certainly suggests that you might be. Good for you!"

Other than [false accusation deleted]"

No. Boy, are you ever an ungraceful loser!

"I ... believe that if you are going to eliminate patents, then you need to find a suitable replacement"

This seems reasonable, though that "suitable replacement" might turn out to be "taking a hands-off policy and letting the invisible hand do its job unimpeded", depending.

"I have yet to see a reasonable proposal."

That, however, is another outright fabrication.

"I have no career-based interest."

You've admitted otherwise on multiple occasions.

Stop lying. It's rude and dishonest, and to be frank, you're not very good at it anyway.

"Why do you insist on believing through your [insult deleted] that I am calling you stupid?"

Because you keep insinuating it in public? And now, also, casting aspersions about my mental health. Tsk, tsk!

I am perfectly sane and my IQ is above average.

Now leave me alone and stop with the personal attacks! They only serve to cast you in a bad light, Lonnie.

"Bessen and Meurer: "…the patent system provides positive incentives in some industries like pharmaceuticals…""

Even if true, and it's debatable, that does not equate to their being good public policy. Mandating summary execution for all crimes would provide strong incentives against theft, vandalism, and the like, but few would recommend it as sound public policy.

"Bessen and Meurer: "…patents do provide profits for their owners, so it makes sense for firms to get them…""

This is, if anything, an indictment of patents. Any market intervention by government that produces profits for a particular party must be restraining the invisible hand from correcting prices, generally by restraining competition, and invariably is costly to consumers.

"Bessen and Meurer: "…we find that small publicly traded firms get small positive R&D incentives from patents. This is also very likely to be true for small, non-publicly traded firms and non-profit inventors.""

See above: small, positive incentives don't prove that they are good public policy, even if we grant the debatable claim that those incentives actually do exist.

"Ruth Suehle in Redhat Magazine: "I have to admit, it's easy for me, and I suspect others, to forget that patents can work quite well outside of software.""

Obviously she's ignorant of the issues.

I've seen far dumber letters-to-the-editor in my time, believe you me. This one, at least, is just repeating a popular myth.

"Roberto Mazzoleni and Richard R. Nelson: "The collection of small and medium sized firms in the American biotechnology industry is, of course, a striking example of enterprises that would not have come into existence without the prospect of a patent, and which depend on patent protection to make their profits, and to attract capital, through one or another of these strategies.""

My guess is they could all find different business models, and in the absence of patents, would.

""Yes, I've noticed that you think it's clever to replace logic with insults, Lonnie. It is rather unfortunate. I would much prefer it if you would stop with the insults. Are you going to stop, Lonnie?"

I have to start to stop."

I'll take this implied lie as a "no".

How disappointing, Lonnie.

"When are you going to start using facts"

I HAVE been using facts. Just because you wouldn't know a fact if it fell from the sky and conked you on the head doesn't mean that I haven't been!

"rather than your faith based belief"

I have no faith-based beliefs, as I think I have already explained several times previously. Your repeated lying about me in public does no-one any good, least of all you, Lonnie.

Repeating your incorrect assertions about me over and over again, even after being repeatedly corrected, is a sign that you are either incredibly dense or else being deliberately dishonest (by continuing to say something about me even after you've learned that it isn't true).

""No, you asserted that such studies existed, which is a different thing entirely. Furthermore you asserted that those markets wouldn't exist if not for patents, which is a far stronger statement (and indeed, a ludicrous one)."

I offer, once again, these comments...

Bessen and Meurer: "…the patent system provides positive incentives in some industries like pharmaceuticals…""

Even if true, and it's debatable, that does not equate to their being good public policy. Mandating summary execution for all crimes would provide strong incentives against theft, vandalism, and the like, but few would recommend it as sound public policy.

"Bessen and Meurer: "…patents do provide profits for their owners, so it makes sense for firms to get them…""

This is, if anything, an indictment of patents. Any market intervention by government that produces profits for a particular party must be restraining the invisible hand from correcting prices, generally by restraining competition, and invariably is costly to consumers.

"Bessen and Meurer: "…we find that small publicly traded firms get small positive R&D incentives from patents. This is also very likely to be true for small, non-publicly traded firms and non-profit inventors.""

See above: small, positive incentives don't prove that they are good public policy, even if we grant the debatable claim that those incentives actually do exist.

"Ruth Suehle in Redhat Magazine: "I have to admit, it's easy for me, and I suspect others, to forget that patents can work quite well outside of software.""

Obviously she's ignorant of the issues.

I've seen far dumber letters-to-the-editor in my time, believe you me. This one, at least, is just repeating a popular myth.

"Roberto Mazzoleni and Richard R. Nelson: "The collection of small and medium sized firms in the American biotechnology industry is, of course, a striking example of enterprises that would not have come into existence without the prospect of a patent, and which depend on patent protection to make their profits, and to attract capital, through one or another of these strategies.""

My guess is they could all find different business models, and in the absence of patents, would.

[multiple insults, including false accusations of being nuts, deleted]

If anyone is crazy here, it's you -- only a crazy person would think for one minute that your personal attacks will convince anyone that "patents are doubleplusgood(tm)!"

"I have read your detailed proposals with great interest. Wait, YOU HAVE NEVER PROVIDED A PROPOSAL, MERELY UNSUPPORTED NONSENSE."

I have provided a proposal. Jesse provided another (which I found nearly as disagreeable as patents). Even more have been suggested elsewhere.

"Whoa, an actual proposal. Okay, so you replace pharmaceutical R&D out of general income tax. Since you are eliminating patents, then you also need to replace other medical R&D from income taxes."

No, because you claimed (and we're accepting this dubious proposition, for the time being) that, specifically, drug R&D would cease without patents, while admitting that it was plausible that eliminating patents would not stop other R&D. Under that (debatable) hypothesis, removing patents and supplying alternate funding for drug R&D suffices to maintain present levels of innovation across the board.

"The federal government supposedly spent $37.7 billion on medical R&D in 2006, while private industry spent $64.7 billion on medical R&D in 2006. So, triple the budget for medical research, raise taxes accordingly, and life will be good."

Straw man. Even ignoring that the price tag for all that research was probably inflated by patent licensing and other (direct or indirect) artificial IP-induced costs that would vanish, well, see above. It isn't all medical R&D we need to worry about, hypothetically; just drug R&D, because it would be so cheap for a copier to make knock-offs starting very quickly when the product is pills.

"However, that assumes that the American people are in the mood to increase taxes by another $64.7 billion to put into the pockets of organizations researching medical related issues."

They just voted for a $700 billion bailout package. More than ten times the size. Even ignoring my objections to your argument that it would entail a $64.7 billion price hike, why do you think it so outlandish? Heck, just ending involvement in the pointless and futile Iraq war would liberate far more money per year all on its own.

"That also assumes that Congress will not divert that money."

It could be earmarked for a specific purpose. By Constitutional amendment, if need be, which could also rephrase the "progress clause" to prevent any "IP"-tyle crawling horrors ever being legislated again.

"That also does not include the administration required to implement the program, which will be somewhere about 40 times bigger than the current patent system, including the CAFC."

Of course, you pulled that figure of "40 times" directly out of your butt, Lonnie.

"How will you solve these issues?"

Assuming they actually even need to be solved, we'll find a way. Experts will weigh in with opinions and someone will think of something. Millions of skilled economists, doctors, and other experts exist. I would be astonished if they all simultaneously drew a blank.

"Where did I say you were "stupid"?"

You implied it in the personal attack that you dishonestly quoted me supposedly quoting verbatim, when in fact I did nothing of the sort.

In fact your utterance was triply dishonest: a) the insult itself is factually false, my IQ being higher than average and, I suspect, much higher than yours. b) Your implied claim that you'd stop posting these diatribes proved to be a lie -- indeed, you proceeded to quite literally spam this blog with dozens of comments in a short span of time, for which you will hopefully soon be banned by its admins! And last but not least, you dishonestly implied that I'd quoted it verbatim.

"I tire of your vicious and unfounded personal attacks."

MY vicious and unfounded personal attacks??? That's rich, Lonnie.

""In the law books, idiot. It used to be 14, was extended to 17, and was again extended to 20. That last extension within the last few decades."

As I have pointed out previously"

As I have pointed out previously, patents, with all filing and maintenance fees paid, can last 20 years. With continuation patents on minor modifications to the original patent's subject, even longer sometimes.

"Let me see, I point out the law, and the actual life of patents, and you claim I am stupid."

No, you called me stupid, I responded in kind and also denied it, and then you a) dishonestly intentionally misquoted me, b) lied, and c) personally attacked me yet again.

Go to hell. Go directly to hell, do not pass Go, do not collect $200.

"Well, you have been known to replace substantive arguments with insults in the past, so I am unsurprised."

Actually you have been.

"[insults deleted]".

No, you're the lunatic.

"A continuation, as you call it, has a life limited to the life of the original patent. The original patent expires, so does the continuation. [uninterpretable gobbledygook deleted]"

No, I have definitely heard of continuation patents actually extending past the original patent's expiry date.

"You are perfect? HALLELUJAH, THE MESSIAH HAS COME!!! ALL HAIL TO BEESWAX, THE EMBODIMENT OF PERFECTION!!!"

No, I simply have not made any errors here. Your claim to the contrary, on the other hand, is just one of many errors of yours here.

"Pretty full of yourself, it seems."

No. I just don't have any false modesty.

""Then you suspect wrongly. I am impeccable. Everything I do is above reproach. Unlike the case with you, who disrupts blogs in an effort to preserve some shreds of job security in a world that is increasingly repudiating "IP"."

First, my job is quite secure, with or without IP."

We have only your word for that, and if it were true, it would make a mystery of your fighting tooth and claw against anyone who disses the patent system, as if they presented an immediate and serious threat to your very livelihood.

"No IP and I will be busily helping my company prevent others from stealing our designs by more stringent uses of secrets."

There is no such thing as "stealing" a design. Copying is not theft.

Christ, Lonnie, you're slipping, your arguments getting shoddier by the day. Formerly you were sophisticated enough to avoid that elementary error, but not anymore, it seems.

"Second, you stated that we live in a "world that is increasingly repudiating 'IP'." Is this the same world where the Chinese are setting up special courts to specifically deal with IP issues?"

Pressured to by the United States, which in turn was pressured to by corporate interests, especially Hollywood.

"Is this also the same world where Barack Obama has proposed what he calls a "gold-plated patent"?"

Did he? Either you misunderstood him, or he's not perfect. Neither would surprise me in the least.

"Is this also the same world where the Europeans are recognizing software patents?"

The Europeans repudiated software patents in key legislation. Business interests are busily finding and exploiting loopholes and generally futzing things up, as business interests tend to do. In short, business as usual.

"""You have made vague allusions to a path, but you never actually detailed one."

Not true. I specifically suggested paying for R&D research, to the extent that a truly free market ends up undersupplying such, with income taxes."

I saw that statement earlier in your lengthy post."

If you did, then your claim that I "never actually detailed one" and only made "vague allusions" was not, as I originally thought, a mistake; instead, it was apparently an outright lie.

Somehow, I'm not very surprised. Disappointed, yes, but not surprised.

"I am strongly opposed to a government sponsored system that takes money from taxpayers and provides that money to pharmaceutical companies"

Then you are strongly opposed to the patent system, because it is exactly that, and unlike an income tax, it does not even have the progressive quality of missing the poor and hitting the rich more heavily than the middle classes. Furthermore, it even takes money away from non-taxpayers as well as taxpayers, much of it from non-citizens and foreign nationals.

"powerful government intervention in trucking, airlines, healthcare and more have almost always caused higher prices without truly making anything better."

Another reason to reduce government intervention, including by abolishing copyrights and patents.

"Further, virtually anything the government pays for happens slower."

That is by no means an unchangeable feature of the universe.

"Then, of course, since virtually all pharmaceutical research involves significant upfront cost, the tax increase will be significant."

The cost of living will drop drastically when IP disappears and the invisible hand undoes all the distortions in pricing that it has created through its direct and indirect effects. Then the added taxes hit primarily the well-off. Net result:

Poor get a bit richer. Middle-class stay middle-class. Rich get a bit less rich.

The only people who should complain about that are the fat cats.

They get no sympathy from me. What many people need sympathy to get, they can simply buy. And still would be able to, even after your feared tax increase.

"I suspect the vast majority of taxpayers would rather the system remain as it is rather than voting themselves a significant tax increase"

Most voters would be voting themselves a cost-of-living decrease and a net increase in disposable income. Only the richest 1% would probably be net losers here. And that 1% is obviously not enough to carry the vote. :)

"increased taxes will likely be necessary to get our current government debt back under control."

Sounds like you're going to have your feared tax increase regardless, so what are you complaining about? If I were you I'd stop lambasting me and start lambasting the Bush administration, and demanding that the increased tax burden be taken directly out of Bush's hide, and the fat wallets of his cronies in the oil business in Texas and elsewhere.

""I have no "emotional rhetoric", just logic and cold, hard facts."

Well, when thee dost protest too much"

I do not.

"I consider those immature outbursts emotion. They are certainly not "logic," and most certainly not cold, hard facts."

Actually, it is a cold, hard fact that I am not a liar. It is a cold, hard fact that my IQ is at least normal. You may find these facts uncomfortable, but facts they are.

"Your response to my comment makes no sense at all."

When you misquote me the way you did, that may be true, but all that does is prove that you're a dishonest scalliwag.

"I did not call you anything"

You implied that I'd been dishonest.

"and yet in your [insult deleted] you seem to think I did. You [insult deleted]".

No, you're the crazy one.

None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

""In fact, what most of us want is to be left alone, with no more government interference in what we are permitted to do behind closed doors, with consenting adults..."

Me too."

Well, there you go, then.

Time to abandon your love of the patent system and start denouncing it as government interference in what we are permitted to do behind closed doors, with consenting adults.

""...and with the widgets and drive platters and cables that we own."

To the extent that the Constitution of the United States and the laws that derive therefrom permits you to do so, knock yourself out."

No. There is no conceivable theory of rights under which the government, or private business, has any right to go peeking through my keyhole to see what I'm doing with other consenting adults.

""Somehow, you find this threatening, and you fear you will lose your job if we gain the right to be left alone in the circumstances described."

The only thing I find threatening is that you want to raise my taxes"

I don't. But if the cost of justice is a net tax increase for the rich, then so be it.

"for a program for which the goals will be forever undefined and for which the outcome is uncertain."

You must be very timid. Nothing is worthwhile for you unless it is well-defined and has a 100% gold-plated guarantee attached?

You must not get out much. Agoraphobia like you appear to be admitting to here can be devastating, outright crippling. Seek professional help.

"I also weep for the American people when this monopolistic slush fund is quietly diverted to all sorts of bizarre purposes, because that is what our government tends to do."

That is a tendency of government that does need to be fixed. Regardless of whether we get patent abolition.

Of course, patent abolition also needs to be done, to get rid of more "monopolistic slush".

""But much of the cost does come from patents. A similar argument gets raised against single-payer insurance: moral hazard, the bane of the insurance industry in general."

I have no idea about single-payer insurance. I do not know what that is. However, I do know that patents affects about 7 cents of every medical dollar we spend (approximately)."

Ridiculous. I suspect the figure to be higher, and furthermore, even if it's exact, how many medical dollars are we NOT spending because patents made something too expensive? Someone who might pay the $20 marginal cost for a course of treatment for something and can't afford the patent-inflated $200 price tag may end up paying $0 and toughing it out (or even dying). Patents would have affected 90% of that $200, only instead zero medical dollars got spent in that instance. In fact, patents affected $20 medical dollars out of existence (the difference between the amount actually spent and the amount that would have been spent without patents being $20) but that does not make it into your "7 cents" statistic because there's no easy way to measure expenditures that failed to happen at all because of patents.

"Now, should we focus on the 7%, which continues to decrease with time"

You have no evidence to back this "continues to decrease with time" assertion.

"or do we focus on the 26%, which is far easier and more effective to do?"

How about both?

""That's what I thought. In other words, the American health care system sucks. That it's great for the wealthiest 10% or so of the population and terrible for everyone else means it's terrible."

I guess that puts us in the same boat as most of the rest of the other nations"

But a few nations are shining examples to the rest of how they might do it better.

"So we are no better, and no worse, than any other health system"

Non-sequitur. You indicated that you are no better, and no worse, than "most of the rest", but you are better than some, and quite definitely worse than some. "Most" is not "all".

""Not only is this another typical, ludicrous Lonnie slippery-slope argument, it's also flat wrong. The amounts spent on national defense are an order of magnitude larger than 40 or 50 billion."

[insult deleted]"

No, you're the stupid one.

Back to this, are you? Replying to evidence that disproves something you said with a gratuitous personal attack. Lonnie, you disappoint me yet again.

"At the same time, while we spend about $36 billion (I was a little low in my number of $30, but these numbers fluctuate)"

Yes, that does tend to happen when you invent numbers out of whole cloth and then make only a token effort to keep all your fabrications straight.

"money from corporations and venture capitalists that will be unavailable with the elimination of patents."

You still have no proof of this assertion.

"However, do we really care? After all, it is all coming from taxpayers anyway. It is not as though companies were leeching us through patents."

Better they leech mainly from the rich than leech from the rich and middle classes and condemn the poor to death, I say.

""Yes, all zero of them."

Bessen and Meurer: "…we find that small publicly traded firms get small positive R&D incentives from patents. This is also very likely to be true for small, non-publicly traded firms and non-profit inventors.""

Small, positive incentives don't prove that they are good public policy, even if we grant the debatable claim that those incentives actually do exist.

"Ruth Suehle in Redhat Magazine: "I have to admit, it's easy for me, and I suspect others, to forget that patents can work quite well outside of software.""

Obviously she's ignorant of the issues.

I've seen far dumber letters-to-the-editor in my time, believe you me. This one, at least, is just repeating a popular myth.

"Roberto Mazzoleni and Richard R. Nelson: "The collection of small and medium sized firms in the American biotechnology industry is, of course, a striking example of enterprises that would not have come into existence without the prospect of a patent, and which depend on patent protection to make their profits, and to attract capital, through one or another of these strategies.""

My guess is they could all find different business models, and in the absence of patents, would.

"Roberto Mazzoleni and Richard R. Nelson: "In some areas, patent rights certainly are economically and socially productive in generating invention, spreading technological knowledge, inducing innovation and commercialization, and providing some degree of order in the development of broad technological prospects."

See above, yet again. Small, positive incentives don't prove that they are good public policy, even if we grant the debatable claim that those incentives actually do exist.

Furthermore, "providing some degree of order" is a euphemism for "provides for fascist control over someone, to protect elites and special interests at the expense of sound public policy", in most contexts unrelated to normal policing against violent and (real!) property crime.

"[implied insult deleted]"

No. My IQ is in fact above average.

"""I contend that due to the nature of price and expenditures by people at the poverty level, drugs will become less affordable with your regressive tax."

This is rich, coming from someone who also advocates a "regressive tax" inasmuch as the extra R&D costs are again passed on to the consumer as an up-front price increase in his preferred system."

First, your response has nothing to do with my question"

That's an outright lie. My response points out that the same criticism you just leveled at Jesse's proposal goes double for your own preferred system.

Which means it has a lot to do with what you said, contrary to your claim.

"and merely sidesteps a valide issue with the system your propose."

No, the system Jesse proposes. I proposed a more progressive form of taxation be used instead.

"Second, R&D costs are always passed on to the consumer. How else is R&D paid for? It is certainly not free."

A progressive-tax based scheme would shift that cost burden more squarely onto those that can afford it, while allowing the poor access at marginal cost.

"I just said I have been very poor. I qualified for food stamps."

You'll pardon us if we don't believe you, in light of (among other things) your assertion that the poor should have life-saving medical treatment withheld to protect the monopolistic business interests of the rich.

""...then you should certainly not be supporting patents, copyrights, or anything else regressive that raises prices up front."

First, my discussion has been limited to patents"

Irrelevant.

"patents have also been responsible for reducing prices in a competitive market."

Hogwash. Complete and utter nonsense.

"Third, how are these things always regressive?"

Because they amount to a sales tax. Worse, they not only amount to a sales tax, but unlike an honest up-front sales tax they also involve:

* Infringements on freedom of enterprise and transaction, and on the rights of consenting adults to do as they please behind closed doors;

* Diminishment of peoples' property rights in their things (and that is a slippery slope; look how copyright holders are trying to exert more and more control over downstream use by customers, with customers' purchases being more and more treated as rented rather than owned, despite the absence of any support in the constitution or the copyright law for this -- the law says lots about distribution and public performance but nothing about use!)

* Effects that inhibit downstream innovation, at least for quite a while, unlike an up-front tax that would not inhibit research. Under your scheme, company A patents something and then company B, academics, and random individuals are forbidden from researching it. A can just sit on the patent, or can license it under onerous terms or at usurious prices, or can refuse to license it and manufacture a tamper-resistant product nobody can easily tinker with, and for twenty years the technology may stagnate; A certainly has no incentive to further develop and innovate this product-line since it has no competitors! Versus in Jesse's scheme, buyers again pay up front for the thing's R&D but at least B and academics and random individuals can immediately begin tinkering with A's products and A's designs and coming up with improvements. And the income-tax scheme is even better, because then poor people won't get taxed and can buy A's products at not much above marginal cost.

"They only apply if you purchase something, and since we have been surviving quite nicely with products for which the patents have expired for a long time, then anything patented today cannot be a necessity."

Tell that to someone whose infection is resistant to every non-new-fangled antibiotic, or to AIDS patients, fuckhead.

"lol...My job is not dependent on the system."

Yeah, yeah, so you keep saying, now that the truth about your job has gotten out and is inconveniently damaging your credibility.

"I enjoy secrecy as well. Eliminate patents and I will immediately move into the trade secret department and spend my efforts on designing ways of preventing competitors from copying our designs."

And you will ultimately fail to do so, and justice will be served. (If that's even remotely true to begin with, that is.)

"Given the minimal effect prices have on the necessities of life (food, shelter, clothing, and energy), my own costs would drop a negligible amount, as your would likely as well."

Nonsense. Prices have enormous effects on the lives of those in the lower income brackets. Shelter consumes nearly half my income, energy and food as much as a quarter of what's left over.

YOU might be relatively insensitive to the prices of necessities, but YOU apparently have a cushy job working in patent law and probably drawing six or more figures for glorified pencil-pushing ... in a job position

YOU might be relatively insensitive to the prices of necessities, but YOU apparently have a cushy job working in patent law and probably drawing six or more figures for glorified pencil-pushing ... in a job position that amounts to state-supported monopoly-enforcement against poor and hapless people and honest businessmen!

"However, the job losses in industries that have significant investment costs would be tremendous, throwing the United States into a recession that would last for years, if not decades."

Bullshit. Hyperbolic bullshit. This is predicated on all kinds of false premises, most of which we have already discussed to death.

You are an uneducable fool.

"and of course, the other 181 or so countries with a patent system - which fundamentally can never be eliminated anyway"

Bullshit. Where are you getting this "can never be eliminated" nonsense from?

Oh, of course, same as most of the other "facts" you trot out: directly out of your own butt.

"""The vast majority of prescriptions that the clinic is unable to fill are for life-saving pharmaceuticals. It is nice to know that many live saving drugs are available at extremely modest cost for people with the need."

These two statements contradict each other. But then, logic never was Lonnie's strong suit..."

I was getting tired. Your extensive posts require a lot of researching for facts."

It's a shame that yours don't. (And it shows!)

"What I meant to say was that the vast majority of prescriptions that the clinic is unable to fill are for generic life-saving pharmaceuticals."

Yes; abolishing the patent system would go a long way towards fixing that by increasing the number of life-saving pharmaceuticals that had generic versions available.

"It is nice to know that many life saving generic drugs are available at extremely modest cost for people with the need."

It is awful to know that many more life saving drugs are not available at modest cost for people with the need.

"""I have guesstimates that the difference between a generic and a patented drug ranges from 20% to 80%, which should give you a rough idea of the extra price of patented drugs."

Bull!"

[calls me a liar]"

No. You're the dishonest one here, as you'll no doubt prove shortly by misquoting the above.

"""...taking an average priced generic at $29 and making them $39..."

What happened to an average priced generic being only $5, Lonnie?"

Beats me."

Well, I have a pretty good idea. I mentioned earlier the tendency of made-up numbers to fluctuate each time you tell another fib if you don't keep copious notes to keep track of what lies you've already told.

"""The federal government needs another 5,000 employees."

No, it just needs 5000. Their job description changes, and maybe they won't be the same 5000 specific people, but the number won't change, because the 5000 jobs dealing with patents will be gone."

Where are your facts to support it will take just 5,000 people?"

I admit that this time I have none. I just did what you usually do -- pulled that figure directly out of your butt, by simply parroting back your own made-up number from above, where you said "the federal government needs another 5,000 employees".

So, if you don't like that the number is entirely made-up, you only have yourself to blame, since you're the one that made it up.

"The government has been unable to support a program that will spend more than $30 billion per year with a number of people this small. The GAO employs 3,100 people and spends a half billion per year, and all they do is investigate spending. How big of a government organization will it take to spend $36 billion dollars, or more?"

Here your error is in assuming that the number of employees will scale in direct proportion to the amount of money handled. There is no logical basis for that assumption, nor any empirical one that I know of.

""You're joking. Under Clinton: * The US went into budget surplus, and began actually paying down its national debt. * Prosperity and the economy in general improved. *"

I know, thanks to policies started by Ronald Reagan."

Sure, sure. The historical record shows, however, that the economy generally does well under Democratic rule and poorly under Republican rule.

"The deficit decreased each year in Bush's presidency"

That's just plain laughable. Bush has presided over the single worst one-decade jump in the deficit in the history of the United States, even after correcting for inflation!

"On the other hand, the Democrats began the entitlement programs that continue to spiral budgets out of control, and will need action or we will all be in debt permanently."

More hyperbole, and nonsense besides. The historical record shows that the Democrats shrink government and reduce deficits and the Republicans expand government and grow deficits, not the other way around. At least in the last fifty years or so. Check out http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/

"your crusade against patents, as humorous as it is, gains no traction and inspires no converts."

Wishful thinking, Lonnie? :)

* I have no "crusade". I have only logic and cold, hard facts.

* It's only humorous to a lunatic like you.

* The very existence of the web site that you are abusing with your voluminous comment-spam is proof that patent abolition has gained plenty of traction and converts, contrary to your claim above.

"You will gain no converts until you come up with a realistic plan that considers what has been researched and how to resolve the issues uncovered by that research."

I guess we have come up with a realistic plan hat considers what has been researched and how to resolve the issues uncovered by that research, then, because we have gained plenty of converts. Heck, we now apparently pose a big enough threat to some entrenched interests to rate our own full-time shill/spy within our camp!

"Certainly you will not make any headway in a world that is increasingly committed to supporting patents."

What world might that be? And why, if you love patents so much, don't you crawl back into your flying saucer and go back there? :)

"It is impossible to "publicly" lie about you"

What utter hogwash. Particularly coming from someone who makes a point of frequently doing precisely that which he claims is impossible.

"Once you use your real name, then my comments will be in public."

Non-sequitur. Your comments are public or not depending solely on where you post them. Posting them here, in particular, means they're public.

""That's a laugh. Calling me "incoherent" isn't an insult?"

When something is factual, is it an insult?"

I don't see the relevance, since none of your negative statements about me have been the least bit factual.

"Should I have been more tactful?"

You should keep your negative opinions of other people to yourself!

"[insult deleted]"

No. None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

"I neglect to recall an incident of accusing you of stupidity."

Your poor memory is, of course, your problem and yours alone.

"In fact, I think you are quite clever at making statements that avoid the issue being discussed."

I do nothing of the sort. You, on the other hand, have been quite clumsy at doing that very thing.

"I could almost wonder whether you are some sort of computer program that takes a previous statement, and makes a non-commital insulting remark about the statement that appears to address the issue, but in reality does not."

If true, "takes one to know one".

But it's not true.

"Having your facts in error"

The only person to have done that here is you.

"Let me see, noting that you have no facts to back up your statements is accusing you of lying?"

It's implying that I'm lying, and at the same time, it is lying, since I (unlike you) do have facts to back up my statements.

"I present facts, you present opinions and belief in response."

Nice. I think I'll use that.

Lonnie, I present facts, while you only present opinions and belief in response!

Yep. It definitely works well. :)

""That's the only sensible response to ad hominems from the likes of you."

Yes, I thought if I waited long enough you would admit that your arguments were essentially a lot of hot air."

I did nothing of the sort, liar. I pointed out that your various veiled insults are no substitute for rational argument. Telling people (or implying to them) that I'm some sort of imbecile, or a liar, does not make any kind of a case in favor of preserving the patent system! It's the fallacy of argumentum ad hominem to behave as if it were otherwise.

""And by the way, lying in wait for me to post to ambush me..."

Actually, it was pure coincidence."

You've been caught in way too many lies for me to believe you when you say this.

"I am a seeker of facts"

Perhaps you should not post long opinionated diatribes here until you have succeeded in actually finding some.

"[insults deleted]"

No. None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

If you honestly think I'm a waste of your time, stop replying to my comments.

P.S.: MODERATOR! Please ban this spammer from the site. Dozens of messages in a row to a single thread is crossing the g.d. line!

And please fix the bugs that have caused parts of my post to be missing (reposted in this one) and that have let an unclosed italic-style tag in one of Lonnie's spams screw up every subsequent comment rather than just the one with the error!

None of Your Beeswax:

I broke up your lengthy e-mail to better expose your errors and lack of facts. However, being the obvious SPAMMER that you are, you obviously want to hide the BS as much as possible.

I can combat facts, but your unsupported assertions and paranoia carry no weight and are just an embarrassment to the people on this site who are interested in a debate on the advantages and disadvantages.

You are a waste of my time.

None of Your Cheesewax:

Incidentally, the president-elect, Barack Obama, has also weighed the various issues and has provided his wisdom (obviously he has been swayed by your vast array of facts):

From BarackObama.com:

Reform the Patent System: A system that produces timely, high-quality patents is essential for global competitiveness in the 21st century. By improving predictability and clarity in our patent system, we will help foster an environment that encourages innovation. Giving the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) the resources to improve patent quality and opening up the patent process to citizen review will reduce the uncertainty and wasteful litigation that is currently a significant drag on innovation. As president, Barack Obama will ensure that our patent laws protect legitimate rights while not stifling innovation and collaboration.

I guess we know where the facts are...I win, the world wins, inventors win, you, your foul, paranoid, lying mouth and your imaginary friend lose.

"I broke up your lengthy e-mail to better expose your [insults deleted]."

No. It is you who keeps posting "errors and lack of facts", and I have never, to my knowledge, ever sent you e-mail.

"However, being the obvious [insult deleted] that you are"

No, you're the spammer, as indicated by your posting dozens of comments in the space of mere minutes.

You will stop personally attacking me and insulting me in public, or else.

"you obviously want to hide the [insult deleted] as much as possible."

NO. You're the one posting BS.

"I can combat facts"

Spoken like a world-class contender for the funny-farm-residency-of-the-week award.

"but your unsupported assertions and [insult deleted] carry no weight"

NO. It is you who posts unsupported assertions, and nothing whatsoever is wrong with my mental health.

"an embarrassment to the people on this site who are interested in a debate on the advantages and disadvantages."

Yes, that you are, Lonnie.

"You are a waste of my time."

If you honestly believe that, stop attacking me and go away.

"None of Your [insult deleted]:"

It's beeswax, asshole.

"Reform the Patent System: A system that produces timely, high-quality patents is essential for global competitiveness in the 21st century."

So? He's as big a fool and/or liar as every other politician in history. Hardly surprising, or proof of anything. You seem to hold up things Obama says as if they amount to received wisdom from on high, graven on stone tablets or spoken from a burning bush or something.

What lunacy!

He's a politician. Even if he is sane and sensible enough to reject "IP" in all its manifestations, he can't very well do so openly without offending some very large lobbies. Even if he's perfect he'll have to work to change the system gradually from within. Most likely, though, he simply isn't perfect, and therefore makes errors much as you frequently do, Lonnie, including the error of believing a patent system to be necessary.

"Barack Obama will ensure that our patent laws protect legitimate rights while not stifling innovation and collaboration."

This statement can be interpreted in other ways than as unadulterated support for the patent system's continued existence. For example, if patent-granted exclusive rights are someday considered to be illegitimate...

"I guess we know where the facts are...I win, the world wins, inventors win, you [numerous vicious insults deleted]"

NO. You lose, Lonnie. The facts are on my side. You have what, some not-100%-solid support from one lousy politician and a bunch of ad hominem attacks on your side? Big whup. I've defeated more formidable opponents than that, many times.

Oh, and none of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

Hey Beeswax:

I tried to find one single fact in your post and found none. I guess I have nothing to respond to, since your vicious and callous personal attacks are unimportant.

Have a Merry Christmas!

"Hey Beeswax:

I tried to find one single fact in your post and found none."

Now on sale at Laurier Optical: reading glasses, 30% off.

"I guess I have nothing to respond to, since your vicious and callous personal attacks are unimportant."

My "vicious and callous personal attacks" comprise a set of measure zero, so yeah, I guess you're right when you say they are unimportant. :)

"Have a Merry Christmas!"

I did.

Holy cow. None of Your Beeswax is a Canadian (Laurier Optical is Canadian only). You don't even have a voice in American government.

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Bonfire of the Missalettes!

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Does the decline in total factor productivity explain the drop in innovation? I wondered about TFP, because I had heard that TFP was increasing. Apparently, it depends on who

Music without copyright I do agree with all the ideas you have presented in your post. They are very convincing and will

Music without copyright It's strange, that sometimes the most simple suggestions are often the most useful! I will take the

Patents on 3D Printing Challenged by Prior Art To Loup Vaillant: "So, you think we wouldn't have had those 9 technologies without patents? I can

Patents on 3D Printing Challenged by Prior Art @anonymous: So, you think we wouldn't have had those 9 technologies without patents? I can accept

Patents on 3D Printing Challenged by Prior Art The fact is that in the last 20-25 years the technologies of rapid prototyping (today known as

Public Knowledge announces a Patent Reform Project No patents should be allowed on ANY software. And no patents on Business Methods. If the have to