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From: B. Harris)
Newsgroups: sci.econ,sci.environment,,,sci.physics,
Subject: Technology and How it Grows (was: Capitalism is exactly like a school 
	of piranha in a feeding)
Date: 13 Dec 1998 05:32:40 GMT

In <74v8lu$> "Shawn Wilson"
<> writes:

>Yet did you consider whether ANY treatment for AIDS would exist if
>some people didn't have more than they needed?  (BTW, who are you to
>say what someone else does or does not need?)  Research and
>developement requires huge resources, those resources have to come
>from somewhere.


     Lord, yes.  Considering the silly and useless dates of battles and
other things they teach in high school history, you'd think they'd have
time instead to teach the average person sometime before K-12 ends some
really valuable lessons of history.  And one of these is that almost
all of those amazing things for cheap prices (like aluminum foil and
digital watches and penicillin pills, and-- yes-- computers and
automobiles and jet airplane rides) all once BEGAN as rich man's toys,
if not things which couldn't be had except by governments-- or even for
any price.  But those conditions allowed the development which
eventually allowed them to be mass-produced for almost anyone.  Things
get better, and things trickle down, and so so in floods.  Pretty soon
some poor shmuck in Africa is GIVEN by cheap donation genetically
engineered disease resistant seeds that the richest farmer in American
couldn't have bought 20 years ago.  And then he probably complains
about capitalism.

     Again, this kind of progression in technology is NECESSARY.  When
you interfere with it, by means of some misguided idea that what one
man can't have, nobody should have, and all you do is slow the process
down.  Or stop it entirely.  Example: I can now buy in California, if I
want to pay cash, an abdominal CT scan without contrast for $220 from
the local CT's R Us guys. And that includes the radiology reading fee.
Now, I remember when CT scanners were going to break the back of
medicine financially, and I'm not that old.  Without a lot of
government obstructionism, I suppose CT scans would be $50 by now.
They will be eventually, because that's the way things work (now its
the horrid functional MRI that is breaking the back of medicine-- so it

   And look how bad obstructionism in the name of planning can be: the
artificial heart!  It really shouldn't cost more, or be less reliable,
than a Honda Acord.  But the dumb sons of guns who do the "planning"
have basically completely halted progress on the thing, because in high
school (one supposes) they spent their time learning about the battle
of New Orleans and the Treaty of Ghent, instead of how technologies do
(and must) develop.  And (later, in college) learning to academicize

   So when you have that chest pain, you'd better hope that your new
New HyperWebBrowser running on your new Intel Pentium X system can help
it, or maybe some pill or other. If not, you're out of luck, `cause
that's the best deal you're going to get (if the Feds don't get Bill
Gates first and ruin even THAT).  Capitalism hasn't really been allowed
to work in biomedical device development for a generation and a half,
though it still creaks along (under more and more onerous regs) on the
pharmaceutical side.  And it runs well (for the moment) in the computer
and communications industries, but that cannot last.  In the future,
things are not showing signs of getting any better for anyone.  Indeed,
I see every sign of it getting worse everywhere.  You thought you were
going to be able to buy a ticket to the moon by now, didn't you?

                                         Steve Harris

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