That headline got your attention. The Underpants Gnomes appeared in an episode of South Park. They would steal people’s underwear. The boys find out what it’s all about:

  1. Steal underwear
  2. ????
  3. Profit

This seems to be how most companies work. I’m a big fan of capitalism. It works in practice much better than communism, but people are people. Any system can be corrupted. Capitalism is supposed to work under enlightened self-interest. Greed trumps enlightened self-interest. Greed trumps fairness. For day to day barter with your neighbors, capitalism works. What about between total strangers? It works for the most part. But what about addictive drugs?

I’m not talking about Heroin or Cocaine or even Tobacco. Well maybe I am. Don’t forget to include alcohol in the mix. I’m also going to throw prescription drugs into the mix. Most modern medications take years of studies and can be very expensive to develop. But some of them seem to be prescribed for other than it’s intended purpose. Some of it may work. But prescription drugs are like a hammer. Everything begins to look like a nail.

Anti-depressents and anti-pyschotics treat the symptoms. They don’t treat the source they don’t go after the problem. Therapy should be easier with the symptoms relieved. I get the impression that most people don’t get the therapy they need. They just pop a pill.

Profit. The drug company wants to maximize profit. So they look for other uses for their drugs. Hey if these anti-psychotic drugs are good for adults, they ought to be good for children. This may be true, but did they did do studies with the children. I don’t think you should mess with a child’s brain chemistry except under extreme circumstances. Not to sound like a Luddite, but children grew up just fine for the last 6,000 years of civilization without anti-pyschotics. Of course for most of human history, most children didn’t grow to adulthood. So let’s just choose the last century.

For the early part of the last century, children grew up just fine without anti-psychotics, anti-depressents, or anti-hyper (ADD) drugs. What about immunizations? They don’t mess with brain chemistry. Though one fraudster did attempt to cast aspersion on MMR innoculations that it caused autism. Autism is on the rise in this country. And I’ll try to address this issue.

Note – Why am I writing this essay/blog/post/entry? It’s to help me sort my thoughts out out on capitalism, marketing, drugs, autism. I suppose I could say that Greed has unintended side effects. Does Greed cause autism? I’ve written stories about the unintended consequences of new technologies. One of my childhood friends was hyperactive. One of my distant cousins is autistic. So I have some experience with these conditions.

I suppose what I’m getting at is the profit motive in the best interest of the consumer? How does he know he’s getting a fair deal. It’s all about fairness. It’s even been shown in some monkeys that the concept of fairness may be innate. They would reward some monkeys with food and others with a rock for the same task. The monkeys who got the rock were pissed and quit doing those tasks. And there is a difference between the concepts of fairness and entitlement.

Life isn’t fair, but that doesn’t mean we can’t strive to be fair. Some people have an entitlement mentality which is often confused with fairness. This is not the best example, but here goes. At a public venue like concert halls there are often long lines to the women’s toilets. They aren’t entitled to have more toilets, but it would be fair to have more toilets available to handle the traffic as quickly as the men’s toilets. OK, here’s a better example. We aren’t entitled to affordable housing, but we should have a fair housing market. We aren’t entitled to affordable prescription meds, but we should have fair pricing. Especially when some developed drugs are developed at public expense.
The consumer needs to be educated and there needs to be a level of trust between the seller and the buyer. Unfortunately, people can make a great deal of money by screwing different consumers. They have a large pool from which to draw. Profit is good. The market is pretty good at determing fair pricing, but certain commodity prices are not determined by market forces and that isn’t fair.

The most extreme example of market forces at work has to be the Irish potato famine. Other countries the Netherlands and Germany shut off food exports to stave off the worst of it. But in Ireland food was still being exported because people could pay more for it elsewhere and there were armed guards to protect the food shipments. Had Ireland done what the continental countries did the famine and exodus would have been much less severe. The next time someone tells you they want laissez-faire capitalism point to that and ask them if that’s what they mean.