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Thornton Hall

The Revolution Will Be Kuhnian.

Keep Your Business Models Straight (The AMA sucks)

Recent incidents with an American Medical Association ad on a Metro platform[1] and a 60 Minutes segment full of made up nonsense (literally the fruit on one man's imagination) suggest it might be helpful to get a few things straight about how different actors function in our market economy.

Journalists are not in the business of "truth-telling". They are in the business of selling advertising. Press outlets cultivate a reputation for truth-telling to the extent that reputation helps in the sale of ads. The news media are to the First Amendment what gun manufacturers are to the Second Amendment: unintended financial beneficiaries.

Doctors are not scientists and are not interested in science as an end. Doctors are providers of medical services. They want people to buy lots of these services and pay for them.

Politicians are in the business of winning elections. If voting for smart policies will get them re-elected, they vote for smart policies. In other words: the Tea Party is your fault, America.

Monsanto is in the business of selling seeds. One way to expand the market for seeds is to create GM crops that thrive where nothing currently grows (e.g., Africa). Expanding that market will have a number of consequences, including, a. profits for Monsanto, and b. plentiful food for human beings who are currently under constant threat of starvation. Monsanto will happily use technology developed at our universities and paid for by taxpayers to achieve these profits (they didn't build that).

Insurance companies and credit card companies are natural enemies because what hurts one helps the other. 

Insurance companies are in the business collecting more money in premiums than they pay out in benefits. They share their customers' interest in staying healthy and safe (assuming they don't have an argument that the policy does not apply to the circumstances involved).

Credit card companies are in the business of collecting interest payments in perpetuity on loans made to people who cannot afford to fully pay them back. Credit card companies do best when their customers do worst: accidents, disasters, and catastrophic health expenses are the major drivers of the credit card business. The ideal credit card customer is employed at a steady low paying job that does not provide any insurance benefits and that does not pay enough for the employee to purchase insurance on his own, but does provide enough income to make the minimum monthly payment (the math behind these figures is how they calculate the "minimum monthly payment").


1. Washington Metro riders are regularly assaulted by advertisements placed by sucklings at the teat of corporate welfare, sucklings who spend millions every year to ask for another helping. We also read a lot of ads from non-profit interest groups that ask for policy changes to benefit less fortunate Americans. 

Which camp does the American Medical Association fall into? Do their ads on the platforms of the Washington Metro demand Congress take action to improve the health of Americans? Nope. Just like defense contractors, big banks, and the rest of the rentier class, all doctors care about is getting paid: is the website the Metro advertisements want you to visit, where it explains that what is "broken" is that doctors are not getting paid enough money 

Compare this multi-million dollar campaign with the action taken by the AMA on the deadly nature of trans-fats. That massive problem merits only a press release, aka a Zero-million dollar ad campaign. In fact, scanning the news section of the AMA website, you could be forgiven in thinking that the "M" stood for "Medicare", because that program--a massive transfer of wealth from taxpayers to doctors (for a very good reason!)--is more or less the only thing the AMA seems to care about.

GM Crops are safe

How To Be Wrong: Agree With Bill Kristol