Thursday, April 10, 2014

What are the mechanisms by which corruption operates in the US? Some breathtaking examples of bonuses and revolving doors are discussed by Michael Krieger

Why is the country practically bankrupt and mired in corruption? Can the parts of our economic culture that enable huge government giveaways be identified?

We certainly don't know about how most decisions are made at the federal level, nor do we have any idea how much money changes hands and how.  But there are some things that are known.  Persons in policymaking or oversight positions often seem to have been placed there to carry out certain predefined tasks.

In David Stockman's Contra Corner website, Michael Krieger lays out many examples of how those responsible for major policies get rewarded by industry via bonuses, special contract provisions and revolving door jobs:

"Nothing is more important to a fully streamlined corrupt crony capitalist economy as the ever-present “revolving door” between regulatory agencies and the industries/companies they regulate. These moves have become so pervasive in American society that it is simply impossible to keep up with them all, but I try my best to cover the most egregious examples whenever possible. As a refresher, I suggest reading the following:

How Obama’s Chief Negotiators on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Treaty Received Huge Bonuses from Mega Banks
Revolving Door 2014: Former Head of the Federal Communications Commission Joins Carlyle
Journalism’s Revolving Door: Washington Post’s National Security Editor Joins the State Department
The Pentagon’s Revolving Door with Defense Contractors…Some Shocking Statistics
How Jack “Bailout Bonus” Lew Got to Treasury
It Never Ends: Top Obama Housing Advisor Jumps Ship to Wells Fargo
Meet Liz Fowler: Architect of ObamaCare Jumps Ship to Johnson & Johnson
Meet Mary Jo White: The Next SEC Chief and a Guaranteed Wall Street Patsy"


SatyaPranava said...

I'm curious if you've followed anything interesting re: the Guinea Ebola outbreak. Specifically, claims that it was brought in by DWB, or that shortly before DWB concluded their work in the country a company claimed to have created the first Ebola vaccine!!

Cynicism may be overexpressed here, but could there be a good PR/marketing campaign/strategy being used here? I sure hope not, but it would not be the first time.

Anyway, any thoughts on the matter aside from these facts/questions would be appreciated.

Meryl Nass, M.D. said...

To my knowledge there is no licensed Ebola vaccine in any country.

It is easy to make experimental vaccines, but hard to test them in the field and learn whether they work.

If there was an experimental vaccine for Ebola, I imagine the patent owner would jump at the chance of trying it out in an epidemic setting.

Because Ebola historically pops up out of nowhere at odd times, in different places, it is impossible to speculate about the nature of the event.

HOwever, I have only the highest regard for MSF and cannot consider the organization would have anything deliberate to do with this. Their medical providers put their lives on the line for meager earnings just because they desire to help in the most wretched of places.

SatyaPranava said...

Thanks, Dr. Nass. I didn't mean to imply the hardworking and heart-driven "mules" would be the ones to do so; rather, that they provide the perfect cover for those with fewer scruples either within the organization or without to piggy back on the event.

I was thinking they might be further along in the human safety/efficacy phase of the following: I haven't found anything else since first hearing about this in late 2011.

Thanks for your commentary on this. Please do tell me if anything does come up because clear facts around this outbreak are extremely sparse, even for the mainstream media which likes to make them up regularly :-)

Meryl Nass, M.D. said...

The paper you referenced confirms there are no licensed Ebola vaccines. The references indicate a variety of experimental approaches to vaccination and treatment have been developed.

I did not see that a large pharmaceutical manufacturer has licensed any of these, though it may have.

For diseases like Ebola, outbreaks are relatively small, ring vaccination will affect only hundreds or a few thousand people, and there is no profit to be made selling the vaccine to African markets.

So in Africa, I think that in practical terms, Ebola outbreaks are not likely to provide much opportunity for anyone to profit financially. Generally drugs, monoclonals and vaccines will be donated, not sold.

In the US, where the cost of drugs can exceed the cost of gold (by weight) there is an entirely different incentive to increase the sale of certain medical products. This incentive extends to those who counterfeit medicines: it only makes sense when they are expensive.

Oddly enough, the cheaper the price of a medicine, the less likely it is to be counterfeit (which is a considerable problem in Africa but also a growing problem here).