Trump, the Rent-Seeker in Chief

by Serban V.C. Enache

Donald Trump never misses an opportunity to prove his loyalty and commitment to the vested interests [the forces of usury, rent-seeking, and war profiteering]. In the recent past, Trump sold war-gear to Saudi Arabia, and plans to double down this year too. He implemented corporate tax cuts, which pushed stock-buybacks to record highs, not investment. This time, his American Patients First plan, designed to reduce the price of pharmaceuticals, promote biosimilars, redirect rebates from insurers to consumers, and requiring drug ads to reveal the price has been dropped from the Executive’s agenda.

Modern medicine’s been a boon to mankind. Diseases like chicken pox, diphtheria, measles, malaria, HIV, and polio – all but eradicated in the past century by pharmaceuticals. So what went wrong? The USA’s drug industry is the product of the country’s culture. As the cultural outlook changed, so did the industry. Consumers are addicted to quick fixes, and Big Pharma is addicted to major quick profits.

In the past, drug companies were often led by medical scientists. Expected profit margins were around 10 percent, with a singular brand new drug rolled out each year. But then the culture shifted. Businessmen took the place of scientists, and marketing and advertising took the place of actual medical research. Profit became one-dimensional, seen only as money costs vs. money gains. The most important ratio of all, human costs vs. human gains was ignored or, in some cases, intentionally trampled. More to the point, Big Pharma’s products bear heinous negative externalities. An externality is the cost or benefit that affects a party who did not choose to incur that cost or benefit. For examples of negative externalities, think coal, secondhand smoking, opioids etc.

I’ll cite two examples to show just how powerful and callous Big Pharma was decades ago, and why it’s only gotten stronger and worse today. The case of Pfizer, in 2009, comes to mind. The company paid $2.3 billion, the largest health care fraud settlement in the Justice Department’s history. That sounds punitive, but not when you factor in a company profit of over $8 billion for that same year. It’s a slap on the wrist, one that comes with no jail time. Bayer in the early 1980s is another example. When Bayer’s Cutter Laboratories realized some of their blood products were contaminated with HIV, the money investment was considered too great to destroy the inventory. Cutter misrepresented the results of its own research and sold the inventory to overseas markets in Asia and Latin America. Consequently, hemophiliacs who infused the HIV-contaminated Factor VIII and IX tested positive for HIV and developed AIDS.

Unfortunately, the FDA didn’t have an explicit policy regarding direct-to-consumer-advertising (DTCA), because in 1969 there had been no mass media advertisements for prescription drugs. They supported the concept of DTCA, confident the existing regulations for promotion to physicians would prevent any misleading ads aimed at consumers. In 1983, the FDA began to voice serious concerns. Commissioner Arthur Hull Hayes asked the pharmaceutical industry to stop advertising drugs to the public. The fears were many: patients will pressure physicians to prescribe unnecessary drugs; ads will confuse patients by leading them to believe some minor difference in products represents a major therapeutic advantage; DTCA will increase the price of drugs – encourage the use of brand name products over cheaper, equivalent generic drugs, and exacerbate the problem of an already narcotized population.

Nowadays, to get a drug approved by the FDA, a company has to submit just two tests, showing that the product works better than a placebo. The legislation is so lax that the government allows drug companies to submit whatever tests they want. For example, a company may commission 20 clinical trials for its drug. Eighteen may prove the drug is harmful or inefficient, but as long as two positive studies are produced, the drug gets FDA approval. The real business magic of the industry no longer lies with the pursuit of science, but in hiding the bad studies.

Research in the effectiveness of drugs is left to the corporate sector. The federal government doesn’t fund this activity, despite it falling under the public purpose and general welfare. Going back to the shrewd practice of hiding bad data, how many negative studies are published in scientific journals? Publication bias doesn’t contain itself solely to the realm of usual politics [democrat vs republican].

What are the results of the so-called war on drugs? A system based on greed, corruption, and addiction. A propitious environment for legal drug pushers. A frightening incarceration rate, the highest of any country in the world. Huge numbers of addicts and addiction-related illnesses. A culture obsessed with quick and temporary fixes, in which normality is deemed insufficient. And a booming drug industry with vast leverage over the political process.

1992 is a testament to Big Pharma’s powers of persuasion. That year Congress passed the Drug User Fee Act, which allows Pharma companies to pay a fast-track fee to the FDA of up to $350,000 per drug in order to speed up the approval process. This is called “pay to win.” It’s not democratic, and has nothing to do with efficient or fair market practices. It’s political rent-seeking.

The legal drug pushers aren’t only at the top, waiting for the end of fiscal years to tally up net profits. Crooked physicians are in on it too. They handle patients directly and keep them coming by prescribing street-legal dope when it’s not really needed, except they don’t call it heroin or meth, but Codeine and Adderall. Take drug A to manage condition 1. Then take drug B to manage condition 2, induced by drug A. Then take drug C to manage drug B. In the words of former Pharma rep. Gwen Olsen, “The pharmaceutical industry is no longer in the business of health and healing, it’s in the business of disease management and symptoms maintenance.”

But this perverse, systemic cancer has a name, it’s called Shareholder Capitalism! The philosophy is completely narrow-minded: maximize shareholder value, everything else be damned. One solution to the Shareholder Capitalist cancer is Stakeholder Capitalism – which means that the shareholder MUST have a stake in the company and the community or communities that company serves. Some call it ‘cooperative capitalism,’ others call it socialism, in the 19th century during the actual progressive economics era, they called it cooperative individualism – the Christian Socialists being the most notable group of proponents back then.

So when you hear the filthy rich and their market analyst mouth pieces and politicians, whether they pretend to be God-fearing people or not, excusing their huge markups [often on products that cost peanuts to manufacture] and their huge profit margins on ‘the rules of the market,’ claiming that ‘we live in a capitalism system, and that’s the way it is,’ they are LYING to you!

The whole concept behind capitalism, indeed its very purpose, is to offer the best price for consumers – in the logic that a cartel or a monopoly will always offer a higher price compared to a free market, in which multiple producers compete for market share. They claim they’re working fully under capitalist rules, yet in foreign markets [where state regulations meant to protect consumers and patients exist] drug prices are dramatically lower than in the USA. There isn’t free market capitalism in the US, there’s rentier market capitalism, and it means a neo-feudal society.

By scrapping the American Patients First plan, Trump has proven once again that he’s a Wall-Street stooge! Those who blame “socialism” for what’s essentially feudal economic policy and who demand full deregulation and defunding of State institutions suffer from mental illness, are incurable, and are part of the problem.

In the late 1800s, Henry George wrote, “The patent […] prohibits any one from doing a similar thing, and involves, usually for a specified time, an interference with the equal liberty on which the right of ownership rests. […] The patent is in defiance of this natural right. It prohibits others from doing what has been already attempted. […] Discovery can give no right of ownership, for whatever is discovered must have been already here to be discovered. If a man make a wheelbarrow, or a book, or a picture, he has a moral right to that particular wheelbarrow, or book, or picture, but no right to ask that others be prevented from making similar things. Such a prohibition, though given for the purpose of stimulating discovery and invention, really in the long run operates as a check upon them [a drag on discovery and invention].”

How prescient George was. A working paper written in 2012, from the St Louis FED, authored by Michele Boldrin and David Levine, professors at Washington University in St Louis, concludes that any patent system, no matter how well conceived, inevitably devolves into a quagmire.

A closer look at the historical and international evidence suggests that while weak patent systems may mildly increase innovation with limited side-effects, strong patent systems retard innovation with many negative side-effects. Both theoretically and empirically, the political economy of government operated patent systems indicates that weak legislation will generally evolve into a strong protection and that the political demand for stronger patent protection comes from old and stagnant industries and firms, not from new and innovative ones. Hence the best solution is to abolish patents entirely through strong constitutional measures and to find other legislative instruments, less open to lobbying and rent-seeking, to foster innovation whenever there is clear evidence that laissez-faire under-supplies it.

If Trump really wanted to drain the swamp, his economic and foreign policies would look dramatically different. Instead, he just wants to change the Democrat swamp with a Republican swamp. Ironically, both [corrupt] parties profit from Trump’s economic agenda. If you hate the rich, smug liberal elites, remember that under Trump’s term, their bank accounts swelled and swelled big.

Jeffrey Epstein & the Mossad

In this article by Philip Giraldi [former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer], some interesting connections are made between Epstein’s network and Israel’s secret service. But I wanted to touch on a particular person from Epstein’s black book. This document contains 14 personal phone numbers belonging to Donald Trump, including ex-wife Ivana, daughter Ivanka and current wife Melania. It also included Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia, Tony Blair, Jon Huntsman, Senator Ted Kennedy, Henry Kissinger, David Koch, Ehud Barak, Alan Dershowitz, John Kerry, George Mitchell, David Rockefeller, Richard Branson, Michael Bloomfield, Dustin Hoffman, Queen Elizabeth, Saudi King Salman and Edward de Rothschild.

In April this year, I wrote a critical piece on an old article from ’97 by Alan Dershowitz, the person from Epstein’s list of contacts. The ethno-centric agenda of Jewish Zionists in the US can no longer be ignored or dismissed out of hand as a “right wing / racist conspiracy theory.” It’s been going on for decades. The top echelons of US society, public and private institutions, are infiltrated and dominated by Zionist agents who steer the hegemon’s domestic and foreign policy without being accountable for it. The same goes for the UK. But you’ll never hear about Israel’s clear hold over US politics from the likes of Alex Jones and his associates. They’re too busy propagating the Muslim-scare, as if [tanned or black] Muslims are and have been in control of key US institutions and policies for more than 50 years. If you ignore Israel’s role in all this, then you’re either too stupid to think critically or a shill.

US Establishment working to rig 2020

by Serban V.C. Enache

The [conservative] investigative group, Project Veritas, did a probe into Google’s new “safeguards” to prevent another Trump presidency. It includes interviews with a whistle-blower from that company, and two secretly filmed conversations with a Google executive and a Google engineer. Unsurprisingly, Youtube, a subsidiary of Google, took down the video, claiming it violated privacy rules.

Jen Gennai, head of ‘responsible innovation,’ says the following… “Elizabeth Warren is saying that we should break up Google. And like, I love her, but she’s very misguided; like that won’t make it better, it will make it worse – ’cause now all these smaller companies who don’t have the same resources that we do, will be charged with preventing the next Trump situation, […] a small company can’t do that. […] We got called in front of Congress multiple times. […] They can pressure us, but we’re not changing.”

Let’s briefly dissect the above paragraph. Breaking up a company – one that has a de facto monopoly in several fields, monopoly obtained through preferential relationship and access to technology from specialized US Government institutions and anti-competition practices – is a political choice. Unless she wants to become a politician or a lobbyist, the head of the “responsible innovation” department of Google should refrain from emitting such obviously biased and self-serving, political opinions. More to the point, she should not manipulate the audience by conflating her political preference with what is and isn’t technologically and logistically feasible. Multiple companies policing reprehensible behaviors online is not akin to having multiple companies digging up the ground and planting their own pipe and sewer systems underneath a city, a task which is neither economically nor environmentally feasible. We’re talking about the digital realm, where the constraints are vastly different. And if we’re talking about a lack of financial resources for these smaller companies, that’s a red herring too. So long as there’s demand for a service, there is profit to be made, and investors and business loans can be secured. But of course, this
Jen Gennai wasn’t talking about any sort of reasonable standard of content policing [child pornography, human trafficking, terrorist cells etc] she was referring wholly to Google preventing the reelection of Donald Trump. In short, this Google executive is full of it.

Another hallucinating aspect raised by Project Veritas in their probe on Google is “algorithmic unfairness,” as the company understands it. A passage from this document, under the sub-title “If a representation is factually accurate, can it still be algorithmic unfairness?” reveals the following… “Yes. For example, imagine that a Google image query for CEOs shows predominantly men… even if it were a factually accurate representation of the world, it would be algorithmic unfairness.” Google software engineer, Gaurav Gite, is secretly caught on camera stating that, “So they’re trying to modify the model, such that even if the data for female CEO is low, it still balances out.” This is social-engineering gone berserk. Instead of depicting actual reality and striving to promote equality of opportunity, not just de jure, but de facto, while also taking merit into consideration, without which the outcome cannot be just, Google is trying to deform reality to suit its fantasy, however progressive it may be. The goal doesn’t justify the means; but the mantra of the ‘PC police’ is ‘judge us by our motives, not our methods.’

These type of secret and invisible filters to its algorithms are unacceptable in a society that’s supposed to be free and democratic. Ultimately, the fate of this society depends on the will of the citizenry to be informed and stay informed, not on shady, corporate giants, who are unelected and accountable to none. A state and a press that fears the people, or I should say, the groups in control of the state and the press who fear the people must be brought down from these institutions – initially through democratic exercise at the ballot box, and if they refuse, then by force of arms. To quote Abraham Lincoln, “The people — the people — are the rightful masters of both Congresses and courts — not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert it.”

Meanwhile, the Establishment’s mouthpieces, those ‘woke’ intellectuals, whose hearts bleed for the fate of immigrants and Muslims in the US, who manufacture crocodile tears on air, and who – prior to Trump’s election – were criticizing the Donald’s potential “isolationist” foreign policy and were bemoaning the possible demise of US internationalism were in fact fearing that the next POTUS might shed away the empire in favor of the nation state. I hope it’s evident by now, to the average spectator who still has a soul in his or her chest, that all of these internationalists and bleeding-heart intellectuals are in fact political prostitutes, mercenaries, and war profiteers, and in no way, shape, or form do they serve the national interest of the United States. And when I say national interest, I mean the national interest defined in Westphalian terms: nations forgiving and forgetting past transgressions among and between them, while working to “further the advantage, honor, and benefit of the other.” The Westphalian national interest should be the cornerstone of any civilized country, especially for those countries which claim to be Christian. For more on this, please read my articles The Sovereign Nation State and The Globalists of Left & Right.

What have these mainstream commentators [tories and libs] done during the Trump presidency? They’ve applauded every belligerent action taken by the Government and condemned every sensible and diplomatic action as “weakness,” as evidence of “Russian meddling,” as “gross disorganization” because Trump didn’t launch military attacks. Isn’t it ironic that the vast majority of these elites are the most rabid for military confrontation? Of course, they’d never want to be in the front lines or to have their kids there, just the plebs recruited by the Military, because who cares about them? And isn’t it also ironic that the far right, to an increasingly larger and vocal degree, doesn’t share the same affliction? Quite the opposite, it condemns former and future military involvements and opposes US soldiers going abroad to kill and be killed on behalf of foreign interests. But the pro-peace voices [no matter their political color] are being denounced as out of touch, isolationist, extremist, and militant. So what are these elites telling us? That censorship is freedom, secrecy is accountability, might is right, and war is peace.

The Duran: Trump snubs Corbyn, Johnson snubs Trump, but Farage & the Queen meet Trump

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the US President’s trip to the UK. Trump sounded off on Brexit, he declined to meet with Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn who then spoke at an anti-Trump rally. Conservative leader front runner, Boris Johnson, snubbed a meeting with the US President, saying he was too busy. Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage did meet with Trump who is a “believer in Brexit.”

London’s SJW mayor Sadiq Khan had a public meltdown over Trump’s visit, for which Trump tweeted at Khan, ridiculing his track record and height. And then there was the ‘scandal’ that erupted because Donald Trump touched the Queen. Christoforou and Mercouris go on to discuss the UK’s dependency on the United States and its fate outside the EU with respect to the hegemon and its blacklisted companies like Huawei.

My comment: I agree with Alexander Mercouris that Trump isn’t interested in a neoliberal world order, but I disagree that Trump is interested in a world of sovereign states that negotiate hard with each other. If a country negotiates hard, instead of caving in to the US, the war hawks in power [less concerned with euphemistic language] go on to blacklist foreign companies [Huawei, Gazprom, the National Iranian Oil Company, Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. and others], government institutions [the IRGC] and heads of state [Nicolas Maduro].

Trump is interested in a world of client states obedient first and foremost to Washington, and not anyone else. To contrast it to Obama’s stance of – hey, UK, stick in the EU, because we negotiate with the EU, and if you exit, you’ll be pushed down the list of priorities… Trump says, if the EU as a political organization won’t bend to Washington’s demands [demands, not requests, because requests don’t have threats associated with them], then we’ll negotiate directly with the EU member states [and their parties] to oppose the EU from within.

There’s nothing wrong with bilateralism, but we can clearly see that Washington is trying to keep the European states economically and militarily dependent on the US – while demanding they take a belligerent stance against Russia, China, Iran, Venezuela, and to a lesser extent Turkey, at least for now. Should Britain get a more independent PM, his or her foreign policy will have to be that of bringing the influence of other great powers in the region, in order to shrink the USA’s grip over it.

Follow the Duran website, their youtube channel, their iTunes Podcast, their Soundcloud, on Minds, on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Instagram for future videos and great discussions. If you like their content and are able to spare a few bucks, visit their Shop, their Patreon page, their Paypal to show your support.

Trump thinks we’re all Fools

by Serban V.C. Enache

On the third day of his visit to Japan, Trump publicly insulted the intelligence of his global audience. He said he’s not looking to hurt Iran at all; that he wants the Iranians to say no to nuclear weapons, because the world has enough problems with nuclear weapons – and that he isn’t seeking regime change in Iran. Trump said Iran has tremendous economic potential and that he is willing to let that country achieve its potential if they come to the negotiating table. Utter hogwash!

Let’s take a brief lesson in recent history. Ahead of his term, during the election campaign, wasn’t Trump worried that the USA’s nuclear arsenal was obsolete? Wasn’t he afraid that the nukes won’t go off if the Government launched them? Didn’t he say he wants the US to have more and better nukes? Yes, he did. Did he also speak favorably of nuclear proliferation, if that happened on the USA’s terms? Yes, back during the campaign, he invoked Japan and South Korea as potential candidates; and just recently he entertained the notion of Saudi Arabia developing its own nuclear program. What did that disgusting wretch, Mike Pompeo say about the Iranian Government? Well, he said plenty of nasty things, but the word “thugs” was given particular airtime. What does Pompeo say about the Saudi Government, after Khashoggi’s barbaric assassination and after the butchery displayed by that same Government with the recent executions of dissenters, including the 16 year old boy that was crucified? What about the siege of Yemen? Crickets? Yeah, that’s what I thought too.

Now let’s talk about nuclear weapons in the Middle East. Israel is the single actor in the region which has nuclear weapons. Israel is not even a signatory of the non-proliferation treaty. Iran’s leadership repeatedly said that it doesn’t seek to develop atomic weapons and that it desires the Middle East to be a region free of such weapons. The regime in Teheran has been following the agreement struck with the Obama administration in 2015. The International Atomic Energy Agency [the IAEA] has repeatedly confirmed that Iran is compliant with the nuclear deal’s terms. But let’s say that Iran wished to follow the US in abandoning the accord. Isn’t it hypocritical for Washington to decide which countries can and can’t have nukes? Who is Trump to decide which countries are free to better themselves [economically] and which are forbidden to? From what moral law does such a view stem, because it certainly doesn’t spring from International Law, or from Natural Law [see Vattel, Grotius & others]. I suppose it springs from the [garbage] idea that the United States is god’s chosen country, while the rest of the world’s nations are composed of inferior races. I suppose that’s what many so-called Christians in the US believe; but their god sounds a lot like the barbaric and genocidal Yahweh, and not like Jesus Christ. Then again, the USA is a place full of fake Christians that – since 1776 – has been at peace for less than 20 years. The rest of the time it’s been engaged in some type of military conflict, at home and or abroad.

Trump’s claim that he isn’t looking to hurt Iran at all is absolutely ridiculous, given his Government’s belligerent statements [from press conferences to posts on social media], military operations, and financial sanctions – going so far to threaten any other country willing to do commerce with Iran with the same belligerent actions. The freezing of a country’s foreign assets and trade sanctions is war by other means and it too produces plenty of victims. Trump’s sanctions against Venezuela, initiated in August 2017, are responsible for tens of thousands of deaths in that country. The strong-arm tactic is absolutely about HURTING the other side, to squeeze concessions out of him. It has nothing to do with bargaining in good faith [positive sum outcomes for all].

I think not even Trump’s base believes him anymore when it comes to foreign interventionism. Trump has done so many 180 degree turns on this subject [and others], that one would have to be an utter fool to believe he’s adamant about anything. And that’s precisely what Trump is gambling on; the desire of the American public to remain willfully ignorant. He’s gambling on the larger hatred for the liberals and the SJWs among republicans and independents, to – in their eyes – outweigh his own broken promises and policy failures. If that happens, and it likely will, Trump and his neocons and the Deep State and all the rent-seekers and usurers and war profiteers behind them will get another term, another chance to rob and destroy nations.