365 Days in Aspen

JMO, Part 2B: More on Campaign Financing and Corporate Corruption

jmo2Yesterday I talked about the corruption happening between politicians and corporations and special interests – and how it's destroying our nation, our planet and our values. 

It's like an addiction. The more money made, the more spent to support politicians so they can make more money. The more addictive the substance, the more drug pushers there are to keep you hooked. 

Today I want to talk about patents, monopolies and capitalism – and how they all work together – and against each other (and us). 

Capitalism at it's core is not a bad system. It's actually kind of great. It fosters competition, which is also great. And it has a self-regulating system. Let's say I want to start baking cakes. If I can make a great cake, and there are people who want cakes, then there's a market. If my cakes are better than the competition, or if I offer an additional service, like delivery, then I can charge more. If I charge too much, then someone else can start making cakes and take business away from me. If I don't want to deliver outside a particular area, or make a particular kind of cake, then someone else can take over that part of the business. No need for government involvement at all. 

Now let's say I come up with a special recipe – a very special recipe – and patent it. I'm the only one who can make that particular kind of cake. If I go to the trouble to invent it, test it, patent it and market it, if it's unique enough, I have the to "own" it. Which means I'm the only one who can market/sell that particular kind of cake. Tough noogies on the competition. They can invent their own kind of cake.

Now let's suppose there's an ingredient or combination of ingredients in this cake that cures hiccups. Now my invention is worth even more. And I can charge more. So far so good. Except…

If this cake is the only cure for hiccups. Or the only one with no side effects. And let's say hiccups are a chronic, terminal illness and this cake recipe is the miracle cure. Now what?

Now this is inviting government intervention. Basically, the government should give me two options. Either I'm forced to share my patent, or I'm forced to reduce my price (margin) to make it affordable. Of course, I should still be allowed to have a fair margin on my product. Otherwise, why would I go to the trouble to invent and test a new product at all? 

What's a "fair margin," you ask? See tomorrow's blog for more on that. Let's go back to the issue being discussed. 

The problem now is that the system isn't working, and it's inviting corruption – on both political sides. Now, I have the option, as the company owner, of paying off politicians who support my right to keep my patent and charge whatever I want (and not really care about the people who are suffering or die from hiccups).  (The Republican approach).  Or the government would propose to take taxpayer money to offer the "cake cure" to the people who need it. (The Democratic approach).  Neither is a good option – especially when one of the first two options are waaay more logical. 

In a future post, see my thoughts – and solution – on the Wage Gap and corporate responsibility.