In Defense of COVID Billionaires

Billionaires may well have enabled our greatest (only?) policy successes in 2020.


People love to hate billionaires. And they really love to hate large pharmaceutical companies.

But at the very least, the last year has complicated the popular narrative that drug manufacturers and businessmen are selfish profit-taking parasites, hoarding wealth at the expense of the sick. Faced with the challenge of the novel coronavirus, big pharmaceutical companies didn't just beat their record for developing a new vaccine. They utterly demolished it. Multiple vaccines have been created and tested in under a year. The previous record was set in the 1960s by the mumps vaccine, which took five times longer.

The fact that there were numerous firms racing toward many different vaccines wasn't wasteful; it was crucial redundancy on a difficult high-stakes problem where time was of the essence. And one reason so many were able to spin up COVID response efforts quickly is that they were already sitting on giant piles of cash, enormous, expensive labs, and offices full of well-paid scientists, engineers, and strategists.

This is how pharmaceutical firms work: They laboriously develop and test new drugs, then sell them at a profit. The money they make is reinvested into more research—the leading firms plow about a quarter of their total sales into R&D—and, crucially, profits attract more capital.

In 2019, the top 10 pharmaceutical companies invested over $82 billion in research and development, according to the drug data firm Evaluate. If you include the whole industry, that number is closer to $150 billion. Compare that to the total budget of the National Institutes of Health, which was $39 billion the same year. When the threat posed by COVID-19 became clear, Pfizer, Gilead, Moderna, and others dropped ongoing research projects and diverted billions to solving the puzzle of the pandemic.

The simple fact is that major medical discoveries take a mind-blowing amount of time and money. Sometimes the latter can compensate for the former, but not entirely. The greatest achievement of 2020 would not have been possible in an environment where many more regulations constrained the industry, its growth, or its capacity to generate profit. No amount of government cash or prodding could have produced the innovation we witnessed in 2020 if the capacity and institutional knowledge about rapid development wasn't already there.

And that's exactly what the pharmaceutical companies have been trying to tell us for ages. "The argument of the industry for a long time has been 'we're innovative, you've got to pay up for innovation,'" Dan Mahony, co-head of health care for Polar Capital, told the Financial Times. "That premise has been put to the test this year and the industry has over-delivered."

Of course there are bad actors in the pharma sector—and bad incentives, in the form of our broken intellectual property regime and the too-limited attention span of some institutional investors. But the vaccine success of 2020 has been a demonstration project in the industry's core argument about the relationship between profits and innovation.

What about the role of government? After all, weren't these firms being coordinated by the federal Operation Warp Speed? It's true that this particular state intervention was quite well designed, as far as these things go: It functioned essentially as prize money for proven success. Government de-risked much of the endeavor, promising to purchase specific numbers of doses from several different companies if they produced a working vaccine, as well as offering more targeted support for development and research to some firms. But we shouldn't overstate the role of that taxpayer money in motivating swift action. Nearly all of the large pharma companies joined the fray months before those guarantees were formally put in place this summer.

There was also a little kerfuffle when Donald Trump announced the first vaccine success in November. Pfizer wanted to make it clear that—unlike Moderna and some other competitors—the firm has not received funds for development from the administration. In fact, it refused that offer of assistance because it was wary of the strings that might be attached. Pfizer later conceded, however, that it was relying on the federal government as a buyer.

American companies have dominated the vaccine development race, but they are certainly not working alone. And it would be a mistake to view the project through the lens of nation-states. Nationalism is poised to rear its ugly head in the dissemination phase as rich countries jockey for access to vaccine stocks. While the desire to be first in line is understandable, the element of Operation Warp Speed that essentially places the United States ahead of other nations and allows the government to control allocation of the vaccine may backfire.

Pharma companies, known for being ruthlessly competitive with each other, figured out how to work in an efficient and complementary way on the vaccine moonshot. They worked across borders and around barriers. Governments should follow their example, if they can.

Not coincidentally, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines wouldn't have been possible without the notable contributions of immigrants or children of immigrants—many from much-reviled Muslim-majority countries, no less. As Ilya Somin notes at The Volokh Conspiracy, Moderna co-founder Noubar Afeyan emigrated with his parents from Lebanon to Canada as a teenager. Ugur Sahin and Özlem Türeci, husband and wife co-founders of German firm BioNTech (which collaborated with Pfizer), are children of Turkish immigrants who came to Germany as guest workers.

Even Moncef Slaoui, the scientist who heads up Operation Warp Speed for the federal government, emigrated from Morocco to Belgium at the age of 17, before ending up in the United States.

The record-setting pace of vaccine development was made possible by the free movement of people, goods, and ideas across borders. Let's not lose sight of that once vaccines start rolling off the assembly lines in earnest.

Then there's the question of who will get rich. Will some people become billionaires off the COVID vaccine? Will some billionaires see their wealth multiply? Of course. In fact, several CEOs and founders of pharmaceutical firms have already joined the ranks of billionaires during the pandemic, and Moderna's stock has jumped 400 percent, according to Forbes.

Billionaires are not evidence of policy failure, despite what the tired lefty slogan would have you believe. Quite the opposite. Some of them, and the large, innovative firms their wealth derives from, may well have enabled our greatest (only?) policy successes in 2020.

Big pharma is the most significant. But one could point to a few other billionaires who deserve credit for other bright spots in a dark year. Many of us came to rely on Amazon—a $1.6 trillion company led by world's richest man Jeff Bezos—to meet basic needs. Amazon's sheer size, flexible labor force, access to capital, and proven ability to ramp up operations quickly were central to the success of the online superstore in adapting to the challenges of a global pandemic.

Meanwhile, two inspiring and completely successful manned space missions would have been impossible without billionaire Elon Musk's quirky obsession with getting off the surface of the planet. (His company Space X is currently valued at $100 billion.) And Zoom founder and CEO Eric Yuan, already a member of the three-comma club, saw his net worth grow by about 400 percent in 2020.

Obviously, there are billionaires whose gains are ill-gotten, including those who are primarily the beneficiaries of rent-seeking and other zero-sum behaviors. Government makes billionaires sometimes by letting some people take other people's stuff. Other times, barriers to entry and other regulatory protections end up locking in the fortunes of those who should have lost them to upstarts and competitors.

But private innovations made it possible, and even sometimes pleasurable, to exist in a nightmare scenario. There have been plenty of policy failures in 2020, but the money made by these remarkable entrepreneurs is not one of them.

William Nordhaus, a Nobel Prize winner in economics, estimates that innovators capture about 2 percent of the economic value that they create. The COVID vaccination effort will illustrate this phenomenon in stark terms: The benefits to life, health, and livelihood that will accrue across the globe will be almost incomprehensibly massive. While pharmaceutical companies will end up taking relatively modest returns, some will begrudge them even those. The same is true of the Yuan, Bezos, and Musk fortunes as well. They got more money, it's true, but we got to see the faces of the people we love at a time when leaving home was dangerous; got the stuff we needed delivered to our doorsteps when stores felt scary; and maybe even got the beginnings of a way off the surface of this pestilential planet.

Bill Gates has been bringing his philanthropic billions to bear on the problem of COVID, of course, running and bankrolling an $11 billion effort through the World Health Organization. In 2019, though, he was asked about "the idea that there shouldn't be billionaires." He replied: "I'm afraid if you really implemented something like that, that the amount you would gain would be much less than the amount you would lose."

NEXT: The Uproar Over New Federal Dietary Guidelines Is a Lot of Hot Air

Future Coronavirus Pharmaceuticals Public Health Wealth

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311 responses to “In Defense of COVID Billionaires

  1. “People love to hate billionaires.”

    Not us Koch / Reason libertarians though. In fact, our entire philosophy is dedicated to making billionaires — especially our benefactor Charles Koch — even richer.


  2. Either I am very sleepy, or he did not mention the number of useless regulations waived of forgiven as the major contributor to speed and success.
    So government’s biggest contribution was to not “do it’s job”.

    1. Ironically – It never was it’s job.

  3. They got more money, it’s true, but we got to see the faces of the people we love at a time when leaving home was dangerous; got the stuff we needed delivered to our doorsteps when stores felt scary; and maybe even got the beginnings of a way off the surface of this pestilential planet.

    Somebody’s ready for the Great Reset.

    1. What a stupid brainwashed dipshit this woman is. Fully propagandized into being terrified of going to the grocery store, and more than to pass the propaganda along as “libertarianism”. But what can you really expect from someone who dyes her hair blue.

      It’s too bad there isn’t another habitable planet nearby we could ship her off to, along with all the other liberal propagandists at Reason. Personally, I like this planet.

      1. I can honestly say I’ve never thought “leaving home is dangerous” or “stores feel scary!” The only emotions I’ve felt this year were a mix of anger at how easily we were letting our freedoms be taken away or sadness for all of the people who weren’t allowed to work. But what do I know? I’m not an editor at a “libertarian” magazine

        1. Exactly. The COVID hypocrisy never ceases to amaze. Home Depot, Kroger, Walmart: PACKED to the gills, every single day.
          Yet whatever arbitrary rules they claim are imperative (see, mail-in voting with zero oversight, churches closed, schools closed) are swept past us like we are residents of China.

          1. Our restaurants and churches have been open since May. The whole country isn’t California and NY.

        2. Sarcasmic thinks you’re an asshole for understanding life isn’t risk free.

          The fact that people are convinced life would be utterly safe with masks is astounding. Even with the hedged numbers of died with, the numbers are miniscule, less than an 8% excess death rate. 3 million die a year. Covid has effected mostly those at old age and with dire health problems already. Keep seeing story after story of covid killing advanced alzheimers patients, people with short expected life spans already. The fact that the average age of death for died with covid is above the US average life expectancy is very telling. Yet assholes like those prior mentioned think it is a value to exchange their liberty for warm fuzzies of safety. It is embarrassing. And even more so to see reason defense against the common trope of safety for freedom.

          1. No, I said that you are an asshole for refusing to wear a mask around elderly people who are at risk, just so you can virtue signal to fellow Trumpistas.

            1. JesseAz’s never honestly recaps anything. He always adds some small or huge spin on the truth.

              1. Kinda like when sarc added in spitting in people’s faces?

                1. That’s called hyperbole. You and your buddies are losers in the arena of ideas and you know it, so you tell deliberate lies and flail at strawmen because you know you’d be trounced in anything remotely resembling an honest debate.

                  1. That’s right, I forgot. When sarc lies he’s not really lying.

                    1. So you either don’t understand, or are too dishonest to acknowledge (my bet’s on the former, you really aren’t that bright), the difference between exaggerating for effect and using deliberate ad hominem and strawmen fallacies.

                    2. You, of all people, shouldn’t be lecturing R Mac on using ad hominem and strawmen fallacies.

                    3. “You, of all people, shouldn’t be lecturing R Mac on using ad hominem and strawmen fallacies.”

                      Translation: It’s ok when I lie and lie and lie some more if I accuse you of doing it first!

                    4. Hilarious! You use an ad hominem to try to prove you don’t rely on personal attacks! What a loser!

                    5. I’m not R Mac and I do use personal attacks because I find you dishonest and repellent. You disgust me Sarc. I think that you’re a piece of shit.

                      But unlike you, I’m not a hypocrite about it. I will freely admit to attacking your repugnant person.

                    6. I disgust Mother’s, too, sarc. I wear it as a badge of honor.

                    7. “You disgust me Sarc. I think that you’re a piece of shit.”

                      The feeling is mutual. Though, unlike you, I actually argue the subject at hand instead of hurling insults like an angry child. I literally can’t remember a single statement you made on whatever was being argued. You just attack people. And you think that makes you awesome. Maybe to your fellow man-children, but we adults look down upon you with pity.

                    8. Though, unlike you, I actually argue the subject at hand instead of hurling insults like an angry child.

                      Lol, the hell. Spazzing out like a toddler is probably why your wife left you.

                    9. Is that true, that your wife left you sarc? Maybe that’s what broke you?

                      Meh, I don’t really care. I don’t even care that you have amazingly flexible rules for what’s a lie, what’s hyperbole, sarcasm, exaggerating for effect, etc, etc. But all the sudden I’m suspecting that this fluidity with the truth might have something to do with your wife leaving you?

          2. IMO, progressives have a core belief that life should not have risks (or rewards for taking risks) of any kind, from health to commerce. That might be part of their distaste for personal, objective success.

            1. Their disdain for success is because of their obsession with fairness. It’s not fair that some succeed while others do not. The solution is to reduce everyone to the lowest common denominator.

          3. Sarcastic is a sockpuppet for one of the staffers. Spouting liberal propaganda and calling it libertarianism is his (or her) job. And today is obviously a work day.

            1. If you’re gonna lie about me the least you could do is spell my handle correctly. Loser.

              1. You can say whatever you want, but you don’t fool me. You’re a paid staffer sockpuppet, and you’re also an Osama Obama yo momma the llama mofo mofo mufaletta mama.

                1. Bring back sickpuppet !!!!!

            2. CACLLs never believe anything without evidence, except when they do.

              1. Dee’s hatred for Canadian children continues.


                1. The problem is that one Canadian child grew up to be Mother’s Lament. We cannot take the risk of that happening twice.

                  1. “uR A cAnAdiAN”


                  2. Who is ‘we’? No one here believes or supports you. You’re a pathetic joke.

              2. Lol, never forget:

                The White Knight
                October.22.2020 at 3:18 pm

                It means conservative and conservative-leaning libertarian, and I coined it.

                1. I guess in Canada nobody can coin an acronym without government and Académie Française approval.

                  1. lol you made history. You are almost as important as this website now.

                    1. Thanks for trying to cheer me up, but I won’t feel fulfilled until my acronym is official recognized by the Canadian government and the Académie.

                    2. Have you told anyone outside this comment section about your clever acronym? Because you should. Tell everyone you know, it’s that good!

                  2. Coin away, and I’ll keep pointing out your sad, misguided attempts at sounding scholarly.

                    Anyway, votre mensonge constant est évident dans n’importe quelle langue, vous crétin malhonnête. Nobody is fooled.

                    1. In Southern British Columbia you speak French? I thought it was English followed by Cantonese, Mandarin and some others.

      2. Face it. Women are much more inclined to fear, pity, and nannyism. The more they influence social and political policy, the more every year will be like 2020.

        1. Hello? Have you not seen Cuomo in action lately? Newsom? I think when you say “women” what you mean is “Democrats.”

          1. I suppose we could make the distinction as “people who behave like pussies” instead of “people who have pussies”. But those categories do overlap significantly.

            1. Third category: people who like to use the word pussy to feel macho. I’m not in any of the three categories.

        2. If that is true, and I’m not sure it is, 50% of the population should get some say in social and political policy, even if it isn’t what the other 50% would prefer.

          1. So if 50% of the population votes to kill you and steal your stuff its okay, even if it’s not what you prefer?

            1. Nope, but maybe, just maybe we should let women have some say in how the country is governed.

              1. Maybe we should examine the fact that men got the vote in exchange for being forced to fight and die at the whim of their government, and women got the vote in exchange for bitching that they didn’t have it and committing terrorist acts.

                1. And also: PROHIBITION. That was women’s major vote getting success story.

  4. This all sounds good, but it doesn’t address the central question of the vaccine, why did they develop it in the first place? See, contrary to the assertion that it took nearly a year to develop this vaccine, it only took two days to develop a vaccine, long before it was even known to be a threat, before it reached the US, before it was even officially known to be contagious through human-to-human contact. The entire year that it took to “develop” this vaccine was actually spent on testing the vaccine, not on creating it.

    So the question, again, why the rush to create a vaccine for some strange sort of flu that had only a handful of victims in China? It’s almost as if these scientists had some sort of foreknowledge of what was coming, as if they knew quite a lot more than what they were letting on about this particular coronavirus, as if they knew how contagious it was and how fast it would spread, as if maybe it wasn’t a “novel” coronavirus at all, but maybe something that had been studied closely and thoroughly in a lab somewhere prior to being either accidentally or purposely released from the confines of the lab.

    But that would be a silly conspiracy theory, I’m sure pharmaceutical companies invent vaccines in a matter of days for all sorts of infections that have a known market of only a few dozen people.

    1. The virus is a hoax conspiracy bio weapon released by China to enrich Amazon. It’s also a hoax that’s no different than the common cold. Except it’s a bio weapon. But it’s a hoax. And a bio weapon. Trying to doublethink like a conservative makes my head hurt.

      1. When you realize that a large number of government officials have been bought off by China, you might begin to understand how it could be both. It’s a fairly mild bio weapon from China that is being blown out of proportion by governments and the media in order to fuck up the economy and control people. Not that difficult to understand and it’s only a “conservative” idea in the US.

        1. You forgot to mention THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION EVER.

          1. NOT safe to vote. We will mail out millions of blank ballots and then just drop them off by the side of the road, or better yet, Mark Zuckerberg’s squad will come pick them up from your nursing home/apartment complex/community center/Indian reservation/wherever you want to toss them as long as they say Biden.

            1. I did recently hear from a friend who chose not to send holiday cards because physical mail is dangerous, i.e. cooties. So voting by mail is also too risky for some pussies*.

              *ref my comment above

          2. Every election is THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION EVER because if Democrats win it’s THE END OF THE FUCKING WORLD!

            1. Now review the twisted panties, hair-on-fire media from 2016-2020.

              1. Maybe something like Trump is going to refuse to accept the outcome of the election so he can declare himself presidente for life, and his minions will cheer him on while shooting guns in the air?

                Oh no, that’s just a paranoid rant. Nothing like that could ever happen in America.

        2. A mild bio weapon? I see why your thought processes make rational people like sarcasm’s heads hurt.

          1. Typical shitty Chinese quality.

      2. I still think the virus was in the process of being developed as a bio-weapon when it escaped the lab. My guess would be that it was being developed as a crowd-control weapon against the Hong-Kong protestors. The only “hoax” part of this pandemic is that the virus is the second coming of the Black Death and it’s worth destroying society in order to save the human race.

        1. I agree that it is more than likely a bio weapon, that it accidently was released I have issues with knowing what we now know. The fact that the vaccine was already developed prior to the full blown pandemic becoming an issue is just one of the red flags. For me it is the fact that only 87,000 Chicoms have contracted the disease…you can’t fart in China without a thousand people being killed and yet they have only 4600 deaths? Even Japan has 250,000 cases. It is more likely they already administered the vaccine and the fatalities are the normal results of those whom are not protected by the vaccine. I know, I know there are those who will say that they are lying and covering up for the actual amount…I don’t think so if there was anywhere near the amount that would be expected they could not hide it, no they were ready and vaccinated.

          1. Maybe China is lying about the numbers?

          2. When you say “the vaccine was already developed prior to the full blown pandemic becoming an issue” are you referring to Moderna’s already having been working on a vaccine for a similar virus?

        2. Just because some socialist chink researchers stole pathogens from labs in the US and Canada (we know about it because they got caught) and bring them back to wuhans level 4 (highest lab) bio lab, that does not mean they are nefarious

      3. The virus is a manmade bioweapon developed by China to further “the great reset” that the Davos crowd started talking about in 2014.
        They even named the virus and talked about protests and government intervention.
        Politico knew this waaaaay back in March 2020: https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/03/19/coronavirus-effect-economy-life-society-analysis-covid-135579

        One week into the virus, and they are talking about the GREAT POLITICAL OPPORTUNITIES. Huh?

        1. The virus is a LIZARD-made bioweapon developed by LIZARDS!!!


          Anthony Quinntold me so! From the above link…

          Warner’s writings also discuss the conspiracy theory that Earth is controlled by a race of reptilian lizard people.

          “They put a switch into the human brain so they could walk among us and appear human,” Warner wrote.

          1. Don’t know who Warner is, but I do know this:
            Bill Gates now denies that this ever took place, but Johns Hopkins doesn’t:

            WHY LOOK! It’s plan for a global pandemic and then a reset of the new world order as a result. Where’s Bob Woodward on this one? Or on the fact that Jerryskids pointed out that there have been vaccines since spring of last year? Where’s that story in the Marxist media?

            1. Whoa, thanks for flagging Jerryskids’ link, it is a good read! Re-posting it here in case others missed it…


              We Had the Vaccine the Whole Time

              Out-take from there below:

              “To be clear, I don’t want to suggest that Moderna should have been allowed to roll out its vaccine in February or even in May, when interim results from its Phase I trial demonstrated its basic safety.”

              I disagree! If I as a supposedly “free” humanoid want to take a risk and get the shot early, WHY shouldn’t I be able to? FDA sucks, as it is a hindrance to us all! At the VERY most, I could see Government Almighty mandating that if I chose to take a risk and get an experimental vaccine (along with validly contracting OFF, my “right” to sue, should things go wrong), I (and more so, Moderna for example) should at least be beholden to report the results. Other than that, I wish that the FDA and Government Almighty would just BUZZ OFF!!!

            2. Full on q cult nonsense. You need to get off the internet for a month and let your brain heal.

              1. You still believe Russians worked with trump in 2016 stolen Valor.

                1. You still believe a game show host is the best president ever.

                  1. I do, well, in the last seventy years anyway.

                  2. “You still believe a game show host is the best president ever.”

                    This is exactly the kind of criticism Tony would make. You should be embarrassed, seriously.

                    Most presidents are career politicians who have lost all touch with how normal people live and work. Anyone who has ever held a real job has a better chance of being a good president than the typical government parasite who sets their sights on higher office.

                  3. This is exactly the kind of criticism Tony would make. You should be embarrassed, seriously.

                    I suppose my quip was an insult to Alex Trebek. Should have been more specific and said “narcistic, nationalistic, shameless, bombastic buffoon who cultivates a cult of personality reminiscent of 20th century dictators.”


                    1. Isn’t that a description of you after your nightly twenty-sixer for dessert?

                      We should ask your ex.

              2. “uR A cULt”

      4. Shouldn’t you be value signaling with other cosplay libs yelling assholes at non mask wearers?

        1. Shouldn’t you be virtue signaling to your fellow Trumpistas by calling me childish names?

          Oh, never mind. You just did.

          1. Have another morning tallboy sarc.
            Your maudlin self-pity today isn’t yet up to to your regular standards.

            1. Oh how cute! More Trumpista virtue signaling!

              1. I’m cute?
                Maybe you have had enough after all.

                1. Oh yeah! The way you lie and toss around playground insults is totally cute! In a demeaning sort of way of course.

                  1. I’m curious sarc… what does “Trumpista virtue signaling” have to do with your morning beer/s?

                    1. Pretty sure sarc starts the day with some liquor.

    2. Now, now. We all know that the disease was planted in pangolins prior to Randy Marsh’s visit to China to visit Pooh Bear, and that Randy brought it to the US after copulating with said pangolins.

    3. You forgot about SARS-COVID-1 which happened during the Obama administration (his administration forgot to replenish the PPE stockpile. Thanks Obama). This round is SARS-COVID-2, Electric Bugaloo. And it’s back with vengeance.

  5. “In 2019, the top 10 pharmaceutical companies invested over $82 billion in research and development, according to the drug data firm Evaluate. If you include the whole industry, that number is closer to $150 billion. Compare that to the total budget of the National Institutes of Health, which was $39 billion the same year.”

    And how much did those companies spend in 2019 on advertising, marketing, and promotions?

    Don’t get me wrong. I fully support free markets and applaud how companies make decisions based on potential returns–and risks. I also suspect that smart people in these companies recognized the potential demand as publicity (and panic) surged in 2020.

    1. And how much did those companies spend in 2019 on advertising, marketing, and promotions?

      I’m betting it was less than the $39B that the NIH spent.

  6. “Pfizer wanted to make it clear that—unlike Moderna and some other competitors—the firm has not received funds for development from the administration. In fact, it refused that offer of assistance because it was wary of the strings that might be attached. Pfizer later conceded, however, that it was relying on the federal government as a buyer.

    American companies have dominated the vaccine development race, but they are certainly not working alone.’

    Have any Democrats criticized the government for doing too much during the pandemic or, much less, getting in the way of vaccine development and distribution? Haven’t writers here at Reason, even, repeatedly criticized President Trump for bungling the vaccine distribution–just over the past week? Did they ever make it clear that they wanted him to do less–or wasn’t it always clear that they wanted him to do more?

    To whatever extent President Trump has stayed out of the way, he can legitimately boast about the outcome of helping to develop the vaccines faster than any other vaccine in history. It’s my understanding that his efforts on that front involved getting regulators to play ball and stay out of the way. And if that’s what he did, it was both unusual and probably amazing under the circumstances and given what other politicians do in those circumstances.

    This is very different from, say, Al Gore bragging about starting the internet or the Clinton Administration doing everything they could to undermine Celera’s accomplishments in sequencing the human genome–for fear that Celera’s accomplishments, without the government and at a fraction of the cost, would make their administration look bad.

    We see this over and over again.

    SpaceX’s rockets started development about the same time as NASA’s SLS rockets. SpaceX has already been launching reusable rockets for years–the development and launch of which cost the taxpayers nothing. The price SpaceX charges customers is reportedly $62 million for a launch. NASA’s SLS rocket is still in the development stage, has cost the taxpayers approximately $20 billion since the project was launched in 2011, and when it’s ready, each launch will reportedly cost $2 billion a pop. It’s an embarrassment!


    If and when Biden wins control of the senate on Tuesday, we’ll see the same thing play out when Biden institutes his Green New Deal. He wants to spend trillions out of our future paychecks to hire administrators from the same clown colleges that are still working on NASA’s obviated SLS rocket. It’ll be even more embarrassing than NASA’s ridiculous program, too. The world is awash in investor money looking to develop green technologies–if your idea can’t find funding, its a shitty idea. Tesla has basically transformed the auto industry–using private investors’ money for development–and every major automotive manufacturer in the world is competing with each other to go electric. That’s what Biden and the Democrats refer to as “doing nothing” about climate change.

    Believing that the key to technological and economic transformation is government is dumber than creationism. Believing that the universe is so big and complicated that it must have been initiated by a omniscient god is far more rational than the idea that Joe Biden and his merry band of bureaucrats have the knowledge and means to transform our society for the better. What could be dumber than that?

    1. I believe Musk has gotten a lot of public money.

      1. And that’s generally a good thing–if he’s replacing government with private enterprise.

        I think it’s plenty clear by now that even if it weren’t for the subsidies, Tesla would be more or less what it is anyway. The best argument against subsidies for electric cars may be that they were unnecessary. When the market for other cars fell all over the world during the pandemic, Tesla’s sales still went through the roof–even without subsidies.

        “The Silicon Valley electric-car maker Saturday said it delivered a record 499,550 vehicles globally last year, up from roughly 367,500 the previous year. Analysts surveyed by FactSet on average expected 493,000 Tesla deliveries in 2020. Tesla said it produced 509,737 vehicles last year.

        . . . .

        Tesla’s performance through the pandemic differed from that of most of its rivals. Auto sales in much of the world languished last year as Covid-19 and measures to stem the spread of the virus kept people home, slowed production and put many out of work. Researcher LMC Automotive forecasts that 2020 demand for vehicles will come in around 14% below 2019 levels.

        —WJS 01/02/21


        Musk shouldn’t be faulted for saving the taxpayers’ money by doing it for less. And to the extent that Musk got subsidies, we shouldn’t have done that–no question.

        If you don’t see the implications of this as the alternative to Joe Biden’s Green New Deal, I don’t know what to say. The point is that just because the government isn’t spending $10 trillion on Joe Biden’s Green New Deal and heaping regulation on the economy, that doesn’t mean we’re doing nothing. Tesla, for instance, is utterly transforming the auto industry by manufacturing cars people want to buy at a price that they like. That isn’t doing nothing. That’s something the government couldn’t possibly do as successfully or at a lower cost to the taxpayers–and, unlike Biden’s Green New Deal, it doesn’t need to cost the taxpayers $10 trillion and doesn’t require all of Biden’s regulation.

        1. I want one. Those cars are rockets.

          Perhaps a few more years. Got some other things going on now.

    2. Pfizer received guarantees for buys and distribution of their drug. They were pre buys. The costs are in the billions. Them saying they used no money in research is merely a means of allowing them to patent the drug. But money is fungible. They are straight lying by saying they didn’t receive a government dime. It is a legal maneuver to keep their product as non government use and patentable.

      Normally reason wouldn’t be so dumb to fall for PR releases. In an earlier article they even discussed the nuance. But apparently not this one.

      1. I think it’s really important to recognize the difference between crony capitalism and replacing government with private industry because the outcomes are better in every way–and cost the taxpayers far less than if the government did it. There is a big difference between using private enterprise rather than government and crony capitalism.

        I’m not sure you’re making that distinction.

        The reason the government should use SpaceX for launching rockets is because launches only cost $62 million a piece and the development costs were nothing for the taxpayer. SpaceX is by far the best option from the taxpayer’s perspective. If SpaceX is making a 20% profit or higher every time they launch satellites for the government, they’re saving the taxpayers ($2 billion per launch minus $62 million) $1,938,000,000 a launch–and the $20 billion the taxpayers squandered on developing the SLS rocket might have never been spent.

        In other words, using private enterprise instead of government is not crony capitalism when the private enterprise in question offers the best solution at the lowest cost. Crony capitalism is when you pick an inferior option that costs more because the private company in question is politically connected. It’s not the same thing.

        And that works the same way with Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca competing to make a vaccines for a government contract. They developed a vaccine as fast, as safe, as effective, and as inexpensively as they possibly could. Far as we can tell, the vaccines they developed are as effective, as safe, and got here as quickly as they possibly could. That isn’t Trump picking some companies that are politically connected–regardless of whether they have the best product or the lowest costs. Hopefully, those companies rewarded with insanely high profits for their efforts.

        Because they only undertook these efforts with the understanding that there would be a payoff from a government contract doesn’t mean they didn’t save the taxpayers a tremendous amount of money in development costs either. If we were waiting for the National Institute of Health to develop us a vaccine without the profit motive, we might be waiting for a vaccine for years–or the vaccines would have been developed in other countries that aren’t so stupid about how to get things done. If we had told the biotech companies that they would be expected to provide the vaccine for free out of a sense of noblesse oblige, like the grocery store shelves in the wake of Chavez setting food prices below market, our vaccine shelf would be bare. We might never have seen a vaccine.

        1. I designed machinery for SpaceX – and for the SLS. SpaceX was competitively bid and they demanded it work and have a specific purpose. The machines for SpaceX are operating and doing well. For SLS, it was obvious that it was just a jobs programs. I met with the NASA/Boeing prime contractor. Some comments from the
          NASA/Boeing meetings:
          ” We have this machine that is going to carry your platform around. We found it is somewhat unreliable and also we are having to share it with another group. Therefore we are going to buy 2 more for redundancy (and because we can’t share) so please plan on it always being available. ”

          ” We have many machines that will never be used currently in storage. Yours may end up there also.”

          “We may need to buy another, duplicate platform in order to guarantee 100% uptime (They did at $3 million).”

          ” We are in a hurry (5 years ago).”
          The absolute waste associated with SLS was sickening. When it is not your money and money is no object they were willing to spend anything. I am surprised they chose us but we were lowest bidder. I found this out because when I was sitting in the meeting room on one of the whiteboards they had left notes on the decision matrix of the three bidders. One column showed the quoted price of each vendor. I was not allowed a camera, but I manually wrote in my notebook all of the information from the chart during the meeting which I gave to our sales guy.

        2. The point of the statement was 2 fold. They purposefully devoted monies in order to keep patents as a business decision. Secondly the make PR claims on this decision purely as PR. The government has and will fund a large percentage of their costs.

          And if we do look at space X and Musk’s other companies you have to include the full government subsidies he has received which is not part of the costs you present above. When you also include solar city musk has 5 billion in government subsidy. He has also use debt leverage stock moves to hide these costs and expenses.

          1. Which subsidies are you talking about specifically?

    3. I have long wondered, and sometimes challenged Liberals, why they ridicule creationist biology but love creationist economics.

      1. +1

        When they say it’s stupid to believe in an omnipotent God but smart to believe that Biden, Sanders, and other Democrats have the superpowers necessary to run the economy, what they’re really saying is that believing in God isn’t fashionable but believing in the Democrats’ superpowers is fashionable.

        They’re fashion victims.

        1. Just a different manifestation of religion? Never underestimate the need of many (most?) people for belief.

        2. Do you defend Trump’s interference in the economy with tariffs?

          1. You defend chinas constant interference in markets.

            1. I do?

              It’s amazing. Every day you tell me I think things that I do not think.

              1. If he argued against what you actually say he’d lose, so instead he wages ad hominem attacks while destroying strawmen. It’s all he and his buddies have.

                1. Fuck, you do nothing but call Jesse and R Mac names, and then whine like a bitch when they turn the tables on you and cry “ad hominem”.

                  What a pathetic wretch you are.

                  1. I’m always open to actual conversation, even with assholes like you. Or JesseAz. Or R Mac. Except that that never happens. And it’s not me.

                    1. Poor sarc, he’s always the victim. All the cock sucking, ass eating, lying cultists that he tries to have honest debate with are just mean girls.

          2. “Do you defend Trump’s interference in the economy with tariffs?

            Are you suggesting that because Trump was bad in one way, he’s just as bad as Biden and the Democrats?

            Because that doesn’t make any sense–especially considering that Biden has shown no intention of getting rid of Trump’s tariffs.

      2. Can you define what you mean by “creationist economics”?

        1. Divine intervention in the form of government you retarded fuck. Ie the government can centrally plan better than competing markets.

          1. I’d like Earth Skeptic’s answer, not yours.

            What you are describing would be, perhaps, “divine economics”, but where does the “creation” come in that would make it “creationist economics”?

  7. Here’s a bit of history for those of you who weren’t around at the time:

    “President Clinton and Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain said yesterday that the sequence of the human genome should be made freely available to all researchers.

    The statement led to a sharp sell-off in the stocks of biotechnology companies, which hope to profit by creating drugs based on genetic data.

    The White House quickly said it did not intend to hurt the fledgling biotechnology industry, but investors who have made biotechnology stocks the darlings of the market were unconvinced. In frantic selling, they wiped away tens of billions of dollars in market value from the industry. Genomics companies, which are racing to produce a database of human DNA, were hit hardest, with some off more than 20 percent.

    . . .

    The two leaders’ statement, which was eight months in the making, is an outgrowth of the longstanding rivalry between a public consortium of American and British academic centers and the Celera Corporation of Rockville, Md., to complete the sequence of the human genome.

    The consortium, largely financed by the National Institutes of Health and the Wellcome Trust of London, is posting its findings daily on a Web site open to all. Celera, a unit of the PE Corporation, promises to make its version of the human genome freely available when it is finished, probably this summer.

    —-New York Times

    March 15, 2000


    The government just hates it when private interests do it in a fraction of the amount of time and at a fraction of the cost.

    Blair and Clinton wiped out about $50 billion in market capitalization with their stupid statement–made for fear that Celera was about to make all the taxpayer money they squandered on their human genome “moonshot” look like a stupid waste of taxpayer money.

    1. When you consider the world GDP 50 billion isn’t really that much.

      1. It was a big deal in the biotech industry–especially with venture capital. Some of the biggest companies in the world today either didn’t exist or were just getting on their feet with venture capital at the time.

        When these small biotech companies get started, they may only get a few hundred thousand or a few million from venture capitalists. Those venture capitalists make those investments because they’re hoping that one or two out of a dozen or more will come up with something big–and they’ll either be able to go public or get a large company to pay a premium to buy them (or their patent) out before they go public.

        You kill that hope, you kill innovation.

        Pulling the rug out from under the venture capital industry for other tech at that time might have meant that some really big companies today wouldn’t exist or wouldn’t have existed for a long time. The reason so many great companies were able to find venture capital from private investors before Clinton and Blair made that statement was because Clinton and Blair hadn’t made that statement. The ultimate value of the companies that were impacted by those stupid statements were far more than $50 billion.

        A lot of libertarian capitalism is getting people to understand all the stuff they’re missing out on.

    2. You didn’t build that (genome)!

  8. According to all the movies I’ve watched on the subject of pandemics, the CDC creates the drugs and the FDA approves them within hours.

    1. Nonsense. The CIA and the military have been sitting on these vaccines for 30 years.

      Seriously, have you ever seen Outbreak?

  9. Speaking of Covid… this is what democrats are promising.


    Legislation to allow the state to arrest and detain any citizen that has a disease or was in contact with someone who had a disease.

    1. Another primary goal they’re shooting for is they want to force everyone to have to carry around their health, immunization. and biometric data on them on at all times. If they have their way, we won’t be able to go anywhere without being able to provide this info on demand. HIPAA is going the way of the dodo.

    2. And only Republican politicians seem to die from it…so maybe we should arrest Republican voters, just to be safe.

    3. One Democrat proposed it, and it is in committee.

      I learned long ago that all kinds of bills get proposed, so you cannot freak out over bills that have not made it anywhere. Or use them as examples of the mainstream position of either major party.

      1. Look at the lefty shit hand waiving authoritarianism. How quaint.

        1. Since you asked (oh, wait, you didn’t), I think it is a bad piece of proposed legislation. My point is it’s just some bill in committee.

        2. Look at the dishonest piece of shit who attacks people when he can’t respond to what they actually say. Just admit you’re a loser in the arena of ideas who couldn’t debate himself out of a wet paper bag, so you instead call people names before running away like a child.

          1. Weren’t you just shrieking about ad hominem and strawmen earlier in the thread?
            Oh! Looky here: https://reason.com/2021/01/03/in-defense-of-covid-billionaires/#comment-8670408

            But, now look at you go.

            Retarded hypocrite.

            1. You mean when I pointed out that you and your buddies have nothing but personal attacks and arguments against things people never said? Yeah, I stand by that comment because, unlike anything you’ve ever posted, it’s the truth.

              1. Okay. We’ll get into this.
                When have I ever lied here sarc?

                1. Every time you falsify what you imagine I believe.

  10. What happened to the Flu?


    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly influenza surveillance tracker reports that the cumulative positive influenza test rate from late September into the week of Dec. 19 stands at 0.2% as measured by clinical labs. That’s compared to a cumulative 8.7% from a year before.

    The weekly comparisons are even starker: This week one year ago, the positive clinical rate was 22%, where now it stands at 0.1%.

    1. That’s impossible. You’ve made it clear that masks and social distancing have no effect whatsoever on the spread of diseases, so it’s impossible that those measures are stopping the spread of other diseases. The numbers are wrong. It’s Democrat propaganda. Lies. All lies.

      1. No joke. LA has one of the strictest mask laws and lock downs and that to that the have no cases Wuhan virus

        1. Like I said below, the Republicans have proven germ theory to be wrong. Because everything Democrats believe is a lie, germ theory must also a lie. QED

          1. You believe masks are preventing the flu, a respiratory virus, while ignoring covid, a respiratory virus. This despite 80 years of research showing masks do not prevent respiratory virus.

            Then you walk into a thread and claim masks work on the flu. God damn anti science retard fuck.

            1. One of these days you’ll screw up and argue against something I actually said.

              1. But he did, you lying fuck.

                1. Oh look! Another Trump fanboy virtue signaling to his clique! How cute!

                  1. Do you even know what “virtue signaling” and “clique” actually mean, you brain-damaged drunk?

      2. They don’t you retarded fuck. The flu is being misclassified. God damn you are an idiot.

        1. “There may be quite a number of influenza cases included in the ‘presumed COVID’ category of people who have COVID symptoms (which Influenza symptoms can be mistaken for), but are not tested for SARS RNA,”

          “Masks, social distancing, and hand washing are all effective counter-measures against colds and flu.”

          …there was “no evidence to support” the contention that masks would stop influenza while failing to stop COVID.

          A 2019 World Health Organization study, meanwhile, found “no evidence that [wearing a mask] is effective in reducing transmission” of influenza, potentially suggesting that masks may not be playing much role in the currently reduced influenza levels being seen throughout the world.

          Now you’re appealing to the W.H.O.? I thought conservatives hated those globalist communist propaganda outlets.

    2. Masking, social distancing, and frequent hand washing lessens
      one’s chance of getting flu and colds? Who wudda thunk? It’s only been about 150 years since the germ theory of disease was promulgated.
      Unfortunately, when the power grubbers realize this, the American public will be told to wear masks, etc. year round forever.

      1. According to the article there’s a grand conspiracy amongst the medical community to call every infection COVID, including influenza. So the COVID numbers include the flu, since every sickness is attributed to the Chinese bioweapon.

        1. It’s not a conspiracy. when the hospitals say they will count dies with covid as a covid death in order to get more money. I believe them, they are inflating their numbers to make money and look good by saying look how hard we are working to combat this! See no conspiracy involved just listening to what they say they are doing

          1. You have no idea how a medical record works. Nor would you know how to interpret one if you could see it. It cannot be falsified. Everything, every vital sign, consult, nurses note, attending physician note, lab value, radiology report and image, is right there. Every time anyone opens it there is an electronic record.

            I do not care about your own opinion. When you go on a public forum to spread false information then I care.

            1. Not meant as an attack on your post. This conspiracy stuff is just getting beyond annoying.

            2. Part of what’s happening is that the medical people say x number of people died with COVID and then the media blithely changes that to from, and people who don’t know (or care about) the difference eat it up. I’ve been saying this for at least nine months.

            3. verything, every vital sign, consult, nurses note, attending physician note, lab value, radiology report and image, is right there. Every time anyone opens it there is an electronic record.

              People aren’t alleging that medical records are being falsified. So what’s your point?

              Perhaps you should go look up the government criteria of what constitutes a COVID death because you don’t seem to have the slightest understanding of it.

              1. Perhaps you should explain it to me. Government criteria. Heh.

                I have posted the criteria for a death record and the form to report to CDC here before. Those are medical records. You cannot inflate or fake those.

                I understand more than you know. Morning rounds begin at 7am tomorrow.

                Getting tired of arguing about it.

                1. I have posted the criteria for a death record and the form to report to CDC here before. Those are medical records. You cannot inflate or fake those.

                  Here are the criteria for CDC death reports: Coronavirus disease deaths are identified using the ICD–10 code U07.1. Deaths are coded to U07.1 when coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 are reported as a cause that contributed to death on the death certificate. These can include laboratory confirmed cases, as well as cases without laboratory confirmation. If the certifier suspects COVID-19 or determines it was likely (e.g., the circumstances were compelling within a reasonable degree of certainty), they can report COVID-19 as “probable” or “presumed” on the death certificate (5, 6).

                  So, the criteria the CDC uses are based simply on a judgment call by “the certifier”; previous medical history and any other part of the medical record are irrelevant. Even if “the certifier” deliberately and frequently made the wrong determination, there would be no penalties or even a way to detect inconsistencies with the rest of the medical record. So your talk about “medical records” is a red herring. (And, of course, most of what gets entered into medical records is just an opinion to begin with, not a verifiable fact.)

                  I understand more than you know. Morning rounds begin at 7am tomorrow.

                  So you chose a profession where intellectual ability and facts don’t matter much, but status and income are still high. And as is typical in your profession, you expect others to treat your judgment calls as if they represented truth. Thanks for clearing that up.

                  1. It’s kind of typical for people in any profession to believe they have a better grasp of the subject than someone who do something else for a living. I’m sure you consider yourself to be a wizard at whatever job it is you do that attracts arrogant liars who build themselves up by tearing others down. I bet you’re a law student with an undergrad in liberal arts.

                    1. It’s kind of typical for people in any profession to believe they have a better grasp of the subject than someone who do something else for a living.

                      True, but Echospinner isn’t opining on someone’s appendicitis (his professional subject), but instead government reporting, forensics, economics, and statistics, all subjects doctors are not experts in or trained in.

                      I’m sure you consider yourself to be a wizard at whatever job it is you do

                      Quite the opposite; I am experienced and good at my job, but I recognize the limits of my expertise. That is precisely why I call out people who, like Echospinner, believe that an appeal to their own authority should end discussions.

                      (And even among professions, the track record of physicians is particularly poor.)

                    2. “but instead government reporting, forensics, economics, and statistics, all subjects doctors are not experts in or trained in.”

                      But you are NOYBY2. Right?

                      Obviously clinical medicine, immunology, cell biology, pathology, radiology, pulmonology, critical care, emergency medicine, cardiology, laboratory medicine, epidemiology, public health, none of those have anything to the subject we are discussing.

                      You are right in some respects. The science nerds and doctors do not care much about those political things. You ask a question you get an answer.

                      What you do with that is not up to me.

                    3. But you are NOYBY2. Right?

                      I don’t attempt to argue from authority, you do. You’re simply failing at it.

                      You ask a question you get an answer.

                      I didn’t ask a question, I quoted the CDC criteria to you; they directly contradict your claim that CDC death counts must be accurate because of the way medical records are kept.

              2. No one needs to falsify anything, when public health officials will twist facts to pump up their numbers, for whatever demented reasons they have for doing so…which is why we have murder-suicides being counted among COVID deaths, as if the bullet in the brainpan was secondary to COVID virus…

                The Grand County [CO] coroner is disputing the number of COVID-19 deaths the state is reporting for the county.

                Brenda Bock told county commissioners on Tuesday that the state is reporting two additional COVID-19 deaths in Grand, which she believes should not be included.

                The coroner maintains that only one person in the county has died from COVID-19, while two more people have died with it, for a total of three COVID-related deaths in the county. However, the state is reporting five for Grand.

                In disputing the numbers, Bock explained that a couple who died of gunshot wounds late last month have been included in the state’s numbers. The state told Bock those deaths are included in the count because the two tested positive for COVID-19 within 30 days before their death.

                Bock called the state’s reporting “false and misleading.”

                “The two cases were autopsied, and the cause of death was listed as ‘blunt force injuries due to a gunshot wound,’” Bock said of what police determined to be a murder-suicide. “Nowhere did the pathologist say COVID was the cause of death.” She conceded that while the two extra deaths might not make a big difference to the state, adding them to Grand’s count increases the county’s COVID deaths by 40%. She said she is working with the state to try and get the deaths removed.

                “If we want the public to trust and believe the information being released, we need to make sure it is accurate,” Bock said.

                Grand County Public Health Director Brene Belew-Ladue explained that state and Centers for Disease Control reporting protocol requires that anyone who tested positive for COVID-19 within 30 days of their death be included in these numbers.

        2. According to the epidemiologist in the article and not the retarded alcoholic in Maine.

          1. And you accuse me of credentialism? Dude, you’re a fucking idiot who will believe anything that fits your absurd political cult.

          2. Sarcasmic’s got a degree in virology from the University of CNN.

            1. You don’t need degree to smell bullshit. What’s that I smell? Dude, you’ve been rolling in it again. Go take a shower and put on some clean clothes. That’s disgusting.

              1. Look at you go, and a short while ago you were crying about mean girls.

                I’m glad that the gloves are off now, because your experience here is about to get substantially shittier, from now on.

                1. Oh great. Insult troll has promised to troll more.

                  Here’s what you don’t get. People who didn’t peak in high school think you’re a tool. So the more you troll me, the worse you look. The only people you impress are your fellow mean girls. So bring it on. There’s this little flag on the top right. I will use it and encourage the adults (that excludes you and your fellow man-children) to use it.

                  Makes the threads easier for the adults to read.

                  1. You never peaked anywhere sarc.
                    Even your ex thinks so.

                    1. You’re right on one count. I haven’t peaked yet. My life hasn’t peaked yet. Because it keep getting better!

                    2. You’re a self-confessed jobless, homeless drunk, so it’s hard to imagine your life could possibly get too much worse. I guess that’s the big advantage to starting out at the bottom and staying there.

        3. According to the article there’s a grand conspiracy amongst the medical community to call every infection COVID, including influenza.

          Government regulations reward COVID care, and do so even in unconfirmed COVID cases. There’s nothing secret about this.

          The rational economic response is that providers will label large numbers of unconfirmed cases as COVID. Necessarily, that means that large numbers of cases labeled as COVID are not actually COVID.

          1. When you said that dispersed costs and concentrated benefits is a fallacy I stopped considering anything you say about economics.

            1. When you said that dispersed costs and concentrated benefits is a fallacy

              I said no such thing. You need to learn to read.

              1. That is exactly what you said in response to me arguing that tariffs benefit neither domestic consumers nor foreign producers. I can read just fine. You condescendingly rejected a basic principle of economics to support Trump’s trade war, so anything you say on the subject is, in my view, garbage.

                1. You condescendingly rejected a basic principle of economics to support Trump’s trade war, […] You condescendingly rejected a basic principle of economics to support Trump’s trade war, so anything you say on the subject is, in my view, garbage.

                  You misunderstood. I accuse you of neglecting that economic principle.

                  It is true that Trump’s trade war has dispersed costs and concentrated benefits (though, as you keep pointing out, those benefits are small at best).

                  But tariff-free trade with China also has dispersed costs and concentrated benefits, and those are much larger. Yet, you keep denying their existence.

      2. Dude, germ theory is a bunch of shit because leftists believe it, and everything they believe is wrong.

        1. I’m not a leftist but I believe in germ theory as does every libertarian I know. I thought the left believed chicomvirus was Divine intervention in order to bring down Literally Hitler?

          1. Dude, germ theory is a leftist plot to steal the election. If you believe it then you voted for Biden.

      3. Again, another idiot who doesn’t actually understand the issue. The flu and covid are both respiratory illnesses. Your claim is masks work for one and not the other. What many epidilemuologists are noting is covid is being misclassified.

    3. I don’t know the national numbers, but statewide, here, flu vaccinations – the regular seasonal vaccinations, are up 500% over the same time last year. That no-doubt accounts for some of the drop in “seasonal flu” cases.

  11. Articles celebrating corporatism are an interesting addition to the new Reason ‘libertarianism’.

    Of course Greenwald adds a bit of a unwelcome perspective to the billionaire love fest:

    “The lockdowns from the pandemic have ushered in a collapse of small businesses across the U.S. that has only further fortified the power of corporate giants. “Billionaires increased their wealth by more than a quarter (27.5%) at the height of the crisis from April to July, just as millions of people around the world lost their jobs or were struggling to get by on government schemes,” reported The Guardian in September. A study from July told part of the story:

    The combined wealth of the world’s super-rich reached a new peak during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a study published by the consulting firm PwC and the Swiss bank UBC on Wednesday.
    The more than 2,000 billionaires around the world managed to amass fortunes totalling around $10.2 trillion (€8.69 trillion) by July, surpassing the previous record of $8.9 trillion reached in 2017.

    Meanwhile, though exact numbers are unknown, “roughly one in five small businesses have closed,” AP notes, adding: “restaurants, bars, beauty shops and other retailers that involve face-to-face contact have been hardest hit at a time when Americans are trying to keep distance from one another.”

    Employees are now almost completely at the mercy of a handful of corporate giants which are thriving, far more trans-national than with any allegiance to the U.S.
    A Brookings Institution study this week — entitled “Amazon and Walmart have raked in billions in additional profits during the pandemic, and shared almost none of it with their workers” — found that “the COVID-19 pandemic has generated record profits for America’s biggest companies, as well as immense wealth for their founders and largest shareholders—but next to nothing for workers.”

    These COVID “winners” are not the Randian victors in free market capitalism. Quite the contrary, they are the recipients of enormous amounts of largesse from the U.S. Government, which they control through armies of lobbyists and donations and which therefore constantly intervenes in the market for their benefit.

    This is not free market capitalism rewarding innovative titans, but rather crony capitalism that is abusing the power of the state to crush small competitors, lavish corporate giants with ever more wealth and power, and turn millions of Americans into vassals whose best case scenario is working multiple jobs at low hourly wages with no benefits, few rights, and even fewer options.

    1. This

    2. The corruption of markets is actually even more blatant for the COVID vaccine itself: much of the development of the COVID-19 vaccine was massively subsidized by the state, regulations excluded most participants from the market, the money made with COVID-19 almost exclusively comes from the state as well, and the prices are not set by market mechanisms.

      And that’s what the editor in chief of a so-called “libertarian” magazine defends as a win for free markets and capitalism.

      You know, maybe the left is on to something when they refer to Reason-style “libertarians” as fascists, because what Mangu-Ward is praising is pretty much the economic model of fascist states.

  12. Nice that Reason has an article that promotes abuse,theft, and death. Lamest I’ve seen.

    1. I’ll give that a D minus, because you tried.

  13. Libertarians: “Divided government is best government so if the Republicans control one branch the best libertarian outcomes are when Democrats control another”.


    1. “Divided government is best government…”

      Damn straight! Not sure about the rest, but the less government gets done the better!

      1. Divided government means the ratchet turns one way dumbfuck. As it has for 80 years since FDR.

        1. Government is a one-way ratchet. Period. When one party controls both branches the ratchet speeds up. Divided government slows it down. Regardless it only tightens its squeeze on what’s left of our liberties.

          1. Every once in a blue moon, actually, Government Almighty limits its own powers! Glory be! Case in point: Section 230, where Government Almighty limits endless assholes and their lawyers, showing up (in the courts of Government Almighty) to sue web site owners FOR THE WRITINGS OF OTHER PEOPLE! And-or, hurting the baby feelings of JesseSPAZ or others, by rejecting their stupid posts!

            And when Government Almighty limits DOES limit its own powers, once in a blue moon, WHO shows up, bitching and crying for Government Almighty to ratchet tighter some more? JesseSPAZ and other conservaturds! Who want to make ME pay for THEIR punishment boners, by making ME give up MY free speech!

    2. Meanwhile, let’s check in on what Trump is doing to help the Georgia Republicans win:


      “Why are my own #GA Senators ⁦@KLoeffler⁩ & ⁦@Perduesenate
      ⁩ not supporting this effort?

      Oh, wow, surprising. Trump is re-tweeting criticisms that the two Georgia GOP candidates are not loyal to Him. That should really help them in this tight race!

      1. Holy shit! Trump is willing to destroy the Republican Party and throw the runoff:


        “At another point, Trump said: ‘So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.’”

        “Trump also told Raffensperger that failure to act by Tuesday would jeopardize the political fortunes of David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, Georgia’s two Republican senators whose fate in that day’s runoff elections will determine control of the U.S. Senate.

        “Trump said he plans to talk about the fraud on Monday, when he is scheduled to lead an election eve rally in Dalton, Ga. — a message that could further muddle the efforts of Republicans to get their voters out.

        “‘You have a big election coming up and because of what you’ve done to the president — you know, the people of Georgia know that this was a scam,’ Trump said. ‘Because of what you’ve done to the president, a lot of people aren’t going out to vote, and a lot of Republicans are going to vote negative, because they hate what you did to the president. Okay? They hate it. And they’re going to vote. And you would be respected, really respected, if this can be straightened out before the election.’”

      2. Oh, and let’s not let this slip by the attention of all the Trump fans here that say he is not showing signs of dementia, as Biden is:

        “Trump sounded at turns confused and meandering. At one point, he referred to Kemp as ‘George.’ He tossed out several different figures for Biden’s margin of victory in Georgia and referred to the Senate runoff, which is Tuesday, as happening ‘tomorrow’ and ‘Monday.’”

        1. Lol. What are you even quoting, Clownshow?

  14. More on covid…. based on the ENB commentary on the federal government being the issue…

    As of last week, over 600,000 vaccines have been sent to the state, but only 203,000 vaccines were administered.

    The rate in New York, however, also reflects the national average, the New York Post’s editorial board said.


  15. If we object to state coercion in order to force “healthy” behavior like wearing masks or social distancing in the face of a pandemic, then it necessarily becomes the responsibility of individuals to persuade their neighbors voluntarily to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

    1. Oh come on! Don’t you read the wise comments on this here site? Masks, social distancing and hand washing are a communist plot to destroy America with a bioweapon that’s no worse than the common cold! Don’t you understand anything?

      1. Don’t you read the wise comments on this here site? Masks, social distancing and hand washing are a communist plot

        You apparently don’t read the comments on this site. People oppose state coercion to do those things; libertarians are perfectly fine (and in fact encourage) private businesses, HOAs, and other private entities to make these decisions for themselves.

        1. Um, no. Trumpistas oppose anything that their political foes support. Which mean germ theory is out the window, as is any effort to mitigate the spread of this bioweapon that’s really a hoax put forth by communists so they can take over the world.

          1. Um, no. Trumpistas oppose anything that their political foes support.

            Correct, inasmuch “their political foes” are totalitarians out to destroy Western civilization.

            Which mean germ theory is out the window

            The issue here isn’t that conservatives reject germ theory, it’s that progressives reject history and economic reality.

            Society and people can prosper with a 1% annual death rate from epidemics; we know that because for most of human history, well into the 20th century, it has. Society cannot function with state-mandated social distancing, widespread state mandated business closures, and mask wearing.

            1. There’s quite a difference between mask wearing and social distancing, and lockdowns and mandated business closures. The former are fairly minor impositions while the latter are huge impositions.

              I don’t see where chemjeff or sarcasmic advocated for lockdowns or mandated business closures.

              1. I don’t see where chemjeff or sarcasmic advocated for lockdowns or mandated business closures.

                Sarcasmic is talking about current political solutions to the spread of the disease (including mandatory social distancing and business closures); hence, he is talking about government mandated behavior, not voluntary or free market behavior.

            2. You told me, in response to my criticism of Trump’s trade war, that dispersed costs and concentrated benefits is a fallacy. So I’m not about to listen to anything you say about “economic reality.”

              1. Stop lying.

                I accused (and accuse) you of ignoring “dispersed costs and concentrated benefits” in your advocacy of tariff-free trade with China.

        2. No, you are wrong.
          Obviously there is opposition to mask mandates.
          But there is also opposition to even trying to persuade people to wear masks, voluntarily.
          Because wearing masks is “acceding to the left” or something.

          1. Except when Trump randomly/inconsistently/occasionally went along with the idea that wearing masks are good. Like when he half-heartedly pulled a mask out of his pocket during the debates. Nobody can beat Trump if you are into receiving mixed messages.

            1. Just providing my experience viewpoint you don’t have to agree or understand just wanted to say it. I’m not big on the masks personally. I run 6 miles a day under 40 minutes, I’m in good shape and limit my interactions with folks. The mask wearing for any extended period of time gives me terrible headaches, a mild cough from the moisture (which I have no asthma or see above lung issues) and skin irritation. I’m not sure why I’m making myself feel bad most of the day at work, and probably causing long term issues for myself?

        3. If you feel like you’re in an at-risk group, then by all means take whatever measures you feel are reasonable for yourself. You can politely ask me to help you protect yourself, but don’t expect me to make any effort to help you though and if you try to force me to do so, there is going to be backlash.

          If your kid is deathly allergic to peanuts, I expect you to teach your kid to not eat peanuts, to carry an epipen in case he accidentally does so, and to politely ask me if the cookies I’m serving might possibly have peanuts in them. If you inform me before hand, I’ll probably even make an extra effort to avoid creating an issue for your kid.

          But if you say “No one who sends a kid to this school can be permitted to have any peanut products in their home because they could be uncaring assholes and let their kids eat peanut butter toast and wipe their hands on their jacket before coming to school and that would be literally murdering my precious snowflake.” I’ll probably say “Fuck you” and slick my kid’s hair back with peanut oil and send them to school with a PB&J for lunch.

    2. The “radical individualist” wants the state to coerce people. Uh huh.

      1. His point sailed over your head. I’ll spell it out: He’d prefer people to act responsibly, voluntarily.

        1. …or else.

          “Don’t make me hit you baby, you know I hate it when I have to hit you”

      2. Not what I said, liar.

        1. No, you just said that the state will coerce people and you accept that without objection.

          1. Of course the state will coerce people. That’s what the state does.
            In order to avoid this, however, it behooves individuals to act responsibly.

            1. Yes, we’re all well aware of your cowardly position. People should oppress themselves voluntarily to avoid the unpleasantness of being oppressed by the state. It’s so much easier that way.

            2. I guess you could say that I respect that COVID poses a certain level of danger, but I’m willing to take the risk knowing the danger versus being afraid of COVID. But again, life is filled with risks, real and imagined. We commonly accept certain risks and behaviors that, in it’s worst case, result in a certain amount of deaths. Like driving cars, riding motorcycles, or parachuting out of airplanes for fun, or swimming, using ladders, or a million other things that kill people.

              If we adhered to “if it saves one life…” no one would ever be allowed to drive or go swimming ever again.

              As a society, we’re clearly OK with the fact that car wrecks will kill 40k Americans every year. No one gives it a second thought–unless the person killed is a friend or relative.

              We also clearly accept the risk posed by certain infectious diseases, like the flu that kills thousands of Americans every winter–at least we used to before COVID. Flu killed thousands of at-risk people every year and we never did anything remotely like shutting down the economy or mandating masks and social distancing. When flu kills 60-90k a few years ago, did anyone even notice? We certainly didn’t do any of these things.

              Fearing COVID at the levels many people seem to looks like raw panic to me, and panicky people do stupid things. I think Agent K says “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals, and you know it.”

  16. Just got Little Bastards from The Kills in the mail. Awesome. 20 songs on the cd.

    Here’s the first tune. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qywpubrj2WU

    1. Good to see our taxpayer dollars going to good use. Do your turn it up loud enough to drown out your underage daughter’s screams while you’re forcing your dick inside her?

  17. Here are some actual facts:

    (1) The research underlying the COVID vaccine was massively subsidized by taxpayers.

    (2) The price for the COVID vaccine is largely born by tax payers, not by private payers in the free market.

    (3) The reason vaccine development is so expensive is the government regulatory and approval process.

    (4) It is false to assume that the vaccine wouldn’t have been developed without immigration, or without these specific immigrants. In fact, that assumption takes genetic/biological predestination to an absurd limit.

    (5) Even if these specific individuals were uniquely predestined to develop this vaccine, without immigrating to Europe or the US, these researchers might have succeeded in their own countries and contributed to improving them.

    (6) People who oppose large scale immigration don’t deny that there are smart people coming from those countries, they are concerned about the impact of large scale immigration from those countries. They advocate selective immigration for demonstrabl skilled workers. The article commits the common “concentrated benefits, diffuses costs” error.

    (7) The article mixes up several kinds of immigration: skilled immigration to the US, immigration to Germany, and “free movement”. Historically, there hasn’t been free movement of people, only selective immigration, so these individuals tell you nothing about the effects of free movement. Furthermore, Germany forces immigrants to learn the language and culturally assimilate, something the US does not do. The effects of immigration policy are in the details.

    In reality, both drug/vaccine development and the handling of COVID-19 are a shitshow of government failure, crony capitalism, and economic inefficiencies, and this so-called “libertarian magazine” celebrates this shitshow as a win for free markets.

    Mangu-Ward’s article is worthy of Pravda: “Look what our glorious state has achieved and how erasing the borders between the Soviet Republics has led to prosperity for all!”

    1. Pfizer and the partner BioNTech did not take one dime of US government money to develop the vaccine.

      Moderna which is an R&D company with little production capacity did.

      The highest price is around $30 per dose from Moderna. The Astra Zenica vaccine in around $8 per dose. You got that much in your wallet?

      The point about immigration is that this amazing effort could not happen without without an international effort. Free exchange of people and information. This is happening not just in vaccines but in diagnosis and therapy.


      1. Pfizer and the partner BioNTech did not take one dime of US government money to develop the vaccine.

        You’re avoiding the issue. They were all subsidized through state supported basic research and training, paid for largely by US and European taxpayers. They are also subsidized indirectly through regulations.

        The highest price is around $30 per dose from Moderna. The Astra Zenica vaccine in around $8 per dose. You got that much in your wallet?

        Yes, and those prices were negotiated with governments, rather than set by a free market.

        The point about immigration is that this amazing effort could not happen without without an international effort. Free exchange of people and information.

        Yes, scientists and academics should be able to travel freely around the world and visit each other. What does that have to do with immigration, let alone immigration of non-scientists?

        1. You have conceded every point I made NOYBE2.

          Prices negotiated with governments. Yet you argue for market value. It is not about that and you know it is not.

          Scientists and academics should be able to “visit freely”. You must be joking here.

          Basic research, yes I got a few summers grants back in the day. Making plasmids and DNA fragments. Near $200 a week. You do not know what is basic research.

          1. Scientists and academics should be able to “visit freely”.

            We’re talking about immigration. What I was saying was that scientists and academics should be able to “visit freely”, as in “should be able to obtain temporary visitor permits without constraints”; you do not need large scale immigration, or immigration at all, for scientific exchanges. For example, I have been to hundreds of scientific conferences and lab visits over the years, and never once did I require an immigrant visa; temporary visas were always sufficient.

            Basic research, yes I got a few summers grants back in the day.

            I’m so sorry for you that you weren’t cut out for a scientific or academic career.

            You have conceded every point I made NOYBE2.

            Your evident inability to engage in rational dialog and construct a coherent response might have had something to do with your career path.

    2. Of this entire article, it’s the immigration angle that gets you the most worked up. Huh I wonder why.

      1. Of course it matters fatty because this place endorses open borders and zero immigration control. It wraps that turd up with lots of flowery phrases and poorly argued stances. But reality is for every Andy Grove type immigrant we get a thousand idiots.

      2. I made a bunch of rational points. Do you have rational responses?

        1. Your “rational points” are anti-immigration hysteria mixed in with an article discussing COVID. You just can’t help yourself.

          1. Can you point to specific examples of my supposed “hysteria”?

  18. I agree it’s a tremendous success and the elderly, at-risk and healthcare workers should all get it. It’s disappointing that the rollout is so slow, but not surprising since the whole point of the covid hysteria was to undermine capitalism and make people dependent on the state (pretext for socialism).

    As for billionaires, yes they are great. The whole point of life is to amass wealth and retire and help others do the same. People can retire and leave jobs for others to work and support themselves and thereby obviate big government and charity – the libertarian fantasy (return to the garden). But people these days don’t really want to retire because of the threat of socialists salivating over their wealth. However people will become more desperate as robots take their jobs and they will flock to socialist schemes like medicare for all and UBI to solve all their problems, which will force the billionaires to rethink their appeasement strategies. (For example, companies are leaving CA for TX, but will discover to their chagrin that the socialists quickly follow them.)

    1. The whole point of life is to amass wealth and retire and help others do the same.

      If you think that, you really are one sad and pathetic human being.

      1. If you think the point of life is to stand on an assembly line making widgets all day, you really are one sad and pathetic human being.

        1. Isn’t there a third possibility? For some people, who actually like what they do, they would want to keep doing that work.

          I don’t say that you are wrong about the point for a lot (or even most) people being to retire and not have to work anymore.

          1. If you loved what you did, you’d do it even if they weren’t paying you.

            1. True, but it’s even better to keep doing it and keep getting paid.

              1. And what if one day it got boring? Or are you easily amused?

    2. So, no possibility in your mind that any of the COVID-19 hysteria has been caused by there being a global pandemic and virtually nobody alive today having a memory of living through a global pandemic.

      1. So, no possibility in your mind that people who lived through a global pandemic that actually killed the young and healthy would be hysterical about going through it again?

        1. So, no possibility in your mind that people who lived through a global pandemic that actually killed the young and healthy would be hysterical about going through it again?

          The people I know who lived through pandemics, grew up without antibiotics, and lived through the horrors of the Nazis are some of the most adamantly opposed people to COVID lockdowns. That’s because they understand the value of living their lives, and because they see the dangers of authoritarian government.

          1. Too bad they didn’t learn from those experiences to speak out. The only people vociferously against lockdowns were Trump and Abbot and a few other governors. (Or if they spoke out they only did it here – preaching to the choir.)

            1. Too bad they didn’t learn from those experiences to speak out. The only people vociferously against lockdowns were Trump and Abbot and a few other governors.

              Plus the many millions who supported them.

        2. Huh? The Spanish Flu was in 1912, so only people who are well over 100 years of age have that memory.

          1. I folks remember polio and I remember AIDS.

          2. 1918 to 1920 dumbass

            1. I knew some pedant would point that out with some snide insult. You’re pathetically predicable.

              1. It’s just like those Trump Bully Mean Girls™ to point out a glaring factual error as if it mattered!

          3. Pre-antibiotics, bacterial infections used to kill around 1% of the population each year, in large part people who were young and active. WWII killed upwards of 10% of the population in some countries. Both of those are orders of magnitude worse than COVID-19.

          4. OK and it was a traumatic experience so if they had the memory then yes they would have likely overreacted and endorsed the hysteria. In times of crisis you naturally revert to past behavior.

            So, unlikely in my mind that any of the COVID-19 hysteria has been caused by there being a global pandemic and virtually nobody alive today having a memory of living through a global pandemic.

      2. I was 6-7 during the Hong Kong Flu pandemic. Might of even had it.
        I was sick all the time when I was a child. No masks, no lockdowns, we joked about it in kindergarten and 1st grade. The Wuhan virus has not proven to be as deadly yet. Might still get there.

  19. You lost me with Gates. Just because you are smart/shrewd in one thing does not mean you are smart in anything else. He is more of a problem with his money…the latest being funding testing of particles in the upper atmosphere to reflect sunlight (IR wavelength) to “cool the earth.” That is about the dumbest thing you can imagine…the unintended consequences of something like that are enormous. So the guy bought DOS for $50K and convinced IBM to let him license the shitty operating system. Gates has limited understanding of physics and real engineering…he isn’t Elon Musk

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  22. Couldn’t help but slap that open borders crap in there, could you? I could just as easily say that covid was worsened by porous borders and unhygienic third-worlders functioning as super spreaders, but hey, let’s keep pretending that Albert Einstein being “German” and okay means we should have resettled millions of Nazis in our country because they too were “German.”

  23. What a complete load of bull shit.
    There is no “pandemic”.
    “COVID 19” has NOT even been isolated. Koch’s postulates have NOT been applied.
    Governments NEVER tell the truth.
    This is a scam perpetrated by the deep state and their supporters (big pharma) to extract money from us, keep us “alarmed, and hence, clamorous to be led to safety [by an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary]” with some added benefits of screwing the disobedient, wild card (Trump) out of an election via “mail-in” ballots. And maybe they can reduce the population (Bill Gates fave cause – why would vaccines that “save lives” REDUCE the population?!?) by some involuntary sterilization like they did in Kenya a couple of years ago.

    1. Right on…fake all the way from top to bottom.

  24. There is no proof that these vaccines will do anything. If you read the flaky reports from the CDC/FDA, both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines will not have final trial results until January/February of 2023…two year from now. Whomever gets the vaccine is essentially a LAB RAT for neither or any of these concoctions have been proven safe, effective or to save lives. Please show me the facts that state otherwise and not some flunky media talking head who doesn’t know a cowpie from a fart. Sure, the billionaires will save humanity…I wonder if you will still be so gullible in a few years, Kathy.

  25. I’ve already had COVID-19 and doctors are telling me there’s no evidence that I will get any long term immunity from it, how is a vaccine supposed to achieve it?

    Vaccines which were “Warp Speed” rush jobs to begin with were given short cuts through the testing procedures so they could be made publicly available more quickly?

    The vaccine industry was already impossible to file a lawsuit against in the US, why did these vaccines need additional protections against litigation?

    These points don’t inspire confidence, easy to see why they are entirely left out of the propaganda.

    1. I’ve already had COVID-19 and doctors are telling me there’s no evidence that I will get any long term immunity from it, how is a vaccine supposed to achieve it?

      In principle, vaccines can give you immunity against a disease even if the disease itself does not. Whether that’s actually happening with the COVID-19 vaccine is unclear.

      Vaccines which were “Warp Speed” rush jobs to begin with were given short cuts through the testing procedures so they could be made publicly available more quickly?

      We know that in the short term, the vaccine is quite safe because many thousands of people have been vaccinated and not shown ill effects. Of course, we have no long term safety data on the vaccine; there is a theoretical possibility of unexpected long term effects, but the probability is small.

      Upshot is: if you’re old or at high risk, it’s a good idea to take it. If you’re healthy and under 60, you’re better off waiting. But given the shortages, you won’t be getting it anyway, unless you’re a healthcare worker, in which case you’re SOL anyway.

  26. By all means, as libertarians we should cheer authoritarian measures that transfer billions from the middleclass and poor – devastating them financially in the process – to billionaires. Surely, one of the great benefits to have come from current policies.

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