Thursday, April 20, 2017

Technology follows Investment

Technology that has market with a promising revenue stream is usually funded by those who have some idea of what the market wants. Those who live in a bubble, usually don’t know what the market wants. The US automobile manufacturing industry lived in the power race car bubble and missed consumer’s preference for better gas mileage from foreign cars. Digital Equipment Corporation mis-designed the DEC Rainbow PC to be unable to network with other PCs and it failed.

My best example of technology following investment I can think of started the Medical Industrial Complex in the 1950s. It involved federal tax subsidies and has become the scam of the century.

When it was clear that the federal government would began to subsidize healthcare in 1965, equipment developers got busy. They knew that the size of this particular revenue stream would be enormous. 

US Citizens were ecstatic about the introduction of anti-biotics in 1945.  They remembered their parents and grandparents telling them about the small pox epidemics that raged throughout the US from 1775 to 1782 and returned in 1924. Most citizens were generally favorable to government subsidies for medical research.

Unions had been hounding employers to subsidize their healthcare for decades and unions had already purchased their own members of Congress.

In 1942, employers started to subsidize employee healthcare because they were not allowed to give pay raises to workers. The 1942 Stabilization Act froze wages and prices to avoid inflation and ended in 1945 with the end of World War II.

The US economy boomed after 1945, because the US was the only manufacturing powerhouse left standing after World War II. American GIs came home, got married, bought houses and started families. This created the “baby boomers”. Polio vaccine became available in 1953.

Enough Doctors were on board for citizens to get direct government subsidies for healthcare and were ready to reorganize into specialties.

Church-based hospitals had been decimated by Vatican II fallout and were too weak to resist being bought by the accountants.

A hand full of conservatives were wary about government funding, but were largely ignored in 1965. The Presidential election of 1964 was pivotal. Conservative Republican Barry Goldwater was defeated by Liberal Democrat Lyndon Johnson and all special interests were ready to pounce. 

The Medical Industrial complex took over healthcare in the 1950s. The media perpetuated the infallibility of doctors and showcased each new medical device. This was a supply-push phenomenon, not a demand-pull cause. Physicians and Surgeons in general practice in the 1950s adopted whatever they found that got better results. Medical Schools began to promote specialization and reliance on new drugs and equipment.

New equipment included Radiation and chemo-therapy was coupled with it to “treat” cancer in the 1950s, but the treatments were lethal and failed.  To date, we have no cancer cure. “Treatments” for heart disease have been developed, but are expensive. Heart disease has treatments, but no cures.

Norb Leahy, Dunwoody GA Tea Party Leader

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