david_h wrote:Neither sunglasses nor medicines become ready for production without someone putting in time and effort up front. How many sunglasses did the maker put into production that were a flop because someone else's were more fashionable. How many rights to medicines did the company pay for that they lost money on? In neither example do we know whether someone is making 'sky-high' profits or not. And, if they are, are they being taxed properly so that the 'king' can fund medicine production - assuming that those who keep him in power wouldn't prefer him to use the money to fix the holes in the road.
I think either we're talking at cross purposes, or else you seem to assume I don't take into account that there are costs of overhead, research, production and marketing, and that making profit after the fact is entirely reasonable. If it's the latter, you can put that from your mind. This isn't simply about the cost of doing business, and it's not about that shadowy area of what we know or don't know; I also think your analogy of medicine vs. holes in the road confuses the issue, since (these days, at least) at its source medicine tends to be in the realm of private enterprise, whereas infrastructure is the responsibility of government, so I'm afraid you lost me. What I have been talking about is strictly the ethical matter of setting the price of essential pharmaceuticals well beyond the average customer's reach when a good profit can be achieved at far less. That is all. Martin Shkreli is a textbook case in point. He made no bones about the demonstrated fact that his pharmaceutical prices had nothing to do with the entirely reasonable goal of recouping losses, paying all parties involved not only a good living wage but hopefully better, and making enough profit to keep at it as well; rather, he set his prices beyond the reach of most for no other reason than he claimed the right to do as he wished, and to him the question of ethics was a fool's game. I would suggest that the public censure he faced, and his legal troubles, were well justified.
Since we've been talking about ethics, that's all I've been talking about, too. Real or hypothetical, doesn't matter. Shkreli's case, which is quite real, isn't only about business, you see, since lives were put at risk because of it. That is my
meaning when I say nothing exists in a vacuum. Context matters when we speak of ethics. Price gouging during disasters is another example of blatantly unethical conduct; you're not off the hook by saying it's just business. By contrast, there is a fashionable sporting accessories line whose prices are very high indeed, but it must be said that those goods don't seem to warrant what you have to pay to get them, because there's nothing particularly outstanding about them, so nobody's really built a better mousetrap, here. $40 for a thermos tumbler? The lid isn't even spillproof. $400 for a cooler? Looks like any other I've seen. $9 for a bottle opener? Seriously? All you're really paying for is the name and its cachet. Nobody really needs
the brand, yet people still pay for it because they can. Is the company being unethical in its pricing? I would say not. Cynical, perhaps; they certainly know their market. But if you can't afford an aspirational brand, then cheaper, just-as-serviceable substitutes are readily available; but more importantly to the question of ethics, either way there is no theft, nor are lives at stake.
I guess Tor said the same thing above, only with better economy.