Escondido, CA

The 3-legged golden goose

You may have heard the story of the 3-legged pig. A reporter visits a celebrated three-legged pig’s farm where the porker is wandering in a pen—he looks up the farmer who owns him.

“What’s the story on the pig?” asks the reporter, who—like most of my breed—avoids small talk and rudely cuts to the chase.

“That’s a remarkable pig,” begins the farmer, chewing on a grass stalk . “That danged pig rescued my 3-year old daughter when she was playing too near to the pond over yonder and fell in and started to drown.”  The pig grabbed her rompers, brought her ashore and did mouth to mouth resuscitation until a medic arrived. Heroic!

Not only that, said the farmer, the pig warned the family they were in danger of the house burning down. He moved the ladder to the second story window, lifted the window with his snout and climbed inside to awaken them. They quickly rushed downstairs and put out the fire, with the book joining the line to give them buckets of water.

“That’s amazing!” exclaimed the reporter, admittedly impressed. “But what’s the deal with the three legs?”

“Well, a pig like that—you don’t eat all at once,” said the farmer. 

Which is a good transition to Joe Biden. When the White House is not screening the film “The Father,”—with its Academy Award-winning performance by Anthony Hopkins of a man sinking into dementia —it is cooking up ways to punish successful entrepreneurs. Conveniently forgetting why creative companies work so hard to make miracles that could save the world. Yeah, it’s that dirty word “profit.”

Joe has come to the view that—in appreciation for the pharmaceutical innovator Moderna’s ten year effort to create a revolutionary new medical technology called mRNA—their patents should be suspended.

The mRNA vaccine is a new type of vaccine that, says the CDC: “teach[es] our cells how to make a protein—or even just a piece of a protein—that triggers an immune response inside our bodies. The benefit of mRNA vaccines, like all vaccines, is those vaccinated gain protection without ever having to risk the serious consequences of getting sick with COVID-19.”

Inventing the process enabled Moderna to jump into action to create a new vaccine less than a year after COVID-19 was discovered. According to Joe, Moderna should be punished by having its intellectual property stripped away to give away vaccines to the unfortunate nations that haven’t been able to develop their own vaccines.

Moderna was just one of several drug companies that answered the call when former President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed enabled America to start manufacturing vaccines when the most experts said it would take at least two years. Moderna’s technology can also be applied to creating vaccines for malaria and other diseases and possibly to treat cancer. The ramifications of this are enormous.

Yes, the government provided seed money but also promised the vaccine companies they would be able to profit from their intellectual property. Now, the U.S. government wants to renege on the “profit from,” part.

Biden’s trade representative said last week: “The Administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for COVID-19 vaccines.”  Translation: “We believe in property rights, except for when we want to steal your property.”

It’s not like American companies haven’t been willing and able to help other companies and nations manufacture mRNA vaccines. This, despite criticisms like this from French President Macron: “Today, 100% of the vaccines produced in the United States of America go to the American market.” The Camembert-eating, white wine sipping surrender monkey only says that because France hasn’t been able to use the free market to manufacture a great vaccine.

And so what?  I don’t accept the premise: that we shouldn’t take care of our people first. I thought the idea was to get shots into as many arms as possible. Does it matter whose arms those are, as long as it contributes to worldwide herd immunity? We take care of our citizens first.  Knowing France’s history, I don’t doubt it takes care of the French first. 

Ayn Rand’s monumental novel “Atlas Shrugged” described people who think this way as “looters.” When I first read it 30 years ago, I never dreamed I would see it brought to life by a generation of politicians whose central tenet is that no one should be allowed to be a billionaire and that the fruits of intellectual labor belong to all.

By this logic someone who spends a dozen years acquiring a medical education should provide those services at minimum wage because, by golly, people can’t afford medical care!

To carry the barnyard analogy to ridiculous lengths, this is strangling the golden goose because you can’t figure out how it produces the eggs. In this case, I suppose, it’s a three-legged golden goose. 

There’s another Academy-winning movie they should be watching at the White House. It’s called “Nomadland,” the more or less true story of America’s modern Gypsies. People who can’t afford homes anymore and have taken the road. That movie might very well be a forecast for the future of a lot of workers in this country. Especially if we declare war on entrepreneurs.

*Note: Opinions expressed by columnists and letter writers are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the newspaper.

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