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How the U.S. descended into Pharma fascism in 10 steps
Stagflation, the 1980 Bayh-Dole Act, 1986 NCVIA, 1992 election, free trade, deindustrialization, the opioid & autism epidemics, Eds & Meds, Donald Trump, Pharma fascism... & the rise of the Resistance
This is my attempt to explain the political economy of how America descended into Pharma fascism in 10 (unwitting?) steps.
1. The U.S. economy stalled out in the 1970s
The post-war economic boom in the U.S. unraveled in the early 1970s. Nixon withdrew the U.S. from the Bretton Woods Agreement and abandoned the gold standard. The U.S. experienced stagflation (no growth + rising prices), fuel shortages (as OPEC punished the U.S. for supporting Israel by quadrupling the price of oil), the loss of the Vietnam war, and 20% interest rates (as Paul Volker attempted to crush rising inflation). Corporations that survived the turmoil gained tremendous leverage in their dealings with government. Now anytime the corporate sector wanted something (whether a new law or the removal of regulations that hampered profits) they could just claim that such actions were necessary for economic growth — and government was desperate to do anything to get the economy growing again. The pharmaceutical industry, which is not particularly good at inventing new products, discovered that they could increase profits by lobbying government and capturing the political and regulatory system.
2. The 1980 Bayh-Dole Act
The 1980 Bayh-Dole Act enabled federally-funded scientific researchers in academia, government, and regulatory institutions to patent and profit from their taxpayer funded research. In one fell swoop all of the gate keepers in science and medicine were allowed to have financial conflicts of interest and get paid twice — once by the taxpayer and then again for their “intellectual property.” It created a gold rush that wiped out pure science, objectivity, and ethical safeguards that continues to corrupt scientific methods to this day.
3. The 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act
Toward the end of his presidency, Ronald Reagan’s mental faculties were declining. He expressed misgivings about the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act but signed it into law anyway. The 1986 Act gave pharmaceutical companies immunity from prosecution for the harms caused by vaccines. The 1986 Act put the U.S. on a path to genocide — against American children. Over the next twenty years the childhood vaccine schedule tripled, chronic illness rates in children skyrocketed, and profits for the pharmaceutical industry reached record highs. Pharma used their profits to further buy-off the media, regulatory agencies, government, and civil society. The 1986 Act is one of the worst laws in U.S. history and the single greatest failure in the history of public health. It is unclear if the U.S. will survive the grievous wound inflicted on the nation from this catastrophic legislative decision.
4. The 1992 Election.
When Bill Clinton ran for President in 1992, Democrats had lost 5 out of the previous 6 Presidential elections. Clinton vowed that he would not be outspent. So he had to find corporate campaign contributors who were not already loyal to the Republican Party. He broke with his party and supported free trade — which brought the Wall Street financiers over to his side. And he built an alliance with the new wave of technology companies in Silicon Valley as well as the pharmaceutical industry. Clinton raised more money than George H. W. Bush (Sr.) and won the election by 5.6 points.
The payoff for Wall Street was passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993 and support for the World Trade Organization that was created in 1994 and started in 1995.
The payoff for the tech industry in Silicon Valley was that the Clinton administration would pursue more vigorous antitrust enforcement against Microsoft — to open the marketplace for competitors. The Clinton administration was never quite able to squash Microsoft but they held them down for long enough that other technology companies were able to take off.
The payoff for the pharmaceutical industry was supposed to be universal health insurance that would expand the size of the market plus Clinton agreed to block Medicare from negotiating drug prices so that Pharma profits would stay high. But then Clinton’s universal health insurance plan went down to defeat in the Congress.
So Clinton came up with a new plan — the Vaccines for Children Program. Under the Vaccines for Children Program the federal government would purchase $2 billion a year worth of vaccines and then give them away for free to poor children across the country. It was seen as a win-win — Pharma would get paid for supporting the Party and poor kids would get free vaccines.
5. Free Trade, Deindustrialization, and Collapse
Over the next decade, the U.S. shipped 10 million high-paying manufacturing jobs to Mexico, Canada, and then later China. Prior to NAFTA, people without a college degree could achieve a middle class standard of living by working at a steel mill or textile plant. After NAFTA, these factories and the jobs that went along with them were wiped out and shipped abroad.
Wall Street absolutely loved this as the profits for multinational corporations paying low wages in the developing world are higher than the profits from unionized factories in the U.S.
The educated classes loved this too as now televisions, soccer balls, and VCRs were dirt cheap. Lower cost manufacturing goods are like getting a raise without any employer actually needing to to pay higher wages. It creates the feeling of prosperity without triggering inflation.
The promised retraining of factory workers for high tech jobs was underfunded and did not work. Older workers are unlikely to be able to make the transition to new technologies and most of the new jobs were on the coasts, not in the Steel Belt (now Rust Belt) towns throughout the midwest and Appalachia.
6. The Opioid and Autism Epidemics
When millions of people lose their livelihoods, then alcoholism, domestic violence, depression, chronic pain, disability, and suicide all skyrocket. The pharmaceutical industry took advantage of these deindustrialized towns and depressed people by flooding them with hundreds of millions of doses of highly addictive opioids. The result was astonishing profits for the pharmaceutical industry and the opioid epidemic that now kills 60,000 to 90,000 Americans every year.
Meanwhile, the Vaccines for Children Program began in 1994. At the same time, autism cases were sharply rising across the country. Autism rates in Brick Township, NJ were 12 times higher than the national average. The CDC sent in a team to investigate, initially declared it was a cluster, and then sent in a different team who declared ‘nothing to see here’. It was the last time the CDC would ever pay attention to the autism epidemic (both Democratic and Republican presidents have covered up the autism epidemic for 35 years).
7. Eds & Meds to the rescue! Sort of.
As free trade policies wiped out formerly industrialized towns and cities across the country, the bourgeoisie came up with a plan to save them. It’s called Eds & Meds. The idea took off throughout the worlds of investing, philanthropy, economic development, and city planning. The idea is to stimulate growth in economically depressed towns through funding universities and hospitals (and usually it’s a combination of both — a hospital tied to a university). With a university and a hospital as an anchor, other related businesses fill in around them — housing, restaurants, speciality clinics, affiliated research facilities, and start-ups that want access to university brainpower and patents (made possible by the 1980 Bayh-Dole Act).
States, counties, and cities across the country invested heavily in Eds & Meds. And basically it works. Sort of. Heavy investment in universities and hospitals creates thousands of jobs (with a higher multiplier effect than investment in other sectors). One sees this in Spokane and Nashville, the research triangle in North Carolina, and the growth of the pharmaceutical industry around Boston (cities that were already successful got in on Eds & Meds game too and benefitted from what are called agglomeration effects). Eds & Meds churns out highly credentialed people and patents, but does not necessarily create useful things like bridges and airplanes. And no one seems troubled by the fact that there is always an infinite supply of patients to fill up the new hospitals and clinics. The surge of economic activity appears to validate the model, even though preventing hospitalizations in the first place would be a much more robust source of economic growth over the long term.
8. The Rise of Trump, national polarization
In the 2016 election, 9 million single issue medical freedom voters overwhelmingly supported Trump because he was respectful to some of our leaders during the campaign and he has a son on the spectrum. Deindustrialized towns decimated by the opioid epidemic also overwhelmingly supported Trump and provided the margin of victory in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan — states that were supposed to be part of Hillary Clinton’s “Blue Wall”.
After NAFTA, the working class abandoned the Democratic Party (never to return). The base of the Democratic Party is now made up of technocrats — the highly educated professionals who are disproportionately represented in education, healthcare, government, and media. And these bourgeois technocrats overwhelming supported Hillary Clinton.
9. The base determines the superstructure
Here’s the hardest part to understand, but also the most important — the base determines the superstructure. The “base'“ is the mode of production in any era — the types of work, the tools, and the relations between classes. In the 1950s and 60s the mode of production was manufacturing and everything that went along with that. Today the mode of production includes a wide range of white collar “knowledge production” fields including education, medicine, pharmaceuticals, design, and technology. The “superstructure” refers to the principles, laws, culture, and even religious values (let’s call them the governing principles) of that society.
This turns conventional wisdom on its head and undercuts some traditional notions of human agency. One might assume that the ideas of elites (or even charismatic individuals) in any era would determine the superstructure. But the superstructure appears to develop unconsciously (spontaneously, in the working class, bourgeoisie, and elites) in response to whatever mode of production is dominant at the time. Here I am challenging the notion of some secretive cabal planning every move. I am also trying to explain why the bourgeoisie seems to just instinctively adopt a certain set of beliefs without any apparent instruction. Your mileage may vary.
The question though is why? Why would the type of work one does have any bearing upon how one sees the world?
I think the answer is several-fold. Over time we come to identify with the people we work with and the institutions that (appear to) support our livelihood. At the end of the day, jobs and good careers are really hard to come by and changing jobs is very painful and scary. So people tend to want to defend the status quo and protect the institutions that provide them with sustenance — even when these institutions are flawed, unfair, and (sometimes) corrupt. For better or worse, over time our reality is determined by the people we spend time with and the work that we do. We see the world through the lens of our own self-interest.
So then when the Fauci/Wuhan bioengineered virus was introduced into the U.S. in late 2019/ early 2020 the Eds & Meds crowd was already predisposed to support the technocratic command and control solutions favored by the pharmaceutical industry. (Look, these were my people, it brings me no joy to call them out, but these are the facts). The pharmaceutical industry took advantage and pushed incredibly profitable measures that increasingly look like genocide.
And the red states — that have been burned so badly by Democratic support for free trade and the subsequent rise in opioid addiction and disabilities including autism — were already predisposed to distrust the technocratic establishment. Having a Republican president blurred the fault lines for a minute but with the 2020 election, the U.S. cleaved into two halves — Pharma-fascist blue states and Angry-resistance red states.
10. The emergence of Pharma fascism and the rise of the Resistance
Coronavirus is now a thriving trillion dollar a year industry.
Pharma marketing and public relationships firms crank out fear 24/7 around the world and are paid billions of dollars to do so.
Pharma has captured the media, regulatory agencies, and the political system.
The white coat class (doctors, nurses, lab techs, and public health workers) benefit from the hundreds of billions of dollars in pandemic response and relief money.
Various federal stimulus bills also included billions more dollars to buy off every school district in the nation and bribe trusted authorities, including Black pastors and leaders in the Latino community, to push the shots on their constituents.
People who work for the institutions that participate in the trillion dollar coronavirus industry — in the media, government, science, medicine, academia, and non-profits — over time come to identify with the values of the pandemic hysteria (centralized control, coercion, contempt for those outside of their tribe, hostility toward anything that contradicts the hegemonic narrative).
Yet at the same time, people in the real economy, small businesses, people who actually make and move things — who are not part of the coronavirus industry — suffered disproportionately from locked downs, school shut downs, and now junk science vaccine mandates. And they are having none of it. They are pushing back, rising up and voting overwhelmingly to oust politicians who support Pharma Fascism (see for example the recent election results in VA and NJ).
The next year is going to be incredibly turbulent for the nation. The more the vaccine fails and the more the over-vaccinated Democratic base is struck down by vaccine injury and antibody dependent enhancement, the more that Democratic leadership (as instructed by Pharma) will push for control, coercion, and mandates. Dems know that they will lose the House and Senate in 2022, so they are going to push all in to gain as much power, control, and profit as possible right now.
And the more that the Democratic leadership pushes for Pharma totalitarianism, the more the red states will push back by nullifying federal regulations, suing the federal government, and threatening secession — with broad popular support.
I think the Resistance has the better hand because the pharmaceutical products are so deadly and ultimately indefensible. But like so many things in life, the team that will win is the one that wants it the most.
Blessing to all of the warriors who are fighting for freedom. ✊
Nothing I write on this site is ever final. If you see a typo, let me know. If you see an error, let me know. If I get something wrong, let me know. Two readers pointed out in the comments to this article that the real starting point for the rise of Pharma fascism is the 1986 Act. I reflected on it and of course they are correct. And then I realized that one could argue that it starts even earlier with the 1980 Bayh-Dole Act). So I updated the article to add two more steps at the beginning. I appreciate all of the comments and all of the discussion. Through robust debate all of our arguments and reasons are improved and strengthened. Onward! 🙌