Skip to main content

Why are the billionaires always laughing?

Because they know the corporate media will never call bullshit on their bullshit.

Why are the billionaires laughing?

It’s easy to laugh when the corporate press treats you as a glorious success instead of the epitome of a broken social order. They laugh because they know the corporate media prefers to fawn over them rather than hold them to account.

Today, we ask you to support our nonprofit journalism because we are not impressed by billionaires flying into space, their corporations despoiling our health and planet, or their vast fortunes safely concealed in tax havens across the globe. We are not laughing.

We are hard at work digging out the truth. Please support this independent journalism today by donating to our critical Fall Campaign. We cannot do it without you. Thank you. -- Craig Brown, Co-founder

Support Our Work -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Every donation—large or small—helps us bring you the news that matters.

"The big problem is that, while drugs are cheap, patent monopolies make them expensive." (Photo: Brandon Giesbrecht/flickr/cc)

WaPo Columnist Condemning Sanders' Drug Importation Bill Doesn't Realize Canada Can Expand Its Regulatory Agency

The Washington Post ran a column by Leona Aglukkaq, a former member of Canada's House of Commons and Canadian health minister, which complained that Senator Bernie Sanders proposal to allow mass importation of drugs from Canada would overburden the country's regulatory agency. As the piece tells readers:

"Canadian authorities do not inspect every shipment of products headed for the U.S. marketplace to ensure that packages don’t contain adulterated, counterfeit or illegal drugs. Canada does not have the resources to undertake such comprehensive searches, and the Canadian and U.S. governments are not currently set up to  facilitate such a program. Canada’s health-inspection regime is designed to ensure the safety of medications for Canadians, not for other countries."

While this is undoubtedly true, there is a little secret that fans of economics and logic have long known. With additional money, Canada could expand the size of its regulatory agency so it would have the resources to undertake such comprehensive searches.

And, where might Canada get the additional money? It can tax the drugs being sold to people in the United States. With the price of drugs in the United States often two or three times the price of drugs in Canada, there is plenty of room to impose a tax to cover the additional inspection costs and still leave massive savings for people in the United States.

The entire Food and Drug Administration budget for medical product safety last year was $2.7 billion. We will spend over $440 billion on prescription drugs in 2017. A small tax on whatever passes through Canada should easily cover the cost of inspections and, in fact, could cover the cost for Canada as well. This is a classic win-win through trade under which everyone can benefit.

Of course, Ms. Aglukkaq is correct that this is not a good solution to the problem of making drugs affordable in the U.S. We should be looking for alternatives to supporting research through government granted patent monopolies, as Senator Sanders has been doing. Along with Sherrod Brown and 15 other Democratic senators, Sanders has proposed money for a prize fund which would buy up the patents for approved drugs and put them in the public domain so that they could be sold at their free market price.

The bill also proposes that the government pay for the clinical testing of new drugs. The test results would be in the public domain, which would enormously benefit researchers and doctors when deciding which drugs to prescribe. And, the approved drug would also be available at free market prices.

The big problem is that, while drugs are cheap, patent monopolies make them expensive. Unfortunately, the Washington Post doesn't like people pointing things like this out on its opinion page. (It is probably worth mentioning that the Post gets large amounts of advertising revenue from drug companies.)


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Schumer Endorses 'Inspiring Community Leader' India Walton as Buffalo's Next Mayor

The U.S. Senate majority leader's move comes as some key New York Democrats refuse to back the democratic socialist.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Who Will You Throw Overboard?' Manchin Targeted for Trying to Sink Democratic Agenda

West Virginians gathered at the senator's yacht to demand that he stop blocking the "popular and needed" Build Back Better package.

Jessica Corbett ·


'We Shouldn't Do It at All': Manchin Admits He's the Enemy of Democrats' Ambitions

The right-wing West Virginia Democrat and fossil fuel investor has previously confessed his intent to quash his own party's sweeping $3.5 trillion Build Back Better package.

Brett Wilkins ·


After Getting 'Stealth Bailout' During Pandemic, US Corporations Try to Kill Proposed Tax Hikes

"When it's time to finally put workers first, big businesses are spending millions to maintain their advantage and preserve the status quo," said Kyle Herrig of Accountable.US.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Disgraceful': Just 9 Republicans Join With Dems to Hold Steve Bannon in Criminal Contempt

The vote "reveals just how far the Republican Party has fallen" since Trump took control as GOP's de facto leader, said one pro-democracy advocate.

Jon Queally ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo