Southwest Digest-2

Health Care—Based on Good Will, Not Profit 
By Ruth Oron, Meryl Simon, Miriam Weiss

     In recent months, with revelations about Enron, Worldcom, Tyco and other corporations, people are more conscious than ever that the profit motive is against their well-being and happiness. Never has there been a greater feeling of betrayal by the American people regarding such crucial things as jobs, pensions, and medical insurance. And there is growing outrage at how people are seen as a means for profit by the pharmaceutical industry. 

     It is unconscionable that in our rich country—the only industrialized nation without universal health coverage—millions, including children, are uninsured, and, senior citizens are often forced to agonize between paying for extremely costly medicine or food. 

     Drug companies charge outrageous prices to cover, as they claim, the cost of research and development of new drugs. But, Michigan Democratic Senator, Deborah Stabenow, noted: "Drug companies get a tax break for research and development costs, and also get to use, for free, the results of basic research done at taxpayer expense by the National Institutes of Health. ‘They get the write-off. Then we give them a 20-year patent,’ Stabenow said. ‘We protect them from competition for 20 years. And what do we get in the end, the American taxpayers? The highest (drug) prices in the world.’" (Reuters 7/18/02)

     "Profiting from Pain: Where Prescription Drug Dollars Go," (A report also issued last July by Families USA), gives the following information:

The pharmaceutical industry has been the most profitable industry in America for each of the past 10 years and, in 2001, was five-and-one-half times more profitable than the average for Fortune 500 companies. 

     We have learned from Aesthetic Realism, the education founded by the great American philosopher Eli Siegel, that the profit system is based on contempt, which he defined as, "the addition to self through the lessening of something else." And we have seen as true what Ellen Reiss, the class chairman of Aesthetic Realism, describes: "Once you are after profit, you can’t be too interested in what people deserve … It will cramp your ability to make money from them …. Economics," she stated, "has to be different from what has been in the world before," and she pointed to what Aesthetic Realism shows is the central thing in economics: how fairly people want to see other people. "… It has to be in keeping with the justice to people described in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution." (The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known Nos. 925, 1517)

     We have to ask: should persons be seen in terms of how profitable their illnesses can be for a drug maker, or in terms of what will make for their strength? We love Eli Siegel’s passion on this subject: "The idea of people worried about their health [and] worried about money is barbarous," he stated. "It is ego corruption." 

     The ill will drug companies have can also be seen now in the great worry parents have because in 2002, after many decades of successful prevention of deadly diseases like diphtheria and polio, there is a shortage of vaccines for children, putting their very lives in danger. "Some pharmacists and doctors say the government needs to provide better scrutiny when firms halt production of key drugs or vaccines," wrote Julie Appleby in USA Today. And she continued: "At the root of the issue is a clash between…drug makers deciding to stop making unprofitable products—and public health needs." 

     Medicine should be for the benefit of people’s lives not for profit. In a series of historic lectures in May of 1970, Mr. Siegel explained that the world had come to a point where the ill will of profit economics, where the very goods and services that people need in order to live are controlled privately, could no longer work. He stated: 

Men live with more difficulty and incompleteness, and the world is saying: We don’t want ill will to hurt and poison our lives any more …. That sense of justice, which is a name for good will, is tremendously powerful ….

     We feel intensely that every person deserves full health coverage, including pharmaceuticals, from birth!

     For more information about this vital education taught at the not-for-profit Aesthetic Realism Foundation in New York City, call 212-777-4490, or visit