Every year, manufacturers of HIV drugs take in nearly as much as they spent developing those drugs, total. That’s every year. Their profit rate is over 50%, and for this we taxpayers can take a bow. The market for the drugs is subsidized, as it should be. Insurance pays — which means the rest of us pay, whether as ratepayers to insurance companies or taxpayers to the federal government.
A new report by the Environmental Working Group has documented the shocking fact that 20 percent of the mineral wealth of the American West is owned by foreigners. The report, “Who Owns the West,” found that “ninety-four foreign-owned corporations from ten countries have collectively gained control of metals beneath one of every five acres of claimed lands in the United States, an estimated 1.2 million acres of public land altogether.”
Do local communities really have a meaningful role to play on environmental problems when multinational corporations and federal regulators seem to be so much more consequential? This question has always gnawed at me. It was a real delight, therefore, for me to learn about a fascinating new idea for empowering communities to take action: the “community ecosystem trust.”
My wife grew up in what western experts call, not without condescension, a “developing” country. The social life of her village revolved largely around a tree. People gathered there in the evening to visit, tell stories, just pass the time. Some of my wife’s warmest childhood memories are of playing hide and seek late into the evening while the parents chatted under the tree — or on a neighbor’s porch, which was another version of the same thing.