[Plura-list] This is your Congress on drugs; Harvard is full of rich, white low-achievers

Cory Doctorow doctorow at craphound.com
Thu Nov 18 10:03:43 EST 2021

Read today's issue online at: https://pluralistic.net/2021/11/18/bipartisan-consensus/


Today (Thu), I'll be appearing on Article 19's EU webinar on the Digital Services Act and interoperability (0830PT):


And hosting the launch for Jeffrey Cranor and Janina Matthewson's "You Feel It Just Below the Ribs" (1200PT):



Today's links

* This is your Congress on drugs: Corruption kills.

* Harvard is full of rich, white low-achievers: 43% of white Harvard students didn't get in on merit.

* This day in history: 2001, 2006, 2011, 2016, 2020

* Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming/recent appearances, current writing projects, current reading


🏴‍☠️ This is your Congress on drugs

Back in 2014, a pair of political scientists published a study of 1,779 US "policy issues" over 20 years, concluding that elected officials make policy to benefit the richest ten percent of the country to the exclusion of the needs of everyone else.


This was true irrespective of whether there was mass pressure from citizen groups. In the USA, politicians make sure that richest ten percent get whatever they want and do nothing for the rest of us.

I find this study incredibly depressing and do my best to keep it out of my mind. After all, while this is true in *nearly* every case, we all know about instances in which policy supported the many and not the few. The formation of the FTC and EPA was not the product of a fallen civilization in possession of lost and unfathomnable technology.

So I soldier on, telling myself "This isn't the kind of fight we win, it's the kind of fight we fight" (as the epigraph from my 2019 collection *Radicalized* has it), but every now and then, well... Ugh.

The Democrats set to kill pharma price controls in the Build Back Better plan.


Americans pay 300% more for their medicine than people outside of the USA. 95% of Democrats want Medicare to negotiate drug prices (that's right, the US government *doesn't negotiate the price it pays for drugs*) (seriously). 82% of independents support Medicare drug-price negotiations. 71% of Republicans support this, too.

It's not just Medicare. 84% of Americans support price-caps on drugs used to treat chronic illness (think: insulin):


93% of Americans think that pharma companies will still be able to fund drug research with these measures in place (90% of Republicans agree). They're obviously right, because the bulk of critical pharma R&D is paid for by the US government, not pharma companies.


And yet. The latest Build Back Better pharma proposal is basically a nothingburger in a my-eyes-glaze-over bun of bureaucratic nonsense. In the current proposal, Uncle Sucker will be allowed to choose up to ten drugs per year (or as few as zero drugs per year) to negotiate prices on. Not just any drugs: those ten (or zero) drugs must have been on the market for at least 13 years.

Then...nothing happens.

Until 2025, when the controls kick in. If the new Senate, Congress and presidential administration decide to make them stick. And since the Dems are not delivering any benefit to the American people until after the next presidential election, the politicians who supported this measure won't be able to campaign on its benefits to win re-election and ensure it actually takes effect.

Why is this bullshit the best we can get? Why were the incredibly popular, stronger versions of this measure not a slam dunk?

It's really uncomplicated. The pharma industry bribes key Democrats to block it.

For example, Kyrsten Sinema campaigned on drug-price controls. Then pharma gave her $100,000. Then she killed a House proposal that would have lowered the prices Medicare pays for 250 drugs. 94% of Arizona voters supported the measure. She killed it for the price of new Mercedes SUV.

Then there's Senator Bob Menendez, whose state (NJ) includes 13 of the 20 largest pharma manufacturers. And Rep Scott Peters, whose San Diego district is also heavy with pharma companies. Their *constituents* want lower drug prices. Their corporate donors don't.

You and the people you love might die because of this. The country will throw billions to the pharma industry as a result of it. The lobbying bill for Phrma, whose bribes account for those bodies and those billions? A mere $23m so far in 2021.


It's a goddamned steal.

We know the names of the executives, lobbyists and politicians who took pennies that cost us billions while we died in our droves. We won't forget. Someday, there has to be a reckoning.

I mean, doesn't there?


🏴‍☠️ Harvard is full of rich, white low-achievers

Harvard is a very, very selective school. Only 3.43% of applicants get in. But that's not the whole story. Writing in The Guardian, Tayo Bero says that 43% of the white student body was admitted on criteria other than merit.


Those 43% are ALDCs: athletes, legacies, dean's interest list (children of major donors) or children (of Harvard faculty). Three quarters of ALDCs do not have the grades to be admitted to Harvard on their own merit.

70% of Harvard legacies are white. 16% of ALDCs are Black, Asian or Hispanic.

As Bero writes, you don't need Varsity Blues-style bribery to get your underachieving white kids into a top university. There's a huge affirmative action program in place to get those ALDCs into super-competitive schools, rather than better-qualified brown and poor kids.


🏴‍☠️ This day in history

#20yrsago Fans have an accent https://groups.google.com/g/rec.arts.sf.fandom/c/q84niLJ1Ces/m/N86jJnyVWh4J?hl=en&pli=1

#20yrsago Douglas Adams' widow rescues unpublished Hitchhikers' novel from hard-drivehttp://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/1663306.stm

#15yrsago UK regulator: Dragon Sausages MUST contain dragon! https://web.archive.org/web/20061211183555/http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2458696,00.html

#10yrsago More absurdity in the trial of G20 hacker, Byron Sonne https://web.archive.org/web/20111120183057/http://toronto.openfile.ca/toronto/text/lies-and-videotape-byron-sonne-trial-continues

#10yrsago Tumblr users give Congress an earful about SOPA https://staff.tumblr.com/post/12930076128/a-historic-thing

#5yrsago Tax Inspectors Without Borders: poor countries send each other ninja tax collectors to nail looting multinationals https://taxjustice.net/2016/11/17/tax-inspectors-without-borders-us-president-trump-tax-justice-november-2016-podcast/

#5yrsago Nimona: a YA graphic novel that raises serious, unanswerable moral quandries with snappy dialog and slapstick https://memex.craphound.com/2016/11/18/nimona-a-ya-graphic-novel-that-raises-serious-unanswerable-moral-quandries-with-snappy-dialog-and-slapstick/

#1yrago Telehealth chickenizes docs https://pluralistic.net/2020/11/18/always-get-their-rationalisation/#telehealth

#1yrago The Mounties lied about social surveillance https://pluralistic.net/2020/11/18/always-get-their-rationalisation/#rcmp


🏴‍☠️ Colophon

Today's top sources: Metafilter (https://www.metafilter.com/).

Currently writing:

* Spill, a Little Brother short story about pipeline protests. Yesterday's progress: 253 words (31173 words total)

* Picks and Shovels, a Martin Hench noir thriller about the heroic era of the PC. Yesterday's progress: 505 words (39872 words total).

* A Little Brother short story about remote invigilation.  PLANNING

* A nonfiction book about excessive buyer-power in the arts, co-written with Rebecca Giblin, "The Shakedown."  FINAL EDITS

* A post-GND utopian novel, "The Lost Cause."  FINISHED

* A cyberpunk noir thriller novel, "Red Team Blues."  FINISHED

Currently reading: Analogia by George Dyson.

Latest podcast: The Unimaginable (https://craphound.com/news/2021/11/15/the-unimaginable/)

Upcoming appearances:

*  Alternative recommender systems in the DSA: How to protect free expression, create competition and empower users all at once (Article 19), Nov 18

* Launch for Jeffrey Cranor and Janina Matthewson's "You Feel It Just Below the Ribs" (Kepler's), Nov 18

* The Kids Are (Kinda) All Right (San Diego Comic-Con), Nov 28

* Internet Governance Forum (Warsaw), Dec 10

Recent appearances:

* Move Fast and Fix Things (Aaron Swartz Day)

* Tales From the Bridge:

* Seize the Means of Computation (Internet Archive):

Latest book:

* "Attack Surface": The third Little Brother novel, a standalone technothriller for adults. The *Washington Post* called it "a political cyberthriller, vigorous, bold and savvy about the limits of revolution and resistance." Order signed, personalized copies from Dark Delicacies https://www.darkdel.com/store/p1840/Available_Now%3A_Attack_Surface.html

* "How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism": an anti-monopoly pamphlet analyzing the true harms of surveillance capitalism and proposing a solution. https://onezero.medium.com/how-to-destroy-surveillance-capitalism-8135e6744d59 (print edition: https://bookshop.org/books/how-to-destroy-surveillance-capitalism/9781736205907) (signed copies: https://www.darkdel.com/store/p2024/Available_Now%3A__How_to_Destroy_Surveillance_Capitalism.html)

* "Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new introduction by Edward Snowden: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583; personalized/signed copies here: https://www.darkdel.com/store/p1750/July%3A__Little_Brother_%26_Homeland.html

* "Poesy the Monster Slayer" a picture book about monsters, bedtime, gender, and kicking ass. Order here: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781626723627. Get a personalized, signed copy here: https://www.darkdel.com/store/p1562/_Poesy_the_Monster_Slayer.html.

Upcoming books:

* The Shakedown, with Rebecca Giblin, nonfiction/business/politics, Beacon Press 2022

This work licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. That means you can use it any way you like, including commercially, provided that you attribute it to me, Cory Doctorow, and include a link to pluralistic.net.


Quotations and images are not included in this license; they are included either under a limitation or exception to copyright, or on the basis of a separate license. Please exercise caution.


🏴‍☠️ How to get Pluralistic:

Blog (no ads, tracking, or data-collection):


Newsletter (no ads, tracking, or data-collection):


Mastodon (no ads, tracking, or data-collection):


Medium (no ads, paywalled):


(Latest Medium column: "Jam To-Day: Liberating Big Tech's hostages on day one." https://medium.com/@doctorow/jam-to-day-46b74d5b1da4)

Twitter (mass-scale, unrestricted, third-party surveillance and advertising):


Tumblr (mass-scale, unrestricted, third-party surveillance and advertising):


"*When life gives you SARS, you make sarsaparilla*" -Joey "Accordion Guy" DeVilla

More information about the Plura-list mailing list