[ExI] Private and government R&D [was Health care in the USA]

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Wed Jul 1 13:33:27 UTC 2009

2009/7/1 Mirco Romanato <painlord2k at libero.it>:

>> Well, almost everything the government spends money on is for
>> "feel-good" purposes rather than profit, while for business the
>> reverse is the case.
> There is a difference from feel good and being good.
> Until now, you supported that public spending and taxes are for good
> purposes; now you support that it is all for "feel good" purposes.
> But good and "feel good" are very different concepts.
> The difference is "feel good" people are inherently egoistical, as they
> act to feel good about themselves; that their action cause actual
> damages is not important and it is better to hide, as it could reduce
> the good feeling.
> A doctor, like you IIRC, could greatly harm a person if he act on a
> "feel good" basis and not on an ethical basis.
> How many people would be killed by "feel good" doctors that don't want
> them to suffer for no reasons? Or how many resources would be consumed
> to save a patient with Futile medical care and subtracted to the
> resources needed by other patients that could actually benefit from them?
> The same is for publicly financed research and health care:
> feel good trample being good.

I didn't intend that there be such a distinction between "good" and
"feel-good". What I meant was that private businesses generally only
do anything in order to make a profit, and only occasionally donate to
charity etc. because they think it's the right thing to do.

>> (Of course, this does not mean that some of the
>> feel-good projects won't turn out to be cynical, corrupt or outright
>> evil.)
> Or that "evil" people would be unmasked by the abolition of public
> health care or public research.
> People, like you, that would never give freely to people in need or to
> finance no-profit research.
> And they would not give because they are interested in "feel good"
> without actually pay the price of being good.

But I strongly support being taxed for these positive purposes,
because I see this as fairer and more efficient. Charity is fickle,
demeaning for the recipient, and ineffective. I see people who want to
abolish all public services as selfish and evil, since you started the

>> People only agree to be taxed because the money will be spent
>> differently to the way they themselves would spend it or private
>> enterprise would spend it, otherwise what's the point?
> That people agree to taxes mainly because they have not a better option
> in mind and the costs of opposing to them is too big.
> I never found anyone that claimed to had paid more taxes on purpose to
> give more money to the government.

No, and I try to minimise the taxes I pay even though I support
taxation in principle.

The choices are:
(a) everyone pays tax;
(b) everyone pays tax except me;
(c) no-one pays tax

My selfish preferred option is (b), but obviously that isn't going to
happen. Second best is (a). I would probably be financially better off
under (c), but I see that as morally wrong and would not support it.
(I would feel guilty about (b) as well, but at least it would do
little harm to the rest of the population, unlike (c)).

Stathis Papaioannou

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