The coronavirus crisis has served as a powerful tool in highlighting many of the faults that previously existed in society. It exposed which politicians have an inherent need to control and which ones are guided by humility. It reminded us of the political power that lies in fear, and how crucial it is to be skeptical of prevailing narratives. It emphasized the different economic realities for those who live paycheck to paycheck and those who benefit from economic financialization.
It should also make perfectly clear the danger of handing over healthcare to the state.
Already we have seen agents of the state, at various levels, seek to leverage a viral medical crisis to expand their power. Governors and local officials have sought to use vague “emergency” powers to lock down businesses and to create criminal penalties, and have then attacked any attempts by judiciaries to rein in their actions. Judges have sought to leverage the power they hold in deciding child custody to force citizens to make medical decisions they disagree with. Anointed government experts, such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, in spite of his own inconsistencies, have been held up as the final word on science, at the expense of the voices of other credible scientists.
Whether by design or by the instinctual reaction, we have seen a concerted effort of government authorities—amplified by a corporate press with a particularly vivid political agenda, and supported by the credentials of an academic landscape that suffers from ideological capture—to weaponize a centralized scientific narrative for the purpose of achieving certain policy ends. It is appropriate that some have dubbed this union “the Cathedral,” as we have seen the divine right of kings renewed in the divine right of approved scientists.
None of this should be a surprise.
Ludwig von Mises, F.A. Hayek, Murray N. Rothbard, and others have long warned of the dangers of “scientism.” As Jonathan Newman has noted on this site, we’ve seen it play out increasingly in American pop culture with the fetishizing of figures like Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye.
Now, luckily, the current healthcare system has limits on the degree to which we, as individuals, must submit to the power of the “scientific consensus.” How long, however, will that doctor-patient relationship remain sacred?
Already we have seen various states actively ban the prescription of hydroxychloroquine following a mass media freak-out over a story involving a man dying after digesting fish cleaner. Conflating medically prescribed hydroxychloroquine with a toxic cleaner was never grounded in either science or reason; it was a move driven purely by a partisan reaction to President Trump’s endorsement of the drug, and the willingness of the media to spin a story that was critical of his judgment. Many of these states have been forced to reverse their decision, as some (though not all) scientific studies indicate that it may be an effective treatment.
Now imagine if America’s healthcare system were turned into a single-payer model, such as the Medicare for All reform that has been championed by some of the most popular members of the Democratic Party. Beyond questions of access, wait times, and supply rationing, which we see in places like Canada and the UK, does anyone expect a nationalized healthcare system to not end up limiting the treatment options available between doctors and patients?
What about the medical services available to those who are not in full compliance with health-related government edicts? In a single-payer healthcare system is it not plausible that an unmasked social media photo could be used as evidence for why someone doesn’t deserve the same level care as someone who has followed all the rules?
Does such a new level of medical control even require a true single-payer system?
The labyrinth of government regulation and red tape within the healthcare industry, exacerbated in the post-Obamacare world, has resulted in significant consolidation of the health insurance industry. Joe Biden’s moderate healthcare reform, which calls for the re-creation of a public rival to private insurance, would only result in further consolidation. As we’ve seen in financial services, Big Tech, and other industries, a consolidated industry is ripe to be abused by those convinced of the righteousness of their own ideological crusades.
The answer to the dangers of corporate consolidation is radical decentralization. We’ve seen this play out in the medical industry with the rise of physicians opting out of the dominant insurance-based service model and offering direct primary care. As more states have begun to lean into this trend, it will be interesting to see how long the federal government is willing to avoid pushing back—particularly if we see the return of a Democratic executive.
We should take seriously those with blue checkmarks on Twitter who shamelessly share in public dreams of covid-inspired “truth commissions,” and who gleefully wish for the suffering of anyone who questions the science behind lockdowns and mask mandates. If the state’s role in healthcare expands, it is precisely people with these sorts of views who are likely to fill the ranks of its bureaucracy.
Is Biotech ripe for investment yet?
It’s a great time to be looking for opportunities in biotech as the sector is near the bottom, says MPM Capital’s Dr Christiana Bardon. Biotech has…
It’s a great time to be looking for opportunities in biotech as the sector is near the bottom, says MPM Capital’s Dr Christiana Bardon.
Biotech has been in correction over the past eight months
What many see as a sharp decline in biotech, Dr Bardon dubs an overdue correction after a prolonged period of “too much enthusiasm” due to the COVID pandemic. Speaking with CNBC’s Leslie Picker, she said:
The long-term prospects for this industry look as great as ever. The demographics of the aging population means we’ll need new drugs, the support of regulatory environment, and finally the third fundamental is innovation at record high levels.
The iShares Biotech ETF is down 25% from its high in August 2021, but Dr Bardon is focused on the long term. She sees an upward trend in biotech over the next thirty years.
Dr Bardon is particularly interested in Oncology within Biotech
According to the Harvard-trained medical doctor, investors should focus on areas within Biotech that are committed to addressing unmet medical needs, such as Oncology. She added:
Oncology continues to be an exciting area of Biotech. Within Oncology, we’re seeing incredible innovation primarily because of the genomics revolution. And then the regulatory environment is very supportive of cancer drug development.
Dr Bardon sees the U.S. as a global leader in biotech and reiterates that it was this industry that helped the world pull out of the Coronavirus crisis.etf pandemic coronavirus
ironSource CEO: gaming is more than just a COVID play
The VanEck Video Gaming and eSports ETF (ESPO) is up nearly 100% since the start of the pandemic, and ironSource Ltd (NYSE: IS) CEO Tomer Bar Zeev doesn’t see an end to this trend in the near future. Highlights from Zeev’s interview on CNBC’s ‘TechCheck’.
The VanEck Video Gaming and eSports ETF (ESPO) is up nearly 100% since the start of the pandemic, and ironSource Ltd (NYSE: IS) CEO Tomer Bar Zeev doesn’t see an end to this trend in the near future.
Highlights from Zeev’s interview on CNBC’s ‘TechCheck’
Zeev agrees that video gaming and eSports was a beneficiary of the global pandemic but says the segment is now much more than just a COVID play. On CNBC’s “TechCheck”, he said:
When COVID started, we saw an uptick of roughly 10% in the time that users spent within games. As the world reopened, it pretty much stayed the same. So, we think it’s the new norm. We don’t think we’ll see any change in that regard.
According to Statista, much of the increase in hours spent on video games was attributed to the new gamers in 2020 who turned to the industry in search of indoor means of entertainment amidst COVID restrictions.
Gaming is bigger than film and music combined
According to Zeev, gaming is the fastest-growing segment within the app economy, and it will continue to lead the industry on growth in gaming library as well as relevant platform software.
The gaming ecosystem within the app economy is growing super-fast. Gaming is the biggest part of the app economy, it’s bigger than the film industry and the music industry combined. So, it makes perfect sense that it will grow all around. It will continue to lead the app economy.
Earlier this week, Take-Two Interactive said it will buy Zynga Inc for $12.70 billion in cash and stock to expand its footprint in mobile gaming. Zeev expects such consolidation to continue as companies move to benefit from the fast-growing gaming economy.
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Omicron is not a threat for the retail sector in the short-term
Investors are responding rather strongly to reports of a new COVID variant of concern the WHO designated “Omicron” on Friday. But the former Walmart CEO Bill Simon is confident it doesn’t pose much of a threat for the retail sector in the short…
Investors are responding rather strongly to reports of a new COVID variant of concern the WHO designated “Omicron” on Friday. But the former Walmart CEO Bill Simon is confident it doesn’t pose much of a threat for the retail sector in the short term.
Simon’s remarks on CNBC’s ‘Closing Bell’
Bill expects consumer strength and holiday season to help the retail sector absorb this news with minimal reaction. On CNBC’s “Closing Bell”, he said:
People were out shopping today, looking for deals. Stores were crowded, prices were very good and aggressive, particularly in the big-box chains. So, in the short run, with the Black Friday weekend and everything else going on, I don’t think you’ll see much of a reaction.
He refrained from commenting on the long-term impact of the new variant on the retail sector and said it would depend on how the situation unravels. The SPDR S&P Retail ETF is down more than 3.0% on Friday.
Retail has been divided into winners and losers
During the same interview, BMO Capital Markets’ Simeon Siegel said the retail sector was no longer moving in unison; the pandemic had split it into winners and losers.
The question is, who has the pricing power versus who saw fewer promotions. All of them will deal with externalities, whether it’s the variant or the supply chain. But what brands actually structurally improved their business through the pandemic; that’s the dynamic.
According to Siegel, the recent earnings season already made this division evident. On the one hand, we had companies like Capri Holdings that jumped about 20% after reporting results for the latest quarter, and on the other, there was Nordstrom that was down the same after its quarterly report.
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