Treat the symptoms or treat the disease?

Federal candidates must pressure provinces for fertility treatment funding, B.C. advocates say
— Read on www.cbc.ca/lite/story/1.6156760

Coverage for IVF in most parts of Canada is poor and many people are arguing we should fix that. I’m not totally opposed to better funded IVF, but 1) there are WAY higher priorities in our healthcare system and 2) almost all of the people who need IVF need it because they’re trying to have kids in their 30s or 40s.

It would be much much better if we just supported people having kids at younger ages with things like better childcare, better subsides, and real strict rules against anti-parent (especially anti mother) discrimination in workplaces.

It would also be helpful if we dealt with the endocrine disrupters we’ve dumped in our environment.

Major in something useful!

You go to college and go into a ton of debt so you can have a chance at a good job and then when you don’t get a good job are mocked for your poor choice of majors.

The thing is, by the time there’s a formal way for you to learn a field in university, it’s gotten so competitive that you’re probably not going to get a good job.

On top of the gut feel that I have from working in the industry and talking to 100+ people who also do, these two tweets finally convinced me that there is a true data science supply bubble. First, this intro class tweet:

and UVA starting up a data science school.

Since academia is typically a lagging indicator in adoption to new trends in the work place, it’s been long enough that it’s truly worrying for junior data scientists, all of who are hoping to find data science positions. It can be very hard for someone with a new degree in data science to find a data science position, given how many new people they’re competing with in the market.

And you’re probably not going to be able to identify in advance what the next big set of jobs is going to be. And even if you do and even if you manage to make a career of it, that career won’t last your life – you’re going to have to constantly retrain.

Right now this often means going back to school, in some form or another, over and over, racking up more and more debt. It’s exhausting and depressing.

Burdens/profit

Disabled people, sick people are often treated as and described as burdens. We’re so much work to take care of, our drugs are so expensive! Stefan Strecko has cystic fibrosis and can’t get his insurance company to pay for the drug he needs.

A Halifax man who has battled lung infections, digestive issues and had trouble breathing his entire life because of cystic fibrosis says he’s devastated his health insurance provider won’t cover the cost of a promising but prohibitively expensive new medication after initially approving his request. [CBC]

Prohibitively expensive, in this case, is $25,000/month.

There’s an organization in Canada called CADTH that basically determines whether drugs can get insurance coverage. They do a cost-benefit analysis for drugs. In Stefan’s case

The preliminary CADTH review has suggested the need for a 90 per cent reduction in price before it would be covered by public and private health plans, but the final review is pending.

This drug is the best treatment for Stefan, but Canada doesn’t think it’s worth it to relieve his suffering. Instead, they’ll offer him MAID. We won’t pay for him to live, but we will pay for him to die.

CADTH’s reports are why I laid out >$10,000 out of pocket for drugs in the last few years. It’s not that the drugs don’t work, but that the benefits aren’t “worth it” compared to the drug cost.

Of course, they don’t count the days I’m not in the ER because of the drug, or too sick to work but well enough to at least feed myself and sit up for a few hours. Part of that’s because pharmaceutical research is unbelievably scammy and often deliberately makes it very hard to actually tell how well a drug works and what kinds of benefits it has relative to other treatments. Part of that is because they don’t value disabled lives.

Down-weighting benefits is fucked up, but not what I want to write about today. See, the cost is treated as something fixed when it doesn’t have to be. That drug that’s $25,000/month? There is no reason it needs to be so expensive!

We should be making it in a government-run or Crown corporation drug factory and selling it at cost. We could and should be doing this with so many drugs and with vaccines and many other medical supplies as well. Intellectual property rights grant temporary monopolies and the only reason to do that is when the benefits outweigh the costs. It turns out they often don’t.

The drugs many sick and disabled people take create an enormous financial burden for us and the people who care for us, but the flip side of that is that they are enormous profit for pharma companies. We shouldn’t keep prioritizing corporate profits over the health and well being of actual people.

Don’t go to China

I’m really glad I’ve already been to China because any country that thinks taking hostages is a good way to do diplomacy is one I don’t want to travel in.

Canada is caught in the middle of a fight between the US and China. Meng Wanzhou has definitely done jail-worthy stuff, though that has fuck all to do with why the US wanted her arrested. Canada is doing a decent job fending off the US – she hasn’t been extradited yet, after all, but has a real problem with China which is very happy randomly detaining and killing Canadian citizens to try to get Canada to do what it wants.

Canada doesn’t have much power here, but I do think they should make it much more difficult for Canadian citizens to travel to China, if only for their citizens’ protection. And other countries and travelers should take note as well – if China has a beef with your country, they’d be very happy taking you hostage and killing you for geopolitical points.