Monday, March 25, 2013

Mead on Medical Breakthroughs And Smart Policy

Walter Russell Mead has a nice blog post on "Medical Breakthroughs And Smart Policy".

One excerpt:
The world is in the early stages of a golden age of biotech innovation, one that has the potential to revolutionize everything from health care and manufacturing to energy production. And the biotech revolution will build on and add to the infotech revolution that has been shaking the world for the last 50 years. The 21st century will be more different from the 20th than the 20th was from the 19th. And the 22nd century will be something else again, if we don’t kill ourselves en route.

VM never gets tired of pointing this out for one very simple reason: wonks who don’t keep the innovative dynamism of our age at the forefront of their minds as they think up new policies are likely to do more harm than good. Trying to build elaborate models for the future of healthcare based on today’s delivery systems and economic models is as futile as trying to build a national transportation model in 1830 based on the success of the Erie Canal.
I addressed a related issue in a 2010 PJMedia OpEd, "The Deadly Tax on Medical Innovation":
ObamaCare could thus strangle many promising developments in their cradles before they ever reached the marketplace, such as new cancer treatments, handheld diagnostic equipment, nanotechnology, etc.

And the worst aspect is that we will never know what new technologies could have been developed and how many lives they could have saved — an example of Frederic Bastiat’s principle of the seen and the unseen. As with any exponential process, small changes in the rate of growth will have a dramatic effect on the final total after twenty years.
I encourage folks to read the full text of Mead's "Medical Breakthroughs And Smart Policy".  (Via Instapundit.)