What’s WRONG With This Picture?

In the United States, PET scans start typically at 2000 USD. My Hong Kong PET scan cost 1538 USD. The philosophy is that the efforts of the developers of PET scanners should be rewarded.

But this is absurd: I participated in the early development of the mobile phone, and yet do not feel entitled to, nor do I get, any of the massive financial rewards going to investors in mobile phone companies. Instead I worked for a fair wage which more than covered my expenses as a father of two and paid my health insurance premiums.

In 1979, nobody could have forecast the difference the mobile phone would make worldwide although the guy who recruited me onto the team did have an inkling based on the popularity of grassroots communication using “citizen’s band radio” in the late 1970s.

But who’s getting rewarded when a patient, especially one who let’s say ISN’T a smart little shrewd little cookie who’s shopped around as in the capitalist playbook, and who IS someone terrified out of her wits by the prospect of breast cancer, and she shells out 4000.00 USD? That is, what’s in her savings account? Only to have to pay for a CT scan a week later when she starts having pain in a new place?

I’m not, nor would I want such blood money had I worked also on PET scanner software. The very idea is obscene! Who can sleep of nights knowing that his money comes from ignorant or terrified people with fatal diseases?

I just wanted to work on the intellectual challenge of mobile tech and CT scan tech as well as opposed to payroll applications. What is this world in which the gentle nerds are forced to the wall, and everybody is always snatching at everyone’s else’s wallet?

In the early 1970s, businessmen merely patronized my enthusiasm, my desire to work in any computer language except Cobol, because they needed me. But in the late 1970s I met new men (and women, typically aggressive women who subscribed to the more sadistic feminisms) who were marked by a stunning contempt for intellectual curiosity, mathematical elegance, or indeed anything but golf dates with CEOs and cost-plus contracts. These wicked people by the year 2000 made it a terminating offense at at least one pharma company in Cary, NC, for PhD researchers to “talk unnecessarily” at work…and I am not making this up.

Basically as a nerd, when I produced novel forms of value (as when I discovered a non-working Fortran compiler and made it work, thereby enabling the teaching of this still-important language and its use for statistical applications), I want them to be available to all, since my model of capitalism is one in which “inequality would benefit the least well off” by converging (1) to equality and (2) a higher minimum than before.

This was the inequality of the 1950s. My father’s income and status was linked to the fact that if a family was unable to pay him for a surgical procedure, he might very well accept in-kind payment (once we all stayed in a farmhouse lent by the patient) or reduce the bill. His income larger that many of his patients (we rode Pullman sleeping cars and my Dad bought hardbound books) but nothing like what’s seen today where the patient in the USA emergency room might as well be a lower life form as compared with the medical staff, who may as well be visitors from another planet.

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One Response to “What’s WRONG With This Picture?”

  1. Well said… Capitalism has taken over this world in any form you can image. Having a healthy conscience of right and wrong is such a foreign concept to people nowadays. The people from the top need to remember were there glory came from.

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