Home Class Politics Amazing, I Know, But Owen Jones Really Is This Stupid

Amazing, I Know, But Owen Jones Really Is This Stupid



This first part we cannot blame Young Owen for as it’s the headline writer at The Guardian:

The Covid vaccine will benefit humanity – we should all own the patent

Given that it’s we humans who gain the benefit then we do own it, don’t we?

But Jones is indeed more stupid than we would normally give credence to.

Pfizer and its German biotech partner, BioNTech, stand to make an astonishing £9.8bn next year from a coronavirus vaccine.

Maybe. And we might note that this is cheaper than the track and trace system in just the one country, England. You know, the government track and trace system that doesn’t work at £12 billion? Which would be one notch on the private sector’s bedpost, no?

Rather than being a PR triumph for big pharma, coronavirus should serve as a reminder of the disastrous consequences of leaving a life-saving industry in the hands of a profiteering monopoly. Britain has it better than most countries: the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has considerable leverage over pharmaceutical companies by being able to judge whether their drugs are value for money for the NHS. But, while the US pays on average nearly four times more for drugs than other countries, everybody is being ripped off.

With a successful vaccine, herd immunity could be possible without resulting in millions more dead. This is a global catastrophe, after all: up to 150 million more people will be driven into extreme poverty by next year as a consequence of the pandemic. Hundreds of thousands have died, from New Delhi to Rio de Janeiro, while entire economies have been ravaged. But a pharmaceutical industry that has long made exorbitant profits by free-riding on public-sector research has been granted its most lucrative money-spinner yet. So yes, rejoice that a vaccine may well be coming, but don’t give kudos to a pharmaceutical industry that is as dysfunctional as it is morally bankrupt.

Pull the rhetorical tricks from that and here’s the argument.

We’ve just had an empirical test of the contention that government does it better than the private sector. All of the governments of the world have piled cash into some 200 different programmes to try and find a Covid vaccine. The first up to the plate is the one from Pfizer. It may well not be perfect but at 90% effectiveness it’s good enough to do the job. The CEO of that company deliberately and with malice aforethought refused to take any government money from these special, emergency and let’s speed it up, funds. On the grounds that having the bureaucracy around would slow matters down.

The private sector does things faster than the government sector. That’s simply observable fact here.

At which point Owen Jones declares that we mustn’t use the private sector. Because profit. Despite the value of even a day faster being lives saved and billions upon billions in economic activity. At 30% of global GDP – a reasonable guess – each day is worth £82 billion. Some folks might make a bit of cash out of one of the finest deals ever on offer to humanity. We all gain £80 billion a day, they get some profit share of £10 billion the once.

Yes, Owen Jones really is even more stupid than we thought.



  1. To continue that line of thought, instead of wondering why they, Pfizer/BioNTech were so quick maybe the public should be asking why other projects ( not only in COVID) in pharmaceutical&medical research are historically so slow.

    • Because the Boy Jones would bitch and whine about evil pharma experimenting on the poor to sell drugs to the rich? So we have the kind government step in to protect people in the only way they know how – more regulation to screw things up.

  2. Reminds me of an online argument a while back about progress for people in Africa. Woman keeps arguing that not-for-profit NGOs & Gov’ts need to be doing everything. Someone keeps pointing out how bad their track record is, etc. Then he notes examples of for-profit companies that dramatically improved the lives of millions in Africa. Her closing shriek – “but they’re making profits !!!”.

  3. “Disaster in the hands of a monopoly”

    That’s the NHS’s goose cooked, then.

    “…a monopoly”

    So, Wellcome, Johnson, Roche, duPont, Glaxo, Smith, et al, don’t exist?

  4. I’d argue that what’s impoverishing people is the lockdowns, not the pandemic. Of course, perhaps more people might have died without the lockdowns. I lack the expertise to judge.

    Competition has produced one vaccine already, and there are others in the pipeline. The system is evidently working.

    As for the US paying four times as much for drugs, someone has to pay for the research, especially into the much larger number that fail. As always it’s the silly white Westerners who are stuck with the bill. People like Owen Jones ensure that the rest of the world get a cut rate.

  5. If he really was that stupid, he would not be a problem.
    He is a moderately intelligent human who is a congenital liar.
    When people complain about “stupid” my automatic reaction is that stupid people are usually OK unlike the clever people who do “stupid” things to help their personal aims. My knee-jerk reference is that when I was 17 and leaving school (having got a place at Oxford I saw no need to stay) my housemaster asked me about another boy as a possible replacement as “House Prefect” (he was *not* clever, having been older when he took ‘O’ levels than I was when I took ‘A’ levels) and I replied (having not expected the question and had no time to prepare) that I should trust him with my last £ better than I should trust myself with it. Do you want someone clever or someone trustworthy?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


in British English
expunct (ɪkˈspʌŋkt)
VERB (transitive)
1. to delete or erase; blot out; obliterate
2. to wipe out or destroy

Support Us

Recent posts

American Hyperconsumerism Is Killing Fewer People!

This report does not say what the Guardian headline writers think it does: Three Americans create enough carbon emissions to kill one person, study finds The...

Contracts Often Lag New Revenue Streams

I've been - vaguely and not with any great interest - anticipating a story like this: Scarlett Johansson sues Walt Disney over Marvel’s Black Widow...

Richard Murphy Rediscovers Monetarism

We have a delightful example of how Richard Murphy simply doesn't understand the basic nuts and bolts of the economics he wants to impose...

Vox Is Missing The Point About Having A Constitution

Not that we should be all that surprised by this from the progressives at Vox. No government- well, no one not controlled by...

So Let’s Have An Elitist Technocracy Instead!

There's been a certain amount - OK, a lot - of squealing in the US about how democracy is the ultimate value and we...

Recent comments