James Love

Recent Articles

The Other Drug War

Universal health care reform demands that we finally control skyrocketing drug prices.

F or several decades, the pharmaceutical industry has benefited from a combination of government intervention and laissez faire: the federal government provides stringent intellectual property right protections and generous public subsidies for research-- but does not regulate drug prices. As a result, the United States has been a leader in the development of new drugs, but it also faces the highest drug prices in the world. Until recently, there has been little public controversy over the pricing of drugs or the terms under which private firms obtain the rights to government-funded research. But as health care costs have soared and policy makers attempt to deal with AIDS and the general crisis of health coverage and cost, the drug companies are coming under increasing scrutiny. No sooner had Bill Clinton taken office than he began criticizing drug prices. As part of national health care reform, the administration and Congress are considering various proposals to subsidize vaccines...

Democratizing the Data Banks: Getting Government Online

The federal government’s databases may soon be only an inexpensive telephone call away.

The advent of online access to large-scale information systems from personal computers and telephones has radically altered many everyday activities, from using a credit card to making an airline reservation. The same technology may now change the relation of citizens to the state, if advocates of an electronic gateway to government data banks succeed in establishing a new principle of democratic access, not simply to government information, but to government information systems. The federal government is the single most important sponsor of research and producer of data in American society. Its statistical databases, reports, and technical studies, as well as the multifarious documents from its several branches and independent agencies, are crucial to interest groups and businesses of all kinds. Corporate strategy-making, scientific research, community planning, and perhaps most important of all, public debate depend on a reliable and abundant flow of data gathered by the government...