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Quote of the Day: Taxpayer Privacy and IRS Abuse

At CFIF, the issue of improving taxpayer privacy and protection against persistent abuse by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) remains among our most important missions.  Among the abuses that we've chronicled is the case of convicted criminal Charles Littlejohn, who rejoined the IRS in 2017 with the specific purpose of illegally breaching and leaking the private tax returns of Donald Trump and other Americans to radical left-wing organizations like ProPublica.

In The Wall Street Journal this week, one of those victims speaks out on his own experience and the need for greater taxpayer protection against this recurring problem that should terrify all Americans of every political persuasion.  Ira Stoll, whose tax information was passed to ProPublica, even helpfully details how…[more]

May 29, 2024 • 11:28 AM

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U.N. Threatens U.S. Medical Innovation...and Our Economy Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, September 22 2016
Translation: The U.N. seeks to undermine property rights and medical innovation in the name of worldwide redistribution, with the U.S. patent system its obvious primary target.

Ponder this lopsided statistic for a moment. 

The United States, with just 4% of the world's population, generates 64.4% - nearly two-thirds - of all new prescription and biologic drug patents worldwide. 

Our nearest individual competitor, Japan, accounts for a distant second at 10.7%, and China merely 0.2%.  The entire combined European Union produces 24.8%, or about one-third of what we create, with remaining developed nations accounting for only 6.0%. 

That disparity isn't due to blind luck.  It's the direct result of America's current and historical standing as the world's strongest protector of patent rights and intellectual property. 

The U.S. Constitution, whose 229th birthday we celebrate this month, deliberately addressed patent and other intellectual property rights by granting Congress authority "[t]o promote the Progress of Science and the useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."  James Madison, writing in The Federalist 43, emphasized the relationship between intellectual property protections and social utility by noting, "The public good fully coincides in both cases with the claims of individuals."  And as Abraham Lincoln later observed, America's "patent system added fuel of interest to the fire of genius." 

But America's strong patent protections aren't mere historical or Constitutional law curiosity.  To this day, independent measures of worldwide intellectual property protections place the U.S. atop their surveys.   As just two examples, both the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Intellectual Property Center and the Washington, D.C.-based Property Rights Alliance again placed the U.S. atop their 2016 worldwide rankings. 

The fruits of America's legacy of strong patent protection are clear.  From the telephone to powered flight to radio to television to the Internet, no nation in human history rivals our record of invention.  And as noted above, America's astonishing lead in creating life-saving and life-improving drugs also manifests that legacy. 

One would think that America had earned the world's gratitude for that role as the world's medicinal wellspring. 

Instead, illustrating the old adage that no good deed goes unpunished, the U.S. finds itself the target of United Nations enmity and kleptocratic design. 

Last year, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon convened a "High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines" with the explicit intention "to review and assess proposals and recommend solutions for remedying the policy incoherence between the justifiable rights of inventors, international human rights law, trade rules and public health in the context of health technologies."  In its official statement, the U.N. openly acknowledged its goal of determining "how WTO members can tailor national intellectual property law, competition law, government procurement and drug regulatory laws and regulations to fulfill public health obligations": 

[W]hile the world is witnessing the immense potential of science and technology to advance health care, gaps and failures in addressing disease burdens and emerging diseases in many countries and communities remain.  The misalignment between the right to health on the one hand and intellectual property and trade on the other, fuel this tension.

Translation:  The U.N. seeks to undermine property rights and medical innovation in the name of worldwide redistribution, with the U.S. patent system its obvious primary target. 

The problem, as illustrated by the correlation between America's strong patent system and its gaping lead in medical innovation, is that intellectual property rights don't undermine access to medicine, they fuel it.  Without the incentive to invest in potential new medicines, they simply won't get created in the first place. 

How would weakening that incentive "advance health care," the U.N.'s alleged goal?   How will the U.N. redistribute medicines that don't get invented at all? 

Moreover, in addition to undermining the creative incentive for new medicines, the U.N.'s scheme threatens the American economy. 

Not only do 650,000 Americans work in the pharmaceutical sector, but each of those jobs supports five additional jobs in such sectors as manufacturing, transportation, retail and research.  Additionally, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, every $1 invested in new medicines saves $7.20 in healthcare spending, which stands to reason since new drugs often alleviate the need for surgery and other expensive treatments. 

It's unfortunate that over the decades, the U.N. has veered far from its founding ideal of promoting world peace among nations and today seems more interested in demonizing Israel or targeting such things as the U.S. right to keep and bear arms.  This latest scheme to free ride off of U.S. medical innovation and weaken its fruitful system of patent rights should not be tolerated by American citizens or their elected leaders. 

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