It’s been a busy time, keeping my ongoing clients happy while onboarding new ones.
One of my confidential clients in particular provided me with a fascinating new scope of work: issue advocacy.
I know: I’m a financial writer with a tech-y bent, so what am I doing writing about politics and policy? Well, sometimes it takes someone with my background to provide informed feedback on policy proposals, and it was a pleasure over the past month to try my hand at analyzing the costs and benefits of ideas coming out of Capitol Hill or City Hall. I put up a new page here to capture these and hopefully more going forward. (As this is a confidential client, it’s password-protected. Hit me up offline if you need the code.)
The first piece is about a proposed universal basic income plan for New York City residents. Basing my argument on Alaska’s mineral rights dividend, I make the case that New Yorkers — well, not only New Yorkers, but I needed to stay within scope — ought to be compensated for the personal data they make available to the Amazons and Googles of the world.
“’Data is the new oil’ has become a term as hackneyed as it is inaccurate –
oil is fungible while data is unique to the individual – but it does hold true this far: It
ought not to simply belong to whoever found it,” I wrote. “Another cliché about how data is shared online is much more factual: ‘If the product is free, then you’re the product.’”
Concentrating on indirect benefits, I demonstrate how capital formation, public health and working conditions would all be improved from adopting UBI — as Thomas Paine argued in the 1780s, I was surprised to learn.
The next piece was a bit wonky. In the voice of a confidential client, I responded to a Federal Register entry requesting comments for a regulation proposed by the Department of Health & Human Services that would require pharmaceutical ads to disclose list costs for the drugs they’re marketing.
That heavily footnoted response took the tone of someone who agreed with the regulation, but had issues with how HHS arrived at the numbers to support it. Further, I introduce the concept of price inelasticity of demand — a concept that pretty much drives any informed policy regarding drug prices. It also needed to be said that the drugs themselves are only part of the problem. There’s no patent on insulin, but every year somebody thinks up a new way of getting it into a patient’s bloodstream, and those devices are very much on-patent so you can expect Big Pharma to discontinue making the old ones as soon as the new ones are ready for market.
“Different market dynamics would govern prices for a skin cream that relieves irritation and for which there are many substitutable products, and a drug such as insulin which prolongs life and for which there is as yet no adequate substitute. In the middle is an array of products that improve quality of life to varying degrees and for which substitutes are available to varying degrees,” I argue as a proxy for my client. “[P]roducts for which price inelasticity of demand in minimal will be little affected by the proposed regulation and might thus be exempted from compliance with the Proposed Rule without adverse consequence. That said, if [HHS] should consider such an exemption, it should further consider that delivery systems of these products are patentable and thus price transparency related to the delivery systems ought not be exempted.”
I guarantee you the rest of that piece is every bit as boring as that paragraph, but it demonstrates that I can do the job.
Why be boring when you can hire me to be boring for you?