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Natural genes no longer able to be patented

From the NY Times:

Reversing a longstanding policy, the federal government said on Friday that human and other genes should not be eligible for patents because they are part of nature. The new position could have a huge impact on medicine and on the biotechnology industry.

I feel as someone starting their PhD in Genome Sciences, I should have a nice elaborate analysis for you… but alas, I don’t. I can tell you all about how genes work, or how to isolate them in the first place, but I’m no expert on the pros and cons of gene patents.

I have my ideas, but feel free to discuss in the comments. Do you think this is good or bad for future research? For future medicine?

Comments

  1. says

    Fabulous news. Patents for many things do more harm than good by stifling competition. Patent trolling has become a major issue in a lot of industries, especially pharma and software, people who aren’t actual users of the patents own them as investments, essentially skimming off the top of any useful production.

  2. Tiger says

    Your post title uses the word natural, but I don’t see any distinction between natural and engineered genes mentioned in the article. Obviously patenting naturally-occurring genes is stupid, but I kinda have to think that not recognizing patents on genes that are the product of human effort will hold related industrial fields back a bit. The issue Cole brought up seems like something unrelated that would need to be solved by reform, not by simply not recognizing patents. I would question whether or not it’s even a problem – the inventor is still being compensated for his effort in the form of however much he was paid for the patent, and the money the purchaser skims off the top would have been put in the inventor’s pocket if he hadn’t sold off the patent.A bigger issue, I would think, is companies patenting incredibly basic things in new fields (like Sega’s exclusive patent on “using a floating arrow to direct the player” in video games) and subsequently collecting royalties on literally every product to use that feature. Imagine if someone held a patent on locks that open with keys and demanded royalties on everything that used one, from padlocks to cars to houses.

  3. says

    From the article:”But in its brief, the government said it now believed that the mere isolation of a gene, without further alteration or manipulation, does not change its nature.[...]However, the government suggested such a change would have limited impact on the biotechnology industry because man-made manipulations of DNA, like methods to create genetically modified crops or gene therapies, could still be patented. “

  4. says

    Great news! “The Patent and Trademark Office has sided with the proponents and has issued thousands of patents on genes of various organisms, including on an estimated 20 percent of human genes.” How can you patent a human being … or any part of one?If this decision is upheld perhaps genome scientists can return to pursuing science for the sake of knowledge instead of being forced into being shills for the pharmaceutical industry. This might even herald a refocusing on the value of human life, a genuine concern for the quality of life and real fixes for genetic disorders. But that’s just my opinion.As this is a position from the DoJ I’m sure it will be challenged in the courts. Personally I like to see all the patents reversed on all genes whether human or those of other organisms. I’m including in that all the coming “engineered” life forms that will be created in the future.Now if we can only get the Supreme Court to reverse itself on the ridiculous position that a corporation is a living entity with the same, if not greater, protections of the Constitution given to humans which is part of the rationale for allowing genes to be patented in the first place.

  5. says

    That’s unfortunate, especially considering the abuse of gene patents shown by Monsanto and their “Roundup Ready” line of GM crops. Once genes are modified, living things. . . reproduce. That’s what living things do. The idea that they can still enforce that patent after turning it loose, and sue people into the ground is abominable.

  6. Tiger says

    That’s an obvious abuse of a loophole that needs to be closed, not an argument against recognizing patents on genes at all.

  7. Azkyroth says

    Actually, that’s an argument that the current system is such a nightmare that scrapping it completely would be better than leaving things as they are (much like the death penalty).

  8. says

    Clearly you know far more than I – I was a comp-sci major in uni. I understand your field requires funding to do your work (even grad students require food and shelter), but couldn’t it come from patenting novel ways to detect or manipulate genes? Not the genes themselves; just the methods. Or have you guys figured all that out already?The real discoveries are in the resulting manipulations, not in the methods to achieve that?

  9. says

    I’m yet to come across an example of natural gene patenting being a good thing for people (as opposed to the company profiting from said patent). Farmers, breast cancer patients and others have certainly suffered because of them.

  10. Mark Hanna says

    “Reversing a longstanding policy, the federal government said on Friday that human and other genes should not be eligible for patents because they are part of nature.”Does this mean only supernatural things can be patented now? Humans, as well as all of their inventions, are part of nature too.I know it’s just a poor choice of wording, but it’s a very poor choice of wording.

  11. says

    I was pretty much in favour of this decision, but then I got to thinking–how about if natural genes were patented under a Creative Commons license? So that all derivative works were covered under the same share and share alike copyright? Seems to me that this would discourage commercial gene splicing (something I would look on favourably) but encourage non-commercial work. Golden Rice would go–why pay all that money when a half carrot a month would suffice? But the work on a better yam would likely continue–albeit under UN or some other non-commercial oversight. I’m starting to think this idea has legs….

  12. says

    Technically, wouldn’t this imply that all software is unpatentable? I mean, a gene is a portion of DNA, and DNA is (layman here) the set of instructions for the Universal Turing Machine of biology…Or – if software remains patentable, could you just patent the sequence of codons (or pairs?)(instructions), and write a software patent instead of a gene patent?Would there be a difference if you patented code to simulate a particular gene, vs patenting the gene itself? In theory, they are both the same thing – one is merely running upon a different substrate…?Depending on how things go – this could also mean that genes are considered a form of speech, and all the first amendment protections that implies. This argument has already been considered for software:http://www.philsalin.com/paten…IIRC, it wasn’t too long ago that some US court (Supreme?) ruled that this was true – that software was a form of speech…So – if genes are software, which AFAIK, scientists believe is true…I honestly think that humans really don’t think all of this stuff all the way through to its logical end-points…

  13. says

    My naive take is that it’s the right way to approach the question. Mere discovery should not entitle you to patent a feature. Innovation—actually creating something novel—is what should gain you a patent.

  14. says

    I couldn’t agree more. Monsanto should be boycotted by all farmers. And patents on ANY genes in ANY organisms that can reproduce themselves should be banned. The only entities that should be doing such things are government agnencies, because they are NON-PROFIT!

  15. MarcusBailius says

    I think Hilary Mark Nelson has it right: You should not be able to patent an existing gene (however “gene” is defined). A genuine invention with genuine innovation is what is required. The patent office, particularly in the USA, has been very lazy on many issues for many years: They don’t check adequately for prior art, for example. (Much prior art can be found with 15 minutes or less with your favourite search engine.)I think it is important that a treatment made available because someone has set of genes A, is not vlocked because some company has a patent on that gene or set of genes. If a company however has a particular treatment developed from those genes, then that treatment might constitute an invention and be patentable. However, it might be very similar to treatments developed from other genes; in that case, it would be a simple inremental development. This is another area where patent offices need to think carefully; incremental developments should not really be patentable, should they? (Certainly that was the original intention of what patents were for. It’s not how they work now, though.) And also, there may be other treatments for that patient based on their having set of genes A, which may be different from that offered by the company with a patented treatment.Patents (particularly US Patents), are widely regarded with some derision around the world: How stupid is it, that buying something with one click, is worth a patent?!So, really, these gene patents had to go.

  16. Svlad Cjelli says

    Naturally occuring genes, you say? Why not patent the bees’ knees while we’re at it? Makes more sense to patent a knee extraction machine, or an arcane knee harvesting ritual.

  17. Slad Cjelli says

    “Human?” Meaning that I could in some cases contest that the gene in question was in my personal possession long before company X ever went looking for it.Or, that they could sue me if I utilise a genetic advantage for a small raise in salary.

  18. says

    I don’t think genes should be patented, no matter what are the circumstances. In the end patents on genes, are patents on life and actual living beings. That is wrong on so many levels, that I don’t need to even explain.

  19. says

    “Hello, Microsoft technical support, how can I help?””Hello, it’s my Microsoft Legs, I can’t turn left.””Have you tried sitting down and standing back up again?”

  20. denature says

    I assume this decision basically prevents gene squatting. You can’t get a patent for sequencing a gene and describing a putative function. You must cite and provide evidence for an applied application beyond sequence.To put it in internet terms, if you had registered the domain name for Avatar, you don’t necessarily get the rights to any possible money generated from by the movie. But a unique application to blue yourself could potentially be patentable.I can’t remember the precise issues with BRCA so I’ll make them up. If you discover a gene and show a linkage of an allele to cancer, you don’t get paid every time someone does a PCR reaction to determine if their patient is at risk. You didn’t patent PCR or gene mapping or sequencing. If you develop a vector that is viable for gene therapy you could get a patent.

  21. says

    The need to increase value for shareholders introduces an additional priority to the mix, one which often displaces the need for a company to behave in a socially responsible manner.If you can earn $9 in profit by being nice, and $10 by being a douche, that extra 11.12% is worth screwing everyone in your way because shareholders are many steps removed from the consequences of the company’s actions in all matters except stock value.

  22. says

    Patents on genes are bad. I’m not very knowledgeable about human genes and the ethics that are taught in those situations but this topic makes me think of the Monsanto Corporation and their patents on corn and soybean seeds. They’ve genetically engineered said seeds to withstand more and produce more than their naturally occurring counterparts. Sounds good right? Well, in theory, it’s a nice idea. However, once human greed and selfishness enter the equation, things go sour quick. The company is constantly on a war path against farmers who don’t purchase the Monsanto seed, claiming they’ve stolen the seed, destroying their crops to “check” the seed they used. The seeds spread like crazy and overtake non-Monsanto farms. For instance, the genetically modified corn seeds are banned in Mexico because the Mexican government wants to preserve it’s rich variety of corn crops grown in the country. Now, whether through illegal sales, sneaking through customs, or simple natural means the Monsanto seed has started to invade Mexico. Now, even avoiding whether or not GM seeds are good for consumption or not, the fact that something owned by a corporation can simply travel and recreate itself anywhere it can grow is frightening. As I said before, I don’t have extensive knowledge of human genetics, or genetics in general but it seems like owning a patent on life is a very dangerous thing.

  23. cat says

    The social problem this change is meant to address is not gene altered crops, but rather the patenting by companies of certain inherited genes within people that cause diseases, for example, genes that cause a massive increase in risk of breast cancer were patented, meaning that anyone who wanted tested for this gene, or any lab or doctor who wanted to test, was limited to only those tests allowed through the company with the patent. This has been seriously fucking over patients, actual human patients, because companies own the patent on their genes, which raises the price on testing and care and blocks the creation of generic medications or new treatments coming from other companies.

  24. says

    What the hell was the rationale behind allowing patents of things you did not design or invent in the first place?Did I miss the boat when I didn’t patent rocks?

  25. says

    Wait, you used to be able to patent human genes? Holy shit, given some of the legal precedent in agriculture that means companies could legally force people not to reproduce (and possibly force men to have their testes removed or otherwise made unable to produce sperm at all). Hell, they could even force someone to have all their bone marrow removed and given to the company since they keep violating the patent by producing and using said gene.Here in Australia we already have the gene patenting law, and I think our laws on GMOs in agriculture are fairly strict. I think if they get changed we need to ensure farmers are still protected against nuisance lawsuits.

  26. EdenBunny says

    The government is only non-profit (“negative-profit” might be more accurate, given the consistent growth of debt) because of an astronomical level of incompetence combined with a profound insensitivity toward the taxpayers that fund it. Giving the government a monopoly on gene manipulation would arguably concentrate power in the hands of the most corrupt and irresponsible members of our society. As for farmers boycotting genetically altered crops, that’s about as likely as them boycotting fossil fuels, and presently it is exactly as evolutionarily stable; any who do it will quickly be driven out of business by those who do not.Genetic modification in any setting other than the lab is foolish until we know much more about genes than we do at this stage in history. Even though we have the information, we don’t yet have the ability to fully understand it.A patent requires (or should require) that the inventor have a thorough understanding of the invention. Anything less than that amounts to making discovery patentable. A thorough understanding does not necessarily include knowing every possible long-term effect of the invention, but it does include knowing every effect that is as immediate as (or more immediate than) the intended purpose of the invention. Genes might be engineered to specific purposes, but due to the complex nature of chromosomes (check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DNA and http://www.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/home.shtml for an idea of this), the full range of immediate side effects of such engineering will probably not be predictable for a very long time. It took 13 years just to map the human genome; imagine how long it would take to fully analyze its response to any particular drug. Plant genomes may be simpler but even so, one or two billion base pairs instead of three is not likely to take the complexity down to a human level of understanding.For the same reason, most or all drugs should probably not be patentable either. The fact that inconclusive testing (i.e. results are never universal) must be done to establish their effectiveness and determine side effects betrays the fact that they are being discovered, not invented. Trial and error is not invention. If you build a blender or a bicycle according to the specifications given in its patent, it will work as described in the patent without variation. The wheels of the bicycle will not mutate into a square shape for some unknown reason that requires further research. If the blender has a tendency to short out above a certain power level, this tendency is predictable from the schematics, and therefore correctable, because the schematics do not include complex interactions with stimuli outside the system. The same is even true for highly complex computer systems (i.e. complex by current standards) – the actual interactions with the outside world are very simple. Examples include the measuring or application of pressure within a certain range and the measuring or emission of light or sound within certain parameters. This is a level of interaction that can be easily controlled and understood. Biochemical interactions are another story. There is plenty that is not yet fully understood about the human body, including especially, but not at all limited to, the way that DNA works. When a drug is introduced to a body for the purpose of slowing down the heart rate, it also potentially reacts with every other chemical in the body, having the eventual enrichment of lawyers as the only certain predictable result. When DNA is modified to the end of creating sweeter fruit, the same principle applies.This would be true even if DNA had been intelligently designed, but the lack of predictability resulting from the fact that it was not (an example can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cO1a1Ek-HD0 ) makes the problem even worse. Add things like ERV damage and you have a very complex machine that is extremely sensitive to change in unpredictable ways. This is not to say that it is impossible for our very distant descendants to acquire the understanding necessary to make drugs and genetic engineering a field of true invention, but I personally am aware of no evidence that it will likely happen before the end of this century, and strongly suspect that no such evidence exists.

  27. EdenBunny says

    Who defines what a “socially responsible manner” is?Being “nice” or being “a douche” is pretty subjective terminology; increasing value for shareholders is nice for the shareholders, and this is usually accomplished by being nice to the customer, which, by keeping the business profitable enough to keep a full staff is also nice to the employees. Paying less to each employee so that more employees can be hired is nice to the employees that otherwise would have been jobless. Replacing employees with equally efficient machines to gain a competitive advantage is nice to the customers on to whom the costs are passed. Etc.A more objective standard to consider is the result of being unethical, incompetent, and/or fiscally irresponsible. If a private business has no special help from the government, operating in any of these modes is likely to result in a loss. (Special help can take many forms: subsidies, grants, generous contracts, bailouts, “stimulus” payments, caps on lawsuits, unbalanced legal interpretations by judges, specially created tax-exemptions or credits, regulations that limit competition, etc.)Whether or not unethical, incompetent, and/or fiscally irresponsible businesses can typically thrive without government help is an issue that we might disagree on. Even so, corruption due to a “profit motive” is certainly not confined to the private sector, and in fact, for the reason pointed out in the remainder of this post, is less present there than in government, although it might not generally be referred to by the same name when it occurs in government.Defining profit as net gain after investment (because that is the only definition that makes sense in the context of this discussion) the government is motivated by profit just as much as any private business is. There are differences in the form of the desired profits, the way the profits are used, and the fact that the profits are independent of productive results, but they are profits just the same.In fact, they are bigger profits, because the investment is considerably less, being heavily subsidized by taxpayer funds.Private charities also have a profit motive in this sense, but since their income is tied to results, they have a better incentive to remain ethical, competent, and fiscally responsible (unless they receive special government help).Although legislative bodies are notorious for raising their own salaries at will, and many other government personnel have shown a greed for monetary profit as well, increased power is the primary profit motive for most government entities, even those with good intentions. That is to say, the measure of a policy’s value to a given government entity is whether it will result in a net increase (profit) or decrease (loss) of power to the entity.Government bureaucracies interact with legislative and executive entities to increase in size and sometimes to form other bureaucracies. They also mutate, in a sense, changing their methods of operation. Can anyone here guess what that leads to?(Hint: it starts with the letter “e” and rhymes with “revolution”…)Each bureaucracy wants as much power as possible to solve whatever problem it has been created to solve, and to that end each bureaucracy wants as much money as it can get, to hire as many employees as it can and buy whatever equipment it thinks it can use. The way to acquire that money is to show the legislators that it is needed. This fact, combined with the fact that solving problems actually decreases the need for solutions, builds an environment in which the least effective bureaucracies are selected for growth and duplication. Growth and duplication is one measure of power, which is the form of profit that bureaucracies seek most highly.Since this profit is at best independent of any productive result, bureaucracies need not worry about being “nice” -or about being ethical, or competent, or fiscally responsible. This post has pointed out a negatively influencing motive that exists for governmental and government-favored entities that simply does not exist in any form for private businesses. Can anyone here think of a negatively influencing profit motive (or any other negatively influencing motive) that exists for private businesses that does not exist in any form for governmental and government-favored entities? Having not yet to come across any such motive, it is difficult to imagine one.

  28. Tomt64 says

    I really should not have to do this, but… say it with me now…FREE MARKET DOES NOT SOLVE ALL OF THE WORLD’S PROBLEMSSometimes there have to be limits, because it is entirely possible that a company will get away with bullshit unless stopped by an outside force. Unethical and other behavior you mentioned is only likely to result in a loss if the company is being held accountable by something more than monetary compensation for whatever they produce. They could get away with murdering people and having sweat shops if they are never exposed, and even if they are exposed they take a very SMALL hit financially compared to the hit they will take from a government smack down.Additionally, government help does not create bad/unethical/failing companies. Bad/unethical/failing companies simply outnumber the good ones and as a result of a numbers game, more bad/unethical/failing companies get government assistance than good ones.Now in saying all that, I do not propose that we have government “control” or regulation of every little thing on the market. But it does make sense for the government to be involved. Issues of public safety, basic rights, etc, are all very important.In reference to the particular topic at hand, I would have to say recognizing patents on genes is ridiculous. Recognizing patents on the developmental process necessary to create new genes or alter them is just fine. Potentially enforcing patents on genes that were created by natural reproduction is why I think this.

  29. EdenBunny says

    I don’t notice any part of my post that claims that the free market solves all of the world’s problems. Scientific research doesn’t solve all of the world’s problems either, but I hope nobody here would try to use that as an argument against it.Are you a creationist, by any chance? I ask this not only because you show a preference for the vague terms of “good” and “bad” over more specific and meaningful terms (in the tradition of the replacement of “species” with “kind”), but because you seem to have a talent for making claims without backing them up. The first thing you do after your all-caps refutation of a statement that was not made is to refute a statement that is the opposite of what was said. A company that is not “being held accountable by something more than monetary compensation for whatever they produce” is one that is getting special government treatment in at least one of the forms specifically listed. A company will not comfortably commit murder if they can be sued and there are no caps on the lawsuits that can be brought against them.Next, you lump unethical companies in with failing companies, as if it is impossible for a company to fail for any reason other than its own shortcomings. This puts the small farmers who are taxed and regulated out of existence in the same class as the mega-farming corporations that lobbied for the specially structured taxes and regulations that lead to that result.Then you claim that “bad/unethical/failing companies simply outnumber the good ones” without providing any evidence or rational argument supporting this claim.Then you imply that “bad/unethical/failing companies” receive more government assistance “as a result of a numbers game” (again without providing any evidence rational argument) as if there is no reason an unethical company might be more likely to gain government assistance when an investment in lobbying can result in as much as a 9,999% profit. (see http://www.muddywatersmx.net/2… )Also, in full creationist fashion, you totally evaded the challenge posed by the post that you were supposedly answering. The post showed how governmental and government-favored entities actually have a unique incentive to be incompetent and fiscally irresponsible, along with a lack of incentive to be ethical. The challenge was to describe some mechanism that provided a similar incentive framework that was unique to private, non-government-favored entities. That said, as far as patents on genes, I agree with you; allowing genes to be patented is ridiculous for reasons I pointed out in my earlier post in this thread.

  30. Tomt64 says

    Replying here because apparently I cannot reply to your followup…You’re right, I have no statistical basis for saying that there are more companies that are “bad” versus “good.” It’s more of a personal observation. I don’t really feel that it’s necessary to do exhaustive research in order to make a statement based on observation, nor do I feel I should have to find an analysis that confirms everything I say. Your agreement with me on the final point shows that it doesn’t necessarily matter to you either if you agree with me.But I will make an attempt to explain what I mean by bad or good. A “bad” company would be one that is either unethical, failing due to some policy (implied or otherwise) they have as opposed to a result of supply and demand issues, or one that has managers or other higher ups that do not value employees and/or customers. There’s more to it but it shouldn’t take me listing all possibilities for someone to see where I’m going. Notice I use the word OR. The companies do not need to have all of the above for me to consider them “bad.”I don’t notice any part of your claim either that says you think free market solves all of the world’s problems. I overgeneralized the point I was trying to make. Lumping companies who accept special government assistance in with the unethical, in addition to many other arguments you made regarding public and private funding is where I drew the conclusion that you support free market as a solution. I disagree with this as a solution to the problem, and I disagree that the driving factor for unethical behavior, as you described in your follow up post, is special government assistance. I would argue that if this were not available to companies, it would not solve the problem nor would it make a huge dent. Companies that act this way will make every effort to do so no matter what assistance or lobbying they can get away with.I also “avoided” your question because I did not wish to address it. I only wished to address the premise upon which the question seems to be based, and then throw in my comment on the overall subject of gene patenting as I had not yet posted about that. Since I found your premise to be flawed I did not find your question worth answering. I also find it flawed to assume there can be any objective conclusion can be drawn from comparing private companies that receive assistance or favor versus those that do not.

  31. EdenBunny says

    > You’re right, I have no statistical basis for saying that there are more companies that are “bad” versus “good.” Thank you for admitting that…> It’s more of a personal observation. I don’t really feel that it’s necessary to do exhaustive research in order to make a statement based on observation, nor do I feel I should have to find an analysis that confirms everything I say. I can’t argue with that. My personal observation is that only a small percentage of businesses behave unethically, incompetently, or in a fiscally irresponsible manner and yet stay in business for a period of time longer than a couple of years at most, and that the biggest exception to this rule is companies that assume they can always depend on government to protect them from any consequence of such behavior, and are justified in that belief. However, I obviously cannot prove that your observation is the same, or even that it is mistaken, as I have not experienced your observation for myself, and there is no practical way of establishing the true statistics.> Your agreement with me on the final point shows that it doesn’t necessarily matter to you either if you agree with me.But it does, just as even though I strongly agree with the contention that humans evolved from single-celled animals, it would matter to me if someone attempted to argue that this contention is supported by the fact that humans are so much more evolved than all of the single-celled animals. Also, even though I agree that murdering an innocent person for the thrill of it is ethically unjustifiable, it matters to me when someone claims that the reason it is ethically unjustifiable is because some mystical being disapproves.> But I will make an attempt to explain what I mean by bad or good. A “bad” company would be one that is either unethical, failing due to some policy (implied or otherwise) they have as opposed to a result of supply and demand issues, or one that has managers or other higher ups that do not value employees and/or customers. There’s more to it but it shouldn’t take me listing all possibilities for someone to see where I’m going. Notice I use the word OR. The companies do not need to have all of the above for me to consider them “bad.”So what you’re saying here is either that “bad/unethical/failing” was redundant and careless shorthand or that a failure to value employees (who by necessity have the ability and knowledge to cost the company major amounts of profit through malice alone) and/or customers (who are the company’s source of income) is a fiscally sound policy. Well, I don’t agree with that, but I guess I cannot really disprove it… > I don’t notice any part of your claim either that says you think free market solves all of the world’s problems. I overgeneralized the point I was trying to make. Thank you for admitting that…> Lumping companies who accept special government assistance in with the unethical, in addition to many other arguments you made regarding public and private funding is where I drew the conclusion that you support free market as a solution. Except I didn’t lump those two classifications together at all. What I did was to point out a relationship between the two classifications, i.e. that if an entity can expect to be bailed out of any failure due to lack of ethics, competence, or fiscal responsibility, that entity has less incentive to be ethical, competent, or fiscally responsible. This is a premise that is based only on the idea that, all other things being equal, most or all entities would prefer success to failure in whatever they endeavor to accomplish. You apparently are challenging that premise, and I have to admit, I cannot prove that this premise is true.> I disagree with this as a solution to the problem, and I disagree that the driving factor for unethical behavior, as you described in your follow up post, is special government assistance. I never claimed it was “the” driving factor, only “a” driving factor. Though I did give my reasons for my belief that the availability of special favors from government leads to corruption, I obviously can’t disprove your contention that this is not the case.> I would argue that if this were not available to companies, it would not solve the problem nor would it make a huge dent. While the almost guaranteed enormous payback for lobbying does lead me to believe that it would in fact make a very huge dent, once again, there is no test case environment where such payback does not exist, so I can’t possibly prove you wrong.> Companies that act this way will make every effort to do so no matter what assistance or lobbying they can get away with.I’m guessing your implication here is that their “every effort to do so” will be as successful regardless of whether or not there is a governmental structure in place to compensate for natural negative consequences of doing so. Again, I have to admit that my premise here is an assumption, based purely on a line of reasoning that can’t possibly be proven applicable to this case, regardless of how obvious it might seem, because again, the alternate test case environment does not exist.> I also “avoided” your question because I did not wish to address it. I only wished to address the premise upon which the question seems to be based…Except you never really did address the premise (actually, the premises) that the question actually was based on, …(The question was based on the premise that government reward for failure leads to an environment in which failure is rewarded, and the premise that such an environment leads to increased failure among the entities that exist within it.) That said, I can’t really prove that these premises are in fact true either. > Since I found your premise to be flawed I did not find your question worth answering. …And since you didn’t, I can’t possibly find any flaw in whatever answer you might have given.> I also find it flawed to assume there can be any objective conclusion can be drawn from comparing private companies that receive assistance or favor versus those that do not.As you don’t say where such flaw exists, I am again incapable of forming any argument against your finding. Well, looking over this post, it seems that, with the one tiny exception of that tangential issue of whether or not our agreement on the premises matters to me, I really can’t disprove any statement that you’ve made, so you must be right. I therefore have no choice but to concede and tip my hat to your superior grasp of the situation.

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