The Grumpy Old Man

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....Money Rules....

....How Big Business takes major decisions based solely on their Financial wellbeing....

After writing eco-14 (misuse of drugs) I realised there was a theme, common with eco-12 (plastics). Further thought suggested a number of other grumps were also driven by the same theme.

The common factor is money. It is a fact that the total turnover or "gross domestic product" of the United States pharmaceutical industry is greater than the GDP of most of the world's sovereign countries. It is easy to see that development and marketing of drugs is very "front-end loaded" in that the cost of drug development and numerous tests, verifications and suchlike requiring to prove its clinical effectiveness and safety means a lot of money is invested in the product before any is sold. Like software, drug development and product proving takes a considerable workforce, capital investment and time. In short, a significant financial investment for the companies concerned. After this development phase, manufacture of the product in quantity is frequently comparatively cheap.

But for how long after manufacture does the drug remain clinically effective and how is that timescale affected by patient use? I feel intuitively that these questions are not often fully addressed during the development stage. To answer these questions would introduce further work into the final stages, thus extending an already complex program in which the company has a significant financial investment. This extension would delay the start of any return on the company's investment, thus such investigations take low priority. Thus money drives the decision, especially if you get someone else to pay. Click here to more..... on this attitude, or click here to more..... information on the drugs problem.

With plastics, for an example, think milk. Years ago it came to your door in a churn, and you dipped your jug into it and paid the milkman. Not really hygienic, so he went to reusable glass bottles, sealed at the dairy. This needed machinery to clean, sterilise and refill the bottles prior to reuse. This involved capital investment in equipment and staff to operate it. From this it was a short step to use a single use plastic bottle, which dispensed with the use of cleaning and sterilising operations thus making economies.

But what do we do with the empty plastic bottle? That question was left to the consumer to sort out and arrange its recycling, in short "someone else will pay". Click here to more..... of an overview on this attitude or more..... here for more information on plastics in the environment.

When Grumpy worked for an engineering company, a "tea lady" would come round the shop floor, offices and laboratories midmorning and afternoon offering tea or coffee from urns together with savoury buns or cream cakes. At her shout of "teeeeeeeeeee", staff would congregate at the trolley for their own mugs to be filled with the nectar! Soon tea ladies were replaced with vending machines dispensing some concoction that was never very hot and was indescribably tasteless in plastic cups. The only commendable thing was that the liquid was wet. This obviously generated significant quantities of once used plastic cups. The reason for the change was cost saving as the tea ladies were now redundant. The cost savings no doubt boosting the company profit line. Money drives the decisions especially if "someone else is paying". Click her to more..... on this attitude or here to more..... information on plastics.

Similarly, the fast-food market has also changed dramatically. Originally the only "fast food" was the ubiquitous fish and chips (Yum Yum Yam). This was served in a greaseproof pouch, with battered cod slapped on top, wrapped in a clean newspaper. For second veg, a pea fritter was occasionally available. Eaten with your fingers. Quite hygienic and what waste there was quickly rotted away.

Now, the same menu is dispensed in a polystyrene container, mushy peas in polystyrene cup with a plastic lid, and plastic knives and forks. Maybe marginally more hygienic, but generates significant plastic waste that's around for years. Invariably, Joe public discards this detritus and expects somebody else to clear it up. Again money drives the decisions especially if "someone else is paying". Click here to more..... on this attitude.

I have actually seen in many a High Street, railway station or airport "sitdown cafes" that serve their drinks in plastic cups and buns on paper plates! Saving on equipment purchase and staff, needed to wash and recycle the empties. In many cases customers are asked to clear their table and discard their empties in a plastic sack lined bin, so the rubbish collection is done only leaving them to dispose of the full plastic sack. Again, ultimate disposal is someone else's responsibility and again money drives the decision especially if "someone else is paying". Click here to more..... on this attitude.

But there is a much more insidious example of this approach and that is the public total obsession with bottled water. If ever there was a bigger marketing con trick foist on a gullible public, Grumpy has yet to find it! It's galling to see quite regularly in the press instances of water contamination either by the bottling plant, or a cow too near the well. In many developed countries tap water is more pure than the bottled rubbish. Bottled water used to come in glass bottles, but that is now as common as rocking horse fertiliser. Clearly the supplier (I hope he doesn't manufacture the water) finds it cheaper to make a plastic bottle than try and use glass, recycled or otherwise.

Similarly, in supermarkets, I see serried rows of hyper sweetened, sugary, chemically flavoured carbonated drinks. Years ago, they'd be in reusable glass bottles now it's plastic, that is just discarded Once again money drives the decisions especially if "someone else is paying", (to dispose of the empty) Click here to more..... on this attitude. Click here to more..... on the growing environmental disaster of discarded plastic.

There are many other examples of big business financial considerations taking precedence over the public's best interests. Some, yes only some exmples, of these can be seen in

banks sharp practice, to more..... click here

direct debits and the loops one needs to go through to manage them, to more..... click here

one of the most insidious examples found by Grumpy is the case of Apple Corp and a 13billion tax (fiddle?). to more..... on how size gave payment of farcical fractions of Corporation tax.