It’s time we realize the government is not our friend, and if we want to advance ourselves and solve problems, we’re better off turning to each other.
2020, in many ways, was a terrible year to reign in a new decade. But one silver lining was seeing more and more people become aware that the government hasn’t been acting in their best interest. The divide between populist left or right, and the establishment, was further solidified with both sides growing disdainful towards Congress and the hypocrisy of some of its members. One example was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez criticizing the FY 2021 Omnibus Appropriations Bill for being over 5,000 pages long and lumped in with COVID relief, with the House having only two hours to review it, and then voting in favor of it on the final vote.
But not all hope needs to be lost; looking back at the past decade can reveal how private businesses have done more for their communities and the country than the government itself. In the last decade, incredible advancements in spaceflight were made by SpaceX, not NASA. In that time, private companies were founded that have been successful in offering cheaper medicine and treatment; an incredible feat seeing as how the federal government is slow at remediating this problem itself. Maybe moving forward, we can restore our hope in solving our country’s problems through each other.
Futuristic Advancements Have Been Accomplished by SpaceX
Over the last decade, SpaceX made a lot of notable achievements for spaceflight. In 2010, SpaceX launched its first Falcon 9 with the first stage burning up in the atmosphere upon re-entry. What was so cool about the Falcon 9 is that it was one of the first of its kind in being a reusable rocket. In 2018, “the Falcon Heavy successfully launched with its two side boosters returning for a safe landing.”
SpaceX is the first private company to achieve these feats of reusability when it comes to spacecraft. Additionally, they were the first to autonomously dock to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2019 with the cargo spacecraft, Dragon. The following year, Dragon was launched to and from the ISS with NASA astronauts on board, becoming the first commercial system to achieve this.
The race for spaceflight advancement has been taken up by private companies, with government initiatives left in the dust.
This isn’t to say SpaceX has monopolized the spaceflight industry, quite the contrary. It’s been argued that the next decade may not be ruled by SpaceX in terms of such innovation and advancement, given that it’s up against giants like Boeing and Lockheed Martin as well as smaller companies. However, the competition is good as a whole for humanity. After all, it was thanks to the Space Race during the Cold War that we were able to so quickly get a man on the moon. It would seem the race (this time for further advancement in spaceflight) has been taken up by private companies, with government initiatives getting left in the dust.
Cheaper Avenues for Healthcare Are Becoming More Common
This may still be relatively unknown to the general public, at least it certainly was to me: the government doesn’t regulate the price of drugs. While this poses an issue to many Americans, one company, GoodRx, aims to be a solution.
Founded in 2011, GoodRx doesn’t require any user’s information, and it makes money from advertising and referral fees. It scans drug prices at your local stores and displays them for you. Once you’re shown the prices in your area, you can get a GoodRx coupon to apply discounts and avoid overpaying for prescription drugs. This is surprisingly effective because drug prices can vary, even between two stores — remember, the prices aren’t regulated. You also don’t need insurance to use the coupon. It could actually turn out to give you a better price than your insurance co-pay!
With no competition and no regulation, the price of a drug can be as high as the pharmaceutical companies want.
This service is remarkable in how it’s able to reduce drug prices for consumers — something the government hasn’t been able to do, and arguably will never be able to do. After all, they profit so much from the drug industry. When a new drug is created, it takes years for it to go to market and be used in prescriptions, and the FDA doesn’t approve copies (generic versions) of a drug for seven to 12 years, even if there aren’t any patents on the original drug (the one that first went to market). This allows for little to no competition. And if there’s no competition, the price of a drug can be set as high as the pharmaceutical companies want, since people need to pay it for their prescribed treatment.
What GoodRx does is create an alternative for consumers to use. It’s a faster route for change than just waiting on the government.
There has been a rise in cheaper medical treatments that aren’t paid for by insurance as well. Modern Fertility sells a fertility hormone test at a flat rate of $159, no insurance required, with FSA and HSA accepted. It’s been recently proven in a study with 130 women that the minimal finger-prick test can be applied to women’s health, with the results from the test being the same as with a traditional blood-draw test. With your purchase, you get a finger-prick test, and mail it back. Your results are then reviewed by a doctor and sent back to you, plus you’re given access to an online community of support. You’re given information about an assortment of things, such as your egg count, thyroid levels, and identification of “red flags” such as PCOS.
Given the variation in the price of drugs and treatment, having a flat-rate option for something like a fertility test is definitely an advancement; one that occurred via a private company, which was established because of a lack of options when it comes to treatment price and flexibility.
Charities and Local Businesses Have Done a Lot More for People Than Government
On the subject of healthcare and the imperfections within that system, charities such as The Ronald McDonald House aim to support families of children who need to stay at hospitals for treatment for an extended period of time. Additionally, since costs of commuting to a hospital can get high when a child is staying indefinitely for treatment, this charity helps offset some of those costs by allowing families to stay and not requiring payment from those who can’t afford it.
Many states have a humane society. Each society’s programs can vary across states and communities, but they’re generally focused on educating their communities about animals and providing care for animals that are lost, abandoned, or unable to be cared for by their previous owners.
Many local businesses tend to contribute to the betterment of their immediate communities.
More social change can be occurring right under your nose as well. Many local businesses tend to contribute to the betterment of their immediate communities. One example is more grocery stores serving their communities in a wasteless manner, which helps the environment and promotes less wastefulness in our culture. Even single individuals, with the help of others, can contribute to great change, such as Dave Portnoy who set up the Barstool Fund (which currently has $18,604,973!) to help small businesses survive until the end of the pandemic.
Recent events have shown us that the government isn’t our friend. More than anything, we need to begin scrutinizing bills and laws that get passed and truly think about how they affect us. No longer can we be expecting change to come from the top, down. It’s up to us as private citizens to start businesses and patronize those that aim to advance and change society in the ways we want to see.
In the past decade alone, more change and progress have been made by private citizens and their businesses, than the government itself. It’s time we focus on those, especially during a time when some local governments are ordering indefinite lockdowns.