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A blog 'for independent minds'
The Day the World Changed
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Opinion page editor Rick Holmes and other writers blog about national politics and issues. Holmes & Co. is a Blog for Independent Minds, a place for a free-flowing discussion of policy, news and opinion. This blog is the online cousin of the Opinion ...
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Opinion page editor Rick Holmes and other writers blog about national politics and issues. Holmes & Co. is a Blog for Independent Minds, a place for a free-flowing discussion of policy, news and opinion. This blog is the online cousin of the Opinion section of the MetroWest Daily News in Framingham, Mass. As such, our focus starts there and spreads to include Massachusetts, the nation and the world. Since successful blogs create communities of readers and writers, we hope the \x34& Co.\x34 will also come to include you.
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By Rob Meltzer
April 7, 2013 12:20 p.m.



I’m not sure Americans even noticed that the world changed last week, probably because the change happened in India and it didn’t involve any reality television stars and it probably wasn’t mentioned on Facebook. Essentially, the India court slammed the Swiss drug company Novartis, finding that Novartis had “evergreened” its cancer medication, such that its patent barring the creation of generic copies was not applicable. It probably was the wrong decision. While companies often make minor changes in its drugs to preserve patents, the truth is that drugs are so expensive to bring to market, and they are so often brought to market to rush therapies to people with the expectation of improvement, its not clear that these changes are minor or cosmetic. Nonetheless, many manufacturing companies do extend their patents with minor tweaks, and that’s where the change is going to occur.



During the bailout of GM, I often wrote about a client of mine in North Carolina who was trying to bring a new car to market–something radically new and radically environmental. As I also pointed out, it is nearly illegal if not totally illegal to invent a new car in the United States, as the protectionist policies in this country have permitted design patents to protect American car companies, as well as manufacturers of allied countries (Germany, Japan, Korea). If you decide to make a car with four tires and a steering wheel, you will spend the rest of your life in a federal court fighting patent infringement cases. I urged the Obama Administration, as did others of course, to eliminate competitive restrictions as part of the bailout of GM. Of course, since the government was nationalizing GM, why would they want competition? Even though competition creates jobs? I noted that allowing GM to fail was the best was to create a new car industry, but that’s not how American labor unions see things. So, the restrictions stayed in place. My client took his company to India, as did dozens of other companies. In fact, remember that huge flow of plastic in the Pacific Ocean that sounds like the plot of a B movie? Another American company who may be mining that flow for the recycled plastic for my former client’s car was also forced to take his company overseas. I hope the India law firm and its twenty lawyers that are now representing my former client are enjoying the work that I would have been doing here.



On the day after the Court in India made its decision on Novartis, and with that decision under its belt, a buyer signed a contract with my former client to buy nearly two billion cars to be sold in India, China and Brazil, with an expectation of expanding that market to the Middle East, other parts of South and Central America and Africa. The car will be a “generic,” meaning, don’t look for a name plate on it. My client isn’t the only one getting into the generic car market. My sense is that in ten years, all cars in Asia, Central and South America and most of Africa won’t have name plates, they will cost about ten percent of a branded car, and they will change the way the world drives, thinks about commerce and thinks about urban development. Parenthetically, there are only about 500 million people in the United States and Europe, so these folks have written off these markets as irrelevant.



These new generic manufacturers are making products that were designed by Americans for the American market, and they were, likely, the American success story that Obama wanted. Instead, America is being excluded from the new world because of Obama’s policies.  The unemployment rate is falling because the job market is collapsing. Where are the jobs? Overseas. Its really only a matter of time until people desperate for work will migrate to where the work is–from the United States to the broader world. Obama’s main achievement as president may be reversing the 160 year tide of employment migration, just as he killed off the manufacturing sector and sent innovation excellence overseas.



The main problem confronting America isn’t gun control, Mr. President, it’s a world moving on without us because of you. As a Kenyan, you should have gotten the memo and you were expected to move away from the American-centered exceptionalism that holds that we are better because we are Americans. We are better because we are supposed to be smarter, faster and far-thinking.  And since the world has already changed, it may be too late to repair the damage the past five years have wrought.



 

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