Humanity’s Loss | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 89 Issue 13 | p. 4 | Letters
Issue Date: March 28, 2011

Humanity’s Loss

Department: Letters

What caught my eye in looking at the Feb. 7 issue of C&EN about the cutbacks at Pfizer was the beautiful and imposing facility that Pfizer was closing (page 5). Not selling mind you, but closing!

Then I thought of all the diseases that will not be addressed because of the lack of this facility, and of all the new and improved therapies that will be forgone as a result. Then I thought of all the potential researchers who will be deterred from pursuing a career in biochemistry and biological science because they perceive a closing of avenues to a productive and satisfying career.

Then I thought of how this may be a good thing for Pfizer’s bottom line but that it will be a very bad thing for humanity’s bottom line.

That got me to thinking about the dogma that private industry is more efficient than the government. Perhaps so, but it’s debatable. That assumed efficiency redounds to the gain of Pfizer and to a loss for humankind. Private-sector efficiency comes at a cost to the public interest. Why, I wondered, could the highly compensated management of Pfizer not have found a way to keep this facility working for the benefit of both Pfizer and society in general?

Currently, we are witnessing a clash of thoughts about public-sector unions in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana. Those who are being seduced by the notion that government is the problem and that the free market is an unalloyed engine of human progress might want to ponder the closing of Pfizer’s Sandwich, England, facility and what it means for the benefit of society versus the benefit of private interests.

Orin Hollander
Jamison, Pa.

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