Hayek in Vienna

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Why being an "Austrian" in Austria is so difficult.

Well the conference on the roots of capitalism is over and we had some interesting discussions. More on that in later posts. First today's newspapers. Politicians never learn. There have been some cases of bird flu in Turkey and everybody is afraid of a pandemic i.e the virus jumps to humans and spreads. One of those terrible capitalist companies Roche has developed a pill Tamiflu that helps against the flu (although how much is helps and if its good against bird flu is still being tested). Now many countries have decided to buy Tamiflu and negotiate the price. The Minister of Health Mrs. Rauch-Kallat is still negotiating and waiting since "we don't want to be hysteric and contribute to the rise in a pharma companies stock price." The head of the social security agencies, Mr. Erich Laminger has suggested suspending patent rights for flu medicine in case of a pandemic. While I realize this might be a negotiation ploy I'm not sure it will work. Now all this wouldn't really surprise me in a socialist country but these people are members of or associated with our ruling center right coalition. It might be a good idea to distribute basic economic handbooks to these people.

Just now the news came over the radio that the normal flu vaccine is sold out in Austria. The government didn't foresee such high demand. I seem to remember a book by Friedrich Hayek called the "Road to Serfdom", had something to do with the failure of central planning.

As I said its not easy being a supporter of the Austrian School of Economics in Austria.