It’s extremely important to understand the relationship between populism and science. Populism says: “tomorrow, you won’t have to pay as much for your medication!!! Isn’t that awesome?”

Populism says a lot of stuff that sounds good from an immediate-self-interest standpoint. That’s definitional.

However, please understand that the only reason we have drugs that effectively save lives against pernicious adversaries such as cancer, aggressive viruses, and autoimmune disorders (and, during this sentence, please imagine your 5-year-old being diagnosed) is because we reward solutions with such a high payoff.

Think of a bounty poster for a most-wanted outlaw in the Old West. He’s “Jim Cancer, Murderer of Women and Children”. Where would you set the bounty?

Populism in drug pricing is great as a ploy to keep power because people depend on the drugs we have already developed. But, if you don’t want Jim Cancer to run free, then make sure to keep the bounty high.

That’s the only way we will be sure to get the best and brightest to burn the midnight oil to figure out the answers, and to get Daddy Warbucks to fork over a king’s ransom to finance research with way less than a heads-or-tails chance of success to find the holy grail for something you may one day be diagnosed with.

Do you want the smartest and hardest-working young people to devote themselves to finding a cure for cancer? Or would you rather them go into investment banking or sports merchandise marketing. It’s up to you.

Populism is the cancer. It destroys everything over a long enough time horizon. It really is that simple.

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