This article from Right-thinking makes a lot of sense, arguing as it does (along with Andrew Sullivan, whose quote begins the piece) that free enterprise and greed push us to create better products, including medicines.
But I want to correct a perhaps apparently small but actually pretty significant point. “…all of these good intentions mean absolutely nothing without a free market framework to drive this development. Good intentions don’t develop artificial hearts, hundreds of millions of dollars does.” In fact, hundreds of millions of dollars don’t develop artificial hearts, either: raw materials put to use by innovative minds do. The money is ultimately the most insignificant means to an end in the entire process. It allows the flows of labor back and forth between communities and individuals, and that is a massively important social lubricant. But I don’t think “greed” is the right way to describe how the money is being used properly–when its being used properly, and I don’t think we can guarantee that it always is.
I really don’t want to come down on the side opposed to capitalism. Paul Krugman’s two recent pieces in the NYT on Ireland’s success with capitalism is real, I believe. But over time, the raw processes of capitalism (one of which is the production and maintenance of greed) work like industrial strength cleanser: at first, they work extremely well to scrub away social build-up, but soon enough they begin to eat away at the underlying structures that hold everything together. Without a constant corrective, the forces of capitalism can destroy the most honest intentions at social justice.
As usual, striking a balance between purely capitalistic and socialist/goverment interventionist policies is surely the best course. Now we must determine what that precise balance is.