Friday, November 18, 2005

Not a college student

Last night I dreamed I was a grad student, living in my parents' home. That is, my parents' home at the time I lived there, before they moved. I finished, or was about to finish, the first term and was thinking about what to take next. I also had email contact with a friend, JD, who was on a submarine. I remember thinking I could email him, but needed to get the email out before the next time the sub surfaced briefly (when it would be communicado again).

There was also something I wanted to tell my daughter about... what was it? and I picked up the phone in my room. She answered it. Odd, why didn't I just go find her?

Here is something I would like to know: how much money does the pharmaceutical industry spend on advertising to the general public? Magazines and newspapers, billboards, TV commercials?? And is this a Good Thing? However many millions are spent on ads for drugs, those are millions paid by consumers. Not so long ago, drug companies couldn't advertise to you and me - just to doctors. Now these ads seem to be everywhere. So drugs are more expensive - at least the name brand ones are.

But at Costco® last night, we were looking for Claritin® - I was happy about finding 80 pills for about $32, until I saw the store brand: $12 for 300 pills. That is less than I pay for the generic Chlor-trimeton® substitute. So what is happening -- the name brands want to take their profits now before the Costcos of the world suck the profits out? But 17 years (if Claritin's run has been that long?) is quite a while and a lot of money.

Speaking of "a lot of money," I think about how the next generation -- heck, the current generation of middle-class Americans -- can afford to send their kids to college. Perhaps I've been brainwashed by Fallows's comments about colleges over the years, but it seems like it's getting harder and harder for the middle and lower-middle class to bootstrap their kids into the ranks of the college-educated. The enrollment optimizers - now there's a morally ambiguous job title! - are making it both easier and harder.

But even outside the question of college, it sure feels like the United States is on a Countdown to a Meltdown, to steal a phrase (again Fallows in the Atlantic). This is a five-to-ten-years-out thing, not a 12-24-months-out thing, and is thus off most people's radar.

Meanwhile traffic on the 101 seems a lot worse lately, it's hard to hire people, and my friend Nancy is now quite overworked in her high-tech PR business. So things look rosy for the time being.

and speaking of the time being, time to wake up my girls and walk the dog.

No comments: