Agorism, as I see it, is a movement with two purposes. First there is the obvious purpose of bringing an end to the violent state by witholding resources, such as tax money, from it. The second purpose is to help your fellow individual. Many goods and services that are necessary for survival are priced far higher than the poor can afford. Often the high prices are due to the increased overhead caused by regulatory compliance, intellectual property laws, and taxes. How long do you think a pharmaceutical company could rake in hundreds of dollars of profit for a single bottle of pills if the state didn’t maintain a monopoly for that company? Without the granted patents on the pill or the regulations that prevent newcomers from entering the market the price of those pills would quickly fall as other producers entered the market and started selling the pills for far less.
Practicing agorism, and therefore loosening the state’s grip and helping your fellow individuals, can be done in many different ways. One can sell their goods and services “under the table” in order to avoid paying taxes, which serves the dual purpose of keeping money from the state and bringing down the overall costs incurred by the producer (and therefore, in turn, the overall costs incurred by the customer). Another way to practice agorism is to exploit currently existing purchasing systems to offer goods and services to others at a lower price. For example, an entrepreneur or entrepreneurs with enough capital to make a bulk purchase of a good could negotiate a lower price per unit than those purchasing low quantities of that good. Once the entrepreneur or entrepreneurs had the goods in hand they could resell them at a cost still lower than would normally be incurred when purchasing low quantities. A second example would be exploiting insurance policies to acquire more goods than were needed and reselling the surplus, which is what some people are doing in order to help diabetics who can’t normally afford testing strips:
Although some estimates peg the manufacturing cost at about a dime per strip, it’s not unusual for a single strip to retail for $1 or more. And it’s not unusual for diabetics dependent on insulin to have to test three to 10 times a day. The cost quickly adds up.
“It’s out of reach of most people,” said Lemoyne Bloom, who advertised on craigslist to buy unused test strips in South Florida with the goal of reselling them at bargain-basement prices — but with enough of a profit margin to still make money.
One shade away from this black market is the largely legal practice of buying unused strips from diabetics or their middlemen and then reselling them, usually over the Internet. The so-called gray market circumvents full retail prices charged by pharmaceutical companies.
Advocates of such resales say the only victim is Big Pharma, which has priced its products so high that diabetics no longer can afford them. The marketplace is doing what big pharmaceutical companies won’t: providing test strips at a low enough cost that diabetics have a shot at regular testing.
“Some people just give us their strips and we don’t resell those, we donate them,” Bloom said. “That’s why we’re here, to help people.”
Who sells their test strips to these middlemen? “A lot of people have insurance and get strips they don’t need,” Bloom said.
Even though the state now mandates every American either purchase health insurance or face fines many people can’t afford health insurance. Those who can’t afford health insurance often cannot afford basic medical supplies either. This presents a real problem for those with medical conditions requiring periodic intervention such as diabetes. Normally these individuals would be left with no real option other than forgoing needed medical care but agorism gives them an alternative. Industrious entrepreneurs have found an exploit in the state manipulated health insurances system that grants them access to cheap testing strips. Using this exploit both the entrepreneurs and those in need of testing strips benefit while the state and its cronies suffer (even if their suffering is minor one can be bled to death by thousands of paper cuts).
Agorism is about mutual cooperation and that’s exactly what’s happening in the “gray” market for diabetes testing strips.