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Schadenfreude Robert Sheridan FawCawnahs bobsheridan@earthlink.net If you need a dentist on a Sunday, then I guess a certain small town in southern Germany is the place you wanna be. But if she writes you a prescription and you need to get it filled there, you're in a whole new world, or at least a different one.

Carol J. Williams of the Los Angeles Times, May 13, Berlin, reports:

"...the medicine monopoly that requires face-to-face consultation between pharmacist and consumer before sale of a single aspirin has become costly and inconvenient.

One of the last surviving cartels in a country trying to shed its reputation for protectionism, German pharmacies face competition from online providers challenging laws meant to ensure that those buying pharmaceuticals get what they pay for...

The German pharmaceutical market is so heavily regulated that aspirin costs 10 times as much here as it does in the United States.

"German pharmaceutical production, marketing, pricing and sales are strictly controlled with a state commission setting prices for every product with even a trace of medicinal substance...

Over-the-counter preparations are prohibited, and German medicines are among the European Union's most expensive.

As a result, outsiders are trying to break the German pharmaceutical monopoly by selling drugs via the internet and delivering from offshore, a lot more cheaply, according to the report.

"There are far too many pharmacies in the country, and many would go bankrupt without this closed system that prevents competition," according to the marketing director for one of the online competitors seeking to break into the German market by selling on average 25% lower.

***

As long as we're on the subject of Germany, the dot-com bust in the U.S., the Bay Area particularly, has left a lot of people who haven't become instant millionaires as the bubble grew, feeling not a bit unhappy when the Yuppies who did suddenly went broke.

The Germans have a word for taking delight in the misfortunes of others, according to today's S.F. Chronicle. The word is "schadenfreude."

Leave it to the Germans to come up with a word for something like that, I thought. Where did that come from? What does it say about them? Who coined that, and when, and why, I wondered.

The British have a term they use to describe a nasty trait of their own, called "bloody-mindedness."

We may have a few of our own, but none come to mind at the moment. Maybe after I sleep on it...

How come the French, or the Greeks, didn't invent a word for taking delight in the misfortunes of others? Is this a peculiar trait of one country or culture and not another? How could that be? Or does that happen a lot. Maybe it does.

I await, anxiously, enlightenment.

-rs



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