Why should people that don't drive as much subsidize those that do through road taxes?
They don't. This is what taxes on gasoline are for. It is a usage based tax, though not the most accurate when you take into account the variation in vehicle fuel economy. Every now and then you do hear someone suggest that we tax based on actual miles driven (which I'm a fan of), but never seems to get too much traction. We all pay a flat "access" fee, though.
Why should people without children at the age to attend school subsidize those that do through school taxes?
Because contributing more tax dollars to the schools can mean better schools. The better the schools, the more desireable the community. The more desireable the community, the more your property (and everyone else's in the community) is worth. The more your property is worth, the more you can directly benefit from the sale of said property. Not to mention the intangibles that come with living in a more upscale community that you might actually appreciate. I guess that's the ethical egoist's rationalization at least. "Look out for #1."
Which is why patents need clear duration limitations...
And they do. It's 20 years from the date of filing. But you must also keep in mind that the pharmaceutical industry is a highly regulated and that the clock is ticking on your patent before you receive FDA approval to actually sell it. It can take between 8-12 years from the time you file your patent to when you can market your drug. That means that you may only have an 8 year window to recoup all of your R&D costs on that one product (and all of the the ones that failed) and turn a profit. That is why proprietary drugs can be so expensive (supply/demand and many other factors of course also comes into play). Once you hit the "patent cliff", then the generics will pounce, and begin producing and selling your product for less than it costs you to make. You have some options, though. You could compete with the generics. This is a tough one. While most will for a while, their market share will quickly erode due to the cost disadvantage until they pull out of the market altogether. But even though you have pulled out, you still need to "support" the product including any legal liability, even if the patient took the generic version. Pfizer is one of the few with the manufacturing capability (and ability to absorb losses) to actually compete on price with generics, and it was pretty groundbreaking when they did for Lipitor. You could try to get over the counter approval, but this is only an option for products that meet certain criteria and the costs to get the approval might not make sense. You will need to revise your product labels (packaging + the instructions that come with it) and get them approved (more painful than you might think) and also prove that a patient can safely self-diagnose and self-administer the product. Then there is the more controversial option, which is to request an extension of your patent or exclusivity. There are a lot of ways to extend exclusivity (which is distinct from patent), but I won't get into all of that here. For patent extension, typically a company will re-formulate the product in some way. It could be a change in dosage, it could be a new delivery system (injection -> tablets) or an "extended release" version. There is a valid argument to be made that these are simply stall tactics to milk the patent system for longer patent protection (and more profits), but they do have to be a legitimate improvement/benefit for the patient, so it does encourage some level of innovation, even if some feel it is not much.
So what I'm saying here is, patents are vital to pharmaceutical companies being able to actually make a profit on all of their hard work and there ARE limits on how long they can. Without the patent protection, I can see 2 scenarios: you could have "0 day generics", where the generic is available so quickly after a drug gets approval that the company that did all of the work of the work of identifying the compound, putting it through 3 phases of clinical trials and all of the other work necessary to gain FDA approval would be screwed. Or you would have companies treating the products as trade secrets, which would be difficult in the first place given the need for FDA approval, and likely mean no generics (and higher prices). Also, those discoveries would not be shared with the rest of the world, making it more difficult for competitors to improve upon or leverage the knowledge for something completely new.
The miners can sell the coins as soon as they are produced.
Yes, but will they be selling those coins at a profit or a loss? It costs money to produce coins (equipment, electricity, physical space, etc.). Let's assume that when you begin mining, the the sale price of BTC will allow you to turn a profit. But as we have seen, the sale price of BTC can fluctuate wildly. If the price falls below your starting price, you will no longer be turning a profit, but be bleeding money.
If the "majority of people" think bitcoins are overvalued, then they would be shorting them, and the value would fall. The current price is the consensus price where buyers and sellers are balanced.
This statement assumes that everyone who knows what bitcoin is and has an opinion on it is actively participating in the bitcoin economy. This is untrue. The majority of people who don't think bitcoins will hold their value have chosen not to participate in the bitcoin economy at all and are investing elsewhere.
The trouble with a lot of self-made men is that they worship their creator.