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May 25, 2005

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Patrick R. Sullivan

'And what was the last big issue that secular, small government GOP'ers won "big" under GWB?'

Tax cuts--revenues as a % of GDP dropped under 17%, which is highly unusual.

He's working on SS reform with private accounts. He's about to get a libertarian on the DC Appeals Court.

Bill from INDC

Point Number One: If the bill was designed to increase Federal funding, it would be a BIG government initiative. As it is, it is merely removing government's stifling of the possible distribution of available funds to certain types of research, which qualifies as intrusive government meddling in the academic marketplace of ideas, making scientific decisions based on purely political considerations. The funds will be spent and are allocated for some form of research - who chooses the direction of academic research? Politicians or research Phd's at major universities?

Point Number Two: I'm a libertarian-leaning guy (small, small 'l'), but scientific (specifically medical) research is a seriously imperfect market. As I responded to a commenter and e-mailer, public sector research (in the form of $18-20 billion of government spending and grants awarded to academic researchers) is in the ballpark of all of the research done by all pharmaceutical companies combined, and vital to our society's scientific advancement, as business will not invest in research that has no definitive, short or mid-term profit potential. Thus, many, most of the basic breakthroughs in new areas are achieved via academics doing research funded by government grants, which is then complemented and utilized by the private sector to achieve practical applications.

In a first-world, modern society, this is government spending that's about as necessary as funding a military and making sure that the mail gets delivered. We're not talking Department of Education here.

And though I could make an argument to increase govt funding, I'm not; I'm making an argument that the govt. should back off dictating draconian terms for this avenue, given the unique role of public funds in med research.

Hope that clarifies. This bill balances increasing and limiting govt influence, and I suppose I was focusing more on the secular portion when I quoted Bill Quick's words.

Deagle

Right... Unfortunately, if you fund it, they will come...

Bill from INDC

The funding exists. Right now. It is a tangible number for fiscal year 2005.

The government is dictating that certain eggheads can't get a piece of that money because a politically powerful minority believes that the issue is a proxy for abortion, and because Billy Graham's daughter considers such research "thumbing our nose at God."

Allowing excited, brilliant researchers to compete for this money without the religious right's effective restriction is the goal of the bill; it's not increasing the government's OVERALL funding or meddling, as much as it is effectively diminishing practical political impact on the pace of scientific advancement, as, remember, these funds already EXIST.

Deagle

You missed my point...

As always when the Federal Government gets involved, the program grows...grows...grows. Once funded, it will never be unfunded! Not exactly my view of the federal government.

I want to go back to constitutionally funded (federal government) items only. State and private funds can provide the rest.

Bill from INDC

As always when the Federal Government gets involved, the program grows...grows...grows.

I fail to understand how allowing researchers to compete for grants for a small, specific discipline - for a pool of funds ALREADY DETERMINED - will significantly impact the overall federal research budget. That's not how it's determined. We're talking about an ethical issue here, not a big government spending increase.

Going to strict libertarianism (removing all federal funds for everything not enumerated in the Constitution) is a pretty extreme position, in general. Also, the founders probably weren't accounting for a 21st century technological society when they outlined the role of government.

Would you feel great about permanently screwing over all those with "orphan diseases?" Maladies common enough to affect a lot of people, but not common enough to stiimulate profitable treatments? Billions of dollars in erectile dysfunction, no profit in curing Osteogenesis Imperfecta. Those people would be screwed.

And finally, such a naive course of action would cripple America's technological advantage, given the portion of current funding that comes from the public sector. It's a disastrous wish.

Forbes

DCBill says:

"In a first-world, modern society, this is government spending that's about as necessary as funding a military and making sure that the mail gets delivered."

Really?

Well, maybe we could first privatize the Post Office, but medical research requires government funding? That's sure as hell not a libertarian or small government argument--no matter how much, or how loud, you insist.

What you've posed is the discredited idea that government knows best how to spend money--on research and technology, picking winners and losers. It's a tired excuse used to justify any government spending.

Yet, somehow you just know something the biotech and pharmacuetical marketplace doesn't know: vital medical research with a vast market will not be undertaken without government funding.

That the economics of somatic cell nuclear transfer (embryonic stem cell) research is dismal should be of no concern to supporters of ever larger government spending. Us small government types call it welfare for researchers.

Last time I checked "libertarians" didn't have to qualify themselves as "small-government" types. I guess I'll stick with CATO and RPPI.

Cheers.

Crank

I fail to understand how allowing researchers to compete for grants for a small, specific discipline - for a pool of funds ALREADY DETERMINED - will significantly impact the overall federal research budget.

I realize that's the stated purpose, now. But consider the way the Democrats (and even liberal Republicans like Arnold) have treated this issue, all the way to the point of John Edwards' "pick up your mat and walk" routine. If you seriously think this won't be rapidly followed by calls for more funding, think again.

Again: that's not necessarily a conclusive argument against stem-cell funding, but it is a recognition that a call for such funding is anything but "small government."

TexasToast

Is there truly a "market" for basic research? Is NASA an appropriate use of federal funds? Isn't it true that much of the applications technology we use today draws from government sponsored and supported basic research (both military and otherwise)?

creepy dude

CNN just now: "U.S. President George W. Bush pledges $50 million in direct aid to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas..."

Anyone else have moral objections to your taxpayer money being given to a terrorist organization?

Simply pathetic.

Forbes

CDude: If the PA is on the State Dept. list of terrorist sponsors, I'm with you. (Something tells me the PA isn't.) Perhaps you'll elaborate, or is it more Bush bashing?

TT: Biotech and pharma companies develop new therapies and compounds all the time--as basic a research as stem cells (embryonic or not). Celera beat the government- funded genome project to the finish line.

NASA--space exploration--was government (muscle flexing with the Soviets) policy, with little commercial opportunities, until well over the horizon (commercial satellite biz). Was the policy explicitly designed to discover unintended benefits? You might be able to pursuasively argue that unintended benefits were to be expected. But there also was no one willing to risk private capital towards government muscle flexing with the Soviets, no matter what the over horizon, unintended benefits might be.

There are billions spent every year from privately financed risk capital sources on medical research. But no one is alleging over the horizon, unintended benefits--quite the opposite. If the results of stem cell research, as alleged--around the corner, and benefiting millions, the proponents say--then why aren't biotech companies doing research? Well, they are. Geron, and two others (I can't remember their names).

To answer your question, yes there is a market for research--in this case it's really developmental stage reseach, and not "basic" research.

creepy dude

Ask the Klinghoffer family, Forbes.

You are dead to me you jackass.

Forbes

Flattery will get you everywhere, so smile when you say that ;)

Ursus

I'm a 10th amendment guy--I see no need nor justification for the federal gov't to spend money growing clones to harvest their parts. I don't care if we are talking about full-grown adult clones whose kidneys are harvested or ungrown embryos whose cells are harvested, they are indistinguishable to me.

CA proved last year that states can fund this on their own through ballot initiatives, so let them.

TJ Jackson

I have a number of objections to this bill that aren't based on morality.

First why are we going to subsidize the bio tech industry?

Second if there is such promise in this type of reserahc let private industry do it. Let them conduct it overseas if they wish. Strange, I don't hear the Japanese or Germans proposing using government funds to conduct such research. Then are we to suppose that they might have a slightly different take on the "promise" of such research or are they simply adverse to profit.

Joe R. the Unabrewer

I bet the Founding Fathers wish they could take the words "general welfare" back.

"Going to strict libertarianism (removing all federal funds for everything not enumerated in the Constitution) is a pretty extreme position, in general. Also, the founders probably weren't accounting for a 21st century technological society when they outlined the role of government."

Yes, I realize I hold an extreme position. And the founders realize that things would need to change, which is why they included the amendment process. Instead, we amend via 200+ years of gradually incremental concessions.

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