Stem Cell politics was Re: [extropy-chat] Proposal: was- A Chilling Thought.

Brett Paatsch bpaatsch at
Wed May 18 01:51:26 UTC 2005

Mike Lorrey wrote:

> How is it that a state that was billions in the red from
> immigration, ballooning health care, and defaulted on
> billions in socialized energy bills not too long ago, has
> the temerity to blow billions on socialized research?

How?  Ultimately, it was fairly straightforward. 59% voted for a
particular proposition that was formulated within a political context
and then put to them.

[The Avantguardian wrote]
>>      I don't want to pass judgement on them or try to
>> change their politics. They can have their guns, their
>> death penalties, even their wars if they want them.
>> All I want them to know is that they can use
>> therapeutic cloning to enrich their golden years
>> without sacrificing their moral values. They can add
>> many many fruitful years to their lives without
>> harming another human being or offending God (assuming
>> that is what they fear). Why would we have discovered
>> this technology if it wasn't our destiny to use it?
> I think there are a lot of red staters who are with you on that.
> What they don't want is their tax dollars spent on particular
> types of research that involve acts that they consider murder.

I think that this particular concern is coming from you rather
than them Mike. (Which is fair enough you are entitled to have
concerns of your own).

Those that consider embryonic stem cell research that is destructive
to the embryo (which they consider to be a human being) murder,
are not, as a class likely to feel that it is enough to stop their tax
dollars being directed to that end, they would, logically, as a class,
want to stop all tax dollars being put to that end including tax dollars
derived from the supporters of the research. Murder is a pretty large
scale wrong, people who characterise things like early stage abortion
and the derivation  of embryonic stem cell lines as "murder" are not
merely expressing a personal preference on discretionary spending.

In my opinion, they are in error, (probably an error based on ignorance)
to see early stage abortion and the derivation of embryonic stem cells
as equivalent to the unlawful killing of a citizen or some other person.

> There is plenty of private research money available.

You say that there is plenty of private research money available Mike
but how do you decide how much is enough? Do you know for instance
what the costs of particular research projects in the stem cell areas are
and can you do a social cost benefit analysis of different avenues of
research in the stem cell field? Are you *that* knowledgeable of the
underlying science in this area that you can say with confidence that
there is plenty or private research money available to optimise the
delivery time of any benefits?

> ...This is morally
> no different from the right of anti-war or pacifist types to oppose
> their taxes paying for bombs and wars which they derive no benefit
> from.

> Until we get taxpayer directed budget funding, we're stuck
> with everybody's money being commingled, and this leaves everyone
> with an equal right to see that government spending programs they
> disapprove of being killed outright.

Do you think that taxpayer directed budget funding is practical? I agree
that everyone's money is commingled, but I don't see that it would be
practical to allow everyone that pays taxes to be able to pick and
choose where their taxes are spent on a personal basis. Do you,
or do you have something else in mind?

If your point is that, given everyone's tax money is commingled so tax 
do, and ought have a right to voice their concerns and preferences about
how those taxes are spent, and to enter into discussions and to try to
persuade each other and policy makers about priorities, then I agree with

If people, perhaps people such as yourself, expressed your scepticism
as to whether embryonic stem cell research, or therapeutic cloning was
cost justified then perhaps a discussion could be had that might persuade
them, or you might end up succeeding in making your case.

Brett Paatsch 

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