By Wesley J. Smith, J.D., Special Consultant to the CBC
Investor’s Business Daily opines that Proposition 71 has been a failure. From its editorial:
California’s Proposition 71 was intended to create a $3 billion West Coast counterpart to the National Institutes of Health, empowered to go where the NIH could not — either because of federal policy or funding restraints on biomedical research centered on human embryonic stem cells… Five years later, ESCR has failed to deliver and backers of Prop 71 are admitting failure. The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the state agency created to, as some have put it, restore science to its rightful place, is diverting funds from ESCR to research that has produced actual therapies and treatments: adult stem cell research. It not only has treated real people with real results; it also does not come with the moral baggage ESCR does.
To us, this is a classic bait-and-switch, an attempt to snatch success from the jaws of failure and take credit for discoveries and advances achieved by research Prop. 71 supporters once cavalierly dismissed. We have noted how over the years that when funding was needed, the phrase “embryonic stem cells” was used. When actual progress was discussed, the word “embryonic” was dropped because ESCR never got out of the lab.
The IBD speaks truth about how the science is turning out, although I think it is certainly way premature to say that ESCR will not eventually advance toward the clinic.
But if the IBD is right in the narrow sense, it misses the big picture. The sad fact is that Proposition 71 was a smashing success that splendidly served the broader purpose for which it was brought forth. Using outrageous hype–little children getting out of their wheelchairs, etc.–its designers saw it both as a political hammer with which to concuss President Bush (only bruising him) and, more importantly, as a way by which to grab a permanent seat at the table of power for the Science Establishment.
And it worked. Big Biotech and “The Scientists” are now big league political players gorging at the larder filled with the people’s money. The media have become star-struck groupies. The political Left–that utterly disdains Big Pharma and Big Oil–embraces Big Biotech, even though its business agendas and methods are the same. After all, how better to infuriate the Religious Right–the Left’s primary purpose in life? More importantly, Proposition 71 unleashed an Oklahoma Land Race mentality in the states, by which Big Biotech whipsawed cash strapped states into throwing bounteous tax credits and grant money at them, not in the name of CURES! CURES! CURES! but JOBS! JOBS! JOBS! And so much of it was a pure pie in the sky.
But eventually, all parties have to come to an end. Proposition 71 can now be seen as a disaster, its mismanagement a disgrace, with hubris the coin of its realm. California is dying and can no longer afford the reckless financial boondoggle that goes by the name of CIRM. Shut. It. Down.
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