Human Exceptionalism

CIRM: Defund in 2014 For Sake of Bankrupt California

I have a piece in today’s San Francisco Chronicle urging my fellow Californians to turn a deaf ear to the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine’s insistence we continue to borrow money–as the good ship California sinks beneath waves of red ink–to fund its luxurious salaries and conflict of interest-seeped research grants.  From my column:

Hubris: No better word describes the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine‘s plan to persuade Californians to borrow another $3 billion to keep it in business funding stem cell research.

The CIRM was created in 2004 in the wake of President George W. Bush‘s order restricting federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. Knowing that many Californians perceived themselves as “the resistance” to everything Bush, the big wallets behind Proposition 71 successfully surfed a tsunami of hype, telling voters that CIRM-funded research would soon liberate disabled children from their wheelchairs while returning abundant profits to the state from licensing fees and reduced medical costs. The CIRM hasn’t come close to fulfilling those promises.

I make three points:

  • CIRM has not been responsible for any major breakthroughs;
  • CIRM has been mismanaged and profligate in its spending;
  • California is $90 billion in bond debt can not afford the luxury of funding CIRM with borrowed money.

So much more could have been said, but I only had 500 words. Here’s how I end:

Despite all this, like the man-eating plant in “Little Shop of Horrors,” the CIRM screams, “I want more!” If Californians vote yes a second time, it will prove the truth of P.T. Barnum’s old maxim about a sucker being born every minute.

I’ll be developing these and other themes to help (I hope) persuade my fellow up-to-our-ears-in-state-debt citizens against authorizing another $6 billion (including interest) of borrowing to pay for this white elephant.

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