Human Exceptionalism

Feed Me! For Some Bioetech Scientists It is Never Enough

The sense of entitlement is so thick, so embedded within the genome of the biotech research community, that apparently no matter the extent to which they are catered, it is never, ever enough. Only days after they got virtually all they claimed they wanted from President Obama, some scientists are already whining that they might receive less money from other sources that have so far bounteously funded ESCR. From the story, “Stem Cell Descion Worries Some Scientists” in the New York Times:

While praised by scientists, President Obama’s decision to lift restrictions on federal financing of embryonic stem cell research could cause state governments and philanthropists to pull back on billions of dollars they have pledged for such work.

A number of states and philanthropies rushed in to fill the gap after President George W. Bush imposed the restrictions in 2001…“If the federal government starts meeting its responsibilities, then there’s really less reason for the state governments to step in,” said Dr. John A. Kessler, director of the stem cell institute at Northwestern University.

Fiscal headaches have already caused New Jersey to reduce planned spending on stem cell research, and Massachusetts has trimmed overall life-sciences spending. And California’s program may run out of money by the end of the year because the state, hurt by turmoil in the financial markets and its own budget crisis, cannot issue bonds at a reasonable rate. Further, portfolios of wealthy individuals and philanthropies are suffering from the pounding taken by the stock market, a development that could mean a decline in donations from those sources as well. “Hopefully that won’t happen, but we have to be ever vigilant, especially at this time where there are fewer and fewer dollars,” said Susan L. Solomon, chief executive of the New York Stem Cell Foundation. Because it takes time to win a federal grant, scientists who have access to donated money often achieve research results more quickly, Ms. Solomon said.

Well, then they should have defended the Bush plan! They were overflowing with money and they had a convenient scape goat on which to blame their every failure. They had the best of both worlds!

And here’s an interesting note: This is the first time I have seen the billions in funding received by embryonic stem cell scientists reported in a major news outlet. All we have heard before now has been the meme that the industry was staaaaaarving on the vine for cash because of Bush’s heartlessness.

Perhaps these scientists haven’t noticed but the financial structure is crashing around all of our heads and everyone faces cutbacks. Why should they be exempted? Honestly. They remind me of voracious baby birds always screaming, “Feed Me!”

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