Human Exceptionalism

New Jersey Question 2 Obituary

The New York Times obituary for Question 2 is interesting. It notes that ground had already been broken on building facilities to house research companies that would have been paid to do human cloning and ESCR with taxpayers’ borrowed money–but now won’t. Predictably, one of the boosters for the measure pulls that tired old threat that scientists will leave the state. (This is an international whipsaw tactic: The UK science Establishment has made the same threat there to induce greater funding, so did the Missouri Amendment 2 supporters, Proposition 71, etc., etc., ad nauseum) And there is that same old snobbery seen so often that the great unwashed voters just didn’t understand what they were rejecting:

On Wednesday, [Gov.] Corzine–who made embryonic stem cell research a major issue in his 2005 campaign for governor–blamed himself and other supporters of the measure for not doing a good enough job educating the public about the potential economic benefits. He also said the campaign could have done a better job clarifying that the $450 million was to be borrowed over 10 years, rather than all at once. “Twenty-twenty hindsight is always better,” he said. “It obviously needed an additional boost to get voters out that would identify with this issue. But that’s easy to say the morning after.”

How the defeat of the initiative will affect the research complex going up in New Brunswick was unclear. While the state had already committed $270 million for construction costs for that building as well as others around the state, Ronald S. Heymann, vice president of New Jersey Citizens’ Coalition for Cures, which advocates stem cell research, said that if the money did not materialize, the building “shouldn’t be sitting there empty.”

Mr. Heymann and others expressed concern that any delays in securing research grants could drive scientists elsewhere.

But the voters aren’t buying this bunk any more. I loved the closing quotes from real voters:

Beth Sarsfield, a 49-year-old chemist who works in New Brunswick, said that although she had voted for the stem cell measure, she was not upset that it had been rejected. “I didn’t think it was going to be totally effective,” she said.

Ms. Sarsfield said that her mother–like her, a loyal Democrat–had voted against the measure. “I think there are a lot of people who think there’s a lot of debt in New Jersey,” Ms. Sarsfield said. “From people in my family, they did not feel it was going to be sufficiently funded and that it would be ineffective–it was going to be a waste with debt.”

Asked if her mother had struggled in making her decision, Ms. Sarsfield answered quickly, with a word that was reverberating around the state: “No.”

Three cheers for a vote for fiscal sanity, that also supports good ethics.

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