Human Exceptionalism

Turning Gold Into Lead: Time to Cancel Proposition 71 Borrowing

As a California resident, I am painfully aware that my state is sinking in a red sea of debt. Yet, the borrowing to support human cloning research continues. Last week, Investor’s Business Daily noticed and in “The Bullet Missed,” argues that the time has come for a little fiscal sanity and stop the bleeding caused by a program that “is more about politics than science.” From the editorial:

It’s the morning after the night before in the Golden State. Home prices are plummeting, and unemployment has jumped to 6.1%, well above the national average. The economy already may be in a recession. State government suddenly is looking at a $14.5 billion budget shortfall. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s new budget proposes closing 48 state parks and releasing 22,000 prison inmates early. School funding would be cut by several hundred dollars per student.

But the good times keep rolling on in one area. Through a bond measure passed by the voters in 2004, the state is authorized to spend $3 billion on stem cell research, mainly of the ethically problematic type that uses cells from human embryos.

The state is now the world’s largest funder of stem cell research, and spending is expected to accelerate this year, despite the state’s fiscal woes. More than $225 million is expected for just grants for new labs…And what are Californians getting for this $6 billion commitment? That’s a question even backers of Proposition 71 would have a hard time answering now. The agency set up to administer the bonds says in its strategic plan that it does not expect stem cell therapy to be ready for routine clinical use for at least 10 years. And it’s possible that a different scientific track will be a shorter route to cures such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s…

For Californians, the good news is that only a small part of the $3 billion in Proposition 71 bonds has been issued. So they still could save themselves a good deal of money by winding the program down.

And the editorial didn’t even get into the many leadership deficiencies and conflicts of interest that have plagued this boondoggle since its inception. Yes, the time is ripe. Shut Proposition 71 down. We have more urgent financial priorities to keep the Golden State from alchemizing backwards into the Lead State.

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