What is the deal with these embryonic stem cells?

Well its big new folks Obama has finally removed the knuckle dragging, science-hating ideology of Bush from the White House.  Science can now be free from the shackles of religious dogma and provide for us the medical breakthroughs we want.  No more diabetes, blindness, or spinal paralysis.  We can cure Parkinson’s and boo Bush all at the same time!

But wait what has really happened?  Has stem cell research been illegal?  Uhh no, in fact there are over 21 types of stem cells in which scientists have been researching for over a decade. Well are these embryonic stem cells superior to other stems cells?  Nope.  The vanguard of stem cell research has little interest in embryonic stem cells and dismissed them in favor of adult stem cells which are showing to be much more promising.

But maybe these embryonic stem cells will offer a new frontier in stem cell research now that Obama has lifted the ban.  Wrong again.  Embryonic stem cell research has been legal in many countries and even going on in the USA for a long time now,  all Obama did is make government funding available for it.  And this my friends is the nail in the coffin.  If embryonic stem cells were truly promising THEY WOULD NOT NEED GOVERNMENT FUNDING!  Capitalism would have seized on it a long time ago as a worthy area to cultivate new drugs for profit.  When the free market takes a pass and says there is nothing to be had, that is damning.  Only failed science that shows little payoff needs government funding.  Merck, Pfizer, Lilly, Johnson and Johnson, and Abbott Labs would have poured billions of dollars down this tube a long time ago if they thought it contained the cure to Parkinson’s.

So what is this really about?

The answer is complex and simple.  Simple in that it is about politics.  Obama throwing a bone and keeping campign promises to his base.  Just don’t let him fool you when he says in his speech today that this was about science, when it was really about politics and ideology, the very thing he castigated Bush for.  Complex because if you are forced to respect embryonic stem cells it definitively ends the abortion debate period.  So even in what is supposed to be a step forward in freeing science from the shackles of dogma, we only enslaved it to a new one.



9 Responses

  1. “Capitalism would have seized on it a long time ago as a worthy area to cultivate new drugs for profit. When the free market takes a pass and says there is nothing to be had, that is damning.”

    I had to wipe a tear from my eye when I read that.

  2. Where do I start??!!!

    Fact of the matter is that you take a very Jeffersonian approach in your conservatism. I do too. Capitalism has worked for 300 years. The Constitution has worked for 300 years. We, as a people, have proven that the ideals brought to this country by our forefathers has worked!

    My question to the American people is this;

    At what point in the last 9 months did our Constitution and our ideals become “outdated?”

    The record of the current administration, thus far, is to try to undo anything that was done in the current administration at the cost of our safety and our ideals. The bi-partisan politics that our current president spoke so passionately about have been swept away in favor of leftist ideas and rhetoric.

    I agree with you completely…..and lets call this exactly what it is…….this is another way to attempt to ensure a second term by being able to “distance himself” from the prior administration who, unfairly, takes criticism for attempting to be honorable and have an ideological stance.

    The current administration seem to have no ideological stance on anything beyond self service. The very thing that they criticize are the weapons of their governing….all under the cloak of “change.”

  3. Good post Ryan. No, GREAT POST.

    By the way, who did you vote for?

  4. Thanks Matt. I voted for what I believed to be the greater good, but I felt just like the Bachelor at the final rose ceremony, truly torn, or confused… Yet maybe my comparison to the Bachelor may be quite apt; I find myself wanting to dump the one I chose in favor of the one I sent home. Yet it is still early so we will see.

  5. Ryan: you are forgiven, but there is no “greater good”. Giant Douche/ Turd Sandwich…both bad.

    And yes, very good post.

  6. Hmm…interesting post.

    But are we to believe that if anything were good for mankind that it would NEVER need government funding? What about space exploration? What about the department of defense? I’m not convinced that is the barometer to measure everything by.

    I’m not saying I’m for federally funding embryonic stem cell research, I’m just saying that may not be the most accurate yard stick.

  7. Actually what I was aiming to say Jake is that the major pharmaceutical players in this country are driven by profit. And when they show negligible interest in spending R&D dollars for Embryonic stem cell research it means there is little there.

    Compare it to oil; The government would never have to foot the bill to drill a field that was believed to be rich with oil. Exxon, and BP would be more than happy to foot the bill of development to reap the reward. Same principle in the medical field. When the government has to pony up cash its because the best medical scientists in the world believe its a dead end.

  8. Space exploration would have been funded privately if companies could have made money.

    And, um, the DOD, I wonder how much those contracts for weapons and technology go for? There isn’t much private money to be made there. No.

  9. Aren’t DOD projects mostly private companies? Northop-Grumman, Raytheon, etc. who then take government money.

    The difference is that defense projects don’t have immediate civilian applications, as do biomedical projects. Sure, technology from the space program made its way to the market eventually, but the high initial costs of these projects kept civilian firms from getting in early. Unlike biomedical projects…stem cells, researchers, and chemicals are pretty cheaply available in comparison.

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