What do Ponce de Leon and California's Prop. 71 Have in Common?
Michael Lopez offers some thoughts about this at his website, Highered Intelligence. I frankly do not know whether Mr. Lopez has any moral objection to stem cell research or not. In any event, he does not mention that. What gets to Mr. Lopez is that California -- still facing the worst budget crisis of any state -- is going to spend $6 billion on something that is very speculative. Or as Mr. Lopez puts it:
Stem Cell research is still in its infancy. No one knows if any cure will come from it, and no one knows if any cure could come from it. A Cure for paralysis? That is at least thirty years off. At a minimum. Yet here we are, the people of the State of California, spending our money for something to benefit the rest of the world. If there is such promise in Stem Cells, let private companies put their money on the line. How much do you think a cure for paralysis or Parkinson's is worth, anyway? Maybe three billion dollars? At the moment, as a California taxpayer, I feel like Ponce de Leon just convinced me to fund his expedition to find the Fountain of Youth.
How fitting. Stem cell research has taken on the promise of the Fountain of Youth. Senator Edwards promised that people like Christopher Reeves would walk again if Kerry was elected and allowed to spend federal money on such research (of course, Bush has allowed federal funding of this research too, but with some moral constraints). Michael J. Fox appeared on my t.v. several time promising cures that would save millions if I would just vote for Prop. 71. Frankly, I was disgusted. Promising cures that may or may not come is morally reprehensible. For those of us that know that these "promises" may not be fulfilled (or at best take decades to even learn of), we do feel like the public has been convinced something akin to fund Ponce de Leon's search for the Fountain of Youth. Of course, 41% of us Californians were not "convinced." Instead, we will be forced to pay for it. Even those with strong moral concerns about such research.