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Suckers for 'Science' - How to talk California taxpayers out of $3 billion

Wesley J. Smith

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THE PASSAGE OF PROPOSITION 71 in California (the Stem Cell Research and Cures Act) was an acute case of electoral folly. As Californians plunged headlong into a $6 billion quagmire of debt in a quixotic quest for "miracle cures" from human cloning and embryonic stem cells, they simultaneously rejected Prop. 67, an initiative that would have added a modest tax to phone bills to keep the state's endangered emergency rooms and trauma centers from shutting down.

This is a remarkable and disconcerting development. It wasn't long ago that California's trauma centers were the pride of the state and a model for the world. In the heyday of the trauma center movement, emergency rooms throughout the state were upgraded to ensure that critically injured people could receive quality care within the "golden hour," a 60-minute time frame that dramatically increases a person's chances of survival. Needless to say, such centers are very expensive. Which made them politically vulnerable after the dot-com bubble burst and the California legislature's spending binge led to a collapse of the state's finances.

The bitter irony here is that while Californians refuse to fund treatment centers that could make the difference between people living and dying today, they are pursuing treatments and cures that, if they come at all, are likely a decade or more away. What could explain such folly? Blame the awesome power of big money, big celebrities, and big hype.

Wesley J. Smith's most recent book is Consumer's Guide to a Brave New World.

Read the entire article on the Weekly Standard website.

Posted: 11/5/04



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