My biggest problem with government is that often times they continue to throw good money after bad. Consistently, our leaders do not know how to say enough is enough! Too often, they see it as political suicide to cut the purse strings to what the public perceives as an essential service. This is true when it comes to welfare abuse, Medicaid abuse, general pork spending, and I think it’s also true of medical research.
After all, if you heard that your local representative voted against funding cancer research, would that not upset you? Many people in our country would not take the time to find out why, they would simply stop voting for that person. So our politicians who always desire re-election, refuse to make tough decisions especially on the issues that tug at our heart strings.
But what if millions of dollars are being wasted on research that is going nowhere? Scientists are just like everyone else. They do not want to lose their jobs or admit they are wrong. There are some scientists out there who just like some of us will put job security above job productivity. It’s not necessarily evil, it’s just human nature. Sometimes researchers will continue down a dead end hoping against hope that their research will lead somewhere even if other avenues show more promise. Also, knowing that their funding ends when they finally make the big breakthrough, they might be tempted to slow down their progress even if it is in the right direction. That way they can keep the funding coming longer.
So, we have a government that doesn’t say no to wasteful spending. What is the alternative? Privately funded research! This can be from a pharmaceutical company, from a non-profit organization, or from other sources.
When there are limited dollars provided from a privately funded institution, there is greater accountability to the organization supplying the limited funds. As long as research shows promise, the private organization (whether a business or other) will continue to give money for research. But because of the tighter budgets, they will require results as well. So when the research begins to hit a dead end, the organization puts an end to it.
After all, whether its the Cancer Society who is accountable to those of us giving donations or a drug company who is accountable to stock holders, they both need to see positive results. It forces scientists to work hard and diligently so that they can please the boss. Everyone of us who works for somebody understands that motivation.
So, I would rather see privately funded research over government funded research any day. When a cure for cancer comes, I am very confident that it will not come from the government but from the private sector.