Government vs. Science
July 20, 2006
IRVINE, CA--"The political fighting over embryonic stem cell research is the inevitable result of government funding of science," said Dr. Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute.
"It is only because science today is so dominantly funded by the government that restrictions on federal funding can wreak the devastation they have--severely hindering a promising area of potentially life-saving medical research."
"If science were left free, as it should be, funded solely by private sources, a scientist would not have to plead the merits of his work before a majority of politicians, however ignorant or prejudiced by religious or other dogmas they might be.
"The government should get out of the business of funding science. But so long as it is involved, it must scrupulously respect the separation of Church and State. Its funding decisions must be made on rationally demonstrable, not faith-based, grounds. Bush's veto clearly violates this principle."
Better late than never, but there are still problems. I am not sure that Bush's position violates the separation of church and state (assuming that's what the Bill of Rights even guarantees). Why doesn't it violate that principle to force taxpayers to pay for research they believe is morally forbidden? This argument cuts both ways. That's why we should oppose government funding and not encourage it as Brook has done.
Moreoever, Brook missed the Public Choice point. One can argue that as long as government is already funding scientific research, why not one more area of science? The answer is that this will create a new lobbying group for increased government funding. Brook's position is equivalent to feeding the beast.