A reporter from the Daily Iowan recently wrote Dr. Hurd the following: “I attended [Newt] Gingrich’s event today and he talked about his plan to promote more research in brain science. He said that not only will advances in this area of science help millions affected by diseases, such as dementia, but also reduce a significant amount of cost. At one point he said that by 2050 this cost will amount to 1 and 1/2 federal deficits. One person in the crowd argued that this area was “small potatoes” and the country should focus on other areas which cause more problems, like obesity. From a health professional’s standpoint, does focusing on advancement in brain science impact a lot and should we be focusing energy in other areas?”
Dr. Hurd’s reply:
Who could be against brain research? That’s not the debate. The debate should be over why government should be involved in research in the first place. The Constitution does not provide for brain research, nor research in general, and Gingrich knows this. Conservatives are quick to point out — and I agree with them — that ObamaCare is not in the Constitution, but neither is any particular kind of research for health.
Actually, the worst thing we can do to science and medical research is politicize it. The minute government money is involved, science becomes politicized. There’s the obvious and even horrible way of politicizing science, as the Communists and the Nazis did; but there’s also the quiet tyranny of the bureaucracy and the slowing down of human reason which government red tape inevitably fosters. That’s the American form of tyranny.
It’s amazing how government can spend billions on research and everyone will proclaim, “How great of government to do that!” Nobody ever asks how much faster and more efficiently research breakthroughs could have occurred without all that government interference. Putting tax money into something does not automatically mean it will happen, nor even if it does, that it will happen in the best way. Look at the space program. As inspirational and exciting as it once was to many, it’s now effectively dead. And one has to wonder: How much greater would the space program have been if it weren’t run by the government? Why, space travel and development might even still be with us, if people didn’t look solely to our bankrupt federal government to fund it. Imagine that. Similarly, private sources could do a much better job of making sure human beings get the research they need.
So yes, I’m as in favor of brain research and the fighting of Alzheimer’s as anyone could be. That’s precisely why I want the government kept out of it. And yes, energy should be focused by the federal government in other areas, such as: Fighting terrorism and keeping us physically safe. That’s more than enough for any one government to be doing. The taxes could be way, way lower, most of the regulations would be out of our way, and we’d all be a lot better off.
Government doesn’t cure diseases; science does. And science needs a free market.