Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Its not about the jobs

In case you have been sleeping for the past decade, there has been a big controversy over stem cell research - particularly that using embryonic stem cells. Its been a bit of a roller coaster - yes it can be federally funded, no it cant, yes it can, no it cant... and now its waiting on a Supreme Court decision.

The research itself does get into some ground breaking stuff - diabetes, cancer, etc. Its also expensive - $200 million this year alone. But apparently the scientists doing the research are worrying about their jobs. Well yes that is a concern. Anyone's job can just go away. There are no guarantees for any job these days.

A few thoughts here:

Isn't the idea that ground breaking research might be put on hold a bit more disconcerting than the fact that 1300 people might have to find new jobs? No one wants to lose their job but let's not lose sight of the fact that the research might be more important than the jobs?

Why is it a given that the federal government should fund this research? Regardless of the embryonic or other stem cells issue, is the federal government supposed to fund this? I am sure the government funds all sorts of things but who thinks they are required to fund this in the first place? What if they had to get other funding like a lot of other research does?

I am not questioning the right or wrong about the research. But is the government supposed to fund research? Why are they supposed to fund it - because they always did? Even if the Supreme Court allows it, what if the budget didn't have room for to fund it?

I don't know but I think something is a little out of whack here. Its not about jobs. Its about research and breakthroughs. Its about coping with change if needed.

I wouldn't be worried about my job. I would be more worried if research was derailed. Even if they get funding, from whatever source, they could still lose their job.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

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Dee said...

Unfortunately, Caroline, private foundations and private money usually only fund projects that are proven concepts or ones that have a huge potential profit margin. The reason why the government funds a lot of research is to encourage cutting edge research - although even that declined recenly when the Republic government was in power. Also, the government funding agencies try very hard to have objective experts judge the merits of the proposals since it is funded by taxpayer dollars. I don't know about private foundation funding - but the potential for abuse and favoritism is probably higher in those cases - in other words, getting funding for such research is more a matter of WHO you know rather than WHAT you know.