Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Math for the Masses, Pt. Deux

According to Reuters, a nationwide survey suggests “Americans would prefer more money be invested in technology to solve the nation's energy ailments than to cure cancer or other diseases."

Given the fundamentals of supply and demand, that’s one way to drive down demand—attrition of consumers by consumption by cancer. But that’s not a very palatable solution, nor does it solve the root causes of either problem.

I have just returned from a few days in Washington DC, lobbying on behalf of the Leukemia-Lymphoma Society for funding of various research projects that can ultimately discover the cure for blood cancers.

The Department of Defense has some pretty amazing stuff going on… or they did, until Congressional budget cuts put them on the shelf for a year.

The National Cancer Institute also is doing amazing research, but they took the equivalent of a 13% funding cut last year.

There are two trends about to collide, and you and I will bear the brunt of our fiscal myopia:

First--We’re getting older as a nation.
The older we get, the more of us are coming down with various illnesses and maladies, and cancer is most prevalent in an aging population.

Second, the lack of funding for research means fewer young scientists are being encouraged to do the work. The average age of cancer researchers in the US is in the 50’s. With fewer and fewer young scientists entering the field, there will be less and less brains working on the problem when the current group of researchers retire.

Coincidentally, the lack of funding for cancer research also means fewer potential therapies—and possible cures—are in the pipeline for development.

So, if more of us contract a cancer type, whether it be blood, bone, or tissue, and fewer scientists and researchers are working on solutions (and drug companies turn to more lucrative diseases to address), then you can deduct that we’ll solve our energy demand by simple arithmetic.
Doesn’t have to be that way.

In fact, I was encouraged to learn that Mass. Sen. Ted Kennedy and Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison are collaborating on cancer legislation what would address these concerns.

There is a lot of government waste in Washington.
There are a lot of worthy causes that deserve to be funded.

Tell your Congressman how you want the money spent, while you still have the energy to respond.

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