Why Government?

First, congratulations to President Bush on his first presidential veto. While I would have preferred he celebrate this inaugural exercise of constitutional authority earlier than 5 years into his presidency, any veto that limits the scope of federal subsidies is better than no veto at all.

But why is the federal government's role in subsidizing embryonic stem cell research only debated on moral grounds? A better question on which to frame this delicate issue asks whether this sort of research is an appropriate use of federal tax dollars. The distinction between the conservative and the liberal (misleading labels to be sure) is that the conservative approaches the funding of embryonic stem cell research and asks "Why government?" while the liberal approaches the same issue and asks "Why not?"

Many on both sides are uneasy about answering in categorical terms whether or not the frozen stem cells from a human embryo count as human life, and whether or not they should be afforded the same constitutional protections as you and me. It is an impasse I will not attempt to bridge here.

Supporters of embryonic stem cell research should take their case to private companies and non-profit foundations. If there is a profit to be made in this realm of science, rest assured that liberal amounts of capital will follow (see: US pharmaceutical companies). If not, may your humble blogger suggest bringing the funding issue to a non-profit, philanthropic foundation whose guiding principles include a belief that "Science and technology have great potential to improve lives around the world", "Our focus is clear - and limited - and prioritizes some of the most neglected issues", and "We take risks, make big bets, and move with urgency. We are in it for the long haul."

PS- they have lots of money too.

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