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Friday, April 18, 2003
Too good for politics
Medical researchers are worried that their government grants to study controversial subjects are, well, controversial:
He said the idea that grants might be subject to political surveillance was creating a "pernicious sense of insecurity" among researchers.

Dr. Sommer said that if researchers feared that federal support for their work might be affected by politics, whether it was true or untrue, it could take a toll. "If people feel intimidated and start clouding the language they use, then your mind starts to get cloudy and the science gets cloudy," he said, adding that the federal financing of medical research had traditionally been free from political influence.
Oh, poor baby. So not only do you want taxpayer money given to you by the government, but you don't even want supervision by the government. It's the extension of the concept of entitlements beyond the realm of traditional welfare: the government should act like a giant ATM, dispensing money, but should have no say in how that money is spent, because the recipients are owed the money.

The arrogance of thinking that they should be beyond politics, while accepting public money, is incredible. And of course it's based on a false premise anyway, since there was never a time when politics didn't play a role in these decisions. Indeed, this topic provides the quintessential example; the disproportionate funding levels for AIDS research is a direct result of political pressure by activist groups.

By the way, shouldn't the New York Times have found someone to defend this state of affairs, rather than writing a one-sided piece implying that a bunch of puritan politicians are sticking their noses in where they don't belong?

[Update: added the link to the actual story, since I carelessly left that out when I posted it.]

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