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'Niceguy' Eddie

Political Talk Show Host and Internet Radio Personality. My show, In My Humble Opinion, aired on RainbowRadio from 2015-2017.

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

What wrong with the NIH? Depends on your point of view.

I just read an interesting article in Newsweek about why so many scientific discoveries aren't advancing medicine to the point of having more cures for things. Now as an engineer - someone who turns science into something practical for a living - the very idea of all this science going to waste is truly depressing. That it happens because of the very system designed to prevent it is even more depressing.

And that's what makes this so interesting: The TRUTH of the matter depending on one's point of view.

Now... the clever man would put the poison into his own goblet, because only a great fool would reach for what he was given...

Sorry, wrong argument. But truly I have a dizzying intellect; Just wait 'til I get going! Now where was? Oh yeah...

Back to the article... In reading this, I just keep hearing the voice of every conservative I know saying, "See? The Government gets involved and they just screw everything up!" And they'd have point, at least as far as a very shallow analysis will reveal. But in my opinion - a liberal's opinion - the answer is clear: The government needs to get MORE involved and this is yet another dismal failure for the power of the free market!

The basic problem is this: NIH grants don't cover the research & grunt work needed to determine if a discovery can be made into a usable drug (for example.) This is because the NIH is meant to fund SCINECE not FOR-PROFIT drug making. See: It's a system he has FAITH in the free market's ability to pick up where the basic science leaves off. It stays out of the way, and let's those big Pharma companies take care of the investment in return for keeping all of the profits. Trouble is...the Pharmaceutical companies, big and small, don't want to invest in ANYTHING that isn't reasonably certain to be commercially viable. (And given the costs, who can blame them?) And... you can't know that without doing the necessary - and both rather unglamorous and unprofitable - research to determine it! (Has everyone read Catch-22? Good.)

So strike down one more for the free market, and give one more point to those who think that we need MORE government spending, not less and MORE government involvement in medicine and not less, and MORE medical research, NOT LESS. 

(And yes that includes stem cells.)


  1. It's all very simple. For any corner of the economy, we give capitalism a free run at it for 30+ years. If capitalism spends that time doing anything but sucking hard, it gets to keep doing it. Otherwise it's big bad government time.

    Any conservative who doesn't like the big bad government should direct their ire to the private industry that failed over and over again. If that industry would have succeeded, the government wouldn't have even begun to think about getting involved.

  2. Steeve,

    I hear you. I agree 100%. You're absolutely right.

    The thing is - and this is where 'the truth depends on your POV' come is in - they can't even acknowledge the POSSIBILITY of a failure of the free market, can they? ANY excuse... the mere EXISTANCE of Government is the problem. You're [rightly] asking the [members of the] 'party of personal responsibility' to actually TAKE SOME RESPONSIBILITY! And that is something they just cannot do! It's NEVER their fault, is it? It's... you name it! Liberals, the Government, Regulations, Labor, Foreigners, Illegals... ANYTHING but their own incompetence and (more to the point) GREED. ANYTHING but their own unwillingness, for whatever reason, to deliver what's needed.

    Thanks for your comment.

  3. Science should indeed be practical, and that's not a matter of liberalism or conservatism, but of pure logic.
    Milliards are invented in it, including the money and honor of Nobel Prizes - and we still have no cure to a lot of health problems.

    I believe that total cure to life and death problems such as cancer and auto immune illnesses, will never be found as it will mean tresspassing God's domenion.But there are lots of other , minor health problems and aesthetic problems that have a big impact on health such as, baldness, edentulosis, influenza , etc.. that could be successfully solved. In fact I suspect scientists have more than a clue to these problems but the big pharmaceutical companies buy the scientist and his research , and they will decide when to release the results; it could take forty-fifty years like with the dental transplants.Scientists are no less greedy than the companies. That's sad, very sad.

  4. Sorry for the incorrect spelling:
    it should be domain (not domenion), implants (not transplants).

  5. Duta,

    I'm not sure I'd lump the scientists into the same group with the corporations. There IS a type of GREED at work, but it's not the same thing. A better term might be AMBITION, although the effect is largely the same. (Distorted decision making.) For them, it's not about the monetary reward for an investment (it's not a business decision) like it is for companies. It's more about RECOGNITION ofo thier work. Of course that carries a financial reward, but really it's just about KEEPING THEIR JOB rather than making gobs and gobs of money. And the kind of things that the Scientific and Academic commnity give recognition for are not always conducive to turning basic science into practical application. At least not where medicine in concerned. And as far as companies go... well... it's one thing to make medicine a for-profit venture if profits are going to drive bettter care. But I agree with you complete that it can cewrtainly be argued that the opposite may be true.

    As for what we can and should (or can't and shoudln't) be able to cure? I don't believe there is ANY sacred ground where science should not tread. OK... We should not be trying to created new species, and modifying humans at the genetic level, but that is for PRACTICAL reasons, rather than sacred ones. The potential damage that can happen is devestating with or without God's opinion being taken into account. Cancer? Aids? Viruses? We'll totally have those licked... SOME DAY. And if there IS a God, I have no dounbt that s/he'll being smiling for our accomplishment when that day comes.

    But the very idea that Cancer (for example) is somehow part of God's will is EXACTLY why I don't believe (or choose not to worship) "God" as it's been defined by Man. I reject that view, and would do so even if I DID believe in God as Man defines it. God HAS no dominion in this world. He's left it to US. The Bible, Tora and Kooran all say as much - and of course, no atheist will argue with that point either.

    Thanks for your comment.