Cancer Moonshot or Drunken Birds?

President Obama has said he would like to see a “moonshot” effort to cure cancer.  Remember that he’s also said “put America first” and “if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor”.

So, if we need serious medical research on cancer, why is the government squandering our tax dollars on research grants that have no apparent value to relieving human suffering or protecting the environment?  The NIH gave 5 million dollars to study if birds slurred their songs when drunk; the NSF awarded 3.9 million to study sexy goldfish; and, the worst, the NIH gave 3.5 million dollars to China to study why people see the face of Jesus in toast!  Why are we giving millions of dollars to Communist China?  If we’re going to squander money at least keep it in our economy.  As I’ve said before, China is NOT our friend.

While on the subject of cancer, lung cancer is the number 1 cancer killer, yet lung cancer research is vastly under funded compared with other common cancers.  There are no high profile fund raising events, free screenings, or commercials advocating for lung cancer victims.  While survival rates for breast, colon, and skin cancers have improved significantly in the past 40 years the survival rate for lung cancer has barely moved.  There’s an unholy reason for that.  Lung cancer is associated with smoking (although its also caused by radon gas and pollution), so years ago the nation decided that smokers were morally weak and therefore “deserved” what they got.  That attitude is similar to the one which we saw during the early years of the AIDS epidemic when gays were considered morally weak and deserved what they got.  Political activism changed that situation but there’s no activism for lung cancer victims.  Now that addiction is considered a medical problem rather than a moral weakness there’s no excuse to keep lung cancer research at a low priority.  Many consider nicotine to be more addictive than heroin.  The fact that we squander millions of dollars on goofy grants shows just how dysfunctional our government has become.  Agencies that can’t assign sensible priorities to research are assuming that tax dollars are unlimited.  They need a lesson, starting with a few firings.

Hats off to medical research though.  They may not be able to help lung cancer victims but they can grow longer eyelashes (wink, wink).

Just because you can make it complicated doesn’t mean you should.

Everyone has heard about fraud, waste, abuse, pork, goofy grants, etc., but there’s another vampire sucking on our economy.  It’s overhead.  Now some overhead is essential to running any program but excess overhead is a nonproductive use of resources.  Business figured this out years ago and responded by cutting management levels, improving communication, eliminating duplication, seeking best practices, modifying supply and distribution chains, and taking advantage of technology.  The government hasn’t gotten the message: our systems are too complicated.  Every time technology enables more data tracking the government demands more data.  Washington is always issuing new rules but programs don’t get simplified (or eliminated if they haven’t proven to accomplish their objective).  Our convoluted income tax code is a prime example of excess overhead, as are health care administration and the alphabet soup of welfare programs.  No one benefits from all this wasted effort.

The economy is a car, efficiency is the gas, excess overhead is the brake, so which do you step on to get moving?