Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Better Ways to Bust the Budget

In response the president’s plan to build a moon base (a boondoggle if I ever heard one), Alex Tabarrok chides the president for his lack of originality and poses the following challenge to his readers:
What's your big-think idea to unify, motivate and inspire the nation? A moon-base will cost on the order of 200 billion so let's economize and say that the idea should cost 100 billion or less - a better idea and 100 billion to spare! Ideally, the idea should be mostly free of politics and have a strong possibility of success given that the money is spent. Email me and I will post the best ideas with full credit.
Of course, I'm not at all excited about the government spending $100 billion on something to unify and inspire us. But if the borrowed money's just burning a hole in the Treasury's hole-ridden and mostly empty pockets, I would suggest the following: Clone a human being, without serious physiological defects, by the year 2015. I suspect this research program would generate substantial positive spillover effects, mostly in the fields of medical technology and life extension. We might, for instance, learn how to grow organs that are already genetic matches for the recipients.

Of course, this will never happen, because our government is currently more interested in throwing hurdles in the way of medical science (by means of moratoriums, regulations, and outright bans on cloning and stem-cell research) than helping to advance it. My proposal assuredly fails Alex’s “mostly free of politics” requirement.

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