Bush v. California
Froma Harrop walks a strange line between liberal and conservative principles in a recent column about economic differences between the Red States and the Blue States, and the tax-cut implications thereof. It’s a thick topic, even when it isn’t encumbered by an underlying theme of pinning something undesirable to President Bush’s back. Consequently, I’m not inclined to take it up, just now.
However, something that protrudes from the column almost as a tangential distraction strikes me as telling, and in a way that’s relevant to the rest of the piece:
California seems poised to profit from both Bush’s tax cuts and his moral disapproval of embryonic-stem-cell research. We speak of California’s vote Tuesday to spend $300 million a year on this promising field. The sum makes a mockery of the measly $25 million Bush doled out last year — and only for work on existing stem-cell lines.
This investment will make California the stem-cell champ of America, if not the world. Biotech centers in other regions now fear a brain drain to California. And economists say the program could bring the state a bonanza in jobs and patent royalties worth hundreds of millions.
What, precisely, is Harrop’s understanding of federalism? Ethics aside, is it the federal government’s role to invest heavily enough in lucrative research so as to prevent any given state from dominating the market? Moreover, is it the government’s role to put ethics aside so as to give states a fair share of the profit from endeavors of which their citizens want no part?
I’d be surprised to learn that there’s a subindustry of Tupelo biotech companies now fearing the loss of faculty because Cali has become the place to do immoral research. And as far as I know, California’s decision to fund the research isn’t the result of some loophole that’s not available to other states. Red-State Americans can invest in ESCR by way of their governments, just as they can invest in it individually. That’s another distinction that Harrop loses:
No one has made a connection between the Bush tax cuts and the research, but someone should. The tax cuts have made California $51 billion richer. So Californians can think of the $3 billion they will spend over the next 10 years as found money.
Correction: the tax cuts have made Californians that much richer. That’s not the same thing. If the citizens of the Golden State choose to process their research-funding dollars through a corrupt bureaucracy, that is their right. At least the poorer citizens of fly-over country aren’t being forced to devote their hard-earned money on Blue-Staters’ hot-flash quest for immortality.