Monday, December 27, 2004

Better late than never?

One of the big issues in California in the last election was Prop. 71, a $3 billion bond measure providing funds for stem cell research. I support stem cell research, and I hope it bears the wonderful fruits its cheerleaders promise, but I voted against the measure. Despite Governor Schwarzenneger's promises to drag us from the fiscal sewer, California is still running tremendous budget deficits, and has the lowest bond rating of any state in the union. Under those circumstances I couldn't support adding an additional $3 billion burden (possibly as high as $6 billion with interest, etc.) to the budget for anything inessential. If the research is as potentially revolutionary as its proponents claim, private investors have every incentive to fund it, and I reasoned that they should step into the void, not this cash-strapped state with so many essential services riding on its budget.

Prop. 71 was endorsed by the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and ultimately the voters. Only now are we seeing some skepticism from the Times and the Chronicle.
When we asked Steve Proctor, the Chronicle's deputy managing editor for news, why his paper didn't report on these controversies before the election, he said, "It's fair criticism to say we should have done more aggressive research into the initiative and looked further into the bill prior to the election." He also pointed out, "As something becomes a reality, you delve into it more deeply."
Uh...thanks? While you're at it, you may want to have a look at methods of putting genies back in bottles and toothpaste back into tubes.

For good overview of the current state of Prop. 71 affairs, have a look at this uncharacteristically calm and cogent San Francisco Bay Guardian article.

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