End Government Funding of Science?

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Angua » Fri Aug 09, 2013 9:29 am UTC

There would have been legal barriers to use of that drug because the drug was currently under patent for another use entirely.

Yes, some drugs are found with other research but it's neither common (there are many, many drugs out there, most of which were found with people trying to find something that will work for there intended use), not reliable. If you want a cure for x disease, you don't just sit around and hope that someone else find something useful. You research the disease to try and find ways to stop it.
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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Aug 09, 2013 12:22 pm UTC

My high school science classes and history classes both covered alternative medicine. The science classes as an example of what the scientific method was and how alternative 'science' isn't science, while the history classes covered snake oil and pointed out that snake oil is still around, they just put pictures of plants on it now. My Chem teacher would explain at length that chemically, it's kind of irrelevant if something is natural or not, and had a vendetta against anyone stealing words from science (*cough*organic*cough*).

Apparently I have "my public high school wasn't a piece of shit" privilege or something along those lines.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby KnightExemplar » Fri Aug 09, 2013 12:58 pm UTC

Insurance companies do conduct research, from a cursory search. There are ads between competing pharmaceutical companies (Claritin and Zyrtec being the one's I can think of off the top of my head). Can you imagine the kind of bad press and public backlash a pharmaceutical company would get if they deliberately released a wholly ineffective product?


Why should I imagine? It has already happened. Have you not seen the complete ineffectiveness of Vitamin Supplements that has been discovered recently?

http://junksciencecom.files.wordpress.c ... tality.pdf

Survey Says: Multivitamin use has led to (slightly, but statistically proven) increased mortality. How many years has the general public used multivitamin supplements for the hell of it? And now we don't even know if they do anything (or women over the age of 60 to 85).

Lets see, who discovered this fact? Funding came from:
* National Cancer Institute (US Government)
* The Academy of Finland (Finnish Government)
* The Finnish Cultural Foundation (Finnish)
* Fulbright program (Wait... what? State Department? They fund this stuff ? I guess its because its an international study, so the State Department has their fingers in this )

Why did this happen? Because health policy is a classic market failure. No one is TRYING to screw you over, we've just identified a situation where important work fails to get done. Understanding where the free market fails is extremely important for policy makers to understand. Again though, I emphasize, I feel this is not the typical case. I've brought up the internet before, where the Free Market innovates very very strongly. But for whatever reason, in the area of Health Policy, research is almost always driven by government entities. Do you really expect Multivitamin companies to publish research that would destroy their own business segment? Hell no, and who can blame them?

--> Another study (by the same doctors) also discovered that Vitamin D supplements remain useful in Finland. It could be the case that US is sunnier than Finland Vitamin D, so Vitamin D supplements don't help you out. Interesting research...

Of course, I know that, but I was merely pointing out if the government had not funded the research, other companies might have had incentive to do so.


Could have, would have, should have. Stop using wishy-washy words and start bringing up historical examples. The reason why we have NIH, FDA, and all of those big agencies... is because the research DOESN'T happen without government intervention. You're arguing against historical fact without understanding context.

Break free of the chains of your idealism and look at the facts for what they are.

Of course they did. But public concerns were raised long before they began their marketing campaign. From your own link:


There are public concerns over the use and effectiveness of Flu Vaccinations. "Public Concern" is white noise that attacks everything. What matters is where and when the SCIENCE!! gets done. And historically speaking, in the field of Health Policy, the Free Market does not lead to groundbreaking research that affects millions of people. Anti-smoking facts, and more recently anti-vitamin facts (~2010) are thanks to government sponsored research. Its a solid pattern that has made its way through history.
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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Aug 09, 2013 3:07 pm UTC

Even Libertarians are opposed to false advertising/fraud. At the risk of developing a Scottish accent, the Libertarians who claim "medical freedom" are shills pretending to be Libertarians. Sure you should have the right to buy homeopathy, but homeopathic remedies should not be allowed to advertise that they even "may" work.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Aug 09, 2013 3:42 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Even Libertarians are opposed to false advertising/fraud. At the risk of developing a Scottish accent, the Libertarians who claim "medical freedom" are shills pretending to be Libertarians. Sure you should have the right to buy homeopathy, but homeopathic remedies should not be allowed to advertise that they even "may" work.
This is admittedly something I dislike about libertarianism - in a perfect market, fraud would be recognized as fraud and those companies would fold simply because they sold a bunk product. In reality, every time a company is identified as fraudulent, it simply reopens shop under a new name. *SOME* oversight is a good thing.

This is why 3rd party evaluators are a good thing. The problem then, of course, is that quality evaluators form a monopoly by virtue of being better at it, and that breeds corruption.
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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby addams » Fri Aug 09, 2013 6:58 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:My high school science classes and history classes both covered alternative medicine. The science classes as an example of what the scientific method was and how alternative 'science' isn't science, while the history classes covered snake oil and pointed out that snake oil is still around, they just put pictures of plants on it now. My Chem teacher would explain at length that chemically, it's kind of irrelevant if something is natural or not, and had a vendetta against anyone stealing words from science (*cough*organic*cough*).

Apparently I have "my public high school wasn't a piece of shit" privilege or something along those lines.

Do you know what was in Snake Oil?
That is Morpine!

Yes. When the Guy with Snake Oil came to Town he was a Popular Guy.
What kind of medicine does a Doctor without Snake Oil practice?

jeeze. Some Snake Oil might be Snake Oil.
Where do ya' get Snake Oil? Squeezing Snakes?

Is that where you get Baby Oil? No?
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Squeeze Snakes to get Snake Oil.

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What do you get? Math?
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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Aug 09, 2013 8:16 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:Even Libertarians are opposed to false advertising/fraud. At the risk of developing a Scottish accent, the Libertarians who claim "medical freedom" are shills pretending to be Libertarians. Sure you should have the right to buy homeopathy, but homeopathic remedies should not be allowed to advertise that they even "may" work.
This is admittedly something I dislike about libertarianism - in a perfect market, fraud would be recognized as fraud and those companies would fold simply because they sold a bunk product. In reality, every time a company is identified as fraudulent, it simply reopens shop under a new name. *SOME* oversight is a good thing.

This is why 3rd party evaluators are a good thing. The problem then, of course, is that quality evaluators form a monopoly by virtue of being better at it, and that breeds corruption.


Er, a perfect market has perfect information. Less information = less perfect market.

Fraud, by definition, is based on faulty information. I don't know what this is something you would dislike about libertarianism...prevention of fraud is one of the functions of government most agreed upon(defense is probably more so, but both are pretty common).

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby The Great Hippo » Fri Aug 09, 2013 8:17 pm UTC

Arariel wrote:
Health Insurance companies did not discover that smoking was harmful. That was US Government sponsored research.

The first anti-smoking publication in the "The Journal of the American Medical Association" was Morton Levin's famous paper in the 50s, who at that time was working for the New York state Department of Health. IE: Government sponsored research. Later truths were published by the US Surgeon General in the paper I talked about earlier.

If you don't take logical arguments, then at very least take history itself as evidence. Certain fields of research aren't suited for the private sector. True... most fields seem to do fine with private research, but Health Care is one where the "free market" has been historically _awful_ in researching.

Of course, I know that, but I was merely pointing out if the government had not funded the research, other companies might have had incentive to do so.
What happens when health insurance companies receive a payoff by cigarette companies not to pursue that research? Or what happens when health insurance companies concentrate on denying health coverage for smokers and/or smoke-related illnesses?

I think the presumption that health insurance companies would fill the gap that the government did in this case is a very dangerous one; there are plenty of better methods to pursue profit besides launching a costly anti-smoking campaign that will make an enemy out of Big Tobacco.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Aug 09, 2013 8:22 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:Just out of curiosity, what happens when health insurance companies receive a payoff by cigarette companies not to pursue that research? Or better still: What happens when health insurance companies concentrate on denying health coverage for smokers and/or smoke-related illnesses?

I think the presumption that health insurance companies would fill the gap that the government did in this case is a very dangerous one; there are plenty of better methods to pursue profit besides pursuing a costly anti-smoking campaign that will make an enemy out of Big Tobacco.


Competing interests do help to a degree. It isn't necessarily perfect, but the interests of the health insurance companies are generally opposed to those who sell harmful products. Tobacco might be something of a special case here(well, along with booze, etc). It's been popular since before health insurance companies were, so it had a lot of cultural leverage. It's easier to point at the new thing not many people do, and demonize it as unhealthy than it is the thing everyone has accepted as normal.

I do believe that different rates for smokers has been around for a bit, though. That seems more likely than an advertising campaign...just increase fees until either the unprofitable customers become profitable, or stop being customers.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby The Great Hippo » Fri Aug 09, 2013 8:28 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:I do believe that different rates for smokers has been around for a bit, though. That seems more likely than an advertising campaign...just increase fees until either the unprofitable customers become profitable, or stop being customers.
Right, and that's my point (and why I find Arariel's example somewhat contentious); rather than launching a costly anti-smoking campaign -- and taking on Big Tobacco (who will, of course, launch a counter-anti-smoking campaign in response), why not avoid this marketing war in the first place by either finding a way to work with Big Tobacco to meet our interests ('Pay us X amount of dollars and we won't pressure our customers to stop smoking') or just somehow shift the cost to our customers ('If you smoke, you'll have to go through a major price hike').

I mean, it's nice to imagine that health coverage would fund research to convince people to stop smoking, but the reality is there are much cheaper ways for them to offset the cost of smokers that don't involve shunting shitloads of money into an anti-smoking campaign / anti-smoking research.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby johnny_7713 » Fri Aug 09, 2013 11:19 pm UTC

Moving away a bit from the discussion on weather studies on the harmfulness of smoking would get funded without government intervention, there are some fundamental disagreements that I have with the essay (quotes from the essay in bold):

So here is the current dogma: scientific research is fundamentally a public good because new ideas, unlike private goods, cannot be monopolized for long,
No, scientific research is a public good because the potential returns on investment in pure scientific research are way beyond the horizon for most companies. GPS wouldn't work without knowledge of the theory of relativity, but in 1904 no one would have hired Einstein to develop a theory of relativity, because a) you wouldn't know in advance that you would be getting that, and b) it would take another 50-80 years before you could earn money off it.

The contemporary economic evidence, moreover, confirms that the government funding of R&D has no economic benefit.
Are we talking about industrial R&D, or are we talking about pure science. The article seems to confuse the two a lot, and they are definitely not the same thing.

Nathan Rosenberg of Stanford University showed that the down payment that a potential copier has to make before he or she can even begin to copy an innovation is their own prior contribution to the field: only when your own research is credible can you understand the field. And what do credible researchers do? They publish papers and patents that others can read, and they produce goods that others can strip down.
You don't need to be credible, you need to be competent. Sure, you might need to go through the research steps yourself to really understand some new technology, but you certainly don't have to publish anything yourself.

indeed, if it was ever real, the distinction between pure and applied science is now largely defunct
Indeed? So what's the application of string theory, or the Higgs' Boson, or Fermat's last theorem, or a survey of French medieval poetry?

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby CorruptUser » Sat Aug 10, 2013 12:01 am UTC

No, they are a public good because knowledge not really excludable, but at the same time me knowing something doesn't prevent you from knowing it.

Public Good: Non-excludable, non-rivalrous. A good no one can be prevented from using, while use does not prevent others from enjoying. E.g., National Defence.

Free Market works poorly due to free riders. Best subsidized by government.

Private Good: Excludable, rivalrous. A good that others can be prevented from using, and use of good lowers others' ability to use. E.g., every single item you buy at a store.

Free Market works incredible well here, so long as fraud and coercion are minimized. Negative/positive externalities need to be addressed, but otherwise only minimal government is needed.

Club Good: Excludable, non-rivalrous. A good that others can be prevented from using, but use of said good does not diminish its ability for others to use. E.g., internet, cable, phone lines.

Free Market does work reasonably well here, but some government subsidies can make the market more efficient.

Common Good: Non-excludable, rivalrous. A good that no one can be prevented from using, but use prevents others from enjoying. E.g., fisheries, wild deer, unowned grazing fields.

Free Market fails utterly here. Government is absolutely needed to use these at all.



The lines between the goods aren't always clear, as for example, a road is effectively a public good until it's near capacity, where it becomes a common good. There are some goods that are anti-rivalrous, such as a phone line which becomes better the more people that have access to it.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby johnny_7713 » Sat Aug 10, 2013 10:09 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:No, they are a public good because knowledge not really excludable, but at the same time me knowing something doesn't prevent you from knowing it.

Public Good: Non-excludable, non-rivalrous. A good no one can be prevented from using, while use does not prevent others from enjoying. E.g., National Defence.

Free Market works poorly due to free riders. Best subsidized by government.

Private Good: Excludable, rivalrous. A good that others can be prevented from using, and use of good lowers others' ability to use. E.g., every single item you buy at a store.

Free Market works incredible well here, so long as fraud and coercion are minimized. Negative/positive externalities need to be addressed, but otherwise only minimal government is needed.

Club Good: Excludable, non-rivalrous. A good that others can be prevented from using, but use of said good does not diminish its ability for others to use. E.g., internet, cable, phone lines.

Free Market does work reasonably well here, but some government subsidies can make the market more efficient.

Common Good: Non-excludable, rivalrous. A good that no one can be prevented from using, but use prevents others from enjoying. E.g., fisheries, wild deer, unowned grazing fields.

Free Market fails utterly here. Government is absolutely needed to use these at all.



The lines between the goods aren't always clear, as for example, a road is effectively a public good until it's near capacity, where it becomes a common good. There are some goods that are anti-rivalrous, such as a phone line which becomes better the more people that have access to it.


I fail at understanding economic terms obviously :), thanks for clearing that up.
My main point about the returns from pure science exceeding most companies' investment horizon still stands though I believe.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby qetzal » Sun Aug 11, 2013 5:05 am UTC

johnny_7713 wrote:indeed, if it was ever real, the distinction between pure and applied science is now largely defunct
Indeed? So what's the application of string theory, or the Higgs' Boson, or Fermat's last theorem, or a survey of French medieval poetry?


Actually, I agree with that claim. Science, by definition, seeks to understand how different aspects of the world work. Thus, all science has potential applications. The issue, as pointed out earlier in the post, is that not all science will have monetizable applications within the reasonable time and resource horizons of a for-profit company.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby addams » Sun Aug 11, 2013 5:50 am UTC

Science?
Most of us have sat in on a Science Class.

Did you take a general Science?
What were you taught?

Wiki?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science
Nice little rabbit hole.

I know what I think.
I think Science describes.

I think this not because It is On Every Bill Board.
I think this because I sat in on a Science Class.

One class had a lexicon.
Another class had a lexicon.
Then there was another lexicon.

There were areas of Overlap.
Greek and Latin.
We had to learn a Dead Language.

So, funny. Idiots arguing about how to pronounce a word that has not been used by common people for hundreds of years.
What were they arguing about? My teacher is Right! I am Right!

My teacher said they were silly.
There is no Right way to pronounce the word.

But; We must all agree how to write it.
Why? Because we will be writing descriptions.
Why? Because, Science describes.

I don't spell well.
Latin and Greek helped.
I also took an English class.

Remember Plasma?
It was like Vatican ll. I swear.
Is it a Gas? Is it something else?

It can't be anything else. Pick One.
Plasma. We had a word for ages.

No one knew. People had good control of Plasma.
Plasma has been with us a long time.

Plasma is fire. Plasma is inside lightbulbs.
We have used Plasma for Economic gain.

We were using it for Economic Gain for a Long Time Before we described it.
We did not describe it so that the light bulbs would sell for more.

Yes. Understanding how a thing works may give a great big monetary advantage.
We Know how Plasma works. Plasma is amazing and a little tiny bit dangerous.

Describe it? Down to the amount of energy that is required to flip any gas into a plasma?
There is a Chart somewhere. Some one got paid, God I hope, To do chemistry.

Those nameless faceless Scientists Describe when the gas begins to glow.
They give it a Number and do it again for a different gas. Fun!

The grind stone? Oh WE Oh. Keep your nose to the Grind Stone?
Make it Make Money? oh.

Oh. Dear God. I am like Steve.
i disagree with Scientists about what Science is?
That is bad. very bad.

But; My way is simpler.
Science Describes. period.

It sometimes takes a lot of art, religion and science to get to a new description?
What color is it? Shape? Weight?

Remember? Back in the old days of York?
Remember? Back before the first York was old?
Remember? Back before there was any York at all?

No. Honey; You can't remember that.
It's ok. I'll take care of it.

Or; Not. What is it?
Around and around we go.
What marvel do you want?

Government Money?
What other kind is there?
Describe it. Then we can go hunting!
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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Tyndmyr » Sun Aug 11, 2013 1:28 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:I do believe that different rates for smokers has been around for a bit, though. That seems more likely than an advertising campaign...just increase fees until either the unprofitable customers become profitable, or stop being customers.
Right, and that's my point (and why I find Arariel's example somewhat contentious); rather than launching a costly anti-smoking campaign -- and taking on Big Tobacco (who will, of course, launch a counter-anti-smoking campaign in response), why not avoid this marketing war in the first place by either finding a way to work with Big Tobacco to meet our interests ('Pay us X amount of dollars and we won't pressure our customers to stop smoking') or just somehow shift the cost to our customers ('If you smoke, you'll have to go through a major price hike').

I mean, it's nice to imagine that health coverage would fund research to convince people to stop smoking, but the reality is there are much cheaper ways for them to offset the cost of smokers that don't involve shunting shitloads of money into an anti-smoking campaign / anti-smoking research.


Agreed. It's elegant in a number of ways...smokers are essentially paying their own costs via the higher fees, so the externality is being solved very parsimoniously. We don't really need to make highly subjective calls on how much advertising makes up for how much medical harm. We also don't need to engage in shaming smokers or the like.

I generally approve of such solutions, and dislike solutions that consist of a number of complex patch jobs trying to balance all of the effects, because the latter is MUCH harder to pull off successfully.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby The Great Hippo » Sun Aug 11, 2013 4:58 pm UTC

Oh, but the broader point was that if we had relied on a market-based solution (rather than government-driven research) to point out the detrimental effects of smoking, it would likely have taken much longer for us to get to a point where we understand -- as a culture -- that smoking is both addictive and detrimental to our health. Though I guess if your health insurance is hiking up the rates for smokers, you might start to wonder why.

EDIT: Then again, not really; the way insurance actuary tables work, your rates could get hiked up for having a dog. It may be quite reasonable to believe that smokers would have increased rates and remain oblivious to the why!

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Aug 12, 2013 5:10 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:Oh, but the broader point was that if we had relied on a market-based solution (rather than government-driven research) to point out the detrimental effects of smoking, it would likely have taken much longer for us to get to a point where we understand -- as a culture -- that smoking is both addictive and detrimental to our health. Though I guess if your health insurance is hiking up the rates for smokers, you might start to wonder why.

EDIT: Then again, not really; the way insurance actuary tables work, your rates could get hiked up for having a dog. It may be quite reasonable to believe that smokers would have increased rates and remain oblivious to the why!


Now, I'm not old enough to have lived in the Lucky Strike era...but even in the 80s, before the big awareness campaigns kicked off, and anti smoking laws seemed to pop up everywhere, it seemed to be pretty well acknowledged that they were unhealthy.

I'm split here...on one hand, there's a clear truth in advertising public interest in making sure that the thing being advertised as healthy(which I understand some of the old 40s and 50s era advertisements basically did) actually is. You sort of need at least a degree of government checking for that, regardless of if they're doing the research themselves or paying others to do it.

On the other, it feels as if we've gone too far. Beyond actual research, and trying to influence behavior over and above mere warning. Some of the present day anti-cig ads seem propagandaish, and I'm uncomfortable even calling such things science. Sure, the studies on HOW to do that are science, but the actual message? They've gone beyond being informative and into shock tactics, shaming, etc...

Spoiler:
Image

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Aug 12, 2013 10:26 am UTC

Yes; as another example, cigarettes in Canada -- by law -- must carry certain pictures -- here's an example (spoilered, because gross teeth):
Spoiler:
Image
I don't approve of shock tactics or shaming to compel people to make better decisions regarding their health; I can see the perspective of someone who thinks the government has gone too far (in this regard). That being said, the government does have the (often thankless!) task to see to it that its citizens are well-informed; I think a very prominent warning label informing people that cigarettes are addictive and detrimental to your health is completely appropriate.

But getting that warning label requires research, and it seems as if it's research no one but the government is going to fund. Which makes me think that there's at least one important place for government-funded science.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby leady » Mon Aug 12, 2013 11:20 am UTC

On the health effects of cigarettes, the only reason government generally "cares" about them is that it ultimately picks up the tab. Generally speaking governments play very fast and loose with its duty of care to its citizens, with most of its diktacts having very flimsy evidence (see child car safety requirements for example) and with it missing some of the very blatant ones (which do you think ultimately kills more people bad schools or bad pensions for poor people).

As highlighted, real medical insurance (i.e. not the crappy us system, think eu private insurance) correct puts the cost back onto the consumer. There is minimal to no incentive to cartel with the smoking lobby in practice, not least that the costs involved are huge and the business risk of being discovered is a business ender (no one is going to entrust their health to an underhanded entity). In contrast of course the governments of the world were are and still are in a position of clear conflict of interest with the tobacco industry. Look who correctly pays a fortune in corporation tax and indirect taxation :). If anything I'd suggest that governments slowed the disemination of consequences of smoking because of this, up until people started surviving heart attacks and cancers in their fifties and became expensive to the state.

This is coming from someone who absolutely hates cigarettes and really likes the illiberal laws on them :) (yes you can smell the hypocracy)

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Aug 12, 2013 11:40 am UTC

leady wrote:On the health effects of cigarettes, the only reason government generally "cares" about them is that it ultimately picks up the tab.
In the US? I'm not so sure of that -- I know health coverage is a serious drain on government resources, but how much did the US government lose in the 60s, 70s, and 80s to lung cancer? How much is that cost in comparison to what health insurance providers lost?

While I agree that the government plays very fast and loose with its duties toward its citizens, I think the anti-tobacco movement (in its earliest days, at least) was pushed by a combination of media pressure, constituent pressure, and by government figures who considered it their civic duty to oppose the deceptive marketing of a genuinely dangerous drug.

I also think a lot of people were pissed when they realized tobacco companies had basically lied to, uh, everybody.
leady wrote:If anything I'd suggest that governments slowed the disemination of consequences of smoking because of this, up until people started surviving heart attacks and cancers in their fifties and became expensive to the state.
Wait -- I'm not sure how insurance worked in the 60s-80s in the US, but were people in their fifties with lung cancer expensive for the state? I presumed they were expensive to health insurance providers (who might find ways to shift some of the cost to the state, I don't know).

But whatever your point, I really don't think the government opposed Big Tobacco because of financial reasons; I think they opposed Big Tobacco because it's the government's job to oppose corporate interests when they endanger the interests of the people.

Maybe I'm being naive, here? I don't know; I just sometimes think the government does certain things because it's their job to do certain things.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Kit. » Mon Aug 12, 2013 11:54 am UTC

Arariel wrote:Any developments that benefited the public (even if such effects in the long term) should have been reflected in long-run economic growth. Economic growth isn't some silly measure of how much money people make. It's a measure of standard of living.

Not entirely correct. It could be a measure of the volume of the consumption. But it's not by itself a measure of the quality of life.

Arariel wrote:If the economy grows by 2 per cent per annum (accounting for population) in the long term, it means the standard of living is increasing by 2 per cent per annum.

So, if, say, the increasing sales of junk consumables together with the increasing sales of the medical services fighting with the effects of junk consumables contribute 2% to the annual economy grow, does it mean that this increase makes living 2% better annually?

Arariel wrote:No matter what results of publicly-funded science, if it has no effect on the same economic growth that occurred without it, no departure from the long-run trend, that means we could have experienced the same increase in standard of living with privately-funded science.

Producer-funded research is supposed to increase the well-being of the producer. The well-being of a producer is determined by their ability to make profits from sales.

Consumer-funded research is supposed to increase the well-being of the consumer. The well-being of a consumer is determined by their ability to spend their funds efficiently.

I won't be surprised to find out that the medical research funded by the medical insurance funds (even privately owned ones) actually decreases the growth in the medical service sales. Is it a bad thing for the producers of medical services? Definitely. Is it a bad thing for the consumers of medical services? I'm not convinced.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby leady » Mon Aug 12, 2013 12:27 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:In the US? I'm not so sure of that -- I know health coverage is a serious drain on government resources, but how much did the US government lose in the 60s, 70s, and 80s to lung cancer? How much is that cost in comparison to what health insurance providers lost?

While I agree that the government plays very fast and loose with its duties toward its citizens, I think the anti-tobacco movement (in its earliest days, at least) was pushed by a combination of media pressure, constituent pressure, and by government figures who considered it their civic duty to oppose the deceptive marketing of a genuinely dangerous drug.

I also think a lot of people were pissed when they realized tobacco companies had basically lied to, uh, everybody.


its not lung cancer thats the core problem with a mass smoking (thats rare and deadly) but heart disease, which is common and surivivable in a lot of persistent states that are expensive to governments, even the US (medicare, social security, care costs etc). Yes the tabacco companies "lied" but frankly I refuse to believe people were really that stupid. Anyone who inhales smoke into their lungs and thinks thats not going to be bad for them has to self deluding on an incredible level. I think the mindset change was one of expecting to die in work vs looking forward to retirement. As soon as the latter embedded into the culture, a scapegoat was required for years of overtly self destructive behaviour. Of course thats my personal speculation :)

Wait -- I'm not sure how insurance worked in the 60s-80s in the US, but were people in their fifties with lung cancer expensive for the state? I presumed they were expensive to health insurance providers (who might find ways to shift some of the cost to the state, I don't know).

But whatever your point, I really don't think the government opposed Big Tobacco because of financial reasons; I think they opposed Big Tobacco because it's the government's job to oppose corporate interests when they endanger the interests of the people.


Again its smokers surviving heart disease that are expensive as they have longer term care needs, lung cancer in the 70s was close to a death sentance (sorry this discussion is quite cold). Its long term ongoing costs that mess up insurance badly + heart bypasses etc all suddenly added as viable treatments extending "unproductive" citizens lives that cost the state a fortune too. Add to that the rise of Medicare and Medicade and suddenly its a governmental cost problem.

As to whether you could describe the slow addition of minor burdens to an industry that did and still does kill 100,000s in the US every year over the course of 40 years as opposing corporate interests, well you are more generous than me :).

Maybe I'm being naive, here? I don't know; I just sometimes think the government does certain things because it's their job to do certain things.


Probably most people in the government believe and strive for that on an individual level. I'm far less convinced that on aggregate thats the outcome achieved or aimed for because of competing political pressures.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby WibblyWobbly » Mon Aug 12, 2013 12:53 pm UTC

leady wrote:its not lung cancer thats the core problem with a mass smoking (thats rare and deadly) but heart disease, which is common and surivivable in a lot of persistent states that are expensive to governments, even the US (medicare, social security, care costs etc). Yes the tabacco companies "lied" but frankly I refuse to believe people were really that stupid. Anyone who inhales smoke into their lungs and thinks thats not going to be bad for them has to self deluding on an incredible level. I think the mindset change was one of expecting to die in work vs looking forward to retirement. As soon as the latter embedded into the culture, a scapegoat was required for years of overtly self destructive behaviour. Of course thats my personal speculation :)


Don't forget: it's not that tobacco only became a problem in the past 50 years because it was invented in the 30's and everyone smoking in movies made it look cool, thus taking 30 or so years to see the long-term health effects. Tobacco has smoked for centuries, by myriad different cultures. It was if not the cash cow of the New World, it was one of the major profit-makers. And people in those times may have had many, many more ways to die that were much more visible than the slow progression of smoking-related heart disease, especially before medical science told us heart disease was actually a thing. So I don't think it's particularly hard to imagine that no one made the connection for a looooooong time, until medical science improved to the point where no one could deny that long-term smokers seemed to be dying at an alarming rate when they shared few or no common risk factors other than smoking. And the deaths of people like Yul Brynner really drove it home for a lot of people, especially the nationwide PSAs that really took hold at that time.

TL;DR - If you find yourself saying "I can't believe people would really be so stupid as to ... ", you need to check yo self.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Aug 12, 2013 1:04 pm UTC

leady wrote:its not lung cancer thats the core problem with a mass smoking (thats rare and deadly) but heart disease, which is common and surivivable in a lot of persistent states that are expensive to governments, even the US (medicare, social security, care costs etc).
...wait, uh. What? Social security gets paid out regardless of whether or not you're sick; also, medicare definitely is not going to cover the full cost of long-term care. I mean, I'll buy that widespread health problems eventually cost the government money, but as far as I'm aware, it's not a direct cost -- it only costs the government money when coverage providers find ways to shift the cost to the government.

That definitely isn't done through social security -- and I'm pretty sure medicare, which does shift the cost, wasn't even available till the late 60s. So what -- it's your contention that the government opposed Big Tobacco because of the rising cost of medicare? Do you have any evidence to back up this claim?
leady wrote: Yes the tabacco companies "lied" but frankly I refuse to believe people were really that stupid.
Okay, but that's just a failure of imagination on your part.

Either way, it wasn't actually 'stupid'. Medical professionals -- by which I mean doctors -- were actually extolling the benefits of cigarette smoke! Understand; it's very easy for you, well-informed and living in 2013, to look back in time and say 'Of COURSE smoking is bad for you!' -- because you've never been led to believe otherwise. Try to imagine a situation where no one ever told you cigarettes were bad for you; in fact, your doctor is telling you they have many beneficial health effects!

If you're still unconvinced, ponder this: Medical marijuana is but one case where smoking can actually be good for you. If you believe that smoking marijuana has positive medical benefits -- and you also believe only an idiot would believe smoking has positive medical benefits -- we are left with no other conclusion: You believe yourself to be a self-delusional idiot.
leady wrote:Again its smokers surviving heart disease that are expensive as they have longer term care needs, lung cancer in the 70s was close to a death sentance (sorry this discussion is quite cold). Its long term ongoing costs that mess up insurance badly + heart bypasses etc all suddenly added as viable treatments extending "unproductive" citizens lives that cost the state a fortune too. Add to that the rise of Medicare and Medicade and suddenly its a governmental cost problem.
How much do you think Medicare and Medicaid actually cover? Because I'm willing to bet it isn't a lot.

That isn't to say health problems don't eventually cost the government money; I just don't see why you're deciding that the ill effects of smoking carry an immediate government cost high enough to inspire the government to action. I think your perspective on this is skewed in a lot of ways.
leady wrote:Probably most people in the government believe and strive for that on an individual level. I'm far less convinced that on aggregate thats the outcome achieved or aimed for because of competing political pressures.
So it's your contention that if a room of 10 people are trying to do their job, they form a magical 11th person who's just interested in serving the collective's financial interests?

Seriously, what are you arguing here? The government doesn't exist in aggregate; it's just a collection of individuals working toward various (often parallel!) interests.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby leady » Mon Aug 12, 2013 1:21 pm UTC

I have no evidence for my perspectives above, but it fits the timeline - and I'll concede my incomplete view of the US social safety nets :).

However I have to debate the "doctors agreed with smoking etc" type narratives, I'm always skeptical of these types of historical claims - but I'm too lazy to research. No doubt there are examples of individual doctors doing this (like some prescribe homopathy today) but I have trouble believing that an entire generation were 70% of people are coughing black tar out of their lungs daily really believed it was anything but bad for them. I can accept that they didn't care, but actively didn't think it was bad for them is too much of a stretch for me :)


yes 10 people in a room trying to do their job absolutely create a magic 11th person who continually enforces priority calls (which is essentially a fixed cost problem), although generally 1 of the 10 people is the person with the cash to start with. Make the 10 people in different departments with no pan department incentives to cooperate and yes, 10 best intentions become a horredous mess of political decisions and trade offs.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Aug 12, 2013 1:28 pm UTC

leady wrote:However I have to debate the "doctors agreed with smoking etc" type narratives, I'm always skeptical of these types of historical claims - but I'm too lazy to research. No doubt there are examples of individual doctors doing this (like some prescribe homopathy today) but I have trouble believing that an entire generation were 70% of people are coughing black tar out of their lungs daily really believed it was anything but bad for them. I can accept that they didn't care, but actively didn't think it was bad for them is too much of a stretch for me :)
If you ever find yourself interested in actually researching your claims, you might start with dispelling the notion that 70% of smokers cough up black tar out of their lungs on a daily basis.

Otherwise, I'm not terribly interested in contradicting claims you have no intention of backing up.
leady wrote:yes 10 people in a room trying to do their job absolutely create a magic 11th person who continually enforces priority calls (which is essentially a fixed cost problem), although generally 1 of the 10 people is the person with the cash to start with. Make the 10 people in different departments with no pan department incentives to cooperate and yes, 10 best intentions become a horredous mess of political decisions and trade offs.
Right, I agree that 10 people in a room can create a horrendous mess of political decisions and trade offs, but that isn't what you said; you said the government went after Big Tobacco in response to the rising cost smoking inflicted on them -- and when I pointed out it seemed more likely they did this because it's government's job to do this, you claimed that this was probably true on an individual scale, but in aggregate, the government did it out of financial interest.

In other words, you're claiming that 10 people with different interests walk into a room -- and magically create an 11th person who acts on behalf of the collective financial interests of everyone in that room.

That doesn't make any sense.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Zamfir » Mon Aug 12, 2013 1:36 pm UTC

I thought the costs analyses for lung cancer are the inconclusive, even towards profit, because it tends to kill people relatively fast and before they develop the expensive diseases of old age. It's not obviously a large net burden on the health system.

That's also a good warning against people who want to rely on health insurers as guardians of public health: no, their profit margin is not perfectly aligned with our good health. Would they suppress research about lethal diseases? I dunno, but we know that tobacco companies would and did. There is no guarantee against it.

The advertisements are orthogonal to the research, aren't they? Governments might have reacted the same to research paid for by others, or they can react differently to research they paid for. There is little relation between them, 'government' is here a catch-all term for completely different and independent organizations.


Any developments that benefited the public (even if such effects in the long term) should have been reflected in long-run economic growth. Economic growth isn't some silly measure of how much money people make. It's a measure of standard of living.


Not entirely correct. It could be a measure of the volume of the consumption. But it's not by itself a measure of the quality of life.

Beyond that, the author's conclusion is weird. He implies that before the era of large scale government science funding, there was private effort instead with the same effect on growth rates. But the reality is science is simply a far larger effort than it used to be. Private and government efforts have both grown immensely, in the one hand because the required scale for next steps grew, on the other hand because past results gave people confidence that the effort would be worthwhile.

In most of the 19th century, there was virtually no industrial research in the current mold. Modern arguments about public goods and underinvestment due to externalities are to some extent after-the-fact rationalizations. In practice government became such a large driver of science because the existing parties simply could not handle the increasing organizational demands of science on their own. Not academia, not charities, not private industry.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby addams » Mon Aug 12, 2013 1:42 pm UTC

So it's your contention that if a room of 10 people are trying to do their job, they form a magical 11th person who's just interested in serving the collective's financial interests?

Seriously, what are you arguing here? The government doesn't exist in aggregate; it's just a collection of individuals working toward various (often parallel!) interests.

Hippo; You are funny.
It is not funny that you must explain this stuff.

It is simple and complicated.
I can not hear your voice. I can not know what you look like.
I don't know if you pace when you talk. I don't know a lot.

I do know that a person that would make that first statement may to a different group say, "We are More than our physical bodies. We may be 10. We will be doing the work of fifteen, until they get here."

Spoiler:
They? Who is this They?
Are They the Good Guys or the Bad Guys?


The Government?
Of The People. (that is you and me.)
For The People. (that is you and me.)
By The People. (Who is That?)

ech. Yes. You are correct. Individuals working in Parallel.
Parallel. That is important. How can you tell?

Do you love The People? It is hard, sometimes. Right?

Who are The People? you and me?
Who else? The Belligerent Guy?

Who is the Government? It, kind of, depends upon who you ask.
Public Employees are The Government. Do you listen to the Public Employees?

The only people we Know are Public Employees are the Police.
We only know they are Public Employees because they wear a Uniform.

When I went out in Public I covered up my Uniform. Did you?
Who else are Public Employees? Scientists?

How many? Three? Quiet undercover types?
What? Science Funding Needs to be quiet?

What if They find out what we are doing?


Giggles? Yucks? Science? Funding? for?
What makes people Happy? Drugs.
What makes people Unhappy? Drugs.
The Police are doing Science?

Spoiler:
Those guys Suck at Science!
You can not argue with their results.
They have Guns. They have icky Jails.
They are Ruthless Bullies.

Oh. And; They are Government.
Who are you?
Life is, just, an exchange of electrons; It is up to us to give it meaning.

We are all in The Gutter.
Some of us see The Gutter.
Some of us see The Stars.
by mr. Oscar Wilde.

Those that want to Know; Know.
Those that do not Know; Don't tell them.
They do terrible things to people that Tell Them.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Heisenberg » Mon Aug 12, 2013 1:43 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:I thought the costs analyses for lung cancer are the inconclusive, even towards profit, because it tends to kill people relatively fast and before they develop the expensive diseases of old age. It's not obviously a large net burden on the health system.

It was a tobacco-lobby funded report provided to an eastern European country that was considering a tobacco ban to save money on health care. The report showed that a tobacco ban would increase health care costs as people would live longer. Big Tobacco, upon finding out about it, told their lobbyists never to mention it again, but the anti-tobacco folks have latched on to it as an admission that tobacco kills. I'm trying to find the actual study.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Zamfir » Mon Aug 12, 2013 2:56 pm UTC

The Dutch government at least confirms the analysis. Smoking-related health costs are about 2% of healthcare costs, and for every euro saved on them they expect 1 to 1.5 euro extra costs related to other health problems.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby leady » Mon Aug 12, 2013 2:57 pm UTC

Right, I agree that 10 people in a room can create a horrendous mess of political decisions and trade offs, but that isn't what you said; you said the government went after Big Tobacco in response to the rising cost smoking inflicted on them -- and when I pointed out it seemed more likely they did this because it's government's job to do this, you claimed that this was probably true on an individual scale, but in aggregate, the government did it out of financial interest.

In other words, you're claiming that 10 people with different interests walk into a room -- and magically create an 11th person who acts on behalf of the collective financial interests of everyone in that room.

That doesn't make any sense.


Welcome to the world of poltical decision making, it doesn't make sense and yet it happens all the time. Naturally there is never any real decision that has infinite resources and decisions that increase resources, particularly hidden indirect ones, get priority. Imagine a room with

Transport
Social welfare
HMRC
Defence
Housing
NHS
etc

only the NHS rep has a direct incentive to reduce smoking, the others have an indirect incentive to let it continue it because it makes the tax pie bigger and their slices of pie are generally a fixed proportion.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby CorruptUser » Mon Aug 12, 2013 3:18 pm UTC

I'd say social welfare has an incentive to stop smoking, as smokers tend to be poorer and as a result poor people require more subsidies.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby morriswalters » Mon Aug 12, 2013 5:39 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:But whatever your point, I really don't think the government opposed Big Tobacco because of financial reasons; I think they opposed Big Tobacco because it's the government's job to oppose corporate interests when they endanger the interests of the people.

Maybe I'm being naive, here? I don't know; I just sometimes think the government does certain things because it's their job to do certain things.
Government is the people and that magic 11th person leady was talking about was the gestalt that has to occur before government can move. As the science became available, and as the conversation went forward, the mass of the US population had to come to the point where there was a clear reason to do something. There exists a lot of inertia when something has been a part of the fabric as long as tobacco has. The death rate from all causes had to drop enough for the trend to becomes apparent. Wide spread early industrial pollution masked the problems. Coal burning in the winter came close to making some cities unlivable, and some cities had deadly air quality problems. And medicine as we know it didn't exist until the 20th century. One interesting similarity to the AIDS epidemic was popular figures outing themselves as they died of cancer from smoking.

Talman, William, actor; lung cancer (August 30, 1968)
D.A. Hamilton Burger, Perry Mason TV Series
When He came down with lung cancer, He was the first actor to do a TV commercial on the danger of smoking. (Internet Movie Database) He died before the commercial aired.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Aug 12, 2013 5:57 pm UTC

leady wrote:Welcome to the world of poltical decision making, it doesn't make sense and yet it happens all the time. Naturally there is never any real decision that has infinite resources and decisions that increase resources, particularly hidden indirect ones, get priority. Imagine a room with

Transport
Social welfare
HMRC
Defence
Housing
NHS
etc

only the NHS rep has a direct incentive to reduce smoking, the others have an indirect incentive to let it continue it because it makes the tax pie bigger and their slices of pie are generally a fixed proportion.
Okay, this is distinctly different from what I thought you were saying, which was 'put 10 people with conflicting agendas in a room and an accountant will appear who will make decisions that are in all of their best interests financially'.

Basically, it sounded like you were giving the gov't way more credit than it's due -- that it opposed Big Tobacco because it did the math and realized it was costly on the whole. In actuality, the reasons gov't opposed Big Tobacco are likely quite complex -- and I'm willing to bet 'It's A Financial Drain' rarely ever factored into it.

(If for no other reason than what Zamfir/Heisenberg are pointing out; that there's even a possibility that tobacco may reduce health costs by killing your population more quickly!)

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Kit. » Mon Aug 12, 2013 7:41 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:there's even a possibility that tobacco may reduce health costs by killing your population more quickly!

There are cheaper ways to achieve the same result.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby WibblyWobbly » Mon Aug 12, 2013 7:55 pm UTC

Kit. wrote:
The Great Hippo wrote:there's even a possibility that tobacco may reduce health costs by killing your population more quickly!

There are cheaper ways to achieve the same result.

What does it mean when my palm flower stops flashing?

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Aug 12, 2013 8:48 pm UTC

Kit. wrote:
Arariel wrote:Any developments that benefited the public (even if such effects in the long term) should have been reflected in long-run economic growth. Economic growth isn't some silly measure of how much money people make. It's a measure of standard of living.

Not entirely correct. It could be a measure of the volume of the consumption. But it's not by itself a measure of the quality of life.


Quality of life is somewhat subjective, because each of us value things differently. However, whatever your goals, it generally takes resources to pursue them. So, all other things being equal, a more productive society is more able to produce a better quality of life.

Sure, you could argue that by some metric, living in some undeveloped country is "better" than living in a modern developed nation, but in practice, people seem to overwelmingly want to live in the latter. The US/Mexico border is not a problem because of all the wealthy US folks seeking poverty.

Heisenberg wrote:
Zamfir wrote:I thought the costs analyses for lung cancer are the inconclusive, even towards profit, because it tends to kill people relatively fast and before they develop the expensive diseases of old age. It's not obviously a large net burden on the health system.

It was a tobacco-lobby funded report provided to an eastern European country that was considering a tobacco ban to save money on health care. The report showed that a tobacco ban would increase health care costs as people would live longer. Big Tobacco, upon finding out about it, told their lobbyists never to mention it again, but the anti-tobacco folks have latched on to it as an admission that tobacco kills. I'm trying to find the actual study.


I've heard this before...as well as something similar about obesity. I haven't studied either topic enough to make a definitive conclusion, but I think it's at least plausible that a negative health outcome could exist that would result in lower health care costs. End of life care is pretty pricy, so anything that kills you faster than old age SHOULD count.

Unfortunately, this has rather bad implications for future health care costs as we continue to find ways to prevent death(always at a cost, of course). Even ignoring issues about how different countries allocate health care, as long as we don't accept people dying, health care costs per person should continue to rise.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby elasto » Mon Aug 12, 2013 11:24 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Quality of life is somewhat subjective, because each of us value things differently. However, whatever your goals, it generally takes resources to pursue them. So, all other things being equal, a more productive society is more able to produce a better quality of life.


Of course.

Sure, you could argue that by some metric, living in some undeveloped country is "better" than living in a modern developed nation, but in practice, people seem to overwelmingly want to live in the latter.


A bit of a false dichotomy. People overwhelmingly seem to prefer living in rich but equal societies, where if you have bad luck or screw up or are born to the wrong kind of parents that you still have a second, third or fourth chance at a decent life.

It's possible some GDP growth has to be sacrificed for such a wide and generous safety net - but then again perhaps not. There are considerable savings to such a system as well as the obvious costs. A Scandinavian citizen doesn't seem to particularly have trouble affording all the nice things a US or UK citizen does, so it wouldn't seem to be obviously flawed as a system. Even if they were, say, 10% poorer than they could be as a result of their economic model, increases in personal wealth produce only a logarithmic increase in happiness, and it would seem the extra quality of life from their model more than counterbalances it.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby addams » Mon Aug 12, 2013 11:28 pm UTC

Health care costs?
Really?

This thread is about ending government funding of science.
Yes.
To not begin government funding of health care is a good way to
Not let that pesky problem of government oversight get started.

Some of the things I have seen. I look with a trained eye.
I have an education in Health Care Delivery; A little.

Yes. You have a point; End of Life Care can be expensive.
I read some stuff.
There were a cluster of Historical studies done about the cost of the last three months. and the last six months and the last one year of life for a great many people.

Historical studies in Science are not Rumor and Personality. Historical studies in Science are about The Numbers; Often.
Those studies did show a spike in End of Life Care costs. So? I also took the class. It is an important area of Practice.

It is not ALL about The Money.
Any idiot can tell that the last days of most lives carry a cost for Others.
It has always been this way. It is as it Should be.

When the Anthropologists come to the table, they tell romantic stories.
Not all; Some. Those stories are sufficient evidence that some of us have been Saintly for a looonng time.

It is a part of our Nature.
When we as human beings are prevented from caring for our sick and old it goes against What We Are.
Some people Love that shit.

We are more than Twelve. There are a great many of us.
It is good for us to know we can care for one another.
It is good for us to know we will be cared for.

Fancy Modern Western Medicine is good stuff.
It is not the most important stuff.
The Money allows us the privilege.

Not the Money nor the Fancy Stuff will keep Richard Cheney alive Forever.
Seems like forever. Einstein said so. And; It's true.

Five hundred years with Dr. Einstein and Dr. Sagan and Dr. Campbell and Dr. Barnnett would not be long enough.
Any time with Richard is a long time. What is your point?
Life is, just, an exchange of electrons; It is up to us to give it meaning.

We are all in The Gutter.
Some of us see The Gutter.
Some of us see The Stars.
by mr. Oscar Wilde.

Those that want to Know; Know.
Those that do not Know; Don't tell them.
They do terrible things to people that Tell Them.


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