February 05, 2007
Bush Medical Research Funding Lags Inflation Again

The Bush Administration proposed fiscal year 2008 budget for the National Institutes of Health will once again lag behind the rate of inflation and cause an inflation-adjusted cut on US federal biomedical research funding.

Meanwhile, funding for the National Institutes of Health, which oversees medical research, would rise nearly 2 percent to about $28.7 billion.

Biomedical research funding will deliver more benefit per dollar spent than any other form of government spending. Eventually this research is going to lead to the reversal of aging and the end of death from aging.

In inflation adjusted dollars US federal government funding of all research peaked in 2003 and has been declining since then.

To put this in context the total budget is over $2.9 trillion and 4.2% greater than the last budget with a huge increase in defense spending.

Bush's budget is 4.2% bigger than last year's. He raises defense spending by more than 10%. Spending on veterans and foreign aid soars by double digits. There's more money for programs ranging from Pell college grants to national parks.

Defense and homeland security will get $658 billion or about 22 times as much as the NIH budget for biomedical research. Just the increase in defense and war spending will amount to about twice as much as the total NIH budget. I do not feel better defended and better served by that defense and war spending increase. I figure it will result in a much lower average life expectancy than we'd get if the money was spent on medical research. Worse, the war spending creates big figure costs such as maimed soldiers who'll earn less and need government programs to help care for them.

The war budget amounts to over 5 NIH budgets.

The total war budget of $163 billion, sought in the 2007 fiscal year, is projected to be $141 billion in 2008 and just $50 billion in 2009, far enough in the future that the estimate is little more than a place holder.

Think about that. Pull the troops out of Iraq and free up money to increase biomedical research by a factor of 5. The war does nothing to make us safer and probably has a net negative effect on our security. We could instead spend money on research that'll cure all the diseases we are going to get as we age. Eventually the money will produce biotechnologies that allow us to rejuvenate our bodies.

Due to inflation the National Institutes of Health are awarding far fewer research grants.

Funding for biomedical research, which has been flat for several years, may now begin to grow. The House proposal would give NIH a 2% increase this year, adding $620 million to the current budget of $28.6 billion. The austerity since 2003 has taken a toll, NIH officials say, as inflation significantly eroded NIH's buying power and reduced the number of new and competing grant awards from 10,300 to fewer than 9100.

The percentage of grant proposals funded has been dropping. Scientific and technological knowledge, once discovered, delivers us benefits year after year into the future. The sooner we get the knowledge the more total benefit we'll get from that knowledge. We spend less than 1 percent of the US federal budget on biomedical research. That's a mistake. We could derive greater benefit from a much bigger effort.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2007 February 05 11:33 PM  Policy Medical


Comments
Doug said at February 6, 2007 3:08 AM:
Pull the troops out of Iraq and free up money to increase biomedical research by a factor of 5. The war does nothing to make us safer and probably has a net negative effect on our security. We could instead spend money on research that'll cure all the diseases we are going to get as we age. Eventually the money will produce biotechnologies that allow us to rejuvenate our bodies.
This is breathtaking. Whatever else can be said about the war in Iraq and about research on rejuvenation, this sort of either-or simplicity is unworthy of you, Randall. If you're going to take up foreign affairs or any other part of politics, then please do it with the energy and thoroughness for which we've come to admire you. Mark Steyn's book America Alone, alone, would put you well ahead of "the foreign policy establishment." However, when you approach the book to read it, you should be prepared to be dismayed.
Jake said at February 6, 2007 7:33 AM:

The Iraq war has brought us much more scientific benefits than the NIH budget. Great strides have been made in bionic limb and robotics research that will have much greater benefit to society than anything the NIH does.

Vast sums of money are flowing into medical research from venture capitalists, privater donors, and corporations. This research is bringing medical discoveries that are useful in bringing us a better life. The NIH is not needed and is a complete waste of our money.

TTT said at February 6, 2007 11:02 AM:

I, too, think the Iraq War is money well spent if we can create a functioning democracy in that part of the world.

Note that 9/11 cost the US economy $600 billion anyway.

Plus, why can't Europe and China pull their weight, for ONCE, in terms of basic research? Let them pour another $10 billion into biomedical research - they certainly can afford it with their smaller defense expenditures. They always benefit from our scientific discoveries, it would be nice for them to contribute at this point.

TTT said at February 6, 2007 11:13 AM:

Another emotion-driven blunder Randall creates is using the $163B 'war budget' figure to make his point. Note that Iraq is only a portion of this (and most of Iraq's costs are soldier salaries that we have to pay in peacetime anyway). The other costs are for Afghanistan (I hope he at least supports this post 9/11 war), Kosovo/Bosnia (why do we still have troops there, for 10 years now>), and covert operations in Somalia, The Phillipines, etc.

Plus, we still have troops in Germany, Japan, and Korea. It makes sense to pull troops out in relation to how long they have been there after peace is established. It makes sense to start here rather than obsess over Iraq.

TTT said at February 6, 2007 11:25 AM:

Randall's own link shows the military budget as a percent of GDP, and it is not high at all by historical standards :

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/06/washington/06military.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Sorry, Randall, I like what you write usually, but I can't let this much inaccuracy go unchallenged.

TTT said at February 6, 2007 11:47 AM:

"The war does nothing to make us safer and probably has a net negative effect on our security. "

What proof do you have of this? No attacks on US soil for 65 months and counting, even while other nations have had attacks (London, Madrid, Bali, Beslan in Russia, Mumbai, Turkey, Jordan, Morocco). Most of these nations do not have troops in Iraq.

Your statement has no points proving it and decent points disproving it.

It seems your zeal to discredit Iraq has gotten the better of you. Increasing the Social Security retirement age by 1 year would also be enough to produce $50 billion that can go to research. A 1-year delay in the age at which people can collect, that is all. Why not do that?

Rob-ot said at February 6, 2007 11:49 AM:

Doug,

Recognizing that resources spent for one thing cannot be spent simultaneously on another is not simplicity. It is reality.

Kelly Parks said at February 6, 2007 11:53 AM:

Randall, I enjoy this site and admire your wealth of knowledge on such a wide range of scientific subjects.

But spare me your politics. I'm not interested.

Randall Parker said at February 6, 2007 5:26 PM:

Doug,

But I do put a great deal of energy into analysis of politics. I have another blog and on that blog I've written hundreds (thousands?) of posts about Iraq. Perhaps I should have included some links to why I think the Iraq war is a big net negative for US security and prosperity.

It is simple to observe that resources expended in one way can not be expended in another way. It is also true and it is a truth that I see ignored very frequently.

As for your hero Mark Steyn: read some excellent criticisms from a conservative about neocon Mark Steyn. I think Steyn's prose is dazzling but it is just junk food. If the Muslims are the threat that he claims they are then why does he avoid some obvious logical consequences with regards to, for example, immigration policy?

Kelly Parks,

There's no separation between science policy and politics. Political trade-offs determine what money is available for research which has a huge impact on how fast various scientific and technological fields progress.

I am not going to cover political issues any less because you find my views distasteful.

TTT,

If we can create democracy in the Middle East it is worthwhile? The voters vote in religious parties. Bush pressured the Palestinians to hold elections (he was following the advice of Natan Sharansky's book) and the result brought Hamas to power. We brought elections to Iraq and the Sunnis and Shias are duking it out and the Iraqi government is allied with cleric Sadr's militia.

The Bush Administration is pursuing a fantasy that is quite disconnected from reality.

Money spent on a pointless war really is money not available to fund science. Look at the chart I linked to of total science spending and how it peaked in 2003. What big cost started ramping up in 2003?

Emotion-driven blunder? Have you done a head count of US troops in Iraq versus Afghanistan? I have. The Bush Administration avoids breaking out separate costs for Iraq versus Afghanistan. The reason is simple: They want to avoid letting people the costs that are specific to the much less popular war. Afghanistan is a nineth or tenth of the total cost. The Iraq war burn rate is about $3 billion at week at this point. They try to hide this by not getting all the money for a single year in a single request. So there's an additional later request for FY2007.

Larry said at February 6, 2007 5:26 PM:

Surprisingly hostile group of comments that I surprise myself by joining, but from a different angle.

Not only are we spending more on bio than ever before in our history (Bush has more than doubled NIH funding since he started) but our progress has become astonishingly rapid. The advances are coming so fast and in so many domains that we have clearly outrun our ability to even understand what's happening, much less figure out the cultural, ethical, and financial changes that they are injecting into our society.

In recent months we have seen cancer deaths decline for the first time in history, and there are major new possibilities for changing the course of Alzheimer's, diabetes, and many cancers. Yes, H5N1 and HIV are still out there to threaten us, but get a grip!

TTT said at February 6, 2007 6:18 PM:

"Money spent on a pointless war...."

Again, you sneak your bias in, unable to separate from rational inquiry. Is the attempt to bring democracy to Afghanistan also a failure?

You have yet to address my question about what basis you have for insisting that "Iraq has not made us any safer." There are many points to prove you wrong, but none to support your point. Refer to the 11:47 AM post.

Plus, if costs and 'pointless occupations' are your goal, surely you would suggest removing troops from Germany (62 years), Japan (62 years, South Korea (54 years), and Bosnia (8 years) before withdrawing Iraq.

To claim that Iraq is the reason biomed research spending has gone down is absurd, biased, and emotional.

Randall Parker said at February 6, 2007 6:29 PM:

TTT,

Historical standards? You mean the 1920s? Or the 1950s? How about the 1880s?

Just because we had to spend a lot of money on defense during the Cold War does not mean that spending a few billion a week in Iraq is a good idea. Saddam Hussein did not hatch the 9/11 plot. The war in Iraq is between Sunnis and Shias and is over a centuries old disagreement about the early years of Islam. By intervening on behalf of the followers of Ali we are not making ourselves any more secure.

TTT said at February 6, 2007 6:36 PM:

Randall,

Dead wrong. Do you know that Saddam was paying $25,000 to families of Palestinian suicide bombers?

Do you think Islamic terrorists who want to kill Americans (and other non-Muslims) exist ONLY in Afghanistan?

"Just because we had to spend a lot of money on defense during the Cold War..."

You have not answered why we still have troops in Germany, Japan, and South Korea for 54-62 years, and in Bosnia for 8 years (Bosnia had nothing to do with Islamic terror that occurred until then, like the 1993 WTC bombing, 1983 Marine Barracks bombing, etc. BTW).

"The war in Iraq is between Sunnis and Shias and is over a centuries old disagreement about the early years of Islam. "
So that means it is not America's fault that it is not going well. We gave them the freedom to make a choice. They chose sectarian conflict. The Kurds have, however, become everything we wanted us to be. If we abandon them, they will die, despite being loyal and cooperative. Do you want that, just in order to be able to blame Bush?

This still does nothing to disprove that of ALL the money the government spends, the Iraq War irks you the most. Thus, trying to couple this to research is ideological, rather than rational.

morpheus said at February 6, 2007 6:41 PM:

660 bilion war cost

with that money they could have cured cancer and aids, since the war starterd

of course bushy donsent give a dam about people, actually trys to make there lives miserable as posible

vetoing stem cells bill, etc

his only intrests are to make sure his arab friends make a profit, and falow the illliminati agenda

Randall Parker said at February 6, 2007 7:32 PM:

TTT,

The people who attacked the United States on 9/11 were not Palestinians. The Palestinians focus their anger at Israel. News flash: America is not Israel. Also, Israel can defend itself.

Why we still have troops in Germany: Inertia partly. What purpose do you think they serve? Keep the Germans from conquering Poland and France again? Or keep Russia from overrunning Europe?

As for why I draw the connection between military spending and medical research spending: I'm making the point that medical spending will do far more to prevent you from dying than increases in military spending.

As for increasing the retirement age: I've argued for this in a number of posts on my ParaPundit blog. The unfunded old age liabilities are in the tens of trillions of dollars.

Larry,

The big doubling in NIH spending began in 1998 and the 4 budgets under which most of that doubling took place were laid out before Bush got elected. The support for NIH doubling was bipartisan in the Senate and I think in the House too. But inflation adjusted spending has declined in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and will in 2008 again.

We could get huge benefits from another doubling.

TTT said at February 6, 2007 9:13 PM:

Randall,

You are still not answering the questions.

1) Do you think Islamic terrorists who want to kill Americans (and other non-Muslims) exist ONLY in Afghanistan?

2) "Or keep Russia from overrunning Europe?" So why are they still there now? The Cold War ended 16 years ago. And you didn't answer about Japan or Korea. Or Bosnia.

You must stop dodging questions that expose the holes in your position.

3) "The people who attacked the United States on 9/11 were not Palestinians. The Palestinians focus their anger at Israel. "
So why did Palestinians cheer on 9/11? Why does Iran fund Hamas? Why did we invade Afghanistan when non of the 9/11 hijackers were Afghans? There is a religion called Islam that you many want to read about.

Plus, I see no evidence that you know about the 1993 WTC bombings, the 1998 Kenya/Tanzania bombings, the 1996 Khobar towers, the 1983 Beirut Marine Barracks, and the 2000 USS Cole.

4) "The Palestinians focus their anger at Israel. "
Do you know that Hamas is targeting the US, and is funded by Iran, which is also threatening the US, even though it has no ties to 9/11?

5) "I'm making the point that medical spending will do far more to prevent you from dying than increases in military spending. "
But why is Iraq the only military spending that bothers you? That seems ideological/emotional to me. Plus, defunding welfare will do EVEN MORE to prevent us from dying, so that should be still a higher priority, no? How about stopping the $3 billion per year we give to Egypt in aid? Why is that not worthy of being diverted elsewhere?

6) ""The war in Iraq is between Sunnis and Shias and is over a centuries old disagreement about the early years of Islam. "
The Kurds have, however, become everything we wanted us to be. If we abandon them, they will die, despite being loyal and cooperative. Do you want that, just in order to be able to blame Bush?

7) "The war does nothing to make us safer and probably has a net negative effect on our security. "

What proof do you have of this? No attacks on US soil for 65 months and counting, even while other nations have had attacks (London, Madrid, Bali, Beslan in Russia, Mumbai, Turkey, Jordan, Morocco). Most of these nations do not have troops in Iraq. Why were these places attacked?

Your statement has no points proving it and decent points disproving it.
______________________________________________________________________________

Your unwillingness to answer multiple questions posed directly to you undermines your credibility as an intellectual among your readers.

Randall Parker said at February 6, 2007 10:20 PM:

TTT in the exchange above you've accused me at points of not answering a particular question when the point you said that was the first time you asked the question.

I do not see the relevance of some of your questions. Also, you make a number of claims that are unproven. For example: Do I know that Hamas is targetting the US? No, I do not know that for sure. Why hasn't Hamas blown up any place in the United States?

But some of your points are irrelevant. Yes, many Palestinians cheered 9/11. So did many Saudis. So did many Egyptians, Jordanians, Lebanese, Syrians. But the US military is fighting in Iraq. How is that going to change the attitudes of the people who cheered 9/11?

Abandoning Kurds: You've obviously not read my posts about Iraq or Islam at ParaPundit. For years I've been arguing for a partition of Iraq so that the Kurds get their own country. But George W. Bush opposes this. In fact, I've written about this so much that in the Google search "Iraq Partition" you'll see I have about the 10th and 11th spots in the list of results. Also, if you read about Separationism and Islam you'll see me listed and linked to as one of a number of people who think Islam should be kept out of the West.

But we are too far afield from the point of my post. So let me get back closer to it: We aren't cutting into the ability of Al Qaeda to attack us in the West when we fight Sunni insurgents in Iraq. We aren't making ourselves more secure by fighting in Iraq. The money spent in Iraq does not increase our security. If we took that money and spent it instead on biomedical research we'd do orders of magnitude more to decrease our odds of dying.

Again, your biggest threat from dying comes from diseases, not from terrorists. But most of what we are spending money on in the Middle East does not decrease our odds of getting killed by terrorists. If we want to decrease our odds of getting killed by terrorists the most efficacious way to do that is to keep Muslims out of the West and to obsolesce fossil fuels. I've advocated for both those courses of action at great length here and on my ParaPundit blog.

Cogsys said at February 7, 2007 4:29 AM:

The Iraq war's economic costs and U.S. casualties have been equivalent in those ways to a second 9/11, and have also had the political cost of making most of the world dislike the U.S. more. It's a different question, though, whether or not it's best now to finish the job and avoid a loss in credibility, or leave and save the money. Either way, we're all short-changing ourselves by not making science funding a greater priority.

Larry said at February 7, 2007 9:22 AM:

I'm more in agreement with TTT and others. This is one of my favorite blogs for glimpses into the future. I can do without the political comments.

The assertion that a reduction in defense spending would lead to an increase in NIH research spending is a false one. Most likely it would go to deficit reduction or one of other social programs which have seen an obscene amount of increase in their budgets. President Bush and the previously Republican-led Congress spent money at a rate not seen since World War II - and America's expanding war on terrorism wan't the main reason.

Non-defense discretionary outlays increased about 36 percent during President Bush’s first term in office.

A comment about the casualties being like a 2nd 9-11 ignores that many more of the enemy of have died in relationship to the few of the enemy who died on 9-11.

As for whether the "world" dislikes us "more" ... I don't care. I've lived in Europe and been to many other places. Many Europeans didn't like us during the Reagan years either ... so what! They don't seem to dislike us enough to stop coming here!

As for Iraq, whether you agree with why we went there or not, the fact is that we've jumped on that tiger and need to ride to the ground. Insurgencies rarely win.

So, we can all agree to disagree and stick to the science leave the politics for another blog.

TTT said at February 7, 2007 2:34 PM:

That the world dislikes us more is a false belief that is merely what Euro-centric Leftists want us to believe. Some very big countries are pro-US.

Randall said :

"We aren't cutting into the ability of Al Qaeda to attack us in the West when we fight Sunni insurgents in Iraq. "
I disagree. Many known terrorists have gone to Iraq to fight the US, and have met their end as the hands of the US military. Zarqawi was the most prominent one.

"We aren't making ourselves more secure by fighting in Iraq. "
Again, you have provided no proof to support this. No attacks on US soil for 65 months and counting, even while other nations have had attacks (London, Madrid, Bali, Beslan in Russia, Mumbai, Turkey, Jordan, Morocco). Most of these nations do not have troops in Iraq. Why were these places attacked?

Your statement has no points proving it and decent points disproving it

"The money spent in Iraq does not increase our security. If we took that money and spent it instead on biomedical research we'd do orders of magnitude more to decrease our odds of dying."

This continues to reveal that of ALL the $2.9 Trillion that will be spent, the money for Iraq is what irks you the most. You continue to have no problem with the costs associated with us having troops in Germany, Japan, and South Korea for 54-62 years, and in Bosnia for 8 years. Shouldn't we withdraw from there first?

"Again, your biggest threat from dying comes from diseases, not from terrorists."
True, but since more people are killed buy auto accidents than terrorism, does it make sense to say 'stop driving first, we will fight terrorists after accident deaths go down'? The two don't really have anything to do with each other, and this is the main beef that most of the readers here have. To link the two is emotional, not logical.

I think if the War funding drops from $162B to $142B, and the $20B goes to research, you will still not be happy that you got $20B, but will whine about Iraq.

"If we want to decrease our odds of getting killed by terrorists the most efficacious way to do that is to keep Muslims out of the West and to obsolesce fossil fuels."
I FULLY agree if you mean blocking Muslim immigration. But note that countries that don't have oil (Egypt, Pakistan, Syria) have spawned terrorists, and countries other than America have been attacked, including Muslim countries (I repeat : London, Madrid, Bali, Beslan in Russia, Mumbai, Turkey, Jordan, Morocco). Decreasing their oil revenue will make only a small dent. The only real victory can happen by making changes in Islam itself.

Some key questions still have to be answered by you.

Kelly Parks said at February 7, 2007 7:34 PM:

Randall,

I don't find your views distasteful (wrong, but not distasteful) but it is disingenuous of you to say you were merely describing the effect of policy on science. There are a long list of multi-billion dollar items in the budget that a naive approach to how the federal budget works would make it seem like we could cancel and thereby fund biomedical research. A very long list.

But you specifically chose the Iraq war because you don't like the Iraq war -- not because that particular program is stopping researchers from developing immortality drugs.

Randall Parker said at February 7, 2007 9:18 PM:

Kelly Parks,

Your argument about disingenuousness betrays an ignorance about the details of my views on a great many subjects (to address said ignorance would require your reading hundreds of posts of mine - most of the info is there), including federal spending and the political forces around it.

Okay, let us look at some big slices of the budget:

1) Old age spending. It is going up much faster than inflation and has been for years. Can we cut back on it? There's a large block of retired and near retired voters who are opposed. Not going to happen. The most rapidly rising part of the cost is for medical.

2) Social welfare spending. This is increasingly medical spending (like old age spending) because of a few reasons. First off, technological advances keep generating new expensive treatments. The resulting higher costs push more people out of private insurance while at the same time making higher the cost per person on publically funded medical treatments. This is a huge problem.

3) Infrastructure: We aren't keeping up with roads and bridges.

4) Education: We are in the midst of a major pretend that throwing money at it will raise test scores of blacks and Hispanics. Spending per grade school and high school student in inflation adjusted terms has more than tripled since the early 1960s. If you know a way to convince the majority that increased school spending is a massive waste then do pipe up. Utah spends less than a third of what DC or NYC spends per student and produces massively better results than DC.

DOD spending is growing much more rapidly than inflation. Due to it the spending of many non-entitlements programs is lagging behind inflation. Entitlements of course continue to grow faster than inflation.

I've laid out in detail and for years on my ParaPundit blog what is stupid and foolish about the Iraq debacle. At each step I've predicted that the next Bush move wouldn't make things better as Bush and company said the exact opposite and at each step I've been right and they've been wrong. This folly has gone on long enough. I'm not coming at this from the left. I'm not a pacifist. I'm not a knee-jerk opponent of things military. Like Jerry Pournelle I've described myself as "somewhere to the right of Genghis Khan". Like Jerry (who, btw, fought in Korea and did things for "The Company" in Africa and other places during the Cold) I think Iraq is a huge waste.

I chose the Iraq war because it is by far the biggest pure waste in the federal budget. Medicare and Medicaid actually benefit people. Roads and bridges do too. So does the FBI and the DOJ and the prison system since they protect us from criminals. Well, the FBI's budget is growing more slowly to pay for Iraq. The EPA reduces pollution. Pollution is bad for us. I'm for less pollution.

Again, Iraq is a total waste, worse than a waste, it is a big net negative. So, yes, I chose it because it is 6 times the size of NIH as a spending source and we could stop spending in Iraq and lose nothing from doing so.

See my posts Robert Conquest On The Limits And Pitfalls Of Democracy, History Of American Interventions Bodes Poorly For Democracy, Unilaterally Withdraw From Iraq Or First Partition?, Prospect Of Democracy Breeding Ethnic Hatred In Iraq, Low Per Capita Income Countries Never Remain Democracies, Pessimists on Muslim Democracy, and John Tierney On Cousin Marriage As Reform Obstacle In Iraq.

undergroundman said at February 8, 2007 1:41 AM:

I didn't realize that your weblog was so popular among the neocons, Randall. God help us!

I wouldn't even bother arguing with them. People who haven't reasoned themselves into a belief aren't going to be reasoned out of it. The facts are clear: Saddam did not cause 9/11 (there is no link), "democracy" (true democracy = theocracy) in Iraq will do nothing to further US interests, enormous amounts of wealth (which does not grow on trees, sadly enough) is being wasted fighting a civil war, and the US position in the world is spiraling downhill (no surprise there - it is a nation of idiots).

In the meantime we have a porous border to the south (national security crisis), a rapidly population (healthcare crisis), global warming (environmental crisis), and plenty of other troubles that need to be addressed.

"The Iraq war has brought us much more scientific benefits than the NIH budget. Great strides have been made in bionic limb and robotics research that will have much greater benefit to society than anything the NIH does."

Pure brilliance.

TTT,

"What proof do you have of this? No attacks on US soil for 65 months and counting, even while other nations have had attacks (London, Madrid, Bali, Beslan in Russia, Mumbai, Turkey, Jordan, Morocco). Most of these nations do not have troops in Iraq."

If you can show a causal connection between those two I would like to see it, heh. Did you ever learn the difference between causation and correlation?

"Dead wrong. Do you know that Saddam was paying $25,000 to families of Palestinian suicide bombers?"

If you're going to make claims like that, you better bring up a fuckin' source or you lose all credibility immediately. What does that have to do with Randall's point that Saddam did not hatch the 9/11 plot? Focus, please.

"Do you think Islamic terrorists who want to kill Americans (and other non-Muslims) exist ONLY in Afghanistan?"

Do you think that we should kill all Muslims? Do you know where the 9/11 bombers came from, perchance? One step at a time - and a realization that we cannot perform genocide. The Iraqis want us out - and we should leave, soon. Working to improve our relations with the Muslim world (fixing the Israel-Palestine problem, for starters) will do more to prevent terrorist attacks than destruction and statecraft.

"But why is Iraq the only military spending that bothers you? That seems ideological/emotional to me."

Because Iraq is the big black hole that's sucking up all our discretionary funding. Maintaining a military is necessary; wasting it on Iraq is not.

"As for Iraq, whether you agree with why we went there or not, the fact is that we've jumped on that tiger and need to ride to the ground."

Economics 101: Ignore sunk costs. The Iraqis want us out and we should get out.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/26/AR2006092601721.html

Lono said at February 8, 2007 12:41 PM:

undergroundman,

Amen brother!

Wow - it's amazing just how illogical and poorly researched all these Fox news hounds responses are.

Randall,

Many of these responses remind me of the post you had about political bias being rewarded by the brain over fact - it is a little scary to see in practice - yikes!


TTT said at February 8, 2007 12:49 PM:

Lono,

Care to provide any specifics? Or answer the questions that Randall dodged (I doubt you are able to).

And hatred of Fox News is evidence of brain-dead left-wing bias. Fox has more liberals than other networks have of pro-American views. Your failure to admit that reveals your cowardice.

TTT said at February 8, 2007 12:53 PM:

Randall,

You are still dodging the basic questions I have asked you. Your credibility as an intellectual, among your readers, is at stake.

TTT said at February 8, 2007 2:36 PM:

undergroundman,

Your arguments represent a very poor understanding of the world.

"If you can show a causal connection between those two I would like to see it, heh. Did you ever learn the difference between causation and correlation?"

The burden of proving that the US is less safe due to Iraq is on you.

What proof do you have that the Iraq War has made the US less safe? How can you argue that if the US has had no attacks for 65 months, while MANY other countries have?

"If you're going to make claims like that, you better bring up a fuckin' source or you lose all credibility immediately. "

This is well known. Go read up.

"What does that have to do with Randall's point that Saddam did not hatch the 9/11 plot? "

Was 9/11 the only terrorist attack to EVER happen against the US? Educate yourself about Beirut 1983, 1993 WTC, Kobar Towers 1996, USS Cole, Kenya/Tanzania, AND Zarqawi.

"Because Iraq is the big black hole that's sucking up all our discretionary funding."

Nope. The budget deficit is larger than the Iraq War costs. Simple math. Then again, if leftists understood math, they would not be leftists.

Plus, you dodged the question about why we waste money on keeping troops in Japan, Germany, S. Korea, and Bosnia to this day. You dodged this because it proves your beliefs to be wrong, leading to a loss in this debate.

Randall Parker said at February 8, 2007 6:25 PM:

Lono,

When I first started criticising the war in Irq I had people showing up on my ParaPundit blog telling me I was a socialist! They'd come across one post I wrote on one topic and figured since I disagreed with them on that topic I must be on the opposite side from whatever side they imagined they were on.

Some people are very tribal in their politics. They think there are two opposing tribes and they stick with the views that they think make their tribe better than the opposing tribe. There's not a lot of intellectual heavy lifting to fit into these tribes. One just has to uncritically accept the tribe's doctrines. Though some do read books written by the more clever propagandists for their faction.

Note TTT's reference to a Mark Steyn book. Steyn's a great prose writer but he's a propagandist. He tries to get you to support his position by telling you pretty lies. Look at how he tries to use Churchill as a supposed kindred spirit in order to attract those opposed to appeasement of dangerous powers. Churchill had a much better mind and wouldn't have been impressed by neocon views about democracy as the universal tonic. Churchill's own writings about Islam make neocon pretensions about democracy in the Middle East seem quite absurd. Here is Churchill from his book The River War, published in 1899:

How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities - but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome.

Look at TTT. He's referring to us as Leftists: "if leftists understood math". We aren't hawks on the Iraq war. We are leftists. QED.

I consider this pattern in human thought very problematic for the future.

As for that post of mine you referred to, here's the link: Political Partisans Addicted To Irrational Defense Of Their Tribes.

I've tried to feel less a member of a major political grouping. Feeling that sort of loyalty is too debilitating to one's intellect. I need to get as much as I can out of my mental capacity. I've seen too many people who are smarter than me mess up their brains with irrational loyalties.

Again I repeat: The money spent on the Iraq war could do great things to improve our lives if spent instead on biomedical research to defeat aging. People who get their blood flowing at the thought of war ought to redirect their emotions toward the defeat of aging and the rejuvenation of human bodies. That'll save huge numbers of lives - unlike the Iraq war.

Lono said at February 9, 2007 8:48 AM:

Randall,

Yes exactly - it can be intellectually debilitating to associate oneself emotionally with one specific cause or idea.

(thanks for the link - I found that original post to be very interesting)

As someone who had once drunken the Koolaid in college (I used to be an irrational Democrat) I feel that I can now more objectively and intelligently comment on the political issues that affect us all.

TTT,

I hope you see how your repeated posting only serves to emphasize your emotional bias.

TTT said at February 10, 2007 5:12 PM:

Lono,

Your inability to answer simple questions and merely engage in childish one-liners effectively means you have lost this debate (unsurprisingly).

Randall,

I have not referenced Mark Steyn's book, Doug has. Nor have I called you a Leftist - that was directed to undergroundman and Lono. You should at least read the questions posed to you (and perhaps stop dodging them).

Your inability to answer these questions posed directly to you reveals gaping holes in your logic.

You need to answer those questions if you are to appear as an intellectual authority.

Larry said at February 10, 2007 6:35 PM:

If you want the U.S. government to spend more on NIH and other basic research, then I would suggest that you elect scientists, engineers and technology managers to the U.S. Congress, and to the White House. (This might also shift the official U.S. position in the Global Warming debate).

Randall Parker said at February 11, 2007 9:35 AM:

TTT,

Sorry for misattributing the Steyn quote to you.

As for calling people leftists: Here is the context where, yes, you are replying to someone else:

"Because Iraq is the big black hole that's sucking up all our discretionary funding."

Nope. The budget deficit is larger than the Iraq War costs. Simple math. Then again, if leftists understood math, they would not be leftists.

But he's stating the same position I'm taking. You are describing that as a leftist position. Sorry, it is a common sense position. The 2008 FY budget for NIH will be the 5th year running in which Bush proposed less than the inflation rate for an NIH increase. Just what oh what is eating a hole in the budget that causing Bush to propose less in discretionary areas? The Iraq war.

What else is adding a big new cost? The Medicare drug benefit that Bush promoted and signed into law. What a leftist to support an extension of already bankrupt old age entitlements.

As for answering all your questions: Some of them are worded in the form of "Do you know some-false-statement-here?". Some represent digressions that do not address the main point here: The Iraq war is diverting money from biomedical research funding. The biomedical research funding is far more beneficial.

The only important side note is whether the Iraq war is worth fighting in the first place. I've pointed you at some posts I've made about that. But to review obvious facts: Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11. Saddam had no nuclear weapons program. He'd given it up and was too poor to fund it anyway. Iraq has no chance of becoming a liberal democracy. The war there is chiefly between the Shias and Sunnis over which faction will control the country. The Shias will win control of the oil and most or all of the country if we leave. Why not leave and increase funding for research that'll save lives?

Mr. Challeron said at February 13, 2007 5:58 PM:

Mr. Parker:

If we took that money and spent it instead on biomedical research we'd do orders of magnitude more to decrease our odds of dying.

Why are you obsessed with living forever? Doesn't the biological process of sexual (gene-recombinant) reproduction force the necessity of natural death in order to prevent overpopulation?

Bob Badour said at February 14, 2007 2:11 PM:

Mr. Challeron,

I cannot speak for Randall, but being 100% soma myself, I don't give a rats ass about the consequences of sexual reproduction. It doesn't do a damned thing for me.

Randall Parker said at February 14, 2007 6:19 PM:

Mr. Challeron,

Aging is disgusting and painful.

As for death: We have no idea whether we continue to exist beyond this life and if we do then we do not know whether the next life is any better. Why the rush to die?

As for preventing overpopulation: Africa has a higher rate of death and shorter life expectancies. Yet Africa has a much faster rate of population growth. We should prevent overpopulation by making people have fewer babies.

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