Wednesday, August 13, 2008

No Moral Claim

A letter from economist Don Boudreaux...

7 August 2008

Director, Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis

Dear Sir or Madam:

I received your e-mail encouraging me to ask my representatives in Congress to vote for H.R. 6567, which would "increase federal research funding for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis."

Even though in March IPF stole the life of my dear mother, I cannot join your crusade for more taxpayer funding to fight this horrible disease. Congress does not conjure resources from thin air; any resources devoted to finding a cure for IPF must be taken from some other use - and there's no reason to suppose that Congress can judge better than private individuals how best to use resources. Who's to say that resources taken by government from the private sector to support IPF research would not yield even greater long-term benefits by being left in the private sector? Perhaps resources devoted to IPF research would otherwise have been used to cure leukemia or to develop an automobile engine powered by water.

More importantly, being touched tragically by that disease gives me no moral claim to have Congress, in my name, take resources from other people. I can, and do, ask people to voluntarily fund IPF research. I cannot, and will not, support any effort to force them to do so.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Chairman, Department of Economics
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030

1 comment:

Martin said...

Reality Check:

Have any you of bothered to look at H.R. 6567? It proposes spending $15 million (about 30 minutes of the cost of Iraq war) to increase federal research funding for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and specifically for the creation of a national patient registry which will greatly aid research into the disease. This is a modest amount compared to what was wasted on an ineffective off label use of a drug promoted by a private corporation ("Desperate patients with a potentially fatal lung condition have spent hundreds of millions of dollars over the last few years on a drug that was not approved for their disease but was promoted for that use by its manufacturer."[1]). Those of us who have IPF have no hope of a immediate cure, but I believe that someday a combination of publicly and privately funded research will yield a breakthrough. A recent example of publicly funded research (which has implications beyond IPF) is "Stem Cell therapy repairs lungs in mice" [2].

1. "Drug Maker Stops Work on Lung Disease Medicine"
2. "Stem Cell therapy repairs lungs in mice"