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Thread: Limits on federal funding have already eroded U.S. research efforts

  1. #11

    Mike C.

    What a great idea... Research Bonds! But, as you know, the U.S. does not need to borrow money for research. Our President just returned $150 billion to the American people in the form of tax breaks. It is not a question of money but a lack of will. Wise.

  2. #12
    Dr. Young, it has been reported recently that the administration may need to take 9 billion from the Social Security surplus to cover this fiscal years expendatures. The US is in reality still trillions of dollars in debt and no Congress is going to increase the national debt by $150 billion with one stroke of legislative wizardry (although it would make long term fiscal sence).

    To get something like the Research Bond effort off the ground you need grandstanding, political backslapping and ego twitching. You need a positive media and public support. I used the current Social Security issue mearly as the platform in which to deliver the main message...that being an increase in research funding by using Research Bonds. Much the same as a virus using a host cell for transportation. All the politicians have to do is accept the idea and politify the effort in such a way as to make such a program their semi-personnel baby...thus ensureing many happy re-election parties !

    Lol, if it could only be so easy!

  3. #13

    Thanks Dr. Young

    Regarding India. Walk or die? Interesting concept. That's exactly the type of aggressive surgeon / surgery / procedure that I am looking for here in the U.S.

    Has anyone had any experience with India's ideas, methods, therapies?

    Maybe during your trip Dr. Young you'll discover some new enlightening information. Let's hope so.

  4. #14
    Mike C,

    Our most serious problem is not shortage of money but ignorance and lack of will to do something about the problem. In the coming three years, the U.S. government will spend $3 trillion on health care, over a trillion dollars on defense, over $10 billion just stopping cocaine growing in South America, over $3 billion just fighting forest fires. Research money is chump change by comparison. Where there is will, there will be money. Unfortunately, there is no will.

    Part of our problem is opposition of the disability community to research. When I first encountered this opposition, I was shocked. When politicians ask the disability community what their priorities are, they hear that the first priorities are benefits, access, and jobs. Research not only comes a distant fourth but many people are vehemently against more research funding because they are under the mistakened impression that biological research is taking away from care dollars, something that is patently false.

    When I have discussed it with people in the community who oppose research, the most common reason is that research has nothing to do with them, that they will not benefit from the research during their lifetime. When I ask them whether they think that research would benefit the next generation, most agree that it probably would. If they believe this, it means that people are opposing research for selfish reasons. Just because it will not benefit them, they are willing to oppose research that is likely benefit others and future generations.

    The second most common reason for their opposition is the now-developing philosophy that disability is not a medical problem, that it is a societal problem. I participated in the National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine Committee that wrote the book called "Enabling America". That book outlined the new view of disability that is best exemplified by FDR's situation. While FDR was impaired (i.e. he could not walk), he was not disabled because he had the support needed to do his job. Thus, disability is a function of the environment and not a problem with the individual. The goal of ADA is to ensure that the environment enables everybody.

    When I encountered the above attitude in Washington DC in the early 1990's, I was initially shocked and then depressed by the lack of altruism in the disability community. I seriously considered leaving spinal cord injury because I did not think that it was possible to make progress in a field that had such an attitude. I changed my mind as I began to understand the philosophical underpinning of the ADA movement. Our goal must be to make sure that cure research co-exist with ADA, that the two mutually support each other. As Justin Dart (whom many considered to be the father of ADA) once said to me, "There is no honor in being in a wheelchair".


    [This message was edited by Wise Young on September 03, 2001 at 03:49 PM.]

  5. #15
    OK, Dr Young your point is well taken regarding opposition in the disabled community, and as I read your post I can see that your frustration level is high. That it could have caused you to leave the SCI research scene is in my opinion a wake up call.

    I have been scanning some of the SCI disability groups on the internet and have indeed found some who concentrate on cure and other who concentrate on care. They all have good missions and do good work for the most part, but it is amazing to see just how many groups for SCI really are in existence. What drives me insane is that it doesn´t seem possible to get these many groups to get together and combine their resources. From acute care centers, research centers, advocate groups, all the way to the doctor in Tijuana who will patch your damaged cord up for you, the amount of resouces which are being wasted just because of replication must be enormus.

    Now I know that having all these organisations do create jobs and do provide services at the local level, which is important. But the issue is deeper than that. Some organisations have massive political clout, and can voice their views on how things should be for the paralyzed with much more political effect. Take the Paralyzed Veterans of America and their cousin organization the EPVA (both being founded in 1946) as examples of groups supporting care issues. Even though they do support research efforts somewhat, their main goal is quality of life and care issues and they get a big ear on Capitol Hill. Now the CRPF, an organisation having been founded after the dark ages of SCI, concentrates on research for a cure, with care as the second priority. These organisations have the political power that most disability organisations could only dream of. Yet it seems the lack of a united front amongst these and all the rest of the SCI groups is ensuring that the SCI community as a whole, shoots itself in the tire.

    I wonder if other disability groups have had experience with this problem and have managed to overcome it. Is for example the Cancer front better organized today than it once was, or perhaps the Alzheimers lobby? Would it take something as simple as an e-mail networking effort to get the heads of all the SCI associations together to hammer out a common strategy and/or lobby? Rest assured, if the SCI community doesn´t get its act together as Dr. Young was saying, and face this issue of a divided front head on, then we are going to be in these chairs a lot longer than need be.

  6. #16
    I´ve heard now that the US Treasury may start issuing War Bonds again. Oh well.

  7. #17
    America's attention of course is now on the World Trade Center attacks in New York. In times of crises, there is a "flight to quality" movement by investors. Blue chips and gold goes up whereas risky or unproven stocks frequently decline. It is not a good atmosphere for startup companies to raise money or to go public. In the next year, they will probably spend as much as $100 billion rebuilding New York and Pentagon, ensuring the safety of air travel, and fighting terrorism around the world. The federal budget will be very tight. I hope that the stock market turns up soon. It is astonishing how unpredictable the future is. Wise.

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