(Just for today, I promise, and it does have great relevance to the topic of healthy life extension).
I try to be apolitical and fairly quiet about my libertarianism, I really do. Politics, in my view, is an arena entirely separate from the drive to research better medicine and extend the healthy human lifespan. Would that everyone else thought the way I do. Would that we lived in a time when governments were too small for opposing sides in public debates to buy legislation and enforcement to interfere in every aspect of private life.
Unfortunately this is not to be. We live in a world in which everything, no matter how personal, is fair game for legislation, special interests, institutionalized corruption and the tyranny of the majority.
These sentiments bring us to the 2004 presidential elections in the US.
It's a given that whoever is elected to office will be a professional politician, a vested part of the political landscape, and thereby a weasel who will work to expand the size, scope and waste of the federal government. That much has been true of any of the presidential elections of the past century. From a libertarian perspective, all presidential candidates look just as bad and the results of an election are almost irrelevant to the average person in the street.
This time around, however, the results of this election mean a great deal to those of us in the healthy life extension community, libertarian or otherwise. The current US administration has done untold damage to the most promising medical research over the past three years, both in America and worldwide:
- Effectively banning embryonic stem cell research
- attempting to ban therapeutic cloning, a technology required for most stem cell research
Stem cell research and regenerative medicine offer the best near term hope for therapies and interventions that will greatly increase healthy lifespan. These branches of medicine offer the possibility of near term cures for a long litany of the worst diseases and age-related conditions:
- Serious injury
- Nerve damage
- Heart disease
All of these named conditions have been cured in animal models, in early human trials, or in laboratory tests. Commercial therapies would be only years away in some cases, such as for heart disease.
All this wonderful research is estimated - by eminent scientists and respected advocates like Christopher Reeve - to be five years behind schedule due to the actions of the Bush administration, its appointees and paid bioethicists. If President Bush is re-elected, he will use that mandate to criminalize the medical research mostly likely to extend healthy human life and cure the worst diseases and conditions of aging. Both the Federal ban and the UN ban will be revisited in 2004 or 2005. If these efforts succeed, a five-year delay could turn into ten years, or twenty. The effects of even a threatened ban on private sector funding have been devastating, but it could become far, far worse.
How many years are you willing to risk delaying the development of cures for cancer, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and heart disease? How many years are you willing to put off access to better medicine to increase the healthy human lifespan? 6000 people die in the US each and every day, most from conditions that will one day be cured through regenerative medicine. Tens of millions suffer from incurable diseases that will one day be treatable through stem cell based regenerative medicine. How much death and suffering is acceptable to you?
You can find the position statements of the Democratic candidates for President on the matter of stem cell research and therapeutic cloning at the CAMR website:
As I've said before, all these men are professional politicians - weasels, the lot of them, up to their necks in an essentially corrupt system. Campaign promises aren?t worth the paper needed to print them. But these weasels, unlike the one currently in power, probably won't fight to condemn sick and aging people to death by squashing medical progress. They won?t appoint Bioethics Councils whose members advocate short lives, suffering and death as preferable to medical research. They won?t attempt to globally ban medical research at the United Nations.
So there you have it, the real issue of this Presidential election in a nutshell. Is better health, curing the incurable and a longer, healthier life important to you? Then look carefully at your options when you vote, and, as I do, wish that you lived in a world in which scientists didn?t need to beg permission from uncaring bureaucrats to develop a cure for cancer.