I'm struggling to follow the logic of the following:
It has been a busy week, and with everything else going on I haven't had a chance to post on Zika, which I know has been in the news a bit.
I have received all sorts of emails and FB comments this week on Zika. Some people want me to pass a "clean" bill (which I suppose means not paying for it with spending reductions elsewhere). Other folks want us to fund more research if we can find a way to pay for it.
No one has written me yet, though, to ask what might be the best question: do we really need government-funded research at all. And before you inundate me with pictures of children with birth defects, consider this:
Brazil's microcephaly epidemic continues to pose a mystery -- if Zika is the culprit, why are there no similar epidemics in other countries also hit hard by the virus? In Brazil, the microcephaly rate soared with more than 1,500 confirmed cases. But in Colombia, a recent study of nearly 12,000 pregnant women infected with Zika found zero microcephaly cases. If Zika is to blame for microcephaly, where are the missing cases? Perhaps there is another reason for the epidemic in Brazil. According to a new report by the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI), the number of missing cases in Colombia and elsewhere raises serious questions about the assumed connection between Zika and microcephaly.
That isn't from some politicians website or some right-wing advocacy group. It is from Science Daily -- which as best I can tell is a reputable outlet --- and it references research published in the New England Journal of Medicine -- which I KNOW is a reputable outlet.
Take a look. I'd be curious to know if this impacts anyone's opinion on spending (and borrowing) as much as $2,000,000,000 on Zika research. [emphasis added]
Because we don;t know the answers to difficult questions, the answers to which could provide large scale public benefit, and for which the private incentives for research are misaligned with the public benefits, we shouldn't fund scientific research.
Ladies and gentleman, I give you the next budget director of the President of the United States of America, Mick Mulvaney*.
*And yes, I know, Representative Mulvaney deleted the post from his Facebook page, but Snopes says it's true. And I KNOW Snopes is a credible source.