The question is not, “Is the measles vaccine is safe and effective?” (I presume that it is.) The question is, “What are the limits of government power?” A person should not be forced to inject something into their body against their will. Period. Everyone else can take steps to defend themselves. Maybe not perfectly, but that is a price we pay for freedom. Neither government nor any majority should be able to use force against those who are peaceful and honest, and who don’t use any force or fraud against others.
Patents are not natural property rights. They are government created and enforced monopoly rights. It is debatable whether patents encourage or hinder innovation and inventiveness. Even if patents promote inventiveness, there is no specific optimal number of years of protection. In many instances, there is a good case to be made that no patent right,s or very limited patent rights, might spur more invention. The case of pharmaceuticals and medical devices is more complicated because of government regulations that require much greater spending before a product is allowed on the market. Even in those cases, we should err on the side of more limited monopoly rights and less use of government force and protection. Humankind has made tremendous progress by being free to copy the ideas of one another. What if fire, or the wheel, had been allowed to be patented? Would that have spurred invention? Our elected representatives should support shorter periods of time for monopoly patent protection.
Both the Register and national TV news reported that a new government study shows that consumption of alcoholic beverages can make people fat. Duh! Why in the world did we pay for such a study? The study may have provided all kind of interesting and potentially useful information, but we should not be spending taxpayer money on this kind of study, especially considering our current spending deficit. Surely it is more important to balance our budget than pay for such a study. I presume there are other examples of wasteful spending on research by our government. Our research wants are unlimited. Our ability to pay is not. Research should not be exempt from budget cuts.
On 9/30/2012, in the Opinion section of the Sunday Register two supporters of government funded scientific research wrote that across-the-board budget cuts might, “…cripple key areas of science by slashing federal investment in research and development by an estimated 8.4% between now and 2017.” They referred to the cuts as a, “…slash and burn approach…” Our federal government spends about $140 billion each year on a wide variety of scientific research. Our wishes and desires for research are unlimited. Our ability to pay is not. If we cannot cut research spending by 8.4% over 5 years we can never solve our budget problem. We either need to let the automatic budget cuts go forward, or require that our politicians cut equal amounts. If not, sooner rather than later we will face a crisis like Greece.
See Des Moines Sunday Register, 9/30/2012, Opinion section, “Another View:‘SEQUESTRATION’ WOULD BE BAD FOR SCIENCE— AND ECONOMY” – (I couldn’t find the link.)