Latest News: Technology |  Celebrity |  Movies |  Apple |  Cars |  Business |  Sports |  TV Shows |  Geek

Trending

Filed under: News

 

Which Is More Important: Military Drones Or A Cure For Cancer?

Dec 29 2013, 8:56am CST | by

10 Updates
Which Is More Important: Military Drones Or A Cure For Cancer?
Photo Credit: Forbes
 
 

Comments

Full Story

Which Is More Important: Military Drones Or A Cure For Cancer?

The U.S. government has an answer: drones. Drones and other weapons of destruction are vastly more important than healing people – or at least that’s what one might think, based on our government’s spending priorities. In the most recent federal budget, we spent $821.6 billion on defense, which includes $636.2 billion for the Defense Department, $138.9 billion for veterans, and another $46 billion on foreign military aid. We spent just $29.1 billion for the National Institutes of Health, the epicenter of all our research on new cures for disease. That’s a decline of $1.7 billion from 2012 (thanks to the sequester). In the big picture, then, we spent 28 times as much on defense as we spent on curing disease.

Does anyone in the federal government ever step back and think seriously about what our overall priorities are? Or do they just think about whether to adjust a particular agency’s budget a few percent up or down? Congress returns from recess next week, and they’ll make lots of noise about the budget decisions, and then they’ll pass something that makes at most a few incremental changes.

A big problem with our short-term approach to governing is that the forces that want to keep everything the same are always more powerful than the forces for change. The people and institutions that benefit from the current budget are already in place, and always at the ready to lobby against change. We desperately need to review our priorities, at least once in a while, and make a rational decision about how much to invest in the things that government does. Do I expect this to happen? No. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to make the argument.

Here are just a couple of examples of how current spending plans just can’t be stopped, even if they have gone wildly out of control. First let’s consider the Global Hawk drone program, which the Defense Department itself would like to terminatethe Air Force says it has better equipment for the same job. Ending the program would save $2.5 billion over four years. (That’s $2,500,000,000. It helps to write these numbers out.) How did Congress respond to the Air Force proposal? The head of the Armed Services Committee, Howard McKeon (R-Calif.) rejected the proposal and  added  $443 million to purchase three more Global Hawks. Not coincidentally, the manufacturer of these drones, Northrop, builds them in the district represented by McKeon.

A bigger example is the Joint Strike Fighter program, the most expensive plane in history, which is now estimated to cost $400 billion by the time it starts flying in 2018 – if it’s not delayed further. This is more than triple its estimated cost in 2001, when it was first approved for $119 billion. Just recently, the Pentagon itself reported 147 “major” quality issues with the program.

We won’t even have these planes for another 5 years, so obviously this hasn’t improved our security yet. And once it starts flying, the Pentagon estimates this fighter plane will cost another $850 billion to keep going. Who decided this was worth it? Is anyone seriously considering scrapping the whole project, before we spend another trillion dollars on it?

There are many more examples, such as the $436,000,000 we’ve spent building new Abrams tanks that the Army does not want. The Army may not want it, but it’s built in Ohio, and the Ohio members of Congress (both Democrats and Republicans) have fiercely defended it.

It’s not just Defense, of course – we are still funding the 1925 federal helium program, which Congress seems unable to kill. The helium program was started after World War I, when the U.S. was worried that it wouldn’t have enough blimps. Lobbyists are keeping the program alive.

Let’s go back to the big picture. The leading causes of death in the U.S., according to the CDC’s latest figures, are:

  1. Heart disease (597,689 deaths)
  2. Cancer (574,743 deaths)
  3. Chronic lower respiratory disease (129,476 deaths)
  4. Stroke (120,859 deaths)

You might expect that we would be pouring money into research on the biggest causes of death in the country – at least as much as, say, a new fighter plane. But you’d be sorely disappointed: the entire U.S. budget for cancer research at NIH’s National Cancer Institute is $4.78 billion. That’s for every type of cancer (and there are hundreds). This budget covers clinical research on new treatments, long-term research on understanding cancer, and everything in between. The budget for heart, lung and blood disease (the number 1 and 4 causes of death) is even smaller, just $2.90 billion.

These numbers are little more than round-off errors when compared to the entire U.S. budget, which for 2013 is $3,454 billion.  The NCI budget is just 0.14% of the total.

How much should we invest in cures for all disease each year? How about 5% of our budget? Or maybe just 2%? That doesn’t seem like too much. Ask anyone who has cancer, or who knows someone with cancer, if 2% of the budget is too much to invest in cures. I suspect that most of them will say it’s not nearly enough.

2% of the federal budget is $69 billion. Let’s put that on the table as next year’s budget for NIH. Rather than building weapons, let’s use our tax dollars to build new things and make new discoveries. Rather than destroying infrastructure in other countries, let’s invest in our future, and create new treatments that make our lives longer and healthier.

In the current issue of  The Atlantic, James Fallows interviewed Eric Lander, one of the world’s leading genome scientists, and asked him when genomics would lead to a cure for cancer. Lander responded:

“If we invest vigorously in this and we attract the best young people into this field, we get it done in a generation. If we don’t, it takes two generations. That’s a very big difference.”

Think about it. If we invest more now, you might see a cure for most forms of cancer in your lifetime. Two generations, though, will be far too late for most of us. How many more people need to die from cancers that we’ll eventually be able to cure?

Source: Forbes

 

iPad Air Giveaway. Win a free iPad Air.

You Might Also Like

Updates


Sponsored Update

Update: 10

4 Firms In Iskandar Malaysia Get Facilitation Fund Totalling RM16.2 Million

Source: Malaysia Today

(Bernama) – Four companies have received the facilitation fund amounting to RM16.2 million from TERAJU@Iskandar Malaysia in an information sharing programme on business opportunities and assistance for ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today 6 days ago, 7:42am CDT
 


Advertisement


Update: 9

Selangor’s Watergate about to explode

Source: Malaysia Today

Anwar brought Wan Azmi to meet Khalid to try to resolve this matter. Anwar supports the RM2.5 billion claim but Khalid is stubbornly sticking to the f ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jul 23 2014, 4:12am CDT
 

More From the Web

Update: 8

GLCs told to provide RM7 billion to develop Bumiputera firms

Source: Malaysia Today

(The Malaysian Insider) – Putrajaya has directed government-linked companies (GLC) to generate RM7 billion in business opportunities for Bumiputera firms this year, Prime Minister Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.. ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jul 17 2014, 2:05am CDT
 

Update: 7

Rafizi shows proof of Putrajaya’s hand in contentious carpet-trader loan

Source: Malaysia Today

Eileen Ng, The Malaysian Insider PKR lawmaker Rafizi Ramli today revealed documents to prove Putrajaya interfered in the RM32 million Bank Rakyat loan to ‎controversial businessman Deepak Jaikis ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jul 16 2014, 2:16am CDT
 

Update: 6

PAS MP claims Bank Rakyat loaned carpet-trader RM215m, interest free

Source: Malaysia Today

(Malay Mail Online) – Controversial businessman Deepak Jaikishan (pic) was given a whopping RM215 million interest-free loan from state-owned Bank Rakyat, a PAS lawmaker alleged today, despite Putrajaya’s claims otherwise.... READ MOR ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jul 14 2014, 5:52am CDT
 

Update: 5

MRCB, Nusa Gapurna and PKNS settle suit over RM3 billion PJ Sentral project

Source: Malaysia Today

(The Malaysian Insider) – Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB), Nusa Gapurna Development Sdn Bhd (NGD) and PKNS Holdings Sdn Bhd have reached an out-of-court settlement over ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jun 21 2014, 2:53am CDT
 

Update: 4

Story behind Syed Mokhtar’s ‘RM2.25 billion tax-exempt’ Bernas deal revealed, says PKR MP

Source: Malaysia Today

(The Malaysian Insider) – An innocuous written reply in Parliament has provided a peek into the cosy relationship between the Najib administration and Malaysia’s best-known businessman, Tan S ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jun 15 2014, 12:56pm CDT
 

Update: 3

Constitutional monarchy still murky concept

Source: Malaysia Today

After the RM4.5 billion land sale, the Sultan of Johor secured a 15% stake in MOL Access Portal (MOL) for RM396 million and took a 20% stake in ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jun 14 2014, 12:37am CDT
 

Update: 2

Sultan of Johor’s RM4.5 bil backlash?

Source: Malaysia Today

Has Sultan Ibrahim of Johor’s succession of big money deals over the last six months caused the tide of public opinion to turn against Johor’s royal palace? KiniBiz examines the... READ MORE ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jun 11 2014, 8:49am CDT
 

Update: 1

Putrajaya denies carpet dealer given interest-free loan

Source: Malaysia Today

Eileen Ng, The Malaysian Insider Putrajaya today refuted allegations that Bank Rakyat had allowed carpet dealer Deepak Jaikishan to repay a RM32 million loan without interest following ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jun 11 2014, 5:44am CDT
 

Shopping Deals

 
 
 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/31" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

 

Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Jessica Alba Rocks Bikini on Maxim Cover
Jessica Alba Rocks Bikini on Maxim Cover
Jessica Alba looks super hot on new Maxim Magazine issue. See the Sin City actress in a bikini below.
 
 
Heidi Klum and Jimmy Fallon Roll through TV Studio
Heidi Klum and Jimmy Fallon Roll through TV Studio
German model and entertainment mogul Heidi Klum is up for anything. She formed a human wheel with Jimmy Fallon and rolled through the studio. Watch the funny video below.
 
 
Derek Jeter Honored by George W. Bush
Derek Jeter Honored by George W. Bush
Retiring New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter was honored by former president George W. Bush before the Yankees' game against the host Texas Rangers on July 30. Bush gave Jeter a framed autographed photo of the two of them from the 2001 World Series.
 
 
Sharknado 2: The Second One Premieres Tonight
Sharknado 2: The Second One Premieres Tonight
Sharknado 2's about to strike Manhattan, New York City. Find out how to survive SyFy's latest monster movie.
 
 
 

About the Geek Mind

The “geek mind” is concerned with more than just the latest iPhone rumors, or which company will win the gaming console wars. I4U is concerned with more than just the latest photo shoot or other celebrity gossip.

The “geek mind” is concerned with life, in all its different forms and facets. The geek mind wants to know about societal and financial issues, both abroad and at home. If a Fortune 500 decides to raise their minimum wage, or any high priority news, the geek mind wants to know. The geek mind wants to know the top teams in the National Football League, or who’s likely to win the NBA Finals this coming year. The geek mind wants to know who the hottest new models are, or whether the newest blockbuster movie is worth seeing. The geek mind wants to know. The geek mind wants—needs—knowledge.

Read more about The Geek Mind.