T Nation

What Are We Protecting?

“More Americans die of cancer each year than died in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam combined. In 2009 it is expected that nearly 1.5 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer and more than 562,000 will die from it. Someone dies of cancer every minute.”

Ok, so right now we are fighting two wars. What exactly are we fighting them for? How many lives are we saving by actually doing that. What if another terrorist attack happened on our soil? Would it be as big as 9-11? Would it be as costly? Or is that a once in a lifetime event. What if we had 1 or two suicide bombers per year who snuck into our country and blew up a cafe, or a bus etc… I am sure we could keep it to more like 1 every 5-10 years with just strict border security, but for arguments sake, say 2 per year. How many people die? 100? 150? 20? Will all the money being spent on “Defense” couldn’t we apply that money to curing fucking cancer and save 500,000 people per year? I mean isn’t that also “defending” your population? I mean even if it’s education, preventive care instead of reactive treatments. There are very simple ways to drastically reduce this burden on our society. So with our tanks and our bombs and our guns, are we defending American lives, or are we defending American EGO?

V

I’m not sure how the two tie together, other than you think the money that’s being spent in the desert is a waste. Fair enough. But I don’t think you can “cure” cancer. It’s caused by a myriad of environmental factors, some of which people are already educated about, like smoking, and yet continue to do anyway.

Another cause of cancer, in my opinion, is more people simply living longer than ever before and the more times tissues have to replicate themselves, the more likely there is to be a “malfunction”. Of cousre that doesn’t apply to cancers like lukemia that affect the young. That said, money spent on cancer treatments is never a waste.

But I don’t like your using cancer funding as the argument against spending elsewhere. It’s a cheap debate tactic. You can always say “I think we should end the war on drugs. The money spent on the war on drugs should be spent on cancer.” or “I think we should get rid of welfare. The money being given to lazy bums should be spent on cancer.”

You could even argue that some of the money being wasted on the standardized testing of No Child Left Behind would be better spent on cancer research.

In other words, argue against the war or the policy in question based on its own merits and faults, not because there could be better ways to spend the money. There could always be an issue that is more important, more deserving of public funds, but that doesn’t mean that the issue at hand doesn’t deserve some support as well.

[quote]Uncle Gabby wrote:
I’m not sure how the two tie together, other than you think the money that’s being spent in the desert is a waste. Fair enough. But I don’t think you can “cure” cancer. It’s caused by a myriad of environmental factors, some of which people are already educated about, like smoking, and yet continue to do anyway.

Another cause of cancer, in my opinion, is more people simply living longer than ever before and the more times tissues have to replicate themselves, the more likely there is to be a “malfunction”. Of cousre that doesn’t apply to cancers like lukemia that affect the young. That said, money spent on cancer treatments is never a waste.

But I don’t like your using cancer funding as the argument against spending elsewhere. It’s a cheap debate tactic. You can always say “I think we should end the war on drugs. The money spent on the war on drugs should be spent on cancer.” or “I think we should get rid of welfare. The money being given to lazy bums should be spent on cancer.”

You could even argue that some of the money being wasted on the standardized testing of No Child Left Behind would be better spent on cancer research.

In other words, argue against the war or the policy in question based on its own merits and faults, not because there could be better ways to spend the money. There could always be an issue that is more important, more deserving of public funds, but that doesn’t mean that the issue at hand doesn’t deserve some support as well. [/quote]

Some Support? Do you have any idea what the #1 budget item for the US Govt is? Look, I am not against the military, or defense from outside threats. But if the premise of doing so is to save american lives, we are screwing the fucking pooch. There is more deaths from preventable causes INSIDE this country than there will ever be from outside. And yet we spend the vast majority of our government money on the latter. When you have the flu, do you go to the doctors, take medicine, try to heal yourself? Or do you go buy a bullet proof vest, a combat helmet and some guns and ammo? Sure, those things could help protect you if the need arisies, like someone invades your home. But in the meantime, you just made your chances of dying from the flu you have 100X worse. We need to “as a country” stop chasing boogeymen and deal with our internal problems. We certainly have a lot of them. No one is going to invade the USA, no one is going to fuck with us. The very worst that an outside force could do to us outside of a nukefight where everyone dies, is for a handful of small terrorist attacks. WHICh btw I think would be highley unlikley if the rest of the world saw we were minding our own business and not playing police in thier back yards.

So I CAN say that our gratuetous spending on defense and our abbhorrent foreign policy and warmongering do directly effect our internal problems. Because a few things will happen, #1 it will take real money away from real problems. #2 if that happens, the Fed will simply Make new money to alleviate those shortages, and finally #3, all the money now does less because the government cannot be responsible with thier policies. So if the government just cut back on military spending, brought people home from overseas etc… the real problems would have more money allocated to them, and that money would be worth MUCH more than it currently is. So even more work could be done with the same amount of money, more problems would be solved. But I’m glad all our military spending prevented something like 9-11 from happening. Oh wait it didn’t. It surely has helped stop any future attacks though. I mean the government tells me it does, obviously they never lie and always make the right decisions. AND in the far out chance they discovered they had made a wrong decision, they would immediately reverse that decision because they are not interested in saving face, only american lives. Which is clear because of how they spend our money. (and they don’t have any friends who own oil refineries, or weapons manufacturers)

V

You still don’t understand. I was never for the war in Iraq, and I think we have screwed the pooch on Afganistan, and we spend too much on defense. The problem I have is your argument is entirely based on emotion. “Cancer bad! Cancer worse than war, so end war now!” Arguments based on emotion are the kind of cheap tactics that groups like “Code Pink” use. I was against the war in Iraq, but I really hate Code Pink. I won’t go into that here.

War always creates debts and takes money away from internal problems. Does that mean we shouldn’t have fought in the Great War (WW1&2 were pretty much the same war)? Of course not. “But the Great War was just and necessary, and these wars are unjust and unnecessary.” Ok. That’s your argument. That’s the debate. It’s not that the money could be better spent elsewhere, because there are always other problems that need money.

When “conservatives” try to dismiss the casualties in Iraq, they say “well, more Americans were killed and wounded on Iwo Jima, and that was just one little battle, than have been killed in this entire war!” That’s irrelevant. It’s not the number who died, it’s what they died for that matters. Even if this war didn’t cost us anything, it was still a bad war.

So tell us why the war is unjust, why we shouldn’t be there, with reason, logic and facts.

If we’re talking strictly a numbers lost game here, we should outlaw cars, swimming pools, watercraft, all tobacco, oh yeah, and dangerous minorities…dumbass.

[quote]denv23 wrote:
If we’re talking strictly a numbers lost game here, we should outlaw cars, swimming pools, watercraft, all tobacco, oh yeah, and dangerous minorities…dumbass.[/quote]

Outlaw them? How about make them safer? And I’m not saying MY goal is to save every fucking american life. I am saying it is fucking hypocrytical bullshit war mongering to say you are going to war with a nation, or “terrorists” in order to save american lives when you could save many more american lives not even many more DRAMATICALLY MORE, by doing some very simple things here at home. You can’t call me dumb for doing something when I am the one calling the government dumb for doing it… Dumbass.

V

You are aware that the “War on Cancer” has been going on for more than 30 years, since the Nixon Administration? With the NIH spending huge amounts on it over that time as well as presently?

Not to mention that very many billions of private dollars are spent every year on R&D towards this purpose? (By those evil greedy pharmaceutical companies, among others.)

[quote]Bill Roberts wrote:
You are aware that the “War on Cancer” has been going on for more than 30 years, since the Nixon Administration? With the NIH spending huge amounts on it over that time as well as presently?

Not to mention that very many billions of private dollars are spent every year on R&D towards this purpose? (By those evil greedy pharmaceutical companies, among others.)
[/quote]

You are still missing the point. Nevermind anyways, it was just a rant I had the other day. I’m over it now and am again feeling safe and secure here in Upstate NY. I mean it’s been over 1000 (or a million) years since a terrorist attack went down here and the 100 people who just died today in this little neck of the woods are sure grateful for that.

V

I don’t know, it seemed to me that a major part of your point was that you thought there was not a massively-funded War on Cancer and thought there needed to be.

If not then I don’t know why you brought cancer up.

[quote]Bill Roberts wrote:
I don’t know, it seemed to me that a major part of your point was that you thought there was not a massively-funded War on Cancer and thought there needed to be.

If not then I don’t know why you brought cancer up.[/quote]

I brought it up because it kills a lot of people, and there isn’t much doubt that some day we will be able to get rid of cancer much like the common cold. We will figure it out, but it will take research, more and more research. If we cut back the military budget from an annual 650 or so billion, down to say 100 billion (still quite a bit of coin no?) I am sure we could fix a couple problems we are having in our country. Cut debt, and maybe put some money towards research that will actually save more lives and possibly improve the quality of life for americans. Not even all of it either, You only need to spend maybe what 100 billion of that 550 left and the other 450 billion can just be not spent at all, you know lower taxes or something.

V

How about pull all funding for cancer and let the private sector do its job? If you were receiving millions a year for “research” wouldn’t you milk that for all its worth?

And where in the constitution does it give them the authority to fund research?

I think it’s a mistaken idea that throwing hundreds of billions yet more per year at cancer would result in the rate of improvement you seem to expect.

Already a high percentage of the research done is needless and extraordinarily unlikely to be fruitful. I don’t believe there is such a thing as a good research concept in this area that doesn’t get good funding.

[quote]Bill Roberts wrote:
I think it’s a mistaken idea that throwing hundreds of billions yet more per year at cancer would result in the rate of improvement you seem to expect.

Already a high percentage of the research done is needless and extraordinarily unlikely to be fruitful. I don’t believe there is such a thing as a good research concept in this area that doesn’t get good funding.[/quote]

Ok Ok Look I was ranting, about military spending, I wasn’t trying to solve the cancer problem. Let me just take it back, if we don’t spend 550 billion on military spending, it will not effect the american people in any way shape or form. Nobodies life will be any better so we might as well just keep spending that money. It’s not like it comes out of my pocket or your pocket. It’s not like having that money back in the private sectors pocket will lead to better things for the american people like more cancer research, better products and technologies, etc… You guys are dissecting the wrong half of my post, this isn’t about curing cancer it is about the farse that we need to spend 650 billion a year on defense or all of a sudden americans are going to start dropping left and right from terrorist attacks, Russian attacks, North Korean attacks and or Iranian attacks. It’s all bullshit.

V

Also in my defense I didn’t really say the GOVERMENT would spend the money on cancer research, I said “we” wich could have also meant the private sector AFTER they get it back from the government who cuts the military budget by 550 Billion.

V

Why would a given piece of research that now appears a bad investment compared to others (including things outside of cancer research) seem a good investment compared to others simply because more money was available for investment?

[quote]Vegita wrote:
Also in my defense I didn’t really say the GOVERMENT would spend the money on cancer research, I said “we” wich could have also meant the private sector AFTER they get it back from the government who cuts the military budget by 550 Billion.

V[/quote]

If we want the private sector to fix the problems we need to end entitlements, their is a lot of spending cuts that need to happen and are about too happen.

I agree with you 650 billion for military is crazy. 100 billion is still more then anyone else spends.

[quote]John S. wrote:
How about pull all funding for cancer and let the private sector do its job? If you were receiving millions a year for “research” wouldn’t you milk that for all its worth?

And where in the constitution does it give them the authority to fund research?[/quote]

No idea about the constitution and its scope on this one. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t mandate invading Iraq though…

One of the biggest problems in research is indeed governments trying to do the private sectors job. IE by only funding research with a discernible purpose and application within 5ish years. The trouble is most science that really causes huge new benefits has (at the time of discovery) no application, hence government funding is absolutely vital.

So yes the private sector should be funding technology. If you want new science though state funding is absolutely necessary. It all depends whether you want the possibility of new technologies in 10-50 years time or not…

Personally I’d fund the science. I like the idea that by the time I have children some things might have changed for the better.

Also if you really think that scientists are motivated by money you are a fool. Some of the brightest people choose to do a job with very long hours, poor pay and very little prospect of general public respect. These are people that could make big money very easily but choose not to.

[quote]Bill Roberts wrote:
I think it’s a mistaken idea that throwing hundreds of billions yet more per year at cancer would result in the rate of improvement you seem to expect.

Already a high percentage of the research done is needless and extraordinarily unlikely to be fruitful. I don’t believe there is such a thing as a good research concept in this area that doesn’t get good funding.[/quote]

Um I don’t even know where to start. I guess you would have kicked Newton out on the street because his crazy ideas about gravity wouldn’t attract industry sponsorship. A few hundred years on his equations and models are being used to send satellites into space for communications… Yeah lazy bum should have got a real job.

Or maybe the British East India company should have sponsored him if his ideas were so good. Maybe Fleming shouldn’t have been bothering to work out ways to distinguish different bacteria in petri dishes (the story about stuff floating in the window is bull). Clearly such research had no purpose at the time. The man should have got a real job…

The problem is you just can’t tell before the event which research is needful and likely to be fruitful. The only way to get anywhere is to try a lot of possible things and some of them will solve the problem in question. A few will have applications beyond the wildest possible scope of the topic.

I’d aggree that amount spent doesn’t correlate with a linear rate of improvement. It’s more than likely that money spent on cancer research will save lives than bombing Iran though!

[quote]Vegita wrote:
Also in my defense I didn’t really say the GOVERMENT would spend the money on cancer research, I said “we” wich could have also meant the private sector AFTER they get it back from the government who cuts the military budget by 550 Billion.

V[/quote]

Private companies job (quite rightly) is to make profit for their owners. The 550 Billion so distributed would be paid out to shareholders not spent on research. To suggest otherwise is pretty naive.

Not necessarily a bad thing. The shareholders would spend the money somewhere else and everyone should get richer… BUT if you want (as you stated at the beginning) faster improvements in cancer treatment I’d fund more biochemistry PhDs and postdocs.