Medical Research Funding

William Tivol tivol at
Fri Dec 22 15:01:38 EST 1995

Alexander Berezin (berezin at MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA) wrote:

: ... and here I am puzzled ..... Why it
: (USA Government) should fund medical research at first 
: place ?

	The short answer is in the Preamble to the Constitution, "
promote the general welfare..."

: Americans largely against government-run medicine. All attemps
: so far (Clinton and prior) in this direction were rejected as 
: (aparently) smelling red, or whatever. Fine, no objections - this 
: is your democratic consensus as a mature nation - you don't want 
: anything to do with with socialistically-directed reforms in 
: medicine and keep insisting on free-market operated medicine.          

	Consensus, yes; uniformity, no.  People seem to have degrees of
concern for government-run medicine, and certain aspects smell redder than
others.  For some aspects--especially those which apply to society as a
whole, rather than to individual treatment--there is agreement that govern-
ment involvement is OK.

: So far, so good ... But then, I am afraid you loose the consistency 
: in saying, ..." yes, but ... medical RESEARCH is the responsibility 
: of the Government (primarily through NIH)" ... and here I have to
: stop and ask you WHY. If your market-operated medicine is unwilling 
: to provide funding for medical research (at least at the level you 
: claim it should be), then why your Government should ? (After
: all isn't democratically elected Government reflects the will
: of the people electing it ?).

	Like other basic research, much of medical research is not aimed at
something which will directly benefit either the researcher or the patient.
Thus everyone in a free market will decide that it is better not to do the
research, but just read the publication when it comes out.  That way they
get the benefit without substantial costs--a rational free-market decision.
Like building roads, performing basic research is a suitable collective
(i.e., government) task.  It is also a rational free-market decision to pro-
vide funds from everyone to derive the value of the research.  This is more
complicated than the usual free-market example, but not inconsistant.
				Bill Tivol

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