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Sep
27
2004

Over at the Washington Monthly, Kevin Drum wonders why he should break his resolution to vote against any and all California ballot initiatives to support Prop. 71, the stem cell measure.
Drum politely notes that he hasn’t seen anything to really sway him in favor of the measure. Well, some guys don’t read enough, do they?
Prop. 71 is a jobs measure. It’ll pump $295 million a year for 10 years into the state for high-end research. That’s going to have an impact in San Diego where the Salk Institute and UC San Diego are located. It’s going to have an impact here in the San Francisco Bay Area where UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco, and Stanford are already looking at stem cell research projects.
And no, the state can’t really afford it. But, well, it can’t afford not to do this either. The funding for research envisioned by the stem cell research measure used to come from the federal government. Ask anyone who grew up in Silicon Valley. Chances are good that Dad worked in the aerospace or defense business. Those federal dollars are still creating jobs and innovation in this part of the world. So, Prop. 71 — like James Lick’s insistence that San Jose build a road up Mt. Hamilton so he could put a telescope up there – will have consequences, most of them good.
And before you decide I’ve gone soft in the head, yes, I am fully aware of the self-dealing nature of this ballot initiative; it’s the smart and cool side of the Progressive Libertarian agenda, taking on projects that are neglected or impossible in the public sector, funding them, and, yes, eventually profiting. Funded in large measure by software execs and venture capitalists living in the Bay Area, there’s no question that Prop. 71 is going to use state-backed funding to help their businesses. But, given all the good that can come from this sort of research – not to mention the jobs – I still think it’s a good, far-sighted idea.
Oh, and speaking of ballot initiatives – and we will, don’t worry, again and again – today’s Chron has a mini run-down. Kind of a “whose on first” for voters.
My favorite listing, however, remains Dan Weintraub’s short, sweet, and to-the-point list from early this summer.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 10:39 AM | Permalink

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