A friend from Wisconsin sometimes sends me clippings from his local papers that he thinks I will find interesting. The most recent was a perfect example of so much that’s wrong with our policymaking today: it told of a researcher at the University of Wisconsin at Madison who had been studying strains of the Ebola virus.
Just as his research was beginning to show promise–just as he and his team had created a potential vaccine– his funding was terminated. As the paper reported
The experiments demonstrated the vaccine, when administered in two doses, is effective even against the most deadly Ebola strains. That’s when the money ran out…Kawaoka could not proceed with tests to determine whether the vaccine regimen might work with humans.
I’m sure that those parceling out the ever-shrinking resources available for such studies figured Ebola was too abstract an issue–that scarce funds needed to be directed to research with more immediate application.
Researchers in all areas, including but certainly not limited to the sciences, have raised concerns over the dwindling of government resources for research and development. This lack of concern for investing in our continued progress, like our disinclination to maintain and improve our basic infrastructure, signals a country on the decline.
Who was it who said “The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit”? Whether that is the meaning of individual lives may be up for debate–but concern for the long term and the willingness to invest in it absolutely must be a central precept for any nation that wishes to be–or remain–great.