From now on, whenever you see any article that talks about the US budget being “tight,” it means that money has been stolen from some worthy cause by George W. Bush, who diverted those precious tax dollars to pursue what is turning out to be one of the biggest financial and social fiascoes in US history.
I previously wrote that Iraq is a “domestic” issue. More than ever, Iraq remains a domestic issue. The reason is that money is fungible. Money that we pour into Iraq is no longer available for worthy domestic purposes. Consider that $409 billion of our hard-earned tax dollars have now been poured into that meatgrinder we call Iraq.
“Isn’t that just a small part of our budget?” you might ask. “What does it matter to me,” one might ask? But consider how much $1 billion is. And for those who ask these questions, here’s something to think about, the topic of an article featured in the March 2, 2007 edition of Science, an article called “Tight Budget Takes a Toll on US-Funded Clinical Trials.” [Available to subscribers only]
The Science article illustrates the problem. Many children are being deprived of life-saving cures because funding for pediatric cancer studies are being slashed by the U.S. government:
Cancer specialists are reeling from deep cuts now being made in clinical trials, including what they say is the first-ever request from the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Bethesda, Maryland, to slash patient enrollment. They are anxiously waiting to learn in the coming weeks precisely how 2007 funding will be divvied up. But already among the 10 U.S. cooperative groups that run large-scale cancer trials, many are implementing an NCI recommendation to trim their costs by 10% because of growing pressure on NCI’s budget. Roughly 95 trials are at risk, and the number of open slots for patients is being reduced by 3000.
Trials for children have been hit hard, according to pediatric oncologists. Over several decades, they have built up an efficient network to wring data from a relatively small number of patients. More than 50% of children with cancer enroll in a clinical trial, compared with about 3% of adults, says Gregory Reaman, a pediatric oncologist and head of the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) that runs pediatric trials.
The researchers are scrambling to make up for the lost funds, trying “to figure out which kids we affect the least . . . Even though many trials are still moving forward, they’re really strip down,” according to John Maris, a pediatric oncologist. Pediatric oncologist April Sorrell was shocked to learn that a leukemia trial “that she’d spent more than four years developing along with 17 other researchers wasn’t going to happen.” Jeff Michalski of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis learned that his “medulloblastoma study would have to reduce its enrollment goal to 455 from 600.
Affected studies included protocols for relapsed T-cell leukemia, the brain tumor medulloblastoma, the kidney cancer Wilms tumor, and a rare infantile sarcoma. Richard Schilsky, associate dean for clinical research at the University of Chicago in Illinois calls the substantial budget reductions, “a bizarre turn.”
Here’s the kicker. The total amount of cuts causing this mayhem among 2007 pediatric cancer trials amount to $2.1 million. Compare that to the $200 Million we spend to destroy buildings and people in Iraq every day.
Or, if you dare, compare the money we spend in Iraq to the cost of alternative worthy social domestic projects (or see here or here) that don’t have a chance because of the “tight” budget. Long ago, I wrote that Iraq was the 70 Million Children Left Behind War. It should also be known as the Thousands of Terribly Sick Children Left Behind War.
If you have the horrendous misfortune of having you child stricken with cancer, don’t consider writing to President Bush to tell him what you think about his “War on Terror.” He is the Decider and the Decider doesn’t care.