Lance Armstrong: Brilliance on a Bike?

It takes one to know one.  Therefore, one must assume that professional cyclist Lance Armstrong is among the world’s “brightest” people.

Last week, Armstrong was the lead pony at the National Press Club for the pony and dog show put on by the American Cancer Society for the purpose of denouncing the Republican plan to cut the budget of the National Institutes of Health by a tiny 5.2 percent.

The all-knowing Mr. Armstrong, a cancer survivor, asserted,  “Now is not the time to back down and I think that if you collected the brightest people in this country and put them in one room, they would tell you that now is the time we actually need to accelerate things.”   In other words,  give us more government money for cancer and other medical research.

We all understand how brilliant you have to be to peddle a bicycle for a living.  Just who are the other “brightest people in the country” with whom Dr. Armstrong consults?     John Seffrin, the CEO of the American Cancer Society is one and Donald Thomas the Deputy CEO of the organization is another.  These two men pull down a combined salary of more than $1,7000,000 a year for doing “charity” work.  These fat cats have to be smart cookies to pull that off while pleading poverty for their cause.

Guess you could add other left-wing socialist icons like Michael Moore of “Sicko” fame who believe that communist countries like Cuba do a better job with health care than free market countries like the United States.

Let’s see.  Exactly how many heads of state are heading to Cuba when they need advanced health care?  I was under the impression that important, wealthy people from around the world flocked to the United States to places like the Cleveland Clinic or the Mayo Clinic.  Silly me!

Our country is teetering on the brink of financial collapse and Professor Armstrong and his left-wing buddies believe that government-funded research is the answer to every ailment.  In their small minds the obvious reason that we are all destined to meet our maker some day is that our government just isn’t funneling enough money to the American Cancer Society and its friends through the National Institutes of Health.

The truth is the American Cancer Society is rolling in dough.  The ACS is the largest nonreligious charity in the country with cash reserves of more than a billion dollars and millions more in buildings and land.

If government-funded research was the answer than the U.S. should have eradicated cancer and every other disease known to man.  Over the last decade, the budget for federal health research and training has more than doubled going from $15.9 billion in 2000 to $36.1 billion.   The truth is the NIH has so much money its administrators are staying up nights trying to dig up more foolish ways to give it away.

Consider these NIH expenditures:

$2.6 million to train Chinese prostitutes to drink responsibly on the job

$918,856 for the study of “Alcohol and Bar Violence”

$800,000 for a research team to teach African men how to wash their genitals after sex

$410,624 to study the effects of teaching Chinese meditation to cocaine addicts

$117,000 to study “party drug” use in Brazil

$550,496 to learn about the sex lives of truck drivers

$126,000 for a system of “web-based sex diaries” to encourage gay males as young as 16 to chronicle their orgies

For far too many years, politicians have attempted to gain public support by dumping money willy-nilly into education and medical research.   How much federal money for education and research is too much?  Most of it.  Wise up!

Federal money has had little or no effect on academic achievement.   Also, there is ample evidence to suggest that government-funded research is not the best way to find cures and treatments for dreaded diseases.   Much of it is wasted or otherwise directed to special interests or the cause or disease du jour.  On the other hand, research done by the private sector is motivated by profit.  Profit is derived by filling a need, like curing cancer.

We need the Centers for Disease Control to identify and prevent the spread of deadly diseases.  However, we do not need the NIH.  Instead of a 5.1 percent cut, we should eliminate this bureaucracy and save the taxpayers $30 billion a year.

We could put the other $6.1 billion of the NIH money aside and let it accumulate to be used as prize money for those who come up with needed treatments and cures.  Then, we could step aside and watch the billions and the medical marvels stack up!

18 thoughts on “Lance Armstrong: Brilliance on a Bike?

  1. This is remarkably wrong in some unusual ways. Kudos. I couldn’t disagree with almost any of the NIH expenditures you cited. Truck drivers are strongly linked with the spread of AIDS in Africa through visiting prostitutes whilst on the job. Investment in a study of their sexual drives could well lead to a curtailing of this, equating to less AIDS and less expenditure in overseas aid. Both of the alcohol related studies could well lead to a reduction in harm and violence, and hence a reduction in expenditure on for example Medicaid, as I would be willing to guess that bar violence primarily affects the poor. Washing after sex in Africa represents yet another useful investment to improve general health standards – hygiene is important. The only one that confused me was the meditation for cocaine users, but given the general dishonest state of your article, I’d need to read the original proposal to reach a clearer view of the aims. I don’t object to sex-diaries, but then again I don’t despise homosexuals; if you will insist on absolute financial justification, then I dare say a program like this increases happiness and lowers the potential for depression which would require treatment which might arise from living in a bigoted society.

    “Federal money has had little or no effect on academic achievement.”

    Citation please. Unsupported assertions won’t do.

    “Also, there is ample evidence to suggest that government-funded research is not the best way to find cures and treatments for dreaded diseases. Much of it is wasted or otherwise directed to special interests or the cause or disease du jour.”

    Citation please.

    “We could put the other $6.1 billion of the NIH money aside and let it accumulate to be used as prize money for those who come up with needed treatments and cures. Then, we could step aside and watch the billions and the medical marvels stack up!”

    Oh, so the problem is that no one really wants to cure cancer unless there’s a big crash prize! Very odd. I have a bridge I’d like to sell you…

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  2. It is excruciatingly painful to behold all the government, union, celebrities and media who are brain dead regarding the fact of our soon impending demise unless spending is drastically cut. They are thrilled to spend (and continually demand more)since it isn’t their own hard earned cash. And they are using all the tactics of spoiled kids when they don’t get their way: beg, throw tantrums, demand, yell, blame Dad and Mom, their tactics go on and on.

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  3. Coryat,

    Our founding fathers wisely left matters of education to the individual states. The Federal Department of Education didn’t exist until Jimmy Carter. All it can do is advise and gobble tax dollars. It does that last part very well. There are tons of good studies on federal spending vs. student achievement. Here’s one: http://www.downsizinggovernment.org/federal-education-failure.

    As for cures, I can’t think of a single disease that was cured by the federal government. Maybe you can come up with one. However, that should not be the government’s job. No, not all research is motivated by profit. Polio, for example, was cured after FDR founded the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis which was financed by private donations, not the federal government.

    Now about those NIH grants I cited. The country is teetering on the brink of financial collapse. You can’t be serious!

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  4. Good points when we let free enterpise work its way success follows. Why would I kill my government funded job by producing a cure.
    Prostitutes and drinking funds would be better used to getting out of the game!
    Bar drinking and violence is not just a poor mans problem but if Coryat has the answer why spend all that money on reseach!!DUH
    Party drugs and Brazil, bring it home; plenty of colleges could oblige or skid row.
    Sex and truck drivers show them a movie on Africa at the truck stops way cheaper.
    If I had become involed sex orgies at 16 I am sure I would be depressed and guilty, how about offering advice at to abstinance.
    I see we spend too much money overseas and on what appears to be ways to use the tax payers dollar.
    Funds for cancer research and to help the cancer? I do wonder it is a big cash bag for many who profit on mans demise.

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  5. Right on Jane! Even Canadians with socialized medical care flock to private clinics in the US even though they have to pay 100% of all costs. Why? Because social medical care calls for LONG waiting periods,and is often below par or unavailable. Same thing with Sweeden and Germany where I have close friends and relatives.

    The bottom line is this: regarless of the worthiness of any cause or purpose, anyone who spends more than they earn becomes bankrupt…the same principle applies to governements! Americans to seem to be unaware that governments DON’T GENERATE ANY MONEY.

    What the government spends comes out of our pockets through taxes…and the higher the tax rates, the less spending money is available to invest into productive businesses (large or small) that grow the economy. Hard work, self-discipline, prudent, well-informed investing, and personal contribution to the welfare of others are the bedrock for a successful life. It’s so simple…yet so few seem to understand it. There is NO free lunch!

    The only methods the government has at its disposal to fund anything is through taxaation or debt (“printing” money). Taxation takes money out of productive endeavors while debt creates insflation. That’s why gold has been climbing through the roof…hyper infaltion is ahead, and that’s a certainty (but that’s another topic). When the governemnt funds anything, it merely takes the money out of one citizen’s pocket to give it to another citizen. Better that each citizen should decide for himself what he/she wants to support.

    We need to get our country back on track or we’ll soon be bankrup! Blessings to all.

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  6. Jane….I recently had my bank account levied by the IRS. Every cent in my account was taken by them.
    History: I was married for over ten years and did not work in my profession for many of those years. I did start working part time in the last few years mentioned above. The IRS imposed an assumed tax on me due to the fact I hold a professional license. I paid an accountant $4,000 and refiled 8 years of back taxes. A few of those years I actually was credited with a small refund. One of those years I owed $300 and something, so I promptly wrote a check to pay this amount, which by the way was penalties accumulated. Soon after this….I go to purchase something and find I have a 0 balance. It seems I owe some outrageous amount, per the IRS, on one of those years. I have been in the process of recovering from a divorce which was so outrageously one sided…..not in my favor as I don’t have the letters after my name nor the money to “work the system”. My experience in family law court changed my life forever. I would have done better divorcing in China. My naivety and blind belief in the justice of our courts….took me down a path of a very rude awakening to the realities of family law court. not to mention the heartbreak, feeling of total helplessness, suffering of my children, the reality of homelessness at a time when you have two children in high school (kids involved in sports, straight A students, class president….etc)I could go on and on. This experience has forever changed me and my children, whom I’m proud to say kept their chin up and stayed on course and are today my pride and joy having acheived much despite the ugly battle they had to endure. I only mention this because after struggling to talk my way back into my profession after not working for so many years, I ate lots of humble pie but just kept going. This year has been a time when I was finally getting a hold on my financial situation and just starting to make progress. Then out of the clear blue sky…..my money is gone! After feeling sorry for myself I decided to fight. I spent four frustrating days on the phone and finally my money was released.

    This is what I want to say:
    I firmly believe that Americans can no longer just hand over their hard earned money to an evil entity (our current government)! If we do so we are aiding and abetting evil. We must stop paying this out of control government which funds God knows what and with OUR MONEY. This is called SLAVERY. We will have to answer to God some day when he will ask us why we continued to willingly give near half of our hard earned money to a government which chooses to do as they please without consent of the people. We must stop paying them. I tried to comply and be a law abiding citizen by filing my taxes……even though I didn’t work…..and even sent them a check as soon as I received a bill for one of the years filed. It brought me unbelievable stress, not to mention the cost to me as I was charged by the bank for insufficient funds on numerous items. It has been a nightmare and I’m continuing to deal with the aftermath.
    Americans must wake up and take control…..if not, we have no excuse when we find ourselves in a situation of which it will require blood to correct.
    I would like to see where all the money is going. This is impossible as I’m quite sure not one of our “political servants” have any idea or accounting of where the money is. They do know there is a ever flowing river of money and why not go for the ride, AFTER ALL…..IT ISN’T THEIR HARD EARNED MONEY.
    I will do everything in my power to not pay them and I feel I am very much right.
    Americans…..WAKE UP.

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  7. Jane Chastain,

    Thanks for taking the time to respond. Stating “As for cures, I can’t think of a single disease that was cured by the federal government. Maybe you can come up with one.” is of course shifting the goal posts from your original position which was: “Also, there is ample evidence to suggest that government-funded research is not the best way to find cures and treatments for dreaded diseases. ”

    That said, I would point you the Vaccine Act of 1813 passed by congress which regulated and encouraged vaccination as closely linked to successful eradication of the disease. Other examples include the role of the UN’s Food and Agriculture in Organization in eliminating Rinderpest and the Indian government’s Pulse Polio campaign to eradicate the disease. I hope these count as cures. You might also like to consider the way the NHS in England (National Health Service) rewards private investment in new drugs and research by adopting and paying for the best of them; this is government and private companies working neatly (albeit imperfectly) in tandem.

    My point about the NIH grants was twofold: not only is investment in worthy causes morally good in its own right, as I also pointed out if this research leads to a net saving by preventing future expenditure, on what fiscal grounds could you oppose it?

    As for your proposal to defund the Department of Education… what can I say? Why on earth would anyone want to do that? Children are the future, so let’s enjoy today?

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  8. All insurance forms should be standardized to reduce overhead and to improve record keeping.

    The FDA should not be a regulatory agency, but an information clearing house.

    NIH should be used to do research that Big Pharma won’t do; that is investigating natural therapies and treatments that cannot be patentable.

    BTW The irony is that the USPS sponsored Lance from 1996 to 2003 for ~$10 million/year.

    http://usgovinfo.about.com/cs/consumer/a/uspslance.htm

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  9. Good article Jane.

    I will respong further at a later time. I am taking extra time rereading the U S Constitution to find the authorization for funding genitle washing in Africa. It must be there since the authorization came from 535 people who swore on the Holy Bible to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Right?

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  10. “I am taking extra time rereading the U S Constitution to find the authorization for funding genitle washing in Africa. It must be there since the authorization came from 535 people who swore on the Holy Bible to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Right?”

    The constitution also doesn’t explicitly state that you have a right to post comments on a blog entry… does this mean you don’t have that right?

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  11. Actually, the constitution does explicitly give me freedom of speech.

    It is very limiting on the federal spending and the liberals probably could not authorize this under the interstate commerce provision. Unless you include Obama’s home Kenya as a state.

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  12. Jane, You know this bicycle article is great by the chain of responses from some who have fallen too many times on their head. What is scary is this kind of government spending is just the tip of the iceberg.
    -Yar

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  13. Coryat,
    Sorry, Coryat. Your analagy will not hold up. Article ! in the Bill of Rights forbids any abridgement to freedom of speech. Mr Dean is guaranteed the right to post a blog any time he wishes. A blog is written speech.

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  14. “It takes one to know one. Therefore, one must assume that professional cyclist Lance Armstrong is among the world’s “brightest” people.”
    Brilliant logic. It takes one to know one?

    “We all understand how brilliant you have to be to peddle a bicycle for a living.”
    Tell me, what exactly is it about riding a bicycle that eliminates any possibility of brilliance? You ride a bike you can’t be brilliant? I suppose “writing” for a living automatically puts you in the “brilliant” category?

    “Exactly how many heads of state are heading to Cuba when they need advanced health care?”.
    And what exactly does your point have to do with anything but rich people? How does that relate to the average Joe’s needs for health care in any way at all?

    “If government-funded research was the answer than the U.S. should have eradicated cancer and every other disease known to man.”
    And again! You’re on a roll! What logic? Well done lassie. Well done indeed! I’m sure you’re brilliant enough to see the problem, no? Surely I don’t have to spell it all out to someone so brilliant?

    “On the other hand, research done by the private sector is motivated by profit. Profit is derived by filling a need, like curing cancer.”
    Of course the private sector has a clean slate when it comes to it’s profits and safety. Why there has never been a single recorded case of a drug company putting profits ahead of safety has there? Not a one. No, profit is only because they care so very very much that they want to make enough money to make more money, all for our safety of course.

    “The answer to every ailment”.
    Really? That’s what they said? “Every” single ailment? Now, you wouldn’t be putting words in their mouth would you? Cause that would reek of yellow journalism, and we all know you’re way to brilliant to have to rely on that.

    You wouldn’t happen to have any links to back up these “facts” you so easily spout would you? Take your time, do the research. You’ve listed a few things that total about 7 million dollars but have you done any research on any of them? Any at all?

    You know, you just being brilliant enough to type it out won’t do. I’m sure you’re all that and more (why, you certainly seem to think so) but using “left” and “liberal” as valid arguing points won’t get it done, no matter how much you want to ignore the Bush era’s responsibility to our current economic situation.
    If you have a high school near you you might want to see if they’ll allow you to sit in on their next debating class. A course in logic wouldn’t do you any harm either. Hey, I’m here for you.

    Now, pumpkin, I’m sure you’re more than willing to throw out your resume to show us how brilliant you are but all the brilliance in the world won’t cure this… what do you call it?… writing.

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  15. Your article is off base in so many ways. The NIH is essential in ways you don’t even recognize. For nearly 50 years, the NCI toiled in cancer research while for profit drug companies shied away from drug development to treat cancer until the late 1980s when the basic research done by the NCI started to unlock the complicated pathways that comprises cancer. Then the drug companies got into the mix and have made billions off the sales of these drugs while the federal government, who spent decades researching these drugs and the basic science behind their role in fighting cancer, doesn’t receive a single penny and has to basically give away their rights to the development.

    Let me back up a second and remind you that cancer isn’t a single disease, it is more than 100 diseases but it took years of research by the NIH to unlock the human genome to understand the incredible complexities of cancer and how the same cancer can be different from one person to the next. The NIH clinical center takes that research and uses it to better treat patients with few other treatment alternatives, the advanced medical care you point out people from all over the world come from.

    Which leads to the next point, our health care system teeters on collapse due not to the amount of money spent on advanced care (although testimony from various end of life experts can easily cite how more money is spent on care provided to terminal patient in the last MONTH of life than all money up to that point) it’s the money spent on care provided to people due to defensive medicine (see tort reform), lack of use of effective primary care physician networks, misuse of emergency rooms (that’s a huge issue), etc. We pump money into advanced treatments to keep people alive at any cost but we don’t support the establishment of effective mechanisms to get people to see an internist for checkups so issues can be identified and addressed at the earliest and cheapest stage of care.

    The NIH had during the Clinton years seen a doubling of the budget preventing much need brain drain of scientists from going to for profit firms conducting research on a much small scale as well as foreign nations like China that doesn’t adhere to the same ethical standards as the US. This budget increase propelled the ability to conduct better basic science, science that leads to discoveries (you can research the FDA site for NIH developed drugs that were approved for new treatment ) which leads to more effective treatments which increases survival rates and helps address issues such as cancer brought on by genetics (BRAC2) which has saved the lives of thousands of women. The NIH has been successful in working with advocates which also saw an increase in activity beginning in the 1980s and continuing through present day. Lance Armstrong included.

    I’ve worked with Lance and LiveSTRONG, ridden with him, attended meetings when he’s been on the President’s Cancer Panel and watched the positive effect he’s had in helping people get better, more timely and more appropriate cancer care as well as help people navigate through the health care system. If our health care system was so awesome and without substantial gaps, such navigation wouldn’t be needed. Lance received the advanced care you mention as he was a late stage patient with brain mets at Indiana University, a research institution that receives substantial government funding. The vast majority of universities that conduct research receive federal funding. And guess what, so do the for profit companies you cite as the real muscle behind health care. It comes in the form of the collaborations, licensing agreements and other arrangements due to the revenue limitations I cite earlier.

    Lance is but one person advocating for more federal funding and he is by nature of his story and efforts one of the most high profile and influential. His point which you clearly missed is to stop the drastic budget cuts has been experiencing. You say it’s a tiny 5% cut, but do the math, 5% each year is a huge amount at the end of eight years which is the length of time that the budget has been reduced (coincides with Bush’s time in the WH stopping stem cell research and other advances to build his empire which we are still dealing with and whose cost on a monthly basis makes the NIH budget look like lunch money). this reduction has a snowball effect on research, momentum lost along with scientific talent who get paid less as federal employees than at for profit firms.

    The public would not save $30B, it would lose so much more. the for profit firms are an important part of the health care system, but they can’t and shouldn’t have the nation’s health research and treatment needs at heart. The NIH fulfills a crucial public health role. One you either ignore or don’t understand. Lance’s efforts are welcome in this area. I only hope Congress who is responsible for passing the appropriations bill that contains the NIH budget pays attention. Oh yeah, Congress continues sitting on their thumbs while they play their budget game. The federal government is halfway through the fiscal year but no budget and is facing furlough threats for the third time in two months. The Congress has not passed an appropriations budget in years. If this was on of the for profit firms you hold in such high esteem, the shareholders would have made their voices heard. That’s what the public needs to do about this silly game being played that’s affecting our nation’s healthcare system. Get some facts and then get them straight.

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  16. Sorry Steve, but you make good points. She has no interest in those. She has an AGENDA! Reason, logic, facts need not apply. She would rather blabber on about the 7 million than what the rest of the money is doing. She has her followers (read some of the ridiculously uninformed comments above) who she must feed this rubbish to.
    Yellow journalism. Plain and simple.

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  17. It is actually a nice and helpful piece of info. I am satisfied that you just shared this helpful information with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

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