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On Balance

On November 13, 2015, 130 people were executed by terrorists in a devastating Paris attack. Hearts across the world beat with sympathy and fear. 

On that same day, an estimated 22,000 people died from some form of cancer, while nearly 40,000 were diagnosed with the disease. The same is true of the day before the attack, and the day after, and every day since.

It is hard for the media to be in 22,000 places at once. That is reserved for the families, friends, and medical staff. So Paris is 24-hour news. The hospital, the hospice, are not. It makes a difference in how we see the world.

The United States government spends $600 billion a year on defense. It spends $30 billion a year on research for all types of disease.

An estimated 30,000 a day died during World War II. So it is possible that that $600 billion saves 22,000 lives per day. But I have to wonder if $300 billion spent on defense (still almost twice what Number 2 China spends), and $300 billion on medical research wouldn’t save more lives, on balance.

 Maybe you can’t efficiently spend $300 billion a year on medical research. But then how efficiently are we spending $600 billion on defense?

 On balance, I choose saving as many lives as possible. On balance, I choose balance. 

Comments 4

 
Anonymous on Monday, 23 November 2015 19:37

Thank you so much, Stephen, for this thoughtful post. We desperately need to be spending more on medical research not only to save lives but to make people's lives more pleasant. I can speak from experience of the misery caused to families by multiple sclerosis and cancer. And each of my siblings have suffered terribly because of a daughter's diabetes; one lost a another daughter to cancer. I am sure almost every family could mention heartbreak of their own because of children or parent illnesses.

Thank you so much, Stephen, for this thoughtful post. We desperately need to be spending more on medical research not only to save lives but to make people's lives more pleasant. I can speak from experience of the misery caused to families by multiple sclerosis and cancer. And each of my siblings have suffered terribly because of a daughter's diabetes; one lost a another daughter to cancer. I am sure almost every family could mention heartbreak of their own because of children or parent illnesses.
Stephen Evans on Tuesday, 24 November 2015 02:40

Thank you, Sue - I don't know where to draw the line but I think it needs to be redrawn somewhere.

Thank you, Sue - I don't know where to draw the line but I think it needs to be redrawn somewhere.
Ken Hartke on Tuesday, 24 November 2015 16:41

Stephen -- I agree with you on this... we need to be looking at some priorities. A friend's grandson lost a long fight with cancer -- from age 6 to about 13. He was very sick at times but what causes the most harm were the adult cancer treatments used on little kids. He was cancer free occasionally during the fight but the treatments destroyed his liver....too much for a little kid. Some extra millions of research money directed toward childhood cancer might be good.

Stephen -- I agree with you on this... we need to be looking at some priorities. A friend's grandson lost a long fight with cancer -- from age 6 to about 13. He was very sick at times but what causes the most harm were the adult cancer treatments used on little kids. He was cancer free occasionally during the fight but the treatments destroyed his liver....too much for a little kid. Some extra millions of research money directed toward childhood cancer might be good.
Stephen Evans on Tuesday, 24 November 2015 18:03

Thanks Ken - such sad stories happen all the time I imagine - and that we depend on drug companies to fund most research I find disturbing.

Thanks Ken - such sad stories happen all the time I imagine - and that we depend on drug companies to fund most research I find disturbing.
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