Bush veto of stem cell research bill should be wakeup call to Asian economies

Paul Bograd

Posted on July 20, 2006

Yesterday, President George Bush vetoed a bill that would have loosened the restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research in the United States.

The photo distributed and encouraged by the Presidents’ handlers shows George W. Bush holding a baby. The caption is “President Bush holds a child who was adopted while an embryo Wednesday after vetoing a stem-cell research bill.”

Now many would say there is not much new or surprising in this. This is just President Bush demagogic pandering to the conservative, right wing Christian base of the Republican Party; so they say. Or maybe it is a feeble attempt to divert attention from an increasingly obvious failure of foreign policy.

For Asia and Asian economies, there is a much more important point and opportunity to take from this event.

This veto by President Bush will create very, very significant damage to the United States’ economic model of leading global research innovation and then efficiently exploiting its production and commercialization. Stem cell research in itself may, or may not be the key to the economic exploitation of biotechnology.

But the likely damage by the partisan politicalization and spiritual demagoguery inherent in President Bush’s veto of what is obviously reasoned and rational scientific inquiry should instruct Asia’s economic, political and spiritual leadership.

In the opinion of this writer, when reasoned, rational and secular intellect informs economic, social, and political process than economies and societies succeed. When these processes are informed by narrow, illogical and spiritually demagogic thought they fail.

Here in Asia, we have plenty of examples to instruct us. When India’s universities rejected spiritual and demagogic pressures and focused on creating knowledge and creative thinking for a new world economy; those universities powered India’s economic growth.

Conversely, in the Philippines narrow spiritual and political forces impair the individual and family access to contraception and HIV protection. Both are enormous obstacles to economic opportunity and growth.

And China will learn that censorship of the very hand that feeds you (the Internet) for ideological and political purposes will ultimately undo its’ economic miracle.

If one believes, that education, knowledge, meritocracy and transparency are the keys to economic opportunity, then Asian economic, political and especially spiritual leadership should assure that these processes are free of the kind of spiritual and political demagoguery so apparent in President Bush’s action and exploitation of the matter. America’s economy will suffer because of President Bush’s action on this issue; we should make sure that Asian economies don’t make the same mistake.

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