Sunday
Jul182004

« Funny World »

I just watched CBS' 60 Minutes (one of the few major league media shows I could dare to trust), and they had a story about the somewhat unexpected course that was the fortune of billionaire Howard Hughes. Originally a playboy and a pilot back when those two went together with a good cigar and a martini, he became the richest man from selling aircraft and instruments to the government. He got filthy rich, then reclusive for the last 20 years of his life. Upon being pressed to do business face to face with the government, he decided to dump the contracts and went off and started his tax-safe research lab—which of course was a fabrication of his. Eventually he actually had to show some research was being done and now the Hughes foundation is the biggest philanthropic body second only to the Bill Gates foundation.

The Hughes foundation funds scientists to do seemingly any work they want to do, and most are tackling the big deals of stem cells, genetic work to fight diseases, and other similarly bold and innovative work. The scientists are mostly free to follow their muse, and generally do what scientists are there to do—research. They are cut free from doing the massive amount of paperwork that a body like the NIH would require, and since they are non-governmentally funding work, they can go wherever they want, including places our ever-enlightened government has already deemed too controversial to go.

So basically, the Hughes foundation is a good thing for science and for the world. Their current wealth is established at 12 billion dollars. Impressive. So some maverick party boy can go from being one who can deal with the government on his own terms to being a tax evader to ultimately leaving a foundation (probably not ever expecting or wanting it to do this) that is changing the world for the better. Very impressive. $12 billion.

So tell, me. Why the fuck can we fight a morally bankrupt war that kills people on both sides and somehow allow over $160 billion to fund it? What a fucking bunch of hypocrites we have for our government—in the person of one dumbfuck masquerading as president, we have a person who will turn down the funding for science that matters, while ratcheting up the cost of a war that doesn't, while actually robbing the soldiers of pay, benefits, and health care or death benefits for the family.

It wouldn't be so bad if he called a spade a spade, but we are told this is for our own good. Don't you just love America?

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