Sunday, March 06, 2005

Readers Write

Pete Shanks writes:

"I just re-checked the Cal. Sec of State campaign database and found new data on the 71 campaign.

"As of 03/04/05, these are the numbers: Support 71 -- raised $25.1 million -- spent $34.8 million

"Oppose 71 -- raised $635 thousand -- spent $625 thousand i.e. Yes on 71 is still almost $10 million in debt and the ratio of expenditure is, gulp, 55 -- almost 56 -- to one.

"The URL is (and then navigate via drop-down menus).

"It certainly seems as though the Yes on 71 people overspent badly, since they got 59% of the vote and yet ended up so hugely in debt.

"I do not doubt the sincerity of the supporters, especially the patient advocates, but I do question their judgment. (There is an element of self-interest among some of the entrepreneurs but I suspect that even they think they will be "doing well by doing good.")

"My take is that there was a frenzied feeling that this HAD to be passed at virtually ANY cost, and I wonder if there will be a backlash when cures do not appear RIGHT NOW. In a sense, the leadership -- most visibly Klein but it's broader than just him -- put themselves into a bind with the language of the Proposition, dug themselves a deeper hole with their no-quarter approach to campaigning, and fumbled an opportunity to mollify their critics after the election.

"I suspect that the money overspent -- indeed, just the money raised -- is symptomatic of a "true believer" syndrome that certainly makes for bad governance and quite possibly bad science, too."

Pete Shanks is the author of Human Genetic Engineering: A Guide for Activists, Skeptics and the Very Perplexed, to be published by Nation Books in June.
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