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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 $1,700,000 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 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 were the answer, then 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:

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!