|Schematic drawing of an influenza A virus|
Ed Fallone asks today, Why Isn’t Scott Walker Touting the Biosciences in Wisconsin?, pointing to the promise of stem cells for example, and the biosciences industry generally, studiously ignored by Scott Walker and actively opposed by Tommy Thompson who thinks he ought to dictate the direction of stem-cell research to pioneering scientists like Alan I. Leshner and James A. Thomson.
Thanks to the work of an extraordinary group of scientists working in the great public research institution, the University of Wisconsin-Madison (in the tradition of the Wisconsin Idea), Wisconsin enjoys a model health surveillance program that alerts medical professionals to emerging disease threats.
Walker and Thompson are not cheerleaders for this achievement either.
Science and public health are anathema to Scott Walker and Tommy Thompson, though Wisconsin can boast that we literally lead the world in research and public health systems because of our public commitment to a rational-scientific worldview.
Wisconsin leads the world in the identification of birds carrying the avian flu and often it seems like there are more illnesses in Wisconsin than elsewhere -- but that is because of the excellence of our health surveillance program.
When H1N1 was first discovered it was tracked extensively by Wisconsin scientists, and now that there has been an outbreak of H3N2, a flu strain to which humans are also susceptible, Wisconsin is ground zero for information on this mutation.
As Wisconsin scientists trace and gather information on diseases, the world benefits from the knowledge gained and the vaccines developed.
In a very real sense, we can say that the Republican defunding of research such as in stem cells, and ideological distaste are making the world physically sicker, as pathologies go untreated. [Recall the Republican debates in which the prospect of a person (without health insurance) dying was actually applauded by the Republican debate audience.]
Consider the State Lab Mission Statement of the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene (WSLH): "[S]hall develop and provide essential public health laboratory support to communities, agencies and private health providers consistent with the public health goals of the State."
Now, consider Tommy Thompson, Ron Johnson, Scott Walker and the GOP-Tea Party.
These two systems of political forces—one collaborative and scientific; the other ideological, feeding ignorance—do not enjoy a symbiotic relationship.
What drives the Tea Party's worldview onto its radical politics is fear:
Fear of being alive, fear of the otherversus
The joy of discovery and the sharing of our EarthOne hopes this dichotomy—Wisconsin is perfectly situated to use stem cells specifically—becomes a defining political issue.