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Opinion: Use your brain

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America is broke. Not only is America broke, but it is wading in debt up to its neck. And so, as any budget-balancing “How-To” book would say, one of the first steps to reduce this overwhelming debt is to cut unnecessary spending. It seems pretty common sense: don’t spend money you don’t have. Yet, unnecessary spending is still filling ledger lines. Where is the friend saying, “You don’t actually need that new iPhone, America?” Though, maybe it is not America that needs that friend. Rather, maybe it is the Obama Administration.

It has been recently released that the Obama Administration is planning a decade-long project called the Brain Activity Map to further research about the brain and all of its inner-workings. Scientists involved with the proposed project hope to find new information to help with a variety of mental diseases and disorders, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. There is also hope that it might lead to more information to help in creating artificial intelligence. Many aspects of Brain Activity Map are based on the Human Genome Project, a project started in 1990 designed to research human genetics. Similar to the new proposal, the Human Genome Project was federally funded and spanned over ten years. While the Brain Activity Map project is a great idea, it is idealistic.

Let’s be realistic. The federal government does not have the funds to back a proposed project potentially costing billions of dollars.  The country is drowning in a deficit so deep that it can barely come up for air. Adding another project to the already immense list of spending is not going to help the economy by any means.

In an article published by “The New York Times” on Feb. 17, 2013, President Obama was quoted saying, “Now is not the time to gut these job-creating investments in science and innovation.” No, Mr. Obama, now is not the time to gut investments. But it is not the time to create new investments either. Furthermore, the number of jobs created by this investment would be so minimal that they would not be noticed; however, the massive amounts of money spent on this project would be. Obama justified Brain Activity Map because of the Human Genome Project. In the same article, he was quoted saying, “Every dollar we invested to map the human genome returned $140 to our economy — every dollar.” Assuming that these calculations are correct, and ignoring the fact that the money returned did not go toward relieving our deficit but just went to our economy in general, there is still no guarantee that the Brain Map Activity project will wield these kinds of results.

This research, and the possible advancements from this research, is very important and should be done. But it should be done through private companies and not by a government that can simply not afford to fund it. The looming deficit that America faces is never going to be relieved, or even cease to grow, if government officials keep spending money America doesn’t have on projects the people don’t need.

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