Congress is intent on launching an expensive balloon full of hot air promises.
"There's Emerald City! Oh, we're almost there at last! At last! It's beautiful, isn't it? Just like I knew it would be! He really must be a wonderful wizard to live in a city like that!" But as all who've seen The Wizard of Oz know, Dorothy's initial opinion was wrong.
This classic tale for children is instructive, however, especially for those in Congress intent on extending federal funding of embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) beyond what the Bush administration has done. The funding balloon is inflated with promises of cures for diseases and new organs for replacement that defy research reality.
Yuval Levin, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a former executive director of the President's Council on Bioethics, disputes this assumption in his Jan. 19, 2007, New York Times op-ed: "The Bush administration has spent more than $100 million on embryonic stem cell research in the past six years; the research, while promising, remains purely speculative; and American scientists hold a huge and steady lead that no other country comes close to challenging."
We all felt compassion for the plight of Dorothy and her three friends who were off to see the Wizard: The Scarecrow needed a brain, the Tin Man needed a heart, and the Cowardly Lion needed courage - a spinal cord, so to speak.
Well-intentioned people and yellow brick roads can take you to people you don't want to know and to places you don't want to go. The "good" Witch of the North, Glinda, tells Dorothy that she has to see the Wizard in order to get back home. Glinda advises her to "just follow the Yellow Brick Road."
After meeting the Scarecrow, Dorothy becomes hungry and spots an apple tree orchard. However, when she tries to pick an apple, she discovers these are not ordinary apple trees - they talk. They say bothersome things like, "How would you like to have someone come along and pick something off of you?"
Congress wants to take us down a Yellow Brick Road at taxpayer expense.
Proponents of ESCR consider acceptable the destruction of human embryos after we extract their cells. Unlike Munchkinland, however, there are no talking embryos to prick a conscience. ESCR fans should heed the signpost outside the Haunted Forest on the way to the Witch's castle, which warns, "I'd turn back if I were you!"