Stealing You Blind: Drugging Monkeys on Your Dime

One of the themes I explore in my new book, Stealing You Blind: How Government Fat Cats Are Getting Rich Off of You, is that government has taken over the funding of scientific research when it has no need to, and thereby indirectly employs lots of researchers studying things of little value. There’s another great example today, with the news that taxpayers have spent over $3 million on getting monkeys stoned. It’s a revelation that should shock drug reformers and animal welfare advocates as well as students of the federal bureaucracy. It comes via a grant from the National Institutes of Health designed “to use a rhesus monkey model of drug abuse, to study factors affecting vulnerability to drug abuse and to evaluate behavioral and pharmacological treatment interventions. Routes of administration that have been developed in this laboratory will include oral drug self-administration and smoking.” Stunningly, the study found that after smoking cocaine monkeys exhibited “dilated pupils and slightly agitated, hyperactive behavior.” Whenever I see anything like this I am reminded of President Eisenhower’s farewell address, where — in addition to the warning about the military-industrial complex — he advised us to keep a watch on this sort of thing:

[R]esearch has become central, it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government. Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers. The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.

And it’s not as if there aren’t enough stoned primates readily available for observation on campuses anyway…